Evolving Thoughts

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The science of systematics

As the science of order (“taxonomy”), Systematics is a pure science of relations, unconcerned with time, space, or cause. Unconcerned with time: systematics is non-historic and essentially static; it knows only a simple juxtaposition of different conditions of form. Unconcerned with space: geographical factors are not primary criteria in the definition of taxonomic units. Unconcerned…

There was a paper recently in PNAS on “The cognitive and neural foundations of religious belief“. A couple of bloggers, Epiphenom and I Am David, come to opposite conclusions. Epiphenom says that the study shows that religion is not a side-effect of the evolution of cognitive processes, while IAD says that is exactly what it…

It’s called Philosophy and Theory in Biology. This is based on some heavy hitters: Massimo Pigliucci, Jon Kaplan, Alan Love and Joan Roughgarden are the editors, and the editorial board looks like a Who’s Who of philosophy of biology. No apparent page charges, and it’s online only (I hope they take care of the enduring…

I was going to do a long screed on the efficacy of hygiene but this is much clearer. But NSFW, it is below the fold.

Various divers thingies

My union is calling a strike next Tuesday. I’m not sure what to do. I don’t teach, and have no administrative duties, so should I stop thinking from for 8 hours? I’m not sure the administration would notice… Rob Skipper at hpb etc. has a series of podcasts from the series of lectures on Darwiniana…

Chloroplast origins

Chris Taylor at Catalogue of Organisms has an absolutely stunning review of the origin of chloroplasts in eukaryotes. It’s so good I thought it was from Elio Schaechter’s blog Small Things Considered when it first popped up in my reader – higher praise there is not.

Asks MSNBC’s Chris Matthews of the GOP’s Mike Pence. The latter dances around it, trying to avoid asserting what science knows to be true, but this raises an interesting problem: does one have to “believe” in evolution? I mean it’s a physical process (the “fact” side) which has a number of explanatory models (the “theory”…

So I says..

I told ‘em! I told ‘em! So I did. Millennium hand and shrimp!

Digesting the literature

Many years ago, ians, really, I naively asked my lecturer who I thought knew everything in the field, how he kept up with the literature. He shrugged and said he couldn’t, and neither could anyone else. I thought he was just being self deprecating. Experience taught me better shortly. But there are tools that help,…

The host ISP of Electronic Frontiers Australia has been served a take-down notice for linking to an R-rated “blackbanned” site, itself not in Australia, in a page that was a political comment on the merits (or demerits, rather) of mandatory internet filtering in Australia. I put the entire text of their notice below the fold.…