Okay, okay. the platypus is not “weird”.

…nor is it any kind of “genetic potpourri”. After the platypus got genowmed, PZ Myers says he’s getting tired of the media getting this wrong:

Every organism is going to be a mix of conserved, primitive characters and evolutionary novelties — a mouse is just as “weird” as a platypus from an evolutionary perspective, since each is the product of processes that promote divergence from a common ancestor, and each are equidistant from that ancestor. It’s just that we primates share more derived characters with a mouse than with a platypus, because we are more closely related, and the mix of characters in the mouse are more familiar to us.

the rest of this great article on evolution and convergent evolution can be found archived below. one of the comments made me chuckle, though:

Can we at least say that the platypus is a good argument against intelligent design? It looks bleeding ridiculous; the designer must have been smoking crack to make something like that.

original article: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/05/the_platypus_genome.php

(archived below)… Continue reading

Henry Eyring, Mormon Scientist and supporter of Evolution

there’s a new book for sale on the shelves here in Utah, called Mormon Scientist: The Life and Faith of Henry Eyring. i quickly went to the index and looked up the ever-controversial subject amongst the religious: EvilEvolution.

to quickly summarize, Eyring accepts, supports and even defends human evolution in 3 out of the four locations where the subject turns up in the book (one quote is rather ambiguous).

good for him, now on to the rest of the millions of LDS who are still unaware of their human origins.

Also:

midnight prayer

we are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. but we can understand the universe. that makes us something very special. (Stephen Hawking)

tonight i watched into the wild on my ipod. i watched while lying in my bed, before going to sleep. my short 2-3 sentence review is this: thank you, mr. krakauer for letting me vicariously live a fantasy of going into the wild and being one w/ nature. i also learned thru the experience of christopher (the main character in the story), that “happiness is only real when shared” (he wrote these words towards the end of his lonely, soul-searching journey to alaska). there’s got to be a way to be one with the world and continue our relationships around us, too. this is a new goal for me to live by. tonight my wife shared a poem with me that said: “real tragedy is not death, but a life not lived” Continue reading

Jon Haidt And “The Happiness Hypothesis”

It is important to note that we are often far more capable of changing the basic conditions of our lives than we believe. THH sheds light on why we tend to unnecessarily stay in unhappiness producing circumstances.[7] On the other hand, the massive effort required to drag oneself from the middle class into the super wealthy category or achieve other significant social status markers, appears to pay negligible happiness dividends unless the process by which these symbols are obtained is itself enjoyable. That is, happiness is about the journey. Those who endure the journey in hope that the destination will pay off are almost invariably frustrated. And continuously arriving at seemingly desirable destinations (buying as opposed to earning, for example) is ironically depressing. Many major life events, such as moving to the climate that seems most desirable, winning the lottery, or becoming a paraplegic have surprisingly small happiness effects.

Today we effortlessly obtain more than any prior generation dreamed possible and are faced with a supreme irony – we have reached the Nirvana toward which our ancestors climbed, and it turns to dust as we grasp it.

Review by Bob McCue below. Highlights/bold by me. Continue reading