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Pharyngula

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Michael Egnor, neurosurgeon, has made a bizarre post in which he reveals that he knows nothing about how the brains he cuts up work. Egnor claims that it is impossible for the brain to store memories. Yes, he knows that neural damage can cause loss of memory, that certain delicate areas of the brain, if…

The Lancet done screwed up

Chelsea Polis and Kathryn Curtis wrote a paper that asked whether hormonal contraceptives affected your likelihood of being infected with HIV, Use of hormonal contraceptives and HIV acquisition in women: a systematic review of the epidemiological evidence. Here’s the abstract: Whether or not the use of hormonal contraception affects risk of HIV acquisition is an…

Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Best name ever

It’s the Bone Eating Snot Flower Worm. As a bonus, it’s also one of those species where the large adult forms are all females, and the males have been reduced to a tiny bag of sperm attached for life to a Bone Eating Snot Flower Worm.

The Discovery Institute doesn’t understand the protein folding problem. I mean that literally: they don’t understand the problem. Scientists don’t know the answer, but they have a clear understanding of the problem. PNAS published a “Perspective” article, “The Nature of Protein Folding Pathways,” by S. Walter Englander and Leland Mayne. Unsurprisingly, they try to approach…

The image below is a phylogram, illustrating the degree of variation in a sequence of mitochondrial DNA. The concept is fairly simple: if two DNA samples are from individuals that are evolutionarily distant from one another, they’ll have accumulated more differences in their mitochondrial DNA, and will be drawn farther apart from one another. If…

I have to admit that my first response to these reports out of Britain that stem cells had been successfully used to repair a complete spinal cord transection was skepticism — incredulity even. They’re reporting that a man with a completely severed spinal cord at level T10-T11 is able to walk again! The Guardian gushes!…

What, this is a thing?

A paper that made extravagant weight loss claims for green coffee beans has been retracted. This study had been touted by Dr Oz, of course — no fraud is to ludicrous for him — and rebutted by Scott Gavura, and I’m generally suspicious of any dietary supplement that promises weight loss without reducing calories or…

Go away, cold fusion

A guy named Andrea Rossi has been promoting this device call the E-Cat that produces huge amounts of energy by nuclear fusion: specifically, that it fuses hydrogen and nickel to produce copper and energy. And now there is a claim that this amazing result has been verified, in a remarkably gushing and credulous review. I…

Whoa…ScienceOnline has gone and died

They announced their decision to shut down the organization and cancel future conferences yesterday. This is sad news — it has always been an innovative, interesting event, but they faced a terrible hit when one of their founders, Bora Zivkovic, was slammed with charges of harassing women, and they’ve been struggling to get donations to…

Dang good paper

All right, Larry Moran, why did you post about this paper now? I finished the unit on the origins of life in my cell biology class over a week ago, and this summary of the metabolism first model of abiogenesis would have been very helpful. I first gave them a review of redox reactions in…