Science

Pharyngula

Category archives for Science

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…

It’s not the Koh-I-Noor or the Empress Eugenie Brooch or whatever my wife is wearing right now, it’s this: It’s a small, broken fossil shell, collected from a fossil outcrop and transported 110 kilometers to a hole in the ground in Italy. Close inspection reveals that before it was broken, there was a pattern of…

Thirty, almost forty, years ago when zebrafish were an up and coming model system and very few labs were working on them, we were used to going to conferences and reciting the zebrafish litany, a list of attributes that justified us working on such an oddball animal: we’d explain, for instance, that it was prolific,…

It’s summer head-asplodey time!

Gang, don’t try this at home. I’m a trained professional, so I can get away with it, although I do face extreme risk of brain damage. I am reading two books at once. OK, that part isn’t too scary, I’m actually just alternating between the two — an hour with one at lunch time, an…

Do the creationist shuffle and twist!

Don’t you hate it when you get up in the morning and the first thing you read on the internet is that the news that your entire career has been a waste of time, your whole field of study has collapsed, and you’re going to have to rethink your entire future? Happens to me all…

I’m shocked. Just totally surprised. And it was unanimous — the Supreme Court determined that human genes cannot be patented. This is excellent news. Why is it a good decision? Because medical DNA analysis was turning into a patchwork of competing landgrabs. Sequencing technology is coming along so nicely that more and more diagnostic tools…

It’s going to be a good season, I can tell already. It’s finals week, so I’ll still have an abrupt pile of grading to do on Thursday, but otherwise, my teaching obligations are done for the semester. Now I’m trapped, trapped I tell you, in Morris for almost (I do have two quick trips to…

No more Dan Markingsons

A few weeks ago I gave a talk in Seattle in which I pointed out that science is not sufficient to define moral behavior. A substantial part of that talk was a catalog of atrocities, such as the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. I said that in purely scientific terms, that was a good experiment; if the…

It’s a frog tadpole with an eye surgically grafted to its trunk! Wait, this is an old story — similar experiments were done at least 20 years ago. You can transplant developing eyes to the tadpole, but the cool thing is that the donor optic nerves will grow into the sensory tracts of the dorsal…