Book on Evolution Controversy among Best Sellers of 2017

Measuring the Evolution Controversy: A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities is being featured among other top three Best Sellers of 2017 at Cambridge Scholars (link here).

The publisher is promoting the book on its website and offering convenient options for ordering it until November 30th.

The great contribution of Measuring the Evolution Controversy, says Dr. Niles Eldredge, Curator Emeritus of Paleontology at The American Museum of Natural History in New York, 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 versus those who accept evolution as science. “The authors —Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C and Avelina Espinosa— deftly analyze their data drawn from institutions of higher learning in the United States… It is their scientific approach to these issues which makes this book stand out as a uniquely original contribution.”

Doctor Barbara Forrest writes that, in Measuring the Evolution Controversy, “Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa… 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.” Doctor Forrest is co-author with Paul R. Gross of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design; she was an expert witness for plaintiffs in the Dover-Pennsylvania 2005 trial on Intelligent Design (Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District).

Why do people not accept evolution? Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa explain that “the debate over evolution-and-science versus creationism is inherent in the incompatibility between scientific rationalism/empiricism and the belief in supernatural causation. Belief disrupts, distorts, delays or stops the comprehension and acceptance of scientific evidence.” The authors refer to this proposal as the incompatibility hypothesis, the conceptual foundation of the book. The volume is currently available at 40+ college/university libraries worldwide — EvoLiteracy © 2017.

On secularism the Czechs have it right – A visit to Prague and Kutná Hora

I finally had the chance to complete this post, which was in the making for quite some time. Preparing 100 images, as included below, can take many hours and much energy. I thank the friends and followers of EvoLiteracy for being patient and for continuing visiting the site and sharing its educational contents. On average, people from about 50 countries visit this portal, thousands a year.

I was in Prague and Kutná Hora during the end of July and beginning of August, 2017. Part of the time was dedicated to attend the ISOP meeting (Prague), or the International Society of Protistologists annual gathering. A conference for specialized biologists and other scientists interested in the lives and histories of microscopic organisms that happen to be unicellular, but that, unlike bacteria like E. coli (a mandatory companion in the human gut), these microbes have a nucleus (= eukaryotes; eu = true; karyon = nucleus, in reality it means nut). Unicellular eukaryotes are also called “protists” (a generic, all-inclusive term). I have written about them in the past, and readers can find that material here.

Today’s pictoric post is divided in three parts: Part One is about the ISOP meeting, with a few self explanatory photos. Part Two covers selected statistics about the Czech Republic, specifically about public acceptance of evolution in respect to other Central- and Eastern-European countries (the Czechs lead on this), views on  secularism, separation between church and state, and the need of believing in God [or not] to be moral and have good values. Readers might find the Czech example impressive. It is indeed a demonstration that an advanced society –organized around highly educated citizens– can reach prosperity (after its devastation during World War II), public education and health care for all; a community that can turn secular and, at the same time, continue to honor and celebrate its cultural past, monuments, cathedrals, castles, arts, music and life. A true case-scenario of civility and modernity in which the monarchs were removed for good. Part Three includes images of Prague and Kutná Hora; they speak for themselves and will be part of my long-lasting memories. — Hope you enjoy the graphic journey below and decide, some day, to visit Prague and Kutná Hora, and make these cities and their peoples part of your own secular soul. – GPC

Part One: ISOP meeting

Above: this is the second time we do a poster presentation for an international meeting. As students, we used to do it in the past (click on image to enlarge, full + resolution).

Above: What is this? A tossing MICROPHONE. Very clever. A 15-cm soft (spongy) cube equipped with a microphone inside. It can be tossed to the audience and expedite the Q&A. I think it does encourage people to participate and ask questions just for the fun of tossing and receiving the cube. The electronics are programmed to shutdown the noise while the cube is bouncing, but the microphone activates itself once stabilized at no-rough motion.

Above: remarks by Miklós Müller during the presentation of the Hutner Award (given yearly to a researcher in protistology), always relevant and a good perspective.

