Some must see TV tomorrow night (for those in the U.S.)

Charles Darwin has a posse!
As has been noted elsewhere by many (e.g., PeeZed), tomorrow night (Tuesday, 13 Nov) PBS is airing Judgement Day. This is a Nova program covering in considerable detail the ins and outs of the trial two years ago in Dover, Pennsylvania, that was, at its heart, about whether “intelligent design” had any pretense to being science. It obviously doesn’t, and the court had the wherewithal to agree.

This has been heralded by many as a landmark case in the fight between science and reason on the one hand and politics, mumbo jumbo, and bizarrely wishful thinking on the other. While I fervently hope that this ruling is in fact a harbinger of a more rational future in the U.S., only time will truly tell. The case is clearly an crucial one, however, both for what it tells us about the powerful, organized, and persistent forces of willful ignorance, and about the ability of the forces of reason and sense to carry the day with clarity and force of their own.

Being out of the country, we will obviously miss the show, although we might get to catch it here later if one of the UK broadcasters picks it up. The most recent Science Talk podcast includes an interview with the show’s writer and producer, Joseph McMaster. Steve Mirsky (Science Talk’s excellent host) obviously really likes the show (he saw an advance tape), which makes me all the more sad that we’ll miss out. Mirsky ends the segment by mentioning that the pro-ID Discovery Institute has preemptively denounced the program, fussing that Nova fails to be impartial and should be more up-front about their clear bias. As Mirsky points out (with a wee twinkle in his voice), Nova could hardly be clearer about their bias: They’re a science program, and ID ain’t science.

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Evolution is just too cool!

One of the joys of cool students (who eventually turn into cool alums) is they send you pointers to crazy weird stuff they find on-line. Like photos of carrion beetles!
Carrion beetle from

OK, so the photo itself probably doesn’t wow you (unless you’re another carrion beetle), but the write up on this little critter is pretty cool. The real kicker, though, is the follow-up post and photo.

All those little red guys are mites that hitch a ride on the underside of the beetle, and you might reasonably wonder why the beetle tolerates them (esp. in such numbers).

Carrion beetle with mites from

Because they eat fly eggs and maggots which present a real threat to the carrion beetles’ wee ones. Because the flies, well, fly, they can get to the dead bodies faster than the beetles typically can, and their maggots can strip a little mouse corpse before the carrion beetle couple can get their brood up and running. So the beetles are quite happy to bring along a gaggle of mites, who then clear out any fly bits without bothering the beetles or their offspring.

A rockin’ example of symbiosis if I ever saw one. Tip o’ the cap to MJ for the pointers, and to for the photos and explanation of what’s going on.

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