Information

Paper saying that humans and animals are (mostly) the same age


I'm brazilian and today I've came across this news published in a religious brazilian site. It's about a recent study that says that 9 to 10 species on Earth today, including humans, came into being 100,000 to 200,000 year ago.

Also, according to the site, that study supports what the bible says about the origins of life.

I'm pretty sure it's creationist rubbish, but I couldn't understand the conclusion of that study. So, I wish someone would explain to me that conclusion in lay terms. And, taking the opportunity, I'd also like to know if the paper is peer-reviewed and realiable.

Thanks in advance.

Source: https://phys.org/news/2018-05-gene-survey-reveals-facets-evolution.html


They key qualifier is living species, many living species have relatively recent origins, that is exactly what you would expect in an ever changing ever evolving biosphere. That is like stating that most cars on the road are less than ten years old, OK, but that's not really a surprising statement. If you plotted a bell curve of how old all current animal species are the bulk would be fairly recent geologically speaking. Species have a lifespan. The average lifespan of a mammal species is around a million years so simple statistics will mean most living mammal species will be less than half that. No one is surprised when you say most of the data points in a randomly distributed set fall within one-two standard deviations.

In fact based on back of the envelope calculations, if the average lifespan of a species is ~ 1 million years, and we assume they are randomly distributed, (they are not, extinction events exist which would shorten it), then just based on the 68-95-99.7 rule, 95% of living (at or below the mean) species should be less than 320,000 years old.

Now the paper itself is meaningless, it's justification is largely circular: define species based on mitochondrial mutation rate, (which of course is a time based calculation), then use that definition to say most species fall within a certain time period. You can change the number of mutations in your definition of species to fit your conclusion. Even a species has existed a single unfractured population for millions of years will count as a recent species by that definition. It is circular reasoning, made worse by using mitochondria, which are not undergoing recombination so variance is basically only controlled by generation time. If a population splits into two or remains a single population its mitochondrial variance will remain largely unchanged. Interestingly they exclude the groups (plants, fungi, ect) in which mitochondria undergo recombination.

Really the only conclusion you can draw from the article is most journalists don't understand statistics or genetics.


Not So Different: Finding Human Nature in Animal Nature

Molecular biologist Nathan Lents' new book called ​Not So Different: Finding Human Nature in Animals is a most interesting and wide-ranging book that focuses on similarities in the behavior and cognitive capacities of nonhuman animals (animals) and human animals (humans). I read it in draft form and truly enjoyed it. The book's description reads as follows.

Animals fall in love, establish rules for fair play, exchange valued goods and services, hold "funerals" for fallen comrades, deploy sex as a weapon, and communicate with one another using rich vocabularies. Animals also get jealous and violent or greedy and callous and develop irrational phobias and prejudices, just like us. Monkeys address inequality, wolves miss each other, elephants grieve for their dead, and prairie dogs name the humans they encounter. Human and animal behavior is not as different as once believed.

In Not So Different, the biologist Nathan H. Lents argues that the same evolutionary forces of cooperation and competition have shaped both humans and animals. Identical emotional and instinctual drives govern our actions. By acknowledging this shared programming, the human experience no longer seems unique, but in that loss we gain a fuller understanding of such phenomena as sibling rivalry and the biological basis of grief, helping us lead more grounded, moral lives among animals, our closest kin. Through a mix of colorful reporting and rigorous scientific research, Lents describes the exciting strides scientists have made in decoding animal behavior and bringing the evolutionary paths of humans and animals closer together. He marshals evidence from psychology, evolutionary biology, cognitive science, anthropology, and ethology to further advance this work and to drive home the truth that we are distinguished from animals only in degree, not in kind.

Why did you write Not So Different?

I wrote Not So Different because, outside of the specialists in animal emotion and cognition, most people know little or nothing about the inner experience of animals. Most people imagine a vast gulf between the behavior of humans and that of other animals, when in reality, our behaviors spring from the same basic programming that manifests as drives and instincts. This goes for the vast majority of scientists as well -- even biologists and psychologists rarely appreciate how human behaviors are really just more culturally complex versions of behaviors seen in other animals.

What's your major take-home message?

The big take-home message is that the emotional drives and instincts of humans and other animals are remarkably similar. Where things become very different -- and we have to admit that modern humans live very differently than other animals -- is when those drives and instincts interact with the social environment to create behavior. Since humans have an exceedingly complex cultural history that is additive over the generations, that is a very different social milieu in which our drives give rise to behaviors. But the drives themselves are not so different.

Why is this topic so important in what some call the anthropocene -- "the age of humanity" -- that I call "the rage of humanity"?

I deliberately shied away from pushing an agenda with my book because I wanted readers of all persuasions to read it so that, hopefully, the data speak for themselves. Many excellent books have been written with the express purpose of waking people up to certain things that we now know about animals, whether it is about their suffering, the destruction of their habitat, or their imminent extinction. Because those books don’t always end up in the hands of the people who most need to read them, I am hoping that a book like mine might be a first step in convincing the people that don’t already know it, that animals have richer inner lives. I am humble about any role my book might actually play, but if I convince just one person to think about animals differently, then I’ll consider this a success.

What are your future writing plans?

I am already two-thirds through with the first draft of my next book called Not So Perfect: Big Design Flaws in the Human Form. This is the second part of what I hope will be a series of books that examines modern humanity through the lens of biology. When I’m not working on that book, I blog at The Human Evolution Blog and will soon join the contributors at Psychology Today as a blogger on human evolution. I am most excited about this fall when I will work with bright young students in the Macaulay Honors College at John Jay College to cultivate their skills in analyzing and writing about science. We’re going to focus on human evolution and I plan to host some of their work on my blog.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell your audience?

Even though Not So Different appears to be all about animals, it’s really all about us. Of course I believe that animals should be appreciated and understood on their own terms, something that you, Marc, are terrific at doing. However, this book is about seeing the humanity in animals, and seeing ourselves as animals. In my view, the best way to understand why we behave as we do is to appreciate our evolutionary history as social animals. As I write in the introduction to the book, "Understanding where sibling rivalry comes from can help us disarm it and thus get along with our siblings better. Understanding the biological basis of grief can help us recover from our own grief as well as help others to do so. Understanding that humans have a moral foundation built into us through our history as social mammals can help us discover ways to build a more moral society, regardless of religious, national, and ethnic differences. In short, there is a lot to gain by understanding where our behaviors come from.” I guess I would say, the truth that I hope comes out of this book is that, perhaps ironically, seeing ourselves as animals can allow us to be better people.