Part Two: Statistics

Above: Acceptance of evolution in Eastern Europe. Note how the Czech Republic leads in public acceptance of evolution: 83% think that humans and other living things have evolved over time (left). And 73% think that humans and other living things have evolved due to natural selection.

Above: 72% of Czechs consider themselves unaffiliated in terms of religious identity.

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Above: Atheists, agnostics and nones in Central and Eastern Europe (left). Gender difference in believing in God in Central and Eastern Europe (right). The Czechs lead in terms of atheists (25%) and nothing in particular (46%) in contrast to other Central and Eastern Europe countries. More women (36%) than men (22%) say they believe in God.

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Above: 75% of Czechs favor the separation of church and state (2nd in Central and Eastern Europe, left). And 87% think that it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values (right).

Part Three: Images

I took 1,914 images during the visit to Prague and Kutná Hora, below is a sample of them:

Above: the spectacular Theology Hall at the Strahov Monastery Library.

Above: Reader, at the National Library.

Above: the Philosophical Hall at the Strahov Monastery Library.

Above: Prague as seen from its “TV Tower” (93 meters above ground).

Above: Prague’s famous (or infamous) TV Tower, the babies climbing up are plastic replicas of the bronze “Babies” by David Černý.

Above: Bronze “Babies” by David Černý.

Above: Bronze “Babies” by David Černý.

Above: the iconic Charles’ Bridge.

Above: one of the towers guarding the Charles’ Bridge (West side).

Above: officers patrolling the Charles’ Bridge.

Above: the “American Embassy” in Prague? Not really, but it was in the movie Mission Impossible – The Lichtenstejnsky Palace.

Above: Prague’s Astronomical Clock (under renovation).

Above: astronomers Tycho Brahe (Danish) and Johannes Kepler (German). Their destinies merged in Prague.

Above: Church of Our Lady and the Old Town Square.

Above: Jan Hus Memorial, Old Town Square.

Above: Prague’s meridian, Old Town Square.

Above: Franz Kafka by David Černý.

Above: honoring Franz Kafka by Jaroslav Róna.

Above: in Kafka’s name.

Above: the Faculty of Philosophy building in downtown Prague.

Above: honoring Jan Palach, outside of the Faculty of Philosophy building in downtown Prague.

Above: the Rudolfinum (we went to its “ongoing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons,” excellent).

Above: the majestic stage at the Rudolfinum, just before the recital began (we got third-row-center tickets).

Above: the decorated corridors at the Rudolfinum.

Above: the Estates Theater where Mozart’s Don Giovanni was first played.

Above: Il Commendatore by Anna Chromy.

Above: the National Theater.

Above: marionette related (we went to see Don Giovanni at the National Marionette Theater; we gave the play three *** generous stars).

Above: the Saint Vitus Cathedral.

Above: inside the Saint Vitus Cathedral.

Above: back interior of the Saint Vitus Cathedral.

Above: back outdoors of the Saint Vitus Cathedral.

Above: the Saint Vitus Cathedral as seen from the Queen Anne’s Summer Palace.

Above: Darkness in the Saint Vitus Cathedral; statue of Friedrich Johannes Jacob Celestin von Schwarzenberg.

Above: torture equipment at the Guard’s Tower, Prague’s Castle.

Above: the Queen Anne’s Summer Palace.

Above: museum at the Queen Anne’s Summer Palace.

Above: Measuring the Evolution Controversy at the Queen Anne’s Summer Palace.

Above: decorated arches at the Queen Anne’s Summer Palace.

Above: details at the Queen Anne’s Summer Palace.

Above: more of the Queen Anne’s Summer Palace.

Above: God, Christ, Spirit at Rosenberg Palace.

Above: at the Prague’s Castle (Rosenberg Palace), where the monarchy is history.

Above: the Wallenstein Garden.

Above: Measuring the Evolution Controversy posing before the Senate building, Wallenstein Garden.

Above: the Devil at the Wallenstein Garden.

Above: don’t know these people, but they are up to something important.

