Creation-Evolution Headlines
February 2011
photo strip
“The trouble with metaphors is that they don’t just mirror scientific beliefs, they also shape them.  Our imagery is never just surface paint, it expresses, advertises and strengthens our preferred interpretations.  It also usually carries unconscious bias from the age we live in – and this can be tricky to ditch no matter how faulty, unless we ask ourselves how and why things go wrong, and start to talk publicly about how we should understand metaphor.
    Evolution has been the most glaring example of the thoughtless use of metaphor over the past 30 years....”
— Mary Midgley, “The selfish metaphor: Conceits of evolution,” New Scientist, 1/31/2011.
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Amazing Animals     02/28/2011      
Feb 28, 2011 — Three recent articles about amazing animals and fossils deserve entries of their own, but due to lack of time, will be corralled here lest, like strays, they wander off.

  1. Turtle navigationWired Science has a beautiful photo of a marine turtle in an article about how they achieve a difficult navigational skill: determining longitude from the earth’s magnetic field.  By varying magnetic fields in research ponds with hatchlings, researchers at the University of North Carolina determined that, “Against reasonable expectation, the turtles clearly sensed differences in geomagnetic angle.”  See also New Scientist and Science Daily.
        Human efforts to determine longitude required accurate clocks.  The researchers didn’t explain precisely how the turtles do it, other than to rule out biological clocks.  They were clearly astonished by animal navigation in general: “That turtles and other migratory animals could detect such a small change was considered unrealistic, but experiments on animals released in out-of-the-way locations repeatedly described them finding home with unerring accuracy and efficiency, explicable only as a product of both longitudinal and latitudinal awareness.
  2. Cat bite:  The BBC News reported on new findings about how sabretooth cats like Smilodon were able to close their mouths with those long, dagger-like teeth.  Studies of the bones and neck muscle insertion points by a team at Aalborg University in Denmark “revealed how the cats’ jaw muscles were aligned to pull its jaws closed, very directly and efficiently.”  The article ascribed all this efficiency to evolution.
  3. Charismatic behemoth:  A new sauropod species described on Science Daily had legs like bars of iron, by Job.  “Brontomerus mcintoshi, or ‘thunder-thighs’ after its enormously powerful thigh muscles,” found in Utah, may have kicked its attackers to kingdom come.  “‘Brontomerus mcintoshi is a charismatic dinosaur and an exciting discovery for us,’ said first author Mike Taylor, a researcher in the Department of Earth Sciences at University College London.”
        Less emphasized in the article was the worry that this discovery undermines previously-held beliefs about sauropods – i.e., that they were disappearing by the Cretaceous.  “It now seems that sauropods may have been every bit as diverse as they were during the Jurassic, but much less abundant and so much less likely to be found.
Evolution was largely ignored in these stories.  None of the popular articles on turtle navigation mentioned it, but the source paper in Current Biology1 only mentioned it in passing – “These results are consistent with the interpretation that birds, like turtles, have evolved a way to assess longitude that is independent of time-keeping.”
    Similarly, most of the dinosaur articles did not mention evolution.  A researcher quoted in Live Science speculated, “We think the most likely reason this evolved was over competition for mates,” but once it evolved, “it would be bizarre if it wasn’t also used in predator defense.”  This makes it clear that the bones did not give a definitive answer to how thunder-thighs grew a thighs size to kick enemies asunder.
    The BBC article on sabretooth cats mentioned evolution the most.  There, however, evolution was merely assumed: e.g., “the cats’ jaw muscles evolved into a specialised pattern, which allowed them to open their mouths so wide.”  The article talked about “how Smilodon evolved” and how the researchers drew an “evolutionary map” to show how “sabretooths evolved longer canine teeth” under “evolutionary pressure to kill prey with a deep and efficient stab to the throat.”2  Even if there was variation among cats and their fangs, the fangs already existed in cats, and the cats and all their musculature already existed in the cat family.  Even young-earth creationists would not disagree that variation in existing genetic information could lead to adaptations in particular environments.
1.  Putnam et al, “Longitude Perception and Bicoordinate Magnetic Maps in Sea Turtles,” Current Biology, 24 February 2011, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2011.01.057.
2.  Note: “evolutionary pressure” is a misnomer.  Natural selection may constrain variation by preventing survival of mutants, but provides no pressure, impetus, guidance, force or direction (see 01/24/2008).
Evolution was tacked-on to some of these stories like hot sauce on ice cream.  It had nothing to do with the facts of the story and created a bad aftertaste to otherwise interesting stories about amazing creatures.  Scrape off the hot sauce best you can.  (Don’t stir it.)
Next headline on:  Marine BiologyMammalsDinosaursFossilsAmazing FactsDarwin and Evolution
  Why your inner ear looks like a snail shell: from 02/28/2006.

Philosophy Roundup     02/27/2011      
Feb 27, 2011 — Philosophy of science is a broad discipline incorporating many sub-disciplines such as intellectual history, sociology, ethics, rhetoric, logic, demarcation of science from pseudoscience, classification, discovery, verification, explanation and more.  A dozen recent news stories discussed some of these topics.

  1. Medical ethicsPhysOrg reproduced an AP story about medical research on humans in the US in the 1940s to 1960s.  The details are quite shocking and were “unusually unethical, even at the time.”  They included giving diseases to prisoners and the disabled.  The news media largely ignored these stories, the article said.  This entry touches on the need to set ethical limitations on scientific inquiry.
  2. Futurism, ethics, and health:  Should genetic interventions be used to create healthy babies?  This sensitive question, behind which lurks the ghost of positive eugenics, was discussed cheerfully in Science Magazine (25 February 2011: DOI: 10.1126/science.1204088) on the 10th anniversary of the Human Genome Project.
        “Genetics is a way of thinking.  Genomics is a set of tools,” Mary-Claire King wrote, glossing over the potential for abuse of thinking and tools.  “If we think rigorously about genetics and use these tools well,” she said, “the resolution of inherited disorders on behalf of our patients will be bounded only by our imaginations.  One healthy infant at a time is not a bad way to begin.”
        But how will babies born without genetic intervention be treated by society?  King assumed universal agreement on the meaning of well and spoke of rigor, good and bad as if bounded only by human imagination.  A quick look back at the 20th century shows some not-so-cheerful ways our predecessors applied their imaginations using thinking and tools.
  3. Philosophy of discovery:  A story on PhysOrg exemplified how, in the philosophy of science, discovery is distinct from explanation.  Some mathematicians at Emory University were on a nature hike when a “Eureka!” moment hit them.  “So what is an ‘aha’ moment?” the article asked.  “The way I see it, it’s not something that happens to you instantly,” said Ken Ono.  “It just happens to be the moment that you realize the fruits of all your hard work.”  Article includes a video clip of Ono telling his story on the trail.
  4. Paradigms and models:  Some European philosophers have tried to put Thomas Kuhn on a chip.  In “Emergence and Decline of Scientific Paradigms” described on PhysOrg, they produced a mathematical model showing how scientific paradigms rise and fall.  “Although many factors influence the emergence and decline of such scientific paradigms,” the article said, “a new model has captured how these ideas spread, providing a better understanding of paradigm shifts and the culture of innovation.”
        Like some meta-theory on theories, or observation of observers, their mathematical model had all the coldness of monitoring bacteria in a Petri dish.  Paradigms mentioned included “climate change, nanotechnology and chaos theory”.  Not apparent was how their model intersected any conception of validation, verification, or truth.
  5. History of science:  An article at PhysOrg might be enough to make a modern scientist scream.  Dr. Lawrence Principe, historian of science at Johns Hopkins, is defending alchemy as legitimate research for its time.  In “Why many historians no longer see alchemy as an occult practice,” Phillip Schewe wrote that “the scholars who write the history of science and technology no longer lump alchemy in with witchcraft as a pseudo-science.”  Instead they view it as a precursor to chemistry.
        Alchemists, they said, should not be dismissed solely for failing their main mission to turn base metals into gold; “Alchemists ... were active in assaying metals, refining salts, making dyes and pigments, making glass and ceramics, artificial fertilizers, perfumes, and cosmetics” – i.e., skills useful for the emerging science of chemistry.  Famous practitioners of alchemy included Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton.
  6. Design detection:  “How nature’s patterns form” was the headline of a short article on PhysOrg.  With an image of a Fibonacci spiral pattern leading the story, the article mentioned how many universal patterns, seen in sunflowers, galaxies, animal coloration or sand dunes are the result of “some kind of stress, applied stress.”  Alan Newell at the University of Arizona was telling a meeting of the AAAS that “biological forms are controlled more by the laws of physics than by evolution,” i.e., “the products of physical forces, rather than evolutionary ones.
        Further, “Patterns arise when the symmetry of a system is broken, Newell said.  The similarity in patterns from system to system occur when the systems have similar symmetry, rather than because the systems are made from the same materials.”  Newell believes patterns are impressed on nature mechanically, but as “a consequence of biochemically and mechanically induced pattern-forming instabilities” that can be described in mathematical models.
        The short article did not address why natural laws and instabilities should be symmetric, or finely tuned to reproduce a Fibonacci series, or why the human mind finds these patterns beautiful.  Newell did end, though, on a poetic note: “Mathematics is like a good poem, which separates the superfluous from the essentials and fuses the essentials into a kernel of truth.
  7. Verification and falsificationNature News reported that the Apex Chert in western Australia, thought to be evidence for the oldest life on the planet, may have formed by inorganic processes.  This incident touches on several areas in philosophy of science: verification, interpretation of evidence, ethics, and history of science: “Twenty years ago the palaeontological community gasped as geoscientists revealed evidence for the oldest bacterial fossils on the planet,” the article said.  “Now, a report in Nature Geoscience shows that the filament structures that were so important in the fossil descriptions are not remnants of ancient life, but instead composed of inorganic material.”
        This appears to be a case of scientists who “wanted to find life so badly that they ignored the obvious,” the article said.  Olcutt Marshall opened some philosophical cans of worms with his remark, “There is a willful blindness about these structures that sometimes has more to do with local politics than global truth.”  See also the PhysOrg write-up.
  8. Paradigm backlash:  As successful as Newtonian mechanical philosophy was in the 17th and 18th centuries, it produced a backlash, wrote George Rousseau in a book review in Nature (24 Feb 2011, doi:10.1038/470462a).  Commenting on Stephen Gaukroger’s new book The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibility: Science and the Shaping of Modernity 1680–1760, Rousseau noted that while most scientists are aware of Newton’s achievement, “Less familiar is the philosophical phase that followed – sensibility, the view of humans as organic creatures, incapable of reduction to the sum of their mechanical parts, especially in the affective, moral and political realms.”  Accordingly, “Stephen Gaukroger explains how the philosophies of mechanism collapsed over eight decades, to be replaced by a more sensory view of nature.
        The review warned of simplistic views of mechanical philosophy (sometimes abbreviated mechanism): “Mechanism was never a single set of principles about machine-like systems,” he said.  “It comprised an array of disparate beliefs, experiences and practices that were followed in far-flung places and presided over by its principal architects: René Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Newton.”
        Sensibility, likewise, “is a vague term,” he said.  According to Gaukroger, sensibility “allows connections to be made between natural-philosophical and moral, political, and psychological theories in a new way, shaping a new field of the moral sciences.”  While a strict mechanist or 20th-century positivist might take issue with that phrase as an oxymoron, the definition points out the necessity of philosophical judgments on the nature of science.
        The 1760s, the review said, was a watershed decade and the start of the so-called Romantic era with roots in sensibility stretching back a century or more:
    Imaginative literature, later codified as ‘Romantic’, also drove nails into mechanism’s coffin by postulating that matter was more complex than the mechanical natural philosophers thought.  A human is not a mere machine; a fly is much harder to study than a pebble.  By focusing on human nature rather than physical matter, the language of the new literature helped to alter the way scientists conceived their models, and enabled modernity to commence its work.
    It is ironic that the reviewer shares a surname with Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), an icon of Romanticism.
  9. Search for extra-terrestrial science:  Can scientists justify their work based on what they expect to find, rather than what they have found?  Rowan Hooper on New Scientist recouped the latest scoop on planet counts from the Kepler spacecraft, then launched into some philosophy: “Exoplanet findings spark philosophical debate,” he titled his article, noting that “What were once speculative and philosophical questions are now being tackled with real data, generated by NASA’s planet-hunting space telescope, Kepler.”  The word data is a philosophically-loaded question.  To what extent does data about extrasolar planets apply to the question of extraterrestrial intelligence?
        Hooper heard two speakers at the recent AAAS meeting discuss how Christians and Muslims might respond positively to detection of aliens.  “Both their arguments amounted to the (to my mind) rather dubious claim that the discovery of extraterrestrial life would pose no challenge or crisis to terrestrial religion.
        Then he heard talks about the possibility of life detection by a pessimist, Howard Smith [Harvard-Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics] and an optimist, Seth Shostak [SETI Institute].  Worried that it might take 100 generations to get in touch with aliens, Smith coined a new phrase: “the misanthropic principle says that intelligent life is so unlikely to evolve that we might as well accept that we’ll never know if we are unique or not.”  Hooper seemed to prefer Shostak’s enthusiastic prediction of successful detection within 24 years, even though it was couched in a philosophical statement, “Believing there aren’t ETs is believing in miracles.
  10. Demarcation:  According to Research Professional John Beddington, the President’s science advisor, made waves by calling for scientists to be “grossly intolerant” of what he perceives as pseudoscience.  As for what constitutes pseudoscience, Beddington referred to “the building up of what purports to be science by the cherry-picking of the facts and the failure to use scientific evidence and the failure to use scientific method.”  Particularly, he had in mind “politically or morally or religiously motivated nonsense.
        Beddington apparently does not realize that the demarcation problem and the scientific method are issues that loom large in philosophy of science.  The assumption that science can be reduced to a bias-free method apparently motivated his sermon for scientists to be as grossly intolerant of that sort of thing as they are of racism or “homophobia.”  He views religious or political influence as “pernicious,” but he left begging the question of whether secular consensus science itself is free of such influences.
        Sensing a little unease with his own moral plea, Beddington told his audience, “I’d urge you, and this is a kind of strange message to go out, but go out and be much more intolerant”  That is clearly a moral judgment, not a scientific finding.  Beddington also did not distinguish “morally ... motivated nonsense” from his own moral judgments.  Whether or not one agrees with his opinions, the story illustrates how science is inextricable from moral values.
  11. Sociology of OOL:  As a reporter at a recent conference of origin-of-life researchers, Dennis Overbye, writing for the New York Times, seemed amused by the curious sociology of his subjects:
    Two dozen chemists, geologists, biologists, planetary scientists and physicists gathered here recently to ponder where and what Eden might have been.  Over a long weekend they plastered the screen in their conference room with intricate chemical diagrams through which electrons bounced in a series of interactions like marbles rattling up and down and over bridges through one of those child’s toys, transferring energy, taking care of the business of nascent life.  The names of elements and molecules tripped off chemists’ tongues as if they were the eccentric relatives who show up at Thanksgiving every year.
    While not unkind to their ramblings, Overbye found plenty of confusion, disagreement, and ignorance to showcase.  His last quip was about Craig Venter’s intelligent design project to create synthetic life: “And so his genome is now in the process of acquiring its first, non-Darwinian mutation.”
  12. Science and Meaning  What does science mean?  In the New York Review of Books, Freeman Dyson discussed information theory and the history of science under the headline, “How We Know.”  In the body of his book review of The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick, Dyson, while trying to clear up some misinformation, exposed some embarrassments in science that call into question not only how we know, but what we know:
    The public has a distorted view of science, because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths.  In fact, science is not a collection of truths.  It is a continuing exploration of mysteries.  Wherever we go exploring in the world around us, we find mysteries.  Our planet is covered by continents and oceans whose origin we cannot explain.  Our atmosphere is constantly stirred by poorly understood disturbances that we call weather and climate.  The visible matter in the universe is outweighed by a much larger quantity of dark invisible matter that we do not understand at all.  The origin of life is a total mystery, and so is the existence of human consciousness.  We have no clear idea how the electrical discharges occurring in nerve cells in our brains are connected with our feelings and desires and actions.
        Even physics, the most exact and most firmly established branch of science, is still full of mysteries....
    Scientists get a kick out of the endless quest: “The vision of the future as an infinite playground, with an unending sequence of mysteries to be understood by an unending sequence of players exploring an unending supply of information, is a glorious vision for scientists,” he said, but not to artists, writers, and ordinary people.  Dyson worried about the flood of information around us being separated from meaning.  “Now we can pass a piece of human DNA through a machine and rapidly read out the genetic information,” Dyson noted, “but we cannot read out the meaning of the information.  We shall not fully understand the information until we understand in detail the processes of embryonic development that the DNA orchestrated to make us what we are.
        Claude Shannon, who felt “Meaning is irrelevant” to his information theory, started a “flood of information in which we are drowning,” Dyson said.  Is our fate to look out upon, as Jorge Luis Borges portrayed the universe in 1941, a “library, with an infinite array of books and shelves and mirrors,” never knowing what it all means?  “It is our task as humans to bring meaning back into this wasteland,” Dyson concluded.  “As finite creatures who think and feel, we can create islands of meaning in the sea of information.”
        While Dyson examined the definition of information in detail in his review, he left dangling an even more important definition: the meaning of meaning.  Is meaning defined by the individual artist, writer, or ordinary person?  Who decides when something is meaningful?  Are islands of meaning grounded on a continent of truth, or are they adrift in an infinite sea of meaningless information?
For a look at some of these issues from proponents of intelligent design, see an examination of Freeman Dyson’s article by Denyse O'Leary on Uncommon Descent, another O'Leary article on Uncommon Descent about origin-of-life science, a treatment of Beddington’s outrage against pseudoscience on the blog Darwin’s God by Cornelius Hunter and O'Leary.  In a subsequent post on Uncommon Descent, O'Leary quoted Frank Furedi who views Beddington’s intolerance as a fast-backward to the Middle Ages.
    There’s a new anthology of essays by creationists that calls into question the objectivity of science.  The description of Sacred Cows In Science: No Objectivity Allowed, Norbert Smith (ed.) on states,
Science was at one time defined by its method.  Carefully controlled experiments, provisional conclusions, and considered debate once defined the field.  But those days have passed.  Today, science is defined by public policy statements, consensus, and a set of metaphysical assumptions that cannot be directly tested.  Students are told that science is in conflict with “faith” or, worse yet, that faith operates in a different “magisterial” [sic]with no real application to the world we inhabit.
Chapters include material on life sciences, physical sciences, and behavioral sciences.  The first reviewer agreed, “Science should be a discipline based on dissent, but as more and more science becomes publicly funded, ideas become entrenched, and outside ideas are no longer heard.”
This is all interesting material with too much to comment on in each article.  Readers are encouraged to become knowledgeable about these controversies with the Baloney Detector in good working order and refine their philosophy of science in light of these real-world issues.  Science is what scientists do – unless they can defend aspiring to an unattainable goal.
    One overriding theme in all the above is how science and philosophy are both human enterprises, subject to all the biases, assumptions, limitations, mistakes, and changes of mind connected with any other human activity.  One can hope to approach limitations with more clarity in a systematic way, but they are still limitations.
    One thing we need more than science or philosophy is wisdom.  The writer of Psalm 119 offered a way up: “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.” (verse 99).  Indeed, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), and of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).
    Why is the fear of the Lord essential?  Why is it the beginning of wisdom and knowledge?  Because without it, science is impossible.  The Lord is the source of the morality, integrity, and wisdom needed to even hope for a clear scientific understanding about any subject – or a philosophy of anything.
    Atheists may do science, but they cannot justify what they do.  When they assume the world is rational, approachable, and understandable, they plagiarize Judeo-Christian presuppositions about the nature of reality and the moral need to seek the truth.
    As an exercise, try generating a philosophy of science from hydrogen coming out of the big bang.  It cannot be done.  It’s impossible even in principle, because philosophy and science presuppose concepts that are not composed of particles and forces.  They refer to ideas that must be true, universal, necessary and certain.
    It’s time science gets back to the beginning of wisdom.  You can help by rapping a scientist’s knuckles every time he steals from the Christian smorgasbord of presuppositions.  While bandaging his knuckles, encourage him with the upside of a scientific revolution based on the Bible: it makes genuine scientific knowledge, if not exhaustive, at least possible.
Next headline on:  Philosophy of ScienceMind and BrainSETIOrigin of LifePolitics and EthicsMedia
Habitable Zones Constrained by Tides     02/26/2011      
Feb 26, 2011 — The idea of a circumstellar habitable zone – a radial range around a star where an earth-like planet could support life – may be too simplistic.  Science Daily reported that “Tides can render the so-called ‘habitable zone’ around low-mass stars uninhabitable.”  Astronomers at the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam studied the effects of tides on planets around low-mass stars (the most numerous stars in the galaxy) and found that the lack of seasons, the increased heat (and volcanism) and synchronous rotation make them uncomfortable at best, and perhaps uninhabitable.
    “I think that the chances for life existing on exoplanets in the traditional habitable zone around low-mass stars are pretty bleak, when considering tidal effects,” lead researcher Rene Heller remarked.  “If you want to find a second Earth, it seems that you need to look for a second Sun.
So far we have narrowed the habitable zone to:
  • Galactic Habitable Zone, where a star must be located (09/29/2009);
  • Circumstellar Habitable Zone, the right radius from the star (10/08/2010);
  • Continuously Habitable Zone, because too much variety can be lethal (07/21/2007);
  • Temporal Habitable Zone, because habitable zones do not last forever (10/27/2008);
  • Chemical and Thermodynamic Habitable Zone, where water can be liquid (12/30/2003);
  • Ultraviolet Habitable Zone, free from deadly radiation (08/15/2006);
  • Tidal Habitable Zone, which rules out most stars that are small (02/26/2011).
    Other constraints are bound to be realized from time to time, emphasizing the rarity of the sweet spot we inhabit.  This would be, of course, predicted from the Architect’s message that he formed the Earth to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18), but today’s scientists have a bad habit of ruling out Architects from their master plan.  Make a good habit of studying the Architect’s plans whenever starting life construction on our habitable Privileged Planet.
    Next headline on:  Stars and AstronomySolar SystemOrigin of LifeIntelligent Design
  • Evolutionists Turn Misses into Wins     02/25/2011      
    Feb 25, 2011 — Evolutionists have evolved a skill by design – the ability to turn falsification into confirmation.  It’s a kind of philosophical judo, or parry, that can turn the energy of a criticism into a win for Darwin. 
    1. Convergent turnarounds:  A good example of an evolutionary parry can be seen in a post on Science Daily entitled, “Homoplasy: A Good Thread to Pull to Understand the Evolutionary Ball of Yarn.”  Homoplasy is a jargon term for convergent evolution – the idea that unrelated organisms can converge on the same solution to a problem via evolution.  Three evolutionists funded by the National Science Foundation came up with these whoppers:
      The authors provide many fascinating examples of homoplasy, including different species of salamanders that independently, through evolution, increased their body-length by increasing the lengths of individual vertebrae.  By contrast, most species grow longer by adding vertebrae through evolution.
          The authors also explain how petals in flowers have evolved on six separate occasions in different plants.  A particularly striking example of homoplasy cited by the authors is the evolution of eyes, which evolved many times in different groups of organisms—from invertebrates to mammals—all of which share an identical genetic code for their eyes.
      If evolving eyes one time is spectacularly hard for a random process, it would seem that multiple independent cases would falsify evolution big time.  Instead, these authors, with taxpayer funding, decided that the damaging evidence was really a triumph for Darwin: “These kinds of examples of genetic and developmental biology help scientists elucidate relationships between organisms, as well as develop a fuller picture of their evolutionary history.”
    2. Victory in defeat:  Even when admitting mistakes, evolutionists are never ready to give up on their theory.  An example of unfeigned faith is seen in Live Science, where reporter Natalie Wolchover told how two headline-making fossils touted by their discoverers as human ancestors have turned out to have nothing to do with humans: “they’re probably just non-hominin ape bones.”  Readers might recall how headlines blared in recent years that Orrorin tugenensis,Sahelanthropus tchadensis and Ardipithecus ramidus were shedding light on human evolution (03/05/2004, 10/02/2009, 11/25/2009)  Now that Bernard Wood and Terry Harrison have debunked these claims (02/16/2011), is evolution in trouble?  Not according to them:
      Skepticism regarding these famous primate fossil finds seems to call into question the rigor of the scientific process within the field of paleoanthropology.  Wood’s and Harrison’s paper certainly makes one wonder: Are these isolated incidents of misinterpretation followed by media hype, or does the problem pervade the whole branch of science?  Is the human evolutionary fossil record a crapshoot?
          “No,” said Harrison.  There are reasons why this branch of science may seem messier than most, he said, but all things considered, it is doing extremely well.
      Harrison’s firm response to Wolchover’s worries recalls the cover story of National Geographic in Nov 2004, “Was Darwin Wrong?” with its confident NO inside (see 10/24/2004 and the resulting letters to the editor, 02/15/2005).
    3. Polygamy games:  A particularly bizarre twist on evolutionary parrying was reported in PhysOrg about Mormon history: “Polygamy hurt 19th century Mormon wives’ evolutionary fitness.”  After stating that fitness of “sister wives” decreased in polygamous households (measured by number of children produced), the researchers at Indiana University were left with the conundrum of why evolution would produce polygamy in the first place, whether among human beings or bacteria.  Michael Wade was ready with a ring buoy for Darwin:
      So if polygamy (or the female equivalent, polyandry) is disadvantageous to most of the sequestered sex and most of the mate-sequestering sex, why should such systems survive?
          “The complete answer is still forthcoming,” Wade said.  “One thing we know now, based on rigorous studies in many species, particularly the fruit fly, is that selection can be so strong on males that it can drag the entire species off of a naturally selected viability optimum.”
      Aside from equating Mormons to fruit flies, Wade seems to have just said that natural selection can drag a species away from increased fitness.  WWDD?  What would Darwin do about that idea?
    Darwinians appear very adept at turning criticism into praise.  Whether this neat trick justifies evolution as a scientific theory is a different question.  Does it really lead to deeper understanding of evolution, or is it sophistry?
    It’s sophistry.  See?  Our commentaries are not always verbose.
    Aside:  Apparently the irony of #1’s headline was lost on the reporters: “...the Evolutionary Ball of Yarn.”  Apt description.
    Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionEarly ManDumb Ideas
      How strong is natural selection?  “Darwinists may be deluding themselves,” a Canadian evolutionist said in the 02/16/2005 entry; in fact, the AAAS president almost called some of his fellow scientists insane (02/11/2005).

