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Arete last won the day on March 1

Arete had the most liked content!

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1222 Glorious Leader

About Arete

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    Biology Expert

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    Ecological speciation, functional genomics, phylogenetics, population genetics and evolution.
  • College Major/Degree
  • Favorite Area of Science
    Evolutionary Biology
  • Occupation
    Assistant Professor

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  1. Arete

    The sea of plastic...

    Given the ubiquity of microplastics (e.g., I think the horse has largely bolted regarding plastic pollution. A layer of microscopic plastic covers the planet, to the extent that detection of plastics in sediments is a key indicator of the Anthropocene. Microplastics have been detected in significant quantities in the bodies of crustaceans living at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Furthermore, entire oceanic ecosystems have developed in association with large ocean garbage patches. We risk further impact on already declining abundances of oceanic organisms if we decide now to retrieve oceanic plastics. That's not to say we shouldn't reduce continued plastic pollution, but the problem has advanced to the point where simply cleaning up the mess is not so simple.
  2. Arete

    Are Humans Aliens of this Planet?

    I'm not sure why it would offend you - Homo sapiens is simply not very unique compared to other vertebrates by any biological measure - we have anatomical, physiological and genetic homology with other vertebrates on earth. The evidence for shared ancestry of humans with other vertebrates is very strong. Also, we have confirmation bias when it comes to recognizing environmental change we cause - we tend to notice the things that appear most different to us, which tends to be the deliberate changes we make to our environment. Aside from the classic example of the impact of photosynthesis on atmospheric composition, rinderpest virus dramatically altered the entire forest structure and ecology of sub-Saharan Africa in a matter of a decade
  3. Arete

    How do I improve my reputation? You asked for advice to improve your somewhat meaningless internet reputation score and now you're arguing with that advice... that's probably not going to help.
  4. Arete

    How do I improve my reputation?

    Posting single line question after question on the forum is spammy, low effort and annoying. Try researching a topic yourself and offering some discussion instead of expecting others to do all the work for you.
  5. Undoubtedly the pharmaceutical industry has to shoulder some of the blame for the public mistrust in them - I mean, the link between opioid prescription and industry payments to doctors is pretty solidly established. There is a deep rooted problem in capitalizing healthcare and medicine which is particularly pervasive in the US. However, this is doubled up by actual conmen and snake oil salesmen taking advantage of that mistrust to defraud people - which is how the anti-vax movement started.
  6. When anti-vaxxers will prefer to believe a former Scientologist who literally claims to be an alien god when he tells them to put industrial bleach up children's backsides to cure their autism, there isn't much hope for logic.
  7. That's certainly the position someone like Francis Collins takes - ID proponents like Behe argue that life is irreducibly complex and natural mechanisms are inadequate to explain it, meaning that there HAS to be supernatural involvement beyond simply kicking it off.
  8. So looking at the image below, it appears that Galagidae have recognizable soles, but Cynocephalidae do not : and when we look at a primate phylogeny, we see the split between these two groups is around 65 million years ago: So soles originated about 65 million years ago, give or take. You meant soles as in soles of the feet, right?
  9. Apologies, I misinterpreted and thought you meant a few weeks in the literal sense, and yes, I knew that - I was making an analogy to a well established scientific theory and an inappropriate alternative hypothesis rather than trying to directly comment on your own example. The point was that evolutionary theory does have plenty of alternative mechanisms and hypotheses - it's just that ID insists that none of them are adequate and there HAS to be a supernatural explanation. It's not really the case that it is one explanation or the other.
  10. 1) The LTEE has been going since 1988 - so it's 30 years rather than a few weeks. 2) The modern synthesis does include a wide range on non-mutually exclusive evolutionary mechanisms. The problem the intelligent design crowd have is that none of them are "omnipotent deity". It'd be as if there was a crowd of non-traditional geologists claiming that plate tectonics doesn't work without a supernatural being pushing the earth's crust around.
  11. Arete

    unborn children gene-editing...moral?

