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New Mexico school standards water down evolution, geology, and climate change

20 Sep

Why Evolution Is True

Mother Jones has an article by Andy Kroll about how the state of New Mexico has watered down a widespread and excellent secondary school science curriculum (grades kindergarden through 12): the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) developed in conjunction with National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  The state’s public education department released a document (here) that proposes changes to its existing standards that have changed some of the NGSS guidelines.

And these changes aren’t random: in the main, they water down evolution, remove evidence for the age of the earth, and imply that global warming is a “fluctuation” rather than a trend. Glenn Branch of the NCSE reacted:

“These changes are evidently intended to placate creationists and climate change deniers,” says Glenn Branch, the deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit group that…

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The Years That Ask Questions: Epistemologies of Liberation and the Post-Charlottesville Imperative

15 Sep

Welcome to the AAA Blog

By Donna Auston
Rutgers University

White supremacy is deadly.

A black sign emblazoned with four bleak words in white block script perched atop a protestor’s shoulder played a dual role: it communicated the urgency of the spectacle to preoccupied shoppers and passing motorists on this busy avenue in the Bronx at the same time that it shielded her dark brown face from the intense heat of the August sun.  It was the one-year anniversary of the fatal police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, nearly a thousand miles away in Ferguson, Missouri.  In spite of the geographic distance, Brown’s death was unfortunately all too near, all too familiar—to so many who gathered that day to mourn and protest, including myself.

I covered the march that day ostensibly as an anthropologist—a scientist of sorts—collecting data for eventual syntheses into working hypotheses, and ultimately, into a set of conclusions about “the…

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How do you raise a child? Insights from a World of Babies

13 May

Welcome to the AAA Blog

How do you raise a child?  Ask any mother, and she’ll offer a long list of things you should do–and shouldn’t do.  Not only will three mothers share three different recommendations; as anthropologists, we now know that different communities may follow drastically different approaches to childcare.

A mother in the US certainly receives much parenting advice that contradicts that received by a mother in, say, China or Denmark.  In the all-new edition of A World of Babies, we explore these perspectives for these and other societies around the world.

Partly it’s a matter of values (which are typically shaped by religious systems combined with biographical experiences).  Partly it’s a matter of money (which is in good part determined by systems of power, both local and global).  Partly it’s a matter of access (which may be determined by military factors, technological knowhow, maternity leave policies, healthcare resources, and ecological constraints)…

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Ancient Human DNA Extracted From Ice Age Caves Without Human Remains

1 May

Anthropology.net

Preparing a sediment sample for DNA extraction. Photo by Sylvio Tüpke and Max Planck / Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Preparing a sediment sample for DNA extraction. Photo by Sylvio Tüpke and Max Planck / Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Ancient DNA has come a long way, baby. We now don’t even need the bones any more to pick up traces of prehistoric beings. This highly sensitive technique for analyzing ancient DNA was announced last week in Science.  Studying 85 sediment samples from seven 14,000 to 550,000 year old caves in Europe and Russia, senior author Matthias Meyer and his team of researchers first isolated all DNA from the soil samples. Unsurprisingly, most belonged to bacteria. About 0.05 to 10% belonged to mammals.

The authors then created a targeted enrichment of mitochondrial DNA, a type of bait, to identify the exact DNA to particular species, such as hominins as well as a variety of animals such as the woolly mammoth and woolly rhinos, cave bears and cave hyenas. Neandertal DNA was found in eight…

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Anthropology: A Love Story

15 Feb

Welcome to the AAA Blog

Why do you S_S-Classic-Heart-Pink_1024x1024 anthropology? The AAA is getting an early start to this year’s Anthropology Day celebration by spending our Valentine’s Day reflecting on why we fell in love with anthropology.

Read the anthropology love stories below from AAA President Alisse Waterston and our Executive Director Ed Liebow. Then share your own story with us in the comments!

Alisse Waterston, President, American Anthropological Association
President Scholar in Anthropology, Department of Anthropology
City University of New York- John Jay College of Criminal Justice

For Anthropology Day 2016, I said I love anthropology for helping me understand the world as it exists (which is not necessarily the world as I want it to be) and for providing me the intellectual tools to understand the human capacity for cleverness, creativity, connection as well as delusion and other dangerous capabilities. In our surreal political times, these human attributes seem to be on bloated display.

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Is sex a social construct like gender? Nope.

14 Feb

Why Evolution Is True

The video below, highlighted on Everyday Feminism, came with a few words on the website:

“Yes, trans women are women, but they’re still biologically male.”

Ever thought or said something like this? You might even have good intentions by stating what you think is a simple fact – after all, gender is a social construct, while sex is biological, right?

Actually, this “simple fact” of trans women being “biologically male” is inaccurate – and this misrepresentation of the truth is being used to justify some pretty hateful things.

So if you really want the facts, and to follow through on your good intentions by being a good ally, check out Riley J. Dennis’ explanation of why trans women are not biologically male.

With Love,
The Editors at Everyday Feminism

Well, I’d like to be a good ally, but not by denying the truth. And, in fact, sex is indeed biological—not a…

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Selective tool use in ants

10 Jan

Very interesting post from Jerry Coyne’s site. Enjoy!

Why Evolution Is True

You’re probably aware that tool use, once considered a uniquely human phenomenon, has now been documented widely in primates and birds. You may not know, though, that it’s also been seen in some insects, as in wasps that use pebbles to close off their burrows after laying eggs. Ants, too, have been seen to use debris from the environment to transport liquid food back to the nest; the ants that do this have a non-expandable crop, so they can’t simply suck up the stuff and then regurgitate it to their nestmates.

Now, in a new paper in Animal Behaviour by István Maák and his colleagues (link and free download below), we find that two species of the funnel ant Aphaenogaster not only use tools to suck up liquid food, but are selective in which tools they use. The authors collected colonies of A. senilis and A. subterranea, and presented…

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