Daily Archives: September 22, 2010

Excellent research blogging

Once again, I have been awarded an Editors’ Choice award on Peter Janiszewski’s Research Blogging Blog. They tell me that this is somewhere between an Academy Award and a Nobel Prize. Thank you thank you thank you. And, I’d like to point out that I share this award with several other excellent bloggers and their blog posts, including those on creativity and mental illness, sports injuries, modernization and dietary issues, and the link between stress and suicide. Click here to see summaries and links to all these wonderful posts!

My Sister, the State Board of Education Candidate

A piece by Historyguy Five Three Seven One Six:

Did I mention this was the most boring job in the world? Mind-numbingly, soul-crushingly, stab-yourself-in-the-leg-with-a-pen-to-get-them-to-call-an-ambulance-so-you-can-escape-this-meeting- boring. If she wins this seat, she will spend days in meetings discussing the logistics of textbook acquisition, and politely sitting through hours of public comments from people who think Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to listen to Jesus preach the Sermon on the Sanctity of Tax Cuts for the Rich. Now, for some reason, she actually likes this kind of educational public policy work, and she’ll do a great job at it. But it’s an absolute shame that some of the most important jobs in this country, the local government jobs that keep our streets safe and clean, and keep our kids in school learning to be good citizens, can be taken over by a highly motivated extremist minority who resort to name calling and deception to maintain their hold on power.

Read the whole thing here.

Storm World by Chris Mooney (Book Review)


Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming
I’ve been putting off posting my review of this book until just the right moment. Perhaps that moment is now, with the juxtaposition of a serious storm … hurricane Gustav … arriving in the vicinity of New Orleans and the opening day of the Republican National Convention, since both charismatic hurricanes and not so charismatic politicians play such a large role in the book at hand.
Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming, by Chris Mooney, is a well written, informative, captivating, and important book exploring this question: Does global warming mean that there have been, or will be, more hurricanes, more hurricanes that hit us, or stronger hurricanes? In other words, is a consequence of global warming a world in which the Gulf and Southeastern States of the US becomes a deadly place, as well as regions such as the Bay of Bengal, and will hurricanes begin to affect regions previously untouched by them, such as the Amazon and Europe?

I strongly recommend this book. Here, I’ll give you the gist of the book, explain why it is important, and pontificate a bit on one particular theme regarding hurricanes and global warming.

Continue reading Storm World by Chris Mooney (Book Review)

Eugenie Scott Tackles Modified Origin Book

NCSE’s executive director Eugenie C. Scott was invited to debate Ray Comfort, a creationist in the news recently for his plans to distribute copies of the Origin of Species with his own introduction, on the God & Country blog of U.S. News & World Report. Comfort began the debate on October 29, 2009; Scott replied on October 30, 2009; Comfort responded on November 2, 2009; and Scott replied on November 3, 2009. The debate, according to Dan Gilgoff, who maintains the blog, elicited “more feedback than any other issue on this blog has received over any similar stretch in its not-quite-one-year of existence.”

In her first post, Scott urged students to accept the free copy of the Origin that Comfort is offering, but not to waste time reading Comfort’s introduction — especially the middle section. “[It’s] a hopeless mess of long-ago-refuted creationist arguments,” she observed, “teeming with misinformation about the science of evolution, populated by legions of strawmen, and exhibiting what can be charitably described as muddled thinking.” After giving a number of examples of scientific errors in Comfort’s introduction, she added, “I have faith that college students are sharp enough to realize that Comfort’s take on Darwin and evolution is simply bananas.”

Scott also noted that the copy of Comfort’s version of the Origin she was sent by the publisher was missing four chapters as well as Darwin’s introduction. In his response, Comfort claimed that the next edition includes the missing material: “Not one word will be omitted.” Scott observed, “It’s still missing a crucial diagram from Chapter 4 as well as the epigraphs from Bacon and Whewell, which Darwin chose with care,” and also wondered about the unexplained change of heart: “Elsewhere he wrote that it was ‘abridged because it was too many pages (too expensive) for a giveaway.’ But now he’s going to try to give away even more copies of this more complete version?”

“I stick by my advice,” Scott wrote in her second post. “Students who are interested in learning about science can skip Comfort’s introduction, which, despite a few cosmetic revisions, remains a hopeless mess of long-ago-refuted creationist arguments.” And she concluded, “Anyone who honestly examines the data supporting evolution — even a young-earth creationist [such as Bryan College’s Todd C. Wood, whom Scott quoted as acknowledging, “Evolution is not a theory in crisis”] — concludes that the science is strong. If you reject evolution, you are doing it for religious reasons. You’re entitled to your religious opinions — but not to your own scientific facts.”

For the debate, visit: this, this, this, this, and this.

(a repost)

Gilgoff’s comments on the reception of the debate

Evolutionist recommends intimidating teachers and students who do not fall in line with evolutionary dogma.

That’s me!

The article opens by acknowledging that 66 percent of Americans believe creationism is definitely or probably true from a recent poll. Yet the article turns to biological anthropologist Greg Laden for how to squelch the opposing viewpoint to evolutionism.

And so on and so forth.

That’s on the Answers in Genesis web site as part of their newsletter.

How social networks predict epidemics

You will recall my post: A genetic cause of rapid degeneration in some Alzheimer’s patients. Well, now it (the topic) is a Ted Video. But before you watch it, I need to take down Nicholas Christakis for saying the dumbest thing I’ve heard all week.

No, Nicholas, it is not true in any way whatsoever that humans did not have complex social networks prior to “emerging” from the “African Savanna” … nor would the implication that you make that those still living in Africa, or the savanna therein, fail in this way. That’s just you being an ignorant racist westerner. Otherwise your talk is moderately interesting, and since it relates to the above linked post, I’ll be happy to put it on my blog.*

*Note: The casual and probably unintentionally offensive remark implying that humans really didn’t become human until leaving the Dark Continent could have been left unused. It added nothing to the talk. But it was an example of casual racism which, like casual sexism, is bad but unlearnable.