Monday, 27 February 2017
From time to time, spectators insult footballers who have a darker skin tone than others. Recently Brazilian midfielder Everton Luiz, who plays for the Serbian team Partizan Belgrade, got to hear monkey chants for a full 90 minutes from Rad Belgrade fans.
The obvious idea behind monkey chants is that dark-skinned people are less evolved than lighter skinned one.
We can thank – or blame – a Victorian gentleman called Charles Darwin for this trend. He gave us an entirely false idea of races.
Darwin introduced this idea in his book Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871):
“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time, the anthropomorphous apes. . . will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla.” (vol. 1, p. 201).
Descent of Man inspired many other works. The book that John Scopes of the monkey trial fame used in his classes was Hunter’s Civic Biology (1914). It includes some interesting speculations about humans:
"At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; The American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America."
Ideas have consequences. Bad ideas have bad consequences.
The Bible shows us clearly that there is only one human race. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve.
Racist Serb fans torment Brazilian footballer Everton Luiz. BBC News (20 February 2017).
Saturday, 25 February 2017
In Darwinian stories, the tail often wags the dog.
As the evolution of humans from ape-like creatures is dogma, Darwinists credit evolution for most if not all similarities we have with apes and monkeys.
The latest story features colour vision in us and in rhesus macaques. It is based on observing these monkeys in the wild.
An article in Science explains:
“A common genetic variation makes some females have three types of cone cells and others have two. Studies with captive macaques has shown that trichromatic females are faster than their dichromatic peers at finding fruit.”
The article moves quickly from fact to fiction: We have colour vision because some macaques evolved this trait.
What these stories never include are our unique traits.
While apes might be good at swinging from trees, they could never run a marathon.
Unlike us, they were never created in God’s image to walk and run upright on two feet.
Unlike apes, we have a chin, and the golden ratio in us speaks of ornate design that cannot be explained away by Darwinian mechanisms.
Price, Michael. 2017. You can thank your fruit-hunting ancestors for your color vision.. Science (19 February),
Thursday, 23 February 2017
Few topics make headlines as easily as the discovery of Earth-like planets, especially if they are thought to be habitable.
And many people who subscribe to a naturalistic worldview think that the universe is teeming with exoplanets that resemble our good Earth.
Some put the number at 100 billion billion.
Every so often we hear that Earth’s alien cousin or perhaps even twin has been found.
In reality, however, even the most Earth-like exoplanet (Kepler-438 B) is not habitable.
Most exoplanets are more or less weird. For instance, superfast spinning stars show that our Sun is special – and so is Earth.
The latest exoplanet hype features seven supposedly Earth-like planets orbiting the star Trappist-1 discovered by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.
Some 39 light years from us, it is a cool dwarf star, and its roughly Earth-sized planets orbit it very close (1.5 to 12 days).
All the Trappist-1 planets are thought to be habitable, at least in theory. While some astronomers hope to find liquid water on them, these alien worlds might be bombarded with intense solar radiation and they are probably tidally locked like Mercury in our solar system, with the same side always facing its sun.
It seems that just like the nearest exoplanet Proxima b, the Trappist planets might also turn out to be dead and unfriendly worlds.
In contrast, our world is special. God created Earth and filled it with life, just like Genesis tells us.
Rincon, Paul. 2017. Star's seven Earth-sized worlds set record. BBC News (22 February).
Witze, Alexandra. 2917. These seven alien worlds could help explain how planets form. Nature News (22 February).
Tuesday, 21 February 2017
According to the Darwinian story, fish should certainly not behave like birds, as they parted ways aeons ago.
However, in the real world animals don’t always follow Darwinian expectations. Just think of the pig-footed bandicoot (Chaeropus ecaudatus), the duck-billed platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) and the spiny anteater (Tachyglossus aculeatus).
They have mosaic features that make evolutionary classifications practically impossible.
Then there are two tiny dragons. One lives in the sea and the other likes to glide from trees.
And a little lemur also does the gliding trick.
We shouldn’t forget walking fish that are definitely not transitional forms.
But what about singing fish? In 2016, the journal Bioacoustics published a paper on several fish species in Australian waters that did exactly that.
It’s not as pleasant to our ears as most birdsong, though.
It would not be easy for Darwinists to invoke convergent evolution this time.
What it emphasizes is that nature is much more varied than Charles Darwin dared to believe.
Keenan, Greta. 2016. Fish recorded singing dawn chorus on reefs just like birds. New Scientist (21 September).
Sunday, 19 February 2017
The cock-eyed squid looks just like a squid, but a closer look will show a remarkable difference: it has one big bulging eye that points upward and a smaller eye with which it sees what’s happening underneath it.
This squid lives in dim waters, some 200 to 1,000 metres below the surface.
New research published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B examines videos taken by remotely operated submarines.
