Creation-Evolution Headlines
November 2010
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“We could solve much of the wrongness problem ... if the world simply stopped expecting scientists to be right.  That’s because being wrong in science is fine, and even necessary—as long as scientists recognize that they blew it, report their mistake openly instead of disguising it as a success, and then move on to the next thing, until they come up with the very occasional genuine breakthrough.  But as long as careers remain contingent on producing a stream of research that’s dressed up to seem more right than it is, scientists will keep delivering exactly that.”
—David H. Freeman, in The Atlantic, November 2010.
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Biomimetics Is On a Roll     11/30/2010    
Nov 30, 2010 — There’s a gold rush on: a rush to copy living technology.  Scientists have found that plants, animals and cells have the solutions to problems that will help us all, if we will just study them, imitate them, or harness them.

  1. Jellyfish pumps:  Need a flexible pump for medical use?  Look no further than the aquarium tank, where jellyfish have mastered the art of propulsion with soft material.  Science Daily reported on work at Caltech to study how jellyfish do it.  “Jellyfish at millimeter scales, for example, exploit the small layer of water that adheres to their surface as they move and use it as additional paddle at no extra cost,  the article said.  “Further, a clever arrangement of multiple pacemakers within the jellyfish body allow for a reliable yet tunable pumping mechanism.”  One of the researchers “plans to use this practical understanding to help design a whole spectrum of flexible pumps that are optimized for different tasks and conditions.”
  2. Elephant trunks:  Getting robotic arms to act gracefully and gently has been a major challenge.  Imagine the pain of shaking hands with a typical robot.  Why not learn the secrets from an elephant, whose trunk can gently pick up a peanut out of a child’s hand?  That’s what Festo, a German company, did.  They created the “elephant’s trunk-inspired Bionic Handling Assistant,” reported New Scientist, which “is peppered with resistance sensors that limit its extension when it senses contact – potentially making it safe for anyone to use and interact with.”  A video clip shows the device doing a clumsy but encouraging imitation of an elephant trunk.
        The short article makes it clear this is not the only example of bio-inspiration going on in Germany:
    Despite its futuristic appearance, Festo’s isn’t the only odd robot arm in development.  A European-wide team has developed something similarly flexible – but here the inspiration came from an octopus’s limb.  Instead of pneumatics, the EU team wants to drive their arm with “electroactive polymers” – smart plastics that bend when a voltage is applied.
        Festo’s decision to seek inspiration from a lumbering mammal marks a departure: it has previously created the most graceful of robotic penguins, jellyfish and manta rays.
        And another German team has created the AirFish: an airship that wags its tail like a rainbow trout.
    Live Science also discussed cheerfully the new elephant-trunk robotic arm, but gave the credit to chance as the inventor: “‘Biomimicry,’ as this design and engineering aesthetic is called, draws inspiration from the biomechanical systems that the process of evolution has honed for millions of years, often resulting in startling insights over manmade artificial solutions.”
  3. Shark skin:  Want to reduce drag on swimsuits and ships’ hulls?  Make like a shark, said National Geographic News says.  It’s “scaly hide serves as both a suit of armor and a means of streamlining movement,” researchers at the University of Alabama are finding.  Professor Amy Lang also gave credit to Darwin: “Overall, sharks’ 400 million years of evolution for strength and speed may someday inspire better designs for machines that are prone to drag, such as aircraft, Lang noted.”
  4. Shark sub.  The whale shark is the world’s biggest fish.  How does it keep all that mass afloat?  “Whale Sharks Use Geometry to Avoid Sinking,” reported Science Daily.  Marine biologists publishing in the British Ecological Society journal Functional Ecology found that the whale shark’s glide, that looks so natural, is really an “astonishing feat of mathematics and energy conservation.”  Adrian Gleiss from Swansea University noted, “oceanic animals not only have to consider their travel speed, but also how vertical movement will affect their energy expenditure, which changes the whole perspective.”
        Sensors placed on the giants showed that they can use their negative buoyancy to descend, but need to flap their tails when ascending; nevertheless, their motion “optimized the energetic cost of vertical movement,” the researchers found.  “This use of negative buoyancy may play a large part in oceanic sharks being able to locate and travel between scarce and unpredictable food sources efficiently.”  Although this article did not mention biomimetics, the principle sounds like something submarine designers could use.
  5. Cell rotors:  Another German team has succeeded in getting a three-blade structure in a hexagonal cage billionths of a meter across to rotate spontaneously.  “Nature itself provides the role model for such self-organizing systems,” a report on PhysOrg said, accompanied by a video clip that shows the nano-rotor in action.  The primitive device is a far cry from those found in living cells: “However, the coveted dream of using self-organization effects in such a way that nano machines [i.e., in the cell] assemble themselves is still a thing of the future.”  Presumably, progress will be made by intelligent design.
  6. Electrical engineering turns bioengineering:  Students at the University of Texas at Dallas are competing in contests to harness bacteria for useful purposes.  Since E. coli bacteria already have the toolkit for probing chemicals, the students employ synthetic biology techniques to make them do what they want – such as turning green when sensing toxins.  Story at PhysOrg.  An engineering prof said, “Synthetic biology borrows a lot of ideas from engineering and puts them in the context of biology.” 
  7. Got that glow:  Speaking of fluorescent proteins (retrieved from jellyfish), Vyv Salisbury, a biomedical researcher at University of West England, is excited about the possibilities of putting glowing bacteria to use.  They have “enormous future potential” to “produce exquisitely sensitive and versatile microbial biosensors,” PhysOrg reported, opening with the promise, “A professor from the University of the West of England will present her inaugural lecture on bioluminesence [sic] and give insight into how this natural phenomenon has been used to make biomarkers that are making exciting breakthroughs in several areas of health research.”
  8. Whale blades:  According to PhysOrg, “lessons learned from the ocean’s largest mammals has inspired United States Naval Academy researchers to tackle one of the serious challenges of this technology: the low velocity associated with many tidal flows and the difficulty of extracting useful energy from low speed flows using current designs.”  Enter the humpback whale, with its bumpy-edged fins.  Turns out that design improves performance: “We designed a novel blade modification for potential turbine performance improvement, which was inspired by humpback whale flippers, with the addition of tubercles, or bumps, to the leading edge of each blade,” announced Mark Murray, a Naval Academy engineering professor.  He showed that “the addition of biomimetically derived protuberances (technology that mimics nature) improved stall characteristics and aerodynamic performance.”
  9. Studying flight:  Four recent articles did not mention human applications yet, but showed how scientists are eagerly studying the flight capabilities of animals to gain understanding, with a subtle indication that human engineers can learn from them.  Students at Wright State in Ohio are studying dragonflies (New Scientist).  An engineer at Bristol University gained insights into pterodactyl flight (BBC News).  And the BBC News also posted half a dozen dazzling photos of flying fish.  PhysOrg spoke of scientists studying flying snakes.  You thought this one was going to be about birds, didn’t you?  That last article did mention another team proposing that “airplanes be designed more like birds.”
The excitement over biomimetics can be sensed by the conferences, journals and societies devoted to it, such as the Bioneers at Georgia Tech (10/29/2005) and the Information Science and Technology initiative at Caltech (06/5/2005).  PhysOrg reported on one such recent event: “The physicists, biologists and engineers were huddled around every available bar-height table in the Long Beach Convention Center, covering their tiny surfaces with laptops and notebooks.”  What did they come for? – “many of the scientists were gathered earlier this week at a fluid-dynamics conference to show how insights from the world of animals and plants might guide tomorrow’s technology -- a burgeoning field known as bio-inspired engineering.
    Here’s a short list of the animals that were inspiring their design plans: flying snakes, sharks, birds, whales, hummingbirds, and jellyfish.  “These scientists from far-flung fields share a common conviction: that future engineering has a great deal to learn from the natural world.”  The article quoted a USC engineer who said, “The number of people who are developing, encouraging, thinking about biologically inspired designs is vastly more than it was five years ago, two years ago even.”
    A journal called Bioinspiration and Biomimetics published a special edition called “Bioinspired Flight” this month, said PhysOrg.  And it’s not just for the birds.  Scientists analyzed controlled falling and gliding by geckos, snakes and insects.  Bioengineering brings together engineers and biologists, who have typically lived in different academic worlds.  “Because biologists and engineers are typically trained quite differently, there is a gap between the understanding of natural flight of biologists and the engineer’s expertise in designing vehicles that function well,” David Lentink from Wageningen University said.  “In the middle however is a few pioneering engineers who are able to bridge both fields.”  The article includes three video clips, one of a falling gecko flipping over and landing on its feet like a cat, one of a test robotic fly, and an amazing series of snake flights showing how they can maneuver and even turn while gliding.
    The Biomimicry Institute is open for business with a website, newsletter, educational resources, and even a children’s music CD.  Why?  “Biomimicry is the science and art of emulating Nature’s best biological ideas to solve human problems,” the website explains on its front page.  “Non-toxic adhesives inspired by geckos, energy efficient buildings inspired by termite mounds, and resistance-free antibiotics inspired by red seaweed are examples of biomimicry happening today -- and none too soon.  Humans may have a long way to go towards living sustainably on this planet, but 10-30 million species with time-tested genius to help us get there.”  Another of their websites, AskNature.org, provides a “database of nature’s strategies” with 1360 entries so far.
    Not everybody is inspired to the same degree.  The PhysOrg article about the Long Beach convention quoted USC engineer Geoffrey Spedding cautioning, “Just because it exists in nature doesn’t mean it’s an optimum ... the designs that come through evolution are just good enough to survive, that’s all,” adding that “Nature has yet to come up with a decent wheel.”
What is Spedding talking about?  Hasn’t he seen a bacterial flagellum?  It’s a more efficient wheel than anything man ever invented.  And his logic is bad.  Like a Darwinian, he has to see everything in terms of mere survival.  The world has a great deal of “useless beauty” that goes beyond mere survival.  Look at the coloration on birds and insects, the patterning on mammal fur, and the shapes and colors of flowers.  Survival does not require these things, or every bird, mammal, and flower would be so decorated.  Beauty and elegance are not incompatible with survival; they provide frosting on the cake, making this a world of incredible variety and beauty.  Even evolutionary scientists can recognize that animals are “overengineered” for the functions they require for survival (03/23/2004).
    Biomimetics has the potential to make Darwinism irrelevant, and bring together both creationists and evolutionists for the common goal of improving human life through understanding and imitation of natural design.  Darwin need not have anything to do with it.  Evolutionary theory could be a harmless sideshow, if not a distraction, to the goals of biomimicry.
    Two alarming subcultures are tainting the biomimetics movement, however.  One is that Darwinists are trying to co-opt the movement by forcing their worldview onto it: e.g.,
  • “...the designs that come through evolution are just good enough to survive, that’s all,” (PhysOrg)
  • “...the biomechanical systems that the process of evolution has honed for millions of years” (Live Science)
  • “...sharks’ 400 million years of evolution for strength and speed may someday inspire better designs for machines” (National Geographic)
  • “...Scientists in the US and Canada are studying how flying fish evolved the enlarged paired fins...” (BBC News)
  • After 3.8 billion years of evolution, nature has learned what works and what lasts” (Biomimicry Institute)
Hopefully many will discern that oil and water mix better than biomimetics and Darwinism.  How long can the public endure the halitosis that billions of years of chance accidents yielded engineering marvels that our goal-oriented, purposeful human intelligence cannot duplicate?  Remember, too, that as good as the robotic flexible arm or mechanical insect perform, artificial biomimics cannot reproduce themselves, repair themselves, or proofread themselves.  Human technology looks pathetic by comparison.  Darwinists insert their rhetoric into the biomimetics adventure at their peril.
    A second and more worrisome trend is a kind of new-age mysticism arising about nature.  This can be seen at the Biomimicry Institute where Nature is capitalized, as in, “How would Nature heat and cool a home?”  Even though hardcore atheist evolutionists like E. O. Wilson are on its advisory board, the Biomimicry Institute risks a return to Pocahontas-style nature worship with lines like, “Humans may have a long way to go towards living sustainably on this planet, but 10-30 million species with time-tested genius to [sic] help us get there.”  Their children’s CD is labeled “Ask the planet,” as if we are to seek inner wisdom from the Earth goddess.
    It’s an alarming sign, but Bible-believing Christians can take heart at this in a backhanded way.  For one, it unmasks the secular evolutionists as the pantheist pagans they always were at heart.  For another, it fulfills Scripture.  Their behavior follows exactly what the Apostle Paul described in Romans 1, “For his [God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.  Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!  Amen” (Romans 1:21-25).
    Nothing has changed since the old paganism except the sophistication of its ignorance.  Creationists and proponents of intelligent design can embrace biomimetics, but should be on guard against these trends that would distort it into Charlie worship or pagan Nature worship.  By contrast, engaging in diligent biomimetics research and design is one way to honor and serve our Creator, and to say, “Thank you, Lord.”
Next headline on:  BiomimeticsMarine BiologyMammalsCell BiologyTerrestrial ZoologyBirdsPhysicsDarwin and EvolutionIntelligent DesignEducationAmazing Facts
  Magicians through the looking glass: wars in the kingdom of OOL (11/29/2007).

Mammals Partied When Dinosaurs Left     11/29/2010    
Nov 29, 2010 — A research team headed by a biology professor at the University of New Mexico are claiming that mammals had a field day when the dinosaurs went extinct.  They got bigger and more diverse, filling in the ecological wasteland left by the missing giant reptiles.  Their analysis was published in Science.1
    In addition, they think the mammals waxed and waned with the temperature.  According to lead author Felicia Smith [U of NM], quoted in Science Daily, “Global temperature and terrestrial land area set constraints on the upper limit of mammal body size,” Smith said, “with larger mammals evolving when the earth was cooler and the terrestrial land area greater.”  But isn’t there more to evolutionary theory than changing times?
    A look at how they used the term evolution in their paper shows a rather cavalier assumption that evolution just happened.  As to how animals could evolve, they tried a random model, like Brownian motion on a large scale, and a saturation model, with evolution reaching to fill all available space somehow: “as maximum body size evolves, the evolutionary possibilities for increasing size are progressively exhausted.”
    Other than that, the authors treated evolution as a category of stuff happens,  speaking of “the evolution of” this or that.  They even invoked the convergence notion (01/26/2010): “the patterns suggest that large mammals convergently evolved to fill similar ecological roles.”  As for the atmospheric and geographic influences on evolution, they were gracious enough to warn, “However, some caution should be used in the interpretation of our results.”  There’s a lot of uncertainty, after all, about how oxygen levels and other environmental factors could influence evolution.  “Nevertheless, the potential role of abiotic factors in the overall trajectory of mammalian evolution cannot be ignored, and the available data suggest interesting and important trends, which should be explored further.”  Their last paragraph summed up their ideas:

