Blithering spiritualists

Palazzo has put me in a pissy mood, now. He’s mentioned those pompous god-botherers at the Templeton Foundation, who awarded 1.4 million dollars to that credulous gasbag, John Barrow.

When Selfish Gene author Richard Dawkins challenged physicist John Barrow on his formulation of the constants of nature at last summer’s Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowship lectures, Barrow laughed and said, “You have a problem with these ideas, Richard, because you’re not really a scientist. You’re a biologist.”

For Barrow, biology is little more than a branch of natural history. “Biologists have a limited, intuitive understanding of complexity. They’re stuck with an inherited conflict from the 19th century, and are only interested in outcomes, in what wins out over others,” he adds. “But outcomes tell you almost nothing about the laws that govern the universe.” For physicists it is the laws of nature themselves that capture and structure the universe–and put brakes on it as well.

Yeah, and some physicists are little more than glorified numerologists.

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No sense of humor

Connie Morris is the lead creationist kook on the Kansas state board of education. She recently took a tour of a middle school and was horrified at the depravity on display:

State Board of Education member Connie Morris took exception Wednesday to a picture of a made-up creature that satirizes the state’s new science standards hanging on a Stucky Middle School teacher’s door.

Fellow board member Sue Gamble told The Eagle that Morris asked for the picture to be removed.

It was a picture of…The Flying Spaghetti Monster!

You know, when word gets out that pictures of noodles and meatballs get Connie Morris all twitterpated, there is going to be a thousand of these blooming on school teachers doors now. Especially since, when Morris asked the principal to have it removed, the teacher was advised that a school board member had no jurisdiction on the matter…and the picture is still up.

Catfish eating its dinner

John Lynch beat me to this story about catfish feeding on land, so I’ll be brief. It shows how the eel catfish, Channallabes apus, can manage to take an aquatic feeding structure and use it to capture terrestrial meals. Many fish rely on suction feeding: gape the mouth widely and drop the pharyngeal floor, and the resulting increase in volume of the oral cavity just sucks in whatever is in front of the animal. That doesn’t work well at all in the air, of course—try putting your face a few inches in front of a hamburger, inhale abruptly, and see how close you come to sucking in your meal. So how does an aquatically adapted feeder make the transition to eating on land?

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