Monday, 18 October 2021

Evolution News - How Lizard's Teeth Fatally Bite Creationism

3D reconstruction of the skull of an Amazon racerunner (Ameiva ameiva) captured through an X-ray micro-CT scan. Complex teeth with multiple tips ("cusps") are visible on the jaws. This feature—also seen in the dentition of early mammals—evolved many times in independent lizard groups.
Image: Fabien Lafuma
Plant-eating lizards on the cusp of tooth evolution | University of Helsinki

A couple of Creationist articles of faith have taken a beating with another biology paper that refutes them without even trying, as usual. This time it is the evidence of transition from simple to complex teeth in multiple lineages of lizard in response to the advantages that a vegetarian diet had over an insectivorous diet, and then the evidence that this evolution towards increasing complexity sometimes went into reverse.

This reversal is contrary to creationist dogma that says evolution always involve increasing complexity and new information and that any loss of information (and so loss of complexity) is invariably detrimental.

The paper is by a team of researchers from the Universities of Helsinki and Lyon and the Geological Survey of Finland, led by associate professor, Nicolas Di-Poï of the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, and is published open access in Nature Communications. The Helsinki University news release explains:

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Malevolent Designer News - How The Flesh-Eating Bug Was Created.

Vibrio vulnificus ("the flesh-eating bug")
Pictures of the damage it does are too distressing to show!
Clues Emerge: How Harmless Bacteria Go Rogue Turning into Deadly Flesh-eating Variants | University of Central Florida News

Creationist mode:


As any intelligent [sic] design creationist will tell you, nothing evolves, so all changes in a species are the result of direct, intentional design by their putative designer, who, depending on the particular creationist cult, is either the omnibenevolent god of the Bible, or the omnibenevolent god of the Qur'an. Either way, this putative creator only wants a maximally good world for its favourite creation - humans - to live in.

From COVID to V. vulnificus the emergence of human pathogens is one of the most concerning public health issues facing us but we know surprisingly very little about what triggers the change from harmless to deadly. We want to answer that question using aquatic pathogens such as the agent of cholera or V. vulnificus as model systems. Our study is a big step in understanding this emergence phenomenon, and will hopefully help us predict, prevent and manage future outbreaks.

Our results indicate how ecosystems may be generating pressures that facilitate the emergence of specific strains with pathogenic potential within a natural population. We now have evidence that the environment plays a most critical role in shaping the emergence of this pathogen. Nonetheless, we are pathogen hunters and there is much more research to conduct. But this is a critical starting point in solving the mystery of what are the elements/ingredients that make a pathogen?

Assistant professor Salvador Almagro-Moreno, Lead author
Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences,
College of Medicine,
University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA
Curiously though, they also insist that the pathogens that make us sick and die are reputedly intelligently designed, making this creator god look like quite the opposite of an all-loving creator. Nevertheless, they will look at the results of this piece of research as evidence of the design ability of their god, and still insist that it can't be the result of a natural process in which no god(s) were involved.

The research in question was carried out by scientists from the University of Central Florida, led by assistant professor Salvador Almagro-Moreno, of the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA. They investigated the difference between pathological and non-pathological strains of the bacterium, Vibrio vulnificus, found in the Indian River Lagoon in East Central Florida, where the organism is endemic. This bacterium can cause necrotizing fasciitis, so is also called the 'flesh-eating bug'. If ingested in oysters, for example, it can cause life-threatening septicaemia in patients with underlying health conditions such as diabetes mellitus. It is one of the fastest killing organisms with a mortality rate of over 50%.

The team investigated samples of organisms obtained from two different sites in the lagoon, one of which contains a population of potentially pathogenic V. vulnificus and the other a population of a non-pathogenic strain. They had previously identified a set of genetic markers that identify the pathogenic strain. They also examined the environmental factors that could account for the two distinct local populations - salinity, other bacterial communities in the environment, water pollutants, dissolved organic matter or the presence of algal blooms, etc.

Of course, being scientists, they were looking for environmental factors that could have driven the evolution of distinct local populations and produced pathogenic strains, but as any creationist will claim - this was all designed by their particular god, in full and omniscient knowledge of the effects it would have on its human victims.

Creationist mode:


Back in the real world now, where sadly, the team's paper, published a few days ago in PNAS is behind a paywall, but the abstract can be read here. In it, the team say:

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Evolution News - What makes us Different to the Chimpanzees and Why it Should Bother Creationists

What makes us human? The answer may be found in overlooked DNA | Lund University.

Sometimes you just have to laugh at Creationists, the knots they have to tie themselves into to try to make their childish superstition match what real-world evidence shows.

This paper, for example, which argues that the functional genetic difference between humans and the chimpanzees is to be found, not so much in the 2% of the genes by which we differ from them, but in how the 'junk' DNA is used by the them and us.

Creationists, of course, hate the statistic about us sharing 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees, and the intelligent [sic] design cult hates the fact that so much of our DNA is junk and so evidence against design, intelligent or otherwise. They would normally be jubilant over a finding like this that shows at least some of it might make a functional difference, so is not strictly junk after all - until they realise that that function is all that separates us from the chimpanzees.

The open access paper in the on-line journal, Cell Stem Cell is by a team of scientists led by Johan Jakobsson, professor of neuroscience at the Wallenberg Neuroscience Center and Lund Stem Cell Center, Lund University, Sweden, together with colleagues from Washington University, USA and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland. Lund University's news item explains:

Monday, 11 October 2021

Power at Any Price - The Lengths Christian Extremists Will Go To To Grab Power

Michael P Farris, Conservative Christian President and CEO of Trump-supporting Alliance Defending Freedom
How Michael P. Farris Tried to Block 2020 Election Outcome - The New York Times.

As students of Early 20th Century European history will be aware, the Christian churches were often amongst the most enthusiastic supporters of the extreme right-wing parties that overthrew democracy and installed odious, racist, misogynist and criminal fascist government in countries such as Portugal, Spain, Italy, Hungary and Germany. Not surprisingly then, they are amongst the most enthusiastic supporters of attempts by the extreme right-wing in the USA to overthrow democracy, reverse the stunning victory of the Democrats and reinstall the odious racist, misogynist and criminal Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office.

One such would-be autocratic theocrat, is lawyer, Michael P. Farris, President and CEO of Christian extremist organization, Alliance Defending Freedom [sic].

Friday, 8 October 2021

Late Persistence of Human Ancestors at a Site in India.

Map illustrating the location of the study site, Singi Talav, in relation to the world’s youngest Acheulean sites from other key regions. Made with Natural Earth: Free vector and raster map data at naturalearthdata.com.

© Jimbob Blinkhorn
Late Persistence of Human Ancestors at the Margins of the Monsoon in India | Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

More evidence published recently that an archaic hominin spread far and wide out of Africa into Eurasia, many thousands of years before Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa.

