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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Enforcement of Textbook Orthodoxy Annals: Xist Gene X-ed

In "Re-Write The Textbooks: Key Genetic Phenomenon Shown To Be Different Than Believed," (ScienceDaily, July 2, 2009) we learn,
Because females carry two copies of the X chromosome to males’ one X and one Y, they harbor a potentially toxic double dose of the over 1000 genes that reside on the X chromosome.

To compensate for this imbalance, mammals such as mice and humans shut down one entire X-chromosome through a phenomenon known as X-inactivation. For almost two decades, researchers have believed that one particular gene, called Xist, provides the molecular trigger of X-inactivation.

Now, a new UNC study appearing online July 1 in the journal Nature disputes the current dogma by showing that this process can occur even in the absence of this gene.
Hope no careers went down on account of doubt on this point ...

So when is Harlequin going to come out with their Neanderthal romance series?

And what should they call it? The Browridge series?

Anyway, here's the latest plot from New Scientist, "Why Neanderthals were always an endangered species":

For much of their 400,000 year history, Neanderthals were few and far between, a new analysis of genetic material from several of the extinct, ancient humans now suggests.

It's difficult to put a number on the population of a species based on DNA alone, but less than a few hundred thousand of the archaic humans roamed Europe and Asia at any one time, says Adrian Briggs, an evolutionary geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. "There never were million and millions of Neanderthals," he told New Scientist.

I didn't know homo sapiens was that numerous in those days either, actually ....

Now, here's another recent plot line advanced: "Human evolution: Neanderthals as snacks." Yeah, we supposedly ate them. I don't see this story line working for Harlequin, but maybe a vampire fiction house.

It sure gives new meaning to gassy claims like "There's a little bit of them in us, you know."

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


Podcasts in the intelligent design controversy

Back from a wedding, and clearing out the ol' Inbox, here are some podcasts from the evil Discovery Institute, guaranteed to make you more evil:

1. Art and Intelligent Design: The Connections Between Nature and Human Design

Click here to listen.

On this episode of ID The Future, medical illustrator and artist Jody Sjogren, tells her scientific journey from being a passive “go-with-the-flow” Darwinist to becoming a Darwin-skeptic as she learned about the workings of biology and human-designed machines and gained experience with the creative process.

Sjogren graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology, and then from the Medical College of Georgia with a Master of Science degree in Medical Illustration. She also has a background in aviation. She now works as an artist with Metamorphosis Studios and contributes to, both of which feature her highly regarded art connecting biological avian flight with human-designed flight-machines.

[Most serious, original artists I have known (not the poseurs) were sympathetic to design in nature, because they know that ideas do not come from nowhere, nor are they the product of an infinitely slow series of steps pruned by natural selection. One needs to be connected to as cosmic source of ideas in order to acquire original ones oneself.]

2. Darwin's Tree of Life Splinters

Click here to listen.

On this episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin takes a keen-eyed look at Darwin's tree of life and finds that common descent, far from being confirmed by the data, is actually contradicted by it, as New Scientist pointed out in a recent cover story, "Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life."

Listen in to learn how the data is challenging Darwinist assumptions, and check out "A Primer on the Tree of Life" for more information.

[How about Darwin's groundcover of life? Could we settle for a sort of Creeping Charlie of Life?]

3. DNA, Signature in the Cell, and Francis Collins at the NIH

Click here to listen.

This episode of ID the Future features an interview with Stephen Meyer on the Sandy Rios show, where he answered questions about DNA, his new book, Signature in the Cell, and the recent appointment of Francis Collins to the NIH.
For continuing updates on other interviews and appearances featuring Dr. Meyer, visit

[I've been reading Signature, and it is surprisingly readable and entertaining.]

4. Founding Father Thomas Jefferson on Intelligent Design

Click here to listen.

Critics of intelligent design sometimes claim they are defending the principles of American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson in trying to ban discussions of intelligent design. In the words of one writer, “Thomas Jefferson makes it quite clear that there was not a consensus of support among the authors of the Constitution... to support theological doctrines such as intelligent design.” But would Thomas Jefferson himself agree? In this special July 4th edition of ID the Future, Discovery Institute Senior Fellow John West explores the real views of Jefferson on intelligent design.

