Materialist Science Fiction Promoted to Students at a Local Public Library

Recently I went to a public library to do some work, and I saw a book featured on top of a reference desk titled Life on Other Planets (by Rhonda Lucas Donald, Watts Library, 2003). The title page featured little green men with big alien bug-eyes, the kind of picture you might see on some nutty UFO website. The book and its display were clearly aimed at students — perhaps junior high or high school-aged. Fun and silly pictures don’t bother me if they get kids interested in reading about science. The problem here was that when I opened the book, what I found was not science, but science-fiction. Where Does Your Information Come From? The second page of the Read More ›

Is There a “Consensus” in Science? Remembering the Late Michael Crichton

Anyone who was awed when they watched Jurassic Park and saw realistic-looking dinosaurs walking around on the big screen for the first time should take a moment to remember Michael Crichton. Crichton, a famous science-fiction author, wrote the books that became the Jurassic Park movie series, as well as many other popular novels. He also had an appreciation for the importance of dissenting views within the scientific community and was a keen observer of how some in the scientific community use rhetoric to quash minority scientific viewpoints. Crichton passed away earlier this month after losing a battle with cancer, so in remembrance of Michael Crichton, I’d like to re-post this quote from a speech he gave that was recently reprinted Read More ›

Is the Latest “Feathered Dinosaur” Actually a Secondarily Flightless Bird?

MSNBC recently had an article titled “Fine-feathered dino sported bizarre bird tail,” reporting on the find of Epidexipteryx hui, a “pigeon-sized dinosaur that lived more than 100 million years ago [that] sported four ribbon-like tail feathers.” (See right for an artist’s imaginative interpretation of the fossil.) One of the original paper’s authors states, “Although this dinosaur cannot be the direct ancestor for birds, it is one of the dinosaurs that have the closest phylogenetic relationship to birds.” The article also contains other quotes with typical Darwinist rhetoric like, “[t]his find confirms the link between dinosaurs and birds.” But are other interpretations possible? Unreported in the media is the fact that the paper contains language directly hinting that Epidexipteryx hui could Read More ›

The Catechism Versus the Data (Part 6): Timmer’s Double Standard on Textbook Treatments of Evolution

This is the sixth installment of a series responding to John Timmer’s online review of the supplementary biology textbook Explore Evolution (EE). The first part is here, the second here, the third here, the fourth here, and the fifth here. 6. Timmer’s Double Standard on Textbook Treatments of Evolution Timmer repeatedly attacks EE for allegedly trying to “divide and conquer” evolution because it discusses the different lines of scientific evidence (i.e. fossil, anatomical, molecular) regarding common descent in separate sections. Timmer’s criticism reveals either his gross ignorance of how contemporary biology texts cover evolution, or that he’s using a blatant double standard. EE was written to complement the coverage of evolution in standard biology textbooks, and so it follows the Read More ›

Biologic Explores the Successes and Pitfalls of Evolutionary Biomimetics

The Biologic Institute has an excellent article discussing how biologists are copying the “brilliant designs” they see in nature for technological purposes. We’ve discussed this intriguing phenomenon of biomimetics many times before here on ENV. (For a couple examples, see here, here or here.) The presumption of evolutionary biologists, of course, is that these “brilliant designs” evolved by natural selection preserving random, but beneficial mutations. Engineers operating under such presumptions have thus tried to mimic not only the “brilliant designs,” but also the evolutionary processes that allegedly produced the designs. Biologic’s article notes that one success story of such methods was the case of NASA engineers who used evolutionary computing to produce a better antenna. Did they use truly Darwinian Read More ›