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The Panda's Thumb is the virtual pub of the University of Ediacara. The patrons gather to discuss evolutionary theory, critique the claims of the antievolution movement, defend the integrity of both science and science education, and share good conversation. Movable Type Pro 4.37
Updated: 6 days 4 hours ago
I’m moving to Arizona tomorrow to start my faculty position at ASU. The main PT server will be taken offline during that time. We will move most of this site to a backup machine during the move, but comments will be offline until further notice. Do not send me any notices about stuff being broken. I expect that many features will not work over the next week or so.... Reed A. Cartwright http://dererumnatura.us/
A couple of years ago the late Lynn Margulis generated a flap in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by shepherding a paper through PNAS’s editorial process that advocated the notion that butterflies are the result of an ancient symbiotic relationship between “worm-like and winged ancestors.” I was reminded of that flap the other day while I was reading Alfred Russel Wallace’s autobiography. Wallace mentions an 1872 talk he gave to the Entomological... Richard B. Hoppe
By James DeGregori and Michael Antolin The journal Evolution: Education and Outreach (EVOO) had dedicated the December issue to evolutionary medicine, with articles on how evolutionary theories are critical for understanding human disease and why thorough classroom instruction in evolution is essential. The publisher Springer has made the journal freely available through the end of December. Many of the articles are written for a broad audience and should be of interest to specialists and non-specialists... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Bear Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, with Hallett Peak in the background.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
LEO Weekly, an alternative weekly published in Louisville, Kentucky, reports that fundraising for the Ark Park has gone virtually nowhere since last May. Groundbreaking, if it was ever planned at all, has been postponed and postponed and postponed until next spring at the earliest. LEO Weekly reports that the Ark Park has raised only about $1 million since last May and has raised a total of $4 million altogether. Its goal is to raise approximately... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
A favorite creationist mantra these days, and one you especially hear from young earthers, is that creationists and scientists both have the same facts, they just look at them differently. To laypeople that may sound reasonable. The handful of guys at Answers in Genesis look at the Grand Canyon and say it was formed by a flood about 4400 years ago when God got all pissed off at humans. The 24,000 members of the Geological... Skip http://www.ncseweb.org
As mentioned, I have a couple of pro-ID books that need to be read and reviewed these holidays: Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer, and Intelligent Design Uncensored by William Dembski and Jonathan Witt. While I’ve done preliminary readings of both books, in order to grasp their overall structure and scope, I recently started reading the latter in a greater level of detail. What I’ve found has not... Jack Scanlan http://www.jackscanlan.com/
According to The New York Times, the United States government has asked the journals Science and Nature “not to publish details of certain biomedical experiments, for fear that the information could be used by terrorists to create deadly viruses and touch off epidemics.” The experiments involved the development of a lethal and highly transmissible form of the H5N1 avian flu virus, a virus that so far has been transmitted mostly from birds to humans, but... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Quote mining is ubiquitous amongst the creationists, to the point that TalkOrigins maintains an extensive database of mined quotes. Now there’s a new candidate. Gary Hurd calls our attention to Rabbi Moshe Averick, who quotemines Jack Szostak, a prominent origin of life researcher (added in edit: and 2009 Nobel winner!). What’s most fun is that Szostak’s wife, Terri-Lynn McCormick, shows up in the comments and calls Averick on his dishonesty. I’ll reproduce her whole comment... Richard B. Hoppe
Can you believe it’s been SIX YEARS since Judge Jones issued a devastating anti-“Intelligent Design” ruling? Ah, the memories of Kitzmas past. Remember “Waterloo in Dover”? “Cdesign proponentsists.”? The “breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision”? Merry Kitzmas, everyone!... Dave Thomas http://www.nmsr.org
Humans have a unique form of complex communication called language. While some academics have argued that language is a purely cultural invention—Humans used their brilliant brains to reason that language was the best way to communicate.—there is ample evidence that language is a biological adaptation that evolved after our ancestors split from the ancestors of chimpanzees. For example, the face, mouth, and throat contain adaptations for the physical production of spoken language. Children acquire language... Reed A. Cartwright http://dererumnatura.us/
I've been guilty of teaching bean-bag genetics this semester. Bean-bag genetics treats individuals as a bag of irrelevant shape containing a collection of alleles (the "beans") that are sorted and disseminated by the rules of Mendel, and at its worst, assigns one trait to one allele; it's highly unrealistic. In my defense, it was necessary — first-year students struggle enough with the basic logic of elementary transmission genetics without adding great complications — and of... PZ Myers http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/
Photograph by James Rice. Photography contest, Honorable Mention Underground lake, Chapat Cave, Belize. This lake is the home of cave-adapted fish, crabs, and other life. Scientists are interested in the hydrology of Chapat Cave, since it is known to flood as much as a hundred feet above the normal level shown here. The timing and cause of the floods is not yet known.... Matt Young http://www.mines.edu/~mmyoung
Here’s a new video from NCSE that features Genie Scott talking about the latest theme/tactic of creationists, “academic freedom” (for which one could substitute “academic anarchy” with no loss of meaning). Hat tip to Greg Laden.... Richard B. Hoppe
Intelligent design news, commentary and discussion from the 9th of December to the 16th of December, 2011. It’s nearing Christmas, and here in Australia the weather is heating up, causing the ground to bake beneath our thong-covered feet - and a kind of cognitive dissonance sets in as the “White Christmas” imagery fed to us by popular culture and jolly old Christmas tunes conflicts with the harsh reality of Summer in December. Such is the Southern... Jack Scanlan http://www.jackscanlan.com/
Antievolutionists Say the Darndest Things
Antievolutionists often express outrage over alleged incivility from those who oppose their efforts to evade the establishment clause of the First Amendment. But they have no difficulty in dishing out the abuse themselves. Here is a sample from the Invidious Comparisons thread that documents egregious behavior on the part of the religious antievolution advocates.
Dembski, as the director of the center, also commented on the report in a one-paragraph e-mail message following its release. "The report marks the triumph of intelligent design as a legitimate form of academic inquiry. This is a great day for academic freedom," Dembski began. He concluded by observing that "Dogmatic opponents of design who demanded the Center be shut down have met their Waterloo. Baylor University is to be commended for remaining strong in the face of intolerant assaults on freedom of thought and expression."