Archive for the ‘evolution’ Category

(I’m reading Introduction to Modern Mathematics right now. It’s very entertaining)

Anyway, in 1967 children were learning too:

The little girl, showing in her domestic play the overriding absorption in personal relationships through which she will later fulfill her role of wife, mother and “expressive leader” of the family (Parsons & Bales, 1956), learns language early in order to communicate. The kind of communication in which she is chiefly interested at this stage concerns the nurturant routines which are the stuff of family life. Sharing and talking about them as she copies and “helps” her mother about the house must enhance the mutual identification of mother and child, which in turn, as Mowrer (1952) and McCarthy (1953) suggest, will reinforce imitation of the mother’s speech and promote further acquisition of language, at first oriented toward domestic and interpersonal affairs but later adapted to other uses as well. Her intellectual performance is relatively predictable because it is rooted in thi early communication, which enables her (environment permitting) to display her inherited potential at an early age.

The same thing happens in boys, but to a lesser extent because they cannot so easily share their interests. Their preoccupation with the working of mechanical things is less interesting to most mothers, and fathers are much less available. Probably too, effective communication about cause and effect presupposes a later stage of mental development than does communication about household routines. The small boy may be storing a great many observations, but his conversation tends to be limited to such remarks as Train stop until he is mature enough to ask Why is the train stopping? … His language, less fluent and personal and later to appear than the girl’s, develops along more analytic lines and may, in favourable circumstances, provide the groundwork for the later intellectual achievement which could not have been foreseen in his first few years.

(Moore 1967, pp. 100-101, cited in Macaulay 1978, p. 360, cited in Eckert, McConnell-Ginet, Language and Gender, 2003)

One has to mention that while extremely creepy, biased and unquestioningly supportive of the extant social order, this sort of pseudoscientific attitude is by no means gone. One only has to smirk derisively at The Female Brain, and lo, its brainless savanna-dwelling adherents come out of the woodwork, mumbling incoherent things about “savanna ancestors”, “hunting and gathering” and “men needing to rape because evolution and also science”, desperately trying to defend the pseudoscience that validates their biases, bigotry and prejudice.

(Incidentally, having read Mark Liberman’s deconstruction of The Female Brain — and other poorly done/described neuroscience research — one has to come to the conclusion that Louann Brizendine is a fraud and a kook. There are only so many end notes that give references to research that doesn’t support her most important claims — or in many cases has nothing to do with her claims at all —  one can read without suspecting foul play(1). Or possibly, she didn’t understand a word of what she hopefully *did* read.)

(Also, there are rumours that there’s a neat deconstruction of Brizendine in Cordelia Fine‘s Delusions of Gender, which I haven’t yet read, and which was recommended on PZ Myers’ blog earlier today. The comment section of that post is, predictably, filled with angry ape-descended savanna-dwellers. For them, I have a message: guise, penis enlargement stuff can be found in the “spam” folder of your mailbox. Have fun!)

(1) Liberman never says it, repeatedly assuming Brizendine’s good will. This is because he’s a nice and also a serious person.

I am neither.


There’s no low that’s too low for me to stoop to, darlings. I’m childish, petty, not v nice, and basically absolutely all right with that. Especially when I’m convinced I’m right.

And I usually am.

1. This is just not natural.

Gay penguinsMoar gay penguins. Apparently, penguins are really gay. Gay-marriedly gay.


A very gay penguin with his gay family, gaily posing for a gay picture of him and his gay family, The photographs might have been gay, too. The camera sure was a lesbian. I have gaydar. I can tell.

In fact, so many animals are pushing the gay agenda that Wikipedia had to make an entire list of them. And the Bonobos, who are so human-like, heh heh heh, are evil filthy lesbians.


This fascinating article from the SEED magazine provides us with many valuable trolling opportunities:

Male big horn sheep live in what are often called “homosexual societies.” They bond through genital licking and anal intercourse, which often ends in ejaculation. If a male sheep chooses to not have gay sex, it becomes a social outcast. Ironically, scientists call such straight-laced males “effeminate.”

Giraffes have all-male orgies. So do bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, gray whales, and West Indian manatees. Japanese macaques, on the other hand, are ardent lesbians; the females enthusiastically mount each other. Bonobos, one of our closest primate relatives, are similar, except that their lesbian sexual encounters occur every two hours. Male bonobos engage in “penis fencing,” which leads, surprisingly enough, to ejaculation. They also give each other genital massages.

