Category Archives: science education

Teaching Evolution: Charles Lyell: The principles of geology

by Greg Mayer Our fourth installment of Teaching Evolution is an extract from Principles of Geology, by Charles Lyell. Lyell was an enormously influential scientist, and a leading figure in scientific circles in 19th century Britain. His influence on Darwin was profound: in Janet Browne’s authoritative biography of Darwin, the entry for Lyell in the […]

Teaching Evolution: George Gaylord Simpson: The major features of evolution

by Greg Mayer Our third installment of Teaching Evolution is a paper by George Gaylord Simpson, the most influential paleontological contributor to the Modern Synthesis, and one of its key figures. In this paper, Simpson discusses a wide variety of phenomena revealed in the fossil record– parallelism, mosaic evolution, convergence, adaptation, conservatism, variation of evolutionary […]

Teaching Evolution: A.W.F. Edwards: The coral of life

by Greg Mayer Our second installment of Teaching Evolution is a paper by A.W.F. Edwards on the history and logical justification of methods of phylogenetic inference. In teaching evolution, the idea of the history of life is very important. Most students intuitively see the closer genealogical relationship between, say, a man and an ape than […]

Teaching Evolution: Darwin: Unity of type and adaptation

Note from Jerry: Greg plans to run a mini-MOOC here, so if you want some education in evolution, do the readings and answer the questions (to yourself). This is the first installment. by Greg Mayer This semester I’m teaching BIOS 314 Evolutionary Biology, an upper level undergraduate course. The students are all or mostly biological […]

Brian Cox: Atheist or not?

I wouldn’t worry too much about what seems like a semantic question except that it bears on how respected scientists are viewed by the public. As we know, the term “atheist” is largely pejorative, even in the U.K., and so is avoided by public figures, who, if atheists, like to use soft euphemisms like “nonbeliever” […]

The University of Edinburgh and the John Templeton Foundation royally screw up evolution and science (and tell arrant lies) in an online course

Reader Simon sent me this video, which is a short (8-minute) lecture that’s apparently part of an online Coursera course on Science and Philosophy sponsored by the University of Edinburgh, the EIDYN Research Center run by Edinburgh’s Department of Philosophy, and the John Templeton Foundation. The presenter of this talk on creationism and evolutionary biology, S. […]

The best U.S. grad schools in ecology and evolution

The academic rankings of both undergraduate and graduate schools done yearly by U.S. News and World Report are taken quite seriously. Well, at least they are by the schools that make it to the top. When a school slips, the rankings suddenly become irrelevant, and excuses are made. For many years the University of Chicago […]

Cox interviews Attenborough on Darwin (and other interviews)

by Matthew Cobb My friend and colleague Professor Brian Cox is not only a Professor of Physics at the University of Manchester, he is also Professor for Public Engagement in Science at the Royal Society in London. As part of this, he decided to interview a number of Fellows of the Royal Society about their […]

Bill Nye excoriated for attending State of the Union address with Trump’s proposed NASA chief

I’ve made no secret about my lack of affection for Bill “The Science Guy” Nye.  Although at one time he may have been a great promoter of science for kids, he seems unable to survive out of the limelight. The result is that he’s engaging in all sorts of activities to keep himself in the […]

Americans want science done, but can’t name any scientists or places where science is done

A poll conducted last year and just now released by Research!America and Zogby Analytics (full results here; Zogby summary here) shows how abysmally ignorant Americans are about science, even though they trust scientists and think scientific research is important.  Here, for example, are some statistics and graphs: Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans can name […]