Truth doesn’t change from building to building on a college campus

Georgia Southern University has a history professor teaching creationism. This is absurd; no serious academic in any discipline should be misinforming students about the state of knowledge today. That Emerson McMullen is in a history, rather than biology, department, is no excuse at all — I should think that we ought to defer to a significant degree to our colleagues’ expertise, so McMullen ought to be paying attention to what more knowledgeable people are saying, and striving to give his students better representation of what we actually know.

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Plastic brains

This is quite a nice talk by Daphna Joel on male brains and female brains — she’s making the point that there are no such things. There are differential responses by developing brains to the environment that lead to different structures…but because it is a property of interactions between sexual factors and the environment, it’s inappropriate to call the differences simply “male” or “female”.

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Yay! Sexism in science is over!

The New York Times has declared that Academic Science Isn’t Sexist. What a relief! The authors are reporting the results of a broad study of many different parameters of the career pipeline, and are happy to report that there are no problems in academia. None at all, no sir.

Our analysis reveals that the experiences of young and midcareer women in math-intensive fields are, for the most part, similar to those of their male counterparts: They are more likely to receive hiring offers, are paid roughly the same (in 14 of 16 comparisons across the eight fields), are generally tenured and promoted at the same rate (except in economics), remain in their fields at roughly the same rate, have their grants funded and articles accepted as often and are about as satisfied with their jobs. Articles published by women are cited as often as those by men. In sum, with a few exceptions, the world of academic science in math-based fields today reflects gender fairness, rather than gender bias.

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Creationist debacle at Michigan State

It’s yet another creationist conference in which the imminent demise of evolutionary theory will be declared this weekend, and it’s being held on a university campus, which is always jarring. The university is said to be “uneasy” about it all.

The 1 November event, called the Origin Summit, is sponsored by Creation Summit, an Oklahoma-based nonprofit Christian group that believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible and was founded to “challenge evolution and all such theories predicated on chance.” The 1-day conference will include eight workshops, according the event’s website, including discussion of how evolutionary theory influenced Adolf Hitler’s worldview, why “the big bang is fake,” and why “natural selection is NOT evolution.” Another talk targets the work of MSU biologist Richard Lenski, who has conducted an influential, decades-long study of evolution in bacterial populations.

News of the event caught MSU’s scientific community largely by surprise. Creation Summit secured a room at the university’s business school through a student religious group, but the student group did not learn about the details of the program—or the sometimes provocative talk titles—until later, says MSU zoologist Fred Dyer. The talk titles led Dyer to suspect that the student group was not involved in planning the conference, he says, prompting him to look into its origins.

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