    1) CRISPR Cas9 isn't well regulated enough to ensure that off-target DNA damage doesn't occur throughout the babies' genomes. We use CRISPR kits on bacteria and have trouble with off target cut sites... when I first heard this story I thought it was a hoax because I believed the likelihood of a CRISPR engineered human embryo being viable was too low. These babies probably have a bunch of uncontrolled, unexpected mutations with as to be realized consequences. 2) There are preventative AIDS vaccines in advanced stages of clinical trial. There was very little reason to gene edit humans to prevent HIV infection given there is a vastly safer route to immunity pretty close to realization. 3) The actual motivation for modifying these babies may have been to enhance their cognitive function: This moves from the realm of using gene editing to prevent/cure disease, to the realm of gene editing for enhancement. In this case, it was pretty damn irresponsible, the motives are questionable, and widely condemned. As for the general question I think the answer is dependent on whether you are trying to prevent/cure disease, or if you are producing designer babies.
  12. Hi All, Apologies if this breaks forum protocol, as I'm about to post a link to a blog post (Mods feel free to remove if inappropriate). The blog is Richard Lenski's blog, where he responds to Michael Behe's book, "Darwin Devolves" and it's treatment of Lenski's own long term evolution experiment (LTEE). He really does a great job of explaining the limitations and context of the LTEE, and why the arguments Behe makes are simply not supported by the experiment. Basically, the LTEE houses bacteria in a nutrient rich environment with selective conditions deliberately minimized. It's not reasonable to assume that the bacteria would evolve novel functions given the environment they are in, and it is unsurprising that functions that do not benefit the bacteria in this environment are lost. Not only that, but novel, advantageous mutations HAVE arisen in the LTEE. Worth a read.
  13. It might be useful to correct the secondary school level biological error in the first sentence of your wall of text copypasta, but hey, you do you.
  14. That's not a fact - e.g. polyploidy. If you aren't equally weighting all mutations, none of the math in the entire post makes any sense. This probabilistic numerology argument is not new and founded in foundational misunderstandings of genetics and evolution: DNA encodes amino acids in triplicates of base pairs called codons. There are 64 possible codons, encoding 20 amino acids, and stop. The translation of codons into amino acids is highly redundant, with numerous codons denoting each amino acid. 61 encode amino acids, and three encode stop. There are no untranslatable codons. This has a number of implications:  1) All possible DNA sequences can be translated into proteins. There is no such thing as a "gibberish" DNA code. 2) Because of the redundancy, multiple changes can occur without affecting the translation of the sequence. 3) Arguments from low probability are not apt. Given all possible arrangements of nucleotides can encode proteins, there are no null sequences. Consider it more like a dice throw. Rolling one hundred sixes in a row has a probability of (1/6)100 or 1.5 x 10-78. Except ALL combinations of 100 throws have this probability and if you perform the experiment, an outcome is inevitable. Claiming that the low probability makes the outcome impossible ex post facto is not sensible. If you're open to it, a major component missing from the argument posed is explained by the concept of fitness landscapes, which allows one to model the adaptation of a population given different likelihoods of each possible mutation proliferating in a population through time. The entire landscape would be all of your "unrealized genomes" but because of the weighting of selection on certain regions of the landscape, some mutations are more likely to fix than others. Step size on the landscape can change drastically if large scale mutation like translocation, duplication or deletion occurs (i.e. not all changes are incremental). See<461::AID-PROT6>3.0.CO;2-B etc.
  15. The argument assumes all mutations have an equal probability of being passed to the next generation, which unless the population is in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, is untrue. It also assumes that all mutations are equally likely, which even a rudimentary understanding of the translation of codons into amino would provide, not to mention the processes of exaptation, recombination, chromosomal duplication, gene regulation, codon usage bias, horizontal gene transfer, etc. Honestly, the flaws in the argument are numerous, foundational and show a very poor grasp of basic genetics. I mean even in the first sentence, it describes the first life form as "amoeba-like". Amoeba are eukaryotes.