Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

What if journal names were concealed?

So one does not know where information is published, only whether it seems useful? And, above all, whether it survived attempts at replication? It’s good to see so many thinkers putting their heads together about the scandal of peer review. From Nature, Scientists debate the merits of deleting journal names from their publication lists. One UCal biologist, Michael Eisen, has removed the names for his lab’s Web site. Eisen’s move is part of a broader push to assess papers on their own merits. “We have become far too reliant on journal names as a means to evaluate science and scientists,” Eisen said in an interview. After writing about this issue for so long, he “felt it was important to demonstrate Read More ›

This is embarrassing: “Darwin’s Doubt” debunker is 14 years behind the times

Over at The Skeptical Zone, Mikkel “Rumraket” Rasmussen has written a post critical of Dr. Stephen Meyer, titled, Beating a dead horse (Darwin’s Doubt), which is basically a rehash of comments he made on a thread on Larry Moran’s Sandwalk blog last year. The author’s aim is to expose Dr. Stephen Meyer’s “extremely shoddy scholarship,” but as we’ll see, Rasmussen’s own research skills leave a lot to be desired. Did Dr. Meyer fail to document his sources? Rasmussen focuses his attack on chapter 10 of Dr. Meyer’s book, “Darwin’s Doubt.” He writes: Having read the book, a recurring phenomenon is that Meyer time and again makes claims without providing any references for them. Take for instance the claim that the Read More ›

The best evidence for Darwinian evolution

Bacterial resistance is the one most likely to be encountered at a cocktail party.  Philosopher and photographer Laszlo Bencze, soon to be the victim of cocktail buttonholes, offers to explain his approach: Jonathan Wells provides the best possible list of evidence for evolution in his Icons of Evolution (crib sheets) He also disposes of each of these quite handily and shows why they are not pillars of evidence at all. However, in the current world view, I would have to say that bacterial evolution is probably the most solid foundation for evolution in action. Scientists point to the fact of various bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics as clear, unassailable evidence that random mutations occur and that such mutations are sometimes helpful Read More ›

Has Nature “got” what is at stake in the string theory controversy?

We are told that physicists are turning to philosophers for help. Given what’s out there in philosophy, the physicists would be wise to pick carefully. From That said, String theory is at the heart of a debate over the integrity of the scientific method itself. … Earlier this month, some of the feuding physicists met with philosophers of science at an unusual workshop aimed at addressing the accusation that branches of theoretical physics have become detached from the realities of experimental science. At stake is the integrity of the scientific method, as well as the reputation of science among the general public, say the workshop’s organizers. You mean … they actually noticed? About time, of course. How many people of Read More ›

Thoughts on roots of growth and the ultimate resource — us

First, a Merry Christmas and a happy new year to one and all! Next, I ran across a lecture on Macro-Economics by Roger W Garrison of Auburn that I thought would be well worth digesting with some Turkey and Ham etc: [youtube tR-Tta3Pm28] I think this is of general interest, and also connects to one of the driving factors in elections and general policy trends: people vote their pocketbooks. Where, also, economic policies and promises are a key component of policy platforms that include issues on education, sci-tech and the like. So, understanding that wider context is relevant to debates over the design perspective. At basic level, we need to have enough of a layman’s grasp to address the “war Read More ›

Enjoy: Nutrition science is not all it’s cracked up to be

Healthy eating is important, but much advice that filters down to the public has not stood the test of time: From columnist Jonah Goldberg: For decades, the government has advised Americans on what they should eat. The advice isn’t just advisory; it drives everything from school lunches and agricultural subsidies to marketing for those bowls of candy we call breakfast cereal. But the science behind this enterprise has always been shaky. In “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” Gary Taubes chronicled how the federal government went all-in for a low-fat, high-carbohydrate food pyramid. The man most responsible, nutritionist and epidemiologist Ancel Keys, was convinced that America’s fat-rich diet explained the rise in heart disease in the U.S. It was a plausible theory, Read More ›

Questioning Darwinism at The Scientist?

If this isn’t a hoax, we wonder how long it’ll last: Here: A new study refutes one published earlier this year that claimed random mutations were at the root of many tumors. Only 10 to 30 percent of cancer cases can be attributed to random mutations in DNA, according to a study published this week (December16) in Nature. Rather, the majority of cancer cases stem from carcinogens such as toxic chemicals and radiation, the researchers found. … “There’s no question what’s at stake here,” John Potter of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, who was not involved in which study told Nature. “This informs whether or not we expend energy on prevention.”More. The wild card here is Read More ›

Quick! Who said THIS about hating religious people?