I highly recommend Not So Different for a broad audience. It's an easy read absent a lot of disciplinary jargon. In my endorsement for this book I wrote, "As someone who has studied animal behavior and cognitive ethology and animal emotions for many decades, I've always been fascinated by the similarities and differences between humans and other animals. In Not So Different, Nathan Lents focuses on the similarities and readers will discover that humans and nonhumans share numerous traits, some of which might seem rather surprising, but the existence of which can be readily explained by well-accepted evolutionary arguments and considerations of the social worlds of the animals involved, something Dr. Lents does very well."


Human Carnegie Stages


The human embryonic period proper is divided into 23 Carnegie stages covering the first 8 weeks after fertilisation (post-ovulation). This period is most of the first trimester and the second and third trimester is called Fetal Development and is mainly about growth.


Other features used in this classification include: ranges of age in days, number of segments (somites) present, and embryonic size (CRL, crown rump length).


Similar types of measurements are also used to stage how animal embryos develop. You can therefore compare other animal embryos each other and to human development by using these staging criteria.

  1. Open the image above on a new page and draw up a table with 3 columns (Stage, Size, Week).
  2. Fill in the Stage column 10 to 23 from the information in the picture.
  3. Put a ruler or use piece of paper to mark the 4mm scale bar.
  4. Now measure the size of each embryo and fill in the second table column.
  5. Finally, get the students to look on the site to identify the range of stages that occur in each week and fill in the third table column.

Week 4 to 5

This is what the human embryo looks like at the end of week 4 and the beginning of week 5 development (called Carnegie stage 13) about half way through embryonic development.

Measuring embryo size (Crown Rump Length) Surface bulges (internal and external development)
Links: Carnegie Stages


Naked mole rats defy the biological law of aging

In the world of animal models, naked mole rats are the supermodels. They rarely get cancer, are resistant to some types of pain, and can survive up to 18 minutes without oxygen. But perhaps their greatest feat, a new paper suggests, is that they don't age.

The first study to analyze the life histories of thousands of naked mole rats has found that their risk of death doesn't go up as they grow older, as it does for every other known mammalian species. Although some scientists caution against any sweeping conclusions, many say the new data are important and striking.

“This is remarkably low mortality,” says Caleb Finch, a biogerontologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles who was not involved in the new study. "At advanced ages, their mortality rate remains lower than any other mammal that has been documented.”

Scientists have long noted that naked mole rats—burrowing rodents with wrinkled, pink skin and large protruding teeth that live in large, subterranean colonies—show few signs of aging and far surpass the life span expected of a rodent this size. Mice in captivity live at most 4 years based on their size, naked mole rats would not be expected to live past 6 years. Instead, some live beyond 30 years, and even at that age breeding females stay fertile.

Comparative biologist Rochelle Buffenstein has studied the animals for more than 30 years and has, quite literally, collected a lifetime’s worth of data. For each animal in her care, she recorded the date of birth and when it died, and whether it was killed for an experiment or given away to other researchers.

What she found was astonishing, says Buffenstein, who works at the longevity-focused Google biotech spinoff Calico in San Francisco, California: Naked mole rats seem to flout the Gompertz law, a mathematical equation that describes aging. In 1825, British mathematician Benjamin Gompertz found that the risk of dying rises exponentially with age in humans, for instance, it doubles roughly every 8 years after the age of 30. The law applies to all mammals after adulthood, says Jo ã o Pedro De Magalh ã es, a gerontologist at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

But Buffenstein did not see this trend in her lab animals. After they reached sexual maturity at 6 months of age, each naked mole rat’s daily chance of dying was a little more than one in 10,000. It stayed the same the rest of their lives and even went down a little, Buffenstein reports this week in elife . “To me this is the most exciting data I’ve ever gotten,” says Buffenstein. “It goes against everything we know in terms of mammalian biology.”

Studies have shown that naked mole rats have very active DNA repair and high levels of chaperones, proteins that help other proteins fold correctly. “I think the animals keep their house really neat and clean, rather than accumulate damage” that causes the physical deterioration associated with age, Buffenstein says.

But Finch cautions against overinterpreting the data. Because most animals were either killed or moved to other labs, fewer than 50 animals in the study lived past 15 years of age. (The oldest animal currently living in Buffenstein’s lab is 35.) More—and older—mole rats are needed to be sure that the risk of dying really is flat, Finch argues. But Buffenstein says the data simply do not show the typical aging pattern seen in mammals or any other animals. “If you look at any rodent aging study, 100 animals is all you need to see Gompertz aging,” she says. "Here we have 3000 data points and we're not seeing it.”

It's also possible that aging does happen, but much, much later than usual in mammals, Magalhaes points out. "I think it’s too early to say naked mole rats are nonaging animals,” he says. Indeed, the big mystery now is what happens in naked mole rats after 20 or 30 years, says Matthias Platzer, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute on Aging in Jena, Germany. “Maybe aging happens really fast then? Even Rochelle Buffenstein does not have the data on this.” But Platzer is happy that data on some of the world's largest and oldest lab colonies of naked mole rats are now available.


Can any animals talk and use language like humans?

Animals as diverse as elephants and parrots can mimic the sounds of human speech. But can any of them understand what they are saying?

In April 2010, Adriano Lameira set up his video camera in front of an enclosure at Cologne Zoo in Germany. Inside was an orangutan called Tilda.

There was a rumour that Tilda could whistle like a human, and Lameira, of Amsterdam University in the Netherlands, was keen to capture it on camera. But as the camera kept rolling, Tilda did much more than just whistle. She clapped her hands, smacked her lips, and let out a series of deep-throated human-like garbled sounds: almost like someone who had inhaled sulphur hexafluoride, a gas that makes your voice deeper.

Lameira was baffled. "These were not only very different from whatever we have heard from wild orangutans so far, but we could also see some similarities with human speech," he says.

