The Big Thaw: Canadian Arctic Politics

A hamlet on the Northwest Passage has been chosen as the home for Canada’s High Arctic Research Station, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Tuesday [August 24th].

The western Nunavut community of Cambridge Bay has been chosen over Resolute Bay and Pond Inlet to the east. All three sites were shortlisted in 2009 as possible locations.

“This will be a world class centre for science,” Harper told reporters on Tuesday. “It will be a tangible expression of this government’s determination to develop and protect all of our true North.” via

The Canadian Arctic is a place where myths are often confronted by reality.  Canadians like to believe that Americans blindly accept that we live in a land of constant ice and snow, and that we all live in igloos.  By extension we also like to believe that all ice and snow in North America (except for Alaska) is our sovereign domain.…

Steve Fuller – Science

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Historian and philosopher of science Steve Fuller has long embraced his role as a public intellectual. As part of that mission, he testified in the 2005 Dover school board trials, arguing that intelligent design could legitimately claim scientific status. He has since written two books on the intelligent design controversy. Science, his latest effort, is part of The Art of Living series. It is ostensibly an exploration of what it means to “live scientifically,” but is more accurately described as an argument for the necessary connection between science and theology.

Fuller’s central argument should be no surprise to those familiar with his previous commentary on intelligent design. It is a two-pronged pragmatic argument. On the one hand, Darwinism is dispensable: most work in biology does not rely on Darwin’s theory of evolution (think molecular biology). On the other hand, religion is indispensible for scientific progress: without believing that the universe has been designed to be intelligible to humans, there is no motivation for scientists to attempt to comprehend it. However, in Science Fuller goes further than this. He also claims that a designer with intelligence resembling our own is the best explanation for the success of science.…

Wildlife Films 101

Man can have but one interest in nature, namely, to see himself reflected there; and we quickly neglect both poet and philosopher who fail to satisfy, in some measure, this feeling. John Burroughs, A Year in the Fields.

When was the last time you saw a wild animal? Leaving out pets, squirrels, and pigeons, there’s a good chance it was in one of two places: Youtube, home of hilarious cat videos emailed by colleagues (like this one) or in a wildlife film.

Wildlife films are remarkable intersections between human and animal life at both the level of their production by naturalists and filmmakers and their consumption by the public. This film genre has been a major player in the 20th century relationship between the public and the “wild,” however construed. And even though the science of animal behavior seems to have reached more people through wildlife on film than any other modern medium, the topic remains for the most part unexplored in the field of history and philosophy of science. I think wildlife films have a tremendous amount to offer interdisciplinary accounts of the relationships between human beings, biology, and wildlife.