Category Archives: Science

The FDA cracks down on genetic testing

As noted by Razib Khan and Henry Harpending, the FDA is attempting to crack down on genetic testing.  Khan writes:

In the very near future you may be forced to go through a “professional” to get access to your genetic information. Professionals who will be well paid to “interpret” a complex morass of statistical data which they barely comprehend. Let’s be real here: someone who regularly reads this blog (or Dr. Daniel MacArthur or Misha’s blog) knows much more about genomics than 99% of medical doctors. And yet someone reading this blog does not have the guild certification in the eyes of the government to “appropriately” understand their own genetic information. Someone reading this blog will have to pay, either out of pocket, or through insurance, someone else for access to their own information. Let me repeat: the government and professional guilds which exist to defend the financial interests of their members are proposing that they arbitrate what you can know about your genome. A friend with a background in genomics emailed me today: “If they succeed in ramming this through, then you will not be able to access your own damn genome without a doctor standing over your shoulder.” That is my fear. Is it your fear? Do you care?

N.B.  On a related note, The Economist two years ago predicted a crisis in human genetics:

Human geneticists have reached a private crisis of conscience, and it will become public knowledge in 2010. The crisis has depressing health implications and alarming political ones. In a nutshell: the new genetics will reveal much less than hoped about how to cure disease, and much more than feared about human evolution and inequality, including genetic differences between classes, ethnicities and races.

We will also identify the many genes that create physical and mental differences across populations, and we will be able to estimate when those genes arose. Some of those differences probably occurred very recently, within recorded history. Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending argued in “The 10,000 Year Explosion” that some human groups experienced a vastly accelerated rate of evolutionary change within the past few thousand years, benefiting from the new genetic diversity created within far larger populations, and in response to the new survival, social and reproductive challenges of agriculture, cities, divisions of labour and social classes. Others did not experience these changes until the past few hundred years when they were subject to contact, colonisation and, all too often, extermination.


Are we hardwired to be ethnocentric?

Are we hardwired to be ethnocentric? After all, birds of a feather flock together. Steve Sailer has tirelessly reported on findings in sociobiology that demonstrate the biological basis for ethnocentrism (i.e. preferring others of one’s own ethnicity/race), such as applications of William D. Hamilton’s theory of kin selection and inclusive fitness—the more genes we share with another individual, the more altruistic we feel toward him.

And now there is yet another study proving this insight. Nicholas Wade at the NY Times reports on a Dutch study where subjects were given oxytocin and then had to select their preferences.

Dutch students were given standard moral dilemmas in which a choice must be made about whether to help a person onto an overloaded lifeboat, thereby drowning the five already there, or saving five people in the path of a train by throwing a bystander onto the tracks.

In Dr. De Dreu’s experiments, the five people who might be saved were nameless, but the sacrificial victim had either a Dutch or a Muslim name. Subjects who had taken oxytocin were far more likely to sacrifice the Muhammads than the Maartens.

Wade continues:

What does it mean that a chemical basis for ethnocentrism is embedded in the human brain? “In the ancestral environment it was very important for people to detect in others whether they had a long-term commitment to the group,” Dr. De Dreu said. “Ethnocentrism is a very basic part of humans, and it’s not something we can change by education. That doesn’t mean that the negative aspects of it should be taken for granted.”

If these findings are correct, then the war against ethnocentrism (often labeled as a war against “racism”) may itself be a  war against human nature.


Carsten K. W. De Dreu’s paper, “Oxytocin promotes human ethnocentrism

Allan C. Park’s take on the experiments.

Transgenetic “Pigs” to Fight World Hunger…

GM pigs: Green ham with your eggs? :

The project here is called Enviropig. The animals inside the clean, warm barns look like normal pigs and behave like normal pigs, but they are living, breathing wonders of modern science.

Each one contains genes from mice and E.coli bacteria, which have been inserted into their DNA with absolute precision.
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Neocon David Klinghoffer: Evolution is racist!!!

Neoconservative David Klinghoffer, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and former literary editor of National Review, crassly informs us that evolution is racist.  Apparently Darwin might not have thought Africans to be his equals and – heaven forbid! – he read Malthus.  The truth value of evolution is irrelevant, because “classical Darwinism, along with the wicked uses it’s been put to historically, together form a good reason to take a second, fresh, and objective look at the science.”

Trudging through the muck at the Discovery Institute is like taking a crash course in what I call “Cultural Marxist Christianity.”   Heaven forbid that natural inequality might exist in the world.  Heaven forbid that there might be human biological diversity.  Heaven forbid that ethnic nepotism is real.  Truth must be sacrificed for egalitarianism, leveling and the universal brotherhood of man.   These people are Cultural Marxists par excellence, but today they call themselves “conservatives.”

