Pharyngula

PZ Myers

Chocolate brains

The ever-charming Sam Harris has smarmily connected me to Deepak Chopra, so now I’m getting a flood of both smug, superior cluelessness from the Vulcans of Planet Sam, and the spacey vacuous nonsense of the Chopralites. Thanks, Sam! Although, I must say, so far Chopra freaks are doing a better job of actually saying something.…

No, really, there’s a connection.

VESTIGIAL: Learn what it means!

Vestigial organs are relics, reduced in function or even completely losing a function. Finding a novel function, or an expanded secondary function, does not make such organs non-vestigial. The appendix in humans, for instance, is a vestigial organ, despite all the insistence by creationists and less-informed scientists that finding expanded local elements of the immune…

Friday Cephalopod: I was making mud pies!

Prepare yourself. The Te Papa Museum of New Zealand has a new specimen locked in a vault: a colossal squid that will be thawed and dissected (they think!) on streaming video. Here is the necromantic chamber. Wait! No protective runes, no array of emergency thuribles, no pentagram, no mysterious idols of jade and obsidian? This…

Chatbots are boring. They aren’t AI.

You know I’m a bit sour on the whole artificial intelligence thing. It’s not that I think natural intelligences are anything more than natural constructions, or that I think building a machine that thinks is impossible — it’s that most of the stories from AI researchers sound like jokes. Jon Ronson takes a tour of…

Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Thrippy

You’ve just got to love the word “thrip”.

That’s my hypothesis, and I’m sticking to it. My obnoxious, curmudgeonly ways must be an adaptation, selected by evolution over many generations to optimize my mating opportunities by forcing stupid people to flee from my presence.

JBS Haldane is said to have responded to a question about how evolution could be disproved by saying, “A Precambrian rabbit”. What was meant by this, of course, is any substantial discovery that greatly disrupted the evidence for the chronological pattern of descent observed in Earth’s life. That pattern of descent is one of the…