As this list of activities suggests, having homosexual sex is the biological equivalent of apple pie: Everybody likes it. At last count, over 450 different vertebrate species could be beheaded in Saudi Arabia.

Do I hear the bigots hetero-panicking yet? Mmmm(1).

Also, a list of gay animals with their gay photos.

2. There’s no gay gene.

There’s no stupid gene, either. And yet!

3. Gays are desperate, hopeless, sad, lonely, miserable people.

Possible replies:

a) And you’re so not helping.

b) Ask about how many gay friends the bigot has, and consequently, how they can tell.

c) Tell them to fuck themselves with a coat hanger.

d) Shove the statistics (with explanation) down the bigot’s bigoted throat.

d”) Mention suicidal children.

d””) Say it’s all the bigot’s fault. Make it personal. They will start feeling uncomfortable sooner or later. Stoop as low as possible. Actually, there’s no stooping too low when you’re talking to a person who believes you’re not really human at all, anyway.

4. Oh, and they’re really slutty too.

And yet they would never want to have sex with the bigot.

Bonus: point out that it’s a but bizarre how they keep bringing up the gay sex all the time. Ask them about repression. Mention internalised homophobia. Point out that homophobic males are sort of totally turned on by gay porn.

5. I LOVE gay people, but I just don’t like what they do.

This one’s fairly straightforward. Proceed from a) to b).

a) Take them at face value first. Ask them what is it that they dislike. Do they have issues with your crocheting? Or is it your choice of books? They will become exasperated, and also

b) This way you proved that you’re human. They might suffer from cognitive dissonance now. Hopefully. Proceed to point out nobody is forcing them to have gay sex, and it’s none of their business what other people do. They might have trouble dehumanising you again, because in a) you showed that your resemblance to a real person is uncanny, and you do not look much like the evil child-rapist and fire-breathing demon they pictured you to be.

6. Anal sex causes AIDS/STDs/cancer.

This why fundie kids like it so much, right?

Bonus: all sex causes all sorts of trouble if it’s not safe sex.

7. Gays can change, therefore they should.

Black people can change skin colour — I mean, look at Michael Jackson – therefore, they should.

(Shamelessly stolen from eliwurman)

8. Gay parenting harms children.

a) Ask the bigot whether the parenting of their parents was gay, because it sure harmed them.

b) Get personal. Tell them the bigot’s parenting, as a result of which more hateful homophobic might be brought up, is much moar harmful anything a pair of clueless gays could ever accomplish. They had it coming.

9. The gays already have equal rights, they want special rights!

a) Point out that the right to marry, adopt children, and not have bigoted fuckwits disrupting your life at every opportunity is not in fact a privilege.

b) Or just inform them that while eating Xian children is in fact a bit further down the gay agenda than such basics as gay marriage, you will of course do everything in your power to get your hands on the government-subsidised foetus sushi(2) that you’re clearly entitled to.

10. The bible is crystal-clear on the subject of homosexuality.

Yes. Yes it is.

(The anti-gay arguments used in this post come from the anti-gay bingo card)

(Still 15 to go)

(But you can start trolling now)


(1) Roughgarden’s theory sounds pretty interesting. Will have to pick up the book when I’m less busy.

(2) With salmon and wasabi.

1. An interesting article about creationists and history revisionism

(Historian! You can halp, too!)

It seems Dawkins’ metaphor about history-deniers wasn’t so far-fetched after all.

(via the Evolution Blog)



(I mean, statistics! You never know when you’ll be able to pwn somebody using the statistics)

(The statistics you’ve been hoarding for ages on a separate delicious account)


The Catholic Church has for years now bragged about its acceptance of science and the theory of evolution, citing the Galileo Affair and Giordano Bruno Affair as minor glitches in the otherwise perfectly working Improbability Drive Biblical Interpretation Machine.

However, with the appearance of Pope Palpatine, the Mighty Conqueror of Children’s Literature it became clear for many that the Catholic honeymoon with science could not last much longer.

Or could it?

I followed the rabbit and several other  commenters from PZ’s post until I got here, to a post about a conference about the lie that is evolution, allegedly in response to Pope Palpatine’s desperate plea for “both sides to be heard”. From the above Headline Bistro post, which makes a great deal out of the fact that the conference will take place in Rome, which is so close to Vatican, which must mean it’s all the pope’s fault (at least, until you notice that it’s hosted by a private university with 3 (three) faculties that was opened only 13 years ago(1)) — anyway from the post it’s clear that the organisers of the conference are suffering from a fairly transparent case of 1) jolly appropriation, 2) lack of any  reading comprehension skills whatsoever.

