“That’s not what we were looking at”

I should post follow-ups on old posts more often. Minda Berbeco at the NCSE’s new blog, Science League of America, has tracked down the primary author, Morgan Kelly, of a paper that Brian Thomas misinterpreted back in June about adaptation in sea urchins. Kelly answered a few of Berbeco’s questions on her research, including:

Could you explain how the ICR article misrepresented your results?

There were a couple problems with their interpretation of my research. First of all, there is a difference between the potential to adapt and having already done so. It seems that they have misinterpreted our findings to say that urchins have already adapted. That’s not what we were looking at.

There’s more. Of course there’s more. I’ve emailed researchers in the past to notify them of ICR articles, and the typical response notes that the creationist piece does indeed horribly mangle their research and conclusions. Rarer is a detailed explanation of what is really going on – real scientists are busy – but when it happens it’s a treat. Read on!

Lumping at Dmanisi

Palaeontologists at Dmanisi, an increasingly famous village in Georgia, have made some quite interesting discoveries: a small collection of early Homo skeletons from people living in the same place at the same time that are nevertheless fairly variable in appearance, as exemplified by the recently-described “skull 5.” The usual rules of population dynamics say that you can’t have different species that have the same niche (i.e. they have same shtick – they live in the same way, eat the same food etc) living in the same place – one of them will quickly win out and exclude the others. If this hasn’t happened – and it doesn’t seem to have at Dmanisi – we must conclude that the organisms are or were of the same species. Continue reading