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May 2011
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“The conclusion?  We should perhaps learn the lesson of Darwinism: a ‘universal’ mechanism of adaptation says little in itself about how a particular feature got to be the way it is, or about how it works.  This truth has dawned on physicists too: universal equations are all very well, but the world actually consists of particular solutions, and these are generally the result of contingent history.  One size does not always fit all.”
Nature Editorial, 14 April 2011.
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Appreciate Your Gifts     05/29/2011      
May 29, 2011 — We like to showcase stories of amazing animals, but humans are special, too.  What animal can boast some of the qualities that science has recently reported?

  1. Math brain:  Studies of Amazon tribespeople show that they have an innate understanding of Euclidean geometry, even without ever learning it at school.  For the BBC News, Jason Palmer reported, “Tests given to an Amazonian tribe called the Mundurucu suggest that our intuitions about geometry are innate.”
        People in the Mundurucu tribe only have approximations for numbers, and no language for geometry, but they showed comparable skill to French and US schoolchildren, even exceeding them in some ways.
        The researchers believe this shows that geometry is intuitive for humans: “they seemed to have an intuition about lines and geometric shapes without formal education or even the relevant words.”  They even grasped some non-Euclidean geometry better than some westerners, such as understanding that parallel lines on a sphere can intersect.
  2. Baby skill setLive Science posted a gallery of “Nine Brainy Baby Abilities,” including innate knowledge of social power, mind meld with dogs, following others’ moods, dancing, mimicking, learning during sleep, rudimentary math abilities, ability to learn language, and innate ability to judge character.
  3. Infant rationality:  A study in Science was titled, “Pure Reasoning in 12-Month-Old Infants as Probabilistic Inference.”1  Whether they can or Kant make a Critique of Pure Reason is a question for philosophers.  The abstract said,
    Many organisms can predict future events from the statistics of past experience, but humans also excel at making predictions by pure reasoning: integrating multiple sources of information, guided by abstract knowledge, to form rational expectations about novel situations, never directly experienced.  Here, we show that this reasoning is surprisingly rich, powerful, and coherent even in preverbal infants.  When 12-month-old infants view complex displays of multiple moving objects, they form time-varying expectations about future events that are a systematic and rational function of several stimulus variables.
    See also the Live Science review of this paper.  It commented that robot designers have biomimetics on their brain: “The goal, [Joshua] Tenenbaum [MIT] said, is a sort of ‘reverse engineering’ of infant cognition that might help robotics developers build machines that interact with the world more like the human brain does.”
  4. Beautiful brain:  Behind the outward shows of rationality are amazing cells.  Science Daily posted a color picture of the brain’s most common cell, the astrocyte.  “Long considered to be little more than putty in the brain and spinal cord, the star-shaped astrocyte has found new respect among neuroscientists who have begun to recognize its many functions in the brain, not to mention its role in a range of disorders of the central nervous system.”  A group of researchers at the University of Madison-Wisconsin has now succeeded in culturing some of these cells in a lab dish.
        Other animals have astrocytes, don’t they?  “Astrocytes, some studies suggest, may even play a role in human intelligence given that their volume is much greater in the human brain than any other species of animal,” the article answered.  They are involved in every brain function.
  5. Blind as a bat:  The BBC News, Medical Xpress and Live Science discussed how the blind can develop a sixth sense, a kind of echolocation, that helps them navigate in the absence of vision. “Some blind people are able to use the sound of echoes to ‘see’ where things are and to navigate their environment,” Live Science said.  “Now, a new study finds that these people may even be using visual parts of their brains to process the sounds.”
        In fact, even sighted people can learn how to echolocate.  This raises the interesting idea that humans are “over-engineered” for perception, but through lack of practice fail to use all the latent abilities available to them.
  6. Power stroke:  When you switch from walking to running, your body switches gears.  The power in walking comes from the hips, but when running, the body switches to get its power from the ankles, an article on PhysOrg discussed.  Researchers at North Carolina State measured this “tradeoff” that occurs automatically; humans just take it in stride.
Microsoft has a novel take on human beings: use them as antennas.  Live Science reported that since the human body gives off detectable electromagnetic signals, the signals could be harnessed to create a home automation system that learns the layout of the house, then automatically responds to the body.  Some day you might turn on lights when you walk into a room, use gestures to turn up the thermostat or control the volume of music, or operate appliances without knobs or switches.
    The human body is a natural antenna, the article said.  “It reliably picks up the electromagnetic signals that emanate from all electrical systems and appliances in the home.  These ambient signals can be used to create an affordable home automation system that controls household electronics with a pat on the wall or even a simple hand gesture.”
    Many are already familiar with the Wii and Kinect game consoles that respond to body movements, and light switches that respond to hand clapping.  Tapping into human electromagnetic signals opens up new vistas.  The possibilities for “controller free living” are virtually limitless, reporter Leslie Meredith said.
    A visitor from the past would probably worry he was seeing witchcraft if a wave of the hand could turn on the lights – but it would just be a clever application of manipulating plain old natural forces, like the old theremin musical instrument that fascinated 1920s viewers with music made by a wave of the hand (see Theremin World).  When humans can get cats to respond to gestures, then they’ll really have something.
1.  Teglas, Vul et al, “Pure Reasoning in 12-Month-Old Infants as Probabilistic Inference,” Science, 27 May 2011: Vol. 332 no. 6033 pp. 1054-1059, DOI: 10.1126/science.1196404.
Have you ever seen an animal make shadow puppets of human beings?  Why not?  Parrots can talk and sing, but they don’t reason about parallel lines on spheres.  Gorillas make gestures, but they don’t write software to turn up the music with them.  Peregrine falcons are fast, but humans make jets that fly faster than sound.  Whales are great divers, but humans build submarines that study life at deep-sea vents.  Birds navigate by the stars, but humans build spacecraft with star trackers that orbit distant planets.  It seems we have some bragging rights.  Let the one who designed these innate capabilities in himself cast the first boast.
Next headline on:  Human BodyMind and BrainBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
  Five molecular motors that move you: 05/30/2007.

A Little Knowledge Without Ethics     05/28/2011      
May 28, 2011 — A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  When is knowledge enough?  And can a lot of knowledge be a dangerous thing, too?  Whether little or much, knowledge without ethics empowers evil.

  1. Imbalance in India:  Ultrasound is a wonderful invention that allows images inside the human body.  In India, however, where culture and economics puts a premium on the male sex, its use has had devastating consequences.  PhysOrg reported, “In Indian families in which the first child has been a girl, more and more parents with access to prenatal ultrasound testing are aborting a second female in the hope that a subsequent pregnancy will yield a boy, said the study, published in The Lancet.... Between 1980 and 2010, they estimate, four to 12 million girls were aborted because of their sex.
        The government has tried to stop the practice, but in a country where corruption is rampant, laws are easily set aside.  “A 1996 government regulation designed to prevent the use of ultrasound for prenatal sex determination is widely flouted, the researchers say, pointing out that few health providers have been charged or convicted.”  A little bribe goes a long way.  This could not have happened before science brought the technology to know the sex of an unborn baby, but where does the fault lie?
  2. Imbalance in China:  The Three Gorges Dam was a monumental engineering effort in China that worried environmentalists and ethicists because of potential damage to the land and its people.  Now that the reservoir is full, New Scientist reported, those worries have been realized.
        Landslides, pollution, and economic upheaval with dire consequences for many displaced people are the result.  The BBC News added that 1.3 million people were displaced by a project that was the “contentious scheme even before it was approved.”  Ignoring warnings that it would cause an “environmental catastrophe,” the government went ahead with the project.
        Last week, in an unusual move, the government admitted “that the Three Gorges dam has caused significant environmental problems.”  But they remain unfazed by the consequences.  In fact, they are going to build more dams.
  3. Endangered species:  The Endangered Species Act has impacted many businesses and homeowners, depriving property owners of rights to use their land in freedom because of the claims of scientists that certain species would be adversely affected.  “For more than 40 years,” Science Daily reported, “the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has published the Red List of Threatened Species describing the conservation status of various species of animals.”
        Now, however, an international team is calling for a reassessment of the definition of endangered species.  Are the one-size-fits-all criteria currently in use too simplistic?  “Our results challenge the application of the same sets of threat criteria across living organisms and across regions,” the team said, admitting that “identifying which species are most at risk can be difficult....”  While each case must be judged on the evidence, one wonders how many human beings have been deprived of their freedom, and what has been the impact on society and the economy, from the application of simplistic standards of assumed knowledge.
  4. Climate change:  For most of the past decade, global warming has been a doomsday scenario guaranteed by the scientific consensus unless drastic changes in the world’s economies were made.  States have passed carbon taxes; the federal government pushed for cap-and-trade legislation; bodies of world governments agreed to make draconian cuts in emissions that would cripple their economies.
        Many scientists still believe the threat is real.  Maybe it is, but the IPCC, the world body that had been trusted with the scientific data to back it up, got caught in an embarrassing credibility crisis over the Climategate affair in 2009.  Subsequent investigations found conflicts of interest and sloppy data gathering by the panel.  Nature News discussed the latest moves to repair the damage and reform the IPCC, while a growing number of climate skeptics have claimed the threat is either overblown or unreal, leading to questions about how many nations and people might be suffering unnecessarily over a “little knowledge” about climate processes that may be too uncertain for human beings to grasp.
  5. Government funding:  Recent TV news reports mocked government spending to the National Science Foundation for apparently frivolous projects like a shrimp on a treadmill, a robot that folds towels, and a study to discover if boys like trucks and girls like dolls.  Senator Tom Coburn in particular had brought some of these projects, buried in NSF reports, to light.
        The NSF didn’t take this lying down.  Live Science responded that some scientists “cry foul” over Coburn’s report, calling it “misleading” and “out of context”.
        Whether or not researchers can back up the worth of their pet projects is one thing.  Reporter Stephanie Pappas did quote Coburn’s focus, “It is not the intent of this report to suggest that there is no utility associated with these research efforts.  The overarching question to ask, however, is simple.  Are these projects the best possible use of our tax dollars, particularly in our current fiscal crisis?”
  6. Fatherhood:  An article on PhysOrg pointed to the grim realities of fatherless families, but attributed the causes to poverty and lack of education.  Yet numerous men achieved success in spite of those causes.  George Washington Carver was an orphan, was dirt poor, was discriminated against, and yet became a highly successful and benevolent scientist.  Is it possible that the researchers behind the report are confusing causes and effects and ignoring other factors?  How many times has the government tried to eradicate poverty and ignorance, only to make problems worse?
        Such questions need to be asked before accepting the opinions of “economists, sociologists, and public policy experts” in academia.  The “experts” undoubtedly omitted to include input from the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family and other conservative organizations that might beg to differ on the causes and cures of fatherless families.  In fact, a survey of the ideology of the researchers behind this study might be illuminating.  How many of them view government as the solution to all social ills?
There’s an exhibition on display at Trinity College Dublin called “Human+: The Future of Our Species”.  Even the leftist-leaning journal Nature found some of the art, supported by the Wellcome Trust, unsettling.1  Anthony King wrote about the exhibit that challenges what it means to be human.  “Genetics and artificial intelligence figure prominently among its themes of augmented abilities, authoring evolution, extended ecologies, life at the edges and non-human encounters.”
    Some of the exhibits include a man transplanting an ear onto his arm, a robot that makes threats to critics, a robot that makes viewers ill at ease by imitating their facial expressions, a film showing robots boring holes into human bodies, and a place where viewers can get genetically tested for a gene that is claimed to cause high risk behavior.  This particular piece caught King’s eye:
Taking a still darker turn is the sculpture Euthanasia Coaster.  Should medical wonders allow us extended lifetimes, boredom may bedevil us.  Julijonas Urbonas imagines a humane and thrilling exit: death by roller coaster in the form of an exhilarating 500-metre drop followed by a series of loops, the G-forces of which would kill passengers in a state of intense euphoria.

1.  Anthony King, “Art: Body work,” Nature 473 (26 May 2011), p. 451, doi:10.1038/473451a.
Do you sense the lostness of this generation?  There is no bottom in the abyss of human depravity when empowered by knowledge without ethics.  Things could get very much worse without a return to the Manufacturer’s Manual.  Fallible humans following the Manual would still make mistakes, but at least there would be a pole star to guide on.
Next headline on:  Politics and EthicsMind and BrainBible and Theology
How They Do It: Amazing Organisms     05/27/2011      
May 27, 2011 — The plants and animals around us seem so ordinary, but they all are so extraordinary, the extraordinary becomes ordinary simply because of their numbers.  But if you expanded the sample space to include the entire solar system, what we have in earth’s biosphere should astonish everyone.  Here are some notable fellow creatures.
  1. Monarch butterflies:  You can raise Monarchs in your garden.  Loretta Downs does it, and told her experience on PhysOrg.  The article speaks of “the miracle of the monarch,” its “unlikely story,” its “stained-glass wings of orange and black with drips of white,” and “the most uncanny butterfly with so much wisdom tucked deep inside its jade-green chrysalis, the transformation chamber that dangles from a leaf, where striped caterpillar unfolds into winged beauty, catching drifts of wind.”
        Poetic excess?  Not for her.  “It’s a mystery, and we don’t get so close to these kinds of mysteries,” says Downs.  “To watch this unfolding, it’s a miracle.  There is no better symbol for transformation, for the mystery of death” that metamorphoses into “something altogether new” – a rebirth.  She finds it a healing, comforting experience to watch her butterflies.
        Monarchs are featured in the new Illustra Media documentary Metamorphosis, to be released on DVD June 15 and on Blu-Ray on July 6.
  2. Flowering plantsPhysOrgWhat makes leaves sprout in the spring?”  In Canada a few weeks ago, trees were barren, but now they are bursting with buds.  There’s a transformation you won’t find on Mars or Venus.
        The question was answered by Malcolm Campbell of University of Toronto – at least to the extent science understands this “complex program” the article claims was “designed by the trees over tens of thousands of years,” years Campbell obviously never experienced.  He described how day length, temperature and water availability are factors.  Trees key on a cold snap in autumn being long enough to trigger the program, followed by a sufficient number of warm days in the spring.  Then global warming entered the discussion, but despite the triggers mentioned by Campbell, the question remains: what makes leaves sprout in the spring?
  3. Wired seeds:  Cute seedlings in the process of sprouting decorate an article on Science Daily promising, “Genetic ‘Wiring’ of Seeds Revealed.”  Work at the University of Nottingham has discovered that “the same mechanism that controls germination is responsible for another important decision in the life cycle of plants -- when to start flowering.”
        Once again, environmental cues like temperature, light, moisture and nutrients trigger a complex program to unfold.  The researchers found a gene network, which they dubbed SeedNet, that’s involved in both seed germination and plant flowering.  The internal and external factors ensure that “the decision for a seed to germinate is made at the perfect moment to ensure survival,” the article said.
        How could such a wonder arise?  The article attributed it to purposeless causes, rooted in chance, that act like a goddess: “evolution has genetically ‘wired’ seeds in a very complex way to avoid making potentially deadly mistakes,” the article claimed (see 04/23/2011).  Similarly, evolution took credit for the double duty of the genetic network: “Given that seeds were evolved long after plants developed their ability to withstand environmental stress, this indicated that plants have adapted existed genes to fulfil a different role.”  Modular design is usually thought of as good planning and foresight.
  4. Cicadas:  Those noisy cricket-like bugs called cicadas will be emerging from their underground hideouts in the American south this summer.  Some will live underground for 13 years before celebrating their brief above-ground mating rituals; others 17 years.  Why are these intervals prime numbers?
        Live Science explained: “It is no mere coincidence that cicadas have evolved indivisible life cycles,” Natalie Wolchover wrote.  “As explained by the entomologist Stephen Jay Gould, prime cycles have a major evolutionary advantage over cycles that are multiples of smaller numbers of years, and for a simple reason: They make cicadas more elusive.”  If they came up in 18 years, for instance, predators with life cycles of two, three or six years could get lucky every third or ninth, sixth, or third generation.  There are fewer coincidences with prime numbers because they are not divisible by any other integer.
        As plausible as this sounds, it avoids the question of what the ninth, sixth, and third generations of predators would eat in between the lucky coincidences.  It also says nothing about how the pupae survive these many years underground, and even more amazing, how they all wake up on cue for a few weeks of frenzied mating, only to bury themselves as eggs once again for another Brigadoon sleep underground.
  5. Dinosaur necking:  Matt Walker had an unusual blog entry for his feature “Nature Wonder Monkey” on the BBC News.  He was going to explain the tremendously long necks of sauropods (and of giraffes, for that matter).
        Enter the theory of sexual selection.  While it seemed Walker might present a triumphal account of how sexual selection produced these long necks, the ending was rather different.  He debunked the idea.  He quoted evolutionists who have discredited the idea that sexual selection produced long necks and other flashy traits like peacock tails.  In particular, Mike Taylor [U of Bristol] tested sexual selection on 39 giraffes and found no correlation between neck length and sexual success.
        While Matt Walker left room for sexual selection in crabs and birds, he accepted Taylor’s extended conclusion, “There is no example, anywhere, of a type of four-legged animal, of which there are many species, that has evolved a single trait to be sexy.”  For sauropods, too, “A sexy neck just didn’t get the reptilian juices flowing,” he quipped.  That leaves any evolutionary explanation for the “even more remarkable species such as Argentinosaurus, which holds the record for being both the heaviest land animal ever, and the longest,” dangling with no support.
  6. Decorative spiders:  Did you know that some orb-weaving spiders decorate their webs?  The BBC News explored this phenomenon for answers, but admitted that “exactly why the spiders adorn their webs is unclear.”  Leading contender for this “tricky area” is that the spider adds highly-visible webbing in the center where it resides to make the web more visible to animals that might accidentally damage them.
        A researcher in Australia said, “The debate about [its] function has lasted for over 100 years and is still highly controversial.”  Another theory is that the decorations attract prey with the decorations.  What reporter Victoria Gill left out was any explanation for how a lowly spider could calculate costs, strategize, be motivated, or “tactically use the decorations” by an evolutionary process.  Those are the verbs of teleonomy.
  7. Smallest flying insect:  The smallest flying insect is a parasitic wasp.  PhysOrg has a photo of one of these little guys with a 1mm wingspan walking up a tiny egg of a cabbage white butterfly.  Using a 22,000-frame-per-second Phantom camera, the Flight Artists team from Wageningen University in the Netherlands recorded their acrobatics: “The high speed movies show how the parasitic wasp jumps up into the air, elegantly flaps around, and then somehow lands – the insect sometimes boldly lands face-first” but can also land on its feet and head butt other wasps.
        Time for some stats: wings beat at 350 strokes per second.  Weighs one 40,000th of a gram.  Hitchhikes rides on other insects, such as butterflies.  What this means is that the hardware and software for controlled flight, navigation and reproduction is all packaged into a very tiny animal.
        The article includes a short video of the wasps in slow motion.  On a small white butterfly, the wasp shows up as a speck on the butterfly’s face bristles under its compound eye.  The Flight Artists team next wants to take its “extraordinary camera” to investigate how birds, bats, bees and even seeds fly, to “make the invisible visible” and “to shoot images of fliers in Nature that fascinate them.”  See their website at FlightArtists.com.
  8. Manta ray:  A contest was held last month at the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center in West Bethesda, Maryland.  It was between two robot-building teams trying to imitate the elegant swimming of the manta ray.  “Swimming like butterflies underwater, with mesmerizing ease and grace, manta rays are the envy of engineers seeking more efficient underwater vehicles,” Elisabeth Pennisi wrote for Science this week.1  In an article under the category “Bio-Inspired Engineering,” she detailed how teams from Princeton and University of Virginia both failed, ending in a draw.
        One of the contestants has long been enraptured with these gentle giants that can grow up to five meters wide.  “They are such self-possessed, graceful animals,” Alexander Smits said.  “It was almost mystical,” he added, thinking about his swim with these creatures years ago in Australia.  “I decided I’ve got to know something about them.”  No wonder; here’s what Pennisi wrote about their specifications:
    Mantas are everything one could want in an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).  “I’ve thought for a long time that the people who are interested in robotic mimicry were missing the boat in not looking at manta rays,” says Adam Summers, a comparative biomechanist at Friday Harbor Laboratories in Washington state.  Most fish swing their body from side to side, and “that’s not very handy if you are trying to stuff [instruments] inside.” The manta body is stiff.  Mantas are also quiet, efficient swimmers—AUVs tend to be one or the other.  The best AUVs have a turning radius of 0.7 body lengths; the manta needs just 0.27 its body length and maneuvers like a fighter plane.  Based on the two robots’ performance, “in terms of maneuverability, we’re on the right track” in understanding how mantas achieve such grace, says Frank Fish, a functional morphologist at West Chester University in Pennsylvania who is working with UVa and Princeton on the manta project.
  9. Snipe hunt:  Want to know the world speed-distance record for migratory birds?  According to PhysOrg, it’s the great snipe, an endangered species.  Arctic terns fly farther at slower speeds, and peregrine falcons fly faster for shorter distances, but this winner excels at both speed and distance.  “Swedish scientists found that the birds fly non-stop over a distance of around 4,200 miles at a phenomenal 60 mph.”  Some took off in Sweden and landed in central Africa, 4,225 miles away, in just 3.5 days.
        This was a surprise.  “We never expected record-breaking flights for this ordinary bird,” they said.  They had no idea where this species went after leaving Scandinavia, either.  Tracking devices on some of the birds revealed their secret.  The article ended with a list of other speed records in the animal kingdom.
        Trivia provided by article: “The word ‘sniper’ originated in the 1770s among soldiers in British India: if a hunter was skilled enough to kill an elusive snipe, he was called a sniper.”
After the snipe article, someone left a comment, noting “the total absence [sic] of any evolutionary talk in this article.”  He said, “I guess the researchers know that there’s really no evolutionary explanation for this phenomenal ability and so they keep their minds focused on what works in reality.  No side-tracking into nonsense speculation of evolutionary origins here.”  An evolutionist immediately retorted with an example of bad design – i.e., why God would not have made the world the way it is.  He apparently didn’t notice or care that he made a religious, not scientific, argument (see Darwin’s God blog).
1.  Elizabeth Pennisi, “Bio-Inspired Engineering: Manta Machines,” Science, 27 May 2011: Vol. 332 no. 6033 pp. 1028-1029, DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6033.1028.
Did you notice how many times the Darwinian arguments were vacuous stories, leaving the real questions begging?  This kind of storytelling masquerading as explanation will, unfortunately, be with us until the Darwinian edifice implodes, a long-overdue event.
    You can help hasten its eventuality by drawing attention to the design specifications scientists find in nature, to the observation that biomimetics (one of the hottest trends in science) assumes good design, and that dysteleological arguments are appeals to religion.
    Science will get along just fine without the tacked-on personifications and just-so stories that are the besetting sins of the Darwin Party.  The rest of us can simply delight in the never-ending wonders of living things.  Let’s help put the fascination back in biology with intelligent design.
Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyPlantsBirdsDinosaursDarwin and EvolutionDumb IdeasIntelligent DesignBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
Mars as Anomalous Runt     05/26/2011      
May 26, 2011 — The Mars rover Spirit is now dead in its tracks (JPL) but the planet under it continues to rumble, in theoretical overhauls and anomalies.  Mars has been much on the mind of news reporters this week after a new paper speculated that the red planet grew up fast and then stopped as a runt.
    In Nature,1 Dauphas and Pourmand studied ratios of isotopes of hafnium (Hf) and tungsten (W) to envision a history of Mars much different than previously assumed.  Their model makes Mars form in about one-fifth or less the time previously assumed to be required.  In the same issue of Nature,1 Alan Brandon summed up the new idea: “It seems that Mars had grown to near its present size by 2 million to 4 million years after the Solar System began to form,” he said.  “Such rapid growth explains why the planet is much smaller than Earth and Venus.”
    Any explanatory gains, however, appear to be offset by puzzles, according to Bloch’s Law, “Every solution breeds new problems.”  Brandon said, “The authors finding that rocky bodies the size of Mars accreted within 2 million to 4 million years has ramifications for models of early planetary history.”  Some of these ramifications confirm earlier theories, while others contradict them:
With such an early time for Mars accretion, which probably led to the formation of a global magma ocean, how do we explain the times for magma-ocean solidification of around 100 million years after the Solar System began to form that are obtained from measurements of Lu (lutetium)-Hf and Sm-Nd chronometers in Martian meteorites?  Magma oceans are not supposed to take that long to solidfy [sic].  This suggests that, although Dauphas and Pourmand have provided us with a key constraint on the early formation and evolution of our planets, we still have much to learn.
None of the three authors explained how primary accretion (the gathering of dust particles into bodies large enough to grow by gravitational attraction) might have occurred; they all began by assuming large bodies were already present.  They also assumed the truth of the controversial theory that earth’s moon formed by collision of a Mars-sized body into our planet.  Philosophically speaking, it is usually not a good idea to resort to ad hoc conditions to explain anomalies.
    Live Science posted three videos of Mars, The Changing Face of Mars, Where’d All the Water Go? and What Went Wrong on Mars? which includes some dramatic flyovers of Martian terrain based on orbital photographs.  The narrator divines unobserved Martian prehistory as if an eyewitness.  PhysOrg and Science Daily presented the Dauphas-Pourmand theory uncritically, treating the isotope ratios as unproblematic chronometers that allow scientists to see the unobserved past in a kind of crystal ball.
    Space.com recounted the history of failed spacecraft at Mars, the “spacecraft graveyard.”  Keep an eye on JPL Mars Exploration for latest news on this fall’s planned launch of the next-generation red rover, Mars Science Laboratory, recovering from an incident that did not damage the backshell (see PhysOrg).
1.  N. Dauphas and A. Pourmand, “Hf-W-Th evidence for rapid growth of Mars and its status as a planetary embryo,” Nature 473 (26 May 2011), pages 489-492, doi:10.1038/nature10077.
2.  Alan Brandon, “Planetary science: Building a planet in record time,” Nature 473 (26 May 2011), pages 460-461, doi:10.1038/473460a.
The question is not whether Mars had a history, but whether scientists are qualified as divination experts to read that history using tea leaves in the present that provide no opportunity for testing or falsification.  Since this solution breeds new problems just like prior ones did, is amply seasoned with perhapses and maybes, and will undoubtedly be overturned in another few years, astute readers had best avoid following the priests to the shrine of scientism, instead filtering out what observational clues are meaningful and judging the reasonableness of inferences that could be made from them, keeping an open mind that is willing to think outside the consensus box.  This sentence is shorter.
Next headline on:  Solar SystemGeologyDating Methods
  Got to be kidding: a leading evolutionist offered his best proof of evolution: HIV (05/30/2006).  Meanwhile, over at Georgia Tech, the Bioneers had no need for that hypothesis (05/13/2006).

