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Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Covidiot News - Another Irresponsible Antivaxx Lie Exposed

Complications in pregnancy and birth increase with COVID-19 infection - PLoS

According to figures published in PLoS Medicine today, pregnant women who have caught COVID-19 have about double the risk of developing serious, potentially life-threatening (for mother and foetus) complications during pregnancy, compared to those who remain free of the virus. For example, 4.8% of pregnant women infected with the virus are going to develop gestational diabetes as opposed to 1.3% of those who do not have COVID-19 and 16.7% are going to have a pre-term delivery at <37 weeks compared to the 7.1% of those who do not have the infection.

The inescapable conclusion then is that pregnant women and women intending to get pregnant in the near future should be vaccinated to lessen the chances of these complications arising. Any slight risk of rare complications from the vaccine are more than outweighed by the risks from the virus, contrary to widely believed lies being promulgated by antivaxxers for political ends.

According to information supplied ahead of the paper's publication in PLoS Medicine:

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Christian Hypocrisy News - 'Blasphemous' Painting of George Floyd and a Black Madonna as a Pietà Stolen

'George Floyd' pieta stolen after artist receives death threats

After evoking outrage in white conservative Christian circles, a copy of a painting by St. Louis artist Kelly Latimore, depicting the body of George Floyd being cradled by a black Madonna in an artistic device known as a Pietà, has been stolen from the Mary Mirror of Justice Chapel in the Law School of the Catholic University of America, Washington DC.

Kelly, a devout Catholic, has also received death threats and the Catholic University has received several threatening and racist letters of protest over the display of the painting.

Friday, 26 November 2021

Malevolent Design News - Creationism's Malevolent Designer Is Not Giving Up Without a Fight!

A new 'variant of concern' (μ)
New Covid variant: How worried should we be? - BBC News

The news from South Africa is that we have a new, potentially very dangerous, variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus with multiple mutations (or as Creationists will put it, multiple design improvements), including significant changes to the spike proteins against which the current vaccines produce antibodies.

The characteristics of the new variant, currently designated 8.1.1.529 and which will probably be designated by the WHO with the Greek letter μ (mu) tomorrow, are:

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Malevolent Designer News - How Creationism's Malevolent Designer Got It's Retaliation in First With a More Lethal Variant of SARS-CoV-2

Mean trajectories of weekly cases and deaths for various model variants. Deterministic trajectories for the various model variants are shown, along with data (black). Models without change in infection fatality rate (IFR) are shown as dashed, models with change in IFR solid.
U.K. study suggests COVID-19 became much more lethal in late 2020 - PLoS

According to a study by Patrick Pietzonka and colleagues, of the University of Cambridge, UK, it looks, from an intelligent [sic] design perspective as though the putative divine malevolence who designed the SARS-CoV-2 virus, got it's retaliation in first, ahead of the approval of the anti-COVID-19 vaccines, in late 2020.

According to information supplied by PLoS ahead of publication, their new statistical analysis supports beliefs that COVID-19 became more lethal in the U.K. in late 2020, while also suggesting that multiple factors—not just the alpha variant of the virus that causes COVID-19—were to blame. According to their press release:
Studying how the lethality of COVID-19 has changed over time in different regions could help guide continued efforts to address this disease. While simple, preliminary evaluations of infection and mortality data suggest that COVID-19 may have become more lethal in the UK in late 2020, more rigorous analyses have been lacking.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Evolution News - How Our Neanderthal Genes Make us Both More Susceptible to the SARS-CoV-2 Virus and Help Us Fight It.

Pie charts show the minor allele frequency at rs35044562.

Source: The major genetic risk factor for severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neanderthals
Frequency data were obtained from the 1000 Genomes Project"22.
Map source data were obtained from OpenStreetMap23
Neanderthal genes increase risk of serious Covid-19, study claims | Science | The Guardian

Creationist mode:


Typical of evolutionary biologists, scientists are trying to lay the blame for some people's susceptibility to severe forms of COVID-19 in response to infection by the SARS-VoV-2 virus at the door of Neanderthals. Neanderthals are alleged to have interbred with early modern humans and passed on some of the genes to those of us who are descended from the results of these encounters.

As any intelligent [sic] design creationists will tell you, however, modern humans were created as is just a few thousand years ago complete with the genes that convey this susceptibility, provided by the designer in full and certain knowledge of what it would mean once it had created the SARS-CoV-2 virus - er… because it loves us.

