From February, 2009

EVOLUTION AND THE INDIVIDUAL TALENT

“Hiccups, hernias and hemorrhoids are all caused by an imperfect transfer of anatomical technology from our fish ancestors.”–biology professor Marlene Zuk in The New York Times (1/20/09) Don’t let’s go there. We all have our instinctual phobias and obsessions, a fear of sharp-beaked shadows, or a scarcely controllable urge to upgrade that in-home lap pool, again. Maybe I should have paid more attention before clicking “accept,” but I can never remember whether to stream downloads sequentially or fluvially. No excuses, but I was a botany major. And anyway, anatomical transfer was not part of the core curriculum at my school.…

STEM CELL RESEARCH (AS IMAGINED BY ITS OPPONENTS)

I. THE HEADQUARTERS OF SCIENCE (EUROPE) – Hand me the abortion elixir. – But – but Master, it has yet to finish bubbling. – What in the Darwin?! Here, hold another burning Bible below it. It usually takes three or four. – But why can’t we use these perfectly suitable adult stem cells? I have an entire briefcase right here. – Because if we cure these diseases, then we’ll be out of business for good! That’s why! – I’m so glad you have no common sense. – Yes, I am extremely arrogant. I refuse to accept anything not in a…

YOU MAKE ME SICK: DOES MALADAPTIVE PSYCHOLOGY CAUSE AUTOIMMUNITY

One of the most prominent environmental risk factors described for numerous diseases is chronic exposure to stressful situations. – “Chronic stress and individual vulnerability,” Schmidt MV, Sterlemann V, Müller MB, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, December 2008, 1148, 174-183. Is it really true that autoimmune diseases become more active in response to stress? There are a handful of related but distinct faulty causal inferences about stress and illness in much of the literature on autoimmune disorders. From work on stressful life events and multiple sclerosis relapse (footnote 1), to reports of stress-related onset and exacerbations of Graves…

TERRY TALKS VIDEO: MIKE GRETES – MAKING MEDICINES FOR PEOPLE, NOT FOR PROFIT

(From Terry talks, November 22, 2008) . All lives, no matter where they are lived, have equal value. Yet access to life-saving drugs is most often limited to those who can pay for them. Also, treatments for many tropical diseases are either unavailable or are increasingly ineffective, with toxic side effects to boot. Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (ubc-uaem.org) is a student organization dedicated to fixing this broken system. We work by changing how universities set their technology licensing priorities and their research agendas. At UBC, we’ve persuaded administration to publicly adopt a set of Global Access Principles (www.uilo.ubc.ca/global.asp) that…

A MISPLACED CHAPTER FROM THE BOOK OF GENESIS

And lo, it came to be that God was sitting around in his Lazy-God recliner one quiet millennium, and He sayeth unto His Godlike self: “God is bored and needs some entertainment.” And lo, God created the Earth and all it’s inhabitants without getting up from the Lazy-God chair, even whence God needed the occasional short beer break while working, still He did not leave His chair, but simply reached into His Almighty Demi-God Fridge which He always keepeth beside the Lazy-God chair. Late in the week, as one Godlike afternoon twinkled into evening, God looketh down upon His new…

A CREATIONIST FAQ

Q: What is the principle evidence for Creationism? A: The Holy Bible, of course. After all, is it likely that the author of the Universe would be mistaken about its age? Q: But isn’t the Bible religion and not science? A: Truth is truth. It’s a poor sort of science that ignores truth. Q: But isn’t there a lot of evidence for evolution? A: Not really, most of it is from university professors writing papers for each other. If they didn’t write papers they wouldn’t have jobs. Q: How big was Noah’s ark? A: Big enough. Q: But what about…

DESCENT OF DOG

Samson shivered in the early morning chill, jingling the chain joining his collar and leash. The sun was a big orange food bowl hanging low on the horizon, bathing the neighborhood in its warm glow. Most of the residents were still in bed at this hour, but a few dotted the sidewalks with their best friends in tow. Samson led his best friend a few blocks to the park. It was the first Sunday of the month, which meant Pug Day. Many breeds of dogs came to the park, but the overwhelming majority today would be Pugs, the flat, wrinkled-face…

LIMULUS & CHARLIE

Charlie wears broken glasses held together with tape and toothpicks. He is unemployed and occupies a one-bedroom apartment in Westchester, California, a half-mile northeast of LAX. Charlie eats in his car. His 1991 Nissan Stanza is a mausoleum of fast food, Frito Lay and Little Debbie wrappers. When Charlie was in the sixth grade, some of his classmates took to calling him “blubber butt.” Although the nickname didn’t stick, he has not quite gotten over it. Limulus is a distant relative of the sea spider and one of the oldest creatures in the ocean. These spiders were among the first…