Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Rewriting human origins is one of RealClearScience’s (Ultimate) Top Ten stories for 2017

Their method is data-driven rather than staff picks: Our methods are the same as always: We performed a Google search for “top science stories” lists, selecting only those from go-to RCS sources. Points were awarded to each story based on its ranking. For example, on a typical “top ten” list the #1 story earned ten points, #2 earned nine, #3 earned eight, and so on. Lists that had fewer than ten rankings were normalized to a 10-point scale. For the lists that did not rank the stories, each story earned 5.5 points, which is the average score if you add together all the digits from 1 to 10 and divide by ten. From Ross Pomeroy at RealClearScience: 4. Modern Humans Read More ›

JSmith, Simpering Coward

In The New Atheists Are Simpering Cowards  I wrote: For Nietzsche nature is cruel and indifferent to suffering, and that cruel indifference is a good thing. The strong rule the weak and that is as it should be. And why should the strong rule the weak? Because that is the natural order of things of course. In a world where God is dead, objective morality is merely an illusion slaves have foisted on masters as a sort of self-defense mechanism. When Nietzsche urges us to go beyond good and evil, he is urging us to recognize the implications of God’s death for morality. God is the only possible source of transcendent objective moral norms. If God does not exist then neither Read More ›

Claim: Atheists have mutant genes, don’t live as long

From Katherine Hignett at Newsweek: Religious people tend to live healthier, longer lives than atheists.This trend has puzzled academics for some time, but social scientists may have discovered the reason why. Research published in Evolutionary Psychological Science has linked a rise in atheism to increasingly prevalent mutant genes. Lead author Edward Dutton from the Ulster Institute for Social Research explained the research to Newsweek. He says: “Maybe the positive relationship between religiousness and health is not causal—it’s not that being religious makes you less stressed so less ill. Rather, religious people are a genetically normal remnant population from preindustrial times, and the rest of us are mutants who’d have died as children back then.” More. Paper. Mutant genes? Maybe we Read More ›

Researchers: Religion alters nonbelievers’ psychology

From Brittany Cardwell and Jamin Halberstadt at The Conversation: A study in Finland explored how religious and non-religious people responded to the idea of God. The researchers used electrodes to measure how much sweat people produced while reading statements like “I dare God to make my parents drown” or “I dare God to make me die of cancer”. Unexpectedly, when nonbelievers read the statements, they produced as much sweat as believers — suggesting they were equally anxious about the consequences of their dares. And that’s not simply because nonbelievers didn’t want to wish harm on others. A companion study showed that similar dares that did not involve God (such as, “I wish my parents would drown”) did not produce comparable Read More ›

Can quantum physics teach us about divine providence?

From philosopher of science Bruce Gordon at Journal of Biblical and Theological Studies: Divine Action and the World of Science: What Cosmology and Quantum Physics Teach Us about the Role of Providence in Nature Introduction: The Intelligible Cosmos: For science to be possible there has to be order present in nature and it has to be discoverable by the human mind. But why should either of these conditions be met? Albert Einstein (1879-1955) famously remarked that “the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility…. [t]he fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle.” If there were no sufficient cause explaining why the universe exists, if it were taken as a brute fact, there would indeed be no reason to Read More ›

Top ScienceNews stories: Frogs that fluoresce and brainless animals that sleep(?)

Cassie Martin on ScienceNews’s most noteworthy 2017 animal stories, among which are First fluorescent frogs might see each others’ glow (Susan Milius) And it is true fluorescence. Compounds in the frogs’ skin and lymph absorb the energy of shorter UV wavelengths and release it in longer wavelengths, the researchers report online March 13 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But why bother, without a black bulb? Based on what he knows about a related tree frog’s vision, Taboada suggests that faint nocturnal light is enough to make the frogs more visible to their own kind. When twilight or moonlight reflects from their skin, the fluorescence accounts for 18 to 30 percent of light emanating from the frog, the Read More ›

Researchers: Plants can choose how to respond to competitors. Do they think?

From ScienceDaily: Biologists from the University of Tübingen have demonstrated that plants can choose between alternative competitive responses according to the stature and densities of their opponents. A new study by researchers from the Institute of Evolution and Ecology reveals that plants can evaluate the competitive ability of their neighbors and optimally match their responses to them. The results were published in Nature Communications. Animals facing competition have been shown to optimally choose between different behaviors, including confrontation, avoidance and tolerance, depending on the competitive ability of their opponents relative to their own. For example, if their competitors are bigger or stronger, animals are expected to “give up the fight” and choose avoidance or tolerance over confrontation. Plants can detect Read More ›

Cosmos Magazine’s Top Ten includes: Universe’s underlying symmetry still baffling and human evolution timeline drastically stretched

From Michael Lucy at Cosmos: Antimatter puzzle deepens: Extremely precise measurements of the magnetic properties of the antiproton failed to reveal any difference between it and the proton, leaving scientists baffled about why the universe contains so much matter and so little antimatter. More. Here’s the story: Universe’s underlying symmetry still baffling: Magnetic differences between matter and antimatter do not explain why the universe actually exists, writes Cathal O’Connell. The stories are not rank ordered. Lucy also lists: Evidence from the oldest-known site of human occupation in Australia is sure to stir debate over human origins. (Cheryl Jones) Ancestral updates: In a year packed with new insights into the deep history of humanity, two stood out: remains found in Morocco Read More ›

