Reposted with permission from AITSE Report on the 2012 American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) Annual Meeting About a year ago AITSE and Uncommon Descent featured an article that, between it and the follow-on posts, attracted 3773 hits and 182 comments. Why this high level of interest? Simply because the article pointed out that some of what happened at the ASA 2011 annual meeting near Chicago was not consistent with the values that the ASA posts on their website. There the ASA state that “We are committed to providing an open forum where [scientific] controversies can be discussed without fear of unjust condemnation…” But, at times the atmosphere communicated from the podium was one of thinly-veiled hostility against those who question aspects of consensus science. Details can Read More ›
First posted at AITSE. With the release of Obama’s America, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is again attracting media attention. Both movies are conservative documentaries–Obama’s America has now displaced Expelled as the top conservative documentary. The difference between the two? You can see Expelled for free by clicking on the link above; you have to pay for Obama’s America. The similarity? Both movies elicit strong reactions–either people love them or they hate them. Politics is outside the purview of AITSE’s mission, except in so far as it infringes on integrity in science, so one may ask why a review of a film was addressed in our newsletter. Simply because, the main premise of Expelled is that scientists are being penalized for Read More ›
Since I am a cell biologist and immunologist by training, it is with great interest that I read Kathryn Applegate’s May BioLogos posts drawing parallels between adaptive immunity and evolution. In the first essay she claims that antibody “production requires randomness at multiple levels” and that God may use random processes to create “life over long periods of time.” In the second post Dr. Applegate goes on to suggest that evolution uses “the same kinds of mechanisms, except the mutations occur in germ cells…”
These are interesting hypotheses, but I am not convinced that the elegant processes whereby B cells differentiate and germ cells are formed actually give rise to the conclusions drawn. Good science is dependent on accurately distinguishing between data, interpretation of data, extrapolation from data, and even speculation; in these posts this has not been adequately accomplished. In fact, even the science is faulty in places. To explain, the data shows that B cells manufacture over 1015 different antibodies using less than a couple of hundred gene segments. They accomplish this feat by rearrangements and excision of DNA sequences—these occur in a highly regulated fashion that has been extensively described in the literature. These facts have been established by interpretation of vast amounts of data.
However, I would like to suggest that the claims that B cell differentiation is 1) random, 2) a model for the way that God created life, and 3) that evolution “works” by B-cell-like mutations in the germ cell line, or 4) that germ cell formation is in any way analogous to antibody formation are based on a one-sided explanation of the science and much speculation. Dr. Applegate states that God could have done it this way; I do not dispute this. After all, if He is God, it is logical that He can do whatever He wants. Read More ›