Appalling that this would occur at an NEA meeting. Science denialism, including as it relates to evolution, deserves a place alongside of phrenology, and Creationist literature has all of the scientific validity of Der Ewige Jude.
In front of me [at the National Education Association (NEA) meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2013] were hundreds of books, DVDs, and handouts spouting creationist myths and targeting evolution as falsehoods being distributed to teachers. It nearly paralyzed me to watch as teachers, attracted by the glow of free, new materials, took stacks to distribute back home. I saw thirty years of NCSE’s good work slowly wash away as each teacher took a book or DVD. What was worse was the knowledge that many, if not all of them, thought they were receiving good and legitimate science. The teachers were being fooled.
Now, I could spend the rest of this post talking about the many reasons why this is a problem. I could talk about how creationist myths misrepresent the evidence for evolution and the nature of science. I could talk about how by distributing this material, the creationists are setting teachers up for painful and expensive lawsuits, as teaching creationism in public schools has been found to be unconstitutional. Or I could simply ask if it wouldn’t be better not to waste students’ time.
But I want to talk about what NCSE is doing about this.
Students will sing along with parts of “Natural Selection,” when the chorus intones the principle of natural selection: “The weak and the strong, Darwin got it goin’ on…whoever leaves the most spawn,” as the bearded rapper Darwin gyrates and twirls.....Brinkman describes Darwin as “the first to translate his amazement at the wonder of life into a way to explain it.”.... [In] “I’m a African,” in which Brinkman raps the origins of mankind: “Africa is where my momma got her mitochondria” accompanied by wild graphics. Don’t expect to hear the word “mitochondria” in a 50 Cent or Jay-Z rap. I’ve been humming “The fossil record has gaps but no contradictions” all morning.
In “Performance, Feedback, Revision,” Professor Baba compares the process of writing a rap with evolution and natural selection, showing how random changes due to mutations alter the text or performance piece (the genetic code). The altered text sees the light of day in the organism’s phenotype (the performance), which is accepted or rejected by natural selection (or the audience), feeding back on the endless creative cycle of life. The songs can be downloaded at http://bababrinkman.bandcamp.com/album/the-rap-guide-to-evolution.
The last thing we want to do is water down the teaching of biology because some people don’t recognize that evolution happened. Evolution is the basis of modern biology and, in fact, if a lot of people don’t believe it, it only means we have to do a better job teaching it. So once again, I repeat, the purpose of education is not to validate ignorance, but to overcome it. And to overcome a situation where a United States Senator can speak such manifest nonsense with impunity is vitally important to the healthy future of our society.
And Matthew Tully, writing in the Indianapolis Star (December 8, 2012), remarked, "Less than a year after Kruse and others in the state Senate failed to push an embarrassment of a bill through the legislature that would have allowed the teaching of creationism in science classes, the Auburn Republican is at it again. ... It's a silly idea at a time when seriousness is needed in the General Assembly. It's a distraction when the legislature should be focused on core education issues. It's a reminder that ideology far too often gets in the way of tackling important issues under the Statehouse dome. And it's an attempt to walk through the back door a bill that — thanks to sensible lawmakers, outraged voters and the courts — can't make it through the front."
Yes, yes, it’s unsophisticated to blame any given storm on climate change. Men and women in white lab coats tell us—and they’re right—that many factors contribute to each severe weather episode. Climate deniers exploit scientific complexity to avoid any discussion at all.
If you've followed the decades-long innanity of science-deniers who target the Theory of Evolution (yes, all of geology, biology, and genetics is wrong--magic, indeed), you'll not be surprised that science-deniers exploit scientific complexity, nor that they often exploit and sometimes simply misinterpretent or misunderstand the role of disagreements within the scientific community, disagreements that quite often exist within the context of overarching, fundemental scientific consensus.
Back to the cost perspective given in the graphic (click on the above) designed by Jennifer Daniel: The number of U.S. natural disasters costing more than $1bn was 46 in 1980-1995 and 90 from 1996-2012. (Inflation plays a very small role in that increase.)
Yet, an October 2012 Pew Research Center poll
found that two-thirds of Americans say there is solid evidence the earth is getting warmer. That’s down 10 points since 2006. Among Republicans, more than half say it’s either not a serious problem or not a problem at all."
