In Monaco, I didn’t have that much time to read blogs, so I concentrated on the few I’ll read even if I have to hand crank the generator myself – Majikthise, Feministing, and Appletree. Just as I came back, I found a flurry of great posts to link to.
Lindsay reports about a visceral article about Sam Harris, who is not just an anti-fundamentalist writer but also a neocon apologist and an Eastern mystic. Harris is trying very hard to parse his support for torture; personally, I stopped being interested at “‘ticking-bomb’ scenarios actually do occur.” Unless he intended to add “on American TV shows” at the end of the sentence, he has no leg to stand on.
PZ laments Turkish creationism, but at the same time notes that science teachers are starting to fight back. Like homophobia, creationism is one of the points of agreement for interfaith discussions; one Turkish creationist called ID a bridge between civilizations.
On the good science side, PZ also has a superb article in Seed about the evolution of eyeless fish. Cavefish don’t need eyes, but in a Darwinian world, there’s no a priori reason for them to lose their eyes entirely. PZ goes through several hypotheses why they have, concluding it’s related to the interplay between two genes regulating ocular development; while eyes are selectively neutral in a dark environment, a gene that reduces eye development also happens to strengthen the jaw and taste buds.
John Wilkins writes about bioturbation, worms’ practice of churning up soil. A new paper suggests that one of the causes of the Cambrian Explosion was the rise of bioturbation, whereby animals used their hard parts to burrow for nutrients in sediments.
Jim Downey’s making his science fiction novel, Communion of Dreams, available for free online.
Zuzu reports about an anti-abortion terrorist who tried arguing that his murder of an abortion doctor was not premeditated because he had intended to shoot to wound. Apparently, he hasn’t heard of felony murder. Even worse, he used the “I only intended to wound” defense as an apology to the victim’s wife.