New Scientist states:
“The findings provide the first behavioural evidence that the two eyes are adapted to look in different directions. The large one points upwards to spot prey silhouetted against the sky. The smaller one points downwards to spot bioluminescent organisms against the darkness below.”
Kate Thomas at Duke University in North Carolina and her colleagues discovered that the eyes are of the optimal size and shape:
“Having a big upward-pointing eye greatly improves visual perception, while a downward-pointing eye would gain little from being large.”
While they invoke evolution as a potential answer to this dilemma, it seems more logical to assume that the eyes are designed this way on purpose.
The cock-eyed squid also has a Genesis connection. It shows that there is great variety within the squid kind – just as there is within the other kinds – but they still remain squids.
It joins hybrids such as wholphins, ligers. zonkeys, geeps and grolars in celebrating the Genesis after its kind principle.
Wong, Sam. 2017. Deep-sea squid points a big, bulging eye up and a tiny eye down. New Scientist (13 February).
Friday, 17 February 2017
We might not expect to find soft tissue in fossils that are assumed to be 500 million years old.
But this has happened, and not just once or twice but repeatedly and recently it happened again.
A paper published in Nature reports on hyoliths that it defines as “abundant and globally distributed ‘shelly’ fossils that appear early in the Cambrian period and can be found throughout the 280 million year span of Palaeozoic strata.”
The abstract mentions “exceptionally preserved soft tissues [that] include an extendable, gullwing-shaped, tentacle-bearing organ surrounding a central mouth.”
While finding soft tissue in dinosaur bone has become rather commonplace, researchers have discovered exceptionally well preserved soft tissues in many other animals as well, for instance in birds, fish and marine reptiles.
This suggests that life on Earth is a lot more younger than evolutionists would have us believe.
Moysiuk, Joseph et al. 2017. Hyoliths are Palaeozoic lophophorates. Nature 541, 394–397.
Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Darwin Day Surprise Ten Years Ago: Soft Muscle Cells, Blood Vessels and Nerve Cells in “380-Million-Year” Old Fish from Down Under
Darwin Day (12 February) has in recent years evolved into a materialistic holy day.
Sometimes, however, pro-evolution publications might report discoveries that undermine the importance of that day.
National Geographic did it in 2007. It published an article on fossilized muscle and other soft tissues from two armoured fish that are assumed to be “380– 384 million years” old.
The muscle was so well preserved that its three-dimensional shape was intact.
“The fish's remarkably well-preserved soft tissues include bundles of muscle cells, blood vessels, and nerve cells. They were found during recent electron microscope scans, the research team reported last week in the British journal Biology Letters.”
Evolutionists believe that one of the fishes, Gogonasus andrewsae, already had features that we share, at least to some extent.
They have since found an even older bony fish that they revere as our ancestor.
During the past few years, soft tissue has been found in a variety of animals thought to be many tens and even hundreds of years old.
The most logical explanation for this mystery is that the great dates assigned to most fossils are fictitious.
Markey, Sean. 2007. Fossil Meat Found in 380-Million-Year-Old Fish. National Geography news (12 February).
Monday, 13 February 2017
Big science has a big problem.
New Scientist has cultivated the phrase post-truth world quite a bit recently, especially before, during and after the recent US presidential elections.
It put the blame on politicians. However, it is now becoming increasingly obvious that scientists can’t afford to throw the first stone.
Time and again, they have had to warn of fake science stories and even outright fabrications.
Recently, Timothy Clark issued a dire warning in Nature. A senior research fellow at the University of Tasmania, he is worried about the spread of dishonesty in science:
The introduction sets the tone of the article:
“Too many researchers make up or massage their data, says Timothy D. Clark Only stringent demands for proof can stop them.”
Then he discloses some very alarming facts:
“Late last month, a US physicist began a jail sentence for scientific fraud. Darin Kinion took funds for research on quantum computing but did not carry out the work he claimed; instead, he invented the data that the research supposedly produced.”
And we have heard of several similar cases.
Clark goes on to say:
“Scientists like to think that such blatant dishonesty is rare, but I myself have witnessed several serious cases of scientific misconduct, from major data manipulation to outright fabrication. Most have gone unpunished — in fact, it has been disheartening to see the culprits lauded. It makes little sense for fraudsters to fabricate mediocre data. Their falsehoods generate outstanding stories, which result in high-profile publications and a disproportionately large chunk of the funding pie.
I have noticed a lesser-known motive for bad science in my field, experimental biology. As environmental change proceeds, there is great demand from the public and policy¬makers for simple stories that show the damage being done to wildlife. I occasionally meet scientists who argue that the questions we ask and the stories we tell are more important than the probity of our investigations: the end justifies the means, even if the means lead to data fabrication. That view is alarmingly misguided and has no place in science.”
