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Aggregating Skeptical Thought

More Junk in the Vertebrate Trunk

I apologize for the lame title but it made me laugh, and I think we all realize how important that is.

Here’s another article, “Junk” RNA May Have Played Role in Vertebrate Evolution, that details recent research that finds that formerly designated “Junk” RNA (similar to “Junk” DNA but different) may have actually assisted in the evolution of vertebrate species from their invertebrate pre-cursors.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the term “Junk” DNA or RNA is such an arrogant, self-damaging statement that it literally irritates me. Now I will say I see the term Junk DNA is now being used with quotes, perhaps this is the beginning of the move away from the term, also all of the quotes from the scientist do not use the term Junk DNA so perhaps my irritation should be directed at the journalist instead, however the meme has been started and it will take time for it to end.

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Filed under: Environment, Evolution, , , ,

I Don’t Heart Huckabee

Oh Huckabee, you silly guy, if only you were smrt, like Homer Simpson.

Filed under: Internet, Politics, , ,

On the Origin of Species

I just completed the very brief book by Janet Browne called Darwin’s Origin of Species: A Biography. She basically gives a brief outline of Darwin’s life but focuses most of the book on the actual publication and resulting controversy of Darwin’s seminal work.

I thought she did an excellent job showing the political, religious and social impact that Darwin’s work had on not only Victorian life but on the scientific community at large. I greatly appreciate how she did not shy away from the way in which Darwin’s work (and Darwin to a lesser extent) influenced many social policies particularly eugenics, the subjugation/genocide of “primitive” cultures and anti-poor laws that were popular. To many Darwin’s natural selection provided a biological justification for many of these social policies.

I thought she did an excellent job of showing that Darwinian evolution for the most part was the dominant theory in biology until the early 20th century but had fallen out of favor until it’s resurgence with what is now called “the modern synthesis”.

I had read a biography on Darwin recently that spent most of its time talking specifically about Darwin, this book in contrast is a biography of his book, On the Origin of Species.

 Check out what else I’m reading over at Brain Food.

Filed under: Evolution, Reviews, ,

The Hobbit

I know this isn’t recent news, Flores wrist bones and their impact on Hominin evolution, but I wanted to make a point to say that I have been lurking on kottke.org lately and find it fascinating. It is a very cool site that finds some of what appears to be the most random things on the ‘net that I happen find endlessly fascinating. You will be seeing a number of posts regarding items that I have found on this site.

Filed under: Evolution, , ,

More Evolution News?

I wish I could read the full article on this, Could Huntington’s mutation make people healthier?, but New Scientist has this one gated. sigh…

 In case you don’t know what Huntington’s disease is (and I didn’t) here’s the wiki

Filed under: Evolution, Health, ,

Evolution News?

I’m not one to be too politically correct but “It’s No Delusion” as the title to an article about the surprising results of research regarding schizophrenia seems a bit insensitive to me. If Scientific American keeps it up they might start making people think they are being laughed at or persecuted…. sorry.

Anyway, the research seems to support a natural selection for schizophrenia, sort of. Or perhaps schizophrenia is perhaps an unfortunate by-product. Here’s a good quote…

One [proposed theory] holds that schizophrenia is a “disorder of language” and that the illness is an unfortunate consequence of the development of human speech, expression and creativity. “Whenever you get strong selection, it’s like a big plus, and you can drag along a lot of minuses,” he says. “You can think of schizophrenics as paying the price of all the cognitive and language skills that humans have—they have too many of the alleles that taken individually…might have positive effect, but together they are bad.”

Filed under: Evolution, Health, ,

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