Cafe Scientifique tonight

Today is my very, very long day, but it’s going to be loads of fun. This morning, my intro biology students and I are going to shred creationism in lecture; this afternoon, I teach our first fly labs in genetics (warning to colleagues: there may be escapees); and this evening at 6, it’s time for our Cafe Scientifique, down at the Common Cup Coffeehouse in town. The first 7½ hours of my teaching day you only get to join in if you pay tuition here, but Cafe Scientifique is free and open to the public!

Tonight, Jamey Jones of the Geology discipline will talk about “Using rocks to tell time and reconstruct Earth history” — so if you’ve been wondering how we know something is 10,000 or 10,000,000 years old, come on down.


  1. firemancarl says


    Is there any chance that you can post your lecture on shredding creationism. I would love to read it.

  2. Thomas says

    “There may be escapees”

    Would that be the flies or the students?

    Or the products of a horrific lab accident, half-student, half-fly?

  3. David says

    Re: posting the creationist shredding intro bio lecture – I’d love to read it also. Thanks for your clear headed analysis, PZ!

  4. says

    This morning, my intro biology students and I are going to shred creationism in lecture…

    I’m sure that the DI folks will be happy to know that you’re going to “teach the controversy” today.

  5. rp says

    there may be escapees
    Ah, that brings back memories of my high school science fair project (in er, um, ah, 1974. That was a long time ago.) For some reason, my mother wouldn’t let me keep my flies in the basement over the summer.

    I gotta admit though, unless I was doing wing morphology or needed to breed them, it was a lot easier to drown them in ether rather that just put them out. Unless I counted them really fast, they tended to re-sort themselves before I was done.

  6. gabriel says

    Hi PZ,

    I’ll de-lurk just long enough to point you to a recent paper that makes teaching with flies so much easier – basically automates virgin collection: just google “Venema and Drosophila” to pull it up (it’s in CBE-Life Sciences Education). I’d be happy to send any strains you might want (although the USDA in their infinite wisdom will require you to get an import permit).

    I too would love to be a fly on the wall for your lecture. If you’re a Mac user there are ways of recording PowerPoint lectures with voiceover – a little program called ProfCast works well.

  7. says

    Dang, I’m jealous! I want a Cafe Scientifique in Pittsburgh. Any other Pharynguloids our here in Steeler Country? Maybe we can have our own scientific coffee house gatherings.

  8. Science Goddess says

    There may be “escapees” takes on whole new meaning when you’re working in a malaria lab!

    Had a serious conversation with a student yesterday on evolution. He claims that scientists are superimposing a pre-existing “pattern” on the data, to make it look that way. I went into science’s predictive capacity to determine who evolved from whom. He claims all his knowledge about evolution comes from the Discovery Channel, which he says is even-handed between ID and evolution.

    This is only a beginning bio class, and I do a unit on evolution, but a few lectures aren’t going to erase decades of indoctrination from church and family.



  9. firemancarl says

    Oh mighty Science Goddess,

    I dunno why he’d say that DC is even handed. the programs I have seen do a fair job of shredding ID as non science and although they do interview *barf* Behe et al., they then interview a real scientist to destroy what the wooer said.

  10. Holbach says

    If I happened to be in Morris and knew about Cafe Scientifque, I would be beside myself to engage in a no
    doubt fantastic conversation and overall celebration of
    our common embrace of rationality! Wow, maybe we could
    also harangue the godturds as they entered and then left
    mortified! What a day and experience that would have been!
    Then again, maybe things would get out of hand with all
    that reason overwhelming the insane retards that they will
    run out screaming that the rapture has come! Or maybe there
    will be mass suicide to show their god that they are
    dying to spread it’s word. Now that makes sense!

  11. jfatz says

    This morning, my intro biology students and I are going to shred creationism in lecture

    …like that would talk all morning?

  12. Onkel Bob says

    If you want an example of the capriciousness and outright uselessness of web advertising, you need go further than the nearest gmail account. Found on a thread:

    Expelled – Ben Stein – – Why is Big Science suppressing the evidence of Intelligent Design?

    Which email does this appear on? One between the frau and me; she being a professor of genetics and dev bio. Oh yeah, we’ll be lined up to see that film…

  13. Matt says

    Same here, PZ, if you don’t mind could you put a link to it on the blog so we can take a look? I’m very interested in seeing what you had to say.

  14. says

    I certainly hope there are escapees! We don’ts needz any mor eviLoutistas or studants of icky squisky so-called scientics. (such as the mytheicall scientic of biology). We Needs Facts! FActTS1! FACTS! Stoodgy something impotents likes cdesign proparggtgootibartfast!!!!!

  15. Sonja says

    I’m going to see one of my heroes on the Twin Cities campus tonight — Daniel Ellsberg is speaking at Ted Mann Concert Hall, 7:30 pm.

  16. Science Goddess says

    Hey, firemancarl: That’s “Hail, O Mighty Science Goddess” to mere mortals like you. Also, like you, I’ve not seen much support for ID on DC. It’s mostly scientific, although watered down for the general public.


  17. ClaSchX says

    Cafe Scientifique, how continental!
    I can picture a dark, cheap place in the wrong side of town. A dense and almost tangible curtin of smoke welcomes whoever dares to enter this godforsaken temple, this heretical abomination. The guests can’t complain, there is plenty of red wine (the expensive sort) on the tables everywhere and even some bottles of champagne. A distant lamentation in french, to the tune of a lonely and sad accordion, is sometimes heard through the chatter. Some unknown entertainer from the local temple of the godless is scheduled to appear on stage soon, juggling stones while telling jokes about believers and their god.
    Sitting in a corner, his back leaning against the wall, his pockets almost bursting full of dirty money, his cold eyes sweeping around in search of a weak soul to sacrifice on the altar of Darwin, immersed in complacency, there PZ.

  18. firemancarl says

    All hail O Mighty Science Goddess,
    Forgive my transgression.

    The best TV show of course was “On Trial” I think that may have done more to smote ID than anything else I have ever seen.

  19. says

    Please please can I put in a plug for Cafe Scientifique? A couple of earlier commenters said they wanted one too. They’re pretty straightforward to set up – all you need (!) is a convenient pub in which to hold the sessions, someone to organise events, a supply of scientists who are happy to come along & chat for a while about whatever it is they do, and maybe a leetle bit of money for advertising etc. (They do tend to run on a shoestring. I’ve been lucky because my Dean is solidly behind it & covers photocopying etc.) We’ve been running one in Hamilton (NZ) for 4 years now – last night’s session on honey’s therapeutic powers drew around 80 people, lots of whom hadn’t been along before. The pub owner loves it because Tuesdays are usually very quiet, & here are all these people buying drinks & food & generally having a good time.

    There’s a sort of central clearing house in the UK: which we found very useful in setting up our own Cafe. Or have a look at our site: for a Kiwi take on it.

    Our next one is in 5 weeks & it’ll be on evolution :-) Wish me luck – I’m already regarded as the antiChrist in some quarters…