History Channel Documentary on Human Ancestry: History or Fiction?
August 9, 2005
The History Channel aired a program called “Ape to Man” Monday evening August 7, alleging that modern science had finally pieced together the solution to the puzzle of human evolution. Although it included debunking episodes of Piltdown (11/18/2003) and Java Man (02/27/2003), the flavor of the show was that the picture of human origins has […]
Tailpipe Soot: Can It Live?
July 28, 2005
Better stay clear of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). They come out of your tailpipe and furnace, line your chimney, and generally are products of unhealthy processes like industrial waste and cigarette smoke. According to Environment Canada, “PAHs are a concern because some of them can cause cancers in humans and are harmful to fish and […]
Life on Mars and Titan?
July 26, 2005
Life has not been found on Mars, but some scientists, according to National Geographic News, are worried that we are contaminating the planet with Earth germs that will make the search for Martians more difficult. Speaking of Mars, a report in Science Now claims that Mars rarely got above freezing in its entire history. […]
Do Butterflies Evolve Via Team Stripes?
July 25, 2005
A BBC News story is claiming that butterflies split into competing teams when differences in their wing patterns emerge. Based on a paper in Nature,1 this is supposed to be an example of a rarely-observed mechanism for speciation, called reinforcement: in this case, “These wing colours apparently evolved as a sort of ‘team strip’, allowing […]
Has Anti-Semitism Been Good for Jewish Evolution?
July 19, 2005
National Geographic News gave favorable coverage to a controversial theory by anthropologists at University of Utah that anti-semitism was a form of natural selection. The racism against Jews in Europe, while selecting for higher intelligence, also selected for certain types of diseases. Reporter James Owen did point out that not all anthropologists agree with the […]
Something from Nothing Dept.
June 2, 2005
How do you get optimization by chance? In a Concepts piece in Nature this week,1 William J. Sutherland (U. of East Anglia, UK) suggested that the constraints of the environment will drive living systems toward optimal solutions. He thinks that’s how “selective forces” shaped your teeth and jaw, for instance. Economists and engineers use optimization […]
Paleoanthropologists Fight Tooth and Nail
December 21, 2004
Ann Gibbons, reporter for Science, seems to enjoy watching the fights about human ancestry. At Science Now, she began a news item about an alleged fossil human ancestor with a joke: How many paleoanthropologists does it take to locate a molar on the correct side of a fossil jawbone? The short answer to this joke, […]
Did Martians Win the War of the Worlds?
December 14, 2004
In the H.G. Wells version, the Martian invaders with their tripod machines and death rays, wreaking havoc on Earth, were defeated by Earth bacteria. The new scientific plot envisioned by scientists, reported on Space.com, is that the Martians had the bacteria, and invaded Earth with it to either conquer Earth life or spread it onto […]
Introducing the Stretch & Squish Theory of Evolution
December 14, 2004
Evolution is too slow if theorists rely on single point mutations, say two biologists from U. of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, who published their ideas in PNAS1 (see summary on EurekAlert). Instead, evolution proceeds by rapidly distorting, stretching and squishing what is already there, they claim. They claim that even Darwin knew that […]
Crows and Apes Related by Convergent Evolution
December 9, 2004
Scientists have noticed that crows have some of the same tool-making skills as apes, and in fact, are even better tool makers. How could such vastly different animals show such similar mental skills? Science1 explains this as another example of convergent evolution: Discussions of the evolution of intelligence have focused on monkeys and apes because […]
The Evolution of Irresponsibility
December 7, 2004
Evolutionists at the University of Minnesota have developed a theory for the evolution of impulsive behavior, reports EurekAlert. They say that because our ancestors were hunter-gatherers, they had to grab what they could without thought of future reward or punishment: When psychologists study kids who are good at waiting for a reward, they find those […]
Haeckel Vindicated? Parathyroid Glands from Gills?
December 7, 2004
“Human gland evolved from gills” trumpeted a BBC News science article without apology.* It gives uncontested press to a team from King’s College that is claiming the human parathyroid glands evolved from gills. This is claimed on the basis that they have similar functions (calcium regulation) and are located in the neck region. Fish have […]
SETI Researcher Thinks Big: Send Internet Smut to the Aliens
December 5, 2004
Seth Shostak (SETI Institute), in an article on Space.Com, answers the question, “What do you say to an extraterrestrial?” He said we no longer need to limit ourselves to short messages like “What hath God wrought?”,* the phrase Samuel F. B. Morse sent with the first telegraph. The bandwidth we have available now is huge, […]
Candidates Vie for Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week
November 29, 2004
Contributions for the weekly prize sometimes come in as numerous as contestants at the Boston Marathon. You can send in your contributions or vote on the following: Evolution as sculptor: Sid Perkins, in Science News, submitted three entries in an article on penguin evolution: Early in penguin evolution, the bones, especially in the wings and […]
Middle Earth in Indonesia? Fossil Hobbits Smash Evolutionary Ring
October 27, 2004
Here we go again: another alleged human ancestor fossil that shakes up the evolutionary family tree. No sooner had Nature1 announced a little 1-meter tall fossil female “hominin” that the discoverers classified as Homo erectus, that the science news media like MSNBC and the BBC flew into action reporting it as “fossil hobbits” They seem […]