Just-So Stories

On this week’s episode of Skeptically Speaking, host Desiree Schell interviewed Mark Changizi about his book, The Vision Revolution. I listened to the live taping this past Sunday at what I believe George RR Martin would have referred to as the “hour of the eel” here in England.

Changizi is never short of interesting ideas, and a researcher should always make the strongest case for their ideas that they can. Unfortunately, I have some issues with the evidence supporting that “strongest case” and the way he presents it: Continue reading “Just-So Stories”

Gene Networks and Natural Selection

This was originally posted at Adaptive Complexity, but it might be of interest to our patrons here at The Finch and Pea.

Life can be brutal for yeast in the wild. You don’t know where your next meal is coming from or what form it’s going to take. The key to being a successful yeast is to be metabolically agile, able to switch your metabolic state quickly based on the food source that’s currently available on the bark of an oak tree or in the leaf litter of a forest floor.

So yeast, especially the set of species related to baker’s yeast, have various networks of genes that specialize in making a meal out of different sugars. A yeast has to detect, pump in, and break down various sugars like sucrose, galactose, maltose, and glucose. Each of these sugars has different chemical properties, and therefore yeast requires different sensors, transporters, and enzymes to use each as a food source. Continue reading “Gene Networks and Natural Selection”

Natural Selection Day

Today is the 153rd anniversary of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Continue reading “Natural Selection Day”


I imagine that very few species would consider not having to worry about leopard attacks a bad thing. The enthusiasm for any story claiming that human beings continue to being driven upwards and onwards by natural selection suggests that we pine for those halcyon days of yore when being eaten alive by jungle cats was a major source of morbidity[1]. We worry about a lack of selection for things like good eye-sight and gobble up cheap, pop evolutionary psychology[2] stories of adaptive behavior.

We really want to know are human beings still evolving and how can reclaim the benefits of natural selection without feeding our offspring to leopards?

Continue reading “Decancelliation”

REPOST: Imagine if Sex Were Only for IQs Over 120

At the request of my co-blogger Mike, I’m reposting this article which originally appeared at Science 2.0 on 30 December 2008 where some authors of the paper in question respond in the comments during the run-up to the publication of their book The 10,000 Year Explosion.

Unfortunately for all of us still breathing braniacs, the title only applies to those of us who are also medieval Ashkenazi Jews, according to the authors of the 2006 paper “Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence”.

Discussing “race” and intelligence is always a touchy subject and definitely not politically correct; but science should not be fettered by the chains of political correctness like a mangy circus lion.  It must run free across the intellectual savanna, striking down the juvenile wildebeest of ignorance. Following articles on the biology and significance of race by Michael White, Massimo Pigliucci, and moi, my attention was directed to “Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence”.  Thanks to press attention from biological research bell-weathers like The Economist and the New York Times, as well as discussion on National Public Radio, this paper has gained Goodyear AquatredTM-esque traction on the internet. Continue reading “REPOST: Imagine if Sex Were Only for IQs Over 120”

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