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2009-03-18 - 3:47 p.m.

...that's me in the spotlight losing my religion (and abusing .html italics coding, and ending on a cool note if you make it that far)...

As long as I am into being horrified by ministers and their completely misinformed statements about basic science, I think I'll post this quote from the same minister in today's Lobe and Ail:

We are evolving every year, every decade. That's a fact, whether it is to the intensity of the sun, whether it is to, as a chiropractor, walking on cement versus anything else, whether it is running shoes or high heels, of course we are evolving to our environment. But that's not relevant and that is why I refused to answer the question. The interview was about our science and tech strategy, which is strong.

I'm equally dumbfounded by the quote later in the article, from a Liberal critic, regarding his take on the minister's perception of evolution as science:

It is a personal matter. It is a matter of faith. I don't think it prevents someone from being a good minister.

This type of dialogue is so embarrassing. First of all, we have a minister who clearly does not understand the difference between 'adaptation' and 'evolution.' On top of that we have a leading critic for the opposition who does not grasp the difference between the concepts of scientific theory and faith.

Oh this is disturbing on so. many. levels.

Can I just begin with the question, "Do you believe in evolution?" OK, I'm not the science minister or its main critic or anything. But I can tell you how I would begin my response (and naturally, egotistically, how I think a science minister should respond):

I think perhaps you are phrasing the question in a peculiar way, because the theory of evolution is not an issue of Belief in the way that one would ask, "Do you believe in God?" When we are talking about evolution, the question is whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant acceptance of a scientific theory. In this case, there IS substantial evidence that evolution takes place...

So in Teranika's mind, both quotes leave me pretty nervous about who's holding the scientific reigns here.

Incidentally, the article goes on to state that this particular government maintains that it should be applauded for massively expanding the same program that provided me with funds to start up my lab here.


One shouldn't have to flip too far back in these entries to see the massive, bureaucratic, and administrative gridlock that was associated with that program - which took eighteen months to deliver even a penny of funding to me.

Well, so, I have some opinions on this topic...but I'd like to end on a cool note for anyone has tolerated my ranting this far. This whole discussion of evolution reminded me of this guy at Michigan State University, who has cultured 12 identical populations of E. coli bacteria for over 45,000 successive generations, and monitored their genetic status every 500 generations or so. He began this experiment back in 1988. By generation ~31,500, he observed that one of the twelve populations developed a rare genetic mutation that enabled it to use citrate as a food source.

Evolution in progress!

Kudos to Lenski for coming up with this incredibly clever experiment. That's just so cool.

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