Our analysis implies that the increase in the maximum mass of mammals over the Cenozoic was neither a statistical inevitability driven by increasing species richness nor a random evolutionary walk from a small initial size, but rather reflected processes operating consistently across trophic and taxonomic groups, and independent of the physiographic history of each continent.  We find no support for other hypotheses for the evolution of maximum body mass, including the expected increase in variance due to random divergence from a common ancestor or to increasing species richness; nor do terrestrial mammals ever approach sizes that might invoke biomechanical constraints.  The K/Pg extinction provided the ecological opportunity for mammals to become larger.  Terrestrial mammals did so in an exponentially decreasing fashion, reaching a more or less maximal size by 40 Ma as evolutionary possibilities for increasing body size were progressively exhausted and abiotic factors began constraining the upper limit.
The authors did not speculate about the cause of the dinosaur extinction.  In the abstract, their hypothesis was summed up in the statement, “the primary driver for the evolution of giant mammals was diversification to fill ecological niches, [but] environmental temperature and land area may have ultimately constrained the maximum size achieved.”
    Reporters leapt onto this idea, saying “Dino Demise Led to Evolutionary Explosion of Huge Mammals” (Live Science), “Giants among us: Paper explores evolution of the world’s largest mammals” (PhysOrg) and “Size of mammals exploded after dinosaur extinction” (PhysOrg again), New Scientist confidently explained “Why mammals grew big and then stopped,” while the BBC News teased, Dinosaur demise allowed mammals to ’go nuts.’”  The quotes refer to a statement by lead author Felissa Smith, who pretty much summed up her idea in a colloquial way: “But we had a giant Earth with nothing big on it anymore; and so I think that ecological opportunity allowed mammals to just go nuts.”  For the benefit of any culturally deprived readers, the BBC hastened to explain, “‘Going nuts’ meant land mammals diverging in shape and size.
1.  Felissa Smith, “The Evolution of Maximum Body Size of Terrestrial Mammals,” Science, 26 November 2010: Vol. 330 no. 6008 pp. 1216-1219, DOI: 10.1126/science.1194830.
Has a more vacuous scientific explanation ever been submitted in a serious scientific journal?  This is nothing more than the “If you build it, they will come” theory of evolution.  Simply provide the opportunity, and Darwin will send in his army of Tinker Bell helpers to zap the leftover animals with their mutation wands, and presto: giant mammals will emerge.  It’s like a land grant or homesteading act advertised to pioneers: “Go forth and build your towns, your factories, your civilizations!  Give me mammals to match my mountains!” The only caveat is that intelligent design is not allowed; everything must be undirected, purposeless, mindless, and random.
    Notice, further, that Smith and her co-conspirators ruled out all the other vacuous evolutionary explanations before coming up with their vacuous evolutionary explanation.  Can’t say it was “statistically inevitable.”  Can’t say it was a “random walk” in the evolutionary park.  Can’t say it was biomechanical constraints, nor “expected increase in variance due to random divergence from a common ancestor” nor due to “increasing species richness.”  No; all those vacuous, circular, question-begging Darwinian explanations are not vacuous enough.  We need a really vacuous explanation: “we had a giant Earth with nothing big on it anymore; and so I think that ecological opportunity allowed mammals to just go nuts.
    Any wonder why long ago we instituted a Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week award?
    For more nonsense about mammal evolution, see:
  • 12/24/2009 on natural variation vs. progress,
  • 12/18/2009 on Australian mammals,
  • 12/13/2009 on contenders for SEQOTW,
  • 12/11/2009 on the horse series,
  • 12/04/2009 on vacuous explanations,
  • 11/19/2009 on evolutionary works in progress,
  • 09/22/2009 on use of the Stuff Happens Law,
  • 06/30/2009 on the elephant explosion,
  • 06/03/2009 on evolution as a catch-all explanation,
  • 03/24/2009 on trying to fit animals in uncooperative evolutionary trees,
  • 07/04/2008 on explanation by assumption,
  • 03/06/2008 on translating Darwinese,
  • 01/21/2008 on backtracking earlier claims,
  • 04/25/2007 on telling time tales,
  • 03/29/2005 on mammals (or evolutionists) going crazy after the dinosaurs,
  • 08/27/2004 on the lack of an evolutionary tree in mammal genes,
  • 12/03/2003 on the convoluted story of African mammal evolution.
        For more on the “If you build it, they will come” theory of evolution, see 10/31/2010 and 07/14/2009 on Cambrian animals, 03/29/2007 on salt tolerance, 01/28/2005 on bats, and 08/25/2005 on fossil diversity.  It’s an old custom in Darwin fantasyland.
    Next headline on:  MammalsDinosaursDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
  • Can Astronomers See Behind the Big Bang?     11/28/2010    
    Nov 28, 2010 — An astonishing claim is being reported: “Cosmos may show echoes of events before Big Bang” (BBC News).  How can this be, since secular cosmologists claim that the big bang was the beginning of time, space, matter, and everything, and it is impossible even in principle to go beyond it?
        The character behind the claim is Roger Penrose, a famous mathematician and author, who is discontented with that limitation.  In its place, he is proposing a revival of cyclical cosmology, which he calls “conformal cyclic cosmology,” or CCC.  He alleges he has found evidence in the form of concentric rings in the microwave background that represent “pre-Big Bang events, toward the end of the last ‘aeon’.”
        Incidentally, Penrose expressed disagreement with the popular idea of cosmic inflation (see 02/21/2005).  “I was never in favour of it, even from the start,” he said.  On a related note of seeing before the Big Bang, New Scientist posted an article about “idea that could let us see before time.”  Needless to say, such ideas are highly speculative.
    Update 12/25/2010: Jason Palmer on the BBC News contends that it’s a statistical fluke.  “To prove the point, Douglas Scott and colleagues showed that a hunt for triangles in the CMB was statistically as successful as that for the circles that support Professor Penrose’s theory,” the article said; Penrose, however, is not conceding without a refudiation (word of the year for 2010).
    For a refutation of Penrose’s cosmology and an analysis of logical flaws in his reasoning from CMB evidence, see Rob Sheldon’s article “Sir Roger’s Revelation” on his blog, The Procrustean.  The cosmology chapters in David Berlinski’s book The Deniable Darwin and Other Essays is also helpful for pondering the limits to human understanding about ultimate reality.
    Next headline on:  CosmologyPhysicsPhilosophy of Science
    Is Life More than Sewage?     11/27/2010    
    Nov 27, 2010 — Look at the sewer pipe accompanying an article on Science Daily.  The article claims that a bacterium in the sewer water is a “missing link” in our evolution.  How can this be?
        For a long time, evolutionists have tried to bridge the gap between bacteria, which lack a nucleus, and eukaryotes which have them.  A leading theory was that at some time two prokaryotes fused together, one becoming the nucleus for the other.  This theory is called endosymbiosis because the engulfed cell became dependent on the host cell and the host cell benefited from work done by the slave cell.  But now, evolutionists at the University of Dublin claim that larger bacteria in sewer water provide the missing link between the two cell types; no fusion was needed.
        Dr Emmanuel Reynaud from University College Dublin, one of the co-authors of the paper in Science,1 told the media, “Our discovery means that the appearance of eukaryotic cells on Earth can be explained by Darwinian evolution over billions of years rather than a ‘big bang’ fusion theory.”
        In their paper in Science,1 the Devos and Reynaud claim that the Planctomycetes, Verrucomicrobia, Chlamydiae (PVC) form a “superphylum” that acted as “a ‘cauldron’ for the evolution of eukaryotic and archaeal features, and that the superphylum is indicative of a path of intermediate steps between such an ancestor and an archaeal-eukaryotic ancestor (before the eventual split of the two domains).”  Their assertion, however, was hardly a hypothesis; they called it “a starting point for considering whether such features originated in a PVC-related ancestor from which the common eukaryotic and archaeal branch arose.
        As evidence, they pointed to intermediate-looking structures for the bacterial cell wall and cytoskeleton.  They also suggested that organelles originated by invagination of the cell membrane.  A table in their paper lists 14 features, some of which are shared by archaea, and some which are shared by eukaryotes.  These and other outward similarities they said “may illustrate intermediate evolutionary attempts” at becoming eukaryotes.  Notably absent from their list, however, is a full nucleus with the nuclear pore complex that controls entry and exit, chromosomes, mitochondria, and many of the machine-operated organelles characteristic of eukaryotes.
        In all honesty, they could not be dogmatic about their suggestion, as the ending paragraph makes clear:
    The PVC bacteria are indeed a curiosity and their phylogenetic location in the Tree of Life is unclear.  Although these features could be the result of lateral gene transfer events, convergence, or a complex universal ancestor, their intermediate nature can be considered a more parsimonious scenario.  The possibility of a fusion scenario remains disputed.  More evolutionary scenarios are likely to unfold—and be debated—as more bacteria and archaea are discovered and characterized.  Although division into three domains of life remains the norm, the PVC superphylum may reflect continuity between the three domains, blurring their distinction.
    The news media, though, went berserk with the suggestion that another “missing link” had been discovered.  In addition to Science Daily’s teaser, “Sewage Water Bacteria: ‘Missing Link’ in Early Evolution of Life on Earth?”, SoftPedia announced that “Sewage Sheds Light on the Origin of Eukaryotic Cells,” and Before It’s News stated confidently, “Sewage Water Bacteria Fills ‘Missing Link’ In Early Evolution Of Life On Earth.
    1.  Devos and Reynaud, “Evolution: Intermediate Steps,” Science, 26 November 2010: Vol. 330 no. 6008 pp. 1187-1188, DOI: 10.1126/science.1196720.
    Where are the reporters saying this is dumb, dumb, dumb?  Why do they fall in line like toy ducks with a string-pull voice recording, quacking “Missing link! Missing link!”?  Here are the headlines astute journalists should be writing:
    • Your Ancestors Live in Sewage?  Get Real
    • Two Evolutionists Tell Grand Fib in the Name of Science
    • Scientists Declare War on Endosymbiotic Theory, Causing Rift Among Evolutionists
    • Evolutionists Guilty of Claiming Similarities Suggest Ancestry
    • Complex Molecular Machines Ignored in Weak Evolutionary Tale
    • Speculation Without Evidence: Evolutionists Appeal to Imagination
    • Evolutionists Admit They Don’t Know Where Bacteria Fit in Tree of Life
    • Two Evolutionists Invoke Miracles to Explain Origin of Eukaryotes
    This last one is justified by counting the number of times Devos and Reynaud invoked the well-worn evolutionary miracle words originated, arose, emerged and the like in their “scenario” (i.e., tall tale).  If PVC was such a glorious revolution in celldom, how come all the other bacteria didn’t get with the show?  Why did they live happily for two billion years without getting hip?  If journalists would just do their jobs and ask critical questions, science news would be a lot more interesting.
        It’s a sad state of affairs in science when evolutionists can tell stories and get away with it.  What we need as a “more parsimonious scenario” in biology is less scenario and more observational evidence.  Certain evolutionists and their gutless lackeys in the media could learn a little parsimony – by getting fired.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyOrigin of LifeDarwin and EvolutionMedia
      A dozen examples of far-out science raised serious questions about what science is in the 11/25/2008 issue.

    How Long Does it Take to Form a Slot Canyon?     11/26/2010    
    Nov 26, 2010 — Some of the most striking features of the southwest are the slot canyons – the narrow, winding defiles in sandstone that can be well over a hundred feet deep and go for miles (photo).  A whole culture of slot canyoneering takes on the challenge of hiking through them, and the amazing patterns of reflected light that develop in them make them major targets for photographers (photo).  Each year, flash floods scour the walls and floors of these canyons, changing them slightly, but hikers often notice little change in depth from year to year.  One might think that it would take many eons for these canyons to form.  A team of geologists decided to test erosion rates by watching an actual incipient canyon starting during floods in the Henry Mountains, Utah.  They monitored the site over three years and reported their findings in the Geological Society of America Bulletin.1
        The researchers studied a stepped slope created by humans that provided “a well-constrained initial geometry of a steep, unchannelized bedrock slope” and found a remarkable amount of cutting – half a meter – in just 23 days of flooding from seasonal snowmelt.  If that were the averaged annual rate, a slot canyon 100 meters deep could be cut in just 200 years.  Most likely other factors could slow down the rate significantly, but even if it took a thousand years, or 5,000, that presents a problem: why is there any sandstone left after millions of years?  They seemed to recognize the issue while adhering to the geological time scale:

    Rates of fluvial bedrock incision mimic rates of external landscape forcing (e.g., tectonic uplift and eustacy [sic]) when averaged over geological time scales, but local rates of channel downcutting into bedrock can be fast during the individual floods that actually drive bedrock incision: we measured up to 1/2 m of local vertical incision into bedrock over 23 days of snowmelt runoff (Fig.9).  Local channel morphology and high but not overwhelming rates of sediment transport enabled such a high local erosion rate.  The local thalweg2 slope was high (~20%, Fig. 8), and the cross-sectional morphology of an inner channel focused flow and sediment transport over a narrow zone where almost all erosion occurred.  While poorly constrained, field measurements demonstrated high rates of coarse-sediment transport.  Additionally, preexisting inner-channel alluvium was entrained during this snowmelt runoff event, and so alluvial cover was not consistently present to mantle the inner-channel bed and inhibit bedrock erosion.  Field observations also suggest that thresholds of detachment for abrading the local sandstone are negligible (Fig. 6).
    The bulk of erosion occurred during snowmelt in April and May, and then again during flash floods from thunderstorms in the summer and fall.  These events “show rapid increases followed by approximately exponential reductions in flow depth, with durations measured in hours, not days.”  One single flood on October 5, 2006, carried nine cubic meters of material per second, and left five inches of coarse sediment in the channel, accounting for 90% of the total flash-flood flow volume.  This was in a year with no snowmelt.
        Surprisingly, they found that small floods can cause more erosion than large floods.  This means that uniformitarian rates are sufficient to cause rapid erosion in these canyons.  They gathered a lot of sediment in a trap during just normal flow periods.  It’s not so much the size of the flood, but the size of the particles, cobbles and boulders carried along, that cause the most erosion.  As they said, boulders and particles detach easily, and become hammers against the rock downstream.
        Their eyewitness evidence contradicts other dating methods, they said with some confusion: “Nonetheless, the rapid short-term erosion rate suggests an interesting and converse question: why are long-term fluvial bedrock incision rates so much lower?  For example, Cook et al. (2009) reported long-term incision rates of ~0.4 mm/yr based on cosmogenic dating of alluvial terraces along a well-adjusted channel in the Henry Mountains, consistent with regional measurements of long-term incision (Garvin et al., 2005).”  They did not try to reconcile the numbers.  Erosion in Taiwan has been estimated at 10mm/year – but this team witnessed 500mm in just 23 days.  Maybe these things are not well understood because “bedrock-eroding floods only occur rarely.”
        They claim that their research site is similar to that of well-known slot canyons of the Escalante River:
    Erosion formed a narrow inner channel with rough sidewalls.  This transient bedrock channel morphology is consistent with other natural slot canyons, in particular the Coyote Gulch narrows, Peek-a-boo slot, and Spooky slot canyons that are tributaries to the Escalante River in southern Utah.  These canyons also incised from an initial condition of flow over steep, unchannelized bedrock slopes following channel diversions by sand dunes.  The erosional topography in all of these cases is consistent with feedbacks between flow, sediment transport, and erosion observed in flume experiments (Finnegan et al., 2007; Johnson and Whipple, 2007).
    Earlier, they had stated, “We argue that the similarity in channel morphology between the monitored channel and these natural slot canyons suggests that the feedbacks we interpret between sediment transport, bedrock erosion, and channel morphology are commonplace.”  In brief, their experimental site is likely a good indicator of what happens naturally.
        The authors also helped answer another puzzle: the formation of potholes.  Steep, round holes in sandstone and granite are well known to hikers.  “Finally, our monitoring fortuitously captured the erosion of a bedrock pothole,” they reported.  Though it only grew about 20 inches deep, and one of them eroded away the following season, they were glad to catch it in the act, because “surprisingly little is understood about their formation.”  They explained in the conclusion, “We interpret that it formed by impact wear from coarse sediment rather than fine suspended load, although distinctions between bedload and suspended load may be less meaningful because localized incipient suspension of larger clasts is required to keep deposition from occurring inside the pothole.”
        The word “rapid” appeared 13 times in their paper, e.g., “Through field monitoring we demonstrate that (1) short-term bedrock channel incision can be rapid, (2) sustained floods with smaller peak discharges can be more erosive than flash floods with higher peak discharges, due to changes in bed alluviation, and (3) bedrock channel morphology varies with local bed slope and controls the spatial distribution of erosion.”  The words “slow” and “gradual” were found, but not in reference to the rate of channel formation.  Furthermore, the authors made no attempt to incorporate their measured rates into a long-ages context.  The sandstones they studied (04/24/2003) are labeled Jurassic, with estimated ages around 190 million years.  Has erosion this rapid been occurring all that time?
    1.  Johnson, Whipple and Sklar, “Contrasting bedrock incision rates from snowmelt and flash floods in the Henry Mountains, Utah,” Geological Society of America Bulletin v. 122 no. 9-10 (Sept, 2010), first published online May 2010, pp. 1600-1615, doi: 10.1130/B30126.1.
    2.  Eustasy refers to global sea level independent of local factors.  Thalweg or “valley line” is the deepest continuous line along a river valley. 
    For fun, let’s take the lowest rate mentioned (0.4mm/year), divide by 4 to get a tenth of a millimeter per year, and extrapolate it over the assumed age of the Navajo sandstone, 190 million years.  That would give you a canyon 19 km deep!  That’s over 15 times the depth of the Grand Canyon, eroding at the slowest rate claimed from cosmogenic radionuclide dating, not actual field observations (if we took their measured rate of .5m/yr, it would be a canyon 95,000 kilometers deep).  By contrast, if you took the very conservative value measured in Taiwan of 10mm/year, you could get a decently deep canyon 50 meters deep (similar to many observed) in just 5,000 years.
        Real erosion is much more complicated, of course, and this simplistic calculation does not take into account many factors.  It should provide a ball-park estimate of reasonableness, though.  Is it reasonable to conclude that erosion anywhere near this rate has been going on for 190 million years?  Arguably, erosion rates have often been higher in the past.  The Biblical time scale for the formation of these canyons begins to look much more reasonable, given that a worldwide flood in that model would have made erosion rates vastly higher for a considerable amount of time (photo).
        Once again, when actual field observations are undertaken, the evidence cries out against the vast eons of time alleged by the evolutionists and secular geologists (for three other examples, see 11/13/2006 about a volcanic field in Nevada, 03/05/2006 about Grand Falls of the Little Colorado, and 01/12/2007 about the fossil forests of Yellowstone).  It’s interesting that these geologists in Utah dared not explore the implications of their own findings for the geologic column and uniformitarianism.
        Your commentator has been to all three slot canyons mentioned in the article (Peek-a-Boo Gulch, Spooky Gulch, and Coyote Gulch) and can confirm that they are fascinating targets for remote wilderness adventure hikes, for those so inclined.  See the Canyon Color and Rock Art sets in the Creation Safaris photo gallery for views from this area, and go exploring if you can (photo).
    Next headline on:  GeologyDating Methods
    Thank God or Science?     11/25/2010    
    Nov 25, 2010 — Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving today, a long-standing tradition going back to the earliest European settlers in North America, the Pilgrims.  Up until recently, the tradition included giving thanks to God.  Now, the trend is to thank one another.  The NASA Director put out a thanksgiving message Wednesday basically thanking all the NASA employees for their hard work over the past year.  Are we supposed to thank ourselves on Thanksgiving?  Live Science put together a list of “10 Science Discoveries to be Thankful for.”  Should you be thanking God, or your local scientist?
        There is no question that science has brought us many blessings, as their list shows: vaccines, understanding of the causes of disease, the Hubble Space Telescope, and more (although their inclusion of SETI at #9 is bizarre, since there have been no results).  We can certainly thank scientists for these and many other discoveries.  But do scientists work in a vacuum, issuing their good things out of themselves?  Or are they dependent on other sources?  If you thank a scientist, who is he or she to thank? 
    A scientist could do nothing unless he or she had been given a multitude of gifts scientists take for granted.  Let’s start a short list: a brain, a memory, a skeleton, a heart, cells with thousands of molecular machines like ATP synthase and cilia, eyes, ears, skin, a nose, a mouth, a circulatory system, an endocrine system, a respiratory system, a digestive system, complex systems for extracting energy from food, an immune system, a muscle system, language... That’s a lot to be thankful for already, and the list could easily be prolonged.
        Science can bring us knowledge, health and convenience, but it is incapable of bringing us what human beings need most: wisdom, morality, understanding of right and wrong, advice on how to live and how to find peace, joy, and forgiveness.  How is science helping a confused person by prolonging a meaningless existence?  Even crooks can use knowledge, health, and convenience.
        The Creator gave mankind abilities to learn, discover, and figure out His secrets.  That talent is working out fairly well.  But our deepest needs are not for knowledge and things.  We are not here to learn all we can, then perish and let our knowledge turn into dust.  If knowledge is what we needed, He would have sent us a scientist.  But He knew our deepest need was for forgiveness, so He sent us a Savior.
    Next headline on:  HealthPhilosophy of ScienceBible and Theology
    Even Your Trash Can Is High-Tech     11/24/2010    
    Nov 24, 2010 — Cells have the same problem as cities: disposing of trash.  Each of your cells has elaborate trash collector machines that not only dispose of damaged or unneeded proteins – they recycle them, too.  The structure of the proteasome, a fragile machine difficult to crystallize for imaging, has just become clearer thanks to researchers in Germany and Switzerland who reported their findings in PNAS.1  Here are some of the details of what happens:
    Unlike constitutively active proteases, the proteasome has the capacity to degrade almost any protein, yet it acts with exquisite specificity.  The key stratagem is self-compartmentalization: The active sites of the proteolytic 20S core particles (Cps) are sequestered from the cellular environment in the interior of this barrelshaped subcomplex.  Proteins destined for degradation are marked by a polyubiquitin chain, a degradation signal that is recognized by the 19S regulatory particles (Rps) that bind to either one or both ends of the CP to form the 26S holocomplex.  The Rps (i) recognize the polyubiquitylated substrates, (ii) trim and recycle the polyubiquitin chains, (iii) unfold substrates to be degraded, and (iv) open the gate to the CP and assist in substrate translocation into the interior of the CP.  These tasks are performed by a complex machinery involving at least 19 different subunits, 6 AAA-ATPases (Rpt1–6), and 13 non-ATPases (Rpn1–3, Rpn5–13, Rpn15/Sem1p).
    In plain English, the barrel-shaped machine recognizes trash by chemical tags that have been put on them.  A special lid reads these tags of ubiquitin, takes them off, unfolds the trash protein, opens a special lid, and stuffs it inside, where the innards take the amino acids apart for recycling.  This is all done by “complex machinery” with 19 parts, 6 that spend ATP for energy, and 13 that don’t.  This machine “has the capacity to degrade almost any protein, yet it acts with exquisite specificity,” they said.
        Their model image of the 26S proteasome looks a bit like one of those old PEZ candy dispensers, with a hinged lid, only much more elaborate.  From the top, the lid looks like a six-sided spiral.  All around this lid are functioning parts: a protein that recognizes the ubiquitin tag, another complex that takes the tags off for recycling, parts that open the lid, parts that pull the trash inside, and then the core complex (barrel) where the degradation takes place.  What happens inside remains a mystery.  They said that some parts undergo large conformational changes (moving parts) during operation, and some portions are “highly conserved” (unevolved) in eukaryotes.  The authors said nothing about evolution.
        As is common these days, the authors spoke of this system as “machinery”.  Some evolutionists complain about the machine language, claiming it is “unfortunate and misleading.”  David Tyler addressed this issue on Uncommon Descent, asking, “Are machine-information metaphors bad for science?” 
    1.  Bohn, Beck et al, “Structure of the 26S proteasome from Schizosaccharomyces pombe at subnanometer resolution,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published online before print November 22, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015530107.
    Your cells go green!  They have recycle barrels just like the ones you put on the street, except these are motorized, pull the trash inside, and do the recycling on the spot.  They don’t let in good proteins, because the quality-control system has put special tags on the trash that the proteasome has to read before acting on it.  It’s all part of an elaborate recycling system.
        Evolutionary theory was useless to this discovery, just like it is to every careful inspection of the details of cellular machinery.  “In eukaryotic cells, most proteins in the cytosol and the nucleus are regulated via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway and malfunctions of this pathway have been implicated in a wide variety of diseases,” the authors said.  My, wonder how life got along before Tinker Bell came up with this series of mutations, enough to build 19 exquisite protein parts working together as a system, when getting just one usable protein is astronomically improbable (see online book).
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
      Watch what evolutionists did with weird turtles in the 11/29/2008 and 11/22/2008 entries, then read about a conundrum for Darwin in the genes (11/19/2008).

