Category Archives: science education

Another fail for the New York Times’s science section

This is the third time I’ve gotten the paper copy of the New York Times and read its “ScienceTimes” section, determining the proportion of all science articles that are about “pure” science that has nothing to do with our species, versus those articles about health, global warming, and the like that are relevant to human well-being. The previous […]

Social media excoriates British teacher for claiming there’s more evidence for the truth of the Bible than of evolution

This incident was reported on January 26 by the Godless Spellchecker: the head teacher of a British faith school, one Christina Wilkinson of St. Andrews Church of England School in Lancashire, pushed back against another teacher (Tom Sherrington), who had earlier posted his support of evolution. Below is Wilkinson’s tw**t that caused all the trouble (note that her handle […]

Tim White goes Full Curmudgeon: damns the love affair between media and science

Timothy White, a paleoanthropologist at Berkeley, is rightly famous for his work on hominin fossils, especially Lucy. And he’s done some good work against creationism as well: he was the scientist who most flummoxed the UK creationists in our television show “Conspiracy Road Trip“. The fundies just couldn’t get around his sequential presentation and explanation of hominin skulls (see […]

12 Days of Evolution. #12: Does evolution have a point?

This is the last video in the series produced by PBS and “It’s Okay to Be Smart”. And this one seems fine to me, dispelling the myths of evolution as a progressive process and of humans as the pinnacle of evolution. As for the notion that we should feel good about all that, well, tell […]

12 Days of Evolution #11: Are we still evolving?

By far the most frequent issue I’m asked about when giving public lectures on evolution is this: “Are humans still evolving? If so, how? Where are we going?” The short answer is “Yes, we’re still evolving, but not in ways that excite most people.” And what answer you give depends on whether you’re talking about whether […]

12 Days of Evolution. #10: Why are there still monkeys?

This the tenth video in the PBS/”It’s Okay to be Smart” series—and that series can’t end too soon for me—is a response to that perennial creationist question, “If humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” The no-brainer response is decent, but it neglects the important part of the answer: both modern apes and modern humans […]

12 days of evolution. #9: Can evolution create new information?

One of the more sophisticated claims of creationists, especially used by advocates of intelligent design—I don’t think this term merits capitalization, for we don’t capitalize “creationism”, which is exactly what ID is—is that evolution “can’t create new information”, therefore, insofar as the process produces organisms doing novel things, God must have done it. This ninth short video […]

The 12 days of evolution. #8: Evolution and thermodynamics

Here’s the Eighth Day of Creation, or rather, the eighth episode in the PBS/It’s Okay to be Smart series on “The Twelve Days of Evolution.” In effect, the episodes each aim to debunk one creationist misconception (or lie). In this case it’s the old claim that evolution violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Let’s review […]

The 12 days of evolution. #7: Why do males have nipples?

The seventh video in the 12-episode series produced by PBS/It’s Okay to be Smart (I’m putting them up in order) is about a question that always excited my undergraduate students: why do male mammals have nipples? One undergraduate whom I taught about two decades ago told me recently that he’d forgotten almost everything I taught in introductory […]

The 12 days of evolution. #6: The imperfection of evolution

Today’s video, part of the PBS/It’s Okay to Be Smart collaboration, highlights the “dumbness” of evolution: the fact that it has no foresight, and therefore devises solutions—I’m speaking metaphorically here—that are less perfect than an engineer could come up with de novo. One of the most famous jerry-rigged and imperfect “adaptations” is the mammalian recurrent […]

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