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Monday, December 28, 2009
What Darwin Never Knew

One hundred and fifty years later, scientists decode nature's greatest mysteries in a two-hour NOVA special.

The special will highlight breakthroughs in the new science of evolutionary developmental biology ("evo-devo") that have allowed biologists to crack nature's biggest secrets at the genetic level.

Time to set your DVR!

It airs tomorrow, Tuesday, December 29th on PBS.

Check your local listings.

posted by Jeremy Mohn

Saturday, December 19, 2009
The Known Universe

Hey, how'd the get a camera out there?

posted by Jeremy Mohn

Thursday, December 17, 2009
Laugh of the Day

The Discovery Institute whines, "Why Are Darwinists Scared to Read Signature in the Cell?", Stephen Meyer's latest ID promo.

To which the proper response is, "Why Are ID Proponents Scared to Submit Their Data to Scientists, and Why Do They Market Directly to an Un-Science-Literate Public?"

Or, "Why Does the Discovery Institute Focus on PR Instead of Research?"

Of course we know why. It's because they still don't have the data. And without this evidence, they're forced to pimp their movement directly to an unsuspecting public.

Here's what a help-wanted ad from the DI must look like:

Wanted: Research Scientist.
Duties: Communicate our vision of science to the public through church lectures, popular books published by religious publishers, opinion pieces, and staged debates.
Perks: No long hours in the lab. No submissions to peer-reviewed science journals required. No presentations of data at science conferences necessary.
Requirements: Good hair & smile. Ability to utter contradictory and absurd statements without flinching is a must.
Education: B.A. in Marketing, Leadership Studies or Political Science preferred. Will accept a J.D. if we get really desperate.
Previous Experience: Positions in used-car sales, ambulance chasing, or advertising are helpful.
Salary: Commensurate with experience, and dependent on the generosity of our donors.

posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams

Monday, December 14, 2009
Infestation, part II

A few weeks ago, I noted an upcoming Campus-Ministry-sponsored pro-ID lecture at Indiana University-Purdue University, Ft. Wayne (IPFW) to be presented by IPFW associate professor of science education Dr. Jeffrey Nowak.

A couple of intrepid readers attended the talk, including Dr. Richard Sutter, chair of the IPFW Department of Anthropology. (You can read attendees' comments here, here, and here.)

Dr. Sutter let us know of an interesting development in the situation.

The campus cable network was on hand to record the presentation. Usually, the ID community is more than happy to publicize their, um, work; but this time, not so much. Apparently, Dr. Nowak is so concerned that his talk will be misrepresented that he asked the campus cable network to destroy all copies of his talk.

. . . say what? . . .

According to Dr. Sutter,

A colleague informed me that Dr. Nowak requested that the CATV 56 (campus cable network) destroy all copies of his talk because he felt that some of his colleagues would misrepresent his talk. I called CATV 56 and they confirmed that they no longer have any copies and do not intend on broadcasting the talk on CATV 56. One would think that if Dr. Nowak is concerned about the content of his talk being misrepresented he would want the tape of the talk to be widely available so that others could judge the content for themselves.

Funny how he - unlike other scientists and scholars - isn't willing to have the public scrutinize his ideas . . . I always thought that the academy and scholarship were all about?

Ah, but when a movement's primary goals are political and religious, not scientific, censorship is *exactly* what you'll find as we've found time and again. Now Nowak can spin the experience any way he wants regardless of the accounts of onlookers; not exactly a new tactic for the DI's supporters.

Pity poor Dr. Nowak, who has evidently learned he's not even competent to carry water for the Discovery Institute. It does make one wonder why he's entrusted with training trusting young souls who'll soon be teaching science to elementary kids. It's sad that a young professor has chosen to place his ministry ahead of his conscience.

Strange how a scholar is so intent on persuading the public that ID should infest science education that he's ready to exterminate any evidence of his attempt at persuasion.

On the other hand, for an example of someone doing REAL science and communicating it to the public, meet Dr. Richard C. Sutter:

posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Crystalline Precipitation!

This image of a freshly-fallen snowflake was captured with Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy.

As snowflakes form, air is trapped within the lattices of the crystal. If the snow doesn't melt, and instead accumulates and packs down, the structure of the snowflakes changes in all kinds of interesting ways.

By drilling into Arctic & Antarctic glaciers and examining the ice cores brought up, researchers can look at snow that has built up over tens of thousands of years. The air that was trapped can be analyzed to help figure out what the climate was like at the time the snow fell. The evidence is there, regardless of how nasty a few scientists get toward denialists. (Those scientists have since received "torrents" of death threats.)

Here in semi-arid western Kansas, we usually don't have to worry about that much snow. In fact, we're grateful for whatever precipitation we get - except for ice.

posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams

Saturday, December 5, 2009
There's No Comfort in the Truth

If you follow the creation/evolution debate, you've probably heard of Ray Comfort. In case you haven't, Ray is a Christian apologist who is probably best known for his hilarious comedy routine in which he argues that the characteristics of a banana provide evidence for the existence of God.

Well, here's the part where Ray slips on the banana peel.

You see, Ray Comfort's "special introduction" to Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species includes a short biography of Darwin that was apparently cut-n-pasted from University of Tennessee professor Stan Guffey's essay "A Brief History of Charles Darwin" (pdf).

Here's how Guffey described his unacknowledged contribution to Comfort's ministry:

"I am party to a scam," Guffey says. "The introduction begins with a nice, sweet little biography, then degenerates into intellectually lame, lazy distortions, selective reading of the literature, picking and choosing of facts, and misreadings of the historical record." He says Comfort "gently moves folks into the notion that they don't want to read what comes after the introduction. He just wants his 50 pages read, 47 of which are anti-intellectual, dishonest drivel, the first three of which are pretty good because I wrote them."

See? There's no Comfort in the truth.

Even worse, according to the Metro Pulse article linked above, Comfort and his publisher were confronted about the apparent plagiarism months ago and apparently chose to do nothing about it.

As I said before, I wish people like Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron would stop harming Christianity by making such fools of themselves in public. They're bumbling attempts at evangelism are self-defeating.


posted by Jeremy Mohn

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