Last week, I told you about how third grader Olivia McConnell wrote to her state representatives earlier this year with a request: South Carolina didn’t have an official state fossil, so could the Wooly Mammoth claim that title? … Olivia gave her reasons: 1. One of the first discoveries of a vertebrae fossil in North [Read More...]
After Blocking Child’s Attempt to Make the Wooly Mammoth South Carolina’s State Fossil, Senator Withdraws Objection
After Religious Schools Censor Questions About Evolution on Standardized Tests, UK Regulatory Group Bans the Practice
About a month ago, we learned that at least one religious school in England gave students a required standardized science exam… with some of the questions redacted:
Those students were, therefore, unable to answer those questions. Turns out the reason for the blackouts was that the questions delved into the topic of evolution, something that one school advisor said flew in the face of their “ethos and culture.”
In the U.S., private religious schools don’t have to give these exams, but the schools we’re talking about here are “voluntary aided” schools, meaning they are funded mostly by the state and required to follow certain state protocols, despite being religious in nature.
The National Secular Society rightly felt that faith wasn’t a good excuse to shortchange these students’ education. They filed a freedom of information request and discovered that, not only were school officials blocking questions about evolution, but also that government officials were complicit in the process!
This summer, in Chicago, Foundation Beyond Belief will be holding its first ever conference to discuss how non-theists can come together to make the world a better place:
The Chicago Tribune‘s Manya Brachear Pashman has a great story on the event and why we feel it’s so necessary. (Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall. Good thing atheists don’t spend a lot of time online or anything…)
Anyway, here are some of the highlights:
I don’t normally do debates, but at 3:00 (CT), I’ll be having an online conversation with one of Patheos’ Catholic bloggers Billy Kangas:
We’ll be discussing the importance (or not) of traditions, the World Vision U.S. controversy, the Pope, and whatever other questions you may have for us.
You can watch the whole thing right here (and feel free to chime in with questions):
When it comes to autism, what does the science tell us? And how does the media cover it?
Neuroscientist Sam Wang, in an essay for the New York Times, goes into both issues:
A study published last week found that the brains of autistic children show abnormalities that are likely to have arisen before birth, which is consistent with a large body of previous evidence…
Over the last few years, we’ve seen an explosion of studies linking autism to a wide variety of genetic and environmental factors. Putting these studies in perspective is an enormous challenge. In a database search of more than 34,000 scientific publications mentioning autism since its first description in 1943, over half have come since 2008.
That’s all well and good, but the graphic included in the piece is a doozy. It shows that when it comes to the science, we ought to be paying closer attention to genetic and environmental factors (the risk of autism is much higher if you have an autistic twin or had an injury to your cerebellum before birth)… and we should stop pretending that vaccines have any connection to it, as shown by the final item on the list: