We The People, We The Planet

“Despite its 535 pages of UNESCO’s bureaucratic jargon, the GEM Report is rich in evidence. It does, indeed, ‘provide readers with an authoritative source’ of data to help them ‘argue for the value and importance of education at all levels of decision making.’ And it starts with the very title ‘Education for People and Planet: Creating Sustainable Futures for All.’ – At last, we, the people, are one and the same with Earth.”

earth-from-space-nasa-we-the-people-we-the-planet

By Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C

New England Science Public – An Initiative for the Public Understanding of Science – on Twitter @gpazymino@EvoLiteracy – Facebook – ResearchGateAcademia.edu

Education – We The Planet

[click on subtitle to be redirected to The Standard Times]

In the 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) alerts us that education “will not deliver its full potential unless participation rates increase and sustainable development guides education system reform.” The GEM Report also examines “the destructive impact that climate change, conflict [war], unsustainable consumption [of finite natural resources] and the increasing gap between rich and poor have on education.”

history-the-right-to-education-unesco-2015

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Despite its 535 pages of UNESCO’s bureaucratic jargon, the GEM Report is rich in evidence. It does, indeed, “provide readers with an authoritative source” of data to help them “argue for the value and importance of education at all levels of decision making.” And it starts with the very title “Education for People and Planet: Creating Sustainable Futures for All.” At last, we, the people, are one and the same with Earth.

Here are paraphrased the report’s major findings:

Between 2008 and 2014, 84 percent of the world’s youth completed upper secondary school in high-income countries, in contrast to 43 percent in upper-middle income, 38 percent in lower-middle income, and 14 percent in low-income nations. Across 76 countries, 20 percent of the 25- to 29-year-olds in the richest nations had finished at least four years of tertiary education (college/university), compared to less than one percent in the poorest. In 2014, 63 percent of countries achieved gender parity in primary education, but only 46 percent in lower-secondary, and 23 percent in upper-secondary schooling.

access-to-tertiary-education-unesco-2016

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gender-disparities-educational-attainment-unesco-2016

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Between 2005 and 2015, school facilities in 26 countries were used for military purposes. Among refugees, 50 percent of primary- and 75 percent of secondary-school-aged were out of school.

From 2005 to 2014, 758 million adults —114 million aged 15 to 24— could not read or write a sentence; nearly two thirds were women. In 2014, 82 percent of the teachers had minimum qualifications to teach in pre-primary, 93 percent in primary, and 91 percent in secondary schools.

In at least 35 countries, governments spent less than four percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and less than 15 percent of their total expenditure on education. UNESCO remarks that such investments need to increase at least six fold to account for the $39 billion annual education finance gap, but in 2014, the levels were eight percent lower than at their 2010 peak.

public-education-expenditure-by-region-and-country-unesco-2014-2016

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aid-to-education-unesco-2016

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Under current trends, primary school completion for all people might be achieved in 2042, lower secondary school in 2059, and upper secondary school in 2084. Note that upper secondary schooling for women in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 shall lead to 300,000 fewer child deaths per year in 2050. Not only that, upper secondary completion by 2030 in low-income nations shall increase per capita income by 75 percent by 2050, and accelerate poverty reduction —or its elimination— by ten years.

increased-level-of-education-lowers-working-poverty-unesco-2016

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Prosperous nations have their own problems: one in ten countries in Europe and North America will not achieve universal upper secondary completion by 2030. Why does this matter? The GEM Report responds with cost-benefit projections: a five percent increase in male high-school-graduation rate in the United States would add $20 billion to the economy via reduced crime and higher input to the workforce (for original source see Education and Crime 2013).

impact-of-5-percent-increase-in-male-hs-graduation-us-2013

Education and Crime (2013). Click to enlarge.

UNESCO goes on: from a humanitarian perspective, providing universal upper secondary schooling to the world by 2030 would prevent 50,000 disaster-related fatalities per decade by 2040-2050. Yes, education saves lives.

For UNESCO, education is the most effective tool for reducing fertility rates. In Madagascar, for example, a single extra year of schooling extends the space between births by 0.5 years. Environmental education correlates with better “green knowledge” (pro-environment attitudes and technologies) and sustainable life styles. However, only 73 percent of 78 countries’ curricula mention “sustainable development,” 55 percent “ecology,” and 47 percent “environmental education.” The latter is crucial for disaster preparedness: “if education progress is stalled, it could lead to a 20 percent increase in disaster-related fatalities per decade.”

children-reach-age-5-women-literate-wold-bank-uis-2016

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Regarding citizenry involvement in public life, education encourages constructive political participation. In 106 countries, higher levels of education have correlated with peaceful protests (civil disobedience) rather than with chaotic violence. Interestingly, between 1996 and 2010, low literacy in 123 countries was associated with reduced tax revenue. Thus, education motivates civil responsibility.

A sustainable future is about human dignity, social inclusion and environmental protection. It is a future where economic growth does not exacerbate inequalities but builds prosperity for all” writes Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, in her introduction to the GEM Report. And I am with her: “if done right, education has the power to nurture empowered, reflective, engaged and skilled citizens who can chart the way toward a safer, greener and fairer planet.” — EvoLiteracy © 2016.

climate-change-cartoon-horsey-la-times-2012

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

Related Articles

Intolerance toward Free Speech at America’s College Campuses

College Educated But Deeply In Debt For An Overpriced Degree

Imminent Collapse of Basic Science Under For-profit Model

Dehumanizing Academia by Dismantling the Humanities

Fragmentary Truths and the Intellectual Imbalance in Academia

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Measuring the Evolution Controversy - Hard copies 2016

Paz-y-Miño-C, G & Espinosa, A. 2016. Measuring the Evolution Controversy: A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9042-1, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9042-7.

BOOK small format - Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016Measuring the Evolution Controversy can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance.

“The great contribution of ‘Measuring the Evolution Controversy’ is the rich content of data and analysis that asks detailed questions about the social, economic and political backgrounds of those who tend to reject evolution vs. those who accept evolution as science. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa deftly analyze their data drawn from institutions of higher learning in the United States and particularly New England —which stands as a microcosm of the rest of the country, and indeed elsewhere in the world. It is their scientific approach to these issues which makes this book stand out as a uniquely original contribution.” — Niles Eldredge, PhD, Curator Emeritus of Paleontology at The American Museum of Natural History, New York.

“Pro-science activists and educators constantly bemoan the resistance to the teaching of evolution in the United States. All of us have anecdotes about encounters with the public, parents and students who are misinformed by their churches, Religious-Right groups, and creationist organizations. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa present hard data that support the anecdotal evidence. They also show that although anti-evolutionism typically begins with religion, it is a multi-faceted problem that intersects with political and cultural ideologies. Gathered through careful research over a period of years, their data will enable scientists and defenders of science education to comprehend the roots of the evolution controversy and counteract resistance to evolution more strategically and effectively.”Barbara Forrest, PhD, co-author with Paul R. Gross of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (2007), and expert witness for plaintiffs, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005).

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Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEGPaz-y-Miño-C., G. 2013. Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars. NOVA Publishers, New York. By NOVA Publishers, New York Soft Cover. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK

“The sweet spot of this collection of essays is the interface of science, history and literacy. Paz-y-Miño-C is, in essence, a champion of rationalism and a passionate defender of literacy standards. His essays deftly weave hard survey data and memorable turns of phrase with evocative imagery… While the essays in this collection are vast in coverage —from climate change to energy policy, stem cell research, vaccinations and, especially, evolution— a clear underlying theme emerges: [the author’s] goal is no less than to counter, through the lens of history and the majesty of rationalism, social forces that sanction ignorance, celebrate denial and… continue to diminish our global status in the fields of science and technology.” Jeff Podos, PhD, Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA.

“Paz-y-Miño-C  is a firm believer in evolutionary processes. He would like to see decisions made on the basis of facts, not unsupported opinion. He abhors and fears irrational thinking, especially ‘the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science.’ He marvels at the intricacy and diversity of life, and how it came about through natural selection… and is clearly frustrated by the unwillingness of so many to see the beauty and majesty in this view of the world and all that it explains.” – Jan A. Pechenik, PhD, Professor of Biology, Tufts University, USA, author of The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species, as Edited for Modern Readers.

Intolerance toward Free Speech at America’s College Campuses

“…Colleges and universities must lead freedom of speech, nurture the battlefield of ideas, pursue world-competitive standards, deter grade inflation (a historical, pervasive companion of conflict resolution), stand for science and reason, teach the realities of the cosmos and evolution without spiritual justifications, and be the safe spaces where the trigger warning ‘no ignorance allowed’ is respected…” – GPC

Free-Speech Intolerance - Ferst Amen Mint by Gary Varvel - Evolution Literacy

By Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C

New England Science Public – An Initiative for the Public Understanding of Science – on Twitter @gpazymino@EvoLiteracy – Facebook – ResearchGateAcademia.edu

Free Speech Intolerance On College Campuses

[click on subtitle to be redirected to The Standard Times]

There’s been a trend around the country of trying to get colleges to disinvite speakers with a different point of view, or disrupt a politician’s rally. Don’t do that, no matter how ridiculous or offensive you might find the things that come out of their mouths. Let them talk. If you don’t, you just make them a victim, and then they can avoid accountability.”

Disinvitations of Speakers at US College Campuses 2000 - 2014 The FIRE

Source The FIRE – Click on image to enlarge. See also List of Campus Disinvitation Attempts, 2000–2016.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t challenge them. Have the confidence to challenge them, the confidence in the rightness of your position. But listen. Engage. If the other side has a point, learn from them. If they’re wrong, rebut them. Teach them. Beat them on the battlefield of ideas.”

These were President Obama’s remarks at the Howard University commencement ceremony, back in May 2016. He highlighted a nowadays generalized concern in academia: that millennials (the generation born between the 1980s and early 2000s) have grown intolerant of any view contrary to their deepest, yet maturing convictions, a phenomenon documented by Gallup in its latest report “Free Expression On Campus.”

Although “college students believe First Amendment rights remain strong” in the United States, they also hold conflicting views about “shuttering free speech and impeding a free press under certain circumstances.” For instance, even though 81 percent of college students think that freedom of the press is very secure or secure in the country, and 73 percent think likewise about freedom of speech, one in every five college students (22 percent) believe that “to create a positive learning environment for all, it is more important for colleges to prohibit certain speech or expression of viewpoints that are offensive or biased, than to create an open learning environment where students are exposed to all types of speech and viewpoints —even offensive or biased.”

