Gene Expression

Archives for August, 2008

War, rape and group selection

Fortune favours the brave; but the brave are motivated by favours of another kind: If courage makes it significantly more likely that small bands of tribes-men will win military confrontations with their neighbours, its overall advantages can easily outweigh its risks, a mathematical model has shown. Some men who carry genetic variants that promote bravery…

As I have said before biology is quite often the science of exceptions, of variation. Evolutionary biologists spend a great deal of time wondering about the origin of sex, but across vast swaths of the tree of life sex is simply not a consideration. W. D. Hamilton made his name with models of inclusive fitness,…

Earthquakes → progress?

Tectonic environments of ancient civilizations in the eastern hemisphere: The map distribution of ancient civilizations shows a remarkable correspondence with tectonic boundaries related to the southern margin of the Eurasian plate. Quantification of this observation shows that the association is indeed significant, and both historical records and archaeoseismological work show that these civilizations commonly suffered…

Refuting evolutionary materialism

Update: Please read Sandman’s response after you look over this post…. New Evidence Debunks ‘Stupid’ Neanderthal Myth: Blades were first produced by Homo sapiens during their colonization of Europe from Africa approximately 40,000 years ago. This has traditionally been thought to be a dramatic technological advance, helping Homo sapiens out-compete, and eventually eradicate, their Stone…

How I view religion

A lot of comments have revolved around whether I am a Post-Modernist when it comes to the definition of religion. This post is to make explicit and clarify my own position so I don’t have to waste so much time in the comments. Most readers can therefore ignore this and wait until I go back…

Pew has a nice survey up right now, A Closer Look at the Parties in 2008. Here are three questions, and the Republican – Democrat difference on the responses: Do you think the US made the right or wrong decision in using military force against Iraq?, a 50 point difference on both “yes” and “no.”…

Who believes in astrology?

John Hawks points me to a “He said, she said,” piece which wonders whether there is an inverse relationship between belief in the paranormal and religion. The basic thesis is that the mind abhors a vacuum so without institutionally guided supernatural beliefs people simply revert to “default” intuitions. The article doesn’t come to any conclusion,…

Youth Politics

20% of American atheists are religious

A rather pontifical commenter promoted me to do a little digging on the demographics of American atheists, as I was pretty sure that it would reinforce my point about the subjectivity of definitions. The product is a post at my other weblog, Large minority of atheists are religious: …20% of atheists in the United States…

Islam on Campus: A survey of UK student opinions. N = 632 for Muslims. Remember that this is an elite sample of the youth insofar as they’re polling university students. You might wonder what exactly Sharia law is in regarding to apostasy. Perhaps these students have a different interpretation than the majority consensus that apostates…