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

 

The Rigorous PhD

“…Although it is true that the PhD degree has been criticized in recent years for remaining classical and reluctant to being seduced by a more market-oriented skill-based training system, it still is the strongest higher-education formative experience ever developed in academia. The globalization of science and technology and international exchanges of professionals have led to agreements that attempt to equate higher-university titles across disciplines (the functional equivalents to a PhD), but it has also triggered worldwide the proliferation of fake, self-granted PhD acronyms to doctoral degrees that are no match to the education provided by the rigorous PhD-granting institutions…”

by Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C

Before listing what makes a PhD-training unique, I will share the latest data about the United States. The statistics below come from the National Science Foundation and correspond to 2016 (released early December 2017). You will have to wait until late 2018 for NSF to process the data from 2017.

In 2016, the United States graduated 54,904 PhDs and doctorates (the latter included non-PhDs but doctors in education, law, business administration, social work, international relations, health-care professions like physicians, veterinarians, dentists, nurses and clinical psychologists, and technical posts like pharmacy) at 436 higher-education institutions. Of these graduates, 38,406 were American citizens and residents, and 16,498 were temporary visa holders of diverse nationalities (=international students). The top five PhD/doctorate-granting institutions were the University of Texas-Austin (849), University of Wisconsin-Madison (823), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (819), University of California-Berkeley (796) and University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (787).

The top five PhD/doctorate-granting institutions to the international students were Purdue University-West Lafayette (372), Texas A&M University-College Station and Health Science Center (328), University of Florida (297), University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (278) and Ohio State University-Columbus (267).

23% of the graduates obtained degrees in the life sciences, 17% in engineering, 16% in psychology and social sciences, 12% in physical and earth sciences, 10% in humanities and arts, 9% in education, and 7% in mathematics and computer sciences; the rest graduated in other fields, including business, management and administration, as well as communication (adding to 6%).

54% of the graduates were men and 46% were women. The men/women gap varied across fields, as follows: in the life sciences, 55% were women and 45% were men; in engineering, 77% were men and 23% were women; in psychology and social sciences, 59% were women and 41% were men; in physical and earth sciences, 69% were men and 31% were women; in humanities and arts, 52% were women and 48% were men; in education, 70% were women and 30% were men; and in mathematics and computer sciences, 76% were men and 24% were women.

“All PhDs are doctoral degrees, but not all doctoral degrees are PhDs”

What did those who got PhDs do to be granted the degrees of “philosophiae doctoris” or “doctor of philosophy”? My listing below is summarized and applicable particularly to the life sciences:

“…if your doctoral certificate does not read ‘philosophiae doctoris’ or ‘doctor of philosophy,’ chances are you might not have a PhD…”

Number 1 – Application. All began when they sent applications to multiple PhD programs in the US, knowing that, if lucky, a couple of institutions might accept them. Crucial to their applications were five components: a statement of interest (a sort of letter of intent, but broader, explaining why they wanted to pursue research), the curriculum vitae (CV), three letters of recommendation (preferably by academics with PhDs themselves), GRE / TOEFL scores if already available (the originals were sent directly to the universities by the GRE– / TOEFL-test agencies), and the undergraduate academic records (the “transcripts”). The personal statement had to be competitive in relation to the hundreds/thousands of statements submitted by students from all over the world. It revealed, in a few pages, the genuine intellectual potential of the applicant; his/her curiosity-driven mind and interest in seeking scientific knowledge. The CV needed to summarize the evidence that the applicant was a scientist in the making (format and content had to be just right). The letters of recommendation convinced a reviewing committee (made of professors in multiple fields and student representatives to the “graduate committee”) that the applicant will endure the challenges of the PhD academic environment (survive and succeed in it). The undergraduate transcript had to simply document that the applicant was as ordinarily outstanding as the other applicants (previous research experiences were always a plus, even more important than the excellent grades). Perhaps now the reader realizes how significant were the personal statements and CVs (the latter as supplements), considering that the letters of recommendation and undergraduate records of all competitive applicants were comparable.