Creationist mode:


At least that's the line of reasoning ID Creationists would be following if only they were honest enough and consistent enough to follow their argument through to its logical conclusion. However, their normal response is to claim that, whilst their putative creator god is the only entity capable of creating anything and so created everything, it only deserves the credit for the good things while someone or something else is to blame for all the bad things like viruses and genes that cause things like susceptibility to a severe form of COVID-19.

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Malevolent Designer News - How Creationism's Divine Malevolence COULD Have Protected us from Cancer, But Chose Not To.

1 of 3
Galápagos tortoises.
Credit: Ylenia Chiari
2 of 3
Galápagos tortoise.
Credit: Ylenia Chiari
3 of 3
Galápagos tortoise.
Credit: Ylenia Chiari
Live long and prosper: Study examines genetic gems in Galápagos giant tortoise genomes - The Graduate School at the University at Buffalo - University at Buffalo

Hidden away inside the cells of the giant Galápagos tortoise is a secret that, if Creationists are to be believed, the same magic creator who designed humans and who also designed these long-lived reptiles, could have shared with humans, and indeed all other species prone to cancers, but it apparently chose not to.

The secret is in the way the giant Galápagos tortoise can detect cells that have gone wrong and rapidly destroy them in a process known as apoptosis, so killing the nascent tumour before it gets going. The scientists from the University of Buffalo, USA, who made this discovery believe the key to the tortoise's ability to do this lies in that embarrassment for Creationists - gene-doubling - so creating additional information in the genome. Increasing the amount of information in the genome without the intervention of their invisible friend is something Creationists will assure you can't happen because so they claim, new genetic information can't arise naturally, despite the evidence that it can and does.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Malevolent Designer News - How Creationism's Divine Malevolence is Waging an Arms Race - With Itself!

The Aedes aegypti mosquito species, shown here obtaining a blood meal, is a vector for the dengue virus.
Articles - Dengue viral evolution study in Thailand - Emerging Pathogens Institute - University of Florida

A paper by a team of scientists from University of Florida, published recently in Science, shows how the four strains of the dengue virus circulating in Bangkok, Thailand, have changed in response to immunity in a population over a period of two decades. Being scientists, they attribute this to the natural process of evolution by natural selection, but, as any self-respecting Creationist (if any such exist) will tell you, because nothing changes genetically without their putative designer god's intelligent intervention, these changes must be because this divine malevolence is trying to find ways around the resistance to the virus our immune system is providing - an immune system which it also designed to protect us from is nasty little creations, allegedly!

We want to understand if or how immunity is driving extinction or persistence of particular lineages of dengue virus circulating in this one place. To do that, we characterized the immune signature of dengue viruses isolated in Bangkok over a long period of time.

We found that there is a pattern like influenza, where we get different viruses every year that are driven by natural selection for viruses that evade the human immune response to the population. We have shown that that this is also happening with dengue.

Professor Derek Cummings, senior author
Professor of biology
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
This of course, is a classic evolutionary arms race, just as is predicted and expected by the theory of evolution by natural selection, but which, if we are to believe Creationists, can only mean their putative creator god is indulging in yet another bizarre arms race with itself, almost as though it suffers from a multiple personality syndrome. But it gets even more bizarre. There are four different versions (or serotypes) of the virus, named by scientists as DENV1 through DENV4, each of which appears to be competing with the others! As well as variation between strains, there are also smaller variations within strains.

It's as though there are four independent, competing designers, each responsible for just one strain of the virus, as well as a fifth designer responsible for the human immune system, and they're all competing with one another. The thought that this is one and the same, supposedly highly intelligent, designer simply beggars belief.

Our findings suggest that the dengue viruses are moving away from the viruses that generated immunity in the population in the past. It’s sort of like the flu story, dengue is evolving to escape the immunity that is in the population at any particular time. But it seems to be happening at a slower pace with dengue than influenza.

Professor Henrik Salje, co-author
Assistant professor
Department of Biology and Emerging Pathogens Institute
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
The scientists analysed the genomes of the viruses in 1,944 archived blood samples from Bangkok. The samples were preserved from people known to be ill with dengue and they represent all four dengue virus strains from every year between 1994 and 2014. The team genetically sequenced more than 2,000 virus samples. They then tested a subset of these samples that represented a time series of each strain. From this they were able to characterise the antigenic relationship of the strains to each other through time. This showed how well (or badly) an immune response to one strain protects against another strain.

These results were then plotted on a chart to make a map showing how far from the original strain(s) and from one another, the viruses had moved over time.

