Gwen Pearson, an entomologist formerly known as Bug Girl, has performed sort of a retrospective analysis of the Ark Park‘s facilities for caring for its animals. You might have thought that the Ham-merheaded proprietors of the Ark Park would have performed a prospective analysis but evidently you would have been mistaken. Cheer up! Here is Dr. Pearson’s advice to the Ham-itic designers:
Recently in Assault on Science Category
NCSE has just announced the second webinar in its ongoing series, to be held on December 18, 2013, at 1:00 p.m. PST. The webinar will focus on “[s]topping bad legislation and encouraging policymakers to support strong science education…,” according to NCSE.
The webinar will be led by Josh Rosenau, Programs and Policy Director for NCSE; Vic Hutchison, professor emeritus at the University of Oklahoma, and founder and past president of Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education; and Dena Sher, legislative counsel at the ACLU’s national office. You may register for the webinar here.
We reported on NCSE’s earlier webinar here.
The National Center for Science Education has just announced a webinar on what to do when science comes under attack. Details below the fold.
A Slate article the other day compared the Ark Park to Coleridge’s Xanadu: “an extravagant vanity project born out of boundless narcissism and ambition.” An apt comparison, except of course that in the poem Kubla Khan actually builds his stately pleasure-dome – and he does not float junk bonds to do so.
The Creation “Museum” in Kentucky recently acquired an Allosaurus fossil, according to an AP release by Dylan Lovan yesterday. The proprietor of the Creation “Museum,” Ken Ham, seems to think that the mere acquisition of a dinosaur fossil gives his “museum” credibility and makes it a real museum. The fossil was donated by the Elizabeth Streb Peroutka Foundation of Maryland, about which I have so far managed to learn virtually nothing.
The article quotes geologist Dan Phelps, a perpetual thorn in the side of the Creation “Museum”:
Those who don’t follow The Sensuous Curmudgeon miss some great stuff. His latest is Discovery Institute’s New Form of Proof. It has a handy list of nine tactics the Disco Dancers use, with links to supporting material, and then adds a tenth, ““You’re afraid to debate me, so I win!” SC comments
Despite the fact that the Discoveroids have no evidence and no theory that challenges evolution (or any other science), they demand endless debates over their empty and valueless rubbish. And when no one pays any attention to them, they declare victory. It’s quite sad, really. But it probably impresses their generous patrons, who keep the cash flowing.
One is reminded of the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The limbs keep being lopped off.
Stephen Meyer’s “Darwin’s Doubt” has taken a beating from scientists who have reviewed it. Nick Matzke (recently Ph.D.’d and on his way to postdochood in Knoxville), in Meyer’s Hopeless Monster, Part II, eviscerated Meyer’s understanding of phylogenetics, among other things (see also Luskin’s Hopeless Monster). Don Prothero, in Stephen Meyer’s Fumbling Bumbling Amateur Cambrian Follies did the same to Meyer’s presentation of paleontology. John Pieret has a list of critical reviews.
The most ambitious effort is on Smilodon’t Retreat, the blog of an anonymous scientist. The reviewer is slogging through the book section by section. Eight posts are up and we’re just into Chapter 1 (of 20). Go there, read, comment, and cheer the reviewer on.
Jeremy Mohn, a high school biology teacher in Kansas and for years a stalwart in the defense of honest science education in that state, points us to another Casey Luskin masterpiece. Jeremy’s post is titled The Dispersal of Doubt: Biogeography, Convenient Omission, and Selective Quotation.
I recently encountered an article that is a classic demonstration of the array of deceptive tactics employed by a well-known critic of evolutionary theory. In a relatively brief essay about biogeography, the critic raises as many doubts as possible through the use of selective quotations from actual experts on the topic. All the while, he conveniently omits important details from the quoted texts that actually reduce the purported severity of the highlighted “conundrums.”
It’s well worth reading.
Via Facebook, we learn that the National Center for Science Education has launched a new blog called Science League of America. From Josh Rosenau’s intro post:
In August of 1924, Maynard Shipley–a science communicator and formerly a shoe salesman, music teacher, and criminologist–feared a creationist onslaught. A year before the Scopes monkey trial, Shipley saw that antievolutionists like William Jennings Bryan “have started their campaign against the theory of evolution with the avowed intent of putting in the place of science the Book of Genesis.”* He sent forth a call to friends and compatriots who shared his concern, urging them to join him in establishing “The Science League of America.”
The new NCSE blog is intended to honor Shipley’s goals while updating content. The blog will feature “…NCSE staff and our friends and allies from the field …”. Give it a look; the initial posts–five of them–are up.
That is the headline of a press release printed unedited in the Sacramento Bee. The movie, by Ray Comfort of banana fame, is an excruciating 35 minutes of quote-mined sound bites, mostly from undergraduate science majors, but also from PZ Myers and a handful of other scientists (Gail Kennedy, Craig Stanford, and Peter Nonacs).
