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NCSE Roundup: This Week in Science and Climate Change

NCSE Round-Up: This Week in Science and Climate Change

This week in evolution and climate change, the NCSE stands with Ahmed, the AP Stylebook updates include climate change deniers, and Stephanie Keep discusses fossil updates sure to keep your class entertained.

NCSE Stands with Ahmed

Josh Rosenau remembers a time before 9/11 when he and a friend had been stopped by a patrolling police officer for having visible wires poking out of their backpacks- and had been easily let go after explaining.

Rosenau worries that the racial divide after 9/11 and Ahmed's plight will dissuade other passionate STEM learners from following their dreams.

Though Rosenau knows Ahmed will come out of this experience all right thanks to the outpouring of support nationwide, he worries about other young learners out there.

" I worry more about all the boys and girls who have encountered similar discrimination, especially the victims of racism, stereotypes about nerds and science, and out-dated and ineffective zero-tolerance policies. I stand with Ahmed, and I hope that we will stand with all those others, too," he said.

Read his full post here.

Comments on the AP Stylebook's Judgment of "Climate Change Denier"

The Associated Press Stylebook update has added climate change denier to its book, and Josh Rosenau has a few comments to make on the addition.

Though he's happy the word has been acknowledged, he's a little perturbed that the definition adds some support to deniers by saying:

"That group prefers the phrase “climate change deniers” for those who reject accepted global warming data and theory. But those who reject climate science say the phrase denier has the pejorative ring of Holocaust denier so The Associated Press prefers climate change doubter or someone who rejects mainstream science.”

Rosenau supports denier over doubter because he fears doubter doesn't appropriately define the outright rejection of mainstream science going on.

Read his full post here

Anti-Evolution and Anti-Climate Change Scorecard

In this post, the NCSE takes a look at the anti-evolution and anti-climate change legislation approved or discussed in 2015 by state to give readers an idea of how deniers are influencing politics. On a positive note, another state adopted the NGSS standards.

"The tally was nearly identical to 2014's. Four bills targeted evolution, one climate science, two unspecified "scientific controversies," and one adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)."

Check out the full list here

The Strange News About Homo Naledi, Parts 2 & 3

Last week, Stephanie Keep introduced the findings of a record-breaking number of full Homo Naledi fossils found in a cave, noting some bizarre findings after a team analyzed them. This week, she delves into those strange findings.

In part 2, Keep describes how the the team found that the fossils have a mixture of modern and early traits, and found it had an even smaller brain than H. Habilis, considered a controversial addition to our genus by many because of its small brain. 

"So it seems we might have to give up on 'big brains' being the hallmark of our genus," Keep said.

Additionally, the location where the fossils were found indicate that the species was dumping their dead- albeit without ceremony or ritual. This indicates a sophistication to the process nonetheless.

Based on the location, "there is no way the H. naledi could have completed that trip without some light—they must have had torches. And for some, the idea that a tiny-brained creature could do that is just too difficult to accept."

In Part 3, Keep acknowledges how awesome all of these findings are, but says that it's difficult to make any solid conclusions because it's impossible to date the fossils.

"...unfortunately, there is one big, glaring issue with the discovery that is preventing it from reaching its full “find of the century!” potential: No one knows how old the bones are because they aren’t embedded in dateable sediments or rocks." "

Age gives context and you can’t draw firm evolutionary conclusions without context. Geologists infer that Rising Star cave where H. naledi was found is less than 3 million years old, so there seems to be a firm 'oldest possible' date, but that doesn’t help a whole lot," she said.

Keep recommends sharing this story in the classroom to "help to dispel so many misconceptions about how science works."

Read the full post here

 

 

Compiled by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

09/24/2015

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