As expected, the Laden/Myers tag team utterly crushed the Nisbet/Mooney team. The decision was unanimous. Only a few crazy people might have found the framers at all persuasive. (It helps, too, that Nisbet/Mooney are on a plane flying away and won’t be able to get out their side of the story until later, and even when they do, my blog has more traffic than theirs. I win! Hey, maybe this framing stuff has some virtues.)

If you want an independent account, look in the comments. The whole shebang was taped, so I presume it will be online at some time in the near future. And hey, guess what? Your own decision based on the evidence will be far more important than any framing I try to do — so I’ll win on principle no matter what!

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Girding my loins in Dinkytown

All right, homies, I hope some of you are planning to show for the big rumble at the Bell Museum tonight. I’ve arrived, and I’m flexing and stretching on the home turf, getting ready … in other words, I’m hanging out at the Espresso Royale stoking up on caffeine. Here’s the deal:

Speaking Science 2.0: New Directions in Science Communications
Friday, September 28, 2007
7:30 p.m.
Bell Museum Auditorium
$5 Suggested Donation

I just noticed the unfortunate typo up there in the announcement: they misspelled “wrong” as N-E-W.

We’ll hash that out this evening, I think.

Flattery is nice when you can get it

Andrew Brown is so kind: he calls me one of America’s most notorious atheists in an opinion piece on the wretched Archbishop Chimoio. He also makes an interesting game theoretic argument that, in purely pragmatic terms, the Catholic Church in Africa is simply following a winning strategy that maximizes the differential fitness of their group. It’s probably true, except that I think a rational secular strategy would work best of all … if anyone were playing that side of the game.

Thoughts and Findings Related to Neurobiology Lab

As one of my fellow classmates has already described in part, we have proposed to study the effects of sleep deprivation and alcohol on zebrafish. We have a good idea of how to execute experimentation on this topic. The meaning behind it however remains, as of yet, a bit vague. The idea was brought up during our last class discussion that we could experiment with the effects of sleep deprivation and alcohol on zebrafish development or adult mating and feeding patterns. We also thought of experimenting with the behavior of zebrafish on cocaine, or with the effects of alcohol and sleep deprivation on oursleves but neither of those ideas flew too high with PZ. Understandably so.

Although, while researching, I didn’t find too many articles on intoxicated and sleep deprived zebrafish, I did find a lot of articles on genes and regeneration. In one experiment, researchers surgically removed a small portion of zebrafish hearts and then monitored recovery. The zebrafish were not only able to regenerate the removed portion of their hearts within two months, the regenerated heart tissue functioned the same and looked histiologically the same as the heart tissue of zebrafish in the control group (Poss, Wilson, & Keating). Another group of researchers discussed the effects of cyclic adenosine monophosphate on neuron regeneration in zebrafish (Bhatt, Otto, Depoister, & Fetcho). This could obviously have significant implications on human neuron regeneration.

After thinking about my findings for a moment, I discovered the reason why articles about regeneration out number articles on the effects of sleep deprivation and alcohol. Areas of research like regeneration are much more useful, not as well understood, and provide lots of room for scientific advancement. I’m not sure that I have the skill or tools required to surgically alter an organism the size of a minnow or track specific chemicals throughout the nervous system but I’ll definately be giving some thought to possibilities for regeneration experiments over the weekend. If anyone has any suggestions, I would be pleased to read them.


Kenneth D. Poss, Lindsay G. Wilson, Mark T. Keating. Heart Regeneration in Zebrafish. Science. 13 December 2002. Vol. 298. no. 5601, pp. 2188 – 2190

Dimple H. Bhatt, Stefanie J. Otto, Brett Depoister, Joseph R. Fetcho. Cyclic AMP-Induced Repair of Zebrafish Spinal Circuits. Science. 9 July 2004. Vol. 305. no. 5681, pp. 254 – 258

Growing bolder in Boulder

Oh, to be young again and brave: I’m impressed with these high school students who protested the American loyalty oath to a god:

About 50 Boulder High School students walked out of class Thursday to protest the daily reading of the Pledge of Allegiance and recited their own version, omitting “one nation, under God.”

The students say the phrase violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Back in my high school days, I simply quietly refused to say the pledge, and didn’t make an issue of it. It’s a sign of progress that now students will make their protests loud and unavoidable.

Dare I hope that more students across the country will take some inspiration from this act?

There’s also a video of the students! There are also the usual suspects: the young Neandertal who thinks that if you won’t recite the pledge, you ought to leave the country, and the blinkered administrator who isn’t going to change his dogma. Otherwise, though, look at the smart students standing up for their rights — those are the ones who matter.

Poor Neal

Neal gets no respect. He’s been trying and trying to comment over at the Panda’s Thumb, and his rants keep getting shut down. Well, I’m going to let one of his comments through right here — as far as I’m concerned, they’re a kind of twisted, insane poetry. You can almost picture his brain arcing and shorting and fizzing away, and you can virtually see the instant the circuit breaker blows.

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International man of mystery

So now the tale of the lying creationists of Expelled has made the Grauniad. Somebody let me know when my name is mentioned in Le Monde.

Mark Mathis must be happy about this. He is, after all, the “The No-Spin Doctor” who “demonstrates that most of what you need to understand about attracting great publicity, delivering excellent quotes, or managing a media crisis you already know.”. He certainly is getting lots of international attention now, but I would think that a reputation as a dishonest fraud and creationist hack isn’t exactly what most people would desire, and hunkering down and hiding isn’t exactly the cleverest way to manage a media crisis.

I guess that when all you’ve got to work with is lies, becoming a really good liar is an accomplishment.

Pharyngula Phootball Philes

Since Katie is trying to turn this into a football blog (don’t mock it! Have you seen the kinds of traffic numbers the big sports blogs bring in?), here’s another football story with a neuro link: a player who credits his recovery from a concussion to a “miracle”. It sounds like there is a whole epidemic of foolishness in the NFL.

“People get really nervous when they hear someone proclaim their faith boldly,” says the Rev. Peter Gallagher, one of the chaplains for the Indianapolis Colts. “So the easy thing to do is make fun of them. That way you won’t have to deal with the real questions about spirituality you may have in your own life.

“I believe Jon.”

He better. By all accounts, Gallagher is a card-carrying member of the NFL’s so-called God Squad, led by its evangelical coach Tony Dungy and a starting quarterback who admitted to praying his way to last season’s Super Bowl.

“Admitted”? I think he means “claimed”.

Oh, well. These guys aren’t picked for their superlative brain power, that’s for sure. But I have to disagree with Gallagher: we make fun of them because they say stupid things that reveal they haven’t considered “spirituality” beyond a lickspittle obedience to dogma and the most superficial interpretations of causality in the world.

OK, one more football-related link: Best lampoon of Gregg Easterbrook ever.