• Shortcuts : 'n' next unread feed - 'p' previous unread feed • Styles : 1 2

» Publishers, Monetize your RSS feeds with FeedShow:  More infos  (Show/Hide Ads)


Date: Monday, 01 Sep 2014 12:39

From Evolution News & Views:

In short, it was hard to find anything beyond a “suggestion” or a “scenario” that these bacteria improved their fitness in any way by genetic mutations, other than the gross observation that some of the clones managed to survive at 45 ̊C. But even the ancestor could do that sometimes through the “Lazarus effect.” The authors also ignored the possibility that E. coli have ways to generate their own mutations under stress. That would be supportive of intelligent design, as would the notion that bacteria contain “a degree of preadaptation” to temperatures beyond their immediate experience.

Some experiment. What we learn from this paper is that under ideal conditions, with the best methods, scientists have a devil of a time trying to establish neo-Darwinian theory in a scientifically rigorous way. A look at their references shows a debt to Lenski’s methods that similarly produced paltry results on one of the longest-running experiments in history trying to demonstrate evolution in a lab.

Is this a theory that deserves to rule the world?

Is this a theory that deserves to rule? Yes, enforced by courts on public school systems, which is good enough for the taxing authority.

It is easy to teach because evidence is not required. And the taxpayers who have enough sense to care are slowly moving their kids out of the public systems anyway.

Follow UD News at Twitter!


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Culture, Darwinism, News"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Monday, 01 Sep 2014 12:22

Instead of noviewing it. A number of Biologians will try their hand.

David Klinghoffer at Evolution News & Views , who is way more charitable than me (O’Leary for News), says better late than never.

But I say: Darwin's Doubt ID theorist Steve Meyer’s book, Darwin’s Doubt is now (at 6:10 EST):

So quite honestly, at this point, who really cares if Christians for Darwin have decided to consider Meyer’s arguments honestly and seriously? Given that the book is #6 in paleontology, we can be sure a lot of people are considering it, even if many daren’t admit it.

By the way, why is Darwin’s Doubt even a problem to the BioLogians?

It’s easy to see why Darwin’s Doubt is a problem to people who have devoted their lives to promoting and celebrating Darwin’s mechanism (natural selection acting on random mutations) as able to produce increasingly complex information.

But why is it a problem to a Christian group if it turns out that natural selection on random mutations simply cannot do that?

Whenever I ask members of BioLogos’ natural constituency, I get an earful about fundamentalists’ beliefs and how Christians can [heart] Darwin.

This much I know is true: Whenever I ask a simple question and get a complex, evasive answer, I suspect something.

Also, we learn from the Introduction, “As you will read in these posts, these scholars are carefully considering the evidence and explaining the findings to those outside their field of expertise. This kind of attention to evidence counteracts another misconception about BioLogos, namely that we uncritically accept the consensus of mainstream science simply because it is the consensus. ”

So where, exactly do they differ from the consensus? Well, never mind, let’s see what they have to say about Darwin’s Doubt.

Here’s the first installment, by the editors, featuring Calvin College’s Ralph Stearley, who is “ultimately” not persuaded. He feels that Meyer makes more of the problems than they warrant. Really? Did Meyer invent the Cambrian problem?

Anyway, as Paul Nelson notes at Evolution News & Views, Stearley keeps going back and forth between naturalism and design. Always hoping (Biologians are always  hoping) to somehow be rescued—or at least to be able to make the case that they have somehow been rescued—by pure naturalism.

But mother nature is a bitch.

Anyway, like I said, who really cares at this point? The real issues have moved on. Who cares whether Calvin College’s God would design anything? Or could? Nothing depends on that, as it happens. – O’Leary for News

See also: Christianity Today online piece tries to meld neuroscience and Christian spirituality. And both come off looking like clunkers.

Follow UD News at Twitter!


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Cambrian explosion, Intelligent Design"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Monday, 01 Sep 2014 12:21

Here:

At the time I was working on a book, The One Jesus Loves, that reflected on the concentric groups of people in Jesus’ life and the significance of their proximity to him. Neuroscience made this model came alive in a new way for me.

Consider this:

• The Crowds (the place of Watching & Listening to Jesus, a place of introduction to him) ignites the Occipital-Parietal Circuit in the brain. According to Newberg, this is the system that helps us identify that God exists. Interestingly, it is the area of the brain responsible for the assembly of auditory and visual stimuli.

• The 5000 (the place of Feeding & Healing, where we begin to receive from Jesus in our lives) fires up the Parietal-Frontal Circuit. This system helps us see ourselves and our comparative weakness and needs in light of God. It integrates sensory information such as touch.

• The 70 (the place of Working for & Serving Jesus, of us joining Jesus in his ministry to others) ignites the Thalamus. This system helps us apply our faith to our view of the world around us and its needs. It relays sensory signals to other parts of the brain and aids in motor control and movement, to engaging our bodies in the works of faith.

