Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Skepticblog » Shindigs of Pseudoscience

"Whenever I read about the conventions held by creationists, it is always staggering to see so much ignorance of science and scholarship on display. If you read through one of their programs or peruse the abstracts, your mind is boggled at the bizarre thinking and intellectual contortions these people must attempt, from weird ideas of how to fit all living thing into Noah’s ark to odd explanations of where the flood waters came from and where they went, to even weirder ideas of why the universe appears to be 13.7 billion years old (but is only really 6000 years old), or why radiometric dating doesn’t work or how to explain the complex geologic history of the earth with Bronze Age myths of superstitious shepherds." Read More

Epigenetic 'memory' key to nature versus nurture

"ScienceDaily (July 25, 2011) — Researchers at the John Innes Centre have made a discovery, reported this evening (24 July) in Nature, that explains how an organism can create a biological memory of some variable condition, such as quality of nutrition or temperature. The discovery explains the mechanism of this memory -- a sort of biological switch -- and how it can also be inherited by offspring." Read More

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Defeat of Flood Geology by Flood Geology | Senter | Reports of the National Center for Science Education

"The ironic demonstration that there is no trace of the Genesis
Flood in the geologic record" Read More

Fish fins and mouse feet controlled by the same ancient genetic switch | Not Exactly Rocket Science | Discover Magazine

"Whenever you pick up a book or take a step, you’re relying on a genetic legacy that’s been handed down since your ancestors swam about in prehistoric oceans. Your hands and feet– intricate bundles of bones and muscle – are your versions of the fins of fish. They may look very different, but they were sculpted from embryonic flesh using similar genetic programmes." Read More

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Skepticblog » An eyeful of creationist IDiocy

"A few weeks ago my email box was full of gloating messages from creationists claiming that the latest discovery of complex eyes in the Cambrian “proved” creationism and “refuted” evolution. As usual, creationists demonstrate a remarkable ability to completely misunderstand and misinterpret real science, and get the message of the paper ass-backward." Read More

RNA reactor could have served as a precursor of life

"( -- Nobody knows quite how life originated on Earth, but most scientists agree that living cells did not abruptly appear from nonliving cells in a single step. Instead, there were probably a series of pre-cellular life forms that arose from nonliving chemicals and eventually led to a living cell, one that could undergo metabolism and reproduce. One of the most well-known theories of pre-cellular life is the RNA world theory, which proposes that life based on RNA predates current life, which is based on DNA, RNA, and proteins. But recently, scientists have been wondering what may have preceded RNA. In a new study, a team of scientists from Germany has suggested that the ability to self-replicate may have first emerged in the form of an RNA reactor, which they show can transmit information." Read More

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Complex eyes in the Cambrian

"I got a letter from a creationist today, claiming that "Darwinism is falsified," based on an article in Nature. It's kind of amazing; this article was just published today, and the metaphorical digital ink on it is barely metaphorically dry, and creationists are already busily mangling it." Read More

10 facts of Darwinian evolution young-earth creationists donÍt want toæunderstand - Born Again Pagan

"10. Beyond a shadow of doubt, human DNA and chimpanzee DNA are 98% identical. We diverged from the same common ancestor 5 million years ago. This isn’t idle speculation, it is a fact bound up in deductive logic. We are the modern descendants of ancient apes, just as modern apes are the descendants from that same ancestral tree but on a different branch to humans. Just as the VW Beetle is the ancestor of the Porsche Carrera GT, one does not cease to exist because of the emergence of the other. But where car designs are engineered and refined by man, life is shaped by genetic mutations, which over time, gives rise to entirely new species." Read More

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pictures: Nine Fish With "Hands" Found to Be New Species

"Using its fins to walk, rather than swim, along the ocean floor in an undated picture, the pink handfish is one of nine newly named species described in a recent scientific review of the handfish family." Read More

Friday, July 8, 2011

inFact: Logical Fallacies 1

"Ever hear someone argue a point that was effective, even though it didn't quite ring true? Chances are they used a logical fallacy." Watch Video

Transcript from video:

In this first of three videos, we're going to look at some common fallacious arguments; ways that people make their points sounds convincing even when they're not true. A common one is:

The Ad Hominem

Arguing against the person rather than against the argument. Let's say some guy is trying to convince you that Einstein's theory of relativity is wrong:
Einstein? That guy married his cousin. How can you trust his calculations?
Flip it around and you have:

The Bandwagon Fallacy

Which tries to claim that something must be true because so many people believe it:
50 million people have read The Secret. That many people can't be wrong.
Oh yes they can. How about the people whose religious or political beliefs are different from yours? That's a lot more than 50 million right there.
You can also use:

The Argument from Antiquity

To prove that something must be true because people have believed it for a long time.
Chinese medicine's been around for 5,000 years. It wouldn't have lasted that long if it didn't work.
Being ancient only proves that an idea comes from prescientific times. Maybe it works, like the wheel; maybe it doesn't, like burning witches (some more great ancient wisdom).
A related tactic is to pull out

The All-Natural Fallacy

This is a way to sell a product by raising the specter of concern about competing products that might be... "tarnished" by modern knowledge.
You should sprinkle some of this Haitian zombie powder in your wound. Ground human bones, hemlock, stinging nettle, pufferfish neurotoxin... it's all natural.

The Argument from Authority

Ignores the need to have good information and instead relies on an authority figure.
It doesn't matter what your research shows; my information came from a scientist. So it can't be wrong!
But if all else fails, fall back on:

The Appeal to Quantum Physics

This is why people think Deepak Chopra knows anything; he throws around terms like this to make whatever he says sound scientific and advanced.
Quantum physics links our metaphysical beings through quantum entanglement.
Hey it sounded over my head; he must know what he's talking about.
Next time we'll look at some ways that language itself can be misused to accomplish the same thing.
Brian Dunning
Brian Dunning

Thursday, July 7, 2011

BBC - Wonder Monkey: Can religious teachings prove evolution to be true?

Matt Walker | 16:38 UK time, Tuesday, 5 July 2011

"It is one of the great questions of the past 150 years.

Did God or evolution drive the emergence of life in all its resplendent variety?

This blog, the US education system, and even American politics have to a degree all become dominated by the debate at various times, which goes to the heart of our world view and our ideas of where we, and all other forms of life, came from." Read More