Sunday, December 11, 2011

The "Evilution" test

Saw a link to this on pz myers site and thought it would be fun to answer the questions off the top of my head.

This test is from a creationist website linked below.

Evolution Test

Students, give this test to your teachers. When they fail it, ask them why they are teaching this nonsense!

Teachers, give this test to your students if you really want them to know the truth about evolution!

1. Which evolved first, male or female?
Most single celled organisms don't have male or female, they reproduce by asexual reproduction and do forms of gene transfer. I know that some protozoans reproduce by producing reproductive cells that are not morphologically distinct and can fuse with each other. I guess if we are going by the def. of male=sperm-like-gamete and female=egg-like-gamete, I would guess female/hermaphrodite, because it is most likely that sperm-like cells evolved in organisms that could produce both motile gametes and egg-like gametes, if you want to be pedantic sperm-like cells came from female like egg-gametes.

2. How many millions of years elapsed between the first male and first female?
That's a hard one and I don't know the answer and I bet that no one does, but here is a guess, if we are talking about the physical separation of the sexes male and female into organisms which only produce either male or female gametes, then that exists in early plants, such as mosses. There are male, female, and male-female mosses, so my guess is plants probably evolved this feature relatively quickly, i'm guessing a couple million years. Animals seem to have independently evolved male female separation cnidarians and ctenophores have some species that have distinct sexual forms, which most likely evolved rapidly just as in plants I'd say in a couple million years, but I am not sure if animal male-female separation evolved before plant male-female separation. Actually the questions wording can be taken literally and would mean that the first female was ~1 billion of years before a male, or that depending on your def. of a female, you can't have a male without a female so they came out from hermaphrodite progenitors in a single generation.

3. List at least 9 of the false assumptions made with radioactive dating methods.
False assumptions is a tricky term, this question is based on a false assumption, it assumes that radioactive dating is based on incorrect assumptions. I would argue that radioactive dating is based on, not false assumptions, but known and acceptable assumptions.

4. Why hasn't any extinct creature re-evolved after millions of years?
This can be done in lab, if you consider bacteria a creature, you can artificially select for mutants, destroy the mutants after genome sequencing, then artificially select for the same mutants, if you successfully reproduce all of the genomic changes, you would technically re-evolve the "creature" same can be done with species.

5. Which came first:
...the eye,
...the eyelid,
...the eyebrow,
...the eye sockets,
...the eye muscles,
...the eye lashes,
...the tear ducts,
...the brain's interpretation of light?
Light sensing proteins evolved first in single celled organisms without brains multiple times. Light sensing cells evolved in multicellular organisms without nervous systems. Light sensing cells were incorporated into organisms with nervous systems, but still lacking "brains". Light sensing organs (eyes) are present in organisms(cnidarians) without "brains" if by brains we mean centralized nervous systems.

6. How many millions of years between each in question 5?
If we assume that the evolution of eyes in cnidarians was present in ancient cnidarians, I guess we could say 600 mya, so bilaterian fossils are found around 550MYA, which equals 50MY for eye-brain evolution. I'm not answering the rest of the 20 combinations.

7. If we all evolved from a common ancestor, why can't all the different species mate with one another and produce fertile offspring?
This is mostly due to genetic differences. Horses and donkey's can still mate with each other, but their offspring can't. Most dogs, wolves, coyotes and jackals can mate, but some jackals can't mate with other jackals because they have less chromosomes and only mate with their own species. Same thing goes for some salamanders. Heck, some humans can't mate with other humans.

8. List any of the millions of creatures in just five stages of its evolution showing the progression of a new organ of any kind. When you have done this, you can collect the millions of dollars in rewards offered for proof of evolution!
Sure, mullusc eye evolution starting at pigmented light sensing cells, to infolded cup like eyes, to pin hole eyes, to semi-lens eye, to lens covered eyes. And, hopefully all the people who studied these features of eye evolution in mulluscs received their millions of dollars of funds for a job well done.

9. Why is it that the very things that would prove Evolution (transitional forms) are still missing?
Some are missing, some are not missing... Dead things decay, unless fossilized, which is a rare occurance.

10. Explain why something as complex as human life could happen by chance, but something as simple as a coin must have a creator. (Show your math solution.)
lol, human life didn't happen by chance, natural selection isn't the same as chance. A coin is actually not simple at all, take a current US penny for example, it is a complex alloy of zinc, copper, etc, with a specific shape and design, In all of the universe a penny has never occurred naturally. As opposed to humans which do occur naturally.

11. Why aren't any fossils or coal or oil being formed today?
They are... Mummies are fossils, coal and oil can be produced from plants.

12. List 50 vestigial or useless organs or appendages in the human body.
I don't think there are 50. I don't think that evolution often selects for vestigial organs, it's survival of the fittest remember, not survival of the inefficient.

