Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Jason Rosenhouse: “I Think You Get the Idea”

I once heard an evolution professor insist that all of the biological evidences support and confirm the theory of evolution. Since then I found that this view occupies the consensus position. All of the findings in the life sciences are exactly what we would expect from an evolutionary perspective. You can see it everywhere from textbooks to evolutionary journal papers. A good recent example of this thinking comes from professor Jason Rosenhouse.  Read more

Scientism is a state religion and a disaster for science

From J. Daniels at Southern Blog: A show that many of our Boyce students (and Southern students?) have probably grown up watching at home or in school is Bill Nye the Science Guy. Bill Nye has opened the eyes of an untold number of children to the fascinating world of science. … But then … Bill Nye has, in the past several years, moved beyond children’s science education into the culture wars over evolution and creationism, abortion rights, and reproductive rights. A video that has stirred up some controversy – at least among conservatives – is Nye’s video at BigThink titled “Bill Nye: Can We Stop Telling Women What to Do With Their Bodies?” In this video, Nye argues against Read More ›

Why early humans preferred the Golden Ratio

Further to early humans preferred the Golden Ratio (1.618) too?: Repeated use of the numbers 2, Pi and Phi and the relationship between them could not have been chance. I, O’Leary for News, wish to thank bornagain for consistently helpful notes in the comments over the years, and to draw attention to his notes on the Golden Ratio in particular: The golden ratio is found throughout nature and has often been referred to as ‘the fingerprint of God’ (vid ): From the shape of some galaxies to quantum mechanics, the golden ratio is found throughout nature. Do We Live in a “Golden Ratio” Universe? (Evolution News & Views December 2, 2014) *The curl of an elephant tusk *The shape of Read More ›

New Scientist: Rethink what makes humans special

In fact, it’s unlikely that people at New Scientist are going to do much of that themselves; it sounds more like a message intended for Everyone Else. Reviewing two new books for the Christmas trade, CultureLab: WITH the year drawing to a close, it’s time to throw out old ideas and bring in the new. Two mind-stretching books, The Secret of our Success by anthropologist Joseph Henrich, and The Crucible of Language by cognitive linguist Vyvyan Evans, will help you do just that. Both contain powerful ideas. The first forces a rethink of what makes humans special: the answer is not that we are terribly clever or able to do much with our big brains on our own. The second Read More ›

Is “evolution” a person? Can it “learn”?

Pos-Darwinista draws attention to this paywalled item: at Cell by evolution boffins Richard A. Watson and Eörs Szathmáry: How Can Evolution Learn? Summary: The theory of evolution links random variation and selection to incremental adaptation. In a different intellectual domain, learning theory links incremental adaptation (e.g., from positive and/or negative reinforcement) to intelligent behaviour. Specifically, learning theory explains how incremental adaptation can acquire knowledge from past experience and use it to direct future behaviours toward favourable outcomes. Until recently such cognitive learning seemed irrelevant to the ‘uninformed’ process of evolution. In our opinion, however, new results formally linking evolutionary processes to the principles of learning might provide solutions to several evolutionary puzzles – the evolution of evolvability, the evolution of Read More ›

Early humans preferred the Golden Ratio too?

Golden ratio? 1.618 From 1.5 million to 200,000 years ago, called the Acheulian period From Lithic Studies: Pattern Recognition of Universal Mathematical Constants in Acheulean Biface Formats by Alan Edward Cannell See also:What we know about human evolution What we know about the human mind Follow UD News at Twitter! Here’s the abstract: The similar design formats of many Acheulean bifaces has prompted several studies into the use of ‘mental templates’, leading to controversial claims that there may be a relation between length and width equal to the Golden Ratio. To avoid subjectivity, these studies have used aggregate data from assemblages that, by definition, mask the individuality of each tool, its material, any retouching and the original imposed design. Visual pattern Read More ›

Plants moved to land earlier than thought?

From ScienceDaily: Plants crawled onto land earlier than we give them credit, genetic evidence suggests Plant biologists agree that it all began with green algae. At some point in our planet’s history, the common ancestor of trees, ferns, and flowers developed an alternating life cycle–presumably allowing their offspring to float inland and conquer Earth. But on December 16 in Trends in Plant Science, Danish scientists argue that some green algae had been hanging out on land hundreds of millions of years before this adaptation and that land plants actually evolved from terrestrial, not aquatic, algae. Botanists have suspected this possibility since 1980, but supporters have lacked proof. Now, Carlsberg Laboratory’s Jesper Harholt and University of Copenhagen’s Øjvind Moestrup and Peter Read More ›

