pharyngula

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February 19, 2016
No restraint or decorum, they just go at it out there in public. It's good to be the squid. Brian Skerry
February 16, 2016
Uncommon Descent linked to my criticisms of the Biology of the Baroque, Intelligent Design creationism's latest misconception, that biologists believe every detail of every organism is the product of natural selection…but they didn't bother to quote any of my criticisms. It's weird. They could have…
February 14, 2016
If you watch the Discovery Institute, you'll discover they're constantly playing games, trying to find that winning PR technique that will persuade the hapless ignorati. Some of them are effective, even if dishonest: "irreducible complexity" injected all kinds of misleading chaos into the brains of…
February 12, 2016
The Seattle aquarium isn't playing the matchmaking game with their octopuses anymore, for a chilling reason: they're afraid that a date might turn into a public cannibal orgy. I don't recall that peril from my youth, back when I was actively dating. I'm lucky to have escaped Seattle alive!
February 12, 2016
Larry Moran has heard the words of Michael Denton, and has come away with a creationist interpretation of structuralism. I have to explain to Larry that Denton, as you might expect of a creationist, is distorting the whole idea. Here's the Denton/Intelligent Design creationism version of…
February 11, 2016
We've got an interesting seminar coming to Morris next Thursday. Thursday, February 18, 2016, 5 p.m. Location: Imholte Hall 109 The origination of novel structures has long been an intriguing topic for biologists. Over the past few decades it has served as a central theme in evolutionary…
February 5, 2016
They're already in their pajamas. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a new exhibit of the Striped Pyjama Squid. Guess what they look like? Adorable. That's what they look like.
February 1, 2016
Peter Doherty explains the likely outcomes of the Zika virus pandemic. What we are seeing in the Americas is a classic “virgin soil” epidemic. Enormous numbers of people and mosquitoes are being infected, the virus is transmitting at a very high level, and there may be as many as 4×106 cases. Apart…
January 31, 2016
It's easy to find lists of dumb things creationists say, and I'm familiar with that lot, but here's a fun new time-waster: Things Anti-Vaxxers Say. Here's a beautiful example of something I've rarely seen so clearly stated: they get the facts totally wrong, actually the reverse of the actual…
January 31, 2016
There is a myth about how science progresses: great men have a eureka moment, and rush in to the lab to do the definitive experiment, often bravely and with the opposition of the Science Establishment, and single-handedly revolutionize a discipline. It's nonsense. I can't think of a single example…
January 29, 2016
Last week, Simon Davis wrote to me with questions about this cryonic brain preservation technique, which has now been published as How to Freeze Your Brain and Live Forever (Maybe). Unfortunately, my comments did not make it into the story, because, Simon politely explained, there are length…
January 29, 2016
But also deadly, the prettiest kind of pink there is. The Tentacle
January 28, 2016
In a recent quack conference, Deepak Chopra did his usual thing: taking new science that he understands poorly and stuffing it full of magic bogosity. According to Chopra, that pesky inflamed microbiome is sentient. The genome, microbiome and epigenome, which the author collectively calls the “…
January 20, 2016
The stories about prominent harassers in the field of astronomy have been coming out a lot lately, and kudos to the field for taking steps to end a severe and chronic problem that impairs the advancement of half the members of the human race. But of course you knew the counter-reaction was coming.…
January 20, 2016
There are some scientific technologies that rapidly become ubiquitious and indispensible, and they become the engine that drives tremendous amounts of research, win Nobel prizes, and are eventually taken for granted. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is one example: PCR is routine in molecular…
January 17, 2016
There will be an interesting meeting in London next fall, New trends in evolutionary biology: biological, philosophical and social science perspectives. The description: Developments in evolutionary biology and adjacent fields have produced calls for revision of the standard theory of evolution,…
January 15, 2016
This is a new one: an octopus farm. Kanaloa Octopus Farm is open for business -- for $200, you can get your very own pet octopus. Unfortunately, they're caught in a chicken-and-egg problem. You should not encourage the capture of cephalopods in the wild, so it's a great idea to have a breeding…
January 14, 2016
A few days ago, David Bowie died of cancer. This morning I learned that the actor Alan Rickman has died of cancer. You all know the rule of threes, right? It has been satisfied, because in his state of the union address Barack Obama announced that he was going to kill American biological research,…
January 14, 2016
Well, cool. You can download Judy Wilyman's anti-vaccination thesis from the University of Wollongong and read it yourself. So click, click, wait a second, and… YAAAARGH! My eyes! I thought the social sciences side of the academic world would possibly have higher standards for writing than the…
January 12, 2016
Once more unto the breach in Perry Marshall's cranium, dear friends. He is once again trying to claim that he alone has the one true understanding of Barbara McClintock's work, and he keeps getting it wrong. It's just embarrassing to watch. He makes obvious statements like this: Damage is random.…
January 11, 2016
I've been informed that I've been at war for a while. I was surprised. Apparently, Perry Marshall thinks he's been firing salvo after salvo at me…I just hadn't noticed. https://twitter.com/cfingerprints/status/685936085998829568 Oh, OK. I would just ignore him, but he's presenting some…
January 11, 2016
Probably. Every four years, ScienceDebate.org comes along to suggest that the presidential candidates ought to have a debate about the science issues that confront us. It's a good idea, I think. I'd like it to happen. On the plus side, watching Republicans poop the bed over and over again would…
January 8, 2016
Don't you just love those photo series of the young'uns at different ages? Developmental staging of Octopus bimaculoides. a Whole egg photomicrograph illustrates the egg stalk and the animal pole (asterisk) where the embryonic body forms. Extent of epiboly in this stage (st) 8 embryo is marked…
January 6, 2016
Once upon a time, deep in the Precambrian, this was the planet of worms. Well, actually, this was, is, and always will be the planet of bacteria, but if you filter your perspective to just organisms above a particular size, and if you're an animal writing about it in the modern day with a…
January 3, 2016
This is weird. Perry Marshall has posted a complete transcript of our discussion on Unbelievable on his website. That's actually useful, since most of us can read faster than someone else can talk. What's weird is that he's annotated it with his rebuttals, after the fact. It's like -- and this has…
January 1, 2016
My conversation with Perry Marshall about "evolution 2.0" is now online on the radio show Unbelievable. Marshall is sales and marketing guy who has written a book titled Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design, in which he claims to have worked out a reconciliation between…
December 31, 2015
Over on Twitter, I was startled by the assertion that many scientists convert from evolution to creationism, convinced by the evidence. https://twitter.com/Prophecy_YEC/status/680891955233079297 What was startling about it was that I'm getting used to mainly hearing from atheists calling me a…
December 30, 2015
Last night, I watched an excellent documentary, Dinosaur 13, so I'm going to recommend it to you all -- it's available on Amazon streaming video and Netlix. It's the story of the fossil T. rex, Sue, and it's enthralling and depressing. The fun part is the beginning, when some commercial fossil…
December 29, 2015
I disagree with Razib Khan on a lot of things, but he's exactly right on recent fads in biology. Periodically I get frankly stupid comments that seem to imply that the incredible swell of results coming out of molecuar genetics and genomics are revolutionizing our understanding of evolutionary and…