Above: the spectacular Spanish Synagogue (my personal favorite, world quality).

Above: the main dome at the Spanish Synagogue.

Above: more beauty at the Spanish Synagogue.

Above: one of the pillars at the Spanish Synagogue.

Above: and another pillar at the Spanish Synagogue.

Above: at the Jewish Cemetery.

Above: more of the Jewish Cemetery.

Above: Names, thousands of names, Jewish Cemetery.

Above: the Maisel Synagogue.

Above: tryptic stained glass at the Maisel Synagogue.

Above: stained glass next to central hall, the Maisel Synagogue.

Above: the Pinkas Synagogue.

Above: Measuring the Evolution Controversy at the National Library in Prague.

Above: the Strahov Monastery, afternoon.

Above: details of the Strahov Monastery.

Above: iron bronze gate at the Strahov Monastery.

Above: more details of the Strahov Monastery.

Above: a zoom-out view of the Strahov Monastery.

Above: Petrin Tower, the Moon, and Strahov Monastery.

Above: Petrin Tower.

Above: Saint Vavřince church (center) and Prague as seen from the Petrin Tower.

Above: and a close up of the Saint Vavřince church.

Above: the famous Funicular…

Above: the majestic Santa Barbara Church in Kutná Hora.

Above: the Saint Vitus Cathedral as seen from the Queen Anne’s Summer Palace.

Above: outdoors Strahov Monastery Library.

Above: a close up of the Theology Hall at the Strahov Monastery Library.

Above: decorated Evangeliary at the Strahov Monastery Library.

Above: kids choir at the Church of Our Lady.

Above: at the entrance to the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutná Hora.

Above: shield of arms made of humans bones at the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutná Hora.

Above: skulls and baby angel at the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutná Hora.

Above: ornament made of bones at the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutná Hora.

Above: the plague left its marks; the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutná Hora.

Above: Church of the Assumption in Kutná Hora.

Above: Bronze friendship.

Above: Symmetry at the Queen Anne’s Summer Palace.

Above: Measuring the Evolution Controversy resting at the Queen Anne’s Summer Palace.

Above: the pipe organ at the Saint Nicholas Church, one of Mozart’s favorites.

Above: dome at the Saint Nicholas Church.

Above: more of the Saint Nicholas Church.

Above: the Prague’s Castle as seen from the Kampa Museum.

Above: view of Prague from the Strahov Monastery.

Above: The Crossing to Prague.

Above: the Prague’s Castle as seen from the Vltava River.

Above: water lily nearby the Prague’s Castle, can you spot the bee?

Above: the Lennon Wall.

Above: souvenirs.

Above: walking back to our hotel.

Above: my last view of Prague (airport).

Images of an Island, Culture and People’s Hopes: Jamaica

Explore the planet. Do not take vacations; instead, travel. What you get to like most can come from where you least expect it. — Here I share a pictorial sample of the many facets of Jamaica. While visiting the island, I found myself surprised by the contrasts of its amazing nation, although all nations and cultures are supposed to be contrasting in their traditions. That is the nature and, sometimes, the beauty of the human experience. — GPC  

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In our latest visit to Jamaica, we covered 1,564 miles driving along and across the island (and on the left side of the road!). Not a lot in comparison to other trips, but the Jamaican roads were narrow (except for the toll highways, which were modern and impressive), rich in towns and places to stop. We tried to not miss anything. There were many details to appreciate, a single visit was not enough to explore all we wanted.

We thank the Jamaican people for being kind and friendly, generous and proud of their nation. They taught us much about culture, universities, traditions, values, food (the Jamaican Jerk is excellent), ambitions, socio-economic frustrations and hopes for the future. We wish them well and anticipate to see –some day– Jamaica as a Republic, and no longer a “constitutional monarchy,” a fraction of the British Crown. The maps below summarize our driving routes (yellow dashed lines) back and forth, every day. The rainforests across the Blue Mountains (East side of the island) were spectacular.