• The Twelve (the place of Leaving All & Following Jesus wherever he may lead us next) fires up the Frontal Lobe. This system “integrates all of our ideas about God” and helps us make ultimate decisions about life and about him. It is an executive functioning aspect that is associated with planning, motivation, and reward. It sends signals to other nerve cells and plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior.

This model would do absolutely nothing for most people who are looking for a ray of divine hope, except persuade them to look elsewhere.

Which is actually quite a good idea, and they should act on it promptly.

When God wants to make himself known to people, he just does. To saints, sages, and sinners alike. And this stuff is the all-too-typical fluff produced by evangelicals who want to have it both ways — association with a cool science plus a spirituality that never had any need of it.

It is almost as bad as some BioLogos types trying to meld Darwinism and Christianity, except that, unlike Darwinism, left to itself neuroscience is at least a respectable science. Keeping bad company here.

Follow UD News at Twitter!

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Naturalism, Neuroscience, News"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Monday, 01 Sep 2014 00:16

In 2012, which attracted brief attention to the facts.

Thomas Woodward writes to say,

A very powerful book was recently edited by (and some super-key chapters written by) John West: The Magician’s Twin: C.S.Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society. , with accompanying videos.

Lewis’s views on evolution changed over time. He did not express in his young adulthood any doubts about common ancestry, but he is known to have had a general skepticism as early as his atheist years in the 1920s, about the power of natural selection to create higher and higher life forms (again, see West on some cutting edge research on that). His doubts about Darwinism began to increase under the influence of an anti-evolution activist in the UK, Bernard Acworth, who founded the Evolution Protest Movement, and whose letters convinced Lewis, by the early 1950s, that the science supporting macroevolution by Darwinian means was completely unconvincing, and he described evolution as the “central and radical lie” that undergirds the modernist web of falsehood. Here is the key portion of what Lewis wrote to Acworth:

September 13, 1951: I have read nearly the whole of Evolution [probably Acworth's unpublished "The Lie of Evolution"] and am glad you sent it. I must confess it has shaken me: not in my belief in evolution, which was of the vaguest and most intermittent kind, but in my belief that the question was wholly unimportant. I wish I were younger. What inclines me now to think that you may be right in regarding it as the central and radical lie in the whole web of falsehood that now governs our lives is not so much your arguments against it as the fanatical and twisted attitudes of its defenders. The section on Anthropology was especially good. … The point that the whole economy of nature demands simultaneity of at least a v. great many species is a v. sticky one. Thanks: and blessings

These ten letters written by Lewis to Acworth were donated in 2012 by the Acworth family to Queen’s U. in Belfast (where Lewis’s mother got her degree in mathematics), and the fanfare was captured in many publications, including this BBC story.

So, when I teach our course, “C.S. Lewis, Apostle to the Skeptic,” I explain that his skepticism of the Darwinian MECHANISM was robust, even from his atheist days (when reading Bergson on evolution), but that doubt ballooned by the early 1950s to full-fledged doubt of the entire macro-scenario, under the influence of Acworth.

Well, that would seem clear enough. The donation of the letters to the Queen’s U library attracted attention to it

But just wait till a career academic gets a grant to cast doubt on the obvious interpretation, and win Lewis back for Darwin.

Follow UD News at Twitter!


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Culture, Darwinism"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 17:52

From Reuters:

A high-profile 2013 study that concluded that different kinds of happiness are associated with dramatically different patterns of gene activity is fatally flawed, according to an analysis published on Monday which tore into its target with language rarely seen in science journals.

The new paper, published like the first in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, slams the research for “dubious analyses” and “erroneous methodology” and says it “conjured nonexistent effects out of thin air.”

In the 2013 study, researchers had adults answer a 14-item questionnaire meant to sort them into two groups: interested in hedonic well-being (fun and selfish pleasure) or eudaimonic well-being (leading a meaningful life).

The two groups, researchers led by psychologist Barbara Frederickson of the University of North Carolina reported, had different patterns of activity in 53 genes. Hedonists had DNA activity akin to people suffering from chronic, illness-inducing stress. Stress-related genes including those involved in inflammation were overactive; genes involved in making antibodies that fight infection were underactive.

Hedonists, it seemed, were headed for a disease-ridden existence and an early grave, as media reports warned in stories with headlines like “Meaning is healthier than happiness.”

Then a critic spotted it…

By the way, who said humans are intended to be happy in this world or always find their life meaningful? The notion would have shocked our ancestors, who thought that unhappiness with this world and a sense of the futility of much human effort was a necessary norm for personal development.

Not misery, you understand, just a persistent recognition that something is wrong, something is missing, things will always go wrong if humans are involved, and a lot of what we do won’t come to much for reasons we cannot foresee. And in a few decades we will be forgotten.

It used to be called wisdom. Its outcome should be peace of mind and charity toward others in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Neither they nor we are to blame for the nature of reality, so we should not take it out on them or ourselves.

Note: It is generally true, as Susan Blackmore belatedly discovered, that religious people are healthier and happier, but that is more likely due to their finding it comparatively easy to just accept life as it is.  There may be epigenetic outcomes, but that is for further research.

