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Cancer Causing Viruses

Paul Ewald, an evolutionary biologist at University of Louisville in Kentucky states his conviction, in one interview with Discover Magazine that, that by 2050 the human species will have found that between 80% and as high as 95% of cancers are caused by viruses. [more inside]
posted by mdpatrick on Sep 30, 2009 - 19 comments

Man vs. God

Noted religious thinker Karen Armstrong and noted atheist thinker Richard Dawkins face off - sorta kinda - in the WSJ: We commissioned Karen Armstrong and Richard Dawkins to respond independently to the question "Where does evolution leave God?" Neither knew what the other would say. Here are the results. Previously.
posted by fleetmouse on Sep 25, 2009 - 310 comments

College makes you an atheist!

Former child actor Kirk Cameron and his friend Ray (The Banana Guy) Comfort [previously] seek to distribute the "correct" (aka altered) version of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species to 50,000 students at the nation's top 50 universities as the book is soon to celebrate its 150th anniversary. Their version includes a 50-page introduction which "...gives the history of evolution, a timeline of Darwin's life, Adolph Hitler's undeniable connection with the theory, Darwin's racism, his disdain for women, and Darwin's thoughts on the existence of God..." Cameron's promotional video for the project: 'Origin Into Schools.' A video response: "Origin of Stupidity." [more inside]
posted by ericb on Sep 24, 2009 - 281 comments

transcendental numbers rumble in the technium

Extropy
How did life arise? What is information? In his recent dispatches from The Technium, Kevin Kelly would say extropy (cf. negentropy & Prigogine). [previously 1|2]
posted by kliuless on Sep 20, 2009 - 70 comments

Since when does Hollywood shy away from controversy?

The Producer Cites Religious Controversy. The Director points to a recessionary trend against "serious" movies. A new film about Charles Darwin's life ("Creation") is reportedly having difficulty finding a US distributor. ( Creation: IMDB / Official Site / Trailer / Spoiler-laden review from Roger Ebert / LA Times review // Darwin: Previously on MeFi).
posted by zarq on Sep 13, 2009 - 70 comments

The Five Best? Really?

PZ Myers takes on the Five Best arguments for creationism. PZ Myers (previously linked) is an apologist and vocal advocate of evolution. Because of his regular discussions about the distortions made by Creationists, he earned his place as one of the 'Top 5 media leftists who distort Americans' views on the Bush and Obama presidencies.' His reaction to joining such top Distortionists as Paul Krugman, Jon Meacham, Ezra Klein and more is pretty entertaining. And if you're interested in learning about the scientific answer to the multitude of creationist arguments, check this out.
posted by glaucon on Sep 10, 2009 - 98 comments

Darwin's Evolving Thoughts

The Preservation of Favoured Traces: a visualization of Charles Darwin's edits and additions to On the Origin of Species over the course of six editions. (via) [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Sep 5, 2009 - 6 comments

Common Sense

C0nc0rdance [sytl] asks; How far should we trust common sense? A less than 9 min video on Common Sense as it relates to Science. Enjoy.
posted by nola on Aug 30, 2009 - 30 comments

The Third Replicator

Evolution's third replicator: Genes, memes, and now what?
posted by homunculus on Jul 31, 2009 - 68 comments

The Beauty Race

Researchers have found that beautiful women have more children than their plainer counterparts and that a higher proportion of those children are female. Those daughters, once adult, also tend to be attractive and so repeat the pattern.
posted by monospace on Jul 28, 2009 - 111 comments

Dream A Little Dream

Dreaming of Nonsense: The Evolutionary Enigma of Dream Content. Why on earth do our minds conjure up such ridiculous imagery, such inane thoughts, such spectacularly vivid and surreal landscapes, intense emotions—such narrative trash? [more inside]
posted by amyms on Jun 26, 2009 - 14 comments

prehistoric woof

The Village Dog Project is an ongoing research project to document genetic diversity in pariah dogs. These dogs haven't been subject to breed pressure, and may be able to help researchers learn more about the transition from wolf to dog. (via)
posted by Pants! on Jun 23, 2009 - 5 comments

