Briefs: Former Tour de France champion Ullrich is retiring

first_img“I feel like a serious criminal although I have nothing to reproach myself,” he said. “People have made a name for themselves at my cost. Some were 100 percent lies. I wished I had gotten more support from some people, but I am not bitter.” Ullrich has been under investigation for several months in Spain’s “Operation Puerto” scandal, but has not been charged. He has been without a team since being fired by the T-Mobile team last summer. FOOTBALL: A former Canadian Football League player infected with HIV was sentenced to 5 years in prison for knowingly exposing two women to the virus by having unprotected sex with them. Trevis Smith, a linebacker who attended Alabama and later played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, was found guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault this month. He said he will stay in the sport as a consultant for the Austrian-based Volksbank team. Ullrich criticized the way he had been treated by cycling officials in Germany and Switzerland and by the German media. TENNIS: Roger Federer struggled to a first-round victory at the Dubai (United Arab Emriates) Open, the day he broke Jimmy Connors’ streak of consecutive weeks at No. 1. Federer, who broke Connors’ 30-year-old mark with his 161st week at the top of the ATP rankings, defeated Kristian Pless 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-3 after a monthlong break since winning the Australian Open. in Regina, Saskatchewan, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters will not play for Belgium in its Fed Cup match against the United States in April. BASKETBALL: Washington Wizards All-Star forward Caron Butler remained sidelined with lower back spasms, while Antawn Jamison returned to practice for the first time since injuring his knee last month. Butler was unable to play in Sunday’s 98-94 loss at Minnesota, the first game he has missed this season, and his status is uncertain for today’s game against the New Jersey Nets. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img Former Tour de France champion Jan Ullrich ended his cycling career Monday, still defending himself against lingering doping suspicions. The 33-year-old German, who won the Tour in 1997 and was runner-up five times, announced his retirement in Hamburg, Germany, eight months after being implicated in a Spanish doping scandal. last_img read more

Driver slams into parked truck, dies

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PALMDALE – A motorist killed early Monday when the car he was driving hit a parked big rig head-on was identified as 24-year-old Antonio Rodriguez of Palmdale. The collision occurred about 4:10 a.m. on Avenue R-4 near Halifax Street, Detective Mike Redding said. Rodriguez’s 2004 Nissan Altima was heading west when it veered across the street and hit the parked truck. He was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the car. He was pronounced dead at the scene, Redding said.last_img read more

Darwinist Intolerance Continues Unabated after Expelled

first_imgBen Stein’s documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed has ranked #12 in documentaries after 3 weeks.  It could easily rank much higher after the DVD comes out.  Has the scientific community shown any signs of remorse over their treatment of individuals and groups who question Darwinism, as illustrated in the film?ICR expelled:  On April 24, a week after Expelled hit the theaters, the Texas State Board of Education denied the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) the right to grant graduate degrees in the State.  ICR, a privately-funded organization, had been granting Master’s degrees in California for 27 years.    It appears that Commissioner Raymund Paredes made his recommendation to deny the authorization after consulting with an undisclosed group of educators in non-public meetings.  It also appears that ICR’s well-known creationist position, not the academic standards of its Graduate School, was the reason for the decision.    ICR, which had been expecting easy approval based on a positive recommendation from the Site Evaluation Team in December (see ICR press release), considers this a clear case of viewpoint discrimination and an abridgement of their academic freedom.  Their statement includes a 371-page document that had been delivered to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.  Even some of the most liberal supporters of intelligent design, who disapprove of young-earth creationism, have expressed alarm at the decision because of what it portends for any viewpoint deemed to lie outside the scientific consensus.    Paredes may have been influenced by a negative editorial that appeared in Nature February 28.  The editorial revealed that concerted arm-twisting was going on behind the scenes: “High-powered scientists in Texas are already weighing in, asking board commissioner Raymund Paredes to deny accreditation,” it said, “And there are signs that the board is listening.”  The editorial called ICR’s creationist position “anti-scientific” even though its professors have PhDs from secular institutions.  It even accused the graduate school of dishonesty: “ICR has managed to con its way into the California educational system for decades.  Texas must not succumb as well.”  ICR has always been above board in its dealings with the states of California and Texas.  They never pressured anyone to succumb to anything.  They met all requirements and answered all questions.  This amounts to libel, but ICR was never given an opportunity to respond.    