Number 2 – Interview. This was done in multiple ways and more than one semi-formal or formal interview(s) took place. Via Skype (the first approach) and a later visit to the graduate program during which the potential student met with the graduate committee (usually with each of its members and also with the group), interacted with diverse research teams with which the student might work in the future (if accepted into the program), participated in a journal club discussion or laboratory meeting (for which the applicant was given scientific publications to read in advance, so that his/her contribution to the discussion was meaningful), and socialized over dinner, or equivalent gathering, where members of the program (faculty, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students) got to talk, briefly, to the applicant. As the interview(s) made progress, the members of the graduate committee got feedback from those whom interacted with the applicant(s). Each potential student was ranked in respect to others and, after various meetings, the graduate committee made recommendations (to higher-instances in the institution) as to the list of students whom should be offered a “graduate student line” (i.e. the type of funding the student shall receive, either as research or teaching assistant, or both). In most cases, a database was created with quantitative scores as per all aspects relevant to the applicant(s) performance: personal statement, CV, letters of recommendation, undergraduate transcripts (this also applied to those with masters degrees in a separate column), GRE/TOEFL scores (or equivalents), research experience, publications (when applicable, as coauthor or leading author), presentations at regional, national or international scientific meetings (posters, talks), scientific competitive awards (including mini-grants), interview performance, participation in journal club/laboratory meeting discussion while visiting the program, and interaction with members of the department (e.g. scoring 1 = poor; 2 = fair; 3 = good; 4 = very good; and 5 = excellent). All applicants were ranked from highest to lowest scores, and only those voted positively by the graduate committee were contacted and offered the graduate student line. Not all the top-ranked accepted since some had several offers.

“…during two years, the PhD students were transformed by a rigorous academic environment in which ‘quality education’ was at the center of their intellectual development…”

Number 3 – The First Two Years. The entire PhD program lasted about 6 years; but years 1 and 2 probably marked the most significant transformation in the students. They were required to enroll in courses that emphasized further development of their analytical skills (i.e. strong in statistics, data processing or synthesis-writing), integration of information from the primary literature (hundreds of articles were required to be read) and weekly take-home assignments (mini-reviews of the literature and/or long papers addressing conceptual questions prepared by a professor). If the students had previous masters degrees or non-PhD-doctorates, only a fraction of the courses already taken were accepted into the PhD program. Everyone took new courses taught by world specialists in specific fields; double dipping was rarely allowed in more than 1/4 or 1/3 (exceptionally 1/2) of the total PhD curriculum. — Thus, in most cases, two in-house courses were taken per semester, combined with a discussion-based-third-course (a “graduate seminar”) based on weekly student presentations of scientific articles (about 5 articles per student, per week, in a class of 16 students and 1-2 instructors/facilitators). The latter were the foundation of the training in the “argumentative format,” which the students got to internalize. The graduate seminars were both in-depth academic discussions of the philosophical foundations (as per philosophy of science) of recent or classical literature, and intense exchanges in which the student leading the session was grilled by his/her peers and instructor(s). This format helped students to become aware of their academic strengths and weaknesses; all in the open, with peers and mentors watching. — Many PhD students worked 14 to 16 hours a day, all days; some took on and off naps while working continuously for weeks, occasionally months under that rhythm. At public institutions, most PhD students had “teaching-assistantship” lines (TAs) that paid their salaries, and they were responsible for teaching or co-teaching laboratory or reading sessions for freshman/sophomore undergraduates, grading exams and reports, and holding weekly office hours to mentor undergraduates. Each semester, their teaching performances were evaluated by the undergraduates and TAs-supervisor(s). — On top of the course work and TA responsibilities, all graduate students were required to attend weekly seminars by an internationally-known speaker invited by the program; they met with the speaker one-on-one, or in small groups, and read articles published by him/her. Weekly, sometimes twice a month, members of the PhD program (faculty or graduate students) hosted at their homes/apartments semi-formal evening-talks by local speakers (from sister institutions in the area); these discussions were enthusiastically attended by the “graduate community” (a voluntary practice built on the desire to reinforce a culture of learning). — And on top of these activities, the students participated at weekly meetings with their PhD advisor’s team in which they discussed the science being done in the laboratory or research group. At such meetings, the fresh PhD students were constantly taught by everyone else in the team (i.e. advanced research undergraduates, other PhD students, postdocs and the principal investigator) the methodological and conceptual rationale behind the research carried out by the team. — In many programs, the students participated in mandatory “rotations,” which consisted in doing practical research work at a laboratory, or with a research team other than his/her own and, after a semester, presented the results of that experience to the entire academic department in a public talk (1 to 3 rotations during the first two years of the PhD program, each up to 20 hours/week work). The purpose of each rotation was to expose the students to different fields of scientific inquiry, diverse working environments and mentors, and open the possibility for the students to change their minds and complete their PhDs in fields just discovered during the rotation experiences. — Some programs also required the students to participate in practical internships (3 to 8 weeks), during the summer of their first or second academic years (paid by the PhD program or by an external agency). As interns at known State or Federal agencies, or at NGOs, the graduate students “tasted and practiced, hands-on, the professional world” (e.g. National Institutes of Health, US-Congress, The World Bank, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Geographic, Department of Justice, Smithsonian Institution, Department of Labor; click on internship opportunities for graduate students). At their return, they submitted reports of their experiences and presented talks to their departments. — In sum, during two years, the PhD students were transformed by this rigorous academic environment in which “quality education” was at the center of their intellectual development.