Anyway, this is from the conference’s press release:

The 150th anniversary of Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” in November 2009 will be the occasion for a unique conference at Pope Pius V University in Rome presenting a scientific refutation of evolution theory. According to Russian sedimentologist Alexander Lalamov, “Everything contained in Darwin’s Origin of Species depends upon rocks forming slowly over enormous periods of time. The November conference demonstrates with empirical data that such geological time is not available for evolution.” Recently returned from a ground-breaking geological conference in Kazan, sedimentologist Guy Berthault will present the findings of several sedimentological studies conducted and published in Russia.

Which leads us to two conclusions:

1. Ouch, that hurt.

2. Wow, creationism must sure be robust is Russia(3).

Anyway, I will be on the lookout for the presentations as they might appear online, and meanwhile(4), one look at the list of contributors, especially at the speaker number six, provides us with surprisingly valuable insights:

Maciej Giertych, Impact of Research on Race Formation and Mutations on the Theory of Evolution

Maciej Giertych, Impact of Research on Race Formation and Mutations on the Theory of Evolution

Maciej Giertych, Impact of Research on Race Formation and Mutations on the Theory of Evolution

Ahahahahaha, a part of my distinguished readership will surely exclaim smugly. Ahahahahahaha, indeed, for a large part of my distinguished readership will know very very well who Maciej Giertych is!

A short bio for newbies!

  1. name: Maciej Giertych
  2. nationality: Polish(5)
  3. family: married with clones children
  4. skills: Advanced Scumbuggery +10,  Lying for Jesus +20, Racism +100 000 000, Misogyny +100 000 000 (the article I linked to is, um, grossly exaggerated, but: facts! In English! So), Anti-Semitism +100 000 000, Batshit +1 000 000 000
  5. profession: while I’d gladly say that he’s a professional Liar for Jesus, I’m afraid I have to come clean about him being a Polish Member of the European Parliament(6).

Yes. He really really is.

In Poland, he’s mostly famous for being a laughingstock, and saying the following things:

1) Legends about dragons are proof that humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time,

2) Neanderthals are not extinct, but live among us still(7).

This all means that locally he’s to be considered  a creationist of about Ray Comfort’s notoriety.

And when I say “notoriety”, I mean “stupidity”.

You can read about his views in the Polish Wiki here, but not in the English one. I wonder why? Were his USian fanboys concerned that that would make him look unhinged and racist and obnoxious? Could not be! Such a pity, really, when major national news outlets have whole articles dedicated to mocking all sorts of his ridiculus or disgusting claims.

He also likes to praise general Franco for slaughtering the commies. Or, you know, the democratic opposition. But then, any opposition to Franco is by definition a commie opposition, which in turn makes is worthy of slaughtering QED.

So, what does Giertych write in the abstract of his doubtlessly magnificent talk?

Throughout Europe evolution is taught in schools as a biological fact.

Gee, I wonder why?

The main evidence for this presented in school textbooks is based on the assertion that formation of races is an example of a small step in evolution. This is profoundly wrong. Races form as a consequence of genetic drift, selection and isolation. Genetic drift results from the accidental loss of some genetic variation in small populations due to inbreeding.

Is this just racist gibberish nonsense or a sophisticated reasoning that  bravely sets out to prove that it’s OK to have sex with your sister, because Adam and Eve, QED? You decide!

Selection depends on the elimination from a population of all forms not adapted to the particular environment. With this elimination also some gene variants (alleles) get lost. For natural races to be identifiable they have to remain isolated from the main body of the population. The same is true in breeding, where the breeder reproduces the race formation procedure only applying selection pressures of his own choice. Macroevolution requires increase of genetic variants, thus race formation which depends on their reduction is a process in the opposite direction, comparable to extinctions.

In short, typical creationist drivel about mutations and loss of information with  the extra topping of racist nomenclature. Meh.

Positive mutations, as a mechanism leading to new functions or organs, are an undemonstrated postulate. We can demonstrate many neutral and negative mutations, but no positive ones.