    Struggling to Make Evolutionary Sense     11/23/2010    
    Nov 23, 2010 — Evolutionists love to quote Dobzhansky, who said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”  But when they go about explaining biological observations, the sense and light seem hard to come by.

    1. Biodiversity:  The subject of the emergence of diverse forms of living things seems tailor made for a Darwinian explanation.  Why, then, 150 years after the Origin of Species, did Science Daily write a piece called, “The Puzzle of Biological Diversity”?  The opening paragraph seems to contradict long-held ideas: “Biologists have long thought that interactions between plants and pollinating insects hasten evolutionary changes and promote biological diversity,” it said.  “However, new findings show that some interactions between plants and pollinators are less likely to increase diversity than previously thought, and in some instances, reduce it.
          The findings come from studies of specialized moths that pollinate the Joshua tree.  Researchers found, contrary to expectations, “no evidence that local populations of moths adapt to local populations of Joshua trees.”  One of the researchers boasted that the findings fit his theory, but it’s hard to confirm a theory that can explain opposite outcomes: “But different interactions can have very different effects -- some increase diversity, some don’t increase diversity at all, and some can even reduce diversity.”  If this represents a law of evolution, it resembles the Stuff Happens Law.
    2. Arms race:  The metaphor of an “evolutionary arms race” is popular among evolutionists.  According to this projection theme, one organism attacks another, causing it to evolve defenses, making the attacker evolve attacks, leading to more defensive evolution, and on and on.  Science Daily claims this theme has been verified in the case of a new model system, a mustard plant and a fly.  The article begins by claiming that this system “promises to answer many long-standing questions surrounding the evolutionary arms race between plant-eating insects and their host plants” – raising two questions immediately: (1) why haven’t long-standing questions about this been answered after 150 years of Darwinian theory, and (2) when will the promised answers arrive?
          Noah Whiteman at the University of Arizona bypassed the usual model plant Arabidopsis thaliana for one that he could watch in real time as an insect attacked it.  Genetically tractable systems are “holy grails of any serious science that aim to unravel biological mechanisms down to the level of genes and proteins and signaling molecules.”  This statement suggests that few such systems exist for studying the evolutionary arms race phenomenon.  Whiteman did some good old fashioned field work, observing plants that were attacked by the flies, and then bringing them into his lab.  The observations seemed to indicate that the plants were responding by producing chemicals that mess up the flies’ digestive tract, but he admitted, “It’s very complicated, we don’t really know what’s going on at a molecular level.”
          Controlled experiments with knockout genes seem to support ideas that genes respond to attacks and defenses.  The picture is quite complex, though: “As often in ground-breaking research, the initial discovery stirred up a myriad of questions,” including, but not limited to:
      “...How is the leaf miner responding to the presence or absence of these toxic molecules?  Does it care?  Clearly, it does.  There is a cost for detoxifying, but what is it?
          Ecological questions are waiting to be answered as well.
          “We know that the leaf mining habit has evolved probably 25 times in insects,” Whiteman said, “mostly in beetles, butterflies, moths, some wasps and saw flies.  It’s not present in the other insect orders, but why?  How has selection shaped the ability of these insects to colonize an organism with a potent defense response?
      Clearly, for Whiteman to make sense of this in the light of evolution, he has a lot of work to do.  Incidentally, readers might ask how Arabidopsis thaliana became a model organism for study.  There’s no scientific procedure.  “There seems to be this idea that there is this big convention where people decide what becomes a model organism, when in fact it’s just individuals who decide what can be collected and what will work,” Whiteman remarked.  One wonders if generalizations from a model plant can really be applied to giant eucalyptus trees, the Venus flytrap, cacti and orchids.
    3. Protection racketScience Daily continued the arms-race theme with birds.  “Like gangsters running a protection racket, drongos in the Kalahari Desert act as lookouts for other birds in order to steal a cut of their food catch,” the article began.  “The behaviour ... may represent a rare example of two species evolving from a parasitic to a mutualistic relationship.”  It’s hard to call this an example of evolution, though, because even if their interactions changed, their biology – their genotype and phenotype – remained the same.  And this was called a rare example of such evolution, if it is an example at all (“may represent”).
    4. Rewrite the textbooks again:  Some plants, such as cacti and grasses, use an alternative form of photosynthesis called C4.  Evolutionists thought they knew why.  But now, according to PhysOrg, “A new analysis of fossilized grass-pollen grains deposited on ancient European lake and sea bottoms 16-35 million years ago reveals that C4 grasses evolved earlier than previously thought.  This new evidence casts doubt on the widely-held belief that the rise [e.g., evolution] of this incredibly productive group of plants was driven by a large drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations during the Oligocene epoch.”
          In other words, if the earlier explanation made sense in the light of evolution, it no longer does.  “The idea that C4 grasses originated prior to global decreases in carbon dioxide levels requires us to reevaluate the way we think about the evolution of C4 photosynthesis,” Dr. David Nelson [U of Maryland] said.  “This new information should encourage the examination of alternate evolutionary selection pressures, such as warm temperatures or dry climates.”
    5. Size matters not:  Giving a notion a fancy name sometimes accomplishes little.  “Encephalization” is a term evolutionists invented to describe what they expected to find: increasing brain size relative to body size over time.  Suzanne Schultz and Robin Dunbar at University of Oxford decided to test if encephalization even happens.  Writing in PNAS,1 they noted that “allometric relationships between brain size and body size have been used as a proxy for evolutionary change, despite the validity of this approach being widely questioned.”  For the first time, they tried “quantitatively investigate temporal trends in brain size evolution across a divergent group of mammals” by studying 511 different living and fossil animal skeletons.
          Contrary to expectations, they found no encephalization patterns: “Encephalization trends vary across mammalian taxa, with some showing strong evidence for macroevolutionary increase in brain size and others not,” they wrote.  ; “These findings challenge the conventional assumption that encephalization is a general trend across mammalian taxa.”  Whatever pattern they found seemed related to sociality, not fitness, but even that association was weak: “This suggests that the pressure for increased encephalization is associated with some aspect of bonded sociality,” they said, but “There are still unresolved questions regarding the cognitive demands of bonded sociality and what aspects of a taxon’s ecology that made bonded sociality evolutionarily so advantageous” – that is, assuming that the weak correlation is real and indicates a cause or effect.
          But even if brain sizes did increase over time, it’s not established that evolution has made progress.  After all, Schultz and Dunbar noted, “A common analogy is drawn with computer technology; over time, size does not directly relate to functional efficacy, even though within comparable technologies it is more likely for a size/function relationship to hold (e.g., when comparing hard drive or RAM size, or dual vs. single Pentium processor speed).  Additionally, an evaluation of variability in total or relative brain size within taxa cannot address general patterns of variation in patterns of brain evolution across groups.”  In short, it’s not clear that any of the data make sense in the light of evolution.
          PhysOrg’s writeup, however, completely ignored the problems they admitted, and made it look like evolution triumphed in explaining the data.  “Over millions of years dogs have developed bigger brains than cats because highly social species of mammals need more brain power than solitary animals, according to a study by Oxford University,” it said in bold print.  That is not what the original paper communicated.
    6. Snails is snails:  A new PhD is proud of his New Zealand snail collection.  PhysOrg gave Simon Hills, a Maori native, the limelight for extracting the “secrets of evolution” from fossil and genetic data of New Zealand snails.
          But nowhere in the short article was there any information about evolution that people really care about: evidence of snails emerging from non-snails, or evolving into something else – after all, even the most hard-core creationists accept “changes over time” within kinds.  Moreover, Hills’ snails are all from a single genus.
          Surprisingly, Hills “illustrated that the origins of the modern species are around 13 million years younger then [sic] the oldest known fossil specimens,” yet the snails were still snails after more than twice the time the human brain is claimed to have emerged from chimpanzee-level apes, or a tetrapod mammal is thought to have evolved into a blue whale.
          How could a young PhD candidate confuse snail collecting with scientific explanation?  His answer revealed more emotion than philosophical rigor: “The trick with a PhD is to be excited about your topic,” he said.  “My academic record wasn’t that flash.  Then I took a paper on evolutionary biology and that was it.
    7. Leaf multitasking:  Did you know that the veins in a leaf do much more than transport fluid?  In an article on Science Daily, a doctoral student at the University of Arizona compared them to the major organ systems in your body: “It’s like the skeleton because it holds the whole leaf up and lets it capture sunlight and not get blown over in a windstorm.  It’s like the circulatory system because it’s distributing water from the roots up to all the cells within the leaf, and it’s also bringing resources from the leaf back to the rest of the plant after photosynthesis has happened.  It’s also like a nervous system because there are chemical signals that are transmitted to the leaves from other parts of the plant through the liquid in the veins,” he said.
          For a student in the department of evolutionary biology, Blonder had surprisingly little to say about evolution (i.e., nothing).  Instead, he was studying how leaves achieve the optimum tradeoffs in trying to fulfill these functions simultaneously in different environments.  Leaf veins, for instance, provide multiple paths to each cell, and can repair alternate pathways in case of damage.  “If the city was designed well, you can still take another road to get to where you want to be,” he said, apparently oblivious to the implications for his own work.
    8. Flying snakes:  The news media have been having fun with flying snakes without discussing their evolution (e.g., Science Daily)  Like Buzz Lightyear, some snakes can fall with style, and National Geographic has the video to show it.  Did evolution shed light on this phenomenon?  “This is amazingly interesting and curious, and it’s not at all clear how it works or how it could have evolved,” a physicist from Virginia Tech said.  “I’m just trying to answer these basic questions.”  The Dobzhansky flashlight must be out of order.
    When scientists can point to a law of nature that allows predictions, they can claim to stand on firm scientific ground.  Biologists envy the neat, mathematical laws of physics that permit no exceptions.  Laws in biology have been few and controversial.  Last week in Science,2 Roberta Millstein, a philosopher at UC Davis, reviewed a book that proudly announced a new, universal biological law of evolution: Biology’s First Law: The Tendency for Diversity and Complexity to Increase in Evolutionary Systems, by Daniel W. McShea and Robert N. Brandon (University of Chicago Press, 2010).  Millstein, fully conversant with the conceptual problems with scientific laws, aware of the debate over whether biological laws even exist, seemed amused by the bold claim of these two non-philosophical biologists to have found one.
        And some law: McShea and Brandon concocted a “zero-force evolution law” (ZFEL) that seems indistinguishable from random stuff happening.  They explained it by an analogy (paraphrased by Millstein):
    Imagine a yard containing a number of trees, and imagine that the wind blows from each point of the compass with equal probability.  Come autumn, the result will be an increase in the dispersal of the leaves over time.  This, they suggest, is a zero-force state because there are no directional forces acting on the leaves.  Yet there is a change over time (unlike the phenomenon described by the law of inertia in physics)—the leaves that were originally clustered about the trees become more dispersed.  And if an evolutionary system is similarly in a zero-force state, it too will experience an increase in divergence over time.
    Do McShea and Brandon really believe that this kind of notion is going to explain the origin of bird flight and dolphin sonar and cellular motors? (see CMI article on ATP synthase to see what evolution is up against).
        Millstein seemed almost patronizing in her attempt not to call this silly.  She took apart their terms and concepts and showed that the authors confused forces, causes, and empiricism.  “What happens, then, if (in spite of its name) the ZFEL isn’t really a zero-force law at all?  The authors’ generalization loses some of its rhetorical punch, perhaps, but punch isn’t everything,” she ended, with a grin discernible in the subtext.  If the ZFEL holds in many cases, then it’s just like seeing a forest in the trees.  If it holds for few cases, then “in each case we will have to consider whether we need to invoke special explanations for observed increases in diversity over time.”  But if one has to invoke special explanations in each case, all hopes for having discovered a scientific law are gone.
        There might be a baby somewhere in all this bath water (or, to maintain the Dobzhansky metaphor, some sense in the light of evolution): “A generalization does not have be a zero-force law, or a law at all, in order to be important, useful, and informative.”  After all, sometimes “Stuff happens” is a useful answer to a question.
    1.  Suzanne Schultz and Robin Dunbar, “Encephalization is not a universal macroevolutionary phenomenon in mammals but is associated with sociality,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print November 22, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1005246107.
    2.  Robert L. Millstein, “Evolution: A Law by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet,” Science, 19 November 2010: Vol. 330 no. 6007 pp. 1048-1049, DOI: 10.1126/science.1197366.
    For you Darwin-loving anti-creationist skeptics dropping by, will you not study this entry?  Where is the evidence that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”?  Where is the light?  Where is the sense?  These 8 entries are typical of the standard fare that passes through the science news on a daily basis.  Are you proud of this stuff?  Is this what you call science?  Is this what you call Enlightenment?
        For the rest of us who have not left off common sense, this is the theory that its promoters say is so well established, so obvious, so enlightening, that to believe anything else makes one insane or wicked.  It is the theory that must be forced on all our students.  No student shall be allowed to read a warning label, or hear a short statement at the beginning of the semester for 30 seconds that perhaps there are some problems with Charlie’s big tale and there are alternatives one can read about if desired.  Try that and the wrath of the Darwin Establishment brings down fire and brimstone on you.  Incredible.
        If so many powerful people didn’t believe this stuff, it would be called a cult.  Now it has become a culture.  And like a diseased culture in a body, some strong antibiotics are needed to restore science to health.
    Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyPlantsBirdsDarwin and EvolutionPhilosophy of Science
    Let the Birds Teach You     11/22/2010    
    Nov 22, 2010 — The ancient prophet Job said, “But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you” (Job 12:7).  Maybe the birds of the air can tell us how to fly, and the beasts of the sea how to navigate.  Some scientists are trying that without referencing old Job.
    1. Fly like a bird:  “Should airplanes look like birds?  Engineers envision more fuel-efficient design” was the headline on PhysOrg.  Two researchers tried to start a new design for fuel efficient flying machines.  Lo and behold, they landed on a bird shape.  It’s a bird; it’s a plane.  Specifically, it resembles a seagull, reported Live Science.  That shape works better for flying than the kiwi model.
    2. Sing like a bird:  A story on PhysOrg was not exactly about a stool pigeon, but about a team of Harvard researchers who invented a device made out of rubber tubing that can mimic the songs of birds.
    3. Hum like a hummingbird:  A researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory has created a robot that mimics the flight of a hummingbird.  Actually, he only has the wing part down, and is missing some other things: “B.J. Balakumar’s robotic hummingbird wing isn't as pretty as the real thing,” Live Science reported.  “It lacks jewel-like colors and the iridescent glint of hummingbird feathers.  But what the unadorned metal wing does have is the ability to help researchers understand how the tiny fliers manage to dart, hover and dive even in gusty winds.”  The working prototype is a long way off.
    4. Sing with the dolphins:  Man-made sonar has trouble with bubble clouds.  That set researchers thinking about how dolphins get their signals through them.  Science Daily reported that the research team noted that dolphins create bubble nets when hunting, but don’t seem to lose their sonar.  Curious about how they do it, Timothy Leighton started thinking like a dolphin.  “There were no recordings of the type of sonar that dolphins use in bubble nets, so instead of producing a bio-inspired sonar by copying dolphin signals, I sat down and worked out what pulse I would use if I were a dolphin,” he said.
          The result was twin inverted pulse sonar, or TWIPS, that “exploits the way that bubbles pulsate in sound fields, which affects the characteristics of sonar echoes.”  Two pulses are sent, one the inverse of the other, the second a fraction of a second later.  This makes the signal able to “enhance scatter from the target while simultaneously suppressing clutter from bubbles.”  First test results are encouraging: TWIPS outperforms regular sonar, and may lead to improvements in harbor protection and medical imaging.  As for how dolphins perform sonar so well, Leighton said, “How they successfully detect prey in bubbly water remains a mystery that we are working to solve.”  PhysOrg also wrote about this story.
    Ever since the Wright brothers and their predecessors observed them to discern their secrets, birds have continued to inspire the imagination of inventors wanting to match their grace and efficiency.  Dolphins, too, do more than just delight audiences at marine parks.  These are just a few of the many living things whose abilities are leading careful observers to design better artificial systems for the improvement of human life.
    Maybe God made these things to keep us humble.  For all the abilities of the human body, which are impressive, we all wish we could do some of the things animals can do.  Not many animals are trying to imitate humans, except maybe the family dog, a dancing bear, and trained chimpanzees in the movies.  But they have different motives – the desire for food.
    Next headline on:  BirdsMarine BiologyPhysicsBiomimeticsIntelligent Design
    Intelligent Design Put to Good Scientific Use     11/20/2010    
    Nov 20, 2010 — Evolutionists try to portray intelligent design as something outside of science that threatens science.  Actually, the techniques of intelligent design are hard at work within science, and have been for some time.  Examples are not hard to find on a variety of fronts.
    1. Archaeology:  “The ability to tell the difference between crystals that formed naturally and those formed by human activity can be important to archaeologists in the field,” began an article on PhysOrg.  Scientists at Duke University have “developed a process that can tell in a matter of minutes the origin of samples thousands of years old.”  Merely from the way that the calcite crystals are organized, they can detect whether a rock is natural or comes from man-made plaster.  Incidentally, the technique was recently tested “at an ancient site in central Israel at Tel Safit, close to where David is thought to have slain Goliath,” the article said.
          On a related note, Science Daily reported on a team at Monash University in Australia that claims to have found the “world’s oldest ground-edge implement.”  This indicates the ability to distinguish natural structures from those worked by human hands on purpose – by design.
    2. Biomimetics:  The science of imitating natural designs is a form of intelligent design science in practice (11/04/2010, 10/30/2010).   PhysOrg reported on work by Newcastle University students who engineered bacteria to form a sealer for repairing cracks in concrete.  They make the bacteria swim into the cracks, where the microbes “glue” the sides together with their secretions.  This may make it possible “to prolong the life of structures which are environmentally costly to build.”
          Similarly, Science Daily said that a researcher at Delft University in the Netherlands trained bacteria to convert biowaste into plastic.  And then there’s this: New Scientist reported that students in Tokyo got E. coli bacteria to solve Sudoku puzzles.
    3. Code in the nose:  Codes and information are stock-in-trade of intelligent design: conveying messages from one entity to another.  Did you know you have a code in your nose? (06/26/2005, 02/01/2008).  It’s a sophisticated one, too: “Odor Coding in Mammals Is More Complex Than Previously Thought,” reported Science Daily.  “A new study in the Journal of General Physiology (JGP) shows that the contribution of odorant receptors (ORs) to olfactory response in mammals is much more complex than previously thought, with important consequences for odorant encoding and information transfer about odorants to the brain.”  The patterns that researchers at Rockefeller University studied “may contribute heretofore unsuspected information used by the olfactory system in categorizing odorants.
          Another recent story on coding can be found on PNAS, where scientists at Johns Hopkins University found another molecule that is part of the “histone code” in genetics (09/25/2010, bullet 3; 07/26/2006).
    Other examples of current scientific practice using intelligent design techniques include SETI (10/16/2010), forensics, paleoanthropology (e.g., determining when self-cognition arose), computer science, information science, cryptography, steganography, operations research, cognitive neuroscience, some theories of psychology, sociology, political science, artificial intelligence, robotics, optimization, historiography, linguistics, philology – and, in biology, arguably biophysics, genetics and systems biology.
    Intelligence is real.  Design is real.  Information is real.  Intelligent causes are real.  The question is not whether the researchers in the above fields believe in evolution or I.D.  Many of the above probably believe fervently in evolution.  The point is that they use techniques predicated on the assumption that design is detectable.  Even a hiker can tell that three stones on top of one another were put there on purpose to convey a message.  Some websites like eSkeptic use gymnastic circumlocutions to deny this, calling I.D.’s comparison of SETI with intelligent design a “category error,” or the use of design detection as a “point of departure,” or claiming that the secular researcher knows in advance that the intelligent agent found will be human (in the case of archaeology).
        Come now.  One cannot define science in such a way that rules out intelligent causes and then say that intelligent design is not science.  To do that, one would have to judge much of the history of science as unscientific, because Newton, Kepler, John Ray, Linnaeus and many other scientists performed world-class science to seek understanding of the Designer’s mind.  The skeptics cannot, furthermore, disqualify science based on the motives or beliefs of the scientists, or what their evidence might imply.  There are no demarcation criteria that can rule out intelligent design a priori in science.  Science is supposed to represent an authentic, honest effort to follow the evidence where it leads.  If one rules out intelligent causes at the outset, one can miss the true nature of reality.  And honesty in science already presupposes an intelligent cause for its existence.
        The biomimetics researcher knows he has a good design to mimic.  The biochemist studying the histone code knows that a functional message is embedded in the structure.  The SETI researcher knows a message will imply purpose and intent – and in the particular case of SETI, the seeker has advance knowledge the intelligence will be non-human; it could even be robotic, angelic or demonic--how would anyone tell?  The comparisons between intelligent design and these other active sciences are obvious and real.  No amount of dancing with words can cover for ignoring the obvious, unless one is committed to malevolent intelligent design – which the devils also believe, and cause trouble.
    Next headline on:  Intelligent DesignEarly ManBiomimeticsGeneticsPhilosophy of Science
      What is man?  Read the Darwin spin to that Biblical question in the 11/05/2009 entry, then see what we think Bishop Wilberforce should have said to Huxley.

