Friday, August 25, 2006

Praying Mantises & Statements of Faith

This afternoon when I went out to gather more snapdragon seeds I discovered a small, pale praying mantis on one of them. Wow! It reminded me of a time years ago when I found myself showering with one, a much, much larger one. It was so pale it was translucent. How it got into the Jewett Hall 4th floor showers remains an unsolved mystery.

I've been reminscing lately about my life as an undergraduate. It happens frequently at this time of year. Last night we met a father from our old neck of the woods in New England who dropped off his daughter. It was a little surreal when I realized that I am almost old enough to be the age my mom was when I left for college.

I consider a praying mantis in my garden good luck. These carnivorous insects eat garden pests! Though they don't have binocular vision, they excel at catching prey through motion detection. They sort of achieve the "camera 1, camera 2" effect by peering from side to side before they pounce on their prey. Evidently they can kill and eat hummingbirds!

Praying mantis males commit sexual suicide to reproduce. The female bites the head off of the male once he makes his move. She has to bite off his head in order to trigger his ejaculation. If he didn't lose his head, he'd never be able to fertilize her eggs.

You'd be surprised how many males sacrifice their lives to be able to impregnate a female.

Read more here.

Did you also know that when soaked in water petunia seeds color the water a deep purple? That seredipitous discovery led me to think about the possibilities for staining my handmade paper. I can also visualize ancestral women foraging and gathering seeds and making similar accidental innovations. This purple die would make great eye shadow.

Considering I'm on the subject of praying, do you think it's foolish for an evolutionary psychologist to apply for faculty positions at schools that maintain religious affiliations and for which signing a statement of faith or writing a statement of how faith influences the applicant's teaching is part of the application process? Has anyone written anything like this? If so, what approach did you or would you take?


ScienceWoman said...

Holly - I wouldn't defacto rule out those institutions, but I would want to know enough about their particular views/mission to know whether it was going to be a waste of my time. If you are applying to psych departments, maybe you could look to see if they had someone who studies evolution in their bio department or whether they had a geo department. If they had either of those, they probably would be OK with your application. Good luck!

psychgrad said...

That's an interesting question... My labmate was just filling out an application for a religious college that asked about religious affiliation. Granted, we're not evolutionary psychologists. But it seems to me that most PhDs would acknowledge the role of evolution in contributing to our world today (although that may be a more digestable viewpoint for a religious college). I guess I don't really have an answer. Personally, I wasn't keen on the idea of discussing religious affiliation on a job application.

B said...

Thanks for the support over at my place! As for the faith issue it probably depends on the school and your comfort level. But, if you can teach evolution and open the eyes of some of the students there that would be a unique contribution. Besides, can't you have faith and still see the truth of natural selection?