The underlying problem is that scientists often have an agenda. This is at times glaringly obvious in the Darwinian community.
Researchers seek to find evidence for assumed transitional forms or missing links, for instance.
Remember Darwinius massillae, better known as Ida?
Or Eoanthropus dawsoni aka. Piltdown Man or perhaps even Nebraska Man?
Scientific misconduct thrives in the Darwinian community as evolution does not give objective grounds for morality.
Clark, Timothy D. 2017. Science, lies and video-taped experiments. Nature 542, 139. (7 February).
Saturday, 11 February 2017
Natural selection is a greatly overused explanation for almost any trait in living organisms.
However, Darwinian expectations seldom match facts. A paper published in PLOS BIOLOGY begins with the sentence: “In natural populations, quantitative trait dynamics often do not appear to follow evolutionary predictions.”
That’s right. The research is on the size of snow voles (Chionomys nivalis).
Timothée Bonnet and his colleagues at the University of Zurich observed the tiny rodents for ten years and found out that while bigger voles had more offspring, this did not lead to an increase in body size in the next generation.
It seems that environmental factors and perhaps epigenetics are running the show.
In recent years, natural selection has taken a lot of flak from both evolutionists and dissenters. (See details here, here, here and here.)
So, this might be a good time to dump Darwin altogether.
Bonnet, Timothée et al. 2017. Bigger Is Fitter? Quantitative Genetic Decomposition of Selection Reveals an Adaptive Evolutionary Decline of Body Mass in a Wild Rodent Population. PLOS BIOLOGY 15.
Thursday, 9 February 2017
A new paper in PLOS ONE features bioluminescence in a fish that prefers to dwell in the shelter of coral reefs:
“Bioluminescence is a fascinating phenomenon occurring in numerous animal taxa in the ocean. The reef dwelling splitfin flashlight fish (Anomalops katoptron) can be found in large schools during moonless nights in the shallow water of coral reefs and in the open surrounding water. Anomalops katoptron produce striking blink patterns with symbiotic bacteria in their sub-ocular light organs.”
So far, so good. Bioluminescence suggests design, as does symbiosis that time and again presents a chicken or egg dilemma for evolution.
Most of the paper deals with good experimental science. But then, suddenly, we are confronted with a bizarre claim:
“A recent study reported 27 independent evolutionary events of bioluminescence in marine ray-finned fish.”
The authors don’t elaborate on what they mean by “evolutionary events,” but the context suggests that many non-related marine animals share this trait.
The conventional Darwinian explanation for this phenomenon is convergent evolution.
It is misused a lot.
The only thing that this explains is that Darwinian expectations are way off the mark.
Hellinger, Jens et al. 2017. The Flashlight Fish Anomalops katoptron Uses Bioluminescent Light to Detect Prey in the Dark. PLOS ONE (8 February).
Tuesday, 7 February 2017
"Stuff happens but we don’t know why," might be an apt description of assumed evolutionary innovations such as complex flight feathers.
A recent paper in Nature Communications begins with these words:
“Adaptation of feathered dinosaurs [sic] and Mesozoic birds to new ecological niches was potentiated by rapid diversiﬁcation of feather vane shapes. The molecular mechanism driving this spectacular process remains unclear.”
They don’t know why these feathers appeared. Then they attempt to give a jargon-filled explanation:
"Here, through morphology analysis, transcriptome proﬁling, functional perturbations and mathematical simulations, we ﬁnd that mesenchymederived GDF10 and GREM1 are major controllers for the topologies of rachidial and barb generative zones (setting vane boundaries), respectively, by tuning the periodic-branching programme of epithelial progenitors."
This is followed by more jargon, until they dish out an orthodox Darwinian explanation:
“Incremental changes of RA gradient slopes establish a continuum of asymmetric ﬂight feathers along the wing, while switch-like modulation of RA signalling confers distinct vane shapes between feather tracts. Therefore, the co-option of anisotropic signalling modules introduced new dimensions of feather shape diversiﬁcation.”
Next, the birds figured out new uses for their feathers:
“Major novel functions of feathers that evolved include endothermy, communication, aerodynamic flight and so on. These are achieved through stepwise retrofitting of the original feather forms.”
The authors invoke a “self-organizing branching programme,” as if feathers were no more complex than snowflakes.
However, as we can learn from the real world, stuff does not just happen without a good reason.
Feathers bear all the hallmarks of design.
It is logical to believe that birds already had complex flight feathers on the day they were created.
Li, Ang et al. 2017. Diverse feather shape evolution enabled by coupling anisotropic signalling modules with self-organizing branching programme. Nature Communications 8:14139.
Sunday, 5 February 2017
Science publications have recently made a big issue of fake news and the post-truth world. They were very outspoken in whom they thought should be the better president in the recent US elections.