Follow UD News at Twitter!

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Culture, Genetics, News"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 11:48

From a piece attacking the neuroquackery as cargo cult science, from Medical Xpress:

There are also occasional, mostly nonsensical, references to neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. The neuroscience content seems to be there purely to put a new, modern gloss on some very old ideas from 1970s psychology. This is not to say that it is necessarily bad advice. But these are old ideas, given a slick re-packaging and being sold as brand new.

Another particularly witless example is a recent article from Marketing Week, titled “Neuroscience and marketing: what you need to know”. In reality, the article contains discussion of experimental psychology results, with no brain-related content at all. In this case, the term “neuroscience” is simply being used to produce a headline that people will be tempted to click on.

Usha Goswami, director of the centre for neuroscience in education at the University of Cambridge, raised this issue in a 2006 review. She noted then that teachers received nealry 70 mail promotions per year trying to sell brain-based learning courses. Many of these, she noted, “contained alarming amounts of misinformation”.

Around the same time, science writer Ben Goldacre and others exposed Brain Gym, a brain exercise program widely used in UK schools at the time, as ridiculous nonsense. Education seems to be a fertile area for the development of “neuromyths”, and despite this kind of criticism, new variants have flourished in the last few years.

Much of the quackery seems to consist of repackaging common sense marketing or motivation techniques as “neuroscience.” It’s not always wrong but the explicit connection with neuroscience is in any event spurious. So brainlock your wallet and find another school for your kid. Follow UD News at Twitter!

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Intelligent Design, Neuroscience, News"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 11:17

From American Thinker:

One hundred years ago, scientific racism dominated American elite thought. Inspired by Charles Darwin, American scientific racists like Madison Grant applied a hierarchy to human beings. Some cultures, those of hunter gatherers and peasants, were low and worthless; others were high and to be valued. Educated, atheist Anglo-Saxon males occupied the top of the human pyramid of value.

A day before yesterday everyone knew that Darwinism underwrote racism as a science-based belief. Not a cultural belief or a religious belief, or a “good old custom”, but – in the breathless tones of a pop science writer – science!

Franz Boas, the Father of American Anthropology, became a professor at Columbia University in 1896. Spurred by his own experience of anti-Semitism, Boas was determined to overturn scientific racism. Boas argued for the worth of all cultures.

The head-to-head confrontation between scientific racist Madison Grant and cultural relativist Franz Boas had high impact. Adolf Hitler declared that Grant’s 1916 book, The Passing of the Great Race, was his “bible.” Franz Boas died of a heart attack while speaking against Nazism. Today all American schoolchildren, whether they have heard of Franz Boas or not, are indoctrinated to repeat that to so much as question whether any aspect of American culture might be superior to any aspect of a Non-Western culture is racist and taboo. Even brilliant ideas from great men rot when they pass from the vivifying circulation of vigorous debate into the cloying closet of unquestioned dogma.
More.

Which takes us into a different discussion.

For now, it is good to see someone situation the origin of the controversy accurately.

See also: Riveting 14 minute documentary on Darwinism as one of the root causes of WWI

Follow UD News at Twitter!


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Culture, Darwinism, News"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 05:13

In a comment on kairosfocus’ latest excellent post, Does ID ASSUME “contra-causal free will” and “intelligence” (and so injects questionable “assumptions”)?, Mark Frank proposes a thought experiment in support of his view that determinism is fully compatible with free will. It goes as follows:

Start with a dog. Dogs make choices in the sense that they may accept or reject a treat, may obey or disobey an order, may chase a rabbit or not. Suppose we advance our understanding of dogs’ brains and thought processes so that a genius vet can predict with 100% accuracy how a dog will choose in any given situation given its past history and current circumstances. Surely this is conceivable? If we manage this do we now say that dogs are making real choices? If it they are real choices then this is compatibilism in action. So I guess, in these circumstances, you would say that we have shown they do not really have free will.

Now extend it to infants – say two year olds. They make choices – eat or don’t eat, cry or don’t cry, hug or don’t hug. So let’s imagine we repeat the process with them. A genius paediatrician in this case (maybe you one day!). Are the infants also lacking free will? Either compatabilism is true or they haven’t got free will.

OK. Now apply it to an adult human. If it is conceivable for a dog and an infant then surely it is conceivable for an adult. A genius psychologist observes an adult and is able to predict all their decisions and explain why – exactly how each decision is determined by their genetics, personal history and current environment (it doesn’t have to be a materialist explanation). Has that adult got free will? Either compatabilism is true or they haven’t got free will.

And finally apply to yourself. Suppose it turns out a genius psychologist has been monitoring you all your life and has been able to correctly predict all your decisions and also how the decision making process worked in detail – how your different motivations were balanced and interacted with your perceptions and memories resulting in each decision (including any dithering and worrying about whether you got it right). Would that mean you thought you had free will but actually didn’t? Either compatabilism is true or you haven’t got free will.