“…Only if the students passed the qualifying exams satisfactorily, they were finally and officially called ‘PhD candidates,’ a placebo status of psychological value only to students…”

Number 4 – Qualifying Exams (Preliminary Exams = Prelims, or Candidate/Candidacy Exams). Before the second year was completed, PhD students took the most challenging test ever in their lives. The goals of the qualifying exams were multiple: test the analytical-thinking ability developed since the students joined the PhD program; assess the academic maturity gained during the first two years; evaluate their retention of information and capacity to integrate scientific knowledge coming from multiple sources; verify their capacity to answer “why” questions (i.e. ultimate causality) when confronted with theoretical academic scenarios that they were asked to solve; challenge them to propose the immediate and future directions an entire academic field should take to make significant transformations in science. These goals were accomplished via different exam-formats, including complex questions given to the students in advance, which they had an entire semester to think about, compile library information, scrutinize scientific papers and structure comprehensive answers to later be presented in written and/or oral examinations. Other formats consisted in developing research proposals on topics unknown to the students, although tangentially related to their areas of expertise (according to NIH, NSF, Department of Education guidelines), and that the students had to prepare as if they were world experts and later defend such proposals in front of the graduate committee. Or prepare a theoretical review of the literature, in an entire field of expertise, and present it to and answer questions from a team of professors. The qualifying exams took months to prepare (including in most cases the end-of-the-year break –no vacations!) and 1-2 entire days of in-writing and/or oral examinations by the graduate committee. — Only if the students passed these exams satisfactorily, they were finally and officially called “PhD candidates” (PhDc), a placebo status of psychological value only to students. In many programs, those who did not pass the qualifying exams were given a terminal masters degree and sent home. A few programs granted the students a second chance to retake the exams (usually in a more rigorous setting) and made final decisions by the end of the second academic year. — Some programs did not require qualifying exams, but had other formats of PhD-candidacy assessment; such programs were exceptions, rather than the norm.

Number 5 – PhD Dissertation Proposal. This document had to be approved by the students’ PhD-dissertation committees, and later defended in a public presentation (sometimes in close-door meetings with the thesis committees) at the end of the first or second semesters of year 3. The “thesis proposal” was comprehensive in its theoretical background (placing the students’ intended research in a historical context, as per the chronology of a research field), with central and auxiliary hypotheses to be tested, detailed in methodology, statistical analyses, expected results (i.e. figures and tables already built and specifying all outcomes based on hypothetical data), significance of the work in terms of generating new knowledge and advancing science, future grant-proposals to be submitted to local, regional or national agencies, as well as the forecast of conceptual publications (at least three) to be generated from the research. — The thesis committee (per individual student) likely included five members: an advisor, sometimes a co-advisor, 2-3 professors from within the PhD program, and a researcher from another PhD-granting institution. Depending on the field of expertise and program, the thesis committees occasionally included even more members (as many as the students needed for proper advice; 6-8 members were not rare). The approval of the dissertation proposal was done first by the thesis committee and later certified by the Department (remember that faculty, postdocs, graduate students and research undergraduates attended the oral presentation and thesis-proposal defense) and university. The officially approved thesis proposal turned into a “contract” that the students had to complete satisfactorily, within 3-4 years, in “partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of” philosophiae doctoris or doctor of philosophy. Note that some programs granted the PhDc status only after the thesis-proposal was approved (i.e. after the first two years of course work plus completion of the qualifying exams); thus, the students became PhDc during year 3.

“… the science was conducted in the open, shared with the institutional community, and subject to criticism and feedback all the time… Advanced or just starting in their PhD education, the students were pushed beyond their comfort zones. Seniority was rarely observed…”