    Racial Evolution Education Proposed     02/24/2011      
    Feb 24, 2011 — Skin color provides a “handy tool for teaching evolution,” says a anthropologist at Penn State.  PhysOrg reported that professor Nina Jablonski believes “The mechanism of evolution can be completely understood from skin color.”  She proposes using the easily-observed trait in humans to teach evolution to students.  “People are really socially aware of skin color, intensely self-conscious about it,” she told the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  “The nice thing about skin color is that we can teach the principles of evolution using an example on our own bodies and relieve a lot of social stress about personal skin color at the same time.”  PhysOrg did not elaborate on how evolutionary theory would relieve stress about skin color.

    It is typical of Darwinists to try to prove their theory with simple examples of horizontal variation that are not controversial, then extrapolate the examples to say brains evolved from a primordial soup.  Perhaps professor Jablonski should take note of the fact that young-earth creationist Ken Ham uses Scripture and science to explain the human races (actually, just variations on the single human race) from a Biblical viewpoint (see AiG), and also shows the disastrous history of racial politics in of Darwinian thought (AiG).
    Next headline on:  Human BodyGeneticsDarwin and EvolutionEducationPolitics and Ethics
    Busted!  Planet-Making Theories Don’t Fit Extrasolar Planets     02/23/2011      
    Feb 23, 2011 — Famed planet-hunter Geoff Marcy is giving theorists headaches.  The leading theories of planet formation won’t stand up to observations of hundreds of planets we know.  In National Geographic News reporter Richard Lovett lamented, “The more new planets we find, the less we seem to know about how planetary systems are born, according to a leading planet hunter.”  We cannot apply theories that fit our solar system to other systems: “In theory, other stars with planets should have gotten similar starts.  But according to Marcy, theory has implications not born out in reality.
        Specifically, planetary orbits should be circular, but many extrasolar planets have elliptical orbits.  Everything should orbit in the same plane and direction, but many have highly inclined or even retrograde orbits; “Orbital inclinations are all over the map,” Marcy said.  And Neptune-sized planets should be rare, since models of our water giants require highly unusual starting conditions; there are too many out there, Marcy noted; “Theory has struck out,” he told the American Astronomical Society last month.
        His critics complained that modeling is complicated and difficult.  Hal Levison said that simplifying them leads to “crappy models.”  Marcy thought that without taking into account planetary interactions, future discoveries, as they multiply, “will give the theoreticians yet more reasons to tear out their hair.”  For more on Geoff Marcy, see 02/02/2011.
    Maier’s Law says, “If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.” (see corollaries, right sidebar).  A science that cannot fit observations to theory does not win the honor of being called a science.  It may be a job, a profession, an avocation, a hobby; but to be a science, there should be some concordance between theory and observations.  Has planetary cosmogony done any better than alchemy yet?  Let them play but come back later when they have something.  One theory they never consider is the top-down theory; that planets were created with stars, but have been fragmenting and interacting since then.  This theory has the advantage of fitting the observations of providential fine-tuning for our own Privileged Planet.
    Next headline on:  StarsSolar SystemPhysics
    New Cambrian Fossil: Missing Link?     02/23/2011      
    Feb 23, 2011 — A weird animal from Chinese Cambrian strata looks like a worm with legs, the whole body studded with spines.  Was it on the way to becoming an arthropod?  The authors think so, but other members of its group were already known from the Cambrian fossil record.
        The “walking cactus” with ten pairs of legs was named Diania cactiformis by the discoverers from China and Germany, publishing in Nature.1  PhysOrg discussed it briefly and National Geographic News included an artist’s conception.
        Nature said it was already “derived” (advanced) on the arthropod lineage.  The editor’s summary stated, “The possession of what seem to be the beginnings of robust, jointed and spiny legs suggest that this bizarre animal might be very close to the origins of the arthropods.”  This was based on phylogenetic analysis, though, not on dating or genetics.  It seems similar to other creatures known as Lobopodia, “a group of poorly understood animals” according to Wikipedia, which evolutionists feel might be ancestral to both onycophorans and arthropods; however, “precise classification is still in flux.”
        As for its place in the Cambrian explosion, National Geographic said, “It would have lived about 500 million years ago during a period of rapid evolution called the Cambrian explosion.”  It was not, therefore, a missing link leading up to the explosion.  The authors in Nature said, “How close Cambrian lobopodians are to the ground plan of the arthropod common ancestor remains a point of debate,” and as for its ancestry to arthropods, admitted, “Our new fossils cannot resolve this question in its entirety, but they do demonstrate that appendage morphology was more diverse among Cambrian lobopodians than is sometimes realized.”  They emphasized that, “to our knowledge, Diania has the most robust and arthropod-like limbs found in any lobopodian until now.”  But added doubt by saying, “However, we should caution that dinocaridids, Diania and other potential stem-arthropods typically express mosaics of arthropod-like characters, which makes resolving a single, simple tree of arthropod origins problematic.
        In fact, their own phylogenetic analysis of Diania put it in a “surprising” position in the evolutionary tree.  They entertained the option that it might represent a secondary reduction of more advanced animals like the large predator Anomalocaris; whatever it was, all could agree it was “a highly unusual creature.

    1.  Liu, Steiner et al, “An armoured Cambrian lobopodian from China with arthropod-like appendages,” Nature 470 (24 February 2011), pp. 526–530, doi:10.1038/nature09704.
    It was a highly unusual creature among many highly unusual creatures, to the extent that the unusual was usual.  Simultaneous diversity and morphological disparity is not evolution.  Diania is no more advanced or primitive than any of the many other animal body plans from the Cambrian explosion, so this fossil is not going to help solve the evolutionists’ magic act (see 01/07/2011), especially with vertebrates already present in the early Cambrian (01/30/2003).  Remember, it’s what’s inside that counts.  This creature may have look primitive through Darwinian eyes, but it had the ability to move its limbs, detect food, eat, digest, and reproduce its body.  Such things do not happen without a body plan.
    Next headline on:  Marine BiologyFossilsDarwin and Evolution
      How to get a genetic code by chance:  Current Biology made it sound so simple in the 02/19/2004 entry.  What could be simpler than a frozen accident?

    Is Star Formation Understood?     02/22/2011      
    Feb 22, 2011 — Astronomers often speak with apparent confidence about regions of active star formation in nebulae or galaxies.  A look at the fine print, however, shows plenty of wiggle room when observations don’t quite match theory.

    1. Flocculent anomalies:  Astronomers expected more star forming regions in one of the “flocculent” spiral galaxies (spirals without large arms), NGC 2841.  But when the Hubble Space Telescope took its picture, Science Daily said it “currently has a relatively low star formation rate compared to other spirals.”  Several revelations in the next paragraphs indicated astronomers are not so confident about star formation:
      Star formation is one of the most important processes in shaping the Universe; it plays a pivotal role in the evolution of galaxies and it is also in the earliest stages of star formation that planetary systems first appear.
          Yet there is still much that astronomers don’t understand, such as how do the properties of stellar nurseries vary according to the composition and density of the gas present, and what triggers star formation in the first place?  The driving force behind star formation is particularly unclear for a type of galaxy called a flocculent spiral, such as NGC 2841 shown here, which features short spiral arms rather than prominent and well-defined galactic limbs.
      It would seem that if astronomers don’t understand what triggers star formation, or how it varies from place to place, they don’t understand it very much at all.
    2. Dark matter anomalies:  Dark matter sometimes appears like a kind of cosmic flubber – an unknown quantity that is useful in various amounts (sometimes none at all) when theories need fixing.  Take this article from Science Daily about recent results from the Herschel Space Telescope as an example:
      Most of the mass of any galaxy is expected to be dark matter, a hypothetical substance that has yet to be detected but which astronomers believe must exist to provide sufficient gravity to prevent galaxies ripping themselves apart as they rotate....
          Herschel is showing us that we don't need quite so much dark matter as we thought to trigger a starburst," says Asantha Cooray, University of California, Irvine....
          Analysis of the brightness of the patches in the ... images has shown that the star-formation rate in the distant infrared galaxies is 3-5 times higher than previously inferred from visible-wavelength observations of similar, very young galaxies by the Hubble Space Telescope and other telescopes.
      And yet with these uncertainties, the article was confident that the star formation rate in this “starburst galaxy” had hit a “sweet spot” for star formation, even though the opening paragraph was puzzled that the region observed appeared too small for such luck: “The size challenges current theory that predicts a galaxy has to be more than ten times larger, 5000 billion solar masses, to be able form [sic] large numbers of stars.” 
    3. Computers as alternate reality:  Meanwhile, in the computer center at Heidelberg University, astronomers concluded that “The first stars in the universe were not as solitary as previously thought.”  According to PhysOrg, whatever they programmed into their computer models was a blockbuster: it “cast an entirely new light on the formation of the first stars after the Big Bang.”  The next sentences described in graphic detail how a star is born.  Given the uncertainties in the first two entries, however, it appears their computer universe was a figment of the programmer’s imagination rather than a finding about nature.  The article contained at least six instances of may have, could have and other speculations: e.g., “It is also conceivable that some of the first stars may have been catapulted out of their birth group through collisions with their neighbours before they were able to accumulate a great deal of mass.”
    We can’t even understand our own universe, but some astronomers are talking about imaginary universes.  Amanda Gefter at New Scientist, for instance, gave a positive review of Brian Greene’s new book The Hidden Reality, which purports to give “a tour of the multiverse”.  She described the book as “Arcane yet exciting physics, wrapped up in effortless prose.”  The multiverse concept has become “fashionable,” she said, even though critics “deride it as untestable metaphysics.”  Even Greene called it a “battleground for the very soul of science.
        Whoever wins the battle should be able to do the Macarena to make Gefter happy.  That’s what Brian Greene did in front of an audience, she described, as he pondered a hypothetical holographic universe that made him literally dance for joy at the thought.  Gefter also was enraptured by the possibility that “reality is not what it seems.”  While speculating about hidden realities that are not what they seem, might as well go all out: “Greene doesn’t shy away from important nuances or profound philosophical questions,” she ended, winking, “I suspect that this will be a hugely popular book – in this universe and many, many others.”  See the 04/11/2009 for Gefter’s previous reaction to cosmologists’ speculations about imaginary universes.
    OK, let’s take stock.  We’ve got star formation, about which we don’t understand how it gets triggered or why it varies from place to place, but somehow dark matter flubber has something to do with it – an ingredient that uses Skinner’s Constant.*  However it works, star formation, which no one has watched, bursts forth in galaxies 1/10 the size they should be for it to burst in, producing sociable stars after the Big Bang, in computers at least, contrary to expectations.  Are we still in the science lab? (cf. 04/13/2007).
        Astronomers are very smart people in terms of their ability to speak jargon and manipulate equations.  Whether they have a grasp on reality is a very different matter (01/15/2008) – a dark matter of a different sort.  It’s worth rereading Prophet Berman’s sermons every once in awhile (10/06/2004, 09/29/2007) to avoid being swept up into the cosmic euphoria that ensnared poor Amanda Gefter in Brian Greene’s fantasy bladderwort (02/17/2011).
    Next headline on:  Stars and AstronomyCosmologyPhysicsPhilosophy of ScienceDumb Ideas
    *Skinner’s Constant: That quantity which, when added to, subtracted from, multiplied by or divided by the answer you got, gives you the answer you should have gotten.
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    A photo from Messenger (see PhysOrg; also APOD) shows the solar system from the inside out.  It’s a nice complement to the historic Voyager image from the outside in (APOD).  These actual photos underscore how tiny the planets are relative to their distances from the sun.

    Human Genome Project Supports Adam, Not Darwin     02/21/2011      
    Feb 21, 2011 — Science magazine last week had a special series of articles on the 10-year anniversary of the Human Genome project.  Most of the articles expanded on how different the findings were from predictions.  The publication of the genome did not identify our evolution; it did not lead to miracle cures.  What it did most of all was upset apple carts, and show just how complex the library of information behind our smiling faces really is..  A couple of excerpts are characteristic.
        John Mattick of the University of Queensland commented about how “The Genomic Foundation is Shifting” in his brief essay for Science.1  “For me,” he began, “the most important outcome of the human genome project has been to expose the fallacy that most genetic information is expressed as proteins.”  He spoke of the Central Dogma of genetics – the principle that DNA is the master controller of heredity, translating its information into proteins that create our bodies and brains.  For one thing, the number of genes is far smaller than expected (only 1.5% of human DNA contains genes), and is overwhelmed by non-coding DNA (earlier assumed to be genetic junk) that generates RNA, that regulates the expression of genes, especially during development.  The histone code and other revelations have generated “aftershocks” to the initial tremor that undermined the Central Dogma.  He concluded,

    These observations suggest that we need to reassess the underlying genetic orthodoxy, which is deeply ingrained and has been given superficial reprieve by uncritically accepted assumptions about the nature and power of combinatorial control.  As Nobel laureate Barbara McClintock wrote in 1950: “Are we letting a philosophy of the [protein-coding] gene control [our] reasoning?  What, then, is the philosophy of the gene?  Is it a valid philosophy?” … There is an alternative: Human complexity has been built on a massive expansion of genomic regulatory sequences, most of which are transacted by RNAs that use generic protein infrastructure and control the epigenetic mechanisms underpinning embryogenesis and brain function.  I see the human genome not simply as providing detail, but more importantly, as the beginning of a conceptual enlightenment in biology.
    In another essay in the 18 February issue of Science, Maynard Olson [U of Washington, Seattle] asked, “What Does a ‘Normal’ Human Genome Look Like?”  Olson did not wish to get embroiled in old debates about nature vs. nurture other than to acknowledge that they still exist despite the publication of the human genome.  Instead, he asked what factors are minor players in human variation.  One of them, he said, in a statement that might have raised Darwin’s eyebrows, is “balancing selection, the evolutionary process that favors genetic diversification rather than the fixation of a single ‘best’ variant”; instead, he continued, this “appears to play a minor role outside the immune system.”  Another also-ran are the variations we most often notice in people: “Local adaptation, which accounts for variation in traits such as pigmentation, dietary specialization, and susceptibility to particular pathogens is also a second-tier player.”  The primary factor is another eyebrow-raiser for Darwinists:
    What is on the top tier?  Increasingly, the answer appears to be mutations that are ‘deleterious’ by biochemical or standard evolutionary criteria.  These mutations, as has long been appreciated, overwhelmingly make up the most abundant form of nonneutral variation in all genomes.  A model for human genetic individuality is emerging in which there actually is a ‘wild-type’ human genome—one in which most genes exist in an evolutionarily optimized form.  There just are no ‘wild-type’ humans: We each fall short of this Platonic ideal in our own distinctive ways.

    1.  John Mattick, “The Genomic Foundation is Shifting,” Science, 18 February 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6019 p. 874, DOI: 10.1126/science.1203703.
    2.  Maynard V. Olson, “What Does a ‘Normal’ Human Genome Look Like?”, Science, 18 February 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6019 p. 872, DOI: 10.1126/science.1203236.
    Did you catch that?  These are phenomenal admissions in a secular science journal.  Mattick showed how many ways the evolutionary geneticists were wrong.  They expected to find the secret of our humanness in DNA – the master controller, honed by evolution, that made us what we are.  Instead, they were astonished to find complexity in a vast array of regulatory sequences beyond the genes (epigenetic, above the gene), including codes upon codes.  They appear to make DNA just a side show in a much more complex story that will require a “conceptual enlightenment in biology.”  This implies that pre-Human Genome biology was unenlightened.  By quoting McClintock’s prescient questions, he declared that the philosophy of biology that has ruled the 19th and 20th centuries is invalid.
        Olson’s revelations are even more shocking, and, in a way, delightful – for those who believe that the Bible, not Darwin, tells where man came from.  Olson essentially said that Darwinists should pack up and go home, because the factors that they have counted on to explain human complexity are minor players.  Then he said that most mutations are harmful, bad, deleterious, regressive, plaguing each individual person.  For the coup-de-grace, he said that there seems to be a “Platonic ideal” of the human makeup (wild-type referring to natural) from which we all “fall short.”  This is the opposite of Darwinian evolutionary ascent from slime; it is descent with modification downward from an initial ideal state.  Biblical creationists will shout Amen: we have all fallen from Adam!
        Paul the Apostle explained in the classic statement about Adam that the first man was the “wild type” after which things went terribly wrong when he sinned: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.  Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type [i.e., wild type, Platonic ideal in real human flesh] of the one who was to come” (Romans 5:12-14).  Isn’t that exactly what we see around us?
        Not to leave us in despair, Paul continued with the joyful good news about the second Adam, Jesus Christ – who by solving the sin problem through his death and resurrection, became the progenitor of all who could become righteous and inherit eternal life:
    But the free gift is not like the trespass.  For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.  And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin.  For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.  For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
        Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.  Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 5:15-20).
    To be sure, Mattick and Olson were probably not intending to agree with the Bible in their revelations about the Human Genome, but everything they said is consistent with Scriptural teaching, but is not consistent with what the Darwinists teach.  Their expectations have been falsified; their philosophy has been found wanting.  The Bible had it right all along!  If you are fallen from the ideal of Adam, Jesus Christ (not Darwin, not Plato) provides the pathway to a return to the Maker’s ideal.  It is a gift, through faith, thanks to the grace of God in Jesus Christ.  Paul, an early persecutor of Christians, who was transformed by seeing the risen Christ on the Damascus road, speaks to us all today: “We urge you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:14-21).
    Next headline on:  Human BodyCell BiologyGeneticsPhilosophy of ScienceIntelligent DesignBible and Theology
    Scientists Are Studying Your Garden for Ideas     02/20/2011      
    Feb 20, 2011 — Your garden plants are visited by a butterfly and various insects as you sip tea in a lawn chair.  Did you have any idea that inventors are watching the same things with an eye to making money?  Or that military officers are getting ideas from the garden to use against the enemy?  Biomimetics – the imitation of nature’s designs – is on a roll, because some of the best design ideas are right in your yard.
    1. It’s a bird; it’s a plan:  Watch the video clip of Matt Keennon’s ornithopter at PhysOrg.  It’s a robotic mimic of a real hummingbird – size, shape, wings and all.  Like the real thing, it can hover and move in all directions.  The military wants to use such devices as “spybots” to enter buildings with tiny cameras.
          The hummingbird makes it look easy: “Manager of the project, Matt Keennon, said it had been a challenge to design and build the spybot because it ‘pushes the limitations of aerodynamics.’”
    2. Moving plants:  Schoolkids are often delighted with touching the leaves of the sensitive plant, Mimosa, and watching how they instantly fold up.  PhysOrg reported that University of Michigan researchers are sensitive, too: they are leading studies of moving plants that are “inspiring a new class of adaptive structures designed to twist, bend, stiffen and even heal themselves.
          Where could these efforts lead?  “When this technology matures, [Kon-Well] Wang said it could enable robots that change shape like elephant trunks or snakes to maneuver under a bridge or through a tunnel, but then turn rigid to grab a hold of something,” the article ended.  “It also could lead to morphing wings that would allow airplanes to behave more like birds, changing their wing shape and stiffness in response to their environment or the task at hand.”
    3. Solar plants:  What uses sunlight better than a leaf?  Penn State researchers are trying to copy photosynthesis, reported PhysOrg, in order to make efficient fuels.  “Inexpensive hydrogen for automotive or jet fuel may be possible by mimicking photosynthesis,” the article said, “...but a number of problems need to be solved first.”  Thomas Mallouk at the university has only achieved 2-3% hydrogen so far.  He needs to aim for 100%.  His team is trying to figure out how to handle the “wrecking ball” of oxygen produced by his experimental solar cells, and how to channel electrons so they stop recombining.  Plants make it look so easy.
    4. Hear thee:  Chang Liu at Northwestern is fascinated by the hair cells of the inner ear.  Like many researchers with the biomimetics bug, he “is using insights from nature as inspiration for both touch and flow sensors – areas that currently lack good sensors for recording and communicating the senses.”  He’s not all ears; “Hair cells provide a variety of sensing abilities for different animals: they help humans hear, they help insects detect vibration, and they form the lateral line system that allows fish to sense the flow of water around them.”
          This multi-application potential of nature’s design particularly impressed him: “The hair cell is interesting because biology uses this same fundamental structure to serve a variety of purposes,” Liu said.  “This differs from how engineers typically design sensors, which are often used for a specific task.”  Synthetic hair cells might be useful for anything from robots to heart catheters. 
    5. Fly me a computer:  Last week’s Science (Feb 11) had an article by Jeffrey Kephart about “Learning from Nature” to build better computer networks.1  What, in nature, did he have in mind?  Fruit flies.  “Studying the development of a fruit fly’s sensory bristles provided insight into developing a more practical algorithm for organizing networked computers,” the caption said on a photo of the little bug’s bristly head.
          Kephart explained that biomimetics has a long history.  “The tradition of biologically inspired computing extends back more than half a century to the original musings of Alan Turing about artificial intelligence and John von Neumann's early work on self-replicating cellular automata in the 1940s,” he noted.  “Since then, computer scientists have frequently turned to biological processes for inspiration.  Indeed, the names of major subfields of computer science—such as artificial neural networks, genetic algorithms, and evolutionary computation—attest to the influence of biological analogies.” (Note: evolutionary computation is a form of intelligent design, in which a scientist or computer selects outcomes from randomly varying inputs according to purpose-driven goals.)
    6. Crawl me a network:  Speaking of IT, ants are inspiring new ideas for computer networks.  According to PhysOrg, “Ants are able to connect multiple sites in the shortest possible way, and in doing so, create efficient transport networks,” scientists at the University of Sydney are finding.  Even without leaders, they solve this complex problem by making many trails and pruning them back to the best ones.
          Ants are not the only inspiration for the next generation of networks: “The findings sheds light on how other ‘simple’ natural systems without leaders or even brains – such as fungi, slime molds and mammalian vascular systems – are able to form efficient networks, and can help humans design artificial networks in situations lacking central control,” Dr. Tanya Latty said.
    7. Firefly probeScience Daily told how scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs have made a probe of hydrogen peroxide levels in mice based on the chemical that makes fireflies glow: luciferin.  Their device seems reminiscent of Doc Bone’s hovering probe that could detect problems non-invasively: the new probe “enables researchers to monitor hydrogen peroxide levels in mice and thereby track the progression of infectious diseases or cancerous tumors without harming the animals or even having to shave their fur.
          How did Christopher Chang come up with this neat idea?  “The fact that in nature fireflies use the luciferin enzyme to communicate by light inspired us to adapt this same strategy for pre-clinical diagnostics,” he said.  Their PCL-1 probe has already passed a milestone and has found that hydrogen peroxide, “nature’s disinfectant,” is continuously made even in a healthy body.  Now they are working to improve the sensitivity of the probe.
    8. Roach model:  Hopefully your garden experience was not interrupted by seeing a cockroach in the kitchen when getting your tea out of the refrigerator.  Even so, Israeli scientists at Tel Aviv University are finding things to admire in the beasts: PhysOrg said, “Ask anyone who has ever tried to squash a skittering cockroach – they’re masters of quick and precise movement.”  That’s why “Tel Aviv University is using their maddening locomotive skills to improve robotic technology too.”  While we’s getting grossed out with bugs, the article added, “Cockroaches are not the only insects that have captured the scientific imagination.  Projects that highlight both the flight of the locust and the crawling of the soft-bodied caterpillar are also underway.”  Good.  Get them out of the house and yard and give them to the scientists.
    Chang Liu had one of the best recent summations of why biomimetics is such a hot trend: “Using a bio-inspired approach is really important,” he said.  “Nature has a lot of wonderful examples that can challenge us.  No matter how good some of our technology is, we still can’t do some of the basic things that nature can.  Nature holds the secret for the next technology breakthrough and disruptive innovation.  We are on a mission to find it.”

    1.  Jeffrey O. Kephart, “Computer science: Learning from Nature,” Science, 11 February 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6018 pp. 682-683, DOI: 10.1126/science.1201003.
    As stated before, biomimetics provides a breakthrough that can bring scientists together.  Evolutionists do not have to worry about how these things evolved, nor waste time and energy making up stories or building their shrines to the Bearded Buddha.  Creationists do not have to mention God and risk alienating their colleagues who don’t want to hear the design argument for God’s existence.  Everyone can agree that the designs in nature, however they arose, are fascinating, important, and worth imitating.  The public will benefit from the inventions that result.
        Follow the biomimetic research lead, and pretty soon Eugenie Scott will be out of a job, because all scientists will be marching together away from Darwinland and into the promised land of nature-inspired technology, talking design without any need for help from those who already knew intelligent design is the inference to the best explanation.  The ranks of the Darwinists will shrink by attrition.  Why?  Nobody will be looking to them for answers (re: stories), when practical science based on design is winning the hearts and minds of everyone.  Books and lectures on garden-variety intelligent design will, by then, seem perfectly natural.
    Next headline on:  BirdsPlantsTerrestrial ZoologyBiomimeticsIntelligent Design
      Last year at this time we presented eight candidates for master’s degrees in physics – plants, beetles, human ears, and bacteria among them (02/10/2010.

    Titan’s Methane Lakes Shallow, Dynamic     02/19/2011      
    Feb 19, 2011 — Strange things are happening on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon: lakes are appearing and disappearing.  This can only mean that the lakes are shallow and the liquid hydrocarbons in them are moving around.
        Lakes were discovered a few years ago in the northern regions of the Mercury-size moon.  They consist predominantly of methane (CH4) and ethane (C2H6).  Another large lake called Ontario Lacus (Lake Ontario, because of its similarity to Earth’s counterpart) was discovered near the south pole.  Then, in Oct 2004, new dark areas appeared in Arrakis Planitia near the south after a presumed cloudburst of liquid methane (picture); the lakes in this area have also shrunk considerably in 44 months between observations.
        A new paper in Icarus1 presented observations in visible light, infrared and radar covering the period 2004-2009.  They indicate that Ontario has been shrinking rapidly between 2005 and 2009 (picture).  The southwest shoreline has retreated by 9-11 kilometers (5.5 to 7 miles).2  Though estimates are difficult due to the distance and resolution of some measurements, the authors’ best guess is that “The observed retreat represents a decrease in area of ~500 km2 over almost 4 years.
        Estimating volume loss is more difficult.  While impossible to calculate Ontario’s volume loss directly, they estimated how much Arrakis gained and lost as a proxy.  Based on estimates of methane-carrying capacity of the 2004 cloud system (about a million square kilometers), the cloudburst must have dropped 2.4 to 14 cm of methane rain into the Arrakis basin (upper limit 4.2 m).  This yields estimates that between 24 to 140 km3 of liquid was lost at Arrakis in 4 years from a combination of evaporation and infiltration; probably similar amounts at Ontario.
        There are clues that the lake bottoms might be impermeable.  The northern lakes are in Titan spring and have not shrunk between observations.  Earlier estimates expected one meter of seepage into the interior per year.  The rapid shrinkage at Arrakis and Ontario over a timescale of several months “strongly suggests either a shallow impermeable layer or that the local methane table lies close to the surface.”  It will be interesting to watch what the “methane cycle” does to the southern and northern lakes as the seasons change and more sunlight hits the north.
        One other interesting observation was that the exposed lake bottom is not dark, as might be expected from sedimentation of hydrocarbons.  Either wave action cleansed the bottom as the shoreline retreated, or any sediments are light colored.  The authors favor the latter, saying that “bright organic condensates may be deposited within the lakes and exposed as the liquid level drops (Barnes et al., 2009).”  This view is strengthened by the fact that the Cassini orbiter’s cameras saw numerous dark features in the south in 2004-2005, but light material as Ontario retreated.  It is not possible to know from albedo (reflected brightness) alone the composition of the bright sediments.

