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How Are Evil and Chocolate Ice Cream Alike?

The atheist declares there is no transcendent objective standard by which to measure ethical choices.  Thus, ethics ultimately boils down to subjective preference.  For the atheist, our subjective preference for the ethical rule against theft, for example, is impelled by evolution.  Theft is, on balance, maladaptive.  Therefore, our genes cause us not to prefer it. To the extent this is true, out ethical choices are akin to our aesthetic judgments.  The evolutionary materialist says that our aesthetic judgments are also impelled by evolution.  We judge certain things to be beautiful or sublime not because they are beautiful or sublime in any objective sense, but because our aesthetic preferences have been formed by evolutionary adaptations in exactly the same way our Read More ›

2016 Action item: Rewrite cell textbooks re S-phase?

From ScienceDaily: All science students learn how human cell division takes place. The copying or replication of the genome, the cell’s DNA, has until now been believed only to take place during the so-called S-phase in the cell cycle. The new results show that this is not the case, because some regions of the genome are copied only after the cell enters the next crucial phase in the cell cycle called mitosis. “It has radically altered our views and requires that the textbook view of the human cell cycle be revised,” says Professor Ian Hickson, Director of the Centre for Chromosome Stability and affiliated with the Center for Healthy Aging. There is a cancer link: This unusual pathway for copying Read More ›

Biology doesn’t pay that well

Like Murphy said, Mother Nature is a bitch. With your coffee … From Nature: Biologists lose out in post-PhD earnings analysis … One year after graduating, doctorates in mathematics, computer sciences and engineering raked in the highest amounts — US$65,000 a year on average, with the 60% of engineers who took industry jobs earning around $80,000 a year. Those with biology PhDs earned the least, around $36,000 per year, perhaps because of the effect of many taking postdoctoral fellowships — only 26% of biology graduates went straight into industry jobs. More. Some biologists go into wildlife management which is said to be awful pay-wise because wild animals don’t lobby or co-operate. See also: Tales from a wildlife biologist: Bears have Read More ›

Overpopulation now considered science “myth”?

Funny, forty years ago it was the No. 1 science fact. Right up there where human-caused climate change is today. As I know from experience, pregnant women took their share of heat, even in sparsely populated countries like Canada. Well, at Nature, it’s currently #5 myth “The science myths that will not die” But the human population has not and is not growing exponentially and is unlikely to do so, says Joel Cohen, a populations researcher at the Rockefeller University in New York City. The world’s population is now growing at just half the rate it was before 1965. Today there are an estimated 7.3 billion people, and that is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. Yet beliefs that Read More ›

While you’re making other plans…

If it has never happened to you, then surely its happened to someone you know. It’s one of those things that just happens. You’re going along, perhaps following a plan or attempting to reach some particular goal, and then something offstage occurs, and changes everything. The reasons are innumerable; someone becomes ill, an earthquake rumbles, a war breaks out. As John Lennon once wrote, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans”. My household has entered one of those unfortunate occurrences, and so I must adjust. At the start of November I published Biosemiosis.org with certain goals in mind. I opened the site accepting contributions, and had planned to assemble a board by the end of the first quarter. Read More ›

The brick wall

I’ve had a very interesting night. After watching Dr. David Wood (a Christian apologist and former atheist) and skeptic John Loftus (an atheist and former Christian preacher) debate whether Jesus rose from the dead in a very lively exchange, I decided to have a look at David Wood’s fascinating but very disturbing conversion story (WARNING: Do NOT watch this with children in the room!) At one point in the video (20:38), David Wood describes how several things combined to destabilize his entire atheistic belief system. The first was the argument from design: First, what’s called the design argument finally hit me. I was looking at a wall, and how the bricks were arranged, and I thought to myself: “You know, Read More ›

Two quick questions for Professor Coyne

Over at Why Evolution Is True, Professor Jerry Coyne is gleefully celebrating the impending demise of the Discovery Institute and of Intelligent Design. But before he pops the champagne, I wonder if he would care to answer two questions I’d like to ask him, in relation to some remarks he made on Casey Luskin’s recent announcement that he would be leaving Discovery Institute to further his studies. 1. Professor Coyne, you wrote that “the early claim that ENCODE showed that 80% of our genome had a function was incorrect, and there remains a huge portion of the human genome that’s nonfunctional,” and you added: “And even if 80% of the human genome were functional, how does that prove the existence Read More ›