Tilda wasn't the first animal that seemed to be able to mimic human speech. A handful of other species also make noises that sound like talking, including elephants and beluga whales &ndash to say nothing of parrots.

These animals seem capable of bridging the language barrier that separates us. And their attempts at speaking like us make them quite irresistible. But can they really "talk" as we do? It's not just a matter of being able to make the sounds. To really count as talking, the animals would have to understand what they mean.

Tilda was born around 1965, captured from the island of Borneo and raised in captivity. She is among the first of our closest cousins known to have successfully imitated human-like sounds.

Lameira's team found that her calls were strikingly similar to human speech. Their rapid rhythm precisely matched that of humans speaking. Moreover, she seemed to be stringing together vowel and consonant-like sounds. That is a precursor to how we build syllables, words and sentences, Lameira says.

Nevertheless, her calls are far from being a perfect imitation of our speech. But she is not the only mimic out there. Famously, parrots are good at, well, parroting.

The undisputed champion of speech mimicry was an African grey parrot called Alex. He was trained by cognitive scientist Irene Pepperberg of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Alex could quickly learn and imitate new English words. He could even say "I love you", and wished Pepperberg good night after a hard day's training. When Alex passed away in 2007 at the age of 31, fans from all over the world mourned.

Other mimics use completely different mechanisms

So what makes parrots like Alex such proficient impressionists?

Part of the answer lies in their vocal tract, says Pepperberg. "Their vocal tract's complex musculature, and their thick, yet flexible, tongue may help them produce human speech sounds more easily," she says.

However, other mimics use completely different mechanisms to make the sounds. Take Noc, a beluga whale at Vancouver Aquarium in Canada, whose speaking abilities were described in 2012. Captured young by Inuit hunters and raised in captivity till his death in 1999, Noc would over-inflate his nasal cavities to produce human-like sounds.

One elephant can also mimic human speech, using yet another method. Described in 2012, Koshik produces several words of Korean by placing the tip of his trunk into his mouth to modulate his vocal tract.

By doing so, he accurately matches both the pitch and timbre patterns of his trainers' voices, says Angela Stöger-Horwath of the University of Vienna in Austria. This is remarkable, she says, considering that elephants' vocal tracts are anatomically different from ours: they are longer, and they have a trunk instead of lips.

Despite their different styles of imitations, these animals do have something in common. They are all "vocal learners". That is, they hear sounds, learn to imitate them, and then produce them.

Many animals only produce the calls that they are born with

Humans, the best vocal learners, can learn and produce countless different sounds. Beluga whales and dolphins also naturally learn hundreds of new vocalizations throughout their lives. Some parrots and songbirds are prolific learners as well, sometimes even picking up sounds from other species and objects around them. Famously, lyrebirds have learned to mimic the sounds of human machines like camera shutters and chainsaws.

Other vocal learners are much less skilled. While Grey parrots can learn and produce thousands of calls, zebra finches learn only a few songs as fledglings, which they stick to during their entire lifetime. What's more, many vocal learners can only imitate sounds from their own species.

Most animals are not vocal learners. They only produce the calls that they are born with: for example, cows moo, dogs bark, and pigeons coo. These animals are unable to imitate new sounds.

So what is it about some animals' brains that allows them to imitate speech?

The key region is in the forebrain, says Erich Jarvis of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. There are particular brain circuits that control the muscles for vocalizations, and only some animals have them.

In a 2004 paper, Jarvis described a region of the forebrain that makes direct connections with the voice muscles in both humans and parrots. These brain circuits help them learn new sounds, and then control their vocal tract muscles to produce the learned sounds. Animals that are not vocal learners lack these forebrain pathways. They only have circuits in the brainstem, the most primitive part of the brain, that may control their innate calls.

This is reflected in the animals' genes. In 2014, Jarvis and his colleagues studied how genes are turned on and off in the brains of different animals. A set of over 50 genes showed a similar pattern of activity in the speech-control centres of several vocal learners, including humans, parrots, songbirds and hummingbirds. This means humans use the same genes to speak as songbirds use to sing. Animals that can't learn new sounds, like chickens and macaques, don't activate these genes in the same way, Jarvis says.

Strangely, great apes are not great mimics, even though they are our closest relatives and their brains are similar to ours. Apart from Tilda, most non-human primates show no sign of the advanced mimicry that humans and parrots can do.

Their voice box can produce many of the different sounds that we can

For a long time, researchers believed that their vocal organs were the issue. Their vocal tract is similar to ours, but studies in the 20th century had suggested that their voice boxes do not descend as far as ours do.

But that's not true, says Jarvis. In 2003, researchers found that the voice boxes of baby chimpanzees descend soon after birth, just like those of humans.

"Theoretically their voice box can produce many of the different sounds that we can," says Jarvis. "But they just don't." Either apes don't have the forebrain pathways involved in vocal learning, he says, or the pathways are non-functional for some reason.

In fact, when we list the species that can learn to produce new sounds, they are quite far apart on the evolutionary tree. Five groups of mammals can do it: humans, bats, elephants and seals, plus cetaceans like dolphins and whales. There are also three groups of birds that can do vocal learning: parrots, songbirds, and hummingbirds.

So vocal learning looks like a case of convergent evolution: it probably evolved independently in the different groups of animals, rather than just once in their common ancestor. So why did they bother?

Most "talking" animals belong to highly social species, says Diana Reiss of Hunter College in New York. But in captivity, they are separated from their own kind with only humans to interact with.

So humans become their models for imitation, says Lameira. "Copying human sounds is like doing what your peers are doing."

Imitating human sounds may also be a way to bond with people, says Stöger-Horwath. She thinks that is why Koshik the elephant does it.

The same may be true of a beluga whale called Nack, according to his trainer Tsukasa Murayama of Tokai University in Kanagawa, Japan. Nack can imitate rudimentary Japanese words and sounds, including a weak rendition of "Tsukasa". Murayama thinks this is a way of playing with us, as Nack does not get any explicit rewards for doing it.

In the wild, too, vocal learners use their many calls to bond with other members of their species. The ability to learn new sounds also allows them to change their vocalizations, for instance if they need to join new flocks, says Pepperberg.

