Liberty University Pumping Creationists Into Public Schools

Sometimes, I wonder if my obsession with debunking Christianist textbooks is rather ridiculous. After all, how many truly committed creationists are there, really? Aren’t there more important causes I should be investing my time in? Surely I could be doing more on the feminist front, f’r instance. I could be pouring my time and energy into meatier posts about the magnificent science of geology. And I feel vaguely guilty that I let myself get distracted by the latest creationist outrages in textbooks that are foisted upon a mere fraction of the world’s children.

But then, I read survivors’ stories, and yes, I do think of the children: all those bright and curious minds stunted by the ignorant adults around them. I hope at least a few of them stumble upon this series, and find themselves jolted out of the confining creationist box and launched on an epic adventure in the science of their choice (even if it’s not one of the geosciences, although of course I think those are the best).

And there’s the fact we all learn some things about the earth sciences along the way, in what I hope is an entertaining fashion.

Not an inconsiderable consideration for me is that I’ve found so few women* debunking creationist nonsense, so it helps me feel like I’m doing my bit for diversity in the creationist nonsense debunking community.

Besides, Jonny Scaramanga recently said why creationism and the debunking thereof matters, so that’s told me this quest is not quixotic.

But when it really comes down to it, the main reason why I feel it’s bloody damned important to keep you guys informed as to what creationists are teaching their kiddies is because their kiddies are growing up ignorant, and then spewing that ignorance all over our public schools: [Read more…]

Flat Earth: An Astonishingly Good Book About a Very Bad Idea

When I’m reading creationist textbooks, one thing I’m grateful for is that they’re not written by flat-earthers. One wonders why they’re not: after all, a literal reading of the Bible points very much to the idea that the earth is, indeed, a plane rather than a sphere. But some ideas are so difficult to sustain in the face of plain scientific evidence that even people who, in all seriousness, claim that every living thing on Earth descends from the inmates of a single wooden boat which survived  a violent global flood, can’t bring themselves to believe it. Really, did anyone post-Renaissance ever seriously believe that nonsense? [Read more…]

“I Can Feel The Boulders Rolling”

I have to admit that my first thought in the few seconds of this video was, “What the fuck are you doing, you fool? Get away from the wash!”

Then I discovered the person filming the video is a USGS hydrologic technician, and I was like, “Oh, right. Carry on, then.” This is definitely one of those don’t-try-this-unless-you’re-a-paid-professional sort of things. Much like climbing down into the craters of active volcanoes FOR SCIENCE.

These floods are scary dangerous things. Too many people don’t appreciate the power of water. But just watch that video. Look at the sediment load that water’s carrying. Listen to the roar. Consider they could feel boulders bouncing in the flow, just standing there at a relatively safe distance on the bank. Note the size of the channel these occasional floods have carved. It’s not a good place to be standing when the water comes pouring in.

And it comes fast, and hard, and without much warning. Flash floods have appeared in the desert on clear, bright, sunny days when the nearest rain is a hundred miles away. The moment you hear a rumble and a roar, it’s time to get the hell to higher ground.

Unless, of course, you’re a scientist, in which case you know how to do crazy dangerous things relatively safely. In which case, carry on.

Donors Choose: Final Stretch!

Right. So remember how I said I’d match two $50 donations? And remember how we had two challenges going on, so I kinda figured I’d split my fundage between the two of them?

Heh heh heh whoops. Left it too late. We are down to one unfunded challenge, thanks to your awesomeness. So I put down the complete matching donation on that one. Here ’tis:

Mah Contribution to the Cause

I also want to mention, strictly as an observation, that the only person currently beating us on Freethought Blogs is Jen McCreight, and she has traffic that is an order of magnitude greater than mine. Which, I think, just goes to prove that geologists don’t just rock, they are very gneiss, not to mention the schist.

Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

So, Ms. C’s library project only needs $97. We can do that. In fact, we don’t even need big donations to do it. Here’s a chance for those folks who can only afford tiny donations to make a huge difference. $5, $10, more, less, whatever – it all adds up. The Donors Choose Challenge ends Saturday, so time is of the essence. Get thee to my giving page.

But we’re not stopping there.

I’ve added two projects. They’re not cheap projects. But you know what? These projects will allow kids to get out in the field. They’ll get their hands on geology right out in the field, in Great Basin National Park. Field trip!

There’s nothing like a field trip for making a future geologist. I want to get these kids out in the field, people. I want to make this happen for them. And I believe you guys can do this.

So here they are:

1. Discovering the Wonders of Nevada. “Every year we take 150 fourth graders on an overnight field trip to Great Basin National Park. Our school is a Title One, 100 percent free or reduced lunch school. Our parents are hard working and very supportive, but can’t always provide the enrichment activities their children need. The fourth grade students look forward to the “Ely Trip” every year.” $1006 to go.