“…boycott actions against free speech may be rooted in capricious interpretations of First Amendment rights by students active and verbal at their institutions…”

But, what is offensive or biased rhetoric? Slurs and language that intentionally seek to hurt or offend (69 percent of students think so), or the wearing of costumes that stereotype racial or ethnic groups (63 percent believe that), or political views that may upset or offend (27 percent of students think colleges should limit such speech). The Gallup data, therefore, implies that boycott actions against free speech may be rooted in capricious interpretations of First Amendment rights by students active and verbal at their institutions.

Support for Campus Policies Restricting Expression Political Views - Gallup 2016

Source: Gallup Poll “Free Expression On Campus” (2016)

Should the media cover protests held at colleges and universities? One in every four students (28 percent, mean of men + women) opposes reporters’ coverage of demonstrations in campus. This view is noticeable among women (37 percent) and African Americans (32 percent). Gallup calls this overall occurrence “support of free press rights in the abstract” (or “in principle”) but not in practice. Protesters believe the press will be unfair in its reporting (49 percent say this), they assert to have the right to be left alone (48 percent), and want to tell their own version of the story on the internet and social media (44 percent). In fact, 86 percent of the polled students prefer the social media for allowing them more control over the story.

Support for Preventing Reporters from Covering Campus Protests - Gallup 2016

Source: Gallup Poll “Free Expression On Campus” (2016)

Free Speech and Safe Spaces - Evolution LiteracyWhy has intolerance of free speech become ubiquitous? Only tentative answers exist to this question. Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, authors of “The Coddling of the American Mind,” have taken a psychological path to explain how “in the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like.” The ultimate aim, Lukianoff and Haidt state, “is to turn campuses into ‘safe spaces’ where young adults are shielded from words and ideas that make some uncomfortable. This movement seeks to punish anyone who interferes with that aim, even accidentally.”

“…Emotional reasoning, distorted thinking, magnification of events, and catastrophizing incidents seem to be central to the individual and collective minds of those who perceive offense in daily experiences…”

The “impulse” is called “vindictive protectiveness” and, as described by Lukianoff and Haidt, “it is creating a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up, lest they face charges of insensitivity, aggression, or worse.” Emotional reasoning, distorted thinking, magnification of events, and catastrophizing incidents seem to be central to the individual and collective minds of those who perceive offense in daily experiences. Thus, via negative filtering, groups develop a culture which focuses almost exclusively on the unconstructive, and this allows for simpleminded demonization.

“…The challenge is to identify objectively what is intellectually or psychologically damaging and what is mild…”

GETTY IMAGES - Evolution Literacy

Universities must be the safe spaces where the trigger warning “no ignorance allowed” is respected – GETTY IMAGES

Of course aggressions are real, more so in a society —ours— in which micro- and macro-bullying are widespread (see also Cyberbullying). The challenge is to identify objectively what is intellectually or psychologically damaging (hence provide cognitive-behavioral support) and what is mild. At the same time, colleges and universities must lead freedom of speech, nurture the battlefield of ideas, pursue world-competitive standards, deter grade inflation (a historical, pervasive companion of conflict resolution), stand for science and reason, teach the realities of the cosmos and evolution without spiritual justifications, and be the safe spaces where the trigger warning “no ignorance allowed” is respected. — EvoLiteracy © 2016.

Trigger Warning - Life Is Tough - Evolution Literacy 2016

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

Related Articles

College Educated But Deeply In Debt For An Overpriced Degree

Imminent Collapse of Basic Science Under For-profit Model

Dehumanizing Academia by Dismantling the Humanities

Fragmentary Truths and the Intellectual Imbalance in Academia

Suggested Readings

Hate Speech on Campus – American Civil Liberties Union ACLU

First Amendment – Legal Information Institute, Cornell University

List of United States Supreme Court cases involving the First Amendment

What does Free Speech Mean? United States Courts

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Measuring the Evolution Controversy - Hard copies 2016

Paz-y-Miño-C, G & Espinosa, A. 2016. Measuring the Evolution Controversy: A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9042-1, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9042-7.

BOOK small format - Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016Measuring the Evolution Controversy can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance.

“The great contribution of ‘Measuring the Evolution Controversy’ is the rich content of data and analysis that asks detailed questions about the social, economic and political backgrounds of those who tend to reject evolution vs. those who accept evolution as science. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa deftly analyze their data drawn from institutions of higher learning in the United States and particularly New England —which stands as a microcosm of the rest of the country, and indeed elsewhere in the world. It is their scientific approach to these issues which makes this book stand out as a uniquely original contribution.” — Niles Eldredge, PhD, Curator Emeritus of Paleontology at The American Museum of Natural History, New York.

“Pro-science activists and educators constantly bemoan the resistance to the teaching of evolution in the United States. All of us have anecdotes about encounters with the public, parents and students who are misinformed by their churches, Religious-Right groups, and creationist organizations. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa present hard data that support the anecdotal evidence. They also show that although anti-evolutionism typically begins with religion, it is a multi-faceted problem that intersects with political and cultural ideologies. Gathered through careful research over a period of years, their data will enable scientists and defenders of science education to comprehend the roots of the evolution controversy and counteract resistance to evolution more strategically and effectively.”Barbara Forrest, PhD, co-author with Paul R. Gross of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (2007), and expert witness for plaintiffs, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005).

*  *  *  *  *     *  *  *  *  *     *  *  *  *  *

Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEGPaz-y-Miño-C., G. 2013. Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars. NOVA Publishers, New York. By NOVA Publishers, New York Soft Cover. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK

“The sweet spot of this collection of essays is the interface of science, history and literacy. Paz-y-Miño-C is, in essence, a champion of rationalism and a passionate defender of literacy standards. His essays deftly weave hard survey data and memorable turns of phrase with evocative imagery… While the essays in this collection are vast in coverage —from climate change to energy policy, stem cell research, vaccinations and, especially, evolution— a clear underlying theme emerges: [the author’s] goal is no less than to counter, through the lens of history and the majesty of rationalism, social forces that sanction ignorance, celebrate denial and… continue to diminish our global status in the fields of science and technology.” Jeff Podos, PhD, Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA.

“Paz-y-Miño-C  is a firm believer in evolutionary processes. He would like to see decisions made on the basis of facts, not unsupported opinion. He abhors and fears irrational thinking, especially ‘the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science.’ He marvels at the intricacy and diversity of life, and how it came about through natural selection… and is clearly frustrated by the unwillingness of so many to see the beauty and majesty in this view of the world and all that it explains.” – Jan A. Pechenik, PhD, Professor of Biology, Tufts University, USA, author of The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species, as Edited for Modern Readers.

It Takes A Village To Boycott A Pop Science Book

“…Life [the book] is not the right target [for boycott], or perhaps is just an easy one. It demands much more courage, and by the entire scientific community, to individually and collectively go after the unquestionable adversaries of reason. Those who see facts and fiction indistinguishable, the ideologues and financiers of both the religion-in-science and the anti science movements…”

By Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C

If scientists wish to boycott a book, religious scriptures could be their priority. The holy books are the foundation of the anti-evolution movement worldwide; the anti climate change rhetoric over the belief that a Protector will shield his disciples from human-induced global pollution; the source of pray healing and its conjoined meme that vaccines are heinous; the primeval justification to bigotryhomophobia and misogyny; the validation of both intolerance to any action that is perceived as offensive –above all, freedom of speech– and the crusade to secure society’s protection of the intolerant him/herself.

It Takes A Village To Boycott A Science Book - Cover LifeIn such broad anti science and anti intellectualism contexts, John Brockman has edited yet another volume about science and technology for popular consumption, Life: The Leading Edge of Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Anthropology, and Environmental Science (2016). I have read this multi-author compilation with special attention, since, upon its release, biologists active in the social media became disappointed with Brockman (and, by default, with the co-writers) for not featuring women authors. And this was legitimate criticism. If Brockman and associates wanted to educate the public about current trends in the biological sciences, they must stop ignoring the diversities of peoples contributing to this global enterprise.

But, of course, I did not agree with the subsequent call to boycott Life, without even reading it, and the deploy of bee-workers and drones to sabotage the purchasing of the work. Boycotting books can be dangerous. It always reminds me of the “burnings of knowledge” by the Nazis, prior to and during World War II, and comparable atrocities led by the Latin American dictators in Argentina and Chile, in the 1970s-80s. I learned of the former by precisely reading about it in my father’s book collection on international affairs (which included Churchill’s The Second World War, and even Hitler’s sickening My Struggle), and of the latter while in high school by following the news of La Guerra Sucia (The Dirty War, term coined a posteriori in the United States) that targeted the creativity of university professors, novelists, musicians and poets. Their books and records flamed, their voices and bodies vanished.

“…Researchers ought to be aware of the popular science-, pseudo-science-, and anti-science books that distress or seem insulting to the public. And, for modern biologists, the list includes the deceptive writings of the intelligent design movement…”

Researchers ought to be aware of the popular science-, pseudo-science-, and anti-science books that distress or seem insulting to the public. And, for modern biologists, the list includes the deceptive writings of the intelligent design (ID) movement and its Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed (2016), Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis (2016), Debating Darwin’s Doubt: A Scientific Controversy That Can No Longer Be Denied (2015), Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (2013), Science and Human Origins (2012), The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science (2011), God and Evolution (2010), Intelligent Design Uncensored: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to the Controversy (2010), Signature in the Cell (2009), Intelligent Design 101 (2008), Dissent Over Descent: Intelligent Design Challenge to Darwinism (2008), Understanding Intelligent Design (2008), The Cell’s Design (2008), The Design of Life (2008), Explore Evolution: The Arguments for and Against Neo-Darwinism (2007), The Edge of Evolution (2007), Intelligent Design: The Bridge between Science and Theology (1999), Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (1996), and the villainous Of Pandas And People (1989), the foremost impostor exposed –and debunked– at the Kitzmiller versus Dover Area School District trial of 2005.

To Survive Darwinism ID had to evolve

Yes, I have these narratives of pseudo truths and quasi creeds, acquired over the years via used-books sellers –precisely to minimize supporting publishers of noxious fables (a micro sabotage of my own, one that does not discourage anyone to learn about ID). But I also possess the Holy Bible, the Qur’an, the Tanakh and The History of Western Philosophy of Religion (an academic series by Oxford UP, 2009), which I consider my duty to read as a secular scientist, and become aware of the idealistic beauty, historicity, obvious rooting in unreality, and evil, injurious teachings of religion.