Number 6 – The Research, Grant-Proposal(s) Submission(s), Participation at National and International Meetings. During years 3, 4 and 5 the students conducted the research to which they committed themselves in the PhD-thesis proposal. Those in TA lines continued to teach. — Weekly or monthly, they reported progress to their advisors and research teams (semi-formal oral presentations of results and/or difficulties delaying the project); once per semester, they met with the thesis committee for the same purpose (i.e. semi-formal presentation of data and analysis of partial results); and once a year they submitted comprehensive progress reports to the PhD Program Director (i.e. the parts of the research already completed, work in progress, poster or oral presentations at significant scientific meetings, awards, mini-grants or grants under review, as well as those that were funded) and received a letter of evaluation from the PhD Program Director; in it, the individualized expectations of the program to secure timely completion of the work were specified (note that the continuation of institutional funding to the student’s salary, including the TA line, depended on a positive evaluation). — As PhD-researchers, the students were expected to train undergraduates and provide and receive feedback to/from peers (this was part of the culture of academic reciprocity, which the program community embraced). They were also required to submit doctoral-dissertation grants to national agencies (e.g. NSF), regardless of them being funded or not. Each semester, they submitted competitive mini-grants to their own PhD-programs (from less than $1000 to up to a few thousand dollars), departments, colleges or universities, as well as to scientific societies (i.e. funds for traveling to international meetings or for materials and logistics related to the research). Each of those grants varied in narrative-length and conceptual/practical emphasis; in this way, the students became skillful at summarizing their projects in a few hundred words, or in lengthy documents with detailed budgets and justified expenses; all on a competitive basis and repetitively during years 3-5. Those researching off campus, in the field or other countries, returned each semester, or yearly, to their institutions and shared their progress via oral presentations (data oriented) and discussions with the entire program. Thus, the science was conducted in the open, shared with the institutional community, and subject to criticism and feedback all the time. — While on campus, the students continued to participate in journal clubs, seminar discussions, advising and mentoring sessions. Advanced or just starting in their PhD education, they were all pushed beyond their comfort zones. Seniority was rarely observed.

“… Every PhD dissertation aimed at becoming a unique and crucial contribution to science (work that had never been done before); many, perhaps most, accomplished it…”

Number 7 – Completion of Data Collection, Analysis and Writing of the Dissertation. By year 5 in the PhD program, the data collection ended and both the comprehensive statistical analyses and writing of the dissertation began. This was likely done in combination with a couple of papers already published, or manuscripts submitted during years 4 and 5 (or extended to year 6), but many students could not write such papers until full collection and processing of the data. It did take from six months to a year to complete the no-long-ago seemingly-eternal thesis. In the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics, the thesis was fairly short (200-300 pages, including raw data and analyses attachments), but in the humanities and arts the documents often reached +400 pages. Depending on the field of specialization, the students were expected to publish, at least, three comprehensive, conceptual (not descriptive!) papers of their own that contributed significantly to advance the scientific knowledge in their fields. As members of a productive team of researchers, they likely co-authored an equal number of additional articles (a combination of descriptive work, notes, reviews with their advisors, or joined papers with master students or undergrads). The important aspect of the PhD research was that it covered interrelated, yet separate topics (usually three, but often four or five), each comprehensively designed for testing, with specific conceptual questions, hypotheses, predictions and exhaustive approaches to examining each hypothesis and its predictions. Every PhD dissertation aimed at becoming a unique and crucial contribution to science (work that had never been done before); many, perhaps most, accomplished it.

“…After a month or so, the graduates received in the mail a modest certificate declaring them ‘philosophiae doctoris’ or ‘doctor of philosophy.’ Another document of little use considering that the certification that a PhD degree had been granted was usually extended by the university via official copies of the graduates’ transcripts –with the entire academic history…”

Percentages of doctoral degrees granted by OECD countries in 2014; left = N ca. 237,000; right = per capita (click to enlarge).

Number 8 – Thesis Defense and Graduation. The departmental seminars in which the PhD candidates presented and defended their dissertations were announced publically and attended by faculty from various universities, postdocs, graduate/undergraduate students and, occasionally, by the candidates’ family members. The students were introduced as “today’s seminar speaker” or, more frequently, in non-solemn manners since, although successful presentations and thesis-defense were expected (otherwise the students had not been allowed to get that far in their programs), prudent enthusiasm was honored. The 50-minute seminar was followed by 30-40-minutes of Q&A by the audience, and by close-door meetings between the students and their graduate committees (up to 2-3-hours). By the end of the day, social gatherings were often organized to celebrate the events. During the following weeks, sometimes months, the students made adjustments to the dissertations (from minor to substantial) and prepared final versions of the documents. These needed signatures of approval by each committee member. The properly formatted original and copies of the documents were then submitted for the universities’ final approval and filing. [Note that copies of all PhD dissertations written in the US are stored at national archives with access to the public, examples include ProQuest or DissExpress, but there are others]. Attendance to “graduation day” (i.e. the universities’ bi-annual ceremonies) was an option for all PhD students; quite a few did not participate (a common excuse was their mental fatigue and desire to just move on). After a month or so, they received in the mail a modest certificate declaring them “philosophiae doctoris” or “doctor of philosophy” (another document of little use considering that the certification that a PhD degree had been granted was usually extended by the university via official copies of the graduates’ transcripts –with the entire academic history).

