Maher did it again

It’s a fascinating example of motivated reasoning. Bill Maher has been raked over the coals on his irrational, anti-scientific attitude towards vaccines; his own guests have scorned his views on his own show; he’s been confronted repeatedly with the evidence and the rebuttals. He’s got to know by now that there is no rational justification for claiming that vaccines or thimerosal cause autism, or that the drug companies are profiting hugely by including poisons in their vaccines (which makes no sense, even if you do believe in greedy pharmaceutical mega-corporations).

So what does he do? He invites anti-vax crank extraordinaire, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., to sit around and commiserate with one another about how they’re called cranks and liars for merely denying the scientific consensus.

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Nematodes are not designed, they evolved

nematode

The latest fatuous obsession by Paul Nelson, Philosopher of Biology at the Discovery Institute, is a real corker. He has decided that nematodes could not possibly have evolved, because scientists (real ones, not creationist pseudoscientists) have produced an extremely detailed literature documenting their development; because Brenner, Horvitz, and Sulston (no creationists among them) won the Nobel Prize for their work describing the cell lineages to produce the worm; and because he doesn’t understand developmental biology at all. I’ve got palm impressions in my forehead from smacking myself so many times while watching this terrible little video.

This is why Paul Nelson is laughed at by developmental biologists. He cannot be taken seriously. I figured, though, that if you’re not already familiar with concepts and details of development, you might find him credible — he’s so pompously earnest! — so I thought I’d explain all the ways he goes wrong.

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Friday Cephalopod: Sexually voracious!

I am sure that’s exactly what you think when you see a picture of vampire squid.

vampire_squid1

But it’s true! Where most cephalopods do the deed once, spawn, and die, Vampyroteuthis has multiple cycles of reproduction. Unfortunately, they’re also cold, gelatinous, and lethargic…which, if you think about it, is also what the undead vampire of myth would be like, so they’re just fulfilling the stereotype.

Neither chocolate nor cochineal

pangloss

I got as far as the first paragraph before I started throwing red flags, and by the second I was ready to call off the whole game on account of dishonesty. Psychology Today (I should have been alerted by the source) defends EP.

The human brain, just like every aspect of every organism on the planet, is the product of evolution. If you accept that evolution is true, you can’t avoid that conclusion. That’s why I often get confused when I hear reasonable people being broadly dismissive of evolutionary psychology (EP).

EP is simply an approach to psychology that explicitly acknowledges evolution as the designer of brains. This approach may sound non-controversial in principle, at least among those who accept evolution. Nevertheless, many non-creationist critics find plenty of reasons to object to EP, or at least to what they consider EP to be. For examples of some such criticisms see Ed Hagen’s Evolutionary Psychology FAQ.

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The new new Prometheus

cheese

Microbiologists are the Frankensteins for our century. They are creating new stinky life.

Cheese is known for its stinky odor. But, cheeses at one exhibit at the Science Gallery Dublin in Trinity College Dublin come from an especially smelly source — human toe, armpit, belly button and mouth bacteria.

Selfmade, which is part of the Grow Your Own…Life After Nature exhibition, features different “microbial sketches” of cheeses created with bacteria samples from various people. Each cheese supposedly smells similar to the donor’s body odor.

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The rot goes all the way to the top

hair

It’s dismaying to see law enforcement in this country exposed as a gang of thugs abusing the rights of citizens — we have a militarized police force that basically executes people they don’t like. Now we learn that even if they survive arrest, suspects will get railroaded straight into a conviction by biased crime labs. The latest culprit: the FBI has been jiggering hair analysis results for decades.

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