Call for science writing

The Tangled Bank

It's May Day! We're supposed to be thinking of flowers and spring and new life and Revolution and labor and the rights of the working class, but here in western Minnesota we're looking at snow and a late freeze and fierce winds—the snow is coming down sideways, always a bad sign—so I'm sitting indoors with a stack of papers to grade and thinking about these things in only the most abstract ways, I'm afraid. I'm going to bring up something completely different, science on the web.

So first, I will urge everyone to think positive thoughts about life and biology and science, good stuff to consider any day of the year and not just in the spring, and remind you all that a new edition of the Tangled Bank will be online this Wednesday, hosted by Buridan's Ass. The Tangled Bank is a biweekly collection of writing about science, natural history, medicine, etc., and it is now taking submissions of your good stuff on those subjects—send links to <buridans AT buridansass DOT com> or to me or to by Tuesday. And if you are snowed in or bored, browse the archives to find out who's talking about science on the weblogs.

There's another, even closer deadline coming up, and this one is your opportunity to strike a blow for good science in the so-called mainstream media. Last week, a major metropolitan newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, ran several opinion pieces on Intelligent design creationism, both pro and con. This isn't unusual, but they are also asking for more reader contributions on the subject:

An invitation to readers on ID/evolution.

We're interested in your thoughts on intelligent design, evolution, and their proper places in school curricula. Write us an e-mail of no more than 150 words and send it to, with the word "evolution" in the subject line. Be sure to include your name, address and telephone number so we can contact you if we decide to publish your response. Please reply by Monday, May 2.

This is a great opportunity to show our support for good science teaching and make a public statement in opposition to creationism. I know it's short notice, but heck, 150 words? That's a paragraph or two. I've made a suggestion about possible topics (in short: keep it positive, and let's encourage the newspapers to take a strong pro-biology stance), and if you'd like to see an example, here's one person publicly working through a couple of drafts.

The extremists and the lunatic religious right are usually far better at flooding the media with calls for action—let's try and reverse that pattern this time, OK?


There could be an entire Tangled Bank about the latest posts on IDTheFuture. Since ID people treat logic like a cheap prostitute, I suggest calling it The Mangled Skank. Think Jay Richards maxed out his brilliance in his Einstein Is Wrong post? Think again. How long does it take you to find the error in his newest post?

Who Designed the Designer? Jay Richards

We recently received the following question:

I hope my query can be directed to someone able to respond to my question regarding to the theory of intelligent design.

My question is: “WHO DESIGNED THE DESIGNER??????”

After a few moments of stunned silence, I realized what a powerful objection this is. In fact, it’s a universal acid, a show stopper. Its application is almost limitless. For example, people say that Mt. Rushmore was sculpted. But that does nothing to explain the origin of the sculptors! Similarly with respect to all examples in which we infer the activity of an intelligent agent. All those explanations fail to explain the origin of the agent itself, and are therefore unjustified. Therefore, we can never infer design in any case. Therefore, if you are reading this, you have no justification for inferring that someone has written this post. It’s best just to stop the regress of explanation at the computer screen itself. Permalink

Posted by Jay Richards at 10:34:55 am Categories: Announcements • Trackbacks (2)

“The Mangled Skank”


I agree.

I think it’s time to turn up the heat in the press. I for one am tired of the grace given to Dembski, Behe, Johnson and others who are simply wrong, wrong, wrong over and over. What will it take to demonstrate that this clown circus has no future?

And, by the way, who gives a flying rat’s ass about the flagellum of a freaking bacteria? If it were such an Intelligent Design I’d be slithering across the floor of my kitchen on one to pour myself another gin. Geeze Louise, get real!

sorry to say, but from my experiences with the media, they will take whatever you say and twist it to increase the controversy. not enough, mind you, so that you could sue, just enough so that you would look foolish trying to refute the media over the changes they made to your responses.

as to what it will take to demonstrate the circus freak nature of this whole charade…

it’s been done time and time again, and yet they resurect themselves from the ashes.

I think what it will take is politicians, media, and others NOT trying to take advantage of the ignorant for their own purposes.

