03 April 2008

Weekly sampler 13

First, answers to the quiz in last week's sampler. Row 1: the genome of the funnel-web spider on the left is more than 3 times as big as that of the bald eagle (C value of 5.36 vs. 1.43). Row 2: The monarch butterfly's genome is less than 1/8 the size of the alligator's (0.29 vs. 2.49). Row 3: The duck-billed platypus has a significantly smaller genome than that of the octopus (3.06 vs. 5.15). So how'd the "degree of advancement" criterion work out? You do the math. More quizzes to come.

1. As a Reformed Christian (and former Catholic), I typically feel that Catholics are kindred spirits when it comes to science and the arts, and those of us who embrace the Creeds and common descent are prone to pointing to various papal endorsements of evolutionary science. This makes it all the more alarming to see Catholics falling for the ID line. Enter John Farrell with a sharp piece this week, following up on a nice analysis by DarwinCatholic.

2. David Sloan Wilson is the big name (that I know) behind an interesting site at Binghamton University on the topic of "Evolutionary Religious Studies." The program is Templeton-funded, and as near as I can tell is focused on outreach and dissemination but is not a degree program. I'll poke around some more, and will be interested to hear from anyone who knows more about it.

3. Thursday on Pharyngula, PZ Myers posted an article with a sadly typical description of some evangelical idiocy, then voiced a challenge I've heard from him before:

But I would think the concerted and largely successful effort in our culture to equate Christianity with the idiocy of belief in a 6000 year old world or a god who meddles in trivialities or denying the facts of a natural world would piss you off. Unless it's true, that is, that you don't mind having your religious beliefs associated with flaming anti-scientific lunacy.

Maybe you should try squawking a little louder.
I responded in the comments and would be interested in feedback here.

4. Olivia Judson has a superb piece on mutations and randomness at The Wild Side.


5. This week sees a nice edition (#102) of Tangled Bank at Further Thoughts.

6. Like I need another reason to cook up an insane road trip to NYC? As reported in the NY Times.

7. And speaking of the newspaper of record, check out this interesting piece by a couple of neuroscientists, attempting to explain why I can eat salad and ride my bike, but can't resist playing Text Twist when I have three (or is it four) papers to write. The comments are enlightening too; it's like sitting in on a contentious platform session at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting.

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