As my computer is currently kaput, this will be a very short post. I’d like to suggest that what Mark Frank has left out of the equation is language, the capacity for which is what differentiates us from other animals. (Human infants possess this capacity but do not yet exercise it, partly because their brains, when they are newborn, are still too immature for language production, and also because they have yet to build up a linguistic databank that would enable them to express what they want to get across.)

Language is central to human rationality because rationality is not just a matter of selecting the appropriate means to realize a desired end: it is also a critical activity, in which agents are expected to be able to justify their choices and respond to questions like “Why did you do that?” People don’t just act rationally; they give reasons for their actions. In order to do that, you need a language in which you can generate an indefinitely large number of sentences, as the range of possible situations in which you might find yourself is potentially infinite – particularly when we factor in the little complicating circumstances that may arise.

What is distinctive about human language, as opposed to animal “language,” is precisely this ability to generate an infinite number of sentences. This uniquely human ability was the subject of a recent article in the Washington Post titled, Chirps, whistles, clicks: Do any animals have a true ‘language’?, which was discussed in a recent post by News (emphases are mine – VJT):

A new study on animal calls has found that the patterns of barks, whistles, and clicks from seven different species appear to be more complex than previously thought. The researchers used mathematical tests to see how well the sequences of sounds fit to models ranging in complexity…

“We’re still a very, very long way from understanding this transition from animal communication to human language, and it’s a huge mystery at the moment,” said study author and zoologist Arik Kershenbaum, who did the work at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis…

“What makes human language special is that there’s no finite limit as to what comes next,” he said….

But what separates language from communication? Why can’t we assume that whales, with their elaborate songs, are simply speaking “whale-ese”?

To be considered a true language, there are a few elements that are usually considered to be essential, says Kershenbaum. For one, it must be learned rather than instinctive — both whales and birds have this piece covered. For instance, killer whale calves learn a repertoire of calls from their mothers, and the sounds gradually evolve from erratic screams to adult-like pulsed calls and whistles.

What holds whales and other animals back from language is that there is a limit to what they can express. There are only so many calls that each may convey different emotions, but only we have an unlimited ability to express abstract ideas.

The problem for scientists is that no one knows how language evolved. Oddly enough, there don’t seem to be any transitional proto-languages between whale and bird songs — said to be the most sophisticated animal calls — and our own speech.

There are two conflicting theories of how language evolved in humans. The first is that human language evolved slowly and gradually, just as most traits evolved in the animal world. So perhaps it started with gestures, and then words and sentences. Or language may have started out more like bird song — with complex but meaningless sounds — and the last stage was attaching meaning to these sounds.

Reading the last paragraph in the passage quoted above brings to mind Nobel Laureate John Eccles’ derisive remarks about “promissory materialism.” The fact is that scientists haven’t got a clue how language evolved – and for a very good reason. The gap between the law-governed deterministic processes we observe in Nature and the infinite flexibility of human language is an unbridgeable one.

That is why no psychologist could ever, even in principle, predict everything that a rational adult human being will think, say and do. Language, which is fundamentally unpredictable, is part of the warp-and-woof of human life. Hence the antecedent in Mark Frank’s thought experiment – “What if a psychologist could predict every decision that you make?” – is impossible, by definition.

Back in 1957, behaviorist B. F. Skinner wrote a best-selling book with the amusing title, Verbal Behavior. I hope readers can see now why language is much more than mere behavior.

Thoughts?


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "vjtorley" Tags: "Intelligent Design"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 19:17

Not really.

From Britain’s Daily Telegraph

Scientists at McGill University have discovered that fish change their anatomy and learn to walk more efficiently when kept out of water for a prolonged period in a discovery that hints at how ancient species evolved to walk on land.

The researchers kept polypterus, an African fish with lungs, on land for eight months (they would normally gravitate back to water).

In less than a year, they found that the fish had learned to walk more efficiently, placing their fins closer to their bodies and lifting their heads higher. They had also learned to move without slipping.

Even their skeletons had adapted around the shoulders, becoming stronger and elongated to increase support during walking and deal with the loss of support from the water.

“There were anatomical changes that resembled the same key evolutionary changes that are seen in the tetrapods that moved into land.”

From Nature:

After 8 months, the terrestrially raised bichir [polypterus] had a more sophisticated style of walking than did aquatically raised controls. Furthermore, their bone structure and musculature changed to be more suited to a walking lifestyle.

The results provide evidence for developmental plasticity, in which organisms alter their anatomy and behaviour in response to environmental change. The team suggests that this process, as demonstrated by the bichir, could have given the earliest tetrapod ancestors the ability to venture onto land. In doing so, claims Standen, they would have become exposed to the selective pressures of a terrestrial environment, thereby speeding up the evolutionary transformation from fins for swimming into limbs for walking.

Maybe. But if they are that plastic, wouldn’t they just go back to the water, given a chance?

David A. DeWitt, biology and chemistry chair at Liberty University, writes to say,

This is not evolution! It has absolutely nothing to do with evolution. There is nothing that is heritable here:

“After 8 months, the terrestrially raised bichir had a more sophisticated style of walking than did aquatically raised controls. Furthermore, their bone structure and musculature changed to be more suited to a walking lifestyle.