Precambrian Rabbit or Evolutionary Transition?     05/25/2011      
May 25, 2011 — Some evolutionists have defended their theory by proposing a falsification test: the discovery of a Precambrian rabbit.  No such fossil has ever been found, partly because any stratum containing a rabbit fossil would never have been labeled Precambrian in the first place.  But evolutionists would be surprised at finding complex non-marine multicellular eukaryotes in Precambrian strata, and this has just been announced in Nature.
    A team led by Paul Strother of Boston College with help from Oxford University and University of Sheffield has announced “Earth’s earliest non-marine eukaryotes.”1  “Direct evidence of fossils within rocks of non-marine origin in the Precambrian is exceedingly rare,” they said.  In Arizona, they found not only ambiguous traces, but oodles of clear evidence for freshwater eukaryotes:

Here we report the recovery of large populations of diverse organic-walled microfossils extracted by acid maceration, complemented by studies using thin sections of phosphatic nodules that yield exceptionally detailed three-dimensional preservation.  These assemblages contain multicellular structures, complex-walled cysts, asymmetric organic structures, and dorsiventral, compressed organic thalli, some approaching one millimetre in diameter.  They offer direct evidence of eukaryotes living in freshwater aquatic and subaerially exposed habitats during the Proterozoic era.  The apparent dominance of eukaryotes in non-marine settings by 1?Gyr ago indicates that eukaryotic evolution on land may have commenced far earlier than previously thought.
The date of one billion years is nearly twice as long ago as the Cambrian explosion.  The paper shows over a dozen specimens of different shapes and levels of organization, from spherical clumps of cells to others with differentiated structures.  “The Torridonian assemblages contain some striking examples of microfossils that show complexity that goes considerably beyond that of simple leiospheres” [i.e., nondescript clusters].  Some have vesicles, outer walls and armlike projections (thalli).  They figured these organisms were “approaching a tissue-level grade of organization.”
    Where would these fit into evolutionary theory?  Some evolutionists posit the origin of life at 3 billion years ago.  These organisms, at 1 billion years, would represent early experiments into multicellular organisms.  The small sizes, they said, argue against them being blastulae (early developmental stages of metazoans).  “The simplicity of these balls of cells precludes their systematic assignment within the Eukarya,” they said; “However, their morphology, in combination with larger, probably multicellular thalli (Fig. 3 b), indicates that evolutionary processes that preceded tissue-grade multicellularity in marine settings, such as cell-to-cell adhesion, were also evident in non-marine settings by 1?Gyr ago.”
    This means that “Early eukaryotes were clearly capable of diversifying within non-marine habitats, not just in marine settings as has been generally assumed.”  Because terrestrial environments offer more variety, “Such habitat heterogeneity translates directly into increased speciation potential,” they claimed.
    Another interesting fossil was reported in the same issue of Nature.1  A giant version of anomalocaris, the terror of Cambrian seas (as pictured in the opening of the film Darwin’s Dilemma; see trailer) has been found in Ordovician deposits in Morocco.  Science Daily has an artist rendition of the creature that measured up to three feet long – a foot longer than earlier records, and 30 million years younger than other specimens famous from the Burgess Shale.  National Geographic News called it a “three-foot ‘shrimp’,” giving new force to the oxymoron “jumbo shrimp.”
    The “extraordinarily well-preserved fossils” also show a series of “segments across the animal’s back, which scientists think might have functioned as gills.”  So not only was this creature more complex, it “existed for much longer and grew to much larger sizes than previously thought,” the article said.  How were they fossilized?  “The animals found in Morocco inhabited a muddy sea floor in fairly deep water, and were trapped by sediment clouds that buried them and preserved their soft bodies.”
1.  Strother, Battison, Brasier and Wellman, “Earth’s earliest non-marine eukaryotes,” Nature 473 (26 May 2011), pages 505-509, doi:10.1038/nature09943.
2.  Peter Van Roy and Derek E. G. Briggs, “A giant Ordovician anomalocaridid,” Nature 473 (26 May 2011), pages 510-513, doi:10.1038/nature09920.
These fossils will not cure the evolutionists of their storytelling.  Evolution has been falsified in so many ways already, another anomaly or two won’t cure them.  The evolutionist brain has evolved extraordinary plasticity above the average brain, allowing it to stretch and twist beyond comprehension.  What they should be noticing is the trend that complex life keeps appearing abruptly earlier and earlier, even in their own twisted dating scheme.  The anomalocaridid fossil is typical of the fossil record: abrupt appearance, fully formed, lives for a time, and disappears.  That’s not evolution.
    Their self-contained web of belief is immune to challenge, because it is already accepted by faith and enforced by consensus.  Those not already snared by the web can see what they are doing.  The catch-phrase “than previously thought” is a tip-off that another fact has impacted the web.  When you see it, you are about to watch the Darwin spider come running to repair it with a new twist on the plot.
Exercise:  Describe how evolutionists would repair their web of belief if a Precambrian rabbit were to be found.
Next headline on:  FossilsMarine BiologyDarwin and Evolution
Earth Still Privileged Planet     05/24/2011      
May 24, 2011 — Astronomers have found over a thousand extrasolar planets now.  How does our solar system compare?  Thanks to the Kepler spacecraft, we now have a catalog of 1,235 alien planet candidates after just four months of operation.  Of the 408 that have been found in multiple-planet systems, 170 of these containing two to six planets have been pictured in a “Kepler Orrery” posted by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  The press release says, “most of those look very different than our solar system” (see also 05/21/2011, bullet 2).
    The poster is accompanied by an animated version that shows the 170 systems revolving like gears (see also PhysOrg).  Due to selection effects of the transiting method, Kepler has tended to find systems with low inclinations.  These have planets smaller than Neptune, because large gas giants can perturb the orbits of member planets into higher inclinations.  The Kepler team was surprised to find so many multiple-planet systems in their quarry: over 100, when only two or three were expected.  It is still too early, though, to detect earth-mass planets within their stars’ habitable zones.
    How do planets form?  The astronomical community has undergone a paradigm revolution in the last decade about planet formation (05/07/2001).  Ever since Laplace, astronomers have assumed that disks of dust and gas will slowly condense into planets (the nebular hypothesis).  The discovery of “hot Jupiters” (gas giants orbiting extremely close to their parent stars) was shocking.  It indicated that planets migrate inward and will quickly be destroyed unless they can form faster than the core accretion model permits.
    This was a factor contributing to a newer “disk instability” model that posits clumps within the disk condensing rapidly into planets – a “heretical” view when first proposed (06/03/2003, 03/21/2006).  All such models have problems of their own, however (09/22/2003, 08/27/2004, 08/06/2004, 07/15/2005).  In either case, an upper limit typically given for planet formation has been ten million years or less to avoid the death spiral.
    Ten million years now appears too long.  Observations of IC 348, a cluster of stars thought to be two or three million years old, shows that the dust is rapidly depleting in nine disks detected.  Universe Today interpreted what this means: “If planets are forming in IC 348 at the same frequency in which they form in systems astronomers have observed elsewhere, this would seem to suggest that the gravitational collapse model is more likely to be correct since it doesn’t leave a large window in which forming planets could accrete.  If the core accretion model is correct, then planetary formation must have begun very quickly.”  Join Voisey’s headline for the story was, “Want to Make Planets?  Better Hurry.”  The 05/07/2001, 06/03/2003 and 05/21/2009 entries show this has been known to be a problem for at least a decade.
    New Scientist commented on the Kepler results.  “Exoplanet systems around other stars are surprisingly flat compared with our own,” reporter Jeff Hecht wrote.  “The discovery means that the solar system must have had a far more colourful history than many of its counterparts and is forcing astronomers to rethink their ideas about the way planetary systems form.”
    Another factor essential to life on earth is its magnetic field.  Space.com posted an image of how earth’s magnetic field would look from space.  “This view is conceptual, but based on real science observations that have been made since the beginning of the Space Age,” the article said.  Without a magnetic field, life would be bombarded from “blasts and harmful radiation from the sun.”
    In combination with earth’s atmosphere and ozone layer, the transparent atmosphere lets in the benevolent wavelengths for photosynthesis and vision.  See the film The Privileged Planet on Illustra Media’s YouTube channel for numerous other factors that combine on earth to make it not only habitable but an ideal platform for scientific discovery.
Take the time to re-read the commentaries from our earlier entries linked above (if only time for one, try 05/21/2009).  There’s not much more to say that’s new, other than that astronomers are no nearer a solution to their problems than they were in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2009, even with the latest Kepler Spacecraft observations.  What does this say about their epistemic status?  Maybe they should go back and reconsider what made Johannes Kepler so delighted with his discoveries.
Next headline on:  StarsSolar SystemPhysicsDating Methods
Embryonic Stem Cells Left in iPS Dust     05/23/2011      
May 23, 2011 — A few years ago, scientists were clamoring for access to human embryos for stem cell research.  Now, the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) from human skin and other adult tissues has sidetracked interest in embryonic stem cells.  The momentum is clearly going with iPS.  Is there any longer a need for embryonic stem cell research?
  1. Skirting controversy:  “Stem cell research courts both controversy and support in the community- depending on your viewpoint,” began an article on Medical Xpress.  “Now, for the first time, scientists at Monash University’s Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories (MISCL) have shown that they can make human stem cells from healthy adult kidneys without working on human embryos, circumventing ethical concerns around this research.”  A side-by-side comparison showed the kidney cells were just as good as embryonic stem cells in producing various tissues.
  2. Chemotherapy-resistant bone marrow:  Another article on Medical Xpress reported work at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center that stem cells from bone marrow can be genetically modified to resist damage from chemotherapy, helping cancer patients endure the treatment without harmful effects.
        Previously, chemotherapy treatments for gliablastoma, a brain cancer, have taken a harsh toll on patients’ bone marrow.  “Our initial results are encouraging because our first patient is still alive and without evidence of disease progression almost two years after diagnosis,” a doctor said.
  3. Parkinson’s disease:  Researchers from South Korea and Harvard have identified a “protein-based” human iPS cell” that appears promising for reversing nerve cell loss in patients with Parkinson’s Disease.  Their experiments “reversed disease when transplanted into the brain of rats modeling Parkinson disease.”  Though the article mentioned embryonic stem cells as one of the two sources of stem cells, it did not produce any evidence that embryonic stem cells are effective – only the iPS cells.
  4. Vision forum:  Eye diseases such as “age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy and other retinal diseases” affect millions worldwide, an article on Medical Xpress said.  Can iPS stem cells from human skin treat these devastating conditions?  Apparently so; “Scientists from Schepens Eye Research Institute are the first to regenerate large areas of damaged retinas and improve visual function using iPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells) derived from skin,” they said.  A paragraph in the article shows that many vision researchers would prefer to avoid ethical controversies with embryonic stem cells:
    While Tucker, Young and other scientists were beginning to tap the potential of embryonic and adult stem cells early in the decade, the discovery that skin cells could be transformed into “pluripotent” cells, nearly identical to embryonic cells, stirred excitement in the vision research community.  Since 2006 when researchers in Japan first used a set of four “transcription factors” to signal skin cells to become iPSCs, vision scientists have been exploring ways to use this new technology.  Like embryonic stem cells, iPSCs have the ability to become any other cell in the body, but are not fraught with the ethical, emotional and political issues associated with the use of tissue from human embryos.
    So far the tests are being done on mice.  “The two scientists say their next step will be to take this technology into large animal models of retinal degenerative disease and eventually toward human clinical trials.”
  5. Amniotic fluid health potion:  In a paper on PLoS One,1 Chinese researchers announced success deriving multipotent stem cells from amniotic fluid of pigs.  They were able to get these stem cells to differentiate into nerve, fat, and heart tissues without producing teratomas (tumors).  They said, “These optimal features of pAF-MSCs provide an excellent alternative stem cell resource for potential cell therapy in regenerative medicine and transgenic animals.”.  Even in China these researchers were aware of the controversy.  They said, “human amniotic fluid may be a new source of pluripotent stem cells without any ethical concerns associated with human embryonic stem cells (hES cells) research.”
  6. Umbilical vein health potion:  Another paper in PLoS One by the Salk Institute showed success at getting induced pluripotent stem cells from human umbilical vein endothelial cells.2  Their process was “rapid and highly efficient,” they reported, and produced stem cells that were “indistinguishable from human embryonic stem (ES) cells with regards to morphology, pluripotent marker expression, and their ability to generate all embryonic germ layers in vitro and in vivo.”
  7. Progeria find-and-replace:  An exciting discovery at Salk Institute shows the potential of adult stem cells to do “find and replace” operations on diseased genes, such as those with progeria, a degenerative disease that causes premature aging.  PhysOrg explained the process:
    The gene-targeting approach developed by Suzuki and his colleagues relies on the use of so-called helper-dependent adenoviral vector to deliver large mutation-free DNA molecules into cells.  Once there, these replacement pieces initiate a process known as homologous recombination, which works a bit like the “find-and-replace” command in a word processor.  If a piece of DNA is long enough, it will find and line up with the same sequence in the genome and swap places.
        “The process was remarkably efficient and we couldn’t detect any undesired off-target effects such genomic instability or epigenetic abnormalities,” says Liu.  “What’s more, it allowed us to show that we can correct multiple mutations spanning large genomic regions.”
    The team used adult mesenchymal stem cells and iPS cells from progeria patients to test the genetic editing procedure.  The article said that these cells have been shown to differentiate into a wide variety of tissues, including “adipocytes, osteoblasts, chondrocytes, cardiomyocytes, adipocytes, and, as described lately, beta-pancreatic islets cells.”
  8. Regeneration takes a village of cells:  Don’t expect to grow a new arm with stem cells.  In an article on Science Daily, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that, at least for zebrafish, multiple cell types are needed to regrow a lost fin.
  9. Crop yields:  Plants have stem cells, too – and not just in their stems.  Researchers at Texas Agrilife Research are studying stem cells in Arabidopsis to learn how to make plants produce more fruit, seeds and leaves, according to PhysOrg.
Have embryonic stem cells made any headway toward cures?  It’s sometimes hard to tell in news reports.  Science Daily ran a story from Monash University about research on how stem cells in the embryo differentiate into muscle tissue, for the purpose of helping the elderly who suffer from age-related muscle wasting conditions, but did not indicate whether human embryos were involved in the research.  It appears they studied chicken embryos to watch what happens as the stem cells develop into muscle, not for the purpose of injecting embryonic stem cells for treatment.
    A paper in Nature about embryonic stem cell research appears limited to understanding transcription in normal animals,3 without any mention of potential applications for human health.  Similarly, an article on Science Daily discussed how scientists at the University of Pennsylvania are trying to understand how embryonic stem cells differentiate in living organisms.  While the press release stated that “Investigators want to make embryonic stem cells for liver or pancreatic beta cells for therapies and research,” there was no indication that the team has come anywhere close to that goal.  “By better understanding how a cell is normally programmed we will eventually be able to properly reprogram other cells,” one of them said.  Once again, embryonic stem cell therapy looks like a pipe dream.
    Is there a “state of the stem cell” address?  An overview of stem cell research was provided by Erika Check Hayden in Nature,4 who said, “The field of induced pluripotent stem cells has grown up fast.  Now it is entering the difficult stage.”  She focused on the promise of iPS cells which are changing the face of biology.  “Like human embryonic stem cells, iPS cells could potentially be used as therapies, disease models or in drug screening,” she wrote.  “And iPS cells have clear advantages: they can be made from adult cells, avoiding the contentious need for a human embryo, and they can be derived from people with diseases to create models or even therapies based on a person’s genetic make-up.”
    From there, Hayden described some of the “growing pains” of iPS stem cell research, but never mentioned any case in which embryonic stem cells are clearly superior to the ethics-friendly iPS cells.  The ease of reprogramming adult cells into pluripotent stem cells has led to a gold rush of research into promising therapies.  In spite of the fact that (as often happens in biology), “things are not as simple as we thought,” it was noteworthy that the thrust of Hayden’s article was about the strong momentum in the iPS research community.  The silent subtext is that embryonic research has apparently lost a lot of steam. 
1.  Chen, Lu, Cheng, Peng, and Wang, “Isolation and Characterization of Porcine Amniotic Fluid-Derived Multipotent Stem Cells,” PLoS One 6(5): e19964. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019964.
2.  Panopoulos, Ruiz et al, “Rapid and Highly Efficient Generation of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells from Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells,” PLoS One 6(5): e19743. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019743.
3.  Pastor, Pape, Huang et al, “Genome-wide mapping of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in embryonic stem cells,”
Nature, published online 08 May 2011, doi:10.1038/nature10102.
4.  Erika Check Hayden, Stem cells: The growing pains of pluripotency,” Nature published online 18 May 2011; Nature 473, 272-274 (2011); doi:10.1038/473272a.
It has been very encouraging for people who value ethics to see adult stem cell research take off, leaving embryonic stem cell research in its rear-view mirror.  But what if it had turned out the other way?  What if embryonic stem cells were actively producing cures?  Experimenting on human embryos would still be unethical.  A basic principle of ethics is that ends do not justify the means (see commentary from the 09/03/2010 entry).  The past decade of stem-cell research has shown that some scientists’ greed for fame and money outruns their interest in ethics.  It takes a concerned public to keep science in check, because scientists are only human, prone to the same moral lapses as the rest of us.
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  Everything you wanted to know about spider webs is in the 05/25/2005, except their evolution.
“Enlightenment” History of Science Being Rewritten     05/22/2011      
May 22, 2011 — It’s a common myth that enlightenment atheists gave birth to the scientific era by casting off the darkness of the Christian middle ages and replacing magical arts like alchemy with the scientific experimental method.  Historians of science know better.  A couple of recent articles help set the record straight.
    Alchemy has long had a bad rap, but that is beginning to change.  Professor Lawrence Princippe (Johns Hopkins University) has spent 30 years investigating the writings and experiments of alchemists, and has concluded that many of them were “real scientists” doing valid work in chemistry.  Among the respectable practitioners were Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton.
