March 2004 Archives

Homophobes barely win the second time around.

This is a bad day for the state of Georgia.

Panda’s Thumb

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I’ve been hacking away on The Panda’s Thumb the last few days. This site will probably be a little slow until I finish my work on PT.

Idiot Republicans

Well the homophobes in Washington have revised their “marriage protection [sic] amendment.”

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

Notice anything strange? Yeap, this amendment will prevent states from amending their constitution to allow civil unions, but allow them to pass laws for it. These congressional activists are so afraid of “activist judges” that they are crippling the people’s right to have state constitutional law. Shit like this is why I think that civics classes should be mandatory for politicians.

Perhaps even worse is that this amendment would harm freedom of religion since it would bar religous organizations from marrying same-sex couples as they often do now. By not specifying “legal marriage” or “civic marriage” this amendment would criminalize any non-traditional marriage even if the people involved don’t claim it is legal/civic.

But I guess doing stupid things to protect simple minds from the horror of equal rights, keeps them from realizing how much the Republicans have screwed the public welfare. Rome had its gladatorial games; we have our “morality” police.

Robski

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I’ve been thinking about these comments attributed to Dembski over the last few weeks. I’ve been specifically pondering how to respond to the following challenge by Dembski.

The challenge for evolutionary theory is not to find components of such systems that are grist of natural selection’s mill, but to provide detailed, testable, step-by-step scenarios whereby such components could have coherently aggregated and eventually formed the marvels of nano-engineering that we find in systems like the flagellum.

Essentially what Dembski is saying is that unless evolutionary biology can produce exact pathways for the evolution of complex biological systems than intelligent design is a better explanation. As long as there is a system for which we do not know the evolutionary history exactly, then Intelligent Design is a better explanation than naturalism.

It might shock my reader(s) to learn that I find merit in this argument. In fact with it I can explain Dembski’s behavior quite well. See Dembski is not a natural being at all, but rather he was designed by some intelligent creator. Yeap, that is right, Dembski is an android, one programmed to not understand its own scholastic limitations. Unless Dembski can produce a detailed, testable, step-by-step scenario by which he came into being, the theory that he is an android is unchallenged. More specifically, sequence of cell divisions, gene segregations, mutations, recombinations, environmental stimuli, etc. that worked to produce Dembski would need to be shown. This is a daunting task since the probably that Dembski emerged from the combination of his parents is astronomical.

Further complicating anti-roboists is the fact that no one was there to see his parents have sex, or see the one in a million sperm fuse with the ova, or even see said sperm and egg arise from their stem cells, or any of the other millions events that naturalists say occured to produce Dembski. This, therefore, makes any naturalist argument for Dembski’s existence completely and utterly untestable and thus not scientific.

Thus, clearly, the only viable scientific explanation for Dr. William A. Dembski is that he is a robot.

I dub thee, “Robski!”

A new blog is born.

The Panda’s Thumb will strive to be a central clearinghouse of evolution information in blog format. This seems like a great idea, and I hope to contribute occationally. I could toss up Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium if they want it. [via Dispatches]

Upcomming Events

On April 2nd at 7:00 pm Dr. Kenneth R. Miller of Brown University, author of Finding Darwin’s God, will be speaking at Georgia State University. The talk is sponsered bu Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education and the Department of Biology and the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgia State Univerisity.

The Emperor’s New Theory - Evolution and the Battle with “Design”

Professor Miller will discuss attacks by special interest groups on evolution education, including the placement of warning stickers in his Biology textbook by the Cobb County Board of Education in 2002, and the recent attempts by Georgia Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox to remove evolutionary theory, Big Bang theory, and plate tectonics from the Georgia K-12 curriculum. Visit Dr. Miller’s Evolution Resources Web site.

On March 25th at 7:30 pm, Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA will be hosting a public forum on evolution.

What do we mean by “evolution,” by “the theory of evolution”? For example, what makes for a scientific “theory”? What makes a theory reliable and how far is it reliable? How do we judge matters of science and faith, both for ourselves as individuals and as a state with a religiously diverse society?

Updates

I’m in the process of personalizing my blog. I’ve posted my vitae so I can link to it later.

Curriculum Vitae

Name

Dr. Reed Austin Cartwright

Current Position

Postdoctoral Researcher Department of Genetics Bioinformatics Research Center North Carolina State University Campus Box 7566 Raleigh, NC 27695-7566

Interests

  • Population Genetics & Evolutionary Biology
  • Biological Theory & Computational Biology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biology Education
  • Evolution of Language Ability
  • Geographical Genetics & Genetic Structure
  • Individually Based, Spatially Explicit Evolutionary Models
  • Frequency-Dependent Selection

Grant Support

  • NSF Predoctoral Fellowship
  • Graduate Research Assistantships on NSF and NIH grants

Education

  • PhD Genetics (University of Georgia, 2006)
    • Advisors: Wyatt Anderson and Paul Schliekelman
    • Late Advisor: Marjorie Asmussen
    • Committee Members: John Wares, Jessica Kissinger, Jim Hamrick, Ron Pulliam
  • BS Genetics, cum laude with honors (University of Georgia 2000)
  • AB Latin, cum laude with honors (University of Georgia 2000)

Honors and Awards

  • NSF Predoctoral Fellow
  • 2006 Scholarship to the Summer Institute in Statistical Genetics
  • 2005 Carmon Scholarship for computational biology research
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Warlick-Mannion Classical Scholar
  • Golden Key
  • Dean’s List
  • Presidential Scholar
  • Kossack Calculus Prize (2nd) (1998)
  • Who’s Who in America’s Colleges and Universities
  • AP National Scholar
  • Cum Laude Society
  • National Honor Society