Of Pandas And People - The Language of GodNext to the ID bestsellers stand the pro-religion-in-science counterparts. Also sponsored by writers with doctoral degrees and in positions of power, committed to force-marriage evolution with the belief in supernatural causation, to see the fingerprints of God in DNA and molecular processes, to satisfy the populous’ hope to find the Maker, Designer, or Creator in the gaps of knowledge. Francis CollinsThe Language of God (2006), Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith (2010), and The Language of Science and Faith (2011, coauthored with fellow evangelical Christian Karl Giberson) are iconic examples. Yet, none of these books deserves boycott despite their collective effect on disrupting, distorting, delaying or stopping the proper understanding and acceptance of evidence. But they do justify vigorous disapproval by scholars, who should uncover the capricious science emptiness of “evolutionary creation.”

“…Brockman’s edition of Life, despite its disgraceful exclusion of gender and cultural varieties among co-writers, is scientifically above –and by far– the ID’s pamphlets or the languages-[of God]-sequels’ by theistic evolutionists…”

John Brockman’s edition of Life, despite its disgraceful exclusion of gender and cultural varieties among co-writers, is scientifically above –and by far– the ID’s pamphlets or the “language-sequels” by theistic evolutionists. Life could be listed among the 100 required reads for graduate students in biology, and perhaps recommended to science majors in college, of course, with the warning that the contributors –busy reflecting about themselves– discounted Homo diversity as a crucial input in “the leading edge of evolutionary biology, genetics, anthropology, and environmental science.”

Life is “…the fifth volume in The Best of Edge series [edge.org], following Mind, Culture, Thinking, and The Universe…” As a collection of essays, interviews, transcripts of panel discussions, and biographical sketches of scientists and pop-science celebrities, the book is exciting, rich in brainy remarks and first-hand information. Eighteen pieces (from 2000 to 2015) summarize the major trends in science debates, applied DNA technologies, and bioengineering of the twentieth and twenty first centuries –the latter, superficially.

The_Selfish_GeneRichard Dawkins opens with Evolvability (2015), in part a recount of gene-centric evolution in the scenario in which The Selfish Gene (1976) was crafted, and the resulting discussions over replicators (genes), as units of selection, versus “vehicles” (the carriers of genes, our bodies). His classical analysis expands to “universal Darwinism” and the high probability that Darwinian selection of replicator-like molecules shall be a ubiquitous cosmic phenomenon if life exists beyond Earth.

The Dawkinsian argument, in elegant text, is followed by David Haig’s Genomic Imprinting (2002), Robert Trivers’ A Full-Force Storm with Gale Winds Blowing (2004), Ernst Mayr’s What Evolution Is (2001), Steve Jones’ Genetics Plus Time (2000), Edward O. Wilson’s A United Biology (2003), and Freeman Dyson’s Is Life Analog or Digital? (2001). Thus, Life relies on attractive topics, as well as familiar names in the pop-science arena, to lure readers.

“…Pages and reading hours elapse quickly… Soon, I find myself immersed in the book, joyful for learning material that I have missed… furious by the… broadcasting of long-ago-dismissed science concepts; but overall satisfied to have liked a book which I approached with so much skepticism…”

Pages and reading hours elapse quickly and Brockman succeeds at grabbing one’s attention. Soon, I find myself immersed in the book, joyful at times for learning material that I have missed over the years; disturbed occasionally when sensing plain egomania in the XY-only writers, who turn their texts into self-grooming bouts and testosterone excretion (an exception, not the only one, is Trivers’ auto-deprecating recollections, which are humorous and brilliant); furious by the redundant broadcasting of long-ago-dismissed science concepts; but overall satisfied to have liked a book which I approached with so much skepticism.

Chapter 8 (Life: What a Concept!) is the longest, with one hundred pages, and most captivating. It transcribes a panel discussion (2007) among Dyson, J. Craig Venter, George Church, Dimitar Sasselov, Seth Lloyd, Robert Shapiro, Ting Wu (not included in the list of authors), and moderator Brockman.

As introduction to the dialogue, Dyson, a theoretical physicist, discusses the garbage-bag-model of life. The origin of life, he explains, probably started with metabolism only. “…We know modern life has both metabolism and replication, but they’re carried out by separate groups of molecules. Metabolism… by proteins and all kinds of small molecules, and replication… by DNA and RNA. That may be a clue to the fact that [these processes] started out separate, rather than together… The early cells were just little bags of some kind of cell membrane, which might have been oily or… a metal oxide. And, inside, you had a more-or-less random collection of organic molecules, with the characteristic that small molecules could diffuse in through the membrane, but big molecules could not diffuse out. By converting small molecules into big molecules, you could concentrate the organic contents on the inside, thus the cells would become more concentrated and the chemistry would gradually become more efficient. So, these things could evolve without any kind of replication. It’s a simple statistical inheritance. When a cell became so big that it got cut in half, or shaken in half by some rainstorm or environmental disturbance, it would then produce two cells, which would be its daughters and would inherit, more or less, but only statistically, the chemical machinery inside. Evolution could work under those conditions.”

Columbia Glacier Landsat Satellite NASA 2014

Freeman Dyson: “…We know modern life has both metabolism and replication, but they’re carried out by separate groups of molecules. Metabolism… by proteins and all kinds of small molecules, and replication… by DNA and RNA. That may be a clue to the fact that [these processes] started out separate, rather than together…” – Earth, a planet with life, Columbia Glacier Landsat Satellite NASA 2014

“…Dyson’s garbage-bag hypothesis may be garbageous, but despite its teleological nature it is intellectually intriguing…” 

If these statements provoke in you, as bookworm, any of the emotions described earlier (i.e. joy, disturbed, furious, satisfied), your reactions are comparable to those of the panel. Dyson’s garbage-bag hypothesis may be garbageous (i.e. the divide metabolism versus replication is artificial, and relying on heavy statistical randomness diminishes how natural selection operates, or did in the past, in primordial soups), but despite its teleological nature it is intellectually intriguing. Irrespective of the transcript’s dryness, it happens that the sharp cuts, irony, disagreements and rescuing of the discussion by the panelists themselves grow evident while reading the fascinating exchange. And Brockman moderates it with minimal input, except for the sporadic injection of extra fuel to ignite healthy controversy.

The second half of the book proceeds with a one-on-one chat between Dawkins and Venter, refereed by Brockman, in The Gene-Centric View: A Conversation (2008), followed by Armand Marie Leroi’s The Nature of Normal Human Variety (2005), Daniel Lieberman’s Brains Plus Brawn (2012), Svante Pääbo’s Mapping the Neanderthal Genome (2009), and a transcript of On Biocomputation (2005), a TED event (Technology, Entertainment, Design) featuring Venter, Ray Kurzweil and Rodney Brooks.

Life closes with pieces by Drew Endy, on Engineering Biology (2008), Kary Mullis’ Eat Me Before I Eat You: A New Foe for Bad Bugs (2010), Richard Prum’s Duck Sex and Aesthetic Evolution (2014), Robert Sapolsky’s Toxo (2009), and Stuart Kauffman’s The Adjacent Possible (2003). All mix personal experiences with the authors’ making and living the developments of their own fields.

“…The lay reader might simply take pleasure in the journalistic ride and claim proficiency in pop-science culture at the end of the journey…”

Three out of five stars - Life edited by John Brockman 2016Titles like Life sell fine. The scientist reader can locate in the book historical relevance and depth if he/she looks for and wants to see them. The lay reader might simply take pleasure in the journalistic ride and claim proficiency in pop-science culture at the end of the journey. The spot-the-error copy editor will never forget, nor forgive, that the cover of Life lists “Matt Ridley” as contributor, a science personality nowhere else to be found (at least in the copy I have –see image above), a regrettable carelessness in book production. Plus, there is no leading edge in the compilation of articles, the average publication date (2006) is ten years too old.

It may take a village to boycott a pop science book, but Life is not the right target, or perhaps is just an easy one. It demands much more courage, and by the entire scientific community, to individually and collectively go after the unquestionable adversaries of reason. Those who see facts and fiction indistinguishable, the ideologues and financiers of both the religion-in-science and the anti science movements. — EvoLiteracy © 2016.

Cartoon by Rina Piccolo Book-burning Club

Book-burning Club, cartoon by Rina Piccolo (click on image to enlarge)

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

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D - Headline Book Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016

Paz-y-Miño-C, G & Espinosa, A. 2016. Measuring the Evolution Controversy: A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9042-1, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9042-7.

BOOK small format - Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016Measuring the Evolution Controversy can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance.

“The great contribution of ‘Measuring the Evolution Controversy’ is the rich content of data and analysis that asks detailed questions about the social, economic and political backgrounds of those who tend to reject evolution vs. those who accept evolution as science. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa deftly analyze their data drawn from institutions of higher learning in the United States and particularly New England —which stands as a microcosm of the rest of the country, and indeed elsewhere in the world. It is their scientific approach to these issues which makes this book stand out as a uniquely original contribution.” — Niles Eldredge, PhD, Curator Emeritus of Paleontology at The American Museum of Natural History, New York.

“Pro-science activists and educators constantly bemoan the resistance to the teaching of evolution in the United States. All of us have anecdotes about encounters with the public, parents and students who are misinformed by their churches, Religious-Right groups, and creationist organizations. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa present hard data that support the anecdotal evidence. They also show that although anti-evolutionism typically begins with religion, it is a multi-faceted problem that intersects with political and cultural ideologies. Gathered through careful research over a period of years, their data will enable scientists and defenders of science education to comprehend the roots of the evolution controversy and counteract resistance to evolution more strategically and effectively.”Barbara Forrest, PhD, co-author with Paul R. Gross of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (2007), and expert witness for plaintiffs, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005).

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Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEGPaz-y-Miño-C., G. 2013. Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars. NOVA Publishers, New York. By NOVA Publishers, New York Soft Cover. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK

“The sweet spot of this collection of essays is the interface of science, history and literacy. Paz-y-Miño-C is, in essence, a champion of rationalism and a passionate defender of literacy standards. His essays deftly weave hard survey data and memorable turns of phrase with evocative imagery… While the essays in this collection are vast in coverage —from climate change to energy policy, stem cell research, vaccinations and, especially, evolution— a clear underlying theme emerges: [the author’s] goal is no less than to counter, through the lens of history and the majesty of rationalism, social forces that sanction ignorance, celebrate denial and… continue to diminish our global status in the fields of science and technology.” Jeff Podos, PhD, Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA.

