Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

We need to be wary. The circus is coming to town.

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

circusLast month we had intelligent design promoter Paul Nelson bumbling around in Florida promoting a documentary. Now another famous intelligent design guru, Michael Behe, is barnstorming Florida to show off a new documentary that’s all about him. He’ll be at the University of Central Florida tonight. Then he’ll move on to Clearwater and the University of South Florida Friday followed by Clearwater on Saturday. He’s tentatively scheduled to wrap up at Florida Gulf Coast University Monday. Interestingly, his presentation at a Naples church is meant for high school students only.

The reason I point out these visits is because I spent years researching the ebb and flow of anti-evolution efforts in Florida. Any time creationists come knocking, their visits are followed by a flurry of creationist shenanigans involving textbooks, or some local school board, or the state legislature. The back to back visits by Nelson and Behe make me wary. Something is up.

March for Science, Florida

Monday, January 30th, 2017

There is a March for Science movement spreading across the country and the world. The main March for Science website says:

science march 2March for Science is a grassroots effort comprised of dozens of independent, nonpartisan coordinators. Recent rhetoric has inspired us to march on Washington D.C. and in Satellite Marches across the country. Our mission statement is as follows:

THE MARCH FOR SCIENCE CHAMPIONS PUBLICLY FUNDED AND PUBLICLY COMMUNICATED SCIENCE AS A PILLAR OF HUMAN FREEDOM AND PROSPERITY. WE UNITE AS A DIVERSE, NONPARTISAN GROUP TO CALL FOR SCIENCE THAT UPHOLDS THE COMMON GOOD, AND FOR POLITICAL LEADERS AND POLICYMAKERS TO ENACT EVIDENCE-BASED POLICIES IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.

It looks like the effort is still in its planning stages and yet it has sparked a lot of interest. There are at least six satellite marches forming here in Florida that I know of so far. If you want to participate and help in some way, check out the below list. And let me know if you know of any that need to be added.

Main March for Science being organized in Washington D.C.:
Twitter: @ScienceMarchDC
Webstie: https://www.marchforscience.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marchforscience

science march 3The main Florida March for Science account:
Twitter: @ScienceMarchFL

Tallahassee:
Twitter: @ScienceMarchTLH
Volunteer Inquires to:
sciencemarchtally@gmail.com

St. Petersburg/Tampa:
Twitter: @March4SciStPete
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarchForScienceStPete/

University of Florida:
Twitter: @March4ScienceUF

Orlando:
Twitter: @ScienceMarchORL
Inquiries? Email: sciencemarchorlando[at]gmail[dot]com

Miami:
Twitter: @MiamiMarchforSc
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/March-For-Science-Miami-1756461831341881

Darwin Day, Central Florida

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

I’m speaking at Central Florida Freethought Community’s Darwin Day event Sunday, February 12, 1 – 4 p.m. at the University Club of Winter Park.

The event features Aron Ra, evolution debater, science educator, and host of the Ra-Men Podcast. Also Dr. Daniel Batcheldor, astrophysicist and author of “Astronomy Saves the World”; Brandon Haught, biology teacher, Founding Board Member of Florida Citizens for Science and author of “Going Ape;” and Valerie First, evolution educator and “Street Teacher.”

cffc-dd

New lawmakers briefed on education

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

education-capNewly elected Florida legislators attended a briefing intended to give them an overview of what their role is in matters of education. The session was filmed and is available for viewing: 12/6/16 House “Legislator University” Training: An Overview of School Accountability.

Quite of bit of time was spent discussing the process of adopting instructional materials (textbooks and such). The lawmakers had interesting reactions and questions that provide some insight into their thinking. We get an idea of where they’re coming from and what combination of information and misinformation they came in with.

If you’re not familiar with Florida’s instructional materials review/adoption process, I encourage you to watch the video. It’s explained fairly well. I think a couple of points get muddled a bit but it’s overall useful information. We’re going to be adopting new science textbooks in the near future, so the better informed you are the better watchdogs we all can be.

The video is 44 minutes long but worth the time. The sound in the first few minutes is poor but it improves later. I’m guessing that some microphones hadn’t been switched on in the beginning.

Taking the Science World by Storm? Um, OK.

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

intelligent_design_t_shirt_product-01Paul Nelson, of intelligent design’s Discovery Institute fame, will be infecting Florida with a new documentary film that is supposedly “Taking the Science World by Storm.” He’ll be schlepping around Tampa, Tarpon Springs and Port Richey Saturday through Monday. His tour includes a film showing at the University of South Florida, Gibbons Alumni Center and an appearance at the C.S. Lewis Society Coastal Holiday Luncheon.

If you happen to be in the area and feel like enduring something akin to driving a rusty spoon through your eye socket, please consider attending one of the events and reporting back to us what it was like.

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Florida students’ performance on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study aren’t anything to be proud of: Florida 8th-graders lag U.S. in math, science.

The results showed that Florida eighth-graders performed worse than the rest of the U.S. in math and science, while fourth-graders fared about as well.

The really interesting results, though, come at the end of the story (these are U.S. stats, not Florida):

The results don’t show any significant difference between eighth-grade boys and girls in math, and a small difference between girls and boys in eighth-grade science.

Boys in 12th grade scored 46 points higher than girls in physics and 30 points higher than girls in advanced math, according to the report.

“The story is much different for advanced twelfth-graders,” Carr said.

You can plow through tons of data, including Florida stats, here: Welcome to TIMSS and TIMSS Advanced Results from 2015. The only state that has separate data available is Florida. It looks like no other state opted to pay for their own results.

Is the sky falling?

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Is the sky falling? We may never actually know. Trump’s recent decisions are clearly designed to prevent the public from ever finding out.

Secretary of Education Pick Betsy DeVos May Be a Disaster for Church/State Separation

“More pressing … is the question of whether parents who want to send their kids to a private religious school would be given taxpayer dollars to do so. There’s reason to believe she’ll want to make that an option, laws be damned. DeVos grew up in a Religious Right-loving home and gave money to organizations working to push Christian beliefs through the government. […] Her husband Dick DeVos, a former candidate for governor of Michigan and heir to the Amway fortune, has also backed Intelligent Design,”

Meet Trump’s Pick To Dismantle EPA

Ebell is a ready match for Trump’s climate denial. As part of a 1998 team that included Exxon and other top polluting companies, Ebell put together a communications plan to “undercut the ‘prevailing scientific wisdom’” and convince the American public that climate science was uncertain. The plan identified the American Petroleum Institute, the National Mining Association and other industry trade associations as target funding sources.

Trump to scrap Nasa climate research in crackdown on ‘politicized science’

Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favor of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century.

This would mean the elimination of Nasa’s world-renowned research into temperature, ice, clouds and other climate phenomena.

Teaching Evolution in the South

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

http://www.vox.com/conversations/2016/10/25/13344516/education-evolution-science-south-religion-controversy-creationism-culture Getty Images / Stan Rohrer This is a great article and well worth reading http://www.vox.com/conversations/2016/10/25/13344516/education-evolution-science-south-religion-controversy-creationism-culture.