<link rel="stylesheet" href="//fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Roboto%3A300%2C400%2C500%2C700%7CRoboto+Slab%3A400%2C700">EvoAnth gets published - Filthy Monkey Men

Earlier this year I wrote about how the large creationist organisations, like the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesistend to present a distorted view of human fossils; downplaying the size and scope of the evidence for human evolution. The National Centre for Science Education (NCSE) – an excellent organisation that fights creationism in American public schools – really liked it, and got in touch with me about turning it into a full fledged article. With citations, statistics and other exciting stuff.

And it got published this month. The thing is freely available, so if you want to read a more in-depth break down of how young earth creationists distort the evidence for human evolution; click on over! The article seems to have been well received, even getting featured on io9, leading internet thingymabob. I’m currently working on a follow-up, but if you want me to write something for you well…that’s what the “contact me” at the top of the page is for! In the mean time I get to add a bibliography section to my CV, which I think will really endear me to the manager of McDonalds when I fail to find a PhD this year.

Also, you may have noticed an absence of posts here recently. This is because of my laptop breaking; and a certain UK electronics store failing to fix it (in fact breaking it more than when I gave it to them). Fortunately the ordeal seems to be at an end, so the regularly scheduled blogging will resume soon. If you haven’t had a comment approved or replied to, this is why, so expect it to all be sorted soon! Don’t expect it to have been worth the wait though.

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28 Comments

john zande · 17th July 2014 at 6:44 pm

Well done! It was a great article.

Paul Braterman · 17th July 2014 at 7:45 pm

Nice one! One suggestion – if presenting this work again, include Piltdown Man in the same table, and mention that Piltdown, which would not last 5 minutes in a modern lab, was refuted over 50 years ago.

    Adam Benton · 17th July 2014 at 7:52 pm

    I’m working on an abridged version for print in the NSCE newsletter; I’ll make those modifications. Thanks for the tip.

    Adam Benton · 5th August 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Update: managed to get the table changed in the abridged version to contain piltdown man.

Cynthia Echterling · 17th July 2014 at 11:04 pm

Congratulations! May there be many more to come.

Jim Birch · 18th July 2014 at 12:40 am

Great article. Succinct and makes a clear point.

Scott McGreal · 18th July 2014 at 1:32 am

Well done Adam, you’ll be the toast of McDonald’s! Just kidding, a great contribution to science education 🙂

fairlycirrus · 18th July 2014 at 2:20 pm

Hi Adam. Nice work! I’m currently embroiled in a ‘debate’ of sorts with a Young Earth Creationist who teaches science (!!) here in Northern NSW, Australia.
I’m on a very steep learning curve with very little background in any of the science fields that would enable me to make an easy-ish meal of the task. But I’m fairly cluey, have good research skills and am thoroughly enjoying the adventure. (I’m a retiree – 67yo – and although I have a degree in Applied Science – which dates back to the mid 1980s – none of it relates to the fields I most need to know about for this debate!)
I strive to ensure I make as few mistakes as possible but the more I read the posts written by this science teachermade by the person I’m debating (on my WordPress blog) the more I realise I could hardly be making a worse job of teaching science than she must be.

You might enjoy her latest rejoinder to one of my posts:
“Proposition 1.Evolution theory doesn’t match the data available to check it against and upon investigation has been found to be falsified at every point
Proposition 2.Creation theory matches the data available to check it against and upon investigation has not been falsified
Proposition 3. Since Creation theory matches the data, the logical conclusion would be that Creation Theory is correct.”

I’m starting to get the fact that I’m going to have to throw in a blogpost on a totally unrelated topic just so I can maintain what’s left of my sanity =/

I must admit this is as much a battle against her religious beliefs as it is against the associated unscientific codswallop of young earth creationism. The atheist side of me goes into battle to the same extent that the ‘evolutionist’ me does.

If you find yourself with a spare moment or two, head on over for a laugh. (Be kind and gentle with me if it’s actually MY stuff you end up chuckling over. I’m a Somewhat Sensitive Old Duck.)

So here’s a link to one of my posts in what’s turning out to be a long string of ’em:

http://mythinkblots.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/creationism-a-grey-journey-to-nowhere/

    Adam Benton · 4th August 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Apologies for the late reply, my laptop has been a bit poorly. Creationists can be incredibly frustrating; and there’s always a danger with it turning into a full-blown religious debate. Atheism and evolution are different ideas (although I hold to them both) and I try to at least maintain some semblance of this fact in discussion. That said, you handled that comment deftly; to the point where I don’t have much more to add. You’ve got yourself a follow from me though; and if you ever need an opinion on human evolution feel free to leave me a message. I’ll try to get back to you relatively quickly this time.

Jim Thomerson · 18th July 2014 at 5:20 pm

Well done article. On your academic development, I would suggest becoming as expert as you can manage in genetics and DNA analysis. Fortunately or unfortunately, I think this is a requisite part of the physical anthropology toolkit these days.

    Adam Benton · 4th August 2014 at 9:47 pm

    I’m trying but it’s dense stuff and most anthropology people in my department seem scared of it. Makes it kind of hard for them to teach it.

Wyrd Smythe · 18th July 2014 at 6:15 pm

Nice job!

