No, There Is Not “A” Grandeur In This View Of Life – Oh My Darwin!

“…As for the ‘a’ in the t-shirt, which echoes the pain of a tattoo gone wrong, well, there is not ‘a’ grandeur in this view of life, as per Darwin 1859 (TIES must now produce a clever errata t-shirt amending the misfortune). Neither science is ‘like magic but real,’ as also disseminated by TIES with fervor on Facebook. Nor is the theory of evolution, as presented by Sewell in his misguiding article shared by TIES ‘…a ‘necessary’ truth… not contingent on supporting evidence.’ Nor do ‘Sea Turtles Swim Against the Darwin Current,’ another nonsense from Evolution News that TIES contributed to set in motion in yet another post. — We closed our friendly alert [to TIES] with an ‘Oh My Darwin!!!'”

By Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C & Avelina Espinosa

Typos and errors in scientific publications, or in any long text, are not rare. Even experienced copy editors of journals, magazines and books have their share of faults during volume production. That is why errata exist, to report “wrongs” and, if possible, amend them a posteriori. For example, in our two books, Measuring the Evolution Controversy: A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities (2016, best seller 2017), as well as in the recent Kin Recognition in Protists and Other Microbes: Genetics, Evolution, Behavior and Health (2018), we discovered mistakes after publication, even though the publisher and us copy edited and corrected the manuscripts numerous times. We posted the errata online (see Typos and Errors 2016 and 2018) and asked readers to help us spot additional mistakes. Future re-editions will be improved. But keep in mind that our 2016 book was a 198-page and 57,420-word manuscript; and the 2018 volume contained 139,142 words in 428 pages, including +200 figures/sub-figures and tables in each book and their captions (with statistical notation).

“I fully accept the evidence of evolution —including human evolution, but I have to question the grammar on the back of this jacket.”

Although the grammar-correction software available to publishers and authors are powerful enough to detect misspellings, incorrect use of verbs, word redundancy and syntax problems in a text, typos and errors continue to be our most unwanted companions. But errors can be small, sometimes trivial, others substantial, and a few we wish had never been made:

How about introducing error in one of Darwin’s most famous statements “there is grandeur in this view of life” (an eight-word quote from the last paragraph of On The Origin of Species… 1859) and print it on the back of a t-shirt [*] as “Evolution: There is a grandeur in this view of life” (our emphasis on the bold a)? Well, that is precisely what the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES) did, a few weeks ago, in a promotional campaign to “Unlocking the Wonders of Life for Teachers and their Students,” as printed on the front of the t-shirt (in reality, a long-sleeve sweatshirt).

I fully accept the evidence of evolution —including human evolution, but I have to question the grammar on the back of this jacket” commented one of TIES followers (TP) on Facebook. His wit received likes and smiles [*]. But another (MW) was moved: “Every time I read this I think, such profound words from such a humble man. Makes me shiver every time.”

TIES mission is to “…familiarize interested middle school science teachers with the concepts of natural selection, common ancestry, and diversity in order for them to confidently cover the topics in their classrooms and fulfill their curriculum requirements.” TIES also clarifies that “a middle school science teacher will typically cover many areas of science within his/her annual curriculum, including earth science, physical science, and life science.” And remarks that “it is virtually impossible to become an expert in all of these areas, at least not initially.” Sounds reasonable, however, misquoting Darwin’s ultra famous statement “there is grandeur in this view of life” is a biggie; it denotes cluelessness at best.

“Are we making a big deal out of a silly t-shirt? The ‘a’ in Darwin’s old saying? Below we explain why the ‘a’ symbolizes a pattern of missteps, and there is nothing trivial about them.”

A Google search of Darwin’s phrase gives you 19.5 million hits in 0.28 seconds, at 10:18 AM of a Tuesday in Northeastern United States. In our search, hit number ten corresponded to a 2009 Richard Dawkinsvideo precisely titled “There is grandeur in this view of life,” an impeccable talk delivered at the Atheist Alliance International Conference in Burbank, California.