Personal

  • Married to Tiffany Andrews Cartwright since August 2002
  • Hometown: Athens, GA

Languages Studied

Latin, Greek, Sanskrit

Programming Experience

C/C++, Perl, Matlab, Java, Xhtml, Bison/Flex, R, Mathematica, Ruby

Teaching Experience

  • Graduate Laboratory Assistant, Introductory Biology (Spring 2006)
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, Evolutionary Biology (Fall 2005)
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, Introductory Genetics (Fall 2002)

Work Experience

  • Research Technician for Dr. Marjorie Asmussen (2001)
  • Undergrad Worker for Dr. Marjorie Asmussen (2000)
  • Computer Technician, Kitchen Staff, Office Staff, et al.

Critically Peer-Reviewed Papers

Other Papers and Articles

Websites Managed

Eat Mor Bunnie!

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Hungry the Cow

The challenge is to identify what is going on in this picture, i.e. why is Hungry the Cow dining on a rabbit?

A further challenge is to identify the scientific reference for the picture.

And, yes, this is a real picture.

Linkage 2

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Dispatches from the Culture Wars has also linked to me, so I guess my circulation has tripled.

Linkage

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Pharyngula linked to my blog yesterday, and my readership has doubled. Now I have two readers!

The AJC had an editorial today in favor of the new bill.

During a House debate this week on whether Georgia should adopt national education standards, lawmakers complained that courses taught here shouldn’t look like those in Oregon.

Why? The average SAT score in Oregon – which, like Georgia, has more than 50 percent of its students taking the test – is 1053. The average score here is 984.

Every review of Georgia’s classrooms concludes that the academic standards are not challenging enough. Georgia ought to borrow broadly from those states that have embraced higher standards and have higher-performing schools to show for it.

Georgia high school graduates compete with peers from around the world, including Oregon, for college admission and jobs, and they must receive instruction that’s as substantive and comprehensive.

Since I represent over 12,000 educators, scientists, clergy, administrators, parents, grandparents, residents, former residents, and non residents who have signed a petition for national science standards in Georgia’s schools, I support this bill. I am working now to let the state senators know about this.

An opponent of the bill had an equal-time editorial in the AJC. It is a typical Republican isolationist and “states’ rights” plea. If he doesn’t want to follow standards established by national organizations, why didn’t he propose a counter bill to follow standards established by state organizations, like the Georgia Academy of Science?

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was caught last Sunday directly lying about his past statements on the war in Iraq. But maybe his claim to have never used the phrase “immediate threat” is just the result of early Alzheimer’s disease?

Georgia House Bill 1406 has passed 97 to 67. This is a bill that would requre future curriculum revisions to follow national standards. It is a good bill.

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT

To amend Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to elementary and secondary education, so as to provide that the core curriculum shall conform to national curriculum standards; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:

SECTION 1. Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to elementary and secondary education, is amended by striking Code Section 20-2-140, relating to establishment of competencies and a core curriculum, and Code Section 20-2-141, relating to review of the adopted competencies and core curriculum, and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

“20-2-140. The State Board of Education shall establish competencies that each student is expected to master prior to completion of the student’s public school education. The state board shall also establish competencies for which each student should be provided opportunities, at the discretion of the student and the student’s parents, to master. Based upon these foregoing competencies, the state board shall adopt a uniformly sequenced core curriculum that conforms to curriculum standards of the various subject matter national organizations where applicable for grades kindergarten through 12. Each local unit of administration shall include this uniformly sequenced core curriculum as the basis for its own curriculum, although each local unit may expand and enrich this curriculum to the extent it deems necessary and appropriate for its students and communities.

20-2-141. The State Board of Education shall establish at least once every four years a review of the adopted competencies and uniformly sequenced core curriculum by a task force broadly representative of educational interests and the concerned public. After considering the findings and recommendations of the task force, the state board shall make such changes in the student competencies lists and core curriculum that conform to national curriculum standards where applicable as it deems in the best interest of the state and its citizens and shall report such proposed changes to local school systems and the General Assembly for review.”

SECTION 2. All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.

This now goes to the Republican Senate, where it faces an unknown future.

How do you know the Discovery Institute is lying? Are they issuing a press release? Take this latest one.

U.S. Department of Education Backs Academic Freedom on Evolution Controversy, Says Discovery Institute

“No doubt the Darwin-only lobby will claim the Education Department letter as victory because it makes clear that states are not required to teach the theory of intelligent design,” said Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute.

“But the question posed by the Montana state official was a red herring,” Chapman stated. “No one that we know of has suggested that the federal law requires teaching intelligent design.” (Emphasis added)

Perhaps Chapman should be paying attention to articles coming out of his own institute. This one co-authored by Chapman himself argues that the Santorum Language has “the effect of law.” Sen. Santorum himself wrote an editorial in the Washington Times which outlined his motivations for proposing the language.

[I]ntelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes. … In order to protect intellectual freedom in the classroom from the dangers of political correctness, I drafted an amendment to an education bill that emphasizes how students studying controversial issues in science, such as biological evolution, should be allowed to learn about competing interpretations.

If this isn’t someone arguing that the federal law requires the teaching of ID, I don’t know what is.

The Georgia Flag

Well the people of Georgia yesterday overwealming supported the current state flag (75%) over the 2001 version (25%). This was in a nonbinding referendum but most people hope that it will end the political issue for now.

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