Wednesday afternoon notes

5 09 2007

Just a few quick notes;

1) I didn’t disappear entirely; expect a big essay on convergent and parallel evolution combining many of my recent posts on here lately (it’ll be old hat for regulars, but I still hope it’ll come off alright).

2) Working on a big post all about Tyrannosaurus, although I’m waiting on some books to make sure I get the details of its discovery right. I’m reading I Married a Dinosaur (click the image of Barnum Brown next to the AMNH T. rex) while I’m waiting for Bird’s Bones for Barnum Brown.

3) I finished A Fish Caught in Time and it’s a fair book. It starts off strong, chronicling the discovery of Latimeria, but the later chapters (those primarily dealing with conservation) fizzle out a bit, making more rather ambivalent towards the whole thing. Not a bad book to pass the afternoon with, but it’s no Beak of the Finch.

4) I started on The Antecedents of Man last night and it’s incredibly prescient for it’s time. It draws a lot on the mammal work of G.G. Simpson, but overall it anticipates the modern view of human evolution even though some modern authors have said that the book puts for the ladder-view of human evolution. Some of it can get a little dry (dental formulas aren’t for everyone), but I was quite surprised by how excellent it was.

5) I found out that I’m getting more money back from college than I first though. That might allow me (outside of paying off some debt) to finally replace the desktop computer that burnt out last fall, which could mean more (and better) posts for all of you (I don’t like working on the iBook we currently have).

6) Apparently I can win $10,000 if I enter this College Blogging Contest. I don’t know if I’ll win, but I’ll certainly give it a try (winning a $500 scholarship was how I got started in the first place). [Hat-tip to Terra Sigillata]

7) The buses at Rutgers are all Standing Room-Only, so I need to run if I’m going to catch a bus and not miss class. You would think with all I’m paying they’d provide adequate transportation between campuses, but then you’d be unfamiliar with the RU Screw.

Back to school, back to school…

4 09 2007

Today kicks off the fall semester here at Rutgers, and I just don’t know if I’m prepared for the overwhelming excitement that will be Soils and Society later this afternoon. As my friend John suggested, I could definitely get Darwin involved in the course by using his The Formation of Vegetable Mould Thhrough the Action of Worms, with Observations on Their Habits as the basis for a paper if I must write one (I think there are just 3 exams, unfortunately), but geophagy is interesting and I’m sure I’ll get something from the course.

I also have recently received some more good news; I am not going to mention the details as yet, but it looks like I’ll once again have the opportunity to teach other students about evolution this semester. I’m also going to try and organize some Darwin Day lectures for February (it’s never too early to start), so I definitely have a lot to do at Rutgers in terms of evolution this year. I might give Darwin’s Beagles another shot, although it seems that there just isn’t enough of an undergraduate interest at this particular university. Even if most students don’t care, however, I’m still having fun with it, and so don’t expect the science writing to stop anytime soon.

School starts when?!

29 08 2007

Note: Thanks to the kind comments of people here and a relaxing evening reading some T.H. Huxley I’m feeling much better, although I’m sure putting out this little rant helped too. I’m going to try to make the best of the position I’ve found myself in, and hopefully I’ll move on to better things after I get my B.S. (both meanings apply) straightened out. Thanks to everyone who’s stopped in to show me some encouragement and support during this rough journey.

I’m not less than a week away from the start of the fall semester, and I’m definitely not done with summer yet (hell, I didn’t even go and get my first Rita’s gelati until Saturday). Still, I really need to buckle down and do well this semester as I’m essentially out of “last chances.”

Some of you might remember that I was considering switching into Evolutionary Anthropology. It appears that I cannot. Rutgers was recently restructured to consist of the School of Arts and Sciences (Busch, Livingston, Douglass, and College Avenue campuses) and the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (Cook campus), and I have too low of a GPA and too many credits (121) to transfer into the program. Perhaps if things were as they have been for a number of years I could have made a case, but it appears that there’s a whole new set of rules and administrative B.S. and I do not have much hope for my appeal for a transfer. I stupidly painted myself into a corner academically, and now I don’t have much choice other than to finish up my current program and try to escape in one piece.