    1.  E.P. Turtle, J.E. Perry, A.G. Hayes, A.S. McEwen, “Shoreline Retreat at Titan’s Ontario Lacus and Arrakis Planitia from Cassini Imaging Science Subsystem Observations” (accepted manuscript; final pending), Icarus, Feb 2011, S0019-1035(11)00054-6, DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2011.02.005.
    2.  Highest resolution was possible at the southern parts of the lake; more uncertainty exists at the northern boundaries.  Radar altimetry suggests that the southwest shore has a gradual slope, while the eastern shore is steep.
    The study of Titan is a work in progress, so any conclusions drawn at this time are subject to revision as more data come in.  We can, however, step back and consider what planetary scientists expected to find and what they have found so far.  In the decades after the Voyager visits (1981), when scientists realized an irreversible erosion of atmospheric methane was precipitating hydrocarbons onto the surface (especially ethane, which has no way to get back into the atmosphere), scientists expected to find, over the course of 4.5 billion years, an accumulation of half a kilometer or more of liquid ethane in a global ocean.  That was a clear prediction that has been spectacularly falsified by Cassini observations (see list of previous articles).  In fact, the Huygens probe was designed to float on that ocean that failed to materialize.
        Instead, we found Titan to have paltry accumulations of liquid in scattered lakes near the poles, while the equatorial regions are largely covered in icy sand dunes.  Now we are learning that the polar lakes are probably shallow, could have impermeable bottoms, and move around so rapidly that they don’t deposit sediment on the lake floors (or else they deposit bright sediments).  But if the sediments are bright, which would be surprising in itself, is there enough sediment to account for 4.5 billion years of deposition?  In addition, Titan, the largest moon with the greatest gravitational attraction, has few craters (three to five) after all that time.
        You have to ask yourself whether it is credible these processes have been going on for billions of years.  Did 4.5 billion years ever exist?  Is it a fiction?  In order to save the blessed timescale so precious to planetary scientists (because Darwin depends on it), all kinds of evidence-free theory-rescue devices are being rigged: maybe the ethane seeped into the interior where no one can find it; maybe the interior has a methane reservoir that erupts through cryovolcanoes, replenishing the atmosphere; maybe this, maybe that.  If scientists stuck to the observations and drew reasonable conclusions from data alone, they would have to conclude that there are severe upper limits on how long Titan has been acting this way.  Let facts be submitted to a candid world.
    Next headline on:  Solar SystemDating MethodsGeology
    But Is it Evolution?     02/18/2011      
    Feb 18, 2011 — Scientists have been noticing some things that seem contrary to Darwin’s predictions – but they give Darwin credit anyway.
    1. Not till us:  The chambered nautilus is a “living fossil,” that uses “jet propulsion,” New Scientist said, with origins way back in the Cambrian.  Has its fitness improved over all that time?  “Its movement is ungainly and slow, but it has survived virtually unchanged for at least 450 million years, so it must be doing something right,” reporter Michael Marshall remarked.  “Its relatives the ammonoids dominated the oceans for millions of years before going extinct along with the dinosaurs 65 million years ago – but the nautilus came through that disaster and is still with us today,” despite having “much simpler brains than other cephalopods.”  They also have weaker eyes and take longer to mature, and are currently endangered by overfishing.  Wouldn’t evolution get rid of adaptations that are inferior?  “Such jet power is a cumbersome way of getting around the seas, and most modern cephalopods have largely abandoned it,” Marshall explained in a personification of negative selection.  “Despite its primitive way of getting around, however, the nautilus is no mental slouch.”
    2. Debunking neo-Darwinist genetics:  According to neo-Darwinism, beneficial genetic mutations become established by “selective sweeps” in a population.  “The selective sweep model was introduced in 1974 and has pretty much been the central model ever since,” Molly Przeworski [U of Chicago] said.  In an article posted by PhysOrg.  “It is fair to say that it is the model behind almost every scan for selection done to date, in humans or in other organisms.
          Unfortunately, the model doesn’t fit the DNA.  Looking at the human genome in more detail, the article concluded, “The result suggests that classic selective sweeps could not have been the most common cause of these low diversity troughs, leaving the door open for other modes of evolution.”  Unfortunately again, no other mode was provided:
      “Phenotypic variation in humans isn’t as simple as we thought it would be,” [Ryan] Hernandez [UC San Francisco] said.  “The idea that human adaptation might proceed by single changes at the amino acid level is quite a nice idea, and it’s great that we have a few concrete examples of where that occurred, but it’s too simplistic a view”....
      Przeworski said... “These findings call into question how much more there is to find using the selective sweep approach, and should also make us skeptical of how many of the findings to date will turn out to be validated.
    3. Mystery of Mysteries:  What was Darwin’s “mystery of mysteries?”  Believe it or not, it was the thing his famous book set out to explain.  “Although Charles Darwin titled his book On the Origin of Species, speciation was one thing he could not explain,” wrote Bob Holmes in New Scientist.  “He called it the ‘mystery of mysteries’, and even a century-and-a-half later the mechanism by which two groups of animals become genetically incompatible remains one of the greatest puzzles in biology.”  That is a surprising statement, because in popular understanding, it was Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection that promoted evolution into a scientific theory over earlier speculations about common ancestry.
          Holmes went on to describe suggestions that a “speciation gene” named Prdm9 might be “evolution’s missing X factor” to solve the mystery.  It’s a rapidly evolving gene, he claimed – a virtual “evolutionary sprinter” on the basis of sequence dissimilarities between humans and chimpanzees.  After a convoluted tale about how this gene blinks on and off, and incompatible mutants make mice sterile, he proposed an “intriguing idea” that “Variation in this gene could be driving a wedge between different parts of our human population.”  But alas, “the evidence to date seems not to corroborate it.”  Evidence, however, should never be allowed to get in the way of a good story.  One expert he quoted said, “We can speculate that this could be some sort of universal reproductive-isolation gene in animals, which would be beautiful,” but, alas again, we shall have to wait, after waiting 150 years already since Darwin, to find out “If that turns out to be the case”.
    4. Feathery evolution:  Ken Dial, the Montana man who watches the partridge family run up ramps (12/22/2003), got notoriety again in National Geographic’s story on the evolution of feathers.  Writer Carl Zimmer could never quite figure out if feathers arose for sexual display, or for insulation, or for flight, but they evolved somehow, he is sure.  Dinosaurs with imaginary feathers also made the final cut of the Darwinian script.  “The origin of this wonderful mechanism is one of evolution’s most durable mysteries,” Zimmer said.  Whatever happened, or why, “there is one natural wonder that just about all of us can see, simply by stepping outside,” he teased: “dinosaurs using their feathers to fly.”  From there he went on to describe the marvelous design of feathers:
      Airplane wings exploit some of the same aerodynamic tricks.  But a bird wing is vastly more sophisticated than anything composed of sheet metal and rivets.  From a central feather shaft extends a series of slender barbs, each sprouting smaller barbules, like branches from a bough, lined with tiny hooks.  When these grasp on to the hooklets of neighboring barbules, they create a structural network that’s featherlight but remarkably strong.  When a bird preens its feathers to clean them, the barbs effortlessly separate, then slip back into place.
      Most people believe airplane wings came from intelligent design, but all Zimmer could propose for the origin of those “vastly more sophisticated” feathers from simple scales were suggestive analogies.  “The long, hollow filaments on theropods posed a puzzle,” he said of the barbs on some dinosaur skins that lack the complex interlocking structures of flight feathers.  “If they were early feathers, how had they evolved from flat scales?  Fortunately, there are theropods with threadlike feathers alive today: baby birds.”  He then said that reptiles and birds both have tiny patches in their skins called placodes that produce bristles.  Did reptile placodes evolve into feathers via a “simple switch in the wiring of the genetic commands inside placodes”?  If so, “Once the first filaments had evolved, only minor modifications would have been required to produce increasingly elaborate feathers.
          Obviously.  Stuff happens all the time in evolution.  Voila, said the viola: “In other words, feathers were not merely a variation on a theme: They were using the same genetic instruments to play a whole new kind of music.”  Unmixing of metaphors is left as an exercise.  Complete that exercise before tackling the more difficult assignment: understanding the evolutionary significance of another of Zimmer’s evidence-challenged plot lines: “So perhaps the question to ask, say some scientists, is not how birds got their feathers, but how alligators lost theirs.”  (Caution: do NOT visualize a magic dragon.)  It would seem that if the ancestor of all these animals already had feathers, the origin of feathers has just been pushed back into the unknown.  Ken Dial’s partridge family (05/01/2006, 01/25/2008) got the final exit pun, complete with an apparition of Haeckel’s friendly ghost: “Perhaps, says Dial, the path the chick takes in development retraces the one its lineage followed in evolution—winging it, so to speak, until it finally took wing.”  So to speak.
    Gene comparisons underlying tree-of-life stories may have suffered a setback.  Nature News reported that “Around a fifth of non-primate genome databases seem to be contaminated with human DNA sequences, according to a study.”  The finding represents a “failure of the filter” in software that was supposed to weed out contamination.  In a few cases, “stretches of more than a thousand human bases were seen in assembled non-primate sequences.”  The article did not elaborate on what this means for previously-published phylogenetic studies.
    We could go on and on.  This borders on the criminal.  Taking data that falsifies evolution and using it to praise Charlie is like election fraud.  Unlike Dawkins, though, we will not stoop to calling our opponents ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked – just deceived.  So deceived, in fact, that they cannot even receive the sight to conceive their own deception.  The only remedy for the self-deceived is truth given with tough love.
    Next headline on:  Marine BiologyBirdsGeneticsDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
    Young’s Law confirmed
    By accident, researchers at UCLA seem to have found a cure for baldness, at least in mice (PhysOrg).  Now they are seeking funding to study it further.  See Young’s Law, right sidebar.

    Plant Accelerates 600 G's     02/17/2011      
    Feb 17, 2011 — Among the fastest organisms in the world is – a plant.  The bladderwort Utricularia, a carnivorous plant that lives in the water, sucks in its prey in a thousandth of a second with an acceleration 600 times the force of gravity.
        New Scientist and Science Daily reported on work by the University of Freiberg, where scientists filmed the action with a high-speed camera because “the motion is too fast to observe” with the naked eye.  BBC News included a video clip showing the action in slow motion.  The “remarkable door” that acts like a “flexible valve” operates by “glands in the plant that continually pump out water, creating a depression inside the tiny bladder,” the BBC News explained.  “When a passing creature stimulates microscopic, super-sensitive hairs, this trapdoor buckles inward and opens, allowing the bladderwort to suck in water and any unsuspecting creature it contains.”  Science Daily said there are four trigger hairs.  The resulting response “ranks among the fastest plant movements known so far.
        The BBC explained the scientists’ reaction to this phenomenon: “The plant’s tiny suction trap was much faster and more efficient than the scientists had predicted.”  Dr. Philippe Marmottant exclaimed, “The same trap can fire hundreds of times.  It is an amazing piece of mechanics.”  Science Daily explained, “Prey animals are sucked in with an acceleration of up to 600 times that of gravity, leaving them no chance to escape.  The door deformation involves a complete inversion of curvature which runs in several distinguishable intermediate steps.” 
        Marmottant and the other researchers would like to reverse-engineer this marvel: “the plant could provide a template to design miniature medical devices, such as a ‘lab-on-a-chip’, which samples tiny amounts of blood that could be used in diagnostic tests.”  None of the articles speculated on how this high-speed trap mechanism might have evolved, but Science Daily mentioned, “These so-called bladders have fascinated scientists since Darwin’s early works on carnivorous plants.”  It also shielded the question of origin of the bladderwort’s amazing design with the indirect, passive-voice statement, “This ultra-fast, complex and at the same time precise and highly repetitive movement is enabled by certain functional-morphological adaptations.

    The wonders of nature should inspire design and lead to appreciation of design – not to storytelling about how stuff happens by mistake (01/26/2011).  Logic quiz: what do you get when you add mistakes to mistakes, or multiply mistakes by mistakes?  Mistakes.  What do you get when you add or multiply mistakes to design?  Broken designs.  Where, then, do good designs come from?  Design that minimizes mistakes – i.e., intelligent design.
    Next headline on:  PlantsPhysicsBiomimeticsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
      Evolutionists hunger and thirst for righteousness at the empty market of natural selection (02/09/2009), and leave empty-handed.

    New Ediacaran Fossils: Do They Ignite the Cambrian Explosion?     02/17/2011      
    Feb 17, 2011 — Well-preserved fossils of seaweed-like colonies have been reported from China.  They are dated by the scientists at 600 million years old, from the Ediacaran period.  Can these be missing links, lighting the fuse of biodiversity that culminated in the Cambrian explosion?
        PhysOrg summarized the findings published in Nature.1  “In addition to perhaps ancient versions of algae and worms, the Lantian biota – named for its location – included macrofossils with complex and puzzling structures,” the article said.  “In all, scientists identified about 15 different species at the site.”  Pictures of the seaweed-like fossils show fronds with a distinctive holdfast, like modern seaweed use to cling to the seafloor.
        The paper in Nature shows pictures of frond-like and tube-like organisms “with uncertain phylogenetic affinities,” but no clear Cambrian-like body plans.  A couple of them, Guy Narbonne speculated in the same issue of Nature,2 are “probable ancestors of radial and bilaterian animals.”  The discoverers mentioned a hopeful case: “The axial structure in Types D and E is puzzling and it could represent the digestive structure of worm-like animals,” they hinted; “In an animal model, the holdfast and stalk of Type D would be alternatively interpreted as the proboscis of an early worm-like organism.”  The photos are not compelling.
        Both papers spent much of their space discussing what effects varying levels of oxygen in the oceans might have had on the evolution of life.  For instance, “To reconcile the conflicting geochemical and palaeontological indicators of palaeoredox conditions, we propose that the Lantian basin was largely anoxic but punctuated by brief oxic episodes,” the original paper said, harking back to the jargon of punctuated equilibrium, if that somehow helps evolution.  “These oxic episodes were opportunistically capitalized on by benthic macroeukaryotes that were subsequently killed and preserved by frequent switch-backs to anoxic conditions.”  Evolution did not seem to be going in any particular direction toward complex animal life.
        The paper claims the Lantian biota is “probably older than and taxonomically distinct from the Avalon biota,” the previous record setter for “earliest-known fossil assemblage with macroscopic and morphologically complex life forms” at 579-560 million years old.  That suggestion, however, does not create any evolutionary linkage between the two independent groups.  Even so, neither fossil beds show any of the complex organs seen in Cambrian phyla.  The paper calls them multicellular eukaryotes.  The focus of the research was not so much on evolution upward and onward from these seaweed-like impressions, but “suggests that morphological diversification of macroscopic eukaryotes may have occurred in the early Ediacaran Period, perhaps shortly after the Marinoan glaciation, and that the redox history of Ediacaran oceans was more complex than previously thought.”

    1.  Yuan et al, “An early Ediacaran assemblage of macroscopic and morphologically differentiated eukaryotes,” Nature 470 (17 February 2011), pp. 390–393, doi:10.1038/nature09810.
    2.  Guy Narbonne, “Evolutionary biology: When life got big,” Nature 470 (17 February 2011), pp. 339–340, doi:10.1038/470339a.
    Even with the most generous concessions to Mr. Darwin, these fossils do not help explain the Cambrian Explosion.  They are simple frond-like colonies of eukaryotic algae, with no clear differentiation or body plans typical of Cambrian animals.  No amount of acquiescence to the evolution-incestuous dating methods can link these imprints with trilobites and vertebrates by an evolutionary sequence.
        That’s why they changed the subject to talking about rising and falling oxygen levels in the oceans.  It’s a distraction and a red herring, intended to give a false impression that they are making some kind of progress solving this super-falsification of evolutionary predictions (01/07/2011). 
    Next headline on:  Marine BiologyFossilsDarwin and Evolution
    Anthropology: a Science in Crisis     02/16/2011      
    Feb 16, 2011 — Students memorize the different -ologies of science – geology, biology, paleontology and others – often without knowing the history of the fields.  An impression is sometimes given that each branch of science has equal validity.  Some recent articles indicate that anthropology (the study of man) is struggling with internal squabbles and external credibility.
        Anthropology includes a number of subfields, such as paleoanthropology (fossil man), cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and archaeology, but it also overlaps with psychology, sociology, evolution, political science, economics, history, and more – making it distinct by having roots in science and the humanities.  Perhaps that is a source of its struggles.  By including too much in its big tent, with varying degrees of epistemic support among its sub-branches, anthropology has always been poised for controversy.
    1. Inside out:  “Too simple” and “not so fast” were complaints made about alleged human ancestor fossils by biological anthropologists from George Washington University and New York University.  According to PhysOrg, “the anthropologists question the claims that several prominent fossil discoveries made in the last decade are our human ancestors.  Instead, the authors offer a more nuanced explanation of the fossils’ place in the Tree of Life.  They conclude that instead of being our ancestors the fossils more likely belong to extinct distant cousins.”  Bernard Wood and Terry Harrison chided fellow paleoanthropologists for their jumping to conclusions: “to simply assume that anything found in that time range has to be a human ancestor is naďve.
          Their article is published in this week’s Nature.1  It should be kept in mind when evaluating the latest claim about human ancestry, such as the claim that a foot bone puts “Prehuman Lucy on a Walking Path” to humanity (e.g., Live Science), or that Lucy, a “human ancestor,” was no “swinger” but walked like us (National Geographic News).  Even in the most favorable possible light (e.g., that Lucy did walk upright), Bernard Wood says it is naďve to jump to conclusions that Australopithecus afarensis had anything to with human ancestry – an assertion the media invariably make (cf. 06/22/2010).
    2. Upside downScience Daily’s coverage of the Nature article included a picture of an orangutan as an instance of false identification of human ancestry.  “Ramapithecus, a species of fossil ape from south Asia, was mistakenly assumed to be an early human ancestor in the 1960s and 1970s, but later found to be a close relative of the orangutan.”  A mistake like that could certainly not be made today... could it?
          The debunkers do not question human evolution itself, but their own more “nuanced explanation” requires believing that sister groups acquired human-like characteristics in parallel.  “The authors suggest there are a number of potential interpretations of these fossils and that being a human ancestor is by no means the simplest, or most parsimonious explanation.”  That would seem to leave a lot of room for speculation, to say nothing of upsetting textbook explanations that have been like gospel truth for decades.
    3. In their own blurs:  The paper in Nature1 behind the above two entries contains a strange mix of confidence in human evolution with diffidence about the details:
      The relationships among the living apes and modern humans have effectively been resolved, but it is much more difficult to locate fossil apes on the tree of life because shared skeletal morphology does not always mean shared recent evolutionary history.  Sorting fossil taxa into those that belong on the branch of the tree of life that leads to modern humans from those that belong on other closely related branches is a considerable challenge.
      A gaping question, though, is how, if the fossils cannot easily be sorted into a tree-like pattern, that one could know that a tree of life exists, without assuming it.  Subtitles in the paper indicative of trouble include Shared morphology need not mean shared history, Simplicity or complexity in phylogeny, Scale in phylogeny reconstruction, Cautionary tales from South Asia and Tuscany, and Implications for palaeoanthropology.
          Moreover, in the conclusion, they stated, “There is no reason why higher primate evolution in Africa in the past ten million years should not mirror the complexity observed in the evolutionary histories of other mammals during the same time period,” thus casting the same doubts on other evolutionary stories as well. 
    4. The Geico fallacy:  Another PhysOrg had a paradigm-debunking headline, “Earliest humans not so different from us, research suggests.”  The subtitle reads, “That human evolution follows a progressive trajectory is one of the most deeply-entrenched assumptions about our species.  This assumption is often expressed in popular media by showing cavemen speaking in grunts and monosyllables (the GEICO Cavemen being a notable exception).  But is this assumption correct?  Were the earliest humans significantly different from us?”  The rhetorical answer is: negative.
          Indeed, John Shea of Stony Brook University says his colleagues have all been wrong about the measurement of “behavioral modernity,” the assumed identifier of when Homo sapiens emerged from animal to thinking man.  “There are no such things as modern humans, Shea argues, just Homo sapiens populations with a wide range of behavioral variability,” the article ended, casting doubt on the epistemic foundations of human evolution theories.  “Whether this range is significantly different from that of earlier and other hominin species remains to be discovered.”
    5. Demotion from science:  In a kind of manifesto, Anthropologists, unite!, an appeal went out from Adam Kuper and Jonathan Marks to rescue anthropology as a science in last week’s Nature.2  They were responding to a change of mission announced in December:
      In December 2010, The New York Times reported that the term ‘science’ had been dropped in a new long-range plan of the American Anthropological Association (AAA).  Where once the association had dedicated itself “to advance anthropology as the science that studies humankind in all its aspects”, it now promised rather “to advance public understanding of humankind in all its aspects”.
      Clearly, Kuper and Marks did not like this development.  “Anthropology isn’t in the crisis that parts of the media would have you believe,” Nature assured readers in damage control mode, “but it must do better.”   One internal memo stated, “we evolutionary anthropologists are outnumbered by the new cultural or social anthropologists, many but not all of whom are postmodern, which seems to translate into antiscience.”  So it appears the evolutionary anthropologists are the most concerned about appearing to be scientific.  Within the ranks, some are asking all over: “What is anthropology?”  The authors observe that “anthropology is a nineteenth-century discipline that fragmented, spawning a variety of specializations” with “relationships [that] are often distant.”
          The evolutionary anthropologists are miffed at their postmodern cousins: “Some do seem to feel that if only they could spare the time they would be able to knock some evolutionist sense into cultural anthropology,” Kuper and Marks complained, “But they are too busy.”  Busy doing what might be a good follow-up question: busy doing science?  The authors’ roster of embarrassing studies, from Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa (1928) to later questionable depictions of the Yanomami as sex tyrants, and ostensibly racist theories about intelligence, have marred the field.  Recent interdisciplinary efforts, they said, have left anthropologists in a “sadder but wiser default position,” in a “head-down posture,” afraid to embarrass the field further.  Human evolution suffers the most: “Only a handful still try to understand the origins and possible connections between biological, social and cultural forms, or to debate the relative significance of history and microevolution in specific, well-documented instances.”
    Man is undoubtedly a dauntingly complex subject of study.  “To be sure, it is not easy to make general statements about human nature, or even to define it,” Kuper and Marks said, especially when human biology has been “co-evolving with technology for millions of years.”  “The most fundamentally hard-wired human adaptations – walking and talking — are actively learned by every person, in each generation,” they noticed.  “So whatever human nature may be, it clearly takes a variety of local forms, and is in constant flux.”  Maybe anthropologists should study fluid dynamics or chaos theory if they want to be scientists.

    1.  Bernard Wood and Terry Harrison, “The evolutionary context of the first hominins,” Nature 470 ( 17 February 2011), pp. 347–352, doi:10.1038/nature09709.
    2.  Adam Kuper and Jonathan Marks, “Anthropologists, unite!”, Nature 470 (10 February 2011), pp. 166–168, doi:10.1038/470166a.
    Kuper and Marks made some pretty damaging admissions in their piece that was intended to shore up the scientific status of anthropology.  They thought that interdisciplinary programs might help; but can shared ignorance rise above ignorance?  Look at what they admit:
    The obvious conclusion is that interdisciplinary research is imperative.  Yet too few biological anthropologists attend to social or cultural or historical factors.  A minority of cultural anthropologists and archaeologists do apply evolutionary theory, or cognitive science, or adopt an ecological perspective on cultural variation, or play about with the theory of games, but they feel that they are isolated, even marginalized.  And they do not feature in the front line of current debates about cognition, altruism or, for that matter, economic behaviour or environmental degradation, even though these debates typically proceed on the basis of very limited reliable information about human variation.
    So where is the science in anthropology?  Is there anything in the above articles that points to something objective, true, and credible?  No; it is a hodgepodge of debunked ideas, ignorance masquerading as explanation, embarrassing episodes, and complex questions evading simplistic answers.  It is clearly a fallible human activity prone to category errors and misplaced priorities.
        If anthropologists were consistent, they should study themselves as a cultural tribe in evolutionary terms.  That would lead to a quick implosion of any pretences to being objective scientists on some higher plane than the rest of us.  To gain credibility, they should ditch evolution, which tries to explain walking and language emerging by mistake (01/26/2011), and study the Anthropology chapter in a good text on systematic theology, as long as it is consistent with the Operations Manual that came from the Manufacturer.
    Next headline on:  MediaEarly ManFossilsDarwin and EvolutionHuman BodyMind and BrainPhilosophy of ScienceTheology
    Critical Thinking Needed in Science Education     02/15/2011      
    Feb 15, 2011 — Several recent articles noted that students are being dumbed down in science education.  Can this be applied to their learning about evolution?
        PhysOrg reported that critical thinking has been called into question at the university level of education.  “A post-secondary education won’t necessarily guarantee students the critical thinking skills employers have come to expect from university grads,” the article said of a recent study from New York University.  Other academics were surprised at the findings; they said students are motivated and curious as ever, spending a great deal of time on their studies.  But Richard Arum was not speaking of time spent or motivation, but of critical thinking ability.  His book “revealed 45 per cent of students made no significant improvement in critical thinking, reasoning or writing skills during the first two years, and 36 per cent showed no improvement after four years of schooling.”
        Science educators sometimes conflate knowledge with acceptance.  Jon Miller, from the University of Michigan, has tracked scientific literacy from 1998 to 2008, and found that it has actually improved, according to PhysOrg.  “Only 37 percent of American adults accepted the concept of biological evolution in 2008,” the article noted, “and the level of acceptance has declined over the last twenty years.”  It would seem, though, that understanding of evolution should be distinguished from acceptance of evolution – if critical-thinking students are able to judge the evidence and accept or deny the theory on the basis of sound reasoning.  According to his statistics, scientific literacy has grown while acceptance of evolution has declined.
        If applied uniformly, critical thinking should include evaluating claims of religion and science.  Religion is already routinely criticized, of course, but two recent articles on philosophy and history of science show how it might be applied to the latter.  New Scientist posted a short eyebrow-raising article by Jonathon Keats about how a group of four Victorian Englishmen, John Herschel, Charles Babbage, William Whewell and Richard Jones “invented” modern science over eggs and bacon (and ale).  Meeting at the Philosophical Breakfast Club, they reasoned how to take Sir Francis Bacon’s ideas on induction to create a new path to natural knowledge.  While admiring their “boundless curiosity,” Keats recognized that their vision was visionary: they “envisioned a future for science as visionary and elusive as Utopia.”  What’s more, their efforts led to a Big Science that became increasingly divorced from the humanities, he argued.
        Ken Conner, writing for Town Hall Magazine applied even more critical thinking to science.  The paradigm of the brave scientist as unbiased seeker of the truth, using an objective method, with unimpeachable motives, personal integrity, and the best interests of mankind at heart, is “beginning to crumble,” he said.  “As it turns out, scientists are just as fallible and flawed as the rest of humanity, and this fallibility impacts their work.”  Conner argued against the false dichotomy of science and faith, pointing out with examples that one needs faith to do science.  “After centuries of hegemony in an increasingly secular world, it is ironic that faith – faith in the right thing – may be the only thing that can restore credibility to the world of science.

