What a waste of chiropterans

19 09 2007

What is it about some people in Texas wanting to slaughter animals for no good reason? According to news reports out today, a number of bats (an actual estimate of the “infestation” not being given) found their way into Lanier Hall East at Texas Southern University, and a number of the young men in residence thought to make a sport out of the lost (and probably confused) bats. [Note: The following video contains offensive language];

While many of the news reports expressed worries about rabies (although no one seems to have been bitten), the people who killed any number of the flying mammals apparently received no rebuke for their cruelty to the animals. They were not being attacked or molested by the bats, and if there was a problem why not leave? Swinging away at the creatures, probably disoriented and frightened, reveling in the smack of the furry bodies on the linoleum, is far from mature, responsible, or even intelligent. Bats are absolutely amazing animals, and despite the rather pungent smell of guano, I was lucky enough to observe Little Brown Bats leaving their roost over a number of nights last summer at Stokes State Forest. There’s really no excuse for what I can only term cruelty on the part of the students in the videos.

Some Texans take a more healthy interest in bats, however, (although their reactions to a bat in nature and a bat in the house might be different depending on who we’re talking about), and plenty of people show up to watch bats emerge from beneath the Congress Ave. bridge in Austin, TX;

Bat really are amazing mammals, and I am remiss in not writing about them more often (and so they’ve been duly added to my ever-growing list of things to learn/write about). In the meantime, enjoy this clip from The Life of Mammals featuring a particular bat that has a relatively unusual way (as far as bats go) in detecting prey.

Icon of Delusion: Jonathan Wells

31 08 2007

If ever there were an unsavory, real-life creationist character that should be cryptically referred to as “You Know Who” as in the Harry Potter series, it would have to be Jonathan Wells. While I have not actually tested this as yet, the very mention of his name seems to make my blood pressure rise, and perhaps his goal is to be so annoying and deceitful that evolutionary scientists all die of stress-induced heart attacks because they can not even stand the mention of his name. If this is indeed the plan, then Wells has certainly taken another step towards its fruition. On the dubiously titled “Evolution News & Views” blog run by the Disco. Institute, Wells has issued a rather hateful screed about the terms “Darwinist” and “Darwinian.”

Starting out with a rather hateful attack on the quality of The Seattle Weekly, stating that “as [a source] of news [it’s] probably about as reliable as Minju Choson, the official organ of the Democratic People’s Republic of [North] Korea. But homeless people make good use of [it],” Wells quotes a recent article in the paper in which Eugenie Scott of the NCSE as saying “a real follower of modern science would never call himself a ‘Darwinist’,” because “evolutionary biology has advanced way beyond Darwin’s 19th-century tracts.” This is rather strange, especially the quotation marks that Wells decided to “helpfully” insert as they do not appear in the original article. The original sentence reads as follows;

Scott isn’t buying it, not least because she says evolutionary biology has advanced way beyond Darwin’s 19th-century tracts, so that a real follower of modern science would never call himself a “Darwinist.”

Sounds more like the reporter, Nina Shapiro, tried to condense Scott’s argument down into a shorter sentence and was not quoting Scott directly, so once again Wells has shown us that he is either being deceitful or ignorant of how to properly use the copy-paste function on a computer. Still, he uses his doctored quote as a set-up to try and muddy the waters with cherrypicked examples from historical science, and Wells misses the entire point of the now outdated term “Darwinist.” Wells writes;

The reason that “Darwinism” and “Darwinian” – even “Darwinist” – are used by modern evolutionary biologists is that they are more precise than “evolution” and “evolutionist.” The latter have many meanings, most of them uncontroversial. For example, “evolution” can refer simply to change over time, something no sane person would deny. Or it can refer to minor changes within existing species, which breeders have known about for centuries.

Actually, the reason why “Darwinist” was the most popular term in years past is because Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection (and later sexual selection) proved to be the correct one. Prior to Darwin and even during his time “transmutation” of species was a hot topic, and there were various schools of thought as to how creatures evolved. Thus a more exact term for the school of evolutionary thought Darwin founded, “Darwinism,” was necessary to distinguish it from the competing hypotheses of Lamarck, Agassiz, the thoughts put forth in the popular book Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation by Robert Chambers, and the later criticisms of Darwin put forth by the likes of St. George Mivart. In fact, especially in America, evolution by natural selection was not immediately and fully embraced, the famed scientist Louis Agassiz being a critical of Darwin so vociferous that even Wells would have been likely to get his admiration. Even the noted paleontologist E.D. Cope ascribed to Neo-Lamarckian ideas of evolution, a evolutionary framework that has been long known to be insufficient.

