A Glowing Profile of Evolution Warrior Dr. Eugenie Scott

Today’s edition of the New York Times features a wonderful profile of Dr. Eugenie Scott, the long-time executive director of the National Center for Science Education:

Eugenie C. Scott’s journey to the front lines of the evolution wars began in 1974, when James Gavan, a physical anthropologist at the University of Missouri, accepted an invitation to debate Duane Gish, a biochemist and a leader in the creationist movement.

At the time, Dr. Scott was a newly minted professor of physical anthropology at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Gavan had been her mentor at the University of Missouri, where she earned her doctorate, so she took a few of her students to Missouri to hear the debate.

“We were greatly dismayed,” Dr. Scott recalled in an interview. “The scientist talked science, and the creationist connected to the audience and told good jokes and was really personable. And presented a lot of really bad science.”

The most controversial passage in the piece has nothing to do with evolution, but with the age-old question of overlapping magisteria:

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Even Seculars Pine for Messiahs

There’s little doubt that human beings seem to like the idea of messiahs, deus ex machinas that will save us in our darkest hours. Obviously, even we seculars find something appealing about it, or else we’d be rolling our eyes, or else outright rejecting, stories that are messiah-tastic, such as Harry Potter, Dune (Paul Atreides), and even Lord of the Rings (Frodo and Aragorn are both “foretold”).

At The American ScholarWilliam Deresiewicz sees a pining for messiahs throughout more than our fiction, but in our very response to word events and technology. He cites our collective awe over the Web, and its liberating potential, as well as “politics,” in the sense of either elected leaders (Obama in ’08) or revolutions (the Arab Spring and Occupy) who will magically “change everything.” And he thinks he spots where this inclination has gotten us into serious, serious trouble: Climate change. [Click the headline for more...] [Read more...]

Win Sam Harris’s Money

Sam Harris has apparently grown weary of what he considers ill-informed attacks on his book The Moral Landscape and its central thesis, that science can be used to definitively determine whether something is “right” or “wrong” morally. So weary, in fact, he’s willing to shell out his own cash and endure a public humiliation if he’s taken down. [Click headline for more...] [Read more...]

A Podcast That is Accidentally Relevant to Your Interests

As he handed me the keys to his blog earlier, Hemant kindly plugged my new podcast, which I launched in July, almost entirely for my own amusement. The gist was that I happen to know a lot of interesting and smart people, and gee, might it be neat to interview them, since I want to do a podcast anyway. Therefore, the Obcast was born.

When I set out on my project, my intention was to keep the potential topics of discussion as broad as possible, and not be just another skeptic show. [Click headline for more...] [Read more...]

Blue Ridge Christian Academy, the School That Gave Fourth Graders a Creationism Quiz, Has Closed Down

Remember the infamous fourth grade “science” quiz that was circulating online?

Turns out God isn’t a big fan of their school. While they ended up raising about $15,000, it was a long way from the $200,000 or so that they needed to keep the place open.

This month, Blue Ridge Christian Academy announced that they would be closed for the school year.

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