Showing posts with label real intelligent design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label real intelligent design. Show all posts

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Saved by Science (NHM) Photo Series

I'm now six installments into a twitter photo series I've been calling "Saved by Science (NHM)" and I've decided I'm enjoying myself enough to warrant formalizing it a bit more.

It all started when I was browsing SEED magazine's special Darwin bicentenary collection (as a professional Darwin groupie is wont to do) and saw a link to an article by Carl Zimmer called 'The Awe of Natural History Collections'. I clicked it (as an Natural History Museum employee is wont to do) and was immediately enthralled, from the subtitle--'visiting the hidden side of natural history museums, where the vast collections of scientific specimens are kept'--through to the end. It's a real Zimmer gem, if you ask me.

Anyways, the article links to an audio slide show by Justine Cooper called "Saved by Science". It's not your average window-dressing to an article, it absolutely steals the show. And considering how good Carl Zimmer's writing is, that's really saying something. It's a brilliant piece of stand-alone journalism. Some of the slides are astonishingly intimate and poignant. Go there now and watch (and listen to) the whole thing.

I was immediately struck by the familiarity of the photographs. They were so similar to scenes I'd witnessed myself at the Natural History Museum in London, where I work. And then I realized that there was a communication void just waiting to be filled; I realized that I really should start taking candid behind-the-scenes photos at 'my' museum along the same lines as Justine Cooper's photos of AMNH.

And so began "Saved by Science (NHM)", a series of tweets (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...) with my Cooperesque NHM photos attached as twitpics. Of course, my photos are usually taken with my iPhone, not a large-format camera, and of course they're not nearly as good as Cooper's, but the point is to reveal the hidden side of the Natural History Museum to a wider audience.

To keep up on my series you can follow me on twitter, but as twitter is a pretty ephemeral thing, and as not everyone tweets (I know--shocking), and as I'd hate for the series to get lost in that ever-growing graveyard of old, unarchived tweets, I've created a permanent archive on my website.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

'Man must explore'

At this very moment, exactly forty years ago, two men set foot upon the surface of the Moon.

The Moon, people!

There are many celebrations taking place 'in real life' and online; some of the most compelling of these are the real-time-plus-40-years commemorations like the Apollo 11 Radiocast, We Choose the Moon and ApolloPlus40.

As with all anniversaries (and boy, do I speak from experience), this is a time to reflect on the past and contemplate the future - in this case, of space exploration.

Almost as if to emphasize this, a review of the US Human Space Flight program is taking place right now, and they want our feedback. That's right: they want us rabble to tell them what we think about the future of manned missions into orbit and beyond.

So, here's what I think:

I think Apollo 15 Commander Dave Scott knew exactly what he was talking about when, upon becoming the 7th man to walk on the Moon, he said, "As I stand out here in the wonders of the unknown at Hadley, I sort of realize there’s a fundamental truth to our nature: man must explore. And this is exploration at its greatest."



I think that John F. Kennedy was absolutely right when, in his famous "we choose to go to the moon" speech, he said that we should go to the moon "because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills...".

And I think that science and exploration are not just icing on a cultural cake to be undertaken during economically flush times, not just things we do to reap cold, hard, profitable benefits, but a core part of who we are as human beings.

As Brian Greene wrote in his brilliant NY Times Op-Ed piece 'Put a Little Science in Your Life', "science is a language of hope and inspiration, providing discoveries that fire the imagination and instill a sense of connection to our lives and our world. [snip] We must embark on a cultural shift that places science in its rightful place alongside music, art and literature as an indispensable part of what makes life worth living."

Update (21st July 12:15pm): I also think that people are holding science in general and the space program in particular to a double standard when it comes to federal funding. Have a look at Death and Taxes, an excellent and intuitive visualization of the federal budget. Is the NASA circle bigger or smaller than you expected?

Thursday, 28 May 2009

New Darwinius t-shirts

Dear fellow Darwinius hype debunkers, I hope my newest wares will interest you:



Proceeds to The HMS Beagle Trust (UK Charity No. 1126192).

