And with that I’ll take both good and bad questions…

When scientists give talks/seminars/colloquia/presentations/speeches/lectures/lessons/defenses/instructions, questions are welcomed, and (probably to give themselves time to think), they often start by stating that that is a good question. What they don’t do is designate a question as dumb or stupid, because that’s offensive, and scientists are frail like quails when it comes to their intellects. “Good” questions: …

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Step Acuity

Please help me with a little science experiment. Measure your Step Acuity (SA) and report it here. Your SA is the number of steps before you hit a mark that you know whether you will hit the mark with your right or left foot. As you are walking down the street, choose a mark (a …

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What is a hero?

Does the hero die a hero, or does she survive?In our worship of the mortal champion for good, is it imperative that the hero dies in the at, or do we need her to live?What is this uniquely human construct of the hero? Why is it important for us to imagine the hero? Is the …

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American teens are losing their religion

Fig 2. Percentage of American adolescents endorsing “none” for religious affiliation, 1966–2014. From Twenge et al. (2015) Generational and Time Period Differences in American Adolescents’ Religious Orientation, 1966–2014, PLoS ONE. Press release \o/ – See more at: http://pleiotropy.fieldofscience.com/2015/05/american-teens-are-losing-their-religion.html#sthash.0354hveO.dpuf Tweet

The Monty Hall Evolver

The Monty Hall problem is very famous (Wikipedia, NYT). It is so famous because it so easily fools almost everyone the first time they hear about it, including people with doctorate degrees in various STEM fields. There are three doors. Behind one is a big prize, a car, and behind the two others are goats. …

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Creationist Origin Summit at Michigan State University

ORiGiN SuMMiT Michigan State University November 1st, 2014 Business College Complex, Room N130 FREE ADMISSION website  Meet the Speakers Dr. Gerald Bergman Northwest State Community College Dr. Donald DeYoung Grace College and Theological Seminary Dr. Charles Jackson Points of Origin Ministries Dr. John Sanford Cornell University Workshops Hitler’s Worldview There’s no doubt Adolph Hitler believed in …

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Evolution, sex, and mixability

Last Friday Christos Papadimitriou gave a seminar at UC Santa Barbara in the Computer Science department. The title of his talk was Computational Insights and the Theory of Evolution [announcement]. Abstract  Covertly computational ideas have influenced the Theory of Evolution from the very start. This talk is about recent work on Evolution that was inspired and …

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Death of the fittest

This is imho an excessively beautiful figure! I keep staring at it getting thrills, and bliss pours over me as I explore its intricacies. This is evolution.   Click to enlarge. (You should enjoy this figure while listening to one or several of these:) What are we looking at? Fitness over time of all individuals …

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Vertebrate sexual systems

Awesome figure of the sexual systems used by 2,145 vertebrates species (705 fish, 173 amphibian, 593 non-avian reptilian, 195 avian, 479 mammalian).Similar figures for plants and invertebrates. Tree structure is derived from taxonomy, where each tip represents all species in a single genus. Diploid chromosome number is indicated by the height of the innermost ring. …

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The simulations behind the fitness landscape visualizations

We now have two videos out featuring evolving populations in two-dimensional fitness landscapes.Using fitness landscapes to visualize evolution in action Youtube Vimeo Visualizing coevolution in dynamic fitness landscapes Youtube Vimeo (Best to watch the first one first for some background information about fitness landscapes.) These movies are based on simulations of organisms evolving by reproduction, …

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Pragmatic definitions in biology

Biology is littered with concepts that biologists cannot always agree on how to define or where there are special cases where the common definition have to be amended. Species. Complexity. Modularity. Evolvability. Evolution. Genes. Community. Robustness. Open-ended evolution. Fitness. Life. Take species. The current state of affairs is that there are many different definitions, and …

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Wy do you believe?

If you say you believe in something, what is it that you mean by that? For example, if you say you believe you will find a hundred-dollar bill today, what is that belief built upon?I posit that what you actually believe (as opposed to what you say you believe) is really based on probabilities. Perhaps …

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Meta-spam

WTF?! A spam email advertisement for spam! Here’s an unsolicited email I’ve just received offering bulk email solutions. I hope this is a sign that the business is floundering, though I have my doubts. The Best way of busi​ness promotion : Bul​k Email​ From: Naveen Rajput To: Bjørn Østman Received: Feb 1, 2014, 02:26 PM …

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Two new books on evolution

Here are two new books on evolution. I wrote chapters for both :o Predicting Evolution and Visualizing High-Dimensional Fitness Landscapes Effects of Epistasis and Pleiotropy on Fitness Landscapes You can download the chapters via those links at least for a while. After that they can always be downloaded from the arXiv. Both chapters are about fitness …

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Life was not created

This brochure from The Watchtower was sent to me by a reddit user, who in turn received it from a friend who believes God chose this place for us and directed evolution. You can download it here. Here are a few comments on the section that attempts to refute evolution. Myth 1. Mutations provide the …

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Reddit AMA FAQ

I did a Reddit/r/IAmA AMA yesterday and got a huge amount of questions. Some of them were repeats, so I post them here with answers. I’m planning to do another AMA perhaps next month, so this can serve as a reference. Update 11/12/13: Randy’s interview about this AMA is featured on BEACON’s blog. Q. What …

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