    This does not mean that the methods of alchemists deserve a comeback, or that their belief that base metals could be turned into gold should be taken seriously, but rather that for their time, they were pursuing real scientific questions with the limited materials available to them.  Sara Reardon described the growing recovery of alchemy’s reputation in Science.1
    In a Nature blog,1 James Hannam, historian of science and author of The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution wrote to correct misconceptions about the relation of Christianity to science.  Right off the bat he made a list:
The ongoing clash of creationism with evolution obscures the fact that Christianity has actually had a far more positive role to play in the history of science than commonly believed.  Indeed, many of the alleged examples of religion holding back scientific progress turn out to be bogus.  For instance, the Church has never taught that the Earth is flat and, in the Middle Ages, no one thought so anyway.  Popes haven’t tried to ban zero, human dissection or lightening rods, let alone excommunicate Halley’s Comet.  No one, I am pleased to say, was ever burnt at the stake for scientific ideas.  Yet, all these stories are still regularly trotted out as examples of clerical intransigence in the face of scientific progress.
After dispensing with the myths, he listed positive cases of the church supporting science.  Churches supported the teaching of science and even built observatories into cathedrals, for example.  Hannam then pointed out that Christians did science as an act of worship when it was unprofitable.  He mentioned a historical point rarely considered:
It was only during the nineteenth century that science began to have any practical applications.  Technology had ploughed its own furrow up until the 1830s when the German chemical industry started to employ their first PhDs.  Before then, the only reason to study science was curiosity or religious piety.  Christians believed that God created the universe and ordained the laws of nature.  To study the natural world was to admire the work of God.  This could be a religious duty and inspire science when there were few other reasons to bother with it.  It was faith that led Copernicus to reject the ugly Ptolemaic universe; that drove Johannes Kepler to discover the constitution of the solar system; and that convinced James Clerk Maxwell he could reduce electromagnetism to a set of equations so elegant they take the breathe [sic] away.
Hannam went on to describe how the Middle Ages, dominated by the Church, was actually a time of innovation and progress.  Even the Dark Ages that preceded it was a time of advance, he said, in spite of the depression caused by the fall of Rome.
    Why, then, do so many people get the idea that Christianity and science are opposed?  Hannam presented a brief conspiracy theory, pointing out that the conflict of science with religion arose only during the “enlightenment” (his mock quotes and non-capitalization).
Voltaire and his fellow philosophes opposed the Catholic Church because of its close association with France’s absolute monarchy.  Accusing clerics of holding back scientific development was a safe way to make a political point.  The cudgels were later taken up by TH Huxley, Darwin’s bulldog, in his struggle to free English science from any sort of clerical influence.  Creationism did the rest of the job of persuading the public that Christianity and science are doomed to perpetual antagonism.
In closing, Hannam said that both “science and religion are the two most powerful intellectual forces on the planet,” pointing out that “Both are capable of doing enormous good, but their chances of doing so are much greater if they can work together.”  He ended by congratulating Lord Martin Rees winning of the Templeton Prize as a “small step in the right direction.”
1.  Sara Reardon, “History of Science: The Alchemical Revolution,” Science, 20 May 2011: Vol. 332 no. 6032 pp. 914-915, DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6032.914.
2.  James Hannam, guest blogger for Soapbox Science, a blog of Nature, May 18, 2011.
Hannam’s article is a small step in the right direction, but he joined in the tar-and-feather-the-creationists game.  He blamed them for the “ongoing clash” today (as if they started it), and blamed them for “persuading the public that Christianity and science are doomed to perpetual antagonism” as if the Dawkins crowd is lily-white innocent in that regard.  He might as well blame the Christians in the Roman arena being attacked by wild animals and crucified for causing the “ongoing clash” with Nero.
    There is no more despised group in academia today than creationists.  Alchemists get more respect than people who take God’s word as a historical account of origins, even though the great scientists Hannam listed, including Copernicus, Kepler, Newton and Maxwell all believed it.  Maybe it takes centuries to get respect back after it has been shredded by bulldogs.
    If it weren’t for the political power they wield, evolutionists are far more deserving of the disdain they regularly dish out to creationists.  Read John Sanford’s book Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome and wonder how intelligent people could ever bring themselves to believe that mutations would create progress in fitness, and continue to believe natural selection built all the wonders of life, decades after it was demonstrated by evolution-believing secular population geneticists to be unworkable.  Re-read Jonathan Wells’ book Icons of Evolution and wonder at how intelligent people could continue to trot out such wimpy and fraudulent examples as evidence for evolution.  Watch Darwin’s Dilemma and stand aghast at how a Darwinian theory so utterly falsified by evidence could be forced onto students as the only theory deserving of a hearing.  Do you want to despise a group who believes myths, has an agenda, refuses to face facts, ignores falsifying data, accepts their world view by faith, is intransigent and pugnacious?  Look no further than the Darwin Party.
    The comments after Hannam’s blog entry are interesting.  Several readers trained in TH Huxley’s bulldog kennel tried to go after Hannam for not being vicious enough against the evil, wicked, stupid creationists.  One argued the old faith-vs-reason canard, another the NOMA line.  Hannam responded that “some of the attitudes on display in this thread are actually damaging to the cause of science” because “many people here wear their hostility to religion on their sleeves.”  While not defending creationism or intelligent design per se, he had more blame to lay at the feet of atheists: “Evolution is so tainted by its association with atheism” that many cannot analyze it objectively, he said, “And yet, new atheists keep trying to make matters worse.”
    The history of science is nuanced and colorful, defying simplistic narratives.  Hannam at least acknowledged that.  Princippe is a very knowledgeable and persuasive narrator of the history of science in his Teaching Company lecture series, but listeners should be warned that, for all the good historical facts he shares, he ends up presenting a thoroughly Darwinized theistic-evolutionary solution to science-and-religion issues (probably because a Johns Hopkins professor could not survive in academia with anything else)  Academia is rigged to always keep Darwin on top.
    Hannam and Princippe both know there are faults to find among the religious and non-religious, fools and heroes and (more often) great thinkers with flaws.  As for this site, we are not here to defend the abuses of the Catholic church nor their positions on scientific questions either current or historic.  Kepler, Newton and Maxwell and most others in our list were Protestants (that makes sense only after 1517), but Christian theism of any stripe is arguably friendlier to science than atheism, which cannot justify reason emerging from hydrogen, and thus has to plagiarize Judeo-Christian presuppositions to get off the starting line.
    As for Sir Martin Rees getting the Templeton Prize, he is about as deserving of praise for “progress in humanity’s efforts to comprehend the many and diverse manifestations of the Divine” (01/26/2006, 06/25/2010, 08/16/2005) as Darwin would have been.  The guy is a sold-out Darwinist and atheist, like Dawkins but with a little less vitriol.  Don’t hold your breath till the real ones making progress (Behe, Dembski, Meyer and others in the ID camp) win the prize.  Remember the Nobel “Peace” Prize that Yasser Arafat got for progress in blowing up Jews?  Good grief, what a mixed-up world.
Next headline on:  Philosophy of SciencePolitics and EthicsBible and Theology
Carbon Units Study Carbon Unity     05/21/2011      
May 21, 2011 — Life’s dependency on carbon was so distinctive to aliens in Star Trek, they nicknamed humans “carbon units.”  With its four valences, carbon is able to form an almost infinite number of complex molecules based on chains (polymers) and geometric shapes.  But does the presence of carbon in abundance explain the appearance of life?  Evolutionists desire a unified, “bottom-up” story that derives complex life from particles exploding out of the big bang by undirected processes and natural law.  Here’s a look at stages in the grand story.
  1. Whence carbon?  Over a half century ago, flamboyant astrophysicist Fred Hoyle realized that a finely-tuned resonance state in nuclear reactions going on in the interiors of stars was responsible for carbon nucleosynthesis.  Now, according to PhysOrg, researchers at North Carolina State University have modeled the Hoyle State state from first principles and proved it correct.  Dean Lee at NC State commented, “This work is valuable because it gives us a much better idea of the kind of ‘fine-tuning’ nature has to do in order to produce carbon in stars.”
  2. Whence carbon-rich planets?  Once you have carbon, what happens to it?  Much of it remains in stars, but supernovas can blast it and other heavy elements out into molecular clouds.  As theory has it, these clouds condense and form planets (but see 05/21/2009, 06/09/2009, 08/21/2009).  Rocky planets might have abundant carbon.
        Science news outlets are asking if the Kepler spacecraft has found one.  Space.com asked, “Is the Rocky Alien Planet Gliese 581d Really Habitable?”  It’s seven times bigger than earth, but appears to lie in the circumstellar habitable zone (see other habitable zone requirements in the 02/26/2011 commentary).  Beyond that, nobody knows if it has the requirements for life, and detection of life is beyond current capabilities.
        Guillermo Gonzalez, astrobiologist, intelligent design advocate and co-author of The Privileged Planet (see video version on YouTube), was asked about the likelihood of life on this world on ID the Future.  He said that other factors, such as plate tectonics and the right atmosphere and temperature, will have to be evaluated.
        Uncommon Descent noticed that Gonzalez, who predicted in his book that habitable planets would be rare, has been right in that prediction so far – but that didn’t win him any awards in academia.  After The Privileged Planet came out proposing that life was rare in the universe, he later lost his tenure battle at Iowa State due to the intolerance of some atheist professors for his views on intelligent design (05/22/2007 bullet 7, 11/08/2007, 12/16/2008).
        An article on New Scientist agrees that worlds like ours are rare, and is worried about it.  In “No place like home: Our lonesome solar system,” Lee Billings quoted planet hunter Geoff Marcy saying, “Our system is a rarity, there’s no longer a question about that.  The only question that remains is, just how rare is it?”  (More from March in the 02/23/2011 entry).
  3. Whence carbon-based life?  Is that end of the road – a planet with carbon and other heavy elements that just sits there?  Obviously, evolutionary scientists would like to see those elements self-organize into living cells.
        A story on Science Daily promised “important clues to how life originated from non-life and how modern cells came to exhibit complex behaviors.”  Unfortunately for tantalized readers, the researchers at Penn State did not bring carbon to life.  They played with toy models of cells.  They “generated simple, non-living model ‘cells’ with which they established that asymmetric division – the process by which a cell splits to become two distinct daughter cells – is possible even in the absence of complex cellular components, such as genes.”  Whatever this oversimplified model has to do with the origin of life is anyone’s guess.
        One researcher claimed, “We observed that even model cells can divide in a structured way, which implies a kind of intrinsic order.”  Whether that order was intrinsic or was inserted by the investigators into the system, since they tweaked variables in their model to get the outcomes they desired, is a good follow-up question.  They modeled various carbon-based molecules such as amino acids and lipids to get their toy cells to divide without genetic control.  It was left unstated if real molecules would do such things.  Real cells divide with a host of complex machines, and require accurate copying of millions of base pairs of DNA.
        They saw their work as just a piece of a puzzle: “Scientists have simulated early-Earth conditions in laboratories and have demonstrated that many amino acids – the biochemical constituents of proteins – can form through natural chemical reactions,” Christine Keating [Penn State] said.  We hope our research helps to fill in another part of the puzzle: how chemical and spatial organization may have contributed to the success of early life forms.”  Taxpayers can thank the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health for funding these imaginary scenarios.
  4. Whence life complexity?  Give evolutionists all the carbon-based molecules they want – will they get life to form and evolve?  Will the amino acids form proteins (see online book) that can evolve into complex life?  Michael Lynch and Ariel Fernandez, scientists at the University of Chicago, reported PhysOrg began with proteins, and then speculated that “Errors in protein structure sparked evolution of biological complexity.”  That’s right: complex life is the result of mistakes.  This idea was published in Nature.1 
    Over four billion years of evolution, plants and animals grew far more complex than their single-celled ancestors.  But a new comparison of proteins shared across species finds that complex organisms, including humans, have accumulated structural weaknesses that may have actually launched the long journey from microbe to man.
    This new idea is actually un-Darwinian.  In a nutshell, PhysOrg said, “random introduction of errors into proteins, rather than traditional natural selection, may have boosted the evolution of biological complexity.”  How can that be?  Is there any complex system that gets better with the introduction of random errors?  The article continued, “Flaws in the ‘packing’ of proteins that make them more unstable in water could have promoted protein interactions and intracellular teamwork, expanding the possibilities of life.”
        Jason Palmer cheerfully echoed this “could have” story on the BBC News, quoting Michael Lynch [Indiana U], who added this un-Darwinian comment: “We’ve opened up the idea that the roots of complexity don’t have to reside in purely adaptational arguments.”  The team felt that new protein interactions “nudged complexity forward” with functional possibilities.  No actual possibilities were presented.  Wouldn’t many of these actions be deleterious?  Don’t proteins denature into sticky, shapeless masses unless they fold correctly?  To solve this problem, they had another could-have story up their sleeves: “The authors suggest then that other adaptations occur that ‘undo’ the deleterious effects of the sticky proteins.”
        Co-author Fernandez applied the tinkerer metaphor to their idea while tossing a useful line to intelligent design advocates: Natural designs are often one notch more sophisticated than the best engineering,” he said in the PhysOrg article.  “This is another example: Nature doesn’t change the molecular machinery, but somehow it tinkers with it in subtle ways through the wrapping.”  (See personification.)
        Palmer’s BBC story included a curious quote by Ford Doolittle [Dalhousie University] about this “new evolutionary pathway that didn’t exist before.”  Doolittle commented about what he perceived as useless complexity in real life: “Darwinists are a little bit like the pre-Darwinists before them, who would have marveled at the perfection of God’s creation.”  Doolittle disagrees with Lynch about the repair of deleterious proteins; instead, he imagines cells with “presuppression” mechanisms that would protect them from mistakes.  “But we both agree that much of complexity does not have an adaptive explanation.”  They also agree that it does not have a design explanation, but that goes without saying; their idea presents a random explanation: stuff happens.
That’s a new label for creationists: “pre-Darwinists”.  Will they like it?
1.  Ariel Fernandez and Michael Lynch, “Non-adaptive origins of interactome complexity,” Nature published online 18 May 2011, doi:10.1038/nature09992.
Help your local pre-creationist friend at the university become a full-fledged one.  Give him or her the following books:
  • Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist by Moshe Averick.  Chapter 3 gives a good summary of the hopelessness of evolutionary theories on the origin of life, with ample quotes from leading evolutionists and origin-of-life researchers themselves.
  • Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer.
  • Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome by Dr. John C. Sanford.  Fascinating and convincing evidence (from a geneticist) on why mutations will never, ever lead to increased fitness—in fact, the human genome is disintegrating due to mutations.
  • The Nature of Nature by numerous authors on both sides of the design question.
  • The Programming of Life by Don Johnson.
  • Browse the catalog for additional resources.

    Next headline on:  Stars and AstronomyIntelligent DesignOrigin of LifeDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
  • Peppered Moths Are Back     05/20/2011      
    May 20, 2011 — One might think that past embarrassments about the peppered moth as evidence for evolution would keep evolutionists reluctant to mention them.  A team from the University of Liverpool either didn’t get the message, or shed all reluctance anyway.  They published a new paper about Biston betularia in Science,1 calling the moth story “a textbook example of how an altered environment may produce morphological adaptation through genetic change” and “one of the most widely recognized examples of contemporary evolutionary change.”  The first reference was to Michael Majerus, who spent years trying to establish the peppered moth as an icon of evolution (06/25/2004, 09/03/2007, and item following 02/08/2009).
        Their paper, however, only discussed which mutations might have produced the black variety.  The black ones, apparently losing their color due to a single mutation, did better when the trees were darker, but are now rapidly disappearing.  No long-term evolutionary adaptation was demonstrated.  Here’s how the paper ended:
    The rapid spread of an initially unique haplotype, driven by strong positive selection, is expected to generate the profile of linkage disequilibrium we have observed, establishing that UK industrial melanism in the peppered moth was seeded by a single recent mutation that spread to most parts of mainland Britain and also colonized the Isle of Man (fig. S4).  Paradoxically, although the carbonaria [black] morph is now strongly disadvantageous and consequently rare in the United Kingdom, the rapidity of its decline has minimized the eroding effect of typica [white] introgression on the molecular footprint of strongly positive selection created during its ascendency.
    This means that the mutant appeared recently, spread for awhile, and is dying out, without leaving much of an evolutionary trace on the species or the world.
    1.  van't Hof, Edmonds et al, “Industrial Melanism in British Peppered Moths Has a Singular and Recent Mutational Origin,” Science, 20 May 2011: Vol. 332 no. 6032 pp. 958-960, DOI: 10.1126/science.1203043.
    The “evolution” of the peppered moth was the kind even young-earth creationist Ken Ham would yawn about, because it represented a temporary case of population statistics – not even micro-evolution.  It’s perfectly fine to study the moths and their distributions and genes, but to call them a “textbook example” of “evolutionary change” should embarrass the breeches off any evolutionist who isn’t clueless (07/05/2002).  Critics of the peppered myth have been complaining about it loud and long for decades.  Why does it persist?
        The reason is that evolutionists are a closed society.  They talk amongst themselves in an echo chamber, reinforcing their pet illusions or attacking straw men (09/03/2007).  They never read the critics.  These guys are probably oblivious to Jonathan Wells’ 2000 book Icons of Evolution that demolished the peppered myth, and the other critiques by non-creationists and others not advocating intelligent design (11/13/2008).  As an argument for evolution, the peppered moth is over, done, defunct.  Give it up, Darwinians!
        The real lesson of the peppered moth is one of fantastic design.  Moths and butterflies create immense challenges to Darwinian theory, as the new documentary Metamorphosis from Illustra Media (to be released next month on Blu-Ray) will make abundantly clear.  This exceptional film is complete and now in the packaging stages.  Get your Dolby 5.1 HDTV system tuned up for a visual, auditory, intellectual tour de force!
    Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyDarwin and EvolutionIntelligent DesignMedia
      Seven years ago, the late George C. Williams (an ardent evolutionist who died last September) chided his fellow Darwinians for trading in reckless explanations that amounted to little more than ad hoc stories.  He called such stories “absolute nonsense” (see 05/31/2004.