But if Darwin was right, why would Eugenie Scott say his “tracts are outdated”? Well, Darwin was right in terms of his big ideas of natural & sexual selection (as well as many other points), but he did get some things wrong. Heredity was vastly unknown during his time, and even Darwin threw in a pinch of Lamarckism into his writings. In the 2nd edition of The Descent of Man, Darwin wrote the following in the preface;

I may take this opportunity of remarking that my critics frequently assume that I attribute all changes of corporeal structure and mental power exclusively to the natural selection of such variations as are often called spontaneous; whereas, even in the first edition of the ‘Origin of Species,’ I distinctly stated that great weight must be attributed to the inherited effects of use and disuse, with respect both to the body and mind. I also attributed some amount of modification to the direct and prolonged action of changed conditions of life. Some allowance, too, must be made for occasional reversions of structure; nor must we forget what I have called “correlated” growth, meaning, thereby, that various parts of the organization are in some unknown manner so connected, that when one part varies, so do others; and if variations in the one are accumulated by selection, other parts will be modified. Again, it has been said by several critics, that when I found that many details of structure in man could not be explained through natural selection, I invented sexual selection; I gave, however, a tolerably clear sketch of this principle in the first edition of the ‘Origin of Species,’ and I there stated that it was applicable to man.

And so I still cringe when I heard scientists refer to themselves as “Darwinists” (or even worse, “orthodox Darwinists,” as I once heard Ken Miller opine). The term is no longer necessary or even accurate because in scientific understanding Darwin’s big ideas won the day ages ago while some of his subjects he did not fully understand have become better known, the science we now have being based on Darwin but not adhering only to the thoughts within his published works. If we’re going to start tagging schools of thoughts with names, we could very well have “Gouldists,” “Dawkinsists,” “Simpsonists,” “Mayrists,” “Morganists,” “Copeists,” “Agassizists,” etc. etc. etc. The distinction that the term “Darwinist” used to have is now largely lost because of our greater understanding, time proving Darwin to be the victor in the battle that took place in evolutionary through between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but I know of no scientists who holds On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection who holds the great work to be a holy book that may not be added to or contradicted in any fashion whatsoever. Just like paleontology requires a historical understanding and a long-view of the subject at hand, so does the topic of the evolution of how we think about biological evolution.

After some more jabs at Scott and confusion of the origins of the words he’s talking about, Wells concludes;

So rather than learn Scott’s word games, biology students should begin by learning to distinguish “evolution” from “Darwinism” and “evolutionist” from “Darwinist.” Or “Darwinian” – it’s one and the same.

I assume that he’s not suggesting that school boards should hire Neo-Lamarckian staff to “Teach the Controversy!” about evolution. I think a biology class would largely benefit from understanding the historical aspect of the evolution idea, starting with the Ionians like Thales and Anaximander and working through Darwin and the Modern Synthesis to today. That way it can be clearly seen that there indeed was a time when evolution did not necessarily mean “natural selection, common descent, etc.” in the minds of some notable scientists, and how eventually their ideas (often influenced by their adherence to religious doctrine) came crumbling down. “Teach the Controversy!” seems like it could have just as well been the battle cry of Louis Agassiz or St. George Mivart as that of current ID thinkers, but apparently they cannot be bothered to go back and try and uncover the history of the evolution idea.

To put it concisely, Darwin was a highly intelligent man who uncovered the beginnings of one of nature’s greatest mysteries, but we would be fools to think that he was somehow all-knowing or that no data would later be found that would clarify or possibly refute his ideas. Nearly 150 years after On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection was published, however, natural selection working on variations in organisms is still a major mechanism of evolution, exemplified by Stephen J. Gould in his coral-branch analogy in The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Can we expect any scientist never to make a mistake or never have their ideas overturned? For every important idea that has been put forth by great minds, how many ideas ended up being stillborn or eventually refuted? Are we to remember scientists for their failures only, disregarding their successes? To do so would mark us imbeciles, and we would pay a heavy price for judging those who strove to bring enlightenment to the work by sharing their ideas. Darwin was one of those great minds, and even though “the long argument” will likely continue, I see no reason why we should exhume the corpses of long-dead competing hypotheses of evolution when Charles so eloquently put laid to rest.

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.

