I have been blogging since January 2004 but of late my heart hasn’t been in it. So I’m taking the opportunity of a new school year to hang up my shield and move on. I may return someday, either here or elsewhere, but for the foreseeable future, you can consider me a non-blogger. Best wishes and good luck to all the readers and bloggers I have met over the years.
John Wilkins is reporting that the noted philosopher of biology, David Hull, has passed away. I first read Hull’s Science as a Process (1988) as a break from writing up my zoology PhD in 1993 and it opened me up to the world of history and philosophy of science. Indeed, it left me cursing the fact that I wasn’t able to study HPS (in hindsight, I think it would have been my career choice for various reasons). Years later, I met David at an ISHPSSB meeting and I coyly introduced myself. David was delighted to hear that a biologist had read and enjoyed his work. He was a gentleman and will be missed.
Update (8/12): I forgot to mention that ASU houses the David L. Hull Collection (actually the collection sat in my office for a few months). And via Wilkins – obits from the Chicago Sun-Times and Northwestern.
Ring-tailed cat, Bassariscus astutus.
Native to Arizona.
I have just finished reviewing A Meaningful World: How the Arts And Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature (IVP , 2006) by DI fellows, Benjamin Wiker and Jonathan Witt, for Reports of the National Center for Science Education. I’m not going to post the full review until it appears in print, but here is the final paragraph. It more or less clues you in to what I thought of the work.
A Meaningful World is certainly a work that would not have survived review by a mainstream press. In fact, I would say that it would not have survived as an undergraduate thesis. The very fact that it has appeared in print is symptomatic of the ID movement’s ability to find sympathetic pulpits from which to preach to the choir. No one without pre-conceived sympathy is going to be convinced by the arguments presented by Wiker & Witt and, like much ID literature, it serves as a justification of belief rather than a scientific or philosophical investigation. It is notable that the publishers choose not to classify the work as science but as discussing religious aspects of nature and meaning.
Frankly, it took me over three years to review the book. Every time I started writing about it, I got annoyed and had to stop.
I also recently reviewed Wiker’s The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin (Regnery, 2009) for the Journal of the History of Biology. Here’s the final paragraph of that one:
This is poor history and, frankly, it is also poor polemic. Wiker does not present Darwin fairly but distorts him into a dark figure bent on destroying everything that Wiker apparently holds dear. As such, the book has nothing to recommend it beyond offering a snapshot of how certain groups in America have been unable to deal with scientific ideas.
Full reviews will appear here after they have appeared in print or online. I probably won’t be getting any Christmas cards from Ben Wiker.
File this under “This Will End Predictably”. Livingston Parish (Louisiana) is looking to teach creationism in public school science classes. Problem is that they keep explicitly mentioning creationism thus clearly falling foul of Supreme Court rulings.
Jan Benton (director of curriculum) stated that the Louisiana Science Education Act allows for the teaching of “critical thinking and creationism“.
David Tate (board member): “Why can’t we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?”
Clint Mitchell (board member): “Teachers should have the freedom to look at creationism and find a way to get it into the classroom.”
The Board then voted to appoint a committee to study the possibility of introducing creationism into the classroom. They obviously never heard of Edwards v. Aguillard which, ironically, was a decision against a Louisiana statute.
HT to Jim Lippard’s twitter stream.
Update (7/28): Barbara Forrest (Louisiana Coalition for Science) has posted her thoughts. Final paragraph reads:
The Discovery Institute is heavily invested in Louisiana — up to their eyeballs. Whether the Livingston Parish School Board or some other Louisiana school board implements the LSEA — in the way that we all know is intended — won’t matter. This Livingston Parish development — and any other initiative anywhere in Louisiana — will be the Discovery Institute’s baby (or, rather, its tarbaby). As we say way down south, “You cain’t disown this youngun. It’s the spittin’ image of its daddy!” The Livingston Parish CREATIONISM initiative — in whatever form it takes — will be the Discovery Institute’s offspring. Discovery Institute owns this.
Frankly, one of the up-sides of #SbFAIL is that a number of the people I care about are now blogging here on WordPress and it has actually become easier to track what they are posting and the comments I’ve made on their blogs. So that’s an up-side. As a reminder, here are the Sciblings who are now here. Hopefully, others will follow (I’m looking at you Mark Chu-Carroll and Mike Dunford!).
If you’ve never encountered these great bloggers before – perhaps because Scienceblogs overwhelmed you – wander over, read a little, and say “Hi”. These folks are good friends and the salt of the earth.
That said, I myself will probably go back to being quiet for awhile. I’ve four weeks before the start of the semester and have to put three papers (two science, one history) and at least one book review out the door.
Back in December, I noted the announcement of a new species of raccoon dog (Nyctereutes lockwoodi). The paper is now online and, as we suspected, the species is “[n]amed after the late Charles Lockwood, for his contribution to our knowledge of the genus Australopithecus in South and East Africa as well as his role in the exploration of the morphological temporal trends of A. afarensis in the Hadar Formation.” As it happens, Bill Kimbel and I are currently putting the finishing touches to our final manuscript with Charlie. More of that later, no doubt.
Ref: Gerrads et al., (2010) “Nyctereutes lockwoodi, n. sp., a New Canid (Carnivora: Mammalia) from the Middle Pliocene of Dikika, Lower Awash, Ethiopia.” Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30(3):981-987. doi: 10.1080/02724631003758326