This evidence is from the youngest Acheulean site so far discovered, at Singi Talav, in the Thar Desert, Rajasthan, India, dated to 177,000 years ago. This shows that stone tools were used there for over 1 million years and may have persisted until the arrival of H. sapiens. This stone tool-making technology is believed to have arisen in Africa about 1.5 million years ago and reached India, presumably by being taken there by migrants, about 1.2 million years ago.

This new dating was done by researchers led by Dr. James Blinkhorn of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. According to to their news release:

How Religion Keeps the Poor Poor.

Religious belief really does seem to draw the sting of poverty | The Economist

The problem with religion is that it teaches poor people to accept their 'place' in society and not to aspire to something better. This is the obvious conclusion to be drawn from a piece of research carried our recently by a group of sociologists and psychologists led by Jana B. Berkessel of the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany.

The team found that, contrary to accepted ideas, people with a low socioeconomic status (SES) in a developed country carry a higher psychological burden than their counterparts in developing countries. The assumption had been that the psychological burden would ease as society developed and became more prosperous. However the research showed that there was an inverse relationship between the psychological burden of SES and the religiosity of the society and there was a similar relationship between religiosity and economic development.

In other words, as society develops economically, so religiosity falls, removing the religious norms that ease the burden of low SES.

This conclusion came as a result of statistical analysis of three surveys covering 3.3 million people in 156 countries.

This teaching to accept your place is not confined to Christianity either but can be found in almost all major religions. The team say:
Among the religious norms that enable cultural groups to thrive is a set relevant for SES. That set eases the burden of lower SES (“The poor are admitted into Paradise before the rich, by five hundred years;” Vol. 5, Book 37, Hadith 4261, The Qur’an; “For those who are poor and destitute; May I turn into all things they could need;” Ch. 3, Verse 10, Bodhisattvacharyavatara) and it does so in part by casting a bad light on higher SES [“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God;” Matthew 19:24, The Bible, “The demoniac person thinks: So much wealth do I have today, and I will gain more;” Ch. 16, Verse 13, Bhagavad-Gita (16, 29)]
Their open access paper is published in PNAS:
Significance
According to a fundamental assumption in the social sciences, the burden of lower socioeconomic status (SES) is more severe in developing nations. In contrast to this assumption, recent research has shown that the burden of lower SES is less—not more—severe in developing nations. In three large-scale global data sets, we show that national religiosity can explain this puzzling finding. Developing nations are more religious, and most world religions uphold norms that, in part, function to ease the burden of lower SES and to cast a bad light on higher SES. In times of declining religiosity, this finding is a call to scientists and policymakers to monitor the increasingly harmful effects of lower SES and its far-reaching social consequences.

Abstract
Lower socioeconomic status (SES) harms psychological well-being, an effect responsible for widespread human suffering. This effect has long been assumed to weaken as nations develop economically. Recent evidence, however, has contradicted this fundamental assumption, finding instead that the psychological burden of lower SES is even greater in developed nations than in developing ones. That evidence has elicited consternation because it suggests that economic development is no cure for the psychological burden of lower SES. So, why is that burden greatest in developed nations? Here, we test whether national religiosity can explain this puzzle. National religiosity is particularly low in developed nations. Consequently, developed nations lack religious norms that may ease the burden of lower SES. Drawing on three different data sets of 1,567,204, 1,493,207, and 274,393 people across 156, 85, and 92 nations, we show that low levels of national religiosity can account for the greater burden of lower SES in developed nations. This finding suggests that, as national religiosity continues to decline, lower SES will become increasingly harmful for well-being—a societal change that is socially consequential and demands political attention.

It looks as though both Seneca and Napoleon were right in that religion is used by the ruling class to keep the poor happy and contented so they never aspire to anything better. The priesthoods are complicit in this deception in return for protection and special status within the state.

This much was evident in the repose of religions to a Pew Research forecast a few years ago that support for religions will grow in coming years as the populations of third-world and developing countries is set to increase. They were jubilant at the though that the number of poor people in the world was going to increase and that they would benefit from this growth, part of which, with their teachings against contraception and family planning and for female subservience, they were responsible for.

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Thursday, 7 October 2021

Malevolent Designer News - Is Creationism's Divine Malevolence Trying Something New

The study suggests that the Yezo virus, a type of orthonairovirus, transmits between animals and humans via ticks and causes fever and other symptoms in humans.
Emerging infectious disease caused by a new nairovirus identified in Japan | Hokkaido University

Creationist mode:


Here's some great news to thrill worshippers of Creationism's favourite malevolence, the putative designer god responsible for all living things and any changes they undergo over time.

Researchers at Hokkaido University, Japan, have identified a previously unknown, tick-borne virus, a type of orthonairovirus they have named Yezo virus. When infected from a tick bite, victims suffer from a fever, and a reduction in platelets (the circulating cell fragments responsible for blood-clotting following injury) and leucocytes (the blood cells responsible for infection control, etc) and abnormal liver function.

As the news release from Hokkaido University explains:

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Catholic Child Abuse News - Correction: Not 10,000 Victims of French Catholic Priests! It was 216,000 - 330,000!

Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, Archbisop of Reims. Head of the Conference of French Bishops.
Told there were 216,000 French victims of 3000 paedophile Catholic priest since 1950.
Estimated 216,000 children abused by French Catholic priests, report finds | France | The Guardian

A couple of days ago I reported on the leaked report of the French independent commission of enquiry into child abuse by Catholic priest in France since 1950. The reports spoke of 10,000 victims of 3000 priests and other Catholic clerics.

The 10,000 figure was wrong and grossly underestimated the true number. In the report delivered to the Archbishop of Reims, Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, in his position as head of the French Conference of Bishops, which commissioned the report, the true number of abuse victims was estimated to be about 216,000 and possibly as high as 330,000!

Malevolent Designer News - Creationism's Divine Sadist is Not Giving up on Malaria

Plasmodium falciparum parasites amongst red blood cells.
Plasmodium Falciparum Evolving to Escape Malaria Rapid Diagnostics in Africa | Newsroom

Creationist mode:


We saw yesterday how Creationism's favourite malevolence, the putative intelligent designer responsible for all living organisms and how they adapt, is pulling out all the stops in an effort to combat the success human medical science is having with its anti-COVID-19 vaccines, by designing multiple variants and now tweaking the more successful ones so they can kill even more people and make many more sick.

Now we have news that it is also working hard to maintain the suffering caused by another of its brilliantly malevolent designs - Plasmodium falciparum, the parasitic protozoan that caused malaria.

Monday, 4 October 2021

Catholic Child Abuse News - Enquiry Confirms - 3000 Paedophiles in the French Catholic Priesthood and 10,000 Victims!

