Daily Archives: April 9, 2008

Be nice to me or I might not talk to you. Or worse, maybe I will talk to you…

ResearchBlogging.orgRecently published research shows that individual humans will be nicer (more altruistic) when there is the possibility that the recipient of an act can respond verbally. The paper, “Anticipated verbal feedback induces altruistic behavior” is published in Evolution and Human Behavior for March. Continue reading Be nice to me or I might not talk to you. Or worse, maybe I will talk to you…

Anti-Gay Kern In New Flap

Remember Sally Kern?

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, which only two weeks ago reached out to an Oklahoma lawmaker who said gays are “the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism,” is now involved in a new dispute with Rep. Sally Kern (R).Kern accuses the group of misrepresenting remarks she made at March 27 meeting with PFLAG. Following the meeting the organization said that Kern told representatives and several clergy members that “I agree with” the idea that gay and lesbian Americans should not be fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation.Those present said in a media statement that Kern also agreed to consider an ongoing dialogue with PFLAG families.But Kern this week told The Oklahoman newspaper that PFLAG had misrepresented her statements.Wednesday PFLAG released an audio tape of the full 40 minute meeting on its Web site.On the recording Kern can be heard twice agreeing with the PFLAG supporters that gay Americans should not be fired from their jobs simply because of their sexual orientation.She goes on to say that “maybe” she would consider a follow-up meeting with PFLAG families in her district and agrees to a dinner invitation from a PFLAG supporter in the meeting. Near the end of the conversation, Kern is asked, in recapping the conversation, if she does indeed oppose anti-gay job discrimination; she responds affirmatively that she does.”Representative Kern’s words speak for themselves,” said Rev. Loyce Newton-Edwards, president of PFLAG’s Oklahoma City chapter in a statement.”The recording, which we made with her staff’s consent, is irrefutable evidence that she did agree with us on employment non-discrimination; that she did agree to consider an ongoing dialogue with us; and that she did agree on some basic principles of fairness and equality. It is beyond disappointing that she has now stepped away from those comments, and it is disheartening that she, as an elected leader, has attempted to disavow her own words.”rest is here.

Expelled Fizzles

From FOX:

After seeing a new non-fiction film starring Comedy Central’s Ben Stein, you may not only be able to win his money, but also his career.Stein is that whiny little guy with the monotone voice that makes him seem funny and an unlikely “character” for TV appearances. But that career may be over come April 18, when a movie he co-wrote, narrates and appears in, called “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” is released.Directed by one Nathan Frankowski, “Expelled” is a sloppy, all-over-the-place, poorly made (and not just a little boring) “expose” of the scientific community. It’s not very exciting. But it does show that Stein, who’s carved out a career selling eye drops in commercials and amusing us on sitcoms, is either completely nuts or so avaricious that he’s abandoned all good sense to make a buck.To wit: Stein, Frankowski and pals say in “Expelled” that perfectly good scientists and educators are being stigmatized for wanting to teach their students creationism and “intelligent design” — in other words, junk science — in addition to or instead of conventionally accepted Darwinism. You see, Stein, like some other celebrities, finally has shown his true colors and they aren’t so pretty.The gist of Stein’s involvement is: He’s outraged! He believes in God! God created the universe! How can we not avail our students of this theory? What do you mean we’re just molecules?What the producers of this film would love, love, love is a controversy. That’s because it’s being marketed by the same people who brought us “The Passion of the Christ.” They’re hoping someone will latch onto an anti-Semitism theme here, since there’s a visit to a concentration camp and the raised idea — apparently typical of the intelligent design community — that somehow the theory of evolution is so evil that it caused the Holocaust. Alas, this is such a warped premise that no one’s biting.The whole idea of Stein, a Jew, jumping on the intelligent design bandwagon of the theory of evolution begetting the Nazis is so distasteful you wonder what in — sorry — God’s name — he was thinking when he got into this. Who cares, really, if “Expelled” is anti-Semitic? It will come and go without much fanfare.

And so on and so forth, the rest here.From Scientific American: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed–Scientific American’s Take Continue reading Expelled Fizzles

Homeschoolers Who Do Not Learn Science Should Not Receive a Diploma

This is an argument from Steve Shives:

There are many, many things I find dubious about the practice of parents homeschooling their children. I wonder how a mother or father who has not been educated as a teacher, who in many cases has not even been to college her/himself, can possibly provide their child with as good an education as students receive in our much-maligned public schools. And I can´t help but think that these homeschool students, of whom there are several million in the United States, are being robbed of a crucial formative experience by not attending school with other people their age and being forced to interact with a diverse group of peers.Most disturbing is the virulent strain of religious fundamentalism that is found in the lessons being taught homeschooled children, especially in the United States. Not all American homeschooling is religious–that´s not what I´m saying. I´ve known people personally who were homeschooled from a secular curriculum, and there are many others like them throughout the country. I think I´m safe in saying, however, that the majority of homeschooling in the U.S. is religious–specifically, fundamentalist Christian–in nature. This is no big secret….

Read the rest here

Dawkins New Book

i-9b3a7244ee62c37e6ba53f6b270757a7-dawkins_book.jpgThe Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing edited by Richard Dawkins is now in pre-release state … so you can order it with a discount from Amazon. Publisher’s description:

Boasting almost one hundred pieces, The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing is a breathtaking celebration of the finest writing by scientists–the best such collection in print–packed with scintillating essays on everything from “the discovery of Lucy” to “the terror and vastness of the universe.”Edited by best-selling author and renowned scientist Richard Dawkins, this sterling collection brings together exhilarating pieces by a who’s who of scientists and science writers, including Stephen Pinker, Stephen Jay Gould, Martin Gardner, Albert Einstein, Julian Huxley, and many dozens more.Readers will find excerpts from bestsellers such as Douglas R. Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach, Francis Crick’s Life Itself, Loren Eiseley’s The Immense Journey, Daniel Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, and Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us. There are classic essays ranging from J.B.S. Haldane’s “On Being the Right Size” and Garrett Hardin’s “The Tragedy of the Commons” to Alan Turing’s “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” and Albert Einstein’s famed New York Times article on “Relativity.” And readers will also discover lesser-known but engaging pieces such as Lewis Thomas’s “Seven Wonders of Science,” J. Robert Oppenheimer on “War and Physicists,” and Freeman Dyson’s memoir of studying under Hans Bethe.A must-read volume for all science buffs, The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing is a rich and vibrant anthology that captures the poetry and excitement of scientific thought and discovery.