To close: the National Science Foundation indicates that, in 2016, about 30% of the PhD/doctorate graduates in the life, physical and earth sciences were headed to postdoc positions (2-3-years of additional research experiences in science productivity). By contrast, only 17% of their counterparts in mathematics, computer sciences and engineering had similar plans. And about 60% of most graduates were simply moving into research and development jobs (see Science).

Although it is true that the PhD degree has been criticized in recent years (see A, B, CD) for remaining classical and reluctant to being seduced by a more market-oriented skill-based training system, it still is the strongest higher-education formative experience ever developed in academia. The globalization of science and technology and international exchanges of professionals have led to agreements that attempt to equate higher-university titles across disciplines (the functional equivalents to a PhD), but it has also triggered worldwide the proliferation of fake (see E, F), self-granted PhD acronyms to doctoral degrees that are no match to the education provided by the rigorous PhD-granting institutions. — EvoLiteracy © 2018

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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Evolution: Is There A Controversy?

evolution-is-there-a-controversy-evoliteracy

“…Scientific research –not catchphrases– informs us that the evolution controversy in society is a cancerous zombie, difficult to eradicate. And outcomes of the last elections warn us that assaults on science will metastasize in the United States. Not because researchers ‘do not see’ or ‘do see’ a controversy in the science of evolution, or climate change, or the dark fate of our sun. They have no doubt these are realities. But because unrests resurface in communities whenever we have irreconcilable differences around fiction versus facts. And yes, there is a profound conflict between Faith and Science, intrinsic to their fundamental incompatibility…”

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

The new strategy among the pro-faith-in-evolution supporters (i.e. theistic evolution, creation science, evolutionary creation, BioLogos, or the Creator-Designer-and-Darwin-in -the-same-sleeping-bag) is to spread the slogan “there is no controversy about evolution” with the purpose to persuade the religious public that evolution is real, and that there is no scientific doubt about it, period. The latter is true.

It is also true that after a memorable judgment, in 2005, when Intelligent Design lost in court (Dover, Pennsylvania, Kitzmiller et al. versus Dover School District et al. 2005) 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,” the opportunistic idea to “teach the controversy” over evolution in the science class gained track.

The vested interest was to publicize that there was a “scientific disagreement” over evolution (note that this view was a fabrication, since most of today’s scientists take evolution for granted), and that students ought to be exposed to the “dispute” to secure good schooling. By “teaching the controversy,” designers aimed at injecting creationism into the mix.

“…The sinister drive was to keep the Creator-Designer in the classroom. Of course this was –still is– a controversy, political and ideological.”

Thus, the slogan “there is no controversy about evolution” emerged in response to the proposal to “teach the controversy,” which, in turn, insinuated that modern scientists questioned the authenticity of evolution. The sinister drive was to keep the Creator-Designer in the classroom. Of course this was –still is– a controversy, political and ideological (see facts about the debate).

The sensu stricto scientific controversy between evolution by means of natural selection, as per Charles Darwin, 1859, and the views of the religious-naturalists of his time (Richard Owen, Adam Sedgwick, John Stevens Henslow, among others) is a fact in history (see also the timeline of the creation-evolution controversy 1650s-2000s). By all epistemology principles, this was a confrontation between Darwin’s naturalistic explanations of how species originated and differentiated over time, versus the core conviction of the Victorian scientific establishment: God, the Creator of nature, its laws and mechanisms.

In consequence, the refurbished slogan “there is no controversy” is, for the most part, a wishful tactic to redirect the “rejection of evolution” back at the “rejectors” themselves, under the premise that –in their minds– the “notion of controversy” enhances the very dismissal of evolution. It is a circular, cosmetic reasoning, with little empirical support, but memed in the social media with enthusiasm.

Now, the contemporary academic topic “evolution controversy” (arguably traceable to the Twentieth Century, 1920s onwards) has never been about any sort of “hypothetical rejection” or “acceptance” of evolution by credible researchers (the spectacular majority of them know evolution happens, contrary to Darwin’s generation), rather, it has been –at least in the United States– about the phenomenon of societal dismissal of science/evolution on the grounds of religious beliefs and conservative political ideology. All sound conceptual studies demonstrate this (e.g. A, B, C, D).

The storm has been about, for example, the support to anti-evolution legislation by lawmakers and their constituents; the low acceptance of evolution by the misinformed general public, and by educators at all levels, who teach creationism because they fear embracing proper science (E, F); and, ultimately, the persistence of ignorance despite the extensive access to knowledge. “That” is –it has been as per chronology– “the controversy.”