Jean-Marc Sauvé, head of the independent commission
Photograph: Quentin TOP/SIPA/Rex/Shutterstockx
'3000 paedophiles' held positions in French Catholic Church since 1950s — leaked report | Euronews

Another major scandal is about to rock the Catholic Church with the report due out tomorrow into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in France.

The report, leaked ahead of publication, will confirm that about 3000 priests and other Catholic clerics, sexually abused some 10,000 children between 1950 and 2018 when the independent commission of enquiry was established. The report runs to about 2,500 pages.

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Malevolent Designer News - Creationism's Divine Malevolence is Not Giving up on Covid-19

MU researchers identify mutations of Delta, Delta Plus variants // Show Me Mizzou // University of Missouri

Creationist mode:


There is one thing that Creationism's divine malevolence definitely is not, and that's a quitter.

Having designed one of the nastiest viruses to hit humanity for over a century, it is never going to let a little thing like human medical science stand in the way of killing millions of people, making tens of millions more sick and ruining national economies and private business all over the world, without a fight. Humans might think they are on the verge of defeating it with their vaccines, and natural antibodies but the intelligent [sic] designer still has a few tricks up its sleeve. They are not getting away with that.

So, it's busy looking for a variant that is not only more contagious than its first model, but can get around the antibodies the man-made vaccines produce, as well as the antibodies human immune systems produce naturally when infected. This is, of course, the same immune system that creationists believe their divine malevolence designed to protect us from the viruses and bacteria it designs to harm us, but that's by the by.

Friday, 1 October 2021

Unintelligent Design News - Another Arms Race - Between Birds

1 / 5
The common cuckoo lays its eggs in the nests of other bird species, burdening these hosts with the task of raising its young.
Photo by Olda Mikulica
2 / 5
Yellow warblers sometimes abandon their nests when a cowbird lays an egg in them. Another strategy involves building a new nest on top of the old one, sealing off the parasitic egg.
Photo by Pookie Fugglestein
3 / 5
Researchers report that brood parasites, like this common cuckoo, top, have larger eyes than the birds they target – beyond the difference expected as a result of their larger body size. Common cuckoos will parasitize the nests of European robins, bottom left, but not those of European bee-eaters, bottom right.
Photos by Tomas Grim
4 /5
The great reed warbler
sometimes has its nest parasitized by cuckoos.

Photo by Olda Mikulica
5 / 5
An adult common redstart feeds a parasitic cuckoo chick in its nest.
Photo by Tomas Grim
Birds' eye size offers clues to coevolutionary arms race between brood parasites, hosts | Illinois

The existence of arms races is about as good evidence as you can get that there is no intelligence behind life on Earth. After all, what single intelligent entity would indulge in an ultimately futile competition with itself where a solution to a problem is then turned around into another problem to be solved and so ad infinitum, in a futile, never-ending cycle of redesign for no ultimate purpose save possibly to make more parasites?

And this example of one such arms races is a good example. As so often with these arms races, it starts off with one species becoming an obligate parasite on another - and obligate parasites are themselves more evidence of the lack of intelligence since it will inevitably lead to yet another arms race as the parasitised species develops ways to resist or mitigate the parasite and the parasite has to counter those measures or become extinct. Any half-decent biologist will understand this, so it shouldn't be beyond the comprehension of an intelligent designer god.

And let's remind ourselves that Creationism's putative designer god is also normally the supposedly omniscient Abrahamic god of Christianity, Islam and Judaism who should therefore have foreseen that a pointless and ultimately futile arms race would ensue when it allegedly designed an obligate parasite.

Thursday, 30 September 2021

How Trump's Team Concocted the Big Lie

Trump's lawyer, Rudi Giuliani
"Created the Dominion conspiracy lie out of whole cloth"
Rachel Maddow Reads Damning Giuliani Testimony Showing Roots Of Election Conspiracy | HuffPost UK

Trump's big lie team made a major tactical blunder when they falsely claimed that Dominion, who supplied voting machines, conspired to steal the election for Biden. What they failed to take into account was that Dominion would sue. The result of this is that it gives the Dominion legal team the right to discover the evidence on which the claim was based.

It turns out that not only was there no such evidence, but, questioned under oath, Trump's lawyer and former New York mayor, Rudolph "Rudi" Giuliani admitted he couldn't even remember where he saw the allegation that he went public with, or even where he was at the time or exactly when he heard them (court papers exhibit J-1, transcription pp 34-36), and that the claim of a witness was almost certainly made up. He thought he might have seen it on Facebook! But he wasn't even sure of that and anyway he was too busy to check!

In other words, the entire claim was an invention.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

US Christians Targeted by Eastern European Troll Farms

White Evangelical Christians at the Capitol, 6 Jan, 2021
Targets of Eastern European troll farms.
Troll farms reached 140 million Americans a month on Facebook before 2020 election | MIT Technology Review

According to an internal Facebook report, leaked by a former employee to MIT Technology Review, in the run-up to the 2020 elections in the USA, Christians were amongst those specially targeted by Eastern European troll farms intent on interfering with the elections, to the extent that 19 of the 20 most popular Christian groups on Facebook were run by these troll farms.

The report found that, after the 2016 election, Facebook:

A Meteor Strike in Bronze Age Jordan Destroyed a Large City - And Any Claim That The Bible is Literal History.

Location of Tall el-Hammam. (a) Photo of the southern Levant, looking north, showing the Dead Sea, the site location (TeH), and nearby countries. The Dead Sea Rift, the fault line marking a major tectonic plate boundary, runs through the area. Source of base image: NASA, Space Shuttle. “The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift”. Photo: sts109-708-024, taken 12/16/2009. From the NASA Langley Research Center Atmospheric Science Data Center (nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/astronauts_eyes/sts109-708-024.html). Modified by the authors using Adobe Photoshop CC2014 (adobe.com/products/photoshop.html). (b) West-southwest-facing view of the upper tall showing locations of the palace and temple behind the curve of the upper tall. The Dead Sea is in the background to the left.
An Ancient Disaster | The UCSB Current

From the Middle East, archaeologists bring us evidence that, although a couple of Bible tales may have their origins in a real event which could have lingered in the folk memories of the ancient Canaanites, the truth was very different to the highly embroidered stories these memories were subsequently woven into.

The evidence is that the large Late Bronze age city, now known as Tall el-Hammam, in the Jordan Valley, north of the Dead Sea, was suddenly destroyed by the air-burst of a meteorite larger than that responsible for the Tanguska incident in Siberia in 1908, which was estimated to have been the equivalent of an explosion and heat-wave about 1000 times more powerful than the atom bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

This explosion occurred in about 1650 BCE and, according to the authors of a paper published, open access, in Scientific Reports, could have been the origin of both the myths of Sodom and Gomorrah and the destruction of Jericho (identified as Tell es-Sultan, near to Tall el-Hammam) by an Israelite army led by Joshua.