Their vocal skills could make them more attractive to the opposite sex, by demonstrating their intelligence, says Jarvis. "I think something like that exists in humans, where you have guys or girls who are trying to show off how smart and how intelligent they are with all the information they have. I think that's what mimicry is about."

Where all these animals fall down, it seems, is the way they use the words they have learned. They don't know what they mean, and are simply parroting them without understanding.

You can teach your dog to understand the words "sit" or "fetch the newspaper"

Koshik's behaviour illustrates this clearly. He has been trained by his carers to obey commands, so he has learned that when a carer says "nuo", the Korean word for "lie down", he should lie down. Koshik can also say the word "nuo", having learned to imitate it. But he cannot use the word meaningfully. "He does not expect the keepers to lie down when he produces the imitation 'nuo'," Stöger-Horwath says.

In this respect, Koshik is quite a normal animal. You can teach your dog to understand the words "sit" or "fetch the newspaper", says Jarvis. But the dog cannot imitate these words, let alone use them to tell you what to do.

There is one glaring exception to this rule: Alex the parrot. Not only could he say dozens of English words clearly, he used them to identify objects, colours, shapes, and numbers.

They learn words and then use them to ask for toys or treats they want

Following Alex's death, his trainer Pepperberg has begun working with two new African grey parrots: 20-year-old Griffin and 2-year-old Athena. The idea, Pepperberg says, is to ask questions of the birds, just as we can ask questions of small children. She hopes to find out "the extent to which they understand concepts such as 'bigger or smaller', and 'same or different', how much they understand about numbers, optical illusions, probability."

Mimicking human sounds may have an extra benefit for these parrots, above and beyond simple bonding, says Pepperberg. It gives them control over their lives. They learn words and then use them to ask for toys or treats they want, or to go to specific places.

Clearly, African grey parrots operate on a far high level than any other animal mimic. Nobody yet knows how or why this one species of parrot can do what other animals cannot.

What is clear, however, is that vocal mimicry is the basis of human language. Our imitative skills allow us to learn and reproduce a huge range of sounds. It is this vast repertoire that allows human languages to have such immense vocabularies, all the way from "at" to "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis".

We don't yet know when our speech and language evolved. Could our ape-like ancestors, such as Australopithecus, talk? What about more recent species like the Neanderthals?

Some animals can mimic the sounds of human speech

Tilda could help resolve this question. Clearly, the sounds she imitated are not massively difficult for orangutans, says Lameira. That suggests that the ability to produce them evolved before the orangutan lineage split from the lineage that gave rise to humans. "This can give us a sort of timeline of speech evolution," says Lameira.

Perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised that the ability to mimic sounds is ancient. Many of the mechanisms involved, such as the ability to control the noises you make, are basic and many animals have them.

The truth seems to be that some animals can mimic the sounds of human speech, but only a tiny minority can talk meaningfully as humans do. These less capable animals are just as fascinating as the truly skilled, because they could reveal how our own language skills evolved.


The Backstory to Elder Eyring&rsquos Age of the Earth Comment and Creationism

Elder Eyring told a story in this recent General Conference.

My father&hellip was a seasoned and wise holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Once he was asked by an Apostle to write a short note about the scientific evidence for the age of the earth. He wrote it carefully, knowing that some who might read it had strong feelings that the earth was much younger than the scientific evidence suggested. I still remember my father handing me what he had written and saying to me, &ldquoHal, you have the spiritual wisdom to know if I should send this to the apostles and prophets.&rdquo I can&rsquot remember much of what the paper said, but I will carry with me forever the gratitude I felt for a great Melchizedek Priesthood holder who saw in me spiritual wisdom that I could not see.

A few of my friends thought this put a nail in the coffin of the anti-evolutionists, but it doesn&rsquot really. See, we need to talk about the different kinds of creationism and define some terms, before we do the backstory to Elder Eyring&rsquos comment.

We can break up different kinds of creationism based on two factors: the age of the earth and the degree of &ldquospecial creation,&rdquo which refers to the creation of a species (animals or humans) in their current form, i.e. no evolution, no changes. Some creationists hold to the evolution of animals, but a special creation of Adam and Eve. Here&rsquos a simplified generalized taxonomy.

  1. Natural Evolutionists say the earth is billions of years old, and humans and animals evolved.
  2. Theistic Evolutionists say the earth is billions of years old, and humans and animals evolved as part of God&rsquos plan, under his control or influence. This, I believe, was Henry Eyring Sr.&rsquos position, and is the most compatible with generally-established science.
  3. Old Earth Creationists (OEC) agree the earth is billions of years old but hold to special creation of humans (and sometimes animals) in the last few thousand years. This appears to be the unofficial position of the LDS Church and has some conflict with generally-established science. It&rsquos the explicit position of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and Ben Carson (see my article here and follow-up here.)
  4. Young Earth Creationists (YEC) hold to special creation of humans and animals (usually), in the last few thousand years. This was Joseph Fielding Smith&rsquos position and has the most conflict with generally-established science. (More on this below.) It&rsquos based on the assumption that revelation consists of scientific facts, because that is what Truth is, and God cannot lie. Prophets are mere conduits, and their humanity in no way affects or influences the divine message. We should understand scriptural and prophetic statements, whether 50, 100, or 2000 years ago, as if they were all spoken within the worldview and knowledge horizon of today. YEC views come from applying these assumptions to Genesis (with a little Paul or Nephi mixed in) and then reworking the science to fit.

I find those assumptions to be more the unconscious intellectual inheritance of the scientific revolution and Enlightenment than good scriptural theology, and largely indefensible on several grounds. I spend a good bit of time in my book talking about the nature of revelation, prophets, and scripture. Back to Elder Eyring and his father.

Henry Eyring Sr. was a brilliant chemist, teaching at his PhD alma mater Princeton from 1931-1946. To quote from Wikipedia,

Henry Eyring (February 20, 1901 &ndash December 26, 1981) was a Mexican-born American theoretical chemist&hellip. A prolific writer, he authored more than 600 scientific articles, ten scientific books, and a few books on the subject of science and religion. He received the Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 1980 and the National Medal of Science in 1966 for developing the Absolute Rate Theory or Transition state theory of chemical reactions, one of the most important developments of 20th-century chemistry. Several other chemists later received the Nobel Prize for work based on it, and his failure to receive the Nobel was a matter of surprise to many.