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Live-blogging the Darwn-200 Anniversary Conference in Istanbul

Update Saturday 25 April: The conference is now over, so I've removed the twitter widget below and replaced it with the twitter history of the event, that is, my tweets from the conference in order. In a second update I will thread them with replies and retweets from the twitter community. Thanks to everyone in twitterdom who followed and participated!

Background here. This live-blog session will consist consisted of a twitter feed plus longer live (or at least live-ish) updates to this blog post below the twitter widget and will be followed up with a separate post with my thoughts on the conference that I couldn't manipulate into 140 characters or less (which I'm starting to realize is probably the best way to cover a conference since it's too onerous to sit down and compose paragraphs with the conference still in progress).

Test tweet from Turkey!2:50 PM Apr 23rd from txt

Test text tweet two from Turkey!6:48 AM Apr 24th from txt

Okay everyone, the conference is starting now! Just joining in? Wondering what's goin' on in Istanbul? http://tr.im/jAcp http://tr.im/jAcs7:17 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

First talk of the day: Prof. Vidyanand Nanjundiah [Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore] ‘The Evolution of Cooperativity’7:18 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Nanjundiah: "I hope you won't mind if I quote extensively from Darwin" - no, not at all! First quote = the 'problem' of the social insects7:20 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Nanjundiah: Darwin's four solutions to the problem (to his theory) of the social insects. 4th solution: Descent of Man, Chapter V.7:22 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

@milagro88 It's the Darwin200 Anniversary Conference in Istanbul. Tweeting it now!7:24 AM Apr 24th from Nambu in reply to milagro88

Oh ffs. RT @edyong209 WSJ not accepting comments on blogging=opinions piece. Even after arcane registration process. Hmph. http://ow.ly/3yaO7:26 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Yes, exactly, Grace! RT @grace_baynes @rpg7twit @kejames except if you want to bring said 120 ml home again and have hand luggage only :-/7:27 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Nanjundiah: Haldane &'s Wright group selection vs. Williams who said group selection doesn't exist & when it does, it's just individual sel.7:29 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Nanjundiah: Dictyostelium discoideum and D. giganteum as a model for group selection (if it exists, that is)7:32 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Nanjundiah: Why do Dicty stalk cells behave altruistically? He's begging the question "what is an organism" & "what is a group"?7:36 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Nanjundiah: even before the initiation of sociality in Dicty, there are tendencies that hint towards which cells will become sacrificial7:47 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Nanjundiah: phenotypic plasticity (from stochastic gene expression) suggests 'sociology' > important than kinship in cooperative behaviour7:51 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Q for Nanjundiah: this has become widely accepted among those who study social insects, so this talk very welcome; 'farewell kin selection'!7:52 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Darwin200 Istanbul, next up: Prof. Hüseyin Atay [Faculty of Theology, Ankara University] ‘Science, Evolution & the Qu’ran’7:54 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Atay: "I owe my practice to being non-dogmatic to the Qu'ran"7:56 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Atay: 'the desire [for God] originates in infancy & continues to death' (I'd say ''from the point of indoctrination' instead of 'infancy')8:00 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Atay: "from my study of the Qu'ran" & "according to the Qu'ran" but he assumes we think, like he does, that the Qu'ran is a source of truth8:06 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Atay: "listen to every word" but I can't understand HIS every word (he's reading an English translation of his talk in Turkish)8:09 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Atay: "whoever argues for his faith should be tested" ...oooh, it's getting good now (the bit I can understand)8:12 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Atay: "the Qu'ran does not refer to the first creation of other beings" & on origin of man it describes man's origin in developmental terms8:14 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Atay: "the Qu'ran speaks of science but is not a book of science"; it aims to draw man's attention to (not to instruct in) these things8:16 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Atay: "the mind is not subject to the Qu'ran" and "reason does not produce knowledge, it makes use of knowledge produced by mind"8:17 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