For Bible literalists wishing to use this as evidence that the Bible is real history, these two mythological events allegedly occurred many years apart and not contemporaneously. The tale in Genesis of the destruction of the 'cities of the plain' and the survival of Lot and his daughters with whom he fathered two sons is, according to Israeli archaeologists, Finkelstein and Silberman, in The Bible Unearthed, probably a propaganda story written to discredit two rival Canaanite tribes to Israel, in Moab and Ammon, as the descendants of the children of drunken debauchery and incest. The story of the breaching of the (non-existent) walls of Jericho and its sack by Joshua's mob came much later, in Joshua, at the end of the supposed exodus from Egypt and the mythical entry into the 'Promised Land' by the Israelites.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Atheist News - How Atheists Don't Need a God to be Good, But Theists Need One to be Bad.

Misinformation and Facts about Secularism and Religion | Psychology Today

In this devastating rebuttal of the 2011 claim by Dr Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D, that generally, religious people are more moral than non-religious people, David Niose, former president of both the American Humanist Association and the Secular Coalition for America, points out the factual and unfounded errors in Plante's article. In particular:
Plante casually claims that religious people are "better citizens" and "behave better." And without citing any sources, he tells us: "Research has consistently found that religious people are less likely to engage in criminal behavior, marital infidelity, alcoholism, unprotected sexual activity. . ." In other words, according to Plante, if you're not religious you might be a good person, but on average you are more likely to have these undesirable characteristics. This is a bold assertion that, of course, immediately puts secular individuals on the defensive. (Just imagine if the same claims were made against any other minority group.) It is precisely claims like these that lead to many Americans having an unfavorable view of atheists and other nonbelievers. Fortunately for atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists, there is no factual basis for Plante's claim that "research has consistently found" secular individuals to be more prone to such antisocial behavior.

Monday, 27 September 2021

Christian Hate News - Loony Talibangelical Extremist Greg Locke on the War-Path.

Pastor Greg Locke, Global Vision Bible Church, Tennessee.
"This means war!"
Hate-Preacher Tells Right-Wing Crowd They’re Being Persecuted: “This Means War!” | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

Readers of this blog will be very familiar with false prophet, rabid homophobe and preacher of hate with a persecution complex, Greg Locke, who recently announced he was building the violent Church that Jesus wanted. An announcement that promptly got him banned from Twitter and resulted in several of his more offensive YouTube videos being taken down.

According to Locke, only gay people would do nothing while the evil, Satanic Democrats closed churches to stop them spreading the coronavirus, and Jesus wasn't gay so he would have defended his First Amendments rights with his Second Amendment rights.

It goes without saying that the US Constitution applied in 1st Century Palestine and Jesus jealously guarded his right to use guns to keep his churches open by posting armed thugs at the door to stop the authorities "trying something"!

I'm not a psychiatrist, but Locke's behaviour since he was shown to be a false prophet by falsely prophesying that Trump would win last November by a landslide because God had told him personally, he would arrange it, is becoming so bizarre and extreme that if his behaviour doesn't meet the definition of insanity, then insanity needs to be redefined.

So I believe in loading the gospel Gatling gun. *pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop* Shoot 'em all in the name of God, amen ? Ain't nobody off limits!



They will be serving Frosties in the Lake of Fire before Pastor Greg Locke ever shuts down his local New Testament church because a demon-possessed buck-wild tyrannical government told him to!



Open the doors and open them wide, let King Jesus come inside! It's time to open every church in America! Open the churches! Open the churches! Open the churches! Every one of them. Yes, blow them shofars! This means war! This is our battle cry, church !
Like, a locked door is going to stop omnipresent 'King Jesus'!

Imagine what effect this insane rhetoric might be having on the sorts of impressionable minds who have already bought into the QAnon conspiracy lies and who still believe Trump's initial assertion that the coronavirus was nothing to be concerned about, that it would all be over in a few weeks and anyway it was all a Democrat Party hoax; the typical Trumpanzee, white supremacist Talibangelical Christian anti-vaxxer with a fixation with guns.

As Hemant Mehta points out:
…while his gun comment is merely rhetorical, imagine what the people in this audience would do if a prominent Muslim politician made a similar comment "in the name of Allah." It's inconceivable they would react by wanting to defend that person's religious freedom.
And all because the failed Prophet of God didn't get the result in a democratic vote that he felt entitled to as a Christian evangelical and devoted Trumpanzee Repugnican.

It takes religion (or insanity) to believe that, if people don't do as you say and believe what you tell them to, because you feel you speak for God, God would approve of you killing them, so killing people who disagree with you is the right and moral thing to do. Democracy is all well and good, provided the vote always goes your way. If not, it must be attacked and abolished and replaced by a compliant dictatorship - because that's what God wants. The very same thinking that prompted Trump's lawyer, John Eastman, to come up with a plan to abolish democracy and have VP Pence declare Trump the winner, despite losing the popular vote by the largest recorded margin. To his credit, and to Trump's dismay, Pence declined, not on the morality of the plan but because he didn't believe he had the constitutional powers to carry it out.

Imagine what life would be like in an America run by self-appointed Christian Talibangelist extremists like Greg Locke and his supporters in the Rerpugnican/Trumpanzee/QAnon cults. Little different to Afghanistan, Iran or Saudia Arabia today, in fact.

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Sunday, 26 September 2021

Creationism's Favourite Felon is Back Behind Bars.

Mr Kent Hovind. Back in prison, this time for assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
Creationist Kent Hovind Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail for Domestic Violence | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

Creationism's favourite criminal, Mr Kent Hovind, is back in prison. Let's try to help him be a better person.

To anyone familiar with Hovind's distain for the law of the land, believing he makes his own laws because he has a close personal relationship with God, this will come as no surprise, since Hovind pushes a relentlessly literal interpretation of the Bible and the Bible positively commands behaviour which might have been acceptable in a brutal, Late Bronze/Early Iron Age tribal society but which is, following the European Enlightenment and the incorporation of Humanism into Christianity, now regarded as criminal in most civilised societies.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Covidiot News - The Sad Self-inflicted Genocide of Anti-Vaxx Covidiots Continues

Anti-vaxx couple dies of virus after claiming they survived pandemic despite being unvaccinated - Alternet.org

If there is one thing that should feature 'bigly' in history's assessment of Donald Trump's legacy, it is the huge number of covidiot deaths of those who listened to him and his allies in the Talibangelical Christian cults, the QAnon conspiracists and the Repugnican politicians who prefer to allow this self-inflicted genocide to proceed rather than lose face and admit they were wrong about the pandemic, the measures to control it and then the efficacy and safety of the vaccines.

