Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community


Does Nathan Lents, author of a “bad design” book really teach biology? A doctor looks at his claims about the human sinuses

From Nathan H. Lents at Skeptic: From neurosurgeon Michael Egnor at ENST: Lents writes: One of the important drainage-collection pipes is installed near the top of the largest pair of cavities, the maxillary sinuses, located underneath the upper cheeks… Putting the drainage-collection point high within these sinuses is not a good idea because of this pesky thing called gravity. Egnor replies: Lents misunderstands the physiology of sinus drainage. The visible opening (ostium) in the maxillary sinus is not the only, or even the main, route of drainage. There is a complex system of interconnection, often at the microscopic level, between the paranasal sinuses, and Lents betrays an ignorance of sinus physiology in asserting that the large visible opening out of Read More ›

We acquire trillions of new mutations every day, so why are we still alive?

From Sarah Zhang at the Atlantic: As you read this article, the cells in your body are dividing and the DNA in them is being copied, letter by letter. So long is the human genome—more than 3 billion letters—that even an astonishingly low error rate of one in many million letters could amount to 10 new mutations every time a cell divides. Oh, perhaps you’re also catching some sun (ultraviolet rays) while you read this, or enjoying a beer (alcohol), or have recently been high in the atmosphere on an airplane (cosmic rays). Congratulations, you’ve given yourself even more mutations. In a typical day, scientists estimate, the 37 trillion cells in your body will accumulate trillions of new mutations.More. We Read More ›

Darwinian medicine: Nothing in cancer makes sense except in the light of [evolution]? Wow.

From Mel Greaves et al. at BNC Biology: Paraphrasing Dobzhansky’s famous dictum, I discuss how interrogating cancer through the lens of evolution has transformed our understanding of its development, causality and treatment resistance. The emerging picture of cancer captures its extensive diversity and therapeutic resilience, highlighting the need for more innovative approaches to control. Abstract: ) PDF. Jonathan Wells, author of Zombie Science, offers, Greaves’s article is more silliness from “Darwinian medicine.” Greaves: “An evolutionary logic pervades all major areas of cancer sciences.” Me: So evolutionary logic can explain the progression of a deadly disease. How does this help us explain the origin of new species, organs, and body plans—except, perhaps by invoking the opposite of evolution? Greaves: “The majority Read More ›

“Core principles of evolutionary medicine” still clinically useless

New paper: Abstract Background and objectives Evolutionary medicine is a rapidly growing field that uses the principles of evolutionary biology to better understand, prevent and treat disease, and that uses studies of disease to advance basic knowledge in evolutionary biology. Over-arching principles of evolutionary medicine have been described in publications, but our study is the first to systematically elicit core principles from a diverse panel of experts in evolutionary medicine. These principles should be useful to advance recent recommendations made by The Association of American Medical Colleges and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to make evolutionary thinking a core competency for pre-medical education. Methodology The Delphi method was used to elicit and validate a list of core principles for evolutionary Read More ›

Robo-Doctor? In China, it seems Robot Xiao-Yi has passed the written medical licensing exams

Robo-Doc will see you? Maybe, but not just now. This item popped up from the usual suspect tabloid paper sites while searching on AI and memristors. I have tracked down a couple of more reputable sources so, here goes from China Daily (which is also on the spot): >>A robot has passed the written test of China’s national medical licensing examination, an essential entrance exam for doctors, making it the first robot in the world to pass such an exam. Its developer iFlytek Co Ltd, a leading Chinese artificial intelligence company, said on Thursday that the robot scored 456 points, 96 points higher than the required marks. The artificial-intelligence-enabled robot can automatically capture and analyze patient information and make initial Read More ›

New Scientist also embraces the love drug

Further to “New Scientist embraces politics,” we also learn, from Alice Klein at New Scientist, The love drug that could draw people away from any addiction: The “cuddle chemical” oxytocin boosts social bonds. Soon a version of it will be tested in pill form to see if it can reset the brain wiring that gets us hooked Would it be possible to reverse substance addiction by switching the brain back from drug-chasing mode to social mode? If McGregor’s hunch was right, this could be the silver bullet – a universal treatment for all addictions at once. (paywall) More. Prediction: The love drug won’t work because addiction is more than about finding love; it is about finding power, death, excuses, and escapes Read More ›

Among the real reasons many people “hate science”: Prozac as cause, not cure, of mental illness

From Jeanne Lenzer at Undark: In another case of cure as cause, a landmark study of Prozac to treat adolescent depression found that it increased overall suicidality — the very outcome it is intended to prevent. In the study, 15 percent of depressed adolescents treated with Prozac became suicidal, versus 6 percent treated with psychotherapy, and 11 percent treated with placebo. These numbers were not made obvious by Eli Lilly, the manufacturer, or the lead researcher who claimed that Prozac was “the big winner” in the treatment of depressed teens. Doctors, unaware that the drug could increase suicidality, often increased the dosage when teens became more depressed in treatment, thinking the underlying depression — not the drug — was at Read More ›