“Paz-y-Miño-C  is a firm believer in evolutionary processes. He would like to see decisions made on the basis of facts, not unsupported opinion. He abhors and fears irrational thinking, especially ‘the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science.’ He marvels at the intricacy and diversity of life, and how it came about through natural selection… and is clearly frustrated by the unwillingness of so many to see the beauty and majesty in this view of the world and all that it explains.” – Jan A. Pechenik, PhD, Professor of Biology, Tufts University, USA, author of The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species, as Edited for Modern Readers.

The IDeA of Washington DC

Washington’s character is intrinsic to its museums, splendors of the arts and sciences, and the humanities of modern culture. They lead the world not by their past, which is recent (mid 1800s) in contrast to their European counterparts, but the future because they project the direction in which creativity, discovery and the human intellect should go.

G The Hunt Museum Nat Hist Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

The Hunt – National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. The Hall Of Human Origins at the Smithsonian is one of the best in the world. Photo G. Paz-y-Miño-C.

I finally sketched this chronicle. During June 26-28, 2016, I participated at the Institutional Development Award meeting (IDeA) in Washington DC. As per its website, the “IDeA program broadens the geographic distribution of NIH [National Institutes of Health] funding for biomedical research. The program fosters health-related research and enhances the competitiveness of investigators at institutions located in states in which the aggregate success rate for applications to NIH has historically been low… IDeA [supports] faculty development and research infrastructure enhancement at institutions in 23 states and Puerto Rico.”

The gathering included 1000 attendees (scientists, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students, and science administrators), the presentation of 180 posters (on the research sponsored by IDeA), about 20 plenary talks, workshops and small(er)-group discussions. These meetings are important for catching up with information about trends in modern research topics suitable for NIH funding, new granting policies by the agency (which are always a moving target), expansion-contraction or ending of programs, emergence of new ones, and the idiosyncrasies of administrative and bureaucratic science-funding work. I have never met a scientist who likes these meetings, but all find them crucial to attend.

I am indirectly involved with IDeA via my research collaboration with Avelina Espinosa on the mechanisms of taxa-, clone- and kin-discrimination in protists (i.e. Entamoeba spp. –see publications). Avelina has been sponsored by IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) during the past ten years.

INBRE puts the IDeA approach into action.” It enhances “research infrastructure through support of a statewide system of institutions with a multidisciplinary, thematic scientific focus… INBRE’s goal is to “[develop] biomedical research (in Avelina’s case, her studies with pathogenic amebozoans)… and strengthen the research capabilities of… faculty, and provide access to… resources for promising undergraduate students throughout the eligible states (e.g. Roger Williams University in Rhode Island).”

As always, Avelina and I took time –before and after the meeting– to explore the museums, libraries and monuments, and to learn as much as possible about the local history and culture. But, with a difference on this occasion; the District of Columbia is quite known to us. We have been traveling to DC since the early 1990s, at first yearly, for professional reasons (I was a biodiversity intern/consultant at the World Bank in the Summer of 1993, as part of a Graduate Certificate in Tropical Biology and Conservation at the University of Missouri St. Louis), and later to visit the NIH medical campus. We did the latter for a decade and became familiar with Bethesda, DC, restaurants (many but not all in Adams Morgan), the metro system and public transportation. A great exposure to the “Washingtonian life.”

Washington’s character is intrinsic to its museums, splendors of the arts and sciences, and the humanities of modern culture. They lead the world not by their past, which is recent (mid 1800s) in contrast to their European counterparts, but the future because they project the direction in which creativity, discovery and the human intellect should go.

Below are some images in no hierarchical order, but they do show events in which we were involved during the trip and in a semi-chronological fashion, starting with the IDeA meeting and drifting into a combination of meeting-plus-traveling to the Washington Mall for the rest of the day, and to finally visiting Washington all day long. Most photos are in low definition and have little or no editing (click on them to enlarge). Please note that images are copyrighted, all rights reserved, enjoy watching them! — Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C – EvoLiteracy © 2016.

A - MTEC at National Zoo in DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: To start with humor, upon arrival to Washington DC, our book Measuring The Evolution Controversy, visited the Panda facilities at the National Zoo. Selfie with the “Giant Panda” sculpture by Eric Berg (2006).

Giant Panda feeding National Zoo Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Giant Panda feeding at the National Zoo in Washington DC. Wild animals belong in the wild…

IDeA name tag - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Prior to the IDeA meeting. I like meetings in which everything they give you fits in a 2-GB flash drive… which is part of the ID tag… and with all the presentations and posters in it.

B IDeA Meeting Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The IDeA opening session.

A IDeA Meeting Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: And the left side of the room, IDeA meeting in Washington DC.

C the iPosters at Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The iPoster session; all posters were presented on touch screens.

CC the iPosters at Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: At the electronic poster session, as they called it, the iPosters. The cup was for tips…

IDeA flashdrive - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above:  If anything, THIS IS ALL THEY SHOULD GIVE YOU TO TAKE HOME… at / from a scientific meeting (i.e. three days, 1000 participants, 180 posters, about 20 plenary talks, symposia and small discussions). All in a flash-drive, no paper, no pens (of which you have plenty in your office), no meeting-bags (which usually stay at the hotel-room –they are ugly). In fact, organizers should only give you –a priori– just a weblink to find everything which was uploaded to the flash-drive. So, no flash-drive in the future.

New Escalators Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: On our way to the Washington Mall. Brand new escalators in the DC’s Metro… very bright… easy to see.

Panoramic Library of Congress - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The majestic Library of Congress… Washington DC.

Interior Library of Congress - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The interior of the Library of Congress, Washington DC.

Main Reading Room Library of Congress Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The main reading room (central building), Library of Congress in Washington DC.

Decorations Library of Congress Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Decorations at the Library of Congress in Washington DC… The main building was completed in the late 1890s.

Ceiling Library of Congress Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The ceiling “flower” ornaments, Library of Congress, Washington DC.

MTEC at Library of Congress US - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy, posing for selfie at the main hall, Library of Congress, Washington DC.

Library of Congress Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: One of our last stops by the Library of Congress… Washington DC.

Tunnel to Library of Congress - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The “tunnel” from the Capitol to the Library of Congress (goes both ways), Washington DC.

The US Capitol - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Capitol renovation continues. The dome, already finished, looks amazingly white, polished and shiny… Washington DC.

Constantino Brumidi painting US Capitol - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Despite the renovation going on at the U.S. Capitol, we could see the Constantino Brumidi’s paintings.

William Jennings Bryan and Junípero Serra - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: TALKING ABOUT CONTRAST – Nebraska chose William Jennings Bryan as the most prominent native to represent the state at the U.S. Capitol. California went for Junípero Serra. Indiana, in the back, a bit pale.

Museum African American History Culture Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The new building of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (still under construction), it shall open before the end of 2016, Washington DC.

Presidential 2 of 3 Mural Mama Ayeshas Rest Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Presidential Mural at the Mama Ayesha’s restaurant in Adams Morgan (Part I)…

Presidential 3 of 3 Mural Mama Ayeshas Rest Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Presidential Mural at the Mama Ayesha’s restaurant in Adams Morgan (Part II)…

D Hippo and Okapi Museum Nat Hist Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Up close – Hippo and Okapi at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

Jaguar National Museum of Natural History - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Melanic Jaguar, National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC.

F Homo heidelbergensis Museum Nat Hist Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Homo heidelbergensis – National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. The Human Origins Exhibit at the Smithsonian is one of the best in the world…

E Children at Museum Nat Hist Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: PRIMATES – Children (next to bronze chimp statue) watching video about Morganucodon, the first mammals, and the extinction of dinosaurs. National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

L Morganucodon Museum Nat Hist Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: And the Morganucodon Award goes to… National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

A Great Inca Road Exhibit Nat Museum Ame Indian - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: At the GREAT INKA ROAD EXHIBIT, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. It summarizes the history of the Inka (Inca) Empire, open until 2018. Impressive, with excellent didactic options (touch screens).

B Great Inca Road Exhibit Nat Museum Ame Indian - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: INKA ROAD EXHIBIT, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC.

C Great Inca Road Exhibit Nat Museum Ame Indian - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: INKA ROAD EXHIBIT, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. Inka khipu (years 1400-1600s) Peru. Cotton, Agave fiber.

D Great Inca Road Exhibit Nat Museum Ame Indian - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: INKA ROAD EXHIBIT, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. This is a very good museum.

OJIBWE Birch Bark Canoe National Museum of the American Indian - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: OJIBWE Birch Bark Canoe at the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington DC.

Inside of OJIBWE Birch Bark Canoe - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Inside OJIBWE Birch Bark Canoe at the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington DC.

Pineapple lily Eucomis sp US Botanic Garden - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Pineapple lily, Eucomis sp., US Botanic Garden, Washington DC.

Another take Arlington National Cemetery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: At the main entrance to the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia…

Memorial Amphitheater Arlington National Cemetery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The impressive Memorial Amphitheater at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It resembles –in architecture– the Greek archeological amphitheaters of Europe…

MTEC at the Arlington National Cemetery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book visiting the Memorial Amphitheater at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia…

NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY in Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY in Washington DC. This is a world-class museum, Smithsonian quality, impressive, very well conceptualized and representative of the American portrait culture and legacy (a specialized collection on/about the United States). Entrance to the museum is free, as to all Smithsonian museums in Washington. Free education for anyone, from anywhere in the world, who decides to visit. You need an entire day to explore it well. What a treat!

Corridors NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY in Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Halls and corridors at the NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY in Washington DC.

THE DYING TECUMSEH - National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: THE DYING TECUMSEH by Ferdinand Pettrich (about 1850s) National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC. Marble with painted copper. The beauty is that if you stare at the sculpture, Tecumseh seems to continue dying, he never ends dying.

Mohamed Ali National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Mohamed Ali at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Rosa Parks by Marshall Rumbaugh National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: ROSA PARKS, by Marshall Rumbaugh, 1983, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC. Painted limewood (sculptured).

Close up Rosa Parks by Marshall Rumbaugh National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: And detail of ROSA PARKS, by Marshall Rumbaugh, 1983, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC. Painted limewood (sculptured).

BLACK HAWK Nat Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: BLACK HAWK, by George Catlin, oil on canvas, about 1835. National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Einstein by Jo Davidson Nat Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Up close: terra cotta and a cell-phone camera. – Work of Jo Davidson, terra cotta, 1934, National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

EO Wilson by Jennie Summerall - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Edward O. Wilson by Jennie Summerall, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC. Oil on canvas (2006).

WJC - National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: WJC – National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC, by Chuck Close, oil on canvas (2006).

ACHELOUS AND HERCULES and ONE AND ANOTHER National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: ACHELOUS AND HERCULES (back) by Thomas Hart Benton, and ONE AND ANOTHER (front) by Hugo Robus, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC.