If this comes out on my birthday I’m going to be pissed…

22 08 2007

Why does Ben Stein have to go ahead and ruin the month in which I was born? According to a link supplied by PZ, the deadpan actor is going to release a film called “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” about how us crazy “Neo-Darwinists” are trying to take over the hearts and minds of America’s youth through the public education system. (Also, the conservative screed Indoctrinate U is also meant to premiere this September) This propaganda piece documentary looks like it wants to be the answer to Randy Olson’s Flock of Dodos, although it appears that Stein’s venture is better financed. Still, having a look around the site already points to the overall lack of research and downright stupidity employed by our “hero” Stein in trying to scare conservatives into believing him. From the site’s blog;

Freedom of inquiry is basic to human advancement. There would be no modern medicine, no antibiotics, no brain surgery, no Internet, no air conditioning, no modern travel, no highways, no knowledge of the human body without freedom of inquiry.

This includes the ability to inquire whether a higher power, a being greater than man, is involved with how the universe operates. This has always been basic to science. ALWAYS.

Some of the greatest scientists of all time, including Galileo, Newton, Einstein, operated under the hypothesis that their work was to understand the principles and phenomena as designed by a creator.

Operating under that hypothesis, they discovered the most important laws of motion, gravity, thermodynamics, relativity, and even economics.

Now, I am sorry to say, freedom of inquiry in science is being suppressed.

Under a new anti-religious dogmatism, scientists and educators are not allowed to even think thoughts that involve an intelligent creator. Do you realize that some of the leading lights of “anti-intelligent design” would not allow a scientist who merely believed in the possibility of an intelligent designer/creator to work for him… EVEN IF HE NEVER MENTIONED the possibility of intelligent design in the universe?EVEN FOR HIS VERY THOUGHTS… HE WOULD BE BANNED.

In today’s world, at least in America, an Einstein or a Newton or a Galileo would probably not be allowed to receive grants to study or to publish his research.

The first thing that Stein does, in classic neo-con fashion, is equate science with technology. The only things vaguely biological mentioned are antibiotics and human anatomy, but these are directly tied to medicine and not understanding how humans (or other organisms) work in any other sense. This is one of the most difficult battlegrounds in any debate about science/religion/politics, as many see natural science as ultimately pointless. “Why do I need to know what sort of animal Pakicetus was when technology supplies me with MTV and plenty of porn via the internet?” This “What, me worry?” sort of mindset can be traced all the way back to the first Christians, who felt it was essentially pointless to study nature (or even medicine) because Jesus’ return was imminent. “Why learn about botany when the world will be destroyed and created anew next week?” Sooner or later people got the idea that such a way of thinking was impoverished and worthless and started to investigate the natural world, although new discoveries were often met with opposition from those who attempted to uphold the religious orthodoxy of the time (certain areas of science, like medicine, becoming acceptable as they could be brought into the ideological fold of helping others in Christianity).

Stein then goes on to play the name game; everyone will recognize the names Newton, Galileo, and Einstein, but how many people actually know anything about them? Stein is merely trading in on their recognition and seems to know little else about these men of science other than that they had some sort of idea about a creator god. If Stein had done his homework he would have found that Newton and Einstein did not hold concepts of a Judeo-Christian God that exactly fits the Old Testament bully so loved by modern evangelicals (Einstein over and over again professing his belief in “Spinoza’s God”, or the nature of the universe as God). The inclusion of Galileo was curious as well, especially given what the Church of Galileo’s time perpetrated upon the man and the overall resistance to his ideas. If we’re going to include Christian scientists, why not go ahead and add a young Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell, William Buckland, Gideon Mantell, or any number of other 19th century scientists involved with paleontology, geology, and evolution that showed the world was not created in the way the creation mythologies of the Bible state? Stein also seems to be ignorant of the many attempts through the early to mid-1900’s to reconcile science and evolution after the Modern Synthesis was formed, so why not mention some of the Christian and Jewish leaders from the first part of the last century who had no problem with evolution? I guess they’re on the naughty list.

Stein then moves on to an attempt to spread paranoia, picking up where Jonathan Wells left off in the latter part of Icons of Evolution. Evolutionary science (or at least evolutionary scientists) are said to be cultish, rabid bigots, stopping at nothing to stomp out any mention of a Christian god. They may as well burst into flames at the mention of the name “Jehovah.” No evidence is given for this assertion (I guess I’ll just have to watch the movie), but Stein goes back to trading in on the names of intellects far greater than his own by suggesting that such men would have been figuratively “burned at the stake” by modern academia. I guess it doesn’t matter to Stein that how religious a person may be is more a product of how they’re brought up rather in “Darwinist indoctrination” in public schools. Stein also doesn’t provide any reason why we should take creationists and ID advocates seriously, either; they’ve come up with absolutely no actual research to prove their point, despite continuous calls to do so (I guess Behe and his buddies would rather just keep pumping out the popular books). Why should we allow intelligent design into science class when it simply is not science?