    Cellular Machines Coming to Light     05/20/2011      
    May 20, 2011 — As imaging techniques improve, cells are yielding up their secrets.  Scientists are getting closer to watching the processes in cellular factories in real time.

    1. DyneinPhysOrg reported, “Biologists capture cell’s elusive ‘motor’ on videotape, solving the mystery of its deployment.”  The article began, “Their experiments can be likened to restoring never-before-seen footage to a classic film.”  Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are discovering “How dynein, the cell’s two-part, nano-scale ‘mitotic motor,’ positions itself to direct the [cell] dividing process.”  They described their delight at watching “a complete surprise and a eureka moment for us to witness a hypothesis supported by direct evidence for the first time.”
    2. Myosin:  Another motor machine in the cell is myosin.  PhysOrg described how scientists on the east coast have found a way to turn the motor on and off with light.  “Molecular ‘motors’ are at the root of most biological movement,” the press release stated.  “They propel cell components, whole cells, and even our muscles on command.”  The team’s paper claimed “this should make it possible to follow cellular processes that involve myosin in real time.”
    3. DNA structure:  Scientists at the University of Amsterdam have measured the force holding DNA together, and found that a small force can make it separate like a zipper.  PhysOrg told how the strands re-join when the tension is relaxed.  With this research, they “can now have a better understanding of how DNA in cells is locally opened so genes can be turned ‘on’ or ‘off’.”
    4. DNA packaging  Penn State researchers have discovered more about how DNA is packaged into chromosomes.  They have achieved a milestone in the goal of assembling a chromosome from its component parts by adding histones to purified yeast DNA and watching it wrap into nucleosomes – building blocks of the supercoils that form chromosomes.  To get the wrapping started, they had to add ATP, which they likened to the leaven that makes bread rise.  Enzymes used the ATP to wrap the DNA neatly into the nucleosomes.  Some 60,000 nucleosomes make up a yeast chromosome.
          According to PhysOrg, their work “overturns three previous theories of the genome-packaging process and opens the door to a new era of genome-wide biochemistry research.”  It is hoped that research like this will yield insights leading to therapies for genetic disorders.
    5. Photosynthesis:  Argonne National Laboratory “has worked for fifty years to understand photosynthesis—one of the most mysterious and wonderful chemical processes in the world,” an article on PhysOrg began.  “Photosynthesis built a green Earth out of the bare, meteor-blistered planet which had sat empty for a billion years; it tipped the composition of the atmosphere towards oxygen, allowing all kinds of life to blossom, including us.
          The team is applying what they are learning for human benefit.  “Basically, we’ve been reverse-engineering photosynthesis,” one of the researchers said.  “If we understand how Nature does it, we can tweak the process to produce hydrogen” that would lead to efficient solar cells.
    6. Photosynthesis reactor:  Speaking of photosynthesis, Japanese scientists have achieved the imaging of the “Crystal structure of oxygen-evolving photosystem II at a resolution of 1.9?Å,”  zooming in almost twice as far as previous studies.  Their paper, published in Nature,1 spoke of the reactor as “indispensable for sustaining life on Earth.”  It includes detailed drawings of the 20 subunits involved with numerous molecular contacts.
          The particular part of the reactor that splits water molecules and combines oxygen atoms into the O2 gas we breathe they said is “one of nature’s most fascinating and important reactions.”  Understanding Photosystem II may help humans to mimic plants’ ability to split water efficiently at ambient temperatures, leading to renewable energy for a multitude of applications.  The ability lives all around us if we can tap into its secrets.
    7. Ribosome:  Biochemists from five US universities have witnessed a key reaction in the ribosomes, the elaborate structures that translate messenger RNA [mRNA] into proteins.  Reporting in Science,2 they described how the ribosome, the transfer RNA [tRNA] molecules and other elements form moving parts and machinery:
      During protein synthesis, the ribosome controls the movement of tRNA and mRNA by means of large-scale structural rearrangements.  We describe structures of the intact bacterial ribosome from Escherichia coli that reveal how the ribosome binds tRNA in two functionally distinct states, determined to a resolution of ~3.2 angstroms by means of x-ray crystallography.  One state positions tRNA in the peptidyl-tRNA binding site.  The second, a fully rotated state, is stabilized by ribosome recycling factor and binds tRNA in a highly bent conformation in a hybrid peptidyl/exit site.  The structures help to explain how the ratchet-like motion of the two ribosomal subunits contributes to the mechanisms of translocation, termination, and ribosome recycling.
      Drawings in the paper show the moving parts with rotations of up to 70°.  In their concluding paragraph, they described what they saw: “Because simple mRNAs can be translated in the absence of exogenous factors like EF-G (44), the ribosome itself serves as a Brownian ratchet, with tRNA substrates probably serving as the ‘teeth.’,” they said.  “A notable feature of the ratcheting mechanism is the use of RNA secondary structural elements to control large-scale conformational rearrangements in the ribosome.”  They went on to compare the moving parts to bridges, swivels, springs, pawls, and hinges.
    8. Ribosome informationInformation is a profound concept that presupposes purpose and design.  It is being joined to biology.  Two researchers at the University of Maryland titled a paper, “An Extensive Network of Information Flow through the B1b/c Intersubunit Bridge of the Yeast Ribosome.”  Writing in PLoS One,3 they described “an extensive network of information exchange between distinct regions of the large and small subunits” of the ribosome.  Mutations, they found, “had wide-ranging effects on cellular viability and translational fidelity” and mentioned some of the diseases they cause.
          They discussed two subunits in particular that “work together to communicate information pertaining to the tRNA occupancy status of the P-site and the B1b/c bridge.”  In fact, “These shared changes in rRNA chemical protection patterns suggest that, while spatially remote, all of these different regions of the ribosome are connected through specific ‘informational nodes’ comprised of specific bases of 25S rRNA.”  The words information and translational fidelity were key terms in this paper.

    1.  Umena, Kawakami, Shen, and Kamiya, “Crystal structure of oxygen-evolving photosystem II at a resolution of 1.9?Å,” Nature 473 (05 May 2011), pp. 55–60, doi:10.1038/nature09913.
    2.  Dunkle, Wang et al, “Structures of the Bacterial Ribosome in Classical and Hybrid States of tRNA Binding,” Science 20 May 2011: Vol. 332 no. 6032 pp. 981-984, DOI: 10.1126/science.1202692.
    3.  Rhodin and Dinman, “An Extensive Network of Information Flow through the B1b/c Intersubunit Bridge of the Yeast Ribosome,” PLoS One 6(5): e20048, May 19, 2011; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020048.
    None of these articles even attempted to explain how these complex systems evolved (“oxygen-evolving photosystem II” doesn’t count – that’s a different meaning of the word).  Only one (the Science paper) mentioned evolution at all, and only on the periphery, as if needing to acknowledge an irrelevant faith in evolution to fulfill some kind of obligation.  These articles need Darwin like a swimmer needs a barbell.
        Stephen C. Meyer, author of Signature in the Cell, has this quote on his website.  It suffices as commentary.  “In the 21st century, the information age has finally come to biology.  We now know that biology at its root is comprised of information rich systems, such as the complex digital code encoded in DNA.  Groundbreaking discoveries of the past decade are revealing the information bearing properties of biological systems.”
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyGeneticsPhysicsIntelligent DesignAmazing Facts
    Does Science Belong Here?     05/19/2011      
    May 19, 2011 — Scientists continue to insert their particular methods and viewpoints into every aspect of life, but questions might be raised about the validity of their findings and the propriety of scientists acting as advisors on moral and political questions.
    1. Happiness science:  Advice found online: “the best way to increase your happiness is to stop worrying about being happy and instead divert your energy to nurturing the social bonds you have with other people.”  Did that come from a religious counselor or family member?  No, it was on Science Daily, touting what “psychological science” has concluded.  Live Science added material on “why were’re not happy” and “how to be happy” based on research by psychologists at the University of Denver.
    2. Gossip scienceLive Science presumed to explain “Why we love juicy gossip mags”.  While some might respond “Speak for yourself,” Joseph Brownstein entertained the antics of a primatologist from UC Davis, Eliza Bliss-Moreau, who speculated about why unobserved ancestors may have found gossip titillating.  Whether experiments on human subjects presented with visual stimuli say anything about unobserved ancestors, the article was confident in its ignorance: “While the reasons negative gossip draws attention are still unknown, researchers noted that it matches up with evolutionary findings in people and in animals.”
          Medical Xpress then said that gossip can actually serve a useful purpose.  According to Lisa Feldman Barrett of the Northeastern University, gossip helps us see potential threats: “The researchers said gossip gives people information about whether a person might be a friend or foe, and suggest that being able to spot the face of a person about whom they have heard negative stories could provide some social protection by focusing on people who could be a threat.”  The article appeared to be completely mechanistic and amoral.  It omitted discussing the downside of gossip that is untrue.
    3. Love science:  A photo of a happy couple accompanies an article on Science Daily that announced, “Want Lasting Love?  It’s Not More Commitment, but Equal Commitment That Matters.”  But did they get their material from Focus on the Family or the Family Research Council?  No – the article relied on the work of six researchers from academia, who “used the rich mine of data in the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation (MLSRA), coupled with a lab procedure, to look for the answers” of lasting relationships.  Can science go beyond correlations and statistics to present advice? 
    4. Abortion science:  An article on Medical Xpress claims that Poland’s law making abortions illegal has reduced hospital abortions by 99% but led to a flourishing private abortion industry.  While gathering statistics may be valid for researchers, the article stated, “Women have been the biggest losers during this push of abortion provision into the clandestine private sector,” tainting the findings with suggestions of policy advice throughout the article.
    5. Global politics:  Ever heard of the Anthropocene Era?  That is a name some scientists are giving to the period of earth history showing influence by humans.  PhysOrg said that humans are giving the earth an “extreme makeover,” leading scientists to become geopolitical advisors.  The Anthropocene concept “forces us to ponder whether humanity’s outsized impact on the planet could lead to undesired, possibly uncontrollable, outcomes, and what, if anything, humanity should do about it,” the article said.  “That leaves scientists who may be more comfortable classifying rocks than rocking the boat in a tricky position.”
    6. IQ and criminal justiceNew Scientist posted a story with unpleasant throwbacks to eugenics and impacts on criminal law.  “Some people in the US may have been wrongly executed because of inaccuracies in the IQ tests used to assess them,” the article by Jessica Griggs began.  “But the inaccuracies may also have seen some escape execution if they scored lower on the tests than their real IQ.”  That reference to “real IQ” presumes that IQ is a valid concept that could, in principle be measured with accurate IQ tests (04/27/2011, bullet 1).
    These articles in the “science” media raise questions about whether researchers should just state their findings, and leave policy to the government and culture.  Laws against drug abuse, for instance, contribute to many unsavory consequences in crime and drug trafficking, but is it the job of scientists or “researchers” to present legal advice?
        The same questions could be asked about laws regarding anything: monopolies, energy policy, vice and prostitution, alcoholism, and much more.  Additionally, science appears to continue usurping roles traditionally given to counselors outside the science department.  Whether that advice is more valid than those of non-scientists is bound to raise questions about the presumptive authority of scientists and the so-called scientific method, if there is such a thing.
    The word researcher sounds so authoritative.  It’s much more satisfying that speculator or storyteller or divination artist.  “I’m not making this up; I’m researching.”  But research as a concept is so broad it could include anything.  The reader of a gossip mag is “researching” whether Elvis really landed in a spaceship with the ultimate diet.  Take off the re- prefix; it should be just searching.  We should all be searching for the truth.  Truth is not the sole domain of scientists.
        What are the standards for research, and is research limited to the science department?  Don’t all academics do research, even theologians, historians and students writing term papers?  The quality and validity of research are prime concerns for the claims above.  Calling the proponents researchers or scientists (seekers of “knowledge”) assumes what they need to demonstrate.  Critical analysis is needed, not regurgitation by toady reporters enraptured like groupies with the aura of science.  Such criticism is sadly lacking in the science media.
        Science in its idealized state should stick to observations and seek to link causes to effects.  Whether that is even possible is subject to much philosophical debate.  But when scientists step out of observations and try to give advice, like telling us how to be happy, or that we need to be global citizens, they are out of line.  Their opinions deserve only one man, one vote.  They need to keep their greedy hands out of the humanities.
        You can help reduce the fallacy of scientism in our culture by taking a scientist to church.  Let the researcher learn something about his or her fallibility.  Let the scientist learn about the beginning of wisdom, the fear of God.  But remind them it is only the beginning of wisdom.  It takes years of research in the Operations Manual to achieve maturity.  We all need to be wise, mature searchers and researchers.
        Here’s a better use of science: helping people.  Read this Science Daily story and rejoice!
    Next headline on:  Philosophy of SciencePolitics and EthicsMind and BrainBible and Theology
    Tip Link
    Want to fly like a bird?  You can do the next best thing by hitching a ride on a brown booby as it flies over the sea and then lands on the water.  A video on Live Science gives a real bird’s-eye view from a bird outfitted with a tiny video camera.  “This is the first study to deploy video recorders on flying seabirds,” said Ken Yoda from Nagoya University in Japan that pulled off the technical feat.

    Fossils Support Evolution! (Because Evolution Is Assumed)     05/18/2011      
    May 18, 2011 — Fossils come in a variety of manifestations – not always bone.  They could be leaf imprints, whole animals trapped in amber, footprints, or mineral traces made by once-living organisms.  Some recent fossil finds are having trouble fitting into evolutionary theory.  But one thing about those Darwinists: they always find a way.

    1. Graph fight:  Evolutionists have used the mineral graphite as a biomarker – a sign of fossilized life.  By dating the rocks containing the graphite, they have inferred the age of the fossils.  Science Daily has some bad news: the graphite could be much younger.  A study of rocks in Canada by a team from four scientific institutions has concluded that “carbonaceous particles are millions of years younger than the rock in which they’re found, pointing to the likelihood that the carbon was mixed in with the metamorphic rock later than the rock’s earliest formation – estimated to be 3.8 to 4.2 billion years ago.”
          What does this do to evolutionary theory?  One team member, Dominic Papineau of Boston College, said, “That can only ring a bell and require us to ask if we need to reconsider earlier studies.”  He added, “We can no longer assume that carbon is indigenous in the oldest metamorphosed sedimentary rock.”  The article paraphrased his remarks and the impact of this upset on evolutionary theory:
      Nearly 4,000-million years old samples from Greenland have been used to develop the dominant time line regarding the emergence of the earliest biosphere.  The recent findings suggest the biosphere may have emerged millions of years later, a hypothesis that now demands a rigorous study, said Papineau....
          The presence of carbon and the specific characteristics of that carbon’s source material are crucial to understanding the evolution of the early microbial biosphere.  The subject of much debate within scientific circles, a new set of assumptions may be required when using the presence of carbon to date milestones in Earth’s evolution.
    2. Croco-bird split:  The phrase “earlier than thought” appears often in fossil news.  Here’s a case noted by University of Washington: “China fossil shows bird, crocodile family trees split earlier than thought.”  A specimen of Xilousuchus sapingensis, looking like a crocodile with four legs under its body and a sail-like fin like that of dimetrodon, has been reclassified as an archosaur.  This means it “turns out to have come from the crocodile family tree after it had already split from the bird family tree,” the article claimed (birds are assumed to have come from the archosaur branch).
          What does this mean to the evolutionary picture?  “The work could sharpen debate among paleontologists about whether archosaurs existed before the Permian period and survived the extinction event, or if only archosaur precursors were on the scene before the end of the Permian.”  It also means “early members of the crocodile and bird family trees evolved earlier than previously thought.”
    3. Snake lizard:  There are lizards alive today that resemble snakes, because they have no legs (see (05/13/2011, bullet 5).  A press release from the University of Toronto published on PhysOrg reported the discovery of a tiny lizard said to be 47 million years old that resolves a controversy about the relationship of snakes and lizards.  According to a lead author, “This fossil refutes the theory that snakes and other burrowing reptiles share a common ancestry and reveals that their body shapes evolved independently.”  In that case, why PhysOrg called this a “missing link” is anyone’s guess.
    4. Genetic fossils:  Genes can be an indirect type of fossil – provided one believes the evolutionary story connecting genomes by phylogenetic trees.  A press release at the University of Texas announced, “Sodium Channels Evolved Before Animals’ Nervous Systems, Research Shows.”  The old story was that sodium channels came along with the first nervous systems in jellyfish.
          The research team found genes for sodium channels (highly important in the nervous systems of complex animals) in a one-celled animal that has no nervous system: a choanoflagellate.  They “discovered the genes for such sodium channels hiding within an organism that isn’t even made of multiple cells, much less any neurons.”  What does this do to evolutionary theory?  “Because the sodium channel genes were found in choanoflagellates, the scientists propose that the genes originated not only before the advent of the nervous system, but even before the evolution of multicellularity itself.
          Sodium channels are pretty complex systems (01/17/2002).  That would be quite an innovation for a poor one-celled organism.  David Hillis rescued evolution thusly: “This study shows how complex traits, such as the nervous system, can evolve gradually, often from parts that evolved for other purposes.”  His colleague Harold Zakon picked up on the co-option theme: “Evolutionarily novel organs do not spring up from nowhere,” he said, “but from pre-existing genes that were likely doing something else previously.”  What they were doing in the choanoflagellate was not explained; apparently that is the next research project.
    5. Texas lemur:  Speaking of Texas, Science Daily “announced the discovery of a previously unknown species of fossil primate, Mescalerolemur horneri, in the Devil’s Graveyard badlands of West Texas.”  The only primates living in the wild in Texas today are those on football fields and freeways.
          The press release was ready to explain how this primate evolved so far from its ancestors in Africa: “Mescalerolemur’s dental anatomy reveals a close evolutionary relationship with adapiform primates from Eurasia and Africa, including Darwinius masillae, a German fossil primate previously claimed to be a human ancestor,” the reporter wrote (05/19/2009, 03/03/2010).  “However, the discovery of Mescalerolemur provides further evidence that adapiform primates like Darwinius are more closely related to living lemurs and bush babies than they are to humans” (bush babies are small nocturnal primates resembling lemurs).  The article also appealed to convergent evolution to explain fusion of lower jaws in a related lemur and those of apes and humans.
          A picture of the lemur’s jaw was posted at the University of Texas website.
    6. Dog or cat?  One might suppose that paleontologists are good at telling dogs from cats, but when it comes to marsupial mammals in Australia, they’ve had trouble classifying thylacines – alternately classed as “marsupial wolf” or “Tasmanian tiger.”  Recently, Brown University researchers voted it into the cat category, according to Science Daily.
          The old story was one of evolutionary convergence, the article explained: “The conventional thinking had been that dingoes were the placental spitting image of the marsupial thylacines, evolved in isolated settings, which biologists term evolutionary convergence.  When dingoes [dogs] arrived in Australia, they helped push the thylacines out.”  Now, the picture is more subtle and complicated: “What that means for the dingo’s role in the thylacine’s disappearance from continental Australia is not clear, but it does show the animals, while similar in many respects, likely hunted differently.”  No further evolutionary explanation was offered for the remarkable convergence of many marsupials to their placental look-alikes (for chart, see NWCreation.com).
    7. Marsupial flood:  Speaking of marsupials, about 35 fossilized marsupial rats were found buried together in a mass grave in Bolivia, according to Live Science.  From the collection, researchers concluded that they were social animals, unlike today’s marsupials.  But the mechanism of burial might lead to other inferences: “They seem to have all died at the same time, possibly during a flash flood or other natural catastrophe.”  PhysOrg provided more detail and noted that the bones showed “exceptional preservation”.
    8. Raindrop tales:  How much can you tell from fossil raindrops?  David Catling [U of Washington] thinks quite a lot.  According to New Scientist, he is deducing atmospheric pressure 2.7 billion years ago from the size and shape of the tiny craters made by raindrops in “an ancient bed of volcanic ash in South Africa”.  The number of variables involved would seem to make any conclusions dubious.
    9. Spider detail:  Remains of a spider trapped in Baltic amber have been revealed in exquisite detail thanks to X-ray computed tomography, reported Science Daily.  The article includes an image of the spider taken at University of Manchester from Karl Berendt’s 19th century collection.
          Nothing was said about spider evolution in the article, but Science Daily did focus attention on the evolutionary age in its headline, “Imaging Technology Reveals Intricate Details of 49-Million-Year-Old Spider.”  But in the body of the article, there was this detail about what happens to amber fossils in one fifty-thousandth of that time: “A problem here is that these old, historical amber pieces have reacted with oxygen over time and are now often dark or cracked, making it hard to see the animal specimens inside.”  Apparently they were clear when Berendt collected them.
    How about human fossils?  An intact fossil canine tooth said to be from Peking Man (Homo erectus) has been found in an unopened box of fossils originally dug up in China, reported PhysOrg.  Per Ahlberg from Uppsala University remarked that this is “an absolutely incredible find” because most of the Peking Man fossils were lost during World War II.  This adds a fourth tooth to their collection, and the only canine tooth.  The press release did not explore what this means to the story of human evolution; they just want to figure out the person’s diet.
        Last month, Ann Gibbons on Science Magazine News showed fossil footprints of about 30 “archaic” humans of various ages found in volcanic ash near an African lake.  They look surprisingly modern for being “120,000 years old”.  Gibbons said that researchers “have uncovered 350 tracks made by anatomically modern humans (as shown by their arched feet), over an area of 150 square meters.”  In her focus on what the tracks reveal about the social behavior of the group, she did not explain how the “well-preserved trail” could have lasted for 120,000 years.
    If you were to look at these fossils without the Charlie & Charlie Brand Eyeglasses (Lyell & Darwin), they would look completely different.  Would you see evolution?  Would you see phylogenetic trees emerging from the data?  Would you see exquisite preservation lasting millions of years?  Arguably not.  You would see catastrophic burial and young-looking objects.
        Evolutionists are blind to their contradictions because they begin with the premise that evolution is true.  It is impossible for fossils to falsify evolution, therefore, because evolution is a given.  The truth of evolution is not under investigation.  Neither is the evolutionary timetable.  Their only challenge is keeping their imaginations exercised enough to come up with stories that sound plausible to keep the public in check and give the illusion of understanding, so that they can maintain their brotherhood and authority.  They all know the price of disunity.
    Next headline on:  FossilsTerrestrial ZoologyBirdsGeneticsMammalsGeologyEarly ManDarwin and Evolution
      Last year this month (05/18/2010), we remembered how Mt. St. Helens overturned important paradigms in geology.

