Category Archive: Genetics

Apr 22 2013

There are no marching morons

For some random reason, this post from the Scienceblogs era Pharyngula, “There are no marching morons“, is getting some sudden attention, so I thought I’d bring it here. Most people have probably never heard of Kornbluth, or read The Marching Morons, but now you can! It’s on scribd, or you can just read the summary …

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Mar 29 2013

John Logsdon hits the big time

Last night at #nwc36 we were talking about evodevo, and one of the topics that came up was the importance of Drosophila reasearch in providing the foundation for comparative genetic analysis…which led to Sarah Palin. Remember Palin’s ignorant mockery of fruit fly research? This is what we get from the Republican party. Now Michelle Malkin’s …

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Mar 23 2013

We need a sociologist of science…or a philosopher


There’s another paper out debunking the ENCODE consortium’s absurd interpretation of their data. ENCODE, you may recall, published a rather controversial paper in which they claimed to have found that 80% of the human genome was ‘functional’ — for an extraordinarily loose definition of function — and further revealed that several of the project leaders …

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Mar 19 2013

How about if we just retire Dollo’s Law altogether?

Earlier this month, there was a flurry of headlines in the pop-sci press that exasperated me. “Have scientists discovered reversible evolution?” was one; “Evidence of Reverse Evolution Seen in Dust Mites” was another. They failed because they always tried to express a subtle idea in a fluffy way that screwed up a more fundamental concept …

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Mar 17 2013

Hamza Tzortzis is playing gotcha with Lawrence Krauss now


After that debate between Tzortzis and Lawrence Krauss that was overshadowed by the disgraceful anti-egalitarian exhibition of Muslim misogyny, iERA is now trying a new tactic: they’re releasing tiny snippets of the debate that they believe they can spin into anti-Krauss sentiment. Here’s a perfect example, Krauss’s reply to a question about the morality of …

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Mar 10 2013

Bring back the Shasta ground sloth

Bringing extinct animals back to life is big news this week. Not because there’ve been any particular recent breakthroughs, but because the upcoming issue of National Geographic features the topic as a cover story, and is hosting a related TEDx meeting this Friday in Washington D.C. that’s also sponsored by Stewart Brand’s Long Now Foundation. …

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Feb 06 2013

Mother’s Curse

It’s a harsh world for us men. Oh, sure, we’ve got all the political and economic power, and we’ve got most of the guns, but step into a senior citizens’ center and you’ll notice the preponderance of elderly women. Men die younger, on average. I’m also acutely aware of the growing disparity as we get …

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Feb 05 2013

Give that fish a hand!

Graphic abstract.eps

I have a bit of a peeve with a common analogy for the human genome: that it is the blueprint of the body, and that we can find a mapping of genes to details of our morphological organization. It’s annoying because even respectable institutions, like the National Human Genome Research Institute, use it as a …

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Jan 21 2013

Should we resurrect the Neandertals?

I was reading an interview with George Church, who was discussing that very same question, and somehow I had to rethink some things. There was the question of technical feasibility, and Church thinks it’s going to be entirely possible in the near future. The first thing you have to do is to sequence the Neanderthal …

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Dec 27 2012

Fishing for meaning in a dictionary of genes

I’ve constricted my anus 100 times, and it isn’t helping! I’m still feeling extremely cranky about this story from the NY Times. Scientists intend to sequence Adam Lanza’s DNA. They’re looking for genetic markers for mass murder. Why? Because some scientists are stupid. Some researchers, like Dr. Arthur Beaudet, a professor at the Baylor College …

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