One And Another NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY in Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: ONE AND ANOTHER (1934), bronze on wood base, by Hugo Robus. National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. This is such a beautiful piece, human size. An entire room for it. The paintings around seem static, almost watching at One And Another…

Close up ACHELOUS AND HERCULES National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: ACHELOUS AND HERCULES, oil on canvas (1947), by Thomas Hart Benton, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC.

Babbon National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Baboon (1930s) by Bessie Stough Callender, National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. It reminded us of the Egyptian baboons…

Babbon B&W National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Close up of Baboon (1930s), in B&W, by Bessie Stough Callender; National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Falcons National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Falcons (left unfinished, right finished, 1937) on black Belgian marble, by Bessie Stough Callender, National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Washington Sea Eagle National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Washington Sea Eagle (1836-39) by John James Audubon, oil on canvas. Zoom in, you can see the carks on the canvas. National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Giant Panda B&W feeding National Zoo Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Giant Panda feeding on bamboo, National Zoo, Washington DC. Wild animals belong in the wild…

Welcoming Lion National Zoo Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Welcoming Lion, National Zoo, Washington DC.

Priscilla The Parrot Fish National Zoo Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Priscilla The Parrot Fish at the National Zoo, Washington DC.

Electronic Superhighway Nat Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Electronic Superhighway (2002) by Nam June Paik (born in Korea), pioneer of video-art. National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

H The White House Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The White House, as close as you can get nowadays…

Jefferson Memorial Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Jefferson Memorial awakening… by the Potomac, Washington DC

Jefferson Memorial Washington DC color - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Jefferson Memorial, another view, Washington DC

MTEC US Supreme Court - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Remember EDWARDS V. AGUILLARD? The 1987 (June 19) US Supreme Court ruling concerning “…a Louisiana law (i.e. Creationism Act) requiring that creation science be taught in public schools, along with evolution, violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because the law was specifically intended to advance a particular religion…” Well, MTEC visited the US Supreme Court to reflect about that specific ruling. It was a beautiful, sunny day, dry and perfect to pose for selfies.

Pillars US Supreme Court - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The imposing architecture of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington DC.

The famous staircase at the US Supreme Court - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The famous staircase at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington DC. There are two of these beautiful stairways in the building.

When water breaks Bethesda MD - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: When Water Breaks, It Always Does, Bethesda.

Chesapeake Bays Fish Market Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: We visited the famous Chesapeake Bay’s Fish marketplace. This made the day!

Chesapeake B Bays Fish Market Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Close ups of the Chesapeake Bay’s Fish market.

Crabs Chesapeake Bays Fish Market Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: And even closer… Chesapeake Bay’s Fish market, Washington DC.

Sooner or Later Nat Museum Ame Indian - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Sooner or Later, National Museum of the American Indian, Washington DC.

MTEC at the US Supreme Court - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our Book at the US Supreme Court. MTEC took some time to visit the building. Here, the volume is posing with one of the Cherub sculptures (the “Pen and Mace”) of the flagpole base. Both look radiant.

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

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Promotion Measuring the Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

Paz-y-Miño-C, G & Espinosa, A. 2016. Measuring the Evolution Controversy: A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9042-1, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9042-7.

BOOK small format - Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016Measuring the Evolution Controversy can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance.

“The great contribution of ‘Measuring the Evolution Controversy’ is the rich content of data and analysis that asks detailed questions about the social, economic and political backgrounds of those who tend to reject evolution vs. those who accept evolution as science. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa deftly analyze their data drawn from institutions of higher learning in the United States and particularly New England —which stands as a microcosm of the rest of the country, and indeed elsewhere in the world. It is their scientific approach to these issues which makes this book stand out as a uniquely original contribution.” — Niles Eldredge, PhD, Curator Emeritus of Paleontology at The American Museum of Natural History, New York.

“Pro-science activists and educators constantly bemoan the resistance to the teaching of evolution in the United States. All of us have anecdotes about encounters with the public, parents and students who are misinformed by their churches, Religious-Right groups, and creationist organizations. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa present hard data that support the anecdotal evidence. They also show that although anti-evolutionism typically begins with religion, it is a multi-faceted problem that intersects with political and cultural ideologies. Gathered through careful research over a period of years, their data will enable scientists and defenders of science education to comprehend the roots of the evolution controversy and counteract resistance to evolution more strategically and effectively.”Barbara Forrest, PhD, co-author with Paul R. Gross of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (2007), and expert witness for plaintiffs, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005).

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Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEGPaz-y-Miño-C., G. 2013. Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars. NOVA Publishers, New York. By NOVA Publishers, New York Soft Cover. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK

“The sweet spot of this collection of essays is the interface of science, history and literacy. Paz-y-Miño-C is, in essence, a champion of rationalism and a passionate defender of literacy standards. His essays deftly weave hard survey data and memorable turns of phrase with evocative imagery… While the essays in this collection are vast in coverage —from climate change to energy policy, stem cell research, vaccinations and, especially, evolution— a clear underlying theme emerges: [the author’s] goal is no less than to counter, through the lens of history and the majesty of rationalism, social forces that sanction ignorance, celebrate denial and… continue to diminish our global status in the fields of science and technology.” Jeff Podos, PhD, Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA.

“Paz-y-Miño-C  is a firm believer in evolutionary processes. He would like to see decisions made on the basis of facts, not unsupported opinion. He abhors and fears irrational thinking, especially ‘the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science.’ He marvels at the intricacy and diversity of life, and how it came about through natural selection… and is clearly frustrated by the unwillingness of so many to see the beauty and majesty in this view of the world and all that it explains.” – Jan A. Pechenik, PhD, Professor of Biology, Tufts University, USA, author of The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species, as Edited for Modern Readers.

Science Writing and the Pseudoscience Trap

“…Error magnification is the single most vicious and pervasive meme in popular science miscommunication. It is seeded and driven by the science communicator him/herself and feed-back-looped into society, creating a cycle of half truths rather than educating the public…” — GPC

Science Writing Evolution Literacy

By Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C

I am not fond of giving unsolicited advice, I almost never welcome it, although one should be open to internalizing constructive guidance when sincerely offered to us. And writers of any kind need editors to help us spot mistakes in our articles and improve format and content.

But I do have some experience writing about science for the general public. Occurrences that I can share with all.

My first article (1987), for El Comercio, explored the impact of aggressive shrimp-farming on the pristine mangrove ecosystems of Ecuador. The piece summarized a hands-on and in situ research project conducted as a biology undergraduate. Not only did it ignite my interest in investigative coverage, but led me to editorialize –ever since– on science, technology and the environment. Twenty-plus full-page reports –text and pictures– followed up to 1993 in Diario Hoy (another leading newspaper in Quito) and wildlife magazines. When I came to the United States to attend graduate school, I contributed 35 op pieces to El Popular (1996 to 2000), the foremost Hispanic newspaper in Toronto.

“…English has an advantage, it is the currency of modern science. It is an idiom of exploration, almost anything goes. Unfortunately, junk-writing is also part of this trial-and-error…”

Over time, I transitioned to writing almost exclusively in English (my second language), which has its own science etiquette, quite distinctive from Spanish. But English has an advantage, it is the currency of modern science. It is an idiom of exploration; anything goes. Unfortunately, junk-writing is also part of this trial and error.

Writing about science for the American readership –lay or specialized– is always a challenge. The landscapes (e.g. editorials, chronicles, reports, notes, blogs), styles, theme trends, and audiences’ interests change constantly. The internet has brought dynamism to sharing science news, via imaging (photos and video), more than text, or in short reports (150 to 300 words, rather than the usual 600 to 800 expected by publishers in the past), and quick and dirty delivery. The latter is a powerful temptation that a cautious columnist should avoid.

Editing Proofreading Marks for use on blogs and social media

Proofreading marks were used in the past for copy-editing scientific manuscripts and articles. They are extinct nowadays (the image shows a humorous version of proofreading symbols broadly shared in the social media). The edition and copy-edition of manuscripts is currently done automatically on computers and online servers. Still, human intervention is needed.

“…I do not consider myself a science writer, although I have been called ‘science journalist,’ as an insult, by a rodentologist incapable of graceful interaction with people…”

Before advancing any further, note that I do not consider myself a science writer, although I have been called “science journalist,” as an insult, by a rodentologist incapable of graceful interaction with people. But, I am a biologist who happens to write about science. I come from a background of journalists (my grandfather, father and a sister), essayists (two brothers who are professors in academia and regular contributors to newspapers), and a novelist sister. Plus, my father’s line run, for decades, a publishing initiative. Books were around us. Still, my only assertion here is that the publication process, from paper to ink on it, or to the sorting of pages and final binding of volumes, is the foundation of my cultural imprinting.

Learning to Spot Mistakes

A good, skeptical eye is essential in a writer, and this can be acquired by training. In my case, I worked as a copy editor for the journal Biotropica while I was a graduate student and, later, a postdoc (1996 to 2003). I revised 80 manuscripts by world authors and on multiple subjects. My responsibility was to find mistakes (typos, grammar errors, non-sense sentences, contradictions and, occasionally, bring content issues to the attention of the editors). That experience taught me to minimize the errors I still make while preparing scientific papers and perspectives. Perfection is never achieved, only sharpness to spot what seems incorrect and improve the outcome.

“…The skill of spotting mistakes shall make anyone a better author…”

And not to forget, I was also production editor and copy editor for Animal Behaviour (2001 – 2003), something I remember with mix feelings: although I did not revise as many manuscripts as for Biotropica, the AB Editorial Office in Indiana passed on to me difficult, long manuscripts, loaded with problems, arid science, although written by famous ethologists. In retrospect, I am grateful to my colleagues for the tedious assignments, and for forcing me to examine unpolished papers. The skill of spotting mistakes shall make anyone a better author.

Learning to Be an Editor

From 2003 to 2012, I became founder editor of The Conservation Behaviorist, a biannual periodical of the Animal Behavior Society’s Conservation Committee, which I chaired for three years (2003 – 2006). I edited and produced, from scratch, each of the issues of the ten volumes published during that decade.

“…One must avoid the pseudo science trap, sequel of adopting language that feeds the readers’ unsophisticated comfort zones, at the expense of hurting scientific rigor via distortion…”

What I value most from that activity is that I discovered how to adapt the texts submitted by scientists —in the interface animal behavior / conservation biology— to a media-friendly format, language and delivery. I spent hours reshaping the prose without changing the intention of the writers or the scientific accuracy of their proposals. And that is key in science writing. One must avoid the pseudoscience trap, sequel of adopting language that feeds the readers’ unsophisticated comfort zones, at the expense of hurting scientific rigor via distortion.