Anyway, the film looks like it’s going to be absolutely horrible, and judging from the fact that Stein can’t even be bothered to open up a history book I’m sure the film is going to be a propaganda piece that will appeal primarily to those who already tend to agree anyhow.

Update: Mike P, in the Pharyngula comment, has provided us with the Press Release for this atrocious bit of drek.

Update the 2nd: The DI has now weighed in (how could I ever have guessed that they were involved?), and the film is set to come out on Darwin’s birthday, February 12th. I can’t imagine it getting a wide release, but I have to wonder if the production company is going to go around wooing churches as other companies did for The Passion of the Christ, The Chronicles of Narnia, and other films. Still, the movie will probably be greeted with cheers by those already convinced and be thoroughly trashed by those who can already smell that it’s rotten inside and out.

Adnan Oktar goes crying to the courts

20 08 2007

Adnan Oktar (AKA Harun Yahya), author of the massive & misguided Atlas of Creation, is having a hissy-fit because some WordPress blogs have brought attention to his creationist tomfoolery (thanks to Ed Darell for initially bringing this to everyone’s attention). Indeed, it appears that all access to WordPress has been blocked in Turkey, as per the ruling of the “Fatih 2nd Civil Court of First Instance, number 2007/195.” Luckily, some people have figured out how to get around the block (thanks to PZ for mentioning the resource), but this whole thing is a complete farce. As Ed has already pointed out, it’s hard to believe that the whole of WordPress is blocked in Turkey because Oktar can’t take criticism about his poorly-researched work.

This isn’t the first time Oktar has gone crying to the courts and got his way, either. As reported by IFEX, in April of this year Oktar restricted access to online forums/sites where the comments threads contained “defamatory” comments about him, the sites in question ultimately removing the content that so offends. I guess his actions show Oktar for what he really is, though; an arrogant creationist who wants to stamp out any other opinion through a court system that isn’t wise enough to understand the importance and value of free expression. I hope the WordPress admins will stand up for the freedom of speech and expression on here and not give Oktar an inch, especially since one of the most active spots I can see on my little clustrmap is Turkey and their is a solid blogging community from that region.

Hoofnagle gets some things right, others wrong on Ecology

8 08 2007

Over on Denialism Blog, Mark Hoofnagle as a rather, shall I say, “interesting” piece up on the interaction between man and nature, and he picks none other than Springfield’s Mr. Burns to show us what our guiding ecological principles should be;

“Oh, so Mother Nature needs a favour? Well, maybe she should have thought of that when she was besetting us with droughts and floods and poison monkeys. Nature started the fight for survival and she wants to quit because she’s losing? Well, I say hard cheese!”

[From one of my favorite episodes, “The Old Man and the Lisa“]

Burn’s position is patently short-sighted and foolish (and Hoofnagle admits it’s inclusion is somewhat facetious, but it’s not too far off the mark from what Mark proposes in the rest of his piece. He writes;

Nature is not our friend, nor have we advanced our species by living in harmony with it. We have survived, and tacked decades onto our lives by bending nature to our will. Nature is trying to kill us. All the time. Bacteria, and parasites and viruses oh my, they’re out to get us. We’re not buddy-buddy with nature, we’re in competition with it for our very survival, all the time. Further there is this nonsense that messing with nature is somehow a bad thing, or frequently unsuccessful. This view can only be held by people who seem to have forgotten all the progress we’ve made in the last couple of millennia.

Strong words, indeed. While I’m not one of the Disney-fied, harmonious “Circle of Life” view of nature (hippo carnivory and cannibalism can show us that, at least), this passage is little more than a straw man argument. “Nature” is not out to get us any more than it is helping us; there are no microbes or “poison monkeys” conspiring to do us in. There is competition and cooperation, each individual organism trying to meet its own needs, but there is no great war in nature where one species or “realm” of nature consciously seeks to destroy another (that is, except for humans). Charles Darwin understood the interplay between competition and the “cooperation” that can arise from it in his famous “tangled bank” passage;

It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.