Missing Link or Piltdown

Jørn Hurum, who brought the world the alleged missing link, Ida (previously), has been described by colleagues as "a bit of a showman". While Hurum maintains his assessment of Ida is correct, others have said his claim at finding the missing link is "seriously likely to undermine the credibility of science in the public eye". [more inside]
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing on Jun 20, 2009 - 19 comments

Evolution and intellect

On hive minds, “cognitive calisthenics”, “You+”. Cascio predicts that in the near future “many more humans will have the capacity to do something that was once limited to a hermetic priesthood”. Get Smart, by Jamais Cascio, the Atlantic, July/August 2009
posted by mareli on Jun 18, 2009 - 26 comments

A robot Hitler?

Electronic Evolution: Research Show Robots Forming Human-like Societies [more inside]
posted by supercres on Jun 2, 2009 - 38 comments

Meet the missing link.

Meet Ida, the missing link. "Ida is the most complete early primate fossil ever found, and scientists believe that she could be one of our earliest ancestors. She is a remarkable link between the first primates and modern humans and despite having lived 47 million years ago, her features show striking similarities to our own."
posted by HumanComplex on May 19, 2009 - 51 comments

"Greetings from Idiot America"

Charles Pierce, author of the 2005 essay "Greetings from Idiot America" decrying the rise of faith-based anti-intellectualism, has expanded his rant into a full length book: Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free. (via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 12, 2009 - 65 comments

A Moment in Time

AronRa has done some really nice YouTube vids on science (previously). In this latest vlog An Archaeological Moment in Time, he take(s) a look at how different societies are advancing at different rates on the same date in the distant past.
posted by nola on May 11, 2009 - 10 comments

Secrets Of The Phallus

Why is the penis shaped like that? [T]he human penis is actually an impressive “tool” in the truest sense of the word, one manufactured by nature over hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution. You may be surprised to discover just how highly specialized a tool it is. Furthermore, you’d be amazed at what its appearance can tell us about the nature of our sexuality.
posted by hippybear on May 5, 2009 - 156 comments

Puijila darwini Makes a "Splash" in the Paleo World

On April 23, 2009 Natalia Rybczynski, Mary R. Dawson, and Richard H. Tedford published their paper "A semi-aquatic Arctic mammalian carnivore from the Miocene epoch and origin of Pinnipedia" in the journal, Nature, detailing their 2007 discovery of the species they have named Puijila darwini. The carnivorous marine mammal, which lived about 21 to 24 million years ago, was discovered practically by accident, but as a "transitional fossil" is re-writing our understanding of pinniped evolution. It could also be noted that it was most likely cute as all get out, and is already the star of it's own mini documentary.
posted by vertigo25 on Apr 29, 2009 - 28 comments

The Blind Watchmaker applet

This is a fun little atheistic distraction: The interactive Blind Watchmaker applet demonstrates how random mutation followed by non-random selection can lead to interesting, complex forms. The Blind Watchmaker algorithm was conceived by Richard Dawkins and is described in his book of the same name. The resultant forms (which can begin to look like plants and bugs) are called "biomorphs," visual representations of a set of genes. [more inside]
posted by technically yours on Apr 20, 2009 - 37 comments

God, Memes and Steel

Jared Diamond on the Evolution of Religions. (SLYT)
posted by Artw on Apr 8, 2009 - 46 comments

Dawkins Vs. OKlahoma

Richard Dawkins was recently invited to speak at the University of Oklahoma’s Darwin 2009 series of lectures on March 6th, 2009. The speech to be entitled "The Purpose of Purpose" quickly grew in popularity and even had to be moved to a larger venue to accommodate the quickly increasing crowd. Of course, word eventually reached Todd Thompson. Friction ensues. [more inside]
posted by 5imian on Apr 3, 2009 - 103 comments

How Do We Know What We Know?