From Atay's abstract: "Creationists have misunderstood God."8:21 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Also from Atay's abstract: "Evolutionists attribute awe to evolution; in so doing, they ascribe divine provenance, just as creationists do."8:23 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Atay: "The mind knows the unknown by using inference."8:24 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

If Dawkins, PZ et al are the "new atheists" then I think Atay is a "new moderate" for saying things like this: (...continued in next tweets)8:28 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Atay: Creationists say God created everything; then he also created evolutionists, so to criticize evolutionists is to criticize the creator8:31 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Atay: "Evolutionists say man evolved; since creationists are men, to criticize creationists is to criticize evolution." <--see what I mean?8:33 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

On this last point Atay assumes we are reluctant to criticize evolution. Does he think we adhere still to the great chain of being?8:38 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Q from a self-professed "former religious fanatic" that I couldn't understand a word of. :(8:41 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Atay's talk will be published on the conference website and/or in a newspaper, which is good b/c I only understood every 5th sentence or so.9:18 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Darwin200 Istanbul: Next up: Prof. Francisco Ayala [University of California] ‘The Intelligent Design Movement – a Critique’9:19 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala: "Darwin's discovery of natural selection provided the main process which accounts for the design of organisms by natural processes"9:20 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala: "Intelligent design is not science. Even worse, it is bad religion"9:22 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala: the famous mosaic of images of butterfly wings that make all the letters of the alphabet; doesn't mean they were designed for wri ...9:26 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala: The Copernican revolution is really a commitment to the idea that laws that explain observable phenomena can be discovered & tested.9:27 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala: William Payley expressed idea of intelligent design better than modern talking heads, and with much better biological understanding.9:28 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

For anyone just joining - I'm tweeting live from the Darwin200 Anniversary Conference in Istanbul. Background here: http://tr.im/jAA99:31 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala reading now from The Origin of Species, Chapter IV, Natural Selection, "As more individuals are produced than can possibly survive..."9:32 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

A privilege to hear Ayala explain evolution, natural selection, intelligent design (which he is critiquing, in case that wasn't clear)9:33 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

@TEDchris Thanks for the mention!9:35 AM Apr 24th from Nambu in reply to TEDchris

@USelaine Thanks! FYI @nytimeskristof Tonight's public session is on Turkish TV & attended by journalists including, rumor has it, from NYT9:38 AM Apr 24th from Nambu in reply to USelaine

Ayala now using famous melanic moth example. Though correct, I think this story's effectiveness tainted by bad press (wrong but still bad)9:43 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala now hammering it home with a detailed explanation of the step-by-step evolution of molluscan and vertebrate eyes. Yesssss!9:46 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

@rpg7twit Unfortunately it's the size of the container, not the amount of liquid remaining.9:49 AM Apr 24th from Nambu in reply to rpg7twit