This malady is widespread in the work published in major newspapers, magazines, blogs and social media. Here is an example: claiming that naked mole rats are “cancer free” is not only falsehood, but it does not make scientific sense (i.e. relative lower incidence of cancer in a given organism, in respect to others, including humans, does not mean cancer-immunity, nor its absence; UPDATE: for a comprehensive review see Cancer Across The Tree of Life: Cooperation and Cheating in Multicellularity). As much as it was questionable, when in the 1990s, the “shark- cartilage pill industry” made a fortune ecociding sharks, milling their dried skeletons and selling “miracle powder” in anti-cancer capsules for the pro-natural-medicine ignoramus. Science writers must not fall in love with inaccuracies or fables like these.

The point here is that, by being an editor, one can learn to honor science, respect its integrity rather than allow free ride to sensationalism by promoting “breaking news” soon-to-be debunked.

Network of Science Communication Lemerg dot com - Evolution Literacy

The Network of Science Communication. The pseudoscience trap is inherent to networking. Science writers must not fall in love with inaccuracies and fables (image iStockphoto/Thinkstock).

Developing Your Own Style

You do not need to please everyone, particularly family, friends, colleagues or supervisors. Actually, it works best to stay away from their never unbiased reviews (except if they are writers themselves). But it is important to define the type of science writer you want to be, and develop a style with which a readership identifies you.

“…it is important to define what type of science writer you want to be, and develop a style with which a readership identifies you…”

When I wrote my initial op piece for The Standard Times in 2010, it was welcomed instantly, but two subsequent editorials were rejected. I spoke with the Editor in Chief and persuaded him that we needed to develop –together– a readership for the types of articles I would offer: an analysis of science topics with my personal take, rather than a report-story vast in empty phrases like “scientists say” or “according to researchers” or “in the opinion of experts.” Reluctantly, he agreed and months later we enjoyed the interaction with the readers and their feedback; positive and, sometimes, disapproving.

The Standard Times and I published 28 editorials (2010 – 2015) under the “Your View” column, thus conveying that I, as a writer, was one more member of the community, discharging from the inside my criteria and views about dissimilar or related topics, including: the relevance of curiosity-based research, the anti-vaccine movement, the collapse of basic science under the for-profit model, the scientific challenges to the reputation of the Stradivari violins, the wrongly called God-particle (Higgs boson), or the false beliefs in faith healing (for complete access to articles go to publications).

Being Aware of Your Skills

Because pop science writing lacks the editorial process of a scientific article, it is tempting to avoid fact-checks. Editorial reviewers of newspapers and magazines pay more attention to the journalistic aspects of the story than to its scientific accuracy. Many science writers have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the humanities, with some training in science and technology (note that this is evolving and today’s media firms hire contributors with graduate certifications and previous experience in the job). If they possess a doctoral degree, it often lacks the postdoctoral practice that a recently-graduated student needs. And if a postdoctoral training is under the belt, the exercise of peer-reviewing (or being peer-reviewed), editing, publishing and, most importantly, reading thousands of scientific papers is just not there.

Peer Review Process Evolution Literacy

The Peer-review System of Scientific Papers

“…If, as a science writer, you feel confident with your grasping of scientific papers, think twice. You are probably wrong…”

Not only science writing is difficult, but also reading and correctly translating what the scientists communicate in their publications. Cutting-edge research is usually understood by highly specialized investigators. The best a science writer can do is to seek the original source and obtain interpretations of findings directly from the horse’s mouth. Do not rely, to write your own report, on other writers’ stories in the media. That will only magnify the error. And error magnification is the single most vicious and pervasive meme in popular science miscommunication. It is seeded and driven by the science communicator him/herself (including the press-releases from university campuses about their faculty’s discoveries) and feed-back-looped into society, creating a cycle of half truths rather than educating the public.

If, as a science writer, you feel confident with your grasping of scientific papers, think twice. You are probably wrong. Principal investigators all over the country read the same articles you claim to understand and discuss them in journal clubs with colleagues, postdocs, and graduate students. They dissect the articles to a level of extreme, yet fine criticism and end up comprehending the experiments, the math and statistics, the theoretical context and significance of the studies. If they struggle collectively in this effort, what makes you think that you have it clear?

“…It is up to you, therefore, to publish well-documented perspectives or copious shallow reports…”

In addition, writing hundreds of 300-to-600-word notes about science is not equivalent to preparing a single peer-review publication for a scientific journal. If you do investigative coverage, which might take days, weeks or months (to confirm the veracity of the info), any average science writer could surpass you in production by spawning hourly articles. It is up to you, therefore, to publish well-documented perspectives or copious shallow reports.

Your Work Is Needed

Society needs science communicators, and science writers are crucial in this respect. But be realistic, just examine the turnout of science writers at any major newspaper or magazine (info available online under “contributors”), and realize that, after a few years, the entire staff might have crossed the revolving door. Although there are still more job opportunities for science writers than for TV or documentary anchors. Writing for radio is also an alternative, yet with limited employment. Freelancing, therefore, shall be your probable route.

If you have passion for writing about science, it can be an enjoyable journey. However, here are additional tips:

  • Obtain the highest education possible and dismiss the notion to not pursue formal schooling and, instead, “learn on the job.” The latter is damaging advice, usually given by people without specialized education, or by those who benefit from your unpreparedness. If you actually get the job, you will always “learn the praxis” while on it. But you will never compensate, “on the job,” for the formal education you missed. Science, math and technology are not taught in the streets.
  • Read by far more topics than you can write about; develop a sense for science.
  • Travel internationally to scientific meetings and try to understand the cultural contexts in which science is done elsewhere; this could be difficult since we all see the planet through parochial preconceptions. However, modern science is done collaboratively and international partnerships are ubiquitous. Writing from home will keep your mind at home.
  • Write about science itself, rather than people in science. Do not celebritize individuals, but grant credit to all who deserve it.
  • Do not become enticed by the ivory-tower institutions as the sole source of science stories to report; that will turn you into a snob writer.
  • And remember that a good science tale should be good by itself, no matter its origin, but only a good story teller would make it shine.

Science writing can be art or artistic, profound and beautiful, but also commercial and prone to “likes” and “shares” in the social media, which are addicting. If you want to “go viral,” then consequential science communication might not be the path to take. It is not for you. After all, the most significant science books and articles for the general public are written by scientists (some in collaboration with reporters), not by science writers. But you can create a niche for yourself as science communicator-facilitator in a way that servers your local community and society. — EvoLiteracy © 2016.

Acknowledgment: I thank Avelina Espinosa for editorial comments and feedback to improve this article.

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

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Measuring The Evolution Controversy - FourBooks - Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

Paz-y-Miño-C, G & Espinosa, A. 2016. Measuring the Evolution Controversy: A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9042-1, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9042-7.

BOOK small format - Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016Measuring the Evolution Controversy can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance.

“The great contribution of ‘Measuring the Evolution Controversy’ is the rich content of data and analysis that asks detailed questions about the social, economic and political backgrounds of those who tend to reject evolution vs. those who accept evolution as science. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa deftly analyze their data drawn from institutions of higher learning in the United States and particularly New England —which stands as a microcosm of the rest of the country, and indeed elsewhere in the world. It is their scientific approach to these issues which makes this book stand out as a uniquely original contribution.” — Niles Eldredge, PhD, Curator Emeritus of Paleontology at The American Museum of Natural History, New York.

“Pro-science activists and educators constantly bemoan the resistance to the teaching of evolution in the United States. All of us have anecdotes about encounters with the public, parents and students who are misinformed by their churches, Religious-Right groups, and creationist organizations. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa present hard data that support the anecdotal evidence. They also show that although anti-evolutionism typically begins with religion, it is a multi-faceted problem that intersects with political and cultural ideologies. Gathered through careful research over a period of years, their data will enable scientists and defenders of science education to comprehend the roots of the evolution controversy and counteract resistance to evolution more strategically and effectively.”Barbara Forrest, PhD, co-author with Paul R. Gross of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (2007), and expert witness for plaintiffs, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005).

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Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEGPaz-y-Miño-C., G. 2013. Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars. NOVA Publishers, New York. By NOVA Publishers, New York Soft Cover. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK

“The sweet spot of this collection of essays is the interface of science, history and literacy. Paz-y-Miño-C is, in essence, a champion of rationalism and a passionate defender of literacy standards. His essays deftly weave hard survey data and memorable turns of phrase with evocative imagery… While the essays in this collection are vast in coverage —from climate change to energy policy, stem cell research, vaccinations and, especially, evolution— a clear underlying theme emerges: [the author’s] goal is no less than to counter, through the lens of history and the majesty of rationalism, social forces that sanction ignorance, celebrate denial and… continue to diminish our global status in the fields of science and technology.” Jeff Podos, PhD, Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA.

“Paz-y-Miño-C  is a firm believer in evolutionary processes. He would like to see decisions made on the basis of facts, not unsupported opinion. He abhors and fears irrational thinking, especially ‘the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science.’ He marvels at the intricacy and diversity of life, and how it came about through natural selection… and is clearly frustrated by the unwillingness of so many to see the beauty and majesty in this view of the world and all that it explains.” – Jan A. Pechenik, PhD, Professor of Biology, Tufts University, USA, author of The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species, as Edited for Modern Readers.

Russia: A Saturation of Beauty

“…There is so much history in Russia, a cultural legacy for the world. Its splendor is overwhelming. The fantasy in the architecture of its cathedrals and palaces; the colors of joy on its paintings; the ballerinas dancing in the snow at the tempo of always original music; the transcendent prose and verse of its writers, above all –to me– the perfection of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. A nation of great contrasts like all mega homelands. Of imposed extreme inequality and oppression by its past ruling Tsars, shamelessly sheltered by the co-conspirator Orthodoxy, the Church and its wicked Patriarchs, enticers of the populous. Its 1917 Revolution was inevitable, as it later was the Cold War with the West, which sequels still mark the divide between the peoples of Russia and ‘the capitalists.’ But what impresses me most of Russia is its capacity to have rebuilt itself after the significant obliteration of its land during World War II. Only a collective mind that treasures culture could reconstruct it, despite its 27-million casualties while battling Nazism. — One day, in the distant future, just before the subversive cells of my skin take over the rest of the organs and inflict their final harm, I would like to see the Russian Cathedrals again. Not because an Atheist needs conversion before death; that will never happen, I will always reject Fraud. But because these ‘now museums’ represent the saturation of art-beauty that I have been looking for…” — GPC.

