Lizards Undergo Rapid Evolution After Introduction To A New Home

ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2008) — In 1971, biologists moved five adult pairs of Italian wall lizards from their home island of Pod Kopiste, in the South Adriatic Sea, to the neighboring island of Pod Mrcaru. Now, an international team of researchers has shown that introducing these small, green-backed lizards, Podarcis sicula, to a new environment caused them to undergo rapid and large-scale evolutionary changes.


Original Article: Lizards Undergo Rapid Evolution

Enough is Enough: A Thinking Ape’s Critique of Trans-Simianism

Enough is Enough: A Thinking Ape’s Critique of Trans-Simianism

Aaron Diaz
Dresden Codak

Posted: Dec 16, 2007

The following was taken from a cave wall painting in southern Tunisia more than 300,000 years ago. Fossil evidence suggests that the author was of the species Homo erectus.

To further expound upon the topic of last week’s installment, I will address the more specific claims of Dr. Klomp and his radical theory that has been gaining wider acceptance throughout the community. Once again I would like to thank our readers for sending in your fish bones and boar hides in support of this journalist’s campaign to expose Dr. Klomp’s trans-simianist prattle for what it is: a collection of wishful thoughts out of keeping with any factual evidence.

The term ‘trans-simian’ comes from the shortening of ‘transitional simian,’ a concept Dr. Klomp has developed to describe an individual who is in an evolutionary transition from simian to post-simian, though Klomp himself admits that he is not entirely clear what a true post-simian would be.  Characteristics exhibited by a trans-simian include augmentation of one’s natural abilities with ‘tools,’ as well as one’s mental capacities with what has been dubbed ‘culture.’

Klomp’s primary argument rests on what he calls the ‘Quickening,’ an imagined point somewhere in the future when the advancement of ‘culture’ occurs so rapidly that its pace will far exceed that of biological evolution.  In his own words,

  “There will come a time when within a single generation we will develop one or possibly even two new ideas… Current advancements in the ‘bow’ and ‘arrow’ industries suggest an exponential trend in the expansion of our technological capacities.  We are able to perform hunts in a fraction of the time it took our ancestors, thus freeing up valuable time to ‘ think ‘ of new ideas. In the post-simian world, we may develop into a species that is not only intellectually superior to our current state, but capable of feats beyond the comprehension of a contemporary simian.”

The rest of the piece can be found here.  It’s a pretty funny take on some of the arguments that I guess are bandied about by not only opponents of the Transhumanist philosophy, but also of some anti-evolution arguments that Creationists like to toss around.  Also, I’d recommend the author’s webcomic Dresden Codak; it’s pretty weird, but consistently excellent, and he’s a hell of an artist.

Uncle Sam is a Pimp, yo!

Sinfest is a great daily webcomic, and today’s was awesome in my humble opinion:

Sinfest Main Page

Nova Tonight - Intelligent Design On Trial

Looks like there’s going to be a pretty good show on PBS tonight at 8pm EST called Intelligent Design on Trial.  If you can’t catch it, their going to post the entire episode online for viewing on Friday (11/16).

Chinese Toy Makers Motives Suddenly Become Clear… Maybe

Nobody is too surprised to hear that there is another recall on Chinese products, toys or otherwise. However, there’s a new twist in the latest one reported by CNN, and it’s not lead:

Millions of toys recalled; contain ‘date rape’ drug
Two U.S. children went into comas after who swallowing Chinese-made Aqua Dots found to contain a chemical that converts into ‘date rape’ drug when ingested.
November 7 2007: 9:04 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP)—Millions of Chinese-made toys have been pulled from shelves in North America and Australia after scientists found they contain a chemical that converts into a powerful date rape drug when ingested. Two children in the U.S. and three in Australia were hospitalized after swallowing the beads.

Yikes.  I guess this is even more reason for me to be glad I don’t have children.

Full CNN Story here

UC Berkley Online Lectures… Sweet.

