November 26, 2006 - December 2, 2006 Archives

Several weeks ago I got curious about what the collective scientific output was by members of the Panda’s Thumb, both authors and advisers. So I took a poll.

Because not every Pandit is an evolutionary biologist or even a scientist, I could not just do a poll based on EB scientific paper. The engineers who’ve worked on classified government projects wanted to be able to include their technical reports in the survey. The philosophers and historians of the group wanted to count their work in the humanities as well. So I ended up with three major categories: Science Papers, Humanities Papers, and Technical Reports. In addition, the Total Publication category covers all three of these as well as other academic/professional publications not covered by them. And finally, the Evolution Related category is a subset of the Total Publication category.

Here are the results, from a total of 31 responses.

Science Papers Humanities Papers Technical Reports Total Publications Evolution Related Publications
Total 978 103 305 1467 124
Average 31.5 3.3 9.8 47.3 4.0
Std Dev 67.7 7.6 18.2 80.2 8.0

Raw data is below the fold.

Microbiology pioneer dies

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Esther Lederberg dies at 83

Stanford University microbiologist Esther Miriam Zimmer Lederberg, a trailblazer for female scientists and the developer of laboratory techniques that helped a generation of researchers understand how genes function, has died at Stanford Hospital.

Professor Lederberg, who lived at Stanford, was 83 when she died Nov. 11 of pneumonia and congestive heart failure.

She discovered the lambda phage, a parasite of bacteria that became a key tool for the laboratory study of viruses and genetics, and was the co-developer with her husband [Nobel prize winner Joshua Lederberg] of replica plating, a technique for rapid screening of bacteria for desired mutations.

”She developed lab procedures that all of us have used in research,” said cancer researcher Stanley Falkow of the Stanford University School of Medicine.

She was also a pioneer of women’s rights, becoming a full professor at a time when women were rare on the faculties of Stanford and other major universities. “She was a real legend,” said Dr. Lucy Tompkins of Stanford.

(Continued at Aetiology)

Jonathan Wells (2006) The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Regnery Publishing, Inc. Washington, DC.Amazon

Read the entire series.

The most virulent attacks on evolution tend to come from political conservatives, and many conservatives have argued—as Wells does in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design—that political conservatism and evolution are fundamentally incompatible. Other conservatives, most prominently Larry Arnhart, have argued that conservatism is not only compatible with the lessons of evolutionary science, but that in some ways conservatism fits better with those lessons than do leftist political theories. Although I’m not a conservative myself, and although Arnhart’s writings on the subject contain some significant blind spots, I think he has the better of this argument. But the PIG thinks otherwise, and its attack on pro-evolution conservatives in Chapter 14 is written with the irrational and histrionic tone that many “intelligent design” activists adopt when discussing the subject. Let’s take a look.

Just so stories

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Many of us are familiar with the accusation by Intelligent Design activists that evolution and Darwinism deals in just-so-stories. For example, Behe, after the Kitzmiller ruling, remarked that:

On December 21, 2005, as before, there are no non-design explanations for the molecular machinery of life, only wishful speculations and Just-So stories.

Source: Whether Intelligent Design is Science: A Response to the Opinion of the Court in Kitzmiller vs Dover Area School District By Dr. Michael J. Behe

Similarly, Dembski ‘argues’ that

Evolutionist explanations are just-so stories. They are entirely speculative and do not qualify as evidence.

Source: Dembski, William A., 2002. No Free Lunch, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, chap. 6.

If you needed another proof that the Founding Fathers were pretty smart guys when they noted that fights over religion are intractable and produce strife because they involve ultimate questions decided according to dictates of conscience, we have yet another proof. In recent weeks there has been a resurgence of internicine fighting amongst the pro-science blogging community over the issue of religion. The Holy Wars threads involve the debate between two camps: I think the camps are neutrally described as follows (feel free to hurl invective my way if you disagree).

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