The Next Breakthrough

One of the more famous young Earth creationist escape hatches, to be used when there is no other way to dismiss evidence contrary to their position, is to invoke the spectre of “historical science”. Historical science is a legitimate term for observational, i.e. non-experimental science, which deals with things that cannot be directly tinkered with. Creationists, however, try to spin this as meaning that such science is less reliable or useful than experimental science, though this is far from the truth.

Brian’s latest use of the term, however, in What Will the Next Biological Breakthrough Be? is rather different. He comments on another freely available Nature feature, Life-changing experiments: The biological Higgs. This one asks “what fundamental discoveries in biology might inspire the same thrill [as the search for the Higgs]?

The discovery of life on Europa would probably do it, yes, but what else? Continue reading

The Ultimate Question

When it comes to Creationism, especially young-Earth Creationism, the ultimate question is not “how many roads must a man walk down?” Nor is it “what do you get if you multiply six by nine?” Closer, however, is the title of the latest Daily Science Update from Mr Thomas, Why God Created Large, Sharp Teeth. The answer, whatever it is, seems unlikely to be “42”.

The teeth of the T-rex were not particularly well-suited for plant eating Continue reading

Strategy, Strategist

Binary fissionI haven’t done anything on yesterday’s DpSU – while it’s certainly wrong, it would take more time for me to go over why exactly that is than I presently have available. Today’s DpSU – The Ingenious Way That Bacteria Resist Aging – presents no such problem. It also counts as biology revision, which is a minor plus.

Here’s the situation: Binary fission in a bacterial cell produces two identical cells. The old, worn out machinery of the original cell is divvied up between the daughter cells. But this presents the problem of ageing – do bacterial cells age?

An additional problem with this is that observations conflict. Some people have reported yes, others no. The study that this DpSU is based on works out a way to explain this by arguing that the older material is biased in going to one cell or the other. That is, one daughter gets a better inheritance than the other. The press release ends like so:

“There must be an active transport system within the bacterial cell that puts the non-genetic damage into one of the daughter cells,” said Chao. “We think evolution drove this asymmetry. If bacteria were symmetrical, there would be no aging. But because you have this asymmetry, one daughter by having more damage has aged, while the other daughter gets a rejuvenated start with less damage.”

Can you guess Mr Thomas’ problem? Continue reading

The ICR’s Acts and ‘Facts’ – October

The Institute for Creation Research has a number of magazines, the most famous of which is Acts and Facts, which is often featured on the ICR’s front page. Here’s a brief summary of this month’s edition.
At present, the October edition is on their Acts and Facts homepage. For future reference this edition can be found in pdf form here.

Better late than never… Continue reading

The Theory of Supernatural Embryology?

The latest post from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) suggests that they are in the development of such a hypothesis. That, or they’re feeling a bit under the weather right now and are mentally impaired because of it. Or they think everyone who reads their stuff is stupid. I’ve got an open mind at this point…

Haswell's Frog - Paracrinia haswelli tadpole Continue reading

More Fruit Fly Larvae

A month or so ago I tackled a DpSU about how all the bad things that happen when you so much as think about tampering with the genetic code for the larvae of the fruit fly disproves evolution. Or rather, doesn’t.

white-eyed_drosophila

Today we have another article on fruit flies, which represents a not a-typical last-ditch attempt to explain away yet another evolutionary tour-de-force to the dangerously curious Creationist masses. Jokes aside, the question of who Brian Thomas’ target audience is is a mystery, albeit one for another day. You do get the idea that these guys are really insecure in their faith, or think other people are.

The article is called Do Hairless Fruit Fly Larvae Spell “Evolution”? Basically, we have a study that reverse-engineers the differences in the fruit-fly genome that cause the species Drosophila melanogaster to have hairs on its larvae, but the related species D. sechellia (see here for the family tree) not to. Brian Thomas begins: Continue reading

The Utah ‘Dinosaur’ Petroglyph

In a recent post I mentioned in passing an old (ish) Brian Thomas article that he had then cited in support of some point or another. I called the article, Utah Dinosaur Petroglyph Disputed, a “hilarious fail of an article.” In clarification, it doesn’t fail at being an article – it’s got a heading and paragraphs and everything – but it’s still a general failure. Continue reading