This scatter plot depicts the movement of antigenic distance within and between each DENV serotype. Yellow circles date to 1994, green to 2004, and purple to 2014.
They showed that, just like influenza where a different strain of virus arises every year in response to immunity in the human population, dengue virus strains do the same and in doing so, also tend to diverge away from one another so they can overcome the immunity produced by the other strains. Immunity produced by one strain is the environmental factor driving the evolution not only of that strain but of the other three strains as well.

The results also show a clear inverse relationship between the level of antigenic diversity in a given year and epidemic levels. When Thailand experienced large epidemic outbreaks, antigenic diversity was low. But in years when epidemic levels were lower than average, the antigenic diversity was higher. They also showed that the assumption that infection by one strain of the virus would also protect people against the other strains was not strictly true, since reinfections are now known to have occurred. The reason for this is that the virus evolves to evade the antibodies produced by an earlier infection, or to put that in evolutionary terms, those viruses that survive and get passed on are those which are able to infect despite the presence of antibodies to earlier strains in the population. In this way the presence of genetic variations which enable this evasion tend to increase in the population of that strain.

Classic evolution by natural selection.

In the abstract to their published paper in Science the team say:
Variations in disease enhancement

Secondary Dengue virus (DENV) infections can be dangerous if levels of antibodies from prior infection are inadequate to clear the virus. This RNA flavivirus exploits the presence of lower levels of heterotypic antibodies to infect immunoglobulin Fcγ receptor–bearing cells. Many RNA viruses also exhibit antigenic variation, which classically allows evasion of immune responses. Katzelnick et al. investigated whether antigenic variation in DENV has a biological function in a virus that courts immune responses to enhance replication (see the Perspective by Rohani and Drake). Using antigenic cartography on a panel of more than 400 DENV1-4 subtype samples isolated in Bangkok, Thailand, the authors found that antigenic variation in virus populations oscillated between similarity and dissimilarity across subtypes over time, with outbreaks correlating with periods of antigenic dissimilarity within serotypes. This pattern may be at least in part a result of the conflicting evolutionary pressures of immune evasion and immune enhancement. — CA


Abstract

Infection with one of dengue viruses 1 to 4 (DENV1-4) induces protective antibodies against homotypic infection. However, a notable feature of dengue viruses is the ability to use preexisting heterotypic antibodies to infect Fcγ receptor–bearing immune cells, leading to higher viral load and immunopathological events that augment disease. We tracked the antigenic dynamics of each DENV serotype by using 1944 sequenced isolates from Bangkok, Thailand, between 1994 and 2014 (348 strains), in comparison with regional and global DENV antigenic diversity (64 strains). Over the course of 20 years, the Thailand DENV serotypes gradually evolved away from one another. However, for brief periods, the serotypes increased in similarity, with corresponding changes in epidemic magnitude. Antigenic evolution within a genotype involved a trade-off between two types of antigenic change (within-serotype and between-serotype), whereas genotype replacement resulted in antigenic change away from all serotypes. These findings provide insights into theorized dynamics in antigenic evolution.

A very clear case then of how a virus can evolve according to the changes in its environment and how strains diversify when in competition for the same resource and in the presence of antibodies produced by their competitors. As with SARS-CoV2, Creationists are left to explain this in terms of intelligent design by their favourite putative god, rather than to attribute it to a natural process not involving any gods, their favourite included. For reasons which have never been explained they prefer to present this god as the malevolent and rather stupid entity behind these parasites and the resultant arms races with itself.

One wonders what it would think of their portrayal of it, if it were real.


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Evolution News - One of Our Missing Links is still Missing!

In the shallows near shore, Tetrapodophis amplectus glides through a tangle of branches from the conifer Duartenia araripensis that have fallen into the water, sharing this habitat with a water bug in the family Belostomatidae and small fish (Dastilbe sp.).
Image credit: Julius Csotonyi
Paleontologists debunk fossil thought to be missing link between lizards and first snakes - Taylor & Francis Newsroom

In a very nice example of the self-correcting nature of science, a paper published three days ago in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, scientist led by University of Alberta palaeontologist Michael Caldwell, produce evidence refuting an earlier claim to have identified a fossil of a 'missing link' between snakes and lizards, from which snakes are assumed to have evolved, with a detailed reassessment showing that the fossil was not of a snake but in fact a highly adapted aquatic lizard.

This is the sort of science which will gladden the heart of any dedicated creationist trying desperately to ignore the evidence of the very many other 'missing' link fossils which turn up almost routinely in the scientific literature - until, that is, it dawns on them that this willingness to reassess and revise is exactly what gives the scientific method its great power to reveal the truth of the natural world as opposed to the theological method which looks for reasons not to change one's mind but to reinforce the sacred dogmas - like the Creationist insistence that there are no missing link fossils.