Are we making a big deal out of a silly t-shirt? The “a” in Darwin’s old saying? After all, it just resembles misquoting Genesis 3 and going to press with “…Let there be light: and there was electricity.” Below we explain why the “a” symbolizes a pattern of missteps, and there is nothing trivial about them.

TIES and Dawkins are connected directly since the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science is part of the Center for Inquiry (CFI, a pro secularism organization), which, in turn, is an amalgamation partner of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science (RDFRS). In fact, in 2016, CFI merged with RDFRS. Both organizations originally explained in their websites the rationale (here is the link to F.A.Q. for CFI-RDFRS Merger, but see note below): “…CFI and RDFRS have similar objectives and it makes eminent good sense to combine their resources. CFI’s stated mission is to foster a secular society based on reason, science, and humanist values, and RDFRS shares that goal. And CFI shares the stated mission of RDFRS: to remove the influence of religion in science education and public policy and eliminate the stigma that surrounds atheism and non-belief…” [Note that CFI has a brand new website and this statement from 2016 no longer appears, but in the now-cyber-space-fossil-record CFI had also stated “…By combining their talents, brainpower, and resources, they (CFI-RDFRS) now become the largest freethought organization in the United States. As a result of this merger, they will have greater success in advancing their shared mission. The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science will continue as a division of the Center for Inquiry…”].

“Anyone following the evolution wars must have a grasp of the historic players on both sides: evolution versus creationism and its morphs.”

Our discontent with TIES, which has been mounting up for a while (e.g. its ambivalence to openly and up front endorse secularism in science education when interacting with teachers —which is a concern to us, as researchers of the evolution controversy from the perspective of the incompatibility hypothesis and as science educators), reached lava-flow level this past Memorial-Day weekend after TIES posted on its Facebook page a link to a pseudo-science and pseudo-philosophy article by Granville SewellWhy Evolution is More Certain than Gravity,” an attractive yet impostor heading. TIES engaged its Facebook followers with the bait “check this out” and soon the post received +40 likes and 12 shares [*]. Whoever did this at TIES-Facebook had no idea, or forgot, that Evolution News & Science Today, the platform where the Sewell blurb was unleashed, was a news outlet for the Discovery Institute and its Intelligent Design disciples, the writers at Evolution News.

Anyone following the evolution wars must have a grasp of the historic players on both sides: evolution versus creationism and its morphs (design creationism or intelligent design, theistic evolution, creation science, evolutionary creation, young-earth creationism YEC, or BioLogos, all proponents of proximate or ultimate supernatural causation in evolution, or full deniers of evolution, like YEC). And the 2005 Dover-Pennsylvania trial on ID (Tammy Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District et al.) should be in the memory of those who profess the proper teaching of evolution in America’s classrooms: ID lost in court for violating the rules of science by “invoking and permitting supernatural causation” in matters of evolution, and for “failing to gain acceptance in the scientific community.”

We immediately alerted our Facebook community that TIES had made that mistake (although some educators had already shared the Sewell article without digesting it; we inferred they did it after trusting TIES and assuming that TIES knew what was being disseminated on social media), and copied Bertha Vázquez, TIES Director, on our post (one of us, GPC, did it). We stated that “…we hope she [Bertha] acts on this immediately and instructs her staff to stop making mistakes like this…” We also referred to the “a” in the t-shirt misquoting Darwin as another bout of inattention in TIES’ record (made public weeks earlier when promoting the slogan Unlocking the Wonders…), and added “…if the excuse is that the post [Sewell’s article] just aimed at generating discussion, well there are hundreds of topics available in the news that can be used for the purpose, rather than sharing, without much thought, a ‘check this out’ article written under the umbrella of INTELLIGENT DESIGN, DESIGN CREATIONISM.” We closed our friendly alert with an “Oh My Darwin!!!” [*]. Bertha did not respond, but the TIES’ post was later deleted. Good for TIES and its Director; amending is what science educators ought to do when erring.

“If there is anything that we remember about our first face-to-face exposure to Richard Dawkins, as graduate students back in the 1990s, is that Richard never tolerated brainlessness or sloppiness in science. — We want TIES to succeed, as much as Dawkins’ brave legacy to prevail.”