    Boggle Your Brain     11/19/2010    
    Nov 19, 2010 — A new animation of a trip through a brain shows mind-boggling complexity in more detail than ever before.  The animation, posted by freelance journalist Elizabeth A. Moore on CNET News, represents years of work by Stanford University School of Medicine.  Using green fluorescent protein in a mouse brain to light up synapses, and photographing the tissue with array tomography, it allows visualizing the forest of neurons and synapses as if traveling through a brain in a spaceship.
        Even more amazing are the superlatives used by the researchers to describe what they had imaged.  Moore writes,

    They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study:
    One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor--with both memory-storage and information-processing elements--than a mere on/off switch.  In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches.  A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.
    Moore started the boggling with her opening paragraph:
    A typical, healthy [brain] houses some 200 billion nerve cells, which are connected to one another via hundreds of trillions of synapses.  Each synapse functions like a microprocessor, and tens of thousands of them can connect a single neuron to other nerve cells.  In the cerebral cortex alone, there are roughly 125 trillion synapses, which is about how many stars fill 1,500 Milky Way galaxies.
    No wonder she began her article, “The human brain is truly awesome.”  See also a biochemist’s response to this article on Darwin’s God, the blog of Dr. Cornelius Hunter.
        Live Science reported that there is a brain exhibit going on at the American Museum of Natural History in New York that will “blow your mind.”  Walk-through dioramas and interactive exhibits give visitors an appreciation for the “universe unto itself” that is the brain.  “Brain facts designed to astound anyone but the most jaded neuroscientist appear throughout the exhibit,” the article says, going into mind-boggle mode.  “A single neuron can send 1,000 signals per second, each traveling at a sizzling 250 mph (400 km/h).  Then there's the early growth spurt most people don’t think about – half a million brain cells form every minute during the first five months in the womb.”  One section was titled “Brain evolution” but said nothing about evolution.
        Other recent brain stories include: Sleep makes your memories stronger (PhysOrg), Learning to read is good for the brain (PhysOrg), and and Why your brain is the smartest on earth (New Scientist).
    This is a “must-see” animation.  As disorganized as it looks, there is more design there than you can imagine.  Each synapse is a thousandth of a millimeter in diameter.  Put your thumb near your index finger as close as you can; that’s about a millimeter.  Now slice that distance a thousandfold, and you begin to appreciate the scale of these microprocessors, each with tens of thousands of switches and connections.  In the gaps of the synapses, a host of precision chemical neurotransmitters carry coded messages across to other neurons, using cellular processes that package them on one end and unpackage them on the other.  This all happens lightning fast.
        And remember – this is just a mouse brain.  The human brain is vastly more complex, allowing Mozart to conceive whole symphonies in his head, to derive complex calculus theorems while blind, and the apostle Paul to write a paean to love in his epistles.  We need to be reminded of the realities of life when debating creation and evolution.  Who can really believe that a computer network more vast and complex than the internet, packed into a three-pound lump of wet tissue that grows from a single cell and runs on potatoes, arose by an undirected, purposeless process essentially by chance?  If you think about it, you have falsified Darwinism.  Why?  Darwinism is not about thinking.  Look at the Live Science section called “Brain evolution.”  It didn’t even begin to try to start to commence to explain how all this astounding complexity evolved.
        How can a few tens of thousands of genes produce something so marvelous?  No one knows.  Live Science ended with a quote: “Every year there’s an order of magnitude leap in what we know and there’s still many order of magnitude leaps that we need to take in the near future.”  Dr. Walter Brown often pointed out the complexity of the brain in his creation seminars: an adult human brain, he said, has 100 trillion connections (probably a low estimate), “more than all the soldered electrical connections in the world” (see statement on CreationScience.com, and reference).  Did all of man’s soldered connections and internet connections take place by an unguided, purposeless, uncaring process?  Then neither did your brain’s connections.  Both are purposeful, functional systems – only the human brain is vastly superior, and it designed the soldered connections and computer networks.  Out of nothing, nothing comes.
    Next headline on:  Human BodyMammalsMind and BrainIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
    Stem Cells of the Adult Kind Steal the Headlines     11/18/2010    
    Nov 18, 2010 — Stories about stem cell research need to be divided into two sections: those about adult stem cells (AS), which have no ethical ramifications, and stories about embryonic stem cells (ES), which raise many issues about the sanctity of human life.  As usual, most of the actual clinical progress is being made with adult stem cells (cf. 10/04/2010, 08/06/2010; search on "stem cells" for many more entries).

    Adult Stem Cells

    1. Culture triple crown:  Scientists at UC San Diego have provided a perfect environment for the growth and culture of adult stem cells, according to Science Daily.  “Bioengineers from the University of California, San Diego have achieved the ‘Triple Crown’ of stem cell culture -- they created an artificial environment for stem cells that simultaneously provides the chemical, mechanical and electrical cues necessary for stem cell growth and differentiation,” the article began.  “Building better microenvironments for nurturing stem cells is critical for realizing the promises of stem-cell-based regenerative medicine, including cartilage for joint repair, cardiac cells for damaged hearts, and healthy skeletal myoblasts for muscular dystrophy patients.  The advance could also lead to better model systems for fundamental stem cell research.  The article said nothing about embryonic stem cells.
    2. Bandage for a bleeding heart:  In another Science Daily report, researchers at the University of Cincinnati have shown that an injection of stem cells into animal hearts, with the appropriate expression molecules, leads to repair of damaged heart tissue.  They used induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) in their experiments.
    3. Fat for the heart:  Stem cells derived from fat may be safe in humans, said another story in Science Daily.
    4. Arthritis hope:  Stem cells from umbilical cords may be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, announced PhysOrg.
    5. Stem cells on the brain:  Scientists at Duke University are trying to understand how stem cells in the brain decide to renew themselves or differentiate into neurons, according to PhysOrg.
    6. Building stem cell musclePhysOrg announced hope for keeping muscles strong as we age: “A University of Colorado at Boulder-led study shows that specific types of stem cells transplanted into the leg muscles of mice prevented the loss of muscle function and mass that normally occurs with aging, a finding with potential uses in treating humans with chronic, degenerative muscle diseases.
    7. Saving limbs:  Some people get cardiovascular disease so serious, the only option is amputation of a limb.  Science Daily just announced a treatment that might some day save 100,000 limbs a year by injecting the patient’s own stem cells into the damaged area, to “stimulate new blood vessel formation in ischemic limbs, which can improve perfusion and salvage function.”  The lead researcher at Northwestern Medicine was clearly excited about the hope this provides.  “As study of stem cells continues, I believe we’re on the verge of a rebirth in the practice of medicine,” said Douglas Losordo, M.D..  “Using a patient’s own cells to regenerate their body has enormous potential to treat conditions that have previously been considered irreversible.
    Embryonic Stem Cells
    1. Art or science?  The only recent stem cell story in the popular science press was this one from Science Daily: “Embryonic Stem Cell Culturing Grows from Art to Science.”  Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found a more reliable way to culture ES cells.  Is anything good being done with them?  Not according to the article: “At present, human embryonic stem cells are cultured mostly for use in research settings.
    2. Regulators without Rx:  An abstract in Nature (11 Nov 2010) discussed research in Singapore trying to identify all the transcription factors that regulate embryonic stem cells.  There was no mention of any application to help human beings.
    One other recent news story did not make it clear whether ES or AS cells were being discussed.  Live Science and PhysOrg both announced the first stem cell trial by injection of stem cells into a woman’s brain at the University of Glasgow.  No results were announced.
    Joni Eareckson Tada was interviewed on the Frank Pastore radio show Weds. evening (see her website and listen to her story in the documentary, The Case for Faith).  This long-suffering quadriplegic woman who has championed the needs of the disabled would, it seems, have plenty of reasons from a secular perspective to support ES stem cell research – if she thought for a minute they were ethical and provided hope.  Instead, she pled earnestly against ES stem cell research as a matter of conscience, because cutting up human embryos, which according to the Bible and genetics are human persons, violates the sanctity of human life.  She applauded the many wonderful advances happening in adult stem cell research, arguing that they presented no ethical issues.
        Joni, who according to World Magazine has most recently been battling severe pain with breast cancer, on top of decades of paralysis, said all that needs to be said about this issue, with a credibility most of us lack.  For more information, see the policy statement by Steve Bundy about stem cell research on her Joni & Friends ministry website, and her book Life in the Balance that discusses Biblical answers for the issues of our day, including stem cell research.  Joni also has a DVD entitled Lives in the Balance: the Stem Cell Debate that specifically addresses the issue.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHealthPolitics and EthicsBible and Theology
    Tip Link
    Put yourself inside a living cell and watch the action close up with Harvard’s exquisite animations of cellular machines, posted by the New York Times.

    Dinosaur Fossils Flaunt Physics     11/17/2010    
    Nov 17, 2010 — Recent announcements about dinosaurs show that even the large ones exhibited physics fitness.  Their size did not inhibit their mobility.

    1. T. rex racer:  Maybe Jurassic Park got it right after all.  According to Science Daily, “Tyrannosaurus rex was far from a plodding Cretaceous era scavenger whose long tail only served to counterbalance the up-front weight of its freakishly big head.”  A grad student at the University of Alberta studied the muscle attachments in the rib cage and tail and compared them to Komodo dragons and crocodiles.  He concluded that the monster could outrun any other animal in its hunting grounds.
    2. Flying giraffe:  Only a children’s storybook author would claim a giraffe could launch itself into the sky, but apparently some pterosaurs as large as giraffes did just that.  Live Science reported, “Giraffe-sized pterosaurs may have pole-vaulted with their arms to launch themselves, just as vampire bats do, scientists now suggest.”  Contrary to previous ideas that they would have had to get a running start or jump from cliffs, the new study at University of Portsmouth suggests they could have “pole-vaulted” themselves from a standing position, using their front limbs, to get high enough to flap their enormous wings and fly – pretty good for an animal weighing 500 pounds or more.  A researcher, who was amazed at the tremendous size and power of these creatures, said, “Pterosaurs had incredibly strong skeletons – for their weight, they’re probably amongst the strongest ever evolved.
          New Scientist includes a video clip of the proposed launching mechanism.  The BBC News also reported on this story, and included a short audio interview with one of the scientists.
    3. Free-range dinosaurs:  The turkey you prepare for Thanksgiving may be a model animal for how some dinosaurs ran, according to Live Science.  Nobody knows if dinosaur meat tasted like turkey, but another article posted on PhysOrg reported the discovery of juvenile dinosaur footprints in Colorado near Denver.  According to the discoverers, “Speedy the Sauropod” was running like a scalded turkey when it made the tracks.
    France’s biggest dinosaur cache was announced by Science Daily.  Found this January, the quarry, covering several hundred square meters, includes large sauropods, five predators, and aquatic reptiles like turtles and crocodiles.  Some 400 bones have been uncovered since excavations began at the end of summer.  “The find is all the more exceptional as the bones are not only present in large numbers, but are also remarkably well preserved, having been buried rapidly” under alluvial sediments of a Quaternary river in Lower Cretaceous strata.  Similar dinosaur graveyards have been found in Britain and Spain, the article said.
    Were dinosaurs primitive animals on the way to becoming smart, like humans?  No; they were incredibly well designed, powerful and successful.  And they all died suddenly, often buried in mass graves.  If it weren’t for the evolutionary scenario imposed on the data, a very different picture of their origins and extinctions might be proposed.  What was Speedy running from?  Why are so many mashed together in water-borne sediments?  Why must we be told Darwin takes credit for explaining them?  “They’re probably amongst the strongest ever evolved” – good grief.
    Next headline on:  Dinosaurs and Extinct ReptilesFossilsPhysicsAmazing Facts
      Check out Darwin’s score on predictions: 11/15/2007.

    Maxwell’s ID Demon Converts Info to Energy     11/16/2010    
    Nov 16, 2010 — Information can be converted into energy – provided it is guided by intelligent design.  That’s what researchers demonstrated with an experimental setup of “Maxwell’s Demon,” a famous thought experiment about how to overcome the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
        James Clerk Maxwell knew that the laws of thermodynamics did not allow the spontaneous separation of hot and cold gas molecules in a container.  He imagined, though, that an agent (he didn’t call it a demon) could sort the molecules by choosing which ones could pass through a barrier.  Later, it was proved that the Second Law would not be violated, because of the energy expended by the demon choosing the molecules (06/27/2002, 07/17/2002).
        According to PhysOrg, Masaki Sano and a team at the University of Tokyo set up an experiment that shows energy can be extracted from information – the information of scientists acting as Maxwell’s Demon.  They controlled a particle subject to random Brownian motion to walk up a spiral staircase by using electric fields to prevent it jumping back down.  So by controlling its direction, but not pushing it, they allowed it to gain more potential energy.
        The article explained, “The experiment did not violate the second law of thermodynamics because energy was consumed in the experiment by the apparatus used, and by the experimenters themselves, who did work in monitoring the particle and adjusting the voltage, but Sano said the experiment does demonstrate that information can be used as a medium for transferring energy.”
        See also how life uses Maxwell’s demons at the molecular scale in cellular motors (02/10/2010) and in muscle (04/19/2010).