Indeed, the coming semester is not really going to be an enjoyable one, as many of the classes I have to take are basic courses that are required for students that I had not taken in my early years. This fall I’ll be taking;

Precalculus – I can’t put it off any longer; I must face the math demons and hope to come out in one piece. If I fail this course I’ll be prevented from taking other courses that are critical next spring and summer, and so the pressure is definitely on.

Computer Science 110 – Basic computers course on Excel, Word, etc. that everyone has to take. It’s not hard, but it’s mind-numbingly boring and I have little use for it. Still, it’s something I have to take care of.

Fundamentals of Ecological Modeling – I’m a few credits short of my requirement for ecological courses within my major, and this was the only one that fit in my schedule. The name just screams “Math!” at me though, and I don’t particularly have a good feeling about this one.

Soils and Society – I tried to take care of my “soils” requirement last semester, but I ultimately picked the wrong course. “Soils and Water” kicked my butt and now I have to take the easier version (which I wished I had found out about beforehand). I don’t think this one will be difficult, but I’d be lying if I said I was interested.

Living Primates – The one course I’m actually looking forward to. Even though I can’t major in Evolutionary Anthropology, at least I’ll have this one “fun” course to make things a bit more enjoyable and even out my GPA a bit (hopefully). I may have to drop this one though, especially if I’m struggling in more important courses or I need to work more in order to pay the rent.

I apologize for being such a sad-sack, but I simply am not looking forward to finishing out my degree. I need to have a degree in something, and past mistakes have led me down a path with no other choice. My wife opined that it would be wonderful if they just let me write a thesis and handed me a degree (you would figure I would have fulfilled the general requirements for some course of study by now), but such a fanciful notion will never come to pass.

What does this mean as far as blogging goes? I’ll still be on here, and I’ll still have something new up every day, but I don’t know how much I’ll be able to actually post. I actually usually don’t write during the evening as I read during that time, but even my reading is likely to be curtailed. I’m sure my attitude to this whole affair isn’t helping either, but in general I feel trapped into a course of study that doesn’t engage my interests during a time of year when I start to feel the effects of seasonal depression (I’m a warm-weather creature). Still, things as they are now are still better than the alternative of getting a minimum wage job at a retail store, and I’m not ever going to be happy or contribute anything if I don’t try and make it through this last year and a half of college.

Photo of the Day: Gorilla mother and babies

20 08 2007


I know I’ve posted this picture before, but it’s one of my favorites and I thought I would drag it back out to the top of the blog again. It probably has to do with my current dilemma of whether to stay the course in Ecology & Evolution to just “get it over with” or switch over to Evolutionary Anthropology to make the most out of my last year (as long as it won’t keep me back again). What to do, what to do…

Somtimes I feel like a geek, sometimes I don’t…

20 08 2007

This may shock some of you, but there was a time, not too long ago, when I didn’t read many books at all. I just wasn’t interested. I would pick up a novel every now and then (usually something by Peter Benchley) to read for fun, but filling my head with facts and figures wasn’t exactly my favored pastime for a bit. Within the last year that has drastically changed, and I spend most of my nights and weekends reading, usually at least 4 hours a day during the week and 8 hours on a weekend-day. My compulsive reading habit, however, has somewhat put me at odds with other people and makes it very difficult to make new friends at times.

