Archive for July, 2014

Dr. Dino the martyr

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Kent “Dr. Dino” Hovind is entangled in yet more legal problems. If you don’t know who Hovind is, he’s one of Florida’s most famous creationists. He’s a young earth creationist, evangelist, founder of Creation Science Evangelism and former operator of the now defunct Dinosaur Adventure Land in Pensacola. He was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2007 for various federal tax offenses and is still incarcerated. I talk about him a little bit in chapters 7 and 8 of Going Ape

The always entertaining and informative blog The Sensuous Curmudgeon has an update on Hovind’s latest legal woes: More Troubles for Kent Hovind?

Tax protesters never think they’re tax protesters. They always imagine themselves to be patriots. Not only that, but they think the judges are idiots, while they and the other tax protesters are the only ones who understand what the law really means. … As for martyrdom, it’s only creationists who will see Hovind as a martyr. They already think that. Besides, who cares what they think? 

Sen. Alan “both sides” Hays

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

Good grief. Florida senator Alan Hays had tried and almost succeeded in passing a creationism bill back in 2008. Guess what nonsensical idea he’s cooking up for the next state legislative session.

Lawmaker to Push Bill Requiring Dinesh D’Souza’s ‘America’ Be Shown in Schools

“The most dreaded disease in America today is political correctness. We need to inform our students of our whole history, and teach them how to think, not what to think,” Hays said. “Let them talk with their teachers, their peers and their parents, then draw their own conclusions. But they need both sides, and this movie shows a side they just aren’t seeing.”

And here’s another story: Florida Lawmaker Drafts Bill To Require Every Student To Watch Documentary Explaining Why Liberals Hate America

The documentary film is a conservative-spin on American history focusing on elevating the “essential goodness of America” while discrediting criticisms about American’s checkered history with civil rights and social justice.

The movie, based off of D’Souza’s book “America: Imagine the World Without Her,” was not as big a hit at the box office as it was with Hays grossing just $2.5 million. Critics panned the film for lacking factual substance, calling D’Souza’s claims far-fetched and misguided.

The Washington Post said, ““America” is less successful as a debate, since it isn’t one. D’Souza controls the conversation, and thus goes unchallenged when he tries to make real-world points with make-believe scenarios.” […] “‘America” isn’t a documentary; it’s more like the badly-filmed version of a badly-written, meandering op-ed piece from a paper that lacks fact-checking or proofreading,” said a Wrap review of the film.

This & That 7/26/14

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

Review affirms distinguished FSU professor’s research

“[Florida State University professor Greg] Erickson, a biologist who is one of the nation’s leading paleontologists, had his research challenged last December in a front-page story in the New York Times. The article featured claims by Nathan Myhrvold, an eccentric multimillionaire and former chief technology officer at Microsoft, and his recently published paper disputing research work done by an international group that Erickson led.”

Old Time Portraits of Parasites

“Local parasitologists at the University of South Florida began providing him with specimens. Eventually USF researchers put DeSieno in contact with scientists at the National Institutes of Health. And even Etsy, it turns out, can be a resource for those in search of preserved parasites. From tapeworms to leeches to ticks, soon dead bugs began to arrive on DeSieno’s doorstep.”

Sixth-grader’s science project on venomous lionfish spawns fierce fight over scientific credit

“My lionfish research is going viral … but my name has been intentionally left out of the stories, replaced by the name of the 12-year-old daughter of my former supervisor’s best friend.”

Deadly fungus spreads in Everglades, killing trees

“It’s amazing how much of an impact this one little tiny beetle that’s no bigger than Lincoln’s nose on a penny has done,” Smith said in a recent interview. “And it continues to spread.”

‘I Origins’: Love and evolution

Mike Cahill, who won a Sundance special jury prize for the 2011 film, this time delivers a dose of science fact with his follow-up, I Origins, opening Friday, an arresting piece that touches on religion, evolution, reincarnation, and the nature of the human soul.

What we talk about when we talk about invasive species is … Florida

“A quarter of the wildlife in South Florida is exotic, more than anywhere else in the U.S., and the region has one of the highest numbers of alien plants in the world.”

Skepticamp 2014

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

One of this years venues for Skepticamp 2014 will be in Tampa FL and takes place on Sunday September 14th from 12.30 pm-5.00pm. Skepticamp is presented by the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Coalition for Reason. The lectures and panel discussions will cover a wide array of scientific topics,including climate change, inoculations and national education. Yours truly will be heading a panel discussion on “Americans and the question of Evolution”. You can sign up on line at, but seating is limited so if you want to attend I would suggest you don’t wait too long.