    Small Animals Astound, Inspire     05/17/2011      
    May 17, 2011 —  Elephants and great whales impress us with their bulk, but there are smaller critters that are no less impressive.  Here are a few fantastic animals that come in very small packages.

    1. Bears in space:  Here’s an animal so bizarre, so well-armed, so scary looking, if you knew they were in your back yard you would run away screaming – unless you were told they are less than a millionth of a meter in size.  They’re called water bears, or tardigrades.  Take a look at the color electron micrograph of one on the BBC News and imagine your reaction coming across one of these if it were as large as an army tank.  The picture of a water bear egg further down the article looks like an alien spaceship, yet these creatures live in many environments around our world.
          The article said that the Italian Space Agency is studying what makes tardigrades world-class survivors.  They have the ability to shut down operations so completely, they can survive freezing and even the vacuum of outer space with its ionizing radiation.  Called the “hardiest animal on earth,” the water bear can enter a “cryptobiotic state” of desiccation that can allow it to survive for months or years, showing “a high resistance to physical and chemical extremes” such as “very low and high temperatures, exposure to high pressure or vacuum, as well as contact with organic solvents and ionizing radiation.”
          The Italian Space Agency would like to apply their secrets to learn how to “protect other organisms, including humans, from the extreme stresses found under space conditions.”  Maybe a water bear spacesuit will become the latest fashion on some future spaceship.
    2. Flatworm regeneration:  Students who have looked at flatworms in biology class have been amused by their tiny triangular heads and cross-eyed look, but they can do something students can’t do: regenerate themselves.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported that one of their teams has figured out that the tiny creatures do it with adult stem cells.  They are a long way, though, from figuring out exactly how regeneration works.
          Amazing as flatworm regeneration is, one of the researchers attributed it to a blind, unguided process: “This is an animal that, through evolution, has already solved the regeneration problem,” Dan Wagner, a grad student, said.  “We’re studying planarians to see how their regeneration process works.  And, one day, we’ll examine what are the key differences between what’s possible in this animal and what’s possible in a mouse or a person.”
    3. Honeybee flight simulator:  Researchers at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique are trying to see how honeybees get around in life.  They built a flight simulator consisting of a complex tunnel with lines and curves intended to challenge the bees’ navigational abilities, with a reward at the end.
          They have learned that bees, with their large peripheral vision, measure optical flow (the lateral movement of objects) to judge distance, and can speed up or slow down with the information.  Bees are able to see objects overhead as well as on both sides and forward.  “The researchers observed that a bee’s speed decreased in proportion to the narrowest point of passage in the flight chamber, whether the constriction was horizontal or vertical,” the article explained.  “In other words, a bee slows its flight speed as an obstacle gets closer.  Its speed depends on the size of the visual field and, therefore, on the closeness of the obstacle.”
          The press release began with an expression of astonishment: “How can a creature as tiny as a bee, whose brain is proportionally smaller than that of a bird, manage to control its flight and avoid obstacles both in flight and on the ground?  We now know that bee sensory-motor performance depends on a nervous system consisting of a hundred thousand to a million neurons.”  However bees do it, their tiny brains could help us design objects weighing tons: “These findings could have aerospace applications, such as during the crucial phases when aircraft fly in confined environments.”  Maybe the Millennium Falcon had honeybee software that allowed Han Solo to navigate successfully through that asteroid field.
    4. Colorblind hiding in plain color sight:  Cuttlefish have the remarkable ability to quickly blend in with their surroundings by turning a variety of colors.  But since they are color blind, how do they do it?  Scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, wanted to find out.  “Previous studies have shown that certain background variables—such as brightness, contrast, edge and size of objects, etc.—are essential for eliciting camouflaged body patterns,” a press release posted on PhysOrg said.  “However, cephalopod eyes lack color perception, thus the vexing question of how they achieve effective camouflage while being colorblind still remains.”
          The team tackled this “incredibly difficult problem” by using a new imaging technology, Hyper Spectral Imaging (HSI), that samples 540 windows of color.  This allowed them to hone in on the aspects of a cuttlefish profile that a predator would see.  The cuttlefish is able to dodge a predator’s sensitivity to brightness, or luminance, with color tricks: “What this means is that cuttlefish camouflage strategies take away a tool from predators in their ability to pick out their prey from the background and instead leave them with only brightness as a method for prey identification.”
          This is only a partial explanation, they realize, for a phenomenon that puzzled Aristotle.  It doesn’t explain the systems the cuttlefish uses, nor how it discerns its background so as to blend in.  “We hope our work takes us one step closer to understanding how a colorblind animal adopts near-perfect camouflage in a variety of backgrounds.”  New Scientist posted a video of the creatures adjusting to different backgrounds with split-second timing.
    The panoply of life is so vast and varied, that even with teams of scientists around the world observing, we run no risk of understanding it all any time soon.  Whether in remote parts of the earth, or just under our feet, living things reveal new and amazing features that surprise PhDs and inspire entrepreneurs.
    Sad to see grad students like Dan Wagner so thoroughly brainwashed by Darwin Vader that he is already manipulating the dork side of the farce.  He says that the flatworm, “through evolution,” has already “solved the regeneration problem.”  Evolution solves nothing.  It has no mind; therefore it sees no problems or solutions.  The statement makes no sense except in some epic myth that views evolution as a farce that permeates the university.  He could use a little regeneration himself.
    Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyMarine BiologyDarwin and EvolutionDumb IdeasBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
    Cosmology, Mythology, and Heaven     05/16/2011      
    May 16, 2011 — Stephen Hawking’s recent comment that heaven is a fairy tale (see The Guardian) started blogger keystrokes clicking.  But one might ask, what does he know about it?  Are the opinions of a cosmologist any better than those of a theologian?
        Hawking told The Guardian that he considers the brain like a computer that stops working when its components fail.  It was timely that PhysOrg just reported that Jian-Jun Shu, an engineer Nanyang Technical University in Singapore, thinks that the next stage of computing should imitate genetics.  “For some problems, DNA-based computing could replace silicon-based computing, offering many advantages.”  Its potential for parallel processing and fuzzy logic are attractive.  Shu is wondering, though, how to plug a monitor into DNA.
        Returning to the topic of heaven, the science blogs are focusing not on the evidence for it, but on whether or not belief in heaven is innate, or is useful to human beings.  PhysOrg told about 40 studies in 20 countries that indicated belief in an afterlife is “hardwired” into the human brain.  “The studies (both analytical and empirical) conclude that humans are predisposed to believe in gods and an afterlife, and that both theology and atheism are reasoned responses to what is a basic impulse of the human mind.”
        The 57 researchers were not out to establish the validity of beliefs but to determine whether they are innate or learned.  One researcher commented, “Just because we find it easier to think in a particular way does not mean that it is true in fact.”  Even so, why would an unguided evolutionary process produce belief in god or heaven that do not exist?  Echoes of Anselm’s old Ontological Argument for the existence of God may come to mind.  The article did not discuss how evolution would produce belief in heaven, but a lively debate arose in the reader comments.
        Stephanie Pappas at Live Science weighed in with her take on Hawking’s statement, saying that his opinion doesn’t matter, because belief in heaven offers benefits.  Pappas invited responses from Daniel Kruger, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Michigan, and Nathan Heflick, a psychology doctoral student at the University of Florida, who has investigated beliefs in the afterlife.  Kruger noted that belief in heaven provides hope, staves off fear of death, and promotes a sense of fairness that stimulates society to produce just laws.  Heflick pointed out that heaven enables people to think of themselves as more than their bodies.  “If you think of your body as a machine, it’s kind of hard to believe in life after death,” Heflick said.  “You’re not going to be able to think of yourself as a spirit.”  Nevertheless, such thinking might well raise questions about the Inventor of the Machine, based on our common experience that machines come via intelligent design.
        Thus far, we have watched scientists trying to analyze a theological question.  But how firm a grip does science have in its own domain? – on reality, even so-called observable reality, or natureNew Scientist posted an intriguing article on the many ways our eyes fool us.  Our brain is filling in information and predicting the future for us, reporter Graham Lawton pointed out, producing in us a “grand delusion” that we see what is really there.  Speaking of cosmology (Hawking’s specialty), Live Science reminded us that cosmologists are still looking for 96% of an assumed universe about which they are clueless.  It would seem premature for Hawking to rule out heaven when the reality he believes in is mostly hidden – even if he could trust his senses.  There might be much more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in his philosophy (naturalism).
        Scientists do best when they stick with the observations.  PhysOrg, echoing a press release from Cardiff University, provided a mix of news and history in an article about the Herschel Space Observatory, describing not only the latest observations, but giving a history of the Herschel family – William, the father of stellar astronomy, who discovered Uranus and infrared light and catalogued thousands of objects in space (and many comets) along with his faithful sister Caroline, and John, his son, who extended the observations into the southern hemisphere.  Professor Matt Griffin said, “Two centuries on, I think William and Caroline would be intrigued and certainly quite pleased to see how what they started has developed.”
        Hawking might take note of the fact that excellent scientific work, both observational and theoretical, was done by the Herschels who were strong believers in heaven.
    Immature Christian to scientist: “if you will just keep your nose out of our heaven, we’ll keep our hell out of your labs.”  That emotional response should be discarded for a more charitable dialogue, in which we first invite the scientist to consider his own limitations, such as flawed eyes, logical fallacies, and tendencies to believe in his own fairy tales (like 96% of a reality that cannot be seen).  Then we turn his attention to his undeniable sense of justice and truth, and ask how that could evolve.
        Once we get him to admit that justice and truth make reference to universals that are necessary and timeless, we help him to discover that his own reasoning depends on the assumptions of theology.  Having awakened the hapless soul out of his naturalistic slumbers, we can begin asking the right questions about eternity, taking advantage of innate knowledge of such things that had been buried under the academic dusts of unreasoned assumptions.  The response might be heavenly.
    Next headline on:  CosmologyStars and AstronomyGenetics and DNABiomimeticsIntelligent DesignMind and BrainPhilosophy of ScienceBible and Theology
    Ups & Downs of SETI     05/15/2011      
    May 15, 2011 — The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence arouses excitement in some, boredom in others.  The SETI Institute has taken lumps recently; due to a $5 million shortfall in funding, they had to mothball a search using the Allen Telescope Array.  But PhysOrg announced that an unspecified group of astronomers will be using the Green Bank Radio Telescope in West Virginia, the world’s largest steerable antenna, to watch 86 stars identified by the Kepler spacecraft as potential sites for habitable planets.  The article did not say who is funding the project.
        A press release from UC Berkeley contained more detail.  The astronomers involved are from UC Berkeley.  The press release said that the Green Bank Observatory is funded by the National Science Foundation, but did not specify if NSF funds are being used for the SETI activity.  Volunteers around the world will parse the data using SETI@home software after a year of searching.  SETI@home is partly funded by the NSF and NASA, the article said, but did not specify the amount.
    As long as taxpayers are not forced to fund it, let the SETI enthusiasts look.  It might keep them out of mischief.  Just don’t let them lie that SETI is a science project, because it has no data.  Would using scientific equipment to search for gnomes be scientific?  You have to have data to have any claim to being a science, and not just any data (like habitable planets), but data that pertain to the question you are investigating (intelligent life).
        Don’t let them lie, further, that it reinforces evolutionary theory.  They are not looking for purposeless, unguided phenomena, but for SETID: search for extra-terrestrial intelligent design.  Tell them that and they get very angry... another unscientific response.
    Next headline on:  SETIStarsIntelligent Design
      Who’s analyzing whom?  Popular anthropologist Jared Diamond wrote about the cultural evolution of some New Guinea tribespeople, only to be slapped by a lawsuit from some of them for defamation of character.  Read the 05/17/2009 entry for details and for another example of “scientific” humans blundering about their so-called “primitive” brethren.

    Eye on Io     05/14/2011      
    May 14, 2011 — Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io continues to erupt, its heat flowing into science journals.  Planetary scientists are mapping its surface and devising new ideas about what drives its activity.
        A paper in Icarus presented a new global geologic map of Io’s surface.1  The most common feature is plains (65.8%), followed by lava flow fields (28.5%, about a third of which are currently active), with a few mountains (3.2%) and patera floors (volcanic depressions, 2.5%).  These paterae account for 64% of Io’s hot spots.  The mountains and volcanoes appear evenly distributed by longitude, whereas there is a slight dropoff of lava flows in the polar regions.  This was the first complete map of Io from Galileo data at 1:15M scale (1 km per pixel).  Detailed surface mapping is essential for contemplating Io’s interior.
        This little moon, about the size of Earth’s moon, is the most volcanically active body in the solar system (12/03/2007, 05/04/2004).  What makes it pop, with dozens of volcanoes active at a time, spewing out 100 times more lava than all Earth’s volcanoes combined?  A new theory by Krishan Khurana [UCLA] and a team from UCLA, UC Santa Cruz and University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is that Io has a global subsurface ocean of magma.  Space.com and PhysOrg featured the theory published in Science.2
        The team inferred the presence of a global conducting layer based on magnetometer data from the Galileo mission.  They estimate that 20-30 miles below the crust, a layer of molten rock 30 miles deep produces the magnetic signature.  They did not address, however, questions about how the molten material erupts onto the surface without plate tectonics, or why heavy elements seen in the ultramafic lavas remain near the surface rather than having dropped deep into the interior billions of years ago.


    1.  Williams et al, “Volcanism on Io: New Insights from Global Geologic Mapping,” Icarus paper available online 05/13/2011, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2011.05.007.
    2.  Khurana et al, “Evidence of a Global Magma Ocean in Io’s Interior,” Science Express, published online 12 May 2011.
    Stranger than Io's volcanoes and the geysers of Enceladus is a phenomenon under the skulls of planetary scientists, where an unseen layer of liquid thought, worrying about how such activity could persist for billions of years, never seems to rise to the surface.
    Next headline on:  Solar SystemGeologyDating Methods
    Dinosaur Classification Is a Mess     05/13/2011      
    May 13, 2011 — Are there a thousand species of dinosaurs – or far fewer?  John Horner, a dinosaur hunter himself, thinks the classification is a mess and wants to clean it up.  According to Science Magazine News Horner is worried that “with almost 1000 types of dinosaurs on record and a new species being named somewhere in the world every 2 weeks—too many supposedly new discoveries are actually duplicates of animals already on the books.”  Another paleontologist, Michael J. Benton, estimates that over half of the named dinosaurs are misclassified.
        Apparently human pride is to blame.  “Part of the problem, Horner says, is that scientists are sometimes too keen on finding and naming new dinosaurs.”  Naming a new dinosaur gets you noticed and published.  As a result, fossil hunters tend to focus on the differences instead of the similarities.  Additionally, “paleontologists are coming to realize that the bones of an adult dinosaur can be very different from those of a juvenile animal of the same species and can easily mislead scientists into thinking they are two different species.”
        Ignoring these pitfalls can lead to misinterpretations about dinosaur evolution.  “Early in their development, Horner explains, the skulls of young dinosaurs may resemble the relatively unspecialized skulls of primitive ancestral species.  To avoid confusion, paleontologists must know precisely where a specimen came from, how it appeared while still encased in rock, and which level it occupied in a geologic formation.”  Horner has proposed a “Unified Frame of Reference” (UFR) to fellow paleontologists to try to rein in these problems.
    This is terrible.  What will they tell the children who memorized the names of some of these dinosaurs and love to show off their knowledge?  How can they tell them some of the creatures never existed?  It will break their hearts and shake their confidence in scientists.
        Classification is a problem not only for dinosaurs, but for all organisms.  Knowing where to draw the line between species is a human problem, because there are not joints in nature that will provide reliable division points.  The biological species concept (species are groups that produce fertile offspring), for instance, does not help with asexual microbes and fossils.
        Maybe there are only two kinds of dinosaurs: big ones and little ones (like potatoes).  Or maybe ones that walked on all fours and ones that walked on two hind legs.  Whatever scheme works for your purposes can be defended as scientific; even using as a criterion those that reproduce after their kind.
    Next headline on:  DinosaursFossilsDarwin and EvolutionPhilosophy of Science
    Weird Evolution Tricks     05/13/2011      
    May 13, 2011 — Evolution is a strange theory; it goes forwards, backwards, sideways and nowhere, fast or slow, up or down, inside out and outside in.  Here are some examples that contradict the slow, gradual picture of progress that was so popular in Victorian England.
    1. Re-using lost genes:  Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are claiming that evolution dug into an old bag of tricks and pulled out something lost 200 years ago.  “Ever since Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution in 1859, scientists have wondered whether evolutionary adaptations can be reversed,” the press release from MIT News said.  Examples have been the re-evolution of wings in insects (see 05/28/2003).
          Using a computational model, Jeff Gore at the university decided that evolution can reverse itself, but only if fewer than four mutations were involved.  He studied bacteria that achieved resistance to an antibiotic named cefotaxime.  It took five mutations to confer resistance; there were 120 ways to get all five, but only 18 could actually occur, he found.
          The article did not get back to the question of how insects could re-evolve wings – a reversal that would seem to involve many more than four mutations.  It also repeated the discredited idea that the human appendix is no longer needed.
    2. Going nowhereNew Scientist announced in a bold headline, “Horsetail fossil tells tale of plant evolution.”  But when the reader looks for said evolution, there is none to be found except a tale indeed.  Alan Channing [Cardiff U] found a fossilized horsetail that must have been preserved in a hot spring environment.  It looks modern: “Though a new species, the fossilised plant is quite similar to some horsetails living today with a single upright evergreen shaft,” the article confessed.  While admitted that horsetails have had a “contested evolutionary history” that Channing’s work now “clears up,” the article went on to say that “The findings suggest horsetails experienced only modest innovations in their long evolutionary history.”
          Innovations?  The article presented no evidence of ancestors of horsetails.  Worse, Channing’s study pushes the origin of modern-looking horsetails back another 14 million years, to 150 million years before the present.  The fossil preserved “not only stems but also leaf sheaths, roots and reproductive structures.”  It’s as if this plant popped into existence 150 million years ago and never dreamt up any new innovations all the way to the present except, if anything, the older ones were bigger and better: “Today’s horsetail plants are living fossils, the only surviving members of the class Equisetopsida, the article ended.  “For more than a 100 million years, Equisetopsida plants dominated the understory of the late Mesozoic period forests, stretching up to 30 metres high.
    3. Evolution in reversePhysOrg tells us that cicada-like insects called treehoppers cast aside their front wings 200 million years ago, only to call them up into service as headgear.  “That’s probably shocking news if you are an entomologist, and challenges some very basic ideas about what makes an insect an insect, the researchers said.”
          Strange things happen in evolution.  “But then, some 50 million years ago, something strange happened to the cicada-like treehoppers: they once again sprouted wing-like structures from the top of the first segment of the thorax.”  But they didn’t flap: “Some of these wildly divergent extrusions resemble thorns, others look like antlers, and still others like aggressive ants or animal droppings, creating one of Nature’s most exotic menageries.”  It wasn’t clear if the capitalized Nature referred to the outdoors or the journal Nature, where the study made the cover story.1 
          What does this mean for evolutionary theory?  “Evolution is usually described as linear, but these modified wings suggested the process had come full circle.”  Turning evolution into a personified inventor, French biologist Benjamin Prud'homme said, “This extra pair of wings was not needed for flight, but nor did it prevent it.  So it became raw material for evolution to play with.”  A co-author said that the study shows “how development abilities can be lost or silenced over millions of years, only to be redeployed to contribute to the evolution of a complex and beautiful appendage.”  The abstract of the Nature paper remarked, “This innovation in the insect body plan is an unprecedented situation in 250 Myr of insect evolution.”  The paper claimed this required no new genetic information: “We submit that morphological innovations can arise from the deployment of existing but silenced developmental potentials, therefore requiring not so much the evolution of new genetic material but instead the expression of these potentials.”
    4. Evolution in hiding:  Biologists who study fungi have found an embarrassing surprise: according to PhysOrg, “a hitherto unknown type of fungi which has fundamentally expanded the scientific understanding of this group of organisms.”  A British team has uncovered a whole new group of fungi which they named cryptomycota – hidden fungi.
      Dr Tom Richards, from the University of Exeter’s Biosciences department and the Natural History Museum London, said: “This study has been very surprising – not least because the original sample came from the nearby pond.  Fungi have been well studied for 150 years and it was thought we had a good understanding of the major evolutionary groups, but these findings have changed that radically.
          “Current understanding of fungal diversity turns out to be only half the story – we’ve discovered this diverse and deep evolutionary branch in fungi that has remained hidden all this time.
      Cryptomycota apparently lack a rigid cell wall.  What does this mean?  The article referred to the fungus as either an “intermediate state” or a “living fossil,” but admitted that it must be successful: “Despite lacking the tough cell wall, they seem still to be very successful in the environment because of their extensive diversity and cosmopolitan distribution.”  The discovery also points out that biologists may be oblivious to large segments of the living world: “Until recent years, researchers investigating microbial diversity have sampled by growing microbes in lab cultures, but now it seems that the vast majority of life forms are never captured using these methods – meaning most of the evolutionary complexity of life remains unsampled.
    5. Evolution by loss:  A lizard in Cambodia has no legs or eyes.  The BBC News has a picture of what looks like an earthworm, but is a “legless lizard” that has also lost its eyes.  Uncommon Descent teased about “Evolution as loss of function.”
    6. Unnatural selection:  What would you call “unnatural selection”?  Would it be synonymous with intelligent design?  Not according to Michael Le Page at New Scientist, who has been writing a series about how humans are harming the environment with their pesticides, hunting, climate change, pollution, diseases, and shuffling of invasive species.  He left begging the question of whether humans were naturally selected to do this.