“…Imagine asserting that there is no societal controversy concerning ‘alternative facts’ versus facts…” 

Here is some food for thought. Imagine asserting that there is no –societal– controversy concerning: climate-change deniers and their opposition to data-based projections of extreme weather fluctuations; or about “alternative facts” versus facts; or homeopathic and chiropractic cures versus scientific medicine; or antivaxxers versus proven herd-immunity effects; or faith healing versus surgical oncology; or anti-GMOs versus no-negative-health-effects-scientifically-attributable-to-GMOs; or pray-sex-health/abstinence versus unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted-diseases… just because –allegedly– no serious scientist gives a damn about the “beliefs in non-facts” by those who worship imagination.

bill-nye-vs-ken-ham-debate-2014In 2014, public educator Bill Nye debated creationist Ken Ham over the legitimacy of evolution. The encounter itself was controversial, it took place at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Opponents to the match argued that, by debating, Nye would grant notoriety to Ham’s Museum and the Young-Earth-Creationism agenda. The ‘Science Guy’ defeated Ham at the debate, but it is true that private donations poured in to support the exhibits after the televised event. Currently, the Museum struggles financially and faces sharp criticism by the scientific community.

“…evolution, the ‘E’ word… and E-correctness…”

Since the sticky slogan proclaims “there is no controversy,” it is worth asking: are the science education surrogates expected to put aside the “yuge” societal clash between anti-science and science, or between superstition and empirical reality, and equate them to a minor disagreement, a stone in the shoe?

Like evolution, which continues to occur despite our level of understanding or acceptance of it, the societal controversies are factual and must be addressed as such under reason and science principles, not under the hope that, if we concur to post-like-and-share the catchphrase “there is no controversy about _blank_”, we will make the problem –or part of it– go away. And that is the fallacy of slogans coined to go viral regardless of their silliness. Self deception never pays.

“…any ‘acceptor’ of evolution who believes that God was involved –somehow– in the Creation of the universe, or its laws, is a creationist in principle…”

Is the next step to call evolution the “E-word” so that we rarely use it and, therefore, avoid offending someone? To be E-correct so that our students and public love us as educators, at the same time that we smuggle pseudo-science subliminally into their souls via “teaching techniques“? Or, worse, is the companion, accommodating agenda (to the catchphrase) to force-marry Darwin with Faith to secure that believers accept His message?

Creationism and its disciples come in a range of flavors, from Young Earth Biblical Creationists to Design Creationists, and to any position in which the Creator shows up, even vaguely, in the background of causality (i.e. theistic evolution, creation science, evolutionary creation, BioLogos; links above). In other words, any “acceptor” of evolution who believes that God was involved –somehow– in the Creation of the universe, or its laws, is a creationist in principle. And all morphs of creationism are destined to fail because they merge, deceptively, desire with veracity.

“…as for the fortune of the slogan, trash it…”

Scientific research –not mottos– informs us that the evolution controversy in society is a cancerous zombie, difficult to eradicate. And outcomes of the last elections warn us that assaults on science will metastasize in the United States. Not because researchers “do not see” or “do see” a controversy in the science of evolution, or climate change, or the dark fate of our sun. They have no doubt these are realities. But because unrests resurface in communities whenever we have irreconcilable differences around fiction versus facts. And yes, there is a profound conflict between Faith and Science, intrinsic to their fundamental incompatibility.

As for the fortune of the slogan, let us close by being both historically and E-correct: trash the slogan. — EvoLiteracy © 2017.

G. Paz-y-Miño-C and A. Espinosa are authors of Measuring the Evolution Controversy (2016), Evolution Controversy: A Phenomenon Prompted by the Incompatibility between Science and Religious Beliefs (2015), The Incompatibility Hypothesis: Evolution vs. Supernatural Causation (2014), The Everlasting Conflict Evolution-and-Science versus Religiosity (2013), Why People Do Not Accept Evolution (2012). For access to their studies (PDFs) go to GPC and AE.

clarence-darrow-william-jennings-bryan-scopes-trial-evoliteracyPHOTOClarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan during the Scopes Trial (i.e. The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes 1925) in Dayton, Tennessee. At the Scopes “Monkey” Trial, teacher John T. Scopes was accused of violating the TN’s Butler Act, which considered it illegal to teach human evolution in the state’s public schools. The Scopes Trial is iconic in the history of America’s evolution controversy.

 

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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The World Celebrates Darwin Day

celebrate-charles-darwin

Today, February 12, the world celebrates the life and legacy of Charles R. Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882). Here, at Evolution Literacy, I would like to share with our readers articles and images previously posted, which have been well received and further disseminated by our colleagues, friends and followers. Don’t forget to observe Darwin Day. — GPC

Darwin Day Awaits Designation by US Congress

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. Read FULL article at Darwin Day Awaits Designation.

