Sunday, January 28, 2007

Islamic Devolution

Glenn Reynolds reports on British Muslims not inoculating their children against childhood illnesses because they contain substances that Muslims should not ingest.

Dr Abdul Majid Katme, head of the Islamic Medical Association, says almost all vaccines contain un-Islamic "haram" derivatives of animal or human tissue, and that Muslim parents are better off letting childrens' immune systems develop on their own.

Dr. Reynolds calls it "Evolution in action."

It is worth noting that this will likely not have much effect one way or another. I didn't get any of the childhood disease inoculations and neither did my wife. In fact, the population of the earth reached 4 billion people just fine without them. Having said that, the purity issue is a bit rigid and cult-ish. The story relates that some other Muslim groups think it is ridiculous as well.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Neandertal/Modern Human confluence, Part ?

In an article entitled "Skull shows possible human/Neanderthal breeding," Al-Reuters reports that a skull found in a Romanian cave shows exactly that. It reads in part:

DNA samples taken from Neanderthal bones suggest there was no mixing, or at least that any Neanderthal genetic contribution did not make it to the modern DNA pool.

But Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis has in the past found bones that he believes show both modern human and Neanderthal traits, and now he and colleagues have found a skull.

What the article does not recound is the eruption that occurred the last time there was a "hybrid" discovery, which occurred at a cave at Lagar Velho, Portugal. Trinkaus demonstrated what he thought were hybrid characteristics, while Ian Tattersall viewed it as nothing more than a chunky Gravettian kid. Trinkaus' response was nothing short of apalling, calling into question Tattersall's scientific abilities, his upbringing and his ancestry. Tattersall's original article on the Lagar Velho child is here and his response to Trinkaus' screed is here. I have been unable to find Trinkaus' vitriolic response to the article anywhere on the net. That is, perhaps, just as well.

Glenn Morton, writing for the ASA, commented on the Lagar Velho remains at the time. Lets hope this new find does not generate the kind of responses that the Lagar Velho child did.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Flock of Dodos

Hard to tell exactly what the point is here but, in honor of the new decisions of the Kansas school board, A National Dodos Darwin Day event is being organized to coincide with Darwin Day in various parts of the country this year. A contest of sorts, contestants are to show up dressed as Charles Darwin, a Dodo bird or Muffy Moose. Knoxville's contest is at McClung Museum on February 12, 2007. Time to think up a costume, I guess.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Biologic Institute

Celeste Biever of the New Scientist went to the Biologic Institute in Seattle, Washington and was not welcomed with open arms. Here is her account. If this link does not work or is behind a subscription wall, try the NCSE review. As Ms. Biever notes:

The message is clear. If ID supporters can bolster their case by citing more experimental research, another judge at some future date might conclude that ID does qualify as science, and is therefore a legitimate topic for discussion in American science classrooms. This is precisely the kind of scientific respectability that research at the Biologic Institute is attempting to provide. "We need all the input we can get in the sciences," Weber told me. "What we are doing is necessary to move ID along."

This will be ID's greatest challenge. All along, the founders and promoters of ID have resisted calls to operationalize the science behind it. For evidence of this see the post below about William Dembski. This is a problem that was examined at length by Howard van Till.