Evolution

Mike the Mad Biologist

Category archives for Evolution

Dogs and Adaption to Humans

In a good post about puppy mills, Amanda Marcotte made a good point about domesticated versus undomesticated pets (italics mine): This would probably mean that people couldn’t get exotic pets, and that isn’t really the sort of thing that would keep me up at night, either. I understand the urge to have something like a…

Chris Mooney is encouraging people to read the longer paper on which his Washington Post op-ed piece was based (some of my thoughts on the op-ed are here). So I did. My short take: there’s some good, mixed in with some bad. I’ll behave unusually and describe the good first.

I came across this excellent article by Jerry Coyne, which is part book review, part defense of natural selection. I recommend it highly. But, in reading the article, I wondered why people are so threatened by natural selection. Because that’s not the philosophically challenging part. Unless you’re a biblical ‘literalist’, the idea of a creator…

The Smithsonian recently revamped its exhibit on human evolution, and the brand new Hall of Human Origins is definitely worth seeing. Unlike exhibits from the Small era, there is no equivocation here: humans evolved over millions of years from primates. Period. There’s no ambiguity, no attempt to please theopolitical conservatives. It’s also very aesthetically pleasing–the…

While I’m away, here’s something from the depths of the Mad Biologist’s Archives: By way of ScienceBlogling Razib, I came across this Reason article by Ronald Bailey summarizing the presidential candidates views’ on evolution. Bailey highlights two reasons what lack of support for evolution says about a candidate: The candidate probably is weak on the…

Nonoptimality in Viral Evolution and Economics

While I’m not that big a fan of the project trying to find commonalities between economics and biology, largely because I think explanations of specific phenomena often reduce to those stupid fucking natural history facts, I was struck by this argument by economist Samuel Bowles about the assumption of optimality in the supposed tradeoff between…

A dissertation committee member who will remain nameless once told me, “Mike, in the end, it all comes down to those stupid fucking natural history facts.” This might have been the only worthwhile thing said committee member ever told me. More about this in a bit. Anyway, I bring this up because I think much…

If you haven’t read Paul Krugman’s recent NY Times Magazine article “How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?“, I recommend it highly. One of the interesting things about Krugman is that he has been talking about this issue for over a decade. In a 1996 lecture, he presented an argument that economics needs to learn…

Evolution: The Utility Defense

During one of the many framing-related flare ups (kinda like zits, aren’t they?), I argued that biologists have done the following things well while confronting creationism: Calling creationists fucking morons (because they are). Arguing that a better understanding of how life evolved is good in and of itself, and can imbue us with a certain…

You might find it hard to believe, but determining whether restricting antibiotic use leads to decreased resistance is actually not very straightforward. That’s because antibiotic resistance genes can be linked to–that is, they travel along with–other resistance genes or even genes that are favored for some other reason. So even when an antibiotic is no…