Test post: featured images working properly (?)

The last couple of posts have shown up in my feed reader the way I always thought they should: with the image I chose in WordPress as the “Featured Image.” In the past, they have included the first image, no image, or the FreeThought blogs logo.


I don’t see what the point of identifying an image as “Featured” is if it doesn’t show up in the rss feed. I hope this means I can count on this to happen in the future. Let’s see…I’ve included one image in this post and identified a different image (of the rss icon) as the Featured Image. [Read more…]

Thoughts on a year of blogging

Facebook reminded me the other day that it’s been a year since I started the original Fierce Roller blog. I didn’t know back then if I’d stick to it this long, and I still don’t know if I’ll keep it up another year. One step at a time.


My very first blog post.

What is Fierce Roller, exactly? I guess it’s a few different things. One of the ideas from the start was to be a service to the Volvox community, reporting new papers, meetings, and news relating to volvocine algae. But that has only been one aspect. It is also a place for me to talk about my research interests, both scientific and philosophical. Scientific usually means that it has to do with the so-called ‘major transitions’ or related evolutionary themes. I wish I could cover this topic more thoroughly, but it has become a big subfield within evolutionary biology, and I can’t possibly keep up with the relative flood of papers. Philosophical usually means that it has to do with the one discussion in the philosophy of science that I’ve contributed to, about the meaning of biological individuality. There is also, of course, a thread of skepticism, occasionally about ‘alternative’ medicine, but usually responding to creationist arguments.

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So much wrong

Say what you want about the Discovery Institute; they are prolific! Evolution News & Views alone publishes several articles a day. I’m lucky if I can crank out three a week, and I try to limit the proportion that are about cdesign proponentsists being wrong. It’s a continual temptation, because those posts are easier to write than, say, digging into a peer-reviewed article. PZ promises me that blogging on FtB will eventually earn me enough to buy a cup of coffee, but I have a job. All of this means that I have to let a lot of big, juicy targets sail by. So, quickly:


Thank you, Michael Denton; no evolutionary biologist ever considered the possibility that not everything is adaptive. To answer your question, some aspects of leaf shape are adaptive, some are not. Next.

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F paywalls


Sure, I have $2000 a year to spend on this one journal.

I’ve written twice before about paywalls and how to get around them (On paywalls, Paywalls revisited). Paywalls pop up when you try to read a peer-reviewed article that you don’t have access to. If you work at a university, museum, or other research institution, you probably see these only every once in a while, because most such institutions have subscriptions to most of the big journals. Otherwise, you’re pretty much out of luck. [Warning: PG-13 below the fold]

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Following Fierce Roller


There doesn’t seem to be an RSS button here at Freethought Blogs, but if you use Feedly or some other feed reader (Jema), you can subscribe to fierce roller at http://freethoughtblogs.com/fierceroller/?feed=rss2. I haven’t yet figured out how to subscribe by email, but if that’s your preference there is a slightly kludgy solution: you could convert the rss feed into emails using a service like feedmyinbox or rssfwd.


Migrating old posts from fierceroller.com turned out to be pretty easy, but the quick & dirty method I used didn’t update internal links. So links to old posts in old posts (prior to March 14th) will take you to the old site. This isn’t a huge problem, since the old site is still there, but I will be looking for a way to fix it.

Hello world!

Hi, everyone! I’m excited (and surprised, to be honest) to join the freethoughtblogs community. I’ve been blogging for about ten months over at fierceroller.com, a platform that I initially set up to serve the (pretty small) Volvox community. Volvox, in case you haven’t encountered it before, is a multicellular green alga, just visible to the naked eye, that is an important model system for understanding the evolution of multicellularity. Volvox is Latin for ‘fierce roller,’ a name bestowed by Linnaeus, who was impressed by their ability to move around without limbs.
Volvox aureus. Beautiful, isn't it?

Volvox aureus. Beautiful, isn’t it?

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