(Publicado no jornal O Primeiro de Janeiro a 29/11/2007)

The debate over gene selection versus group or multi-level selection continues unabated in biological circles, and no end appears in sight. Despite a resurgence of interest in group selection, the gene-only theorists refuse to concede an inch of ground, but I fear the high tide of gene selection is on the ebb and will never dominate again.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />



Via Larry at Sandwalk, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is excited about Facebook, YouTube, and Blogs.

What does this have to do with science? Like Larry, I'm still skeptical of what impact this has on what I do in the lab:
The English faculty at Cambridge have released a podcast of Paradise Lost in honor of John Milton's 400th Birthday.  Paradise Lost is an epic poem, so it is best enjoyed out loud, read by someone British with a sense of rhythm and meter, and free.  If you have not experienced Paradise Lost yet, do yourself a favor, grab a helping of culture with both hands, and give a listen.

*Thanks to Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution for the pointer.
The approaching holiday season lends itself to some odd thoughts.  Our modern calendar is great.  A calendar year is only offset from the orbit of the Earth by about 6 hours.  It has tremendous advantages over more ancient methods.  Apparently in Ancient Rome, it was considered a major achievement to get the calendar to line up with the seasons, even if that required adding months named after oneself.
The most recent issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach is now available free online. This is a special issue devoted to the evolution of eyes. You may recognize some of the names in the table of contents, as several of these authors are also bloggers. Enjoy.


Evolution: Education and Outreach

Volume 1 Issue 4
The evolution of eyes
Edited by T. Ryan Gregory

Editorial


From looking at the responses to recent articles on the science of race by Massimo Pigliucci and Michael White, it is clear that a lot of people are coming poorly equipped to the quantitative genetics party. A great deal of fuss was made over the heritability of IQ. What does heritability mean?

RED FLAG: If someone says the heritability of X is Y, then they probably don't know what they are talking about.
...the result is never pretty. I made this point in a comment, but I've hoisted it up here because this issue deserves more visibility.

Physics professor Steve Hsu makes this argument:
If you need more proof of how easy the human brain is to fool, hop over to Scientific American's 60 second science and read about how a group of mad scientists used virtual reality goggle to get subjects to 'body-swap' with a mannequin.

I'm waiting for the Wii version.
Last night, Mrs. Rugbyologist, the Frogger, and I had an episode ("Love Hurts") of House on in the background.  The primary patient had visited several practitioners of woonackery before taking his ailment to actual medical experts.  While being appropriately (i.e., in line with the scientific evidence) dismissive of acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, and naturopathy, House does speculate that the patient's condition could be caused by an allergic reaction to an herb prescribed by the homeopath.  Perhaps this was a subtle joke.  Unfortunately, it is impossible to have an allergic reaction to a homeopathic remedy.