    Information into energy: what a concept.  You could teach a child this principle with a simple home experiment.  Get some jumping beans (or any toy that will spontaneously jump) and put them on a small staircase with side walls.  Some will jump and land higher up.  As they climb, block their fall back down.  The bean can eventually make it to the top, where it has increased its potential energy without the child applying any force to it.  Two children can race their jumping beans to the top to make it more fun.
        To apply the lesson, ask them if the bean would ever make it to the top on its own (assuming it can only hop as high as one stair at a time, and there are many stairs).  With unguided reversible processes, the child will see that it is highly unlikely.  But by applying intelligent design (the goal of reaching the top), a mind can harness chance motions to perform work.  The Second Law ensures that entropy will increase in the whole system (bean + setup of experimental apparatus + body and brain of the guiding intelligence), but the object lesson will be a good illustration of the power of intelligent design over randomness.
    Next headline on:  PhysicsIntelligent DesignEducation
    Plasma May Revamp Cosmology     11/15/2010    
    Nov 15, 2010 — A “diverse new field” of astrophysics is poised to revolutionize our understanding of stars, energetic galaxies, and perhaps the entire universe.  The properties and interactions of plasma, that hot, electrically-charged gas that makes up the sun and stars, have not been considered as often as matter and light have in astronomy.  A set of top ten questions about plasma astronomy was recently set down at a workshop for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), according to PhysOrg.
        “Plasma physics governs much of the behavior of the visible universe at all scales, from tokamaks to extra-galactic jets that are 10 billion times larger than the solar system,” said Stewart Prager, Director of the PPPL (the article explained that “A tokamak is a type of magnetic fusion energy experiment”).  Since plasma (often called the fourth state of matter) responds to electromagnetism – a much stronger force than gravity – the new proposed research will bring together “experimentalists, astronomers, and computational scientists to identify the major puzzles at this intersection of laboratory physics and space science, and to map out new strategies for better understanding the plasma universe.
    If you thought the universe was pretty well figured out, wait till we see what comes from plasma cosmology.  “Often, a detailed understanding of the plasma physics under the specific space and astrophysical conditions holds the key to many long-standing mysteries,” the article said.  Mysteries imply basic misunderstandings in our current science.  Can fundamental changes to our thinking be in store?  No one yet knows; science is tentative, not absolute.  Interdisciplinary approaches are likely to challenge basic assumptions and bring outside-the-box thinking to stale modes of inquiry.  The universe could look very different to future astronomers, just as it differs today from what astronomers thought they knew in 2000, 1900, 1800, 1700, 1600, ....
    Next headline on:  CosmologyAstronomyPhysicsPhilosophy of Science
    Evolutionists Try to Out-Complex Behe     11/14/2010    
    Nov 14, 2010 — The phrase irreducible complexity has reluctantly entered the working vocabulary of evolutionary biologists, though they usually disparage its source (Dr. Michael Behe, leading proponent of intelligent design).  The latest evidence is a paper in Science that was titled with an obvious play on words and an attempt to refute Behe’s principle.  They called it “irremediable complexity.”1
        The team of biologists from Canada and the Czech Republic neither referenced Behe’s book nor mentioned his name, but it is clear they wanted to refute his thesis that complex molecular machines require intelligent design.  “Many of the cell’s macromolecular machines appear gratuitously complex, comprising more components than their basic functions seem to demand,” they said.  “How can we make sense of this complexity in the light of evolution?”  As examples, they produced the spliceosome and ribosome, structures they claim have “Seemingly gratuitous complexity”.  From the gratuitous, they invoked the fortuitous, in a somewhat circuitous manner.  By chance, they said, two independent bodies might become connected.  As additional mutations occur, it becomes more difficult for them to separate than to remain interdependent.  That’s the reason for their phrase “irremediable complexity” – there’s no going back.  The result is a kind of “ratchet” mechanism that increases complexity and interdependence, but not necessarily adaptation: “Thus, constructive neutral evolution is a directional force that drives increasing complexity without positive (and in small populations, against mildly negative) selection,” they explained.  “Negative selection is involved, but only as the stabilizing force that keeps this directionality from reversing.”2
        How, then, does adaptation occur?  The ribosome and spliceosome, after all, are tremendously effective machines despite their complexity, gratuitous or not.  The authors seem to say that the function must have been already been present before the complexity accumulated:
    Although compensation for defects caused by “selfish” (self-propagating) DNA elements may seem intuitive, it is problematic to propose that, on the way to evolving compensatory machinery, an intermediate state had to exist that was less fit than its ancestors and sisters.  Why would such an intermediate not just die out in competition before its rescue by compensatory complexity yet to be invented?  A more workable model is that the compensating mechanism was already present (possibly serving unrelated functions).
    They were thus trying to solve one problem with evolutionary theory (adaptationism) by introducing another – a kind of “pre-adaptation” inherent in the machinery that turned on when the circumstances needed it.  This ratchet model, called “constructive neutral evolution,” they claimed, “provides an explanatory counterpoint to the selectionist or adaptationist views that pervade molecular biology.”  To support their model, therefore, they had to take issue with the vast majority of evolutionists who support Neo-Darwinism.
        In the end, though, this was all about refuting Michael Behe’s claim that molecular machines illustrate intelligent design:
    Although this model is easiest to illustrate using molecular systems of peripheral importance or limited distribution (such as splicing or RNA editing), there is no reason why it might not contribute to the generation of any cellular complexity (the ribosome; mitochondrial respiratory complexes; light-harvesting antennae in photosynthetic organisms; RNA and DNA polymerases and their initiation, elongation, and termination complexes; protein import, folding, and degradation apparatuses; the cytoskeleton and its motors).  Much of the bewildering intricacy of cells could consist of originally fortuitous molecular interactions that have become more or less fixed by constructive neutral evolution.  Indeed, although complexity in biology is generally regarded as evidence of “fine tuning” or “sophistication,” large biological conglomerates might be better interpreted as the consequences of runaway bureaucracy—as biological parallels of nonsensically complex Rube Goldberg machines that are over-engineered to perform a single task.
    Readers of Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box (Free Press, 1996) might recall that on p. 75 he reproduced a Rube Goldberg cartoon as an illustration of irreducible complexity.
    1.  Michael W. Gray, Julius Lukes, John M. Archibald, Patrick J. Keeling, W. Ford Doolittle, “Irremediable Complexity?”, Science, 12 November 2010: Vol. 330. no. 6006, pp. 920-921, DOI: 10.1126/science.1198594.
    2.  In evolutionary theory, positive selection means increased fitness, whereas negative selection removes deleterious mutations.  Stabilizing selection works to keep things running in place with neither progress nor regress.
    The shameless, aimless, lameness game these guys played with words and concepts, invoking the Stuff Happens Law (SHL) as a scientific explanation (09/22/2009, 10/03/2010, 11/10/2010), refusing to acknowledge the name of Behe, and calling the most marvelous living machines ever discovered (including ATP synthase and the respiratory chain! – 09/22/2010) a bunch of slapdash accidents, is breathtaking.  This is another example of evolutionist ideologues talking nonsense to themselves in an echo chamber.  Science never gives Behe a chance to respond, or anyone else.  They did us all one favor, though – falsifying neo-Darwinism.
        Their astounding list of machines they claim could be explained by “constructive neutral evolution” (a.k.a. SHL in a cheap tuxedo) shows also how ungrateful they are.  Those machines are keeping them alive.  They are keeping their brains capable of thinking and reasoning.  If they thought for a minute about the stupidity of their SHL theory, and the intricate complexity of those machines – the molecular trucks, proofreaders, editors, repair crews, and more – their response ought to be awe and thankfulness.  Instead, they became vain in their imaginations, neither were thankful (ref.).
        The spliceosomes they claim are gratuitously complex are exquisitely functional.  Have these biologists never heard of alternative splicing?  The splicing machinery generates a multitude of protein products from the same DNA transcription (02/02/2010).  There are reasons these machines are complex, and the proof of the pudding is the brain that allows these scientists to think (although, like pudding, their thinking is mushy).
        For them to think that the fortuitous (happenstance) produced the gratuitous (unplanned), they are not only reasoning circuitously, they are showing themselves to be muddle-headed ingrates.  What they need is fortitude and gratitude.  Then they might become circumspect, like they were designed to be.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsIntelligent DesignDarwin and Evolution
      Know your pagan pantheon: SETI is a reincarnation of OOL (11/30/2006).

    SETI Reinvades Oz     11/13/2010    
    Nov 13, 2010 — To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first SETI search, astronomers from around the world are going to tune into the stars, listening for aliens.  Frank Drake named his first attempt in 1960 after the land of Oz: Project Ozma.  Today’s searchers, looking at promising candidates with much better resolution, are once again paying tribute to L. Frank Baum’s children’s tale by calling their search “Project Dorothy.”  Frank Drake is pleased, though disappointed at half a century of finding nothing.  “Over the past 50 years our searches have not yet produced the discovery we all hope for,” he said.  “This is understandable – in our vast and awesome universe it will take long, painstaking and comprehensive searches before we will have a good chance of success.”  The story can be found at Space.com.

    Frank Drake is the only scientist in the world famous for what he has not found, and for his Drake Equation that calculates any answer from a series of unknowable unknowns.  His celebrity shows there is still hope for those whose only skills are ignorance and talk.
        Remember when the Darwin funDOmentalists laughed and laughed at the Kansas school board for daring to allow alternatives to evolution with jokes about its members being wackos from the land of Oz (04/21/2005)?  Well, the SETI devotees (usually the same crowd) have no protection from the hole they just opened up for themselves.  Next they should start Project Wicked Witch, Project Scarecrow, and Project Munchkin.
        What Baum didn’t describe in detail was the religion of the munchkins.  Before Toto revealed the semi-intelligent cause behind their Wizard’s tricks, the munchkins maintained a sacred ritual, pointing their dishes to the sky and calling for wisdom that never came.
    Next headline on:  StarsSETI
    A Tale of Two Mavericks     11/12/2010    
    Nov 12, 2010 — In science, consensus has a lot of power.  It takes courage to stand alone against the majority.  Scientists should remember that sometimes the loner has turned out to be right.  Two men who recently died are now being honored for their willingness to have stood up to the majority and advanced views that were unpopular at the time.  Though not involved in the creation-evolution controversy, they illustrate that courage to follow the evidence still has value in science, whether or not the academic crowd follows along immediately.
        Nature just published an obituary about John Huchra, astronomer, who “mapped the structure of the universe.”1  A champion of observational astronomy, Huchra spent countless hours at the eyepiece of large telescopes, amassing a record in observing time and measuring redshifts of tens of thousands of galaxies.  His findings flew in the face of theoreticians.  “Huchra and his colleagues were not cowed by senior observers who advocated much lower values for the Hubble constant – or by theorists who believed that the Universe must be decelerating, which would make the age discrepancy even worse,” Robert Kirshner wrote in the tribute.  “They just reported what they found.
        In addition, working with Margaret Geller at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Huchra also proposed a radically different texture for the universe: “a foamy structure of voids, sheets and walls” – an “extraordinary picture” that came about through a “confluence of insightful planning, new detector technology, creative analysis techniques and an ample dose of hard work at the telescope, much of which was supplied by Huchra.”  Born into a poor family, he maintained his values of hard work and humility learned early in life.  “Nobody worked harder at his craft, gave more of himself to his colleagues and students, and was less puffed-up by his considerable achievements than John,” Kirshner said.  “He was happiest in the observatory, with the controls of the telescope in his hands.”
        Got fractals?  If so, you got them after 1982, because that’s when Benoit Mandelbrot invented the word.  The achievement of this great mathematician illustrates that entire new landscapes of knowledge can emerge in the minds of independent thinkers.  If you thought science had everything figured out by the 1980s, look at what Heinz-Otto Peitgen said about Mandelbrot in Science:2  “He fundamentally and irrevocably changed our view of the world and left us a tool that will continue to unveil nature’s most peculiar commonalities that might otherwise be left aside as insignificant.”  That tribute itself is highly significant.
        How did the world get along without fractal geometry before 1982?  The “Mandelbrot set” is now common knowledge for many; it is the basis of incredibly beautiful and intricate patterns that, due to the principles of “self-similarity” and iteration can be explored to infinity (see example on YouTube, some 3-D art constructed with the Mandelbrot set; search for many, many, more).  But it’s not just art that has been revolutionized by Mandelbrot’s fractals.  Peitgen said, “his footprints are left in the theory of finance, linguistics, biology, medicine, chemistry, physics, earth science, cosmology, computer science, astronomy, many of the engineering disciplines, and of course, mathematics.”  It is phenomenal that such a pervasive principle could emerge in our time.
        To reach that achievement, Mandelbrot had to go against the flow.  All the other mathematicians were telling him that geometry was old hat, stuff for school children; algebraic and abstract representations were the modern ways to do mathematics.  His teachers tried to force him into that mold.  But Mandelbrot was not satisfied with the consensus; he trusted his eyes, and he knew that nature was not like that.  “Fortunately, Mandelbrot’s advocacy for geometry was without compromise,” so he struck out on his own:
    Some describe Mandelbrot as one who chose the role of a maverick in the mainstream sciences.  Quite to the contrary, his uncompromising devotion to analyze and understand the “rough” reality of nature isolated him from the mainstream.  In his view, the common “smooth” representations of natural processes were entirely inappropriate and far from the essence of nature: “Clouds are not spheres and mountains are not cones.”  Alone, he shaped a program of geometry based on fractals, a term he coined to refer to mathematical shapes with irregular contours, just as seen in nature.
    Peitgen emphasized again and again that lesson of this man’s life was the courage to work outside the mainstream.  “The Mandelbrot set provides perhaps the most striking example of a mathematical object whose properties would remain undiscovered without the guiding power of the human eye used by an able mathematician.”  This part of the tribute should be taken soberly by all scientists, especially those who feel obligated to make a good showing among their colleagues:
    Now that Mandelbrot’s work can be considered to belong to mainstream mathematics and the sciences, it is important to remember that there was once strong resistance and skepticism.  I have often asked myself where Mandelbrot found the source of his strength, determination, and endurance in those decades when he was practically isolated in his own mathematical world.  He used to claim that his geometrical view and associated gifts guided him and that he did not feel isolated at all.  I would add that his pristine character as someone who sought the truth in life and nature led him as well.  Moreover, I remember Benoît as a universal scientist and very conscious citizen of the world, knowledgeable and sharp in all branches of the sciences and beyond: the arts, politics, and history.  It will take further generations to grasp the full significance and impact of his insight far beyond the borders of mathematics.
    Perhaps Mandelbrot learned some of these lessons from his childhood.  Having to escape Nazism in Warsaw, Poland, in 1936, “He chose to remain forever suspicious toward any form of establishment and mainstream.
    Update 11/17/2010: Ralph Gomory wrote about the father of fractals in Nature,2 adding that Mandelbrot narrowly escaped deportation and death during the Nazi occupation.  He coined the term fractal in 1975, Gomory clarified, prior to the publication of his epochal book The Fractal Geometry of Nature in 1982.  Gomory agreed with the assessment that the great mathematician worked outside the mainstream: “Mandelbrot’s remarkable conclusions often directly contradicted the accepted view,’ he said; “Inevitably, this slowed their acceptance, but he always persisted with an intellectual courage that I greatly admired.”  He didn’t receive worldwide acclaim till after he was 60 years old: “In 1974 he became an IBM Fellow, IBM’s highest technical distinction, but outside recognition came more slowly..... Finally in 1985 [age 61] he received the Barnard Medal, awarded by the US National Academy of Sciences, and after that came a flood of recognition, honorary degrees, elections to prestigious academies, prizes and the Legion of Honour.”
    1.  Robert Kirshner, “John Huchra (1948–2010),” Nature 468, p. 174, 11 November 2010), doi:10.1038/468174a.
    2.  Heinz-Otto Peitgen, “Benoît B. Mandelbrot (1924–2010),” Science, 12 November 2010: Vol. 330. no. 6006, p. 926, DOI: 10.1126/science.1199471.
    The best way to learn the virtues of good science is to study the lives of its best practitioners.  That’s why we keep an extensive set of online biographies at this site (see Table of Contents).  While Mandelbrot and Huchra do not fit into the intelligent design or creation category, their lives illustrate several virtues that all scientists should emulate:
    • Respect for what nature is, not for what the consensus believes it should be.
    • Valuing empiricism over theory.
    • Willingness to follow the evidence where it leads.
    • Honesty.
    • Humility.
    • A well-rounded education.
    • Altruism.
    • Independent thinking.
    • Hard work.
    • Courage to stand alone.
    Huchra and Mandelbrot were not complete mavericks, of course, since they both were well connected and were honored within their lifetimes.  Mandelbrot drew on insights from two earlier French mathematicians.  Huchra did not question big bang cosmology, but challenged some of its assumptions, preferring to believe his eyes more than theory.  But at crucial points in their work, they did have to decide whether to fall in line with the consensus or follow their own path.  Notice that Mandelbrot was not trying to be a maverick.  He did not have a martyr complex or anything like it.  The consensus isolated him, to their shame and disgrace.
        If there were more biologists with these virtues, there would be fewer Darwinists.  Notice that the list of virtues does not evolve, and was not produced by a blind, impersonal process.  You can’t be a consistent evolutionist and believe in virtue as a real quality, referencing eternal values.  Moreover, few in the evolution camp exhibit all of these virtues.  The easiest thing in the world for them is to remain bosom buddies with the creationist-haters and ID-attackers, not to think independently and critically evaluate evolutionary theory.
        The bounty on mavericks in biology is high.  Outlaws in Darwin’s corrupt township are expelled with irrational hatred.  Even materialist evolutionists who try to question Darwin’s mechanism, as the eminent Darwinist atheist Stephen Jay Gould and the Altenberg 16 (12/28/2009) found out, face the wrath of the funDOmentalists (see 11/10/2010 commentary for definition; also Gould’s term “Darwinian fundamentalism” in 05/31/2004).  Michael Rampino should fear for his career (11/11/2010).
        Steven Shapin reminded us that science is “produced by people with bodies, situated in time, space, culture, and society, and struggling for credibility and authority” (11/02/2010).  The cultural climates in astronomy and mathematics may be a little more tolerant of mavericks than in biological circles, but consider: in any endeavor, if you want to be remembered for your life and achievements, dare to be a Daniel; dare to stand alone.
    Next headline on:  CosmologyPhysicsPhilosophy of ScienceAmazing Facts
    Darwin Dethroned by Geologist     11/11/2010    
    Nov 11, 2010 — Gradual evolution seems synonymous with Charles Darwin, but a geologist at New York University disagrees.  According to an article on PhysOrg, Michael Rampino thinks Patrick Matthew deserves the credit for a different, more realistic view of evolution – a catastrophist view:
    “Matthew discovered and clearly stated the idea of natural selection, applied it to the origin of species, and placed it in the context of a geologic record marked by catastrophic mass extinctions followed by relatively rapid adaptations,” says Rampino, whose research on catastrophic events includes studies on volcano eruptions and asteroid impacts.  “In light of the recent acceptance of the importance of catastrophic mass extinctions in the history of life, it may be time to reconsider the evolutionary views of Patrick Matthew as much more in line with present ideas regarding biological evolution than the Darwin view.”
    By emphasizing catastrophic events, Rampino is also discrediting one of Darwin’s best friends – Charles Lyell, the uniformitarian geologist.  Rampino thinks Patrick Matthew was far ahead of its time but escaped the notice of the scientific community of the day.
    This is a startling announcement that could put Rampino in grave danger.  It’s not that he or Patrick Matthew have anything worthwhile to contribute to the understanding of how we got here.  Good grief, catastrophes do not manufacture wings and eyes and brains, or else they would spontaneously emerge on Mars and Titan.  What is startling is that Rampino would put his reputation and livelihood at stake.  Doesn’t he know the penalty for failing to pay homage to Charles Darwin?  PaV on Uncommon Descent fears, since not even Stephen Jay Gould could survive scorn with his catastrophist theory of punctuated equilibria, even though being an ardent evolutionist, that Rampino will be “gobbled up by the Darwinian thought police” in short order for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
    Next headline on:  Darwin and EvolutionGeology
      How not to date a volcano: 11/13/2006.  Earlier claims about a volcanic field were drastically revised upon re-examination.  How many were misled in the meantime?

