Laws Block the Study of Gun Violence

Violence happens.  People use guns to kill other people, and if not guns, then some other weapon.  Murders are so common, in fact, that homicides claim roughly 1,000 victims everyday and images of guns and violence fill our TV screens.  Although mass-killings like those in Columbine and Aurora continue to horrify us, they no longer surprise us.  We understand that humans kill others and that violence is just one aspect of human social behavior that we sometimes accept — think war — but often reject — think bullying, fistfights, and Aurora.

But why?  Why do will hurt, hit, and occasionally murder one another?  Social scientists could shed light on the causes of gun violence and means of preventing it.  But, unfortunately, politicians and lobbyist have stymied research into both the social sciences and gun violence.  In a new op-ed for the Washington Post, Jay Dickey and Mark Rosenberg lament the dramatic cost of gun violence — over 30,000 deaths a year, more than those murdered on September 11th and almost as many that die each year from car-crashes — and their own failure to fund research into its causes. Continue reading

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Why A Politician’s Opinion of Evolution Matters

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

John Huntsman on Evolution: Call Me Crazy, But I Accept It!

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

Evolution, Genomics, and J. Craig Venter’s Vision for Your Future

Biologist J. Craig Venter

The Washington Post Magazine published an interesting profile yesterday of biologist J. Craig Venter: “Rad Scientist: Maverick biologist J. Craig Venter is in a race to save the planet.”  The profile discusses Venter’s company Synthetic Genomics, the J. Craig Venter Institute (JVCI), and his recent effort to create a new species of algae that can generate biofuels and process green-house gases.  Venter’s work is truly ground-breaking and will one day change our lives — in fact, it already has (see below).  The article by Susan Okie is terrific and is a must-read for anyone interested in genomics and the future of biotechnology. Continue reading

Rick Perry on Evolution: I’m an IDiot too!

Two months ago, Michelle Bachmann expressed her doubt about the validity of evolution and support for intelligent design.  Well, tea-party candidates must really like this topic, because last week Texas governor Rick Perry said pretty much the same thing.  In an interview with the Associated Press, Perry said: Continue reading

Bad Blogger’s Repost: Michele Bachmann is an IDiot

I’m a bad blogger — I’ve been too swamped collecting data and writing grants to post about the amazing science (microevolution vs. macroevolution) and books (Going After Cacciato, The Satanic Verses) I’ve been reading.   What’s more, today I’m going to repost old stuff.  I know, terrible.  But at least there’s an interesting story behind this one: Continue reading

Louisiana Science Education Makes the Funny Pages

If you’re like me, the first thing you read when you open Sunday’s newspaper is the comics.  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in twenty years of reading the comics, it’s that being featured in the funny pages is usually an ignoble privilege at best.  Well, this Sunday, cartoonist Garry Trudeau lampooned Louisiana’s Science Education Act (LSEA) in his famous comic strip Doonsbury.

Continue reading