The results provide evidence for developmental plasticity, in which organisms alter their anatomy and behaviour in response to environmental change. The team suggests that this process, as demonstrated by the bichir, could have given the earliest tetrapod ancestors the ability to venture onto land. In doing so, claims Standen, they would have become exposed to the selective pressures of a terrestrial environment, thereby speeding up the evolutionary transformation from fins for swimming into limbs for walking.”

They are not talking about natural selection, they are talking about behavioral plasticity. This is a fancy way of saying ‘learned behavior’. The fish that were raised in a terrestrial environment improved their walking ability. Also, although they say that the “organisms alter their anatomy and behavior” it would be more accurate to say that “their behavior altered their anatomy.” This is not the way that we usually think about such things, but that is what happens. The fish did not will themselves to have different anatomy. However, as they used certain muscles in particular ways, those muscles grew stronger. As the muscles grew stronger, they put different mechanical pressures on the bones. The shape of the bones were altered in response to the different mechanical pressures.

See, people intuitively (and falsely) believe that bones are not malleable, that they take a particular shape and that is it. Were it so, we would not be able to grow. The fact is that bone cells continually turn over, but less so as we age. Mechanical pressure will significantly alter how the bone cells divide and therefore over time will alter the shape. Anyone who wears glasses has a way to prove it. Where the frame of the glasses make contact with the skull behind the ears there will be slight depressions. When you get a different pair of glasses, it won’t exactly match, but over time the location of the depression will move.

Here is another example: Babies are born flat footed. As they begin to walk, the arch of the foot develops. The shape of the bones and the way the muscles connect alters in response to the forces and pressures of upright walking. This happens automatically and it is because of how the bone cells respond to mechanical pressure. There is not a gene that produces an arched foot, it is a developmental response to behavior.

Notice what they did not do: they did not select for fish that walked better. The individual fish themselves improved in their walking ability through learning and as they used muscles repeatedly in different ways those muscles grew stronger and as a result, there were changes in bone morphology. No natural selection here. How long did it take? Less than 1 generation.

Standen assumes that natural selection in fact favoured such fish back in the Devonian. We don’t know for sure unless we have some idea what the advantage might be. One problem is that she must have fed and protected the fish during the course of the experiment, something nature is markedly less likely to do. Also, what about egg laying? A fish that could not get back to water, could not lay eggs, and either the line would die out or the plasticity would reverse itself.

What this experiment mainly shows is how fish can become more terrestrial without any evolution, provided they cannot get back to the water. But could they feed and protect themselves on land indefinitely back then? This particular fish has markedly failed to abandon the water, left to itself.  Interesting experiment, for sure.

See also: Early tetrapod (“fishapod”) sheds light on transition to land— maybe (Tiktaalik)

and

Have we at last solved the question of how sea creatures moved to land? (Pacific leaping blenny, which also never really abandoned the water)

Follow UD News at Twitter!


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Evolution, Intelligent Design, News"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 16:03

Readers may remember E.O. Wilson, father of sociobiology (which got rebranded as evolutionary psychology). He recently stirred controversy by switching sides on his fellow evolutionary biologists, deciding that his group selection theory was wrong and natural selection can do it all.

His current idea is to set aside half the planet for wildlife.

From The Smithsonian Magazine:

Wilson recently calculated that the only way humanity could stave off a mass extinction crisis, as devastating as the one that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, would be to set aside half the planet as permanently protected areas for the ten million other species. “Half Earth,” in other words, as I began calling it—half for us, half for them. A version of this idea has been in circulation among conservationists for some time.

“It’s been in my mind for years,” Wilson told me, “that people haven’t been thinking big enough—even conservationists. Half Earth is the goal, but it’s how we get there, and whether we can come up with a system of wild landscapes we can hang onto. I see a chain of uninterrupted corridors forming, with twists and turns, some of them opening up to become wide enough to accommodate national biodiversity parks, a new kind of park that won’t let species vanish.”

We can take it from Wilson’s half, but for sure not mine. And for sure not from my Indian foster families’ halves either! – O’Leary for News

Note: Yes, he is also the one who began one of his books, “Dear Pastor,” rashly presuming an acquaintance with people he clearly looks down on (and—be it noted—would deprive of their homes, given a chance). Sure, he hopes there can be a workaround, but …

Look, no one expects Joe Job-in-Science to wonder, let alone the “aren’t I good?” girls, but at some point, wouldn’t you think at least some commentators would start putting two and two together about some of these people?

I mean, how long are we supposed to meekly put up with the nonsense that, oh well, he is a gentleman, not like Darwin’s Rottweiler? That’s the only standard he has to meet, in order to be this grey eminence we should all listen to? He’s better than the guy Trig Palin has been ordered to be polite to? That’s our standard now?

Follow UD News at Twitter!


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Culture, Darwinism, News"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 13:37

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG Perfect late summer weather, and coffee too!