Talking to a new acquaintance last night, I was run through the usual gamut of questions (“Where are you from? What’s your job? etc.), and the person who I was talking to was a bit shocked that I didn’t “go out” more. I like to take in a movie now and then, go for a drive, have dinner when it’s financially possible, but heading out to the bar and having a few drinks isn’t exactly my idea of a good time, especially when I’d have to do it alone (most of my friends live far away or are busy). Rather than blow $20 or so on drinks that I don’t really care for the taste of anyway, I’d rather sit at home, pour myself a glass of iced tea, and read until I start to go cross-eyed from fatigue. Thus, it’s hard to make new friends, or even to make “small talk.” Indeed, it’s hard to talk about the “big game” when I don’t care a whit for sports, nor do I feel that discussing what happened on last night’s episode of Lost at length is especially productive. While everyone else was doing that, I was reading about whether three-wattled bellbirds learn or inherit their impressive songs, or what E.D. Cope thought about evolution at the turn of the last century. Such topics are not easily injected into everyday conversation, and even when I do, I get tagged as a know-it-all or egghead.

All this isn’t to say I don’t enjoy a good time out with friends, or even just ordering some pizza and playing XBOX until 2 AM, but it’s definitely hard to connect with people who have no real interest in nature or science in general. When I learn something new, I find it exciting and want to share that with everyone, but to most people it’s equivalent to useless trivia that only ivory-tower academic types care about. I seriously am grateful that I have the wife that I do, a wife that I can argue about the mating/nesting/display habits of bowerbirds with over dinner and actually takes an interest when I try to convey a new idea, as I have no idea who else on this earth would take me (not to mention that my wife is a gorgeous, kind, and has just about every other type of virtue you’d care to name).

This may seem like an odd time to broach such a topic, but I guess I worry sometimes that I am a bit of a social shut-in. Rather than being anti-social, it’s just hard to connect with others my own age who don’t share the same interests, especially when I’m headed back for another semester of college and I’m 6 years older than the incoming class. Speaking of school, I’ve been playing around with my class schedule and I finally was able to fit in a “fun” course I wanted on living primates. Looking at the anthropology course listing, I actually have been starting to contemplate switching majors (yet again) as ecology & evolution has been a struggle and a disappointment, and there appears to be no room in it for a vertebrate zoologist. After looking through the whole course catalog I was able to find no course on vertebrate zoology, evolution, or even basic skeletal anatomy, the anthropology department being that only one (as far as I could tell) that connects different sciences in the way I’m interested in. The only problem is I have no idea what I’d do with a B.S. in human evolutionary science, but I have to say that at this point it holds much more appeal for me than “fundamentals of ecological/environmental modeling.” Don’t get me wrong, I still love ecology and would love to be a conservation biologist, but the Rutgers department doesn’t seem the place to go if you’re interested in vertebrates.

Anyway, I have also received some “good” news about an idea that I had involving hadrosaur crests. The only problem is that I’ll probably have to learn German and/or Russian to understand the best work done on the subject, but I have received a fair amount of encouragement on the subject, and if things work out I think I could definitely get a PhD trying to combine paleontology with physiology. We’ll have to see. In any case, this is incredibly sappy, but I do want to thank all my readers here for assuring me that I am not (as yet) entirely mad and for sharing ideas and helping me learn. Without this blog as an outlet, all my thoughts would be rattling around in my head and no one would really care what I had to say on the topic. Even though I’m writing this blog for myself primarily (it’s sort of a journal of my intellectual journey), without the constant kind comments and corrections I wouldn’t get as much out of it as I have, and I certainly appreciate all the discussions and help other more-experienced bloggers and scientists have offered me since I started writing here.

In a “publish or perish” world…

14 08 2007

Rich at evolgen has brought to everyone’s attention a very interesting opinion piece that has recently appeared in the journal Current Biology about how scientific research (and success) is all-too-often dependent on some rather arbitrary numerical statistics (Lawrence PA. 2007. The mismeasurement of science. Curr. Biol. 17: R583-R585. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.06.014). Should the number of citations a paper receives or the sheer number of papers an author’s name appears on determine who gets funding and who does not? While I am still on a very long and winding road to becoming a scientist, the amount of horror stories that I have heard have often made be dubious about a career in academia; I definitely have a deep desire to know more about nature, but I don’t know if I can handle all the bureaucratic B.S. that comes along with it. Fortunately for me that’s a choice that I don’t yet have to make, but I do have to wonder if the current system of publishing and becoming established are truly the best ways to advance our understanding. I may be wrong, but often it seems more about advancing the careers of certain individuals more than anything else.

