Today: International Darwin Day 02 12 2016

EvoLiteracy News 02 12 2016

“Darwin Day… signifies the celebration of the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge. The igniting moments in human history when light was brought into our own origins, when understanding that ordinary apes, like Homo, were capable of the extraordinary, of discovering the truth and debunking obscurantism; yet we still struggle to make science the sole guiding star in our survival decisions, the reliable source of concern and joy, the toolkit to plan our departure from Earth –before our Sun in agonizing heat engulfs its nearest orbiting planets– and seek home somewhere else in the cosmos”Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C

A few images and Evolution-Literacy links to celebrate International Darwin Day. — An update on our New England Science Public Series Evolution Volumes 1 and 2, including open access to the studies on acceptance of evolution in the United States. — Links to our Incompatibility Hypothesis papers (evolution versus supernatural causation). — A recount of a visit to the Down House (Darwin’s home). — And an article, from 2013, about the “history of Darwin Day” at the US Congress. Enjoy. – GPC

Here are some photos of Darwin’s statue at the British Museum of Natural History in London, taken back in 2010.

A - Darwin British Museum Nat Hist - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2010

Above: an overall view of Darwin’s statue (marble) at the British Museum of Natural History in London.

B - Darwin British Museum Nat Hist - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2010

Above: a close up of Darwin’s rostrum.

C - Darwin British Museum Nat Hist - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2010

Above: and another close up of this beautiful carving on marble.

E - Darwin British Museum Nat Hist - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2010

Above: the main hall at the British Museum of Natural History in London. Darwin’s statue is in the back, just at the end of the first level of the stairs.

F - British Museum Nat Hist - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2010

Above: the outdoors of the British Museum of Natural History in London.

Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEGNOVA Publishers (New York) used one of these images for the cover of our book Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars (2013). “Paz-y-Miño-C doesn’t ask the reader to ‘believe’ in evolution. He provides overwhelming evidence, clearly written, that shows how scientific inquiry leads to important and practical results, while superstition and faith lead nowhere. Although we may not be able to reason someone out of what they were never reasoned into, the author presents a roadmap for those whose minds are open to discover the wonders and beauty of science.” – Herb Silverman, PhD, author of Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt. Find Evolution Stands Faith Up at NOVA: Soft Cover, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK.

Update on NESP Series Evolution

The open access New England Science Public Series Evolution continues to be highly downloaded. Here are some updates:

NESP Series Evolution Vol 1 No 1 20131,670+ downloads of Volume 1, Number 1: Paz-y-Miño-C G & Espinosa A. 2013. Attitudes toward Evolution at New England Colleges and Universities, United States. New England Science Public: Series Evolution 1(1): 1-32 (ISSN: 2326-0971). The authors compile the most significant results of their conceptual and quantitative studies on the patterns of acceptance of evolution at New England colleges and universities, conducted between 2009 and 2012. They examine the views of New England Faculty and Educators of Prospective Teachers (higher-education faculty themselves, specialized in training future teachers) from 35 colleges and universities, as well as a representative sample of College Students from a Public, Private and two Religious institutions who were polled in three areas: the controversy over evolution versus creationism versus Intelligent Design; their understanding of how science and the evolutionary process work; and their personal convictions concerning the evolution and/or creation of humans in the context of their religiosity… Read MORE open access.

NESP Series Evolution Vol 2 No 1 2014430+ downloads of Volume 2, Number 1: Paz-y-Miño-C G & Espinosa A. 2014. Acceptance of Evolution by America’s Educators of Prospective Teachers. New England Science Public: Series Evolution 2(1): 1-92 (ISSN: 2326-0971). In NESP Series Evolution Vol 2 No 1, Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa use the conceptual framework of the Incompatibility Hypothesis (i.e. science/evolution and belief in supernatural causation are incompatible) to document the patterns of acceptance of evolution of 495 Educators of Prospective Teachers affiliated with 281 colleges and universities widely distributed in 4 regions, 9 divisions, and 50 states in the United States. These higher-education professionals (65% PhD-, 22% doctorate-holders) were polled in five areas: (i) their views about evolution, creationism and Intelligent Design, (ii) their understanding of how science and the evolutionary process work, (iii) their position about the hypothetical ‘harmony or compatibility’ between science/evolution and supernatural causation, (iv) their awareness of the age of the Earth, its moon, our solar system and the universe, and the application of the concept of evolution to the cosmos, and (v) their personal convictions concerning the evolution and/or creation of humans in the context of the educators’ religiosity… Read MORE open access.