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Above: The island of Jamaica (4,240 square miles) is the third largest in the Caribbean, after Cuba and Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic).

In this post, I share a small sample of the 1,000+ images taken while traveling in Jamaica (in no strict chronological order, but reflecting related events that took place while exploring the island). The images alone tell the story, I provide little text. At times, I found myself surprised by the contrasts in the Jamaican nation, although all nations and cultures are supposed to be contrasting in their traditions. That is the nature and, sometimes, the beauty of the human experience. I must say, however, that the wealth divide was acute, and as epidemic and unfair as among other Caribbean or South American countries. It could be felt everywhere.

Examine the photo ride, be patient, open your mind to the message, and find depth in the details. At the end, I summarize my impressions in a concluding remark.

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Above: Arriving in Jamaica. Northwest part of the Island. We landed at Sangster Montego Bay International Airport (MBJ). There are several international airports in Jamaica and numerous small landing runways (see airports in Jamaica).

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Above: Ocho Rios, in the North-central part of Jamaica. An active, commercial town. Tourism is an important component of the local economy (see Jamaican Economy).

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Above: A close up of the central stage (structure built on bamboo and logs) at Ocho Rios’ Island Village. Spot the rock pigeon, there is one to be found.

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Above: African ancestry mixed with Spanish and… later… English heritage, Ocho Rios.

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Above: The Jamaican colors are everywhere, Ocho Rios.

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Above: Jamaican newspapers. The Gleaner.

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Above: Letter of the Day, Jamaican newspapers, The Gleaner.

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Above: Driving on the left-side of the road, right-side of the car… can be confusing. The brain, however, adapts to it surprisingly fast. The local advice is “stick to the left, drive slowly.”

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Above: Warnings to drivers… Ocho Rios (but common in urban, suburban and rural areas across Jamaica).

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Above: A country-wide road campaign. This is from the West part of the island, on our way to Negril.

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Above: At the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston. Quite nice guided visit (80 minutes).

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Above: It was the right decision! The Bob Marley Museum is “the” most visited place in Jamaica.

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Above: Bob Marley’s progeny. Mural at the Bob Marley Museum, Kingston.

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Above: Mural on the inside wall around the Bob Marley Museum. Learn some history about it.

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Above: Mural on the inside wall around the Bob Marley Museum. Learn some history about it.

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Above: Main entrance to the Bob Marley Museum. Learn about the museum’s history.

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Above: The beautiful, sensual and rebellious “Redemption Song” by Laura Facey, at the Emancipation Park, Kingston. – The statue design was selected among sixteen proposals in a national competition. – We liked this sculpture so much. Artists who do not shock do not live fully. With this sculpture, Facey did both.

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Above: Bauhinia at the impressive Castleton Botanic Gardens, central part of the island, a bit to the East. The tropical and subtropical rainforests in the area are spectacular.  

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Above: An old bench turned into another element of the forest. Mosses, ants, anoles and birds come to it, but rarely people, Castleton Botanic Gardens.

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Above: Gazebo at the Castleton Botanic Gardens. It was so quiet that B&W became ideal.

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Above: Bamboo, gentle shade, Castleton Botanic Gardens.

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Above: Stop near Orange Bay and Buff Bay, Northeast part of Jamaica. Although hesitant at first, choosing a small car was quite practical (the rural roads can be very narrow).

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Above: Fishes carved on wood… on our way to Port Antonio.

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Above: Port Antonio, relics of a romantic place, Northeast of Jamaica (image 1 of 3).

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Above: Port Antonio, relics of a romantic place, Northeast of Jamaica (image 2 of 3).

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Above: Overview of Port Antonio, Northeast part of Jamaica (image 3 of 3).

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Above: Our 2016 book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy, contemplating Pellew Island Bay, East of Jamaica.

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Above: Resident Magistrate’s Court or Portland Parish Court in Port Antonio.

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Above: Prestige Funeral Home in Port Antonio.

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Above: Above: Prestige Funeral Home, it reads “Sending Your Loved Ones Home in Elegant Style.” It provides “Burial clothing for both male and female…” and other services, Port Antonio.