From ScienceDaily:

A unique experiment at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory called the Holometer has started collecting data that will answer some mind-bending questions about our universe — including whether we live in a hologram.

Much like characters on a television show would not know that their seemingly 3-D world exists only on a 2-D screen, we could be clueless that our 3-D space is just an illusion. The information about everything in our universe could actually be encoded in tiny packets in two dimensions.

Oh but wait a minute. The characters (I take the author of this piece to mean “actors”) do live, and play their parts, in a 3-D world. The only thing they don’t “know” (from their perspective  as such*) is that it is transmitted (usually) in a 2-D format. To 3-D people. So not sure if analogy works, but anyway …

Essentially, the experiment probes the limits of the universe’s ability to store information. If there is a set number of bits that tell you where something is, it eventually becomes impossible to find more specific information about the location — even in principle. The instrument testing these limits is Fermilab’s Holometer, or holographic interferometer, the most sensitive device ever created to measure the quantum jitter of space itself.

Holometer with twin laser interferometers will test whether universe is 2-D hologram/Fermilab

If the general thesis is accepted, would it provide support for the Law of Conservation of Information, which William Dembski uses in his new book Being as Communion? That said, here’s a prediction: Next summer will bring forth a new bright idea. It’s not always clear how seriously people intend these ideas to be taken.

To get some idea what a real 2-D universe would actually be like, see a short 19th century book, online, Flatland (1885). The 1-D universe is addressed there also.

See also: In search of a road to reality

Follow UD News at Twitter!

Note:  Of course they know it, but not from their perspective in the studio – until they check the monitor.  Even then, they don’t know if the screen in your living room is also 2-D.


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Cosmology, Intelligent Design, News"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 11:36

As UD regulars will know, it’s silly season here in Montserrat. As a result, I am facing the long vs short copy debate and the issue of the demand for excessive simplicity. Which, opens us up to be naive and easily misled — including when we indulge the fallacy of selective hyperskepticism. (As in: if you dismiss what is credible, it’s because you have already swallowed what isn’t.)

I have therefore put up a few thoughts, and think they are relevant to the ID debate also. (As in, why is it so many are so willing to swallow short and clever but highly misleading barbed slogans such as: “Creationists in cheap tuxedos”?)

In a nutshell:

SHORT COPY GAINS ATTENTION

BUT, LONG COPY OUTSELLS SHORT COPY

Counter-intuitive, but well founded.

As Business Insider observes:

One of the most common misconceptions is that people nowadays will not pay attention to ads or communications that have more than a minimal amount of ad copy . . . .

If people are really interested in something, they want more. If they are not interested, they want less. You cannot have too much of a good thing, but any amount of a bad thing is too much.

One of my favorite T-shirt’s of all time has a picture of Albert Einstein on it with a headline that reads, “Sit on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit next to a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

And of course, forever, it is: buyer beware . . . and so we face a challenge when we read a story or take in a presentation or bit of PR work, or even attend a course of lectures in a classroom:

straight vs spin

(For details, cf. here.) END

PS: Without endorsing content, I think the facelift at WUWT, is worth a look.


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "kairosfocus" Tags: "Darwinist debate/rhetorical tactics, Gen..."
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 23:40

Guess not. And still not. Actually, this is not a pair of snakes:

It’s fungus gnat larvae crossing the sidewalk en masse.

May as well be a snake.


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Animal minds, News"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 23:29

Metaspriggina/Giant Blue Anteater

Metaspriggina and Maripolia/Giant Blue Anteater

At one time, it wasn’t clear that there were any clearly vertebrate Cambrians, but Simon Conway Morris and Jean-Bernard Caron redescribe Metaspriggina as such.

From Nature:

Knowledge of the early evolution of fish largely depends on soft-bodied material from the Lower (Series 2) Cambrian period of South China1, 2. Owing to the rarity of some of these forms and a general lack of comparative material from other deposits, interpretations of various features remain controversial3, 4, as do their wider relationships amongst post-Cambrian early un-skeletonized jawless vertebrates. Here we redescribe Metaspriggina5 on the basis of new material from the Burgess Shale and exceptionally preserved material collected near Marble Canyon, British Columbia6, and three other Cambrian Burgess Shale-type deposits from Laurentia. This primitive fish displays unambiguous vertebrate features: a notochord, a pair of prominent camera-type eyes, paired nasal sacs, possible cranium and arcualia, W-shaped myomeres, and a post-anal tail. A striking feature is the branchial area with an array of bipartite bars. Apart from the anterior-most bar, which appears to be slightly thicker, each is associated with externally located gills, possibly housed in pouches. Phylogenetic analysis places Metaspriggina as a basal vertebrate, apparently close to the Chengjiang taxa Haikouichthys1, 2, 3, 4 and Myllokunmingia1, demonstrating also that this primitive group of fish was cosmopolitan during Lower–Middle Cambrian times (Series 2–3). However, the arrangement of the branchial region in Metaspriggina has wider implications for reconstructing the morphology of the primitive vertebrate. Each bipartite bar is identified as being respectively equivalent to an epibranchial and ceratobranchial. This configuration suggests that a bipartite arrangement is primitive and reinforces the view that the branchial basket of lampreys7 is probably derived. Other features of Metaspriggina, including the external position of the gills and possible absence of a gill opposite the more robust anterior-most bar, are characteristic of gnathostomes8 and so may be primitive within vertebrates. (paywall)

If this interpretation of the fossil holds up, the vertebrate class was present in the Cambrian too.