Update: In one of his books, Paul Gottfried notes that the neocons detested modern evolution theory even back when they were Trotskyites because of its anti-egalitarian implications. Once becoming “conservatives,” the former Trotskyites quickly were able to dupe social conservatives to carry the torch denouncing evolution as racist.

Update #2:  I happen to believe the current theory of evolution to be generally true (and complimentary to traditional morality and religion), but if  someone actually thinks the theory evolution is false, then by all means he should present a scientific argument and attempt to refute it. That is science and it is healthy.  But denouncing Darwinian thought because it’s “racist” is pure left-wing nonsense.

Murchison on Hawking on God

Stephen Hawking has been making waves recently because in his new book he makes the claim that God is not necessary to explain the universe. According to Hawking the universe created itself. William Murchison responds at Chronicles.

The atheist mode is pure assertion. It’s, shut up, listen here, I’m giving you numskulls The Facts. I imagine there have been, here and there, pleasant atheists. If so, one rarely runs across them. They’ve all got some Hawking, some Hitchens, some Mencken or Shaw or Robert Ingersoll in them: the desire to strut before the Stupid Masses; to show off a bit; to puncture the illusions of folk less enlightened than themselves, pinned down by the weight of superstition and terror. What a bunch of rubes and yokels, these believers! Not that they don’t come in handy as rhetorical foils and customers.

It’s really all too funny, as things tend to get when certain people—over and over without pause—do the same stupid things. Such as instruct the whole of human history to get off this God thing and start believing in spontaneous creation.


Filmmaker James Cameron Chickens Out of Climate Change Debate

James Cameron called out climate change skeptics to a debate and then chickens out. What a wuss.

Last March James Cameron sounded defiant.

The Avatar director was determined to expose journalists, such as myself, who thought it was important to ask questions about climate change orthodoxy and the radical “solutions” being proposed.

Cameron said was itching to debate the issue and show skeptical journalists and scientists that they were wrong.

“I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads,” he said in an interview…

And then, yesterday, just one day before the debate, his representatives sent an e-mail that Mr. “shoot it out ” Cameron no longer wanted to take part. The debate was canceled.

Some unsolicited advice for Mr. Cameron: if you are going to talk tough you best be willing to back it up. Otherwise keep your big mouth shut.


Egalitarianism vs. Science

“Since 1965, America has invested trillions in education with a primary goal of equalizing test scores among the races and genders. Measured by U.S. test scores, it has been a waste—an immense transfer of wealth from private citizens to an education industry that has grown bloated while failing us again and again. Perhaps it is time to abandon the goal of educational equality as utopian—i.e., unattainable—and to focus, as we do in sports and art, on excellence. Teach all kids to the limit of their ability, while recognizing that all are not equal in their ability to read, write, learn, compute or debate, any more than they are equally able to play in a band or excel on a ball field….. The beginning of wisdom is to recognize this world as it is, not as what we would wish it to be.” ~ Patrick J. Buchanan, Op-Ed, August 26, 2010

I wonder whether Buchanan will get any flack for his op-ed today?

It’s odd. What he writes everyone knows to be true. Yet, he is not allowed to say it.  Even stranger, the left still presents religion as the enemy of science. But, in reality, it’s egalitarianism that’s at odds with science, at least with evolutionary theory. If Eurasians separated from Africans around 100,000 years ago, and Europeans and Asians separated from each other around 40,000 years ago, it stands to reason that these groups would have evolved along different paths. James D. Watson, co-discoverer of DNA, notes that genes responsible for creating differences in human intelligence can be found within a decade. He writes:

“There is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so.”

It’s the difference between is and ought. Just because egalitarians wish for things to be equal doesn’t mean they are equal. How much longer will egalitarianism be at war with science? And how much longer will European Americans suffer because of this war?

A Scientific Find of the Century?

Svante Pääbo at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany has released some findings that may well change our view of human evolution. In fact, this finding could prove to be one of the most important finds of this century.

What did he find? That non-African humans have Neanderthal DNA. New Scientist reports:

“Any human whose ancestral group developed outside Africa has a little Neanderthal in them – between 1 and 4 per cent of their genome, Pääbo’s team estimates. In other words, humans and Neanderthals had sex and had hybrid offspring. A small amount of that genetic mingling survives in “non-Africans” today: Neanderthals didn’t live in Africa, which is why sub-Saharan African populations have no trace of Neanderthal DNA.”

What are the implications of such a find?