For most of us, science arrives in our lives packaged neatly as fact. But how did it get that way? Science is an active process of observation and investigation. Evidence: How Do We Know What We Know? [HTML version, Flash version also available] examines that process, revealing the ways in which ideas and information become knowledge and understanding. In this case study in human origins, the folks from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology explore how scientific evidence is being used to shape our current understanding of ourselves: What makes us human—and how did we get this way?
posted by netbros on Mar 25, 2009 - 15 comments

Bats Flying in Slow Motion

How To Be A Bat [Life in Motion] Carl Zimmer has a lengthy post about Bats over at Discover magazine's website. Several slow motion videos of bat flight including a cool matlabish model of a bat flight vortex. As with all flying takoffs are optional and landings are mandatory so they also have slow motion video of two point and four point landings as well as well as some more pedestrian videos.
posted by srboisvert on Mar 20, 2009 - 21 comments

cluck cluck cluck BAWK! ROAR!!

When and if the dinochicken is created, Horner looks forward to bringing it out on a leash during lectures. (book)
posted by Pants! on Mar 15, 2009 - 24 comments

Death of the dirty word

Why would an evolutionary biologist study words? It turns out there is an astonishing parallel between the evolution of words in a lexicon and the evolution of genes in an organism. The word two, for example, has been around much longer than most, and will likely be with us for millennia, whereas the comparatively rare and recent word dirty has undergone many mutations, and will probably be extinct in a few hundred years. Professor Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading, UK, tells us why on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's program As It Happens. Pull slider to 16:00 to start the seven minute interview.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium on Mar 7, 2009 - 49 comments

Homo Evolutis

Juan Enriquez: Tech evolution will eclipse the financial crisis. "Even as mega-banks topple, Juan Enriquez says the big reboot is yet to come. But don't look for it on your ballot -- or in the stock exchange. It'll come from science labs, and it promises keener bodies and minds. Our kids are going to be ... different."
posted by homunculus on Feb 18, 2009 - 41 comments

Invasional Meltdown

What Invasive Species Are Trying to Tell Us. "Walking snakeheads, carnivorous snails, and the superpredator from the reef: The invasion has begun." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Feb 16, 2009 - 46 comments

whither or wither?

What is the future of capitalism?
a) 3.0
b) Canada* ([1],[2])
c) 'smart growth' (viz.)
d) none of the above** [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Feb 15, 2009 - 86 comments

If music be the food of love, play on...

Why music? Music is a human universal, but why did we evolve a desire to create, perform, and enjoy it? From a biological standpoint, does it contribute to survival or, more likely, mate selection and reproduction?
posted by rocket88 on Feb 13, 2009 - 51 comments

Voyage Of Discovery

30 years ago the BBC celebrated the anniversary of Charles Darwin with the drama series The Voyage of Charles Darwin depicting his life. The whole thing is now on Youtube. ) [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Feb 12, 2009 - 7 comments

Happy Birthday, Mr Darwin

Dawkins on Darwin | A Peek into the Life of Darwin with Jon Amiel, Director of Creation | Six scientific hot spots for modern Darwins | 'Why Evolution Is True,' by Jerry A. Coyne
posted by chuckdarwin on Feb 12, 2009 - 15 comments

Evolution and Emancipation

Darwin the abolitionist. "The theory of evolution is regarded as a triumph of disinterested scientific reason. Yet, on the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species, new research reveals that Darwin was driven to the idea of common descent by a great moral cause." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Feb 8, 2009 - 24 comments

The Spherical Wave Structure of Matter in Space

On Truth and Reality. Despite several thousand years of failure to correctly understand physical reality (hence the current postmodern view that this is impossible) it is actually very simple to work out how matter exists and moves about in Space. The rules of Science (Occam's Razor / Simplicity) and Metaphysics (Dynamic Unity of Reality) require that reality be described from only one single source existing, as Leibniz wrote: "because of the interconnection of all things with one another." [more inside]
posted by netbros on Jan 30, 2009 - 46 comments

The compatibility of science and religion

Seeing and Believing: The never-ending attempt to reconcile science and religion, and why it is doomed to fail. [Via Pharyngula]
posted by homunculus on Jan 27, 2009 - 134 comments

