Friday, 23 October 2020

Evolution News - Another Way in Which Humans Are Just Like Chimpanzees

Three males groom together in a chain — Likizo (a younger male) grooms Big Brown (an older male), who grooms Lanjo (another younger male).
Photo: John Lower
Source: Havard Gazette
Aging chimps show social selectivity – Harvard Gazette

Despite the denial of Creationists, humans are very like their closest relatives, the chimpanzees in so many way, and not just physical, physiological and genetic. Our psychology is similar too, as this latest finding shows.

A team of psychologists and primatologists from the Harvard Department of Human Evolutionary Biology has shown that chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, like humans, tend to be increasing selective in their friendships as they age. Their findings are published today in Science.

It had been thought that this tendency was unique to humans and stemmed from our sense of our own mortality (itself believed to be a uniquely human trait). However, detailed observation has shown that aging chimpanzees also show the same selectivity in their friendship, tending to favour those they know and trust and with whom there has been little history of animosity.


Humans prioritize close, positive relationships during aging, and socioemotional selectivity theory proposes that this shift causally depends on capacities for thinking about personal future time horizons. To examine this theory, we tested for key elements of human social aging in longitudinal data on wild chimpanzees. Aging male chimpanzees have more mutual friendships characterized by high, equitable investment, whereas younger males have more one-sided relationships. Older males are more likely to be alone, but they also socialize more with important social partners. Further, males show a relative shift from more agonistic interactions to more positive, affiliative interactions over their life span. Our findings indicate that social selectivity can emerge in the absence of complex future-oriented cognition, and they provide an evolutionary context for patterns of social aging in humans.

Juan Siliezar, writing in the Harvard Gazette, explains the significance of this research:
When humans age, they tend to favor small circles of meaningful, established friendships rather than seek new ones, and to lean toward positive relationships rather than ones that bring tension or conflict. These behaviors were thought to be unique to humans but it turns out chimpanzees, one of our closest living relatives, have these traits, too. Understanding why can help scientists gain a better picture of what healthy aging should look like and what triggers this social change.


The study draws on 78,000 hours of observations, made between 1995 and 2016. It looked at the social interactions of 21 male chimpanzees between 15 and 58 years old in the Kibale National Park in Uganda. It shows what’s believed to be the first evidence of nonhuman animals deliberately selecting who they socialize with during aging.

Kakama and Makoku grooming together; these males are long-term mutual friends and show a high level of tolerance.
Video: Ronan Donovan
The researchers looked only at male chimpanzees because they show stronger social bonds and have more frequent social interactions than female chimps. Analyzing a trove of data, the researchers saw that the chimpanzees displayed much of the same behavior aging humans exhibit.

The older chimpanzees they studied, for instance, had on average more mutual friendships while younger chimps had more one-sided relationships. Mutual friendships are characterized by behavior such as reciprocated grooming whereas in lopsided friendships grooming isn’t always returned.

Older males were also more likely to spend more time alone and showed a preference for interacting with — and grooming — chimps they deemed to be more important social partners, like other aging chimps or their mutual friends. And like older humans looking for some peace and quiet, the chimpanzees showed a shift from negative to more positive interactions as they reached their twilight years. The preference is known as a positivity bias.

“The really cool thing is that we found that chimpanzees are showing these patterns that mirror those of humans,” said Alexandra Rosati ’05, an assistant professor of psychology and anthropology at the University of Michigan and one of the paper’s lead authors.

A behaviour which was thought to be based on a uniquely human knowledge of our own mortality is also observed in chimpanzees. If the assumed cause of this behaviour in humans is correct, it suggests chimpanzees also have the same awareness and yet another assumption about the uniqueness of humans is refuted. This in turn suggests a characteristic shared by our common ancestor which would then also be present in our hominid and hominin ancestors, the Australopithecines and archaic humans.

Malevolent Designer News - Covid-19 Design Even MORE Devious!