    Case Study: Having a BLAST
    An educational tool proposed in PLoS Biology can be evaluated for its effectiveness at teaching critical thinking.  Cheryl A. Kerfeld (Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, California) and Kathleen M. Scott (UC Berkeley) wrote on how to use software to teach evolution: “Using BLAST to Teach ‘E-value-tionary’ Concepts,” they titled their paper.1  BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool) is a common genome-comparison tool used by geneticists and evolutionists.  Kerfeld and Scott described ways students can learn evolutionary concepts, such as “molecular evolution (e.g., gene duplication and divergence; orthologs versus paralogs)” using the software.  As for what “E-value-tionary concepts” are, BLAST makes use of E-values, defined as “the number of subject sequences that can be expected to be retrieved from the database that have a bit score equal to or greater than the one calculated from the alignment of the query and subject sequence, based on chance alone.”  E-values calculated from program runs can help students see homologies as evidence of common ancestry, they argued.  In addition, BLAST has a pedagogical benefit, they argued, by providing “an opportunity to illustrate how mathematics functions as a language of biology.”
        But does their teaching tool illustrate or obfuscate?  Does their method teach students to be critical of the method?  Apparently not, because when E-values show common ancestry, the authors assume it supports evolution, but when they do not, critical thinking must be suspended by tweaking the inputs:

    Sometimes it is helpful to “mask” parts of the query sequence to prevent them from being aligned with subject sequences.  Masking is helpful when the query sequence has “low-complexity” regions, such as stretches of small hydrophobic amino acids that are commonly present in transmembrane helices of integral membrane proteins.  Because these features arose from convergent evolution, and their inclusion in BLAST searches could result in spurious hits, it is best to set the BLAST search parameters to eliminate these sorts of regions from word generation, as well as alignment scoring.
    So in this case, because the authors somehow “know” that certain features are due to convergent evolution, the data have to be masked when they would otherwise falsify evolution.  Evolution itself is protected from critical analysis; it must be assumed.  E-values that seem to indicate divergent evolution, by contrast, are not masked; they are accepted at face value as “meaningful” –
    A meaningful alignment will facilitate the comparison of two sequences with a shared evolutionary history by maximizing the juxtaposition of similar and identical residues.  Sequences with a recent shared ancestry will have a high degree of similarity; their alignments will have many identical residues, few substitutions and gaps, and tiny E-values.  Conversely, sequences with an ancient common ancestor will be deeply divergent, with few shared sequence identities, many gaps, and larger E-values.  Furthermore, an alignment of two sequences can clarify which portions are conserved (e.g., active sites), and which are divergent, which helps cultivate students’ understanding of protein structure and function.
    They seem to be saying is that sequence comparisons demonstrate common ancestry by evolution, except when they show convergent evolution or conservation.  The search for homologies can therefore whiz right past the genetic evidence that might falsify common ancestry.
        These scientist-educators seemed oblivious to the fact that homology as evidence for common ancestry is a circular argument.  Even creationists accept a hierarchical order of their created kinds, and would expect more divergent traits the more two organisms are distant within the hierarchy, without assuming those differences are due to common ancestry.  Yet Kerfeld and Scott seemed to insist that students be guided against falsifying evolution in the data:
    Students (and researchers as well) tend to draw an arbitrary line below which they consider E-values to provide convincing evidence that two sequences are homologs (e.g., E<0.00001).  It is informative to scrutinize this assumption, and ask the students to consider whether and when more stringent E-values might be appropriate (e.g., to assist in sorting paralogs from orthologs), or when larger E-values do not provide definitive evidence of evolutionary independence (as is the case when two sequences share an ancient ancestor).
        It is also informative for the students to discuss what their alignments “mean”, and whether the pairwise alignments between their query sequence and the subject sequences “prove” whether the sequences are homologs.  Indeed, it can catalyze a larger discussion of whether it is possible to “prove” that two sequences are homologs, and what other approaches (e.g., protein structure, gene context) might be used to strengthen or refute such an assertion.
    While the authors appear in this quote to support critical thinking, they have constructed their teaching method to guarantee that evolutionary theory itself is protected from criticism.  Basically, they want students to have a more nuanced way of manipulating the data to ensure evolution wins.  Their concluding paragraph raises disturbing questions about the power of mathematics to give the illusion of credibility (see statistics):
    In summary, deconstructing the BLAST algorithm and manipulating parameters systematically and evaluating the results with students helps them understand not only what the scores mean but also how to manipulate parameters to optimize their searches.... Finally, explicating the algorithm in this way allows students to explore research databases thoughtfully and illustrates the critical connection between mathematics and science, showing how numbers can be used to quantify biological relationships from the level of gene to organism....
    Dr. Cornelius Hunter, by contrast, had a good laugh over what he perceived as simplistic homology arguments being used to support evolutionary theory at another educational website, Understanding Evolution (produced by UC Berkeley, the same institution where Scott teaches).  “This Just In: Plants Have Leaves—Evolution Must Be True.” his headline quipped.  “As if evolution was not silly enough already evolutionists are now claiming that the fact that different plants all have leaves is a compelling evidence for their belief that all of nature just happened to spontaneously arise, all by itself,” he said.  “I occasionally enjoy a good spoof, but this is no joke.”  Readers can compare Hunter’s view with that of the Understanding Evolution website.
        Students wanting a course on evolution that will teach both sides might look at summer seminars on intelligent design presented by the Discovery Institute.
    1.  Cheryl A. Kerfeld and Kathleen M. Scott, “Using BLAST to Teach ‘E-value-tionary’ Concepts,” PLoS Biology, 9(2): e1001014. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001014.
    Kerfeld and Scott provide another example of manipulating students’ impressionable heads with the illusion of scientific credibility in order to indoctrinate them into the cult of Charlie worship (cf. David Sloan Wilson’s “Evolution for Everyone” curriculum, 12/21/2005).  Evolution itself is never to be questioned; the objectivity of science itself is never under scrutiny.  This entry provides an opportunity for you to hear several points of view and evaluate which are credible with the fewest fallacies.

    Exercise:  Apply your critical thinking skills to the following evolution articles:

    • Science Daily: “New Research Changes Understanding of C4 Plant Evolution.”
    • Science Daily: “Molecular Link Between Reproduction in Yeast and Humans.”
    • Science Daily: “New View of Human Evolution?  3.2 Million-Year-Old Fossil Foot Bone Supports Humanlike Bipedalism in Lucy’s Species.”
    • Live Science: “How Dinosaurs Handed Down Their Fingers to Birds.”
    Next headline on:  EducationPhilosophy of ScienceDarwin and Evolution
      In the 02/11/2008 Darwin Day entry, we critically examined Kevin Padian’s 10 reasons why Darwin, but not Newton or Einstein, should be honored with a special celebration each year.

    Bubble Life Could Have Had Armor     02/14/2011      
    Feb 14, 2011 — A headline posted by Science Daily is self-explanatory: “Clay-Armored Bubbles May Have Formed First Protocells: Minerals Could Have Played a Key Role in the Origins of Life.”  The operative words are may have and could have, which, being mere suggestions, are unfalsifiable.  If it didn’t happen here, it may have or could have happened on the planet Zorx in Sector 1906523-A.
        The claybubble theory of life is a new twist on Jack Szostak’s old fatbubble theory (see (09/03/2004).  That story also had plenty of mays and coulds.  This version by Howard Stone and Anand Bala Subramaniam (Harvard) imagines air bubbles armored with montmorillonite, a clay mineral.  The advantage of claybubbles is one-way osmosis, allowing small “building block” molecules to get in, but keeping the complex molecules evolving inside protected, assuming they could self-organize into life somehow (10/08/2010).
        “If there is a benefit to being protected in a clay vesicle, this is a natural way to favor and select for molecules that can self-organize,” Stone said.  He did not explore whether selection can operate without accurate replication (see online book).  He also did not speculate on how the building blocks became one-handed (see online book and 01/10/2011), or what might happen if a deadly toxin happened to grab the one-way key to the interior.
        Grad student Subramaniam hedged his bets with a few more could words: “Whether clay vesicles could have played a significant role in the origins of life is of course unknown, but the fact that they are so robust, along with the well-known catalytic properties of clay, suggests that they may have had some part to play.”  It does not appear either of them speculated on whether sand grains, soap bubbles, or lava might also qualify for the suggestion that they may have had some part to play.

    Remember, these guys get paid for this.  Let’s sing verse 2 of the chorus introduced back in 09/03/2004 (read that whole commentary again, too):

    Surrounding them with armor of clay
    Gets building blocks in trouble;
    They’re stuck inside forever to stay,
    Flop goes the bubble.

    Next headline on:  GeologyOrigin of LifeDumb Ideas

    Tipping Point for Embryonic Stem Cells?     02/13/2011      
    Feb 13, 2011 — At any time, courts could rule on whether funding of embryonic stem cell research can continue or must be halted.  Whichever way a decision is rendered, whether by Judge Lamberth on the legality of the NIH guidelines, or by the Court of Appeals for DC, the issue will probably wind up before the Supreme Court.  Passions run high on both sides.  A crusader for adult stem cells, profiled in Nature this past week,1 was surprised by how many scientists support her antagonism to the use of human embryos for research.  More on that later; first, some news highlights:
    1. Cooling the flameScience Daily told how adult stem cell therapy can reduce inflammatory damage from stroke.  “We are seeing a paradigm shift in the way some types of stem cells may enhance recovery from stroke,” an excited researcher at the University of Texas said.  The adult stem cell therapy appears to dampen inflammation involving the spleen.  This new treatment holds promise to “improve clinical care, reduce long-term health care costs, and improve the quality of life for millions of people.”
    2. iPS momentumPhysOrg reported that researchers at Harvard and Columbia have demonstrated that “many iPS cells are the equal of hESCs in creating human motor neurons, the cells destroyed in a number of neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s.”  Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) are a form of adult stem cell that does not involve the destruction of embryos (11/20/2007), as in human embryonic stem cells (hESC).  The article says that iPS cells meet the “gold standard” of pluripotency.  In addition, new methods are speeding the tests for pluripotency of iPS cells.
    3. Hearty iPS:  Another story on PhysOrg highlighted research at Stanford that shows iPS cells can generate beating heart cells that carry a genetic defect under study, allowing “for the first time to examine and characterize the disorder at the cellular level.”
    4. ESC economicsPhysOrg also discussed the current disarray of patent laws surrounding stem cell lines, data, and treatments.  Some scientists warn of a potential “stifling effect of widespread patenting in stem cell field.”  Bioethicist Debra Matthews (Johns Hopkins) said, “Pervasive taking of intellectual property rights has resulted in a complex and confusing patchwork of ownership and control in the field of stem cell science.”  Although the article was unclear whether the dispute includes adult stem cell research, it mentioned one recommendation being “a centralized portal for access to existing databases, such as the UK Stem Cell Bank and the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry.”
    5. Mixed bag:  Another article on PhysOrg discussed the new Massachusetts Medical School Human Stem Cell Bank, which opened with seven high-quality stem cell lines (5 embryonic, 2 iPS, with more to follow), and how they are being preserved in liquid nitrogen and made available to researchers around the world.  The article mixed these two sources of stem cells with no mention of ethics: e.g., “The Registry includes information on the derivation, availability and characteristics for more than 1,200 hESC and iPS cell lines developed in over 22 different countries, including more than 200 cell lines with genetic disorders.”
    6. Sex cells:  Parthenogenetic stem cells are taken from reproductive cells (03/12/2005).  Lacking the full complement of chromosome pairs, they might contain a good or bad copy of a gene implicated in a disease like tuberous sclerosis or Huntington's disease.  Science Daily discussed how work at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is constructing good embryonic stem cells from parthenogenetic cells.  “These single-parent/patient-derived embryonic stem cells can theoretically be used for correction of a diverse number of diseases that occur when one copy of the gene is abnormal,” a research at the hospital said.
    The Crusader
    With the decision by Judge Lamberth last September prohibiting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (09/03/2010) still under an injunction (09/26/2010), researchers and bioethicists are waiting to see what the next court ruling will bring.  Nature published the story of “The Crusader,” Theresa Deisher, one of the two remaining plaintiffs who won in the September case.1  Reporter Meredith Wadman presented Deisher in a fairly positive light as an intelligent, confident, persistent, self-sacrificing, hard-working PhD in cell biology, respected by her enemies, a Roman Catholic who “once shunned religion for science” but regained her faith when realizing that fetuses were not just “clumps of cells,” but human beings (cf. 11/07/2002).
        Deisher’s politics in college were “very left-wing,” after she ditched her mother’s religious faith.  “I was in science, and science was much more interesting than religion,” she said.  “I encouraged a couple of friends to have abortions.”  Her return to faith came by degrees: first, the sight of an adult cadaver preserved in formalin made her realize that a fetus preserved in a jar only looks “alien” because of the preservation method.  Second, she encountered first-hand the passions of those bent on researching human embryos; “And the vehemence with which colleagues resisted ‘made me open my eyes’, Deisher says, to the very real – and, she says, unscientific – passions that can infect defenders of scientific orthodoxy,” Wadman wrote.  “Science, she reasoned, was not so objective after all.”  Third, Deisher’s growing antipathy to embryonic stem cell research got an emotional kick when speaking to Republican state lawmakers in Washington state in 2007.  “One of the other speakers was a mother who had adopted a frozen embryo from a fertility clinic,” Wadman continued.  “The resulting child, a girl then four years old, stood beside her.
        Deisher sold her house and used her retirement savings to start an institute for the advancement of adult stem cell therapies.  She is not, thereby, antagonizing scientists by opposing them through the political process; when asked, she reluctantly signed on as a plaintiff in the lawsuit that resulted in Lamberth’s ruling: “It is frightening to speak out,” she said; “I don’t care for the notoriety.”  Instead, her AVM Biotechnology company seeks to provide positive alternatives: “The company’s mission, in part, is to eliminate the need for embryonic-stem-cell therapies and enable adult-stem-cell companies to succeed by developing, for instance, drugs that promote stem-cell retention in target organs,” It is also working on alternatives to vaccines currently produced using cell lines derived from fetuses that had been aborted decades ago.”  Unlike the institutes in California that have $3 billion in taxpayer-approved bonds at their disposal, Deisher runs her company in a dormitory with five unpaid staff.
        A lot rides on the court’s next move.  If the court agrees with Deisher, Wadman ended, “it will shut down hundreds of human-embryonic-stem-cell experiments once more – possibly for good.”  One of the most interesting things Deisher learned from the lawsuit – indeed, the “biggest lesson,” Wadman called it – was, in Deisher’s words, “how many scientists are against [human-embryonic-stem-cell research].  I did not know that. I did not expect the level of support and encouragement that I have received.

    1.  Meredith Wadman, “The Crusader,” Nature 470, 156-159 (Feb 9, 2011) | doi:10.1038/470156a.
    That Nature would print this story about Deisher is an encouraging sign that the momentum may be turning away from embryonic stem cell research.  Nature used to wield its editorial pen against the opponents the way it does against creationists, calling them ignorant moralists standing in the way of progress (02/11/2005, 09/27/2004).  Dr. Tracy Deisher certainly does not fit that description, nor does Dr. James Sherley, an adult stem cell researcher at Boston Biomedical Research Institute, the other remaining plaintiff in the lawsuit.  For sure, Wadman snuck in enough jibes about Deisher to titillate Nature’s leftist readers (calling her a “bundle of contradictions,” pointing out that she never applied for a NIH grant, pointing out that she studies the “pernicious” and “disproven” hypothesis that autism might be triggered by vaccines, quoting people who call her “polarizing,” remarking in a callout box that “she’s kind of the Sarah Palin of stem cells,”), but she gave Deisher a lot of room to respond, too.
        What was not said may be more telling.  Wadman did not point out any benefits of embryonic stem cells over adult stem cells.  She did not quote any leading ES researchers making a good case for cutting up embryos.  And she did not even attempt to defend ES research on ethical grounds.  Instead, she gave Deisher space to make two striking blows: (1) that many scientists are opposed to human embryonic stem cell research, and (2) that hESC researchers are not driven primarily by concern for the sick.  Researchers prefer to work on ES cells because they are convenient, Deisher argued; their science “is not about helping patients and it’s not about advancing the common good.”  Instead, she argued, “There is no commercial, clinical or research utility in working with human embryonic stem cells.”  That anecdote about the four-year-old girl born from a frozen embryo added emotional clout.  Here was a darling human being – obviously a great deal more than a clump of cells.
        These are signs that embryonic stem cell research is losing its hype-driven public mandate (cf. 01/02/2011).  After all the promises, it has produced no cures (while adult stem cell research is on a roll; see 11/18/2010 starting from initial promise in 01/24/2002).  It is superfluous, now that iPS technology is its equal, without the ethical qualms.  Its credibility has been marred by fraud (12/16/2005), while others worry about future abuses (10/21/2004; cf. 04/22/2004 and 07/30/2001 on eugenics).  Opponents within the scientific community are becoming more bold.  And it is hanging by a thread, waiting for the next court ruling that might end its federal funding for good (double entendre intentional).  But why should it get federal funding in the first place?  If the promises were credible, commercial and charitable support would be overwhelming.  That ES researchers have to lean on the government dole is a sign it is not commercially viable.
        Is this subject relevant for Creation-Evolution Headlines?  Maybe not directly, but one’s view of the origin of life and humanity has direct bearing on ethics.  The stem cell controversy of the past decade has been a direct outgrowth of competing views on the significance of human life.  If an embryo is “just a clump of cells,” then playing with those clumps because of their convenience or the temptation of a Nobel prize has no ethical consequences.  But if human life was created by God, it never loses its sanctity from conception to burial.  It will affect how we view a fetus in a jar, a plasticized body in an exhibit, an Alzheimer’s patient in a nursing home, a woman considering an abortion, the direction of scientific research.  It’s where the rubber of worldview meets the road of scientific practice.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHealthPolitics and Ethics
    Chernobyl Mutation Experiment Fails to Support Darwinism     02/12/2011      
    Feb 12, 2011 — Bird brains are getting smaller in the region around Chernobyl.  Organisms in the vicinity of the radiation from the nuclear disaster 25 years ago have not improved, but suffered under the onslaught of mutations.  There is no evidence of any population increasing in fitness in any way; on the contrary, animals are struggling to survive.  Yet according to neo-Darwinism, mutational change is the seedbed of evolutionary gains in fitness.
        Timothy Mousseau was a co-author of a paper in PLoS ONE studying bird populations in the affected area.1  They studied 550 birds belonging to 48 species and found an overall 5% decrease in brain size, especially among yearlings: “Brain size was significantly smaller in yearlings than in older individuals, implying directional selection against small brain size.”  This means that the radiation was a drag, not a help, on the fitness of these birds: their bodies want to make the brains larger, but they can’t: the “directional selection” is contrary to the mutational load.  Mousseau explained in a press release on PhysOrg, “These findings point to broad-scale neurological effects of chronic exposure to low-dose radiation.  The fact that we see this pattern for a large portion of the bird community suggests a general phenomenon that may have significant long-term repercussions.
        The radiation affects other organisms, too: “The study revealed that insect diversity and mammals were declining in the exclusion zone surrounding the nuclear power plant.”  The birds provide a test case of population response to a mutagen.  Although the brains were the organs measured, the whole body suffers: “Stressed birds often adapt by changing the size of some of their organs to survive difficult environment conditions,” the article said.  “The brain is the last organ to be sacrificed this way, meaning the radiation could be having worse impacts on other organs of the birds.”
        But isn’t this a case of adaptation, then?  Neo-Darwinists should not take comfort in the findings: “Mousseau said not only are their brains smaller, but it seems they are not as capable at dealing with their environment as evidenced by their lower rates of survival.”
    1.  Moller, Bonisol-Alquati, Rudolfsen and Mousseau, “Chernobyl Birds Have Smaller Brains,” Public Library of Science ONE 6(2): e16862. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016862.
    “Oh,” the Darwinist says, “but you must give it millions of years.”  Don’t fall for that.  Evolution runs both fast and slow, don’t they tell us? (01/15/2002, 02/21/2003, 01/31/2011). If Charlie’s mutation magic can turn a cow into a whale in six million years, it could surely produce a measurably fitter bird brain in 25 years.  Let’s expand the population and ask how many human CAT-scan patients have gotten smarter and produced genius kids.  How many dental patients have grown new improved teeth or new organs after X-rays?  Tumors, maybe, but not some new sense organ or function.
        The Chernobyl bird populations have been under a steady dose of radiation for decades now, giving ample opportunity for mutations to help at least one chick get a lucky break.  Evolution fails another real-world test.  Don’t go to Chernobyl hoping to get fit.  Under mutational load (12/14/2006, 04/09/2007), you don’t get a choice of “Evolve or Perish”; just the latter.
    Next headline on:  BirdsMammalsHealthDarwin and Evolution
      If Darwin’s tree of life was toppled 4 years ago, why are evolutionists still teaching it?  Time to re-read the 02/01/2007 entry to them.

    This Is Your Brain on Bytes     02/11/2011      
    Feb 11, 2011 — It’s mind-boggling time.  Some recent articles have tried to quantify the information capacity of the eye, the brain, and the world.  Ready?  Think hard.

    1. Eye boggle:  Your eyes contain about 120 million rods and 6 million cones each.  If each receptor represents a pixel, that is 2 x 126 million pixels, or 252 megapixels.  And remember – these are moving pictures, not stills (talk about high-def).  How can the brain transmit and process that much visual information?  The answer is, apparently, it uses compression – just like computers compress raw camera photos into more manageable JPEG images.  That’s the title of an article on Science Daily: “JPEG for the Mind: How the Brain Compresses Visual Information.
          The article begins, “The brain does not have the transmission or memory capacity to deal with a lifetime of megapixel images.  Instead, the brain must select out only the most vital information for understanding the visual world.”  Researchers at Johns Hopkins found that certain cells in the image transmission pathway apparently focus on highly curved edges that are the most informative, dropping flat edges – resulting in an 8-fold compression ratio comparable to the JPEG algorithm.  Eyesight compression, though, is done in-line, in real time, during the image transmission process (see also the 05/22/2003 entry).  Geeks will enjoy the punch line:
      “Computers can beat us at math and chess,” said [Ed] Connor [Johns Hopkins], “but they can’t match our ability to distinguish, recognize, understand, remember, and manipulate the objects that make up our world.  “This core human ability depends in part on condensing visual information to a tractable level.  For now, at least, the .brain format seems to be the best compression algorithm around.

    2. Cerebellum boggle:  Your cerebellum (a portion of the brain near the brain stem) is important for motor functions, emotions and language.  Live Science claims that wiring in the cerebellum starts with “surprisingly bad wiring,” because axons seeking connections to granule cells of the cerebellum sometimes link up incorrectly to Purkinje cells.  But “bad wiring” may be in the eye of the beholder, because an international team found that “a substance known as bone morphogenetic protein 4, which plays a role in bone development, helped correct these errors.
          One of the researchers publishing in PLoS Biology explained,1 “What we demonstrate here is that you have a negative system that repels axons from an inappropriate target, thereby steering them to the right target.”  If it works, can it be called bad?  The authors said, “In summary, we show that the specificity of the synaptic connections in the ponto-cerebellar circuit emerges through extensive elimination of transient synapses.”  But that raises an interesting question: what regulates the regulators?

    3. Memory boggle:  Get ready for the punch line on this one.  An article on Live Science discussed the tipping point of human information technology from analog to digital storage.  In 2000, the article said, about 75% of the world’s information was stored in analog form (e.g., paper, analog tape, analog sound recordings).  By 2007, 93% of that information was stored digitally (computer files, digital tape, digital recordings).  Digital information can be quantified in the familiar bits, bytes, megabytes, gigabytes, yotta yotta yotta....2
          Now that information can be quantified digitally, it’s possible to estimate all the human information in the world.  As of 2007, that quantity was 295 trillion megabytes (295 x 1018 bytes, or 295 exabytes), according to Martin Hilbert of USC.  Before divulging the punch line, let’s quote the article’s comparisons:
      Have a hard time imagining 295 trillion megabytes?  Hilbert suggests thinking of it this way: “If we would use a grain of sand to represent one bit each of the 295 trillion, we would require 315 times the amount of sand that is currently available on the world’s beaches.”

      For a better idea of what these numbers all mean, Hilbert and his colleague, Priscila López of the Open University of Catalonia, express the information through other analogies.

      295 trillion megabytes is roughly:

      Equivalent to 61 CD-ROMs per person on Earth.  Piling up the imagined 404 billion CD-ROM would create a stack that would reach the moon and a quarter of this distance beyond.