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Above: At Life Yard community initiative in Kingston.

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Above: Our friendly host, Sabukie Allen, at Life Yard community initiative in Kingston. Thanks so much for introducing us to the project and for showing us the street murals.

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Above: The works and message of Paint Jamaica.

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Above: The works and message of Paint Jamaica.

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Above: The works and message of Paint Jamaica.

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Above: Boy, Girl and a Book… a possibility. Street mural in Kingston.

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Above: Women. The works and message of Paint Jamaica.

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Above: Inside, a school. We could hear the children cheering and singing. Outside, the most majestic street art. Murals depicting everyday Jamaican life. Powerful. Impressive. The works and message of Paint Jamaica.

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Above:  “Logic will get you from A-Z, creativity will get you everywhere.” – At first, we knew artistic expression was evident in the murals. At the end of our visit we realized a world class museum of art, expression and social message had been standing before us, in the streets of a gentle neighborhood. The best of Jamaica: its people. The works and message of Paint Jamaica.

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Above: Pause at Port Antonio.

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Above: The famous Jamaican Jerk, pork. Smoking is done with sweet-wood-tree wood (Nectandra cf. antillana; there are several species in the genus Nectandra).

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Above: The famous Jamaican Jerk, chicken.

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Above: Baby Jamaican bananas, about 3 inches in size. Sweet.

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Above: Egret comes to my camera.

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Above: Exploring the Green Grotto Caves.

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Above: Exploring the Green Grotto Caves.

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Above: Collapsed entrance to the Green Grotto Caves.

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Above: Top and base of the Green Grotto Caves.

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Above: Some parts of this cave are still alive and growing. Exploring the Green Grotto Caves.

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Above: Another entrance (among many) to the impressive Green Grotto Caves.

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Above: Searching roots of the Ficus tree-liana-epiphyte at one of the entrances to the Green Grotto Caves.

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Above: Inner pond (‘lake’) at the Green Grotto Caves.

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Above: Mummified bat inside the Green Grotto Caves. – The bat probably died while perching (hanging on its claws) and its body mummified in place. Caves are cool, often dry and keep stable temperature. – I could not capture a better image, it was quite dark (I used a flashlight for illumination).

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Above: Perhaps in the 1950s, the highway A1 (Northern Coastal Hwy) was memorable (we drove through it almost daily). Monarchies must vanish… long ago overdue. We look forward to seeing Jamaica as a Republic in the future. Currently, Jamaica is a “parliamentary democracy” and a “constitutional monarchy.” In other words, it continues to be part of the British Crown.

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Above: Queen Conches, threatened in some areas of the Caribbean due to over collection. Edible. Each conch $50-60 US (see 23 on display). Nearby Lucea, ironically on the A1 road (the “Queen Elizabeth II” road, see previous image), Northwest of the island.

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Above: Feral cat that happens to live nearby humans. We saw hundreds in Jamaica. – Islands all over the world have a similar problem (e.g. Hawaii, Galapagos, Sicily). Feral cats feed on the local fauna and are responsible for decimating endemic species. – This female became a bit more tolerant of my camera as I approached her slowly and during several minutes. Her attention was on a toad hiding in the bushes.

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Above: Modern architecture in Jamaica. Common in shopping malls, close to large resorts.

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Above: More of modern Jamaican architecture.

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Above: A close up of modern Jamaican architecture.

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Above: Basic Medical Science Complex of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

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Above: The Chapel (front view) at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

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Above: The Chapel (side view) at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

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Above: Our 2016 book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy, visiting the Chapel at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

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Above: The beautiful indoors of the Chapel at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

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Above: The Papine Village Monument at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

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Above: Enslaved Females’ Names (1832) — the Papine Village Monument in what today is the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

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Above: Mural at the Assembly Hall, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

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Above: Old aqueduct (18th Century) at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

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Above: Blighia tree at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. Jamaica’s national fruit.