Neuropilin-1 (NRP1) is a host factor for SARS-CoV-2 infection. The image shows human cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 and expressing viral proteins (shown in green). Removal of NRP1 from cells or treating cells with a drug or an antibody targeting NRP1 reduces SARS-CoV-2 infection

Credit: University of Bristol
October: Neuropilin-1 study | News and features | University of Bristol

Intelligent design creationist fans of the designer whom they believe created the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is currently causing the coronavirus pandemic, killing people by the hundreds of thousands, making millions more sick and wrecking economies as governments attempt to slow its progress and prevent medical services from being overwhelmed, will be thrilled to learn just what a thorough job it did this time, apparently having practiced first with SARS.

The malevolent brilliance of this designer can scarcely be imagined!

One of the puzzling things about SARS-CoV-2 is that it is so much more virulent than the closely related SARS virus and now two independent research teams have discovered why. Both viruses have a 'spike' protein on their outer coat which helps them bind to their victim's cells as a prelude to gaining entry into the cell, where it releases its RNA which converts the cell's reproductive machinery to making new viruses, killing the cell in the process. And yet, SARS-CoV-2 seems to be so much more successful at doing this.

The Bristol University press release explains:

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Evolution News - How Ants Evolved by Losing Complexity

Cataglyphis bombycina workers and (larger) queens.
Credit: Philip Hönle
Losing flight had huge benefits for ants, finds new study | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University OIST

How did ants evolve their famous strength and endurance, which far exceeds even the fittest and strongest mammals in comparison to their size?

The answer to this was provided yesterday by a combined team of researchers from Institut d’Écologie et des Sciences de l’Environnement, Sorbonne Université, Paris, France and the Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Okinawa, Japan.

And Once again, a science paper refutes another sacred Creationist dogma - that so-called 'macro-evolution' always involves an increase in complexity and is therefore impossible because the new information needed can't arise naturally, so needs a magic man to provide it.

Monday, 19 October 2020

What Makes a Trumpanzee?

5 Psychological Reasons Why the 45th President Remains Popular | Psychology Today

Why would anyone in their right mind even think of voting for Donald Trump again? That question was answered by the psychologist, Vinita Mehta Ph.D., Ed.M., writing in Psychology Today.

There are five things that make a Trumpanzee:

  1. Social Dominance Orientation (SDO).

    Readers of my blog-posts may remember we met this term in another Psychology Today article which explained why religious fundamentalists can so easily turn violent and why Creationists feel compelled to over-claim their expertise and insist they know impossible things to be true. Basically, they have a hierarchical view of society and try to elevate themselves up this assumed social hierarchy by pretending to be the superior of educated people, privy to 'secrets' and having a special understanding not available to lesser folk. People who are high in SDO:

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Malevolent Design News - How Covid-19 was Designed to be Sneaky

SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, appears to have evolved silent changes to its RNA code that gave it a biological edge over previous strains.

Credit: Felipe Esquivel Reed
'Silent' Mutations Gave the Coronavirus an Evolutionary Edge | Duke Today

Sadly, this news came just too late to be included in my new book, The Malevolent Designer: Why Nature’s God is Not Good, because it is a brilliant example of what intelligent [sic] design creationists are obliged to assume was deliberately designed by their putative designer god, and which, if such a god existed, would make it a pestilential, genocidal misanthrope of the highest order.

What researchers at Duke University, Durham, N.C., USA have discovered is the 'silent' mutations that turned a harmless coronavirus, infecting bats and other animals, into a deadly, pandemic virus currently causing mayhem with world economies and deaths in the millions as governments all over the world struggle to contain the virus and avoid local health services being overwhelmed.

New Book - The Malevolent Designer

ISBN: 979-8670361729
It hasn't all been boredom and worry during the coronavirus lockdown, when we were confined to our homes for most of the day for several weeks during Spring this year! I spent most of it getting a suntan in my garden and writing a book!

