Archive for the ‘Evolution’ Category

Discovery Institute Caught Illegally Censoring Free Speech

August 13, 2009

If you’ve been under the impression that the Discovery Institute has any interest in open debate about the legitimacy of their challenges to evolutionary theory, allow me to relieve you of that burden. The DI has been caught illegally censoring free speech that criticized their own dishonest and scientifically illiterate tactics. An individual who posted a critique of an interview given by Casey Luskin, a major DI mouthpiece, on Fox News surprisingly found himself the subject of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint despite the fact that the video did not constitute a violation of the DMCA and, most obviously, the Discovery Institute doesn’t own the copyright to the video! Depending on your familiarity with the DMCA, this may or may not seem like a big deal. However, maliciously filing a false DMCA claim is a federal crime and yet another example of the tactics employed by the Discovery Institute.

This first video is an explanation of what happened.

And here’s the original one that the DI tried to censor.

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Faux Outrage From The Discovery Institute

August 13, 2009

“It’s a strange scientific revolution that seeks to establish its position in secondary school curricula before the research itself has been accomplished. But this obvious impediment is removed if the revolution is based on a redefinition of science rather than on new research.”1

America’s favorite Intelligent Design cranks are at it again.  Admittedly, this most recent release from the DI is somewhat tame.  It is, however, just the latest in an incredibly long line of deliberate misinformation being spouted by the leading propagandists of modern creationism (read: Intelligent Design).  Today, they’re unhappy about a paper published by members of the National Center for Science Education.  However, a quick examination of past and current tactics of the Discovery Institute and its predecessors quickly illuminates why those seemingly innocuous words the DI is so up in arms about really are troubling.

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More Of The Same From The Intelligent Design Camp

August 10, 2009

08-10-09 imageThe ID blog Uncommon Descent recently reproduced a section of an article from the journal Nature Physics.  As I have not read the full article myself (and don’t plan on paying the $32 necessary to purchase it), I can’t comment on how the quoted passage fits into the author’s overall thesis.  His intentions are not the focus of this entry.  Instead, I will occupy myself with addressing the claim* being made by the luminaries at Uncommon Descent through usage of the excerpt.

Let’s get this out of the way early.  The idea that the existence of horizontal gene transfer will somehow tear down and render useless the theory of Darwinian evolution is patently ridiculous.  HGT refers to the ability of an organism to exchange genetic material with another organism and incorporate this material into its own genome.  Most of the research on HGT has dealt with bacteria, though studies do indicate this process is also important in the other prokaryotes and even single-celled eukaryotes.  The mechanism was first described 50 years ago and is among the best understood means by which organisms increase both genetic and phenotypic variation.  Despite the wealth of information that has been uncovered about HGT, the apparent Darwin killer, the past half century has not been witness to any kind of decrease in the confidence in or acceptance of evolutionary theory in the scientific community.

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Zombie Ants

August 3, 2009

Yes, you read that correctly.  Zombie ants.  In addition to my regular ranting and raving about all things pseudoscientific, I hope to also point out some of the cool/weird/fascinating science stories I come across.  And I couldn’t pass this one up.  Parasitic organisms that alter the behavior of their hosts for their own gain are not unknown.  However, I’m not aware of anything that exhibits this much specificity in the relationship.  Read a summary of the to be published article here.

Congratulations, Britain! ‘God Did It’ Is Now Acceptable Science!

July 31, 2009

NARIC Officials Discuss ICCE Math CurriculumI stumbled across this article with the help of Pharyngula earlier today.  Looks like I’ve found something new to get angry about.

Attempts to force creationism / intelligent design (they’re the same thing, don’t let anyone tell you differently) into the science classroom has been a mostly American phenomenon.  While the movement has been slowly growing across the Atlantic, it has been largely kept at bay.  The education director of the Royal Society stepped down last year after making statements that appeared to endorse the teaching of creationism.  Maybe he found a new job at NARIC.

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Evolution In Action

July 30, 2009

This will be a short post, but I wanted to point out a very cool study that will be coming out in next month’s American Naturalist.  Researchers have observed two bird populations as they begin to split into separate species.  In addition, this bit of speciation is being caused by a single gene.  As these two populations become reproductively separated, and thus two distinct species, researchers will be able to observe process of speciation from the beginning.  Exciting stuff.