Here for example, is yet another case of two people who believed the anti-vaxxer fools and not the experts. They are, or rather were, Dusty and Tristan Graham, who styled themselves the "Alabama Pickers", popular YouTube/eBay resellers. According to their daughter, Windsor Graham, Dusty died of COVID-19 last Thursday after a three-week battle against the virus while Tristan died suddenly on August 20th from COVID-19-related complications.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Jews and Arabs Descended from Canaanites - Biblical Archaeology Society

Canaanite relief in basat depicting a lion and a lioness at play, 14th century BC, from Beit She’an, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Credit: Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany, CC BY-SA 2.0
via Wikimedia Commons
Jews and Arabs Descended from Canaanites - Biblical Archaeology Society

In their book, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Sacred Texts, Tel Aviv University archaeologists, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman conclude from the archaeological evidence that the history of the Jews in the Old Testament, including that in Exodus, is almost entirely invented; the Jews arose in situ from indigenous Canaanites, carving out the states of Israel and Judah on land peripheral to the Bronze Age Canaanite city states as these faded during the Early Iron Age.

The invented history simply reflects the rivalry between these closely related populations and, as with all invented histories, shows those writing them to be the superior group, having stunning victory after stunning victory over their rivals, whom they always totally vanquished and annihilated and enslaved, and having the superior tribal god(s). The stories were invented to give retrospective justification for genocide and land-theft and invariably exaggerated them, as we can see from the fact that there are descendants today of these supposedly totally annihilated tribes.

Monday, 20 September 2021

Malevolent Designer News - How a Bacterium Turns Plants Into Zombies

Lime witches broom, induced by Phytoplasma
The microbial molecule that turns plants into zombies | John Innes Centre

Parasites that turn their hosts into zombies that serve only the needs of the parasite, are by no means uncommon in nature. In fact, I include several examples in my popular, illustrated book, The Malevolent Designer: Why Nature's God is not Good. To the perpetual embarrassment of Creationists who like to pretend that their putative designer god is one and the same as the supposed god of love in the Christian Bible, they betray the fiendishly evil, amoral mind of anything that could have consciously and intentionally designed such relationships.

And now we have one more to add to the long, sorry list.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Atheists Top the List of Those Doing Right by Others. Evangelicals are Bottom.

Atheists nab top spot in shots; White evangelicals least vaccinated - Freedom From Religion Foundation

I mentioned at the end my last blog post that Christians seem to need the promise of a reward in order to do the right thing, with the implication that it would be much better if they just did the right thing because it is the right thing to do. However, nowhere in their handbook of morals and ethics, is that ever mandated or even recommended.

The closest they come to it is the instruction to do to others what they would want others to do to them - the so-called golden rule, common to just about every culture. Unfortunately, after several decades of the Republicans advocating greed and selfishness and insisting that it deserves a reward, most American fundamentalist Christians have come to associate doing the right thing by others as some sort of undesirable, socialist/liberal subversion of the 'American Way', and so not what God wants at all.

Few things highlight this better than the findings of a recent Pew Research survey into COVID-19 vaccine take-up, which places white evangelicals at the bottom of the table and Atheists at the top. Atheists clearly understand that by being vaccinated, they are not only protecting themselves, but also protecting other people and the society at large, by:

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Covidiot News - The self-inflicted Genocide is not Confined to American Fundamentalists...

Hai Shaulian, leading Israeli anti-vaxxer, died of COVID-19, last Monday morning
Anti-Vaccine Activist Who Said 'There's No Epidemic' Dies of COVID

Evidence that the self-inflicted genocide which is currently culling the herd by removing right-wing fundamentalist anti-vaxxer covidiots, is not confined to America, but includes Israeli anti-vaxxers too, comes with the death from COVID-19 of the anti-vaxxer activist, Hai Shaulian in an Israeli hospital.

Sadly, neither prayer, nor his assertion that the 'Creator of the World' was with him so he had nothing to fear, made any difference, and despite the efforts of the hospital staff using medical science, he died last Monday morning. Another life sacrificed on the altar of conspiracy theorists' egos.

Unintelligent Designer News - Muddling Through Without a Plan and No Idea About Good Design

Some caterpillars have a surprising ally for when attacked by an endoparasitic wasp.
Horizontally transmitted parasitoid killing factor shapes insect defense to parasitoids

You know, for a supposedly intelligent designer, Creationism's putative designer god, who designed everything in full and perfect knowledge of what it would do, comes up with some monumentally stupid designs. At times, it's almost exactly like it doesn't have a plan at all and has no idea what it is trying to achieve - other than a creation with as much suffering in it as possible, with no opportunity to make something sick ever ignored.

Here, for instance, is yet another example of how it designed something, then treated that design as a problem to be solved with another design, only to then design a way around that solution to the problem it designed earlier. It is, of course, another example of that major embarrassment to intelligent [sic] design creationists, parasitism and the inevitable evolutionary arms race.

The arms race in this case it that between moths and parasitoid wasps that lays their eggs in the living body of the moth larvae, or caterpillars. Creationists would, of course, assert that their divine malevolence designed the wasps to parasitise the caterpillars because it is the only intelligence capable of designing such a thing as a parasitoid wasp and its method of reproduction (although they never explain the exact method by which intelligence makes chemistry and physics do something they couldn't do without it, nor do they ever provided evidence that this has ever been observed to happen, seemingly preferring conjectures and mysteries to answers, whilst still pretending to be scientists).

Now, a group of researchers from the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Fuchu, Japan and the University of Saskatchewan Department of Biology, Saskatoon, Canada, have discovered that a virus carried by some caterpillars is lethal to the grubs of these parasitic wasps. Not only that, but some caterpillars are capable of manufacturing the toxic protein, or 'parasitoid killing factor' (PKF) themselves, without the virus. These moths have incorporated the genome of the virus into their own genome and now just use the portion of it that codes for the parasitoid-killing toxin.

They also found:
Some parasitoid wasps, including Meteorus pulchricornis, weren't affected by PKF from the viruses and also beet armyworms, allowing the wasp offspring to thrive inside caterpillars. That finding suggests that the wasp-fighting ability is species-specific, says Elisabeth Herniou, an insect virologist at CNRS and the University of Tours in France who was not involved in the work. Pinpointing why some wasps aren't susceptible could reveal the details of a long-held evolutionary battle between all three types of organisms.
From: Viruses Can Kill Wasp Larvae That Grow Inside Infected Caterpillars, Today News 24.
The group's findings are published in Science:
Abstract

Interkingdom competition occurs between hymenopteran parasitoids and insect viruses sharing the same insect hosts. It has been assumed that parasitoid larvae die with the death of the infected host or as result of competition for host resources. Here we describe a gene family, parasitoid killing factor (pkf), that encodes proteins toxic to parasitoids of the Microgastrinae group and determines parasitism success. Pkfs are found in several entomopathogenic DNA virus families and in some lepidopteran genomes. We provide evidence of equivalent and specific toxicity against endoparasites for PKFs found in entomopoxvirus, ascovirus, baculovirus, and Lepidoptera through a mechanism that elicits apoptosis in the cells of susceptible parasitoids. This highlights the evolutionary arms race between parasitoids, viruses, and their insect hosts.