New journal proposes triple blind review process

From Matters: Your submission enters a triple-blind peer review process, meaning that the handling editors have no personal information on the authors and assign the observations to reviewers solely on the basis of the content. The reviewers also do not know who you are, where you live or the institution where you work. Also: We believe in free access to scientific data. Hence, all articles published in Matters are, of course, freely available to everyone through our Open Access Creative Commons licence. We also allow publishing of the raw and unprocessed data linked to the article, thus promoting Open Data and Science. Matters charges $150/submission for non-profit entities, $300/submission for for-profit entities, though the first 500 submissions are free of Read More ›

Truth in ‘Warming’

I recently read a news summary at Science 2.0. The same summary was also published by ScienceDaily. After reading the Science 2.0 article, I left a comment. I was interested in how others would react to my analysis of the news summary. Well, I went back to the site, and couldn’t find this news summary. It’s now almost two weeks since I posted my reaction, and it has simply disappeared from the site (you can still google and find it, but with no comment shown). The comment I left behind was along these lines: if, indeed, lakes are warming, then why—as the study indicates—do “ice-covered” lakes show the MOST warming?? You would think it would be the opposite, right. That’s Read More ›

2015, Hominid hype of the year: homo Naledi

From Casey Luskin at Salvo: The discoverers of Homo naledi are calling it an “anatomical mosaic.” That terminology raises a red flag. In the parlance of evolutionary biology, that usually means the fossil is a unique organism that doesn’t fit easily into the standard evolutionary tree. As one technical paper concluded, “the H. naledi skeleton is a unique mosaic previously unknown in the human fossil record.”9 Indeed, just four years ago, the hominin Australopithecus sediba—also discovered and promoted by Berger—was the transitional form du jure between the australopithecines and our own genus, Homo. Yet sediba is very different from naledi in some important ways, including the pelvis. If the same researchers now want to advocate Homo naledi as some new Read More ›

Epigenetics Rules!

New news summary out at Phys.Org about ant colonies and their castes. Seems as if this is all being controlled via epigenetic means. This is not good news if you’re a population geneticist: you know, phenotype changes because of changed allele frequencies (unless, of course, it doesn’t; and then you call it “phenotypic plasticity.” There’s nothing in life that a label can’t explain!!). Well, I guess not. A snippet: In the new findings, an interdisciplinary research team led by senior author Shelley Berger, PhD, from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with teams led by Juergen Liebig from Arizona State University and Danny Reinberg from New York University, found that caste-specific foraging behavior can Read More ›

It’s 2016, and some sciences face serious questions

Recently, a sociologist who has studied ID for some years, without being an advocate, went on record saying that he thought it will become part of mainstream science inquiry We hope that isn’t the ruin of it. Critical thinking about first principles is much easier when one is not part of a grand official huff-ology. That is also the reason, as Malcolm Muggeridge pointed out, why proportionately far more great literature has been written in prisons than on government grants. But enough about us. As noted earlier, the Royal Society seems serious (for now) about seeing past Darwin. I mean, how much more of this kind of stuff do they really want? (Were the mares also playing the stock market?) Read More ›

Why social science is riddled with “flaky research and questionable theories”

Because “ Graduate students were entering the field in order to change the world rather than discover truths. ” For last night’s party theme, the news desk chose EMS Crying Towel!: Liberals attacking social sciences. If it weren’t for the misunderstandings and mistrust that social scientists have inflicted by widely publicized fake data, one would almost feel sorry for people so friendless. But then the frog pitied the scorpion too, and … Anyway, from the Inbox: How a rebellious scientist uncovered the surprising truth about stereotypes … Left-wing bias, he said, was undermining his field. Graduate students were entering the field in order to change the world rather than discover truths. Because of this, he said, the field was riddled Read More ›