Friday, 19 November 2021

Fleecing the Suckers - Kat Kerr Shows How Easy it is to Fleece Trump-Supporting Talibangelical Christians

Kat Kerr
Talibangelical Christian False Prophetess
“Prophetess”: God’s Moving Me Into a Mansion So I Can “Infiltrate” the Wealthy | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

The notorious false prophetess, Kat Kerr, has boasted to her credulous supporters about what she is doing with all the tax-free money they give her - she is buying a mansion in an exclusive, gated community in Florida.

True to form however, she fooled them some more by telling them God had told her to buy it so he could use her to 'infiltrate her into the circle of the wealthy and the rich'! Well, that's her story and she's sticking to it. And why not? She knows full well that anyone who thinks Donald Trump was a competent president, let alone a good one worth re-electing, will probably believe anything. After all, experience must tell her that no matter how preposterous her claims, her simpleton victims will continue to pay good money just to hear it.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Covidiots Are Missing More Than Just Brain Cells

Electron micrograph of a single SARS-CoV-2 particle with its spike proteins (blue) clearly visible. The inset is a 3D model of the spike protein — the portion of the COVID-19 virus that currently available mRNA vaccines recognize. A recent Johns Hopkins Medicine study suggests that T lymphocytes — immune system cells that target the spike protein and direct antibodies against the COVID-19 virus — persist six months after vaccination and help protect against the delta variant of the virus.

Credit:
Graphic: M.E. Newman, Johns Hopkins Medicine, using public domain images.
Micrograph: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
SARS-CoV-2 spike protein 3D model: National Institutes of Health
Study Shows Immune Cells Against Covid-19 Stay High in Number Six Months After Vaccination

A Recent study by scientists at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, published recently by Oxford University Press in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, shows just what the covidiots who are refusing to get vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus are missing in addition to the ability to make rational decisions and think for themselves. The study shows how people vaccinated with either of the mRNA vaccines still have high levels of t-lymphocytes circulating in their blood 6 months after immunisation and that these levels have only declined slightly from the initial levels.

In other words, people who have been vaccinated with the mRNA vaccines have specialised, pre-programmed cells active and ready to fight the virus by destroying infected cells and preventing them producing more virus particles in addition to the antibodies that identify and attack virus particles that get into the body.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

If Ever You're Feeling Really Stupid. 20 Things Some People Still Believe:

  1. That Earth is flat and has a dome over it to keep the water above the sky out. The moon and sun are lamps hung on this dome so we can tell day from night and the stars stuck to it can shake loose and fall to earth during earthquakes.
  2. That a magic man can design himself before he existed then self-assemble out of nothing with enough information to create and micromanage an entire Universe out of nothing.
  3. That a hundred-year-old man built a wooden boat and rounded up two or seven of every species in the world to live together for a year sealed in that boat with only one small window for air, then they left the boat onto a sterile planet on which all living things had been destroyed, including the plants, but still found enough to eat so everything alive today is descended from those few survivors.
  4. That just five generations after the survivors left the boat in 2, there were enough people to support a massive civil engineering project to build a tower up to Heaven, which in those days was just above the sky over the Middle East, and that all the languages on Earth are the result of this population each being magically made to speak languages that non-one else could understand, because the project alarmed an omniscient, omnipotent god who lived in the Heaven.

Monday, 15 November 2021

Evolution News - Amazon Rainforest Birds Evolving Due to Climate Change

Above the Amazon rainforest canopy where birds have become smaller and their wings have become longer over several generations, indicating a response to the shifting environmental conditions that may include new physiological or nutritional challenges.

Photo credit: Vitek Jirinec, LSU
Amazon Rainforest Birds’ Bodies Transform Due to Climate Change

A study by a combined team from the USA, Brazil and Portugal, led by Vitek Jirinec of Louisiana State University's School of Renewable Natural Resources, has found evidence that climate change is causing birds of the Amazon Rainforest to evolve smaller bodies and longer wings, even in the areas of the forest where human activity is minimal.

They arrived at this conclusion by examining data from measuring over 15,000 birds over a period of 40 years from a wide range of sites. Over that time the body mass of individuals has reduced by about 2% per decade, so that a bird species with an average body weight of 30 grams in 1980 would now have an average weight of 27.6 grams. These changes are not confined to specific areas, so eliminating local factors. In other words, the changes are being produced by a pervasive environmental change.

