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Deconstructing Darwinese:  Delighting in Ignorance

When is ignorance a good thing?  When is confidence in one’s answers a bad thing?  One science writer expressed his desire for mystery over explanation – as long as the mysterious allowed room for lucky breaks without design.     Science writer Ben Shaberman got to share his views on the last page of the […]

Sappy Birthday, Plate Tectonics

Authors of prose and poetry often use personification to set the imagination and emotions moving.  Such talk is infrequent in science, because it can confuse more than illuminate.  We’ll let the reader decide the effect of a commentary in GSA Today1 by Shoufa Lin (U of Waterloo, Ontario), who asked, “When did the life of […]

Dino Horns: Is Smaller More Evolved?

One can never tell which way the evolutionary path will take to determine fitness.  Could be bigger, could be smaller.  Could be faster, could be slower.  Could be better camouflaged, could be flashy.  Michael Ryan (Cleveland Museum) decided that shorter horns on his dinosaur constituted better fitness.  CNN says his discovery, a 20-foot dinosaur in […]

OOL on the Rocks

An important survey of the origin-of-life (OOL) field has been published in Scientific American.  Robert Shapiro, a senior prize-winning chemist, cancer researcher, emeritus professor and author of books in the field, debunks the Miller experiment, the RNA World and other popular experiments as unrealistic dead ends.  Describing the wishful thinking of some researchers, he said, […]

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: What Thou Doest, Do Quickly

This award should be for last week since the article on EurekAlert was dated Jan 29.  From a press release at Rice University, it begins: It’s a mystery why the speed and complexity of evolution appear to increase with time.  For example, the fossil record indicates that single-celled life first appeared about 3.5 billion years […]

New Scapegoat for Your Golf Score: Evolution

Stanford scientists are blaming evolution for our difficulty at golf, according to The Stanford Daily.  Working with rhesus monkeys, the researchers found that primate brains are too adaptable to changing conditions to become good at a repetitive tasks.  “One possible explanation for the observation is that evolution favored predators who could improvise, as they never […]

Mars Life With Bleached Hair

Mars has hydrogen peroxide.  Bombardier beetles use peroxide.  So maybe the Viking landers in 1976 didn’t find life, because they didn’t look for peroxide-based life.  That’s the essence of the reasoning in an Associated Press story circulating on the net (see Breitbart.com).     Reporter Seth Borenstein earns Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week for […]

Danes Found the Keys to Happiness

According to the British Medical Journal, reported EurekAlert, British scientists wanted to find out what makes the Danish so darn happy.  “Their hypotheses range from the unlikely (hair colour, genes, food and language) to the more plausible, such as family life, health and a prosperous economy.”  Their conclusion?  Danes are happier than other Europeans because […]

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  Comets as Life’s Lego Jumper Cables

Results of the Stardust mission made the cover of Science this week.1  The Jet Propulsion Laboratory put out a press release that condensed the abstruse papers into a simplistic story built around the L word life.  Publicist David Agle wrote for the Lego generation: Just as kits of little plastic bricks can be used to […]

Darwinists Award New Inductee

The journal Science published the winning entry in the 2006 contest “GE and Science Prize for Young Life Scientists.”  The Grand Prize went to Irene A. Chen (Harvard) for her essay entitled, “The Emergence of Cells During the Origin of Life.”1  Her chemical-evolution scenario makes generous use of that word emergence and its synonyms. Modern […]

To Get Complex Life, Just Add Oxygen

A story is circulating in the science news media that a burst of complex organisms in the Cambrian coincided with a rise in oxygen in the atmosphere.  Reporters seem to be drawing a cause-and-effect relationship.  Examples: News@Nature:  “A sharp increase in the amount of oxygen in the air may have sparked the evolution of complex […]

Darwin Stars at the Galaxy, by Universal Pictures

A press release from the European Southern Observatory asks, “Do Galaxies Follow Darwinian Evolution?”  One may wonder how stars, which do not bear children, can be considered progeny of Charles Darwin.  They explain: The ‘nature versus nurture’ debate is a hot topic in human psychology.  But astronomers too face similar conundrums, in particular when trying […]

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  Evolution as Inventor

This week’s award goes to Gines Morata, a research professor in Spain, who was interviewed in Current Biology.1  He gives us a glimpse into his biology classes: I often tell my students that they do not have to invent anything; in biology everything has already been invented.  What they have to do is find out […]

Scientists Force Rapid Natural Selection in Lizards

Scientists transported a predator to a Caribbean island and watched some of the lizards evolve longer legs to run faster.  Then, as some of them took to climbing trees, their hind legs grew shorter.  They are calling this a test of natural selection, and are amazed the effects took effect so rapidly – in one […]

Darwin Credited with Intelligent Design

Exclusive  In an unusual mix of metaphors, a pioneer in advanced computing technology gave a lecture at JPL on 11/14 entitled, “Intelligent Design: Using Evolution to Create Complex Systems.”  By evolution, it was clear that astronomer Dr. Richard Terrile meant the Darwinian kind.  The point of his presentation was that humans can mimic the processes […]
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