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O Best Beloved: Just-so stories in ecology and evolution

Sloth-moth symbiosis. Dinosaur-devestating asteroid impacts. Girl’s preference for pink. Are these fact, or fiction? Sometimes, what we think we know about the natural world is based more on story-telling than the scientific method. Calling something a “just-so story” in science is almost universally intended as a criticism. The term is a reference to Rudyard Kipling’s collection […]

How fast can trees migrate?

“As I did stand my watch upon the hill, I looked toward Birnam, and anon methought the wood began to move.” – Messenger, Shakespeare’s Macbeth The simple story of the last 2.5 million years of vegetation response to climate change could be summed up like this: temperature goes up and down, plants […]

How to argue with a scientist: A guide

I notice it all the time– on Facebook, in the comments of a science blog, over family gatherings, or listening to a radio talk show. Someone, maybe you, is patiently trying to explain how vaccines cause autism, perhaps, or why so-called “anthropogenic” global warming is really just due to sunspots […]