Archive for November, 2009

Cleaning up Comfort’s trash

Friday, November 6th, 2009

In my previous post I noted that Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron are handing out free copies of On the Origins of Species, which features an introduction filled with creationist trash, and that the book is published right here in Florida. Yea us.

The creationist duo’s targets for these giveaways are college campuses nationwide. The only one we know of so far in Florida is the University of Florida. NCSE has jumped on this by launching a Don’t Diss Darwin site with all sorts of cool helpful information and downloads.

The chatter among Florida Citizens for Science members is that some folks on and near UF might organize to counter the misinformation. No, there won’t be protests or book burnings. Rather, the objective is to clean up after the book introduction’s lies with a hefty dose of facts, truth and reality. Want to join in the fun? Let us know! The giveaway is scheduled for Nov. 19. I’ll pass along more information as it becomes available.

Comfort’s trash is in Florida’s yard

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Creationist loon Ray Comfort is shipping out his own special edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. If you don’t already know about it, you can read a debate Comfort had with National Center for Science Education’s Genie Scott recently online sparked by this book.

Wouldn’t you know it, but the book has Florida ties. It’s being published by a company in Alachua. (News story published last month.) It warms my heart, though, to know that not everyone buys this trash being pushed by Comfort and his buddy Kirk Cameron.

Todd LeVasseur, a third-year doctoral student in the University of Florida Department of Religion, said that trying to refute 150 years’ worth of research is energy that could be directed towards solving issues such as poverty and global warming.

“It’s like arguing the earth is still flat,” he said.

[Betty Smocovitis, a UF professor of history and zoology] encourages students to read the last paragraph of Darwin’s book.

“Darwin never said God does not exist,” she said.

She said Cameron isn’t a credible source on evolution, but he is free to share his opinion.

“It’s a free country,” she said. “He can do what he wants, and I am free to say he is out of his mind.”

The Florida creationism library

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

I’ve been researching the history of Florida creationism for a couple of years now, and in that time I’ve collected quite a bit of stuff. I have hundreds of newspaper articles. I have school board meeting minutes, memorandums, letters, legislative bills, and even some audio and video recordings. I wasn’t keeping it very organized and when I sat down to write my latest article of my Florida’s Greatest Menace history of creationism series I got lost in all the piles of stuff. It was time to get organized. So, for quite a while I’ve been cataloging everything and I’ve finally wrapped up most of that effort. Then I thought: why keep it all to myself?

I now invite you to browse the Florida Citizens for Science history of creationism library catalog. I used Google Docs to collect it all so that I have ready access to it for reference and editing from anywhere. When you visit that site, open the “READ ME FIRST” file. It will tell you everything you need to know concerning how to use the library catalog. If you have any questions, let me know.

I still have a few things around that haven’t been entered in the library, so updates are coming. For instance, I recently obtained school board meeting minutes and audio recordings from those meetings from Lake County when creationism splashed down there in 1991. And I have a bunch more scanning to do of other things.

Also, if you have or know how to get items that aren’t in my library … then what are you waiting for?!?! Hook me up! If you want to help out in any other way — for instance, if you have any bright ideas for better cataloging methods or such — please let me know.

Enjoy!

No basic skills to be found in Florida?

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Rather than wait to dump this in one of my this-n-that posts, I thought this was important enough to mention on its own. The Consortium of Florida Education Foundations did a survey and are now holding meetings around the state to find out what the problems are in Florida education. A huge problem identified was that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education isn’t up to par. From the story:

Mike Williams of Hamilton County explained to the career and technical education STEM group that students are not graduating with the necessary skills to go into the work force.

“We have an older work force in my industry and a lot of those guys are looking to retire,” he said about the workers at his company in “blue-collar” jobs. “The problem we have is we can’t find people to replace them.”

Williams said his company is looking for people who have basic-level skills, yet with three high schools in a 25-mile radius, he can’t find any.

The Consortium of Florida Education Foundations’ website.

Nova Series “Becoming Human”

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Nova’s new three part special “Becoming Human”  airs this coming Tuesday, November 3rd and for the following two weeks November 10th and 17th (See your local PBS for listings and times)

Part 1. “First Steps” examines the factors which caused us to spilt from the other great apes and includes the recent discovery of Ardipithecus ramidus fossils.  Part 2. “Birth of Humanity”, profiles the early species of humans and Part 3 “Last Humans Standing” trys to answer why only “our kind” of humans remain.