If people actually cared about honesty in their politicians, these folks would have NO spokesmen for them.

perhaps this whole thing is simply a symptom of a failed democracy?

Question regarding the Tangled Bank: I’m going to be writing a 1500-2000 word paper on James Moore’s “The post-Darwinian controversies: a study of the Protestant struggle to come to terms with Darwin in Great Britain and America, 1870-1900” for a history class I’m taking; this paper will be finished by Monday afternoon, hopefully. Would this sort of thing be relavant for the Tangled Bank? It’s a bit more historical than most of the usual articles, I’m sure, but since I’m writing the paper anyway, I was wondering if you all would like to see it.

Speaking of opportunities for reader contributions.

The Washington Post has a monthly “Voices” question in the “On Faith” section (which I think is also monthly). At the end of each months “Voices” article is printed the next month’s question, which happens to be somewhat relevant for this site:

(begin quote)

Next month’s question: What should students be told about evolution and other theories on the origin of life? E-mail your answer (100 words or less) to [Enable javascript to see this email address.] . Include a daytime phone number.

(end quote)

Cue chorus of groans for the idiotic phrasing of the question…


There could be an entire Tangled Bank about the latest posts on IDTheFuture. Since ID people treat logic like a cheap prostitute, I suggest calling it The Mangled Skank.

That’s a great idea. The bank should also include every new ID-related Discovery Institute post and IDEACenter post. We should be diligent about documenting the lies and the lying liars, to keep the liars as far away as possible from kids in public schools.

On May 5, 1925, John T. Scopes was arrested in Tennessee for the crime of teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution – not so long ago. Anyone who has read Darwin’s Book “Origin of the Species” can NOT find the word “evolution” mentioned one time in the book. I looked for it myself. It is not there.

The blockbuster video “Inherit the Wind” & the Scopes Monkey Trial has Matthew Harrison Brady, acting the character role of William Jennings Bryan. William Jennings Bryan is portrayed as an almost comical fanatic in the trial pitted against Clarence Darrow. Bryan, always the fanatic, loses his self control and becomes cruel in his tyranny to stamp out dissent, and then dramatically dies of a heart attack at the end of the trial.

This was my contribution. A bit milquetoast, but what can you do in 150 words?

In the past century or so, the information we have gathered regarding evolution - fossil, genetic, and from a host of other fields of scientific research - explains the diversity and variety of life remarkably well. Creationism and Intelligent Design do not fare as well when using independent, verifiable data. Instead, proponents of these ideas take aim at gaps in our knowledge, attempting to spread doubt rather than offer a real alternative. It is true that our understanding of evolution has a long way to go. But that is not the same as saying that what we do know is wrong. Evolution is clearly the thread that weaves the varied story of life together – and it is science that powers our understanding. I am not opposed to religious teachings, but it has a home in religious institutions. It is evolution, not creationism or ID, which belongs in science class. Here’s some mediocre writing about the Kansas Evolution Trial. I’d put it on the Bathroom Wall, but that’s become a leper colony for JAD.

In light of the use of “May Day” by numerous monsterous and tyrannical regimes (e.g., the USSR, Communist China, Communist Cuba, etc.) many people actually see it as a day of mourning.

I also tried to write a quick article to the Tribune though I’m not sure how it will be accepted. (I sent it late last night and it needed considerable editing to get it down to the 150 word length. I’m just too wordy.)

Here it is:

In Dover, PA, there are (according to the newspapers) a total of two class periods (90 minutes) in which evolution is taught. That is just enough to go into the basics.

This is not a criticism. There’s a vast range of material for a general science class. Covering the basics in physics, chemistry, biology and a rough sketch of other sciences needs a lot of time and it is difficult to pare it down.

However, the attempts to undermine evolutionary theory and introduce a non-science such as ID into a science class are inherently harmful. By misrepresenting the definition of “theory”, the views of scientists, and the evidence that exists for evolution, it undercuts what should be taught and this could cross into other sciences.

It makes no sense to throw bad “science” in the classroom. There is just too much good science to cover to let in the bad.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on May 1, 2005 6:55 PM.

On Evolutionary Monographs was the previous entry in this blog.

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