Science

Pharyngula

Category archives for Science

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…

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…