Is the term Darwinism a “scientific slur”?

Darwinian Ken Miller is promoting his new book, The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will. In a guest column at Scientific American, he claims that the use of the term “Darwinism” is a slur against science: A number of purposes are served by reducing an entire scientific field to […]

Researchers: Horizontal gene transfer drives global infectious disease

From ScienceDaily: A new study by scientists at the University of Liverpool documents, for the first time, how the ability of bacteria to swap genetic material with each other can directly affect the emergence and spread of globally important infectious diseases. Known as ‘horizontal gene transfer’, this phenomenon is understood to have played a role […]

Laszlo Bencze on the current campaign against Karl Popper’s falsification criterion for science

Recently, we noted a piece by astrophysicist Adam Becker at Aeon, asking whether “fetish for falsification and observation” holds back science. Essentially, multiverse cosmologists have been trying for some time to undermine basic principles of science such as the requirement for evidence and the capacity for falsification, in order to get their evidence-free theories accepted […]

Does physics deconstruct our sense of time?

From Andrew Jaffe at Nature, reviewing Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time: According to theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli, time is an illusion: our naive perception of its flow doesn’t correspond to physical reality. Indeed, as Rovelli argues in The Order of Time, much more is illusory, including Isaac Newton’s picture of a universally ticking clock. […]

Origin of life: Rob Sheldon on “lies, damn lies, and models”

Pos-Darwinista writes to draw our attention to the following Abstract: Universal biology and the statistical mechanics of early life Nigel Goldenfeld, Tommaso Biancalani, Farshid Jafarpour Published 13 November 2017.DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2016.0341 All known life on the Earth exhibits at least two non-trivial common features: the canonical genetic code and biological homochirality, both of which emerged prior to […]

Is psychology one of the reasons why government science is so bad?

From Peter Wood and David Randall at the Wall Street Journal: Half the results published in peer-reviewed scientific journals are probably wrong. … The biggest newsmakers in the crisis have involved psychology. Consider three findings: Striking a “power pose” can improve a person’s hormone balance and increase tolerance for risk. Invoking a negative stereotype, such […]

2018: Serious exoplanet search begins

From Lisa Grossman at Science News: TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is headed to an orbit between the Earth and the moon, a journey that will take about two months. In its first two years, the telescope will seek planets orbiting 200,000 nearby, bright stars, and identify the best planets for further study. TESS’ […]

Three Things Biologists Rarely Know About Biology

I’ve talked to a number of biologists, and it seems like there are a number of important facts that are left out of a standard biological education.

“Bad” antibodies become powerful weapons to fight disease

From ScienceDaily: The ‘bad apples’ of the immune system are also its secret weapon, according to major Australian research published today in the world-leading journal Science. In a world first, scientists from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research have revealed how a population of ‘bad’ antibodies in the immune system — which are usually ‘silenced’ […]

Sabine Hossenfelder revisits Jim Baggott’s Farewell to Reality

Sabine Hossenfelder reflects on British science writer Jim Baggott’s 2013 book Farewell to Reality at her blog, Back(re)action: I largely agree with Baggott’s assessment, though I am less critical of research on the foundations of quantum mechanics and I could quibble with his take on black hole evaporation, but it seems somewhat besides the point. […]

Researcher: “[i]t’s amazing how clear cut the change from ‘no dinosaurs’ to ‘all dinosaurs’ was.”

From ScienceDaily: Lead author Dr Massimo Bernardi, Curator at MUSE and Research associate at Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, said: “We were excited to see that the footprints and skeletons told the same story. We had been studying the footprints in the Dolomites for some time, and it’s amazing how clear cut the change from […]

What makes citing problems with Darwinism heresy?

From Cornelius Hunter at ENST: Who is the author of the following statement? In contrast [to trait loss], the gain of genetically complex traits appears harder, in that it requires the deployment of multiple gene products in a coordinated spatial and temporal manner. Obviously, this is unlikely to happen in a single step, because it […]

Did sweet potatoes cross the Pacific without humans 100 kya?

From Dan Garisto at Science News: New genetic evidence instead suggests that wild precursors to sweet potatoes reached Polynesia at least 100,000 years ago — long before humans inhabited the South Pacific islands, researchers report April 12 in Current Biology. If true, it could also challenge the idea that Polynesian seafarers reached the Americas around […]

Earlier than thought: Dogs lived with humans in the Americas 10 kya

From Bruce Bower at ScienceNews: A trio of dogs buried at two ancient human sites in Illinois lived around 10,000 years ago, making them the oldest known domesticated canines in the Americas. Radiocarbon dating of the dogs’ bones shows they were 1,500 years older than thought, zooarchaeologist Angela Perri said April 13 at the annual […]

Aw, Facebook, quit blaming AI for your goofs and shady practices

One thing to be said for granting personhood to intelligent machines is that we could then blame them for things that go wrong. From Sarah Jeong at The Verge: Over the course of an accumulated 10 hours spread out over two days of hearings, Mark Zuckerberg dodged question after question by citing the power of […]

Independent scientists cast doubt on dark matter signal

From Natalie Wolchover at Quanta: One of the oldest and biggest experiments hunting for dark matter particles, DAMA is alone in claiming to see them. It purports to pick up on rare interactions between the hypothesized particles and ordinary atoms. But if these dalliances between the visible and invisible worlds really do produce DAMA’s data, […]

A pattern of laws of tooth development identified

From ScienceDaily: In a study published this week in Science Advances, an international team of researchers from Arizona State University’s Institute of Human Origins and School of Human Evolution and Social Change, New York University, University of Kent, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology found that a simple, straightforward developmental rule — the […]

Science, meet Wall?

John Horgan asks at Scientific American if science is hitting a wall: Economists show increased research efforts are yielding decreasing returns The economists are concerned primarily with what I would call applied science, the kind that fuels economic growth and increases wealth, health and living standards. Advances in medicine, transportation, agriculture, communication, manufacturing and so […]

Experts slam EU proposal to grant personhood to intelligent machines

From George Dvorsky at Gizmodo: Over 150 experts in AI, robotics, commerce, law, and ethics from 14 countries have signed an open letter denouncing the European Parliament’s proposal to grant personhood status to intelligent machines. The EU says the measure will make it easier to figure out who’s liable when robots screw up or go […]

Did Neanderthals’ faces help them cope with the Ice Age?

From George Dvorsky at Gizmodo: Though still technically human and featuring very human-like characteristics, they were shorter, more robust, and physically stronger. But they also featured distinctive faces, with heavy brows, weak chins, a large, forward-projecting face, and a wide nose. Some of these characteristics, such as the brow and chin, were likely acquired from […]

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