      Enough that, if printed in newspapers that sold for $1 each, the United States’ entire global Gross Domestic Product would not be enough to buy them all.  (The cost would be 17 percent beyond the GDP.)

      Enough information to cover the entire area of the United States or China in 13 layers of books.

      Now the punch line: that incredibly huge amount of information represents “still only enough for 0.33 percent of the information that can be stored in all DNA molecules of one human adult.”  Let’s do the math: multiply all the values in the quote above by 300, and you get into the ballpark of the information storage inside your body: 94,500 times the grains of sand of all the world’s beaches; 18,300 CDs for every person on Earth, enough to reach over halfway to Mars; 350 times the GDP of the US if printed in $1 newspapers; enough to cover the US in 3,900 layers of books.  Now you know.

    4. Brain boggle:  If your mind is not sufficiently boggled yet, let’s finish with a measurement posted on Wired Science.  Author John Timmer of Ars Technica expanded on the work by Hilbert and López to estimate the processing power of the human brain.  After several more mind-numbing analogies of the combined processing power of all the world’s computers, storage and memory, the article ended with another surprise.  First, Hilbert and López estimated the combined processing power of all the world’s computers at 6.4 x 1018 operations per second.  Then, Timmer wrote:
      Lest we get too enamored with our technological prowess, however, the authors make some comparisons with biology.  “To put our findings in perspective, the 6.4*1018 instructions per second that human kind can carry out on its general-purpose computers in 2007 are in the same ballpark area as the maximum number of nerve impulses executed by one human brain per second,” they write.
          Our total storage capacity is the same as an adult human’s DNA.  And there are several billion humans on the planet.
    You may now put an ice pack on your head and reboot.
    1.  Kalinovsky et al, “Development of Axon-Target Specificity of Ponto-Cerebellar Afferents,” Public Library of Science Biology, 9(2): e1001013. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001013.
    2.  A byte is 8 bits (in the ASCII encoding format).  Kilobyte=103 bytes.  Megabyte=106 bytes.  Gigabyte=109 bytes.  Terabyte=1012 bytes.  Petabyte=1015 bytes.  Exabyte=1018 bytes.  Each level represents 1000 times the prior category (103).  Those wanting to boggle their brains further can consider zettabytes (1000 exabytes), yottabytes (1000 zettabytes), brontobytes (1000 yottabytes), geobytes (1000 brontobytes)....
    While reading this article, your brain just outperformed all the computers on the planet, and your body stored genetic information that, if stored on CDs, would reach over halfway to Mars.  And who could forget the stunning analogy we published nine years ago about the information storage capacity of one cubic millimeter of DNA? (see 08/16/2002).  Facts are powerful things.  The information in this article could be taught with some clever presentation slides or posters.  Nothing is more effective than facts like these to make people reconsider assumptions about how the human body and brain came to be (see 01/19/2011 commentary).
        Evolutionists want you to believe this all happened by chance, through mistakes, without purpose or guidance.  How about asking for a time out in your local high school biology teacher’s evolution spiel to write some of these facts on the board in front of the students?  Then say (nicely), “According to your textbook, evolution teaches that your brain, but not computers, got here by mistake.”  You don’t even have to put the school at risk of a lawsuit by setting off the alarms with the emotionally-charged phrase “intelligent design.”
    Next headline on:  Human BodyGeneticsMind and BrainAmazing Facts
    Evolution Running Backwards     02/10/2011    
    Feb 10, 2011 — For Darwin’s doctrine of universal common ancestry to be demonstrably true, there must have been a common ancestor of insects and humans.  That base of the family tree has just been discredited, leaving a gap in this important junction of Darwin’s tree of life.
        For decades, evolutionists have taught that acoelomorphs, a kind of marine worm, were at the base of the tree that branched one way toward insects and another way toward man.  Now, however, as published in Nature,1two large groups of marine worms are more closely related to us than are insects and mollusks, a new study shows” (Live Science).  According to a co-author quoted by Live Science,
    “We can no longer consider the acoelomorphs as an intermediate between simple groups such as jellyfish and the rest of the animals,” said researcher Max Telford of the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London.  “This means that we have no living representative of this stage of evolution: the missing link has gone missing.”
    To explain the confusing genomes in evolutionary terms, the researchers are having to suppose that the last common ancestor, whatever it was, was even more complex than these worms – and the living worms lost some of the genetic information contained in the ancestor:
    Being such simple creatures and yet still mixing and mingling on the family tree with us complex creatures suggests these marine worms were once complex themselves, Telford said.
        “This is an interesting evolutionary question,” Telford told LiveScience.  “Why do animals lose complex features, and how do they do it?  What genes have they lost?”
    Commenting on this development in the same issue of Nature,1 Amy Maxmen titled her entry, “Evolution: A can of worms” and wrote:
    The rearrangement has triggered protests from evolutionary biologists, who are alarmed that they may lose their key example of that crucial intermediate stage of animal evolution.  Some researchers complain that the evidence is not strong enough to warrant such a dramatic rearrangement of the evolutionary tree, and claim that the report leaves out key data.  In any case, the vehemence of the debate shows just how important these worms have become in evolutionary biology.
        “I will say, diplomatically, this is the most politically fraught paper I’ve ever written,” says Max Telford, a zoologist at University College London and last author on the paper.
    But rather than bemoaning the loss of evidence, or teaching the controversy, some reporters are promoting this finding as a triumph for evolution.  PhysOrg wrote its headline, “Revisited human-worm relationships shed light on brain evolution,” even though the source paper had nothing to say about brains.  PhysOrg also buried the Telford quote about the missing link still being missing under a bold headline, “Simple marine worms distantly related to humans.”& Live Science announced, “Lowly Worms Get Their Place in the Tree of Life,” downplaying the confusion over where these organisms fit.  As if doing penance, though, a later PhysOrg, read, “New evolutionary research disproves living missing link theories.”
    1.  Come back soon for reference.
    2.  Amy Maxmen, “Evolution: A can of worms,” Nature 470, 161-162 (2011), Published online 9 February 2011, doi:10.1038/470161a.
    This is why you must read past the headlines and mute the Darwin Marching Band music and look at the data.  Evolutionists thought they had a missing link at a critical juncture in Darwin’s tree of life, only to find, according to their own apologists, that the genetics don’t fit.  To keep their story going requires more speculation about less evidence.  This is no happy ending; it turns Charlie’s bedtime story into a nightmare generator.
    Next headline on:  Marine BiologyGeneticsDarwin and Evolution
    Tip Link
    One demonstration of how science should be used.  Watch the 90-second video at New Scientist.

    How Bacteria Use Their Flagella     02/09/2011    
    Feb 09, 2011 — Do an imaginary mind-meld with a bacterium for a moment.  Visualize yourself encased in a membrane, surrounded by fluid.  You have no eyes, ears, or hands.  You need to find where food is, and avoid danger, so you have organelles that can take in molecules that provide information about what is going on outside, where other bacteria can also communicate information to you.  To get around, you have a powerful outboard motor, called a flagellum.  Lacking eyes, how do you know where to go?  How do you steer and make progress toward food or away from danger?  These are the questions of chemotaxis – the ability to move toward or away from chemicals.  Two recent papers discuss how bacteria use their rotary motors to succeed in life.
        Some bacteria have only one flagellum (monotrichous, or “one-haired,” since the flagella look like hairs at low resolution).  One such critter is Vibrio alginolyticus, an inhabitant of the coastal ocean.  In a PNAS Commentary,1 Roman Stocker discussed how this microbe uses its single flagellum in a “reverse and flick” movement to explore its environment.  This “newly discovered mechanism for turning,” he said, “ part of an advanced chemotaxis system.”  The bacterium can actually make better progress toward or against a concentration gradient with this semi-random search method.  “How can a simple back-and-forth movement result in high-performance chemotaxis, rather than causing the bacterium to endlessly retrace its steps?” Stocker asked.  The answer is that the flick action, which involves a sudden kinking of the U-joint of the flagellum, combined with reversal of flagellar rotation, provides three times the chemotaxis efficiency of E. coli.  He showed this with mathematical models.
        Stocker attributed this to evolution: “Despite the limited morphological repertoire of the propulsive system, radically different movement strategies have evolved, likely reflecting the diversity of physicochemical conditions among bacterial habitats.”  But what he was really talking about was adaptation of different microbes to different habitats and conditions.  He ended with praise, not for evolution, but for the cleverness of microbe transportation: the study he cited “makes monotrichous marine bacteria an appealing model system to expand our knowledge of motility among the smallest life forms on our planet.”
        Other bacteria have 2, 4, or 8 flagella (“peritrichous”), like Escherichia coli.  When all 8 flagella begin turning in the same direction, they bundle into a kind of V8 engine that can propel the germ at around 30 micrometers per second (µm/s).  To change direction, they reverse one or more flagella, causing the bundle to fall apart, stopping forward movement in a strategy called tumbling, after which unified motion begins in another direction.  While not as efficient at chemotaxis as V. alginolyticus, it should be remembered that E. coli live in different environments – and they have other tricks up their sleeve.
        Flagellum specialist Howard Berg and colleagues figured out how to watch fluid movement around swarms of bacteria.  Reporting in PNAS,2 they discovered that bacteria, by rotating their flagella counterclockwise in swarms, create small “rivers” of fluid moving clockwise ahead of the swarm that help them move faster as a group than they could be swimming alone.  They wrote,

    we discovered an extensive stream (or river) of swarm fluid flowing clockwise along the leading edge of an Escherichia coli swarm, at speeds of order 10 µm/s, about three times faster than the swarm expansion.  The flow is generated by the action of counterclockwise rotating flagella of cells stuck to the substratum, which drives fluid clockwise around isolated cells (when viewed from above), counterclockwise between cells in dilute arrays, and clockwise in front of cells at the swarm edge.  The river provides an avenue for long-range communication in the swarming colony, ideally suited for secretory vesicles that diffuse poorly.
    The observations may have practical applications: “These findings,” they wrote, “broaden our understanding of swarming dynamics and have implications for the engineering of bacterial-driven microfluidic devices.
    1.  Roman Stocker, “Reverse and flick: Hybrid locomotion in bacteria,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print February 2, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1019199108 PNAS February 2, 2011.
    2.  Wu, Hosu, and Berg, “Microbubbles reveal chiral fluid flows in bacterial swarms,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print February 7, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1016693108 PNAS February 7, 2011.
    And these are “simple” or “primitive” organisms that were the first to evolve, they tell us.  The outboard motors alone are phenomenally complex, but when they work together with signal transduction mechanisms and group search strategies, it’s overkill for Darwin, who was dead anyway.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyPhysicsBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
      The precision of cell’s quality control systems was described in the 02/03/2006 entry.

    Bizarre Fossils Raise Questions     02/08/2011    
    Feb 08, 2011 — For decades, students have been taught that the fossil record shows a long, slow, gradual progression of increasing complexity over millions of years.  Scientific data are usually not so simple.

    1. Surprising youth in old fossil:  When you see the word unexpected in a headline, expect the unexpected.  “Unexpected exoskeleton remnants found in Paleozoic fossils,” reported PhysOrg about chitin protein remains found in scorpion-like arthropod fossils alleged to be 310 million and 417 million years old.  The previous record was 25 to 80 million years.  The subtitle reads, “Surprising new research shows that, contrary to conventional belief, remains of chitin-protein complex — structural materials containing protein and polysaccharide — are present in abundance in fossils of arthropods from the Paleozoic era.”
          George Cody of the Carnegie Institution “speculates that the vestigial protein-chitin complex may play a critical role in organic fossil preservation by providing a substrate protected from total degradation by a coating waxy substances [sic] that protect the arthropods from desiccation.”  Is he claiming the proteins protected the rock impressions, and not the other way around?  Other than that, the article did not explain how proteins could last for over 400 million years.  Prior to the discovery, it was unexpected, surprising, and contrary to conventional belief.
    2. Antarctic forests:  The caption of artwork in a BBC News piece reads, “Dinosaurs once foraged beneath the Southern Lights in Antarctica.”  It shows young dinosaurs admiring the skylights while grazing around conifers in the long polar night.  “It may be hard to believe, but Antarctica was once covered in towering forests.”  Fossil trees in Antarctica have been known since Robert Falcon Scott explored the frozen wastes of the south polar regions, finding evidence of a subtropical climate where no trees grow today.
          Jane Francis (University of Leeds) has spent 10 seasons collecting samples.  As she described her adventures, it was evident the surprise of fossil trees in ice has not worn off:
      “I still find the idea that Antarctica was once forested absolutely mind-boggling”, she told the BBC.
          “We take it for granted that Antarctica has always been a frozen wilderness, but the ice caps only appeared relatively recently in geological history.
          One of her most amazing fossil discoveries to date was made in the Transantarctic Mountains, not far from where Scott made his own finds.
          She recalled: “We were high up on glaciated peaks when we found a sedimentary layer packed full of fragile leaves and twigs.”
          These fossils proved to be remains of stunted bushes of beech.  At only three to five million years old, they were some of the last plants to have lived on the continent before the deep freeze set in.
      The article says that this was not the only period of warmth.  Fossil plants dated 100 million years old indicate the area must have resembled forested areas of New Zealand.  “We commonly find whole fossilised logs that must have come from really big trees.”  One of the specimens found is Ginkgo biloba, a well-known “living fossil” that was thought extinct from the age of dinosaurs till living trees were discovered in Japan (cf. NW article with links).
          How did the trees adapt to the polar light conditions, when long periods of darkness alternate with six months of light?  Francis did experiments growing trees in simulated polar light conditions and found they adapted remarkably well.  In addition to the trees, dinosaurs lived under these conditions.  One kangaroo-size vegetarian dinosaur had large optic lobes, possibly suggesting adaptation to the low light of the long winters.
          The article tried to tie this evidence into the current debate over global warming, but clearly the climate changes of those prior times were not caused by humans.  “Visiting the frozen wasteland of Antarctica today, it is hard to believe that rainforests haunted by small dinosaurs once flourished where 3km thick ice-sheets now exist, the article ended.  “However, the geological record provides irrefutable evidence that dramatic climate fluctuations have occurred throughout our planet’s history.”
    3. Snakes alive and dead:  Fossil snakes show remnant hind legs, reported MSNBC News.  At first, this seems to support the belief that snakes descended from lizards, and lost their legs through evolution.  The snake fossil studied by Alexandra Houssaye (National Museum of Natural History in Paris), named Eupodophis descouensi, has “ultra tiny 0.8 inch legs” with “four anklebones but no foot or toe bones.”  It appears that calling these structures legs requires some interpretation; they were clearly not used for walking.
          Questions remain, however, about the evolution of snakes.  “The oldest snake remains are dated to 112 to 94 million years ago, and this snake is dated to around 90 million years ago,” Houssaye said.  Yet her evolutionary story seemed to allow opposite conclusions: “If something is not useful it can regress without any impact on the (animal’s) survival, or regression can even be positive, as for here if the leg was disturbing a kind of locomotion, like for burrowing snakes or swimming snakes.”  But why would useless structures remain for 4 to 22 million years?  It would seem millions of generations of snakes would have had to contend with useless structures getting in their way, if it took that long for legs to regress.  Houssaye was not prepared to announce a victory for evolutionary theory: “The question of snake origin should not be resolved in the next 10 years,” the article quoted her saying, ending, “She is, however, hopeful that all of the separate teams working on this puzzle can one day pinpoint what species was the common ancestor of all snakes.”  The lizard-like ancestor, if there was one, is not known from the fossil record.
          According to Live Science, which also reported the story, “the bones suggests that evolution took snakes’ legs not by altering the way they grew.  Instead, Houssaye said, it looks as though the limbs grew either slower or for a shorter period of time.”  PhysOrg’s coverage includes an image of the very simple structures.  According to this entry, “Only three specimens exist of fossilised snakes with preserved leg bones.”  None of the articles mentioned whether the structures had a function, or might have been developmental anomalies, such as when babies are born with an enlarged coccyx (cf. CMI).  What evolutionary stories could be told if a fossil two-headed snake were found?
    Only the third entry tried to tie the fossil to an evolutionary prediction, but even then, the story was not straightforward.  It is not clear, for instance, that the loss of legs represents an increase in genetic information or in fitness.  Flightless birds are adapted to their land-based habitats, but it would be a greater leap for birds to evolve from ground to air than the other way around.  Same for snakes losing legs instead of evolving them de novo.  In the first two entries, though, the discoveries were clearly unexpected, surprising, and contrary to conventional wisdom.
    Conventional wisdom is not always wise.  A better term might be conventional folly, or popular credulity.  Enough reports like this, and a consistent theme emerges: evolutionists are clueless about not only their own theory of common ancestry, but about the millions-of-years scheme on which their theory is built.  You can’t just read one BBC News or PhysOrg article to get the whole picture.  Individual articles present puzzles, but maintain the triumphal theme of the march of secular science toward Understanding Reality.  That is a false picture.
        Sites like CEH help document the reality, that secular scientists sold on an evolutionary world view maintain their belief system by telling stories in spite of the evidence.  And for you creation-bashing lurkers out there who lambaste CEH as anti-science, pay attention!  This is not anti-science, because we clearly honor and support legitimate scientific discovery and analysis (see yesterday’s entry, for instance).  This is anti-storytelling – anti- twisting evidence to support a belief system.  An honest rationalist skeptic should join with us in that goal.
    Next headline on:  DinosaursTerrestrial ZoologyFossilsDarwin and EvolutionDating Methods
    Extreme Biomimetics     02/07/2011    
    Feb 07, 2011 — Imitating spider silk or gecko feet is one thing, but some researchers are going to extremes to try to do what living organisms do.
    1. DNA railcar:  Researchers at University of Oxford have constructed a “programable [sic] molecular transport system” that travels like a railcar on DNA molecules, reported PhysOrg.  And that’s not all: they would like to build “synthetic ribosomes,” the article said.  “DNA origami techniques allow us to build nano- and meso-sized structures with great precision,” said Prof. Hiroshi Sugiyama.  “We already envision more complex track geometries of greater length and even including junctions.  Autonomous, molecular manufacturing robots are a possible outcome.”
    2. DNA iPad:  More DNA origami is at work creating smaller components for consumer and industrial electronics like iPods, iPads and similar devices, reported another article on PhysOrg.  Japanese researchers at Arizona State University, familiar with their culture’s art of origami, work with “have discovered a way to use DNA to effectively combine top-down lithography with chemical bonding involving bottom-up self-assembly.”
    3. Turbo dragonflies:  Imagine “micro wind turbines that can withstand gale-force winds.”  Such marvels are being prepared with inspiration from dragonfly wings, reported New Scientist.  Who would have thought that the energy source for powering your cell phone might some day owe its design to the dragonfly?
    4. Flagella carnival:  Nanoscopic inventions being built at Rice University look like “a carnival ride gone mad,” said Science Daily.  Researchers want to build arrays of programmable rotating machines modeled after the bacterial flagellum (07/12/2010) and ATP synthase (see CMI).  Such devices could be used for “radio filters that would let only a very finely tuned signal pass, depending on the nanorotors’ frequency.”  The computers used to model the molecular rotors are not yet capable of characterizing ATP synthase found in all living things, “but as computers get more powerful and our methods improve,” a team member said, “we may someday be able to analyze such long molecules.”
    5. Plankton armorScience Daily said that “The ability of some forms of plankton and bacteria to build an extra natural layer of nanoparticle-like armour has inspired chemists at the University of Warwick to devise a startlingly simple way to give drug bearing polymer vesicles (microscopic polymer based sacs of liquid) their own armoured protection.”  One goal is “stealth” armor that looks like water but can allow drugs to sneak past the immune system.  What were they looking at for inspiration?  “Organisms that particularly attracted our interest were those with a cell wall composed of an armour of colloidal objects – for instance bacteria coated with S-layer proteins, or phytoplankton, such as the coccolithophorids, which have their own CaCO3-based nano-patterned colloidal armour.”
    Here’s an update on an old biomimetics story: the imitation of nacre, or mother-of-pearl (see 07/06/2004; 09/18/2008, bullet 4; 12/06/2008, 03/27/2010).  PhysOrg said that researchers at Northwestern University and McCormick School of Engineering are still trying to understand the molecular structure of this attractive material that is strong yet resistant to cracking.  They created an interlocking composite material that, while not as good as nacre, achieved “a remarkable improvement in energy dissipation.”
    If these researchers succeed in getting DNA and rotating molecules to do the work of molecular machines already active in the living cell, will science finally admit that life shows evidence of intelligent design?  Notice that they cannot yet come close to doing what ATP synthase, a flagellum, mother-of-pearl, a ribosome or a dragonfly wing has been doing for millennia.  Ironic, is it not, that ATP synthase is powering their bodies and minds to imitate it.
        Intelligent design is revolutionizing science via biomimetics, promising amazing benefits for human health and society, forcing thinking along engineering concepts, challenging our best scientific minds, inspiring awe at natural capabilities, ignoring Darwin entirely.
    Next headline on:  BiomimeticsCell BiologyTerrestrial ZoologyMarine BiologyPhysicsIntelligent Design
    Shrinking Brains Prove Human Evolution     02/06/2011    
    Feb 06, 2011 — Ever since Darwin, brain size has been the measure of human nature (e.g., 03/27/2007, 05/27/2009).  Except for some anomalies with Neanderthal and Cro-magnon skull sizes, the iconic march of human evolution showed growing upright posture accompanied by increasing brain size (example on Daily Mail), and brain size was used to discriminate between races on the presumption it was a measure of intelligence.  It is not clear, therefore, what to make of a question on PhysOrg, “Are brains shrinking to make us smarter?
        It seems evolutionists want to have it both ways.  Larger brains are evidence of evolution; smaller brains are evidence of evolution.  Does the new claim muddy the waters of brain size as the measure of increasing human intelligence?  The article tries to draw links between brain size as a function of body mass, or of population size, but it’s not clear any trend is detectable.  In fact, the article later admits that brain size is not well linked to intelligence.  Brian Hare (Duke U) said, “But the downsizing does not mean modern humans are dumber than their ancestors – rather, they simply developed different, more sophisticated forms of intelligence.
        The article ended by Hare hoping that humans will express their inner bonobo.  Chimps are more aggressive and violent.  “Humans are both chimps and bobos [sic] in their nature and the question is how can we release more bonobo and less chimp,” he said.  “I hope bonobos win... it will be better for everyone.
    This comedy show is brought to you for your Superbowl halftime entertainment.  Imagine if the Steelers were able to set the rules so that no matter which goal the ball landed on, they would win – and they could get away with it, because they bought off all the referees.  The Packers can’t complain because if they don’t play according to those rules, they are accused of practicing religion instead of Football.  The cameramen aim the cameras to make the Steelers look good and the Packers bad, and the commentators have their talking points down to make it all look enlightened and progressive.  Anyone who complains this is unfair gets Expelled from the stadium.
    Next headline on:  Early ManDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
      Octopus arms have an optimal design: 02/09/2005.

    Intelligence as a Cosmic Reality     02/06/2011    
    Feb 06, 2011 — The "I" in SETI takes "Intelligence" seriously.  It requires that intelligence is a recognizable, quantifiable property of nature.  The origin of intelligence is a question that separates theists from materialists – whether it is a fundamental or emergent property.  Before engaging that question, it might be instructive to see how scientists who are not necessarily theists are regarding it.

