Sorry for the dearth of new posts — classes start this week and my wife and I have been too busy to write. But in case you missed it, here’s a quick interview with Bill Nye (the Science Guy). In it, Nye discusses his love of evolutionary biology. He says, “When you’re in love, you want to tell the world.” So Nye’s in love with evolution and I am, too.
Teachers operate on the assumption that students are “empty vessels” they can fill with new information. But many students begin classes with assumptions about the world that, although intuitive, are actually incorrect. For example, many students incorrectly believe that individuals can evolve or that all members of a species evolve together. Teachers assume that instruction and testing will make students understand that both of these assumptions are wrong and that only populations evolve. However, recent research suggests that simply providing students with factual information doesn’t make them drop their faulty assumptions. As it turns out, old misconceptions die hard. Continue reading →
Since darwinbookcats is in part a blog about evolution, I’ve recently posted about the scientific opinions of the GOP presidential candidates. One reason is because these candidates have decided to make their opinions on evolution known. But a second reason is because these opinions are important. In a new blog article for the Washington Post, biologist Richard Dawkins explains why. Continue reading →
The GOP presidential candidates have been in a race to announce either their acceptance or skepticism of scientific topics like evolution and global climate change. I’ve previously commented on both Michelle Bachmann’s and Rick Perry’s stance on evolution. Both Bachmann and Perry support teaching Intelligent Design Creationism in public schools, and so I’ve dumbed them IDiots. Well, now former Utah Governor and US Ambassador John Huntsman made his position known via Twitter — and you’re in for a surprise! Continue reading →
I get email, albeit rarely. Last week I received an email from one reader listing four questions about common ancestry. Since I see questions like these pretty often — either from students or on evolution/creation comment threads — I thought I’d post the questions and their answers for all to see. Continue reading →
One common misconception about evolution is that the processes that produce phenotypic change between species (macroevolution) are different from those that produce phenotypic variation within species (microevolution). For example, creationists might accept microevolution, since this can easily be observed in a lab, but would argue that since macroevolution is difficult to observe over the span of one human lifetime, there is no evidence for it and that large-scale differences must be the result of some designer. In reality, however, there is no real distinction between microevolutionary and macroevolutionary changes: the same microevolutionary processes that result in variation within species give rise to macroevolutionary differences between species. And this afternoon, evolutionary biologists from the University of Maryland and Syracuse University published a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that nicely illustrates this link between microevolution and macroevolution. Their study, titled “Craniofacial divergence and ongoing adaptation via the hedgehog pathway“, highlights the genetic basis of within and between species variation in jaw shape in African cichlid fishes. Continue reading →