The team have published their findings, open access a few days ago, in Science Advances.
These birds don’t vary that much in size. They are fairly fine-tuned, so when everyone in the population is a couple of grams smaller, it’s significant.

This is undoubtedly happening all over and probably not just with birds...If you look out your window, and consider what you’re seeing out there, the conditions are not what they were 40 years ago and it’s very likely plants and animals are responding to those changes as well. We have this idea that the things we see are fixed in time; but if these birds aren’t fixed in time, that may not be true.

Professor Philip Stouffer, co-author
Lee F. Mason Professor
School of Renewable Natural Resources
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA
Where there was a significant difference, however, was related to the level in the forest that the species normally inhabits, from the forest floor to the canopy. The change was most marked in those which occupy the higher levels, where climate change has had the biggest impact making it drier and hotter. This has created an environment which favour lighter bodies with longer wings, both of which improve flight efficiency so making it easier to tolerate higher temperatures.

In the abstract to their open access paper, published in Science Advances, the authors say:
Abstract

Warming from climate change is expected to reduce body size of endotherms, but studies from temperate systems have produced equivocal results. Over four decades, we collected morphometric data on a nonmigratory understory bird community within Amazonian primary rainforest that is experiencing increasingly extreme climate. All 77

species showed lower mean mass since the early 1980s—nearly half with 95% confidence. A third of species concomitantly increased wing length, driving a decrease in mass:wing ratio for 69% of species. Seasonal precipitation patterns were generally better than temperature at explaining morphological variation. Short-term climatic conditions affected all metrics, but time trends in wing and mass:wing remained robust even after controlling for annual seasonal conditions. We attribute these results to pressures to increase resource economy under warming. Both seasonal and long-term morphological shifts suggest response to climate change and highlight its pervasive consequences, even in the heart of the world’s largest rainforest.


Copyright: 2021 The authors. Published by American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Open access
Reprinted under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC 4.0)
This is a clear example, not only of the effects of climate change but of how significant environmental change can influence the evolution of species as the environment selects for those characteristics which give greater fitness. It's a beautiful example of how science quite incidentally and with no intention on the part of the authors to do so, casually refutes Creationism by revealing the facts and so confirming once gain how evolution by natural selection works in practice. Significant morphological changes have occurred in these species over a defined time period and that change is proportional to the impact of a pervasive, measurable environmental change in different ecological niches.

Friday, 12 November 2021

Trumpanzee Talibangelical 'Prophets' are Becoming Even More Confused

Talibangelical false prophets.
Left: Nathan French of Nathan French Ministries
Right: Robin Bullock of Youth Force Ministries Church International Inc.
'Donald Trump, Call Me': Robin Bullock Says Trump Must Listen to the Prophets, Not His Political Advisers | Right Wing Watch

'Prophet' Nathan French Says God Must Restore Trump to Office to Silence Those 'Trying to Discredit the Prophetic Community' | Right Wing Watch

Judging by two recent items in Right Wing Watch, American Talibangelical, Trumpanzee 'Prophets of God' are becoming increasingly confused by their long litany of abject failures about what exactly God it trying to tell them. Firstly, to a man (or woman) they prophesied that their idol, Donald Trump, would win last November by a landslide, claiming God himself had assured them he would arrange it.

Then, when that prophesy proved false they searched around for ever-more creative and unlikely ways to explain their failure as a success, claiming the landslide would all be revealed once Trump had been returned to the Oval Office - which God had assured them was imminent - with an ever-shifting deadline - Before inauguration day, before February, by April, er… June… or July… At least one announced that God had told him Trump had secretly declared a state of emergency and declared martial law, so a military government, answerable to Trump, was now running the USA. They would soon be releasing the evidence of electoral fraud and arresting Biden and his fellow 'conspirators', including Hilary Clinton and Barak Obama! None of that was true either.

God's promise of electoral victory had turned instead into God's promise of a military coup to overturn the result that God had proved powerless to deliver, if we are to believe God's (false) prophets.

But with the anniversary of Biden's victory come and gone, and not a single successful attempt to prove electoral fraud in court, no attempt to find any evidence being successful, and no sign of the prophesied military coup or the arrest of leading Democrats, they have some explaining still to do.


One of the leading loons, Nathan French of Nathan French Ministries, is beginning to realise that his continuing failures is damaging him and his fellow frauds and threatening their tax-free income streams. He has even started demanding that Trump be reinstated to save their reputations because people are understandably losing faith in prophets who continue to prove themselves to be frauds.