Naturally, Nature was delighted in its April 30 issue with the denial decision.  They proudly quoted a compliant commissioner, who had learned his talking points well.  “Religious belief is not science,” Paredes said.  “Science and religious belief are surely reconcilable, but they are not the same thing.”Context is key:  Nature took the following swipe at Ben Stein in its featurette Sidelines: Scribbles on the Margins of Science from May 7:“Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.”Ben Stein, star of anti-evolution movie Expelled, adds his sensible and rational voice to the science-versus-religion debate, during an evangelical webcast.Stein’s comment was a summary statement at the end of a long discussion about Nazi science, not science in general.  In the movie, Stein had made it clear he supported true science.  His investigation was about the intolerance of Darwinists, whose leading spokespersons (Richard Dawkins, P. Z. Myers, William Provine, E. O. Wilson) are atheists, toward intelligent design.  This out-of-context quote not only Nature’s complete denial of any culpability for fostering intolerance, but an attempt to tarnish the reputation of the whistleblower.Freedom is slavery:  Scare tactics are often effective for avoiding rational discussion.  A news story in Science took on the difficult task of explaining why it is important to oppose academic freedom legislation.  Reporter Yudhijit Bhattacharjee set the tone of her investigation of Academic Freedom bills with a scary metaphor, “If creationism is a mutating virus, as many educators believe, then its latest guise is legislation to protect ’academic freedom.’”  The scare quotes imply a conspiracy is lurking.  Selling this line is a bit of an uphill battle, though.  She quoted Barbara Forrest, activist against the bill in Florida, saying “It has been difficult to rally opposition.”    Casey Luskin at Evolution News pointed out that Science quoted no proponents of the bill – only opponents.  Bhattacharjee quoted evolution defender Eugenie Scott, for instance, claiming that Academic Freedom bills are essentially a “permission slip to teach creationism,” though there is nothing of the sort in the wording of the bills to suggest such a thing.  Luskin used it as an illustration of “checkpoints” outlined in Expelled that guarantee the party line goes unchallenged.    Incidentally, the Academic Freedom bill in Florida, which had looked set to pass earlier, got defeated by procedural derailments rather than debate, reported Robert Crowther for Evolution News.To revile or not to revile:  Science on May 9 printed a pair of letters on the subject of whether to be considerate of creationists.  (It should be noted that Darwinists lump creationism and intelligent design in the same category, despite volumes explaining the differences).  They were responding to an earlier article that told, somewhat sympathetically, the story of one young scientist’s “traumatic” journey from evangelical belief in creationism to evolutionism.    Craig Stevens (Oklahoma State) could not stomach the sympathy.  “Science magazine is not the place to give even a hint of respectability to those who would deny the fundamental fact of evolution,” he said.  “There is too much at stake, for our children and our society, to give any credence to those promoting unscientific nonsense (creationism or intelligent design) and justifying irrational beliefs under the guise of religion.”    Andrew Whipple, biologist at Taylor University, had a more conciliatory tone.  Based on his experience with students coming from a Biblical creationist background, he called for humility:We within the scientific community must continue to present the demonstrable evidence from the physical realm and clearly express how that evidence supports our current interpretations.  This effort is not served well at all by dogmatic pronouncements such as “Evolution is fact,” even if such statements are accurate.  Furthermore, for members of the scientific community to make theological statements in the name of science is philosophically illegitimate, and destructive in our truth-seeking efforts.  In this short essay, Science has published the only example I have read in the leading scientific literature that takes the time and effort to understand and express what really drives the concerns of the majority of evangelicals, and does so in a manner that respects the integrity of both the scientific endeavor and the integrity of the faith commitments within the evangelical community.    Allow me to suggest that this serves as a call to us in the sciences to be more humble as we interact with the faith community.  We as scientists ought to be those most keenly aware of the tenuous and ever-changing nature of human knowledge, even as we build on that which has stood the test of time.  We ought to behave as though the faith community poses no threat to the integrity of science, just as the faith community ought to behave as though science poses no threat to the integrity of faith…. Let us all humbly seek for truth as we respect one another’s efforts to do so.Even in this conciliatory letter, however, Whipple still implied that evolution is a fact because it has stood the test of time, which implies the dubious proposition that time is a measure of scientific validity (see best-in-field fallacy).  He also drew an either-or distinction between the science community and the faith community.  This fails to identify the faith involved in evolutionary theories.  