On Twitter? I’m quite simply astounded by the naked, vitriolic, savage hostility generated by this mild and gentle appeal NOT to hate religious people. 1. Lord Buddha 2. The Mennonites 3. The author of The God Delusion. Richard Dawkins’s followers, who clearly understand him better than he does himself, correct him in the tweets that follow. See also: Early human religion: A 747 built in the basement with an X-Acto knife Evolutionary conundrum: is religion a useful, useless, or harmful adaptation? and Imagine a world of religions that naturalism might indeed be able to explain Follow UD News at Twitter!

In Forbes: String theory is NOT science?

Well, no, it’s not, but … we didn’t think many people other than Peter Woit had noticed. Many have rather pursued a war on falsifiability to protect it. Ethan Siegel in Forbes distinguishes between a mathematical theory and a physical theory. Can we make testable predictions of string theory, which we should be able to do fora physical theory? The answer, so far, is no. The first one is a huge problem: we need to get rid of six dimensions to get back the Universe we see, and there are more ways to do it than there are atoms in the Universe. What’s worse, is that each way you do it gives a different “vacuum” for string theory, with no Read More ›

Does authorship abuse contribute to peer review scandal?

Recently, we were discussing “Is peer review a ‘sacred cow’? Ready “to be slaughtered”? View from UD News: Yes, of course it is a sacred cow. It is worshipped, and someone is benefitting from fronting the religion. Of course, when slaughtering a sacred cow it is always advisable to decide what to do next… Besides, if we thought the sacred cow was bad,what if we get to meet the sacred rattlesnake or the sacred cockroaches? There’s a lesson in that somewhere, but meanwhile … From Times Higher, we now hear of the dark side of authorship, abuse by senior authors: Too many senior scholars abuse their power when it comes to assigning credit, argues Bruce Macfarlane … My research also Read More ›

Classy: Pulitzer cartoonist portrays US prez contender’s kids as monkeys

And, no surprise, she is into Darwin. MSM cartoonist Ann Telnaes has been taking some heat for honestly expressing the widespread elite view that the kids of anyone who opposes the progressive agenda (in this case Canadian-born US politician Ted Cruz) must be like monkeys. The usual disgusting round of “apologies” (snicker, snicker) have followed from the Washington Post, whose Top People may well think that the kids ought to have been portrayed as vermin instead. See what happened re lots of other pol’s kids. Having gotten used to Darwinworld over the years, I had a sneaking suspicion—and sure enough, Telnaes is fond of portraying people as monkeys,  in defense of “evolution.” She currently hopes to persuade the public that still Read More ›

The Scientist: Top 10 retractions 2015, not ranked

Possibly due to volume, they are not listed in any particular order. Here’s one: Here: We saw another fall from grace for a paper that was a media darling upon publication. An August paper that suggested feeling blue might affect how you see blues (and yellows) was pulled a couple of months later, after Christopher Thorstenson and his colleagues realized they’d omitted a key statistical test. And once they added it, their findings fell apart. Sure, it would have been nice to get it right the first time, but we gave these scientists kudos for explaining what happened in a transparent way and acting promptly to correct the record.More. Actually, the situation may be getting better, in a goofy sort Read More ›

The 12 Days of Evolution mangles the evolution of the eye

In the fourth video in the “Twelve days of evolution” series produced by PBS and “It’s okay to be smart,” Joe Hanson, Ph.D. (Biology) tells a whopper about the evolution of the eye. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Computer simulations have replayed the process in just 350,000 generations, showing simple light patches can evolve into camera-like eyes in tiny, adaptive steps, 1,829 to be precise. Nature took a little longer than that, but genes, biochemistry, fossils, and anatomy all tell the same story. Eyes are pretty easy to evolve. So easy that nature has done it independently 50 to 100 times. That kind of complexity, rather than overthrowing Darwin’s theory, is proof of its power. Back in Read More ›

Darwin lobby reviewer: Junk DNA “helps creationists”

Further to: Blocking “junk” DNA can prevent stroke damage (so it obviously does something, right?): In a book review in a Darwin lobby journal, “A deeper confusion,” (of The Deeper Genome and Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome), we read a note of concern: If taken uncritically, these texts can be expected to generate even more confusion in a field that already has a serious problem when it comes to communicating the best understanding of the science to the public. Hmmm. Anything, “taken uncritically,” can be expected to do that. So… ah, now we come to it: They will also certainly provide ammunition for intelligent design proponents and other creationists. The debunking of junk DNA and Read More ›

Epigenetics: DNA modifications “more diverse than thought”

From ScienceDaily: The world of epigenetics — where molecular ‘switches’ attached to DNA turn genes on and off — has just got bigger with the discovery by a team of scientists from the University of Cambridge of a new type of epigenetic modification. … Epigenetics has so far focused mainly on studying proteins called histones that bind to DNA. Such histones can be modified, which can result in genes being switched on or of. In addition to histone modifications, genes are also known to be regulated by a form of epigenetic modification that directly affects one base of the DNA, namely the base C. More than 60 years ago, scientists discovered that C can be modified directly through a process Read More ›