If you think the Pope is endorsing science, then you must agree with this guy too

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, explains that good ol’ polytheistic Hinduism is fully compatible with science, just like the Pope finds Catholicism compatible with evolution.

We can feel proud of what our country achieved in medical science at one point of time, the prime minister told a gathering of doctors and other professionals at a hospital in Mumbai on Saturday. We all read about Karna in the Mahabharata. If we think a little more, we realise that the Mahabharata says Karna was not born from his mother’s womb. This means that genetic science was present at that time. That is why Karna could be born outside his mother’s womb.

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No, the Pope doesn’t support evolution

He’s the Pope; you know he’s not going to defy his dogma to be honest with you. He doesn’t support gay marriage, either, but is good at giving the impression of tolerance, which will then be ‘clarified’ by Vatican spokesmen. Same here. Lots of people are telling me that the Pope says Christians should believe in evolution and Big Bang, but no, he actually isn’t. He’s telling you to believe in the Catholic Church’s weird-ass wink-wink-nudge-nudge version of evolution.

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There is a perfectly respectable tradition of including a photo of your experimental animal in a science poster

I’ve done it. Usually, though, it’s done to illustrate, for instance, normal morphology, for contrast with your experimental results. Or as a key for the anatomy. Or even sometimes as a small, tasteful bit of decoration, as long as it doesn’t detract or distract from the data. In this poster, Use of yeast lysate in women with recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis by Vrzal et al., presented at the 8th Vaccine & ISV Congress in Philadelphia, I’m rather at a loss to figure out the purpose of these illustrations.

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Stop freaking out, please

I’m staying at a cheap hotel in Augusta, Georgia these few days, and I take advantage of the free buffet breakfast (the only edible thing here seems to be a bowl of Raisin Bran, and the coffee is terrible), which means, of course, that I sit in a common room with the TV blaring at us. “News”. CNN and Fox. And everyone is running around in circles shrieking about a doctor diagnosed with Ebola in New York.

Jeez, but I have come to hate the 24 hour news networks. I never watch them at home.

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Protein folding probably requires the assistance of Frigg

The Discovery Institute doesn’t understand the protein folding problem. I mean that literally: they don’t understand the problem. Scientists don’t know the answer, but they have a clear understanding of the problem.

PNAS published a “Perspective” article, “The Nature of Protein Folding Pathways,” by S. Walter Englander and Leland Mayne. Unsurprisingly, they try to approach the problem from purely materialistic presuppositions. There is no mention of specificity, amino acid sequence, or digital information.

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A scientific visualization of the importance of race

The image below is a phylogram, illustrating the degree of variation in a sequence of mitochondrial DNA. The concept is fairly simple: if two DNA samples are from individuals that are evolutionarily distant from one another, they’ll have accumulated more differences in their mitochondrial DNA, and will be drawn farther apart from one another. If the two individuals are closely related, their DNA will be more similar, and they’ll be drawn closer together. That’s the key thing you need to know to understand what’s going on.

There are other, more complicated analyses going on in the figure, too: the branching pattern is determined by analyzing subsets of shared sequences, and it takes a fair bit of computing power to put the full picture together. You’ll just have to trust me on that one, but all you need to know is that the branches are objectively calculated, and that the distances between the tips of the branches and their last branching point tell you something about the degree of genetic disparity in the group.

Unrooted phylogram of mitochondrial DNA sequences. Gagneux P1, Wills C, Gerloff U, Tautz D, Morin PA, Boesch C, Fruth B, Hohmann G, Ryder OA, Woodruff DS. (1999) Mitochondrial sequences show diverse evolutionary histories of African hominoids. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 96(9):5077-82.

Unrooted phylogram of mitochondrial DNA sequences.

Gagneux P1, Wills C, Gerloff U, Tautz D, Morin PA, Boesch C, Fruth B, Hohmann G, Ryder OA, Woodruff DS. (1999) Mitochondrial sequences show diverse evolutionary histories of African hominoids. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 96(9):5077-82.

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