ID at the AAAS 2009 Annual Meeting (Part I)

You won’t find any well-known intelligent design advocates among the speakers at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), held recently in Chicago. But that does not mean ID was not there — quite the contrary. Like the social outcast left uninvited to the garden party, who nevertheless becomes the main topic of conversation, ID was on the lips of most of the speakers at an overflow Sunday (2/15) afternoon session, Evolution Makes Sense of Biology. One could be forgiven for leaving the session thinking that evolutionary biology was defined largely by its opposition to ID.

The Catechism Versus the Data (Part 4): The Origin of the Tetrapods

This is the fourth in a blog series responding to John Timmer’s online review of the supplementary biology textbook Explore Evolution. The first part is here, the second here, and the third here. 4. Well, the Tetrapods are Monophyletic: Only “Ph.D.” Malcolm Gordon Disagrees, Right? Timmer accuses EE of what he calls the “find a Ph.D.” approach: “if you look hard enough, you can find someone with a PhD who will say anything.” In this instance, Timmer disparages the minority viewpoint of UCLA biologist Malcolm Gordon (a tenured professor, actually), who has argued that the tetrapods may have evolved polyphyletically (i.e., more than once).

A Footnote to a Footnote to a Footnote: More on Schwabe and relaxin

Two scientists who read the second reply to John Timmer complained (one publicly, the other in an email) that I had neglected to inform readers about the refutation of one of Christian Schwabe’s claims about the protein relaxin. Their complaints, while in my view misdirected, raise some interesting questions that I’ll discuss in my next blog entry.

The Catechism Versus the Data (Part 3): The “Fact” of Evolution

This is the third in a blog series responding to John Timmer’s online review of the supplementary biology textbook Explore Evolution. The first part is here, and the second here. 3. Open Your Catechism to Page One: The Fact of Evolution So what is the “fact” of evolution? Timmer argues that “aspects of the theory [of evolution] can be safely treated as fact,” and in support of this point, cites a paper by the Canadian geneticist T. Ryan Gregory, entitled “Evolution as Fact, Theory and Path.” Here is how Gregory (2008, 49) defines the “fact” of evolution:

The Catechism Versus the Data (Part 2): Much Ado About A Footnote Citing Christian Schwabe

This is the second in a blog series responding to John Timmer’s online review of the supplementary biology textbook Explore Evolution. The first part is here. 2. Much Ado About A Footnote Citing Christian Schwabe One theme of EE addresses differing views among evolutionary biologists about Darwin’s Tree of Life, i.e., the theory of the universal common ancestry of all organisms on Earth: more precisely, the monophyly of terrestrial life, rooted in the Last Universal Common Ancestor, or LUCA. While the majority position within evolutionary biology endorses monophyly, a growing minority of workers argue for multiple independent origins, or polyphyly (see below). It’s an important controversy, well worth the attention of textbooks.