Appearing on the ElijahStreams You Tube channel, he told host Steve Schultz:
If somebody gives a word that, ‘Hey, on this date, this person is going to be in office,’ and it doesn’t come to pass, then it was a false word. It wasn’t true. But if they give that word and the date that they gave hasn’t yet come to pass, you can’t call him a liar or [say] that they were wrong because the time hasn’t happened yet. If somebody doesn’t give a date and God gives a word and speaks through the voice of his prophets—which he’s doing on the Earth right now because there’s still prophets today. … There’s a whole bunch of people on the planet that don’t believe that there are still prophets on the Earth. And so they scripturally are trying to resolve that, and they’re teaching people that prophets no longer exist.
At least he got that part right. False prophets are of course, people like Nathan French who make prophesies that don't come true. The clue is in the name 'false prophet'. Had Nathan French not been a false prophet, Trump would have been restored to the White House last April.

Robin Bullock, on the other hand, is still prophesying a reversal of last November's result. The problem is that Trump is listening to his political advisers and not to Robin Bullock. He told the extreme conservative program, Flyover Conservatives:
[God said, Trump was] anointed from the day you were born to be president.

Get in touch with me, and I can tell you some of these things. Donald Trump, call me. Call me. … Listen to the prophets. Don’t let them tell you to not listen to the prophets. … I heard these people talking, and they told the president—I’m talking about President Trump. The president. I’m not talking about the jackal who barks over the desk of the Oval Office. I’m talking about the president—I was listening to this conversation and they said, ‘Don’t listen to the prophets.'

But the Lord said, ‘Don’t listen to your advisers about that because they have their own agenda in mind, and it does not include you. Operate in the power of God, and let him pave your way. [Take] one step toward your position, and God will open the way all the way back. After I gave a word similar to that, a very important person called me and said, ‘You have no idea how right you are.’ He said, ‘I know one of his close advisers, and they told him, “Don’t run in 2024. Don’t run again. You’ll mess it up for all of us.”‘ I heard the conversation. I heard them talking. And I’m going to tell the president something: Donald John Trump, you were anointed from the day you were born to be president, and you were brought on the scene for such a time as this.
From that forlorn please, it looks like even Bullock has now accepted that Biden is there until at least November 2024 and that his 'prophesy' of Trump's restoration will only come true if he stands and wins in a rerun against Biden. No coup, no revealed evidence of electoral fraud, no heavenly intervention to reverse a democratic vote… nothing. Just the normal operation of the democratic process he so despises when it doesn't produce the result he feels entitled to.

Just imagine if these frauds ever gained the political power they came close to obtaining under Trump's corrupt and incompetent leadership!

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Malevolent Designer News - Creating a More Dangerous Breast Cancer

Counterintuitive relationship between PIK3CA genotype and transcriptomic stemness and PI3K signalling scores in human breast cancer.

Graphical Summary
In a paper published today, Ralitsa Madsen of University College London and colleagues show just how devious any designer of one of the more aggressive forms of breast cancer would have to have been, if in fact breast cancer had been designed, as Creationists believe.

The secret to their design is that a mutation makes the cells behave more like stem cells, i.e., cells which have had their epigenetics reset to make them more like the cells from which other, specialist, cells develop during embryonic development. This has been known about for some time but what is new in this research is that there is not one mutation but two or more in the more aggressive cancers and those with a poorer prognosis whereas a single mutation decreases the aggressiveness of the resulting cancer.

The PLOS press release accompanying the open access publication in PLOS Genetics explains:

Monday, 8 November 2021

Malevolent Designer News - Another Stunning Blow by Medical Science.

A new antiviral dramatically reduced the number of people newly diagnosed with COVID-19 who needed hospitalization.

Credit: Rory Doyle/The New York Times
Pfizer antiviral slashes COVID-19 hospitalizations | Science | AAAS

Creationist mode:


Scientists have landed another significant blow in their arms race with Creationism's beloved malevolence over the infectivity and morbidity associated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19. This development is almost on a par with the development of the mRNA anti-COVID vaccines and it is based on a treatment originally developed in the fight against another of the malevolent designer's nasty little organism - HIV.

The treatment, developed by Pfizer who developed one of the first anti-COVID vaccines to be approved, involves giving patients a protease inhibitor within the first few days of infection. The early results of the randomised, double blind clinical trial were so marked that the external regulator stopped the trial so that those volunteers taking the placebo could benefit from the treatment. It had resulted in an 89% reduction in those who received the treatment within 3 days of the onset of symptoms needing hospitalisation, with a similar reduction in those starting treatment within 5 days of onset of symptoms. There were no deaths in the experimental group over the trial period. Only 0.8% of the trial group needed hospitalisation compared to 7% of the control group. 7 of the control group died.

