Archive for December, 2009

In Our Name

Undyed, a flag is a piece of cloth. Dyed with the symbol of a state, or a country it gains meaning. What we need to remember is that this republic is not a “homeland” in the sense that Swaziland is a “homeland,” or that Germany was considered a “Fatherland.” It is a cobbled republic, whose borders weren’t even established as they currently stand until 1958. What I have been observing the last eight years, since the attacks on the World Trade Center, is a large degree of confusion over what a republic is and should be.

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Trust and Critical Thinking in Science Reporting: A Case Study

Over the weekend, I authored a guest post on a peer-reviewed publication. I wasn’t thinking about it at the time, but it was an opportunity to apply some of my thoughts regarding my upcoming session on Trust and Critical Thinking for ScienceOnline, which seeks ideas on how to report science in a way that teaches readers to interact with information skeptically.

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Smarter Than the Rest

I have found in working with my own kids on their homework that I don’t have the patience to be a teacher. Since I grasped many of the things they work on rather quickly, I expect them to do the same when they approach new problems and assignments. I assume that they are wanting me to do the work for them, because they look to me to provide the answers.

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What If Chicken Little Is Right?

Here in Minnesota, we don’t get much snow. Minnesotans THINK they get lots of snow, because Minnesota is thought of as a wintry state. But the snowfall here is moderate, not great, in a typical year. If Minnesota were snowy, and Minnesotans could handle that, it would be hard to explain the 400 or so accidents that happen on the Twin Cities highways every time it snows.

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Readings in IQ and Intelligence

Apropos of the continuing tendency for white supremacists to show up crowing about IQ, here is some reading that may help people understand the history of IQ testing and its relationship to the complex phenomena that lumped under the term “intelligence.”

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Quiche Moraine Contributor Interviewed for BBC Podcast

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by the producer of BBC Radio Five’s Pods & Blogs show. The producer, Jamillah Knowles, had been alerted to this blog by a friend of hers recently. Jamillah was doing a program on history blogs, and she wanted to feature mine on that program. As you might imagine, I was flabbergasted but highly honored. I said yes!

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Asking Clarifying Questions

I will tell you now that I am more interested in having a beer with a creationist than I am with someone who insists that he or she knows the “right approach” to build enthusiasm for evolution. I get to the point where I can’t stand to be around people who know this answer, but can’t see the irony in the idea that they have come to this conclusion on how to increase the acceptance of science without using science to find out.

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Human Evolution and the Cooking of Food

Café Scientifique: Human Evolution and the Cooking of Food
Tuesday, January 19, 2010, 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Bryan-Lake Bowl Theater
Tickets $5-$12

Call 612-825-8949 for reservations

The cooking of food had a major impact on human evolution, thanks in large part to innovations and activities by females of our species. The invention of cooking transformed most environments on this planet into habitable ones. Anthropologist and popular science blogger Greg Laden explores the role of food and cooking in shaping our species and its evolutionary success.


Bell Museum

Burning Down the AGW Denialist Billboards

I don’t expect these dyed-in-the-wool cranks to change their minds, but it is appropriate that those of us who do have bits and pieces of the internet in our charge keep the dialog honest and progressive. The denialists are putting up offensive, inaccurate, one-liner billboards. We are burning the billboards down with science. It is worthwhile work, important work, and it can even be fun on occasion.

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Credulity, Skepticism and Cynicism

You’ve met them. “Oh, those scientists. They get their funding from the government/industry/political think tanks. They’re just producing the results needed to keep their money flowing. They’ll say anything it takes. Besides, it’s not like they don’t make mistakes. Even Newton and Einstein had it wrong.”

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