Stumbled upon this and figured most everyone here would want to see it. UC Berkley is posting some of their lectures series online on YouTube.  Here’s the intro class to “Physics 10: Physics for Future Presidents”.  I get the feeling it’s a physics class for the non-technical majors, but still good stuff.  The whole series can be found at UC Berkley on YouTube

Too Bad Spidey Is as Real as Jesus

Original located at: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Jesus is Not Coming Back

I found this while reading The Skepchick:

Jesus is not returning
John Bice

According to The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, “An overwhelming percentage of Christians (79 percent) say they believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ.”

That statistic isn’t surprising when one considers that most Christians also believe in the devil, resurrection, angels, heaven, hell and other fairy tales. Irrational beliefs can be benign or directly harmful. For example, the silly assertion that Jesus was born of a virgin probably doesn’t negatively influence opinions on important matters and policies. The widespread belief in the “second coming,” however, can have significant public consequences.

Voters convinced the return of Jesus is imminent may find themselves rather unconcerned with solving problems requiring long-term perspective and commitment.

A 2004 article in The Christian Science Monitor on apocalyptic end-times theology, quoted one man as saying, “I know people who have sold their houses and lived with relatives because they thought the world would soon come to an end … I know others who’ve cut their education short because they thought it more important to witness to people than to get their degree.”

An Associated Press poll, conducted in late 2006, found that 25 percent of Americans (and nearly half of white evangelical Christians) believed there was a good chance that Jesus would return in 2007.

Translation: Tens of millions of Americans expect Jesus any day now.

For these people, issues like energy independence, the federal budget deficit, sustainable environmental practices or global climate change aren’t a big priority. Instead, their attention is focused on religious “moral issues,” like protecting marriage from homosexuals or arranging burials for embryonic stem cells.

Earlier this year, the National Association of Evangelicals, an erudite group to be sure, rebuffed forward thinking religious leaders for suggesting that global climate change represents a genuine crisis. They claimed that such talk shifts “the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time,” such as the “integrity of marriage,” and promoting “sexual abstinence.”

Preserving the global ecosystem for future generations simply isn’t an important moral consideration for anyone convinced Jesus is rounding the corner with a fistful of tickets to heaven. For this reason, and others, I think it’s important to point out something rather obvious.

Jesus isn’t coming back.

Consider the most obvious reason. Assuming someone resembling Jesus ever lived, the guy has been dead for nearly 2,000 years. This fact represents very compelling evidence for why Jesus won’t be coming back. Actually, it’s so compelling, rational people are quite satisfied to stop there.

Bible fans, however, also may wish to consider what Jesus allegedly said. Many passages in the Gospels make clear that Jesus believed the end was nigh. He predicted an imminently approaching apocalypse, which would establish the Kingdom of God (aka Kingdom of Heaven) on earth.

In the Gospel of Mark, for example, Jesus asserts that the end would occur within the lifetime of some he was addressing, “Some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”

In Matthew, Jesus says, “The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

That simply didn’t happen. Jesus was wrong. This creates quite a problem for Bible believers, which they solve in their normal way. Passages fitting their particular brand of Christianity are to be taken literally, whereas passages that disagree, make no sense, or are obviously incorrect need to be somehow “interpreted.”

However, the writings of Paul make it absolutely clear that early Christians took Jesus at his word, literally, and were convinced the end would come quickly. In First Corinthians, for example, Paul’s advice to single followers was to not bother getting married. Paul wrote, “the time is short … this world in its present form is passing away.”

Jesus was a false prophet. The end simply didn’t come as he claimed. His followers have been proven wrong.

Believers need to shed their puerile fantasies.

I realize John isn’t saying all that much that hasn’t already been said, but it is worth noting.  Especially the part about True Believers doing crazy things because they believe the world will end any day now. I personally quit attending college when I was a fundy with the intent of attending Bible College and spreading the word.  I don’t know where I would be today if I had decided to get the degree that I was working toward instead of preparing for the Rapture. 

The comments on the article are what you would expect.  My favorite (though I haven’t read through all of them) has got to be this one:

And if you are correct Mr. Bice, what good does it do to destroy people’s faith? How are you helping society by undermining the foundations of morality?

Europe has gone down the path you recommend, and the results are too promising, Europe is dying because of the secular, egalitarian values that people like you prescribe.

So what if it is a lie, assuming it is. Read your philosophy a little deeper, start with the Republic and contemplate the idea of the Noble Lie.

Better than your prescription for nihilism.