I&rsquove written about him before here. Eyring wrote Faith of a Scientist explaining some of his views, and the more recent volume Mormon Scientist: The Life and Faith of Henry Eyring is a quasi-biography that is well worth reading. The latter contains thoughts like this on the nature of science, religion, and assumptions or &ldquopostulates.&rdquo

[In both science and religion,] you set up some basic postulates from your experience or your experiments and then from that you start making deductions, but everything that matters is based upon things you accept as true. When a man says he will believe in religion if you prove it, it is like asking you to prove there are electrons. Proof depends upon your premises&hellip.Every proof in science depends on the postulates one accepts. The same is true of religion. The certitude one has about the existence of God ultimately comes from personal experience, the experience of others, or logical deductions from the postulates one accepts. People sometimes get the idea that science and religion are different, but they are not different at all. There is nothing in science that does not hinge on some primitive constructs you take for granted. What is an electron? I can tell you some things about the electron we have learned from experiment, and if you accept these things, you will be able to make predictions. But ultimately you will always get back to postulates.I am certain in my own mind of the truthfulness of the gospel, but I can only communicate that assurance to you if you accept my postulates.

Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972) did not attend university (his two years at the LDS College were equivalent to two years of high school), and was a Young Earth Creationist from early on in his life. His reading of scripture put him at odds with science and in serious conflict with other General Authorities like B.H. Roberts, James E. Talmage, John Widtsoe, David O. McKay, Reuben Clark, and others. He was not afraid to express his views.

I will state frankly and positively that I am opposed to the present biological theories and the doctrine that man has been on the earth for millions of years. I am opposed to the present teachings in relation to the age of the earth which declare that the earth is millions of years old. Some modern scientists even claim that it is a billion years old. Naturally, since I believe in modern revelation, I cannot accept these so-called scientific teachings, for I believe them to be in conflict with the simple and direct word of the Lord that has come to us by divine revelation.- Answers to Gospel Questions, 5:112, my italics.

At one point, he accused President Clark of &ldquorejecting the scriptures,&rdquo because they disagreed over how to read creation. Talmage, a PhD in geology, challenged him on a geological basis. To fend off those arguments, Smith turned to self-taught Seventh-day Adventist &ldquocreation science&rdquo pioneer George McCready Price, exchanging several letters with him. In one, Smith wrote,&rdquoI am of the firm opinion, perhaps I could almost say conviction, that the dinosaurs lived here with man less than six thousand years ago.&rdquo (A recent New Era article disagrees.)

In 1954, Smith published Man, His Origin and Destiny, a broadside against evolution. Into this maelstrom came Henry Eyring, not as a General Authority, but a well-respected LDS scientist serving as Dean at the University of Utah.

A concerned David O. McKay asked Adam S. Bennion, an apostle and former superintendent of church schools, to solicit responses to Elder Smith&rsquos book from qualified LDS scientists. Elder Bennion invited the opinions of Henry Eyring, geologist William Lee Stokes, and chemist Richard P. Smith. Eyring wrote to Bennion: &ldquo&lsquoI can understand &lsquoMan&mdashHis Origin and Destiny&rsquo as the work of a great man who is fallible. . . .It contains many serious scientific errors and much ill humor, which mar the many beautiful things in it. Since the gospel is only that which is true, this book cannot be more than the private opinion of one of our great men.&lsquo&rdquo Then in a 1973 interview, Eyring, when asked about the age of the Earth controversy, cited his disagreement with Smith&rsquos book, but added:

I would say that I sustained Brother Smith as my Church leader one hundred percent. I think he was a great man. He had a different background and training on this issue. Maybe he was right. I think he was right on most things and if you followed him, he would get you into the Celestial Kingdom&mdashmaybe the hard way, but he would get you there.

The Church, according to a letter from President McKay, has no position on organic evolution. Whatever the answer is to the question, the Lord has already finished that part of His work. The whole matter poses no problem to me. The Lord organized the world and I am sure He did it in the best way.

&ndashMike Ash, &ldquoThe Myth of Evil Evolution&rdquo Dialogue.

This, I believe, is the story referred to in General Conference. It was not the only time Eyring was called upon to weigh in, but this post is long enough already.

  • Henry Eyring and Joseph Fielding Smith chapter in The Search for Harmony, which has the full letters.
  • Some of President McKay&rsquos views.
  • Why YEC isn&rsquot really science-based, and so scientific arguments against it do little.
  • Mapping the Origins Debate: Six Models of the Beginning of Everything

I have dozens of my own posts dealing with this topic and lots of book recommendations, so if you&rsquore new to the site, let me know and I&rsquoll point you to them. As for now, I&rsquove got Mircea Eliade to read for class.

As always, you can help me pay my tuition here, or you can support my work through making your regular Amazon purchases through this Amazon link. You can also get updates by email whenever a post goes up (subscription box on the right). If you friend me on Facebook, please drop me a note telling me you&rsquore a reader. I tend not to accept friend requests from people I&rsquom not acquainted with.


Public’s Views on Human Evolution

According to a new Pew Research Center analysis, six-in-ten Americans (60%) say that “humans and other living things have evolved over time,” while a third (33%) reject the idea of evolution, saying that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” The share of the general public that says that humans have evolved over time is about the same as it was in 2009, when Pew Research last asked the question.

About half of those who express a belief in human evolution take the view that evolution is “due to natural processes such as natural selection” (32% of the American public overall). But many Americans believe that God or a supreme being played a role in the process of evolution. Indeed, roughly a quarter of adults (24%) say that “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today.”

These beliefs differ strongly by religious group. White evangelical Protestants are particularly likely to believe that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Roughly two-thirds (64%) express this view, as do half of black Protestants (50%). By comparison, only 15% of white mainline Protestants share this opinion.

There also are sizable differences by party affiliation in beliefs about evolution, and the gap between Republicans and Democrats has grown. In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats said humans have evolved over time, a difference of 10 percentage points. Today, 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap.

These are some of the key findings from a nationwide Pew Research Center survey conducted March 21-April 8, 2013, with a representative sample of 1,983 adults, ages 18 and older. The survey was conducted on landlines and cellphones in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.0 percentage points.