As I stated, however, I’m a bit far removed from this being that I haven’t even tried to publish anything myself and I’m about as low on the academic totem-pole as one can get. (I have done some research “at the bench” this summer, although I have no idea whether my name will appear on the final product or not.) Still, I am going to try to write up a review paper based upon what I found in my evolution of human evolution post from the other day, although I don’t really know where to start. Gathering the information I need should be no problem at all (that’ll just take time), but as for the rules of writing such a paper, I don’t have the slightest clue.

The Rutgers University Parking Gestapo

13 07 2007

Update: Compared to NYC parking prices, I suppose I should count my blessings…

I am starting to really hate Rutgers University. Outside of problems I’ve had with administrators, professors, and the “RU Screw,” I’ve just been fleeced out of $300 by the most evil entity within the whole of the Rutgers bureaucracy: Parking and Transportation Services. You see, since 2005 I have occasionally been late to class and instead of waiting for the slow and overcrowded buses (RU being so overcrowded that some students had to be put up in hotel rooms within the past year) I decided to drive to campus and park in the Cook/Douglass Parking Deck. There were plenty of spaces left open (so I wasn’t depriving anyone of a spot who had a parking pass), although I knew the risk of getting a parking ticket. Between Fall 2005 and Fall 2006, I received 3 parking tickets at $50 each (if you get a ticket in the city of New Brunswick it’s only $20) and decided not to pay them until I absolutely had to. No notices came, I was allowed to register for classes, and all seemed to be right with the world. I did receive two tickets this past semester, but I would have no problem paying for those being that the notice came during the semester in which I had been ticketed. I had a little reason to hope that I had been forgotten as I had heard that ParkTran forgives the first ticket each semester, but I was greatly mistaken.

Indeed, just before I was about to register for my fall classes I received a letter from ParkTran; the demanded $300, and until I could pay it there would be a “hold” on my account. I didn’t even have a spare $150, much less the total sum they wanted, and apparently they decided that they were going to hold all “offenses” of semesters past against me. Did I park in a mostly-empty parking deck without a tag? Yes, but it should be the job of ParkTran to keep track of their tickets and promptly inform students if they owe money, not hit them with a huge bill years after the fact. This week, however, I finally had enough money to pay them off, and my wife kindly went to the new office to try and get the fine reduced. She was told that students could no longer fight tickets nor get fines reduced, and we would have to pay the full $300. I was hoping that I would now be able to finally register for classes, but ParkTran being a bureaucracy, the hold on my account will not be removed until Tuesday.

[I’m sure others have their own tales of woe relating to the Parking/Transportation offices. Check out the Connie Willis story In the Late Cretaceous; I’m sure many of us could relate to Dr. Robert Walker.]

I know Rutgers has been short on money due to budget cuts and the like, but establishing a “Parking Gestapo” that hits students with such massive bills that cannot be fought or even reduced is inexcusable. The parking officers have been getting more and more rabid every year. It seems as if the administration decided that their entire deficit is going to made up from parking tickets, hitting students especially hard.

Between changing the name of my school from Cook College to “The School of Environmental and Biological Sciences” (the school had only been known as Cook College since 1973, mind you, a great dishonor to the memory of George H. Cook), budget cuts, and all the (for lack of a better term) B.S. that I’ve had to go through in pursuing my degree, I can’t say I recommend Rutgers. I worked so hard and long to get back in, but now that I’m here, I just want it all to be over.

