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More Reasons to Doubt Scientific Pronouncements

It’s unsettling to hear scientists say that long-held beliefs might be wrong, but that’s the nature of science. Scientific “findings” are tentative, not absolute. Some see this as a strength of science, but unless actual progress is demonstrated, that strength is called into question. Recent news casts doubt on various scientific methods and beliefs that had been trusted for a long time.

Rethinking Parasitism

Parasitism is bad. Parasitism is evil. Parasites wage war against innocent hosts. This is our mindset. What if parasites can do good? This change of heart seems to be happening for one case, the case of transposable genetic elements. If they are only doing harm to the host, why did some biologists find that “positive selection” seems to be maintaining them? That makes it sound like the cells need them.

Living Surprises, Living Hopes

Here are ten recent discoveries about plants and animals that are surprising and inspiring. Some of them may lead to technologies that can improve our own lives.

More Upsets for Darwin

For every hyped-up demonstration of evolution in action the media announces with gusto, there are setbacks that often do not get the splashy headlines. Here are three recent examples.

Science Grab Bag

Here's a random assortment of things floating around in the science news media – some fascinating, some informative, some disgusting. We’ll let the readers decide which is which. Since it’s Friday the 13th, a day to enjoy like any other day, we’ll give you a baker’s dozen to sample.

Darwinian Explanations: Show or Snow?

We all know the proverbial “snow job.” That’s putting on an entertaining song and dance without doing the assignment. A college sophomore (wise fool) writes a 15-page term paper full of jargon that, on closer inspection, didn’t follow directions or didn’t answer the question – it reveals ignorance of the subject. A job applicant makes an impression with humor or appearance without demonstrating ability to do the work. A junior makes up a fanciful story to cover up why he didn’t mow the lawn. Scientists are supposed to explain things based on observation and testable hypotheses. If Darwinians really believe that an unguided, impersonal, purposeless mechanism led to the diversity of life on Earth, they need to show the evidence. Here are a few recent examples of evolutionary explanations. Check whether they “show” evolution, or distract attention with a “snow” job.

Nature Does It Right

Scientists and engineers continue to find well-designed features in living things that are worth imitating.

Cells Optimize Their Tasks

The key to design in manufacturing is optimization – hitting the “sweet spot” between competing interests. It’s not always possible to have all the elements of a product be ideal. A laptop computer, for instance, can’t have an extra-large monitor and simultaneously have long battery life and compact design. A muscle car cannot be expected to have the best gas mileage. In the heyday of “faster, better, cheaper” spacecraft, engineers often joked, “pick any two.” In the same way, living cells have to optimize their operations. A couple of recent papers explore how they find that sweet spot.

Dino Expert Plays Chicken

Jack Horner, the dinosaur hunter who was science advisor to the Jurassic Park movies, wants to create a real dinosaur. He won’t use the movie method, trying to extract blood from Jurassic amber, because “DNA degrades too quickly,” he said. But he has a method he thinks will work: un-evolve a chicken back into its dinosaur ancestor.

Human Variability Can Be Rapid

All living humans are interfertile – one species by definition. People from all parts of the globe can marry and have children, even though global travel is relatively recent in human history. Yet we know there is considerable variability between tribes and nationalities. Does this variability take millions of years? Does it lead to the origin of new human species? Recent evidence shows that variations can be rapid, both genetic and acquired, without reducing interfertility.

Methuselah Seed Now a Tree

The world’s oldest viable seed is now a tree 8 feet tall. The Methuselah palm, discovered in the 1960s as a seed at the Judean fortress of Masada, sprouted in 2005 under controlled conditions. It is the oldest seed verified by radiocarbon dating to be 2,000 years old – from the time the Romans were besieging the mountain fortress built by Herod the Great.

Evolutionists Flaunt Falsifying Fossils

If Darwin’s theory were true, would you expect to find fossils that haven’t changed for a billion years? Would you expect that kind of stasis for organisms that lived in vastly different conditions than today? Would you expect, furthermore, to find an explosion of diverse forms of life suddenly, without ancestors? Rather than mourn their fate, evolutionists flaunt these falsifying fossils as trophies of their theory.

Fungi Shed Light on Deep Biological Mysteries

Fungi are among the least studied and least understood organisms. Elevated from plants to their own kingdom in 1969, they are extremely diverse yet difficult to observe, since many species cannot be grown in the lab. The gaps in our knowledge of the fungi are being filled by new efforts to catalog them, but one of the most interesting findings may come from analysis of their genomes. A new study shows that introns (intragenic regions) are more dynamic than previously thought.

Whale Fossils: Challenge or Support for Evolution?

When most fossils consist of small shelly creatures, finding a whale is indeed big news. Two whale fossil discoveries on opposite sides of the world are spectacular and puzzling. Do they support the theory that whales evolved from land mammals?

Your Copper Pipes

Each of us is part metal. Our bodies contain iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, vanadium, molybdenum, selenium, and even nickel like the coins in our pockets or purses. Unlike the other common elements of life (carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, calcium, nitrogen, phosphorus), our metals are not synthesized and recycled, but must be imported and handled with care. Copper is a good example of a biological metal that performs multiple useful functions – that is, unless something goes wrong with the machinery handling it.
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