Posts Tagged "biology"


Why Evolution is True and Why Many People Still Don’t Believe It

Jerry Coyne, professor of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, reviews the evidence for evolutionary theory and why Americans (in particular) are so resistant to accepting evolution as fact.

Highly recommended watch, even if you consider yourself well-versed on the topic.  The pace is brisk and he’s not boring at all, and I found myself learning a new thing or two. The final analysis won’t surprise many of you, but he takes great care in getting there.

In general, an excellent review for the 12% (an embarrassing figure) of Americans that accept evolution as fact, and time well spent for the rest having their convictions challenged.


What Makes Cancer Cells Different?

We’ve talked before about how tricky a disease cancer is. Or, if you want to be accurate, how tricky a “set of diseases” it is. I mean, a single tumor is like a world unto itself, full of different populations of cells, each with their own individual set of mutations. That’s crazy to think about.

Cancer is the result of one of our cells’ most basic and core functions, cell division, gone awry. What causes it, in the large sense? How can we use cancer’s tricks against it to try and treat these diseases?

George Zaidan tackles those questions for TED-Ed in the video above. If nothing else, it’s the best combination of beans, fabric and cancer biology I’ve ever seen in a video. Goes nicely with my TED-Ed video on how the human genome is organized in the first place.

Jaroslav Flegr is no kook. And yet, for years, he suspected his mind had been taken over by parasites that had invaded his brain. So the prolific biologist took his science-fiction hunch into the lab. What he’s now discovering will startle you. Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia? A biologist’s science- fiction hunch is gaining credence and shaping the emerging science of mind- controlling parasites.

Read: How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy - Magazine - The Atlantic

“Researchers found that only 28 percent of biology teachers consistently follow the recommendations of the National Research Council to describe straightforwardly the evidence for evolution and explain the ways in which it is a unifying theme in all of biology. At the other extreme, 13 percent explicitly advocate creationism, and spend at least an hour of class time presenting it in a positive light.

That leaves what the authors call “the cautious 60 percent,” who avoid controversy by endorsing neither evolution nor its unscientific alternatives. In various ways, they compromise.

“These kinds of data have been reported regionally, and in some cases nationally, for decades. Creationists are in the classroom, and it’s not just the South,” he said. “At least 25 percent of high school teachers in Minnesota explicitly teach creationism.” “These courses aren’t reaching the creationists,” he said. “They already know what evolution is. They were biology majors, or former biology students. They just reject what we told them. “With 15 to 20 percent of biology teachers teaching creationism,” he continued, “this is the biggest failure in science education. There’s no other field where teachers reject the foundations of their science like they do in biology.” - Randy Moore, a professor of biology at the University of Minnesota

“Students are being cheated out of a rich science education.” - Dr. Plutzer, a professor of political science at Penn State University”

On Evolution, Biology Teachers Stray From Lesson Plan - NYTimes