The Incompatibility Hypothesis: evolution vs. supernatural causation

Incompatibility Hypothesis Paz-y-Mino-C Espinosa

“Like the oil vs. water experiment, evolution and supernatural causation don’t mix. Evolution raises to the surface.”

Supernatural causation (i.e. the belief in a Supreme Being, creator and sustainer of the universe, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient) is a cultural pollutant, incompatible with empirical reality. “Belief” disrupts, distorts, delays and/or stops (3Ds+S) the correct comprehension and acceptance of evidence. We have postulated that the controversy over evolution-and-science versus creationism is inherent to the incompatibility between scientific rationalism/empiricism and the belief in supernatural causation. This hypothesis (= incompatibility) helps us understand and explain the everlasting and fluctuating antagonism –in cycles, from moderate to intense opposition during human history– in the relationship between science/evolution and religion… Read MORE and access free PDFs of scientific articles, including  Evolution Controversy: A Phenomenon Prompted by the Incompatibility between Science and Religious Beliefs published in the International Journal of Science in Society (abstract below) [PDF].

Cover Int Journal Science Society Paz-y-Mino-C and Espinosa 2015Evolution Controversy – Science in Society: Paz-y-Miño-C G & Espinosa A. 2015. Evolution Controversy: A Phenomenon Prompted by the Incompatibility between Science and Religious Beliefs. Int. J. Sci. Soc. 7(2). ISSN 1836-6236. The incompatibility between science and the belief in supernatural causation helps us understand why people do not accept evolution. Belief disrupts, distorts, delays, or stops (3Ds + S) the acceptance of scientific evidence. Here we examine the evolution controversy under three predictions of the incompatibility hypothesis. First, chronological-conflict-and-accommodation, which explains the historical re-emergence of antagonism between evolution and religion when advances in science continue to threaten the belief in supernatural causation; in such situations, creationists’ rejection of and subsequent partial acceptance of the new scientific discoveries are expected. Second, change in evolution’s acceptance is a function of educational attainment, which explains the positive association between acceptance of evolution and level of education. And third, change in evolution’s acceptance is a function of religiosity, which explains the negative association between acceptance of evolution and level of religious beliefs… We emphasize that harmonious coexistence between science and religion is illusory. If co-persisting in society, their relationship will fluctuate from moderate to intense antagonism. Read MORE open access [PDF].

At the Down House: Darwin’s Home

Down House Side View from gardens“I visited the Down House, Darwin’s Home, in July 2010. Here are a few pictures I wanted to share in celebration of the International Darwin Day, February 12. Prior to visiting the Down House, which is located just a few miles South East of London, I went to Canterbury, Kent, to attend the International Society of Protistologists (ISoP) annual meeting, at the University of Kent. Coincidentally, back in 1991, as an undergraduate student, I obtained a Diploma in Endangered Species Management from the University of Kent, which offered such certification in partnership with the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust (nowadays Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust)”… Read MORE.

Some History about Darwin Day at the US Congress

Paul Broun R Georgia on Evolution

Click on image to watch video. Paul Broun (R) “All that stuff I was taught about evolution… all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell”

“…Bill H.Res.41, itself, embodies the never-ending battle against irrationalism, the latter vividly present in the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science. Take, for example, last year’s remarks by congressman Paul Broun (R), from Georgia, a physician and member of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology (the very Committee to which the “Darwin Day bill” was referred), who declared: “God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell.”

And Mr. Broun went on, as documented in video watched worldwide: “It’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.” “You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth.” “I don’t believe that the earth’s but about 9,000 years old.” “I believe it was created in six day as we know them.” “That’s what the Bible says.” Read MORE.

Related Stories

Darwin’s Skepticism about God

Evolution Wars Debunk II

Why the Notion that “The Theory of Evolution is Not an Explanation for the Origin of Life” is Wrong

Evolution Stands Faith Up – On Francis Collins’ and Karl Giberson’s “The Language of Science and Faith”

Lucy’s Pride 3.2 million years later

Lucy’s Pride, an open-minded Australopithecus, as it was casual 3.2 million years ago. We finally evolved, or did we?

