The Panda's Thumb (blog)

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The Panda's Thumb is a weblog on the creation-evolution controversy from a mainstream scientific perspective. In 2006, Nature listed it as one of the top five science blogs.[1] It is written by multiple contributors, including Wesley R. Elsberry, Paul R. Gross, Nick Matzke, PZ Myers and Mark Perakh, many of whom also have complementary weblogs at ScienceBlogs. The blog takes its name from The Panda's Thumb, the pub of the virtual University of Ediacara, which is named after the book of the same name by Stephen Jay Gould, which in turn takes its title from the essay "The Panda's Peculiar Thumb",[2] which discusses the Panda's sesamoid bone, an example of convergent evolution.

Early in the blog's operation, it was involved in controversy regarding a book by Francis Beckwith. This book defends the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools. Lawrence VanDyke published a note in the Harvard Law Review, praising the book. Brian Leiter wrote a scathing criticism of this note on his blog. A response to Leiter's blog post appeared in the National Review Online, criticizing Leiter and reaffirming support for Beckwith's book. This response was written by Hunter Baker, who was identified as a "freelance writer in Texas". Baker is also a graduate student and teaching assistant for Francis Beckwith, the author of the book in question, and Leiter subsequently pointed this out on his blog.[3] Kevin Drum, of the Washington Monthly, also reported on these events.[4] He described the Panda's Thumb blog as having been started because of this controversy, although contributors to the blog have stated that this is incorrect.[5]


  1. "Top five science blogs". Nature. 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Gould, S. J. (1978). "The panda's peculiar thumb." Natural History 87 (Nov.): 20-30.
  3. A Case Study in How the Right-Wing Slime-and-Smear Machine Works Brian Leiter. The Leiter Reports, March 17, 2004.
  4. Political Animal, Intelligent Design Kevin Drum. Washington Monthly, March 24, 2004.
  5. Ed Brayton (March 24, 2004). "The Calpundit Weighs in on Leiter vs VanDyke and Plugs This Site". The Panda's Thumb. Retrieved 2007-11-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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