Many US state legislatures are pushing personhood for zygotes and embryos. There is even a movement to put it into the US Constitution. For Women’s History Month, I am reposting this video: It’s a Missed Period.
Tag Archives: biology
In her video, Dr. Anth Talks: Ejaculate Responsibly, Dr. Anth presents the 28 Arguments of Gabrielle Blair as outlined in her book: Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think About Abortion.
For more on the power of condoms, watch this TED talk given by Thailand’s “Mr. Condom”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EL9TBKSdHXU
Autoimmune Disease & Vitamin D Deprivation
In the Northern Hemisphere, we are now moving into the Fall and Winter Seasons. This period of time is also when Vitamin D deprivation increases unless individuals increase their daily intake of Vitamin D3 supplementation.
Please listen to this Mentza conversation to learn more about the relationship between autoimmune diseases and Vitamin D deprivation.
Vaccines and Life Expectancy
In the US, there is a positive correlation between the development of vaccines for different diseases and an increase in life expectancy. This positive correlation holds from the development of the polio vaccine to Covid. But Covid vaccine resistance has ended this positive trend.
Watch Vaccines & LIfe Expectancy to learn more.
Women Lose Legal Personhood
On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court decided 6 to 3 that women (and others who can become pregnant) no longer had control of their bodies and their reproductive decisions.
Dr. Anth Talks YouTube Channel
Between March 2, 2021 and April 19, 2021, I published 15 short videos on my Dr. Anth Talks Channel. Each week, 2 short videos are published on topics related to being human in a complex world.
Check out the past videos and make sure not to miss any in the future by subscribing to my Dr. Anth Talks Channel.
Dr. Anth Talks: Biological Sex is Not That Simple!
Pathological Science and mtEve
While reading The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean, the author discussed the concept of ‘pathological science.’ ‘Pathological science’ results from scientists who cling to their ideas even when there is plenty of evidence against them. For instance, Kean discusses the idea that megalodon sharks might still be circling the deep oceans even though there is no evidence for this, while there is evidence that those sharks died out at least one million years ago. Yet, some scientists are pathologically attached to the idea that the megalodon lives.
I realized that ‘pathological science’ was the perfect term to describe what happened over the past 25 years with the rise of mtEve and the demotion of Neanderthals to non-H. sapiens status. There was/is little evidence to support mtEve as a concept, but it so excited many otherwise respectable scientists, not to mention the media and the general public, that mtEve swept away anyone who disagreed that she was the mother of all modern humans. This was a pathological science creation event par excellence. If this non-existent entity had been named mtMable, the rush to embrace her probably would not have occurred.
The name ‘mtEve’ fed into the creation stories many scientists were raised with; even if they no longer believed the stories, the concepts still manifested at an unconscious level. For the media and the general public who did/do still believe these creation stories, mtEve provided immediate validation that humans were special. Humans were not just another animal; not just another result of evolution. Pathological scientists also want ‘modern’ humans to be viewed as special, distinct, better than any preceding humans who were ‘archaic’ and different, more like an animal, less intelligent. Given the location of mtEve (Africa) and the poorly-derived date of mtEve (it varies a great deal, but many use 250,000 years ago), Neanderthals were relegated to the ‘archaic’ heap.
I have spent the past two-plus decades fighting against this pathological science, only to see it become accepted dogma even in textbooks. This is disturbing. If scientists can be so swept away by their emotions that they totally ignore evidence, is it any wonder that respect for science is softening? Fortunately, science is eventually self-correcting. It’s taken too long, but it is finally becoming clear that Neanderthals were no less ‘modern’ than so-called ‘moderns.’ There was no creation event 250,000 years ago in which mtEve popped into being and begat the first modern human. For 25 years, I asked for evidence of how speciation occurred between ‘archaics’ and ‘moderns’ and was shown no evidence. I was not surprised since there was and is no such evidence: mtEve was a creation of pathological science.
Robert G. Bednarik’s chapter, “The Expulsion of Eve” in his book The Human Condition, is a precise and detailed refutation of mtEve and the concept of ‘modern’ and ‘archaic’ humans. He slices and dices the ‘evidence’ (morphological, genetic, lithic, and cultural) until there is nothing left but hot air. While Bednarik does not use the term ‘pathological science’, it is clear from his analysis that mtEve proponents were and are acting pathologically. “…the Eve supporters have led the study of hominin origins on a monumental wild-goose chase.”
