Category: Evolution

A Pox on All Our Houses

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy; Thou art thyself, though not a Monkeypox. What’s Monkeypox? It is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part Belonging to a man. O, be some other name! What’s in a name? That which we call an orthopoxvirus By any other name would sicken as much; So Monkeypox would, were...

/ June 16, 2022

Using Evolutionary Principles to Reduce Antibiotic Resistance

We need to harness all options to delay the inevitable emergence of antibiotic resistance.

/ September 1, 2021

Caffeine Withdrawal Headaches

Caffeine is not addictive. Regular users of caffeine can develop tolerance and mild physical dependence, and sudden withdrawal can cause headaches and other symptoms (but only in half the population). This is does not qualify as addiction.

/ February 5, 2019

Molecular Phylogenetics: A New Way to Tell the Story of Evolution

The new science of molecular phylogenetics tells the story of evolution with no need to consult the fossil record. It has produced some surprises, including a whole new domain of life, the archaea.

/ November 13, 2018

Human Flaws Demonstrate Evolution, Not Intelligent Design

The human body is clearly not the product of an intelligent designer. Its many flaws tell the fascinating story of evolution's accidents and constraints.

/ November 6, 2018

Prove the scientific consensus and win a prize: A time-dishonored PR ploy used by cranks, quacks, and pseudoscientists (Robert F. Kennedy Jr. edition)

Last week, antivaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. teamed up with Robert De Niro to issue a challenge to provide one scientific study that proves thimerosal in vaccines is safe, with a cash prize of $100,000. They thus joined a long line of antivaxers, creationists, and climate science denialists offering money to "prove" the scientific consensus. Science doesn't work that way.

/ February 20, 2017

Vaginal Seeding. Ew. That’s nuts. Hmmm, interesting.

Sometimes a headline will cause me to run through a series of reactions in rapid sequence. For example “Mothers facing C-sections look to vaginal ‘seeding’ to boost their babies’ health”: Early studies show that swabbing a mother’s vagina and transferring it to her baby’s mouth, eyes and skin may stimulate microbiome development similarly to babies born naturally – and protect it from...

/ May 13, 2016

No, Purell Does Not Breed Super-Anything

Recently, I was sitting in a meeting and reached for the dispenser of Purell hand sanitizer sitting on the conference room table. A colleague of mine gave a small, rueful shake of her head to the person on her other side. Apparently I had erred. I asked what was the matter, and got a brief answer to the effect of “because superbugs.”...

/ November 28, 2015

Selective pressures on alternative medicine

(Editor’s note: I was away at Skepticon over the weekend, where I gave a talk entitled “The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine”. (When the talk’s up on YouTube, I’ll provide a link, of course.) Because of all the fun and travel delays I didn’t get a chance to turn my slides and notes into a blog post yet. Also, I’m on vacation...

/ November 24, 2014

“Atavistic oncology” revisited: Dr. Frank Arguello responds

Three weeks ago, I wrote about a cancer treatment promoted by Dr. Frank Arguello that I deemed to be quackery, launching into one of my usual discussions based in science (and with a touch of snark) regarding why. Dr. Arguello, it appears, is not very happy about what I wrote. So he responded. He also sent e-mails complaining to my cancer center...

/ August 18, 2014