    Evolutionary Explanations Come Up Empty     11/10/2010    
    Nov 10, 2010 — When evolutionists claim that they have explained the evolution of this or that, or that their research sheds light on its evolution, a closer examination sometimes shows verbiage covering up hollow reasoning, or even employing intelligent design concepts as weapons against design.

    1. Snap goes the dragonPhysOrg highlighted a research project by some UK biologists and computer scientists who claimed they explained, in Kipling fashion, “How the dragon got its snap” – the snapdragon, that is, a popular garden flower.  Snapdragons (genus Antirrhinum) have asymmetrical dorsal and ventral parts that form a hinge.  When the bee lands on the welcome mat, the flower snaps open, allowing entry into the inner sanctum of pollen and nectar.  According to PhysOrg, the work not only sheds light on the evolution of shape, it throws it:
      The study also throws light on how different shapes may evolve.  In the computational model, small changes to the genes that influence the growth rules produce a variety of different forms.  The shape of the snapdragon flower, with the closely matched upper and lower petal shapes, could have arisen through similar ‘genetic tinkering’ during evolution.  Evolutionary tinkering could also underlie the co-ordinated changes required for the development of many other biological structures, such as the matched upper and lower jaws of vertebrates.
      Left begging by this explanation is how a blind, purposeless, aimless process produced growth rules, closely matched parts, and coordinated changes.  The tinkering metaphor also connotes some kind of personality aiming at a result, however haphazard the method might be.  Even “trial and error” still connotes having a goal in mind.  In evolutionary theory, survival is not a goal; it is an artifact.
          The paper in PLoS Biology on which this story was based did not explain things any better.1  “The results suggest that genetic control of tissue polarity organisers has played a key role in the development and evolution of shape,” the authors said, leaving it unclear who controls the development, or who wrote the screenplay, who gathered the cast of characters, and who directed their roles.  It also merely assumes that shapes evolved rather than were designed.  If this throws any light, it throws it onto assumptions, not onto evidence.
          Regarding evidence for shape formation, they admitted they were clueless at the outset: “Genes are known to control the shape of biological structures, like flowers, hearts, and limbs, yet how they do this is poorly understood.”  They proceeded to study how (but not why) genes influence the shape of snapdragons, and found that a model that simply accounts for local tissue growth is inadequate.  “These could be most readily explained if genes also affect an internal field of orientations along which growth is directed, established by organisers of tissue polarity,” using words that connote intelligent design.  “Our analysis therefore revealed a previously unsuspected role of shape genes in the control of tissue polarity, highlighting the importance of this process for the development and evolution of tissue forms.”  The word evolution was tagged onto that sentence full of design words like a bumper sticker on a car announcing “Chance rules.”.  Such a message has nothing to do with the design of the car.
          Nothing improved by the end of the paper.  “We propose that effects on tissue polarity have played a key role in the evolution of shapes, such as the closed Snapdragon flower, and thus provide a general mechanism for the generation of complex forms.”  A close reading of that sentence reveals design concepts being employed to argue for a chance process: propose (stating a proposition, appealing to logic and evidence for its support); effects... played a role (a dubious proposition, unless the effects are coordinated and controlled); mechanism (a word normally used of plans and goals); and generation of complex forms (a phrase that could be used for a chance process, but not for one with functional benefits, like snapdragon pollination).  The authors proceeded to include a paragraph on the “Evolution of Shape” as a general principle.  The same problems plagued this attempt: use of subjunctive mood hiding the active causes, assumption of evolution, hedging words (might have, may have), and the use of design words to argue for chance:
      Dorsoventral flower asymmetry is a common feature of the Lamiales (the Order to which Antirrhinum belongs).  However, the formation of flowers that have a closed mouth with a hinged palate (known as the personate form) is restricted to a small but diverse clade within the Lamiales.  The Antirrhinum corolla model indicates that a key step in the evolution of personate flowers may have been bringing tissue polarity organisers under the control of genes like DIV and DICH.  In particular, the formation of a hinged lower palate matching the upper corolla depends on promotion of CENORG by DIV.  It is possible that equivalent morphogenetic changes could have been brought about through changes in patterns of specified growth rates rather than tissue polarity.  However, modulating tissue polarity may provide a simpler developmental mechanism for some coordinated changes in form and may therefore have been favoured during evolution.  Other evolutionary innovations, such as formation of flower spurs, may also involve genes influencing organisers of tissue polarity.  Thus, changes in polarity as well as specified growth rates may play a key part in the evolution of complex morphologies.
      It should be clear to the skeptical reader that random changes to a coordinated mechanism are not likely to produce functional “innovations” in any blind system.  The authors therefore shrewdly co-opted the language of design and implied that it supported the explanation of complex shapes (not only those of snapdragons, but “complex morphologies” throughout life) by a random, unguided, purposeless, aimless process of evolution – provided one overlooks the bet-hedging phrases suffusing the explanation (may have, it is possible, could have been, may provide, may therefore have been favoured during evolution, may also involve).
          PhysOrg and Science Daily both dutifully reproduced the press release from the John Innes Centre without any critical analysis, even with its overtly evidence-challenged, design-free statement that extrapolated their puny work on snapdragon genes into an over-arching principle: “the researchers show how these principles allow very complex biological shapes to generate themselves.”  One of the authors was even more explicit: “How do hearts, wings or flowers get their shape?” Prof. Enrico Coen asked.  “Unlike man-made things like mobile phones or cars, there is no external hand or machine guiding the formation of these biological structures; they grow into particular shapes of their own accord.
    2. Eh? goes the tetrapod:  “Were our tetrapod ancestors deaf?” asked PhysOrg, assuming out of the starting gate that humans had tetrapod ancestors.  The article gave credence to researchers at the University of Southern Denmark who “have shown that the closest living relatives of the tetrapods, the lungfish, are insensitive to sound pressure, but sensitive to vibrations.”  That may be true of living lungfish, which are fish, but tetrapods are four-footed non-fish.  “Many changes in the sensory systems of tetrapods are associated with the water-to-land transition,” the article stated, again announcing a truism only logical if evolution is assumed.  That statement was followed by an uncontroversial fact of living tetrapods: “In hearing, one of the crucial elements in detecting airborne sound is the tympanic ear”
          But next was a statement of profound faith in a string of chance miracles: “Surprisingly, the tympanic ear originated independently in the major tetrapod lineages and relatively late after the terrestrial tetrapods emerged – in the Triassic, more than 100 million years after the origin of tetrapods.”  By couching the proposition in passive voice verbs (originated, emerged), the authors misdirected the readers from a hollow scientific explanation onto a dogmatic assumption.
          Surprising is an understatement.  Look at the chain of chance occurrences to even get close one time: “Sensitivity to airborne sound entailed three major changes of the ear between the age of Carbon and the Triassic: a changed sensitivity in the inner ear, a change in the articulation of the middle ear bone and finally coupling of the middle ear bone to skin covering the spiracle, creating a tympanic ear.”  But those are the least of their worries for evolution to get right.  The structures would be useless without a brain to hear the sounds and the senses to react to them.  The authors, naturally, neglected to explain how those details “emerged.”
    3. Yum! goes the caveman:  A psychologist at McGill University says that the sight of red meat makes humans less aggressive, why?  Because, he believes, “humans may therefore have evolved an innate predisposition to respond aggressively towards meat,” Frank Kachanoff said.  This counterintuitive belief is explained by the hunt being over and the cave clan gathering around the soothing campfire.  After the fact, the psych reasoned, “it would make sense that our ancestors would be calm, as they would be surrounded by friends and family at meal time.”  But does testing 82 living males reveal anything about unseen evolutionary ancestors?
    To show these are not isolated examples of assuming evolution while pretending to explain it, the news media provide a steady stream of illustrations.  Here are just a few of the most recent:
    • Oxygen produces complex life, says Live Science.
    • Life?  Primordial soup not needed; primordial haze will do (Space.com).
    • Human evolution was shaped by plate tectonics (New Scientist).
    • Fly eye similarities to human eye show that sight is an “evolutionary bestseller” (PhysOrg).
    • The fossil record doesn’t really undermine Darwin (Science Daily; see 10/31/2010 for details).
    And for an indication that evolution is indeed an all-encompassing, cosmic world view to secular scientists, Space.com suggested that a collision between galaxies – an unplanned crash full of entropy – “may reveal insights on universe’s evolution.
    1.  Green, Kennaway, Hanna, Bangham, and Coen, “Genetic Control of Organ Shape and Tissue Polarity,” Public Library of Science Biology 8(11): e1000537, doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000537.
    Is this the folly of deception or of ignorance?  Are these evolutionists intentionally trying to foist a false view of the world on the public, or are they just so blind, they confuse their own imagination with reality?  Readers can draw their own conclusions.  One thing is indisputable: this is not science.  Even strong evidence of design, and the language of intelligent design, becomes twisted into weird faith that Darwin has been vindicated.  Holding to beliefs so empty, so committed to a view in spite of evidence, so beholden to a godlike hero named Charles Darwin, can only be described by a new term specially coined to describe it: funDOmentalism, where the DO stands for “Darwin Only.”  To a funDOmentalist, no evidence can alter their faith; it is the one great truth they most surely know, even if all of reality must be contorted to fit it.
    Next headline on:  PlantsMarine BiologyEarly ManDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
    Oldest Shrimp Looks Shrimpy     11/09/2010    
    Nov 09, 2010 — PhysOrg shows a picture of a fossil shrimp found in Oklahoma next to a live shrimp.  They look identical, yet the article claims the fossil is 360 million years old – the oldest known decapod (a group containing shrimp, crabs, and lobsters).  The fossil shrimp even has fine preservation of the muscles of its tail, “extremely rare in fossils.”  The article claims it was preserved so well because it landed on the seafloor in acidic water with low oxygen, and then was “buried rapidly.”  As to what this find signifies, “The fossil is a very important step in unraveling the evolution of decapods,” one of the scientists from Kent State said.  “However, more finds are necessary.”
    Calling this complex animal an “important step in unraveling the evolution of decapods” is like finding a complete building, with pipes, electricity, structural steel, and all the interior and exterior furnishings, and calling it an important step in unraveling the evolution of buildings, then claiming that more finds are necessary to unravel the complete story.  What’s unraveling here is the evolutionary story itself.
    Next headline on:  Marine BiologyFossilsDarwin and Evolution
    Venus Flytrap Uses Chemical “Brain”     11/09/2010    
    Nov 09, 2010 — There’s a lowly plant that has a botanical version of muscles and a brain – the Venus flytrap.  It has muscle in its ability to snap its traps shut faster than a bug can escape.  And it has a brain in its ability to distinguish between debris and edible prey.  More about its chemical brain came to light by Japanese researchers, reported Live Science.
        The researchers isolated the chemicals that tell the traps to shut by a process of elimination: collecting all the chemicals in the plant and then trying them out, one by one, to see which ones triggered the action.  They found that two potions are responsible.
    The new findings suggest that a Venus flytrap’s chemical signals work much like those in the human brain.  Like neurotransmitters, the plant chemicals accumulate until they affect the plants’ cell membranes, creating electrical imbalances that cells use to communicate.  In the brain, these so-called “action potentials” are the language of neurons.  In a Venus flytrap, they’re the signal that spells dinnertime for the plant and slow digestion for its hapless prey.
    Earlier experiments, the article said, showed that the traps’ ability to snap shut in less than a second works because “they snap from convex to concave the same way that a contact lens can flip inside out.”
    You can buy these amazing plants at many nurseries.  What a fun way to fascinate kids with science: they can see the trigger hairs in the traps, and learn by observation that it takes two strokes within 30 seconds to get the trap to spring shut – another mechanism to help the plant (which has no eyes or ears) to differentiate between live prey and debris.  Good questions are sure to follow: how could that just happen?  Does the plant have a brain?  Well, sort of.  Help kids realize that even the small, simple things are incredibly complex, and that many sophisticated parts must work together for things like the Venus flytrap to succeed.
    Next headline on:  PlantsAmazing Facts
      Like, make a tree.  In the 11/14/2005 entry, read about how “tree-thinking” is the evolutionist’s form of an ancient craft: divination.

    Cells Can Be Transformed     11/08/2010    
    Nov 8, 2010 — An astonishing feat has been performed in a Canadian lab: scientists turned human skin cells into blood cells.  Bypassing the need for stem cells, the technique provides hope for a supply of blood from a person’s own skin.
        Jeremy Hsu at Live Science calls it a “modern miracle.”  The technique avoids “the ethical concerns concerning embryonic stem cells and the immune system complications that might reject foreign biological material.”  Reprogrammed adult stem cells were tried, but they are difficult to make in quantity and cannot be transplanted.  Bypassing the stem cell stage, the team at McMaster University found they can create larger quantities of blood cells.  They also found that the technique works with skin from young and old individuals.
        Does this open the door for creating other types of cells by this method?  “We’ll now go on to work on developing other types of human cell types from skin, as we already have encouraging evidence,” said Mike Bhatia, a lead study author and scientific director of the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute at the University.  Science Daily added that this method offers hope also for cancer patients, who in the future may no longer need to find bone marrow transplants that are a perfect match.
        Cynthia Dunbar at the National Institutes of Health said, “Bhatia’s approach detours around the pluripotent stem cell stage and thus avoids many safety issues, increases efficiency, and also has the major benefit of producing adult-type l blood cells instead of fetal blood cells, a major advantage compared to the thus far disappointing attempts to produce blood cells from human ESCs [embryonic stem cells] or IPSCs [induced pluripotent stem cells].”
        In another cell story, Science Daily reported that researchers at Johns Hopkins found “a protein mechanism that coordinates and regulates the dynamics of shape change necessary for division of a single cell into two daughter cells.”  A protein designated 14-3-3 “sits at an intersection where it integrates converging signals from within the cell and cues cell shape change and, ultimately, the splitting that allows for normal and abnormal cell growth, such as in tumors.”  This controller protein influences the actions of molecular motors: “myosin II, a complex of motor proteins that monitors and smoothes out the shape changes to ensure accurate division.”