Plundering the Deep
As I discussed previously, we humans are who we are in part because of a fish/shellfish diet that allowed for advanced brain development. Without these items in our diet, I think it is doubtful that our hominin ancestors would have advanced much beyond the bonobos/chimps. What will happen if we no longer have access to these food sources?
Given that we live on an ocean planet, this fear would seem pointless. The world ocean is vast and immensely deep. And yet, we are destroying its productivity at frightening speed. The 1990s saw the total collapse of what had been one of the most productive fisheries on Earth: the cod fishery of the Georges Bank off Newfoundland. Almost overnight, families who’d produced fishermen for generations were suddenly out of work. A great book on the story of cod is Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky. Cod were once so large and numerous that they could be scooped from the sea with buckets. Now they are so scarce and tiny, that fishing for them is under extremely strict regulation and management. Without such management, cod have little chance of rebuilding a healthy, sustainable population.
But it isn’t just cod. Factory ships are scraping the seabed clean of everything, whether they want it or not. Unwanted sea life is dumped overboard becoming sea death. These ships are devastating the seas and the livelihoods of traditional fishing groups, and destroying the life of the seabed. They are also threatening the survival of seabirds who rely on these same sea food sources the factory ships are harvesting or destroying with abandon. More information on the problems associated with overfishing can be found at Oceana.org.
Tuna and salmon are especially problematic fish whether wild caught or farmed. Farmed salmon develop lice that spread to wild salmon. Catching wild tuna and salmon with factory ships has all the problems mentioned above. The best thing to do is to quit eating tuna and salmon. Switch to sardines. Get all the brain and health benefits of eating fatty fish without the problems associated with tuna and salmon. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has developed Seafood Watch which gives guidance on the best fish and seafood to eat and which should be avoided in order to preserve ocean productivity.
We still have so much to discover about the world ocean. How can we continue to support activities that will destroy it before we are truly able to explore the Deep in all its glory?
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Focusing on Differences Can Lead to Mistakes
Anyone who has studied the concept of Natural Selection knows that one of the requirements is a variable population. Adaptation to a changing environment cannot occur if every individual in the population is very similar. So, variability is a given. However, when scientists look at fossil material, many of them seem to forget this important tenet. Any differences they find in fossil material are given, minimally, a new species name, and frequently, a new genus name. That fossil then becomes the type specimen of a new species, and any other material found in that region that looks different will be given yet another new species name instead of considering whether, in fact, it is just a new individual in a variable population.
Or, in the case of dinosaurs, a juvenile rather than a small adult of a different species. Jack Horner’s TED talk on this topic is both amusing and enlightening. Paleontologists who focused on differences created many dinosaur species which had no juvenile forms. Horner felt that this was not only odd, but clearly impossible. By carefully analyzing the skeletons, he discovered that many species of dinosaurs were just the juvenile forms of other species. The focus on differences was a mistake.
Focusing on differences and assigning new species names to every new find is also common among many paleoanthropologists who study primate/human origins. Natural selection and population variability are thrown out the door. If we treated present human diversity the way we treat past diversity, every different population of humans would be a different species. We know this is not the case since all humans can potentially mate with each other.
There are two major groups of paleoanthropologists: those who operate from a population viewpoint and those who operate from an essentialist viewpoint. For instance, populationists view Neanderthals as a population of modern humans, while essentialists view Neanderthals as a different species. Why does this matter to the average person? It matters because the underlying viewpoints affect how we view each other. Essentialists view anyone who differs from their idea of the ‘norm’ (generally someone like themselves, i.e. of European ancestry) as deeply biologically distinct from themselves. In effect, that there are distinct races of humans that are somehow quite different from each other. Populationists, on the other hand, expect there to be many people who differ from themselves because that is what a successful, adaptable population requires. They do not view these differences as creating deep distinctions. That is, they do not view humans as being divided into distinct racial groups. Rather, humans form varying, over-lapping, constantly mixing populations. They also hold that this has been true since the beginning of the Homo genus.
Genes flow, drift, mutate, select, and adapt as the individuals carrying those genes meet, mate, and adapt. For the past two million years our ancestors have been meeting,mating, mixing, and adapting to differing environments as one unified, but variable species. Just as the lack of juvenile dinosaurs was an artifact of paleontologists who operated from an essentialist mindset, the many “species” of human ancestors are an artifact of paleoanthropologists who operate from an essentialist mindset. The juvenile dinos were there all along. The necessary variability of the human population that allows it to adapt to the vast array of environments on our planet has been there all along, too. The essentialist’s mistake has been to divide that variability into different species or races.
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