(Real non-Darwinian) evolution in action: Bacteria murder rivals and steal their genes

From ScienceDaily: Bacteria not only develop resistance to antibiotics, they also can pick it up from their rivals. In a recent publication in Cell Reports, Researchers from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel have demonstrated that some bacteria inject a toxic cocktail into their competitors causing cell lysis and death. Then, by integrating the released genetic material, which may also carry drug resistance genes, the predator cell can acquire antibiotic resistance. … The predator bacteria take up the released DNA fragments. If these fragments carry certain drug resistance genes, the specific resistance can be conferred upon the new owner. As a result, the antibiotic is no longer effective and the bacterium can reproduce largely undisturbed. Pathogens with such abilities Read More ›

“Fisher’s Proof of Darwinism Has Been Flipped” paper is making waves – Twitter displeased

  Readers may recall that we noted a new Springer paper, by John Sanford* and William Basener**, explaining how Fisher’s proof of Darwinian evolution has been flipped. The authors of the new paper realized that one of Fisher’s pivotal assumptions was clearly false, and in fact was falsified many decades ago. It’s been quietly noticed (865 downloads) at site.  (Paper.) Paper. (public access) Here’s a synopsis for non-mathematicians. Twitter doesn’t like the paper. * John Sanford is inventor of the gene gun and other devices and author of many genetics papers, also a magnet for Darwin trolls on the internet. ** See also: Basener’s Ceiling See also: Fisher’s proof of Darwinian evolution has been flipped? The authors of the new paper Read More ›

Evolution is a Fact; So is Climate Change

For those of us who have been critiquing evolutionary theory for a long time, and hence, long-time observers of the kind of reasoning evolutionists/Darwinists employ, you can’t help but see the absolute parallel that exists between evolutionary theory and the “science” behind “global warming.” [N.B. If you have to change the name of the ‘science’ from “global warming” to “climate change,” then just admit you’ve lost the argument, else why change the very name you use?.] Both involve ‘consensus’ thinking; both involve criteria that used in one manner provide a solution given ONE SET of facts, but which, given a new, different, and conflicting set of facts, are used in almost the opposite manner; both involve an almost faith-like allegiance Read More ›

Live-bearing lizards switched back to egg-laying in recent eons, violating Dollo’s Law

Michael Le Page tells us at New Scientist that the common Eurasian lizard, Zootoca vivipara, gives birth to its young. But there are exceptions. Two small populations on the edge of the common lizard’s range lay eggs. One of these subspecies is found around the border between Spain and France, and the other in the southern Alps. More. This is identified as “a rare example of a species re-evolving a complex trait that had been lost.” (paywall) It’s odd the way terms around evolution are used. Why should we assume that the trait was “lost”? Anyway, Josh Davis at IFL Science notes, To test this, researchers carried out genetic analysis of over 70 lizards collected throughout their range in Europe, in Read More ›

Millennial classic edition: Science writer Michael Shermer makes Scientific American’s Top Ten stories list

Well, Shermer does write for them. Here’s the list, from Andrea Gawrylewski at Scientific American: If you spent any part of 2017 trying to argue someone out of their deepest-held beliefs, this one’s for you. Our own Michael Shermer offers how to convince people who aren’t swayed by cold hard facts. More. Yes, we remember that story and, as we said at the time, Pot. Kettle. Rusty. — Michael Shermer should have a look in his own rummage room. He might find more evidence there. As noted earlier elsewhere, Fudging Truth for the Cause One wonders why the “skeptic” Michael Shermer isn’t embarrassed by his praise of peer review in Scientific American, “The Believing Brain: Why Science Is the Only Way Out of Read More ›

A top anthropology finding of year show humans cognitively closer to dogs than chimps

From Sapiens: PARALLEL SOCIAL COGNITION IN HUMANS AND DOGS This research raises new questions about what brought dogs and humans together in prehistory and how they might influence each other’s development. More than 550 domestic dogs, Canis familiaris, were put through a series of tests based on studies of humans and nonhuman apes. Comparison of the data from all three species revealed patterns of individual differences in cooperative communication between human infants and dogs that were similar—and were not observed in chimpanzees. The researchers conclude that social cognition is better developed in dogs and humans. This raises as many questions as it answers because it is unknown whether the mental processes of dogs and humans work in the same way. Read More ›

American Council for Science and Health’s 10 biggest junk stories for 2017 include…

From Alex Berezow at ACSH: #3. Stephen Hawking continues to be wrong about almost everything. Stephen Hawking apparently has decided to spend the remainder of his career as a doomsday prophet. Artificial intelligence. Climate change. Asteroids. Epidemics. Overpopulation. Electricity consumption. In Dr. Hawking’s opinion, any one of these could wipe humanity off the face of the Earth, and hence, we should prepare to leave Earth within 100 years. He’s wrong on all counts. More. One reason we can tell that Hawking is not a prophet is that he is not being ridiculed and persecuted. Serious prophets, of course, usually are persecuted because people don’t want to hear what they sense is true but don’t want to face. And that is what most Read More ›