The graphic by Jennifer Daniel doesn't include a cost estimate (it's yet to to determined) for this year's U.S. drought, which was the worst in a generation.
Also from the article:
On Aug. 30, [Romney] belittled his opponent’s vow to arrest climate change, made during the 2008 presidential campaign. “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet,” Romney told the Republican National Convention in storm-tossed Tampa. “My promise is to help you and your family.” Two months later, in the wake of Sandy, submerged families in New Jersey and New York urgently needed some help dealing with that rising-ocean stuff.
Yes, it's global warming, stupid, and it comes with a cost--one that in the future could grow worse than need be if science-deniers' influence continues to rise.
Below are shown statements of abject folly thought by their speaker to be like beacons of truth. If followed as pedagogy in their extreme would misdirect utterly, tragically signaling others, even school children if the speaker had his way, into failure: failure to understand the universe, failure to understand human origins, failure to understand the scientific method, failure to appreciate the scope and magnitude of reality, failure to engage with the grand struggles for knowledge in the areas of evolutionary biology, genetics, particle physics, cosmology, astronomy, virology, geology, and several other fields that daily rest upon and prove again the basic tenets of evolution, the basic fact of that there is one--one--only one known scientific explanation for the origin of species, including human beings, and the basic fact that the Earth is very, very old indeed, and the universe older yet.
This yawning gap in knowledge that he'll happily and haplessly steer others towards, this shadowy, oceanically massive maw of ignorance he promises can be bridged not by structures of scientific inquiry, correction, and knowledge, but by throwing something like an idol into the void it, a collection of select verses from self-described sacred texts penned in the pre-scientific age of bronze tools.
Science gives you the adventure of curiosity and curiosity channeled toward problem-solving, question-answering, and accumulating knowledge that can be shared and can grow. It can literally take you to the moon and let you gaze into the hearts of stars; it can let you see the past by reading the stories of Earth's rocks and even those of other worlds. It can make you marvel at the limits of imagination and knowledge as you're confronted with the limitless but utterly approachable and almost certainly solvable mysteries of the cosmos.
But this man says curiosity is overrated compared to a few words--most of them in a book called Genesis and all of which could all be read in minutes--which are supposed to direct or even completely satisfy a lifetime of curiosity and settle in some fundamental way all questions you and any American school student might have about where species come from and what is the natural history of our planet and universe.
And the man who makes these statements is a member of Congress.
And he sits on the House of Representatives' Science Committee.
What he says disqualifies him for any such seat. That his constituents are not shamefaced is a profound testimony against. What he says is an embarrassment. Yet...he is a policy-influencer and lawmaker, especially as policy and law relate to science.
Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) tore into scientists as tools of the devil in a speech at the Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet last month.
“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell,” Broun said. “And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”
According to Broun, the scientific plot was primarily concerned with hiding the true age of the Earth. Broun serves on the House Science Committee, which came under scrutiny recently after another one of its Republican members, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), suggested that victims of “legitimate rape” have unnamed biological defenses against pregnancy.
Please click "Like" under Ashley's and Lee's photo on Blue Bridal Boutique's Facebook page to help Ashley win a wedding gown. Ashley and Lee are both paleontologists. Also, check out Philip and Susan's great story on NPR's Storycorps.
Two years ago, I was having a really hard time finding the man of my dreams in Los Angeles. I dated actors and musicians--nice guys, but not the kind of gut-wrenching, long-lasting love that movies are made of. I'd heard about OkCupid.com, a free online dating website, so I gave it a try. I went on dates, but no one really understood my love for paleontology. I catalogue and identify 70 million year old dinosaur fossils for my job (I'm asst. curator of paleontology), so I needed a guy who truly understood and shared the same passion. Not having any luck, I expanded my OkCupid search from the Los Angeles area to the ENTIRE United States. Sound desperate? I spent an entire night searching OkCupid for any keyword that might lead me to my very own Dr. Alan Grant: "paleontologists," "paleontology," "dinosaurs". I was determined.
Biologists Philip and Susan McClinton started their life together, in 1972, in a very different place.
