Ontogenetic Depth 2.0: The Prequel

Okay. First admit the obvious. Ontogenetic Depth (OD) 1.0 was — well, it would be beyond charitable to say utterly inadequate. I realized this not long after reading PZ Myers’ first wave of criticisms. As I’ll explain, however, my realization stemmed not from Myers’ specific points (most of which were either minor quibbles, or missed the mark completely), but rather from trying to apply OD 1.0 myself to the well-studied models systems of developmental biology. The OD 1.0 “metric” was no metric — measuring stick — at all. Thus, PZ’s general judgment in 2004, if not his specific criticisms, was dead accurate: “This is a poorly expressed and unusable idea.”

Exploding the Darwin-Friendly Myth of Junk DNA

This just in from Nature magazine, of all places. Not that long ago, biology was considered by many to be a simple science, a pursuit of expedition, observation and experimentation. Also not that long ago, junk DNA was being defended as an important element of the Darwinian evolution paradigm. Just one decade of post-genome biology has exploded that view. Biology’s new glimpse at a universe of non-coding DNA — what used to be called ‘junk’ DNA — has been fascinating and befuddling. Researchers from an international collaborative project called the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) showed that in a selected portion of the genome containing just a few per cent of protein-coding sequence, between 74% and 93% of DNA was Read More ›

“Stephen C. Meyer changes the game in the intelligent design fight with Signature in the Cell

A new review of Signature in the Cell is just out in The Journal of the International Society of Philosophical Enquiry. It brings to the forefront of the overall debate the perspective of a software engineer and logician. Specifically, Harry Kanigel, former executive director, Information Technology at UBS Investment Bank, whose expertise is in computer algorithms. So he knows a thing or two about digital information. His reviews starts strong: Stephen C. Meyer changes the game in the intelligent design fight with Signature in the Cell, a big book that methodically, but agreeably, constructs an argument that intelligence in some unspecified form, is responsidble for the bio-molecular machinery in the cell and, therefore, for first life. Meyer’s argument is, at Read More ›

“Crucial Gaps” Filled by Fossil Discovery? We’ve Heard That Before…

Another year, another fossil with some serious media backing. This week it’s a Homo habilis said to be “almost-complete” — of course, the report from the Telegraph also claims that Homo habilis was “previously unknown,” so you might want to take that with a grain of salt. In fact, you might want to read a bit more before you throw that OMG Missing Link Found! party I know you were planning. (Squatch is going to take it hard when you cancel his first music gig since the Sonics left town.) This is the same species that was reported in an AP article from 2007 which disowned Homo habilis as a human ancestor. As far back as 1999, a paper in Read More ›

Two Articles Defending Stephen Meyer and Signature in the Cell in Salvo Magazine

We’ve recently seen a lot of dialogue between proponents of intelligent design and critics of Stephen Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell. For example, Richard Sternberg has a fascinating series that uncovers some hints at function in SINE elements through unexpectedly conserved patterns that contradict the standard phylogeny (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4). Or, there’s Paul Nelson’s rejoinder to Jeffrey Shallit on whether the weather provides an example of natural processes producing specified and complex information. There’s also Stephen Meyer’s response to Francisco Ayala, as well as responses to Ayala from Jay Richards and David Klinghoffer. I recently decided to jump into this fray, publishing two articles in the latest issue of Salvo Magazine defending Read More ›