Welcome to Clashing Culture
For those of you new to Clashing Culture, this is an experiment in cooperation among bloggers who have a common interest in science, religion and their interactions with society at large. Check out the profiles on the right for more about us. We all four share in common an interest in teasing out the facts of evoliution, which is still a relatively poortly understood set of theories which tie together the facts thatt show how nature expands its species. Evolution is about life itself, and the fact of evolution is undeniable.
The misunderstanding of evolution leads to a culture ill at ease with exploring science, mistaking an interest in evolution with a desire to preclude any sort of religious question or answers on how life “is.” Evolution is about origins, which was once the solely-owned territory of religious explanations. I think that this crowding out of supernatural explanations for the shape of all life is threatening to many people, but that hardly justifies the way that the concept of evolution is unjustly attacked. And especially in the United States. So, the purpose of this carnival is to highlight the blog posts that have been submitted or that I have found over the last two weeks since hosted by Greg Laden on October 3. I hope that the readers come away with a better understanding of evolution, and more comfortable with the concept.
And to illustrate the main issue, I start with a post by Ben Connor Barrie at Grown Ass People. From the Front Lines of Evolution. So, what happens when the Discovery Institute releases a textbook? It isn’t pretty, but it is worth watching as some legislatures consider Academic Freedom Bills. (Acadmic Freedom ain’t what they are seeking.)
Eugenics is a tricky issue for evolution, and in fact is has very little to do with natural selection. Eugenics is the purposeful manipulation of genetics to achieve a societal goal. Evolution is a blind process with no societal goal, but only a goal of survival to reproduce. So, what is now happening in Lousiana? A proposal for eugenics? Chris Green presents Eugenics to Make a Comeback in Louisiana? posted at Advances in the History of Psychology. Chris’s submission comment:
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on September 24 that a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives named John LaBruzzo “is studying a plan to pay poor women $1,000 to have their Fallopian tubes tied” in order to contain the state’s welfare costs.
Most of us have seen the movie Inherit the Wind. It is a stylized dramatization of the 1925 Scopes Trial in Tennesee. The Trial didn’t resolve the issue of education’s responsibility for teaching evolution. Jeremy Burman presents Advances in the History of Psychology » Blog Archive » The Scopes Trial Revisited posted at Advances in the History of Psychology. Jeremy’s comment:
In a recent issue of Science as Culture, 17(2), Matthew J. Tontonoz compares the recent “evolution wars” with a revival of the historic Scopes trial of 1925. In this formulation, William Jennings Bryan — who had served as the Democratic presidential nominee in 1896, 1900, and 1908 — plays the role presently adopted by, as Tontonoz puts it, “today’s creationists and proponents of intelligent design.”
Evolution aids our understanding of the interconnectedness of all life, and for one person thinking of evolution erased the “themness” of race. Hank Fox writes a moving essay on how evolution finally opened his eyes to the mistake of a racial divide among humans. He experienced an awakening. Thank You Mister Darwin. Again. at Earthman’s Notebook.
But one day when I looked at Them, I saw US.
I was standing in line at a grocery store on that day, and there was a “black” man standing next to me. I reached down into myself, as I often do, inspecting my feelings, and I was surprised to notice that the fear was gone. This was just some guy, a neighbor, a fellow human thrown into my company by accident in a supermarket checkout line. His eyes met mine momentarily, brown eyes to blue, human eyes, and we both smiled easily.
So, with all of the cultural icons of evolution, where does the science part come it? Well, let’s begin with this article on the interrelationship between hox D genes and homeotic transformation in birds. Nagraj Sambrani presents Homeotic transformation and digit evolution in Birds | Hoxful Monsters posted at Hoxful Monsters. The article refers to an article in an open-access journal so that you can check out the paper on your own.
R. Ford Denison presents This Week in Evolution: Experimental evolution of predation and sexual attractiveness posted at This Week in Evolution.
Greg Laden presents Cultural Evolution from Mosquitos to Worm Grunting posted at Greg Laden’s Blog. So, how do yams and sickle-cell anemia tie together?
John Hawks presents Human evolution stopping? Wrong, wrong, wrong. | john hawks weblog posted at John Hawks Anthropology Weblog. Follow the links in this post to other writers who tear apart the idea that our species is not going to change anymore.
Richard Owen, who coined the word “dinosaur” is one of the most disliked, and yet probably misunderstood 19th century scientists. Brian Switek presents Richard Owen, the forgotten evolutionist posted at Laelaps.
Greg Laden presents Greg Laden’s Blog : Culture Shapes How We Look at Faces posted at Greg Laden’s Blog.
GrrlScientist presents Love, Sex and War in the Seychelles posted at Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted) Her comment:
This is a study of the evolution and behavioral ecology of an endangered species that predicted the worldwide economic collapse — it’s amazing what birds can teach us about ourselves, if we only look carefully.
Greg Laden presents Cultural Evolution from Mosquitos to Worm Grunting posted at Greg Laden’s Blog. I had never even heard of worm gruntiing before I read this. How does it work? Does it matter if its practitioners know?
The final post approaches an area of interest to cultural historians; archaeologists, anthropologists and all of us who are interested in our cultural background and the role that evolution plays. Whatever your religious position, the existence of God is separate from the practice of religion. Massimo Pigliucci presents The cultural evolution of religion posted at Rationally Speaking.
Evolution is a far wider field of study than most people accept, and the tendency to either ignore it or only teach it as a separate “unit” in biology classes is dangerous to our society. If our education system tries to hide evolution because it may offend certain “sensibilities” then it will have far-reaching negative effects on our ability to understand ourselves and our relationships to each other and to the natural world.
Thanks to everyone who submitted, and thanks to those who didn’t know they submitted articles. I also want to thank Dr. Daniel Brown (Irradiatus of Biochemical Soul) for maintaining this much-needed carnival. The next issue is going to be at The Other 95%, hosted by Kevin Zelnio and Eric Heupel. Send your posts to be included through the submission form.