Evolving Thoughts

John S. Wilkins

Homeopathy kills too

Hard on the heels of the recent media coverage (well done Channel 7!) of the death of a child from Whooping Cough due to antivaccination sentiments in Australia, comes the death of an infant due to homeopathy. The father is a homeopathy quack, and instead of treating his child’s eczema with traditional creams, he allowed…

One of the things I don’t like about the Darwin Awards is that it presumes the only way to gain one is to remove yourself from the gene pool directly by dying. But that would be a Wallace Award. Darwin knew, as do we, that there are many ways one can avoid contributing to the…

It is often stated in the literature that Linnaeus late in life turned to an evolutionary view based on hybridisation (e.g., Clausen, Keck and Hiesey 1939). I myself have repeated this, but as always it’s worth looking at the actual text. Unfortunately I have so little Latin that I can’t even use pig Latin, so…

False botanists

… says Linnaeus: False BOTANISTS proclaim the Laws of the Art before they have learned them: Extol absurd Authors, and are jealous of the excellent ones: Steal from others, producing nothing of their own: Boast much of a little knowledge: Pretend they have discovered a natural Method: Assert the Genera to be arbitrary. [System Vegetabilis…

From the New York Times: The Internet is no longer just an essential channel for commerce, entertainment and information. It has also become a stage for state control ? and rebellion against it. Computers are becoming more crucial in global conflicts, not only in spying and military action, but also in determining what information reaches…

An ancient cladogram

As I investigate the use of tree diagrams in the nineteenth century, I keep running across things that shouldn’t be there. One of them was this book: Herdman, William Abbott. 1885. A Phylogenetic Classification of Animals (For the Use of Students). London; Liverpool: Macmillan & Co.; Adam Holden. It’s on Archive.org, but they didn’t properly…

Antivaxer story on the way

Although Sunday Night did a very good story on the antivaccination campaign’s cost in lives, it now looks like they will do a follow up that takes the antivaxxer line, if the appearance in the ads of Australia’s least accurate journalist Mike Munro is any guide. Munro is a gutter journalist of UK proportions. His…

Wilkins is fragile and destablised Intellectual tourist attacks local inhabitants All happy bacteria are alike (or is that like each other?) Australian current affairs gets vaccination right! [That’s not a pun, it’s an act of God] The original video is here. Evolution does spreadsheets in origin of genetic code Siris and Sandwalk go head to…

Are creationists rational?

My Synthese essay has finally been published [paywall], in which I argue that on the basis of the more realistic notion of rationality devised by Herbert Simon, called “bounded rationality”, certain heuristics are liable to lead people to rationally choose to believe in creationism under the right conditions. It’s a conceptual developmentalist perspective. Here’s the…

I’m back. Now for sleep

Sorry to sound Tweatish, but I’ve had about 4 hours sleep in the past 40 (I can’t sleep on planes even with chemical assistance). I loved Lisbon, and the people who invited and paid for me to go were amazingly hospitable. I had a great time. One of the hapless audients has blogged it here…