This is easily understood as the product of an evolutionary process over time, with horizontal gene transfer from the virus to its former host at some point in the past; a process that anyone familiar with endogenous retroviruses will be familiar. The evolution of the toxin in the virus is the logical outcome of an evolutionary process itself, where it resulted in more virus particles if the virus could kill a parasite that would otherwise kill its host. A virus which is dependent on a particular host and the host itself, both share the same need to survive an attack by another parasite, so both have the same evolutionary selection pressure to evolve a defence mechanism. In this case, that was provided by the virus and the relationship between the virus and the host, as is so often the case, became more co-symbiont than host-parasite. The ability of some viruses to incorporate themselves into the genome of their host did the rest.

To a Creationist, however, with their belief in a single intelligent [sic] designer being responsible for all this biodiversity, by design, not by the operation of natural selection on random genetic variance, what do we have?

We have a parasite/host relationship in the first instance, where one of its creations (the moth) is seen as a resource to be exploited and killed by an endoparasitic wasp. We also have a virus designed to infect the caterpillars of these moths, also seeing them as a resource to be exploited or a niche to be occupied. However, the parasitoid wasp, designed to lay its eggs in the living bodies of the caterpillars, became a deadly rival of the parasitic virus. So, treating that as a threat to its design for the endoparasitic wasp, this resulted in a competition between the wasp and the virus for which the designer designed the 'parasitoid killing factor' (PKF) as part of the virus genome, but used by the caterpillars' protein synthesising mechanism to manufacture the PKF by inserting the virus genome into that of the moths.

In other words, having designed a parasitoid wasp to kill its moth creations, it then designed a virus to do the same. Then, realising that the parasitoid wasp it had designed, was a threat to the virus, it gave the virus the ability to kill the wasp, and so, accidentally, stopped the wasp from killing the moth caterpillars. So pleased was it with this solution to the problem it created earlier, it then gave the moth the ability to kill the wasp grubs without the need for the virus!

Then, for some parasitoid wasps, but not all, it gave them the ability to resist the PKF it gave the moth to kill them with!

Creationists hold that this ludicrously complex solution to a problem of its own creation, and the ability to resist it, is a sign of high intelligence and a supreme ability to design. This probably tells us more about the intellectual abilities of Creationists than they would wish us to know. As always, though, they would prefer people to view their putative designer god as a malevolence who wants its designs to suffer, and an incompetent designer who doesn't know what it is doing and constantly designs 'solutions' which then become problems for it to design new solutions to; an incompetent designer without an ultimate plan who just blunders along blindly, not knowing what it is creating or what it will do until it becomes another problem to be solved.

Bizarrely, Creationists think blaming all this on a legendary ancestral couple who once scrumped an apple, from a story in a book of Bronze Age mythology, written by people who thought Earth was flat, with a dome over it to keep the water out, is a sane and scientific explanation for what we can observe!

The TOE, on the other hand, explains and predicts just these sorts of outcomes from an unguided, utilitarian process which blindly 'designs' living organisms, driven only by the natural forces of selection from natural variances in a competitive environment. Creationists however, prefer the malevolent incompetence view rather than accept that mindless natural forces can result in the superficial appearance of design with no magic involved anywhere and no place for a magician in the explanation; a 'design' which doesn't stand up to scrutiny as the result of intelligence when looked at in detail.

Note too how the authors of this study, like just about every other biomedical scientist, are in no doubt at all that the explanation for this phenomenon is to be found in the science of evolutionary biology, in contrast to the laughable claims by Creationist frauds with political agenda that the Theory of Evolution is a theory in crisis, about to be overthrown by the supernatural explanation of Intelligent [sic] Design, which is almost universally derided in scientific circles and which, as we can see in this study, is refuted time and again by science without the scientists even trying.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Another Creationist Falsehood Exposed - A Beneficial Mutation Helped Early Pastoralists Expand Their Range

Horses of the Central Asian Steppe
© A. Senokosov
Milk Enabled Massive Steppe Migration | Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

The problem with Creationist child-like black vs white thinking is that their assertions are usually very easy to refute, although that rarely, if ever, results in a change of mind. One easily debunkable claim, for example, is that all mutations are harmful.

This demonstrable falsehood forms the basis of Michael J. Behe's recent attempt to replace his failed intelligent [sic] design hoax with his 'devolution' nonsense, in which he tries to argue that, although mutations arise and are inherited, just like the TOE says, but, because they are always harmful, this is 'devolution' not evolution and so is a degeneration from the initial perfection of creation, consistent (of course) with the Bible narrative
a–c, Eneolithic (a), Early Bronze Age (b) and Middle–Late Bronze Age (c) sites in the Pontic–Caspian region, showing the number of individuals with a positive dairy identification out of the total number of individuals with preserved ancient proteins for each site. Strong evidence of preservation of equine or ruminant milk protein identifiers are depicted with black animal icons; the single individual with equivocally identified casein peptides is shown with a grey icon. For a map of all sites (including those without preserved proteins), see Supplementary Fig. 1. Base maps were created using QGIS 3.12 (https://qgis.org/en/site/), and use Natural Earth vector map data from https://www.naturalearthdata.com/downloads/. The horse image is reproduced from ref., 33; sheep silhouette, public domain (https://thenounproject.com/icon/12538/).
of 'The Fall'. Needless to say, Behe is silent on the problem of how to explain a harmful mutation increasing in the species gene pool.

Behe's problem, however, is that this is very easily debunked with real examples, although that never troubles devoted Creationists who will either be blissfully and diligently unaware of the real examples, or will have one or more strategies for dismissing them.

Here though, is one which will be difficult to ignore because it is still present in descendants today and they are very probably enjoying its benefits. It can't possibly be dismissed as harmful because it is so manifestly beneficial and even central to so much of Western food culture. I'm talking about the mutations which caused lactase persistence, which was regarded as so 'normal' that its absence, which causes lactose intolerance was regarded as the abnormal trait, causing what was regarded as a dietary disorder in those without the mutation.

For more information on lactase Persistence/lactose intolerance and its role in the evolution of modern humans, see, Human Evolution in Progress.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Talibangelical Hate News - Trumpanzee Loon, Pastor Greg Locke, Banned from Twitter

After Twitter Ban, Christian Hate-Preacher Greg Locke Whines About “Persecution” | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

I'm not sure if this is good news or bad news. Pastor Greg Locke, of Global Vision Bible Church, Tennessee, is such a goldmine of anti-fundamentalist propaganda that it'll be a shame to lose him, but on the other hand, events have shown that there are people, especially in USA, who are gullible enough to let him think for them. Given his increasing advocacy of violence, repeated misinformation about Trump's defeat last November, which he still can't bring himself to accept, and his Trumpanzee/QAnon-inspired anti Covid vaccine lies, he constitutes the sort of danger to society that Twitter should be protecting its customers from.

