Jun. 19th, 2007 10:36 am
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Nicked from here after a reference to it on pharyngula...

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Is "evolutionary tract", in the sense of an evolutionary pathway or branch (as opposed to a proselytizing book on evolution), a malapropped "evolutionary track", perhaps by malcognition with "revolutionary tract", or does it actually mean something real? If so, how does it differ from "evolutionary path"? There are 900-odd references on google (and 200 to "evolutionary tracts"), but most of them are either using it in a very metaphorical sense (an essay at MIT about televisions) or refer to books about evolution, usually on barely-literate creationist sites.

A tract can be "a structure along or through which something passes" in an anatomical sense (respiratory or digestive tract), but evolution doesn't have structures along which organisms pass... a tract can be a book, a piece of land, an extension, or a structured pathway ... it's kind of an all-purpose word, since as far as I can tell those four things have nothing to do with one another.
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This article is very interesting to me -- apart from the amusing/horrified sense of the blatant underlying lie and how clumsily it was propagated -- because it's such a wonderful ironic example of the fallacy of equivocation, which I run into all the time when I read/contribute to quasi-philosophical discourses on science, e.g. and their ilk. So this gets woolly, and way off the topic Prof. DeLong brought up. But the fallacy is so pervasive I wanted to say something.Read more... )
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Missed the first one, and the other two are already sold out so I can't attend. Pfoo.

It requires free registration, but this is a Sac Bee article about how the Sac Zoo is doing a series of evolution lectures the way it's supposed to be done: they are inviting scientists, which means they're presenting science. Apparently these lectures -- geared to docents, not the general public -- normally get ~25 attendees, and right now they're at over 100, and despite moving the venue they're sold out: "The waiting list for Wednesday's talk is 68 deep; 18 deep for a talk on March 22; and five deep for the last talk on April 26."

The format already has drawn objections from a few people who say the question of how species developed is inappropriate for the zoo, or who would like to see contrary points of view presented equally.

"I suppose it would have been a politically correct thing to do to have both sides presented, but intelligent design is not part of our curriculum," Chappell said.

"We're glad that we're doing this," [Whittall the organizer] said. "We're surprised that a portion of our audience didn't expect it was the zoo's place to do that."

"We're not saying what (people should) believe in the home," Whittall said. "We're talking about science."

The UC Davis speakers were offered honoraria of $75, but both are declining the money.

* Feb. 22: "Science and Non-Science: The Truth Behind Intelligent Design," on why intelligent design is fundamentally nonscientific, and flaws in intelligent design arguments, by Maureen Stanton, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis.

* March 22: "The Hard Evidence For Evolution," on how fossil finds support evolutionary theory, by Richard Cowen, paleontologist and UC Davis professor emeritus of geology.

* April 26: "History of Evolutionary Thought," on the people, politics and debate of the 19th-century era when Charles Darwin published the seminal book on evolution, "The Origin of Species," by Robin Whittall, zoo education director.

* All lectures are on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Admission is $8 for members, $9 for the general public. Teachers may qualify for discounted admission of $5. For more information, call (916) 264-5889 or see
Wonder how the first one went.


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