iesika: (biology)
 A while ago, I made a sort of study guide for someone, dealing with Mendelian inheritance and Punnet squares. I'm working on one right now for DNA replication, transcription and translation, and it occurred to me to ask if anyone other than the intended recipient would be interested in seeing it? 

I don't want to actually web-publish because this one, in particular, is full of stolen images, and also there are Batman references and such, and I think maybe there was cursing in the first one. But if anyone's struggling with those topics, and would like a go at them, drop me a comment, and I'll make them available on googledocs or something. 

I'm having a distressing amount of fun with this. Watch, I'm going to end up writing an online textbook, and then have to explain to people, no, I never actually graduated college, and I babysit for a living. 

I wonder if there's a market for study guides by smartasses? 


Oct. 25th, 2009 07:27 am
iesika: (Science Police)

Or, okay, they weren't ghosts, but they looked like it. I knew they weren't ghosts, but they freaked me out a little anyway until I figured out what they were.

I woke up at my client's house in a suburb of my town, after very, very little sleep, and had to drive back here (currently at my parents' house) in the dawning hours. It's cold out, this morning - the coldest it's been so far this year, and while it's probably not terribly cold by the standards of other people, I was frickin freezing. Anyway, I was driving too fast (like 60 on a 45) headed this way because it was dawn on Sunday on a country road, and I saw this....thing! 

Keep in mind, I was going sixty, so I only saw it for a second, but I did a double take. There was this weirdly shaped, semi-opaque thing on the side of the road, about the size of a person. A minute later, I saw another one. And another one. By the fourth or fifth I had worked out that there were drainage grates wherever the 'ghosts' were, and they were clouds of biological steam.

I've never seen that before - I mean I've seen steam come up from grates before, once or twice, downtown, but I've never seen it randomly on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in dim light while barely awake. I wonder if that area has a different kind of sewer than the actual city. I wouldn't be surprised... It's a little backward.

Anyway, that was my strange morning. Now I've got to decide the nap versus fic question. Nap has some very compelling arguments.
iesika: (Science Police)

I won! I won I won!

Biology class first thing Monday morning, she had new, accurate charts!

Though our homework still had a question about the multiregional hypothesis. And it wasn't "What erroneous theory of human evolution, now largely recognized as having a racist origin, was disproved when it was discovered that we're not even descended from Homo Erectus."

I need a mad scientist icon, don't I? Not a crazy-mad scientist, but an angry-mad scientist. Or maybe both at once?

iesika: (Science Police)
Just before the end of my biology (for majors, second semester) class this morning, my teacher dropped this bombshell: "Some scientists consider humans to be apes. We're very closely related to the chimpanzees and especially bonobos, but that doesn't mean we evolved from apes, just that we share a common ancestor." And as I was sitting there thinking "surely she's misstated that," she draws something like this on the board:

I don't talk in biology. I don' t ask questions, and I don't argue. It's a survey course, and she doesn't want my questions about gastrulation in the Edicarian fauna. I know this. Her statement pissed me off beyond belief, though, and I raised my hand before I could think about it and said, "but when you draw it like that, 'apes' becomes a paraphyletic grouping, since chimps, bonobos and gorillas are more closely related to us than they are to the pongoids (Orangutangs and their extinct relatives). Homo originates from within the 'great apes'." And then, remembering to put my criticism in the form of the question, "Doesn't it?"

So she drew this:

So I waited until after class and approached her with this:

(Pan, ie the chimps and bonobos, are at the tip to make a point, because you can draw a clade in either direction, since both members are equally related to the previous clade)

And said: "This is the order of phylogenisis accepted by the all of the most prominent evolutionary scientists and primatolagists of the last ten years. Why are you teaching this class otherwise?"
Her: (with conspiritorial smirk) "I didn't want to blow their minds."
Me: "But you're a science teacher. That's your job."
Her: "This is a  very controversial topic."
Me: "Okay." And silently :

This is not a controversy. There is no controversy in science, only things we aren't sure about yet, and this isn't one of them. The illusion of controversy only exists here because people like you don't teach the subject properly. You had one chance to completely reshape the way half this class thinks, and you've lost it. You have contributed to the intellectual death of our society, and I hate you.

And then I went home. This is an issue I feel extremely, extremely strongly about. Writing that last bit honestly made me cry. The Louisiana senate is currently debating a bill which would support the teaching of so called "intelligent design theory" (which is not a theory, and didn't you people take science in the fifth fucking grade?). The African hominids are being slaughtered. Humans are ruining this planet. Nobody fucking cares. It all comes down to that little cladogram, that one little picture, a few lines and words. Either we're a part of life on this Earth, or we are something separate, over and above and untouchable. One of those answers is a beautiful, almost spiritual statement that opens up a universe of possiblities. The other is a death sentence for our species, and thousands of others.

I won't even mention the shoddy science.

iesika: (Science Police)
Today being Sunday after the semester finally ended, I took it upon myself to have a long hot bath and read a good book (at the same time, of course, for maximum enjoyment). The book I picked was one I'd been given as a gift, which looked promising and exactly up my alley: Big brain : the future of human intelligence by Gary Lynch and Richard Granger (both Neuroscientists), which, according to the jacket, is a book about the evolution of human intelligence. Sounded like a fun read.

So, I'm in my nice hot bubble bath, reading my nice new sciencey book, of which the introduction was very promising. I get about five pages into chapter 1 before I'm flinging the book to the side and scrambling to get dry and dressed and to my computer.

Here is why )
Let this be a lesson to us all. Just because someone has credentials doesn't mean their theory/research/medical treatment is sound. In particular, if they claim the "Scientific Establishment" (or worse, "Science" Itself) is covering up or ignoring their groundbreaking research, your own bullshit meter should start tingling. Do some research. Look at more than one source for corroboration.

This has been a public service announcement brought to you by Jessie's righteous indignation and moral outrage.


iesika: (Default)

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