Glenn Morton, 1950-2020

Glenn Morton
Glenn Morton, 1950-2020.

Jonathan Kane is a science writer who has written five previous posts for Panda’s Thumb from 2016 to 2019 (they are listed in the Archives for those years). He is the editor and primary author of God’s Word or Human Reason? An Inside Perspective on Creationism, co-authored with Emily Willoughby, T. Michael Keesey, Glenn Morton, and James R. Comer, published December 2016 by Inkwater Press, with a new edition published in spring of this year. Matt Young is this post’s moderator.

I’m sad to announce that Glenn Morton, the geophysicist and former creation scientist who eventually became a critic of creationism, and who coined the term “Morton’s Demon”, died on August 5 after a long battle with cancer. He was 70.

Ed Brayton Passed Away


Ed Brayton was an amazing man and one of the founders of Pandasthumb. I’m saddened to report that after a long battle with his health, he died last night. It happened a few days after he decided to enter hospice care. He died on his own terms and as peacefully as possible.

We are all grateful to have known him and been influenced by him. His voice will be missed.

We are almost back


[Added 14th of August: comments now work correctly, so Panda’s Thumb is now back “on the air” as of the 11th. The outage was 56 days, or 8 weeks.]

Panda's Thumb has been down since the 16th of June, owing to a hardware failure in its server machine. Reed has been working to fix that, and I have been adapting the site to be served by Github Pages. This has been possible since it was already using a locally-served version of Github Pages since 2016, in its previous configuration.

Currently most features of PT work. The comments do not appear at the end of articles, even though the count of the number of comments appears for each article on the front page of the site, and the Recent Comments list appears correctly. Current and archived posts are available. We hope to get comments working very soon. In the meantime, please be patient, and watch this space.

Reason for optimism in the evolution wars

"Teachers classified by the scientific accuracy of the messages reportedly conveyed to students, 2007 and 2019." Note, in particular, that the number of teachers who teach evolution as settled science has increased from around 50 to nearly 70 %, whereas the number who give mixed messages or outright teach creationism has decreased. Plutzer, E., Branch, G. & Reid, A. Teaching evolution in U.S. public schools: a continuing challenge. Evo Edu Outreach 13, 14 (2020). Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

The title of this article, Teaching evolution in U.S. public schools: a continuing challenge, seems to me a little sterile and possibly unduly pessimistic. The main conclusions of the article are given in the figure: The fraction of teachers who teach evolution has increased from 50 to nearly 70 % in the 12 years since an earlier survey. Additionally, the fraction who teach creationism has fallen, and the fraction who give “mixed messages” has fallen precipitously, from the low 20’s to the low teens.

Among other conclusions, the authors credit the Next Generation Science Standards for the improvement.

Ondatra zibethicus

Ondatra zibethicus – muskrat, munching what I think is a broad-leaved cattail, Elmer's Two-Mile Creek, Boulder, Colorado, May, 2020.

… And please don’t forget the photography contest!