January 2011

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An interesting note from a paper I wouldn’t normally look at (Ban the bigots from schools | The Sun |News).  Michael Gove, who’s policies seem to be destined to lead to greater religious interference in our nation’s schools is apparently setting up a ‘due diligence’ unit to spot interference in schools!  Interestingly the examples given by The Sun concern ‘Muslim jihadists’, and ‘Christian extremists teaching creationism’, with a later mention of ‘hardline political’ views.

Supposedly the new unit will monitor applications for new schools and arrangements in existing schools.  In the 21st Century, the UK should have moved on from allowing pressure groups such as churches from running nationally funded schools.  I appreciate the historical legacy of the established church in the development of national education, but times have moved on and the churches diminish steadily in their national role.  Does this latest move from Gove suggest that the predominant forces behind his new schools are religious, often from the extreme end?  We should look to the situation in the US where devolving power to local communities often empowers the strongly motivated (aka ‘extremists’ in Sun-speak) to drive forward irresponsible and often unconstitutional agendas in education, and be cautious.

 

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Another hat tip to Grrlscientist for this link to an excellent video pointing out the inadequacies of irreducible complexity (used by Michael Behe and others in an effort to disprove evolution).

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Hat tip to GrrlScientist for this…I think this video explains quite well what’s wrong with creationist views on scientific evidence.

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The dear old Centre for Intelligent Design creationism are misrepresenting science again (University finds brain’s complexity beyond belief).  Of course Alastair Noble and colleagues don’t want any of those nasty scientists leaving comments, so as per usual there’s no commenting facility.  As C4ID report,

They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith

At least C4ID don’t alter the “almost to the point”.

So, in essence, C4ID can’t understand how evolutionary and developmental biology can result in such complexity, so God a designer must have done it.  They then go on to say:

Yet there are scientists who appear on our TV screens all the time to tell us that life just popped into existence when the right bunch of chemicals appeared, and that the genetic instructions required to construct the awesome human brain simply evolved by themselves with no guidance at all.

Which somewhat economical with the truth.  The C4ID article links to an article at cnet.com (Human brain has more switches than all computers on Earth) rather than the actual research paper, probably because they reckon (rightly enough) that their intended audience wouldn’t understand it.

Essentially it’s a technical paper showing how neural connections in the brain can be imaged.  It’s well outside my field of expertise which, since I’m an honest sort of chap, prevents me from pontificating away and drawing over-interpreted conclusions (would that the same could be said of C4ID!).  However, the paper’s conclusion is:

Conclusions
Here, we demonstrate the usefulness of AT for the proteomic examination of individual synapses in natural brain tissue with full preservation of neuroanatomical and circuit context information. As efficient automated analysis strategies are developed to complement the inherently high throughput of array tomographic image acquisition, this tool should open new doors to the large-scale bioinformatic exploration of the molecular diversity and architecture of synapses. One likely consequence of such exploration could be the development of new schemes for the differentiation and cataloging of molecular synapse types. By isolating specific subsets of synapses, a synapse catalog could help enormously in pinpointing the specific synapse changes involved in particular neurological disorders (Luescher and Isaac, 2009) or forms of neural plasticity (Micheva and Beaulieu, 1995; Knott et al., 2002; Hofer et al., 2009; Xu et al., 2009; Yang et al., 2009). AT’s unique abilities to extract simultaneously rich proteomic and fine-scale structural information also suggests that the method may substantially advance ongoing efforts to integrate the structural and molecular views of neuronal microcircuit function.

That doesn’t quite match C4ID’s story, does it.  As Cathy (to whom credit goes for spotting this) points out over at the BCSE Forum:

Wonder how the original authors would feel about that?

Still, rampant ‘economy with the truth’ is frequently associated with creationists, including this newfangled breed of Intelligent Design creationists (aka cdesign proponentsists).

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