No, I’d rather not be a physicist

9 07 2007

David Ng has put up a new post on the recent topic of biologists secretly wanting to be physicists or some other kind of scientist, only they never pursued physics because they were not particularly skilled at math. While I certainly don’t have physics envy (it’s more of a physics avoidance type of behavior), I do think those in certain fields of biology have more fun than chemists, physicists, microbiologists, etc. Of course I have a pretty big bias in this area, but I would much rather travel the world dressed up as a moose and study predator avoidance behavior, work on fossil sites, etc. than spend most of my time in a genetics/physics/chemistry lab. Perhaps if I was more adept at math I would have done better in the elementary physics and chemistry classes and I would have received more encouragement, but I certainly have no regrets about my current scientific interests.

While I wouldn’t count myself as a real scientist yet, I thought I would answer the little 3 question meme David put up anyhow, and you can check out PZ’s response as well.

1. What’s your current scientific specialty?

That’s probably the most difficult question out of the three; I don’t suppose I actually have one. While my major is Ecology & Evolution (and I’m minoring in Geology), what I enjoy learning about primarily falls under the general term of “Zoology.” Behavior, evolutionary history, ecology, physiology, anatomy, and paleontology all fascinate me, and I don’t think I’m particularly skilled in any one area enough to say it’s my “specialty.” If I really had to pick, I suppose I’m more interested in ecological evolution (especially extinctions), but that doesn’t seem to be easily distinguishable from what I just mentioned. I’ve been told over and over again by professors that I’m going to have to specialize if I want to have any sort of career in science, but regardless of what I may have to decide professionally what I love studying can best be embraced as Zoology.

2. Were you originally pursuing a different academic course? If so, what was it?

I’ve changed majors a few times, for varying reasons and with varying success. I initially entered Rutgers Cook College as a marine science major, but my math skills were nonexistent and I got placed into “Elementary Algebra.” This meant I had to wait a year to take Biology 101 and even longer before Physics and Chemistry (which were required for most of the marine science courses I had to take), and after I received an academic dismissal for my poor performance I gave up on marine science. I wanted to study sharks, whales, reef ecosystems, etc., but most of the courses focused on geology, chemistry, and physics of the ocean, and most of the professors/advisers I ran into in the department weren’t especially friendly. When I’d say “I want to study sharks” they’d reply “What are you ever going to do with that? No one studies sharks.” Telling them that such a response was exactly why I thought it was important didn’t help much.

After working in a Target warehouse for a semester, I decided to go back to Rutgers in the Environmental Policies, Institutions, and Bureaucracies major, being that it would allow me to study environmental science but without having to worry about a math requirement (plus, I knew someone in this major who never went to class, was rather daft, and had a better GPA than I did, and so I foolishly though I could do it). Much to my dismay, however, most of the courses were about government, law, bureaucracy, and learning how to work in an office building rather than any kind of field work (converse to what I had been told by an adviser), and so my lack of interest translated into poor performance and I was dismissed once again.

At this point I made it my goal to really figure out what I wanted to do and resolved to get back into Rutgers, no matter what (it’s rare to be admitted to the same college three times as an undergraduate, but I knew I could do it). In a year and a half I got my associates degree in 4-12 education from Union County College (at this point paying for college myself, working full time in addition to coursework) and was admitted back into Cook College. I had picked the Conservation Ecology option under the Ecology & Evolution major, but even once I knew what I wanted to do I faced discouragement. Visiting the woman who was to become my (temporary) adviser, I was told that I simply did not have the math skills to do well in science and I should consider EPIB instead if I want to be involved with ecology. Another meeting with the professor of the Honors program and assistant dean of academic programs gave me reason to hope, however; she said that it sounded like I had finally found the right major for me and had little doubt that I would be able to succeed at Rutgers. Her support was crucial, especially since encouragement from many of my professors and advisers past and present has been essentially nonexistent.

So here I am, nearly two years later, hopefully about to finish my bachelor’s degree, going on to do who-knows-what next. Most of my trouble in the past was following what I thought was right for me on the advice of others when I wasn’t sure; if I had merely waited a year or two, or got my associates degree first, I might have had a less troublesome time in college. It’s also sad to say it, but I have learned far more through my own studies than I have in the various courses I’ve taken over the past six years; I feel more like I’m merely meeting arbitrary collegiate requirements than doing anything actually productive.

