Noah’s Floods

by Paul Braterman By chance, I chose as holiday reading (awaiting my attention since student days) The Epic of Gilgamesh, a Penguin Classics bestseller, part of the great library of Ashur-bani-pal that was buried in the wreckage of Nineveh when that city was sacked by the Babylonians and their allies in 612 BCE. Gilgamesh is…

The “scientific method”, a needless stumbling block; with a note on falsification

by Paul Braterman Below, R: How not to; "The Scientific Method", as inflicted on Science Fair participants. Click to enlarge Consider this, from a justly esteemed chemistry text: Scientists are always on the lookout for patterns.… Once they have detected patterns, scientists develop hypotheses… After formulating a hypotheses, scientists design further experiments [emphasis in original]…

Evolution is not progress

by Paul Braterman Evolution has nothing to do with progress. Most evolution doesn't even have anything to do with adaptation, and it is perfectly possible for a change that is worse than useless to spread through a population. Paradoxically, however, such non-adaptive change may be a necessary prelude for major adaptations. This post was inspired…

Democracy or theocracy? The bid to reform Scotland’s educational committee system

by Paul Braterman A 1929 law* imposes three unelected clergy on each of Scotland's local Education Committees. This was based on practice dating back to the 1870s, with the formation of the Scottish educational system from a merger of church and non-church elements, and to the 1918 incorporation of Catholic schools into the system. The…

Science in the World of Islam, 1: The Syllable Al-

by Paul Braterman As in Alcatraz; Alcove; Alfalfa; Alcohol; Alkali; Alizarin; Almanac; Alchemy; Alembic; Algol; Almagest; Algebra; Algorithm; Alhambra The syllable Al- is Arabic for “The”, and is attached to the beginning of the word to which it applies. Like English today, or Latin in Renaissance Europe, the dominant language of learned discourse for several…

Intelligent design or intricate deception? What I told students during the Kitzmiller trial

by Paul Braterman University of North Texas, where I was teaching in 2005 Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District, in which judgment was pronounced on 20th December 2005, is the court case that established that Intelligent Design is not science, but a form of religiously motivated creationism, and as such may not be taught in…