Where by “we”, he means “lying disgusting toads that live under very very thick rocks”. As it happens, even a non-specialist such as myself can easily recall at least one recent experiment, in which we could observe, witness with our very own eyes bacteria evolving to eat citrate as well as glucose. Which, I hasten to add, was a very positive development — for the bacteria, anyway; one could imagine, the citrate was rather unimpressed. I am of course talking about the famous Lenski experiment. You can read more about it on Wikipedia or anywhere(8) else, and I really do encourage you to do so, because it really is a very interesting and elegant experiment, and it can easily be understood by a person that doesn’t know anything beyond high school lever biology. I know I don’t!

The claim that the appearance of resistance to man-made chemicals (herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics etc) is evidence of positive mutations is questioned on the ground that it belongs to the multitude of defense mechanisms (like healing or acquiring immunity) which defend the existing life functions of an organism without creating new ones.

What we can read above, ladies, gentlemen and poo-flinging monkeys, is a standard denialist discourse tactic, among professional linguists known as “meaningless drivel”.

In short: the pope is not going creationist just yet, and the kooks aren’t even trying that hard(9). Let’s focus on the condoms for the time-being!

Also, what’s much more chilling is what you can find on Catholic websites regarding the conference:

After all the hoopla in academia some months ago with the 150 anniversary of the publishing of Darwin’s Origin of the Species, this is welcome news.  The organizers were interviewed by Zenit News Agency.  Here is part of what they had to say: “Results of recent empirical research published by scientific academies refutes the basic principles of the geological time-scale. It reduces the age of rocks and therefore the fossils in them.

It’s like the pope is the last thing that keeps many Catholics from unleashing their batshit upon the world. And what if the next pope will be a blithering creationist dimwit(11)? Shudder with me, ladies, gentlemen, and poo-flinging monkeys, shudder with me!

(Also, Cthulhu is speaking Czech! Look at this bit of very compelling evidence — just click on the picture — from Google!)

(Also, Karel Čapek! I almost forgot about Čapek!)

(I am the queen of all links, after all!)

ETA: typos fixed.

(1) I’s a big deal that the university is private, because in Europe it is statistically very probable that a serious university will not be private(2).

(2) Unless you are in the UK.

(3) Which in turn leads me to “SO WHY DON’T I SPEAK RUSSIAN AGAIN???”, but I digress.

(4) The abstracts, however, are available here, and, oh my.

(5) The possibility of exchanging him for some oil for the mutual benefit of Poland and Saudi Arabia is, I am told, being looked into at the moment by both countries’ governments.

(6) I now realize this should have been written in sparkly text. Please imagine there is sparkly text in this text where there is none.

(7) It was, as far as I remember, rather unclear whether he proposed  that the neanderthals were Jews or simply POC. Either way, he should DIAF.

(8) Although the recap at Conservapaedia should be most entertaining.

(9) They could try at least renting lecture rooms from La Sapienza or something(10).

(10) Heh heh heh.

(11) I am a bad, bad person, because before shuddering I actually thought “LOL @ creationist pope!”

Like the ones shown in this TED talk by Sue Savage-Rimbaugh:

The important thing to remember, though, is that what SSR refers to as “language” is not really a language as we understand it.  Having a language means, ideally, that you can (at least potentially) communicate everything you want to. Learning to associate individual sings with places or things is a completely different matter. It’s like memorizing the meanings of a bunch of traffic signs  as opposed to learning the language in its entirety.

Further proof that the bonobos don’t communicate with SSR in what we call “language” is that they don’t create new meanings, for instance by combining a few of the signs they already know. This is an important part of language acquisition in humans: a human child will be able not only to imitate what the adults say, but also creatively recycle the words she already knows into new sentences with new meanings. Can you seriously maintain that anybody who is unable to do that can communicate in a language?

The scenes where bonobos seem to understand directions given in human speech are rather misleading as well. All the activities in which they engage – and I don’t want to spoil anything for those who didn’t watch the video first – are not something they engage in for the first time. In fact, it is explicitly stated that the bonobos learned everything  by observing and imitating humans. This means that the experimenter doesn’t really have to say anything, because when equipped with the tools needed to imitate a certain human behaviour, a curious, not hungry bonobo will most likely do just that. Also, please notice the experimenter’s body language as she asks the bonobo to take her lighter. She might have as well said nothing at all.

But nevertheless, the video is still interesting. Also, while it is necessary to remind and be reminded from time to time that humans are not as special as they like to think, and that other apes may seem uncannily human sometimes, we should not athropomorphize them.

And, while the human ape is just an ape, it was  the human ape who noticed that the giant rock she was standing on moves, and has been for approximately the past 4.54 billion years  in a universe that is approximately 13.7 billion years old.