AM-Nat 2016 Conference Open for Registration

I am pleased to announce that the Alternatives to Methodological Naturalism 2016 online conference (AM-Nat) is now open for registration. The conference is online, so everyone who wants to attend should be able to do so easily.

Royal Society’s fall evolution rethink meet is progress in science

Suzan Mazur, author of The Origin of Life Circus, interviews British philosopher of biology (U Exeter) John Dupré, on the upcoming Royal Society meeting, New trends in evolutionary biology: biological, philosophical and social science perspectives, at Huffington Post: Since the upcoming Royal Society meeting on evolution paradigm shift is a public one, one of its organizers […]

Defects of computer models of solar system

Physicist Rob Sheldon writes to respond to the claim that Jupiter does not shield Earth: Kevin Grazier, PhD, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, describes the study in which he simulated the evolution of tens of thousands of particles in the gaps between the jovian planets for up to 100 million years. Based […]

Vid: Distinguished philosopher on Darwinism undermining itself

A friend draws our attention to Anthony O’Hear: Director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, editor of the journal Philosophy, author of many books on the subject, and was formerly Government Advisor on Education and Teacher Training. He is a philosopher with a special interest in education. Friend offers some notes to the vid lecture […]

How do dark energy and dark matter relate to ID?

Rob Sheldon writes, in response to a reader who asked that question that it function as a way of getting rid of the idea of design in nature: 1. Dark Energy. Antithetical to ID, dark energy is a proposed, but completely speculative solution to the question of how the universe can appear to be so […]

Slate offers poster child for Christian atheism

Or something. Maybe there’s never much religion news on Superbowl Sunday, so… From Slate, we learn: How an evangelical creationist came to accept evolution. The article focuses on Kramer, 27, who would seem to be a Christian Darwinist: “Kramer found a way to have his faith and Darwin too.” Interesting. Darwin didn’t find the way, […]

Atlantic: Phantom limbs explain consciousness

From Michael Graziano at Atlantic: This is called the attention schema theory, a theory that my lab has been developing and testing experimentally for the past five years. It’s a theory of why we insist with such certainty that we have subjective experience. Attention is fundamental. It’s present in almost all animals. To help control […]

Landmark: Nonreplicated research openly identified

By biotech giant AmGen. From Nature News: A biotechnology firm is releasing data on three failed efforts to confirm findings in high-profile scientific journals — details that the industry usually keeps secret. … The idea emerged from discussions at a meeting focused on improving scientific integrity, hosted by the US National Academy of Sciences in […]

BBC: Are humans driving evolution in animals?

From BBC: The intentional selection of the qualities we like (such as flavour and size) in domesticated livestock and cultivated crops has led to descendent animals and plants that differ genetically from their ancestors. This change in gene frequency is evolution, and in this case has come about by a process called artificial selection. Natural […]

Rob Sheldon on dark matter as a “superfluid”

At Aeon, we are asked to consider the “superfluid universe.” Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder offers: Quantum effects are not just subatomic: they can be expressed across galaxies, and solve the puzzle of dark matter Most of the matter in the Universe is invisible, composed of some substance that leaves no mark as it breezes through us – […]

Why do only humans have chins?

The Atlantic says no one knows why. Apparently, it’s not for chewing, finding mates, speaking, or taking punches. [Anthropologist James] Pampush doubts that chins are adaptations at all. He thinks it’s more likely that they are spandrels—incidental features that have no benefits in themselves, but are byproducts of evolution acting upon something else. … A […]

Oscillating heavy particles as Big Bang clock?

From ScienceDaily: While previous experimental and theoretical studies give clues to spatial variations in the primordial universe, they lack the key element of time. Without a ticking clock to measure the passage of time, the evolutionary history of the primordial universe can’t be determined unambiguously. “Imagine you took the frames of a movie and stacked […]

Paper: Jupiter doesn’t shield Earth, comets kickstarted life

From ScienceDaily: Not only is the ‘Jupiter as shield’ concept, implying that the planet shields Earth from comet impacts, not true, but perhaps Jupiter’s most important role in fostering the development of life on Earth was just the opposite — delivering the volatile materials from the outer Solar System needed for life to form. This […]

New study: Contra Darwin, females don’t choose mates

From ScienceDaily: A provocative study by evolutionary biologists takes on one of Charles Darwin’s central ideas: that males adapt and compete for the attention of females because it is the females who ultimately choose their mates and the time of mating. Instead, new research using fruit flies as a representative species indicates that females do […]

To Err is Human: Error in comparing African-Euro genomes

Error found in study of first ancient African genome “Finding that much of Africa has Eurasian ancestry was mistaken.” . . .

Nominations close tomorrow for Darwin SHUDDUP!! Award

From Evolution News & Views: February 12 is almost upon us. It will be Darwin Day, anniversary of the great man’s birth, which we call Academic Freedom Day in homage to Darwin’s wise warning that “a fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of […]

Ancient humans ate turtles, 400 kya

From ScienceDaily: Tel Aviv University researchers, in collaboration with scholars from Spain and Germany, have uncovered evidence of turtle specimens at the 400,000-year-old site, indicating that early man enjoyed eating turtles in addition to large game and vegetal material. The research provides direct evidence of the relatively broad diet of early Paleolithic people — and […]

To find alien life, quit being “terra-centric”?”

It’s the latest new prejudice. From Quanta, we earn that the presence of oxygen does not show, as formerly thought, that a planet might have life. Oxygen can build up in environments hostile to life: As Domagal-Goldman, then a researcher at the University of Washington’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory (VPL), well knew, the gold standard in […]

Neuroscience and free will rethinking divorce?

From New York Mag: Based on this result from 2012 and a similar finding in a study with rats published in 2014, the lead researcher of the 2012 study, Aaron Schurger at INSERM in Paris, and two colleagues have written in their field’s prestige journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences that it’s time for a new […]

Rob Sheldon on Darwin’s Twitter nerdfight

Re “Dreadful row breaks out re cladistics” (Darwin’s Tree of Life) , physicist Rob Sheldon offers, It is about the relative merits of using parsimony (Occam’s Razor) versus Bayesian (likelihood) analysis in cladistics. The first is more causal, more deterministic, more rational while the second allows priors and opinions and “other stuff” to influence the […]

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