Dispatches from the Creation Wars

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One of my favorite Holiday season traditions is purchasing Discover magazine’s year-end issue which traditionally features their “Top 100 Science Stories” of the past year.

When I first started purchasing this edition several years ago I was astonished we’d made so much progress in a decade, let alone a year. It’s very inspiring to go through all the accomplishments though with a sprinkling of tragedies and anti-science controversies. This year’s tragedies being Discover’s #1 story, the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and its #4 story, how denialists leveraged climategate to dishonestly and unfortunately, successfully misrepresent the state of climate science.

Discover also reports promising accomplishments and ventures like Craig Ventor’s Synthetic Genomic, “creating an artificial living cell by synthesizing the entire genome of a bacterium and transplanting it into another.” The #10 story reports on our new-found ability to diagnose cognitively normal people who have yet to display symptoms of Alzheimer’s and how that increases our ability to better treat Alzheimer’s.

There’s also a wonderful interview with E.O. Wilson regarding his work on the evolutionary role altruism has on populations, where Dr. Wilson reveals why he’s discrediting aspects of his previous theory in spite of some scientists continuing to defend his previous explanations.

While some of these stories are available online without a subscription, the magazine itself is well worth it given they have all the stories and who knows, maybe a fundie guest visiting you over the holidays might pick it up and ultimately better appreciate the contributions of science to society and become a bit less hostile. I got my copy laid out.