History

Pharyngula

Category archives for History

Happy Darwin Day!

I thought I’d include a picture of the young Charles Darwin, since we are celebrating his birthday today. That’s him in 1816, when he was 6 or 7 years old, with his younger sister, Emily Catherine Darwin. And then I started wondering about that other person in the picture. Darwin’s sisters were an extremely important…

The last intelligent creationist

Earlier today, Maggie Koerth-Baker posted this tweet: I dig this graph, but I think it misses an outreach opportunity by ascribing common misconceptions to creationists only bouncingdodecahedrons.tumblr.com/post/17808416988 It links to a diagram showing evolution as a linear path rather than a branching tree, and it got me thinking about terribly popular misconceptions about evolution that…

Not just Sally Ride

I had never heard of the Women in Space Program before, but apparently, after the Soviets sent Valentina Tereshkova into space, there was actually an effort to train American women as astronauts. The participants of the Women in Space Program experienced tremendous success. “Nineteen women enrolled in WISP, undergoing the same grueling tests administered to…

True Science for Boys

Ah, the 19th century…when mad scientists were really mad, and not only that, they were popular at parties. In 1818, Dr Ure and Professor Jeffray obtained the freshly killed corpse of Matthew Clydesdale, only an hour from the hangman’s noose, and proceeded to experiment on it with a battery in the Glasgow University anatomy theater…

The Kensington Forgery

The infamous Kensington Runestone is kept in a museum just a few miles up the road from me. It’s a carved rock that was dug up on a farm in the 19th century by a Swedish farmer, and purports to tell the tale in runes of a doomed Viking expedition that had come down from…

A feminist embarrassment

I cringed reading this woman’s lament that evolutionary biology is responsible for the oppression of women, starting with Darwin. It’s one long colossal failure of logic. The argument has some genuinely true facts embedded in it, which then get spun out into a series of false conclusions. It is true that the Victorian gentlemen who…

Hitler was a True Christian™

If you tuned in to that local debate on Christian radio, you know that one of the points the Christian fool trotted out was the tired old claim that the Nazis were no true Christians — no True Christian™ would ever commit such horrible acts. It’s an annoyingly feeble and unsupportable argument, but it has…

Urge to kill…fading…fading…fading

Steven Pinker has a new book coming out next week, and I’m very much looking forward to it. It is titled The Better Angels Of Our Nature: How Violence Has Declined, and its premise is that humans have been becoming increasingly less violent over time. I’m very sympathetic to this view: I think cooperation, not…

Humanity’s recent surge

Earlier this semester, I gave my first-year students a thought question. I do this now and then just to wake them up and get them thinking and talking — in this case, I wanted them to speculate and also think hard about how they came up with their answers, and how they would try to…

An archaeologist watches the History Channel

And deeply regrets it. It’s very sad. I remember when cable TV was new, and had such promise — there would be channels dedicated to specialty disciplines, that would pursue a niche doggedly for a slice of the audience. The History Channel would be about history, not von Daniken and Nazi UFOs; Discovery would be…