    1.  Prud'homme et al, “Body plan innovation in treehoppers through the evolution of an extra wing-like appendage,” Nature Volume: 473 (05 May 2011), pp. 83–86, doi:10.1038/nature09977.
    By making evolution mean anything, they make it mean everything – and therefore nothing.  By creating an illusion of progress, evolutionists have created the perfect conspiracy: a way to snow the public under the banner of science, using the Stuff Happens Law (SHL).  Philosophers may realize that “stuff happens” amounts to a failure of scientific explanation, but by calling it something more sophisticated – evolution – evolutionists can tinker with it in countless ways.  Being inherently flexible, the Stuff Happens Law lends itself to endless corollaries that can be couched in Darwinian jargon.
  • Strange stuff happens (evolutionary reversal)
  • Stuff happens at any speed (evolutionary stasis or radiation)
  • Stuff happens by surprise (evolutionary innovation)
  • Stuff re-happens (circular evolution)
  • Stuff survives happenstance (living fossils)
  • Stuff makes other stuff happen (humans affecting biology by “unnatural selection”)
    As long as creative minds inhabit evolutionary biology labs, the future looks bright for endless twists on Darwin’s tale.  Whether this amounts to science is an entirely different question.
    Next headline on:  GeneticsPlantsTerrestrial ZoologyPolitics and EthicsDarwin and EvolutionFossilsDumb Ideas
  •   Ben Stein's expose of Darwinian intolerance in Expelled three years ago did not make the Darwinists repent.  It made them even more intolerant.  In the 05/12/2008 entry, read accounts of subsequent acts of Darwinist bigotry, and a commentary on why the very institutions founded to protect rights often end up doing the exact opposite.

    Who’s Playing Your Gene Piano?     05/12/2011      
    May 12, 2011 — Is your genetic code a library or a musical instrument?  Scientists have long considered it to be like the former, a genetic code.  Now, however, a new metaphor is emerging: a piano.  Discoveries in epigenetics (beyond-the-gene), processes that determine which genes are played or silenced, are tending toward the new interpretation.
        In Medical Xpress, a headline reads, “Study gives clue as to how notes are played on the genetic piano.”  It features the work of Dr. Kohzoh Mitsuya [U of Texas Health Science Center] who studies genes as if watching a performance: epigenetics “corresponds to a pianist playing a piece of music,” he said.  “Like keys on a piano, DNA is the static blueprint for all the proteins that cells produce,” the article described.  “Epigenetic information provides additional dynamic or flexible instructions as to how, where and when the blueprint will be used.
        His work has only identified one note on the piano so far: DNA methylation, a process that silences genes by having an RNA attach a methyl group to them.  After watching the response of mice deficient in the RNA, he said, “It shows how one note is played on the piano.”  Perhaps, though, the piano is just one instrument of a larger work.  “The symphony has only just come into view,” Dr. Mitsuya said.  “We can hear it, but we need to learn how all the parts are being played.”  His team’s work, published in Science today,1 did not mention pianos or music, but did not discuss evolution, either.


    1.  Watanabe, Tomizami, Mitsuya et al, “Role for piRNAs and Noncoding RNA in de Novo DNA Methylation of the Imprinted Mouse Rasgrf1 Locus,” Science, 13 May 2011: Vol. 332 no. 6031 pp. 848-852, DOI: 10.1126/science.1203919.
    OK, who’s the pianist?  Who’s the conductor?  Metaphors can be misleading, and should not be pushed too far, but this one causes trouble for Darwin while it fits neatly into intelligent design.  The environment cannot be the musician; it is oblivious to the needs of the organism.  Heredity cannot be the musician; it has no foresight to read or comprehend a collection of processes organized into a work.
        Function (the requirement of an organism to survive and reproduce) is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the origin of the information required to produce function.  Darwinists: don’t give us that line, “If it hadn’t evolved, it wouldn’t be there.”  Science is supposed to seek efficient causes, not just-so stories or appeals to chance based on circular reasoning.  The alternative explanation, intelligent design, is the only explanation with a known cause sufficient to produce functional information: intelligence.
        The article referred to a NOVA special that called epigenetics “The ghost in your genes.”  Just when neuroscience thought they had exercised the ghost in the machine of the brain, another shows up in the genetic code.  Ghosts have a way of coming back to haunt the overconfident.
    Next headline on:  Genetics and DNAIntelligent Design
    Science Out of Touch     05/11/2011      
    May 11, 2011 — When science became a profession instead of an avocation, there were some unintended consequences.  Scientists began to lose touch with the public.  When a scientist goes to work doing science for a living, he or she sometimes takes public support for granted, thinking the work is justified for its own sake.  Recent articles, however, warn scientists and scientific institutions to re-think their presumed authority.  They need to start acting more accountable to the public who expects a return on investment.
        Part of the need for scientists to re-evaluate their status comes from mistakes and surprises.  Society looks to scientists to understand the world, but often, they are caught off guard or backtracking on previously well-established theories.  In today’s news, for instance, the BBC said that astronomers are “mystified” by high-energy gamma rays seen coming from the Crab Nebula.  Space.com says this burst “defies explanation.”  Many of the findings from the Cassini Mission to Saturn, like the Enceladus geysers and the lack of an ethane ocean on Titan, contradicted predictions and still have no explanation.  PhysOrg reported that the discovery of hot Jupiters (gas giants orbiting near other stars) orbiting backwards “so obviously violates our most basic picture of planet and star formation.
        Another embarrassment comes when the public comes to believe, or scientists admit, that their projects were not worth doing in the first place.  For instance, the political push for biofuels is well known, but PhysOrg reported on a study that shows that conventional fossil fuels are sometimes greener than biofuels, when their entire carbon footprint is measured.  Remember the promises of artificial intelligence (AI)?   PhysOrg reminded readers that back in the 1950s and 60s, “hopes were high that tools emerging from the new science of computation would soon unravel the mysteries of human thought.”  Since then, AI research has had to dramatically reduce its aspirations; “As the computational complexity of even the most common human cognitive tasks became clear, however, researchers trimmed their sails,” the article admitted, quoting one researcher who couldn’t imagine building a robot able to reach into its pocket for its keys.  Embryonic stem cell research has yet to produce one actual treatment despite soaring promises, and the Human Genome Project, while generating a great deal of knowledge, similarly failed to simplify our understanding of human diseases.  Last week, Science News reported that “Evolutionary literary criticism” (see 01/27/2006) has flopped, remaining unpopular in the university.
        To be sure, any investigation of the unknown is going to have problems and setbacks.  But when the public pays for it, or when parents pay big bucks to have their children sit under science professors, they have reason to expect some return on investment.  This was emphasized in a Nature editorial this week,1 “Value judgements.”  Members of the public are stake-holders in science, the editors admitted; their values cannot be ignored.  Scientists cannot just assume that the old canard of “knowledge for its own sake” will sell.  A recent symposium published by the journal Minerva raised awareness of this:
    Policy-makers, funders and scientists should take note.  For example, a paper by Ryan Meyer, also a policy scientist at Arizona State University, focuses on the failure of the US government’s Global Change Research Program to deliver broad public value (Minerva 49, 47–70; 2011).  Basing his studies on public statements and private interviews with researchers and political decision-makers, Meyer says that US climate programmes have in the past two decades benefited from public investment of more than US$30 billion, but have largely failed to produce information and participation in the forms that policy-makers and the public wanted.  The notion that society considers any advance in knowledge to be inherently good – even if the science fails to meet the objectives and priorities it was meant to address – cannot be sustained, says Meyer.
    The editorial reflected on post-normal science: “Science becomes ‘post-normal’ when facts are uncertain, stakes high, values in dispute and decisions urgent; in such cases, societal needs must be taken into account to avoid costly mistakes.”  The controversies about climate science come to mind.  The editors pointed to climate science as an example; “But, according to the workshop participants, most climate researchers continue to act as if purely scientific values are, and will always be, adequate to set the agenda.”  The editors of Nature agree with the scientific consensus on climate science, but realize that scientists have lost the public trust on the matter.  This pointed up another unintended consequence of the professionalism of science: scientists became a special-interest group, seeking their own priorities instead of those of society:
    More importantly, these studies highlight a significant deficit in current typical appraisals of science and technology outcomes.  They should serve as cautionary tales about the danger of scientists’ interests, deliberately or otherwise, becoming too dominant in determining outcomes.  And they introduce ways to assess failures in social returns on investment that, one can only hope, will help to improve science’s public value.
    How did science become professionalized in the first place?  The Scientist presented an essay by historian of science by Laura J. Snyder.  “In the 19th century, four friends changed the way scientists viewed themselves,” the subtitle of her essay begins.  She believes, “It’s time for another shake-up.”  Those four friends, featured in her new book The Philosophical Breakfast Club (Broadway Books, 2011), were William Whewell (who coined the term scientist), Charles Babbage, John Herschel, and Richard Jones.  “Each of the four men was brilliant, self-assured, and possessed of the optimism of the age,” Snyder said.  It was these four, who met for “Philosophical Breakfasts” to discuss the status of science, who were most influential in transforming science “from the province of the amateur—the clergyman collecting fossils or beetles in his spare hours, or the wealthy gentleman conducting electrical experiments at his country estate—to the career of the professional: trained at the university, published in specialized journals, and admitted to associations open only to fellow professionals.”  Darwin, for instance, rode the wave that elevated the scientist to the revered professional.  But then Snyder pointed out that the achievement of these four philosophers led to a serious problem plaguing science in our day:
    One of the unintended consequences of the revolution wrought by the Philosophical Breakfast Club has been that the professional scientist is now less interested in, and perhaps less capable of, connecting with the broader public, sharing the new discoveries and theories that most excite the scientific community.  Although there are some notable exceptions, today’s researcher has been less adept than the Victorian-era natural philosopher at engaging the public—and this estranged the general public from science.  In part this is because the scientific establishment discourages its members from writing popular books and articles, considering these projects unserious, even frivolous, diversions from the real work of research.  But this attitude has to change in order to mend the ever-deepening rift between science and the rest of modern culture.  Today’s scientist should strive to be more like the 19th-century natural philosopher—ironically, more like those very men who created the modern scientist.

    1.  Editorial, “Value judgements,” Nature 473 (12 May 2011), pp. 123–124, doi:10.1038/473123b.
    The points are well taken, but Snyder and the editors of Nature ignore a couple of realities: one, that many members of the public are just as informed, intelligent, and worthy of being heard as professional scientists, and two, that not all sciences are epistemically equal.  Much in biochemistry is testable and repeatable, for instance, but theories of the origin of the universe or the evolution of life are not.  A third oversight is that information flows one way: from scientist to public.  There needs to be a two-way dialogue.
        The label scientist is an honored badge that attracts many who do not deserve to wear it.  We would include evolutionists as among the worst who take on the label but provide no return on investment to society – in fact, who do much to misuse and harm society while bragging about their status as scientists.  A PhD confers no more authority on a scientist than a real estate license does on a realtor; it depends on what the individual person does with the skills and learning they acquired.
        The legacy of the Philosophical Breakfast Club is interesting history; clearly, however, much has happened since then.  It would be unrealistic, if not ridiculous, to expect science today to go back to being a part-time hobby of clergymen and wealthy gentlemen, not just because many scientists these days are female.  The complexity of science has grown enormously since the days of Babbage, Herschel and Whewell (Scientist of the Month for Nov 2010).  It takes money and large teams to do spacecraft, giant telescopes and genomics.  We’re stuck with big science and professionalism.
        There’s something to be said though, for more private involvement in science.  Consider the benefactor-funded origin of the Palomar Observatory, and today’s private-enterprise space projects.  Look, too, at the good work being done by citizen scientists (PhysOrg).  If the root meaning of science is knowledge, any human has the freedom and obligation to increase it.  Better a field amateur with years of observations than an armchair professor pontificating from his PhD microphone.
        Even if the professionalization of science has had unintended consequences, those consequences are not insurmountable.  Increased scrutiny, accountability, and humility by scientists are worthy steps.  We mean no insult to the many honorable scientists using their position for good, doing honest work each day, and providing society with a good return on investment.  Professional scientists need to realize, though, they must earn their wings each day.  Not everything they do is scientific, and not everything a non-scientist does is unscientific.  A scientist speaking outside his or her area of knowledge can have opinions no better than those of anyone else.
        One of the best correctives would be to have the media get out of the lap of scientific institutions and turn their critical-thinking scopes on science with the aid of philosophers, ethicists and taxpayer-watchdog groups.  It’s time to doubt the presumptive authority of science and call scientists to reveal their assumptions, justify their methods, face their critics honestly, and serve society rather than preach to it.
    Next headline on:  StarsSolar SystemPolitics and EthicsPhilosophy of ScienceMedia
    Saturn’s Titan Is Changing     05/10/2011      
    May 10, 2011 — The giant smog-shrouded moon of Saturn, Titan, is changing – both in situ and in the minds of planetary scientists.  Several news stories show not only dynamic processes in play, but revolutions in what scientists think about the moon and its history.  Readers will need to determine which ideas are solidly based on observational evidence.
    1. Punching bag:  Where did Titan get its thick nitrogen atmosphere, unique to the bodies of the outer solar system?  Yasuhito Sekine, a planetary scientist at the University of Tokyo, believes the nitrogen came special delivery, in the form of comets, during a theoretical period called the Late Heavy Bombardment.
          Space.com and New Scientist parroted Sekine’s ideas without stopping to ask why the comets left their gas at Titan and not the other moons.  Space.com did ask, however, where the impact craters went.  Perhaps they were covered up somehow.  The article quoted one other planetary scientist who called Sekine’s idea “an interesting hypothesis.”
    2. Falling sky:  A Cassini press release from Jet Propulsion Laboratory says that Titan’s atmospheric haze is dropping as the sun moves northward, changing Titan’s seasons from equinox to solstice.  In just a few months, the news feature said, the upper haze layer dipped from 310 miles to 240 miles.  Chicken Little was not interviewed for reaction, although the caption said he was “notified”.
    3. Unobservable oceanSpace.com says that “all signs point to hidden ocean” under Titan’s surface.  “Certain details of Titan’s orbit and rotation aren’t compatible with the behavior of a celestial body that is completely solid all the way through,” the short article stated.  “But these details make a lot of sense if the huge moon is assumed to have a subsurface ocean, likely of liquid water, researchers said.”
          If true, the ocean (estimated 100 miles or more beneath the icy crust) is composed mainly of water – not of hydrocarbons necessary to replenish Titan’s atmospheric methane.  The article did not address the problem of keeping volatile, short-lived methane around for billions of years.
          The article threw in the L-word, saying that Titan “is considered one of the leading candidates to host life beyond Earth.”  Rose-Marie Balland [Royal University of Belgium], whose team is proposing the ocean model, was not shy about leaping beyond scientific knowledge: “Astrobiologists do not really know yet what are the necessary conditions for life to emerge,” she said, “but it seems that the presence of water is a requirement.
    4. Familiar shoresSpace.com posted a video animation, based on actual radar data, of a flyover of Titan’s large southern lake, Ontario Lacus (warning: loud Kinect ad precedes and follows the video).  Steve Wall explains the bays, beaches and bathtub rings of the lake, thought to be filled with liquid ethane and methane, surrounded by water ice mountains.
    5. Separated at birthLive Science floated the idea that Titan has look-alikes.  “Some Alien Planets May Be Like Saturn’s Moon Titan,” Charles Q. Choi speculated after hearing astrobiologist Chris McKay speculate about planets around red dwarfs, and even “rogue planets” careening through space in the dark without a star to warm them.  Maybe they should understand a Titan they can see before speculating about unseen brethren.
    Last month the BBC News recounted the success of the Huygens Probe, the first spacecraft to land on Titan.  Now, it’s about TiME to return to Titan to explore its lakes: the Titan Mare Explorer (TiME) is one of several proposed missions after Cassini to return to Titan’s maria and investigate them at sea level.
        PhysOrg and New Scientist reported on the proposal from Johns Hopkins to land a floating craft in one of the lakes.  As it drifts with the breeze, it could “measure the lake’s depth with sonar and taste the brew of chemicals it contains” looking for signs of life.  A decision about which proposed planetary missions gets funding should be made in 2012.
        Live Science posted a video tour of Cassini highlights at Saturn, its rings and moons – but did not discuss Titan (warning: loud Kinect ad again).
    Titan is surely one of the most intriguing bodies in the solar system.  It’s even more intriguing because of the intrigue among scientists it generates, who need a league to avoid fatigue from trying to keep this young moon going for billions of years (04/09/2011, 02/19/2011, 10/07/2010).
    Next headline on:  Solar SystemGeologyDating Methods
      Four years ago, an important archaeological discovery was made: the tomb of Herod the Great was found.  Reread the news from the 05/08/2007 entry.