    This very welcoming news about blood cells from skin has the potential of being called a breakthrough of the year (or decade).  It is important not only for the tremendous health benefits it can offer, but for showing that ethically-clouded practices like the use of human embryos are not needed or justified.  Even more amazing are the insights this technique will provide into the workings of the cell – insights that required no help from Darwin – that promise even more health benefits in coming years.  People who care about the value of human life will also welcome this finding that may take some of the pressure off the stem cell gold rush.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyHealthPolitics and EthicsAmazing Facts
    Is “Religious Selection” Evolution?     11/06/2010    
    Nov 06, 2010 — An annual ritual by a tribe in Mexico has caused some cave fish to adapt.  Science Daily calls this “evolution by religious selection.”  But is it really evolution?  Two evolutionary biologists think so; they said that the tribe not only changed the population dynamics of the fish, but “inadvertently kick-started the evolutionary process of natural selection as well.”
        For centuries, the small tribe in southern Mexico has sprinkled powder from barbasco root, a natural toxin, into the waters of Cueva del Azufre as part of a pagan harvest ritual.  The stunned fish were then scooped up for food till the harvest was complete.  A team “led by Dr. Michael Tobler, an evolutionary ecologist at Oklahoma State University, and Dr. Gil Rosenthal, a biology professor at Texas A&M, has discovered that some of these fish have managed not only to develop a resistance to the plant’s powerful toxin, but also to pass on their tolerant genes to their offspring, enabling them to survive in the face of otherwise certain death for their non-evolved brethren.”  The team collected the Atlantic mollies from different parts of the cave.  They found that those annually exposed to barbasco were more resistant than those farther upstream.  Tobler said, “The cool thing is that this ceremony has gone on a long time and that the fish responded to it evolutionarily.”
        The rest of the article concerned human influence on the environment.  Tobler discounted the “noble savage” idea.  “We tend to have this wonderful Pocahontas idea that before Europeans came in, everything was pristine and in harmony with nature and that all of the changes in our environment have been post-industrialization,” he said in the Texas A&M press release.  “No.  People have been changing the environment forever.”
    The evolutionary claims in this article are incoherent.  If the evolutionary biologists want to portray man as an intrusion into the environment, then it’s a story of artificial selection, not natural selection.  Artificial selection is intelligent design – whether or not the designers (people) know exactly what they are doing.  In this case, the tribespeople were selecting for dead fish (ones they could eat) instead of living fish.  They were still imposing their will on organisms for their own purposes.    Besides, people can’t “kick-start the evolutionary process of natural selection.”  Natural selection is not a process; it is an aimless, directionless, purposeless filter. 
        If, on the other hand, the team wants to portray the religious rituals of the tribespeople as natural, then it makes no sense to “want to hopefully find a balance between the cultural practices of these people and the ecosystem,” because the people are already part of the ecosystem.  Whatever nature does is in balance by definition.  They cannot appeal to some higher ideal of balance outside nature, because the evolutionary scientists are part of nature, too.  That also implies that their research is an evolutionary product of natural selection with no independently-verifiable adherence to a supernatural standard of truth or morality.  I.e., science implodes.  It would also mean they need to accept the gospel preaching in a local Baptist church as natural – and also the anti-evolution teachings of Biblical creationists.
        There’s no evolution in this story in the sense Darwin meant.  There’s only natural variation and population dynamics.  Some of the fish probably already had a natural resistance to barbasco anyway, which might have been due to deleterious mutations – a loss of genetic information.  It’s like the old peppered moth myth.  In that case, introducing man-caused soot onto the tree trunks did not cause dark moths to evolve out of light moths (even if that part of the story were true); it just change the proportions of light and dark populations by allowing birds to pick out the contrasting colors (if that part of the story were true).  Same here.  The barbasco is the soot; the tribespeople are the predators.  Fish naturally resistant to the barbasco increased in numbers.  No evolution occurred.
        So despite all the evolution-talk and natural-selection talk in the article, the research has nothing to do with evolution.  It is, instead, a case study on the shallow reasoning of evolutionary biologists.  This entry counts as the 600th in the “Dumb Ideas” category.  It would take a long time to read the other 599 examples reported here over the last 10 years – long enough to evolve resistance to toxic ideas.  Help pass on that resistance to your “non-evolved brethren” (i.e., everyone).
    Next headline on:  Marine BiologyDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
    Dumbing Down the Science Reading Public     11/05/2010    
    Nov 5, 2010 — In their rush to grab attention-getting headlines, are reporters doing more harm than good?  An essential part of science education is critical thinking.  Some headlines and articles state ideas that far outstrip the meager data on which they are based. 
    1. Fingers do the walkingScience Daily blindly reproduced an audacious claim from the University of Liverpool that Neanderthals were promiscuous on the basis of – what? – their finger bones.  “Neanderthals Were More Promiscuous Than Modern Humans, Fossil Finger Bones Suggest.”  The thinking was that a thick finger bone suggests larger amounts of male hormone during development, which in turn suggests that the men were more masculine, therefore aggressive, therefore promiscuous.  Not only that, the same scientists concluded that Australopithecus was monogamous, and Ardipithecus was promiscuous.
    2. Cometary omens:  Charles Q. Choi in Live Science took the occasion of Deep Impact’s flyby of Comet Hartley 2 (see JPL for photos) to tell a story: “How Earth May Owe Its Life to Comets.”  The origin of earth’s water and the origin of life are major unsolved problems for secular scientists, and comet impacts could inflict more damage than aid, but for the purposes of reporting, comets make nice objects that “suggest” benign effects on earth history, though seeing a cyanide jet coming out of Hartley 2 causes a minor problem.
    3. Axe-ing a question:  Observation: some stone tools in a South Africa cave show that the inhabitants had pretty good craftsmanship.  Conclusion: “Our ancestors had to grow bigger brains to make axes,” said Catherine de Lange at New Scientist.  She took the word of scientists at Imperial College London that “putting together more complex language requires you to have more complex structured thoughts, in the same way that making more complex tools requires more complex actions” – true enough, though she left it unclear how the need to grow a bigger brain led to the correct sequence of random mutations to bring it about.  Perhaps it was a decision by the cave council.
    4. Universal warmingLive Science announced, “Black Holes Gave Our Baby Universe a Fever.”  PhysOrg followed up with a trendy headline, “Astronomers find evidence of cosmic climate change.”  Let’s hope they don’t blame humans for that.  The focus of the articles might have been on the quandary facing cosmologists for detecting anomalous heat in distant galaxies, and for invoking unobservable black holes to account for it.
    5. Lively Mars:  Is it even possible for a science reporter to write about Mars these days without using the L-word life?  Maggie McKee at New Scientist couldn’t break the habit.  The mere presence of hydrated silica on the sides of a Martian volcano was enough to set off the hallucinations: “Silica deposits on Mars could entomb possible life.
    6. Missing blink:  “Missing link” is second only to “survival of the fittest” as a phrase capable of conjuring up the bearded visage of Charles Darwin.  The missing link in PhysOrg’s story, though, was not an apeman, but a chemical element: phosphorus.  It was apparently enough floss for us to be told, “Phosphorus identified as the missing link in evolution of animals.”  Just add phosphorus, and presto: animals.  According to a geochemist at the University of Alberta, who claims he divined a rise in phosphorus in the world’s oceans 750 million years ago, “That establishes our link between phosphorus and the evolution of animals.”
    Radical conclusions are not neutralized with wiggle words that the data “suggest” the conclusion.  The data could suggest many other conclusions – even opposite ones.
        One of the few paleoanthropologists willing to chastise his colleagues for unscientific notions is Professor John Hawks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he does it with alacrity.  On his John Hawks Blog entry for today, he pointed out an inherent circularity in the argument that human mutation rates can determine the time when the human-chimpanzee lineages diverged.  After providing details from published literature, he exclaimed, “So much of the literature in this area is ultimately circular, I’m pulling out my sparse hair reading through it.  It’s turtles all the way down!” (see humor page).
    Since mainstream science reporters have proven themselves utter dupes of the Darwin Party, drunk on Darwine and acting like court jesters gulping toads in the Darwin castle, it’s up to us readers to do the critical thinking.  The ultimate irony in all this is that these very reporters and Darwin-worshipers think of themselves as heirs of the Enlightenment, rationalism, science, and free speech.  If the town drunk fancies himself the reasonable man, what are the truly reasonable to do in a town run by the drunks?
    Next headline on:  CosmologySolar SystemOrigin of LifeDarwin and EvolutionEarly ManDumb Ideas
      Why do birds wag their heads?  Quick answer in the 11/09/2004 entry.

    All Kingdoms of Life Have Ideas We Need     11/04/2010    
    Nov 4, 2010 — Inventors aren’t partial.  They are willing to find inspiration in plants, animals, and microbes.  Here are three examples showing that all kingdoms of life have great engineering ideas that researchers involved in biomimetics are seeking to understand.

    1. Plants:  We don’t fight walled cities with catapults any more, but storing elastic energy can still be useful.  According to Science Daily, Dr. David J. Ellerby at Wellesley College studies plants for ideas.  “While plants are generally thought of as immobile organisms, many of them are capable of spectacularly rapid movements,” he said.  One species catapults its seeds with rapidly-uncoiling valves.  “The entire coiling and launching process is completed in around 5 msec – faster than the blink of an eye,” the article said.  Why does Dr. Ellerby think it is worthwhile to study how plant tissues store such impressive amounts of energy?  “This could inform the design of human-engineered structures for absorbing or storing elastic energy,” he said.
    2. Animals:  Spiders are still the envy of modern-day spidermen who want to mimic their strong, flexible webs.  PhysOrg reported on work going on at Arizona State – just one of many institutions eager to tap the secrets of this wonder material.  Think about the wonder of the web coming out of the spider’s spinnerets: “They’ve taken this aqueous protein solution and they’ve pulled an ultra-strong fiber that is no longer soluble in the medium it was in,” exclaimed Jeff Yarger of ASU.  “When it rains outside, webs don’t dissolve.”  His team is throwing all man’s high-tech imaging equipment at the stuff – MRI, NMR, Raman spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction – to understand it.  ASU is not only interested in the final product, but understanding how it is produced by the spider, because “Imitating the natural process will allow scientists to create products in an environmentally friendly way.”  One of the environmental hazards, though, is having to work close to black widows in addition to the friendly garden orb spinners.
    3. Cells:  Proteins and DNA include structures called coiled coils.  According to a paper by a European team published in PNAS,1 “Coiled coils are extensively and successfully used nowadays to rationally design multistranded structures for applications, including basic research, biotechnology, nanotechnology, materials science, and medicine.”  Consequently, they want to understand better how cells produce them.  Using a transcriptional factor from yeast, they announced, “We found an unexpected, general link between coiled-coil oligomerization-state specificity and trigger sequences, elements that are indispensable for coiled-coil formation.”  Multiple states can coexist in the trigger sequences and give rise to different structures, they found, “revealing a delicate balance of the resulting oligomerization state by position-dependent forces.”  The resulting ability to predict the oligomerization state “should have major implications for the rational design of coiled coils and consequently many applications using these popular oligomerization domains.”

    1.  Ciani et al, “Molecular basis of coiled-coil oligomerization-state specificity,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print November 2, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1008502107.
    Rational design: is that the same thing as intelligent design?
    Next headline on:  PlantsTerrestrial ZoologyCell BiologyBiomimeticsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
    Windows into the Mind     11/03/2010    
    Nov 3, 2010 — What would it be like to see things for the first time?  You can watch the reaction on Live Science #1 and Live Science #2.  Blind patients were implanted with a microchip that allowed them, for the first time, to roughly sense the visual input of objects in front of them.  Amazing as it was, it fit pretty well with what their sense of touch had already visualized internally.
        This dramatic illustration of the mystery of the mind and brain continues in other recent stories.  Science Daily reported on work at the University of York that shows that we collect our thoughts in our sleep.  Even without our conscious awareness, our brain is synthesizing inputs during the day, correlating the data, and filing it.  Sleep helps organize our “mental lexicon,” the article said.
        Another article continues the trend of exalting the humble – the long-overlooked microglia in the brain that long played second fiddle to the more charismatic neurons (07/16/2005, 09/29/2006).  The second fiddles are now looking more and more like the concertmasters: “Immune cells known as microglia, long thought to be activated in the brain only when fighting infection or injury, are constantly active and likely play a central role in one of the most basic, central phenomena in the brain – the creation and elimination of synapses.”  It appears these cells play the theme with the neurons and contribute to the ongoing process of learning and memory – a finding that “really challenges current views of the brain.”
        Even newborns have a lot of unconscious activity.  PhysOrg echoed a press release from Imperial College London, where researchers probed the “resting state” of 70 babies between 29 and 43 weeks of development.  In the resting state, there is a level of brain activity even when the mind is not focused on anything in particular, or when sleeping.  “The researchers found that these networks were at an adult-equivalent level by the time the babies reached the normal time of birth.”  A finding like this could have ramifications for the issue of personhood of a fetus.  “The fact that the default mode network has been found fully formed in newborns means it may provide the foundation for conscious introspection,” the article suggested, “but it cannot be only thing involved, say the researchers behind today’s study.”  The “default mode network” involves introspection – activities like retrieving autobiographical memories and envisioning the future.  Professor David Edwards commented, “The fact that we found it in newborn babies suggests that either being a fetus is a lot more fun than any of us can remember – lying there happily introspecting and thinking about the future — or that this theory is mistaken.”  Either way, “babies’ brains are more fully formed than we thought,” he said.
        So is mental activity real?  What about great apes, which Professor Kim Bard [U of Portsmouth] claims are just as smart as humans? (Science Daily).  Chimpanzees she studied seem to have “joint attention,” the ability to associate objects or events with another individual.  The article was more about what Dr. Bard plans to do, not what she has found.  “There is an urgent need to revise evolutionary theory and what I propose to research is innovative and important,” she said, happy to have received a major grant for the research.  “Moreover, I hope to contribute to a major paradigm shift in our understanding and future research into developmental processes underlying great ape cognitive outcomes.”  She did not mention any apes reciprocating and planning to do research on her.
        Research on ancient papyri, reported Science Daily, shows that people have had many of the same concerns over the past millennia as we do today.  Looking through the list of concerns expressed in writing by Romans, it seems not much in human nature has changed.  What produces our mysterious sense of self?  Is thought a secretion of the brain?  Can neuroscience explain the mind physically, as PhysOrg asked?  “More fundamentally, what do we mean by ego, from a neural perspective?” the article began.  “Is there a brain circuit or neurotransmitter system underlying ego that is different in some people, giving them too much or too little?” 
        We all sense that our mental life is real.  Our thoughts matter, even if science tells us we are little more than carbon pumps.  You give off two tons of carbon dioxide a year from the food you eat, reported Science Daily.  But a lot of the energy from that food powers that most enigmatic of phenomena, the mind.
    Update 11/11/2010:  The Nov 11 issue of Nature has a whole subsection on glia with five papers on these long-overlooked brain cells.  “Neuron-envy should now become a thing of the past,” the introductory article said.  “Recent years have seen an explosion of new findings demonstrating that glial cells play an irreplaceable part in all aspects of brain function.”
    Think about these findings, and then realize that by thinking about them, with a true sense of self and conscious direction of your mind, you distance yourself from other primates, with which we share many physiological characteristics.  Then think about how our upright posture, opposable thumbs, and language equip us to stand in a special position in nature.  These important issues have everything to do with our actions and attitudes about the value of human life.  If apes are just as smart as us, then what’s the big deal? – although it is ironic that many of those who support abortion on demand are vehement about animal rights.  If, though, a developing baby has the full mental equipment to operate as a human being in the world of the mind, what gives other humans the right to deny that person the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness endowed by its Creator?
    Next headline on:  MammalsHuman BodyMind and BrainAmazing FactsPolitics and Ethics
    People Doing Science, Sometimes Badly     11/02/2010    
    Nov 2, 2010 — Harvard historian of science Steven Shapin has a really long subtitle for his latest book, but it reveals all.  The title is very short: Never Pure.1  Here’s the long subtitle: “Historical Studies of Science as if It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture, and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority.”  Now you know what it is about.
        Shapin’s book tries to “naturalize” science – to show that it is inextricably wound up with human nature and human history, explained Robert E. Kohler in his review of the book for Science magazine.2  Science is not some pure entity out in space.  “Naturalizers offer us instead a vision of science as a cultural activity that is an integral element of the societies in which it is practiced, and whose basic mores and conventions it shares,” Kohler explains.  “To understand the science of a time and place, one must understand the society whose way of knowing it is.”
        Kohler, in the Department of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, enjoyed the thought-provoking book and respects the author, but he tried at the end to hang on to some scientific realism – the view that science provides a more-or-less objective measure of external reality.  He thinks Shapin throws out the baby with the bath water and knocks down some straw men.  “I think there was in fact a scientific method—just not what its later advocates and deconstructors said it was,” he said.  “I also believe that ‘pure science’ realistically describes the science most valued in the first, academic, market for career scientists.”  But he could not deny that Shapin’s trenchant analyses of science as actually practiced by real people in history have “lasting power to inform and provoke” the beliefs of scientific realists.
        The Climategate controversy (11/26/2009, 03/04/2010, 05/13/2010, 02/18/2010) provides an opportunity to test Shapin’s views.  This strident debate, pitting an intransigent consensus against conspiracy-theory bloggers, with a range of positions between the extremes, and the future of the globe and the wealth of nations at stake, is perhaps the clearest recent example of science’s inescapable dependence on human frailty.  There’s plenty of fodder for the fires on both sides.
        A revealing look into the state of “science as if it was produced by people” is shown in Michael Lemonick’s news feature, “Climate heretic: Judith Curry turns on her colleagues,” from Scientific American (published online by Nature News).  It’s the story of a prominent meteorologist at a prestigious university going over to the “dark side” of the anti-consensus view after her pro-consensus paper was criticized, she thought legitimately, by climate skeptics.  Lemonick, a former science writer for Time Magazine and a senior science writer at Climate Central, a nonprofit, nonpartisan climate change think tank, portrayed two storylines about Curry: the peacemaker, trying to bring understanding between both sides, and the dupe – “someone whose well-meaning efforts have only poured fuel on the fire.”  Lemonick, who worries about the fate of the planet if something is not done, is not sure which is the correct storyline.  Notice that both have intense human elements:
    In a sense, the two competing storylines about Judith Curry—peacemaker or dupe?—are both true.  Climate scientists feel embattled by a politically motivated witch hunt, and in that charged environment, what Curry has tried to do naturally feels like treason—especially since the skeptics have latched onto her as proof they have been right all along.  But Curry and the skeptics have their own cause for grievance.  They feel they have all been lumped together as crackpots, no matter how worthy their arguments.  The whole thing has become a political potboiler, and what might be the normal insider debates over the minutiae of data, methodology and conclusions have gotten shrill.  It is perhaps unreasonable to expect everyone to stop sniping at one another, but given the high stakes, it is crucial to focus on the science itself and not the noise.
    But is there such a thing as “the science itself” when it must be mediated by human beings?  Lemonick’s assumption of scientific realism cannot avoid the very issues of Shapin’s naturalist/historicist vision apparent in Lemonick’s own article: how are scientific facts determined?  What should scientists do with uncertainty?  What is the role of a consensus?  How does science convince a wary public?  How do political dynamics influence science?  How does a skeptic of the consensus avoid the stigma of being branded a heretic? 
    1.  Never Pure: Historical Studies of Science as if It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture, and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority by Steven Shapin, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 2010. 564 pp. $70. ISBN 9780801894206. Paper, $30. ISBN 9780801894213.
    2.  Robert E. Kohler, “History of Science: A Naturalizer’s Vision,” Science, 22 October 2010: Vol. 330. no. 6003, pp. 450-451, DOI: 10.1126/science.1196506.
    That’s all we need – another use of the word naturalist.  Riddle: What is a naturalist naturalist naturalist naturalist?  Answer: A materialist who worries about human cultural affects on science while categorizing wildflowers and munching an organic banana.  When using the equivocal word natural, be sure to define your terms.
        These issues are crucial for understanding the origins debate.  While CEH does not take a position on the human-caused global warming controversy, issues of philosophy of science and history of science deeply infect the origins debate as well.  One cannot understand evolutionary theory and the behavior of its consensus supporters and outsider critics without taking into account “science as if it was produced by people with bodies, situated in time, space, culture, and society, and struggling for credibility and authority.”
    Next headline on:  Philosophy of Science
      Seven years ago, reporters and editorial writers were weighing in on the controversy over the Nobel Prize, wherein Raymond Damadian, inventor of the MRI machine, was slighted by the Nobel Committee because of his creationist views – one of the worst examples of a scientist being Expelled for not toeing the Darwin Party line.  In the 11/10/2003 entry, one such writer tried to justify the decision in the usual liberal way: using ad hominem attacks and loaded words.  Read the commentary, the 10/10/2003 entry, and our online biography of Damadian.  A detailed account of the Nobel affair was published by Jerry Bergman; see the 02/13/2009 Resource of the Week.

    Are Saturn Rings Like Galaxies?     11/01/2010    
    Nov 1, 2010 — Dramatic photos of dynamic processes in Saturn’s rings have been released by the Cassini mission at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  The photos, taken near Saturn’s equinox last year, show ruffled edges of the B ring made of particles lofted as high as 2 miles above the ring plane, casting long shadows across the rings.  By watching the action over time, scientists have noticed waves of particles reflecting off the ring edges and oscillating in waves and arcs.  This is helping explain some of the complexity noticed 29 years ago when Voyager 1 first showed more processes at work than could be explained by resonances with nearby moons.
        Some of the scientists are extrapolating the interpretations far beyond the Saturn ring system.  Imaging team lead Carolyn Porco, for instance, thinks the observations provide “visibility into the mechanisms that have sculpted not only Saturn’s rings, but celestial disks of a far grander scale, from solar systems, like our own, all the way to the giant spiral galaxies.”  One counter-intuitive process is the effect of viscosity.  “Normally viscosity, or resistance to flow, damps waves,” said Peter Goldreich (Caltech), “...But the new findings show that, in the densest parts of Saturn’s rings, viscosity actually amplifies waves, explaining mysterious grooves first seen in images taken by the Voyager spacecraft.”
        The press release, accompanied by three Quicktime video clips showing the action, agreed that these phenomena, “the first large-scale wave oscillations of this type in a broad disk of material anywhere in nature,” are applicable to “spiral disk galaxies and proto-planetary disks found around nearby stars.”  The popular press eagerly snatched up this idea with headlines like, “Cassini sees Saturn rings oscillate like mini-galaxy” (PhysOrg) and “Saturn's Shimmying Rings May Be Imitating Galaxy” (Space.com).
        Anecdote about the mission: It looks like Hollywood has a new movie coming out that will feature the Cassini mission in a prominent role.  An interview with the writer-director of Quantum Quest can be found at New Scientist.