[Edited to add: Jonathan was kind enough to coordinate with the event organizers and include me (Brandon) in the list of presenters. Thanks, Jonathan. See y’all there!]



Archive of “I’ve Got Issues” available

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

An interview I did on Chicago radio station WCPT’s show “I’ve Got Issues” is now archived and available for your listening pleasure. Unfortunately, they manage to misspell my name in the descriptive blurb. I’ve politely asked for that to be corrected.

This interview was really fun and enjoyable. I’ve been nervous going into all of the previous radio shows, but in this one I felt much more relaxed and prepared. Amazing what a glass of wine ahead of time can do.

Florida Citizens for Science came up just as much as Going Ape, which is becoming a common theme in these interviews and certainly is a nice bonus.

Sticking with it

Monday, July 21st, 2014

I have a guest blog post published at the Florida Heritage Book Festival website: The Evolution of Going Ape. I talk about how the idea for Going Ape started off as a mere curiosity and over the course of a few years developed into a published book. It was a hard, exhausting and sometimes frustrating experience over the years, but I’m so glad I stuck with it.

I was invited to write the guest post because I’m one of the featured authors who will be giving a talk at the Book Festival in September!

Going Ape in Orlando Sentinel

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Thank you to Orlando Sentinel reporter Leslie Postal for the nice story on me and Going Ape: Florida’s Battles over Evolution in the Classroom!

‘Going Ape’ relives Florida battles over evolution:

Despite his strong belief that evolution as a fundamental tenet of biology must be taught, Haught said he tried to make the book neutral and readable for anyone interested in the topic. And, Haught said, it’s a book without a true ending.

“I guarantee we’re going to see this come up again,” the Port Orange man said.

And Florida Citizens for Science president Jonathan Smith had some kind words for me. Thanks, Jonathan!

“Brandon’s a thinker,” said Jonathan Smith, president of Florida Citizens for Science. “He’s intrigued by stuff like that.”

This & That 7/16/14

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Florida scientists press Gov. Rick Scott on climate change:

“We note you have been asked several times about how, as governor, you will handle the issue of climate change,” the scientists wrote in a two-page letter to Scott. “You responded that you are ‘not a scientist.’ We are scientists and we would like the opportunity to explain what is at stake for our state.”

Mystery Solved: Why Peacocks Got Their Eyespots:

“To settle this mystery, (Rebecca Kimball, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Florida) and colleagues sequenced nearly 2,000 segments on the genomes of 15 different bird groups, including the three with eyespots. When Kimball and her team reconstructed the likely genealogy of these birds, she found that eyespots had evolved and been lost multiple times.”

Tracking Florida’s Skunk Ape:

Physical description. The Florida Skunk Ape has generally black or “dark” long hair or fur—one report described it as seemingly “covered in fur, as if wearing a fur coat” (Jenkins 2010, 114). It may also be brown, or—in one 1848 instance—white. It has a large, round head with big, shining eyes, no appreciable neck, and broad, rounded shoulders. When standing upright, it has “long dangling arms,” in one case being ob­served “swinging its arms as dogs yapped at it” (Bord and Bord 2006, 244).

Catch the Loggerheads in Action via HD Florida Keys’ ‘Turtle Cam’:

“What people are more likely to see on the webcam is first a small miniature volcano cave-in and then a mad rush of turtles all coming out at once,” Appel said, via CBS Local Miami. “It could be 50 to 75 of them coming out of that hole and heading for the most ambient light they can, which is the moon.”

South Florida Science Center takes on sexual attraction:

A guy walks into a bar, and finds himself in the middle of a presentation on sexual attraction.

While it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, those walking into O’Shea’s Irish Pub at 7 p.m. on July 24 will likely have a similar experience.

“Laws of Attraction: The Science of Sex Appeal” is the theme for the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium’s third Science on Tap event.

Want to major in engineering or physics? What to look for when you are selecting a university:

“But you have to learn the basic science – and learn it with deep understanding – to become a strong professional engineer or physicist. So when selecting a university at which to study engineering or physics, look for one where the Physics Department and other academic departments in which you’ll be involved have adopted teaching models that give students the best opportunity to learn well.”