Ayala: "the vertebrate eye has an imperfection that the molluscan eye doesn't" namely, the blind spot. Heh. Man IS but a worm!9:50 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala: "I will now criticize the design movement in 2 ways: 1) my own criticisms & 2) those of John Jones (Dover judge)" *sits up straight*9:52 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala: Philip Johnson (ID proponent) claimed "Give us 5-10 years, and you'll see sci breakthroughs biologists hadn't dreamed of before I ...9:54 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala: ...well that was 1998!9:55 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala: "The ID proposal has several probs" (holy understatement, batman!) including "Imperfect Design" e.g. human jaw, human birth canal &c.9:59 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala! Snap! If God intelligently designed organisms then high rate of human miscarriages implies that "God is the greatest abortionist"10:04 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala: "Science is methodologically naturalistic not philosophically materialistic."10:05 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala's final slide: "Evolution: Darwin's gift to religion"10:06 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Q to Ayala: "Sci & religion are 2 different approaches but are they really compatible?" Ayala: "yes, as it is w/ aesthetics, economics, &c."10:10 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Ayala's book (for any tweeps interested) is "Darwin's Gift To Science And Religion" Joseph Henry Press, 200710:11 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Next up: Prof. Aykut Kence [Middle East Technical University, Ankara] ‘Creationism – Historical and Contemporary Perspectives’10:13 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Kence: "evolution is most controversial theory in history of science not b/c of 'drawbacks' but b/c so many non-scientists can't accept it"10:16 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Kence now giving us a history of creationism in USA and Turkey (which are, as a poster reminded me, top 2 countries for evolution denial).10:17 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Kence: "The 'problem' w/ evolution didn't exist at the founding of Republic of Turkey" ergo rejection of Darwinism a recent development.10:26 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Kence: "In 1970s Fethullah Gulen started giving anti-Darwinism conferences. He said sci textbooks should be written by 'our religious men'"10:27 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Kence: US creationist talking points were simply adopted and modified to Islam. Specific examples in textbooks show cut-and-paste approach.10:28 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Now a romp through tragic Turkish textbook quotes e.g. "to give creation to Allah makes things easier/saves scientists from wasting energy"10:35 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Turkish textbook: "contrary to what evo'ists claim, it was demo'd that frog, mouse & snake blood more similar to human blood than monkeys"10:35 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Kence: huge amounts of money in Turkey going to defamation of Darwinism. One tactic is 'vilifying evolutionists as Marxists, communists'10:38 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Kence: younger Turkish teachers less likely to 'believe' in scientific validity of evolution than older Turkish teachers. Awful.10:39 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Quote from Mustafa Ataturk: "My moral legacy to Turkish people is Science and Reason. The only salvation for Turkey (& middle East!) is ...10:41 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

...to embrace that legacy again. Wow. Powerful.10:41 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Turkish creos have branded science as "vulgar philosophy"; It appears the Discovery Institute's Wedge doc has been translated into Turkish.10:43 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Beautifully put! RT @crc2008 faith is personal, all dogma is dogma, science is public acknowledgement of doubt and verification...10:44 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Now for lunch.10:55 AM Apr 24th from Nambu

Just caught the end of 2pm talk ‘The Challenges of Science Education Today’ by Prof. Nidhal Gessoum [American University of Sharjah, UAE]about 22 hours ago from Nambu

Gessoum: More girls pursuing science in university in Middle East than boys; anecdotal evidence that boys want to go into the Army. Scary.about 22 hours ago from Nambu

Gessoum: What we need most: training and workshops for teachers, and more science endowments and patronage (two words: Beagle Project!)about 22 hours ago from Nambu

Up next: Prof. Sema Ergezen [Marmara University] ‘Teaching Evolution in Turkey: Present and Future’about 22 hours ago from Nambu

Good morning America! If you're just joining in, I am live-tweeting the Darwin200 Anniversary Conference in Istanbul http://tr.im/jBepabout 22 hours ago from Nambu

Ergezen exploring causes & consequences of systemic anti-evolutionism in Turkish teaching. Wow, & to think we thought it was bad in the US.about 22 hours ago from Nambu

Ergezen: Turkish teachers complain of not having had specific courses on evolution at University, or that those courses are superficial.about 22 hours ago from Nambu

Ergezen: Turkish teachers say they don't know how to teach evolution; others don't know how to defend evolution (against creat'ist students)about 22 hours ago from Nambu

62% of 1st year biology students in Ergezen's class "don't accept evolution" i.e. they arrive at school biased against evolution.about 22 hours ago from Nambu

Ergezen: we are failing to help teachers think evolutionarily, and to infuse evolution throughout all biologyabout 22 hours ago from Nambu

@imascientist Why thank you! *blushes* (or is that the Turkish coffee?)about 22 hours ago from Nambu in reply to imascientist

@flascience Thanks, we're hearing now about one of your fave topics: evolution education! Pro development for teachers an important theme..about 22 hours ago from Nambu in reply to flascience

Ergezen: we must 1) create collaborations between scientists and teachers, provide pro. development to teachers, promote evolution-thinkingabout 22 hours ago from Nambu