It also ignores the scientific evidence those with non-evolutionary theories employ in defense of their views.  What may be most noteworthy, however, is his observation that the article was the “only example I have read in the leading scientific literature that takes the time and effort to understand” the concerns of the majority of evangelicals in a respectful tone.Beneath disdain:  CMI published a response to a campaign by the Geological Society of London to fight creationism.  (The quotes are from before the release of Expelled, but it is unlikely the film altered their attitude, based on condescending reviews in other pro-evolution journals.)  In an editorial from the January issue of their magazine Geoscientist, Ted Nield not only conflated Intelligent Design with Young-Earth Creationism, he looked for space in the dungeon below contempt to find words to express the depth of his disdain.  “Are Young Earth Creationists, Intelligent Designers and other adherents of long-exploded ideas even worth the expenditure of our contempt?” he asked.Some commentators have expressed alarm at the condescending tone that academics express to those outside their peer group.  In a guest editorial for the UK Times Higher Education, Dennis Hayes exposed the disdain academics have for the general public.  He found it ironic that academics are trying more to engage in public outreach while simultaneously treating the public as hapless, hopeless, ignorant and prejudiced.  He pictured academics as out of touch – living in a closed society that generates misanthropic attitudes.  Their own habits, though, provide a poor model for how one should behave like an intellectual: “At academic conferences, there is little discussion; there are hundreds of papers but few questions,” he accused.  He warned that progress in understanding will only come when academics open themselves up to debate (cf. 04/09/2008).    More focused on the issues brought up in Expelled was Ken Conner’s op-ed piece for Townhall.com.  He alleged that modern academia is in a 1984 time warp, with its own thought police and revisionist policies.  He alluded to the Orwellian turnabout wherein Academic Freedom bills are being opposed as “academic tyranny” by the very people who refuse to allow criticisms of their views.    Conner juxtaposed the derisive comments of Darwinists against ID with some of their own irrational views expressed in Ben Stein’s documentary, such as life being seeded by space aliens or on crystals.  “Intelligent Design,” he remarked, “seems eminently plausible compared to the ravings of these scientists who appear educated beyond their intelligence.”    At issue, though, is the academy’s intolerance of contrary views.  “These efforts to extinguish controversy and to mute dissenting voices are antithetical to traditional notions of academic freedom,” he ended.  “But that doesn’t bother the scholars who are interviewed in the film.  In the academy, it’s 1984 and, in their world, freedom is tyranny.”Poor, lovable old Ben Stein.  Likeable, funny, common-sensical, soft-spoken, unflappable; a kinder, gentler celebrity one could hardly find, but now he has joined the Expelled.  His reputation will be forever tarnished as one of “them.”  All he wanted to do was open up the debate about Darwinism again.  Such an innocent quest.  In his droll, deadpan way, he interviewed the leading lights on both sides (and not a single young-earth creationist, by the way – those who have been so systematically marginalized that the mere mention of them brings a Pavlovian growl).  Ben never raised his voice.  His questions were the innocent, honest questions that a man on the street might ask.  In a country that values academic freedom, what is it about this issue that gets scientists so upset?.    In each interview, Stein sat there meekly without interrupting.  He gave plenty of time for Dawkins, Myers and Ruse to explain what they meant.  His producers sent them the types of questions that would be asked, paid them for their time, got their permission to use the footage, and followed standard documentary protocol.  For this crime he has been viciously slandered by scientists and the secular media, who show absolutely no sense of remorse for their intolerance.  They continue to illustrate the very point of Expelled: question Darwin and your career is over.  If there is to be any revolution, any pressure to tear down the Berlin Wall that protects Darwinism from honest questions, it won’t be starting on the Darwin side.  If anything, they are building it higher and thicker.    Are you shocked by this?  That academics, the ones historically the champions of academic freedom, have become some of its most vicious enemies?  That the very ones who should be models of civility and rational discourse turn into sneering, snarling Dobermans at the mere sound of intelligent design?  How could it be, when so many great scientists in history exalted the supreme architect of the universe in their work, and pointed to their admiration for God’s designs as motivation for doing science, that this could happen?  It does happen, and it happens elsewhere, too: the very institutions set up to solve the problem wind up making it worse.  Consider the following parallels.  Recognizing that there are exceptions in each case, charges have been made repeatedly by numerous commentators that the following institutions do the opposite of what they were designed to do.Labor unions: Initially motivated to address real issues of worker rights and safety, unions and their bosses are almost synonymous with corruption.  Workers refusing to join become targets of intimidation and physical violence.  