Who says doctors don’t need to know evolution?

Here’s an excellent case: applying evolutionary principles to cancer improves diagnosis. You are a collection of (mostly) dividing cells, a population moving forward in time, and understanding that explains a great deal about how changes, like cancer, can occur.


  1. No Nym says

    yeah, but that’s just *micro* evolution.

    Besides, it’s also defying YHWH’s will, since if He didn’t want you to die from cancer, He would never have given it to you. A loving Father is our God.

  2. says

    Who? Lots of creationists of course. People like Phil Skell, for instance…of course, he’s such a deranged kook that he thinks evolutionary biologists don’t need to know evolutionary theory.

  3. says

    This article, short and sweet and clear, provides interesting closure to my discovery, and rejection, of ID.

    I first heard of Intelligent Design via Jonathan Wells, who wrote about its possible uses for cancer research (“Using ID to Guide Scientific Research”). I suppose that I am angry at myself first of all for having, initially, been duped, strung along for a while, because for the average person, the relatively uneducated and confused nonscientist, “design” can mean almost anything. (“Non-coding regions of DNA could have functions that we haven’t discovered yet.” Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?)

    Dembski’s slight-of-hand can be seductive for the average doofus like me, and Wells utilized it well and couched his ideas well, and his ideas at first made my hair stood on end (“Centrioles as tiny turbines,” etc.). Of course, as I worked my way through that piece I smelled a rat (the phrase “scientific research” in the title should have tipped me off, but then again, in the popular mind, certain words and phrases repeated acquire a power and legitimacy that they don’t really have). This is what led me to the Talk Origins website, to the National Center for Science Education, and to Pharyngula itself.

    Oh, yeah, did I feel dumb then, after reading PZ’s post (“You Call That Design Theory?”)–and it was the best feeling in the world. Unlike most of my relatives, I’m suspicious whenever some religious huckster appeals to my so-called common sense or flatters my native intelligence or some other aptitude that I do not trust in this area. I also don’t want to live in the kind of nature that Wells describes.

  4. G-Do says

    Heh. Before even clicking on the link, I suspected it was Carlo. We’ve already had a few students in our grad program do rotations with him; the guy’s on fire.

  5. BlueIndependent says

    As I said last week, anyone who so puts their religion before science in practical matters must then reject out of whole cloth all the benefits science has given them and their ancestors throughout history.

    Basically, if they want to be all high and mighty, and morally consistent, they should drop what they’re doing right now and go be Amish or something.

    Criticizing science for some perceived ills (and not actual substantiated ones), all while taking everyday advantage of that same science, is one of the heights of hypoocrisy. They basically want all the work that’s been done to this point to exist, without credit, and keep using it to advance their crap agenda.

  6. Interrobang says

    Thank you very much for bringing this to my attention, PZ. I’ve had GERD since I was literally in the single digits of age (CP-related), and I didn’t realise it could do that sort of structural damage. I think I’ll be bringing this up with my doctors, just as a word to the wise.

  7. says

    It may be relevant to us as evolving collections of cells that I, for one, accumulate allergies, and thereafter do not drop them without outside persuasion. I have so far developed allergies to poison ivy, detergent, and cold (precisesly, to the proteins that form in my skin when I get cold). The latter two are in abeyance as long as I take medication that reduces allergic reactions.

  8. SEF says

    Who says doctors don’t need to know evolution?

    It’s not just creationists who might say it. I’d say it too. However, this is not because doctors shouldn’t know, but because of the weight of empirical evidence showing that, unfortunately, it is possible for doctors to qualify and practise while still being distressingly ignorant and incompetent.