Forty years ago this week, Philip and Susan McClinton had their first date. Today, Susan is a retired biologist and Philip is assistant curator at the Draper Museum of Natural History in Cody, Wyo. But when the two met, it was at a very different place.
The McClintons' story starts in 1972, at a topless bar in Fort Worth, Texas. Philip was a bouncer. Susan was there to compete in an amateur night, hoping to win the cash prize. To Philip, Susan was out of place.
"I thought, 'She doesn't belong in here,' " he recalls. "She didn't need to be in this place."
"At the time I had two children to support, so I needed the money. I remember at one point you said, 'I'll keep an eye on you,' " Susan says. "And I think that was the beginning of our relationship."
Philip told her he wanted to take her rattlesnake hunting. Susan thought he was crazy, but she went anyway. She loved it. "I thought, 'Hey, this is something I might want to do on a regular basis,' " she says.
How can we effectively convey a telling response to common creationist arguments in a 140-character tweet? How can we make our arguments in a public forum without coming across as condescending? Which of our common arguments and critiques are actually most telling with the lay public? How can we address the confirmation bias that seems to occur when people seek sources of information on the internet?
The questions' larger context:
It is no longer necessary to visit an expert at all, even indirectly through his books. Instead, learners can get their information from a wide variety of sources with trivially small amounts of effort and all manner of people have taken advantage of the new technologies to post their pet theories and claims for the world to see. The result is a stupendously huge mass of “information” which has not been tested, vetted or critiqued in any way. To make matters worse, there is evidence that people respond to such diversity by selectively accessing information which confirms their existing opinions (see Knobloch-Westerwick and Meng 2009). The information market is now very clearly a buyer’s market to which the sellers—experts like us—have yet to adapt. ..... [T]raditional methods of presenting science are not always well suited to the world of modern media. It’s my belief that we can win on this new battlefield, but it will require a new strategy for marketing scientific ideas— something the science community typically has not valued highly. What we need to do is spend some time thinking very seriously about how to meet this new challenge with new techniques.
Then, there are other active scientists such as Fabrice Leclerc @leclercfl, who is not only (re-)tweeting science-related findings, but also publishing a regular "online-paper" with evolution-related topics based on Tweets: The evolution daily.
Maria-José Viñas, AGU science writer, also wrote about Twitter and science communication.
(Image courtesy of id-iom via a Creative Commons License.)
Scientists are trading telescopes for aprons this week to sell Milky Way cupcakes, Saturn cake, and chocolate chip Opportunity cookies in an effort to salvage U.S. planetary science projects.
The 2013 budget proposal submitted by the Obama administration earlier this year would cut funding for NASA's planetary science projects by about $300 million. While Congress is still deliberating over the federal budget, groups of scientists are planning a series of demonstrations — in the form of bake sales, car washes and other events — for Saturday (June 9) to plead their case. ..... For Central Florida residents: The planetary bake sale is planned for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. EDT Saturday at the Chevron adjacent to the University of Central Florida campus on 1640 E. McCulloch Road in Orlando.
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the emergence of geology as a scientific discipline. A little over two hundred years ago a small group of friends founded the Geological Society of London. This organisation was the first devoted to furthering the discipline of geology - the study of the Earth, its history and composition.
Although geology only emerged as a separate area of study in the late eighteenth century, many earlier thinkers had studied rocks, fossils and the materials from which the Earth is made. Ancient scholars in Egypt and Greece speculated about the Earth and its composition. And in the Renaissance the advent of mining brought further insight into the nature of objects found underground and how they got there. But how did such haphazard study of rocks and fossils develop into a rigorous scientific discipline?
Conservatives, particularly those with college educations, have become dramatically more skeptical of science over the past four decades, according to a study published in the April issue of the American Sociological Review. Fewer than 35 percent of conservatives say they have a "great deal" of trust in the scientific community now, compared to nearly half in 1974.
"The scientific community ... has been concerned about this growing distrust in the public with science. And what I found in the study is basically that's really not the problem. The growing distrust of science is entirely focused in two groups—conservatives and people who frequently attend church," says the study's author, University of North Carolina postdoctoral fellow Gordon Gauchat