No one knows exactly, but it certainly could push back the date for the evolutionary separation of Europeans and Asians from Africans. Some have speculated it might account for:

- the physical diversity of Europeans (hair color, eye color, etc.)
- brain adaptions that gave non-Africans certain survival advantages (e.g. higher IQs)
- the ability of non-Africans to survive in colder climates

Steve Sailer notes these Neanderthal genes “probably aren’t neutral or junk genes, which would tend to disappear over the last 1,000 or so generations. They are probably useful genes that give some Darwinian advantage or advantages in some environments.” Speculating on the cold-weather thesis, Sailer notes:

[These genes] might be cold weather adaptations. For instance, one reason slavery faded out quietly in Northern states after the American Revolution was that slaves weren’t all that profitable because their immune systems weren’t attuned to cold weather diseases. As I wrote in VDARE in 2003:

Indeed, as Brandeis historian David Hackett Fischer pointed out in his famous Albion’s Seed, these racial differences had an enormous impact on the history of America. He notes that the cold climate of colonial Massachusetts:

“proved to be exceptionally dangerous to immigrants from tropical Africa, who suffered severely from pulmonary infections in New England winters. Black death rates in colonial Massachusetts were twice as high as whites’ – a pattern very different from Virginia where mortality rates for the two races were not so far apart, and still more different from South Carolina where white death rates were higher than those of blacks. So high was mortality among African immigrants in New England that race slavery was not viable on a large scale, despite many attempts to introduce it. Slavery was not impossible in this region, but the human and material costs were higher than many wished to pay. A labor system which was fundamentally hostile to the Puritan ethos of New England was kept at bay partly by the climate.”

Whatever implications this finding may bring, it will probably underscore the fact that there are significant differences between Africans and non-Africans. The genie is out of the bottle.

East Coast Blizzard Caused by … You Guessed it … Global Warming

That’s what this Time story would have us believe.

To be fair, it is not scientifically implausible that global warming could contribute to intensified local weather events. And it is also true that local and temporary events (weather) don’t necessarily disprove long term trends (climate). One rising stock does not prove that the market is not trending down. But you would think, given all the bad press the global warming crowd has generated for itself recently, that propriety would dictate that global warming proponents kind of lay low these days, instead of writing scoff inducing apologias, however scientifically plausible they may be, that the blizzard people are currently trying to dig themselves out from under is actually caused by that old’ villain global warming. It has an air of desperation about it. “Please don’t stop believing.” If I was one of the thousands of passengers stranded at the airport with no hope of departure in sight, and I opened my computer to find this story prominently awaiting my attention, I would likely throw my computer through the nearest wall and pledge then and there to buy the biggest most obnoxiously gas guzzling SUV I could find just to put a thumb in the eye of the clowns with the lack of good sense to write such a story. Hint to anthropogenic global warming advocates. Now is not the time. Back away from your keyboard.


I wrote this bit on Chronicles’  website about the anniversary of the moon landing. I write not to denegrate the landing itself but the insanity of manned space exploration:

“You know what’s on the moon? Rocks and dirt. You know what’s on Mars? More rocks and more dirt! Any so-called conservative who is complaining about the costs of health care reform, fighting global warming and the stimulus should have their heads blown off with a cannon if they also start whining about why the U.S. doesn’t have more manned space exploration (cue Newt Gingrich). Billions to look at rocks and dirt. Billions to stroke man’s ego.

While landing on the moon was an impressive accomplishment and those who were a part of the space program deserve praise for their bravery and sacrifice, we must admit the “Space Race” was as much about the Cold War as much was about science. Billions were spent to beat the Russians to the moon, not “one leap for mankind.” This is what drove everyone from the engineers to mission control to the astronauts themselves. Putting our flag on the moon looks nice for TV cameras and makes one feel good but to go beyond that, to try and seek some higher purpose for man will only leave you disappointed because nothing much changed after that or if did, only got worse.

Man has been able to explore the stars and the out edges of the galaxy and beyond with unmanned space probes. Our knowledge of the universe is much greater thanks to the Voyager and Mariner probes and the Viking craft and the Mars rover and the Hubble Telescope as much as been due to the Apollo and Gemini projects. And yet we wish to celebrate man physically setting foot on the moon. Why? What’s the point? Just because it’s there? Fine, pay for it yourself. The government doesn’t subsidizes mountain climbing on Everest just because it’s there, why should it subsidize moon landings or Mars exploration? Are their precious ores or minerals we can mine on the moon? Fine, pay for mining and transporting them yourselves if you can raise trillons in capital to do so. No one’s stopping you. Want to live in colonies on the Moon and Mars, fine by me. You won’t catch me recerating life on Earth in some artificial bubble millions of miles from home but hey, to each is own. But you will not pick my pocket for it. As the old song goes “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids. In fact it’s cold as hell.”

I look forward to the day more and more private dollars go into space travel and exploration so that every anniversary of the moon landing we do not have idiots like Charles Krauthammer lamenting our lack of space exploration because of man’s noble need for discovery, which can be a violent and violating process as “progress”. As I said, man has made many leaps in knowledge and science in more cost effective ways out of the Jet Propulsion Labratory where Cape Canaveral has given us duct tape, Tang and a footprint after billions spent. I know where I’d put my money.”