[New Scientist's Ewen Callaway doesn't agree, and thinks Jefferson would not have supported design. If he is a Brit, he must, of course, know better. Brits always know better about North America than North Americans do.]

5. Stephen C. Meyer Tackles the Question That Stumped Darwin

Click here to listen.

This episode of ID the Future features CSC director Stephen C. Meyer on the Rick Hamada program, where he addresses the critical question that stumped Darwin: where did the first life come from? Listen in for Steve's answer, and be sure to check out for the latest news and media appearances with Dr. Meyer.

[Hey, it didn't just stump Darwin, it stumped - and stumps - just about everyone. That's why I largely moved origin of life stuff off the Post-Darwinist onto the much more speculative Colliding Universes blog - about competing theories of our universe. It belongs in the same camp - ultra-lite on facts, even by comparison with typical Darwin stuff.]

Coffee!: Vote on Francis Collins's proposed administrative priorities!

If confirmed, what should Francis Collins do first at NIH?

Guess which priority came out ahead?

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

Oo-ga! oo-ga! We orangs, NOT chimps!!

British physicist David J. Tyler writes, in "Humanity as the second orang-utan" (ARN, 2 July 2009)
The world of human phylogeny has been hit by a bombshell. Although scholars and textbooks are presenting chimpanzees as man's closest relatives, Grehan and Schwartz have revived the case for orangutans. They consider hominoids to be comprised of two sister clades: the human-orangutan clade (dental hominoids) and the chimpanzee-gorilla clade (African apes). They claim that humans and orangutans "share a common ancestor that excludes the extant African apes". Since it is received wisdom that chimps are the nearest relative to humans because we share over 98% of their genes and since humans are referred to as the "third chimpanzee", the ramifications of the new paper are immense!
You bet, especially for the 98% chimpanzee industry. Read more here.

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Michael Reiss (that Christian Darwinist clergyman who got dumped from the Royal Society) tries to explain his position

According to British physicist David Tyler, here "Michael Reiss revisits his worldview theme."
In his discussion of the nature of science, Reiss draws attention to the work of Robert Merton and Karl Popper. Whilst there is much of value here, he writes, "most historians and philosophers of science would argue that there is more to the nature of science". He considers the "seminal contributions" of Thomas Kuhn and the concept of scientific paradigms, plus the related analysis of research programs by Lakatos. More recently, science has become "more influenced by politics; it is more industrialized; and it is more bureaucratic." Then comes the conclusion: "The effect of these changes is to make the boundaries around the city of science a bit fuzzier. [. . .] Of course, if one accepts the contributions of the social study of science one finds these boundaries fuzzier still."

Whilst all this is helpful, it is not clear to me how this affects the subsequent argument of the paper. The paradigms affecting evolutionary biology are not analysed; nor the research programs of scientists involved with origins research. The fuzzy boundaries are not mentioned again. Reiss could have taken the opportunity to show the defenders of "scientific materialism" where they fit into the analysis - thereby constricting their comfort zone - but he does not. Later, he says that creationism "is not really a science in that its ultimate authority is scriptural and theological rather than the evidence obtained from the natural world". Creationists, of course, do not see any incompatibility between their ultimate authority and working with evidences from the natural world - but that is another discussion. If ultimate authority is an issue, what can be said of the many advocates of "scientific materialism"? What shall we make of Richard Lewontin's oft-quoted maxim: "Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."? Does this statement imply that Lewontinism 'is not really a science in that its ultimate authority is philosophical materialism rather than the evidence obtained from the natural world'?

My sense is, Reiss was just trying to be nice and helpful and serve Darwin faithfully - and he just didn't get the fact that the Darwin fans are past that now. They aim at power, and destroying him Reiss a minor way of demonstrating that.

See also: Michael Reiss: Sinner in the hands of an angry god.


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