In addition to reducing the severity of symptoms, the treatment should help victims clear the virus more quickly, so reducing the transmission of the virus to others.

Evolution News - How Brains Evolved From Sponges' Stomachs

Sponge neuroid cell (orange) extends arms that enwrap the feeding apparatus of a sponge digestive cell (green) to create a link for targeted communication. The image was taken using electron microscopy.

Credit: Jacob Musser, Giulia Mizzon, Constantin Pape, Nicole Schieber/EMBL
More than a gut reaction - EMBL.

Brain cells, all 86 billion of them, communicate with one another across microscopic gaps between them called synapses. Communication across this gap is via neurotransmitter substances such as acetyl choline. A similar process is involved at the neuromuscular junction between nerves and muscle cells. This has been well understood for some time but what was a mystery was how this system evolved.

Certainly it happened early in the evolutionary history of multicellularity because all but the most primitive multicellular organisms such as sponges have a nervous system of some sort.

This is the sort of mystery that Creationists latch onto to fool their dupes with the false dichotomy that if science hasn't explained it, the locally popular god must have created it, leaving their scientifically illiterate targets to assume that if science hasn't explained something then science can't explain it and never will.

Now though, scientists working for EMBL have discovered that this method of cell communication evolved in just those primitive organisms, sponges, for an entirely different function - an example of something Creationists hate - evolutionary repurposing, or exaptation, of an existing process or structure for a new function. This is, of course, how apparently irreducibly complex processes and systems such as flagella evolve.

In so doing, the scientists have also solved another mystery - why do sponges have the genes for synaptic control when they don't have a nervous system?

The EMBL news release explains:

Saturday, 6 November 2021

Malevolent Designer News - How Creationism's Favourite Malevolence Created a More Dangerous SARS-CoV-2 Virus.

Creative rendition of SARS-COV-2 virus particles with spike proteins dotting their surfaces. Image not to scale.
Credit: NIAID
NIH scientists identify mechanism that may influence infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 variants | National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Creationist mode:


News today of how Creationism's beloved malevolence found a way to get round the human body's defence mechanism against the SARS-CoV-2 virus - the mechanism it designed to protect us from the organisms it makes to kill and make us sick - and so get the maximum impact of the virus on human health.

The problem was that there is a process in the cells that would normally limit the infectivity of viruses like SARS-CoV-2, so, starting with the α variant and continuing with the δ variant, the intelligent [sic] designer included some modifications, or mutations as scientists call them, which overcome this cell process and so make the variants much more infective.

Confirmed cases
Data source: gov.uk
The great success of these modifications can be seen in the daily record of the number of cases in the UK, where we saw a massive spike in cases last winter as the α variant became the dominant variant in the UK, followed by another huge spike of cases which started.

The intelligent designer is currently mopping up those covidiots who have fallen for the antivaxxer lies being promulgated by the extreme Trumpanzee right for political ends, while using them as a resource for developing an even more infective variant which can also overcome the stunning success of medical science in creating the vaccines against the virus.

Creationist mode:


Now back in the real world, the NIH news release explains the discovery:

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Evolution News - Kind and Caring Bonobos Show us How Morality Evolved

Esake, photographed at the Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019, was rescued from a hunter who killed her mom.
Credit: Ley Uwera for NPR. Source.
Bonobo Mothers Adopt Babies That Look Different | Psychology Today

Baby bonobos are so cute! Wouldn't you just love to hold one and give it a loving cuddle, and protect and care for it? And not just because it looks so human with forward-looking eyes, but because it looks so vulnerable! Just adorable! No?

But why that response rather than treating it as a threat who'll take your food and give nothing back, or even as potential food?

The answer is because we share a great deal in common with bonobos, having evolved from a common ancestor.

Just in case there a still a few Creationists left who believe that the TOE is a theory in crisis that is about to be abandoned by science, or are still under the impression that humans were given their morals by a god, and didn't evolve them as their cultures evolved, here is an article in Psychology Today by Temma Ehrenfeld, which explains how we appear to have inherited at least some of our basic morality, the kinder, nicer side, from a common ancestor with the bonobo.

Monday, 1 November 2021

Covid Vaccination News - mRNA Vaccines 5 Times More Effective Than 'Natural' Antibodies From Infection.