Some other moon articles: John Derbyshire’s “Moon Folly”; Thomas Fleming’s “Lunacy: Our New State Religion” and Gary North’s “Bureacrats Step on the Moon, What a Thrill!” and of course, how can one forget the song…watch?v=_l81UXB84mk

NASA: Still Unconstitutional After all These Years

Today, 20 July 09, marks the fortieth anniversary of the first moon landing. Be prepared for a lot of American triumphalism. While I agree with our friend Tom Piatak that those were better times and American triumphalism sure beats PC American self flagellation, it is important to remember that NASA was and still is an unconstitutional expenditure. Federal funding of space exploration for space exploration’s sake, or for the advancement of science, or just to say we beat the Russians, or whatever, is not constitutionally authorized. You could make the case that a space program that is intended for defensive purposes, such as SDI, is authorized, but otherwise NASA should be scrapped.

The Darwinian Jihadists are at it Again

I had planned to post on this issue, but Patroon beat me to it. The issue is a clause in the Texas standards that requires the teaching of the “strengths and weaknesses” of a scientific theory. The nerve of them! How dare someone suggest that the gospel according to Darwin has weakness?

On the surface, the debate centers on a passage in the state’s curriculum that requires students to critique all scientific theories, exploring “the strengths and weaknesses” of each. Texas has stuck to that same standard for 20 years, having originally passed it to please religious conservatives. In practice, teachers rarely pay attention to it.

This year, however, a panel of teachers assigned to revise the curriculum proposed dropping those words, urging students instead to “analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence.”

Scientists and advocates for religious freedom say the battle over the curriculum is the tip of a spear. Social conservatives, the critics argue, have tried to use the “strengths and weaknesses” standard to justify exposing students to religious objections in the guise of scientific discourse.

I have no sympathy for the Darwinian fundamentalists here. They have done this to themselves. Instead of simply using Darwin’s theory to explain speciation and adaptation, which very few would object to, they are the ones who insist on dogmatic naturalism, materialism and scientism and suggest that Darwin’s theory eliminates the need to invoke a Creator. And then they get their panties in a wad when Christians object. Go figure.

Cross posted at the New Media Alliance blog.

“That Hideous Strength” Revisited

Reminiscent of how the Confederate flag has been handled in numerous Southern states.  “Progressives” are all for representative systems — except on those occasions when such systems might fail to come up with a “progressive” result.

The Government is heading for its biggest confrontation with the Roman Catholic Church to date over its controversial new laws which will allow the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos.

A senior Cardinal condemned the plans as “monstrous” and of “Frankenstein proportion”.

Read more…

Architects of Existence

Succinctly described, transhumanism is a project for making a new, immortal life form as the evolutionary successor to Man. How this is to be done is not yet clear, for whether humanity’s imminent replacement should be robot, mutant, or a mix of both has not yet been settled among transhumanists themselves. Nor, for that matter, is the final purpose of all our urgent becoming something else entirely clear, either.

Mythic presentations are often more useful than abstract description in evoking what movements, philosophies, or cultures are about; as such, the late Arthur C. Clarke’s science fiction tale 2001: A Space Odyssey could be seen as functionally comparable to the ancient Achaeans’ Homeric vision.

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Ron Paul on Evolution

When the question about evolution was asked in one of the early debates, Ron Paul did not raise his hand. (Huckabee, Brownback, and Tancredo did, if I recall correctly.) This bothered me somewhat. Well it must have bothered someone else, because they asked him about it. Paul stumbles around a little in his answer, but essentially gets it right. He is not a dogmatic naturalist and materialist and accepts a Divine role in our origins as all Christians really must.

I posted a comment on the linked to site. It is the site of a really obnoxious anti-Christian, dogmatic naturalist, crusader named Ed Brayton.

Liberal E-Zine Slate Joins the IQ Debate

Wow. I am stunned to see this in print. I wonder what the reaction will be?

Last month, James Watson, the legendary biologist, was condemned and forced into retirement after claiming that African intelligence wasn’t “the same as ours.” “Racist, vicious and unsupported by science,” said the Federation of American Scientists. “Utterly unsupported by scientific evidence,” declared the U.S. government’s supervisor of genetic research. The New York Times told readers that when Watson implied “that black Africans are less intelligent than whites, he hadn’t a scientific leg to stand on.”

I wish these assurances were true. They aren’t. Tests do show an IQ deficit, not just for Africans relative to Europeans, but for Europeans relative to Asians. Economic and cultural theories have failed to explain most of the pattern, and there’s strong preliminary evidence that part of it is genetic. It’s time to prepare for the possibility that equality of intelligence, in the sense of racial averages on tests, will turn out not to be true.