I have a growing concern about the rising level of anti-science and anti-intellectualism today. At one time science and knowledge were seen as things that elevated us above our origins — the Renaissance lifted us out of the Dark Ages. Now we seem headed back to them. People actively reject scientific views as though they were disagreeable opinions. The growing gap between the two views really rings of Morlock and Eloi, (and once again one wonders at the prescience of science fiction)! o_O

    Adam Benton · 4th August 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Our society does seem to be getting increasingly polarised; which is very annoying because as far as I can tell reality is not.

      Wyrd Smythe · 5th August 2014 at 5:38 pm

      It’s getting damned dark and scary out there… I recently discovered that an online friend — one I’d previously considered intelligent and questing — is skeptical of 9/11 and of climate change and of scientists in general. And then there are the “educated” liberals who believe vaccines cause autism and refuse to vaccinate their children (I can only guess they’ve missed smallpox and polio being part of society). Let alone the people who believe in the mystical properties of crystals or copper or magnets or stars…. [sigh]

        Adam Benton · 5th August 2014 at 10:26 pm

        I feel like there is a slightly different degree of anti-intellectualism amongst many liberals, but ultimately not that different to that we might see in creationists. I think the liberal version is a tad more cynical, but the end results are basically the same: too much woo.

        Wyrd Smythe · 6th August 2014 at 12:21 am

        I think that’s a good point; I see a difference, too. Secular woo versus religious woo.

        Adam Benton · 7th August 2014 at 11:28 pm

        I think I may have exaggerated the similarities a tad, but I think there is an undercurrent of anti-intellectualism that percolates and justifies both sorts of woo. Which raises the question: are the “intellectuals” doing something wrong; or will people always mistrust forces outside of their experience/control

        Wyrd Smythe · 8th August 2014 at 6:08 pm

        I would guess it’s more the latter, and I have a suspicion that the increasingly technological and complex “global village” we inhabit these days has people giving up trying to understand it and, hence, feeling even more helpless.

        There was a time when a clever, motivated person could understand — at least to a degree — how the world worked. Clever people could fix their own cars, washing machines and so forth. Now, that’s all but impossible, and the geo-socio-political knots seem all but insoluble.

        I think, increasingly, people retreat into what they can understand or what seems they can.

        Adam Benton · 9th August 2014 at 5:22 pm

        I’m not sure the “intellectuals” have been helping themselves either. Although it’s a bit before my time, I’ve heard how many scoffed at ‘early’ science communicators like Carl Sagan. Fortunately the academic world seems to be learning the importance of such work; so I hope such anti-intellectualism is on a downwards trend.

        Wyrd Smythe · 9th August 2014 at 8:57 pm

        I can’t back this up with data, but my gut sense is that we haven’t yet seen the peak of the trend. When I consider what’s happened, just in the last decade or so, with TV channels such as The Science Channel and The Learning Channel (which are almost entirely “reality” shows now), I despair.

        Even when they do produce science shows, those shows are filled with CGI glitz and almost never dig into the real depths of the topic. Some of them are so shallow as to be for children.

        Scientific American, a magazine I cherished (and owe for no small part of my science education) for quite a few decades, became so pop and shallow and useless to me that I finally stopped subscribing.

        Neil DeGrasse-Tyson is, I would say, Sagan’s modern day analogue, and he’s not bad, but he’s no Sagan. He (to my eye) lacks the gravitas and grace of Sagan. (Although, make no mistake, I like and respect the guy.) His remaking of Cosmos is very good, but the few episodes I’ve seen seem dumbed down compared to Sagan’s original.

        I hope it’s just my own cynicism, but it feels like we’re on a downward trend.

        Adam Benton · 10th August 2014 at 6:25 pm

        Whilst I agree with everything you say about the new Cosmos; at least it existed and was arguably quite popular. Similarly, here in the UK Brian Cox seems to have single handedly revived the science documentary; prompting the development of a lot of new content lead by “charismatic” scientists like him or Alice Roberts.

        Wyrd Smythe · 11th August 2014 at 9:20 pm

        Agreed. Half a loaf is certainly better than no loaf at all! There are a number of science “channels” on YouTube, also, and they do get a lot of hits. (But then one reads the comments and wonders just how much people are actually getting out of them.)

        I can’t make up my mind whether we’re just going through a huge social change (and everything will turn out — if not alright, at least — no worse than before), OR whether this is — as it sometimes feels to me — The End Of Everything And Certain Doom For Humanity. o_O

        Adam Benton · 13th August 2014 at 10:51 am

        I suspect we’re in the upswing and everything will be fine, we’ve just got a very, very long way to go.

Ralph Gironda · 20th July 2014 at 6:31 pm

Great article! Lots of good postings for further research. I didn’t know there was that many fossil species at one site for their listings.

    Adam Benton · 4th August 2014 at 9:48 pm

    The five fossils I refer to in the article are all from different sites (although some of them do contain multiple fossils, I only picked one for the analysis)

szopeno · 31st July 2014 at 12:36 pm

Let me join the others in congratulating you very good job. Interesting read.

Artem Kaznatcheev · 5th September 2014 at 4:58 am

Congrats! I am looking forward to the publications section of your CV swell. Keep up the good work.

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