In fact, the true value of preachers of hate like Locke is that they server to remind us what a violent and hate-filled religion Christianity would be if it hadn't been moderated and civilised by a hefty dose of Humanism following the European Enlightenment. They simply preach a pure version of primitive Medieval Christianity, based on Bronze Age, despotic Middle Eastern tribalism of which the Taliban and the Spanish Inquisition would be proud.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Malevolent Designer News - Leaving Nothing To Chance With Alzheimer's Disease

Plasma and brain concentrations of apo B and Aβ.
(A) In vivo PET detection of amyloid binding was used to confirm cerebral amyloid deposition in HSHA mice and their age-matched WT controls. Representative PET and MRI fusion images (coregistered with MRI templates using conventional Fast Spin Echo Sequence T2-weighted sequence) show scan data at 20 to 40 minutes’ post-intravenous administration of [11C] PiB. Each panel (from left to right) illustrates maximum binding potential for [11C] PiB represented by coronal images at −2, 0, 4, and 6 mm from the bregma; indicated by the vertical bar. Plasma (B) and brain (C) levels of apo B, a surrogate marker of TRLs in HSHA and WT control mice, were determined with ELISA. Data are expressed as mean ± SEM. Human and mouse isoforms of Aβ in plasma (D) and brain (E, F) were measured separately with ELISA kits using antibodies specific to each isoform. The data underlying Fig 2B–2F can be found in S1 Data. Aβ, amyloid beta; apo B, apolipoprotein B; HSHA, hepatocyte-specific human amyloid; MRI, magnetic resonance imaging; PET, positron emission tomography; PiB, Pittsburgh compound; TRL, triglyceride-rich lipoprotein; WT, wild-type.
Synthesis of human amyloid restricted to liver results in an Alzheimer disease–like neurodegenerative phenotype

According to Creationists, everything about biology and human anatomy and physiology especially, is definitely not the result of natural, evolutionary forces and the operation of random chance. Instead, it is all designed by their reputedly omnipotent, omniscient god who knew exactly what it was designing and designed if for the particular purpose which it serves - which means it is responsible for both the good and the bad in its 'designs', of course.

So, playing at Intelligent [sic] Design advocates for a moment, we have in this scientific paper an example of the sheer mendacious nastiness of Creationism's divine malevolence. It shows how, just to make sure it's victims get Alzheimer's disease in later life, it has designed a mechanism in the liver that manufactures one of the proteins which has been implicated in the progress of this ghastly disease which robs the sufferer of their dignity, their memory, their personality and eventually their life.

The study, published open access in PLOS Biology, was carried out by John Mamo of Curtin University in Bentley, Australia, and colleagues.

According to the press release from PLOS:
Deposits of amyloid-beta (A-beta) in the brain are one of the pathological hallmarks of AD and are implicated in neurodegeneration in both human patients and animal models of the disease. But A-beta is also present in periphereral organs, and blood levels of A-beta correlate with cerebral amyloid burden and cognitive decline, raising the possibility that peripherally produced a-beta may contribute to the disease. Testing that hypothesis has been difficult, since the brain also produces A-beta, and distinguishing protein from the two sources is challenging.

In the current study, the authors surmounted that challenge by developing a mouse that produces human a-beta only in liver cells. They showed that the protein was carried in the blood by triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, just as it is in humans, and passed from the periphery into the brain. They found that mice developed neurodegeneration and brain atrophy, which was accompanied by neurovascular inflammation and dysfunction of cerebral capillaries, both commonly observed with Alzheimer's disease. Affected mice performed poorly on a learning test that depends on function of the hippocampus, the brain structure that is essential for the formation of new memories.

The findings from this study indicate that peripherally derived A-beta has the ability to cause neurodegeneration and suggest that A-beta made in the liver is a potential contributor to human disease. If that contribution is significant, the findings may have major implications for understanding Alzheimer's disease. To date, most models of the disease have focused on brain overproduction of A-beta, which mimics the rare genetic cases of human Alzheimer's. But for the vast majority of AD cases, overproduction of A-beta in the brain is not thought to be central to the disease etiology. Instead, lifestyle factors may play a more important role, including a high-fat diet, which might accelerate liver production of A-beta.

Monday, 13 September 2021

Covidiot News - Loony Talibangelical Nut Job "Destroys" COVID-19 - Again!

Kenneth Copeland, destroyed COVID, again!
Kenneth Copeland, Who Said COVID Was “Destroyed” a Year Ago, Is Saying It Again | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

The ridiculous grifter, Kenneth Copeland, darling of the Talibangelical extreme right, has demonstrated the credulity of his followers yet again, by claiming to have totally destroyed the coronavirus for at least the third time. The virus doesn't seem to have noticed this time either.

Readers may remember how, to the whoops and cheers of the fools in his audience, he 'destroyed' it in March 2020, in the early days of the pandemic, just by blowing 'the wind of God' on it, spitting at it and pronouncing it gone for ever.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

You Don't Have to be Insane to Support Donald Trump, But it Helps!

Right Wing Bonus Tracks: A Mass Death Scale Injection | Right Wing Watch

Three stark staring bonkers Trumpanzee fruitloops show just how far round the twist you need to be to think Donald Trump was a good president who actually won a second term. Needless to say, these same bonkers fruitloops are also Talibangelical Christians.

First we have Shane Vaughn, co-founder of First Harvest Ministries in Waveland, Mississippi and convicted criminal who has been making increasingly bizarre 'prophesies' ever since he predicted that Donald Trump would never be impeached (he was impeached a record two time), that he would win a second term (he lost) and that he would serve
12 years as POTUS. After his false prophesy of a second term he declared that the prophesy was actually right because Trump was now 'inside their heads in the White House'.

Vaughn is now insisting that Trump will soon return to the White House to "destroy the work that Satan has done through Joe Biden and Kamala Harris".

Not to be out done, Talibangelical covidiot antivaxxer and former TV show host with links to QAnon but with no medical or scientific credentials, Lauren Witzke, has declared that the anti-Covid-19 injections are a "mass death scale injection" (whatever that means) and a "precursor to the Mark of the Beast" [sic].

Unintelligent Designer News - The Batty Designer Having an Arms Race with Itself!

The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) has a strong anti-bat acoustic decoy at the tip of its forewings. Composite image with photograph on right half and acoustic tomography on the left. Colour indicates echo strength on a dB scale and red indicates highest echo amplitude. Note the red highly reflecting stripe created by the rippled part of the wingtip.