Differences by Religious Group

A majority of white evangelical Protestants (64%) and half of black Protestants (50%) say that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. But in other large religious groups, a minority holds this view. In fact, nearly eight-in-ten white mainline Protestants (78%) say that humans and other living things have evolved over time. Three-quarters of the religiously unaffiliated (76%) and 68% of white non-Hispanic Catholics say the same. About half of Hispanic Catholics (53%) believe that humans have evolved over time, while 31% reject that idea.

Those saying that humans have evolved over time also were asked for their views on the processes responsible for evolution. Roughly a quarter of adults (24%) say that “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today,” while about a third (32%) say that evolution is “due to natural processes such as natural selection.”

Just as religious groups differ in their views about evolution in general, they also tend to differ in their views on the processes responsible for human evolution. For instance, while fully 78% of white mainline Protestants say that humans and other living things have evolved over time, the group is divided over whether evolution is due to natural processes or whether it was guided by a supreme being (36% each). White non-Hispanic Catholics also are divided equally on the question (33% each). The religiously unaffiliated predominantly hold the view that evolution stems from natural processes (57%), while 13% of this group says evolution was guided by a supreme being. Of the white evangelical Protestants and black Protestants who believe that humans have evolved over time, most believe that a supreme being guided evolution.

Views About Evolution by Party Affiliation

There are sizable differences among partisan groups in beliefs about evolution. Republicans are less inclined than either Democrats or political independents to say that humans have evolved over time. Roughly two-thirds of Democrats (67%) and independents (65%) say that humans have evolved over time, compared with less than half of Republicans (43%).

The size of the gap between partisan groups has grown since 2009. Republicans are less inclined today than they were in 2009 to say that humans have evolved over time (43% today vs. 54% in 2009), while opinion among both Democrats and independents has remained about the same.

Differences in the racial and ethnic composition of Democrats and Republicans or differences in their levels of religious commitment do not wholly explain partisan differences in beliefs about evolution. Indeed, the partisan differences remain even when taking these other characteristics into account. (For more on the link between party and evolution, see our Fact Tank post.)

Views About Evolution by Demographic Group

The 2013 Pew Research survey varied the exact wording of the question about evolution to better understand public views on the issue. A random group of respondents was asked about the evolution of “humans and other living things” while others were asked about the evolution of “animals and other living things.” 1 The survey found that the wording focus on animals vs. humans made little difference in beliefs.

Beliefs about human and animal evolution tend to vary by gender, age and education. Men are somewhat more inclined than women to say that humans and animals have evolved over time. Younger adults are more likely than older generations to believe that living things have evolved over time. And those with more years of formal schooling are more likely than those with less education to say that humans and animals have evolved over time.

About the Survey

This report is based on telephone interviews conducted March 21-April 8, 2013, among a national sample of 1,983 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (1,017 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 966 were interviewed on a cellphone). Interviews were completed in English and Spanish by live, professionally trained interviewing staff under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

A combination of landline and cell random digit dial (RDD) samples were used to reach a representative sample of all adults in the United States who have access to either a landline or cellphone. Both samples were disproportionately stratified to increase the incidence of African-American and Hispanic respondents. Within each stratum, phone numbers were drawn with equal probabilities. The landline samples were list-assisted and drawn from active blocks containing three or more residential listings, while the cell samples were not list-assisted but were drawn through a systematic sampling from dedicated wireless 100-blocks and shared service 100-blocks with no directory-listed landline numbers. Both the landline and cell RDD samples were disproportionately stratified by county based on estimated incidences of African-American and Hispanic respondents.

The survey questionnaire included a split-form design whereby an additional 2,023 adults were asked a different set of questions, including the questions on animal evolution reported above. The total number of interviews conducted was 4,006. Thus, the data collection involved two simultaneous surveys where the same question was asked on each form, the results of the two forms can be combined to yield a representative survey of U.S. adults with the full 4,006 respondents.

Several stages of statistical adjustment or weighting are used to account for the complex nature of the sample design. The weights account for numerous factors, including (1) the different, disproportionate probabilities of selection in each stratum, (2) the overlap of the landline and cell RDD sample frames, and (3) differential non-response associated with sample demographics. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies, including disproportionate stratification of the sample.

The survey’s margin of error is the largest 95% confidence interval for any estimated proportion based on the total sample – the one around 50%. For example, the margin of error for the entire sample is +/-3.0 percentage points. This means that in 95 out of every 100 samples drawn using the same methodology, estimated proportions based on the entire sample will be no more than 3.0 percentage points away from their true values in the population. Sampling errors and statistical tests of significance used in this report take into account the effect of weighting. In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.


Humans vs Animals

What are the differences between humans and animals?

Starting with the most obvious, humans have much higher intelligence than animals and have much more advanced communications. From the many species of animals, humans belong to only Homo Sapiens. Also, while most animals move on fours or by crawling, humans generally move on twos. In terms of their diet (since both are heterotrophs), animals tend to be either herbivores or carnivores, and humans omnivores.

Moving on, while some animals may also show signs of emotions, only humans are able to express them fully. While some animals are able to express emotions, it’s just in a limited way. Finally, with their high intelligence, humans have a wide variety of ideas that have generated laws, social relationships, and technologies.


Humane Society International / Global

What is animal testing?

The term “animal testing” refers to procedures performed on living animals for purposes of research into basic biology and diseases, assessing the effectiveness of new medicinal products, and testing the human health and/or environmental safety of consumer and industry products such as cosmetics, household cleaners, food additives, pharmaceuticals and industrial/agro-chemicals. All procedures, even those classified as “mild,” have the potential to cause the animals physical as well as psychological distress and suffering. Often the procedures can cause a great deal of suffering. Most animals are killed at the end of an experiment, but some may be re-used in subsequent experiments. Here is a selection of common animal procedures:

  • Forced chemical exposure in toxicity testing, which can include oral force-feeding, forced inhalation, skin or injection into the abdomen, muscle, etc.
  • Exposure to drugs, chemicals or infectious disease at levels that cause illness, pain and distress, or death
  • Genetic manipulation, e.g., addition or “knocking out” of one or more genes
  • Ear-notching and tail-clipping for identification
  • Short periods of physical restraint for observation or examination
  • Prolonged periods of physical restraint
  • Food and water deprivation
  • Surgical procedures followed by recovery
  • Infliction of wounds, burns and other injuries to study healing
  • Infliction of pain to study its physiology and treatment
  • Behavioural experiments designed to cause distress, e.g., electric shock or forced swimming
  • Other manipulations to create “animal models” of human diseases ranging from cancer to stroke to depression
  • Killing by carbon dioxide asphyxiation, neck-breaking, decapitation, or other means

What types of animals are used?

