Archive for October, 2011
Anti-Science, evolution and climate change are now at the center of the 2012 Presidential campaign. The answers to the head-turning question, “Do you believe in evolution?” gets top media attention even though few politicians have biology training beyond Biology 101. Of course, “does life have meaning and purpose?” is the real core of the question.
The use of the term Anti-Science today has evolved to mean anti-evolution and anti-climate change. How candidates manage the “evolution” question will likely leverage an effect on the final vote next year.” Question like “Do you believe in evolution” are now one of the most dreaded types of questions on the political campaign trail. But, what is Anti-Science? As we will see, the history of the Anti-Science is an amazing saga of irony.
At the core of the Anti-Science debate is the definition of Science. The Oxford English Dictionary says that science is “a method of procedures that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.” Continue Reading
In The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin developed his revolutionary theory of “slight, successive” evolutionary changes. During the mid-nineteenth century, however, knowledge about genes and genetics was speculative at best, no less the evolution of genes.
In fact, Darwin abandoned the scientific method and declared that his theory of evolution was based on speculation –
I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science.
In The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin proposed that evolution proceeds by “slight, successive changes”. Although molecular biology was largely unknown by Darwin during the nineteenth century, “slight, successive” molecular changes have become a cornerstone in the study of biological evolution.
Since steroid hormones are known to perform sophisticated regulatory functions in microbes to man, the path of steroid evolution has entered center stage in the realm of investigative molecular biology.
Steroids hormones were first discovered in the mid-twentieth century by American chemist Edward Calvin Kendall while working at the Mayo Clinic. In 1950, Kendall and colleague Philip Hench, along with Swiss chemist Tadeus Reichstein were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for “their discoveries relating to the hormones of the adrenal cortex, their structure and biological effects.” Continue Reading
Charles Darwin never mentions the 1856 fossil discovery in the Neander Valley limestone quarry located in Germany in The Origin of Species in 1859 nor in any of the six subsequent editions. Even in The Descent of Man, Darwin did not endorse the Neanderthals as a potential ancestral transitional link to humans.
In fact, the discovery was a problem since the Neanderthal skulls are larger than human skulls. Darwin had argued that the advancement of evolution proceeded through “slight, successive changes”.
The Neanderthal fossils created a dilemma for Darwin, how could a larger brain precede a smaller brain? Darwin cautiously noted, that “it must be admitted that some skulls of very high antiquity, such as the famous one of Neanderthal, are well developed and capacious [large]”. For Darwin, the Neanderthal skulls were too large to have preceded humans. Continue Reading
In the same way Isaac Newton discovered the physical laws of motion and gravity, Charles Darwin attempted to discover the natural laws of evolution in The Origin of Species. Natural selection became Darwin’s proposed natural law, as expressed in the title−The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
Today, Darwin’s theory of evolution is promoted as a “fact” that accepted by “all scientists”. Evolution as a “fact”, not theory, is center stage in the realm of politics. The media hammered presidential candidate Rick Perry for stating that evolution is “just a theory”. Ironically, though, the facts of evolution continue to elude even the vast majority of the most educated in Western society.
In an article published in BioEssays (2011) entitled “Why is it so difficult to accept Darwin’s theory of evolution?” Jacques Dubochet, professor of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, was amazed to discover that less than 20% of attendees to a celebration of Darwin’s 200th birthday could “[w]rite down in a few words, the essential elements of Darwin’s theory of evolution”. Continue Reading