The Malevolent Designer: Why Nature's God is not Good, richly illustrated by my good friend and companion in life, the artist Catherine Hounslow-Webber, is a sequel to my popular book, The Unintelligent Designer: Exposing the Intelligent Design Hoax.

This book, with a close look at the realities of nature, shows why any creative entity who designed much of nature could not honestly be regarded as resembling the notional Abrahamic god, whom we are expected to believe, despite the evidence of its resemblance to an irascible Bronze Age Middle-Eastern tribal warlord in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, and the fear, amounting to a psychotic phobia, it evokes in the minds of devotees, is nevertheless an all-loving, maximally good god.

The book takes the reader through a whole range of parasite-host relationships, from the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) to parasitic plants, explaining how parasites are often equipped with mechanism to make them more effective at making their hosts sick and finding their way into new victims. The concluding chapter looks at ways in which any such designer has already given some species a much superior system such as the immune system of sharks, the cancer-avoiding system in elephants and the superior eyes and respiratory systems of birds, yet neglected to give other species those same systems, instead handicapping them with inferior 'designs'.

Catholic Corruption News - What a Carry On At The Vatican!

Cecilia Marogna / Cardinal Angelo Becciu
Woman arrested amid Vatican financial scandal claims she worked in ‘parallel diplomacy’ | News | LifeSite

The mystery over the sudden sacking by the Pope of Cardinal Angelo Bacciu, amidst rumours of financial impropriety and misuse of Vatican funds, deepened yesterday with the announcement that a close female associate of his, Cecilia Marogna, 39 had been arrested in Milan and charged with embezzlement.

Until his abrupt sacking, Bacciu had been effectively number two in the Vatican; one of the few members of the Pope's inner cabinet with direct access to him without needing to make an appointment.

Marogana had been employed by Bacciu as a “security advisor”. According to this report in the Catholic-leaning LifeSite:

Friday, 16 October 2020

Christian Loonies for Trump

True to form, Evangelical Christian lunatics are coming out in strength for Donald Trump, that most un-Christian of American presidents.

Here we have a clutch of such fruitloops. The first is one is self-styled "prophetess" Kat Kerr, whom readers of my blog will remember from when she had ordered 100 million angels to guard the GOP National Congress and announced that her personal friend, Jesus, was a Trump supporter.

She has now announced that she can draw God from memory, because she has met him, touched his 'living' hair and has a photographic memory.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Ireland to Reduce Catholic Interference in its Education System

A selection of religious symbols on display at Citywest and Saggart Community National School, an Education and Training Board (ETB) school.
Photograph: Eric Luke
Catholic symbols in State schools to be phased out | Irish Times

The Irish Times is reporting that Catholic influences are to be phased out in State-run schools. This is part of an increasing recent trend towards rejection of religion, especially Catholicism, in Ireland in recent years, and is an important milestone on the road to a fully secular society in the Republic.

Amongst the catholic influences to be removed will be graduation masses, Catholic-only symbols and inspection visits by Catholic diocesan inspectors.

Covidiot News - Wackadoodle Conspiracists

Covidiots protesting against lockdown in Harrisburg, PA, USA
Paul Weaver
Popular COVID-19 conspiracies linked to vaccine ‘hesitancy’ | University of Cambridge

Researchers from Cambridge University, UK have analysed data obtained from five different countries and have shown how readily misinformation and fake news about the coronavirus can gain traction. The countries are USA, UK, Mexico, Ireland and Spain.

Using this data, they were able to identify a number of 'key predictors' for susceptibility to fake pandemic news. They also found a clear link between susceptibility to fake news about coronavirus and hesitancy about receiving any future vaccine against it.

