On the surface, Dick Teresi’s Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science—from the Babylonians to the Maya is an eye-opening and thought-provoking book on the history of non-Western science. It is a book I would recommend to anyone who believes in the “Greek miracle,” who takes Carl Sagan’s words about the Ionian birth of science at face value, and generally anyone who wants to take a less white, less Western perspective on both science and history as wholes. However, anyone who reads this must also be able to question what they are reading, ask for the author’s sources and motivation, and be ready to think for themselves despite the author’s biases.
“Whatever is inconsistent with the facts, no matter how fond of it we are, must be discarded or revised.” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos Episode 13: “Who Speaks for Earth?”
Since first reading Cosmos by Carl Sagan one year ago, I have revered him. I admire his worldview and his way of expressing it. I’ve dedicated many blog posts to him and to the curiosity that he has inspired in me. I’ve shared dozens of his quotes, many of which carry the same sentiment as the one above. This dedication to the truth, this unwillingness to accept facts only because they were propagated by an authority figure, is what brings me to write that Carl Sagan was wrong.Read more
Evolution by natural selection is the amazing, vast, but surprisingly simple mechanism that explains the magnificent diversity of life on Earth. That’s why I love it. But through no fault of their own, so many people absorb misinformation about evolution in daily life, in and out of the classroom. I believe that evolution is a phenomenon which is only not accepted when it’s not understood. Even worse, many of us know it to be true, but don’t know enough about it to be able to defend it against someone who’s been wrongly taught about it.
That’s where this post will help. The good news is that most of the misunderstandings about evolution boil down to a handful of different objections which can be easily corrected with the right context. As you apply this advice in the real world, keep in mind that most people don’t choose to be misinformed. If you are polite and gracious in your explanation, it will go a long way.
Two weeks ago, I posted my review of Sasha Sagan’s beautiful memoir/humanist manifesto/love letter to the Cosmos For Small Creatures Such as We. I ranked it as one of my new all-time favorite books, and I recommended it as highly as I could, but still I feel that I can’t really put into words just how beautifully moving this book is. Only the book itself can do that. Hopefully my favorite quotes will give you a taste of what this book is really like!Read more
If you have been following my blog for the past few months, then you know that one of my favorite YouTubers is Progressive Christian Brenda Marie Davies. I feel like I’m talking about how great her channel is in every other post. So you can imagine that when she posted a podcast episode this week all about astrology—interviewing full-time “astrologer” Aliza Kelly—that I was frustrated because belief in the pseudoscience of astrology is my #1 pet peeve.Read more
Four years ago to the day, I wrote a post called “Why I Am Not a Scientist”. I’ve since privated it, because I don’t like the way I spoke about myself and my own intelligence in that post. My main idea was that I was new to being an informed atheist, and I was not confident in my abilities to refute young-earth creationism. I called myself “scientifically challenged” and expressed that I felt that in order to really be confident in my atheist stance, I would have to become much more educated in various fields of science. I said that I was “really bad at science” even as I said that I loved and appreciated how it allows us to learn about the world around us.Read more
Only one week ago from today, I wrote of The Disordered Cosmos, “This book is particularly intriguing because my perception is that it is about physics, astronomy, Star Trek, and how science needs to be a more accepting space for women and people of color. I just bought it yesterday as my reward for making it through the week, and I am so eager to get started!” I had a decently correct idea of what the book actually is, but in no way was I prepared for what I would learn.Read more
If a book can be “hot” in the world of paleoanthropology, then Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art is that book. Published in the fall of 2020, Kindred is the latest in a long line of books about Neanderthals, but anyone who has read Kindred knows that it is not like the others.Read more
I know I said I would not write posts responding to creationist nonsense without good reason, but when I stumbled upon the fact that Ken Ham thought that Perseverance, NASA’s latest Mars rover, was a “waste of money,” what was I to do? I got to researching, and even after knowing the ways of Answers in Genesis as well as I do, I was still shocked that they would say this.Read more
Happy Sunday and welcome to the latest installment in my series Creationists Don’t Understand Human Evolution! This week I will be responding to the three Answers in Genesis articles under their category “Hominids” in which the AiG authors contend with “the news” each time it “eagerly reports the discovery of another link in the supposed chain of hominid evolution.” In my opinion, this whole category seems pretty incomplete, as it only covers two fossil discoveries as well as an ongoing debate between paleoanthropologists. I don’t normally respond to each article separately, but the first of these three has virtually nothing in common with the other two, so I’ll have to tackle that one on its own. The articles are:Read more