States have had to pass Right to Work laws (imagine that!) to protect workers from the very unions that were designed to help them.  The unions, of course, spend their millions from the dues extracted by force from paychecks of common workers to lobby against such legislation, and routinely oppose any attempt to allow workers to designate whether they wish their dues to be spent on lobbying or not.    To add insult to injury, labor unions pile on so much burden on corporations through exorbitant and unrealistic demands for pensions and benefits (enforced by threats of crippling strikes), they end up killing the goose that lays the golden egg – the employers who create jobs.  The high cost of employment causes companies to go out of business or look overseas.  Who loses?  The laborer.The National Education Association has been called the most useless bureaucracy in Washington.  One might think that it exists to help teachers and students.  Instead, like the teachers’ unions, it defends and protects a top-sided bureaucracy bloated with administrators and office workers.  Despite billions spent on education, student-teacher ratios continue to rise, test scores continue to plummet, American students continue to fall behind even many third-world countries, and some teachers have to spend their own money buying textbooks.  Who loses?  Public school students.  Private schools and home schools, without NEA help or government funding, at a fraction of the cost, graduate students that score substantially higher on average.The National Endowment for the Arts exists, one would think, to uphold high standards of art appreciation and taste, to reward those with true talent, and to promote expressions of artistic excellence that bring national pride.  How many new Mozarts or Raphaels can you name that thank this institution for their patronage?  By contrast, how many news reports have you heard about “controversial” government-funded displays of a crucifix in urine, or a dung-splattered Madonna, or “artistic” exhibits of pig parts in formaldehyde?Racial organizations:  Does any member of an ethnic minority really need an organization to speak for him?  That’s an interesting question itself, because it would certainly backfire if some ethnic groups tried it.  Regardless, certain black commentators (Bill Cosby, Thomas Sowell, Larry Elder, Juan Williams) have been pointing out for years that well-known black organizations and their high-profile leaders actually do more harm than good for black families.  This is because creating an atmosphere of crisis is essential to their ongoing leadership.  Actually solving problems would make them irrelevant.  So while fatherless families, drug abuse and dropout rates never seem to improve, certain high-profile black leaders literally scream about racism in America with half truths, stoking the fires of racist conflict that keep them in the spotlight and create a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecy.  Individuals who succeed and become integrated into the colorless society are accused of abandoning their roots; they are called awful names.  The concentration on black identity works to perpetuate the very segregation that early civil rights leaders worked so hard to eliminate.The United Nations is perhaps the most egregious example of an institution becoming its own nemesis.  What was the UN’s founding goal?  World peace: to have nations work out their differences by diplomacy rather than war.  There is arguably no war since its founding that the UN has successfully prevented, and oftentimes, it has made things worse.    The same goes for its “humanitarian” causes.  The world has known about the Sudan genocide for years; millions have died, and the UN has done worse than nothing: reports of UN workers raping the people they were sent to help have been scandalous.  UN workers also stood idly by or fled during the Rwandan genocide.  The UN was irrelevant in Cambodia, or in Iraq, or in any communist or radical-Islamic country you can name.  The first relief workers on the ground after a disaster are usually privately funded Christian ministries like World Vision, Baptist World Alliance, Christian Freedom International and Gospel for Asia.  The UN is so inefficient with relief, it sends supplies locals cannot use (condoms to families who are starving), or the food rots on the tarmac, or it is delivered into the hands of corrupt dictators instead of the suffering people.  Imagine the craziness of sending relief to the Sudanese government, which uses it to buy weapons to attack Darfur!  Millions of Africans die from malaria but the UN opposes spraying to kill the mosquitos that carry it.  Millions die from AIDS but the UN opposes teaching people about the most effective prevention: abstinence.    As for diplomacy, UN General Assembly meetings become soap boxes for the most radical countries to denounce the West.  Since there are so many of small-country dictatorships, any voices of reason from democratic countries are often drowned out.  The Security Council can never oppose totalitarian atrocities because one of the worst perpetrators, China, has veto power, as did communist Russia throughout the Cold War.  The UN’s inability to act is legendary.  Regardless of what you think about the Iraq war, President Bush’s coalition waited and waited for the UN to act on its own resolutions which mandated a military response to Saddam Hussein’s violations of UN rules.  Coalition leaders pleaded with the UN to act on its own promises.  The UN did nothing.    