slick propaganda has no place in science classroom

Except, perhaps, if it’s used to develop critical thinking skills. But I don’t think that’s what happened on the occasion reported under the headline Creationism taught in science class at Villa Education Trust school: [A student who’d studied at] Mt Hobson Middle School said Darwinism was taught as an unproven theory and students were shown […]

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appeal to antiquity? appeal to nature? bingo!

I was idly skimming the Herald's website when I came across an article with the headline "Is plant medicine really that effective?" Since the article appears to be in the nature of an advertorial, the answer is, it depends on who you ask. Unlike man-made chemical drugs that have been developed as novel medicines from the 19th […]

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is it a shrimp? is it a prawn? no – it’s Super Crayfish!

Polyploidy – the duplication of chromosome sets – is relatively common in plants, and can result in the development of new species. (Many modern food crops are polyploids.) It’s much less common in animals, although found in some frogs & salamanders (amphibians) & leeches (annelids). So it was with a mix of excitement, surprise, & […]

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dogs, diets, & the impact of evolution

Yvonne d'Entremont (aka SciBabe) recently posted an article on 'alternative' foods and health products for pets, in her usual no-holds-barred style. It's always good to see pseudoscience called out for what it is, and in the case of pet-focused quackery it's a message that needs multiple repeats. Why? Because pets are dependent on us, & […]

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attitudes and antibiotics

A recent FB post from Stuff discussed the rising concerns around the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (This is something that Siouxsie Wiles has often written about: here and here, for example; her excellent book on the subject is reviewed here.) Fairly predictably, it didn't take long for the proponents of essential oils to turn up, soon to be joined by the usual […]

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vegetarian spiders? what is the world coming to?

Like probably everyone reading this, I have always thought that spiders are carnivorous, sucking the precious bodily fluidsA from their prey. I mean, those fangs! And I was wrong, for it seems that some spiders eat some plant material alongside their liquid meals – and some are almost fully vegetarian. A just-published paper (Painting, Nicholson, […]

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human evolution – new discoveries, & how do we accommodate them in our teaching?

What follows is loosely based on a workshop I ran at this year's Biolive/ChemEd secondary science teachers' conference. (A most excellent conference, by the way – kudos to those organising & presenting.) I've added a bunch of hotlinked references. Back when I was in 7th form (or year 13 ie a rather long time ago), […]

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tunicates – apparent simplicity belies a complex past

Tunicates are more commonly known as 'sea squirts' – little blobby marine creatures that squirt water when you touch them (hence the name). We don't hear about them often, except perhaps when they make the news for all the wrong reasons. But from an evolutionary perspective they are fascinating little creatures – and it's largely […]

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