It’s bad enough that Kentucky has the Ark Park, but also subsidizes it - now its residents are complaining about the Next Generation Science Standards. The headline of the Courier-Journal article is “Critics: Kentucky science academic standards are ‘fascist,’ ‘atheistic,’” but that does not do justice to the sheer lunacy of some of the comments quoted in the article.
Here are two excerpts:
Donald Prothero, paleontologist and author of Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters, has reviewed Meyer’s “Darwin’s Doubt” monstrosity on Amazon. Money quote:
In short, Meyer has shown that his first disastrous book was not a fluke: he is capable of going into any field in which he has no training or research experience and botching it just as badly as he did molecular biology. As I’ve written before, if you are a complete amateur and don’t understand a subject, don’t demonstrate the Dunning-Kruger effect by writing a book about it and proving your ignorance to everyone else!
(This is for the three people who don’t read Sandwalk.)
Every once in a while one sees a takedown so powerful that it makes one smile for days. One such is in the comment thread on a post on Sandwalk, Larry Moran’s blog. In the comments Diogenes eviscerates an anonymous poster on Evolution News and Views, an arm of the Disco ‘Tute, about a claim about ‘junk’ DNA. Read it and laugh at the ‘Tooters.
Science reports today that Turkey’s main science-funding agency denied a grant to a workshop on the grounds that “evolution is a controversial subject.” The purpose of the workshop was “to expose Turkish biology students to population genetics, game theory, and evolutionary modeling.” The organizers of the workshop had asked for approximately $18,000 (US) to cover the cost of students’ lodging and speakers’ travel. The workshop will go on, with private donors contributing the $18,000.
Under the heading Creationism Follies, Heather L. Weaver, an ACLU staffer, recalls the infamous fourth-grade science quiz that we described here on May 1. Being an ACLU staffer, Weaver notes that “religious schools are well within their First Amendment rights to indoctrinate students in this manner.” Not being an ACLU staffer, I note that they may have a legal right to teach students any kind of garbage that they like, but they have no intellectual right to do so, and schools that teach creationism as if it were truly science should lose their accreditation. Indeed, recent court decisions have upheld the University of California’s right to require remedial courses for students who have been miseducated at religious high schools.
But what about the public schools? Weaver outlines what she calls “just a few examples of creationism advocates working their influence in the public schools during the 2012-2013 school year”:
As most PT readers probably know, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has added climate change education to the core issues it is concerned with. I was originally dubious of that move, feeling that the focus on evolution education was enough to handle without adding another issue on which there’s public/political debate, though (as is also the case with evolution) considerably less scientific debate.
I’ve come around, though, for a couple of reasons. One, of course, is the increasing trend on the part of anti-evolutionists to lump climate change in with evolution in their “controversial issues” and so-called “academic freedom” legislation. These are part of the more general anti-science movement that Kenneth Miller warned against in Only a Theory, and I share Miller’s apprehensions in that respect. I do not think Miller exaggerates the threat to science literacy and support in the U.S.
Snopes.com yesterday verified that a “science” test (below the fold) given to 4th graders at a sectarian school is in fact real. Answers in Genesis, meanwhile, vilifies anyone who objects to such nonsense being taught as science, calling them “intolerant atheists” who “viciously attack [a] Christian school.”
On the topic of how kangaroos got to Australia after Noah’s Flood: at 2pm tomorrow, April 16 Answers in Genesis will hold a live chat at Facebook about AIG’s marvelous Super-fast Ice-Age Timeline and Map (which has the Ice Age lasting from about ~2220 to ~2115 BC, and all recorded human civilization post-2100 BC). I predict that any pointed questions they receive will be deleted quickly and permanently, so if you want some entertainment you will have to monitor it live. You may want to copy and archive any choice questions they receive before they’re deleted.
I presume that AIG’s “2:00 pm” is Eastern Daylight Time (=1800 GMT). Diogeneslamp0 has some representative questions one might ask at the linked comment.
Here. An excerpt:
Galileo’s achievement was the end of geocentrism, but it was hardly the end of ignorance and magical thinking. When obstinacy places reason under siege, as it does to this day – when fundamentalism defames biological science in the classroom, or the politics of denial prevent action to deal with a changing climate, it helps to recall our debt to a man who set a different example more than 400 years ago. It took just a wooden tube and some polished lenses, a critical and inquisitive mind, and four points of light that didn’t behave the way they were supposed to.
I’d replace just one word in that: “obstinacy.” It’s not obstinacy that’s the problem. It’s the stultifying religious fundamentalisms, the AIGs and Harun Yahyas of the world, the purveyors of ignorance and irrationality, that are the problem.
Irrationality and ignorance buttressed by religion are formidable foes, but the alternative to fighting them is to acquiesce in the decline of humanity into a fetid swamp of superstition.