Human Evolution On PBS

May 9th, 2015 by Jonathan Smith

P B S has a new show on human evolution, First Peoples, coming out on 24 June 2015. I’ve seen the previews and I think it’s going to be good. While you are waiting for the program to air, PBS has some evolution games you can play.


Wrong sources?

April 19th, 2015 by Brandon Haught

From a column in Florida Today: Theology answers ‘why’ and ‘who’ queries

When people are drawn into the science-versus-faith debate, they’re usually seeking answers from the wrong sources. When scientists try to disprove God, they venture outside of their expertise. And when theologians argue how young Earth is, they, too, cross the boundaries of their know-how.

What do you think?

Florida’s presidential candidate Marco Rubio on the teaching of evolution

April 18th, 2015 by Brandon Haught

Presidential candidate Marco Rubio, a current U.S. senator representing Florida, was asked about the teaching of evolution yesterday. The question starts at about 55 seconds in the video.


Here is my rough transcript of the exchange:

Reporter: You mentioned education standards upstairs and your role in pushing for those as house speaker. Where are you at on evolution?

Rubio: It’s a scientific theory that should be taught. I think the kids should learn from their faith what their faith teaches and schools should teach them all the theories that are out there. Most faith-based schools do that. They teach all the theories that are out there. You want to know my personal belief. I don’t think they’re in conflict with my faith. […] Science can explain to us the biological processes by which life on earth developed but at the end of the day I believe God is the one that guided it.

Reporter: Should teachers have to point that out?

Rubio: At a faith based school they do. And non-faith based schools they can inform students and should be able to about the fact that there are other theories out there that exist as well. If you want to give them truly a rounded education you should explain to them that there is a theistic creationism that exists or theistic evolution theory that exists out there that the Catholic church has adopted. It teaches that science and faith are not incompatible.

[Updated to add:]

Rubio was much harsher on evolution back in 2008:

The “crux” of the disagreement, according Rubio, is “whether what a parent teaches their children at home should be mocked and derided and undone at the public school level. It goes to the fundamental core of who is ultimately, primarily responsible for the upbringing of children. Is it your public education system or is it your parents?”

Rubio added, “And for me, personally, I don’t want a school system that teaches kids that what they’re learning at home is wrong.”

Rubio, a Cuban-American, made a comparison to the strategy employed by the Communist Party in Cuba where schools encouraged children to turn in parents who criticized Fidel Castro.

“Of course, I’m not equating the evolution people with Fidel Castro,” he quickly added, while noting that undermining the family and the church were key means the Communist Party used to gain control in Cuba.

“In order to impose their totalitarian regime, they destroyed the family; they destroyed the faith links that existed in that society,” he said.

The Florida Foundation for Future Scientists Need Your Help

April 11th, 2015 by Jonathan Smith

As some of you may have heard during the State Science and Engineering Fair of Florida last week the FFFS has launched a funding campaign to raise money to continue the sponsorship of the SSEF. The FFFS is a statewide, non-profit organization authorized by the 1957 Legislature of the State of Florida to discover scientific and technical talent in the schools of Florida and to encourage the pursuit of careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).The State Science and Engineering Fair (SSEF) of Florida has relied on unpredictable state funding and corporate contributions for 60 years. How ever, the economic conditions in Florida over the past 7 years have forced them to draw down their reserves. There is currently no predictable way of continuing this life-changing event without additional assistance. Their aim is to demonstrate the wide-scale support of the science fair and the impact of Florida science fairs on the students in our state. Bottom line, if the SSEF is to continue, they need financial help. You can donate at the Save the SSEF! here. As a judge at this fair for the last 4 years, I can’t tell you just how important to science education in our state, this fair is. 

Let’s “Cover Up” Our Heads in The Florida Sand

March 9th, 2015 by Jonathan Smith

In a report published in yesterdays (Sundays) Miami Herald Newspaper, reporter Tristam Korten revealed that, on orders from governor Scott and his ilk, state officials are not permitted to use the terms “global warming” or “climate change’ in environmental reports or talks.  The term “sea-level rise” was also replaced with the term “nuisance flooding.” Scott is a climate-change denialist. During his first campaign for governor in 2010, Scott told reporters who asked about his views on climate change that he had “not been convinced,” and that he would need “something more convincing than what I’ve read.” We should all be concerned with this “cover up” since climate change would and should be part of the 2016 revised Florida Science Standards. Along with his denial of evolution,the state’s governor is no supporter of real science.