3. Do you happen to wish you were involved in another scientific field? If so, what one?

Although I wouldn’t say I’m actually involved in any field yet, there is little out there that I wish I did not know something more about. Even in my attempt to gain a broader knowledge of how organisms work, it certainly would be enlightened by a better understanding of physics, chemistry, genetics, cell biology, etc. The problem is that such topics often do not hold my attention, and if I am to gain even a cursory grasp of any it is going to be a long, uphill struggle. I can empathize with Charles Darwin when he wrote;

I attempted mathematics, and even went during the summer of 1828 with a private tutor (a very dull man) to Barmouth, but I got on very slowly. The work was repugnant to me, chiefly from my not being able to see any meaning in the early steps in algebra. This impatience was very foolish, and in after years I have deeply regretted that I did not proceed far enough at least to understand something of the great leading principles of mathematics, for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense. But I do not believe that I should ever have succeeded beyond a very low grade.

Indeed, at this point I have almost entirely convinced myself that I do not (and cannot) understand mathematics, and I can only imagine the horrors that will befall me when I have to take Precalculus this fall, as well as a year of physics and another semester of chemistry.

Creation Science 101 offered at MPCC

7 05 2007

Chris at Interrogating Nature has the scoop about a creationism course being offered at a community college. The man teaching the course, Jim Garretson, claims that;

I’m not going to attack Evolutionists and I’m not going to try and convert people to the Creationist view, I just want offer a different viewpoint.

A creationist who isn’t going to speak ill of evolutionary scientists and not try to convert anyone to his point of view? That’s funny. I somehow doubt that Garretson will be impersonal and objective as he pontificates about how dinosaurs lived in the Garden of Eden and were brought aboard Noah’s Ark, and I would find it interesting to see if he rails against people like Dawkins, Harris, and Dennett given the recent spate of atheist literature available. I had a look at the website for McCook but I could not find any class schedule or course catalog available to me, so I can’t say whether the course will be count towards science credit, although I would not be surprised if it did. You can contact the MPCC board of governors about this intellectual fumble via

Update the 1st: I did manage to find a MPCC course catalog for 07-08 but Physics 2990 is not listed anywhere. The catalog does mention, however, that a course marked as 2990 is;

A course, seminar, or workshop within a subject area or at a subject level not available in regular catalog courses.

Such a course is reported to give students from 0.5-3 credits depending on course hours (I assume it’s 3 for the creationism course), but I have yet to find anything suggesting that students can receive actual science credit for taking the course (although it is being reported as such by Chris and PZ) outside of it being listed as a Physics course. I too am surprised that such a course would fall under “Physics”, but I assume that this is tacking it on to a particular area of study rather than an accurate description (the summary given in the initial news report made it seem like it was a general seminar dealing with various creationist claims rather than specifically looking at physics, biology, history, or anything that would require the instructor actually opening up a book on such subjects).

But wait, there’s more! In doing some digging I was able to find some editorials about the course, one blasting the course and another supporting it, via the McCook Daily Gazette. The first, written by Dr. Robert I. Price of the University of Nebraska at Kearney, is to the point and even a bit nasty, once again (perhaps) reinforcing the idea that scientists are a bunch of cranky men with doctorates. He writes;

Clearly, no one would ever propose teaching the above-mentioned Chemistry 2990, so why is Mr. Jim Garretson proposing to teach Physics 2990 as described? Perhaps I should conclude, he does not understand what constitutes science. I would be very distressed to learn that he actually does understand what constitutes science. Because, if he actually does understand what constitutes science, then I must conclude that he is guilty of exceptional academic dishonesty! If the first conclusion is true, then he should be supervised by a more competent individual. If the second conclusion is true, then?Mr. Jim Garretson should be relieved of his teaching duties.

