Daily Archives: August 25, 2009

The Falsehoods Come Home to Roost: Dirty Foreign Germs In America

Parasitic infections and other diseases usually associated with the developing world are cropping up with alarming frequency among U.S. poor, especially in states along the U.S.-Mexico border, the rural South and in Appalachia, according to researchers.

Government and private researchers are just beginning to assess the toll of the infections, which are a significant cause of heart disease, seizures and congenital birth defects among black and Hispanic populations.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce takes AGW Denialism Stance

The nation’s largest business group is asking U.S. EPA to hold a public debate on climate change science — or face litigation — as the agency prepares to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

“They don’t have the science to support the endangerment finding,” Bill Kovacs, the chamber’s vice president for environment, regulatory and government affairs, said in an interview. “We can’t just take their word for it.”

The Modes of Natural Selection

There many ways of dividing up and categorizing Natural Selection. For example, there are the trichotomies of Natural Selection, Sexual Selection and Artificial Selection, and Modes of Selection (Stabilizing, Directional, and Disruptive) trichotomy.

We sense that these are good because they are “threes” and “three” is a magic number. Here, I’m focusing on the Mode Trichotomy, and asking that we consider that there are not three, but four modes of Natural Selection. This will cause tremors throughout the Evolutionary Theory community because Four is not a magic number, but so be it.
Continue reading The Modes of Natural Selection

The Three Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of Natural Selection

Natural Selection is the key creative force in evolution. Natural selection, together with specific histories of populations (species) and adaptations, is responsible for the design of organisms. Most people have some idea of what Natural Selection is. However, it is easy to make conceptual errors when thinking about this important force of nature. One way to improve how we think about a concept like this is to carefully exam its formal definition.

In this post, we will do the following:

  • Discuss historical and contextual aspects of the term “Natural Selection” in order to make clear exactly what it might mean (and not mean).
  • Provide what I feel is the best exact set of terms to use for these “three conditions,” because the words one uses are very important (there are probably some wrong ways to do it one would like to avoid).
  • Discuss why the terms should be put in a certain order (for pedagogical reasons, mainly) and how they relate and don’t related to each other.

When you are done reading this post you should be able to:

  • Make erudite and opaque comments to creationists that will get you points with your web friends.
  • Write really tricky Multiple Choice Exam Questions if you are a teacher.
  • Evolve more efficiently towards your ultimate goal because you will be more in control of the Random Evolutionary Process (only kidding on this third one…)

Continue reading The Three Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of Natural Selection

When the eagles are disturbed …

When it comes to observing nature, it pays to pay attention, and it pays to stay in one place for a while. Coming to “The Lake” many spring, summer, and fall weekends (and now and then in the winter) and paying attention to the wildlife and other aspects of the natural environment allows me to see and experience things not otherwise possible.
Continue reading When the eagles are disturbed …