13. Why hasn't anyone collected the millions of dollars in rewards for proof of evolution?
Actually, our lab just got a grant to study the evolution of novel cell types for a million dollars. I'd say that at least a billion dollars goes into research into parts of evolution every year, especially if you include parts of medical research.

14. If life began hundreds of millions of years ago, why is the earth still under populated?
Underpopulated in what way? Try to find a single non-artificial space that doesn't have a living organism in it on this planet...

15. Why hasn't evolution duplicated all species on all continents?
All continents are different, different topology, different weather patterns, etc.. Where continents or islands share similarities we see similar animals, wolves and tasmanian tigers, Koala's and sloths, kiwi and dodo.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Work has taken over so much of my time, I haven't had a chance to post in awhile and I should.

Watch this space.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Transformer War for Cybertron

This is a great game. It is very similar to gears of war due to the third person shooter aspect of the game. I have played through a bit of the campaign and so far this game is really good. The load times are little to non-existent (at least on my computer). I think that where gears of war went wrong this game went right.

1) the graphics are pretty good and seamlessly transition between scenes.

2) The story is nice

3) Megatron is a real asshole

4) Violence, transformers are destroyed left and right.

5) the controls are really easy to get use to.

6) seems to have a decent replay value to it.

1) There is no map (or I have not found this function)

2) The story seems like it is missing the first 10,000 years before this game begins. (as the tv show doesn't give us this I have no idea where this game is coming from)

3) I enjoy gaining experience and levels with abilities, this game doesn't seem to incorporate this.

Overall I would rate this game 8.5/10

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Brian Greene Talks About The Beauty of Science

Biologists should learn from physicists that the beauty of science does not lay with curing cancer, but in understanding the very nature of who and what we are. Cures and such are necessities but should not take precedence over our basic research programs.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Can a Christian believe in evolution?

Recently I was sent an article from some sort of UK Christian site with the above title. (HERE) The article goes through with its claim and says that you can be a Christian and believe in evolution. Short answer, yes, yes you can. But not without a cost, a Christian who believes in evolution has to ignore large portions of the bible since evolution (or science in general) is in direct conflict with several major tenants of Christian dogma. (Original sin, god creating the earth, the earth being 6,000 years old, Jesus dying to redeem us of our original sin, Naoh’s flood, the garden of Eden existing)

Normally what we see from Christians who believe in science is that they tend to say ok “most” of science is true, but GOD made it that way. Why? It is because a large portion of these people are too afraid to admit that their deity has no place in modern society and they find the need to cling on to their Neolithic faiths for comfort and security from an uncertain afterlife. A type of behavior that I would classify as being weak, too weak to face reality.

I guess to make my point that a Christian can believe in evolution, we could use a couple of analogies. Can a Mormon believe that native Americans are not Jews? Can a Jehovah’s witness approve of blood transfusions? Can a catholic priest believe in and practice pedophilia? Sure, they can believe all of these things and still claim to be a member of whatever religion they are a part of. It just depends on what their interpretation of their holy dogmas is, how much they ignore literal interpretations of the bible and how they define what a Christian is. We can see this in reality considering there are ~38,000 denominations of Christianity with each of them claiming to be the true version of Christianity with each their own special way to be saved and get to heaven.

Now that I have gone through that claim I have a few gripes with the content of the article.

“Perhaps we should start by defining the term ‘evolution’. Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859 as a theory to explain the origins of biological diversity. And at the time, that’s all it was - a biological theory that Christians were in fact quick to declare as a biblical doctrine of creation.”

The origin of species was a book purporting the theory of evolution to explain the observed bio-diversity and it still is. Biological evolution has not changed, only the methods as to how evolution works has changed since Darwin’s time. And in fact Christians were not quick to declare it as a biblical doctrine of creation, Darwin was mocked, his theory was disregarded by most of the religious scientists at the time (which were 99% of all scientists at the time). The Linnaean society where the original paper by Darwin and Wallace had this to say "The year which has passed has not, indeed, been marked by any of those striking discoveries which at once revolutionize, so to speak, the department of science on which they bear". So in fact the views on evolution were very mixed, some Christians accepted it, most didn’t and continue not to (~50% of Americans today and a large portion of the world’s population do not believe in evolution because of conflicting religious interests).

“Unfortunately, as often happens with the big scientific theories, evolution has become encrusted with all kinds of ideological baggage down the years.

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was a great populariser of evolution in North America in the latter part of the 19th century, selling 370,000 books, but unfortunately he tried to make evolution into a ‘theory-of-everything’, in which the entire universe was ascending towards ultimate perfection. It was Spencer (not Darwin) who coined the term ‘survival of the fittest’, a notion that was to be misapplied with such terrible consequences by the Kaiser during the First World War and then by Hitler in the Third Reich… But the fact that evolutionary theory has been called upon to justify such a wide range of ideologies as communism, capitalism, racism and militarism, some of them mutually exclusive, should alert us to the dangers of extrapolating scientific theories into arenas in which they actually have little or nothing to say.”

