Sarasti Lives

Or did, anyway. Or at least something did. Those of you who’ve checked out the Vampire Domestication Talk might remember the slide from which this inset was taken: a timeline of hominid ancestry, showing the recent divergence of the vampire lineage and its subsequent extinction/reintegration into the human baseline. While the fusion of separate species […]

Posted in: blindsight, evolution by Peter Watts 244 Comments

“… And an Almost Fanatical Devotion to the Pope”: or, Truthiness Goes Technical

Okay, let’s do this. The author is Satoshi Kanazawa. The Journal is the Social Psychology Quarterly. And the paper is “Why Liberals and Atheists are More Intelligent“. Ignore for the moment that first stirring of doubt (more intelligent than what? Isn’t that kind of a glaring omission in a title?) because after all, it comes […]

Posted in: ass-hamsters, evolution, scilitics by Peter Watts 91 Comments

PRISMs, Gom Jabbars, and Consciousness

It’s Saturday night. I could be drinking now. I should be drinking now; a friend of mine has been liberated from his wife and larva for the weekend— a greater cause for celebration than he’ll admit publicly— and I should be out there helping him kill brain cells. And yet I have chosen to stay […]

“And God and the Economy
 Have Blessed Me with Equality”

A couple of papers on the nature of religious belief came down the pike last week. One was high-tech, analytically complex, and neurological. The other was low-tech, analytically naïve, and all evo-psych handwavey. It also claimed to rebut the whole school of thought embodied in the first paper, although I don’t think it did— yet […]

A Romance to make Seth Brundle Weep

Haven’t been posting the past few days.  I really should have written something to commemorate Darwin’s 200th birthday, but how can you celebrate when the latest Gallup poll shows that over 60% of the US population is too blinkered, too misled, or too downright stupid to grasp the reality of natural selection? And I would […]

Posted in: biology, evolution, science by Peter Watts 11 Comments

The Living Dead

Meet Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator, the bacterium that does it all: fix carbon, fix nitrogen, synthesize all essential amino acids, locomote — an organism that can exist totally independent of other life. It doesn’t even need the sun. This fucker basically lives on sulfur, rock, and electrons*. It’s an obligate anaerobe, without even the most rudimentary […]

Understanding Sarah Palin: Or, God Is In The Wattles

Here’s a question for you. Why hasn’t natural selection driven the religious right to extinction? You should forgive me for asking. After all, here is a group of people who base their lives on patently absurd superstitions that fly in the face of empirical evidence. It’s as if I suddenly chose to believe that I […]

Cancer, For the Greater Good

One of my favorite monster movies of all time has got to be John Carpenter’s 1982 remake of “The Thing”. It’s not a perfect film by any means – there are some gaffes with the rubber fx, and if eighties-era PCs ever came preloaded with software to test whether your buddies had been taken over […]

The End of Art

This whole stem-cell breakthrough is certainly worth keeping track of, but not here because you know about it already; it’s all over other sites far more popular than mine. Ditto the hilarious perspective on WoW which serves as the subject of today’s visual aid, starring characters which many of us must know (albeit in roles […]

Wolbachia cronenbergium

My, the folks over at the Venter Institute have been busy lately. First they changed one microbe species into another by physically replacing its entire genome. They did this in their quest to create a synthetic organism, basically a chassis with the absolute minimum number of genes necessary for life, which could then be loaded […]

Posted in: biology, evolution, science by Peter Watts 12 Comments