Friday, October 23, 2009

"Ida" Is Not Even Close To Being a Human Ancestor

From a Washington Post AP story, Ida is not so amazing after all:

Remember Ida, the fossil discovery announced last May with its own book and TV documentary? A publicity blitz called it "the link" that would reveal the earliest evolutionary roots of monkeys, apes and humans.

. . .

In fact, Ida is as far removed from the monkey-ape-human ancestry as a primate could be, says Erik Seiffert of Stony Brook University in New York.

. . .

The new analysis says Darwinius does not belong in the same primate category as monkeys, apes and humans. Instead, the analysis concluded, it falls into the other major grouping, which includes lemurs.

Experts agreed.

"This is a rigorous analysis based on many features," said Eric Sargis, an anthropology professor at Yale.

I'm ready for the media blitz that will correct the misinformation generated by the original media blitz. I won't hold my breath.

From a Guardian article:

The Ida fossil, which was found in the Messel Pit on the outskirts of Frankfurt, was revealed to the public in what amounted to the greatest publicity coup in modern science. The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, appeared alongside the fossil, wearing a T-shirt carrying the TV tie-in logo, "The link." A book about Ida was already coming off the presses.

Ida was an immediate media sensation. The fossil received blanket coverage around the world and newspapers hailed her as the "missing link" between humans and animals. The Guardian even gave away free wallcharts of "humanity's long lost ancestor."

My previous posts and commentary on the Ida hoopla (with analogy to Britney Spears) are here and here.

So it goes . . .

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ridicule, Hatred and Contempt

From a great article on on the rift among atheists:

[Christopher] Hitchens, a columnist for Vanity Fair and author of the book God Is Not Great, told a capacity crowd at the University of Toronto, "I think religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred and contempt, and I claim that right." His words were greeted with hoots of approval.

Religion is "sinister, dangerous and ridiculous," Hitchens tells NPR, because it can prompt people to fly airplanes into buildings, and it promotes ignorance. Hitchens sees no reason to sugarcoat his position.

"If I said to a Protestant or Quaker or Muslim, 'Hey, at least I respect your belief,' I would be telling a lie," Hitchens says.

Stalin and many other world leaders agreed with Hitchens and acted on it. We all know the results of that.

Hichens is a truly a wonderful example of a combination atheist and Darwinian fundamentalist. When you don't have facts and logic, I guess you have to rely on ridicule and contempt. Richard Dawkins does quite frequently.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

George Marsden Identifies Darwinian Fundamentalism

In the context of the recent Bloggingheads controversy concerning Intelligent Design, George Marsden supported the premise of this blog:
Some religion history experts noted the ironic adaptation of Fundamentalist techniques on the opposite side of the evolution debate. "Recently 'the new atheists' have been characterized, even in some of the mainstream media, as like fundamentalists in their dogmatism," said George Marsden, a noted professor of American religious history at the University of Notre Dame. "Breaking relations with those who associate with your enemies sounds a lot like classic American fundamentalist 'second-degree separation.' "

I recommend Marsden's book, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief, which gets into related topics.

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