Yikes; not only is a bit of a personal attack, but all the “I concludes” make Price’s point harder to reach than anything else. Is this the kind of representation science needs? I’m not suggesting that Garretson’s class should not be questioned and fought against, but I think we can do a lot better than what was offered up by Price.

By contrast, a reply written to Price’s editorial was quite different, and while I disagree with the conclusions of the writer I can see how his style might appeal more to those who are unfamiliar with the debate. Here’s a snippet from the response by Father Lawrence Ejiofo, who essentially says (science – wonder = nothing, therefore wonder + religion = science);

We simply need the Creation Science to help us get answers to many of our scientific questions. Though Creation Science has much to do with religion, it should not be automatically discounted. After all, religion has always been a part of the sciences. Many scientific laws, observations and norms have arisen from religion. Newton’s third law of motion, which states that, action and reaction are equal and opposite, developed from religion, the law of karma, the law of retributive justice. Even Einstein, the renowned scientist of our time is quoted to have said, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium (1941) ch. 13

Ugh; Father Ejiofo clearly has not been paying attention to the history of science and how it has developed. Indeed, science and religion were once inseparable under the banner of “natural theology”, but such a system was more of a hindrance than a help. If scientists weren’t so concerned with trying to make geology, paleontology, and other fields fit into biblical framework, perhaps they could have developed even more advanced ideas than were actually put forth. I wouldn’t suggest that saying fossils are essentially commemorative medallions God struck to mark each age of Creation (as in Gideon Mantell’s Medals of Creation) was a huge advancement in scientific thought. Should we recognize the contributions that faithful scientists have made? Certainly, but we are not obligated to honor their religious leanings (I don’t see Ejiofo suggesting that we look at the work of Muslim scholars and recognize the way their religion and science intermingled).

I’m sure the news about this course is going to proliferate through the blogosphere today, but I am a little concerned about knee-jerk reactions to it. According to what I’ve seen, instructors are allowed to hold courses like these for two years, at which time the course is considered for adoption, but we’re 3 semesters short of that review. It’s likely, being a Physics course, that students may get science credit for taking the class but that is not a definite and I have not seen it marked anywhere as such; it might only count as a topics or colloquium course or elective. Should we be writing letters to the school and board of governors? Certainly, but I think we would do well not to repeat Dr. Price’s mistakes that I pointed out above. We should take the most of this opportunity to bring evolution to the forefront in Nebraska (and perhaps elsewhere) but likewise we should be sympathetic to the religious leaning of who were’ talking to, otherwise we’ll likely come off as a bunch of rabid science-nuts who want nothing less than the destruction of religion rather than the responsible science education.

Update the 2nd: Chris O’Brien scooped us all on this story; he posted about it on March 28th. Just goes to show that just because you post something important doesn’t mean it’s going to get the attention it deserves.

Update the 3rd: I just received an e-mail from a student advisor from MPCC who has clarified things a bit. I asked if the course, Physics 2990, could be used for science credit. I received a reply with the title Physics 2990 Creation Science (so perhaps it has not been moved to philosophy) and the advisor notified me that it is a special topics course, and therefore not eligible for science credit. It was noted that the course could count as elective credit if in the proper area of study (i.e. it wouldn’t count towards a business degree), and so it does not appear that this course is as significant as originally thought. Should we still care about this and e-mail the school? Certainly, but I think it’s important to keep in mind how much weight such a course is being given.

Updates, or lack thereof

4 05 2007

Sorry for the lack of updates today everyone; I had two finals (Behavioral Biology [or as I like to call it, “Anecdotes about birds and not much else”] and Biology 102) so I spent most of the day making a feeble attempt at studying. At least the Bio 102 exam had 85+ questions out of 150 on ecology and evolution, so that was easy (I’m just hoping I didn’t bomb the physiology/neurology/development sections). To relieve my poor brain I’ll be going out to see Spider-Man 3 with my wife tonight, kicking off what is to be the first of many nights spent at the cinema this summer, so whether I’ll have any tasty-tidbits up tonight is anyone’s guess.