TIES states in its Facebook “purpose,” that it “…provides busy educators [our emphasis], homeschooling parents, and curious science lovers with an easily accessible online version of our professional development events and other helpful resources…” Hopefully, our observations to TIES and its Director help those in charge to improve their path of action and honor the association with the prominent RDFRS brand, and with Dawkins himself. We want TIES to succeed, as much as Dawkins’ brave legacy to prevail.

If there is anything that we remember —and we remember a lot— about our first face-to-face exposure to Richard Dawkins, as graduate students back in the 1990s, is that Richard never tolerated brainlessness or sloppiness in science. His talks then, as much as now, were a delight, challenging, inspirational and transformative to colleagues and scientists-to-be. And his sharp, unyielding approach to outreaching the public by conveying the plain scientific truth, the power of evidence and nothing else to engage-bait the skeptics of evolution or give them the impression of harmony between reality and faith, influenced our careers —and deeply— as researchers and evolution/science communicators.

TIES, a fairly new association of vibrant educators, has a unique opportunity to play a different, courageous and original role in public outreach in matters of evolution and science. Fill in the available niche to educating teachers and the public with no stoppers of thought or restrains on logic; and without, as Dawkins often puts it, “bending over backwards” in attempts to finding harmony between science and belief (i.e. paracreationism, still prevalent among science educators in the US). As progeny of the hybrid CFI-RDFRS, the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science must also contribute to “remove the influence of religion in science education and public policy and eliminate the stigma that surrounds atheism and non-belief,” and do it so explicitly that teachers and the public know —from the beginning, to the middle and to the end of an interaction with TIES— that they are dealing with a pro-secularism organization committed to “question and challenge the extraordinary claims of religion, pseudoscience, and the paranormal” (goals that are central to the CFI mission, the conceptual umbrella over TIES).

All statistics suggest that the American youth is heading toward a more science-based approach to life and living (e.g. Pew Research science and religion; see also Evolution and the Upcoming Challenges of a Predictable Landscape). Thus, TIES must lead the reason and science debate that projects science educators to the future, rather than inaugurate its journey by experimenting with outreach strategies already entertained by the evolution-and-faith accommodationists of the past.

“We wonder why TIES-Facebook is captivated by the writings of the very Dawkins’ adversaries. Is TIES-Facebook aware of how anti-evolution internet memes become viral in social media via blind sharing? BTW, we take for granted that TIES-Facebook knows who coined the term meme.” 

As for the “a” in the t-shirt, which echoes the pain of a tattoo gone wrong, well, there is not “a” grandeur in this view of life, as per Darwin 1859 (TIES must now produce a clever errata t-shirt amending the misfortune). Neither science is “like magic but real” (despite its 665 million hits on Google), as also disseminated by TIES with fervor on Facebook (the fact is that science is like science and magic is an illusion). Nor is the theory of evolution, as presented by Sewell in his misguiding article shared by TIES “…a ‘necessary’ truth not contingent on supporting evidence.” Nor do “Sea Turtles Swim Against the Darwin Current,” another nonsense from Evolution News that TIES contributed to set in motion in yet another post (May 22, 2018), and about which evolutionary biologist and philosopher of science Kirk Fitzhugh commented “You do realize that EvolutionNews is a mouthpiece for the Discovery Institute and intelligent design?” Yet, TIES gave Kirk a like and kept the post; thus, validating it [*]!

But, in hindsight, that is not all. On April 19, 2018, TIES shared [*] “Cambrian Explosion Shrapnel Still Hitting Evolutionary Scenarios” (the article was from March 28, 2018), a potpourri of statements amassed by the Evolution News staff in which the Cambrian proliferation of life forms was mocked via recycling ID’s favorite smoke grenades: the late “bacterial flagellum” (which ID still believes was designed by a Designer as an “irreducibly complex” structure) and the “blind-Darwinian-evolution analogy” twisted —ID-style—  to invalidate Dawkins’ 1986 The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design (a fantastic read!). We wonder why TIES-Facebook is captivated by the writings of the very Dawkins’ adversaries. Is TIES-Facebook aware of how anti-evolution internet memes become viral in social media via blind sharing? BTW, we take for granted that TIES-Facebook knows who coined the term meme.