Follow UD News at Twitter!


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Cambrian explosion, Intelligent Design, ..."
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 22:43

Quantum gravity expert Carlo Rovelli of Aix-Marseille University and the Intitut Universitaire de France. thinks so, as he tells John Horgan at Scientific American:

Horgan:What’s your opinion of the recent philosophy-bashing by Stephen Hawking, Lawrence Krauss and Neil deGrasse Tyson?

Rovelli:Seriously: I think they are stupid in this. I have admiration for them in other things, but here they have gone really wrong. Look: Einstein, Heisenberg, Newton, Bohr…. and many many others of the greatest scientists of all times, much greater than the names you mention, of course, read philosophy, learned from philosophy, and could have never done the great science they did without the input they got from philosophy, as they claimed repeatedly. You see: the scientists that talk philosophy down are simply superficial: they have a philosophy (usually some ill-digested mixture of Popper and Kuhn) and think that this is the “true” philosophy, and do not realize that this has limitations.

Here is an example: theoretical physics has not done great in the last decades. Why? Well, one of the reasons, I think, is that it got trapped in a wrong philosophy: the idea that you can make progress by guessing new theory and disregarding the qualitative content of previous theories. This is the physics of the “why not?” Why not studying this theory, or the other? Why not another dimension, another field, another universe? Science has never advanced in this manner in the past. Science does not advance by guessing. … More.

See also: The multiverse: Where everything turns out to be true, except philosophy and religion

As if the multiverse wasn’t bizarre enough …meet Many Worlds

But who needs reality-based thinking anyway? Not the new cosmologists

Follow UD News at Twitter!


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Cosmology, Intelligent Design, News, Phy..."
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 22:08

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG Here.
Beats the face on Mars, but we’re still waiting for the silhouette of Sherlock Holmes.

 

A rock spotted by NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars may look like a femur bone, but is actually just a weathered Martian rock formation.

Hey, it’s better than faces in clouds; they don’t just break up before you can show them to anyone.

Hat tip: Daniel Quinones

Follow UD News at Twitter!

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Just For Fun, News"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 23:59

Steve Meyer is author of Darwin’s Doubt.

Watch live tonight: Faith, Science & Culture: Does God Still Matter @ 715 PM PDT here, 7:15 Pacific Time:

Does God matter? Is matter all there is in the universe? Or is there a purpose and design to life? How can people of faith engage an increasingly secularized culture that scoffs at the very idea of a Creator? Here these topics and more discussed Thursday August 28th in Santa Ana! Featuring Stephen Meyer, Dennis Prager, and John Stonestreet. Moderated by Hugh Hewitt.

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG Okay, okay, vacuum the cat hair off the couch instead. Priorities.

Again, here.


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Atheism, Culture, Darwinism, Intelligent..."
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 23:48

It’s even worse in social sciences than in the hard sciences, apparently.

From Nature:

Researchers at Stanford University in California have now measured the extent of the problem, finding that most null results in a sample of social-science studies were never published. This publication bias may cause others to waste time repeating the work, or conceal failed attempts to replicate published research. Although already recognized as a problem, “it’s previously been hard to prove because unpublished results are hard to find”, says Stanford political scientist Neil Malhotra, who led the study.

His team investigated the fate of 221 sociological studies conducted between 2002 and 2012, which were recorded by Time-sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS), a US project that helps social scientists to carry out large-scale surveys of people’s views.

And

Of all the null studies, just 20% had appeared in a journal, and 65% had not even been written up. By contrast, roughly 60% of studies with strong results had been published.

From a lay perspective, this is a serious problem.

Take, for example, an inflammatory issue like racial, sexual, or religious discrimination. What if most of the studies that actually get published show that it exists in a given context—but studies that don’t support the thesis don’t usually get published (null result)?

Then people are likely to overestimate discrimination’s extent and influence in their lives. Indeed, they can point to “the published research” for support. But “the published research” is skewed specifically in favour of showing that the discrimination exists!

Access to the whole picture might show us a much more complex, muted reality, where discrimination is often a factor—but not the overwhelming factor some might fear.

Also, really bad or fraudulent papers are probably harder to spot in an environment that features a systematic skew:

On his return trip to Tilburg, Stapel stopped at the train station in Utrecht. This was the site of his study linking racism to environmental untidiness, supposedly conducted during a strike by sanitation workers. In the experiment described in the Science paper, white volunteers were invited to fill out a questionnaire in a seat among a row of six chairs; the row was empty except for the first chair, which was taken by a black occupant or a white one. Stapel and his co-author claimed that white volunteers tended to sit farther away from the black person when the surrounding area was strewn with garbage. Now, looking around during rush hour, as people streamed on and off the platforms, Stapel could not find a location that matched the conditions described in his experiment.

