September 19, 2011
Few notions are as entrenched in medical dogma as the idea of pounding infections with long courses of high-dose drugs. So it came as a bit of heresy this summer when a Pennsylvania State University evolutionary biologist suggested that in some cases a softer blow might actually work better. The biologist, Andrew Read, started his biology career in the 1980s studying plumage in birds, since the colors and other qualities of feathers are connected to a bird's lack of parasites. Then, he realized there was nobody in evolutionary biology studying the parasites.
August 29, 2011
When evangelical Texas governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry said evolution was a theory that has "got some gaps," he showed that if anything, religious and political gripes with evolution are intensifying, even as Darwin's idea remains established in the bedrock of science. Other Republican runners are equally hostile to evolution - Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul support the teaching of creationism. When pushed, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have espoused a sort of mix, Gingrich saying that he believes in both creation and evolution, and Romney saying that he believes God designed the universe but evolution shaped the human body.
August 23, 2011 |
Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has had a rollicking last few days. It all started with a tweet he posted Thursday: "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy. " Lunacy? Heresy? Politics. Huntsman was aiming at a rival, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who was dissing evolution and climate change on a roll through New Hampshire. The tweet spurred thousands of followers, retweets, and blog rants, inflated Huntsman's Klout score (one measure of influence on the Internet)
August 8, 2011
Among the deeper questions looming in science is the degree to which the outcome of evolution is governed by chance. Stephen Jay Gould famously addressed the question in his book Wonderful Life , proposing that if time were wound back 500 million years or so and allowed to run again, evolution would produce a completely different mix of living things - one without us. Penn State evolutionary biologist Blair Hedges says his observations have...
July 14, 2011 |
Have you ever noticed how Phillies players wear their uniforms isn't always uniform? The differences are subtle, but still noteworthy. Warning to baseball purists: No, this has nothing to do with what happens on the field. But cut us a break. We style watchers can't help but pick up on these tiny nods to player individualism and speculate over what they might reveal about a player. For instance, Cole Hamels wears what appears to be an inexpensive titanium necklace around his neck, which purportedly has energy-balancing properties that help reduce stress and fatigue.
June 27, 2011 |
When the contestants in the Miss USA pageant last week were asked whether evolution should be taught in schools, many volunteered that they either "believed" or "didn't believe" in the concept. "I don't believe in evolution," said Miss Alabama. "They should teach both sides since some people believe in evolution and some people believe in creation," said Miss Arizona. "It's something people believe in," said Miss Florida. "I believe in evolution . . . and I like to believe in, like, the big bang theory," said Miss California, who won the crown.
June 15, 2011
As promised, I'm posting a rebuttal to a recent letter. To begin with, there are a couple of factual errors in this paragraph: "When I was young and going to school, I was taught that fossilization was a natural occurrence. That proved to be false. They told me that mankind was destroying the ozone with fluorocarbon. That proved to be false. Just because someone is a scientist doesn't mean they get it all right. Just because someone believes in evolution doesn't mean it is true. After all, people used to believe that the world was flat, right?"
May 29, 2011 |
The Trenton Line into Center City: A couple of guys tap at their iPads, cruising e-mail, scores, stocks, games. A few women are immersed in their Nooks or Kindles. If you've ever seen this picture, you've seen support for studies of how we use new media such as tablet computers (iPad, HP Slate, Motorola Xoom) and e-readers (Nook, Kindle, Sony Reader). In a study released in August, Forrester Research found that 56 percent of computer tablet owners are male, while 55 percent of e-reader owners are female.
May 9, 2011 |
On Easter, Pope Benedict XVI spoke out against both creationism and evolution, or so it looked anyway. About the biblical account of Genesis, he said, "It is not information about the external processes by which the cosmos and man himself came into being. " So much for literal creationism. But then he seemed to take a swipe at science, proposing that mankind cannot be just another product of evolution. "It is not the case that in the expanding universe, at a late stage, in some tiny corner of the cosmos, there evolved randomly some species of living being capable of reasoning and of trying to find rationality within creation, or to bring rationality into it. " Many biologists beg to differ: Evolution isn't completely random, they say, and neither is it geared to produce humans.
May 2, 2011 |
Darwinism is more often associated with the liberal left than the conservative right, but it's moved a long way across the political spectrum from Darwin's day, when it was embraced by advocates of free-market economics, colonialism, and similar ideas today associated with the right. Apparently, Darwinism is still sometimes invoked in arguments for economic conservatism. It's reflected in a recent e-mail I received from a reader: "Maybe you should write about the current reversing of evolution by humans, using technology.