Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No cancer, but at what cost?

Based on a paper published in ScienceTranslationalMedicine by Guevara-Aquirre et al on a group of Ecuadorian dwarfs, Nicholas Wade has a very interesting article in the NY Times on the effects of mutation in the growth hormone receptor (GRH) gene on the development of cancer and diabetes - this mutation essentially eliminates both (see also this paper).  Unfortunately, in addition to dwarfism, these mutations are also associated with childhood mortality, death associated with convulsions, and impaired mental function.  All of which serve to inform us that (as Ray Troll would say), there is apparently, no free lunch.  

At the same time, it is probably worth noting in the light of standard scientific/news hype, that this is a highly isolated population, and that it is likely that genetic variations at other genetic loci, are likely to make important contribution - things are likely to become more complex.  This could be, yet another case, of where the "truth wears off."

Thanks to Nicholas Wade for clarification and helpful direction. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Darwin Day Talk @ UC Boulder

While there is no sound (perhaps, I will add a soundtrack later), these are the slides I used for my talk for the Skeptical Students groups at UC Boulder:  "Why understanding evolution is hard and hard to accept". 

Friday, February 11, 2011

It dawns on me (rather belatedly) that one can use a blog ....

as a place to store various thoughts and web references - something of an intellectual (rather than emotional diary.)

So after a bit of a hiatus, I am back, using the web site post various references and observations, in large part so that I can find them again.   

Bill O'Reilly and the Galaxy Song

After giving a Darwin week talk for the Secular Students and Skeptics Society at UC Boulder, I was thinking about the meaning of the recently posted youtube video by Bill O'Reilly about tides and intelligent design.  A little too late I recognized that the correct response was the Galaxy Song by Monty Python.