Evolution is a Scientific Fact: A Proposition

Evolutionists disagree amongst themselves about the theory of evolution but they agree about the fact of evolution. If there is one point of agreement within evolution-dom, it is that evolution is a scientific fact. A few years after Darwin died Joseph Le Conte explained that evolution is a law, not a theory, and it is a law to which every department of natural studies must adhere. It is not merely as certain as gravity, “Nay, it is far more certain.” Similarly, Teilhard de Chardin maintained that “evolution is a light which illuminates all facts, a trajectory which all lines of thought must follow—this is what evolution is.”  Read more

Parrots use pebbles, grinding minerals

From New Scientist: Parrots use pebble tools to grind up own mineral supplements … They were filmed using pebbles for grinding, thought to be a uniquely human activity – one that allowed our civilisations to extract more nutrition from cereal-based foods. … But the purpose of the behaviour is not yet settled. Although females need the calcium, it was usually males who were caught grinding. Perhaps, they regurgitate the mineral and pass it on to their mate: they are known to do so with food. But why use a tool and not just the beak, anyway? The team suspects that using their beak alone for grinding may be uncomfortable. … “It adds to the rich assortment of tool-related skills in Read More ›

Quantum teleport: Top physics breakthrough 2015

From Physics World: The Physics World 2015 Breakthrough of the Year goes to Jian-Wei Pan and Chaoyang Lu of the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, for being the first to achieve the simultaneous quantum teleportation of two inherent properties of a fundamental particle – the photon. Pan and Lu’s team has now simultaneously transferred a photon’s spin (polarization) and its orbital angular momentum (OAM) to another photon some distance away. … Although it is possible to extend Pan’s method to teleport more than two properties simultaneously, this becomes increasingly difficult with each added property – the likely limit is three. To do this would require the ability to experimentally control 10 photons, while the current record Read More ›

Our Nick Matzke the most popular scientist at NSF?

Must be. The servers may have gone down, downloading info re his grants. Readers will recall that Matzke, a long-time commenter here on behalf of the Darwin lobby, now at Australian U, was shortly afterward accused by John West at Evolution News & Views for using NSF grant money improperly, for a political purpose (to undermine academic freedom bills). Yes, well, in other news, birds fly. Undermining researchers’ and teachers’ intellectual integrity is all the Darwin lobby has got going for itself.  Isn’t the purpose of raising public money for science to compel everyone to fund whatever nonsense or malice such people dream up? Well, Pos-Darwinista (a top Portuguese-language blog) wrote this morning with the following information: Try downloading the grants Read More ›

Claim: The Mars colony should be independent

The Mars colony should be independent why? Bloody wars have been fought over this kind of thing so we must consider. Further to “Hoping to find remains of ancient life on Mars,” we hear from BBC, The idea is simple. Instead of having the humans who land and live on Mars answer back to their home planet’s companies and institutions, they should be given total independence. To ensure this independence, Haqq-Misra outlines five provisions of liberation. Humans who land on Mars relinquish their Earthly citizenship. They are Martians now, not Earthlings First, humans who land on Mars relinquish their Earthly citizenship. They are Martians now, not Earthlings. Second, governments, companies and people on Earth cannot interfere with the politics or Read More ›

Animal parenting at 508 mya

Well, “brood care,” really. The embryos were developing inside their eggs under the carapace of the female Waptia. Instead of being dropped somewhere shortly after fertilization and left to whatever fate … From Science Daily: Waptia fieldensis is an early arthropod, belonging to a group of animals that includes lobsters and crayfish. It had a two-part structure covering the front segment of its body near the head, known as a bivalved carapace. Caron and Vannier believe the carapace played a fundamental role in how the creature practised brood care. “Clusters of egg-shaped objects are evident in five of the many specimens we observed, all located on the underside of the carapace and alongside the anterior third of the body,” said Read More ›

Author of global warming “consensus” study calls top climate scientists denialists!

Professor Naomi Oreskes, the author of an influential 2004 study titled, Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, has penned a remarkable piece in The Guardian, in which she accuses top climate scientists of “climate denialism,” for publicly declaring that we need to expand nuclear energy to stop global warming, as renewable sources won’t meet our energy needs. “Climate denialism” is a term which smacks of a witch-hunt. But in this case, Professor Oreskes has bitten off more than she can chew. (H/t Eric Worrall, Judith Curry.) Oreskes defies the consensus: most serious reviewers agree with the pro-nuclear scientists whom she criticizes A couple of weeks ago, four leading climate scientists – Dr. James Hansen (professor at Read More ›

Brainpickings: Best science books 2015

Yes, that time of year again, and Maria Popova’s list at Brainpickings: offers few surprises and some items of at least social interest, including #3, Lisa Randall’s Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: Randall starts with a fascinating speculative theory, linking dark matter to the extinction of the dinosaurs — an event that took place in the outermost reaches of the Solar System sixty-six million years ago catalyzed an earthly catastrophe without which we wouldn’t have come to exist. … But the theory itself, original and interesting as it may be, is merely a clever excuse to do two more important things: tell an expansive and exhilarating story of how the universe as we know it came to exist, and invite Read More ›