— © 2015 by Evolution Literacy all rights reserved

Lucy's Pride Australopithecus afarensis - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2015

Related Postings:

Evolution Controversy and the Incompatibility of Science and Religion

Evolution Wars: Another EpisodeEvolution Wars: Episode II

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Just Published: Evolution Controversy and the Incompatibility of Science and Religion

Cover Int Journal Science Society Paz-y-Mino-C and Espinosa 2015

Click on image to be redirected to the International Journal of Science in Society

Published in The International Journal of Science in Society — Paz-y-Miño-C & Espinosa (2015). Evolution Controversy: A Phenomenon Prompted by the Incompatibility between Science and Religious Beliefs. Int. J. Sci. Soc. 7(2). ISSN 1836-6236. -May 14, 2015.

The complete article, which includes 23-pages, 11 figures and 59 references, can be downloaded —for free— from the International Journal of Science in Society. Click on the image (left) to go to the journal website to download the PDF.

A media-friendly summary can be read HERE.

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

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

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

Evolution Controversy and the Incompatibility of Science and Religion

Published in The International Journal of Science in Society — Paz-y-Miño-C & Espinosa (2015). Evolution Controversy: A Phenomenon Prompted by the Incompatibility between Science and Religious Beliefs. Int. J. Sci. Soc. 7(2). ISSN 1836-6236. -May 14, 2015.

Why do people hesitate to embrace evolution? What triggers the controversy evolution-and-science versus creationism? What factors characterize the evolution wars? Will the conflict evolution-and-science versus religiosity ever end? In a latest study published in the International Journal of Science in Society, Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C and Avelina Espinosa address these questions under the conceptual framework of the Incompatibility Hypothesis, which the authors have proposed  — EvoLiteracy.

In previous publications, ranging from 2009 to 2014, Paz-y-Miño-C & Espinosa have formally examined the Incompatibility Hypothesis (IH), a conceptual, theoretical framework to explain the foundations of the “evolution wars,” as well as the societal struggles between science and faith. In their most recent article, published in The Int. J. Sci. Soc. Vol. 7 No. 2 (May 14, 2015), the authors state:

Evolution Controversy Int J Sci Soc May 14 2015 Paz-y-Mino-C Espinosa

Click on image to enlarge

“The observable phenomenon in society, which we aim at examining academically, is the controversy over acceptance of evolution, the conflicts that emerge when facts organized in a rational interpretation of the empirical reality (i.e. the science of evolution) challenge belief-based answers to questions about the origin of the universe and life. [The incompatibility proposal] IH is an ultimate-level [of analysis] hypothesis, rather than a proximate one. IH explains the cause of the controversy, its fundamental reason. IH addresses directly the inquiry: what elicits the controversy evolution-and-science versus creationism? And it offers an educated answer: their intrinsic and opposing approaches to assess reality, i.e. science by means of testing hypotheses, falsifying and/or testing predictions and replication of experiments; creationism, in contrast, via belief in supernatural causality.”

The authors acknowledge and value alternative approaches to examining the evolution controversy, which they consider “proximate levels of analysis of the [societal conflicts], including the detailed and simultaneous characterization of multiple factors that can influence an individual’s acceptance of evolution and scientific evidence, e.g. religious beliefs, pro-life beliefs and political ideology; or political activity, political and religious conservatism, knowledge about evolution and its relevance, creationist reasoning, evolutionary misconceptions, and exposure to evolution; or religious affiliation, frequency of attendance to religious services, college academic level, exposure to evolution in high school, and college major.” The authors themselves have examined some of these variables in their research, however, they highlight that “from a research program perspective, the proximate-level studies, or descriptions of the evolution controversy, are auxiliary in essence, while IH [plays the role of] a central hypothesis, as a guiding ultimate level of [scrutiny].”

Here is the abstract of the 2015 study:

“The incompatibility between science and the belief in supernatural causation helps us understand why people do not accept evolution. Belief disrupts, distorts, delays or stops (3Ds + S) the acceptance of scientific evidence. Here we examine the evolution controversy under three predictions of the incompatibility hypothesis:

Cover Int Journal Science Society Paz-y-Mino-C and Espinosa 2015

Click on image to be redirected to the International Journal of Science in Society

(1) Chronological-conflict-and-accommodation, which explains the historical re-emergence of antagonism between evolution and religion when advances in science continue to threaten the belief in supernatural causation; in such situations, creationists’ rejection of and subsequent partial acceptance of the new scientific discoveries are expected.

(2) Change in evolution’s acceptance as function of educational attainment, which explains the positive association between acceptance of evolution and level of education.

And (3) change in evolution’s acceptance as function of religiosity, which explains the negative association between acceptance of evolution and level of religious beliefs.