Meanwhile, the magnitude of the scandals at the UN – oil-for-food being one of the worst in history – is breathtaking.  Does anything change?  Kofi Annan brought in Paul Volcker to investigate and propose reforms.  Volcker found that oil-for-food was not unique, but endemic to the UN’s practices.  He proposed sweeping reforms, including opportunities for outside audits.  None of them were passed.  After months of negotiations, the reforms were rejected by a margin of two to one!  Endemic corruption has thus been validated as official UN policy.    The world is now teetering under the threat of a nuclear Iran and North Korea, but the UN is essentially irrelevant, if not obstructionist in countering the threat.  In sum, the greatest threat to world peace is now arguably the very institution chartered to safeguard it.    For a depressing report on how bad things are in the UN, read an article by a man who knows, and who tried to fix it: former ambassador John Bolton.  Writing for Imprimis April 2008, he said that any hopes that the UN could offer world peace have been completely dashed – and he gave plenty of stark examples.Yes, it is possible for institutions to become the worst enemies of the values they were created to protect.  Don’t be surprised to see the defenders of Big Science behaving badly.  When you see haughty, incorrigible, self-interested, dogmatic, irrational, corrupt, sneering hotheads claiming to speak for “science,” remember that other big institutions have called black white and white black.  Other institutions have paid off the torturers with funds designated to help prisoners.  Other institutions have poured gasoline on fires they were sent to quench, and killed the children they were sent to feed.  Is there a common denominator to these reversals of values?  As an exercise, check out how many are led by secular progressives embracing radical leftist ideology.  At a more basic level, try human depravity.  Give any depraved person or group power, and you know what power does.    Each of the institutions listed above has some honest, hard-working individuals who don’t deserve the blame for what Headquarters is doing.  Some of them decry the abuses but work within the institution either due to lack of alternatives or from sincere hopes to bring reform from within.  A great many of the rank and file probably don’t even know what is going on.  They assume an institution with a nice sounding name is doing its job, and they try to do theirs the best they know how.    Maybe that’s the point.  The best work is done by individuals.  Science began with individuals.  As an individual, you can make a difference.  As an individual, you can change the world. (Visited 51 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Permian Extinction Recovery Story Stretches Credibility

first_imgIt goes without saying that Darwin’s theory fits hand in glove with the geological dating scheme, but how reliable is the latter?  The textbook age names – Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Eocene and all the rest – have taken on their own life as assumed truths.  Every once in awhile, though, papers are published that require heavy doses of credulity to keep the scheme intact.  The Permian extinction is a case in point.  The textbook story is that 80 to 85 percent of marine organisms perished at the Permian-Triassic boundary (PTB).  A new kink in the story requires believing that cephalopods, those most affected by the crisis, recovered spectacularly within one million years of the extinction, but everything else took five times as long, as measured by species diversity.    Charles Marshall, the “Master of Disaster” of the Harvard Museum who tackled the Cambrian explosion problem in 2006 by saying that animals evolved because they evolved (04/23/2006), tackled the Permian extinction with David Jacobs of UCLA in Science last week.1  They were commenting on a paper in the same issue by Brayard et al who presented evidence that ammonites (a kind of shelled squid) recovered much faster than everything else.2  The two papers invoked copious amounts of hand-waving to explain the evolutionary difference.  Many statements amount to references to the Stuff Happens Law (i.e., the negation of explanation; see 09/15/2008 commentary).  For instance, Brayard et al entitled their paper, “Good Genes and Good Luck.”  Here are some example quotes from Marshall and Jacobs that cast doubt on scientific confidence in the Permian extinction story, both its causes and its effects:Two hundred and fifty-two million years ago, the Paleozoic Era came to a cataclysmic close with the end-Permian mass extinction, when as much as 85% of readily fossilizable marine species became extinct.  It took 5 million years for the biosphere to begin to recover from the event.  At least this has been the conventional view.  However, on page 1118 of this issue, Brayard et al. show that ceratitid ammonoids (see the figure, panel A) recovered much faster than did most other marine groups, attaining considerable diversity just 1 million years after the mass extinction.  Moreover, these mollusks reached a peak in their diversity at the end of the Early Triassic, when the diversity and body size of most other groups (particularly bivalves and gastropods) was still depressed.The cause of the end-Permian mass extinction has long been controversial.  There is increasing agreement that toxic waters decimated bottom communities in shallow waters, but it remains unclear whether the kill mechanism was hypercapnia (high CO2 levels), euxinia (anoxic water infused with H2S), or something else.  