When there’s something strange in your neighborhood school, who you gonna call? If there’s something weird in your kid’s homework and it don’t look good, who you gonna call? If you’re seeing creationist bills running through your legislature, who you gonna call?

Hopefully, my modest changes to those classic lyrics have you shouting “NCSE!” rather than “Ghostbusters!”

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In honor of the 100th anniversary of Alfred Russel Wallace’s death, I thought I’d post an essay I wrote for a special biogeography issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach. Wallace, in addition to being a co-discoverer of evolution through natural selection, is also the father of biogeography.


Evolution and biogeography: Leading students in Darwin’s and Wallace’s footsteps

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There was quite the sense of déjà vu in watching Thursday night's episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

 

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Charles Darwin (1880)If the year 2000 didn’t usher in the Apocalypse or devastating computer problems, at least it brought with it a flurry of lists offering to rank the historical figures of the past millennium. So intense was the flurry that I compiled my own list of lists of the most important people or the greatest books or the most significant events (and so on) that included Darwin. In the end, my list included no fewer than seventeen lists, prompting me to comment, in Reports of the NCSE 2000;20(3):40–41, “Millennia end neither with bangs nor with whimpers, neither in fire nor in ice, but with lists.”

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Ever since reading Richard Holmes’s marvelous history The Age of Wonder, I’ve traced the links between poetry and science. While Age of Wonder is a history of British science between the days of Newton and those of Darwin, Holmes had previously written about the poets of that era, such as Shelley and Coleridge (an early member of the British Academy for the Advancement of Science).

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