We rely on an ample assessment of the attitudes toward evolution by highly-educated audiences (i.e. research faculty, educators of prospective teachers, and college students in the United States) to characterize the associations among understanding of science and evolution, personal religious convictions, and conservative ideology. We emphasize that harmonious coexistence between science and religion is illusory. If co-persisting in society, their relationship will fluctuate from moderate to intense antagonism.”

The complete article, which includes 23-pages, 11 figures and 59 references, can be downloaded —for free— from the International Journal of Science in Society. Click on the images below to enlarge, or go to the journal website to download the PDF.

Figures Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C and Espinosa IJSS 2015

Suggested Readings where The Incompatibility Hypothesis is discussed:

BOOK small format - Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016Book: 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. 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. — Mini Reviews: “Isaac Newton is said to have been a seriously religious man. Yet it is primarily due to Newton’s influence that science, unable to test propositions concerning the supernatural, focuses instead on finding natural causes for natural phenomena. Thus science is not a “belief,” but rather an epistemology aimed at understanding the natural world. In their welcome book, Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa succinctly draw the distinction between real science and the religiously-inspired belief in supernatural explanations for natural phenomena—including the origin and history of life. Why does the resistance to evolution persist in this modern day and age? 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 versus those who accept evolution as science. The authors 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.” Dr. Niles Eldredge, 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.” Dr. Barbara Forrest, 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).

Journal Book Covers Incompatibility Science Religion - VERTICAL

Click on image to enlarge

Book-Chapter: Paz-y-Miño-C., G. & Espinosa A. 2014a. The Incompatibility Hypothesis: Evolution vs. Supernatural Causation. Pp. 3-16. [PDF] In G. Trueba (Ed.) Why Does Evolution Matter? The Importance of Understanding Evolution. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-6518-4, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-6518-0.

Scientific Article: Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2014b. Acceptance of Evolution by America’s Educators of Prospective Teachers: the disturbing reality of evolution illiteracy at colleges and universities. New England Science Public: Series Evolution Vol. 2, No. 1. [PDF] The complete 92-page study includes 23 figures, statistics, 34 maps, 12 tables, and a companion slide show ‘Image Resources’ for science journalists, researchers and educators. The supplementary materials include 15s figures and 25s tables. This article has been featured in the Richard Dawkins Foundation Newsletter and website. RDF has also posted a note in its Facebook page.

Book-Chapter: Paz-y-Miño-C., G. & Espinosa A. 2013a. The Everlasting Conflict Evolution-and-Science versus Religiosity. pp. 73-97 [PDF]. In G. Simpson & S. Payne (eds) Religion and Ethics NOVA Publishers, New York. Download OPEN ACCESS at NOVA.

Scientific Article: Paz-y-Miño-C., G. & Espinosa A. 2013b. Galapagos III world evolution summit: why evolution matters. Evolution: Education and Outreach, 6:28. [PDF]. Open Access.

Scientific Article: Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2013c. Attitudes toward evolution at New England colleges and universities, United States. New England Science Public: Series Evolution 1: 1-32. [PDF]. Read commentaries in Happy Birthday Charles Darwin – The Boston Globe and Basic Knowledge of Darwin’s Theory Lost in Some Classes – The Boston Globe Metro. The Standard Times of New Bedford published the note Evolution Misunderstood By Students, Faculty.

Scientific Article: Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa, A. 2012a. Introduction: Why People Do Not Accept Evolution: Using Protistan Diversity to Promote Evolution Literacy. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology 59:101-104. [PDF].

Public Talks, Interviews, and Discussions where The Incompatibility Hypothesis is addressed:

Interview by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (April 1, 2014) where both the book Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars, and the Incompatibility Hypothesis is discussed.

Disproof Atheism Society, Boston University (February 2014).

Atheists Alliance of America 2013, National Convention in Boston (watch and/or DOWNLOAD VIDEO from the AAA website).

Atheists Alliance of America 2013 (watch video in YouTube posted on September 2, 2013).

 

Other Scientific Publications Related to Acceptance of Evolution in the US and the World:

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2012b. Educators of prospective teachers hesitate to embrace evolution due to deficient understanding of science/evolution and high religiosity. Evolution: Education and Outreach 5:139-162. [PDF]. Follow a discussion on this study in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Paz-y-Miño-C, G., Espinosa A. & Bai, C. 2011a. The Jackprot Simulation couples mutation rate with natural selection to illustrate how protein evolution is not random. Evolution: Education and Outreach 4:502-514 [PDF] Visit The Jackprot Simulation website to access computer program and tutorials.