At The Down House: Darwin’s Home

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 FULL article at Darwin’s Home.

Darwin’s Skepticism about God

i-think-by-charles-darwinThis is one of our most read articles at EvoLiteracy — The yearly celebration of International Darwin Day (February 12) is approaching. Here are some of Darwin’s writings, which reveal how skeptical he became –with age and wisdom– about the existence of God. Despite this historical evidence, the pro-religion-in-science crowds, or para-creationists (i.e. theistic evolution, creation science, evolutionary creation), continue to mislead the public by spreading the meme that Darwin was, deep in his soul, a religious naturalist. And that is false. In 1879, Darwin wrote: “…an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind.” But read below what else Darwin wrote about The Old and New Testaments, Christianity and God in his Autobiography and later documents. Read FULL article at Darwin’s Skepticism.

Are Women Generally more Religious than Men? Does it Matter?

Yes, women worldwide are, overall, more religious than men. Yesterday, the Pew Research Center released another update to its frequent reports on religion (The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World), which I shared on Facebook. It includes useful maps and descriptive statistics, however, here I summarize only the numeric trends and leave the maps aside (they are didactic). Readers can find the complete report online, as well as the figures and web-links. But first, why do we care at EvoLiteracy News about this topic? One of the reasons (not the only one) is that acceptance of evolution is negatively associated with level of religiosity, as we (and other researchers) have demonstrated in numerous studies. Therefore, the Pew Research report would imply that women, worldwide, accept evolution less than men. But this is –of course– something not addressed by the Pew Research Center in this particular study (see such differences here). Instead the report focuses on speculating about why the gender gap in religious commitment exists, and it does demonstrate that, by just joining the workforce, women become less religious (voilà) –although the gender gap remains. The report, however, disregards the historical oppressive role of religion on all peoples, particularly women. Read FULL article at Are Women More Religious?

The Art Of Nature: Sculptures Of Dinosaur Tracks and Traces

“…Edward Hitchcock’s collection of fossilized tracks and traces of dinosaurs is one of the largest in the world and the Beneski Museum of Natural History exhibits them as fine art, carved by nature… Under soft lighting, a saturation of textures emerges from or deepens into the flat rocks. The 200-million-year-old footprints are so exquisite…” Read FULL article at Beneski Museum.

Hiking among Trilobites, Ancient Whales and Dinosaurs

I have previously stated that to be reassured that evolution is true one simply needs to visit the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Its displays of skeletons of a North Atlantic right whale with a calf, a humpback, a juvenile blue, and a sperm whale can impress anyone curious to compare human bones to those of cetaceans. And such comparison suffices to infer that common ancestry connects mammalian sea gallopers — whales and dolphins — to us, the upright bipedal apes who live in cities and launch vessels to explore the stars. Read FULL article at Hiking among Trilobites.

i-think-by-charles-darwin-1837-sketch-evoliteracyI think — Case must be that one generation then should be as many living as now. To do this & to have many species in same genus (as is) requires extinction. — Thus between A & B immense gap of relation. C & B the finest gradation, B & D rather greater distinction. Thus genera would be formed. – bearing relation — Charles Darwin’s Notebook B, 1837

Science Challenges Golden Age of Violin Making

Unsubstantiated beliefs interfere with the acceptance of evidence. Belief is a powerful cultural pollutant: it disrupts, distorts, delays and stops the assessment of reality, what I call in my academic work “the 3Ds + S cognitive effects of illusory thinking.” Indeed, I explore, at a scientific level, why people struggle when confronting inner beliefs with facts, and for that I examine acceptance of evolution by highly educated audiences —university professors, educators of prospective teachers, and college students at elite institutions, who, despite their fine education, embrace distinctive degrees of superstition. Read FULL article at Golden Age Violins.

Measuring the Evolution Controversy

The reality of evolution is indisputable and, based on current scientific evidence, all people in the world should accept it. Yet, only 41% of adults worldwide embrace evolution, and they do it under the premise that a deity created humans. One in every three people are strict creationists who believe in religious scriptures concerning the origin of our universe and of humans, and explicitly reject that Homo sapiens is an ape —when, in fact, science informs us that humans’ closest relatives are chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans. Indeed, we are all apes. Read FULL article at Evolution Controversy.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry Goes to Curiosity-Based Research

