On the weekend of September 9, I and a fellow member of the Center for Inquiry attended a creationism “conference” (I’d have called it a lecture series, but hey, whatever). My overall impression is that if this is all that creationists have, evolutionary theory is not at all in jeopardy. Of course, I never thought it was. I just wanted to experience what people who believe the Earth is a mere 6,000 years old and that dinosaurs co-existed with humans had to say. The whole thing could only be accepted by those who have drunk the Kool Aid. There was nothing convincing in anything I saw, and some stretched my credulity well past the breaking point. Read More »
I have just finished Jerry Coyne’s book on the fact of evolution entitled Why Evolution Is True. I say fact, of course, since there is no longer any discussion of whether evolution happened in biology. Not because evolution is dogmatically unquestionable, as evolution deniers will say, but because such a discussion is utterly pointless.
He begins the book by describing what evolution is (itself often misunderstood) and a bit about systematics. It’s a good basic description of how phylogenetic trees are built from a comparative morphology point of view. He moves on to some interesting examples of visible evolution in the fossil record, discussing the near-continuous changes in radiolarians and foraminiferans, some of the recent fossil evidences for various transitions such as the aquatic-terrestrial tetrapod transition, dinosaur to bird, and (with good reason, as Jerry demonstrates, the darling of modern paleontology) land-sea mammalian transition.
Jerry continues with some of the earliest evidences of evolution that was discussed in The Origin, such as vestigial organs and atavisms, as well as something somewhat more modern – evidence from pseudogenes. Embryology is also strong in this chapter and he clearly describes what “phylogeny begets ontogeny” means, with examples. This easily leads into, of course, how bad design occurs. I’ve always enjoyed examples of clearly inept design, and here Jerry gives some of the more famous ones like the tortuous path of the aortic arches in humans and how such a ridiculous ‘design’ arose from contingency dictated by our evolutionary past.
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The web blogsite MySpace does not have a Science section. I find that rather insulting, being a scientist. The world makes use of the benefits of Science to such an extent that the MySpace gods are completely oblivious to their dependence on it. In a sense, this jaded attitude is in part responsible for the rise of pseudoscience and spirituality. In my book, a spiritual person is a flake. Where does Deepak Chopra get off telling us that scientists have hijacked the term ‘quantum mechanics’ as if it were spiritual gurus and not physicists that were its developers? He’s got it backwards! It is HE that has hijacked it and made it out to be something which it is most definitely not. Quantum healing my ass! What a rube. Anyway, this article is cut and pasted from the Australian Skeptics website and is an excellent discussion on Shannon information and the increase in information in the genome. Why don’t creationists get it? This is so much more fascinating than the banal god-dunn-it!
Speaking of them, why are they so dishonest when going out to interview scientists? PZ Myers ran into the same problem when Ben Stein filmed that train wreck. I’ll lay money down that Richard is totally up front with his motives. Creationist propagandists, on the other hand, always seem to use underhanded tactics.
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I’ve grown up believing that you should not speak ill of anyone, but then, I don’t lie, either. The subject of this blog is Kent Hovind, or ‘Dr. Dino’; a man that, without ever having met, I completely loathe. No, it goes beyond that, and I will now tell you why.
Yesterday, I downloaded a debate that was made available on the Infidel Guy website between Mr. Kent Hovind and Dr. Massimo Pigliucci which originally aired in 2001. Dr. Pigliucci most ably defended evolution with a great deal more patience than I would have had. I have little patience for stupidity (which is why I never found ‘Friends’ funny at all) and have to fight the urge to stop my hand from smacking topside of the head anyone suffering from this all too common affliction. Mr. Hovind would receive a great deal less gentle attention in my presence.
It is apparent that Mr. Hovind is unhappy at being called ‘Mr.’ and feels that his ‘degree’ from an unaccredited university demands that the title ‘Dr.’ be used when addressing him:
‘… I have a doctor’s degree also, though it’s not from an accredited university but I don’t think that matters…’
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