COVID vaccines 5 times more effective at protecting against COVID-related hospitalization than prior infection alone

A large-scale study by the VISION network of the US CDC has shown that protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus provided by the mRNA vaccines is 5 times more effective at preventing hospitalizations that any protection produced by infection with the virus. Whilst neither is 100% effective at preventing infection, by far the best protection against becoming seriously ill is provided by the vaccinations developed by medical science.

In the over 65 age-group, this differential rises to 20 times more effective that previous infection!

This data provides powerful evidence that vaccinations offer superior protection against COVID-19 than relying on natural immunity alone. Many have been asking if they should get vaccinated if they’ve already been infected – this research shows the answer is yes.

Dr Shaun Grannis, M.D., M.S.
Vice president for data and analytics, Regenstrief Institute
Professor of family medicine
Indiana University School of Medicine.
According to the press release by the Regenstrife Institute, who analysed the data provided by the VISION Network:
Researchers from the CDC’s VISION Network gathered data from more than 201,000 hospitalizations in nine different states. About 7,000 people in that group fit the criteria for this study. The research team analyzed the number of unvaccinated individuals who had a positive COVID-19 test more than three months before being hospitalized for the virus as well as the number of individuals who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and were not diagnosed with COVID prior to being admitted to the hospital. The research team found that overall, unvaccinated adults with a previous COVID-19 infection were about five times more likely to be hospitalized than those who were vaccinated.

The data analysis also found among adults older than 65, overall mRNA vaccines were nearly 20 times more effective at protecting against hospitalizations than prior infection alone.

[…]

The study findings are consistent with laboratory evidence that mRNA vaccines create high levels of antibodies, whereas those who recover from COVID-19 have varying levels of antibodies, especially if they experienced mild symptoms or were asymptomatic.
The findings are published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortaility Weekly Report (MMWR):
Summary

What is already known about this topic?

Previous infection with SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 vaccination can provide immunity and protection against subsequent SARS-CoV-2 infection and illness.

What is added by this report?

Among COVID-19–like illness hospitalizations among adults aged ≥18 years whose previous infection or vaccination occurred 90–179 days earlier, the adjusted odds of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 among unvaccinated adults with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection were 5.49-fold higher than the odds among fully vaccinated recipients of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine who had no previous documented infection (95% confidence interval = 2.75–10.99).

What are the implications for public health practice?

All eligible persons should be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible, including unvaccinated persons previously infected with SARS-CoV-2.

So, it's a no-brainer. Get vaccinated and get the booster when available, unless, of course, you want to end up on a ventilator. It won't guarantee you don't get infected or even need hospital treatment, but it will significantly reduce your chances of doing so.

The sad thing is that a simple no-brainer is beyond the wit of those covidiots who have fallen for the antivaxxer hoax being promulgated by fruitloop extremists, often with a pro-Trump, political agenda.

Unintelligent Design - The Human Curved Birth Canal and Foetal Welfare

Relationship between pelvic depth (i.e. AP length of the pelvis) and spinal curvature as documented in the orthopaedic literature. The pelvis and spine are shown schematically in sagittal view. A Normal spinopelvic relationship where the centre of mass (indicated by the vertical dashed line through the last cervical vertebra, the so-called C7 plumbline) is positioned sagittally above both the hip joints and the superior endplate of the sacrum. B In an anteroposteriorly elongated pelvis (as indicated by the red double arrow) without spinal adjustment, the centre of mass is located behind the hip joints, which compromises the structural stability of upright posture. C To bring the centre of mass back above the hip joints in this elongated pelvis, the sacrum needs to be tilted forward. This leads to an overall increased curvature of the spine, particularly an increased lumbar lordosis and a deviation of the centre of mass from the sacral endplate. Increased lumbar lordosis is associated with multiple orthopaedic disorders, such as spondylolisthesis and disc herniation
Why do humans possess a twisted birth canal? | Universität Wien

A team led by Katya Stansfield from the University of Vienna has shown how the human birth canal evolved as a compromise and was not intelligently designed by an omniscient designer god to be the best solution to the design problem. In fact, it is a shoddy compromise made necessary because the basic human skeleton is an adaptation of the basic quadrupedal vertebrate skeleton and was never designed from the ground up for bipedalism as we would expect of a structure intelligently designed, rather than one evolved from earlier common ancestors with the other great apes and before that, a quadrupedal vertebrate with a horizontal spinal column.

One of the trade-offs was the welfare and survival of the foetus during the birth process. This was put at increased risk in order to ensure the long-term survival of the mother. Creationists might like to think about that as they try to force fit this into their religion with a putative designer god to whom all human life is sacred…

As the University of Vienna press release explains:
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