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2011b. On the theory of evolution versus the concept of evolution: three observations. Evolution: Education and Outreach 4:308–312 [PDF].

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2011c. New England faculty and college students differ in their views about evolution, creationism, intelligent design, and religiosity. Evolution: Education and Outreach 4:323–342 [PDF].

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa, A. 2010. Integrating horizontal gene transfer and common descent to depict evolution and contrast it with “common design.” J. Eukaryotic Microbiology 57: 11-18 [PDF].

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa, A. 2009a. Acceptance of evolution increases with student academic level: a comparison between a secular and a religious college. Evolution: Education & Outreach 2:655–675 [PDF].

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & A. Espinosa. 2009b. Assessment of biology majors’ versus non-majors’ views on evolution, creationism and intelligent design. Evolution Education and Outreach 2: 75-83 [PDF].

Related Readings:

Book: Paz-y-Miño-C., G. 2013. Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars. NOVA Publishers, New York.

Popular media article: Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2012c. Atheists’ knowledge about science and evolution. Secular World 8(1): 33-36 [PDF].

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

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

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

Mini-reviews of Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars

Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEGBy NOVA Publishers, New York Soft Cover. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK

In preparation for “the sequel”… Here are some mini-reviews of Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars. I thank Greg M. Scott, Herb Silverman, Jeff Podos, Jan A. Pechenik, George A. Lozano and Stan Braude for their generous statements about the book – GPC. More in-depth reviews are posted at EvoLiteracy Book Reviews.

“This is an inspiring, readable collection of essays of reflective value to everyone. Paz-y-Miño-C points to the vain attempt by many to try and accommodate scientific rationalism with supernatural beliefs. They are simply incompatible. The author has a marvelously eloquent style of writing, full of inspiring metaphors and lateral observations that reinforce connections to the foundations of scientific inquiry and to biological evolution in particular. These thoughtful essays… are inspiring… [and] help clear the fog in our communities and arm our neighbors [with arguments] against theistic anti-science, medical quackery and other irrational nonsense.” – Greg M. Stott, PhD, Geoscientist with the Ontario Geological Survey, Canada.

“Paz-y-Miño-C doesn’t ask the reader to ‘believe’ in evolution. He provides overwhelming evidence, clearly written, that shows how scientific inquiry leads to important and practical results, while superstition and faith lead nowhere. Although we may not be able to reason someone out of what they were never reasoned into, the author presents a roadmap for those whose minds are open to discover the wonders and beauty of science.” – Herb Silverman, PhD, author of Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt.

“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.

“Many scientists would probably agree that the struggle against creationism as an alternative to science is a war that must be waged. However, we all know it is a difficult fight… After all, how does one produce a coherent, logical and intelligent argument against an opponent whose very aim is to create confusion, to deny reality, and to promote ignorance? Few among us have the audacity. With this book, Paz-y-Miño-C establishes himself as a clear, lucid, and refreshingly candid fighter of creationism and defender of evolution.” – George A. Lozano, PhD, Estonian Centre of Evolutionary Ecology, Estonia.

“Too many of our colleagues work so hard to appear open minded that their brains seem to have fallen out. When they teach our students that they can pick and choose when to be logical, critical thinkers, they are modeling the type of reasoning that leads to the politics of convenience and its bridesmaids: racism, sexism, and the whole host of xenophobias. Paz-y-Miño-C is a prolific essayist, he does not pull any punches, but when he cuts to the core of an argument, he does it with the flare of a true artist.” – Stan Braude, PhD, Professor of Practice in Biology, Washington University in St. Louis, USA.

Dehumanizing Academia by Dismantling the Humanities

Dr. Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C — © 2014

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

Dehumanizing Academia

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

“…our history and future survival as prosperous civilizations will depend on the integration of what we discover about ourselves via science, about our bodies, brains and cultures, and on what we internalize from such discoveries via the humanities, the sentinels of knowledge in society…”

Edward O Wilson BBC2 Evolution Literacy Paz-y-Mino-C

Harvard Professor Edward O. Wilson during the interview posted online by BBC2’s Newsnight

In his latest book (2014), “The Meaning of Human Existence,” Harvard Professor Edward O. Wilson, 85, makes an unwise remark: he calls Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins, 73, an “eloquent science journalist.” If Wilson’s intention had been to plea for higher standards in contemporary media reporting, then Dawkins’ exquisite communication skills, proficiency in science, sharp intellect, and always controversial presence (in the right journalistic sense), would have made him a robust role model for investigative journalism. But Wilson aimed at demeaning Dawkins by invoking the character of a profession, one that has given coverage to Wilson’s career during half a century.