    1. SETI protocol:  The Arecibo Message beamed to the stars in 1974 was a binary encoded stream of bits.  Subsequent messages have included graphical depictions of humans, and catalogs of human science and art.  PhysOrg recalled those attempts at communication with other intelligences and asked what would be the most likely protocol that aliens would recognize as intelligent on the receiving end.  This is the study of METI: messaging to extra-terrestrial intelligence.
          METI includes considerations of how to maximize communication effectively at the lowest cost.  What good would an engraving of human forms be for aliens without eyes?  An international team, PhysOrg reported, considered factors like “signal encoding, message length, information content, anthropocentrism, transmission method, and transmission periodicity” for an upcoming report in Space Policy.  Their current recommendation is to concentrate on “short, simple messages with minimal anthropocentrism, and which rely on simple physical or mathematical language....”
          “The scientists also emphasize that searching for and attempting to communicate with extraterrestrials is as much about understanding ourselves as it is about finding aliens,” the press release continued.  We need, in other words, to understand human intelligence.  The only way we have to calibrate a test message, though, is to try it on other human beings with other cultures and languages.  Whatever they decide to send for the next broadcast from Earth, they must assume intelligence is real at both the sending and receiving end.
    2. Universal intelligenceScience Daily expanded the concept with an article, “On the hunt for universal intelligence.”  The question is, “How do you use a scientific method to measure the intelligence of a human being, an animal, a machine or an extra-terrestrial?”  To plumb that question, Spanish and Australian AI researchers (artificial intelligence) devised a new intelligence test to replace the historic Turing Test that Allan Turing developed in 1950 to demonstrate intelligence in machines.  Their new “Anytime Universal Intelligence” test that “can be applied to any subject – whether biological or not – at any point in its development (child or adult, for example), for any system now or in the future, and with any level of intelligence or speed.”  Their model measures Kolmogorov Complexity, “the number of computational resources needed to describe an object or a piece of information,” yet they admit this is a first step in an ongoing evaluation of intelligence.
    3. Language efficiency:  Philip Ball at Nature News reported on a new proposal in linguistics at MIT theorizing that longer words carry more information.  In contrast to a 1930-era model by George Kingsley Zipf that language speakers seek to minimize time and effort when speaking, Steven Piantadosi and colleagues propose that “to convey a given amount of information, it is more efficient to shorten the least informative – and therefore the most predictable – words, rather than the most frequent ones.”  While not speaking of intelligence directly, this article overlaps with the means of communication between intelligent agents.  The words informative and predictable presuppose intelligences able to discriminate those factors using abstract reasoning.
    4. Mind matters:  At the threshold of mind and matter, neuroscientists continue to probe how intelligence is mediated by the physical brain.  PhysOrg reported on experiments at the University of Sydney’s Centre for the Mind that seemed to indicate electrical stimulation of the anterior temporal lobe produced “flashes of insight” that might lead to an “electronic thinking cap” some day.  Neuroscientists at New York University found, according to Science Daily, that memory storage and reactivation is “more complex than thought.”  Experiments on lab rats showed that “different effects of specifically inhibiting the initiation of protein synthesis on memory consolidation and reconsolidation, making clear these two processes have greater variation than previously thought.”
          Memory, however is a tool of mind, not mind itself – if the distinction is more than academic.  No SETI researcher, however, is expecting lab rats to attempt purposeful communication with alien civilizations.  If memory is more complex than thought, thought is also more complex than memory.
    Intelligence is a concept that overlaps the fringes of many sciences.  Researchers in neuroscience, artificial intelligence, linguistics, information theory, cryptography, SETI and communications all assume intelligence is real, but like life, have a difficult time defining it (01/16/2011).  While using the term as applied to birds, rats, machines or aliens, there is something about human intelligence that yearns to communicate – not just for food or sex, or as a response to a stimulus or program – but for understanding at a deep level.  Is that just more of the same as observed in animals?  And can such longings, while making use of atoms (as in brain memory centers), be reduced to atoms?
    These are deep questions that have not been exhausted by philosophers despite millennia of trying.  But when you use your intelligence to define intelligence, or think about thinking, who is acting?  While intelligence is somewhat quantifiable in birds or dolphins or apes, our self-consciousness as beings, as persons, able to communicate and desiring communication with others, is unheard of in the animal kingdom.  Unlike bird chirps and ape grunts, we speak with meaning (semantics) using complex syntax, referring to abstractions in the conceptual realm.  We use codes and references.  We write philosophy books and symphonies with no survival value.  We can communicate the same message through entirely different physical media.
        Perhaps the better question is the search for extra-terrestrial personality.  Like the fire triangle (heat, oxygen, fuel), the triad of personality – intellect, emotions, and will – lights the fire of communication as only intelligent persons experience it.  It is doubtful today’s human SETI staff would be particularly thrilled if future intelligent robots made contact with alien robots, intelligent as they might be.  Even if emotions and will were programmed into the robots, we would recognize the robots to be just carrying out the program.  Similarly, if our self-conscious intelligence is to be accepted as real as we know it to be deep in our souls, it cannot be just executing a genetic program.
        If intelligence were an epiphenomenon of matter in motion, no scientist could ever know that to be true.  Truth implies morality (honesty).  If morality is also an epiphenomenon of matter in motion, the materialist soon multiplies epiphenomena upon epiphenomena, reducing his explanation to ghost stories.  The only self-consistent explanation for intelligence, personality, and truth is that they derive from a Creator who is intelligent, personal, and true: I AM.
    Next headline on:  SETICosmologyHuman BodyMind and BrainPhilosophy of ScienceTheology
    Weekend Roundup     02/05/2011    
    Feb 05, 2011 — Here is a quick list of headlines to scan for your next baloney detecting safari.  Be discerning: there’s great, good, bad, and ugly in the list, often within the same article.
    1. Planets – Why the moon is getting farther from Earth: BBC News.
    2. Stars – First stars were not born solitary: PhysOrg.
    3. Zoology – How do insects survive the cold winter?  Answer at PhysOrg.
    4. Health – Exercising outdoors provides value added: PhysOrg.
    5. Education – Colleges not teaching critical thinking: PhysOrg.
    6. Physics – Information can be erased without energy: PhysOrg.
    7. Geology – Dead Sea drill cores may illuminate Biblical history: PhysOrg.
    8. Astrophysics – The waters above: measuring H2O in space: PhysOrg.
    9. Evolution – Cancer as an evolutionary process: PhysOrg.
    10. Health – Discoverer of induced pluripotent stem cells wins top award: PhysOrg.
    11. Planets – The MESSENGER spacecraft approaches Mercury orbit on March 17: PhysOrg.
    12. Health – Popeye was right: eat your spinach for efficient muscle: PhysOrg.
    13. Archaeology – Zechariah’s tomb found? PhysOrg; ask Todd Bolen.
    14. Evolution – Lampreys provide clues on evolution of immune system: PhysOrg.
    15. Biology – Why do fish sleep? PhysOrg.
    16. Birds – Birds use right nostril to navigate: PhysOrg.
    17. Geology – Finding gold by a new model: Science Daily.
    18. Physiology – When the nose smells, the brain wants to know: Science Daily.
    19. Genetics/Evolution – Jumping genes tangle Darwin’s tree of life: Science Daily.
    20. Fossils – Eleven-foot bear fossil found in Argentina: Live Science.
    21. Education – Kids believe literally everything they read online: Live Science.
    22. History – Vikings could have navigated on cloudy days: Live Science.
    23. Genetics – Lessons learned from the Human Genome Project: Live Science.
    24. Anthropology – Man’s best friend, the fox: news at Live Science.
    25. Marine Biology – Ocean in motion: how do squid hear? Live Science.
    26. Evolution – Childhood diseases rooted in evolution: Live Science.
    27. Early man – You could outrun Neanderthals in a race, says New Scientist.
    28. Mathematics – Explore fractals in Google: New Scientist.
    29. Politics – Climate forecasting is a form of soothsaying: New Scientist.
    30. Origin of Life – Is this Dr Frankenstein creating life from scratch and bootstrapping evolution? New Scientist.
    Scientists insert themselves into many subjects.  Not all scientific research is equally valid.  By standing for too much, does science spread its presumptive authority too thin?
    Although many subjects are touched on above, we only have space to categorize them in “Amazing Facts” or “Dumb Ideas”.  Some include both, perhaps some neither.  Readers are encouraged to analyze these articles with their critical thinking skills.  Write in if there is one you would like reported in detail.
    Next headline on:  Amazing FactsDumb Ideas
    Fossils by Faith     02/04/2011    
    Feb 04, 2011 — Fossils are real artifacts you can hold in your hand.  The stories behind them are not.  How does science connect the one with the other?  Sometimes, it requires faith in incredible stories.
    1. Stay, sis:  Darwin portrayed a world in flux, with natural selection continually sifting and amplifying minute changes over time.  Why, then did Science Daily title an article, “Rare Insect Fossil Reveals 100 Million Years of Evolutionary Stasis”?  Sure enough, the article claims that a certain splay-footed cricket in rock alleged to be 100 million years old “has undergone very little evolutionary change since the Early Cretaceous Period, a time of dinosaurs just before the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana.”  But is a phrase like evolutionary stasis an explanation, or just a term providing protection from falsification?
    2. Goldilocks and the 3 Dinos:  According to PhysOrg, computer models show that dinosaurs can only leave footprints in strata that are “just right” for the mass of the animal.  “Now we can use this ‘Goldilocks’ effect as a baseline for exploring more complicated factors such as the way dinosaurs moved their legs, or what happens to tracks when a mud is drying out.”  But even if the model allows the scientist to tweak all the parameters in a computer, what happened to good old-fashioned field experiments?
    3. Titanoceratops the granddaddy:  Analysis of a partial skeleton from New Mexico “could be the new granddaddy of horned dinosaurs,” National Geographic News teased.  It’s a big one, the biggest horned dinosaur found in North America, dated at 74 million years old, but hold on; they gave this bone a new name when they are not sure it isn’t a member of a previously-identified species called Pentaceratops.  No sooner was it given a titanic name but paleontologists were describing its Darwinian pedigree: “If indeed a new species, Titanoceratopsdiscovery could also mean that triceratopsins—members of a family of giant horned dinosaurs—evolved their gigantic sizes evolved [sic] at least five million years earlier than previously thought, the study says.”
          It’s not clear why this specimen had anything to do with ancestry.  Does the smaller evolve from the larger?  Sometimes, perhaps, but clearly, much of Darwin’s story had to get things bigger than the last universal common ancestor, a cell.  A Yale paleontologist remarked, “It’s pretty surprising—I would have not have thought something this big and this advanced was living in this time period.”  But have faith: “I would like it to be real,” a paleontologist at Cleveland Natural History Museum said, struggling with his doubts.  Another brother helped his unbelief: “After all, Triceratops must have had ancestors in this earlier time, and this individual does show specialized traits that we see in the Triceratops complex.”
    If paleontologists unfamiliar with the consensus views on age, origin, ancestry and evolutionary mechanisms were to examine these fossils, it’s interesting to consider what stories they might come up with. 
    Pardon, your assumptions are showing.  Did you catch the slips?  The specimen must have ancestors during this earlier time – says who?  Darwin, that’s who.  The evidence may not show it, and claiming it may require willing suspension of disbelief, but the Bearded Buddha asks for unfeigned faith.  But then why not apply the same faith to Titanoceratops (if such a species even existed) that was applied to the splay-footed cricket, saying it showed “incredible stasis” for 100 million years?
        Evolutionists have come up with the perfect crime.  No evidence will ever convict Darwin, because he bought out the police, the researchers, the politicians, the teachers, and the judges.  Will any magistrate in his totalitarian regime ever pay attention to a citizen’s arrest of these scientist impersonators? (see 09/30/2007 commentary).  If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?  Tell the unvarnished truth to whoever will listen, that’s what.
    Next headline on:  DinosaursTerrestrial ZoologyFossilsDarwin and Evolution
      Darwin Day, that annual non-event, is coming up on the 12th.  It’s pretty much blown itself out after the 2009 Bicentennial hoopla, but if you want to spice up your celebration, look at our 02/13/2004 entry for game ideas; more after the 02/13/2008 entry.  Better yet, read Darwin Day in America by John West.

    Martian Chronicles     02/03/2011    
    Feb 03, 2011 — Recent news stories about Mars can be categorized into past, present, and future.

    1. Mars past:  How Mars formed is a convoluted story.  That is evident from a report on PhysOrg that might suggest Mars modelers are drinking too much to relieve stress: “‘Marstinis’ could help explain why the red planet is so small.”  Mars seems the right size for itself, but for modelers, it is too small for their theories.  The article describes a kind of complex billiard game requiring Mars to migrate outward before it could grow its expected size.  As it went, it perturbed smaller planetesimals, objects the modelers dubbed “Marstinis.”  Those, in turn, might have gotten perturbed by giant planets, which were also migrating at the time.  This complex scenario has the benefit of simultaneously providing source material to explain another mystery – the Late Heavy Bombardment, needed to explain cratering on the moon.
          Divining Mars history in meteorites was discussed in another article on PhysOrg.  Studying wafer-thin slices of meteorites thought to have landed on Earth from Mars, scientists look for clues indicating large impacts on the red planet.  From conclusions reached, they try to infer impact effects on subsurface water and the production of carbonates, serpentine, clay and methane.  A scientist promised, “We are now starting to build a realistic model for how water deposited minerals formed on Mars, showing that impact heating was an important process.”
    2. Mars present:  Several sources reported the surprise that Mars’ sand dunes can change quickly:, the BBC News, and PhysOrg among them.  “Scientists had considered the dunes to be fairly static, shaped long ago when winds on the planet’s surface were much stronger than seen today,” according to analysis of images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE camera.  “Several sets of before-and-after images from HiRISE over a period covering two Martian years – four Earth years – tell a different story.
          Scientists are seeking to understand how carbon dioxide sublimation – a process not occurring on earth – contributes to the rapid changes.  “There’s lots of debate about whether features we see on Mars could be produced in the current Mars climate or whether they require different conditions,” one scientist commented.  “The numbers and magnitude of the changes have been really surprising,” another said.
          Meanwhile, the THEMIS infrared camera on the Mars Odyssey orbiter, NASA’s longest-running Mars mission, is studying Mars dust.  Dull as that sounds, it is actually an important source of information on Mars, as PhysOrg explained.  Principal investigator Philip Christensen has a puzzle: “There’s a good question why Mars isn’t a billiard-ball planet covered by a kilometer of dust,” he said, considering that scientists believe it has been there 4.5 billion years.  Explaining why the dust layer is thin required imagination: “Well, maybe throughout most of its history, Mars has had too thin an atmosphere to make dust or initiate saltation or wind abrasion,” he said; “No dust devils, no storms.”
          Mars seems poised on the brink of global dust storms that occasionally obscure the entire surface of the planet with dust as fine as talcum powder.  Calculations show that 100 meters of dust should blanket the planet in 4.5 billion years given current estimated dust creation rates.  To wriggle out of that anomaly, Christensen imagined that the atmosphere cycles in and out, actively creating dust only 2% of the time.  Even so, that would have produced 2 meters of dust on Mars, which he says is “about right,” provided he be forgiven for tweaking an unseen history to match the observations.
    3. Mars future:  Interesting missions are being planned for Mars.  The big one is Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s long-awaited Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), nicknamed “Curiosity,” scheduled for launch in the fall.  Science Daily talked about its Sample Analysis at Mars instrument (SAM), which, along with other instruments, “will check for the ingredients of life.”  Ingredients is the operative word.  MSL will be unable to detect life, but may be able to determine once for all whether organic molecules are found on the Red Planet.
          An article about future Mars missions on PhysOrg has illustrations reminiscent of sci-if comic books.  The Center for Space Nuclear Research at Idaho National Laboratory is working on fleets of “Mars hoppers” they feel would be more efficient explorers of the Martian surface than rovers.  CSNR’s mission design includes a method for sample return – delivering Martian material back to Earth for analysis.  “A single rocket launch from Earth could deploy several hoppers at once,” the article explained.  “A few dozen hoppers could map the entire Martian surface in a few years.... Hoppers could also serve as a network of weather stations monitoring the Martian climate and could collect a trove of air, rock and soil samples to send back to Earth.”
    Meanwhile, back on Earth, a volunteer crew of six have “reached Mars orbit” in a simulated experiment testing how humans might endure long term space travel.  PhysOrg reported on the milestone of “Mars200” project, now 244 days into their experiment living and working in hermetically-sealed modules as if traveling to Mars and back.  On February 14 (Valentine’s Day) they get to emerge onto a simulated Martian surface.  The “arrival” back on Earth (a place they never really left) occurs in early November.
    Mars exists in the present.  We don’t see Mars in the past, or in the future.  We see effects produced by an unobserved history, and can extrapolate current processes a reasonable amount forward.  When scientists tweak too many parameters in their imagined scenarios – moving the planet in and out, imagining lucky-strike impacts at certain times and places where needed for theory, turning the atmosphere on and off to maintain a belief in billions of years, we have good reason to doubt the infallibility of their science.  Remember that scientific explanation is an entirely different enterprise than scientific discovery.  Let’s discover!  Go forth and conquer with Curiosity and better instrumentation.  Hop to it.  Data clear the fog and put storytellers out of business.  But always keep a wary eye on the opinions of scientists who practice divination, or who make reckless drafts on the bank of time.
    Next headline on:  Solar SystemGeologyDating Methods
    Planets a-Plenty, but Are They Lively?     02/02/2011    
    Feb 02, 2011 — The Kepler spacecraft has found over 1,235 planets so far (, 54 in their star’s habitable zone, and some Earth-size or smaller.  Science media are having a field day reporting the discoveries, portraying them with artist imaginations, licking their chops at the possibility of life in outer space.  What does this mean? is racking up the most headlines: tabulating the leading earthlike candidates, posting videos with expert prognosticators, posting a gallery of the strangest, keeping the tally current.  So far, the number of habitable planets with life is: 1.  (That’s us, folks.)  “The number of Earth-size and Earthlike habitable planets confirmed to exist with intelligent life.  We call this planet Earth.”  That’s assuming we can agree on a definition of intelligent life.
        Scientists were surprised to find a six-pack of planets around a star named Kepler 11, reported  The smallest in the system is 2.3 times the size of Earth; others are the size of Uranus or Neptune.  The planets’ orbits do not fit planetary evolution theories unless the planets migrated: “the close proximity of the inner planets is an indication that they probably did not form where they are now,” one scientist commented.  No sense looking for life on these planets; none are habitable by any measure.  You can take a tour of the system on anyway.
        Another article described the 54 “potentially habitable” planets Kepler has found (see also the BBC News article by Jason Palmer).  One of the leading contenders for Earthlike Planet, named Kepler 10-b (see gallery), was announced last month: the “first rocky planet ever discovered outside our solar system” according to David Tyler writing for ARN.  Trouble is, its rocks are hot – 1500°C – because the planet is closer to its parent star than Mercury to our sun.
        What are the implications of Kepler’s unquestionably exciting finds?  Before the latest Kepler tally was announced, one of the leading planet hunters gave his thoughts in an interview on (see also MSNBC News).  Geoff Marcy had participated in finding more planets than anyone else.  The first questions concerned technology and statistics, but then he admitted a scientific embarrassment: hot Jupiters.  No one predicted gas giants close to the star.  All the scientists expected extrasolar planetary systems to resemble ours, with the rocky planets close in and the gas giants farther out.  It was silly reasoning, based on a sample size of one, he agreed: “It would be like trying to characterize human psychology by going to one distant Indonesian island and interviewing one person, and thinking that that gave you the full range of human psychology.”  We also don’t know how long planets last, he said, or how common Earth-like planets are.
        The existence of life is the big question.  According to the UK Mail Online, Dr. Howard Smith (Harvard) has lost hope of finding intelligent life.  Of the first 500 planets found, none are habitable; they are downright hostile.  “The new information we are getting suggests we could effectively be alone in the universe,” he said.  Geoff Marcy is mildly pessimistic, too: “We might be rare,” he remarked.  “Where are the SETI [search for extraterrestrial intelligence] signals?” he asked.  “There is a non-detection that’s like the elephant in the room.”  Forty years of searching has turned up empty.  “So there’s an indication – not definitive – that maybe the Earth is more precious than we had thought.”  He was not considering intelligent design as an option.  He said, after considering how comparatively young our solar system is in an ancient universe, “maybe habitable planets that sustain Darwinian evolution for a billion years –maybe they’re rareMaybe.”  Asked if he has a “gut feel” about cosmic loneliness, he said,
    I do.  If I had to bet – and this is now beyond science – I would say that intelligent, technological critters are rare in the Milky Way galaxy.  The evidence mounts.  We Homo sapiens didn’t arise until some quirk of environment on the East African savannah – so quirky that the hominid paleontologists still can’t tell us why the australopithecines somehow evolved big brains and had dexterity that could play piano concertos, and things that make no real honest sense in terms of Darwinian evolution.
        Why the high chaparral on the East African savannah would’ve led to a Tchaikovsky piano concerto, never mind the ability to build rocket shipsthere’s no evolutionary driver that the australopithecines suffered from that leads to rocket ships.  And so that – and the fact that we had to wait four billion years without humans.  Four billion years? Yes, it took four billion years to get there.

    Marcy: Since the Cambrian explosion, we had hundreds of millions of years of multi-cellular, advanced life in which, guess what happened with brain size?  Nothing.

    He was speaking of the giant dinosaurs ruling the earth with chicken-size brains.  He could not point to anything making sense in Darwinism, but he dismissed purposeful direction out of hand:
    We humans came across braininess because of something weird that happened on the East African savannah.  And we can’t imagine whether that’s a common or rare thing. People assume evolution is directed, and it’s always leading toward higher complexity and greater intelligence, but it’s not.

    Marcy: It’s not.  Dinosaurs show this in spades.

    From there, the interviewer and Marcy pepped themselves up with dreams of a souped-up SETI project.  He implied it would be easy to separate an intelligently-designed signal from a natural one: “We know what to look for,” he said.  “That would be the rat-a-tat-tat of a radio signal.  We don’t know exactly what the code would be, but we’d be looking for pulses in the radio, in the infrared maybe, in the X-ray or UV.  We’d have to think broadly.  But this is a great quest for humanity.”
        David Tyler drew different conclusions from the same evidence for the uniqueness of our planet.  In the ARN article, he said, “Based on evidence, some argue that the Earth is a Privileged Planet.  The basic approach of that book is being vindicated as research discovers just how extraordinary the Earth is.”
    Are you sometimes undecided whether to laugh or weep for the SETI cultists?  Both responses can make you shed tears.  Marcy and his interviewer both admitted they are clueless, surprised, ignorant, and resigned to “Stuff Happens” as their scientific explanation for everything.  Swallowing the whole Darwin baggage of billions of years of evolution, he could only say that “something weird that happened on the East African savannah” – a hominid got a brain, and presto: a Tchaikovsky piano concerto.
        Now, while Dr. Marcy and the Kepler scientists deserve honors for collecting data with intelligently designed instruments, they’re not likely to rank very high as philosophers or theologians.  If the best philosophy they can invent is “stuff happens,” they have flunked out.  And if they cannot be convinced they are hopelessly lost via the evidence of the Privileged Planet, the SETI silence, the origin of life, the Cambrian explosion, and a Tchaikovsky piano concerto, is there any hope for today’s secular scientists being rescued from self-deception?
        Remember, these are the same people who refuse to let criticisms of Darwinism be heard in the schools or research labs.  Emperor Charlie is not only naked himself, he is surrounded by naked soldiers arresting the clothed little boy for indecent exposure.  Added to that, when you hear of communist and Muslim radicals calling for the complete overthrow of Western civilization, and the brutal murder of Supreme Court justices (video) and the news media totally ignoring their hate speech while calling out peace-loving conservative Christians for alleged violent rhetoric, it is hard not to conclude that most of the world has gone completely crazy.
        Don’t be surprised; it has gone crazy many times before.  Escape the craziness with power, love, and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7).  Then rescue a neighbor.
    Next headline on:  StarsSolar SystemDarwin and EvolutionIntelligent DesignSETIMediaDumb Ideas
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    Metaphors of Evolution     02/01/2011    
    Feb 01, 2011 — If Will Rogers never met a man he didn’t like, science never metaphor it didn’t force.  The history of science is replete with examples of metaphors not only trying to explain phenomena, but actually driving scientific research.  Many times thoughtless metaphors have said more about current social values than science.
        So argued Mary Midgley, a “a freelance philosopher, specialising in moral philosophy,” in an article on New Scientist:

    The trouble with metaphors is that they don’t just mirror scientific beliefs, they also shape them.  Our imagery is never just surface paint, it expresses, advertises and strengthens our preferred interpretations.  It also usually carries unconscious bias from the age we live in – and this can be tricky to ditch no matter how faulty, unless we ask ourselves how and why things go wrong, and start to talk publicly about how we should understand metaphor.
    The article was developed from her book, The Solitary Self.  But did her conclusion learn the lessons of history?  Here is a short list of metaphors she found in science over the centuries:
    • Nature, the clock:  Scientists in Newton’s day envisioned the world as a mechanical clock wound up by God.
    • Nature, the billiard game:  Early atomists interpreted everything as colliding billiard-ball atoms.  Rousseau applied this to “social atomism.”
    • Nature, the war of all against all:  Thomas Hobbes’ metaphor of a war of individuals “accidentally launched a wider revolt against the notion of citizenship,” Midgley said.  “The slogan made it possible to argue later that there is no such thing as society, that we owe one another nothing.”
    • Nature, the capitalist:  Laissez-faire capitalism, Midgley argued, is an application of atomism to economics.
    • Nature, the competitor:  Spencer and Darwin used the metaphor of competition to interpret nature, although Midgley asserts that “Charles Darwin actually hated much of it, flatly rejecting the crude, direct application of natural selection to social policies.”  Whether or not his emotions against competition were derived from science or from his cultural milieu is another question.
    • Nature as selfish genes:  “Evolution has been the most glaring example of the thoughtless use of metaphor over the past 30 years, with the selfish/war metaphors dominating and defining the landscape so completely it becomes hard to admit there are other ways of conceiving it,” Midgley complained.
    • Nature as self-organization:  D'Arcy Thompson, Brian Goodwin, Steven Rose and Simon Conway Morris have worked on the metaphor of unfolding organic forms, “a kind of self-organisation within each species, which has its own logic.”  Contrary to the long-held view of nature red in tooth and claw, Goodwin has written that humans are “every bit as co-operative as we are competitive; as altruistic as we are selfish.”
    So did Midgley argue that we need to rid science of metaphors?  No; she proposed new and better ones suitable for the 21st century – the language of integrated systems:
    Now the old metaphors of evolution need to give way to new ones founded on integrative thinking – reasoning based on systems thinking.  This way, the work of evolution can be seen as intelligible and constructive, not as a gamble driven randomly by the forces of competition.  And if non-competitive imagery is needed, systems biologist Denis Noble has a good go at it in The Music Of Life, where he points out how natural development, not being a car, needs no single “driver” to direct it.  Symphonies, he remarks, are not caused only by a single dominant instrument nor, indeed, solely by their composer.  And developing organisms do not even need a composer: they grow, as wholes, out of vast and ancient systems which are themselves parts of nature.
    She did not reveal whether she is an admirer of John Cage’s “chance music,” but his kind of music seems to be the only kind that emerges without a composer.  All other symphonies are usually composed and performed by intelligent design.  It could be argued, though, that even John Cage purposefully chose to produce his works in certain directed ways.  He had to choose to sit at a piano, for instance, and decide not to play for 4 minutes and 33 seconds, turning pages at pre-designed “movements.”  For the metaphor to work, Cage would have had to step aside and do absolutely nothing – but even that would be a choice.
    Metaphors bewitch you (07/04/2003).  If Mary Midgley wants to criticize earlier scientists for imposing their social values (like competition) on nature, then how can she avoid being criticized for imagining nature to be a self-organizing system?  The next philosopher in future years could just as easily sneer at Midgley’s own misguided conceptions of nature, just as she sneered at evolutionists for being guilty of the most thoughtless uses of metaphor.
        Is it even possible for humans to perceive nature without metaphors?  If you look at the list, all of the suggested metaphors have presupposed intelligent agency: clocks, billiards, warfare, competition, selfish genes, symphonies.  Intelligence in the atomistic view is a little harder to spot, until you recognize that colliding atoms presuppose natural laws: spherical shapes, and consistent physics of collisions.  Theists draw on the metaphor of a Creator as Architect, Designer, Maker, and Overseer.  That is how God describes himself.  So if every other metaphor already presupposes intelligent agency, then theism must be the most accurate one.  Metaphors, therefore, can be true.
        If metaphors are inescapable, the symphony one is a good one.  God becomes the composer and conductor, His creatures the obedient yet skilled musicians, the instruments the capabilities, skills and talents he has endowed on his works.  The music is extended in time, with moments of tension and relaxation, periods where the listener is uncertain where the work is headed, but all working toward a planned finale.
        Remove the sheet music and the conductor, though, and you get nothing but endless tuning exercises that all sound alike.  Eventually the musicians leave and the music stops, having gone nowhere.  John Cage might be happy, but not the rest of us, who know design when we see it and hear it.  The fact that audiences vastly prefer Mozart to John Cage just might reveal something about reality.
    Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionPolitics and EthicsIntelligent DesignPhilosophy of ScienceBible and Theology

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    “...this is one of the websites (I have like 4 or 5 on my favorites), and this is there.  It’s a remarkable clearinghouse of information; it’s very well written, it’s to the point... a broad range of topics.  I have been alerted to more interesting pieces of information on [this] website than any other website I can think of.”
    (a senior research scientist)

    “I would assume that you, or anyone affiliated with your website is simply not qualified to answer any questions regarding that subject [evolution], because I can almost single-handedly refute all of your arguments with solid scientific arguments.... Also, just so you know, the modern theory of evolution does not refute the existence of a god, and it in no way says that humans are not special.  Think about that before you go trying to discredit one of the most important and revolutionary scientific ideas of human history.  It is very disrespectful to the people who have spent their entire lives trying to reveal some kind of truth in this otherwise crazy world.”
    (a university senior studying geology and paleontology in Michigan)

    “Hi guys, thanks for all that you do, your website is a great source of information: very comprehensive.”
    (a medical student in California)

    “You are really doing a good job commenting on the weaknesses of science, pointing out various faults.  Please continue.”
    (a priest in the Netherlands)

    “I much enjoy the info AND the sarcasm.  Isaiah was pretty sarcastic at times, too.  I check in at your site nearly every day.  Thanks for all your work.”
    (a carpet layer in California)

    “I just wanted to write in to express my personal view that everyone at Creation Evolution Headlines is doing an excellent job!  I have confidences that in the future, Creation Evolution Headline will continue in doing such a great job!
        Anyone who has interest at where science, as a whole, is at in our current times, does not have to look very hard to see that science is on the verge of a new awakening....
        It’s not uncommon to find articles that are supplemented with assumptions and vagueness.  A view point the would rather keep knowledge in the dark ages.  But when I read over the postings on CEH, I find a view point that looks past the grayness.  The whole team at CEH helps cut through the assumptions of weary influences.
        CEH helps illuminate the true picture that is shining in today’s science.  A bright clear picture, full of intriguing details, independence and fascinating complexities.
        I know that Creation Evolution Headlines has a growing and informative future before them.  I’m so glad to be along for the ride!!”
    (a title insurance employee in Illinois, who called CEH “The Best Web Site EVER !!”)