Hoofnagle’s mention of bacteria in solely a bad light is surprising as well; not all bacteria are bad for us. Probiotic bacteria found in our stomachs can be beneficial in binds to sites so that other, harmful bacteria can’t get enough elbow room to get settled in, and it’s been shown that some may even help combat lactose intolerance, diarrhea, and other problems. Even stepping beyond this, the hereditary disease hemochromatosis, where iron is “locked away” in the body, may have even been beneficial to humans, making its hosts less susceptible to certain infections that would end life far earlier than hemochromatosis would.

I’m also a bit disturbed by Hoofnagle’s assertion that “Further there is this nonsense that messing with nature is somehow a bad thing, or frequently unsuccessful. This view can only be held by people who seem to have forgotten all the progress we’ve made in the last couple of millennia.” Our current problems with global climate change and pollution, among other things, show that we’re not too bright when it comes to ecology or our impact. While we might call ourselves a “success” in that we’ve subdued nature successfully, I think it’s downright foolish to use some subjective idea of “progress” as the measuring stick by which to see whether our actions have been “good” or “bad.” Hoofnagle then rattles off a list of “achievements” by which I wouldn’t be here typing this right now; from laying the foundation of a house to squashing a spider that’s crept indoors, humanity is defined by its need to “sanitize” nature in order to be comfortable.

In one sense, Hoofnagle is right; disease, parasites, predators, drought, famine, etc. have largely been eliminated in the Western World (although this doesn’t mean that they’re not still problems for the majority of the planet’s inhabitants), and doing so has allowed us to live the “comfy” lives that those lucky enough to be born in the right place in the right time to the right parents enjoy. Still, as I’ve just mentioned, much of the world does cope with all the “war machinations” of nature, and even moreso did our ancestors. Nature was never out to kill us; it was simply the situation we found ourselves in, and one way or another nature was suppressed so that we could live. So far, things have been going alright from the perspective of geological time. We’ve come very far very quickly, but I’m rather dubious as to the future. Sometimes I feel that we feel that we’re smarter than we actually are, that our growth has been too exponential, and sooner or later (be it a meteorite, a disease, climate change, or even all of those plus others) things aren’t going to be going so smoothly for us.

Hoofnagle closes with these sentiments;

One does not commune with an uncaring monster. You don’t live in harmony with that which tries to kill you, at best you strive for detentes. Outright war isn’t good, a victory in a war might just be ashes in our mouth. We need her to survive, we need her to be healthy, but we should never trust her, or let down our guard. Nature is out to get us, we survive by constantly waging our battles with her, and winning. Not being the type that thinks this planet belongs to us, or that we are particularly relevant in the grand scheme of things, there’s a good chance she might win the war. I’d like to avoid that if at all possible.

Again, this is a rather weak argument based upon the anthropomorphization of some amorphous “Mother Nature” which seeks to make life hard for us. It’s true that in order to spread across the globe as we have, the suppression of nature has been required, but there have always been trade-offs. Sure, you can eradicate certain pests or disease-vectors, but you’re going to have to inhale plenty of harmful fumes that’ll end up contributing to your death too, just a bit later. Sure, industrialization and the invention of the automobile has opened up untold wonders for us, but that isn’t going to mean much if climate change and disease radically change the planet, perhaps even causing a much higher death rate. I don’t believe in any notion of “progress” that does not have some sort of consequence somewhere, and while we have never lived in “harmony with nature,” being overly abusive to Hoofnagle’s “uncaring monster” isn’t going to get us very far either.

[Hat-tip to Pondering Pikaia for the story]

David Attenborough’s “Life of [CENSORED]”

3 08 2007

There are few things in this life that are finer than a good BBC nature documentary hosted by David Attenborough, and The Life of Mammals is, by far, my most favorite. Not everyone is quite so pleased with the documentaries being presented in an evolutionary fashion, however, and the blog Pardon My Paradox tipped me off to something fishing going on in the Netherlands. Indeed, “James Randi’s Swift” has the fuller story, and it seems that an evangelical public broadcasting corporation in the Netherlands called the EO recently aired The Life of Mammals, but removed most of the content relating directly to evolution, omitting the last program about human evolution altogether. I don’t think I need to tell you why an evangelical Christian broadcasting channel would have such problems…

Anyway, the “creative” editing of the EO was first noted on the Dutch blog Evolutie, which has some articles about the EO getting creative with a few other documentaries as well. It’s in Dutch and all the web programs I’ve used have absolutely mangled the text in translation, but if you understand Dutch go ahead and have a look.