The Guardian (U.K.) titled the Wilson vs. Dawkins exchange a “biological warfare.” Perhaps by now the reader realizes how journalistically treasured are these scuffles. But The Guardian’s story itself fed on a previous BBC2’s Newsnight interview, where Wilson reiterated his judgment about Dawkins. Via Twitter, Dawkins responded by reaching out to his one million followers: “anybody who thinks I’m a journalist, who reports what other scientists think –as Wilson described Dawkins’ work— is invited to readThe Extended Phenotype.” The latter, published in 1982, is a follow up to the famous “The Selfish Gene” of 1976; both outstanding scientific contributions to theoretical biology.

Richard Dawkins Evolution Literacy Paz-y-Mino-CBefore going any further, it is indeed imprudent to use the term “science journalist” as a dishonor, to discredit a colleague, and to inattentively belittle a vital occupation.

The Wilson-Dawkins crossfire was triggered by Dawkins’ review of Wilson’s earlier book “The Social Conquest of Earth” of 2012. In it, Wilson drifted away from a well established concept in biology, called Kin Selection, which helps understand why organisms that cooperate with close relatives, more than with strangers, can improve survival and reproduction, thus leaving descendants who carry the traits that make them social and altruistic. The evolution of high sociality, cooperation, altruism and intelligence in the human animal are often explained under kin selection theory (natural selection ultimately favoring kin).

Kin selection is an experimentally documented phenomenon, supported by most evolutionary biologists, to the point that when Wilson and collaborators wrote an article for Nature, in 2010 (which became part of a contentious chapter in “The Social Conquest of Earth”), challenging the kin selection principle and suggesting that high cooperation and altruism can still evolve regardless of kinship, 137 world scientists authored and signed a debunk-letter-to-the-Wilson’s position, which Nature published the following year. [Note that in a paper published in PLoS Biology, March 23, 2015, authors Liao, Rong and Queller completely dismiss the Wilson’s team proposal of 2010; in fact, Liao et al. state that “all… apparently novel conclusions –in the Nature’s 2010 article– are essentially false”].

E O Wilson Books Evolution Literacy Paz-y-Mino-CIn the 2010 paper, Wilson and associates acknowledged that kin selection could still work, but that an alternative scenario based on a combination of individual and group selection, not necessarily closely related members, results in a mathematically sounder model than the “elderly” –ossified– kin selection. The same assertion appeared in Wilson’s “The Social Conquest of Earth,” about which Dawkins –after borrowing words attributed to American poet and satirist Dorothy Parker— declared: “this is not a book to be tossed lightly aside. It should be thrown with great force.” And sincere regret (Dawkins’ emphasis).

“…Creationists, of course, grew excited about the scientists’ disagreement. Not so fast. Evolution is true regardless of the dispute over kin selection…”

Creationists, of course, grew excited about the scientists’ disagreement. Not so fast. Evolution is true regardless of the dispute over kin selection [note that researchers are constantly reexamining hypotheses and paradigms, for example, see discussion about Standard Evolutionary Theory SET versus Extended Evolutionary Synthesis EES in Nature]. And both Wilson and Dawkins, as evolutionary biologists, are secular, openly and vigorously opposed to creationism, including Theistic Evolution, Creation Science, Intelligent Design, and Evolutionary Creation; all represent belief-based views of reality, which impose a Creator or Designer in the background of causality. Wilson and Dawkins have categorically stated that there is no scientific evidence in support of any style of creationism.

“…[the] American universities… seem committed to turning off the humanities, dismantling the social sciences, and replacing them with for-profit, translational research to generate goods for patents and commercialization…”

Unfortunately, the message Wilson sought to convey in “The Meaning of Human Existence” was eclipsed by the exchange with Dawkins; Ed threw unnecessary punches, while Richard diverted them back with customary power; a fight with no winner. And Wilson’s book is crucially important to raise awareness about the current dehumanization of academia at American universities, which seem committed to turning off the humanities (philosophy, history, archeology, anthropology, arts, law, literature and linguistics), dismantling the social sciences, and replacing them with for-profit, translational research to generate goods for patents and commercialization; a path leading to the extinction of curiosity-driven science and risk-taking ideas, which have modernized fundamental scientific work: wisdom driven.

