Science

Pharyngula

Category archives for Science

I was rather surprised yesterday to see so much negative reaction to my statement that there’s more to evolution than selection, and that random, not selective, changes dominate our history. It was in the context of what should be taught in our public schools, and I almost bought the line that we can only teach…

Demonstrate calmly for pro-science

Brianne writes fairly frequently about her experiences as a clinic escort, dealing with shrieking fanatics who stand on sidewalks harassing people going into family planning clinics. They’re hideous and awful and have lost all sense of perspective and humanity, and they’re also remarkably ineffective…unless, of course, their goals are to make other people miserable and…

Chemists can, sometimes, do pretty work

One of the advantages of working at a small university that puts a variety of disciplines cheek-by-jowel in a single building is that I get exposed to all sorts of different stuff. It sometimes has its downsides — I’m on an interdisciplinary search committee, so next week is consumed with seminars in statistics and computer…

Frugal to the point of vacuity

What does it take to get Carl Zimmer to review your research in the New York Times? I suppose it helps to be at Harvard. It also helps to have a combination of subjects — evolution and the human brain — that Zimmer has written about in the past. It helps to have a paper…

A cautionary note about fMRI studies

I’ve been distracted lately — it’s end of the world semester time — and so I didn’t have time to comment on this recent PNAS paper that reports on dramatic sex differences in the brains of men and women. Fortunately, I can just tell you to go read Christian Jarrett, who explains most of the…

Consider it your morning meditation. Or an opportunity to learn something about cell motility.

Remedial reading for big-time scienticians

I don’t understand how this happens. You’ve got a good academic position. You’re bringing in reasonable amounts of grant money. You’re publishing in Nature Genetics and Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. And you don’t even understand the basic concepts in your field of study. For instance, here’s a press release titled “Cause of genetic disorder…

I am not a fan of the convergent evolution argument for humanoid aliens. I can well believe that it’s likely that intelligent aliens exist out there in the universe, but I’m not even going to try to predict what they look like: there are too many alternative paths that are possible. But for some reason,…

Balance

Science is always working a tough room. It’s inherently progressive — we’re constantly achieving incremental improvements in our understanding, with occasional lurches forward…and sometimes sudden lurches backward, when we realize that we got something wrong. We’re performing for a crowd, the general citizenry and most importantly, the funding agencies, that expect us to fix problems…

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…