The above statement makes absolutely no sense. Big scientific theories encrusted with ideological baggage? Why even mention Spencer’s Social Darwinism? Social Darwinism has nothing to do with Darwin’s proposed Evolution by Natural Selection. Darwin’s theory of evolution has about as much to do with the first world war, Nazi’s, and communism as gravity has to do with people dying when they jump off of high buildings. Evolution is a fact. Selective breeding works, you can breed for faster horses, bigger cows, all the dogs we see, it works, but, that does not mean that the scientific fact is in anyway responsible for how people behave. Fission and fusion is a property of the universe, it works, setting off nuclear bombs is one use, nuclear power plants another, the sun existing is another.

Mr. Denis R Alexander needs to face reality. If there was no need for a creator of all of life on earth, then what need is their for Christianities creation myths? NONE. Dawkin’s is correct in saying that Darwin’s theory in a way allows atheists to be intellectually fulfilled, I would go one step further and say that every single scientific discovery to date has led to atheists being more intellectually fulfilled. Not one, not even one scientific fact shows any evidence for the supernatural. Why is that? It doesn’t need to be that way. Magic could exist and science would be able to show it, but at this time there is absolutely no evidence for it.

In closing the rest of the article is special pleading. Saying that Christians should believe everything science tells us by claiming that GOD made it that way. With that kind of thinking he has made his position unfalsifiable as anything that science says he can immediately answer with "yes, but GOD did it", and by doing so shows that he is not willing to change his mind (he is close-minded by definition) about the subject, no matter how much evidence is shown to disprove massive portions of the bible he will never stop believing.

“So is it possible to be a Christian and believe in evolution? Certainly, as long as ‘evolution’ refers not to some secular philosophy, but to the biological theory describing how God has created all living things.”

So is it possible to be a Christian and believe in evolution? Certainly, as long as that Christian is willing to ignore the book of genesis and discount all mentions of miracles in the bible.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fucking Magnets How Do They Work?

The group the Insane Clown Posse seems to be made up of uneducated fools. It also seems to follow that they practice the religion of a large many rappers, with their outright bigotry, drugs, anti education, violent lyrics, law breaking, gang banging, and immorality all forgiven because they follow their stupid religion at the end of the day.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Where the Wild Irritating Things Are


Of fond memories and childhood times, this movie ruins it all.

The movie starts out with a psychopathic young child running like a mad man and barking like a dog, if you are already irritated by this boy then turn the film off because you will only end up utterly frustrated and disturbed by the end of the film. This film doesn’t contain a single likable character, normal people should not behave like anything portrayed in this film.

The film follows the story of a young boy named Max. This kid is a great example of a child who has no direction in his life, due to a combination of bad parenting skills and a dead-beat father who deserted his family leaving a mother to bring up a child with obviously faulty genes. The opening scenes say a lot about this film, Max decides to throw snow balls (ice balls) at his sisters friends because she won’t play with him. The snowball fight gets heated and Max’s igloo gets smashed, he then gets upset (why? I don’t know why, considering he started the fight in the first place and should have been willing to accept the consequences) and trashes his sisters room destroying everything in sight. Max really needs some serious psychiatric help because he will probably grow up to be a drug addict, social deviant/criminal, or a serial killer considering how much sociopathic tendencies he shows as a child.

Max then gets angry at his mom for not giving him 100% of her time, even though she is busy trying to get this boy a father, he gets angry again, and jumps on the dinner table, bites his mom, then runs away. He finds a boat, travels to an island filled with a bunch of psychopathic monsters and becomes their king through a string of incoherent stories and lies. The book has Max dreaming up the whole ordeal, but in the movie we are made to believe that Max actually traveled to this island (he never eats or drinks anything even though he was there for about a week). Max gets the monsters (who all are suppose to resemble characters from Max’s life, even though there was little to no character development leading the viewer to guess as to who is who) to follow his ill forbidden advice, which leads to all of the monsters but one hating him and wanting to kill and eat him. From scenes of utter danger (trees getting blown up, rocks being hurled, dirt being thrown in sizes to decapitate a grown human) and ignorant stupidity to dismemberment and physical harm (this film glorifies physical harm and makes it seem that ripping off limbs and hitting people is “Good Fun”) this movie has it all. But what I find most disturbing is the absence of any type of resolution, the relationship problems which present themselves in the film are never resolved, which led me to feel lost and almost cheated at the end. The little boy learns no lesson in the end and will continue down his path to self destruction.

