We Don’t Know Everything About Electric Fish

There are six different lineages of so-called “electric fish,” each of which evolved its potential independently and convergently. The most famous of these is the electric eel, though speaking of convergent evolution that species is not actually an eel. The portion of the body that produces the electric field is called the “electric organ,” and appears to be derived from muscle cells, but are quite different from each other. A recent paper in Science – “Genomic basis for the convergent evolution of electric organs” (pdf, press release) – investigating representatives of four of six lineages determined that, despite their differences, the same underlying genetic and cellular processes have been leveraged (or hijacked) in each case.

Nathaniel Jeanson has an article up today about this paper called “Darwin’s ‘Special Difficulty’ Solved?” His conclusion is, if anything, unusually weak, and it’s difficult to know what to make of it. He begins by quote-mining Darwin, a common tactic but one which the ICR doesn’t seem to often resort: Continue reading

Charlie Darwin Was Smarter Than You

For our first June article Brian Thomas writes People Not Quite as Clever Anymore. Intriguingly this title seems to lack the usual hyperbole (anyone remember those “edible eggs”?) but this doesn’t mean that the article is correct.

Tying in with their conception of the Fall, young Earth creationists often talk about the concept of “genetic load,” or mutational meltdown. The Curse, they believe, caused mutations which they claim will go undetected by natural selection and build up over the generations until they eventually render organisms non-functional. This would exhibit itself in the form of genetic diseases, and also traits such as intelligence – it’s the root source of the common out when challenged on how Noah could have built such a large, seaworthy vessel: “people were smarter back then,” they say, “look at the pyramids.” An implication of this is that Victorians (such as Charles Darwin) would have been smarter than people living today – like the current batch of young Earth creationists, for instance. This may have something to do with their tendency to point to even older scientists, like Newton, who they claim believed as they did. Continue reading

Darwin’s ‘Popular Notion’

Charles Darwin, by John CollierAfter a two-month hiatus the ICR’s short video series, That’s a Fact, has returned – better late than never, as they say. The new video is called Intelligent Surveys, about the results of all those polls that keep revealing the number of people who still believe in creationism in the US.

It has been so long since the last video that some of you may not even know what this series is all about. In brief, the ICR makes short videos of around two minutes in length on various topics. The videos are generally content-free (or as near to as makes little difference), and the few factual claims made tend to range from incorrect to not even wrong. The series began in October of 2011, a few months after this blog. While the videos always appear during the weekend, the posting schedule is otherwise erratic: while they have at times been weekly, fortnightly is more common, and a video that was supposed to appear two weeks ago never did. Originally there was a commenting system tied to the videos, upon which many flame-wars developed, but this is long gone now. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the supporters of the ICR actually like the series, which is bizarre. Continue reading

The Fact of Evolution

Dr John's Q&AFrom 1989 to 2006 the ICR ran a Frequently Asked Questions column – sometimes referred to as “Dr John’s Q&A” – in it’s Acts & Facts newsletter. For 2013 they appear to have revived the concept in the form of a new series of “Creation Q&A” articles. The first is by Nathaniel Jeanson, and his question is “Is Evolution an Observable Fact?

“Evolution is fact!” is one of the most popular evolutionary assertions made by evolutionists, ranging from those at the National Center for Science Education to those working for PBS. Proponents of Charles Darwin want you to believe that his hypothesis is being confirmed right before our eyes.

The NCSE page linked to does not actually make this claim, and neither does the PBS FAQ. Not a great start. Continue reading