2. Exploring the Wonders of Nevada. “Every year we take 150 fourth graders on an overnight field trip to Ely Nevada. For many of our students, this is the first time they have been in a rural setting. Our school is in a lower working class neighborhood. Our students are well-behaved, enthusiastic kids who could use a little “boost.” Our parents are very supportive but can’t always provide the supplies needed for the school year.” $357 to go.

All right? Let’s do this thing. Again, you don’t have to be Aunt or Uncle Moneybags. Little amounts count. Every single dollar gets these kids closer to an experience with geoscience that will stay with them throughout their lives.

So. Incentives. I shall give thee incentives, because this is something we should all do together.

1. I’ll write a short story for the highest donor. You can even choose the subject, if you like, and you’ll get a paper copy complete with autograph, if you wish. You’ll have to give me until the end of the year, because I’m stupid enough to try NaNo this November, but I’ll have it written and sent to you in January. Yes, I will haul my arse to the hated post office just for you.

2. The second-highest donor will get a personally-collected hand sample. That’s right! I’ll post a list of places I’m going this summer (once I know what they are!), and you tell me what hunk o’ beautiful geology you want me to package up and mail to you.

3. I’ll match 4 (count them, 4) donations of $50. So you $50 folk get to double your money! Don’t let that stop you from donating more, of course! And if you guys manage to fund these projects before I can whip my credit card out, you can each pick a project of your own for me to donate to.

4. Starving Students Offer: Those of you too strapped for cash to manage more than small donations can still get a little something! Send me an email telling me what you’re studying, why you chose your major, and why you donated, and I’ll showcase you guys on the site. Plus, I’ll write a poem for the person whose note makes me punch the air and shout, “Yes! Science can haz future!” Same caveats apply as the short story deal.

5. I’ve also got some super-snazzy Mount St. Helens posters, so all who have donated to any of our projects and want their names in for that have a chance at winning one of Mother Earth’s great works of art. Yahoo knows me as dhunterauthor.

We’ve got until Saturday, my darlings. Make it so.

Why I Love Scientists: Kraken Kraziness Edition

This exchange happened recently on Twitter, retweeted by Brian Switek, and exemplifies why geologists and paleontologists generally get along. I present it to you in its full glory: scientists making fun of the kraken story. Enjoy!

 

Encouraged by recent media attention given to the #Kraken "study," I am now working on "Pegasus landing traces" study for next year's GSA.
@Ichnologist
Anthony (Tony)Martin
Moreover, the "Pegasus landing traces" precede Hyracotherium in the fossil record, which proves that horses are secondarily flightless.
@Ichnologist
Anthony (Tony)Martin
@ It's amazing what tracks can tell us! Our footprint collection has what looks like baby Pegasus tracks. Social behavior?
@andyfarke
Andrew A. Farke
@ @ @ When you all find the flying trilobite nests, I will laugh maniacally.
@flyingtrilobite
Glendon Mellow
@ @ Agreed, and we need at least 3-4 talks about how all of those "theropod feathers" in China are actually equine.
@Ichnologist
Anthony (Tony)Martin
@ @ It's all so obvious, isn't it? Nature News, here we come!
@Ichnologist
Anthony (Tony)Martin
@ @ Nature News. . .heck, we're going for Nature! With feathers, it can't fail.
@andyfarke
Andrew A. Farke

 

You Call Those Evil Volcano Lairs?

They’re quasi-evil. They’re semi-evil. They’re the Diet Coke of evil…

Erik Klemetti may sneer at the Geological Society of London’s Top 5, but Mt. Erebus? Sure, he’ll have well-dressed minions, but he’ll also be too ice-bound for true evil. Jessica Ball’s on to something with Pagan Island, but her evil lair will be overrun with tourists within six months. Garry Hayes has a beautiful evil setting in Mount Shasta, but everyone knows you can’t rely on Lemurians to carry out one’s plans for world domination. Silver Fox isn’t disclosing the location of her evil lair, which is wise, but it’s not even a volcano. You can’t have an evil volcano lair if there’s no volcano.

No, the truly evil geologist knows there’s only one volcano that qualifies as an Evil Volcano Lair.

[Read more…]

Accretionary Wedge #38: Back to School (Hogwarts, No Less!)

The 38th edition of the Accretionary Wedge is up at Anne Jefferson’s place. She’s done a marvelous job, and so have all of the geobloggers who took her back-to-school theme and ran with it. There’s even a Harry Potter motif! This is the edition that inspired the post that ended up nominated for Open Lab, and there’s far better stuff than mine over there. Go enjoy!

Why are you still here? Oh. Right. Some of you have never seen the Accretionary Wedge before. A few brief explanations would appear to be in order, then.

[Read more…]

Right. I Want to Try Something.

