Thus Spake Zuska
A Blog for All and No One


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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Evolution Schmevolution - Slate and Daily Show Teach Us A Thing Or Two

Nice piece in Slate on why the Scopes trial didn't represent the triumph for science it's always been portrayed as.   It's in Slate's "history lesson - the history behind current events" section and a very good history lesson it is.  Read it and weep.  

The Legend of the Scopes Trial. Science didn't really win. [Slate Magazine]

And then go on to watch Jon Stewart and the Daily Show with their full week of special reporting on "Evolution -Schmevolution".  Watch and laugh till you weep.  Here's what they promise:

For one full week, "The Daily Show" goes in-depth, around, through and quite possibly under, one of the hottest hot-button issues facing our nation: evolution.  It's the accepted theory on the origin of life by an overwhelming majority of the world's biologists, but maybe they're all wrong.  What's so great about the scientific method anyway?  "Evolution Schmevolution" will explore:

      * What other theories are out there?

      * Who's on the frontlines of this debate?

      * Should your child's curriculum really be decided by experts in their respective fields?

See post and comments on The Panda's Thumb regarding The Daily Show's reporting on evolution.  I especially liked DrTomaso's comments about ridicule as an effective tool in fighting back.   I do disagree with those who are calling creationists loons and fools and other sorts of names suggesting they are idiots.  I believe the forces opposing evolution are very, very clever and strategic indeed.  One of the commenters on onegoodmove is hoping The Daily Show will include some pastafarians.  (Remember, we chatted about them earlier?)  I agree, it wouldn't be a complete debate without the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  Well, this is just a sampling, but bloggers all over are tingling in anticipatory pleasure about this "Special Report".  I have to say, after seeing last night's first installment - it's all that and a box of chocolates.  Jon Stewart, I luv you. 


12:42:24 PM    comment [] trackback []

Teaching the Debate in the Funny Pages

They gave me a free newspaper while I was in the hospital and the comics page included the one-panel strip "Kit 'n Carlyle".  The panel from 9/9/05 shows a cat on the back of an upholstered chair, tossing what is apparently a catnip-stuffed mouse in the air.  The thought balloon over the cat reads "If the theory of evolution was correct, cats would be cultivating our own fields of catnip by now!"

For 10 points, what is the biggest problem with this cartoon?  Is it:

  1. Cats have no need to cultivate their own fields of catnip.  They have human servants to do this for them - a beautiful example of an evolved symbiotic relationship.  (Some say parasitic, but the cats do occasionally give back in the form of purring.)
  2. The cat in the panel is wearing an expression that is meant to be ecstatic ("kitty on catnip") but that more closely resembles someone straining to complete a bowel movement.  Children, who read the comics page, should not be subjected to this kind of thing.
  3. For something calling itself a comic, this panel is seriously unfunny. 

If you picked #3, then move on to Round 2 and 5 extra bonus points if you can explain why the panel is not funny.  Is it:

  1. Anything having to do with science is automatically boring to the general public. 
  2. Teaching the debate is serious business.  What better way to teach our children the intricate arguments underpinning the "theory" of intelligent design than by a one-panel comic strip involving a poorly drawn kitten?
  3. Though bullshit can be hilarious, bullshit this deep never is. 

To explore the reasons why bullshit of this nature is more dangerous than outright lying, may I recommend On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt. 


12:35:53 PM    comment [] trackback []

Who Needs an Appendix Anyway?

Hello, folks.  Sorry for the long silence.  This time it wasn't the migraines.  Nooooo, as if that wasn't enough, my body decided to go ahead and have appendicitis as a change-up.  Bored with the migraines, I guess.  So I had the sucker removed last week and I got the full-length slash, no nice laparoscopic appendectomy for me.  The full slash comes with extra abdominal pain and the extra-long recuperation time, at no additional charge.  Lucky me.

Anyway, I'm back, and ready to be cranky about all sorts of things again.  A few thoughts on evolution will be next, and then I will get back on to the gender and science thread.   

12:05:07 PM    comment [] trackback []

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