In closing, Wilson makes an excellent connection between human evolution and the humanities. He reasons that our history and future survival as prosperous civilizations will depend on the integration of what we discover about ourselves via science, about our bodies, brains and cultures, and on what we internalize from such discoveries via the humanities, the sentinels of knowledge in society (including journalism, my emphasis). And he envisions the relevant humanities under no faith: “the best way to live in this real world is to free ourselves of demons and tribal gods.” — © 2014 by Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C. all rights reserved.

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New Book: Why does Evolution Matter? The Importance of Understanding Evolution

Why does Evolution Matter? The Importance of Understanding Evolution

This historical documentation of the scientific discussions that took place in the Galapagos, 178 years after Charles Darwin visited the islands, attests to the legacy of a Voyage that transformed Darwin’s own understanding of nature; the discoveries that awakened humanity to accept the mutability of species, and later face the reality of evolution by means of natural selection. Evolution is true, it has always been. And this book adds powerful evidence in its support, from a social, environmental, molecular and public health perspectives…

Why Evolution Matters Book - Evolution LiteracyCambridge Scholars has just released (October 1, 2014) the book “Why does Evolution Matter? The Importance of Understanding Evolution,” edited by Dr. Gabriel Trueba, from the Microbiology Institute at University San Francisco of Quito (USFQ), in Ecuador. The volume is conceptualized in four sections (Evolution and Society, Environmental Change, Molecular Evolution, Evolution and Public Health) and includes twelve chapters written by international researchers.

Most of the chapters summarize the keynote addresses presented by the authors at the Galapagos III World Evolution Summit, which was organized by USFQ and its Galapagos Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS), in June 2013. “This historical documentation [the book] of the scientific discussions that took place in the Galapagos, 178 years after Charles Darwin visited the islands [September 1835], attests to the legacy of a Voyage that transformed Darwin’s own understanding of nature; the discoveries that awakened humanity to accept the mutability of species, and later face the reality of evolution by means of natural selection. Evolution is true, it has always been. And this book adds powerful evidence in its support, from a social, environmental, molecular and public health perspectives… An ideal compilation of material for a broad audience, particularly researchers in academia, and those seeking a volume for a graduate seminar on evolutionary topics.”

Under the scope “Why Does Evolution Matter,” the 200-attendee Galapagos III World Evolution Summit took place at the Charles Darwin Center in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island. At the Summit, USFQ and GAIAS launched officially the Lynn Margulis Center for Evolutionary Biology and showcased the Galapagos Science Center, an impressive research facility at the USFQ Galapagos campus. — © 2014 Evolution Literacy all rights reserved.

Related Readings:

Editing Darwin to Reach the Almost Unreachable Reader
Paz-y-Miño-C., G. & Espinosa A. 2013. Galapagos III world evolution summit: why evolution matters. Evolution: Education and Outreach, 6:28. [PDF]. Open Access.
Unforgettable Galapagos, a Summit, and Why Evolution Matters
Galapagos Evolution Conference Adds to Understanding Part II
Darwin Day Awaits Designation by U.S. Congress

 

Editing Darwin to Reach the Almost Unreachable Reader

Editing Darwin to Reach the Almost Unreachable Reader

Dr. Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C — © 2014

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

…If we possessed a perfect pedigree of mankind, a genealogical arrangement of the [ethnicities]… would afford the best classification of the various languages… [If] all extinct languages, and all intermediate and slowly changing dialects, had to be included, such an arrangement would… be the only possible one.

In 1859, Charles Darwin wrote, so Darwinianly, the passage above in “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” He envisioned the roots and evolution of languages via common ancestry, a process of gradual modification, from simple to diversified variants over time. In modern terms: an evolutionary phenomenon, not only factual for organisms that communicate complexly with one another, but also a feature detectable in non-human animal cultures (when sophisticated cognition allows culture), vocalizations and signals inherited through learning rather than by means of exclusive genetic programming.

The_Readable_Darwin_Evolution_Literacy_Paz-y-Mino-CPerhaps Darwin envisioned –as I wish to think— that his own Victorian writing style of the 1800s would change, drift comparably to a dialect, and in the future require a “translator” to bring up to date the Darwinian message. And this is what my valued colleague, Jan A. Pechenik, Professor of Biology at Tufts University, has done. In his 2014 “The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species, as Edited for Modern Readers,” Jan takes the challenge to adapt the century-and-a-half-old book for a contemporary audience. And he does it in a unique manner: rather than abridging the text as, for example, in Richard Dawkins’ 2008 elegant audio-book narration of the first edition of The Origin; or expanding it, as in David Quammen’s 2008 illustrated volume, which includes hundreds of historic images, Pechenik sharpens the text, edits it to make it legible in current American English by, I suspect, primarily our youth.