    How to Fill In Missing Fossils: Imagine Them     05/09/2011      
    May 09, 2011 — Evolutionists have long known of systematic gaps in the fossil record.  This has been a frequent criticism lodged by Darwin skeptics against the evolutionary notion of a gradually unfolding tree of life.  Now, however, it appears that evolutionists have revived use of a tool in their arsenal for combating the critics: imagination.  Missing transitions in the record?  No problem.  Fill them in with “evolutionary thinking.”
        This tactic was illustrated in a cheerful article about Dr Marcello Ruta of the University of Bristol, posted on Science Daily, describing his research into the Permian extinction – an evolutionary scenario that supposedly wiped out the majority of life forms on earth 250 million years ago.
        In particular, parareptiles,1 “a diverse group of bizarre-looking terrestrial vertebrates which varied in shape and size,” had been thought to have been hit hard by the extinction event, whatever it was; but the Bristol team is now claiming that, to the contrary, “parareptiles were not hit much harder by the end-Permian extinction than at any other point in their 90 million-year history.”  They lived merrily on for another 50 million years, declining and diversifying repeatedly during their long tenure on earth.
        At first glance, the article seems to score wins for Darwinism: the team at Bristol has made strides connecting the dots and filling in the gaps.  After all, they were “studying the fossil record,” the article alleged.  A closer look at their gap-filling material, however, shows it lacks empirical substance:

  • However, as the quality and completeness of the fossil record varies considerably, both geographically and stratigraphically, palaeontologists need to find a way to ‘join the dots’ and piece together the fragments of a complex mosaic to give a more satisfactory and better picture of ancient life’s diversity.
  • The team led by Dr Marcello Ruta of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences ... used the evolutionary relationships among known parareptiles to produce a corrected estimate of changing diversity through time.
  • Dr Marcello Ruta said: “Evolutionary relationships can be superimposed on a time scale, allowing you to infer missing portions of past diversity.  They are powerful tools that complement and refine the known record of extinct diversity.  If you visualize evolutionary relationships in the form of branching diagrams and then plot them on a time scale, new patterns begin to emerge, with gaps in the fossil record suddenly filling rapidly.
  • One of the team members elaborated on the success of visualization and imagination as gap-filling strategies.  “It is as if ghosts from the past appear all of a sudden and join their relatives in a big family tree – you have a bigger tree,” he said.  “This way, you can start analysing observed and extrapolated abundance of species through time, and you can quantify novel origination and extinction events that would otherwise go unnoticed if you were to look at known finds only.”
        How big a part do the known finds play in this game?  Apparently, not that much.  Another co-author of the paper emphasized the role of “evolutionary thinking” as a substitute for real bones: “Classic text-book views of waxing and waning of groups through deep time will certainly benefit, where possible, from the use of evolutionary thinking.”
        A peer from the University of Washington seemed delighted with this first-ever detailed study of parareptile relationships, because “we still know very little about their biology.”  The study was published in the journal Palaeontology.2  The abstract states that they provided “Phylogeny-corrected measures of diversity” and examined “ghost lineages” – i.e., lineages that should be there if evolution were true, but left no fossils.  Paul Nelson at the Discovery Institute described ghost lineages in a pair of articles for Evolution News in January 19 and February 4, 2011.
    1.  The Wikipedia article on parareptilia states, “Whether the term is valid depends on the phylogenetic position of turtles, the relationships of which to other reptilian groups are still uncertain.
    2.  Ruta, Cisneros et al, “Amniotes through major biological crises: faunal turnover among parareptiles and the end-Permian mass extinction,” Palaeontology, first published online: 27 APR 2011, DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4983.2011.01051.x.
    It appears that the fossil evidence of parareptiles, if that taxon even exists, is a scattergram that does not support any kind of evolutionary story.  According to the abstract, “Available data are not consistent with a model of sudden decline at the end-Permian but rather suggest a rapid alternation of originations and extinctions in a number of parareptile groups, both before and after the Permian/Triassic boundary.”
        One might think this anomaly amounts to a falsification of the Permian extinction idea itself, and would present a serious challenge to the idea of evolutionary progress.  But if one thought that way, one would underestimate the creativity of the Darwinian imagination.  No amount of data ever falsifies Darwinism, because imagination is always on hand to insert flexible caulking to keep the HMS Charlie afloat (see four examples from last year, 05/27/2010).  That’s why it is unsinkable.  You can’t sink an imaginary ship on an imaginary ocean hitting obstacles, real or imaginary, when magic caulk is available in infinite supply.  Read Paul Nelson’s articles and the tactic will become clear.
        To those who still think Darwinism is a scientific theory forced upon scientists by tons of evidence from the real world, look at what the team did.  It’s a classic case of circular reasoning.  They assumed evolutionary relationships between these complex animals, then superimposed their assumptions on an evolutionary timeline, “visualizing evolutionary relationships” and filling in all the gaps with “ghost lineages” that left no trace.
        This is not science; this is divination – peeping and muttering with a few bones to invoke the Spirit of Charlie, so that the peasants continue to worship and make sacrifices at the shrine of the great liberator with his magic tree, who freed the scientists from observational rigor and gave them an easy life of storytelling (12/22/2003 commentary).  Note: evolutionary thinking is an oxymoron. 
    Next headline on:  FossilsDinosaurs and Extinct ReptilesDarwin and EvolutionDumb Ideas
    Hummingbird Tongue More Clever Than Thought     05/08/2011      
    May 08, 2011 — Humans sip their nectar by tipping a glass and slurping, but how can a hummingbird pull liquid out of flowers with a tongue alone?  Up until now, scientists thought that hummingbird tongues acted like capillary tubes.  New research with high-speed cameras show that the action is much more clever – so clever it might lead to advances in human machinery.
        PhysOrg posted a summary of a paper on PNAS,1 where scientists from the University of Connecticut decided to check out how hummingbirds do it.  Using high-speed cameras on 30 hummingbirds from 10 species, Rico-Guevara and Rubega discovered that the hummingbird tongue acts as a fluid trap, not a capillary tube. 
        The tongue splits into two parts, lined with hair-like extensions called lamellae.  As the bird pulls the tongue out from the nectar, the two parts come together automatically and trap the nectar, pulling the food into the mouth.  The PhysOrg article includes four video clips showing the action in slow motion.
        The researchers further discovered that the same action occurs when the tongue of dead birds is pulled through simulated nectar, showing it is an automatic action, “therefore highly efficient because no energy expenditure by the bird is required to drive the opening and closing of the trap.”  According to the article, hummingbirds flick their tongues in and out of the nectar as fast as 20 times per second.
        The abstract from the paper ended with a tantalizing hint of where this research can lead: “We propose a conceptual mechanical explanation for this unique fluid-trapping capacity, with far-reaching practical applications (e.g., biomimetics).”
        Bird lovers will want to watch the entertaining performance on Science Nation of Griffin, an African gray parrot, posted on Live Science.  Is this bird really smart enough to understand shapes and colors, or is it responding to subconscious cues from its trainers?  Whether or not you believe Irene Pepperberg’s claim that they controlled for such cues, everyone will agree that “bird brains” are “smarter than you think.”
        David Catchpoole at Creation.com wrote about the brilliant colors of parrots and commented in a sidebar about Dr. Pepperberg’s work on parrot intelligence.  Meanwhile, PhysOrg wrote about how physicists at Yale University have found a way to improve lasers by imitating the techniques birds use to flash bright colors.
    1.  Rico-Guevara and Rubega, “The hummingbird tongue is a fluid trap, not a capillary tube,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print May 2, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1016944108.
    Hummingbirds and parrots are not only beautiful, they are well designed and intelligent.  We hope this Amazing Facts entry will grant you even more appreciation as you watch the hummingbird feeder.  If you don’t have one, go get one; the performances will delight and astonish the family.  For a good film sequence about the design of hummingbirds, get the beautiful film God of Wonders at RPI, where you can buy copies in bulk to share with friends and acquaintances.
    Next headline on:  BirdsPhysicsBiomimeticsAmazing Facts
    Venom for Health     05/07/2011      
    May 07, 2011 — Remember when botulinum toxin, one of the most potent poisons known to man, entered medical science for good?  Now fashion models brag about how “botox” improved their good looks, and sufferers of excess sweating or migraines find relief with the neurotoxin.  The search for good in bad substances has not stopped; other venomous organisms, once a scourge of mankind, are being investigated as agents of health for our bodies and our crops.
    1. Nature’s pharmacyLive Science listed the following plants and animals as potential sources of medicine: venomous cone snails, cave creatures, sap from the guggel tree, a weed from the Nile, and various extracts from sea squirts.  “Nature is a prolific source of new medicines,” the article said.  “In fact, natural products have led to more than half of the new drugs introduced during the past 25 years.”
          A passing reference to evolution said, “Over millions of years, organisms have evolved protective chemicals that interact with specific proteins in their enemies,” but did not elaborate on how that could have happened or how the organisms survived without them in the meantime.  “Where nature is hiding the next medical treasure is anyone’s guess.”
    2. Snail drug store:  Back in February, PhysOrg mentioned work at the University of Utah to isolate prialt, a venom from a marine cone snail.  “Prialt is injected into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord to treat chronic, intractable pain suffered by people with cancer, AIDS, injury, failed back surgery or certain nervous system disorders.”
    3. Scorpion fertilizer:  An article on Science Daily describes work at Michigan State working to understand scorpion venom as a useful pesticide for farmers.  Apparently the venom attacks some ion channels in insects but not mammals.  If researchers can determine why, they may be able to design pesticides that selectively attack insects without hurting other animals.  They are using the Israeli desert scorpion as their model organism.
    4. Spider painkiller:  Back in March, Science Daily reported on work at UC Riverside to isolate a toxin in the American funnel web spider that appears effective in blocking the action of calcium channels.  “The toxin offers a new target for studying T-type channels, which play a role in congestive heart failure, hypertension, epilepsy and pain.”
    The Live Science article mentioned above explained why natural substances hold promise for medicine: “Because all living things share the same basic biochemistry, those chemicals can interact with the same proteins in people.” Sometimes a little poison, injected into the right place under the right conditions, can bring healing and relief.  See also 06/08/2004, 05/21/2007 bullet 4, and 12/10/2010, bullet 14.
    We humans tend to attribute morality to substances – the anthropomorphic fallacy.  Toxins and poisons seem evil.  Actually, they are just molecules, involved in checks and balances in the web of nature, whose actions under the right circumstances can be salutary for humans.  Little is gained by making up stories about how they evolved in the unobservable past.  Observational, testable lab work will determine whether the substances we naturally avoid in spiders, scorpions, snakes, snails, fungi and bacteria can be useful for improving our lives. 
    Next headline on:  Terrestrial ZoologyMarine BiologyHealthBiomimetics
      The first Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, was no atheist.  Read the 05/03/2006 entry that explodes an urban legend that, not finding God in space, he supported Soviet atheistic beliefs.

    Send in the Beavers     05/06/2011      
    May 06, 2011 — Step aside, hydraulic engineers: Brits are employing beavers to restore wetlands in an area that hasn’t seen them for three centuries.  The BBC News announced that the Devon Wildlife Trust started a three-year experiment, in hopes that “the beavers would improve water quality and reduce flood risks by clearing scrub and trees and improving watercourses.”
        Local farmers worry that the mammals could damage crops and livestock.  The wildlife engineers will keep the beavers confined and will study both negative and positive impacts of the animals on the landscape.  They hope, however, that “our experiment studying these interesting creatures over the next few years will yield valuable insights into the impacts on one of our most treasured wetland habitats.”  A short video clip of two beavers playing in the water accompanies the article.

    Sounds like a worthwhile experiment.  Returning lands to their native balance is less risky than introducing non-native species into an area – experiments that have often had harmful consequences.
        It will be interesting to see if water quality increases and flood risk is reduced.  That can help the farmers in the long run.  If the farmers think the beavers get out of control, they could consider adding fur hats or beaver steakhouses to their businesses (one 300-pounder serves 80, 01/04/2011).  Let the new trappers be more humane in their methods than the 19th-century fur traders, though; and keep the Darwinians out unless tall tales around the campfire are desired for entertainment.
        For previous articles on beaver engineering and their benefits to the ecology, see 01/04/2011, 10/11/2008,
    Next headline on:  MammalsPolitics and Ethics>2
    The Eyes Have It: Pro Software     05/05/2011        
    May 05, 2011 — You have a biological version of Photoshop in your eyes.  That’s what Richard Robinson, a freelance science writer from Massachusetts, said in PLoS Biology.1 
    The eye is not a camera, and the retina is not a piece of film.  Indeed, the retina might be better likened to a computer running Photoshop, given the extent of image processing that it performs before passing visual information along to the brain.  A central aspect of that processing is called center-surround inhibition, in which illumination stimulates the firing of a small number of retinal cells, accompanied by inhibition of surrounding cells.  This phenomenon increases spatial contrast and sharpens perception of edges.
    Robinson was discussing a new find from UC Berkeley that the retina employs both positive feedback and negative feedback systems to improve imaging, something that researchers had missed before in 50 years of study.  (See also Robinson’s article about cell zip codes last month: 04/20/2011).
        Medical Xpress has a graph showing how these two independent mechanisms work together.  “The human eye long ago solved a problem common to both digital and film cameras: how to get good contrast in an image while also capturing faint detail,” the article said, with the headline announcing that the eye does the better job.
        Speaking of vision, eyesight has been found where biologists might have least expected it – in sea urchins.  National Geographic News reported that work by European scientists publishing in PNAS2 shows that the spines transmit light to the animal, making these pincushion-critters like big eyeballs on the seafloor; “we suggest a model in which the entire sea urchin, deploying its skeleton as PRC [photoreceptor cell] screening device, functions as a huge compound eye,” the authors said.
    1.  Richard Robinson, “After 40 Years, Retina Reveals It Uses Positive Feedback, as Well as Negative,” PLoS Biology, 9(5): e1001058. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001058.
    2.  Ullrich-Luter et al, “Unique system of photoreceptors in sea urchin tube feet,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print May 2, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1018495108 PNAS May 2, 2011.
    WYSIWYG-BWYGINWOT: What you see is what you get, but what you get is not what’s out there.  This bears on old philosophical questions about perception, sensation, and correspondence.  If what we get has been Photoshopped, what would it look like before the image processing?  It would probably render life impossible, because we would not be able to make sense of the world.  The Creator has given each creature what it needs to carry on its life.  For that we should remain thankful, and amazed.
    Next headline on:  Human BodyMarine BiologyAmazing Facts
    Spiral Galaxy Upset     05/04/2011      
    May 04, 2011 — In 1964, C. C. Lin and Frank Shu looked at the galaxy’s curvaceous arms and said, “You are my density.”  The density-wave theory of spiral arm formation was married to galactic astronomy for nearly a half century.  Now, however, we are back to the future, where theories do not always fulfill their destiny.  An upstart postgrad told the Royal Astronomical Society has debunked the old theory and proposed a new one.
        The press release from the Royal Astronomical Society says, “A study of spiral patterns found in galaxies like our Milky Way could overturn the theory of how the spiral arm features form and evolve.”  Robert Grand found it “impossible to reproduce” spiral arms in simulations using the density-wave model of Lin and Shu. 
    Since 1960s, the most widely accepted explanation has been that the spiral arm features move like a Mexican wave in a crowd, passing through a population of stars that then return to their original position.  Instead, computer simulations run by Grand and his colleagues at University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) suggest that the stars actually rotate with the arms.  In addition, rather than being permanent features the arms are transient, breaking up and new arms forming over a period of about 80-100 million years.
    A statement about this new idea has already found its way into the Wikipedia entry on spiral galaxies.  Grand said of his model, “As well as helping us understand the evolution of our own galaxy, it may have applications for regions of star formation.
        Whether or not Grand’s new theory will survive a half century, the take-home lesson from the story is that a theory can be “widely accepted” by experts for decades, only to be found “impossible” later.
    The density-wave model was favored partly because it answered the galaxy wind-up problem – the conundrum that after billions of years, spiral arms would be wound up so tightly as to be undiscernible (see Jason Lisle’s explanation at Answers in Genesis under “Spiral Galaxies”).
        Grand was careful to tweak his model to make sure spiral arms are transient and can re-evolve as often as necessary.  Whether or not his computer simulations have anything to do with external reality is the question.
    Next headline on:  AstronomyCosmologyPhilosophy of Science
      With the new Illustra Media documentary about butterflies nearing its release next month, revisit the 05/09/2005 entry about the Canadian team that built a flight simulator for Monarch butterflies and what they discovered.

    Colorado Plateau Uplift: Solved?     05/03/2011        
    May 03, 2011 — In Nature, a team of geologists from four universities has proposed a new model for how the Colorado Plateau rose up over a mile from its surroundings.1  Based on seismic data, they propose a “mantle drip” mechanism by which parts of the lower crust dropped into the mantle, replaced by upwelling magma that condensed and floated, like an inner tube under a table in a swimming pool would cause it to rise.
        The Colorado Plateau, covering a 300-mile-wide area in Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico, is well known for its dramatic landscapes, including the Grand Canyon.  Its origin, however, has been mysterious (06/27/2010, “Colorado Plateau Stumps Geologists”).  The authors wrote in their abstract, “The origin of these high elevations is unclear because unlike the surrounding provinces, which have undergone significant Cretaceous–Palaeogene compressional deformation followed by Neogene extensional deformation, the Colorado plateau is largely internally undeformed.”  It’s as if this 130,000-square-mile province floated up more than a mile without cracking (06/24/2009).  Anyone visiting Grand Canyon has probably been struck by the fact that the strata are flat as pancakes for hundreds of miles.  And geologists believe this plateau rose and sank multiple times.
        In brief, the model proposed by the team led by Anthony Levander [Rice University] concerns movements under the crust that can only be deduced indirectly, from echoes of earthquake waves that change velocity as they encounter crust, mantle, and asthenosphere (lower mantle) regions.  Upwelling of mantle material from the asthenosphere would “destabilize continental lithosphere and drive uplift,” they said.  The team went far beyond observations of current data, though, to propose multiple “mantle drip” episodes under the Colorado Plateau over 70 million years.  Then they suggested that the current one, which had the most effect on the origin of the Grand Canyon, began 6 million years ago – reinforcing younger ages for the famous gorge.
        Live Science swallowed the model wholesale without criticism, announcing, “Mystery of Grand Canyon’s Formation Revealed.”  In smaller print, it backtracked slightly, saying, “The birth of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado Plateau through which it carved have been a geological mystery.  Now a giant anomalous structure discovered on the underside of the plateau could shed light on how it was formed.”
        As for Levander et al, “The timing of both Colorado plateau uplift and formation of the Grand Canyon remain unresolved,” the first line of their paper admitted.  Their proposal that mantle drip and asthenosphere uplift “delaminates” the lower crust episodically, lifting the Colorado Plateau upward, can only be inferred indirectly, and only for the most recent episode (if there was more than one).  “We propose that a series of such events have been removing the lithosphere from the Colorado plateau peripheries since the Farallon slab was removed 20-30 Myr ago, and that we have imaged only the most recent of these,” they ended.  “These events are responsible for the uneven, outside-in magmatic invasion of the plateau, as well as uplift of its edges and interior.”
        For more on mysteries of the Colorado Plateau, see 06/27/2010, 06/24/2009.  For more on the age of Grand Canyon, see 09/16/2005, 11/30/2007, 03/05/2008.