Ergezen: We must take action! We must start now! A passionate call not to be passive! (*cough* Beagle Project *cough*)about 22 hours ago from Nambu

Welcome to Twitter friend, wordsmith, Yorkshireman & Beagle Proj co-founder Peter McGrath! @pietromcg (a.k.a. the Ben Goldacre of the North)about 21 hours ago from web

THIS IS WHAT CENSORSHIP LOOKS LIKE http://pic.im/1Veabout 21 hours ago from Nambu

Up next: FInal Panel Discussion ‘A Better Vision - The Public Understanding of Evolution in Turkey and Beyond’about 21 hours ago from Nambu

Panel Discussion Chair Prof. Aslı Tolun giving us background on Turkish evolution education & outreach situation. To paraphrase: it's bad.about 21 hours ago from Nambu

Hearing inside scoop from Tolun on the (most recent) Darwin censorship incident http://tr.im/jBxs (aside: even Iran teaches evolution!)about 21 hours ago from Nambu

Tolun asks: why is evolution edu important; what are the major problems; what are the challenges; what are the means for effective teaching?about 21 hours ago from Nambu

Panelists' answers to "why is evolution important": 1) b/c scientists need frameworks to link their findings w/ a context...about 21 hours ago from Nambu

2) nothing in bio makes sense w/o it; 3) b/c it helps us take greater meaning fr. your interactions w/ nature (kids shouldn't be afraid ...about 21 hours ago from Nambu

...of insects!); 4) human health and disease prevention all founded on evolution (<--panelists' answers to 'why evolution important')about 21 hours ago from Nambu

I asked panel: is evolution denial demographically linked to climate change denial in Turkey as it is in USA? ...about 21 hours ago from Nambu

... answer is "No, it's a more general problem of apathy & ignorance. Even those who support evolution do so w/o knowing why; it's ideology"about 21 hours ago from Nambu

Good morning West Coast! If you're just joining in, I am live-tweeting the Darwin200 Anniversary Conference in Istanbul http://tr.im/jBepabout 21 hours ago from Nambu

First-year Turkish university students, presented with an 18-million-year-old fossil and asked to guess how old, will answer 50-200yrs.about 21 hours ago from Nambu

@CR_Fauchald Many at this conference would agree w/ you. Others wouldn't. Sadly all this 'haggling' is hurting our science & our society.about 21 hours ago from Nambu in reply to CR_Fauchald

Turkish panelist informs us that though Turkish academy founded to advise government, it doesn't work that way anymore.about 21 hours ago from Nambu

Another panelist says there is no professional community for science education scholarship in Turkey: there's a lack of associations & unityabout 21 hours ago from Nambu

Solution offered to panelists by audience member: need to boost cultural support for evo; to do this, must know history of their alienationabout 21 hours ago from Nambu

The quality of curricula on evolution is a big problem in Turkey, USA, UK, France; they put too much emphasis on particular bio processesabout 21 hours ago from Nambu

Juxtaposition giving me goosebumps: In session on evolution & religion & can hear the mosque next door to the hotel calling to prayerabout 20 hours ago from Nambu

Great comment from audience: consensus at this conference is that religion & evolution are compatible, but society at large it's 'either/or'about 20 hours ago from Nambu

Panelist: "evolution has been used as an ideological battleground; teaching evolution is not about converting people, it's about explaining"about 20 hours ago from Nambu

Comment: getting the mullahs to tell their followers to accept evolution is NOT the point; the point is to inspire critical thinking.about 20 hours ago from Nambu

@crc2008 First of all, I said "evolution and religion are compatible" is the consensus of this conference, not necessarily my own view!about 20 hours ago from Nambu in reply to crc2008

@crc2008 Second of all, I would have like to have said 'acceptance of evolution' not just 'evolution' but such is twitter ;-)about 20 hours ago from Nambu in reply to crc2008

Only when the religious stop meddling w/ sci edu! RT @tuibguy teach the biology let the religious worry about their part. Will it work?about 20 hours ago from Nambu