Respondents were asked a series of questions to determine their gender, age, ethnicity, political persuasion and numeracy, their trust in politicians' and in the World Health Organization's handling of the crisis, both on a scale of 1 to 7 with 1 being 'not at all' to 7 being 'very much'. Then they were asked to rank a series of statement about coronavirus on a relability scale of 1 to 7 with 1 being 'very unreliable' to 7 being 'very reliable'. Their attitude towards any future vaccine was tested by asking them whether they would accept the vaccine and whether they would recommend it to a vulnerable friend or relative (yes/no).

The following table shows the statements about the coronavirus that respondents were asked to rank for reliability:

Misinformation & factual items
Item no.TypeItem nameFull text
1MisinformationBioengineeringThe coronavirus was bioengineered in a military lab in Wuhan.
2MisinformationBreathBeing able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or discomfort is a good self-check test for whether you have the coronavirus
3MisinformationVaccinationThe coronavirus is part of a global effort to enforce mandatory vaccination.
4MisinformationSalt waterGargling salt water or lemon juice reduces the risk of infection from Coronavirus
5Misinformation5GThe new 5G network may be making us more susceptible to the virus
6MisinformationHot airBreathing in hot air through your mouth and nose (e.g. from a hair dryer) kills the coronavirus as it can only live in cool places.
7Factual informationDiabetesPeople with diabetes are at high risk of complications from coronavirus infection
8Factual informationSanitizerUsing hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is effective in reducing risk of infection from coronavirus.
9AmbiguousIbuprofenTaking ibuprofen when you are infected with the coronavirus could make your symptoms worse

The researchers published their analysis in Royal Society Open Science today (14 October 20202):


Misinformation about COVID-19 is a major threat to public health. Using five national samples from the UK (n= 1050 and n= 1150), Ireland (n = 700), the USA (n = 700), Spain (n= 700) and Mexico (n= 700), we examine predictors of belief in the most common statements about the virus that contain misinformation. We also investigate the prevalence of belief in COVID-19 misinformation across different countries and the role of belief in such misinformation in predicting relevant health behaviours. We find that while public belief in misinformation about COVID-19 is not particularly common, a substantial proportion views this type of misinformation as highly reliable in each country surveyed. In addition, a small group of participants find common factual information about the virus highly unreliable. We also find that increased susceptibility to misinformation negatively affects people's self-reported compliance with public health guidance about COVID-19, as well as people's willingness to get vaccinated against the virus and to recommend the vaccine to vulnerable friends and family. Across all countries surveyed, we find that higher trust in scientists and having higher numeracy skills were associated with lower susceptibility to coronavirus-related misinformation. Taken together, these results demonstrate a clear link between susceptibility to misinformation and both vaccine hesitancy and a reduced likelihood to comply with health guidance measures, and suggest that interventions which aim to improve critical thinking and trust in science may be a promising avenue for future research.

Their main findings are explained in a Cambridge University press release:

While a large majority of people in all five nations judged the misinformation to be unreliable, researchers found that certain conspiracy theories have taken root in significant portions of the population.

The conspiracy deemed most valid across the board was the claim that COVID-19 was engineered in a Wuhan laboratory. Between 22-23% of respondents in the UK and United States rated this assertion as “reliable”. In Ireland this rose to 26%, while in Mexico and Spain it jumped to 33% and 37% respectively.

This was followed by the idea that the pandemic is “part of a plot to enforce global vaccination”, with 22% of the Mexican population rating this as reliable, along with 18% in Ireland, Spain and the US, and 13% in the UK.

The notorious 5G conspiracy – that some telecommunication towers are worsening COVID-19 symptoms – holds sway over smaller but still significant segments: 16% in Mexico, 16% in Spain, 12% in Ireland, and 8% in both the UK and US....

“Certain misinformation claims are consistently seen as reliable by substantial sections of the public. We find a clear link between believing coronavirus conspiracies and hesitancy around any future vaccine,” said Dr Sander van der Linden, co-author and Director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab...

“Certain misinformation claims are consistently seen as reliable by substantial sections of the public. We find a clear link between believing coronavirus conspiracies and hesitancy around any future vaccine,” said Dr Sander van der Linden, co-author and Director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab...

