Famous physiologist embarrasses himself by claiming that the modern theory of evolution is in tatters

Why Evolution Is True

Here we go again: someone arguing that DARWIN WAS RONG  (well, he was, on several issues) and also that DARWIN’S INTELLECTUAL DESCENDANTS ARE RONG TOO. But this time it’s not a creationist but a card-carrying biologist, and a famous one, too.

Matthew Cobb ruined my morning by sending me a video of the renowned physiologist Denis Noble (born 1936 and a professor at Oxford until 2004), whose name is followed by a veritable alphabet soup of honors (CBE, FRS, FRCP).  His contributions to physiology are apparently multifarious, though I confess I don’t know much about Noble or what he did. Nevertheless, in his dotage he’s taken to writing and talking about how modern evolutionary biology (“neo-Darwinism” or “the Modern Synthesis”) is wrong, and that I know something about. And Noble, as you’ll see in the video, is wrong; in fact, I’d use the physics adage and say “he’s not even…

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Laland at it again: touts a “radically different” account of evolution

Why Evolution Is True

Yes, the folks who want evolutionary biology to be radically expanded to take into account phenomena like development, “niche construction,” culture, and epigenetics are at it again, and again they have nothing to offer but a few lab examples mixed with a lot of hype. And the promoter of this view is once again Kevin Laland from the University of St Andrews, who has published a new piece in Aeon, “Science in flux: Is evolutionary science due for a major overhaul, or is talk of a ‘revolution’ misguided? Now Laland is not just a dispassionate person who sees evolution neglecting these areas, for he’s head of a £5.7 million Templeton grant “to further our understanding of evolution.” Templeton has donated a lot of money lately to projects trying to revise or dismantle the current neo-Darwinian view of evolution. I’m not quite sure how this fits into their science-loves-religion agenda, but…

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A new hypothesis about consciousness

Why Evolution Is True

In my view, there are two big problems of consciousness. The first is mechanical: how does it work? (This is called “The Hard Problem of Consciousness”.) What configurations of neurons create “qualia”, the sensation of conscious experience that includes pain, pleasure, self-awareness, and so on. Many theologians and obtuse philosophers maintain that we’ll never be able to understand how materialism can explain this, and thus use it to either attack materialism and “scientism”, or to plump for God, the Thing That Can Explain Stuff That Science Hasn’t Yet. I’m pretty confident that we’ll one day understand this, but surely not in my lifetime.

That’s the proximal or mechanical problem. The other is evolutionary: what selective pressures, if any, gave rise to consciousness? It surely evolved one way or another, because I doubt that microbes are conscious, but somewhere on the line between us and our microbial ancestors, animals became conscious…

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Some facts on Sci-Hub that Wikipedia gets wrong

engineuring

(and some history of Sci-Hub too)

Like most people, I routinely use Wikipedia to lookup information. Sometimes however, the information in Wikipedia does not represent the true facts about reality. That happened to Sci-Hub wikipedia article, too.

Starting from the first paragraph, it says:

Sci-Hub is an online search engine with over 62,000,000 academic papers and articles available for direct download, bypassing publisher paywalls. New papers are uploaded daily when accessed through educational institution proxies, and papers that have been accessed through Sci-Hub are stored in the LibGen repository.

What inaccuracies are present in this paragraph?

First of all and important, Sci-Hub is not a search engine.

A search engine is a program that takes some keywords from user, and provides the user with documents most relevant to these keywords.

Does Sci-Hub have keywords search? No. The user needs to provide Sci-Hub with an exact reference to…

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Sci-Hub is a goal, changing the system is a method

engineuring

Last weeks, I read many varying opinions on my website.

What was especially surpising for me is that there are many people who view Sci-Hub as some kind of a tool to change the system. Like changing the system was a goal, and Sci-Hub was a tool to achieve it.

My view is completely different. For me, Sci-Hub has a value by itself, as a website where users can access knowledge. There are many websites where you can see pictures, share tweets, download music, read ebooks. And Sci-Hub is a website where you can read research articles.

On the Internet, we obviously need websites like Sci-Hub where people can access and read research literature. The problem is, such websites oftenly cannot operate without interruptions, because current system does not allow it.

The system has to be changed so that websites like Sci-Hub can work without running into problems. Sci-Hub is a…

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Claire Lehmann and Debra Soh dismantle John Horgan’s indictment of sexism in science

Why Evolution Is True

The mandatory disclaimer first: I’m not claiming that science is free of sexism. No area in which men labor is, since there are always some sexist men. I would argue, though, that we’re doing our best to free the discipline of sexism (most hiring committees, for example,  have a keen look-out for women candidates, and there are a number of initiatives, scholarships, and the like which are solely directed at women.  I’d also argue that I detect no clear institutionalized sexism in science: that is, I see no rules, guidelines, or institutionalized practices that lead to discrimination against women. But there’s always room for improvement.

But I’d rather listen to a woman than a man about these issues, since women are on the receiving end of any discrimination. Especially when the man who chooses to lecture us about our sins is writer John Horgan, a contrarian who writes a blog…

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PinkerGate: The last word

Why Evolution Is True

Two days ago I wrote about how some social-media folks had distorted an eight-minute remark by Steve Pinker made at the Spiked event at Harvard: “Is political correctness why Trump won.” Pinker spoke about how certain facts had been censored or deemed taboo by the Left, and how the suppression of truth in that way simply drives people into the arms of the Right or the “alt-right” (whatever the “alt-right” is). If you listened to Pinker’s whole set of remarks, it was clear that he was against the alt-right and was calling for a degree of honesty by progressives that would not drive people rightward.

In my post, I showed how many people had willfully distorted Pinker’s remarks to make him seem a fan of the alt-right, something that anybody with a few neurons could have discerned had they listened to the whole eight-minute talk. But people kept excerpting just…

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