Pechenik knows that in the Era of Vast Intellectual Emptiness, ours, when communication is not only restricted to the 140 characters of a tweet, but to the out-of- grammar, rebelliousness to syntax, or no spelling-rules revered by the blogging industry, persuading the public to treasure Darwin is almost impossible. Pechenik relies, however, on his college-instructor intuition, his patience and responsibility as educator, to be confident that some minds can be rescued, and that “…[this] wonderful reminder of the incredible diversity of life on [our] planet Darwin’s book  and honest argument [for evolution] based on evidence and logical thinking…” cannot continue to be rarely appreciated under the excuse that allegorical writing, the Victorian style, is unattractive to those whose neurons operate only when plugged into electrical appliances.

You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family” reads the opening quote to Pechenik’s preface in “The Readable Darwin.”

…A rebuke attributed to Darwin’s father when struggling to reason with the juvenile Charles, whose uncertainty to pursue an honorable occupation –either medicine or the clergy, as he attempted first in Edinburgh, 1825-1827, and later in Cambridge, 1827-1831, respectively— became a family concern. Thus Pechenik knows how to relate to the standard career-undecided college student, how to invite him/her to accept Darwin and fall in love with Charles’ story, his voyage on board of the Beagle (1831-1836), and his forever important contribution to universal knowledge and human history.

In “The Readable Darwin,” Pechenik edits The Origin under the recommendations of his own “Short Guide to Writing About Biology” (eight edition, 2012). He eliminates the copious prepositions (much common among Victorians), polishes the “Wimpy Verb Syndrome” (i.e. the use of multiple verbs to refer to a single action), warns us that examples are about to be generously listed, rather than appearing unannounced in long paragraphs; incorporates definitions of terms (not often given by Darwin), and reorders the sentences to convey the message straightforwardly. And Pechenik succeeds at editing Darwin without disrupting the beauty of the prose or distorting the message. To accomplish this, Pechenik recurs to his reflective understanding of Darwin, to his solid background in evolutionary biology and textbook-writing skills.

Each of the eight chapters edited in “The Readable Darwin” starts with an explanatory mini introduction to: Variation Under Domestication (Chapter 1), Variation in Nature (Chapter 2), The Struggle for Existence (Chapter 3), Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest (Chapter 4), Laws of Variation (Chapter 5), Difficulties with the Theory (Chapter 6), Miscellaneous Objections to the Theory of Natural Selection (Chapter 7), and Instinct (Chapter 8). About one hundred color images illustrate the chapters (note that Darwin’s Origin had only one visual, a roughly sketched evolutionary tree), footnotes, online resources, links to videos, and a list of classic and modern references.

Illustration_Origin_of_Species_Evolution_Literacy_Paz-y-Mino-C

The only illustration in Darwin’s On The Origin of Species (1859) was a roughly sketched evolutionary tree

I find of particular value the section Key Issues to Talk and Write About at the end of the chapters, where the reader, or an instructor using the book for proper college education, is confronted with testing queries and themes to essay about. This exposes the rigorous mind of Pechenik, the Professor, who now, after assisting the bookworm to enjoy the digested text, wants to know if some actual retention of content took place, if critical thinking can be exercised once each chapter has been handled to the reader-learner in a gracious format. But Pechenik goes beyond that: in Appendix A: Other Books by Charles Darwin, he overwhelms us with descriptions of fifteen additional books and four monographs authored by Darwin between 1839 and 1881, thus broadcasting that Darwin’s giving to science was monumental.

The Readable Darwin” is suitable for all audiences, particularly college instructors, undergraduate and graduate students, and I eagerly await for the second book in which Pechenik will present us with the remaining seven edited chapters of the 1872 sixth edition of The Origin. I emphatically recommend Pechenik’s work to those in administrative positions in academia, and to creationists who reject the reality of evolution; both audiences need rigorous schooling in matters of evolution — © 2014 by Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C. all rights reserved.

Related Articles:

On the Wrongly Called “The God Particle”

Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars

On Francis Collins’ and Karl Giberson “The Language of Science and Faith”