pharyngula

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September 10, 2015
A couple of vegetarian philosophers with no knowledge of biology are alarmed…no, horrified at what's going on out there in the wilderness. The animal welfare conversation has generally centered on human-caused animal suffering and human-caused animal deaths. But we’re not the only ones who hunt and…
September 10, 2015
PBS has already made a two-hour documentary on Homo naledi available for streaming, and will be airing it next week. I haven't had a chance to watch it yet! I'm expected to go do my day job shortly, so it'll have to wait until this evening for me.
September 10, 2015
I got up all bleary-eyed this morning, and before I got my first sip of coffee, the first thing I saw, blasted across Twitter and all the popular news sites, was the news that a new species of human, Homo naledi has been discovered in South Africa. They have the partial skeletons of 15 different…
September 9, 2015
If ever I run out of creationist pseudoscience (it will never happen), I can always turn to another source, the Men's Rights movement, especially their radical anti-woman wing. Here's a prime example from RooshV: Research Suggests That A Woman’s Body Incorporates DNA From The Semen Of Her Casual…
September 9, 2015
I saw it coming. The octopus genome was sequenced, and one scientist gushed about the differences between cephalopods and vertebrates, calling them "alien", and that became the news. People really need to read the paper before reporting on it, because it emphasizes the relatedness of octopuses to…
September 8, 2015
Can you bear a little more Ben Carson? Some yahoo going by the name @CARSON4POTUS has been yammering at me on Twitter: he insists that I'm completely wrong, that Carson is not a young earth creationist, and as evidence he dredges up some godawful talk on creationism that Carson gave in 2011. It…
September 8, 2015
Not that there was a chance in Hell I'd ever vote for him for anything, but now in a rambling and dogmatic monolog, Carson explains how evolution is stupid, and exposes himself as someone who embraces ignorance. In a Faith & Liberty interview posted last week, potential GOP presidential…
September 7, 2015
I took an awful grainy cell phone picture yesterday, one where it's hard to see the subjects for the sun glare. But really, this is amazing: Fifteen years ago when I started out at UMM, our intro biology course had an exercise where students were given butterfly nets and sent out to capture, tag,…
September 5, 2015
Tom Harkin is a toxin in the bloodstream of American science. Watch this report on his legacy: billions of dollars swirling down the drain of alternative medicine.
September 5, 2015
Earlier this summer, Michael Shermer wrote a column for Scientific American to explain Why Do Cops Kill?. I was rapturously unaware of it because he's an author I long ago decided I could ignore, but just recently a reader had to destroy my state of ecstatic ignorance by pointing it out to me. I…
September 4, 2015
Underwater Macro Photographers
September 2, 2015
The Upside Down World I often get requests from students to answer questions about biology -- typically, they've been told to write to a scientist and get a response, and somehow they've picked me. I try to answer them, but due to the number of requests, I usually only give brief answers. Here's…
August 31, 2015
Up Close with Nature
August 31, 2015
Oh, here's a good takedown of that shill for the petroleum industry, Bjorn Lomborg. Lomborg’s message to the newspaper readers has thus nothing to do with a fair portrayal of how much sea-level rise the scientific community expects. Rather it is a distortion and blatant attempt at downplaying…
August 30, 2015
Here's a treat: a congressman who has been in office since 1989, and is on the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. https://twitter.com/DanaRohrabacher/status/638022999321538560 claiming Global Warming they create powerful Global gov. Claiming tooth decay they mandate chemical fluoride in…
August 30, 2015
NASA has put out a call for novel ideas in space exploration, which I think is an excellent way to do science. More creativity! But this feels like they're just pandering to me (I know, they're not): building robotic squid to explore the oceans of Europa? What's not to love about that idea?
August 30, 2015
I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else…
August 28, 2015
Allonautilus scrobiculatus is a rare species that can be distinguishes from the natty Nautilus pompilius by its hairy, slimy shell. That doesn't seem like a distinction to be proud of, but I guess it takes all types to fill an ocean. Nautilus pompilius (left) swimming next to a rare Allonautilus…
August 27, 2015
I endorse this article: 5 Ways That Science Supports Feminism – Not Gender Essentialism. It's making the point that when you actually study the relevant sciences, you discover that they fundamentally support a more complex view of sexuality than the usual boy/girl dichotomy. Here, in brief, are the…
August 25, 2015
If you're reluctant to drop $80 on a copy of Zimmer/Emlen's Evolution: Making Sense of Life, here's a deal for you: the NCSE will let you download a chapter for free, the one on macroevolution (pdf). That's a good choice. I run into a fair number of pro-science people who think the macroevolution/…
August 24, 2015
Classes start Wednesday. I am not ready.
August 23, 2015
Hey, how about these article titles? Comet Impacts Really Could Have Been the Catalyst For Life on EarthComet Impacts May Have Produced The Building Blocks For Life On EarthWe Now Know For Sure How Life Began on Earth We're getting this sudden flurry of articles touting the contribution of organic…
August 21, 2015
Here's a scientist talking about the great difficulty of finding whales out on the open ocean. Wouldn't you know it…? That's excellent comedic timing. I hear they're also big-hearted.
August 21, 2015
I'm still traveling! I'll be heading to the airport shortly to fly back to Minnesota, so until I get back you'll just have to listen to my talk at Gateway to Reason earlier this month.
August 21, 2015
One must acknowledge the Giant Pacific Octopus.
August 15, 2015
First thing when I landed at SeaTac: it started raining, as I'd hoped. Second thing at the airport: we were taking a shuttle bus, and this guy started talking at his friend. I learned many things. It's obvious that cell phones cause cancer. They radiate energy. Energy causes cancer. QED. The…
August 14, 2015
Jebus. The stupidity of the media is maddening. Here are two articles now out there: Don't freak out, but scientists think octopuses 'might be aliens' after DNA study and Octopuses ‘are aliens’, scientists decide after DNA study. These reporters are embarrassing. Not to freak you out or anything,…
August 14, 2015
a, Schematic of Octopus bimaculoides anatomy, highlighting the tissues sampled for transcriptome analysis: viscera (heart, kidney and hepatopancreas), yellow; gonads (ova or testes), peach; retina, orange; optic lobe (OL), maroon; supraesophageal brain (Supra), bright pink; subesophageal brain (…
August 13, 2015
The paper leaves no room for ambiguity. Note that there's nothing at all wrong with this -- the use of fetal tissue in these kinds of experiments, and many more, is ubiquitous, and it is not obtained by magic, but by the ethical donation of fetal material from abortions and miscarriages and…
August 12, 2015
We're leaving for the West coast on Friday, and of course my creaky old joints are lancing me with stabby excruciating pain. I have seen my doctor. I have pills. Because I must restore myself with red cedar, Sitka spruce, sea stacks, tide pools, banana slugs, great herds of sea urchins, and the…