Moreover, and despite ‘boomer’ memes, the team found that being older is actually linked to lower susceptibility to COVID-19 misinformation in all nations except Mexico (where the opposite is true).

Identifying as more right-wing or politically conservative is associated with higher likelihood of believing COVID-19 conspiracies and falsehoods in Ireland, Mexico and Spain – but less so in the UK or US.

Trusting that politicians can effectively tackle the crisis predicts higher likelihood of buying into conspiracies in Mexico, Spain and the US, but not in the UK and Ireland. Exposure to information about the virus on social media is linked to misinformation susceptibility in Ireland, the UK and US.

Researchers asked participants about their attitude to a future coronavirus vaccine. They were also asked to rate the reliability of conspiratorial COVID-19 claims on a scale of one to seven.

On average, an increase by one-seventh in someone’s perceived reliability of misinformation is associated with a drop of almost a quarter – 23% – in the likelihood they will agree to get vaccinated.

Similarly, a one-point increase on the conspiracy reliability scale is linked, on average, to a 28% decrease in the odds of someone recommending vaccination to vulnerable friends and family.

Conversely, on average, a one-seventh increase in trust in scientists is associated with a 73% increase in the likelihood of getting vaccinated and a 79% increase in the odds of recommending vaccination to others.

To summarise: having low numeracy skills and being politically right-wing predispose to accepting wackadoodle conspiracy theories about the coronavirus and make the person more likely to reject a vaccine when one becomes available. Any possible link between low numeracy skills and increased susceptibility to wackadoodle ideas, and being politically right-wing in the first place, was not explored by the researchers, but it's easy to see why Donald Trump and his supporters tend to believe daft conspiracy theories, especially ones about the Wuhan laboratory and a global conspiracy to enforce mandatory vaccinations.

As Donald Trump once boasted, he loves the uneducated.

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Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Covidiot News - Playing the Persecuted Victims Card

Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn protested new restrictions put in place this week on synagogues, schools, restaurants and nonessential businesses.
Credit: Mark Abramson, The New York Times
Cuomo’s Restrictions on Synagogues in Virus Hot Spots Can Go Forward - The New York Times.

A federal judge in Brooklyn has ruled that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's restrictions to limit the spread of the corona virus do not violate the right to free exercise of religion for Orthodox Jews.

As though to demonstrate that Evangelical Christian covidiots were not the only religious fundamentalists keen to help spread the coronavirus as widely and quickly as possible, a group of ultra-Orthodox American Jews calling themselves Agudath Israel of America, had sued Gov. Cuomo over his plans to restrict gatherings in areas with high and rising Covid-19 cases. These infection hot-spots include zones with a high Jewish population. The order sets new capacity limits on places of worship, depending on the level of infection in the zone.

Monday, 12 October 2020

Trump's Disastrous Presidency Exposed

Illustration: Señor Salme
How Trump damaged science — and why it could take decades to recover

The science magazine, Nature, which is normally carefully apolitical, has come out firmly against re-election of Donald Trump as POTUS because of the damage he has done and will continue to do to science. This article really should be read by anyone interested in getting the best outcome from the November elections for America, for science and for the world.

Pandering to his scientifically illiterate, evangelical base, Trump has not only shown his ignorance of science but his open hostility to it, epitomised as it is by his attitude towards the measures to contain and control the coronavirus pandemic.

For example, on September 13 this year, in Henderson Nevada, in contravention of Nevada state rules for social distancing, Trump held a rally in which thousands of Trumpanzees (fanatical Trump supporters) packed shoulder-to-shoulder, without face-masks, in a warehouse in conditioned that looked designed to maximise the spread of the virus, and late boasted about breaking the rules and getting away with it.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Malevolent Designer News - How Parasitic Plants Got Better At Parasitism

Common Broomrape, Orobanche minor

Illustration: Catherine Hounslow-Webber
From The Malevolent Designer: Why Nature's God is not Good
© Catherine Hounslow-Webber.
Planting Parasites: Unveiling Common Molecular Mechanisms of Parasitism and Grafting | Nagoya University Research Achievements

Good news for intelligent [sic] design advocates!

