By some fluke I was elected president of the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE) for 2011. My tenure begins tomorrow.

Given this position, I want to make clear that, as always, my posts on this site reflect my own personal opinion, and are not to be taken as official positions of the SSE or of any other organization. I will not speak for the SSE on this website—I do that only in official communications from the Society—nor will I mention the Society except, perhaps, to call attention to the annual meeting or to highlight a particularly noteworthy paper in our most excellent journal, Evolution.


  1. Mirik
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 7:03 am | Permalink


  2. Posted December 31, 2010 at 7:09 am | Permalink


  3. Posted December 31, 2010 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Congratulations, Jerry! And Happy New Year (which it is, just, where I am)!

  4. Posted December 31, 2010 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    You mention this as if it’s a bad thing.

    Cheer up and have a cigar!

  5. Duke York
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 7:19 am | Permalink


  6. Posted December 31, 2010 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Congratulations and condolences!

    I think it would be entirely appropriate for you to point us to noteworthy news from the Society, and I look forward to seeing said pointers.

    And, in that light, please permit me to link to the Society home page so the next poor schmuck who comes along doesn’t have to Google it.

    Hey — that name at the top. I recognize it!



    • Marella
      Posted December 31, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      Thx for the link, feeling lazy today.

  7. agentwhim
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Congratulations! Does this warrant celebratory new boots?

  8. Pieterz
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Congratulations, Jerry, but do you have to start with a lie.
    It was not some fluke, but a well deserved appointment.

  9. Chris Slaby
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Hmm, so the tricky bit of this is that you’re stuck in an official capacity where you have to play nice with accommodationists. Good luck!

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted December 31, 2010 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Um, why?

      Coyne has taken the position that science organizations should be neutral towards all religion. That is consistent with SSE activities, and should lead to some interesting conflicts with accommodationists and such science organizations that takes the opposite position.

      Not that I would expect SSE to put the science house in order, but at least to stand out as a shining light against accommodationist un-Enlightenment tapestry.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted December 31, 2010 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      OTOH I browsed the SSE constitution, and it seems already neutral (and not overly concerned with superstition).

      Good work!

      • Posted December 31, 2010 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        Somehow, I just don’t see the good doctor being interested in heading any other kind of organization.

        Their constitution isn’t a good place to look for that sort of thing; it’s just Robert’s Rules-type stuff.

        Rather, you want to have a look at the resources page, which includes these two exemplary statements:

        Statement on evolution by the Society for the Study of Evolution

        “Evolution” refers both to a set of scientific facts and to a theory explaining such facts. “Evolution” refers to the scientific fact that biological organisms have changed through time, and that all life, including humanity, has descended with modification from common ancestors. Evolution is as well documented as are other currently accepted scientific facts. The theory of evolution is a comprehensive and well-established scientific explanation, based on natural processes, of the fact of biological evolution.

        Statement on the teaching of evolution by the Society for the Study of Evolution

        Evolutionary theory should be taught in public schools because it is one of the most important scientific theories ever generated, and because it is the accepted scientific explanation for the diversity of life. As a scientific theory, it is testable and has been extensively tested. As stated by the great geneticist and evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” The theory of evolution is subject to refinements and revisions, but this is no different from any other major scientific theory, such as the those providing the explanatory frameworks of geology, physics, or chemistry. There is no pedogogical or scientific reason to treat evolutionary theory any differently than any other well-accepted scientific theory, and it should be taught in public schools as the firmly established, accepted unifying scientific principle that it is.

        I truly can’t imagine better statements on both subjects, especially given the current climate. Both statementsmake all the points that need to be made and — perhaps more importantly — don’t make points that shouldn’t be made in this context.



  10. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    By some fluke

    That strikes me as an odd mechanism to point out.

    More likely it was selection – survival of the slowest to duck.

    [Seriously though (well), wouldn’t fitness among scientists be defined as “differential reproducibility”?]

    • Ichthyic
      Posted December 31, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      By some fluke

      Hmm, for some reason, in my mind I was picturing a sort of horizontal information transfer via parasite.

  11. Juha Savolainen
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    A fluke? No way! I suspect that intelligent design was responsible…:)
    Congrats & Happy New Year!

    • Tyro
      Posted December 31, 2010 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      I keep picturing Jerry with some barbed flukes on his arms like some modern superhero – Parasite Pal or maybe Lamprey Lad. For the life of me I can’t figure out how this would help his academic career, nor whether this would be intelligent design or some evolutionary quirk.

      I do hope your magazine editors will avoid the temptation to trot out these credentials on your witty book reviews or editorials like they do with some other people (who then have to adopt a coquettish blush and cry “oh wow, how could you ever think that I was speaking for organization X?”. Hmm, I wonder how that confusion arose?)

      Congrats to Jerry and his new-found fluke-based super powers.

      • Tyro
        Posted December 31, 2010 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        Oops, wasn’t meant to be a reply, sorry for the confusion Juha.

      • Posted December 31, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        With great power comes great responsibility. — Uncle Ben Parker

  12. Tulse
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Congrats, Jerry!

  13. salon_1928
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Congratulations Jerry and have a great New Year!


  14. IanW
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Now you can really kick some creationist ass! Congratulations!

    I eagerly await your first presidential directive!

  15. Posted December 31, 2010 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    That’s odd – I didn’t know that flukes had voting rights on the boards of scientific societies. But congratulations anyway!

  16. Diego
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Congratulations, Jerry!

    @Ebonmuse, I assumed that the dolphins had rigged the elections again as they often do. But in any event, of course trematodes have voting rights. I was a grad student when I was in SSE and WE had voting rights. So if there are grad students then they can’t leave out flukes in good standing.

  17. Doc Bill
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    All hail! We are not worthy!

    You’re going to have to get some boots made with the SSE presidential seal tooled in.

    (or is it a walrus?}

  18. Posted December 31, 2010 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Congratulation Jerry, I know that you will help the science in developing countries.

  19. Posted December 31, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Congrats! Guess that means I’ll see you again at the Evolution conference this summer 🙂

  20. evogene
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink


  21. Posted December 31, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Yay! Congratulationissimi!

    • Posted December 31, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      So…does that mean you’re an antidecongratulationisimist?



  22. Luh
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Aw well done C:

  23. charris
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations for being elected! May your tenure education the masses 🙂

  24. Posted December 31, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink


  25. gruebait
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    A cynic might think you lost a bet 🙂


  26. Posted December 31, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations, and I, for one welcome our new evolutionary education master. I hope that you don’t become Dark Jerry with the savage abuse of power. Or if you do, can we watch? 🙂

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