There’s a Welsh phrase I love very much: “Like killing snakes.” Means “very busy.” I’m like killing snakes right now. The start of the Winter Writing Season is always like throwing a grenade into the middle of my life, and this time, I decided to go nuclear, what with starting the Geokittehs blog with Evelyn, joining Freethought Blogs, offering to do some of the social media work for Burien Little Theatre, and participating in the Skepticism 101 panel at GeekGirlCon. And I’m not going to tell you the major cell phone carrier I work tech support for, but I’ll put it like this: we’re getting the iPhone 4s, which means they’ve closed the vacation calendar, opened up overtime slots, and are basically expecting us to be like killing snakes at a snake farm in which some mad strange person has been giving the snakes fertility drugs.

As I said, busy.

And that won’t leave as much time as I like for in-depth research for meaty geology posts. Not that we won’t have meaty geology posts. We will, at least a few. I’ll also be highlighting my beloved geobloggers as the weeks go by, because they deserve to be known and you’ll be happy to know them. But I’ll also need topics I can do as a hit-and-run. Which brings me to a somewhat pathetic cry for help.

[Read more…]

Donors Choose: We’re Rocking It!

Well, of course we are, we’re lovers of geology.

You, my darlings, have been remarkable. Two days in, and you’ve already got two projects funded. I can’t tell you how proud I am of you!

The teachers have sent you all lovely thank-you notes, and I shall post them here:

Project 1: Women and Hands-on Science. Funded!

Dear Karen, Mayen Davis, Anne, Yahoo! and The DonorsChoose.org Team, 

My students and I would like to thank you again for your donations to our science education. I have already told them about the donations and they are ecstatic. I believe that with the right tools we can teach our young girls that education is the key that will open many doors for them in the future. Many of the girls are convinced that science just isn’t fun. With these materials, I can show them just how fun and exciting science can be and possibly spark new ideas for their future careers!Thank you again. You are making a difference in the lives of these girls.

With gratitude,
Ms. D

You see what a difference you’ve made, there? These are young women who are about to discover what we already know: that science is incredible good fun. You’ve just given them a key to the wonders of the world.

Project 3: Geology Rocks! Funded!

Dear Andrea McCormick, Mrs. Patten,, Maureen Ilg, Nora, Joe and The DonorsChoose.org Team, 

I just wanted to express my sincere gratitude for your generous donations. The Geology Centers and activities will have a significant impact on my students. We now have the opportunity to have more interactive and engaging lessons.

I plan to use the geology kits to help students identify the three main rock types, how they are formed and the characteristics of each. The center activities will allow the students to explore geology concepts independently and reinforce what they are learning in class.

I can’t wait to show my students the rock samples and get started on some hands-on experiments and projects!

With gratitude,
Ms. B

You’ve just got some young hands on science, my darlings!

We still have two projects to fund:

Project 2: Science Rocks! $303 to go

Project #4: Rock Out: Learning About Rocks, Minerals and Geology. $254 to go

The way you lot are going, I don’t imagine it’ll take you long. Let’s do this thing!

Now, you might have noticed by now that the menfolk are vastly outnumbered by the womenfolk in the donation department. You, there, you with the Y chromosome. Yes, you! Step up and represent. Let’s get some equality going here!

At the Beginning of the Universe…

there was geology.

Oh, I know, some folks will tell you it was physics. Yes, there was that, too. And there might be a few who argue for chemistry, and we’ll grant them chemistry. Of course those things were there. Can’t have a universe without them. Not a universe like ours, anyway.

But geology was hiding within those things. As stars came together, as they began forging elements, as those elements exploded out into the universe and gravity gathered them together again, geology, like life, looked at all that lovely physics and chemistry and said, “Yum! I can do something interesting with that.” And oh, it did.

People think of geology as an earth science, and yes, earth’s where humans figured it out. Right there in the name, geo, planet earth. But other planets have rocks. And the elements that formed the earth were, like the elements that form us, born in the stars. Biology will still be biology when it’s applied to aliens. Geology is still geology when applied to other worlds, and we’ve beaten life twice now: there were rocks before critters, and we’ve gotten our hands on space rocks before space critters. So there.

So that post I linked to up above, that’s a post I want you to go read. Because my friend Ryan at Glacial Till, who is doing absolutely scrumptious things with meteorites, he’s teaching you geology from the beginning. Right from the beginning of time. And there’s another lesson within, one he didn’t state explicitly but is there, like geology at the beginning of time, hiding in plain sight all along. And the lesson is this:

You don’t have to give up the stars to study the earth.

You wanna be a geologist but study outer space? You can do that. Absolutely, you can. What are the inner planets called? Rocky planets, thankyouverymuch. What are asteroids? Rocks. Big ol’ space rocks. Moon’s got rocks. There’s rocks everywhere, all over solar systems, and sometimes, those rocks land on us. Sometimes, we land on them.

So yes, you can have your geology and whatever else you like. You can have your geology, and your astronomy, and your physics, and your chemistry, and your biology, too. You can have it all. Why do you think I love geology so very, very much? Because it’s got everything.

So get over to Ryan’s place. Let him show you where geology began, and where it will take you next.

Ryan's First Meteorite: "NWA 2965- Exposed interior of the meteorite. Also shown is a polished sample from a different portion of NWA 2965." Filched with permission of author.