Update More ignorance

Darwin Day Broward

January 29th, 2015 by Brandon Haught

Darwin Day Broward is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on February 7 in Broward College’s North Campus Library in Coconut Beach.

There will be a variety of events including science displays, children’s activities, vendors, food, door prizes, and a slate of exceptional speakers, featuring Brandon Haught, author of Going Ape: Florida’s Battles over Evolution in the Classroom (2014), speaking on “Un-American, Atheistic, Subversive and Communistic,” and Rebecca Harvey of the University of Florida Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center speaking on “Invasive Species and the Impact on the Local Environment.”

Link to event PDF











Darwin Day events 2015

January 18th, 2015 by Brandon Haught

Darwin-DayHere are three Darwin Day events coming up in the next few weeks:

1. Humanists of Sarasota Bay will host a Darwin Day event: Nancy Howell, professor emerita of sociology at the University of Toronto, will be speaking on “Human Evolution: A Kalahari Perspective” at 11:30 a.m. on February 7, at Mattison’s 41, 7275 South Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. Tickets are $25 in advance, which includes lunch, and should be purchased by January 25, 2015. More information is available here (pdf file).

2. A Darwin Day event hosted by the Tampa Bay United Coalition of Reason and its member organizations will take place at 12:30 p.m. on February 7 at Clearwater Unitarian Universalist Octagon, 2470 Nursery Road in Clearwater. The keynote address on “The Dawn of Life” will be given by David Lynn of Emory University; Elaine Hull and Herb Silverman will also be speaking. Tickets are $25, and are available on-line before February 2, by phone, and from the member organizations. More information is available at

3. A Darwin Day event hosted by Broward College and other local science-centered non-profit groups will be held February 7, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It features multiple children’s activities, displays, food trucks, presentations on Florida flora and fauna, and featured presentations by local and national speakers. It will be held at Broward College North Campus in Coconut Creek (Fort Lauderdale area). The full slate of speakers has not been announced yet, but one of the confirmed speakers is me! I am scheduled for 2 p.m. and my presentation will be based on my book Going Ape: Florida’s Battles over Evolution in the Classroom. I’ll post other information about the event as they are released.

If you know of any other events, please tell us about them in the comments.

[edited to add] Evelyn Fox Keller of MIT will be speaking on “From Gene Action to Reactive Genomes: Implications for Evolution” at 3:30 p.m. on February 12, in C. W. Young Hall 107, on the campus of the University of Southern Florida in Tampa. A reception in the second floor rotunda will follow. The talk is free and open to the public. For further information, visit the USF Darwin Day page.

[edited again to add] Darwin Week celebrations will be held at Jacksonville University from February 9 to February 13. On February 9 at noon, Bill Robertson will speak on “Darwin the Person” in Reid Auditorium. On February 10 at 7:30 p.m., Julie Ingersoll will speak on “Does Evolution Discredit Religion” at Northstar Pizza, 119 East Bay Street. On February 11 at noon, there will be a discussion session on “Darwin among the Poets” in the River House. On February 12 at 12:30 p.m., Rebecca Kimball will speak on “Avian Evolution in the Era of Big Data” in Reid Auditorium; a pizza lunch and cake will be provided. Also on February 12 at 5:00 p.m., there will be a discussion session on “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in Light of Evolution” in the River House; there will also be a raffle. And on February 13 at noon, there will be an evolution music and talent show in the River House. All events are free and open to the public. For further information, visit the webpage.

Keep an eye on Collier County

December 30th, 2014 by Brandon Haught

A group of concerned citizens in Collier County, led by school board member Kelly Lichter, is taking on the self-appointed task of reviewing textbooks their school district uses. Here’s a news story about their efforts (be sure to watch the video). And here is their website (Southwest Florida Citizens’ Alliance). I don’t see anything directly related to science education in the story or on the group’s website, but there are a few references to initiatives and their topics of concern that have religious themes that could easily spill over into science education. It seems their main focus is on stopping common core and getting the federal government out of local government. It’s worth keeping an eye on them.