    1.  Levander et al, “Continuing Colorado plateau uplift by delamination-style convective lithospheric downwelling,” Nature 472 (28 April 2011), pp. 461–465, doi:10.1038/nature10001.
    Where are the philosophers of science?  They are meekly talking amongst themselves in other parts of the campus, afraid to challenge the priesthood in the science department whom our culture has granted epistemic privilege to declare the way the world is.  The timid philosophers are ignored by the science storytellers who run rampant in the journals, announcing their myths as truth to the gullible science media who are only too happy to declare to the peasants what the priesthood has “discovered.”
        What are the observations here?  Some seismic records in the present.  Did these geologists see 70 million years, or even six?  Of course not.  They can see current landforms, magma outcrops, fault lines, locations of minerals and oil, mountain elevations and other present-day phenomena, and with seismic data can create maps of underground provinces where the echoes speed up or slow down (which they did).  That’s about it.
        The rest is inference.  The word observation occurs only one time in the whole paper: “Petrologic and geochemical observations indicate that late Cretaceous–Palaeogene (~90–40?Myr ago) low-angle subduction hydrated and probably weakened much of the Proterozoic tectospheric mantle beneath the Colorado plateau.”  No, it doesn’t indicate any such thing; what they mean is that the empirical observations appear to “fit” with a model or scenario that they find plausible, within the paradigm of long ages and plate tectonics (07/09/2004).  Time is orthogonal to their data; there is no time evidence except in their heads.
        Making inferences is fine if they can be tested, but who other than God could possibly know what actually happened and when?  In contrast to the paltry references to observation, the word “suggests” and its derivatives occur 20 times, as in “The pattern suggests to us....” followed by the word three more times in the next two sentences.  the word empirical is entirely absent; evidence appears four times, but only in references to how it “suggests” parts of the story they wish to tell.
        Science was supposed to do more than provide suggestions.  It was supposed to rely supremely on empirical observations.  It has degenerated into a form of divination.  The earthquake echoes say nothing about millions of years; the geologists used the echoes like tea leaves or crystal balls to prophesy.  The prophecies are required to fit the monolithic paradigms of the Science Temple, where observations are mere props for scenarios that “suggest” unobservable events.  These suggestions become plots for stories, handed off to the science reporters who, like court jesters, entertain the public with presumed wisdom from the sages.  Choose your sages wisely, then you may become sagacious yourself.
    Next headline on:  GeologyDating MethodsPhilosophy of Science
    Evolution Bends to Fit the Evidence     05/02/2011      
    May 02, 2011 — A good scientific theory should predict what is observed.  When the theory is confronted with unexpected evidence, should the theory be jettisoned or modified?  Darwin predicted slow, gradual change over long periods of time.  Let’s see what evolutionists do with surprises (cf. 01/23/2009).
    1. Explosive evolution:  Evolution has been anything but gradual in the case of pupfish.  A press release from UC Davis says that 50 species of pupfish from Massachusetts to Venezuela “are all pretty much the same” in the way they look and act and eat.  “If the evolution of all pupfish is like a steadily expanding cloud, [Chris] Martin found that the San Salvador Island and Yucatan pupfish are like bursts of fireworks within it.  They show explosive rates of evolution – changing up to 130 times faster than other pupfish,” the article claimed.
    2. Emerging from the ooze:  George Poinar at Oregon State is trying to put together the evolution of nematodes (roundworms), which he thinks originated a billion years ago as one of the earliest forms of multicellular life.  Here is his explanation for their origin: “They literally emerged from the primordial ooze.
          In the next paragraph, though, the article listed all the parts that would have had to emerge: “But they are functional animals, with nervous and digestive systems, muscles, good mobility, and they are capable of rapid reproduction and learned behavior” (see 06/25/2005 on how Caltech scientists are trying to reverse-engineer a roundworm’s developmental program).
          Even though Poinar just wrote a book on nematode evolution, “There’s still a huge amount we don’t know about nematodes,” he admitted – like maybe how something this complex could literally emerge from ooze.
    3. Evolution by subtraction:  Clearly, a huge amount of new genetic information would have had to accompany the growth of Darwin’s tree of life from root to branch tips.  It would also be expected that closely related species would have closely related genomes.  That’s apparently not the case with the lab plant Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress) and the lyre-leaved rock cress.
          A press release from Max Planck Institute began, “It would appear reasonable to assume that two closely related plant species would have similar genetic blueprints.”  But the lyre-leaved rock cress has a genome fifty percent bigger than the other; “Moreover, these changes arose over a very short period in evolutionary terms.”
          It’s not like the lyre-leaved cress has gained new genetic information; on the contrary, “considerable elements have been lost from some parts of the thale cress genome.”  To further exasperate Darwin, the article said, “A smaller genome appears to offer advantages during the natural selection of individuals.”  One of the researchers is asserting, “We consider the thale cress with its more streamlined genome as the form derived through evolution.”  Too bad the American species didn’t obey Darwin’s law of subtraction (03/10/2011).
    4. Pigs, birds, and cleanliness:  Birds evolved to wash themselves.  Pigs evolved to lie in the mud.  Can opposite outcomes be ascribed to a scientific law?  Victoria Gill at the BBC News had no problem with this, announcing cheerfully and confidently alongside of a contented pig lying in slop, “Pigs have ‘evolved to love mud’”.
          She quoted Mark Bracke [Wageningen University] speculating, “Liking shallow water could have been a point in the evolution of whales from land-dwelling mammals.”  After all, he said to his eager reporter, “We all evolved from fish, so it could be that this motivation to be in water could be something that was preserved in animals that are able to do so.”
          Bracke’s apparently Lamarckian explanation does not explain why pigs didn’t evolve onward to follow the whales.  Gill did think it adequate to call this statement by Bracke an explanation: “He explained, ‘It seems to me that this preference to be in shallow water could have been a turning point in the evolution of whales from land-dwelling mammals.’”
          None of the other science news sites laughed at this.  They jumped on the bandwagon and joined in the chorus: Live Science told its readers “Why Pigs Love Mud” using Bracke’s speculation as if it were a scientific explanation.
          PhysOrg followed suit, swallowing Bracke’s notion that “pigs and other wallowing animals did not evolve functional sweat glands because wallowing was a part of their lifestyle,” never stopping to ask if lifestyle is a cause or effect of evolution.  Some children like to wallow in mud but they still have sweat glands; others like to take showers but sprinklers have not emerged on their heads.
    5. Imaginary evolution:  It might seem unfair to propose a theory that cannot be tested or falsified.  That did not stop Jack O’Malley-James of the University of St Andrews from proposing that plants inhabiting planets orbiting two-star systems might have black leaves and flowers (see PhysOrg).
          “Depending on the colours of their star-light, plants would evolve very differently,” he told a meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society last month.  Space.com was gleeful about this imaginary scenario, but did admit in the end, “Of course, this is all speculation, because scientists have yet to find conclusive evidence of any life forms beyond Earth.
    6. Nutcracker sweetgrass:  For decades, Paranthropus boisei has been nicknamed “Nutcracker Man” based on its teeth (whether or not it was a man or ape is another question; CMI).  No longer; we’re hearing today from Live Science, Science Daily, PhysOrg and the other secular science news sites that this creature probably ate grass like cows or pigs – “a discovery that upsets conventional wisdom about early humanity’s diet.”  Maybe its new nickname will be Cow Boy.
    Surprises like this are common in articles on evolution (04/12/2011, 03/25/2011, 02/18/2011, 01/31/2011).  Yet educational sites like Evolution of Life, using cartoon graphics, continue to portray the standard gradualistic Darwinian story as if scientists know what they are talking about.
    Let’s listen in on the Darwin Cacophony Orchestra’s performance of Psychovsky’s Nutcracker-Man Suite, consisting of the following movements: If this sound and fury is not your cup of tea, try listening in on The Creation across town.  Word has it a number of leading scientists have given it high marks (source).
    Next headline on:  Marine BiologyTerrestrial ZoologyPlantsMammalsEarly ManDarwin and EvolutionEducationDumb Ideas
    Original Soft Tissue Found in Mosasaur Fossil     05/02/2011        
    May 02, 2011 — Original collagen has been found in a mosasaur fossil.  Mosasaurs are marine reptiles that lived in the age of dinosaurs.  This one, found in chalk layers in Belgium, is alleged to be 70 million years old.
        The press release on PhysOrg said, “the discovery demonstrates that the preservation of primary soft tissues and endogenous biomolecules is not limited to large-sized bones buried in fluvial sandstone environments, but also occurs in relatively small-sized skeletal elements deposited in marine sediments.
        The paper announcing the discovery of “Cretaceous bone proteins” is in PLoS One.1  For more on mosasaurs, see 08/13/2010 and 11/16/2005.
    The fossil record is capable of exceptional preservation and occasionally labile and decay-prone tissues, such as skin and melanosomes (color-bearing organelles), are preserved as phosphatized remains or organic residues with a high degree of morphological fidelity.  Yet, whether multimillion-year-old fossils harbor original organic components remains controversial, and, if they do, a positive identification of these biomolecules is required.
    Using infrared spectroscopy in connection with OM, SEM, TEM, amino acid, antibody and histochemical analysis, the researchers from Lund University found a good match in the collagen spectrum from the mosasaur and from a modern lizard; thus they feel confident the material is primordial.
        The authors postulated some mechanisms by which the proteins might have survived (entombment in crystals, high levels of phosphate and carbonate, small cavities within bone protected from microorganisms, etc.).  They described the fossil as “exceptionally well preserved”.  This was the first “direct spectroscopic characterization of isolated fibrous bone tissues, a crucial test of hypotheses of biomolecular preservation over deep time,” they said.
    1.  Lindgren et al, ”Microspectroscopic Evidence of Cretaceous Bone Proteins,” PLoS One, e19445. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019445.
    Marine fossils are buried in marine sediments – wet, and full of microbes.  Seventy million years is a long time!  Is it plausible that there was no decay for that long?  Would not bioturbation have occurred, and degradation by microbes, long before the strata was uplifted into dry chalk inland in Belgium?
        Imagine that these bones are only a few thousand years old, buried rapidly under a load of sediment.  Wouldn’t that assumption fit the data perfectly?  Why must we be forced to fit the bones into millions of years?  We cannot test a modern bone for millions of years, but surely some taphonomic experiments (testing fossilization processes) should be able to measure steady-state decay rates for collagen to give some degree of empirical evidence for the plausibility of preservation of soft tissue for millions of years.
        Scientists: don’t just tell us it’s millions of years old.  Prove it.  Otherwise, it sounds like adjusting your web of belief (07/25/2008) to evade falsifiability.
    Next headline on:  Marine BiologyDinosaurs and Extinct ReptilesFossilsDating Methods
    Intelligent Design Found in Bacteria     05/01/2011      
    May 01, 2011 — Poetry has been found in a bacterial genome.  We know it was intentional, because we know the poet who did it: Christian Bok.  The BBC News tells how Bok “encoded his verse into a strip of DNA and had it inserted into a common bacterium, E. coli.”  Would scientists of the future be able to detect the intelligently-designed insertion?
        This led to a discussion about natural selection.  Bok wants next to insert some of his doggerel into the hardy bacterium, Deinococcus radiodurans, as a means of preserving some human culture in case of a nuclear war or other extinction event.  Others quoted in the article feel that natural selection would quickly eliminate his useless code.  “His poem would be rapidly removed by natural selection, as it would confer no benefit on the host bacterium,” Dr Julian Parkhill of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute commented.  “Natural selection as [sic; is] literary criticism.
        Whether natural selection has any meaning whatsoever, let alone whether it amounts to a scientific theory, was the subject of Dr. Randy Guliuzza’s cover story in this month’s ICR magazine, Acts & Facts.  Selection presupposes a selector – an agent, Guliuzza said.  “It is presented in most schools as absolutely true in spite of its ill-defined basis, its invisible operation, and the fact that there is no real ‘selector’—because attributes inherent to organisms actually do all the work.  These warnings should influence creation scientists to step back and re-evaluate this convoluted evolutionary idea.”
    Natural selection is to literary criticism as the trash man is to old books thrown in the bin.  It took a choice by someone to throw the books in the bin.  Natural selection has no care for what was tossed out.  Natural selection is a vacuous, personified tautology that has no more power to create a living, functioning bacterium in the first place.
        The fact that it is now possible for humans to intentionally insert messages into the genetic code should alert everyone to the idea that intelligent design (ID) is a scientific theory.  It should be possible for an unbiased observer to distinguish natural law from ID in a living organism by examining the code for the presence of complex, specified information.  What’s the difference whether the information is functional or poetic?  The Darwinist will reply that functional information aids survival but poetic information does not.  If that sounds like a reasonable response, please re-read the prior paragraph.
    Next headline on:  Cell BiologyDarwin and EvolutionIntelligent Design
      Did you know the geologic column is not set in stone (05/13/2004) and that the fossil record does not show a worldwide evolutionary trend? (05/21/2004).  Read what pro-evolutionary scientists said about this seven years ago.

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    “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!”
    (an attorney in Florida)

    “Love your commentary and up to date reporting.  Best site for evolution/design info.”
    (a graphic designer in Oregon)

    “I am an ardent reader of your site.  I applaud your efforts and pass on your website to all I talk to.  I have recently given your web site info to all my grandchildren to have them present it to their science teachers.... Your Supporter and fan..God bless you all...”
    (a health services manager in Florida)

    “Why your readership keeps doubling: I came across your website at a time when I was just getting to know what creation science is all about.  A friend of mine was telling me about what he had been finding out. I was highly skeptical and sought to read as many pro/con articles as I could find and vowed to be open-minded toward his seemingly crazy claims. At first I had no idea of the magnitude of research and information that’s been going on. Now, I’m simply overwhelmed by the sophistication and availability of scientific research and information on what I now know to be the truth about creation.
        Your website was one of dozens that I found in my search.  Now, there are only a handful of sites I check every day.  Yours is at the top of my list... I find your news page to be the most insightful and well-written of the creation news blogs out there.  The quick wit, baloney detector, in-depth scientific knowledge you bring to the table and the superb writing style on your site has kept me interested in the day-to-day happenings of what is clearly a growing movement.  Your site ... has given me a place to point them toward to find out more and realize that they’ve been missing a huge volume of information when it comes to the creation-evolution issue.
        Another thing I really like about this site is the links to articles in science journals and news references.  That helps me get a better picture of what you’re talking about.... Keep it up and I promise to send as many people as will listen to this website and others.”
    (an Air Force Academy graduate stationed in New Mexico)

    “Like your site especially the ‘style’ of your comments.... Keep up the good work.”
    (a retired engineer and amateur astronomer in Maryland)

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    Guide to Evolution
     
    Featured Creation Scientist for May


    John Stevens Henslow
    1796 - 1861

    This month’s biography is a case study in dramatic irony.  John Stevens Henslow is the scientist who made Darwin famous.  The eminent Cambridge professor of botany was like a father to Darwin.  It was Henslow who gave him the opportunity to go on the Beagle as naturalist, defended his right to explore new ideas, and presided at the famous 1860 debate between Wilberforce and Huxley – yet he rejected Darwin’s theory of evolution.  Henslow was a Christian and creationist.

    Don DeYoung writes this about Henslow in Pioneer Explorers of Intelligent Design (BMH books, 2006):

    John Stevens Henslow (1796-1861) was professor of botany and geology at the University of Cambridge in England.  His enthusiasm for teaching botany made it one of the most popular subjects at Cambridge for several decades.  Henslow was a devout Christian and Anglican clergyman.  One of his favorite students was Charles Darwin.  On campus, Darwin was known as “the man who walked with Henslow.”  Darwin learned much about nature from his mentor but he rejected Henslow’s faith.  When Darwin’s Origin of Species was published in 1857 [sic; 1859], Henslow graciously expressed his opposition to the book with the words, “Darwin attempts more than is granted to man, just as people used to account for the origin of evil – a question past finding out.”

    Darwin deeply admired Henslow throughout his life.  It was in Professor Henslow’s botany class at Cambridge that Charles, prior to this time an aimless and unmotivated student, really got interested in natural science.  Henslow gave Darwin all the observing skills that Darwin would use for years analyzing barnacles, pigeons and plants.  At this time, Charles was a creationist too, as were most scientists of the day.  It wasn’t till the the Beagle voyage and the years that followed that Darwin’s doubts and unbelief began to take root.  Henslow cannot be blamed for that.  The only criticisms that might be levied against this great man is that he was too gracious a gentleman, and too permissive of radical speculations.

    Janet Browne adds some insights into Henslow’s character in her book Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Princeton, 2002).  Apparently Darwin was sheepish about approaching his mentor with his new book, On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection.  When sending the now-elderly professor a pre-publication copy in 1859, he prefaced it with a letter stating that, “I fear you will not approve of your pupil in this case” (p. 84).

    One facet of Henslow’s philosophy is found in a comment he made to his brother-in-law about Darwin’s views.  Stating that Darwin had a right to his opinion, he objected, “God does not set the creation going like a clock, wound up to go by itself” (p. 153).  This statement indicates that Henslow was no deist or theistic evolutionist.  He denied that God had a hands-off policy, letting a mechanical universe run without his active participation.  Clearly that is what he saw Darwin proposing.

    Henslow believed in freedom of speech and intellectual inquiry.  In an 1860 meeting at the Cambridge Philosophical Society, where fellow professor Adam Sedgwick was getting more and more riled about Darwin’s book, Henslow “vigorously defended Darwin’s right to investigate the question of living origins, although he, like the others, balked at jettisoning divine creation,” Browne says (p. 117).  “In this, Henslow showed the mettle that his friends still admired.  Elderly he might be, but he retained his inner fire.  Yet his affection for Darwin evidently pushed him further than his heart would otherwise have taken him.”

    That gentlemanly tolerance even extended to his classroom.  In Henslow’s last botany class at Cambridge in spring of 1860, he even introduced Darwin’s principles to the students, not so much to endorse them, but to help the students learn how to be exposed to differing views.  “While telling them of his own unshakeable religious faith,” Browne writes (p. 118), “he nevertheless encouraged them to respect intellectual endeavor wherever it might lead.”

    At the historic British Association contest between Samuel Wilberforce and Thomas Huxley at Oxford in June, 1860, Henslow presided as chairman.  He was the one who gave Huxley, then Wilberforce, an opportunity to speak.  When the audience reaction rose to a fever pitch at the debate, Henslow was among those trying to restore order, and defending the rights of each man’s opinions, including Huxley’s, to be heard.  Browne says that at the end of the meeting, when everyone’s blood was boiling, Henslow also made some “spirited remarks” and then dismissed the assembly with “an impartial benediction” (pp. 122-124).

    Henslow would not live to see much of the aftermath, when Darwin’s supporters took this meeting as a cause celebre to launch their new naturalistic worldview.  He died the following May.  Darwin fell ill and used it as an excuse not to attend the deathbed or funeral.  Ever after, Darwin felt guilty about not having been there for his dear friend and mentor.  Browne writes, “Henslow had made him what he was, not only by giving him the chance of a lifetime with the invitation for the Beagle voyage, but also by his kindly attentions and support thereafter” (p. 153).  Henslow had been like a father to him, and his passing closed an important chapter in Darwin’s life.

    We can only speculate on what Henslow would have thought of the subsequent decade, when Darwinism rose from a fringe speculation roundly denounced by most leading scientists to the vanguard of a new naturalistic world view.  As the years progressed, largely due to the tactics of what Janet Browne calls Darwin’s “Four Musketeers” (Lyell, Hooker, Huxley and Asa Gray), as well as Darwin’s own scheming, the creationists were on the run.  The Darwinians captured the scientific journals, the media, and the British Association.  Few became willing to stand up against the growing naturalistic tide.  It became harder to criticize the new Darwinian view, because it seemed to stand for Victorian progress and intellectual freedom.  (As revealed in these pages, that was a highly contrived and manipulated opinion, not a result of scientific facts.)

    Looking back at this story after 148 years of Darwin’s rise to power, the ironies are palpable:

  • Henslow gave his aimless and undisciplined pupil the chance of a lifetime to tour the world, traveling with a devout Christian captain, Robert FitzRoy.  Darwin used the experience to shred the foundations of Henslow’s and FitzRoy’s world view.
  • Henslow graciously received Darwin’s book and, though disagreeing with it, was reserved and respectful in his criticisms.  Now, Darwin’s followers unleash the most outrageous and vehement rhetoric at anyone who dares question Darwinian ideas.
  • Henslow was willing to let his students think about Mr. Darwin’s principles, even when he disagreed with them.  Now, one cannot even criticize Darwin’s ideas in the classroom – let alone present the beliefs of Henslow, a devout Christian and creationist.  The pro-Darwinist organizations and all the scientific societies will race to confront any teacher with an expensive lawsuit if he or she tries to return Henslow’s favor by exposing students in today’s Darwin-only science classrooms to alternative views, like intelligent design, no matter how non-sectarian and empirical they are.
  • Henslow was confident enough in his “unshakeable religious faith” to allow students to “follow intellectual endeavor wherever it might lead.”  Now, students and scientists are taught that they cannot make a design inference even when the evidence for it is compelling.  All scientific evidence must be force-fitted into the Darwinian picture. 
  • Henslow tried to maintain order and civility in public debate, and insisted both sides have their fair say.  Today, the Darwinists do not want to give any public platform to alternatives, and fight to put prior restraint on debate.
  • Henslow was loyal to his friends despite their beliefs.  Today, professors and scientific societies will turn on any colleague who breaks ranks with Darwinian views, and will vote to deny tenure, deny degrees, or otherwise ostracize and marginalize the heretic.  (The film Expelled provides many examples.)
  • Henslow understood the limits of science.  He knew what questions were past finding out by scientific methods.  Today, scientists shamelessly attempt to explain everything in the entire universe, even in imaginary parallel universes, in Darwinian terms!  Darwinism has taken over the entire university, including economics, psychology, political science, the humanities, and even religious studies.
  • Henslow was a consummate gentleman.  Darwin’s followers, particularly the Social Darwinists, have committed atrocities against their fellow human beings beyond all historical precedent in terms of viciousness and magnitude, justifying their actions on the basis of Darwin’s alleged “law of survival of the fittest.”  Today’s Darwinists continue to erode the sanctity of human life by supporting abortion on demand, cloning, and human-animal chimeras experiments; some support euthanasia and infanticide.

    In hindsight, we might wish Henslow had been more stringent with his pupil.  We might wish he had used his reputation to denounce the rambling speculations of a younger upstart who ventured into realms beyond human ken.  We might wish he, and the other scientific critics of Darwinism, including Adam Sedgwick, Richard Owen, John Phillips and others, would have stood their ground with more fortitude to resist the foundational change that was being introduced to recast the definition and purvue of science.  But this was mid-19th-century Victorian culture.  People were expected to be civil.  Progress was in the air.  Satisfaction with organized religion was diminishing as the prestige of science was growing.  Darwin’s ideas seemed fresh and controversial, appealing to the rebel and selfishness in mankind.  Some worried, but nobody knew, how things would eventually turn out.

    Henslow must be turning in his grave.


    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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    (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)

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