Archives for August, 2011

Evolution and climate change

On twitter, journalist Dave Roberts wrote: Evolution is not a free-floating “theory.” It underlies all of modern biology & ecology. Similarly for climate change: it’s a foundation. I wrote back: I agree (hence @NCSE’s work on both). But AGW is less foundation than integrative and crucial knowledge, built on other foundations As NCSE shifts to…

What are the odds?

Joel Mathis asks: Anybody know the actual mathematical odds of experiencing a hurricane and an earthquake in the same week? Not really, but I can take a pass at it. For simplicity, I’ll assume we’re talking about an earthquake of magnitude 5 or more (since quakes below that magnitude are often not that noticeable). According…

The other day, I quibbled with John Derbyshire’s contention that liberals are optimists and with Joel Mathis’s objection that his liberalism is pessimistic. Today, CMatt Yglesias writes: One of the bigger systematic differences between the left and right in America is that progressives have a realistic view of human behavior while conservatives at times seem…

Last week, Rick Perry made some factually false and deeply disturbing claims about how evolution is and ought to be taught in Texas. In the ensuing flurry of criticism (fueled by the fact that Perry simultaneously doubled down on his climate change denial), retired British biologist Richard Dawkins was invited to comment on the matter…

On science and liberalism

John Derbyshire thinks there’s a tension between liberalism and science: liberal scientists, which is to say most scientists…are stuck in an uncomfortable philosophical fork. Liberalism is optimistic. It is a doctrine of progress and improvement. (Why do you think they call themselves “progressives”?) In this, liberalism has had the support of science, which has made…

Early last month, I quoted a dispatch from a checkpoint between rebel-controlled Libya and Qaddafi’s Tripoli: The refugees say that Tripoli’s rebels defiantly paint their flags on anything that will spread their message, including pigeons, cats and balloons. Today, the rebel flags are flying from buildings across the city, and rumors of Col. Qaddafi’s death…

Yesterday, Rick Perry commented “in Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools, because I figured you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.” It got a lot of play, including my own post on the matter. PolitiFact Texas examined the issue, providing a nice summary of recent fights at…

I’ve already spoken to a reporter in Texas about this, but via Jamie Vernon we have video of Rick Perry telling a 4th grader in New Hampshire that he doesn’t know the age of the earth, that Transcript: Student: How old do you think the earth is? Perry: How old do I think the earth…

In his book Fed Up, Rick Perry came out solidly in the climate denial camp, repeating long-discredited claims of that the underlying science is fraudulent. ThinkProgress quotes him writing: For example, they have seen the headlines in the past year about doctored data related to global warming. They know we have been experiencing a cooling…

The testimony in Texas

As you’ll recall, I spoke toward the end of the public testimony at the Texas science standards supplements, so I departed from my prepared text a bit. Not, perhaps, my finest performance ever, due to the ad libbing. A bunch of other video is online from the hearings, including this stunning video of Vera Preston-Jaeger,…