Science

Pharyngula

Category archives for Science

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…

Leeuwenhoek is drooling in his grave

Ooh, ick, I guess that’s a really disgusting zombie image. But anyway, look at this: a cheap and easy DIY photomicrography setup. Back in the day, I once built a homely kludge consisting of our very expensive microscope, a nice 35mm SLR, and a bit of cardboard and duct tape to hold it exactly the…

How to make a funny-looking mouse

I’m going to tell you about a paper that was brought to my attention by some poor science journalism, so first I have to complain about the article in the Guardian. Bear with me. This is dreadfully misleading. Though everybody’s face is unique, the actual differences are relatively subtle. What distinguishes us is the exact…

microRNAs and cancer

I’m trying to raise money for the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and I promised to do a few things if we reached certain goals. I said I’d write a post microRNAs and cancer if you raised $7500. And you did, so I did. I kept my clothes on this time, though, so here’s a…

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…

What are tumor suppressor genes?

I’m trying to raise money for the The Leukemia &amp Lymphoma Society, and I promised to do a few things if we reached certain goals. I said I’d write a post explaining what tumor suppressor genes are, while wearing a pirate hat and nothing else, if we raised $5000. Shiver me timbers, I did! And…

Cloning brains with Science

While we’ve been waiting and waiting for the physicists to get their act together and deliver on Mr Fusion home energy sources and flying cars, the biologists have been making great progress on the kinds of things that turn biologists on. The latest development: growing tiny little human brains in a bucket. Only let’s not…

When I heard that Steven Pinker had written a new piece decrying the accusations of scientism, I was anxious to read it. “Scientism” is a blunt instrument that gets swung in my direction often enough; I consider it entirely inappropriate in almost every case I hear it used. Here’s the thing: when I say that…

Historical and observational science

Dealing with various creationists, you quickly begin to recognize the different popular flavors out there. The Intelligent Design creationists believe in argument from pseudoscientific assertion; “No natural process can produce complex specified information, other than Design,” they will thunder at you, and point to books by people with Ph.D.s and try to tell you they…