And for the busy passionate and curious science lovers, we recommend to seriously explore The Extended Phenotype (1982), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (2009), as well as The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True (2011). We are not ignoring The Selfish Gene (1976), which we read as undergraduates in the 1980s (and continue to cite in our academic papers A, B), since those aware of Richard Dawkins “the author” —or his contributions to evolutionary biology— often assert to have read it. — EvoLiteracy © 2018.

* For supplementary materials “[*]” to this article, go to EvoLiteracy-Supp-06-07-2018

Contact info: Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com  Avelina Espinosa aespinosa@rwu.edu — Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @gpazymino  GPC-Facebook — @AvelinaEspinosa  AE-Facebook.

Related Articles

Evolution: Is There a Controversy?

Evolution and the Upcoming Challenges of a Predictable Landscape

The Incompatibility Hypothesis: Evolution vs. Supernatural Causation

Darwin’s Skepticism about God

Evolution Wars: Debunk II

 

Typos and Errors – Kin Recognition in Protists and Other Microbes

Last Update: May 31, 2018

In this post —to be updated with alerts about typos and/or errors that we get to identify in Kin Recognition Protists and Other Microbes: Genetics, Evolution, Behavior and Health— readers will have the opportunity to learn about such cases as colleagues and readers help us spot mistakes. The book was released officially by Cambridge Scholars Publishing on April 1, 2018. The manuscript was, of course, proof-read numerous times before it went to press, but it shall not be unusual to identify mistakes that were made during the preparation of the text (428 pages), the formatting of more than 200 data figures, maps, tables and explanatory boxes, and the revision of the proofs and statistical notation. We will continue to improve the book in future editions. – GPC

ABOUT THE BOOK – Kin Recognition in Protists and Other Microbes can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 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.

Typos and Errors Updates

Update: May 31, 2018 (older updates are shown below)

Page 94, top paragraph, line eight, reads “…M. fulvus strain (member of recognition Group C)…” It should read “…(… Group D)…”

Page 95, center paragraph, line one, reads “…rod-shaped bacteria…” It should read “…bacterium…”

Page 115, center paragraph, line three, reads “…contact-dependent grown inhibition…” It should read “…growth inhibition…”

Page 119, third paragraph, line five, reads “…free-living bactera…” It should read “…bacteria…”

Page 140, top paragraph, line nine, reads “sources (cheaters)…” It should read “resources…”

Page 407, center of paragraph, line sixteen, reads “…ST often leaded to clonality.” It should read “…often led...”

Page 408, second paragraph, line twelve, reads “…discoideum, illustrated that allorecognition…” It should read “…demonstrated that allorecognition...”

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

Kin Recognition in Protists and Other Microbes is the first volume (428-pp hardback) dedicated entirely to the genetics, evolution and behavior of cells capable of discriminating and recognizing taxa (other species), clones (other cell lines) and kin (as per gradual genetic proximity). It covers the advent of microbial models in the field of kin recognition; the polymorphisms of green-beard genes in social amebas, yeast and soil bacteria; the potential that unicells have to learn phenotypic cues for recognition; the role of clonality and kinship in pathogenicity (dysentery, malaria, sleeping sickness and Chagas); the social and spatial structure of microbes and their biogeography; and the relevance of unicells’ cooperation, sociality and cheating for our understanding of the origins of multicellularity.

Offering over 200 figures and diagrams, this work will appeal to a broad audience, including researchers in academia, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and research undergraduates. Science writers and college educators will also find it informative and practical for teaching – BOOK website. ‒ Authors: Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C and Avelina Espinosa.

