Quicklinks: 1-8 January 2023

In the early years of my blog, I occasionally did a “quicklinks” post which just included links to items of interest and a brief description. I didn’t do too many and that sort of short interaction was later taken over by Twitter. In an attempt to boost my activity, if not full-length posts, I thought I might try doing a weekly set of quicklinks that I’ve shared on Twitter. It will not necessarily include everything I see and share there but, hopefully, the most interesting and informative links.

The Royal Society reports that Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer of evolution by natural selection, was born yesterday in 1823.

I have yet to read the original article, but, apparently, ancient tools discovered in Brazil, which were previously considered to be evidence of some of the first humans in South America, were likely created by capuchin monkeys.

This article promises to be a bit of fun to read. Wild animals will reportedly run on wheels that are left outside!

Sad news from Sweden. Despite all the talk of “following the science” that governments trumpeted during covid, the Swedish government has chosen to ignore the scientists and continue with a plan to kill 75 endangered wolves of an already dangerously small population.

One of the big topics under discussion these days is artificial intelligence (AI). In relation to how AI may cause problems in education, I will share this piece from last month by Jacques Rousseau on the potential problem of students using AI software to write their essays and this account, from Darren Hudson Hick, detailing how he caught a student who used an AI chatbot to plagiarise an essay.

Two days ago was the 8th anniversary of the appalling attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices, where 12 people were killed and 11 injured for drawing pictures!

Another free speech story concerns a college in the US where, despite going above and beyond what was required, a lecturer was fired for showing paintings of Mohammad in an art history class. It is worth reading the entire piece, not only to see the absurdity of what happened but to remember that it happened in the US, which is not an Islamic theocracy and where citizens are supposed to have freedom of religion.

One has to wonder, if Hamline University is endorsing that conservative strain of Islam whether they would similarly consider it Islamophobic for a student to have a guide dog or how they view the continuing struggles of women in the Middle East for equal rights; particularly concerning the protests in Iran which have been continuing for over 100 days and in which more than 500 people have died. It may not have fallen in this previous week but I think it’s also worth sharing this video from Afghanistan of a professor destroying his degrees in protest that women are barred from receiving an education in his country.

Finally, Sarah McLaughlin, a senior scholar at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression has a worthwhile piece on free speech, blasphemy, Iran and the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

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