Researchers at Nagoya University, Japan, have worked out how parasitic plants have been modified to make it easier for them to parasitise other plants. They secrete an enzyme known as β-1,4-glucanase (GH9B3). They showed that the process of attaching the haustorium (the organ through which a parasitic plant extracts water and nutrients from its victim is very similar to the way a graft unites the tissues of the scion and the stock. The press release from Nagoya University explains:
Plant parasitism is a phenomenon by which the parasite plant latches onto and absorbs water and nutrients from a second host plant, with the help of a specialized organ called the "haustorium." Once the haustorium forms, specific enzymes then help in forming a connection between the tissues of the parasite and host plants, known as a "xylem bridge," which facilitates the transport of water and nutrients from the host to the parasite.

Evolution News - Fossils of Oldest Monkey Found

Reconstruction of M. pentelicus from Shuitangba.
Image credit: Mauricio Antón
Oldest monkey fossils outside of Africa found | Penn State University

A combined team of American and Chinese palaeontologists have examines fossils found in a lignite mine in south-eastern Yunan Province, China, and concluded that they are the oldest fossils of monkeys yet found outside Africa. At about 6.4 million years old, they coexisted temporally and geographically with early apes.

The significance of these fossils, appart from being some thousand times older than Creationists believe the Universe to be, is explained by A'ndrea Elyse Messer in a Penn State University news release:
"This is significant because they are some of the very oldest fossils of monkeys outside of Africa," said Nina G. Jablonski, Evan Pugh University Professor of Anthropology, Penn State. "It is close to or actually the ancestor of many of the living monkeys of East Asia. One of the interesting things from the perspective of paleontology is that this monkey occurs at the same place and same time as ancient apes in Asia."

The researchers, who included Jablonski and long-time collaborator Xueping Ji, department of paleoanthropology, Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Kunming, China, studied the fossils unearthed from the Shuitangba lignite mine that has yielded many fossils. They report that "The mandible and proximal femur were found in close proximity and are probably of the same individual," in a recent issue of the Journal of Human Evolution. Also uncovered slightly lower was a left calcaneus — heel bone — reported by Dionisios Youlatos, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, in another paper online in the journal, that belongs to the same species of monkey, Mesopithecus pentelicus.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Continuing Human Evolution

Sketch of median artery vessel which supplies blood to the human forearm and hand.
Credit: Professor Maciej Henneberg
Forearm artery reveals human evolution continues – News

Three scientists from Flinders and Adelaide Universities, Australia, have found evidence of continuing human evolution in the increasing occurrence in adults of an artery known as the median artery, in the forearm. The median artery begins as the main blood supply to the developing forearm but normally atrophies in the embryo when the role is taken over by two other arteries - the radial and ulnar arteries.

Friday, 9 October 2020

Evolution News - More Incidental Rebuttals of Creationism

Blind but ferocious: The Iberian mole (Talpa occidentalis) that is common in Spain and Portugal has a peculiar property – the females develop strong muscles and testicular tissues due to increased levels of male sex hormones
© David Carmona, Departamento de Genética,
Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain.
The problem with being a Creationist is you are obliged to hold opinions that are continually being refuted by evidence - which probably explains Creationist disdain for evidence and the science that keeps producing it.

Only yesterday, for example, I wrote about two recent pieces of research that, looked at objectively, should tell any Creationist with a modicum of intellectual honesty and personal integrity that there is something wrong with their dogmas. And here, today, are two more papers that utterly refute Creationist claims quite incidentally and with no intention of doing so on the part of the authors.