    Saturn’s rings may elucidate processes in circumstellar disks and spiral galaxies, but those notions need to be proved, not assumed.  A circumstellar disk is six orders of magnitude larger than Saturn; a spiral galaxy, 12 orders of magnitude.  The particle sizes involved are correspondingly larger.  What other forces and influences lacking in Saturn’s rings might come into play at larger scales?  Are gravitational, electrical, mechanical, and magnetic influences comparable?  Perhaps.  Quantum mechanics should have taught scientists that one cannot recklessly extrapolate phenomena at all scales.  Scale-invariant laws may indeed operate throughout the universe.  If a system incorporates some that are scale-independent and some that are not, the physics gets messy.  Whether processes can be applied at all scales is as much a philosophical question as an observational one.  The phenomena in a galaxy, for instance, may be analogous without being physically the same.  We have no overriding reason to doubt that applying Saturn processes over 12 orders of magnitude are legitimate, but would that science reporters would ask these kinds of questions instead of acting like toadies, barfing out whatever the mandarins say.  It’s a bad habit that spills over into other subjects.
    Next headline on:  Solar SystemPhysicsPhilosophy of Science
    Tip Link
    Could 90% of what doctors tell you be wrong?  David H. Freedman explores the work of Dr. John Ioannidis, whose survey of the medical literature shows most of it being poorly tested, unduly influenced, and falsified in short order (The Atlantic).  If science can provide so little confidence about things we can see and feel and test in the present, how can scientists’ confident pronouncements about the unobservable past, with all its untestable unknowns, be trusted?

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    (a scientist and university professor in Iceland, where 95% of the people believe in evolution)

    “Thank you for the work you do ... I scratch my head sometimes, wondering how you have the time for it all.”
    (a former atheist/evolutionist in aerospace engineering, now Biblical creationist)

    “I’m a regular (daily :) reader of your site.  It is amazing the amount of work that you impart in such a project.  Thank you very much.”
    (an IT professional with a degree in mechanical engineering from Portugal)

    “I find your site so helpful and you are so fast in putting up responses to current news.  I have your site RSS feed on my toolbar and can easily see when you have new articles posted.”
    (a geologist in Australia)

    “I have been reading your website for several years now.  Working in an environment where most people believe that there are only two absolutes, evolution and relativism, it has been wonderful to be able to get the facts and the explanations of the bluffs and false logic that blows around.  I have posted your website in many places on my website, because you seem to have the ability to cut through the baloney and get to the truth--a rare quality in this century.  Thank you for all that you do.”
    (a business analyst in Wisconsin)

    “...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!  ....you 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 crev.info.... 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 crev.info 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 crev.info.”
    (a publisher of creation and ID materials)

    “I was grateful for creationsafaris.com 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 crev.info.”
    (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 [crev.info] 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!”
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    Guide to Evolution
     
    Featured Creation Scientist for November

    William Whewell
    1794 - 1866

    What is a “scientist”?  Why not ask the man who invented the word?  William Whewell (pronounced Hyool) coined the term scientist as a replacement for natural philosopher in 1833.  He himself was a scientist and a philosopher – and a theologian.  He had, furthermore, a most interesting interaction with Charles Darwin.

    For centuries, most natural philosophers had been theologians, professors and amateurs.  By the 1830s, science was coming of age.  A new class of career professionals involved in the study of nature was arising.  A new title describing these full-time investigators of natural science was desired, and Whewell’s word scientist stuck.  He proved a clever wordsmith whenever fellow “scientists” needed a new term to describe something they were investigating.  For chemists like Michael Faraday, he coined the words ion, anion, and cation; for physicists, the title physicist; and for geologists, the term catastrophism – which he defended against the views of Charles Lyell, which he called uniformitarianism.  A respectful critic of Lyell, Whewell pointed out the lack of evidence for his geological and evolutionary views.

    William Whewell earned the title Second Wrangler in the formidable math tripo exams at Cambridge.  He remained a leading Cambridge don in the decades that followed.  A founding member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the Royal Society, Whewell was in the inner circle of the leading scientists of the day and was well respected by them.  Though twice married, he left no descendents when he died after falling from his horse in 1866.

    As a scientist, William Whewell had wide-ranging interests.  He published work on the tides, named the geological strata Eocene, Miocene, and Pliocene, was a professor of mineralogy, and invented the anemometer – a device for measuring wind speed.  He also dabbled in mechanics, economics, architecture, history, poetry and astronomy – this was surely a period when a scientist could still be a generalist!  When not doing science himself, he was closely involved with those working in the lab.  He stimulated Faraday to perform key experiments.

    Whewell is more remembered today, however, for his philosophy of science.  His two leading works on this important subject were History of the Inductive Sciences (1837) and The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, Founded Upon Their History (1840, revised up to 1860).  He saw himself as a renovator of Francis Bacon’s method of induction.  In this, he gave induction a new meaning: it is not mere reasoning from objective facts that could be performed by a machine.  Instead, human creativity and presuppositions join with the observations in leaps of insight that make scientific discoveries a mix of objectivity and creativity.  For instance, elliptical orbits did not “jump out” of Tycho’s observations; the genius of Kepler was to creatively impose this as a solution to bring order out of the observations.  This view has implications about the objectivity of science.  In an age when the aura of “progress” was permeating British society, and when scientific knowledge was usually assumed to correspond directly to external reality, Whewell put forward some surprisingly modern ideas that would cast doubt on these assumptions.

    Whewell argued that science was a historical activity by the human mind.  Its “truths,” therefore, could change over time.  He cast doubt on the strict correspondence theory of scientific truth.  Instead, he argued that scientific results are tentative and are judged by their utility, not their inherent objectivity.  In this, his views differed sharply from those of the astronomer John Herschel who, like Bacon, envisioned science as a march of progress toward the light of truth.  Whewell argued that the subjective human dimension of science can never be divorced from the objective, because everyone operates with presuppositions.  He called these fundamental ideas and argued they are supplied by the mind itself – not received from experience.  (These differed, however, from the “intuitions” of Immanuel Kant.)

    As a consequence, scientific explanation is “idea-laden” – not purely objective.  Though confirmation of a hypothesis can be strengthened by a “consilience of inductions” from many angles, it is impossible to remove the human term from the equation.  For a summary of these views, see the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Whewell.  Of note for our purposes is this excerpt: “we are able to have knowledge of the world because the Fundamental Ideas which are used to organize our sciences resemble the ideas used by God in his creation of the physical world.  The fact that this is so is no coincidence: God has created our minds such that they contain these same ideas.”  Our ideas, therefore, are mere shadows of those in the mind of God.  The late philosopher Greg Bahnsen has further argued that a scientist needs Christian presuppositions to do science.  Without the core presuppositions of Christianity, science, rationality, and logic are impossible.

    Regarding the issue of objectivity, therefore, Whewell is an important thinker in the long debate about the “knowledge problem” in science: i.e., is scientific knowledge true with a capital T (something that is universal, timeless, necessary, and certain), or is it just useful?  To what extent are our scientific musings reflections of what is “out there” in the world, and to what extent are they constructions of our own minds?  Is science discovery, or is it sophistry?  Though as old as ancient Greece, this debate has been waged through the centuries.  It flared up in the 20th century with increased intensity – and remains unresolved.(1)

    Most schoolchildren learn a simplified Baconian science of induction: gather lots of observations, make generalizations, formulate a hypothesis, and test it with experiments.  This sounds so intuitively obvious few pause to question the assumptions involved.  It may be adequate to get a middle school student through a science project, but a lot has happened since Bacon (and this short description of Baconian method does injustice to Francis Bacon’s own views about science).  It is far from clear that such a method of science will lead to objective facts about the real world.  Huge issues have been raised between rationalists (who think science is an activity of the mind), empiricists (who think scientific reasoning is limited to sense impressions), and others who doubt the validity of induction, deduction, or the reliability of our senses at all.

    Those interested in investigating these deep and critical issues in philosophy of science should listen to two college-level lecture series from The Teaching Company, Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It by Steven L. Goldman (Lehigh University), and Philosophy of Science by Jeffrey Kasser (North Carolina State University).  Both of them mention William Whewell in this regard.  Goldman points out that Whewell emphasized the creative nature of scientific reasoning and discounted the ability of the scientist to separate his reasoning from his ideology.  In this, his views differed sharply from those of John Herschel and John Stuart Mill, who both debated against Whewell’s views, because they “call into question the objectivity, and the ultimate rationality, of scientific reasoning, theories, and knowledge claims” (Goldman).

    Whewell was ahead of his time with these ideas.  For most of the 19th century and early 20th century, objectivism and progressivism reigned supreme.  Debates over these issues erupted in a major way after World War II when logical positivism, an extreme belief in scientific objectivity, collapsed.  By the 1950s, its own adherents recognized that logical positivism is inherently self-refuting and logically untenable.  Then when Thomas Kuhn published his work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1960, all hell broke loose.  Charges and counter-charges flew between scientists and philosophers.  A plethora of books and articles were published.  Paul Feyerabend and others were almost reckless in their critiques of scientific reasoning.

    In the 1990s, the social constructivists tossed even more fundamental challenges against the objectivity of science.  Some contended that science was a mere human tradition no different in principle from the rites of savages.  Much of this debate has cooled off for the time being.  “Big Science” has pretty much dominated the debate with a view of scientific objectivity that is more enforced than warranted.  The mainstream journals and scientific societies make it sound self-evident that scientific explanations, if not perfect, are the “best we have” for explaining the world (see best-in-field fallacy).  The wounds of the science wars, however, are still smarting.  Knowledgeable scientists realize they can no longer simply assume neutrality, objectivity, and correspondence with reality.

    The ghost of Whewell is still with us, in other words.  He warned scientists to be cautious about their truth claims and to be cognizant of their presuppositions.  There is more of a social and historical element to scientific reasoning than most people realize.

    Whewell was an Anglican clergyman almost all his life.  One of his books argued against the existence of extraterrestrial life, contrary to popular assumptions at the time.  He also authored one of the eight Bridgewater Treatises that were commissioned to demonstrate how scientific evidence supported natural theology.  His work, Astronomy and General Physics Considered with Reference to Natural Theology, was published in 1833.  Like many of the earlier natural theologians, he argued that the study of the laws of nature gives us confidence in the existence, wisdom and goodness of the divine Law-giver.

    Charles Darwin cited a quote from this work in the frontispiece of The Origin of Species in an attempt to add credibility to his theory of natural selection.  He quoted Whewell saying, “But with regard to the material world, we can at least go so far as this—we can perceive that events are brought about not by insulated interpositions of Divine power, exerted in each particular case, but by the establishment of general laws.”  In Janet Browne’s extensive biography of Darwin, she claims that this quote was “audaciously taken out of context... suggesting that God worked through general scientific laws rather than through direct intervention” (Charles Darwin: The Power of Place, p. 80).  The clear inference is that Whewell would never have condoned what Darwin was implying.(2)

    In fact, on page 107, Browne refers to a contemporary anecdote that Whewell refused to allow The Origin in the Trinity College library.  She mentioned this in a section about all the sharply critical reviews of Darwin’s book that were circulating by “men who were highly regarded in their own fields.”  The story of how Darwin’s book went from initial notoriety to calm acceptance within 10 years is an important lesson in history of science – a study that confirms Whewell’s own views about the historical and social nature of scientific reasoning.

    Whewell, of course, was well aware of the trends in thought during the Darwinian revolution.  In 1836 he had invited Darwin to be Secretary of the Geological Society.  Browne mentions that he was reading Lyell’s latest work on evolution and geology nearly 30 years later in 1864.  (Unfortunately, she does not discuss his response).  Whewell clearly investigated opposing views and did not hide himself from controversies that were raging.  He was also a consummate gentlemen (3).  No fanatic, he was learned, reasonable and cautious.  But he was not a reductionist like Darwin.  Whewell criticized the view that nature could be reduced to particles in motion acted on by impersonal laws.  He believed that 18th century materialism was a failure, unable to account for man’s moral sense – whether or not man’s physical nature is similar to that of the animals.  And he criticized views of “transformism” (evolutionary common ancestry) and uniformitarianism based on the evidence.

    It is not clear to what extent Whewell defended the Bible, other than that he was an Anglican priest (which implies very little).  Much of his writing seems to focus on the undefined Artificer of the natural theologian.  Though we might wish in hindsight that he and other British scientific theists had been more adamant in their criticisms of Darwin and defense of the Scriptures, they could not have foreseen the damage that would be done in Darwin’s name in the 20th century.  From Whewell’s writings, it does appear certain he would have opposed the unquestioned dogmatism that characterizes much of Darwinian science today.  He would strongly dispute the “warfare hypothesis” between science and religion.  And he would recommend science as a means to glorify God and stimulate appreciation of His handiwork.


    (1) Consider, as a simple example, Newton’s ideas about space.  Newton did not “discover” that “absolute space” is uniform and unaffected by objects within it.  These were stipulations of his theory.  It would be impossible to observe that space behaves this way, and as it turns out, Einstein came up with a very contrary view, that space is affected by matter.  Newton also stipulated concepts like gravity, mass, and inertia without explaining (or empirically discovering) what these were.  Later physicists used the same words to mean different things.  To what extent are our concepts observed rather than assumed by definition?  Saying that they produce useful formulas is not a proof of scientific objectivity: it is utilitarianism.

    (2) What Whewell said about natural law applies in general.  Whewell was not addressing special creation or the miracles in the Bible.  Even the Bible itself (Genesis 8:22, Job 38:33, Ecclesiastes 3:1) speaks of the uniformity of natural processes – that’s why miracles, when they occur, are so extraordinary and generate astonishment.  No reputable Bible-believing creationist has claimed that nature requires ongoing intervention by God.  They recognize He operates primarily through the natural laws He set up at the Creation.  It was a non-sequitur, therefore, for Darwin to take Whewell’s statement and use it as support for an undirected, natural process leading from bacteria to man.

    (3) Notice, for instance, Whewell’s gracious tone (despite disagreement) in an 1860 letter to Darwin after receiving a copy of The Origin: “I have to thank you for a copy of your book on the ‘Origin of Species’.  You will easily believe that it has interested me very much, and probably you will not be surprised to be told that I cannot, yet at least, become a convert to your doctrines.  But there is so much of thought and of fact in what you have written that it is not to be contradicted without careful selection of the ground and manner of the dissent, which I have not now time for.  I must therefore content myself with thanking you for your kindness.”  (Emphasis added).  Unfortunately, the Darwin Correspondence Project lists no subsequent letters between Darwin and Whewell.


    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.
    Corollaries:
    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.
    Corollaries:
    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.
    Corollary
    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 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 www.BornAgainRadio.com, 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.”
    (anonymous)
    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)

    “I visit your site daily for the latest news from science journals and other media, and enjoy your commentary immensely.  I consider your web site to be the most valuable, timely and relevant creation-oriented site on the internet.”
    (a reader from Ontario, Canada)

    “Keep up the good work!  I thoroughly enjoy your site.”
    (a reader in Texas)

    “Thanks for keeping this fantastic web site going.  It is very informative and up-to-date with current news including incisive insight.”
    (a reader in North Carolina)

    “Great site!  For all the Baloney Detector is impressive and a great tool in debunking wishful thinking theories.”
    (a reader in the Netherlands)

    “Just wanted to let you know, your work is having quite an impact.  For example, major postings on your site are being circulated among the Intelligent Design members....”
    (a PhD organic chemist)

    “It’s like ‘opening a can of worms’ ... I love to click all the related links and read your comments and the links to other websites, but this usually makes me late for something else.  But it’s ALWAYS well worth it!!”
    (a leader of a creation group)

    “I am a regular visitor to your website ... I am impressed by the range of scientific disciplines your articles address.  I appreciate your insightful dissection of the often unwarranted conclusions evolutionists infer from the data... Being a medical doctor, I particularly relish the technical detail you frequently include in the discussion living systems and processes.  Your website continually reinforces my conviction that if an unbiased observer seeks a reason for the existence of life then Intelligent Design will be the unavoidable conclusion.”
    (a medical doctor)

    “A church member asked me what I thought was the best creation web site.  I told him CreationSafaris.com.”
    (a PhD geologist)

    “I love your site... I check it every day for interesting information.  It was hard at first to believe in Genesis fully, but now I feel more confident about the mistakes of humankind and that all their reasoning amounts to nothing in light of a living God.”
    (a college grad)

    “Thank you so much for the interesting science links and comments on your creation evolution headlines page ... it is very informative.”
    (a reader from Scottsdale, AZ)

    “I still visit your site almost every day, and really enjoy it.  Great job!!!  (I also recommend it to many, many students.)
    (an educational consultant)

    “I like what I see–very much.  I really appreciate a decent, calm and scholarly approach to the whole issue... Thanks ... for this fabulous endeavor–it’s superb!”

    “It is refreshing to read your comments.  You have a knack to get to the heart of the matter.”
    (a reader in the Air Force).

    “Love your website.  It has well thought out structure and will help many through these complex issues.  I especially love the Baloney Detector.”
    (a scientist).

    “I believe this is one of the best sites on the Internet.  I really like your side-bar of ‘truisms.’  Yogi [Berra] is absolutely correct.  If I were a man of wealth, I would support you financially.”
    (a registered nurse in Alabama, who found us on TruthCast.com.)

    “WOW.  Unbelievable.... My question is, do you sleep? ... I’m utterly impressed by your page which represents untold amounts of time and energy as well as your faith.”
    (a mountain man in Alaska).

    “Just wanted to say that I recently ran across your web site featuring science headlines and your commentary and find it to be A++++, superb, a 10, a homerun – I run out of superlatives to describe it! ... You can be sure I will visit your site often – daily when possible – to gain the latest information to use in my speaking engagements.  I’ll also do my part to help publicize your site among college students.  Keep up the good work.  Your material is appreciated and used.”
    (a college campus minister)

    Disclaimer: Creation-Evolution Headlines includes links to many external sites, but takes no responsibility for the accuracy or legitimacy of their content.  Inclusion of an external link is strictly for the reader’s convenience, and does not necessarily constitute endorsement of the material or its authors, owners, or sponsors.