We just returned from Russia after attending the Moscow Forum Protists – 2016 held at Lomonosov Moscow State University, from June 6th to 10th. The program, sponsored by the International Society of Protistologists (ISOP), included five plenary sessions with keynote speakers, general oral presentations, two symposia (integrative co-evolution between mitochondria and their hosts, and protists of marine sediments), and poster presentations (two sessions with about 50 posters each) on diverse topics, including: evolution and phylogeny, taxonomy, systematics and DNA barcoding, genomics and molecular biology, cell biology, organismal biology, parasitology, diversity and biogeography, ecology of soil protists, ecology of aquatic protists, bioindicators and palaeoecology. The 200 participants had time to exchange ideas during informal, social gatherings.

Avelina Espinosa and I participated with a poster (something we have not done in years, perhaps since we were postdocs, although our students present posters often) titled “Aggregative Behavior, Cell Signaling and Morphometrics: Entamoeba Discrimination Studies.” It summarized our latest papers (2016) featured on the Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology (for details and links to articles see Symposium Kin-Discrimination in Protists just featured on JEUK). Here is the poster, you can click on the image to enlarge:

Aggregative Behav Cell Signaling Morphometrics Entamoeba Discrimination Studies 2016

The meeting included a pre-conference trip to Saint Petersburg and a post-conference tour to the Golden Ring of Russia; we joined both. Plus three excursions, two of which we did on our own (the Armoury Chamber and the Moscow Kremlin), and a visit to the State Tretyakov Gallery, which we missed due to a conflict on our schedule.

Below, I include some of the images of our trip, in no particular order. On purpose, I often use a phone-camera to document our traveling. Most images are in low definition and have little or no editing (click on them to enlarge). Please note that images are copyrighted, all rights reserved, enjoy watching them! — EvoLiteracy © 2016.

MTEC at downtown campus Lomonosov Moscow State University - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy (2016), at the downtown campus of Lomonosov Moscow State University. Quite a stop to start our official visit. The old campus is located nearby the Kremlin. The new campus is located South of the city’s center.

Opening ISOP 2016 - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Opening at Moscow Forum Protists – 2016. The Faculty of Biology Building, Lomonosov Moscow State University.

Main Building COLOR Lomonosov Moscow State University - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Main Building Lomonosov Moscow State University. There are seven identical buildings in Moscow, one of them belongs to the University.

VDNKH Metro Station in Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: VDNKH Metro Station in Moscow. Tiles covering an entire wall (18 x 6 feet). While we were admiring this “tile-mosaic,” a young couple, plus a boy with his mother, stopped by to take pictures, an indication that this was an appreciated spot.

Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin in Suzdal Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin in Suzdal, Russia. My favorite; blue is the right color.

Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin INSIDE Suzdal Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Inside the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin in Suzdal, Russia.

The Senate and The Secret Gardens Kremlin Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Senate and The Secret Gardens, Kremlin, Moscow.

Kremlin Wall with tower - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The iconic Kremlin Wall with tower, Moscow. The Kremlin buildings (government and museums) are enclosed by the wall.

The Grand Kremlin Palace Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow.

MTEC exploring Moscow Map - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy, planning the next day’s activities in Moscow. The Metro system is quite efficient to explore the city’s historic buildings, monuments and museums.

Russian State Library Main Hall - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Russian State Library, Main Hall, Moscow. An old palace in current renovation.

Marble stairs at the Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Marble stairs at the Russian State Library; history polished on marble, perhaps by millions of people over the years, Moscow.

View of Kermlin from Russian State Library Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: View of the Kremlin from the Russian State Library in Moscow.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Fyodor Dostoyevsky statue at the Russian State Library, frequented spot by pigeons and birdlife. Quiet, little explored by pedestrians now that the surroundings are in renovation.

Detail of Facade Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Detail of façade at the Russian State Library, Moscow.

Book Museum View - Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Book Museum at the Russian State Library. Its collection of old books is impressive, hundreds of volumes.

SURVEYING VOYAGES Book Museum Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Darwin’s SURVEYING VOYAGES (1839) at the Book Museum of the Russian State Library, Moscow.

HUMANI CORPORIS FABRICA Book Museum Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The original HUMANI CORPORIS FABRICA by Andreas Vesalius (1543) at the Book Museum, Russian Sate Library, Moscow. I have seen this book twice, the first time at the Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, in the US.

DON QVIXOTE OF LA MANCHA Book Museum Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: DON QVIXOTE OF LA MANCHA (1616), Book Museum, Russian State Library, Moscow.

1867 Das Kapital - Book Museum - Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: 1867 edition of Das Kapital by Karl Marx, Book Museum, Russian State Library, Moscow.

MTEC at Library Lomonosov Moscow State University - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy, enjoying a lovely day outside the Library of Lomonosov Moscow State University. MTEC was not allowed in the Library due to lack of proper “pass,” which is required to visitors. In any event, the book took some time for selfies and promotion.

Modern Moscow at sunset - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Modern Moscow at sunset, a view from our hotel.

Moscow River and Kremlin - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Moskva River and Kremlin (on the right), Moscow.

Saint Basil's Cathedral Moscow NIGHT - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Saint Basil’s Cathedral (night), Moscow.

Saint Basil's Cathedral Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, panoramic view.

Saint Basil's Cathedral Moscow closeup - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Saint Basil’s Cathedral, close up, Moscow.

Orthodox Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Orthodox Moscow, next to Saint Basil’s Cathedral.

The Historical Museum at Red Square Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Historical Museum at Red Square, Moscow. It has an excellent collection of artifacts related to Russian history, starting from Homo erectus (the first archeological discoveries in Russian landscapes) up to the 20th Century.

The GUM Building at Red Square Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The GUM Building at Red Square, Moscow.

Annunciation Cathedral side-view Kremlin Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Annunciation Cathedral, side-view, Kremlin, Moscow.

Annunciation Cathedral B&W Kremlin Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Annunciation Cathedral in B&W, Kremlin, Moscow.

The Ivan The Great Bell Tower - Kremlin Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Ivan The Great Bell Tower, Kremlin Moscow.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow.

Bolshoi Theatre Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow.

Bolshoi Theatre Stage Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Bolshoi Theatre’s stage, Moscow. We were fortunate to get tickets for the Opera Katerina Izmailova, an adaptation of Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.

Bolshoi Theatre Central Balcony Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Bolshoi Theatre Central Balcony, Moscow.

Beautiful Moscow by night - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Beautiful Moscow by night.

Diptic MEMORIAL MUSEUM OF COSMONAUTICS Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: At the MEMORIAL MUSEUM OF COSMONAUTICS, Moscow.

MTEC at MEMORIAL MUSEUM OF COSMONAUTICS Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy, at the MEMORIAL MUSEUM OF COSMONAUTICS, Moscow.

Back View of Lenin's Mausoleum - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Back view of Lenin’s Mausoleum, Kremlin, Moscow.

Karl Marx Monument Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Karl Marx monument in Moscow.

Handcrafted Nature Boxes St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Handcrafted Nature Boxes, St. Petersburg.

Casual Moscow with Fast Food - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Casual Moscow… fast-food style.

Kazan Cathedral Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Kazan Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow.

MTEC posing before The Senate Kremlin Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy, posing before The Senate, Kremlin Moscow.

STONE FLOWER FOUNTAIN in Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: STONE FLOWER FOUNTAIN in Moscow.

The Friendship of People Fountain Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Friendship of People Fountain, Moscow.

ARCHITECTURAL DETAIL CENTRAL PAVELION Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Architectural detail, Central Pavilion, Moscow.

Kazan Cathedral St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg.

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood St Petersburg CLOSE UP - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Close up of Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg.

B&W Church on The Spilled Blood St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Church on The Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg. The church is so colorful that even in B&W the viewer can imagine the colors.

Close up Hermitage Museum St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Close up of The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.

The Royal Throne Hermitage Museum St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Royal Throne at The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.

Wooden Floor Winter Palace Hermitage Museum St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Wooden Floor at The Winter Palace, The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.

RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The old building of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg.

Main Entrance Summer Palace St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Main Entrance to The Summer Palace, St. Petersburg.

Meet me at the bridge St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Meet me at the bridge, St. Petersburg.

The last red phone St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The last red phone, St. Petersburg.

Dormition Cathedral Vladimir - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir, Russia.

Matryoshkas from the 1920s Trinity Church Vladimir - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Matryoshkas from the 1920s, Trinity Church, Vladimir, Russia. In the old(er) days, the dolls were of pale colors, which changed over the years to a more colorful design.

A Fowl Trinity Church Vladimir - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: A Fowl at the Trinity Church in Vladimir, Russia.

Lenin Stalin Trinity Church Vladimir Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Lenin and Stalin on glass, Trinity Church, Vladimir, Russia.

Town of Suzdal Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Town of Suzdal, Russia.

B&W House in Suzdal Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Traditional old-house in the town of Suzdal, Russia.

Colorful Russia Suzdal - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Colorful Russia, the town of Suzdal.

Saint Euthymius Monastery Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Saint Euthymius Monastery, Suzdal, Russia.

Detail of ceiling at Trinity Church Vladimir - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Detail of ceiling at Trinity Church in Vladimir, Russia.

The Former KGB - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Former KGB building in Moscow.

Water reflection Convent Bogolyubovo Vladimir region Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Water reflection of Convent Bogolyubovo in the Vladimir region, Russia.

Old Village Suzdal Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Old Village in the town of Suzdal, Russia.

More of the Saint Euthymius Monastery Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Saint Euthymius Monastery, Suzdal, Russia.

Golden Gate Vladimir Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Golden Gate, Vladimir, Russia.

Church of The Transfiguration Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Church of The Transfiguration, Suzdal, Russia.

Church of The Transfiguration Russia Close Ups - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Church of The Transfiguration is completely built on wood, Suzdal, Russia.

Convent Bogolyubovo Vladimir region Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Convent Bogolyubovo, Vladimir region, Russia.

Matryoshkas in color St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Matryoshkas in color, St. Petersburg.

MTEC inside the Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy, enjoying a visit to one of the reading rooms at the Russian State Library in Moscow.

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

Suggested Readings

Kin Recognition or Kin Discrimination in Single-Celled Organisms – Protists

Symposium Kin-Discrimination in Protists just featured on JEUK

Protisto-Biologists Flock to Seville for ECOP-ISOP Scientific Meeting

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy full text

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D - Headline Book Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016

Paz-y-Miño-C, G & Espinosa, A. 2016. Measuring the Evolution Controversy: A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9042-1, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9042-7.