How to cite the book:

Paz-y-Miño-C, G., and A. Espinosa. 2018. Kin Recognition in Protists and Other Microbes: Genetics, Evolution, Behavior and Health (428 pp). Cambridge Scholars Publishing, United Kingdom. — ISBN-13: 978-1-5275-0764-7 — ISBN-10: 1-5275-0764-5 — BOOK website. — Read Reviews

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

Honorary Authorship, Coercive Citations and Padding in Scientific Papers

“…Academics ‘are trapped; compelled to participate in activities they find distasteful,’ including the intricate world of scientific publications, which involves a range of journal publishers, editors, book producers, open-access periodicals, for-profit series, online-journals and other venues to disseminate research; plus, of course, individuals —charming, powerful or both— that free ride at the expense of others’ work…”

Cartoon by Pedro Velica

by  Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C

In an article just published in PLoS ONE, December 2017, Eric A. Fong and Allen W. Wilhite, researchers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, document three practices in academia: (1) the inclusion of “honorary authors” in scientific publications (i.e. the addition of individuals to manuscripts as authors, even though they have contributed little, if anything, to the actual research), (2) coercive citations (i.e. when editors direct authors to add citations to articles from the editors’ journals ‒arguably to boost the journal’s citation index), and (3) padding (i.e. when authors add superfluous citations to a paper in an attempt to increase its chance for publication). Fong and Wilhite surveyed 12,000 scholars from 18 disciplines (i.e. health-care, engineering, science, social sciences and business) at diverse universities in the United States.

The specific fields of specialization of the interviewed researchers were: medicine, nursing, biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, physics, engineering, ecology, accounting, economics, finance, marketing, management, information systems, sociology, psychology, and political science. The Fong and Wilhite’s study is comprehensive and I suggest the reader to look at the original publication for details. In the figure below, I simply share the statistical trends that summarize the research. I have adapted an image from the PLoS ONE article (open access journal) to make it more appealing to a non-specialized audience.

In the image, note the following: (1) Adding honorary authors to manuscripts was common practice among 1 in every 3 of the surveyed scholars; it reached +40% in the health-care professions. (2) About 1 in every 5 scholars added such authors to a grant proposal; and, again, about 40% was typical in the health-care professions. (3) Coercive citations were common in +5% of the scholars in science, and beyond 20-25% in engineering and business. (4) The practice of padding a scientific article with irrelevant citations was common among, at least, 1 in every 5 authors, and particularly evident among those in science and engineering (around 30%), and +45-50% in business and the social sciences. Finally, (5) padding in grant proposals was common in +10-20% of all disciplines, and up to ≈40% in business.

The responders to the survey acknowledged that the main reason for adding honorary authors in their manuscripts was the relationship of director/authority of the honorary author in respect to the “real authors” of the paper (+20% of the responders thought that way); others included as co-authors their mentors, colleagues, individuals-for-reciprocity-reasons, for their reputation, or for funding. However, 60% of all responders added honorary authors to their grant proposals simply due to the latter’s “reputation,” and, thus, to increase the chances of getting the projects funded.

Interestingly, between ≈60% and +90% of all responders disapproved of the coercive citation practice across disciplines. But keep in mind that, despite the quantitative approach to the study, the responses were also based on perception, i.e. the researchers’ insight about honorary authors, coercive citations or padding in scientific publications and grant proposals.

Fong and Wilhite concluded that:

“…there is a significant level of deception in authorship and citation in academic research and while it would be naïve to suppose that academics are above such scheming to enhance their position, the results suggest otherwise. The overwhelming consensus is that such behavior is inappropriate, but its practice is common. It seems that academics are trapped; compelled to participate in activities they find distasteful…”

“…misattribution, spans the academic universe. While there are different levels of abuse across disciplines, we found evidence of honorary authorship, coercive citation, and padded citation in every discipline we sampled. We also suggest that a useful construct to approach misattribution is to assume individual scholars make deliberate decisions to cheat after weighing the costs and benefits of that action. We cannot claim that our construct is universally true because other explanations may be possible, nor do we claim it explains all misattribution behavior because other factors can play a role. However, the systematic pattern of superfluous authors, coerced citations, and padded references documented here is consistent with scholars who [are] making deliberate decisions to cheat after evaluating the costs and benefits of their behavior…”