If the peer reviewers at Science had had the advantage of a wider range of actual results from social science (which might have featured more null result papers), they might have asked more questions in the first place.

– O’Leary for News

Follow UD News at Twitter!


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "News, Peer review"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 23:05

lithium floating in oil

From ScienceDaily:

The field of astrophysics has a stubborn problem and it’s called lithium. The quantities of lithium predicted to have resulted from the Big Bang are not actually present in stars. But the calculations are correct – a fact which has now been confirmed for the first time in experiments conducted at the underground laboratory in the Gran Sasso mountain in Italy. As part of an international team, researchers from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) studied how much lithium forms under Big Bang conditions.

Lithium (atomic number 3) is the lightest known metal, solid at room temperature, used in alloys for aircraft manufacture. (It is also used in the treatment of manic disorders.)

With these new results, what is known as the “lithium problem” remains a hard nut to crack: on the one hand, now all laboratory results of the astrophysicists suggest that the theory of primordial nucleosynthesis is correct. On the other hand, many observations of astronomers show that the oldest stars in our Milky Way contain only half as much lithium-7 as predicted. Sensational reports by Swedish researchers, who discovered clearly more lithium-6 in such stars than predicted, must also likely be checked again based on the new LUNA data. Bemmerer says, “Should unusual lithium concentrations be observed in the future, we know, thanks to the new measurements, that it cannot be due to the primordial nucleosynthesis.”

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG It sounds like a fun problem, actually, dare we say—a lighter moment?

See also: Big Bang exterminator wanted, will train

Follow UD News at Twitter!


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Big Bang, Intelligent Design, News"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 19:19

artist’s reconstruction/Martin Brasier

From ScienceDaily:

The fossil, dating from 560 million years ago, was discovered in Newfoundland, Canada. On the basis of its four-fold symmetry, morphological characteristics, and what appear to be some of the earliest impressions of muscular tissue, researchers from the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the Memorial University of Newfoundland, have interpreted it as a cnidarian: the group which contains modern animals such as corals, sea anemones and jellyfish. The results are published today (27 August) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The new fossil, named Haootia quadriformis, dates from the Ediacaran Period, an interval spanning 635 to 541 million years ago. It differs from any previously described Ediacaran fossil, as it comprisesof bundles of fibres in a broadly four-fold symmetrical arrangement: a body plan that is similar to that seen in modern cnidarians.

Open access.

As the Abstract puts it, the difference between this and other Ediacarans seems to be “Haootia is distinct from all previously published contemporaneous Ediacaran macrofossils in its symmetrically fibrous, rather than frondose, architecture.” In short, it does not look like a plant. Here are more typical Ediacarans:

images of Ediacaran fronds (635-541 mya)/Jennifer Hoyal Cuthill

But if this is part of the cnidarian group, and dated at 560 years ago, there is a comb jelly ancestor dated at 600 million years old.

See also: Genome map shows comb jellies had separate course of evolution from other animals

and

Core muscle proteins are present in sponges that lack true muscles

It sounds as though we don’t know enough yet about the animals of this era. For example, in the Abstract below, the find is referred to as “ Haootia quadriformis n. gen., n. sp.” Which means we do not yet know how it should be classified.

Here’s the abstract:

Muscle tissue is a fundamentally eumetazoan attribute. The oldest evidence for fossilized muscular tissue before the Early Cambrian has hitherto remained moot, being reliant upon indirect evidence in the form of Late Ediacaran ichnofossils. We here report a candidate muscle-bearing organism, Haootia quadriformis n. gen., n. sp., from approximately 560 Ma strata in Newfoundland, Canada. This taxon exhibits sediment moulds of twisted, superimposed fibrous bundles arranged quadrilaterally, extending into four prominent bifurcating corner branches. Haootia is distinct from all previously published contemporaneous Ediacaran macrofossils in its symmetrically fibrous, rather than frondose, architecture. Its bundled fibres, morphology, and taphonomy compare well with the muscle fibres of fossil and extant Cnidaria, particularly the benthic Staurozoa. Haootia quadriformis thus potentially provides the earliest body fossil evidence for both metazoan musculature, and for Eumetazoa, in the geological record. – Alex Liu et al. Haootia quadriformis n. gen., n. sp., interpreted as muscular Cnidarian impression from the Late Ediacaran period (approx. 560 Ma). Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 2014 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1202

Follow UD News at Twitter!


Copyright © 2014 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement UNLESS EXPLICIT PERMISSION OTHERWISE HAS BEEN GIVEN. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana
Author: "News" Tags: "Ediacaran, News"
Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Next page
» You can also retrieve older items : Read
» © All content and copyrights belong to their respective authors.«
» © FeedShow - Online RSS Feeds Reader