Bad science

Pharyngula

Category archives for Bad science

Methinks it is like a fox terrier

I’ve had, off and on, a minor obsession with a particular number. That number is 210. Look for it in any review of evolutionary complexity; some number in the 200+ range will get trotted out as the estimated number of cell types in a chordate/vertebrate/mammal/human, and it will typically be touted as the peak number…

Kraken man is back

He’s persistent, I’ll say that for him. I first encountered Mark McMenamin as an enthusiastic promoter of Stuart Pivar’s inflatable donut model of development. He then sank from sight, along with the pretentious septic tank salesmen, until two years ago, when he presented piles of ichthyosaur vertebrae as evidence that a giant cephalopod, a kraken,…

A hopeless muddle

James May, one of the presenters on Top Gear, is trying his hand at providing a little science education. I want to say…please stop. Here he is trying to answer the question, “Are humans still evolving?” In the end he says the right answer — yes they are! — but the path he takes to…

Stones, glass houses, etc.

John Bohannon of Science magazine has developed a fake science paper generator. He wrote a little, simple program, pushes a button, and gets hundreds of phony papers, each unique with different authors and different molecules and different cancers, in a format that’s painfully familiar to anyone who has read any cancer journals recently. The goal…

Jerry Coyne gets everything wrong, again

I wish I knew what it was about the appeal of evolutionary psychology that makes otherwise intelligent people promote outright silliness in its defense, but here comes Jerry Coyne again in a poorly thought-out piece. He disagrees with the anti-EP piece I linked to yesterday, which is fine, but I expect better arguments than this.…

In science, there’s data, and there’s interpretation. It’s really easy to collect data (usually), but interpretation is the hard part — it requires an understanding of context and theory, and an appreciation of the real complexity of the problem. It’s tempting to simplify all your models — the spherical cow problem — but you also…

Scientology’s views on evolution

I had a conversation with Tony Ortega about L. Ron Hubbard’s book, A History of Man: Antediluvian Technology. He is the author of a blog, Tony Ortega on Scientology, and he had cruelly sent me a copy Hubbard’s book specifically to inflame my already enlarged outrage gland. The post there emphasizes everything Hubbard got wrong…

ENCODE has its defenders!

You know I was really pissed off at the crap ENCODE was promoting, that the genome was at least 80% functional and that there was no such thing as junk DNA. And there have been a number of better qualified scientists (like W. Ford Doolittle and Dan Graur and many others) who have stood up…

For shame, Discovery Channel

It’s shark week. I’m not going to watch a bit of it; I’m actually boycotting the Discovery Channel for the indefinite future. The reason: An appalling violation of media ethics and outright scientific dishonesty. They opened the week with a special “documentary” on Megalodon, the awesome 60 foot long shark that went extinct a few…

I previously addressed the criticisms of my criticisms of evolutionary psychology by Jerry Coyne; Now I turn to the criticisms of my criticisms he solicited from Steven Pinker. This is getting a bit convoluted, so let me first state the basics. I dislike evolutionary psychology. Pinker is an advocate for evolutionary psychology. What brought on…