Category Archives: science education

How best to communicate science?

It is increasingly evident that, unlike acceptance of most scientific “truths” (i.e. provisional truths), acceptance of evolution rests not on knowing the many facts supporting evolution, but about being part of a “tribe” (liberals, intelligentsia, and so on) that either accepts evolution, or of a “tribe” (conservative religionists and Republicans) that rejects evolution. Here, for […]

My WaPo review of Carl Zimmer’s new book

I wrote a short-ish review of Carl Zimmer’s new book on heredity, She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity, for the Washington Post. It appeared online today and will be in the paper newspaper on Sunday. You can read it for free by clicking on the screenshot (and please do, so […]

Why do people distrust science? It’s religion, stupid!

Well, yes, my title is a bit clickbaity, as of course there are several reasons why people distrust science. But according to a new post at Aeon by Dutch psychologist Bastiaan T Rutjens, shown below (click on screenshot), an article based on a scholarly paper by him and two colleagues that I haven’t yet read in detail […]

Evolution largely omitted and diluted from Arizona’s new education standards

Arizona has revised its educational standards for the first time in 15 years: these guidelines cover kindergarten through grade 12 (age about 18), and they’ve watered down the evolution standards, deleting several mentions of the “e-word” and severely qualifying others. You can see the reports below, at The Hill (click on screenshot), at the Arizona […]

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. […]