Commenter: better science education is needed in the seminaries. (Yep, that'd be good, I agree. Good luck though.)about 20 hours ago from Nambu

@mwinther @rdmpage @neuro100 Heh. Unfortunately all of the spokesmen for this view (Dawkins et al.) were specifically *not* invited here.about 20 hours ago from Nambu in reply to mwinther

OMG this is scary. Someone is standing up and saying 'the problem is democracy' because culture is king in democracy.about 20 hours ago from Nambu

Double OMG! He called Dawkins "an extreme vulgar ideologist"! ...then said people need to be persuaded not forced to accept evolution. Hmm.about 20 hours ago from Nambu

Me: In all our talk about the education-ignorance dichotomy & how to argue better, let's not forget about the apathy-inspiration dichotomyabout 20 hours ago from Nambu

Phew! My talk is over and now enjoying a production of Re-design, a dramatization of the Darwin-Gray correspondence.about 17 hours ago from txt

This is the public portion of the symposium w/ 300+ Turkish students in attendance. Next up a televised panel discussionabout 17 hours ago from txt

Still tweeting live from Darwin200 Istanbul though less frequently b/c by text. Televised panel discussion beginning!about 15 hours ago from txt

Audience questions!about 15 hours ago from txt

One questioner practically reading out of Hurun Yahya; he just won't accept the existence of transitional fossilsabout 15 hours ago from txt

Panelist: Science uses hypothesis & experiment to find out truth. Religion uses... uh... something else.about 14 hours ago from txt

@pseudonymTrevor Love that Thoreau is your avatar (*follows*). Glad you found DCP. Darwin-Online is also good resource http://tr.im/jG5Uabout 1 hour ago from Nambu in reply to pseudonymTrevor

Damn, missed my chance. RT @pietromcg Harun Yahya sounds like he's doing a pavement pizza in a shop door after 7 pints & a curry. Tell him.about 1 hour ago from Nambu

Thanks to all who replied to & RT'd my live tweets from Darwin200 Conference in Istanbul. Conf over now, but I'm in Istanbul through Monday.about 1 hour ago from Nambu

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Plans to live-blog the Templeton-funded Darwin conference in Istanbul

Do I win the award for most lightning rods in a blog post title yet?

I mean, there's Turkey's ...uh... ...how shall I say... delicate relationship to Darwin and evolution (and atheism, *cough* not that that has anything to do with Darwin and evolution *cough*), there's the general distaste evolution advocates have for the Templeton Foundation and then there's Turkey's recent censorship of Blogger and Wordpress blogging platforms. Thrrreeee lightening rods, Ah Ha Ha!

But before I explain about the conference, how I will be live-blogging it and what on Darwin's entangled bank I was thinking about when I agreed to accept the Templeton Foundation's support for my participation, let's all just get this out of our systems first shall we?


In case you're wondering, yes I do love the They Might Be Giants cover, but this original* is pretty swingin' and I figured its existence might be news to a certain percentage of my readers.

With that obligatory Obnoxious AmericanTM preface to all blog posts with 'Istanbul' in the title out of the way, let's get down to business:

Starting at an undisclosed time later this week, from an undisclosed location in Istanbul (undisclosed presumably to keep Oktar's ilk away), I will be participating in the Darwin-200 Anniversary Conference. I've been invited give a short talk about The HMS Beagle Project during the final, public session, which follows a more exclusive two-day scientific symposium on the scientific, historical, cultural and religious implications of evolution including a 'critique' of intelligent design by a famous person (*rubs hands*) and panel discussions on "Evolution and Purpose" and "Public Understanding of Evolution in Turkey and Beyond".

What, my evolution peeps might be wondering, 'possessed' me to accept an invitation to a Templeton conference? Don't I know that "Templeton funds stealth religion, and the good work they support is a façade to conceal their aims", paying "hefty bribes to get scientists to cross that line [between science and religion]"? Why yes, I do, but I figure if I can use up some of that money to get me to Turkey where I can do my fly-in-the-ointment thing, live-blog it and also proselytize a bit for the Beagle Project, a project that will promote science in general, evolution in particular, and a rational approach to solving our most pressing problems, well, then, that's a good appropriation of their money as far as I'm concerned.

