08.26.2016

A smorgasbord this week—interesting basic evolutionary biology news, two separate meditations on the monument to non-science known as the Ark Encounter, a couple of looks back at recent past climate change, and, finally, a philosophical question: why do we love the rare and exotic and revile the commonplace?

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ScienceDebate logoHere at NCSE, we tend to frown on formal staged debates, especially about science itself. But in this political season, there’s an exception to be made.

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08.18.2016

James A. Garfield, via Wikimedia Commons

A while back, I was careless. I wrote, “In a campaign biography of James G. Blaine, the Republican candidate for president in 1884, for example, [Russell] Conwell refers approvingly to [his following] ‘the paths of exploration and speculation so fearlessly trodden by Darwin, by Huxley, by Tyndall, and by other living scientists of the radical and advanced type.’” Let’s not worry about who Conwell and Blaine were or why I was bothering to discuss them at the Science League of America—you can read the earlier post if you’re interested. The present point is just that those weren’t Conwell’s words: rather, he was quoting Blaine’s eulogy for James A. Garfield (1831–1881; right), the twentieth president of the United States, assassinated in the first year of his presidency. Whoops! But at least it gives me a chance to write about Garfield now.

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