The cinematography of wide screen shoots of the environment and musical score is also an obvious rip off of Japanese feature films. But, it worked because people who are ignorant of this would never notice.

The one thing a person can learn from this film is that if your child behaves like this, DO SOMETHING QUICK because if you don’t he will be spending his time in a gutter scoring cocaine for tricks.

I would like to thank the directors and writers of this film for ruining one of my favorite childhood books with this disgrace of a film.

Addendum: I have come to realize that if you are able to relate to the protagonist of the film then this could be a very meaningful and emotional film. But, if you don't have someone who likes the movie to explain to you why they feel connected to the movie then I would still stick clear of it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

In Defense of Evil

Why religion poisons the world.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On the Evolution of Cooperation

A recent paper has been published in the journal of Evolution that shows the evolution of cooperation between two separate species of bacteria. The importance of this paper is that it provides experimental evidence to the previously theorized factors that need to be in place for cooperation to evolve.
(i) directed reciprocation--cooperation with individuals who give in return; (ii) shared genes--cooperation with relatives (e.g., kin selection); and (iii) byproduct benefits
An intriguing hypothesis brought forth by (Sachs et al. 2004) suggests that the "excretion of waste products may provide a mechanism for the initiation of reciprocation." Which the paper experimentally shows and if the model holds true in other cases it could explain much of the symbiosis that we see in organisms (Rhizobium, Corals, etc...). It is not difficult to understand the relationships set by Trivers reciprocal altruism where costs and benefits are weighted against the likely-hood of repayment. ( W > C/B )
"Individuals that pay a cost to help their partners will only spread in a population if they get more of the benefits from the partner than do individuals that do not pay the cost of helping."
Individual selection is used to evolve cooperation and symbiosis. It is a whole other level to propose the selection of cooperative groups as being anyhow a part of symbiosis. It does not to me seem like the case of the fixation of alleles within a group of cooperators can benefit the group without first benefiting the individual. Although an interesting model proposed as fits my own criteria and deserves further notice to see if it is actually valid for the evolution of cooperation.

A simple model of group selection works as follows (51). A population is subdivided into groups. Cooperators help others in their own group. Defectors do not help. Individuals reproduce proportional to their payoff. Offspring are added to the same group. If a group reaches a certain size, it can split into two. In this case, another group becomes extinct in order to constrain the total population size. Note that only individuals reproduce, but selection emerges on two levels. There is competition between groups because some groups grow faster and split more often. In particular, pure cooperator groups grow faster than pure defector groups, whereas in any mixed group, defectors reproduce faster than cooperators. Therefore, selection on the lower level (within groups) favors defectors, whereas selection on the higher level (between groups) favors cooperators. This model is based on "group fecundity selection," which means that groups of cooperators have a higher rate of splitting in two. We can also imagine a model based on "group viability selection," where groups of cooperators are less likely to go extinct.

In the mathematically convenient limit of weak selection and rare group splitting, we obtain a simple result (51): If n is the maximum group size and m is the number of groups, then group selection allows evolution of cooperation, provided that ( b/c>1 +(n/m) )

Martin A. Nowak (8 December 2006)
Science 314 (5805), 1560. [DOI: 10.1126/science.1133755]

But for now I am happy that individual selection can potentially explain a significant proportion of the cooperation and potential symbiosis that we observe in the wild.

Cooperation violates the view of "nature red in tooth and claw" that prevails in our understanding of evolution, yet examples of cooperation abound. Most work has focused on maintenance of cooperation within a single species through mechanisms such as kin selection. The factors necessary for the evolutionary origin of aiding unrelated individuals such as members of another species have not been experimentally tested. Here, I demonstrate that cooperation between species can be evolved in the laboratory if (1) there is preexisting reciprocation or feedback for cooperation, and (2) reciprocation is preferentially received by cooperative genotypes. I used a two species system involving Salmonella enterica ser. Typhimurium and an Escherichia coli mutant unable to synthesize an essential amino acid. In lactose media Salmonella consumes metabolic waste from E. coli, thus creating a mechanism of reciprocation for cooperation. Growth in a spatially structured environment assured that the benefits of cooperation were preferentially received by cooperative genotypes. Salmonella evolved to aid E. coli by excreting a costly amino acid, however this novel cooperation disappeared if the waste consumption or spatial structure were removed. This study builds on previous work to demonstrate an experimental origin of interspecific cooperation, and to test the factors necessary for such interactions to arise.

P.S. It seems to be the case that poop is oddly an important player in the evolution of many species CoEvolution. (Jerry Coynes Blog: Pitcher plant evolves to be shrew loo)

William Harcombe (2010) NOVEL COOPERATION EXPERIMENTALLY EVOLVED BETWEEN SPECIES. Evolution. 21 Jan 2010. DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.00959