Moreover, if Bernard d'Espagnat, who, on winning a Templeton Prize, didn't reject the prize but said:
I feel myself deeply in accordance with the Templeton Foundation's great, guiding idea that science does shed light [on spirituality]. In my view it does so mainly by rendering unbelievable an intellectual construction claiming to yield access to the ultimate ground of things with the sole use of the simple, somewhat trivial notions everybody has.

(via Darwin's Teapot)
...then I figure I'm in pretty good company.

Rationalizations safely behind me now, here are the details my impending coverage of the conference:

I've scheduled a post to go live here at approximately the same time I expect to start tweeting from Istanbul later this week. The post will consist mainly of an embedded twitter feed, but I will also try to update the post itself a few times during the conference with more substantive stuff.

I have to confess that - in a Rebel Girl kind of a way - I'm actually kind of excited to try my hand at tweeting and blogging from a place that has censored both evolution and blogging in the recent past. There are potential hazards. For example, if for some reason Blogger is still banned in Turkey (though Reporters Sans Frontieres says it was restored), this might not go as planned. I would think my tweets should still get through, though (unless Turkey suddenly bans twitter).

To stay in the loop, follow this blog's feed or follow me on twitter.

One last thing before I go, a little test of ye olde twitter widget:










Update Friday: Hmm, well it's working, but only if you have Flash (and not everyone does!) and formatting not great. Think I will use the html widget instead in the live-blog post.

*which itself is so similar to Irving Berlin's Puttin' on the Ritz (here's a classic performance by Fred Astaire), I'm not even sure 'original' is the right word

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Black Bromptons bearing bounty

pip-pip gives us this wonderful photo of a quintessentially English Brompton folding bicycle (be still my beating heart) with a lush harvest of leeks from the allotment. Two years ago last week I snapped this photo of our Brompton with a truly ginormous butternut squash from Wimbledon Farmers' Market:

Coincidence? Perhaps.

Friday, 21 March 2008

What are you doing here?

...when you could be wetting yourself with laughter over what will likely be one of the biggest stories to hit the science blogosphere this year: the famous biologist-blogger PZ Myers (but inexplicably not the even more famous biologist-author Richard Dawkins) was expelled from a screening of creationist propaganda film Expelled! Many thanks to Greg Laden who has put together (and kept up to date) an impromptu blog carnival about it. Now get on over there for a dose of hand-rubbing glee!

Update 1: What Bad Astronomy said.

Update 2: Digital Cuttlefish has already set the saga to verse. Bravo!

Update 3: Thoughts from Kansas has a wonderfully concise analysis:
"If you make a movie that falsely claims there's a massive conspiracy to expel dissenting voices, it's probably unwise to then expel dissenting voices."

Thursday, 20 March 2008

In which I recant my aversion to marriage

As most of my friends and family know (and some lament), I am apathetic about and occasionally hostile towards the institution of marriage. But today, my armour has been chinked by the thought of a bridal registry that includes this:

"evo-cut" cutlery by Harry White
evo-cut is a one-off set of cutlery designed according to the principles of population genetics and natural variation. Rather than just having two sizes, this set or population of cutlery shows continuous variation in size and shape. Further, the set shows inheritance of several kinds of mutation, as explained by a family tree, that alter the cutlery functionality, sometimes in unexpected and useful ways. Because the cutlery pieces show natural variation in size, there is always a piece suitable for every age, appetite and ability. Through use and exploration, the true adaptive potential of different pieces will be discovered and the novel functionalities revealed when the situation demands it, just like evolution. evo-cut is now the property of Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design and is occasionally on display.
You can view close-ups of both the cutlery and its pedigree at Harry White Design. This is simply wonderful. Morning cereal would never be the same.