Austin Ruse: Post-modern science hits the streets

Running and throwing projectiles. From O’Leary for News at Salvo: Family values activist Austin Ruse’s new book, Fake Science: Exposing the Left’s Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data (Regnery, 2017), offers a look at a world growing increasingly hostile to evidence-based reasoning. We have not discovered better reasoning methods; rather, many people seem to have decided that reasoning is not relevant to our life together, and perhaps not relevant to the life of the mind generally. … For instance, as Ruse chronicles, gay activists have claimed that evidence from genetics justifies their demand for a ban on therapy to change unwanted homosexual attractions.6 But leaving aside the tenuousness of their scientific claims, one must ask, Why is the client—in Read More ›

Epigenetic researchers: Touching infants frequently affects their genetic expression

This sort of finding, assuming it holds up, is killing Darwinism. From ScienceDaily: The amount of close and comforting contact between infants and their caregivers can affect children at the molecular level, an effect detectable four years later, according to new research from the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. The study showed that children who had been more distressed as infants and had received less physical contact had a molecular profile in their cells that was underdeveloped for their age — pointing to the possibility that they were lagging biologically. “In children, we think slower epigenetic aging might indicate an inability to thrive,” said Michael Kobor, a Professor in the UBC Department of Medical Genetics Read More ›

From LiveScience: Consciousness after death

From Mindy Weisberger at LiveScience: Driven by ambition and curiosity to learn what lies on the other side of death, five medical students deliberately stop their hearts in order to experience “the afterlife” in the new thriller “Flatliners” (Sony Pictures), which opened in U.S. theaters on Sept. 29. They quickly discover that there are unexpected and terrible consequences of dallying with death — but not everything they experience after “dying” is in the realm of science fiction. A growing body of research is charting the processes that occur after death, suggesting that human consciousness doesn’t immediately wink out after the heart stops, experts say. More. The most serious enemy of what we can know is what we think we know Read More ›

Darwinism vs science: Even flu bugs are complex

Further to why flu vaccines so often fail, from Jon Cohen at Science, on efforts to find out wy the flu vaccine is so “lackluster”(10% to 60& protection): They’re questioning what was once received wisdom: that the vaccine fails when manufacturers, working months ahead of flu season, incorrectly guess which strains will end up spreading. And they’re learning instead that the vaccine may falter even when the right strains were used to make it, perhaps because of how it is produced or quirks of individual immune systems. “It’s much more complicated than we thought,” Osterholm says. “I know less about influenza today than I did 10 years ago.” … Danuta Skowronski, an epidemiologist at the BC Centre for Disease Control Read More ›

At last: Amount of “spin” in biomedical papers calculated

And the type catalogued. From ScienceDaily: More than a quarter of biomedical scientific papers may utilize practices that distort the interpretation of results or mislead readers so that results are viewed more favorably, a new study suggests. Their findings, published in PLOS Biology, found more than 26 percent of papers identified as systematic reviews or meta-analyses contained spin. This figure rose to up to 84 percent in papers reporting on nonrandomised trials. While spin was variably defined across the 35 studies, a wide variety of strategies to spin results were identified including: – making inappropriate claims about statistically non-significant results – making inappropriate recommendations for clinical practice that were not supported by study results – attributing causality when that was Read More ›

Can epigenetics be used to thwart viruses?

From Shawna Williams at the Scientist: There’s potentially more than one way to deal with stuborn viruses like HSV using epigenetic drugs. While no epigenetics-based antivirals are yet on the market, clinical trials are underway to test the use of chromatin-opening cancer drugs in combination with conventional antiretroviral therapies for HIV, and researchers such as Kristie and Bloom are working to better understand how viruses take advantage of hosts’ epigenomes—and how they might be stopped. The potential for manipulating the latent virus to flush it out of hiding makes epigenetic drugs an appealing strategy for researchers looking for a functional cure for HIV, says virologist Melanie Ott of the Gladstone Institutes. Current antiretroviral therapies effectively control the infection, but if Read More ›

Mouse model not suitable for studying human immune response to stem cells

From ScienceDaily: A type of mouse widely used to assess how the human immune system responds to transplanted stem cells does not reflect what is likely to occur in patients, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The researchers urge further optimization of this animal model before making decisions about whether and when to begin wide-scale stem cell transplants in humans. Known as “humanized” mice, the animals have been engineered to have a human, rather than a murine, immune system. Researchers have relied upon the animals for decades to study, among other things, the immune response to the transplantation of pancreatic islet cells for diabetes and skin grafts for burn victims. However, the Stanford Read More ›

Another immune system link that “didn’t exist” found

From ScienceDaily: The University of Virginia School of Medicine has again shown that a part of the body thought to be disconnected from the immune system actually interacts with it, and that discovery helps explain cases of male infertility, certain autoimmune diseases and even the failure of cancer vaccines. Scientists developing such vaccines may need to reconsider their work in light of the new findings or risk unintentionally sabotaging their own efforts. UVA’s Kenneth Tung, MD, said that many vaccines likely are failing simply because researchers are picking the wrong targets — targets that aren’t actually foreign to the immune system and thus won’t provoke the desired immune responses. Overturning Orthodoxy Tung, of UVA’s Beirne B. Carter Center for Immunology Read More ›