BOOK small format - Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016Measuring the Evolution Controversy can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance.

“The great contribution of ‘Measuring the Evolution Controversy’ is the rich content of data and analysis that asks detailed questions about the social, economic and political backgrounds of those who tend to reject evolution vs. those who accept evolution as science. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa deftly analyze their data drawn from institutions of higher learning in the United States and particularly New England —which stands as a microcosm of the rest of the country, and indeed elsewhere in the world. It is their scientific approach to these issues which makes this book stand out as a uniquely original contribution.” — Niles Eldredge, PhD, Curator Emeritus of Paleontology at The American Museum of Natural History, New York.

“Pro-science activists and educators constantly bemoan the resistance to the teaching of evolution in the United States. All of us have anecdotes about encounters with the public, parents and students who are misinformed by their churches, Religious-Right groups, and creationist organizations. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa present hard data that support the anecdotal evidence. They also show that although anti-evolutionism typically begins with religion, it is a multi-faceted problem that intersects with political and cultural ideologies. Gathered through careful research over a period of years, their data will enable scientists and defenders of science education to comprehend the roots of the evolution controversy and counteract resistance to evolution more strategically and effectively.”Barbara Forrest, PhD, co-author with Paul R. Gross of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (2007), and expert witness for plaintiffs, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005).

Evolution and the Upcoming Challenges of a Predictable Landscape

Cover Book Measuring Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016In Chapter Nine of Measuring the Evolution Controversy, we ask: what will be the societal setting in which science/evolution and religion interact in the future? Early in the narrative of the book, before addressing this question, we remark that societal interactions between science and ideology are intricate, and subject to public policy, law, and abrupt socio-economic change. In addition, we sketch a probable world socio-cultural environment —based on statistical demographic projections— in which acceptance of science and evolution could take place in the future. By the 2050s or 2060s, we argue, the world societal dynamics will be quite different in respect to today’s, particularly in four relevant landscapes associated with attitudes toward science and evolution: distribution of wealth, education, migration, and demographics of religious groups. — Guillermo Paz-y-Mino-C

Promotion Measuring the Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

Chapter Nine is titled Evolution and the Upcoming Challenges of a Predictable Landscape. Here is a synopsis of the main points discussed therein (note that the chapter is 26-pages long; it includes two text-boxes, 6 figures, one table, and 6 pages of references; do not expect the outline below to be comprehensive in any way, the purpose is to give readers of EvoLiteracy a broad idea about how Chapter Nine is structured):

Distribution of Wealth

Wealthier nations, which offer means to their citizens, higher quality of education, and happen to be less religious, embrace higher public support to evolution (70% and up) than their counterparts at the bottom of the spectrum. Exceptions, like the U.S., where acceptance of evolution is low for its level of wealth (≈40%, measured as function of per capita gross domestic product, GDP), can and do occur. The U.S. is exceptionally religious for its level of economic prosperity in contrast to other highly developed countries. And higher religiosity correlates with lower public acceptance of evolution.

Improvements in levels of economic prosperity, therefore, should translate into a nation’s generalized progress, particularly in education. High-quality science/evolution schooling should lead students, parents-to-be, and ultimately the general public to support science/evolution; but keep in mind that if religiosity remains high, it shall continue to correlate with opposition to evolution.

Education

Worldwide, there is a positive association between level of education and acceptance of evolution. In the U.S., for example, public support to evolution increases from the high school (21%), to the some college (41%), college graduate (53%), post-graduate (74%), and university professor levels (95%). Note that educational attainment, like overall wealth, also correlates positively with per capita GDP.

In the future, we can only expect significant increase in evolution’s acceptance in nations that improve —and sustain the improvement during several decades— their school life expectancies to 15-to-20 years (i.e. college and university education). Keep in mind, however, that in most countries the average general public still remains at the level of high-school or some-college education, which suggests that major progress in the mean-value of public support to evolution shall be achieved chiefly via quality high school —science/evolution— education.

In other words, major contributions to increasing evolution’s acceptance nation-by-nation shall mainly come from meaningful improvements to the excellence in high school schooling (i.e. still the prevalent 10-15-year school life expectancy in most countries), rather than from recruitment of tertiary educated professionals (colleges/universities) from the global pool. Of course, good science/evolution education cannot occur in isolation, both depend on schools offering good-quality general education –possibly under a liberal-arts-and-sciences format.

Fig 3 Centerfold Measuring Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

Science and evolution knowledge have a negative association with religiosity; both decline with increasing religious beliefs, as documented for New England researchers, educators of prospective teachers in the U.S., and New England college students (a-b). Note how evolution knowledge increases with increasing science knowledge in the three groups (c), a positive association of variables.

Migration

This is a complex topic. In the book we start this section by highlighting that migration can stimulate the integration of ethno-cultural diversities and increase wealth and prosperity (particularly in science and technology –although not restricted to them), but it can also generate societal tensions, segregation of migrants, exploitation of their labor, inequality and poverty.

In scenarios in which the nature of immigration/emigration changes significantly the cultural-demographic composition of a nation (e.g. in the book we contrast Spain versus the U.S. and make projections about future rates of public acceptance of evolution in both countries), attitudes toward evolution and acceptance of evolution could be influenced by the migration process. Alternatively, in scenarios where immigration/emigration do not influence considerably the in-house cultural-demographic composition of a population, we shall expect minor, or no fluctuations in the public support to evolution associated with migration.

But, again, in Chapter Nine we are cautious about these generalizations and clarify that: “…the societal struggles around evolution’s acceptance [are] multi-factorial… including the variables: (1) religious beliefs, pro-life beliefs and political ideology; or (2) political activity, political and religious conservatism, knowledge about evolution and its relevance, creationist reasoning, evolutionary misconceptions, and exposure to evolution; or (3) religious affiliation, frequency of attendance to religious services, college academic level, exposure to evolution in high school, and college major…” These factors have been comprehensively analyzed in the literature. What we do in Measuring the Evolution Controversy is to associate these variables to diverse contexts of human migrations and, for that, we compare Spain and the U.S.

United States Measuring Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

The U.S. will experience substantial population growth during the next forty years, from 310.4 million, in 2010, to 394.4 million by 2050 (a 21.3% increase). The current Christian majority will decrease by 2050 (from 77.4% to 65.8%) and the unaffiliated will increase during the same time period (from 17.1% to 25.6%). The fertility rates (2010 – 2015) will continue to be higher among the religious vs. the unaffiliated (Muslims 2.7, Christians 2.1, Hindus 2.1, Buddhists 2.1, Jews 2.0, and unaffiliated 1.6). The U.S. shall become less religious primarily due to the rise of the unaffiliated. Thus, public acceptance of evolution —excluding humans— will increase in the U.S. above its current ≈40%.

Demographics of Religious Groups

In Chapter Nine, we examine how, by 2050, the world’s religious profile will be driven, primarily, by differences in fertility rates, the proportion of youth among the religious populations, and by people switching religions. Something not unusual since these factors are at play constantly, but we examine how the phenomenon of the evolution controversy shall take place —by 2050— in a different global demographic and religious landscape, or landscapes, than today’s.

For example, based on data gathered by the Pew Research Center, we explain that although by 2050 Christians will continue to be the largest group (expected growth from 2.17 billion, in 2010, to 2.92 billion by 2050), Muslims will be growing faster than all major faiths (from 1.6 billion, in 2010, to 2.76 billion by 2050). These trends shall lead to different interaction dynamics, than today’s, among world citizens affiliated with religious groups, which future representation in the global population will change rapidly. In addition, we also point out that the unaffiliated (i.e. not associated with formalized religions, agnostics, non-believers or atheists –whose support to evolution is usually the highest) will increase worldwide by 100 million during the next four decades (from 1.13 billion, in 2010, to 1.23 billion by 2050). However, their representation in the world population shall decrease (from 16.4%, in 2010, to 13.2% by 2050) due to the faster population growth rate among Christians and Muslims in respect to the unaffiliated.

In the book, we use these statistics, as well as data about evolution’s acceptance by the diverse religious denominations (consistently less accepting of evolution than the unaffiliated), to envision possible scenarios in which the evolution controversy will take place. The statistical future may not be as promising as it may seem today. Although in some nations, like the U.S., public acceptance of evolution shall increase (parallel to a rise in secularization), in others the opposite could probabilistically happen. The book examines this.

Conclusion

We end Chapter Nine by reexamining acceptance of evolution in the context of the Incompatibility Hypothesis (IH — the conceptual foundation of the book, which is introduced to readers in Chapters One and Two) and by linking IH to two additional theoretical frameworks: the secularization hypothesis (i.e. the idea that, over time, science and reason will replace religion and faith, or that modernization, which includes human development, will lead to a decline in the belief in supernatural causality) and the religious market models (i.e. the raw supply and demand of anti-evolution beliefs in the market-landscape of ideas). These conceptual frameworks are intensely debated by scholars, something we examine succinctly in the book. But that is material for a future post. — GPC — EvoLiteracy © 2016.

ABOUT THE BOOK – Measuring the Evolution Controversy, a 210-page hardback volume (>100 data figures, maps, tables and explanatory boxes), can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance.

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

D - Headline Book Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016

Suggested Readings and Related Links

The Incompatibility Hypothesis: Evolution vs. Supernatural Causation

Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars

Darwin’s Skepticism about God

Evolution Wars: Debunk II

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Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars (2013). By NOVA Publishers, New York Soft Cover. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK.

Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEG“The sweet spot of this collection of essays is the interface of science, history and literacy. Paz-y-Miño-C is, in essence, a champion of rationalism and a passionate defender of literacy standards. His essays deftly weave hard survey data and memorable turns of phrase with evocative imagery… While the essays in this collection are vast in coverage —from climate change to energy policy, stem cell research, vaccinations and, especially, evolution— a clear underlying theme emerges: [the author’s] goal is no less than to counter, through the lens of history and the majesty of rationalism, social forces that sanction ignorance, celebrate denial and… continue to diminish our global status in the fields of science and technology.” Jeff Podos, PhD, Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA.

“Paz-y-Miño-C  is a firm believer in evolutionary processes. He would like to see decisions made on the basis of facts, not unsupported opinion. He abhors and fears irrational thinking, especially ‘the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science.’ He marvels at the intricacy and diversity of life, and how it came about through natural selection… and is clearly frustrated by the unwillingness of so many to see the beauty and majesty in this view of the world and all that it explains.” – Jan A. Pechenik, PhD, Professor of Biology, Tufts University, USA, author of The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species, as Edited for Modern Readers.