Posted on June 05, 2017 * Comments

Thomas Hawk, Heartbreak Hotel Restaurant, 2010

Summertime, in the words of the familiar song, and the livin’ is easy. It’s not as easy for science teachers as you might think, though. Sure, with schools out of session, they’re no longer spending their days in lecture and lab and their nights grading and in prep. But that doesn’t mean that they’re relaxing on the beach with a tall cool beverage of their choice—not that they wouldn’t be entitled to do so! No, diligent science teachers are updating their curricula and lesson plans, participating in professional development, and catching up on the latest science. Unfortunately, the Heartland Institute is continuing to inflict its climate change denial literature on science teachers across the country. (See “Don’t Let Heartland Fool Teachers!” and “A Perfect Storm of Silver Linings” for background.) Fortunately, the Heartland mailing continues to be greeted with skepticism and dismissed with scorn. Here’s a chronological summary of the highlights over the last month or so.

Posted on May 31, 2017 * Comments

You may already know (e.g., from Ann Reid’s recent post) that I have a new role with NCSE, working with Emily Schoerning on the Science Booster Club Program. But as I finish up my work with the Scientist in the Classroom program, I have one more update for you! Let me tell you about what’s been happening this semester.

Posted on May 26, 2017 * Comments

Erasmus Darwin, portrait by Joseph Wright, 1770. Via Wikimedia Commons.

In the 1974 film Young Frankenstein, directed by Mel Brooks, there is, as I recently realized, a surprisingly erudite joke. In a scene early in the film, Dr. Frankenstein—who, in order to distance himself from a notorious grandfather, pronounces his surname “Fronkenshteen”—is talking with a student. “Isn’t it true,” he is asked, “that Darwin preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass case until, by some extraordinary means, it actually began to move with voluntary motion?” Frankenstein (played by the late Gene Wilder) replies, “Are you speaking of the worm or the spaghetti?” and then adds, “Yes, I did read something of that incident when I was a student, but you have to remember that a worm … with very few exceptions … is not a human being.” No argument there, although it would be interesting to hear about the exceptions!

Posted on May 11, 2017 * Comments

What could be better than three Science Booster Clubs reaching 80,000 Iowans in two years? How about twelve new Science Booster Clubs reaching hundreds of thousands of people in eight additional states in 2017? That’s our goal for the year, and we are happy to announce that Claire Adrian-Tucci is going to be helping to make it happen.

Posted on May 09, 2017 * Comments

Consider, if you will, Bret Stephens’s inaugural column in The New York Times, published on April 28, 2017, under the title “Climate of Complete Certainty.” Owing to Stephens’s past misrepresentations of climate change, the column received a lot of scrutiny—provoking “an unusually large outpouring” of letters to the editor, including one from Merchants of Doubt coauthor Naomi Oreskes, as well as incisive criticism from

Posted on May 01, 2017 * Comments

Three months ago, NCSE launched a national expansion of our Science Booster Club (SBC) program. Many of the new clubs have already started holding events, and more are scheduled through the spring and summer. We estimate that in just the first three months of operation, around 3,000 people have participated in SBC events held by volunteer-led clubs in California, West Virginia, Ohio, Texas, Nebraska, and Indiana. Events are also scheduled in Kentucky, Virginia, and Oklahoma.

Posted on April 27, 2017 * Comments

Whew! What a week it has been for science. It is not every weekend that tens of thousands of science enthusiasts take to the streets across the nation. As I am sure you have read by now, NCSE was an early partner for the March for Science. Ann Reid, our executive director, explained why we wanted to participate here.

Posted on April 25, 2017 * Comments

I spent Saturday wet, cold, but exhilarated nonetheless, on the National Mall, with some 40,000 other participants in the March for Science. NCSE was one of the earliest partners of the march, and our logo was prominently displayed on the big stage. There were dozens of speakers with stories that spanned generations and disciplines. NCSE didn't have a speaking role, but I found myself wondering what I would have said if we did.

Posted on April 20, 2017 * Comments

As a paleontologist, I never studied dinosaurs, but I am still a sucker for good dinosaur research. And last month, a doozy of a paper was released.

Posted on April 14, 2017 * Comments

The Silver Lining

The Heartland Institute’s recent stunt of mailing unsolicited packets of propaganda to thousands of teachers across the nation continues to win further bad publicity for the climate-change-denying think tank. (Self-inflicted damage is something of a Heartland specialty: remember its 2013 billboard comparing “believers” in global warming to the Unabomber? As the Los Angeles Times (May 9, 2012) noted, it cost Heartland the support not only of allies who reject the scientific consensus on climate change but also of a number of wealthy corporate sponsors.) But Schadenfreude isn’t the only consequence. The stunt also seems to have invigorated a lot of educators, scientists, parents, environmentalists, and even legislators to speak up and speak out on the need to support climate education.