11.20.2015

What We’re Reading

Happy Thanksgiving, NCSE supporters—we’re thankful for you! It’s almost Thanksgiving! Here are a few articles NCSE staff came across this week, for you to read while your turkey roasts. No “What We’re Reading” next week—you’re on your own. You should probably take a walk after that big dinner anyway...

  • Health Experts Are Explaining Drug-Resistant Bacteria Poorly, The Atlantic, November 16, 2015 —  T​he inimitable Ed Yong addresses the importance of science communication, and the staggering lack of basic knowledge about medicine and our own bodies that contributes to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Genomic Insights into the Evolutionary Origin of Myxozoa within Cnidaria, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, November 16, 2015 — Genomic data confirms that myxozoans—microscopic parasites that infest, in their life cycles, annelids and fish successively—are, in fact, tiny cnidarians, cousins of corals, sea anemones, and jellyfish. Amazing!
  • Why Pumpkins and Squashes Aren’t Extinct, National Geographic, November 16, 2015 — This story has it all: co-evolution, natural and artificial selection, and fossilized mastodon poop. Ed Yong explains how new research is providing insights to why pumpkins and other squashes should have gone the way of the megafauna, but didn’t—and no, it isn’t so Starbucks (and everyone else) can make pumpkin spice lattes. 
  • NOAA Climate Feud: Pursuit of Scientific Truth vs. Public Accountability, Washington Post, November 17, 2015  — House Science Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R–Tex), has issued a congressional subpoena for all internal communications among NOAA scientists and officials, on the grounds that he suspects that they manipulated evidence for political reasons in a study, published in Science, that refuted the common climate change denier claim that global warming has been on “pause” for the last 17 years. The implication that Congress can intervene whenever the scientific community reaches conclusions that are politically unpopular is deeply troubling. See my post on the topic here.
  • Evolution Is Finally Winning Out Over Creationism, Slate, November 19, 2015  — A sign of hope that the stubbornly high percentage of Americans that reject evolution may finally be dropping, especially among the young. NCSE staff are extensively quoted.
  • Dash those pre-Thanksgiving blues! Earth Touch News reports “Watching this pink fairy armadillo digging will make you inexplicably happy.” They’re right.