Blogospherics: Recommended reads

I heard from a couple of different sources that Sizzle’s opening went quite well, and we are eagerly awaiting commentary from Shifting Baselines and The Intersection.

But in the mean time, please visit A Blog Around the Clock to read this excellent and detailed discussion of science communication by Coturnix: Scientists are Excellent Communicators (‘Sizzle’ follow-up)

Read about Beres and Pesticides
at bootstrap analysis:

In early June, Germany halted the sale of seven insecticides linked to the deaths of honeybees in 11,500 colonies. The main culprit was Bayer AG’s corn seed treatment clothianidine (trade name Poncho), which the German crop research institute determined killed the bees. Bayer said improper seed handling caused particles containing the insecticide to blow away during the sowing of corn to nearby areas where it was ingested by the bees.

Finally, if you have an answer to this question:

Can you name a single religion/science controversy where religion has been shown to be right and science shown to be wrong?

Go here.


  1. #1 HP
    July 21, 2008

    The last link is mangled. I think you left off the “http://”

  2. #2 Christian
    July 21, 2008

    At least one answer to that question actually comes to my mind: Eugenics. Between about 1880 and 1920, Eugenics was seen as legitimate science, icluding all of it’s rather ugly ideas: mass sterilization, rules for “breeding” perfect humans and euthanizing mentally challenged people. Eugenicists had their publications, their international scientific conferences and they were respected worldwide (and supported by very well known people like George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells). The theory of Eugenics was started, if I remember correctly, by none other than Darwin’s cousin, Sir Francis Galton. Some Eugenicists even lauded Hitler during the early 1930s – for consequently applying eugenic pratices in Nazi Germany. A lot of Galton’s papers on Eugenics can still be found online here:

    Some of them were published in Nature, Popular Science, the American Journal of Sociology and The Times.

    A lot of theists were adamantly opposed to Eugenics from the very beginning. Here in Germany, the Lutheran church (alongside some Catholics) argued against Eugenics since about the turn of the century. In England, well-known Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton wrote “Eugenics and other Evils” in 1917:

    After WWII, when it became clear that the practical application of Eugenics and the silly idea of “racial hygiene” has lead to inhumane outcomes, most people distanced themselves from Eugenics. Today, advances in genetics and medicine have shown that many of the theories originally brought forward by Eugenicists are completely worthless.

    So there you have a case of a science vs. religion controversy in which religious people turned out to be on the right side of the controversy (even though – you might argue – for the wrong reasons). I still own some medical textbooks from the 1920s and 1930s that were used to feed silly theories about genetic hygiene and inbreeding to med students in acclaimed German universities and I have seen at least one British textbook from the 1920s with about the same content. Additionally, dozens of papers and articles written for prestigious scientific magazines and newspapers all over the world can still be found online.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    July 21, 2008

    Christian: Maybe, but … some of the LEADING anti-eugenics spokespeople in the US (maybe elsewhere, I just don’t know) were across a wide range of religions (Jewish, including the German Boaz, Christian, etc.). And their arguments were scientific. Also, many outspoken critics of Eugenics were atheists (Boaz comes to mind here as well). Most of the eugenics supporters were religious.

    It is interesting to hear that the Lutheran church in Germany opposed eugenics. Eugenics by and large grew its feet here in the US, and Minnesota was a hotbed. I wonder what the different churches here (Lutheranism is big here) … Lutheran vs. Catholic, in particular, were doing specifically.

    Subsequently, in the US, anti-Darwinists who are religious are still talking about Darinism as equaling eugenics and how this still applies, while in the mean time science has moved towards greater knowledge and understanding.

    So it’s a little more complicated.