Science reveals the truth. It's not complicated; if the truth is at variance with your beliefs than your beliefs are wrong and need to be revised. If you subscribe to a 'faith' that prevents you changing your mind when the evidence demands it, then you don't have free will and are a slave to someone else's dogmas.

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Malevolent Designer News - Two More Examples of Malevolence?

Indigobird, Vidua chalybeata
Cheating birds mimic host nestlings to deceive foster parents | University of Cambridge

A couple of papers recently illustrate just how far a malevolent designer must have gone to create the conditions for parasites to thrive in, if we are to believe intelligent [sic] design advocates.

The first is by scientists from the Zoology Department, Cambridge University, UK and the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town concerning mimicry in bird brood parasites.

The 19 African finches of the Vidua genus, also known as indigobirds or wydahs, are all brood parasites on species of grassfinch. Unlike many brood parasites they do not destroy the hosts eggs and sometimes lay more than one egg in their nest. Each species of Vidua parasitises a single species of grassfinch.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Clerical Child Abuse News - Anglicans As Bad as Catholics

Church of England failures 'allowed child sexual abusers to hide' - BBC News

A report published yesterday by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, paints a sorry picture of an Anglican Church more interested in protecting its own reputation and that of its clergy, than in the welfare of its victims. In an carbon-copy of the Catholic Church's approach to reports of its priests sexually abusing minors and other vulnerable people, the Anglican Church sought to keep the problem under wraps rather than deal with the problem, while its victims were left to fend for themselves and seek justice against an uncaring and indifferent Church establishment.

From the Executive Summary to the report:

Executive Summary

This investigation concerns the extent to which the Church of England and the Church in Wales protected children from sexual abuse in the past. It also examines the effectiveness of current safeguarding arrangements. A public hearing on these specific areas was held in 2019. This report also draws on the previous two case studies on the Anglican Church, which related to the Diocese of Chichester and Peter Ball.

In addition to recommendations made in the case studies, we make eight recommendations in this report, covering areas such as clergy discipline, information-sharing and support for victims and survivors. We will return to other matters raised in this investigation, such as mandatory reporting, in the Inquiry’s final report.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Evolution News - Mosquitoes Refute Creationist Dogma

The image above shows the exoskeletons of a normal mosquito larva on the left and a mosquito larva with the gooseberry gene edited out on the right.
Credit: Alys Jarvela/University of Maryland.
Mosquitoes Lost an Essential Gene with No Ill Effects | College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences.

The bad week for Creationism is continuing. This time a sacred dogma bites the dust as scientists from Maryland University, USA, show that mosquitoes evolved with a loss of genes - something that Creationists tell their dupes is impossible, despite the evidence from parasitology of evolution by reduction in complexity.

The initial discovery of the missing gene, known to entomologists as paired, was made by the lead researcher, Alys M. Cheatle Jarvela when she was looking for it in mosquitoes to use as a standard for comparison to the genes she was studying in crickets. Paired is found in almost all segmented arthropods and it controls the growth of repeated segments during development. If it is deactivated in fruit flies, for example, every alternate segment fails to develop and the developing embryo dies.

Evolution News - Evolution in Progress

Marine flatworm, Procerodes littoralis
Scientists repeat century-old study to reveal evolutionary rescue in the wild - University of Plymouth

A tiny marine flatworm, Procerodes littoralis, has shown that some species can evolve very quickly to adapt to a changing environment.

In an interesting experiment, researchers at the School of Biological and Marine Science, University of Plymouth, UK have repeated an experiment carried out 104 years earlier and shown that this flatworm had adapted to changes in salinity in its environment over the intervening years.

The first series of experiments were conducted by Dr Dorothy Jordan Lloyd, who was based at the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, and focussed on individuals found in Wembury Bay, Plymouth. Dr Jordan Lloyd's results were published in 1914. She showed that there was an optimum level of salinity at which these flatworms were able to regenerate and recover from minor injuries.

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