Billionaires have more sons

Billionaires have more grandchildren through their sons than through their daughters, because the status advantage is more reproductively valuable to the sons. Therefore, it would be adaptive for the mothers of their children to bear more sons than daughters. But surely that can't be; mothers can't control the sex of their children. Oh but so it is: billionaires have 60% male children. [more inside]
posted by grobstein on Jan 17, 2009 - 69 comments

Extending the Mind

How Google Is Making Us Smarter: Humans are "natural-born cyborgs," and the Internet is our giant "extended mind."
posted by homunculus on Jan 15, 2009 - 50 comments

(Un)blinding them with science!

In a breathless, passionate, yet level-headed 15 part series, YouTube user, paleontologist, ex-Christian, and potential Space Coyote impersonator AronRa presents an uncommonly well-written and presented argument against what he identifies as the 14 "Fundamental Falsehoods of Creationism." [more inside]
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism on Jan 13, 2009 - 57 comments

eyevolution

Although the evolution of the eye is often pointed to by evolution's skeptics as evidence of design, biologists have been quick to point out evidence to the contrary. Today, Julian Partridge of Bristol University's Ecology of Vision Research Unit has brought to light evidence of a Pacific fish that has evolved biological mirrors for navigating murky water.
posted by Pants! on Jan 8, 2009 - 14 comments

Jesus Christ Dinosaur

The Jesus Christ dinosaur hypothesis for the evolution of flight (PDF).
posted by homunculus on Dec 25, 2008 - 40 comments

Islam and Evolution

Bracing for Islamic Creationism (PDF). "To avoid a vast rejection of evolution in the Muslim world, scientists can present the theory as the bedrock of biology and can stress its practical applications." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Dec 17, 2008 - 47 comments

The unfortunate burden of genius

Medical studies have indicated that high intelligence is often synonymous with the likelihood of alcoholism and suicidal tendencies. Animal studies have suggested that being smarter can actually be bad for animals...and it's not always an advantage for humans either. There should be a point here, but I'm a little fuzzy on what it is.
posted by deusdiabolus on Dec 9, 2008 - 85 comments

What Good Is Half A Machine?

One of the classic arguments against evolution by natural selection is "what good is half an X?" where X is an eye, a wing or some other complex body part or system. Directly responding to the implicit challenge some researchers have been not just figuring out how X could have evolved, but actually evolving new complex machines (previously). The basic ideas are so simple that web versions (explanation and discussion) have been popping up.
posted by DU on Dec 9, 2008 - 67 comments

your leisure is my pleasure

Idle Theory: Life Does The Least
posted by kliuless on Dec 6, 2008 - 28 comments

"It fills me with contempt."

Roger Ebert gives Ben Stein a spanking. [more inside]
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing on Dec 6, 2008 - 173 comments

Otoliths

The Orienting Stone. "A snowy white stone that gives shape to the universe: as it happens, we all carry within our skulls the vestige of such a thing, a kind of existentially reversed qibla (this one perspectival, the other metaphysical) that gives us our sense of being at the center of things, the sense that we are upright at the origin point of a three-dimensional space..." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Dec 3, 2008 - 22 comments

The Disappearing Male

“The Disappearing Male” is a one-hour documentary about one of the most important, and least publicized, issues facing the human species: the toxic threat to the male reproductive system. The whole documentary is on Google Video.
posted by rageagainsttherobots on Nov 22, 2008 - 118 comments

Making Tracks

"We were looking for pretty animals that have eyes, are coloured, or glow in the dark; instead, the most interesting find was the organism that was blind, brainless, and completely covered in mud." Some of the oldest fossil records may need to be reconsidered: Dr. Mikhail Matz of the University of Texas has discovered Gromia Sphaerica, a species of protist, making tracks.... [more inside]
posted by Kronos_to_Earth on Nov 22, 2008 - 21 comments

Flying Fish

The longer the fish can stay out of the water the less likely a predator will catch it. Flying fish are showing up all over the world.
posted by rageagainsttherobots on Nov 16, 2008 - 28 comments

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