    “Thank you very much for your well presented and highly instructive blog” [news service].
    (a French IT migration analyst working in London)

    “Please keep up the great work -- your website is simply amazing!  Don’t know how you do it.  But it just eviscerates every evolutionary argument they weakly lob up there -- kind of like serving up a juicy fastball to Hank Aaron in his prime!”
    (a creation group leader in California)

    “I just want to thank you for your outstanding job.  I am a regular reader of yours and even though language barrier and lack of deeper scientific insight play its role I still draw much from your articles and always look forward to them.”
    (a financial manager and apologetics student in Prague, Czech Republic)

    “You guys are doing a great job! ... I really appreciate the breadth of coverage and depth of analysis that you provide on this site.”
    (a pathologist in Missouri)

    “I have read many of your creation articles and have enjoyed and appreciated your website.  I feel you are an outstanding witness for the Lord.... you are making a big difference, and you have a wonderful grasp of the issues.”
    (a PhD geneticist, author and inventor)

    “Thank you for your great creation section on your website.  I come visit it every day, and I enjoy reading those news bits with your funny (but oh so true) commentaries.”
    (a computer worker in France)

    “I have been reading Creation Evolution Headlines for many years now with ever increasing astonishment.... I pray that God will bless your work for it has been a tremendous blessing for me and I thank you.”
    (a retired surveyor in N.S.W. Australia)

    “I totally enjoy the polemic and passionate style of CEH... simply refreshes the heart which its wonderful venting of righteous anger against all the BS we’re flooded with on a daily basis.  The baloney detector is just unbelievably great.  Thank you so much for your continued effort, keep up the good work.”
    (an “embedded Linux hacker” in Switzerland)

    “I love to read about science and intelligent design, I love your articles.... I will be reading your articles for the rest of my life.”
    (an IT engineer and 3D animator in South Africa)

    “I discovered your site about a year ago and found it to be very informative, but about two months back I decided to go back to the 2001 entries and read through the headlines of each month.... What a treasure house of information! have been very balanced and thoughtful in your analysis, with no embarrassing predictions, or pronouncements or unwarranted statements, but a very straightforward and sometimes humorous analysis of the news relating to origins.”
    (a database engineer in New York)

    “I discovered your site several months ago.... I found your articles very informative and well written, so I subscribed to the RSS feed.  I just want to thank you for making these articles available and to encourage you to keep up the good work!”
    (a software engineer in Texas)

    “Your piece on ‘Turing Test Stands’ (09/14/2008) was so enlightening.  Thanks so much.  And your piece on ‘Cosmology at the Outer Limits” (06/30/2008) was another marvel of revelation.  But most of all your ‘footnotes’ at the end are the most awe-inspiring.  I refer to ‘Come to the light’ and Psalm 139 and many others.  Thanks so much for keeping us grounded in the TRUTH amidst the sea of scientific discoveries and controversy.  It’s so heartwarming and soul saving to read the accounts of the inspired writers testifying to the Master of the Universe.  Thanks again.”
    (a retired electrical engineer in Mississippi)

    “I teach a college level course on the issue of evolution and creation.  I am very grateful for your well-reasoned reports and analyses of the issues that confront us each day.  In light of all the animosity that evolutionists express toward Intelligent Design or Creationism, it is good to see that we on the other side can maintain our civility even while correcting and informing a hostile audience.  Keep up the good work and do not compromise your high standards.  I rely on you for alerting me to whatever happens to be the news of the day.”
    (a faculty member at a Bible college in Missouri)

    “Congratulations on reaching 8 years of absolute success with Your knowledge and grasp of the issues are indeed matched by your character and desire for truth, and it shows on every web page you write.... I hope your work extends to the ends of the world, and is appreciated by all who read it.”
    (a computer programmer from Southern California)

    “Your website is one of the best, especially for news.... Keep up the great work.”
    (a science writer in Texas)

    “I appreciate the work you’ve been doing with the Creation-Evolution Headlines website.”
    (an aerospace engineer for NASA)

    “I appreciate your site tremendously.... I refer many people to your content frequently, both personally and via my little blog.... Thanks again for one of the most valuable websites anywhere.”
    (a retired biology teacher in New Jersey, whose blog features beautiful plant and insect photographs)

    “I don’t remember exactly when I started reading your site but it was probably in the last year.  It’s now a staple for me.  I appreciate the depth of background you bring to a wide variety of subject areas.”
    (a software development team leader in Texas)

    “I want to express my appreciation for what you are doing.  I came across your website almost a year ago.... your blog [sic; news service] is one that I regularly read.  When it comes to beneficial anti-evolutionist material, your blog has been the most helpful for me.”
    (a Bible scholar and professor in Michigan)

    “I enjoyed reading your site.  I completely disagree with you on just about every point, but you do an excellent job of organizing information.”
    (a software engineer in Virginia.  His criticisms led to an engaging dialogue.  He left off at one point, saying, “You have given me much to think about.”)

    “I have learned so much since discovering your site about 3 years ago.  I am a homeschooling mother of five and my children and I are just in wonder over some the discoveries in science that have been explored on creation-evolution headlines.  The baloney detector will become a part of my curriculum during the next school year.  EVERYONE I know needs to be well versed on the types of deceptive practices used by those opposed to truth, whether it be in science, politics, or whatever the subject.”
    (a homeschooling mom in Mississippi)

    “Just wanted to say how much I love your website.  You present the truth in a very direct, comprehensive manner, while peeling away the layers of propaganda disguised as 'evidence' for the theory of evolution.”
    (a health care worker in Canada)

    “I’ve been reading you daily for about a year now.  I’m extremely impressed with how many sources you keep tabs on and I rely on you to keep my finger on the pulse of the controversy now.”
    (a web application programmer in Maryland)

    “I would like to express my appreciation for your work exposing the Darwinist assumptions and speculation masquerading as science.... When I discovered your site through a link... I knew that I had struck gold! ....Your site has helped me to understand how the Darwinists use propaganda techniques to confuse the public.  I never would have had so much insight otherwise... I check your site almost daily to keep informed of new developments.”
    (a lumber mill employee in Florida)

    “I have been reading your website for about the past year or so.  You are [an] excellent resource.  Your information and analysis is spot on, up to date and accurate.  Keep up the good work.”
    (an accountant in Illinois)

    “This website redefines debunking.  Thanks for wading through the obfuscation that passes for evolution science to expose the sartorial deficiencies of Emperor Charles and his minions.  Simply the best site of its kind, an amazing resource.  Keep up the great work!”
    (an engineer in Michigan)

    “I have been a fan of your daily news items for about two years, when a friend pointed me to it.  I now visit every day (or almost every day)... A quick kudo: You are amazing, incredible, thorough, indispensable, and I could list another ten superlatives.  Again, I just don’t know how you manage to comb so widely, in so many technical journals, to come up with all this great ‘news from science’ info.”
    (a PhD professor of scientific rhetoric in Florida and author of two books, who added that he was “awe-struck” by this site)

    “Although we are often in disagreement, I have the greatest respect and admiration for your writing.”
    (an octogenarian agnostic in Palm Springs)

    “your website is absolutely superb and unique.  No other site out there provides an informed & insightful ‘running critique’ of the current goings-on in the scientific establishment.  Thanks for keeping us informed.”
    (a mechanical designer in Indiana)

    “I have been a fan of your site for some time now.  I enjoy reading the ‘No Spin’ of what is being discussed.... keep up the good work, the world needs to be shown just how little the ‘scientist’ [sic] do know in regards to origins.”
    (a network engineer in South Carolina)

    “I am a young man and it is encouraging to find a scientific ‘journal’ on the side of creationism and intelligent design.... Thank you for your very encouraging website.”
    (a web designer and author in Maryland)

    “GREAT site.  Your ability to expose the clothesless emperor in clear language is indispensable to us non-science types who have a hard time seeing through the jargon and the hype.  Your tireless efforts result in encouragement and are a great service to the faith community.  Please keep it up!”
    (a medical writer in Connecticut)

    “I really love your site and check it everyday.  I also recommend it to everyone I can, because there is no better website for current information about ID.”
    (a product designer in Utah)

    “Your site is a fantastic resource.  By far, it is the most current, relevant and most frequently updated site keeping track of science news from a creationist perspective.  One by one, articles challenging currently-held aspects of evolution do not amount to much.  But when browsing the archives, it’s apparent you’ve caught bucketfulls of science articles and news items that devastate evolution.  The links and references are wonderful tools for storming the gates of evolutionary paradise and ripping down their strongholds.  The commentary is the icing on the cake.  Thanks for all your hard work, and by all means, keep it up!”
    (a business student in Kentucky)

    “Thanks for your awesome work; it stimulates my mind and encourages my faith.”
    (a family physician in Texas)

    “I wanted to personally thank you for your outstanding website.  I am intensely interested in any science news having to do with creation, especially regarding astronomy.  Thanks again for your GREAT website!”
    (an amateur astronomer in San Diego)

    “What an absolutely brilliant website you have.  It’s hard to express how uplifting it is for me to stumble across something of such high quality.”
    (a pharmacologist in Michigan)

    “I want to make a brief commendation in passing of the outstanding job you did in rebutting the ‘thinking’ on the article: “Evolution of Electrical Engineering” ...  What a rebuttal to end all rebuttals, unanswerable, inspiring, and so noteworthy that was.  Thanks for the effort and research you put into it.  I wish this answer could be posted in every church, synagogue, secondary school, and college/university..., and needless to say scientific laboratories.”
    (a reader in Florida)

    “You provide a great service with your thorough coverage of news stories relating to the creation-evolution controversy.”
    (an elder of a Christian church in Salt Lake City)

    “I really enjoy your website and have made it my home page so I can check on your latest articles.  I am amazed at the diversity of topics you address.  I tell everyone I can about your site and encourage them to check it frequently.”
    (a business owner in Salt Lake City)

    “I’ve been a regular reader of CEH for about nine month now, and I look forward to each new posting.... I enjoy the information CEH gleans from current events in science and hope you keep the service going.”
    (a mechanical engineer in Utah)

    “It took six years of constant study of evolution to overcome the indoctrination found in public schools of my youth.  I now rely on your site; it helps me to see the work of God where I could not see it before and to find miracles where there was only mystery.  Your site is a daily devotional that I go to once a day and recommend to everyone.  I am still susceptible to the wiles of fake science and I need the fellowship of your site; such information is rarely found in a church.
        Now my eyes see the stars God made and the life He designed and I feel the rumblings of joy as promised.  When I feel down or worried my solution is to praise God the Creator Of All That Is, and my concerns drain away while peace and joy fill the void.  This is something I could not do when I did not know (know: a clear and accurate perception of truth) God as Creator.  I could go on and on about the difference knowing our Creator has made, but I believe you understand.
        I tell everyone that gives me an opening about your site.  God is working through you.  Please don’t stop telling us how to see the lies or leading us in celebrating the truth.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.”
    (a renowned artist in Wyoming)

    “I discovered your site a few months ago and it has become essential reading – via RSS to Bloglines.”
    (a cartographer and GIS analyst in New Zealand)

    “I love your site, and frequently visit to read both explanations of news reports, and your humor about Bonny Saint Charlie.”
    (a nuclear safety engineer in Washington)

    “Your site is wonderful.”
    (a senior staff scientist, retired, from Arizona)

    “I’ve told many people about your site.  It’s a tremendous service to science news junkies – not to mention students of both Christianity and Science.  Kudos!”
    (a meteorology research scientist in Alabama)

    “...let me thank you for your Creation-Evolution Headlines.  I’ve been an avid reader of it since I first ‘discovered’ your website about five years ago.  May I also express my admiration for the speed with which your articles appear—often within 24 hours of a particular news announcement or journal article being published.”
    (a plant physiologist and prominent creation writer in Australia)

    “How do you guys do it--reviewing so much relevant material every day and writing incisive, thoughtful analyses?!”
    (a retired high school biology teacher in New Jersey)

    “Your site is one of the best out there!  I really love reading your articles on creation evolution headlines and visit this section almost daily.”
    (a webmaster in the Netherlands)

    “Keep it up!  I’ve been hitting your site daily (or more...).  I sure hope you get a mountain of encouraging email, you deserve it.”
    (a small business owner in Oregon)

    “Great work!  May your tribe increase!!!”
    (a former Marxist, now ID speaker in Brazil)

    “You are the best.  Thank you.... The work you do is very important.  Please don’t ever give up.  God bless the whole team.”
    (an engineer and computer consultant in Virginia)

    “I really appreciate your work in this topic, so you should never stop doing what you do, ’cause you have a lot of readers out there, even in small countries in Europe, like Slovenia is... I use for all my signatures on Internet forums etc., it really is fantastic site, the best site!  You see, we(your pleased readers) exist all over the world, so you must be doing great work!  Well i hope you have understand my bad english.”
    (a biology student in Slovenia)

    “Thanks for your time, effort, expertise, and humor.  As a public school biology teacher I peruse your site constantly for new information that will challenge evolutionary belief and share much of what I learn with my students.  Your site is pounding a huge dent in evolution’s supposed solid exterior.  Keep it up.”
    (a biology teacher in the eastern USA)

    “Several years ago, I became aware of your Creation-Evolution Headlines web site.  For several years now, it has been one of my favorite internet sites.  I many times check your website first, before going on to check the secular news and other creation web sites.
        I continue to be impressed with your writing and research skills, your humor, and your technical and scientific knowledge and understanding.  Your ability to cut through the inconsequentials and zero in on the principle issues is one of the characteristics that is a valuable asset....
        I commend you for the completeness and thoroughness with which you provide coverage of the issues.  You obviously spend a great deal of time on this work.  It is apparent in ever so many ways.
        Also, your background topics of logic and propaganda techniques have been useful as classroom aides, helping others to learn to use their baloney detectors.
        Through the years, I have directed many to your site.  For their sake and mine, I hope you will be able to continue providing this very important, very much needed, educational, humorous, thought provoking work.”
    (an engineer in Missouri)

    “I am so glad I found your site.  I love reading short blurbs about recent discoveries, etc, and your commentary often highlights that the discovery can be ‘interpreted’ in two differing ways, and usually with the pro-God/Design viewpoint making more sense.  It’s such a refreshing difference from the usual media spin.  Often you’ll have a story up along with comment before the masses even know about the story yet.”
    (a system administrator in Texas, who calls CEH the “UnSpin Zone”)

    “You are indeed the ‘Rush Limbaugh’ Truth Detector of science falsely so-called.  Keep up the excellent work.”
    (a safety director in Michigan)

    “I know of no better way to stay informed with current scientific research than to read your site everyday, which in turn has helped me understand many of the concepts not in my area (particle physics) and which I hear about in school or in the media.  Also, I just love the commentaries and the baloney detecting!!”
    (a grad student in particle physics)

    “I thank you for your ministry.  May God bless you!  You are doing great job effectively exposing pagan lie of evolution.  Among all known to me creation ministries [well-known organizations listed] Creationsafaris stands unique thanks to qualitative survey and analysis of scientific publications and news.  I became permanent reader ever since discovered your site half a year ago.  Moreover your ministry is effective tool for intensive and deep education for cristians.”
    (a webmaster in Ukraine, seeking permission to translate CEH articles into Russian to reach countries across the former Soviet Union)

    “The scholarship of the editors is unquestionable.  The objectivity of the editors is admirable in face of all the unfounded claims of evolutionists and Darwinists.  The amount of new data available each day on the site is phenomenal (I can’t wait to see the next new article each time I log on).  Most importantly, the TRUTH is always and forever the primary goal of the people who run this website.  Thank you so very much for 6 years of consistent dedication to the TRUTH.”
    (11 months earlier): “I just completed reading each entry from each month.  I found your site about 6 months ago and as soon as I understood the format, I just started at the very first entry and started reading.... Your work has blessed my education and determination to bold in showing the ‘unscientific’ nature of evolution in general and Darwinism in particular.”
    (a medical doctor in Oklahoma)

    “Thanks for the showing courage in marching against a popular unproven unscientific belief system.  I don’t think I missed 1 article in the past couple of years.”
    (a manufacturing engineer in Australia)

    “I do not know and cannot imagine how much time you must spend to read, research and compile your analysis of current findings in almost every area of science.  But I do know I thank you for it.”
    (a practice administrator in Maryland)

    “Since finding your insightful comments some 18 or more months ago, I’ve visited your site daily.... You so very adeptly and adroitly undress the emperor daily; so much so one wonders if he might not soon catch cold and fall ill off his throne! .... To you I wish much continued success and many more years of fun and frolicking undoing the damage taxpayers are forced to fund through unending story spinning by ideologically biased scientists.”
    (an investment advisor in Missouri)

    “I really like your articles.  You do a fabulous job of cutting through the double-talk and exposing the real issues.  Thank you for your hard work and diligence.”
    (an engineer in Texas)

    “I love your site.  Found it about maybe two years ago and I read it every day.  I love the closing comments in green.  You have a real knack for exposing the toothless claims of the evolutionists.  Your comments are very helpful for many us who don’t know enough to respond to their claims.  Thanks for your good work and keep it up.”
    (a missionary in Japan)

    “I just thought I’d write and tell you how much I appreciate your headline list and commentary.  It’s inspired a lot of thought and consideration.  I check your listings every day!”
    (a computer programmer in Tulsa)

    “Just wanted to thank you for your creation/evolution news ... an outstanding educational resource.“
    (director of a consulting company in Australia)

    “Your insights ... been some of the most helpful – not surprising considering the caliber of your most-excellent website!  I’m serious, ..., your website has to be the best creation website out there....”
    (a biologist and science writer in southern California)

    “I first learned of your web site on March 29.... Your site has far exceeded my expectations and is consulted daily for the latest.  I join with other readers in praising your time and energy spent to educate, illuminate, expose errors.... The links are a great help in understanding the news items.  The archival structure is marvelous....  Your site brings back dignity to Science conducted as it should be.  Best regards for your continuing work and influence.  Lives are being changed and sustained every day.”
    (a manufacturing quality engineer in Mississippi)

    “I wrote you over three years ago letting you know how much I enjoyed your Creation-Evolution headlines, as well as your Creation Safaris site.  I stated then that I read your headlines and commentary every day, and that is still true!  My interest in many sites has come and gone over the years, but your site is still at the top of my list!  I am so thankful that you take the time to read and analyze some of the scientific journals out there; which I don’t have the time to read myself.  Your commentary is very, very much appreciated.”
    (a hike leader and nature-lover in Ontario, Canada)

    “...just wanted to say how much I admire your site and your writing.  You’re very insightful and have quite a broad range of knowledge.  Anyway, just wanted to say that I am a big fan!”
    (a PhD biochemist at a major university)

    “I love your site and syndicate your content on my church website.... The stories you highlight show the irrelevancy of evolutionary theory and that evolutionists have perpetual ‘foot and mouth’ disease; doing a great job of discrediting themselves.  Keep up the good work.”
    (a database administrator and CEH “junkie” in California)

    “I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your article reviews on your website—it’s a HUGE asset!”
    (a lawyer in Washington)

    “Really, really, really a fantastic site.  Your wit makes a razor appear dull!... A million thanks for your site.”
    (a small business owner in Oregon “and father of children who love your site too.”)

    “Thank God for ... Creation Evolution Headlines.  This site is right at the cutting edge in the debate over bio-origins and is crucial in working to undermine the deceived mindset of naturalism.  The arguments presented are unassailable (all articles having first been thoroughly ‘baloney detected’) and the narrative always lands just on the right side of the layman’s comprehension limits... Very highly recommended to all, especially, of course, to those who have never thought to question the ‘fact’ of evolution.”
    (a business owner in Somerset, UK)

    “I continue to note the difference between the dismal derogations of the darwinite devotees, opposed to the openness and humor of rigorous, follow-the-evidence scientists on the Truth side.  Keep up the great work.”
    (a math/science teacher with M.A. in anthropology)

    “Your material is clearly among the best I have ever read on evolution problems!  I hope a book is in the works!”
    (a biology prof in Ohio)

    “I have enjoyed reading the sardonic apologetics on the Creation/Evolution Headlines section of your web site.  Keep up the good work!”
    (an IT business owner in California)

    “Your commentaries ... are always delightful.”
    (president of a Canadian creation group)

    “I’m pleased to see... your amazing work on the ‘Headlines’.”
    (secretary of a creation society in the UK)

    “We appreciate all you do at”
    (a publisher of creation and ID materials)

    “I was grateful for for help with baloney detecting.  I had read about the fish-o-pod and wanted to see what you thought.  Your comments were helpful and encouraged me that my own ‘baloney detecting’ skill are improving.  I also enjoyed reading your reaction to the article on evolution teachers doing battle with students.... I will ask my girls to read your comments on the proper way to question their teachers.”
    (a home-schooling mom)

    “I just want to express how dissapointed [sic] I am in your website.  Instead of being objective, the website is entirely one sided, favoring creationism over evolution, as if the two are contradictory.... Did man and simien [sic] evovlve [sic] at random from a common ancestor?  Or did God guide this evolution?  I don’t know.  But all things, including the laws of nature, originate from God.... To deny evolution is to deny God’s creation.  To embrace evolution is to not only embrace his creation, but to better appreciate it.”
    (a student in Saginaw, Michigan)

    “I immensely enjoy reading the Creation-Evolution Headlines.  The way you use words exposes the bankruptcy of the evolutionary worldview.”
    (a student at Northern Michigan U)

    “...standing O for”
    (a database programmer in California)

    “Just wanted to say that I am thrilled to have found your website!  Although I regularly visit numerous creation/evolution sites, I’ve found that many of them do not stay current with relative information.  I love the almost daily updates to your ‘headlines’ section.  I’ve since made it my browser home page, and have recommended it to several of my friends.  Absolutely great site!”
    (a network engineer in Florida)

    “After I heard about Creation-Evolution Headlines, it soon became my favorite Evolution resource site on the web.  I visit several times a day cause I can’t wait for the next update.  That’s pathetic, I know ... but not nearly as pathetic as Evolution, something you make completely obvious with your snappy, intelligent commentary on scientific current events.  It should be a textbook for science classrooms around the country.  You rock!”
    (an editor in Tennessee)

    “One of the highlights of my day is checking your latest CreationSafaris creation-evolution news listing!  Thanks so much for your great work -- and your wonderful humor.”
    (a pastor in Virginia)

    “Thanks!!!  Your material is absolutely awesome.  I’ll be using it in our Adult Sunday School class.”
    (a pastor in Wisconsin)

    “Love your site & read it daily.”
    (a family physician in Texas)

    “I set it [] up as my homepage.  That way I am less likely to miss some really interesting events.... I really appreciate what you are doing with Creation-Evolution Headlines.  I tell everybody I think might be interested, to check it out.”
    (a systems analyst in Tennessee)

    “I would like to thank you for your service from which I stand to benefit a lot.”
    (a Swiss astrophysicist)

    “I enjoy very much reading your materials.”
    (a law professor in Portugal)

    “Thanks for your time and thanks for all the work on the site.  It has been a valuable resource for me.”
    (a medical student in Kansas)

    “Creation-Evolution Headlines is a terrific resource.  The articles are always current and the commentary is right on the mark.”
    (a molecular biologist in Illinois)

    Creation-Evolution Headlines is my favorite ‘anti-evolution’ website.  With almost giddy anticipation, I check it several times a week for the latest postings.  May God bless you and empower you to keep up this FANTASTIC work!”
    (a financial analyst in New York)

    “I read your pages on a daily basis and I would like to let you know that your hard work has been a great help in increasing my knowledge and growing in my faith.  Besides the huge variety of scientific disciplines covered, I also enormously enjoy your great sense of humor and your creativity in wording your thoughts, which make reading your website even more enjoyable.”
    (a software developer in Illinois)

    “THANK YOU for all the work you do to make this wonderful resource!  After being regular readers for a long time, this year we’ve incorporated your site into our home education for our four teenagers.  The Baloney Detector is part of their Logic and Reasoning Skills course, and the Daily Headlines and Scientists of the Month features are a big part of our curriculum for an elective called ‘Science Discovery Past and Present’.  What a wonderful goldmine for equipping future leaders and researchers with the tools of clear thinking!
    (a home school teacher in California)

    “What can I say – I LOVE YOU! – I READ YOU ALMOST EVERY DAY I copy and send out to various folks.  I love your sense of humor, including your politics and of course your faith.  I appreciate and use your knowledge – What can I say – THANK YOU – THANK YOU – THANK YOU – SO MUCH.”
    (a biology major, former evolutionist, now father of college students)

    “I came across your site while browsing through creation & science links.  I love the work you do!”
    (an attorney in Florida)

    “Love your commentary and up to date reporting.  Best site for evolution/design info.”
    (a graphic designer in Oregon)

    “I am an ardent reader of your site.  I applaud your efforts and pass on your website to all I talk to.  I have recently given your web site info to all my grandchildren to have them present it to their science teachers.... Your Supporter and fan..God bless you all...”
    (a health services manager in Florida)

    “Why your readership keeps doubling: I came across your website at a time when I was just getting to know what creation science is all about.  A friend of mine was telling me about what he had been finding out. I was highly skeptical and sought to read as many pro/con articles as I could find and vowed to be open-minded toward his seemingly crazy claims. At first I had no idea of the magnitude of research and information that’s been going on. Now, I’m simply overwhelmed by the sophistication and availability of scientific research and information on what I now know to be the truth about creation.
        Your website was one of dozens that I found in my search.  Now, there are only a handful of sites I check every day.  Yours is at the top of my list... I find your news page to be the most insightful and well-written of the creation news blogs out there.  The quick wit, baloney detector, in-depth scientific knowledge you bring to the table and the superb writing style on your site has kept me interested in the day-to-day happenings of what is clearly a growing movement.  Your site ... has given me a place to point them toward to find out more and realize that they’ve been missing a huge volume of information when it comes to the creation-evolution issue.
        Another thing I really like about this site is the links to articles in science journals and news references.  That helps me get a better picture of what you’re talking about.... Keep it up and I promise to send as many people as will listen to this website and others.”
    (an Air Force Academy graduate stationed in New Mexico)

    “Like your site especially the ‘style’ of your comments.... Keep up the good work.”
    (a retired engineer and amateur astronomer in Maryland)

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    Scientist of the Month
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    Who’s On
    Guide to Evolution
    Featured Creation Scientist for February

    Edward Morley
    1838 - 1923

    This is the Morley of the famous Michelson-Morley Experiment, which failed to find an expected lumeniferous ether that might serve as a medium for light waves.  The result was vital to Einstein’s theory of relativity, in which Einstein treated the constancy of the speed of light as a fundamental principle of the universe in the development of his revolutionary ideas.