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Above: Blighia, with the capsule open at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

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Above: The University of the West Indies Open Campus in Port Antonio.

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Above: The University of the West Indies Open Campus in Port Antonio.

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Above: The University of the West Indies Open Campus in Port Antonio.

books-int-science-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: An example of think globally, act locally.

books-two-int-science-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: An example of think globally, act locally.

trifolia-fountain-castleton-botanic-gardens-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: Trifolia old fountain at the Castleton Botanic Gardens.

toms-river-castleton-botanic-gardens-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: At the Toms River, Castleton Botanic Gardens.

blue-flowers-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: Color at the Castleton Botanic Gardens.

the-bustamante-memorial-national-heroes-park-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: The Alexander Bustamante Memorial at the National Heroes Park, Kingston.

change-of-guard-national-heroes-park-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: Change of Guard at the National Heroes Park, Kingston.

marcus-mosiah-garvey-memorial-national-heroes-park-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: The Marcus Mosiah Garvey Memorial at the National Heroes Park, Kingston.

path-at-castleton-botanic-gardens-photo-g-paz-y-minoc-2017

Above: A path to be taken at the Castleton Botanic Gardens.

pink-flowers-under-leaves-castleton-botanic-gardens-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: More of the colors at the Castleton Botanic Gardens.

pistil-stamens-white-flower-castleton-botanic-gardens-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: The absence of color, or presence of the rainbow colors combined (white), at the Castleton Botanic Gardens.

pentamerous-flowers-castleton-botanic-gardens-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: Penta-meros at the Castleton Botanic Gardens.

ian-fleming-int-arprt-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: The name is Fleming, Ian Fleming. One of the few memories of Fleming in Jamaica. Author of the James Bond series and former British naval intelligence agent. He retired in Oracabessa, Northeast part of Jamaica. From his home, he wrote the James Bond novels. – The Ian Fleming International Airport is located near Oracabessa.

ian-fleming-poster-if-int-arprt-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: Ian Fleming as my camera found him being remembered (poster) at the mini Ian-Fleming International Airport in Oracabessa. This is what the airport website says about Fleming.

ian-fleming-poster-int-arprt-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: About Ian Fleming, as my camera found him being remembered on a poster at the mini Ian-Fleming International Airport in Oracabessa. This is what the airport website says about Fleming.

plaque-ian-fleming-int-arprt-oracabessa-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: Celebrating the writer at the Ian-Fleming International Airport in Oracabessa.

norman-washington-manley-memorial-kingston-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: Norman Washington Manley Memorial in Kingston.

norman-washington-manley-memorial-kingston-female-statue-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: Female at the Norman Washington Manley Memorial in Kingston.

norman-washington-manley-memorial-kingston-male-statue-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: Male at the Norman Washington Manley Memorial in Kingston.

monument-to-paul-bogle-kingston-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: Monument to Paul Bogle in Kingston. The struggles to free a nation.

orange-bay-ne-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: Nearby Orange Bay, Northeast part of the island.

windy-gazebo-port-antonio-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: After a rainy and windy morning, the day cleared up, gazebo in Port Antonio.

town-at-dusk-ocho-rios-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: Town at dusk, Ocho Rios. Our last evening… silence.

aerial-view-ne-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: Our last aerial view of Jamaica (Northeast of the island).

Concluding Remark. The future of Jamaica belongs to its people. Despite the socio-economic struggles, the Jamaican spirit is strong and festive. Optimism is contagious and always present. The new generation shall build a Republic on the legacy of its ancestry and the challenges of modern times. One day, I shall return to this scenic Caribbean island and reflect again on its magic, walk its towns, talk to its people, and feel once more the affection of their character. — GPC EvoLiteracy © 2017

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

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

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.

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

Click on image to enlarge.

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

Click on image to enlarge.

gender-disparities-educational-attainment-unesco-2016

Click on image to enlarge.

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

Click on image to enlarge.

aid-to-education-unesco-2016

Click on image to enlarge.

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

Click on image to enlarge.

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

Click on image to enlarge.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.