Credit: Dr Thomas Neil and Professor Marc Holderied
September: Moth wingtips | News and features | University of Bristol

One of the several aspects of biology you can never get an intelligent [sic] design advocate (that's intelligent design, not an intelligent advocate as these are practically unknown) to address is that of what biologists call, 'evolutionary arms races' where two organisms, usually predator and prey, or parasite and host are in competition with one another, each seeking to gain an advantage over the others.

Classic examples of this are the giraffe and acacia trees, with the former evolving a long neck to reach the leaves acacia trees have grown a long trunk to put out of the reach of giraffes and cheetahs and gazelles where each has to run faster than the other, the cheetah to eat and the gazelles to live, so they both run very fast and yet cheetahs still catch end eat gazelles.

Photograph of the Atlas moth (Attacus atlas). This large silkmoth has the strongest known wingtip decoy with ripples and folds.

Credit: Dr Thomas Neil
Another more recent example currently affecting us all, is that of the SARS-CoV-2 parasitic virus where new variants such as the δ variant currently causing a new, more severe, pandemic, have evolved to better overcome the immune systems in its human hosts - an immune system intelligent [sic] design advocates believe their beloved malevolence designed to protect us from the viruses and bacteria it designs to make us sick.

And now, courtesy of a team of scientists from Bristol University, we have the example of moths having a mechanism for diverting the attack of bats which have been given (allegedly) echolocation so they can detect moths.

More of that research in a moment; first a little about the bat/moth arms races, which I wrote about in my popular book, The Unintelligent Designer: Refuting the Intelligent Design Hoax. Briefly, if you accept for
Photograph of the Chinese tussar moth (Antheraea pernyi). This silkmoth has a strong wingtip decoy based on ripples.

Credit: Dr Thomas Neil
the sake of argument, the Creationist insistence that all things are designed by their putative designer god, you have to accept that moths became nocturnal to escape from diurnal predators that hunted them with vision, then it designed the echo-location systems of bats so they could 'see' moths in the dark, then it gave moths the ability to hear the ultrasonic echolocation signals of bats and so avoid them, then it gave bats echolocation frequencies that moths couldn't detect, etc, etc, (See Jacobs, David; Explainer: the evolutionary arms race between bats and moths; 2014).

Now the Bristol team has revealed a new twist in this arms race by some saturniid moth (the group that includes silkworm moths). They have shown that the forewings of these moths have special folds and ripples near the tips which act as super-reflectors of bat echolocation sounds, which either confuse the bat or deflect its attack to the tips of the forewings where it does relatively little harm compared to an attach directed at the head or body.

We have demonstrated that the folded and rippled wingtips on the forewings of some silkmoths act as acoustic decoys.

Structurally, the wingtips act as acoustic retroreflectors, reflecting sound back to its source from numerous angles, meaning a bat would be more likely to strike the wingtip over the more vulnerable body of the moth …

The results of this study introduce another exciting aspect to the story of the bat-moths acoustic arms race. We have identified a novel form of acoustic defense amongst silkmoths which may give them an advantage over hunting bats. Wider implications might include improved man-made anti radar and sonar decoy architectures.

Professor Marc Holderied, corresponding author,
School of Biological Sciences
University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
To quote from the Bristol University press release:
They also discovered that the ripples and folds of the forewing tips have evolved to act as hemispheric and corner retroreflectors respectively, meaning that they reflect sound strongly back to its point of origin. Coupled together, the folds and ripples of these wingtips cover a huge range of incident sounds angles, meaning that over the entire wingbeat cycle of a flying moth and most possible positions of an attacking bat, the wingtip would consistently produce the strongest echoes. The acoustic protection of wingtips is even stronger than that of common hindwing decoys.
It has previously been shown that some moths have long 'streamers' on their hind wings that have a similar purpose in that a bat's attack is directed to where it does least harm to the moth.
Towed acoustic decoys are a well-established defense amongst some silkmoths. These species have evolved elongated hindwings which terminate in a coiled and twisted end. The morphology of these elongated hindwings means that they generate very strong echoes, so much so that they will often divert a bat’s acoustic gaze towards them, away from the exposed body of the moth, causing the bat to strike the expendable tail of the moth or miss the moth all together.
Conclusive support for the idea that the forewing reflector is an acoustic decoy comes from our finding that acoustic forewing decoys always evolved as an alternative to acoustic hindwing decoys, with there being no species known to possess both.

Dr Thomas Neil, lead author
School of Biological Sciences
University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
It takes a special form of gullible credulity to believe that a single designer would design these many examples of arms races to be found in nature, and then to conclude that that single designer is supremely intelligent. It would make more sense, if there were indeed any evidence that magic can make species evolve in a special direction or can make chemistry and physics do things they couldn't do without it, that there was more than one intelligence involved here. However, Creationists are forbidden by religious dogma from believing in more than a single creator so their interpretation - what they laughably call 'scientific creationism' - must be shoe-horned into that religious superstition so it conforms with fundamentalist Christianity.

This is how we can tell that the notion of intelligent design is not an alternative science, like politically-motivated Creationist frauds pretend, but Bible literalism dressed up in a lab coat to try to impress people who neither understand science nor biology and whose parochial ignorance and cultural chauvinism preconditions them to fall for the false dichotomy fallacy that, if there is something science can't explain, the locally popular god must have done it. In this case, though, science not only can but does explain it very well, without resort to magical mysteries.

Thank you for sharing!









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Saturday, 11 September 2021

Racist News - Christian White Supremacists are Losing the Race Debate in the USA.

U.S. Approval of Interracial Marriage at New High of 94%

Despite the apparent rise in white supremacist racism in Donald Trump's America, the reality is that Americans of all races and ages are far less racist in their attitude to interracial marriage than they used to be, according to a recent Gallup poll.

In 1958, with segregation and Jim Crow laws operating in many southern states, only 4% of Americans of all races approved of interracial marriages; in 2012 that figure has reached 94%. Moreover, the gap between the races on the issue has closed to just 3% (96%, black and 93%, white). It was 56% and 17% respectively in 1969!

Friday, 10 September 2021

Unintelligent Designer News - Two Different Solutions to the Same Problem!

Blue-tongued skinks, Tiliqua sp.
Blue-tongue vs red-bellied black: An Australian evolutionary arms race - UQ News - The University of Queensland, Australia

From Queensland University we have findings which should embarrass any advocate of the childish intelligent [sic] design notion. It's yet another example of the utter stupidity of any putative designer behind living organisms. In this case, an example of 'designing' two entirely different solutions to the same problem, as though it had forgotten a design it did earlier and started again, like a motor car manufacturer designing an entirely new engine from the bottom up, for every new model of car, or an aircraft manufacturer inventing an entirely new method of flight.

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