And it seems that they haven’t yet recovered from their big disappointment.
Writing on the website of American Council on Science and Health, Dr. Alex Berezow brings a touch of very welcome sanity into the matter of what science journalism is about (but shouldn’t be).
He mentions two disturbing trends:
1.”Too many science journalists don't actually possess a well-rounded knowledge of science. In many cases, regular reporters are asked to cover complex science and health stories.”
2. “Science journalists are every bit as biased as their more traditional counterparts, perhaps even more so. They routinely hold double standards in regard to analyzing science policies. They conflate scientific evidence with science policy, immediately labeling anyone "anti-science" if he or she disagrees with their cultural beliefs. Worse, science journalists feel no inhibition whatsoever to cheerlead openly for their favorite politicians and to heap scorn upon those they dislike.”
Dr. Berezow goes on to say:
“Both cultural bias and thoughtless reportage severely erode the integrity of science journalism.”
He then gives some tips for detecting fake science news stories. He says, for instance, that if the article is sensational, or about evolutionary psychology, or fails to make a distinction between evidence and science policy, or does not mention the limitations of the study it is reporting, we have good reasons to be suspicious.
Berezow, Alex. 2017. How to Spot a Fake Science News Story. American Council on Science and Health. (31 January).
Saturday, 4 February 2017
New research published in the journal Nuclear Technology challenges a basic assumption of radiometric dating. Science Daily gives a brief overview of the problem:
“An oversight in a radioisotope dating technique used to date everything from meteorites to geologic samples means that scientists have likely overestimated the age of many samples.”
The article describes the issues involved in rubidium-strontium dating. Rubidium-87 decays to Strontium-87 over time, so the amounts of isotopes in a rock sample or other objects should make it possible for scientists to calculate the age of the sample.
This should be more or less straight-forward. In theory, it is. But in practice, it’s a bit more complicated:
“The data from radioisotope analysis tends to be somewhat scattered. So, researchers ‘normalize’ the data by making a ratio with strontium-86, which is stable -- meaning it doesn't decay over time.
Dividing the isotope concentrations of all the forms of strontium and rubidium by the isotope concentration of strontium-86 generates something called the "isochron." The isochron is then plugged into a model, which uses it to turn the overall radioisotope data into a clear, linear function. This function is able to tell researchers how old a sample is. Or it's supposed to.
But there's a wrinkle in the process that has been overlooked.
The ratios of strontium-86 to rubidium and strontium-87 are thought to only be influenced by the radioactive decay of the rubidium-87 into strontium-87. The current model of radioisotope dating is based on that idea.
But that model doesn't account for differential mass diffusion -- the tendency of different atoms to diffuse though a material at different rates. And atoms of strontium-86 can diffuse more readily than atoms of strontium-87 or rubidium, simply because atoms of strontium-86 are smaller.”
Associate Professor Robert Hayes, the author of the paper, says that different types of rocks will give differing results and things like “the number of cracks and amount of surface area” will also have an effect on the rate of diffusion, and hence the assumed age.
This is not the first time that researchers doubt the accuracy of radiometric methods. Several other papers have likewise cast doubt on the reliability of dating techniques. See details here, here, here and here.
North Carolina State University. 2017.Paper spotlights key flaw in widely used radioisotope dating technique. Science Daily. (31 January).
Thursday, 2 February 2017
The origin of Earth’s water is a naturalistic enigma. Many scientists used to believe that comets brought it here.
However, new research published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters suggests that chemical reactions in Earth’s mantle may have produced much of our planet’s water.
This conclusion is based on a computer simulation “of reactions in Earth’s upper mantle between liquid hydrogen and quartz, the most common and stable form of silica in this part of the planet,” as New Scientist put it.
The article goes on to explain:
“’This is one way water can form on Earth,’ says team member John Tse at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. ‘We show it’s possible to have water forming in Earth’s natural environment, rather than being of extraterrestrial origin.’
The simple reaction takes place at about 1400 °C and pressures 20,000 times higher than atmospheric pressure as silica, or silicon dioxide, reacts with liquid hydrogen to form liquid water and silicon hydride.”
A recent paper published in Nature suggested that Earth had water at a very early stage. Two older studies also came to the same conclusion.
It is reasonable to conclude that the beginning was thousands, not billions of years ago.
In 2014, research showed that enormous amounts of water lie trapped in ringwoodite 400–700 kilometres beneath Earth's surface and there’s more water even at a depth of 1,000 kilometres.
Some of the water may hail of Noah’s Flood, for instance the rivers hidden beneath Greenland’s glaciers, a huge lake under an Andes’ volcano and large aquifers in arid Northern Kenya.
These discoveries confirm the Genesis account of creation and the Flood.
Coghlan, Andy. 2017. Planet Earth makes its own water from scratch deep in the mantle. New Scientist (27 January).