Sunday, July 17, 2011


Photos from Chicago are up on Picasa, lemmy know if you want to see um.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Government data Series. Part 1:From where do we import our oil?

       I've been listening to various political debates and on thing keeps popping up, our dependence on foreign oil. Off the top of your head, how much do you know about oil? How much do we make domestically? How much do we import? If there is such a shortage, do we export any? Which countries do we import our oil from? Probably like most of you reading this, I thought we didn't make much and we imported it from unfriendly countries that happen to be bursting with oil. I was wrong.

       In 2010 the top two countries we imported our oil from was Canada and Mexico respectively.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Silly Creationists

Today at a garage sale at the school a girl was wearing an "Abortion is Mean" shirt. I like wearing offensive/controversial shirts too, so I didn't think that much of it...until I saw the back. It said something about a Darwinian world, and had a link to a creationist website (I won't say which one because it sucks and my point isn't to increase the number of hits to their website). I went to the website and started reading the familiar arguments. 

I was a creationist at one point so I remember clinging to those seemingly logical arguments in the face a stack of evidence that grew larger and more robust the more I learned about biology. That is what changed my mind, the evidence just became overwhelming. Like a jury member with preconceived notions who's presented a case full of contrary evidence and facts, I too was presented the facts of biology and I found it overwhelmingly in support of evolution, and I have been interested in it ever since.

Here are two particularly misleading and downright funny "evidences of creation" from the website. (I hope you see why they're funny from my explanations.)

#1) Cytochrome C2.
"Cytochrome C. In his 1986 book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Michael Denton has presented the most telling criticism of evolutionary trees based on protein sequence data. He analyses the percentage differences between the Cytochrome C molecules of different organisms to show that each group of organisms is equally isolated from any other particular group as shown in the table below:-
Percent amino acid sequence divergence between cytochrome C2 in Rhodospirillum rubrum and various eukaryotic Cytochrome C (taken from The Creation Explanation with permission requested).
If evolution were true, then the further organisms have evolved from bacteria, the greater change there should be in Cytochrome C.

Human 65
Chicken 64
Tuna 65
Monkey 64
Penguin 64
Bonito 64
Pig 64
Duck 64
Carp 64
Horse 64
Pigeon 64
Dog 65
Dogfish 65
Whale 65
Turtle 64
Rabbit 64
Rattlesnake 66
Lamprey 66
Kangaroo 66

Bullfrog 65

Fruit Fly 65
Mung-bean 66
Candid Cruse 72
Screw-worm 64
Silkworm 65
Sesame 65
Castor 69
kloeckeri 67
Tobacco Horn
Sunflower 69
Baker's yeast 69
Worm Moth 64
Wheat 66
Neurospora crassa 69

"From the data in table above it is evident that the amino acid sequence of the Cytochrome c molecules of all of the species in all of the groups of organisms are equally isolated from that of the bacterium Rhodospirillum rubrum. Thus there is no basis in this data to indicate that any group is intermediate between other groups. All are equally isolated from all other groups. This data supports the biblical record of creation of each "kind" separate from all other "kinds." (taken from The Creation Explanation with permission requested). "
    Well, I did some molecular evolution research in my undergrad and the government has an amazing site devoted to molecular biology/genetics. It's called genbank. With this site one can easily reproduce this table with accurate numbers. One part of the website will compare homologous genes in different animals and quantify how different they are as a percent. Here is the chimp cytochrome c2 gene compared to other animals. (In case you aren't familiar with the species names, the first two are mice, then rat, bird, zebrafish, fruit fly, mosquito, worm, yeast, and the last one is a plant.)

Pairwise Alignment Scores
Gene Identity (%)

Specis Symbol Protein DNA

P.troglodytes LOC742456
vs. M.musculus Cycs 90.5 90.5 Blast
vs. M.musculus Gm10053 90.5 90.5 Blast
vs. R.norvegicus LOC690675 89.5 89.5 Blast
vs. G.gallus CYCS 85.7 80.3 Blast
vs. D.rerio zgc:86706 81.7 74.4 Blast
vs. D.melanogaster Cyt-c-p 77.5 71.9 Blast
vs. A.gambiae AgaP_AGAP009537 78.4 69.6 Blast
vs. C.elegans cyc-2.1 56.1 59.5 Blast
vs. C.elegans cyc-2.2 58.2 58.8 Blast
vs. S.cerevisiae CYC7 57.4 61.4 Blast
vs. K.lactis CYC_KLULA 56.4 59.1 Blast
vs. K.lactis KLLA0F16929g 56.4 59.1 Blast
vs. E.gossypii AGOS_AFR360W 55.4 60.1 Blast

      Notice, the percentages continually decrease as we compare animals that are less and less related. This website completely lied!! The conclusions drawn from the data from genbank are what we would expect from using current evolutionary models and more interestingly, the creationist website itself predicts how it would be if evolution were true. Well, it turns out it is. Evolution gets a point for accurately predicting how similar sequence data are, and the creationist website loses a point for not only being wrong, but for disseminating misinformation. Creation website -1 / evolution 1.
(btw, can you guess where humans fit in? I don't know why humans weren't included, they usually are, but the same chimp gene is 99% identical to the human gene).

#2) (From site) Hemoglobin.
Haemoglobin, the molecule that carries oxygen around the body in red blood cells is found in all vertebrates, but also exists in earthworms, starfish, molluscs, in some insects and plants and even in certain bacteria (Blanchard, 2002). However, when scientists examined the haemoglobin of crocodiles, vipers and chicken, they found that crocodiles were  more closely related to chickens on the basis of similarity in haemoglobin than to their fellow reptiles (Blanchard, 2002).”

   This one is just down right funny and shows how unfamiliar most creationist are with biology in general. Look at a phylogenetic tree which shows how modern biology thinks these animals are related.

Ha. There they are birds and crocodilians are extremely closely related. The fact that bird and crocodilian hemoglobin sequences are similar is exactly what we would expect. Birds and crocodillians are both archosaurs. They are both less related to the squamate "reptiles" you are more familiar with. I'll assume the website (and the book it sites) is just plain ignorant of this fact, and not deliberately lying. Creation website -1 / evolution 2. 

This is been most of my experience with creationism. Most of the arguments are silly when examined closely or when one has any familiarity with biology or animals. To be fair, evolution is not a perfect science, we still want to know a whole lot more! But with 250 years of research in evolution, we've come to explain a lot. Creationists are just plain silly. To have private views is one thing, but to distort facts about biology in order to support your faith (for creationism is always associated with faith, always) is just dirty. For shame!

If this was interesting to you, you should read some books about evolution, I'll be reviewing all the evolution books I've read soon. Also notice, I posted about evolution and said nothing bad about faith, religion, god, mormons, or anything like unto it.