Forrest Mims: A wanna-be bully

Eric Pianka is eccentric, opinionated, and outspoken; many people might disagree with specific bits and pieces of his position. But I don’t think that he is a eugenicist, a hate-filled fan of the Third Reich, an advocate of planned genocide, anti-human, or a crazed scientist planning the death of humanity. Nick Matzke has compiled a list of the slander that’s been aimed at Pianka. It ain’t pretty.

Transcripts of his talks are beginning to emerge; he has given this same talk, “The Vanishing Book of Life”, seven times now, and the only time it has received this level of vituperation is when a creationist in the audience distorted its message. It’s an entirely manufactured controversy, to no one’s surprise: that’s what creationists do.

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Call for submissions!

Two carnivals under my purview are coming up next week, both on Wednesday, 12 April, so let’s get rolling on bringing in exciting links.

The Tangled Bank

The Tangled Bank will be held at Discovering Biology in a Digital World, under the care of Sandra Porter. Send links to interesting science writing to her, to me, or to by Tuesday.


For the first time, I’m going to be hosting the Carnival of the Liberals. The hosting guidelines for this one are interesting: it’s competitive. I’m only going to post what I think are the ten best submissions. You can guess what I like: uncompromising liberalism. Strong words. No apologies. Secularism (Steven Waldman and Amy Sullivan need not bother sending me anything, but that does not preclude Christian contributors). I’ll look especially favorably on anything about science and science policy. Send the links to me by Tuesday to make me happy.

Science guy harshes creationists’ mellow

I’m a Bill Nye fan, so it was good to learn that he’s not reluctant to point out the foolishness of creationists.

The Emmy-winning scientist angered a few audience members when he criticized literal interpretation of the biblical verse Genesis 1:16, which reads: “God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.”

He pointed out that the sun, the “greater light,” is but one of countless stars and that the “lesser light” is the moon, which really is not a light at all, rather a reflector of light.

A number of audience members left the room at that point, visibly angered by what some perceived as irreverence.

“We believe in a God!” exclaimed one woman as she left the room with three young children.

Nye also was critical of what he said was governmental agencies’ lack of action, even lack of understanding, in protecting the Earth from global warming and wasted resources.

My kind of guy. I have to wonder why a fundagelical who is dedicated to a literal interpretation of an old superstition would even bother going to a science talk, though…and please don’t try to tell me that scientists and popularizers have to tread lightly on blatant idiocies.

Why the wingnuts hate Plan B

There has been an oddly evasive struggle going on in Washington DC for the last several years. We have a safe, easy method of emergency contraception that has been turned into a political football, with Republicans playing their usual role of criminally stupid thugs, trying to crush a simple idea: Plan B contraception. It illustrates exactly how the Religious Right is trying to intrude on your private life, and in particular, how they want to control women.

I’ll explain how Plan B works, but to do so I’m going to have to explain some basics of the hormonal control of the menstrual cycle.

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Although, actually, Darwin is literally dead

The Second Edition of the Darwin is Dead carnival is up. I think we can declare that the “Darwin is Dead carnival” is dead now. Orac seems to have had a little problem tallying up the entries, but out of 7 links:

  • Three are satires of ID and creationism.
  • One is a press release from the Discovery Institute.
  • One is more PR from the Institute for Creation Research.
  • One is PR from Answers in Genesis.
  • Precisely one is an actual blog entry from a sincere creationist (who, by the way, thinks “irreducible complexity” is a serious problem for molecular biology, and therefore has demonstrated that he is a clueless goombah), and even that one the carnival host had to go trawling through crap and invite him to submit it.

I’m sorry to say that the selection is pathetic. Try comparing this thing to the Tangled Bank (which has a new edition coming up next week, by the way)—creationists have another reason to be embarrassed.