    Here is what Dr. Don DeYoung wrote about Morley in his new book, Pioneers of Intelligent Design (BMH Books, 2006), p. 68:

    His Congregational minister father home schooled Morley.  He later received training at Andover Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, and pastored a church in Ohio.  Morley also had an unusual ability to make precise experimental measurements.  He shared this talent with a generation of engineering students at Case Western Reserve Academy in Cleveland, Ohio.  Morley’s Christian testimony is shown in the creed that he wrote for his students at Case Western: “I believe Jesus Christ shall come with the clouds of heaven to judge the world in righteousness and that those who have believed in Him shall inherit eternal life through the Grace of God.”

    If you are enjoying this series, you can learn more about great Christians in science by reading our online book-in-progress:
    The World’s Greatest Creation Scientists from Y1K to Y2K.
    Copies are also available from our online store.

    A Concise Guide
    to Understanding
    Evolutionary Theory

    You can observe a lot by just watching.
    – Yogi Berra

    First Law of Scientific Progress
    The advance of science can be measured by the rate at which exceptions to previously held laws accumulate.
    1. Exceptions always outnumber rules.
    2. There are always exceptions to established exceptions.
    3. By the time one masters the exceptions, no one recalls the rules to which they apply.

    Darwin’s Law
    Nature will tell you a direct lie if she can.
    Bloch’s Extension
    So will Darwinists.

    Finagle’s Creed
    Science is true.  Don’t be misled by facts.

    Finagle’s 2nd Law
    No matter what the anticipated result, there will always be someone eager to (a) misinterpret it, (b) fake it, or (c) believe it happened according to his own pet theory.

    Finagle’s Rules
    3. Draw your curves, then plot your data.
    4. In case of doubt, make it sound convincing.
    6. Do not believe in miracles – rely on them.

    Murphy’s Law of Research
    Enough research will tend to support your theory.

    Maier’s Law
    If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.
    1. The bigger the theory, the better.
    2. The experiments may be considered a success if no more than 50% of the observed measurements must be discarded to obtain a correspondence with the theory.

    Eddington’s Theory
    The number of different hypotheses erected to explain a given biological phenomenon is inversely proportional to the available knowledge.

    Young’s Law
    All great discoveries are made by mistake.
    The greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.

    Peer’s Law
    The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem.

    Peter’s Law of Evolution
    Competence always contains the seed of incompetence.

    Weinberg’s Corollary
    An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy.

    Souder’s Law
    Repetition does not establish validity.

    Cohen’s Law
    What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts – not the facts themselves.

    Harrison’s Postulate
    For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.

    Thumb’s Second Postulate
    An easily-understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex, incomprehensible truth.

    Ruckert’s Law
    There is nothing so small that it can’t be blown out of proportion

    Hawkins’ Theory of Progress
    Progress does not consist in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is right.  It consists in replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is more subtly wrong.

    Macbeth’s Law
    The best theory is not ipso facto a good theory.

    Disraeli’s Dictum
    Error is often more earnest than truth.

    Advice from Paul

    Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.

    I Timothy 6:20-21

    Song of the True Scientist

    O Lord, how manifold are Your works!  In wisdom You have made them all.  The earth is full of Your possessions . . . . May the glory of the Lord endure forever.  May the Lord rejoice in His works . . . . I will sing to the Lord s long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.  May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord.  May sinners be consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more.  Bless the Lord, O my soul!  Praise the Lord! 

    from Psalm 104

    Maxwell’s Motivation

    Through the creatures Thou hast made
    Show the brightness of Thy glory.
    Be eternal truth displayed
    In their substance transitory.
    Till green earth and ocean hoary,
    Massy rock and tender blade,
    Tell the same unending story:
    We are truth in form arrayed.

    Teach me thus Thy works to read,
    That my faith,– new strength accruing–
    May from world to world proceed,
    Wisdom’s fruitful search pursuing
    Till, thy truth my mind imbuing,
    I proclaim the eternal Creed –
    Oft the glorious theme renewing,
    God our Lord is God indeed.

    James Clerk Maxwell
    One of the greatest physicists
    of all time (a creationist).

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    “I really enjoy your website, the first I visit every day.  I have a quote by Mark Twain which seems to me to describe the Darwinian philosophy of science perfectly.  ‘There is something fascinating about science.  One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.’  Working as I do in the Environmental field (I am a geologist doing groundwater contamination project management for a state agency) I see that kind of science a lot.  Keep up the good work!!”
    (a hydrogeologist in Alabama)

    “I visit your website regularly and I commend you on your work.  I applaud your effort to pull actual science from the mass of propaganda for Evolution you report on (at least on those rare occasions when there actually is any science in the propaganda).  I also must say that I'm amazed at your capacity to continually plow through the propaganda day after day and provide cutting and amusing commentary....  I can only hope that youthful surfers will stop by your website for a fair and interesting critique of the dogma they have to imbibe in school.”
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    “I have enjoyed your site for several years now.  Thanks for all the hard work you obviously put into this.  I appreciate your insights, especially the biological oriented ones in which I'm far behind the nomenclature curve.  It would be impossible for me to understand what's going on without some interpretation.  Thanks again.”
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    “Love your site and your enormous amount of intellectualism and candor regarding the evolution debate.  Yours is one site I look forward to on a daily basis.  Thank you for being a voice for the rest of us.”
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    “For sound, thoughtful commentary on creation-evolution hot topics go to Creation-Evolution Headlines.
    (Access Research Network 12/28/2007).

    ”Your website is simply the best (and I’d dare say one of the most important) web sites on the entire WWW.”
    (an IT specialist at an Alabama university)

    “I’ve been reading the articles on this website for over a year, and I’m guilty of not showing any appreciation.  You provide a great service.  It’s one of the most informative and up-to-date resources on creation available anywhere.  Thank you so much.  Please keep up the great work.”
    (a senior research scientist in Georgia)

    “Just a note to thank you for your site.  I am a regular visitor and I use your site to rebut evolutionary "just so" stories often seen in our local media.  I know what you do is a lot of work but you make a difference and are appreciated.”
    (a veterinarian in Minnesota)

    “This is one of the best sites I have ever visited.  Thanks.  I have passed it on to several others... I am a retired grandmother. I have been studying the creation/evolution question for about 50 yrs.... Thanks for the info and enjoyable site.”
    (a retiree in Florida)

    “It is refreshing to know that there are valuable resources such as Creation-Evolution Headlines that can keep us updated on the latest scientific news that affect our view of the world, and more importantly to help us decipher through the rhetoric so carelessly disseminated by evolutionary scientists.  I find it ‘Intellectually Satisfying’ to know that I don’t have to park my brain at the door to be a ‘believer’ or at the very least, to not believe in Macroevolution.”
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    “I have greatly benefitted from your efforts.  I very much look forward to your latest posts.”
    (an attorney in California)

    “I must say your website provides an invaluable arsenal in this war for souls that is being fought.  Your commentaries move me to laughter or sadness.  I have been viewing your information for about 6 months and find it one of the best on the web.  It is certainly effective against the nonsense published on  It great to see work that glorifies God and His creation.”
    (a commercial manager in Australia)

    “Visiting daily your site and really do love it.”
    (a retiree from Finland who studied math and computer science)

    “I am agnostic but I can never deny that organic life (except human) is doing a wonderful job at functioning at optimum capacity.  Thank you for this ... site!”
    (an evolutionary theorist from Australia)

    “During the year I have looked at your site, I have gone through your archives and found them to be very helpful and informative.  I am so impressed that I forward link to members of my congregation who I believe are interested in a higher level discussion of creationist issues than they will find at [a leading origins website].”
    (a minister in Virginia)

    “I attended a public school in KS where evolution was taught.  I have rejected evolution but have not always known the answers to some of the questions.... A friend told me about your site and I like it, I have it on my favorites, and I check it every day.”
    (an auto technician in Missouri)

    “Thanks for a great site!  It has brilliant insights into the world of science and of the evolutionary dogma.  One of the best sites I know of on the internet!”
    (a programmer in Iceland)

    “The site you run – creation-evolution headlines is extremely useful to me.  I get so tired of what passes for science – Darwinism in particular – and I find your site a refreshing antidote to the usual junk.... it is clear that your thinking and logic and willingness to look at the evidence for what the evidence says is much greater than what I read in what are now called science journals.  Please keep up the good work.  I appreciate what you are doing more than I can communicate in this e-mail.”
    (a teacher in California)

    “I’m a small town newspaper editor in southwest Wyoming.  We’re pretty isolated, and finding your site was a great as finding a gold mine.  I read it daily, and if there’s nothing new, I re-read everything.  I follow links.  I read the Scientist of the Month.  It’s the best site I’ve run across.  Our local school board is all Darwinist and determined to remain that way.”
    (a newspaper editor in Wyoming)

    “ have been reading your page for about 2 years or so.... I read it every day.  I well educated, with a BA in Applied Physics from Harvard and an MBA in Finance from Wharton.”
    (a reader in Delaware)

    “ I came across your website by accident about 4 months ago and look at it every day.... About 8 months ago I was reading a letter to the editor of the Seattle Times that was written by a staunch ‘anti-Creationist’ and it sparked my interest enough to research the topic and within a week I was yelling, ‘my whole life’s education has been a lie!!!’  I’ve put more study into Biblical Creation in the last 8 months than any other topic in my life.  Past that, through resources like your website...I’ve been able to convince my father (professional mathematician and amateur geologist), my best friend (mechanical engineer and fellow USAF Academy Grad/Creation Science nutcase), my pastor (he was the hardest to crack), and many others to realize the Truth of Creation.... Resources like your website help the rest of us at the ‘grassroots level’ drum up interest in the subject.  And regardless of what the major media says: Creationism is spreading like wildfire, so please keep your website going to help fan the flames.”
    (an Air Force Academy graduate and officer)

    “I love your site!  I **really** enjoy reading it for several specific reasons: 1.It uses the latest (as in this month!) research as a launch pad for opinion; for years I have searched for this from a creation science viewpoint, and now, I’ve found it.  2. You have balanced fun with this topic.  This is hugely valuable!  Smug Christianity is ugly, and I don’t perceive that attitude in your comments.  3. I enjoy the expansive breadth of scientific news that you cover.  4. I am not a trained scientist but I know evolutionary bologna/(boloney) when I see it; you help me to see it.  I really appreciate this.
    (a computer technology salesman in Virginia)

    “I love your site.  That’s why I was more than happy to mention it in the local paper.... I mentioned your site as the place where..... ‘Every Darwin-cheering news article is reviewed on that site from an ID perspective.  Then the huge holes of the evolution theory are exposed, and the bad science is shredded to bits, using real science.’”
    (a project manager in New Jersey)

    “I’ve been reading your site almost daily for about three years.  I have never been more convinced of the truthfulness of Scripture and the faithfulness of God.”
    (a system administrator and homeschooling father in Colorado)

    “I use the internet a lot to catch up on news back home and also to read up on the creation-evolution controversy, one of my favourite topics.  Your site is always my first port of call for the latest news and views and I really appreciate the work you put into keeping it up to date and all the helpful links you provide.  You are a beacon of light for anyone who wants to hear frank, honest conclusions instead of the usual diluted garbage we are spoon-fed by the media.... Keep up the good work and know that you’re changing lives.
    (a teacher in Spain)

    “I am grateful to you for your site and look forward to reading new stories.... I particularly value it for being up to date with what is going on.”
    (from the Isle of Wight, UK)

    “[Creation-Evolution Headlines] is the place to go for late-breaking news [on origins]; it has the most information and the quickest turnaround.  It’s incredible – I don’t know how you do it.  I can’t believe all the articles you find.  God bless you!”
    (a radio producer in Riverside, CA)

    “Just thought I let you know how much I enjoy reading your ‘Headlines’ section.  I really appreciate how you are keeping your ear to the ground in so many different areas.  It seems that there is almost no scientific discipline that has been unaffected by Darwin’s Folly.”
    (a programmer in aerospace from Gardena, CA)

    “I enjoy reading the comments on news articles on your site very much.  It is incredible how much refuse is being published in several scientific fields regarding evolution.  It is good to notice that the efforts of true scientists have an increasing influence at schools, but also in the media.... May God bless your efforts and open the eyes of the blinded evolutionists and the general public that are being deceived by pseudo-scientists.... I enjoy the site very much and I highly respect the work you and the team are doing to spread the truth.”
    (an ebusiness manager in the Netherlands)

    “I discovered your site through a link at certain website... It has greatly helped me being updated with the latest development in science and with critical comments from you.  I also love your baloney detector and in fact have translated some part of the baloney detector into our language (Indonesian).  I plan to translate them all for my friends so as to empower them.”
    (a staff member of a bilateral agency in West Timor, Indonesia)

    “...absolutely brilliant and inspiring.”
    (a documentary film producer, remarking on the 07/10/2005 commentary)

    “I found your site several months ago and within weeks had gone through your entire archives....  I check in several times a day for further information and am always excited to read the new articles.  Your insight into the difference between what is actually known versus what is reported has given me the confidence to stand up for what I believe.  I always felt there was more to the story, and your articles have given me the tools to read through the hype....  You are an invaluable help and I commend your efforts.  Keep up the great work.”
    (a sound technician in Alberta)

    “I discovered your site (through a link from a blog) a few weeks ago and I can’t stop reading it....  I also enjoy your insightful and humorous commentary at the end of each story.  If the evolutionists’ blindness wasn’t so sad, I would laugh harder.
      I have a masters degree in mechanical engineering from a leading University.  When I read the descriptions, see the pictures, and watch the movies of the inner workings of the cell, I’m absolutely amazed....  Thanks for bringing these amazing stories daily.  Keep up the good work.
    (an engineer in Virginia)

    “I stumbled across your site several months ago and have been reading it practically daily.  I enjoy the inter-links to previous material as well as the links to the quoted research.  I’ve been in head-to-head debate with a materialist for over a year now.  Evolution is just one of those debates.  Your site is among others that have been a real help in expanding my understanding.”
    (a software engineer in Pennsylvania)

    “I was in the April 28, 2005 issue of Nature [see 04/27/2005 story] regarding the rise of intelligent design in the universities.  It was through your website that I began my journey out of the crisis of faith which was mentioned in that article.  It was an honor to see you all highlighting the article in Nature.  Thank you for all you have done!
    (Salvador Cordova, George Mason University)

    “I shudder to think of the many ways in which you mislead readers, encouraging them to build a faith based on misunderstanding and ignorance.  Why don’t you allow people to have a faith that is grounded in a fuller understanding of the world?... Your website is a sham.”
    (a co-author of the paper reviewed in the 12/03/2003 entry who did not appreciate the unflattering commentary.  This led to a cordial interchange, but he could not divorce his reasoning from the science vs. faith dichotomy, and resulted in an impasse over definitions – but, at least, a more mutually respectful dialogue.  He never did explain how his paper supported Darwinian macroevolution.  He just claimed evolution is a fact.)

    “I absolutely love creation-evolution news.  As a Finnish university student very interested in science, I frequent your site to find out about all the new science stuff that’s been happening — you have such a knack for finding all this information!  I have been able to stump evolutionists with knowledge gleaned from your site many times.”
    (a student in Finland)

    “I love your site and read it almost every day.  I use it for my science class and 5th grade Sunday School class.  I also challenge Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers to get on the site to check out articles against the baloney they are taught in school.”
    (a teacher in Los Gatos, CA)

    “I have spent quite a few hours at Creation Evolution Headlines in the past week or so going over every article in the archives.  I thank you for such an informative and enjoyable site.  I will be visiting often and will share this link with others.”
    [Later] “ I am back to May 2004 in the archives.  I figured I should be farther back, but there is a ton of information to digest.”
    (a computer game designer in Colorado)

    “The IDEA Center also highly recommends visiting Creation-Evolution Headlines... the most expansive and clearly written origins news website on the internet!”
    (endorsement on Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center)

    “Hey Friends, Check out this site: Creation-Evolution Headlines.  This is a fantastic resource for the whole family.... a fantastic reference library with summaries, commentaries and great links that are added to daily—archives go back five years.”
    (a reader who found us in Georgia)

    “I just wanted to drop you a note telling you that at, I’ve added a link to your excellent Creation-Evolution news site.”
    (a radio announcer)

    “I cannot understand why anyone would invest so much time and effort to a website of sophistry and casuistry.  Why twist Christian apology into an illogic pretzel to placate your intellect?  Isn’t it easier to admit that your faith has no basis -- hence, ‘faith’.  It would be extricate [sic] yourself from intellectual dishonesty -- and from bearing false witness.”
    Sincerely, Rev. [name withheld] (an ex-Catholic, “apostate Christian” Natural/Scientific pantheist)

    “Just wanted to let you folks know that we are consistent readers and truly appreciate the job you are doing.  God bless you all this coming New Year.”
    (from two prominent creation researchers/writers in Oregon)

    “Thanks so much for your site!  It is brain candy!”
    (a reader in North Carolina)

    “I Love your site – probably a little too much.  I enjoy the commentary and the links to the original articles.”
    (a civil engineer in New York)

    “I’ve had your Creation/Evolution Headlines site on my favourites list for 18 months now, and I can truthfully say that it’s one of the best on the Internet, and I check in several times a week.  The constant stream of new information on such a variety of science issues should impress anyone, but the rigorous and humourous way that every thought is taken captive is inspiring.  I’m pleased that some Christians, and indeed, some webmasters, are devoting themselves to producing real content that leaves the reader in a better state than when they found him.”
    (a community safety manager in England)

    “I really appreciate the effort that you are making to provide the public with information about the problems with the General Theory of Evolution.  It gives me ammunition when I discuss evolution in my classroom.  I am tired of the evolutionary dogma.  I wish that more people would stand up against such ridiculous beliefs.”
    (a science teacher in Alabama)

    “If you choose to hold an opinion that flies in the face of every piece of evidence collected so far, you cannot be suprised [sic] when people dismiss your views.”
    (a “former Christian” software distributor, location not disclosed)

    “...the Creation Headlines is the best.  Visiting your site... is a standard part of my startup procedures every morning.”
    (a retired Air Force Chaplain)

    “I LOVE your site and respect the time and work you put into it.  I read the latest just about EVERY night before bed and send selection[s] out to others and tell others about it.  I thank you very much and keep up the good work (and humor).”
    (a USF grad in biology)

    “Answering your invitation for thoughts on your site is not difficult because of the excellent commentary I find.  Because of the breadth and depth of erudition apparent in the commentaries, I hope I’m not being presumptuous in suspecting the existence of contributions from a ‘Truth Underground’ comprised of dissident college faculty, teachers, scientists, and engineers.  If that’s not the case, then it is surely a potential only waiting to be realized.  Regardless, I remain in awe of the care taken in decomposing the evolutionary cant that bombards us from the specialist as well as popular press.”
    (a mathematician/physicist in Arizona)

    “I’m from Quebec, Canada.  I have studied in ‘pure sciences’ and after in actuarial mathematics.  I’m visiting this site 3-4 times in a week.  I’m learning a lot and this site gives me the opportunity to realize that this is a good time to be a creationist!”
    (a French Canadian reader)

    “I LOVE your Creation Safari site, and the Baloney Detector material.  OUTSTANDING JOB!!!!”
    (a reader in the Air Force)

    “You have a unique position in the Origins community.  Congratulations on the best current affairs news source on the origins net.  You may be able to write fast but your logic is fun to work through.”
    (a pediatrician in California)

    “Visit your site almost daily and find it very informative, educational and inspiring.”
    (a reader in western Canada)

    “I wish to thank you for the information you extend every day on your site.  It is truly a blessing!”
    (a reader in North Carolina)

    “I really appreciate your efforts in posting to this website.  I find it an incredibly useful way to keep up with recent research (I also check science news daily) and also to research particular topics.”
    (an IT consultant from Brisbane, Australia)

    “I would just like to say very good job with the work done here, very comprehensive.  I check your site every day.  It’s great to see real science directly on the front lines, toe to toe with the pseudoscience that's mindlessly spewed from the ‘prestigious’ science journals.”
    (a biology student in Illinois)

    “I’ve been checking in for a long time but thought I’d leave you a note, this time.  Your writing on these complex topics is insightful, informative with just the right amount of humor.  I appreciate the hard work that goes into monitoring the research from so many sources and then writing intelligently about them.”
    (an investment banker in California)

    “Keep up the great work.  You are giving a whole army of Christians plenty of ammunition to come out of the closet (everyone else has).  Most of us are not scientists, but most of the people we talk to are not scientists either, just ordinary people who have been fed baloney for years and years.”
    (a reader in Arizona)

    “Keep up the outstanding work!  You guys really ARE making a difference!”
    (a reader in Texas)

    “I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say that ‘science’ is not hostile towards ‘religion’.  It is the dogmatically religious that are unwaveringly hostile towards any kind of science which threatens their dearly-held precepts.  ‘Science’ (real, open-minded science) is not interested in theological navel-gazing.”
    Note: Please supply your name and location when writing in.  Anonymous attacks only make one look foolish and cowardly, and will not normally be printed.  This one was shown to display a bad example.

    “I appreciate reading your site every day.  It is a great way to keep up on not just the new research being done, but to also keep abreast of the evolving debate about evolution (Pun intended).... I find it an incredibly useful way to keep up with recent research (I also check science news daily) and also to research particular topics.”
    (an IT consultant in Brisbane, Australia)

    “I love your website.”
    (a student at a state university who used CEH when writing for the campus newsletter)

    “....when you claim great uncertainty for issues that are fairly well resolved you damage your already questionable credibility.  I’m sure your audience loves your ranting, but if you know as much about biochemistry, geology, astronomy, and the other fields you skewer, as you do about ornithology, you are spreading heat, not light.”
    (a professor of ornithology at a state university, responding to the 09/10/2002 headline)

    “I wanted to let you know I appreciate your headline news style of exposing the follies of evolutionism.... Your style gives us constant, up-to-date reminders that over and over again, the Bible creation account is vindicated and the evolutionary fables are refuted.”
    (a reader, location unknown)

    “You have a knack of extracting the gist of a technical paper, and digesting it into understandable terms.”
    (a nuclear physicist from Lawrence Livermore Labs who worked on the Manhattan Project)

    “After spending MORE time than I really had available going thru your MANY references I want to let you know how much I appreciate the effort you have put forth.
    The information is properly documented, and coming from recognized scientific sources is doubly valuable.  Your explanatory comments and sidebar quotations also add GREATLY to your overall effectiveness as they 1) provide an immediate interpretive starting point and 2) maintaining the reader’s interest.”
    (a reader in Michigan)

    “I am a huge fan of the site, and check daily for updates.”
    (reader location and occupation unknown)

    “I just wanted to take a minute to personally thank-you and let you know that you guys are providing an invaluable service!  We check your Web site weekly (if not daily) to make sure we have the latest information in the creation/evolution controversy.  Please know that your diligence and perseverance to teach the Truth have not gone unnoticed.  Keep up the great work!”
    (a PhD scientist involved in origins research)

    “You've got a very useful and informative Web site going.  The many readers who visit your site regularly realize that it requires considerable effort to maintain the quality level and to keep the reviews current....  I hope you can continue your excellent Web pages.  I have recommended them highly to others.”
    (a reader, location and occupation unknown)

    “As an apprentice apologist, I can always find an article that will spark a ‘spirited’ debate.  Keep ’em coming!  The Truth will prevail.”
    (a reader, location and occupation unknown)

    “Thanks for your web page and work.  I try to drop by at least once a week and read what you have.  I’m a Christian that is interested in science (I’m a mechanical engineer) and I find you topics interesting and helpful.  I enjoy your lessons and insights on Baloney Detection.”
    (a year later):
    “I read your site 2 to 3 times a week; which I’ve probably done for a couple of years.  I enjoy it for the interesting content, the logical arguments, what I can learn about biology/science, and your pointed commentary.”
    (a production designer in Kentucky)

    “I look up CREV headlines every day.  It is a wonderful source of information and encouragement to me.... Your gift of discerning the fallacies in evolutionists interpretation of scientific evidence is very helpful and educational for me.  Please keep it up.  Your website is the best I know of.”
    (a Presbyterian minister in New South Wales, Australia)

    “I’ve written to you before, but just wanted to say again how much I appreciate your site and all the work you put into it.  I check it almost every day and often share the contents (and web address) with lists on which I participate.  I don’t know how you do all that you do, but I am grateful for your energy and knowledge.”
    (a prominent creationist author)

    “I am new to your site, but I love it!  Thanks for updating it with such cool information.”
    (a home schooler)

    “I love your site.... Visit every day hoping for another of your brilliant demolitions of the foolish just-so stories of those who think themselves wise.”
    (a reader from Southern California)

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