To close: In my (our) own experience, I (we) have never included honorary authors in my (our) publications, or have never been an honorary author of a paper. But some colleagues have asked me (us), more than once, why have I (we) included such and such person in that or that paper, assuming that that individual did not deserved it. My (our) rationale has always been that if a substantial aspect of a manuscript had not been possible to be completed, unless that person had contributed directly or indirectly to the research, that individual ought to be acknowledged as co-author. This includes the very conceptual transformation of a manuscript due to crucial feedback, interpretation of results, and substantial modification of the scope with which an article was put together. — In cases like that, I have expected my name to be included as co-author, but that has happened sporadically (more during the times I was a postdoc and contributed with conceptual, methodological, analytical and copy-editing feedback to graduate students’ dissertations). In various occasions, I have requested to not be included in manuscripts as a co-author; this practice is not unusual among researchers.

In terms of coercive citations, I have never been asked by a journal editor to cite an irrelevant paper with the purpose of contributing to boosting the journal’s citation index (which, by the way, would require hundreds of authors to be simultaneously coerced to cite multiple articles to have a statistical influence on the journal’s performance), although I have been suggested by journal editors to take a look at some studies (published in other journals), of which I was not aware, and that I actually found very helpful to come across, and decided to discuss and cite them in a paper. However, and this is a big “however,” peer-reviewers have attempted to coerce us (Avelina Espinosa and I), more than once, to cite their papers (or their close collaborators’), or papers of their liking, in our studies. In many cases, such papers were irrelevant, or we disagreed fundamentally with them to even give them a citation in our manuscripts. On one occasion, a well known individual in a field insisted that we should cite non-scientific books in our work, and did so with assertive authority (plus specifically stated where in our text we had to acknowledge the merits of the organization with which the individual was affiliated ‒sounds surreal, right?), an issue we later resolved with the journal editor, who agreed with us and considered the suggestion to be imprudent. So, yes, coercive predators do exist and attempt to exert power at will… if you let them. But journal editors are very experienced, for the most part, and tend to not allow such approaches to peer-reviewing.

On grants, we have never included potential honorary recipients to increase our chances of getting funded. But, when attending a national-funders meeting in Washington DC, a few years ago, we were advised to add a specific anchor-individual to our team, otherwise “we will continue to be seen as outsiders” (verbatim) in that specific community of peer-reviewers. Of course, we declined to include that person in our proposals (three of which were not funded by the agency), although we did complete the research and publish the papers (N = 14) that we projected in the proposals to be the outcomes of the projects. Not only that, we were fortunate to publish an academic best-seller-2017-book summarizing all the research and with no strings attached to any honorary contributor.

I alert the reader that Fong and Wilhite are not suggesting in their paper that the academic system is unethical, which, at our current times of anti-intellectualism, the general public might be susceptible to believe (i.e. in response to anti-science campaigns, anti-evolution, anti-climate-change, anti-vaccines). Not at all. Broad unethical behavior has not been, or is, the case in academia. And Fong and Wilhite are not implying that in their PLoS ONE article. Although, it is true that academics “are trapped; compelled to participate in activities they find distasteful,” including the intricate world of scientific publications, which involves a range of journal publishers, editors, book producers, open-access periodicals, for-profit series, online-journals and other venues to disseminate research; plus, of course, individuals —charming, powerful or both— that free ride at the expense of others’ work. — EvoLiteracy © 2017

UPDATE: I thank George A. Lozano for pointing at his article “The Elephant in the Room: Multi-authorship and the Assessment of Individual Researchers. Current Science 105 (2013): 443-445 [PDF]” in which he proposes a solution to the multi-authorship problem.

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

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.

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Above: An example of think globally, act locally.

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Above: An example of think globally, act locally.

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Above: Trifolia old fountain at the Castleton Botanic Gardens.

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Above: At the Toms River, Castleton Botanic Gardens.

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Above: Color at the Castleton Botanic Gardens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Above: Penta-meros at the Castleton Botanic Gardens.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Above: Norman Washington Manley Memorial in Kingston.

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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Measuring the Evolution Controversy - Hard copies 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Measuring the Evolution Controversy - Hard copies 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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