Many different species are used around the world, but the most common include mice, fish, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, farm animals, birds, cats, dogs, mini-pigs, and non-human primates (monkeys, and in some countries, chimpanzees). Video: Watch what scientists have to say about alternatives to animal testing.

It is estimated that more than 115 million animals worldwide are used in laboratory experiments every year. But because only a small proportion of countries collect and publish data concerning animal use for testing and research, the precise number is unknown. For example, in the United States, up to 90 percent of the animals used in laboratories (purpose-bred rats, mice and birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates) are excluded from the official statistics, meaning that figures published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are no doubt a substantial underestimate.

Within the European Union, more than 12 million animals are used each year, with France, Germany and the United Kingdom being the top three animal using countries. British statistics reflect the use of more than 3 million animals each year, but this number does not include animals bred for research but killed as “surplus” without being used for specific experimental procedures. Although these animals still endure the stresses and deprivation of life in the sterile laboratory environment, their lives are not recorded in official statistics. HSI believes that complete transparency about animal use is vital and that all animals bred, used or killed for the research industry should be included in official figures. See some animal use statistics.

What’s wrong with animal testing?

For nearly a century, drug and chemical safety assessments have been based on laboratory testing involving rodents, rabbits, dogs, and other animals. Aside from the ethical issues they pose—inflicting both physical pain as well as psychological distress and suffering on large numbers of sentient creatures—animal tests are time- and resource-intensive, restrictive in the number of substances that can be tested, provide little understanding of how chemicals behave in the body, and in many cases do not correctly predict real-world human reactions. Similarly, health scientists are increasingly questioning the relevance of research aimed at “modelling” human diseases in the laboratory by artificially creating symptoms in other animal species.

Trying to mirror human diseases or toxicity by artificially creating symptoms in mice, dogs or monkeys has major scientific limitations that cannot be overcome. Very often the symptoms and responses to potential treatments seen in other species are dissimilar to those of human patients. As a consequence, nine out of every 10 candidate medicines that appear safe and effective in animal studies fail when given to humans. Drug failures and research that never delivers because of irrelevant animal models not only delay medical progress, but also waste resources and risk the health and safety of volunteers in clinical trials.

What’s the alternative?

If lack of human relevance is the fatal flaw of “animal models,” then a switch to human-relevant research tools is the logical solution. The National Research Council in the United States has expressed its vision of “a not-so-distant future in which virtually all routine toxicity testing would be conducted in human cells or cell lines”, and science leaders around the world have echoed this view.

The sequencing of the human genome and birth of functional genomics, the explosive growth of computer power and computational biology, and high-speed robot automation of cell-based (in vitro) screening systems, to name a few, has sparked a quiet revolution in biology. Together, these innovations have produced new tools and ways of thinking that can help uncover exactly how chemicals and drugs disrupt normal processes in the human body at the level of cells and molecules. From there, scientists can use computers to interpret and integrate this information with data from human and population-level studies. The resulting predictions regarding human safety and risk are potentially more relevant to people in the real world than animal tests.

But that’s just the beginning. The wider field of human health research could benefit from a similar shift in paradigm. Many disease areas have seen little or no progress despite decades of animal research. Some 300 million people currently suffer from asthma, yet only two types of treatment have become available in the last 50 years. More than a thousand potential drugs for stroke have been tested in animals, but only one of these has proved effective in patients. And it’s the same story with many other major human illnesses. A large-scale re-investment in human-based (not mouse or dog or monkey) research aimed at understanding how disruptions of normal human biological functions at the levels of genes, proteins and cell and tissue interactions lead to illness in our species could advance the effective treatment or prevention of many key health-related societal challenges of our time.

Modern non-animal techniques are already reducing and superseding experiments on animals, and in European Union, the 𔄛Rs” principle of replacement, reduction and refinement of animal experiments is a legal requirement. In most other parts of the world there is currently no such legal imperative, leaving scientists free to use animals even where non-animal approaches are available.

If animal testing is so unreliable, why does it continue?

Despite this growing evidence that it is time for a change, effecting that change within a scientific community that has relied for decades on animal models as the “default method” for testing and research takes time and perseverance. Old habits die hard, and globally there is still a lack of knowledge of and expertise in cutting-edge non-animal techniques.

But with HSI’s help, change is happening. We are leading efforts globally to encourage scientists, companies and policy-makers to transition away from animal use in favour of 21st century methods. Our work brings together experts from around the globe to share knowledge and best practice, improving the quality of research by replacing animals in the laboratory.

Are animal experiments needed for medical progress?

It is often argued that because animal experiments have been used for centuries, and medical progress has been made in that time, animal experiments must be necessary. But this is missing the point. History is full of examples of flawed or basic practices and ideas that were once considered state-of-the-art, only to be superseded years later by something far more sophisticated and successful. In the early 1900’s, the Wright brothers’ invention of the airplane was truly innovative for its time, but more than a century later, technology has advanced so much that when compared to the modern jumbo jet those early flying machines seem quaint and even absurd. Those early ideas are part of aviation history, but no-one would seriously argue that they represent the cutting-edge of design or human achievement. So it is with laboratory research. Animal experiments are part of medical history, but history is where they belong. Compared to today’s potential to understand the basis of human disease at cellular and molecular levels, experimenting on live animals seems positively primitive. So if we want better quality medical research, safer more effective pharmaceuticals and cures to human diseases, we need to turn the page in the history books and embrace the new chapter—21st century science.