If completely stretched into a single, long molecular chain, the DNA of a human cell would measure about two meters. During our lifetimes, our bodies would replicate enough DNA that, theoretically, it could be extended from Earth to the Sun, and back, 250 times. Ample opportunities to accumulate 37 trillion mutations while re-copying the genetic material. Read FULL article at Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Evolution and the Upcoming Challenges of a Predictable Landscape

darwin-on-the-argument-for-designIn Chapter Nine of Measuring the Evolution Controversy, we ask: what will be the societal setting in which science/evolution and religion interact in the future? Early in the narrative of the book, before addressing this question, we remark that societal interactions between science and ideology are intricate, and subject to public policy, law, and abrupt socio-economic change. In addition, we sketch a probable world socio-cultural environment —based on statistical demographic projections— in which acceptance of science and evolution could take place in the future. By the 2050s or 2060s, we argue, the world societal dynamics will be quite different in respect to today’s, particularly in four relevant landscapes associated with attitudes toward science and evolution: distribution of wealth, education, migration, and demographics of religious groups. Read FULL article at The Future of Acceptance of Evolution. — EvoLiteracy © 2017.

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

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.

life-yard-boy-and-girl-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

life-yard-women-and-dream-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

life-yard-school-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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.

life-yard-logic-vs-creativity-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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.

palm-at-port-antonio-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: Pause at Port Antonio.

jamaican-bbq-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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).

jamaican-jerk-chicken-photo-g-paz-y-minoc-2017

Above: The famous Jamaican Jerk, chicken.

baby-bananas-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

egret-and-the-leaf-two-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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.

ficus-roots-green-grotto-caves-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

ficus-tree-roots-green-grotto-caves-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

inner-pond-green-grotto-caves-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

mummified-bat-green-grotto-caves-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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).

her-majesty-plaque-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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.

queen-conches-near-lucea-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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.

feral-cat-closeup-ocho-rios-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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.

architecture-gazebo-two-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

architecture-fountain-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: More of modern Jamaican architecture.

architecture-small-fountain-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

Above: A close up of modern Jamaican architecture.

basic-medical-science-complex-uwi-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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.

chapel-side-view-uwi-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

mtec-lng-frmt-at-chapel-uwi-kingston-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

 

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

uwi-chapel-inside-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

uwi-papine-village-monument-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

uwi-papine-village-monument-females-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

mural-assembly-hall-uwi-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

old-aqueduct-uwi-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

blighia-tree-uwi-campus-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

blighia-open-fruit-uwi-campus-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

univ-west-indies-porto-antonio-front-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

univ-west-indies-porto-antonio-logo-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

univ-west-indies-porto-antonio-side-pilards-jamaica-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2017

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

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

Above: An example of think globally, act locally.

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

Above: An example of think globally, act locally.

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

Above: Trifolia old fountain at the Castleton Botanic Gardens.

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

Above: At the Toms River, Castleton Botanic Gardens.

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

Above: Color at the Castleton Botanic Gardens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Above: Penta-meros at the Castleton Botanic Gardens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Above: Norman Washington Manley Memorial in Kingston.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

We The People, We The Planet

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

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

By Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C

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

Education – We The Planet

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

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

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

Click on image to enlarge.

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

Here are paraphrased the report’s major findings:

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

access-to-tertiary-education-unesco-2016

Click on image to enlarge.

gender-disparities-educational-attainment-unesco-2016

Click on image to enlarge.

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

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

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

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

Click on image to enlarge.

aid-to-education-unesco-2016

Click on image to enlarge.

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

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

Click on image to enlarge.

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

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

Education and Crime (2013). Click to enlarge.

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

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

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

Click on image to enlarge.

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

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

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

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

Related Articles

Intolerance toward Free Speech at America’s College Campuses

College Educated But Deeply In Debt For An Overpriced Degree

Imminent Collapse of Basic Science Under For-profit Model

Dehumanizing Academia by Dismantling the Humanities

Fragmentary Truths and the Intellectual Imbalance in Academia

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

Measuring the Evolution Controversy - Hard copies 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intolerance toward Free Speech at America’s College Campuses

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

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

By Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C

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

Free Speech Intolerance On College Campuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Support for Campus Policies Restricting Expression Political Views - Gallup 2016

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

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

Support for Preventing Reporters from Covering Campus Protests - Gallup 2016

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

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

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

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

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

GETTY IMAGES - Evolution Literacy

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

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

Trigger Warning - Life Is Tough - Evolution Literacy 2016

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

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Fragmentary Truths and the Intellectual Imbalance in Academia

Suggested Readings

Hate Speech on Campus – American Civil Liberties Union ACLU

First Amendment – Legal Information Institute, Cornell University

List of United States Supreme Court cases involving the First Amendment

What does Free Speech Mean? United States Courts

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Measuring the Evolution Controversy - Hard copies 2016

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

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

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

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

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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.