Independent scientific reviews demonstrate that research using animals correlates very poorly to real human patients. In fact, the data show that animal studies fail to predict real human outcomes in 50 to 99.7 percent of cases. This is mainly because other species seldom naturally suffer from the same diseases as found in humans. Animal experiments rely on often uniquely human conditions being artificially induced in non-human species. While on a superficial level they may share similar symptoms, fundamental differences in genetics, physiology and biochemistry can result in wildly different reactions to both the illness and potential treatments. For some areas of disease research, overreliance on animal models may well have delayed medical progress rather than advanced it. By contrast, many non-animal replacement methods such as cell-based studies, silicon chip biosensors, and computational systems biology models, can provide faster and more human-relevant answers to medical and chemical safety questions that animal experiments cannot match.

“The claim that animal experimentation is essential to medical development is not supported by proper, scientific evidence but by opinion and anecdote. Systematic reviews of its effectiveness don’t support the claims made on its behalf” (Pandora Pound et al. British Medical Journal 328, 514-7, 2004).


Analysis of NEET 2019 Physics

Unit Number of Questions Easy Moderate Difficult
Mechanics 17 0 16 1
Heat and Thermodynamics 3 0 3 0
Properties of matter 3 0 2 1
Electrostatics and Capacitor 4 0 4 0
Current Electricity 3 0 3 0
Magnetism, Magnetic Effect of Current and AC 5 0 4 1
Modern Physics 6 0 5 1
Ray and Way Optics 4 0 4 0
Total 45 0 41 4

Chapter-wise Weightage

Unit Number of Questions Marks Weightage
Mechanics 17 68 37.82%
Heat and Thermodynamics 3 12 6.66%
Properties of matter 3 12 6.66%
Electrostatics and Capacitor 4 16 8.88%
Current Electricity 3 12 6.66%
Magnetism, Magnetic Effect of Current and AC 5 20 11.11%
Modern Physics 6 24 13.33
Ray and Way Optics 4 16 8.88%
Total 45 180 100

Chemistry Section Analysis

Units Number of questions Very Easy Easy Moderate
Inorganic 14 5 5 4
Physical 19 10 5 4
Organic 12 5 5 2
Total 45 20 15 10

Chapter-wise Weightage

Units Number of questions Marks Weightage
Inorganic 14 56 31.12%
Physical 19 76 42.22%
Organic 12 48 26.66%
Total 45 180 100%

Biology Section Analysis

Units Number of questions Easy Moderate Difficult
Zoology 40 6 31 3
Botany 50 8 40 2
Total 90 14 71 5

Chapter-wise Weightage

Unit Number of Questions Marks Weightage
Plant Diversity 5 20 5.55%
Animal Diversity 2 8 2.22%
Plant Morphology 1 4 1.11%
Plant Anatomy 3 12 3.33%
Structural Organisation in Animals 2 8 2.22%
Cell Biology and Cell Division 7 28 7.77%
Biomolecule 2 8 2.22%
Plant Physiology 9 36 10%
Human Physiology 14 56 15.55%
Respiration in Plants 4 16 4.44%
Human Reproduction and Reproductive Health 5 20 5.55%
Genetics and Molecular Biology 10 40 11.115
Evolution 3 12 3.335
Human Health and Disease 4 16 4.44%
Strategies for enhancement in Food Production 1 4 1.11%
Microbes in Human Welfare 5 20 5.55%
Biotechnology 5 20 5.55%
Ecology 8 32 8.88%
Total 90 360 100%

Other Facts about NEET 2019 :

  • A total of 13,26,725 students were registered for NEET 2019 out of which 5,80,648 are males and 7,46,076 females.
  • Official Answer Keys for previous paper is available on cbseneet.nic.in.
  • Apart from Hindi and English, the examinations were in languages like Urdu, Gujarati, Marathi, Oriya, Bengali, Assamese, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada.

NEET Paper Analysis 2018

Physics Paper Analysis

  • This section will have lengthy calculations.
  • Class 11 syllabus was given more weightage in NEET 2018.
  • A significant number of questions were taken from topics like Mechanics, Modern Physics and Electrodynamics.
  • There were 8 difficult, 27 medium level and 10 easy questions in this section

Important Topics in Physics

There are some important topics in physics that every student must spend a considerable amount of time to understand the concepts.

  • Electrodynamics
  • KTG & Thermodynamic
  • Semiconductors
  • Rigid Body Dynamics
  • Wave Optics
  • Modern Physics

Chemistry Paper Analysis

  • The Chemistry section had more questions from the class 12 syllabus last year and was quite tricky.
  • Most of the questions were from Organic Chemistry last year.
  • Most of the questions were conceptual and application-based so students are advised to have a thorough understanding and total clarity about the basic concepts.

Important topics in Chemistry

Since organic chemistry has gained more weightage in recent papers, there are some important topics that students must prioritize while preparing for NEET.

  • Organic Chemistry-I
  • Chemical Bonding
  • Carbonyl Compounds
  • Coordination Compounds

Biology Paper Analysis

  • Biology was comparatively easier than Physics and Chemistry
  • There will be 90 questions, 45 each from Botany and Zoology.
  • It is important for students to review and do a Paper Analysis of the last 10 years for Biology to comprehend the exam trends and pattern.
  • This year’s biology paper is expected to be tougher.
  • Human Physiology and Plant Physiology were the two most important topics carrying most weightage. Most of the questions were from NCERT books.

Important Topics in Biology

As per the analysis of NEET 2018, Zoology part had more questions from class 12 syllabus while Botany section had more questions from class 11 syllabus. Plant Diversity and Human Physiology will have more weightage and should be covered thoroughly. Some important topics to cover are:

  • Plant Anatomy
  • Pollination
  • DNA Replication
  • Photosynthesis
  • PAGE Theory
  • Endocrine System
  • Excretory and Nervous System
  • Digestive System

1. How many questions will be there from each section?

There will be 45 questions from Physics, 45 from Chemistry and 90 from Biology which will have 45 questions from Botany and 45 from Zoology.

2. Is there negative marking in NEET paper?

Yes. One mark will be deducted for each incorrect answer.

3. Is NCERT sufficient to clear NEET exam?

NCERT is the fundamental text for NEET and includes all the basic concepts to be prepared for the exam. However, it is beneficial to refer to a few help-books for gaining a better idea of the type of questions that are asked in the NEET exam.