There is even less agreement on what might have caused the toxicity.Whatever the ultimate cause(s) of the extinction, the proximal cause appears to have been the inability of many species to handle the physiological demands of a changed ocean chemistry.  Evidence that conditions remained difficult for 5 million years after the extinctions comes mainly from the observation that the diversity and size of fossil bivalves and gastropods remained low, indicating stressed conditions.  Furthermore, the carbon cycle was unusually volatile, although the exact meaning of this volatility is not understood.The ammonoid data reported by Brayard et al. suggest a much more rapid recovery, at least for part of the biosphere.  Unlike the bottom-dwelling gastropods and bivalves, ammonoids live in the water column.  Thus, Brayard et al.‘s study suggests that conditions in the water column were better than those on the bottom.  Or does it?To better understand the meaning of Brayard et al.’s data, we need to know more about the biology and physiological tolerances of ammonoids in general, and of ceratitids in particular.These species lie deep in the evolutionary trees of living coleoids and living cephalopods, respectively, suggesting that a tolerance for low oxygen was ancestral for living cephalopods.Their Perspectives article did little more than to suggest this and that, and then to say more work needs to be done.  How about the other paper?  Did Brayard et al have anything more solid to lean on?  Keep in mind that classic Darwinian evolution explains diversification as gradual and continuous.One problem has been a lack of absolute age calibration of evolutionary trends across the PTB.It has usually been assumed that the end-Permian mass extinction affected ecological assemblages so deeply that the postcrisis biotic recovery spanned the entire Early Triassic [~5 million years (My)], if not more.The Triassic part of the time series consists of four successive diversity oscillations of declining magnitude, probably primarily shaped by global climatic and oceanographic changes.In the first oscillation…only 1 to 2 My after the PTB, based on the available radiometric ages and associated uncertainties—ammonoid diversity reached values equal to, if not higher than, those for the Permian (~85 sampled genera) and then were followed by still higher values …. This late Early Triassic generic richness is unsurpassed during the Middle and Late Triassic, where diversity oscillated around an average value…close to the Middle Permian maximum.  This rapid recovery less than 2 My after a mass extinction is also seen for Early Jurassic ammonoids.The Early Triassic rapid ammonoid diversification diverges from delayed recovery after the PTB suggested for many benthic groups…. Apparently, recovery rates strongly varied across marine clades, and ammonoids boomed well before the oceanic realm returned to a long-term steady state.Extreme contraction of survivorship and prenascence contour lines is diagnostic of high evolutionary rates, as echoed by the simultaneously high numbers and rates of Early Triassic originations and extinctions (Fig. 3).Ammonoid diversification during the Early Triassic produced more than 200 genera in less than ~5 My and was accompanied by a progressive change from cosmopolitan to latitudinally restricted distributions of genera.This trend was not a gradual, continuous, and smooth one.How did these cephalopods flourish in the presumably unstable and harsh environmental conditions prevailing at that time?  The same question applies to conodonts, whose Early Triassic diversity dynamics tend to parallel that of ammonoids.Ammonoids are morphologically and taxonomically so diverse that it is likely that they occupied a great variety of niches and exploited various food resources.  Their high diversity and abundance suggest that diversified and abundant food resources were already available less than 2 My after the PTB.  Consequently, even if Early Triassic trophic webs were possibly less complex than Permian and Middle-Late Triassic ones, they were far from devastated.  At least some sizeable, while still unknown, primary production made it possible for these two clades to diversify profusely and rapidly despite short-term fluctuations of environmental conditions.The Early-Middle Triassic transition was again marked by a severe drop in ammonoid diversity.  In this case, a fall in global sea level is implicated.In addition, the empirical (log) richness-rates relationships (table S4) illustrate a possible niche incumbency effect.  This hypothesis, which predicts that richness and extinction rates are independent, allows the estimate of an average steady-state generic niche saturation level of ~85% under the hierarchical model, compatible with species niche saturation levels previously published for various clades of marine organisms.Numerous Lazarus taxa3 among benthic and pelagic mollusks reappear during the Smithian.Coupled with the Triassic ammonoid nondelayed diversity dynamics evidenced here, this suggests that complex trophic webs based on abundant and diversified primary producers were already functioning less than 2 My after the PTB and opens the possibility that heterotrophic taxa other than ammonoids also rapidly recovered.This phased scenario for the Triassic biotic recovery accounts well for its generally accepted delayed character, which may reflect still inadequate sampling and time resolution and/or biased diversity estimates due to the lack of sampling standardization in the first million years after the PTB.Recoveries obviously show environment- and clade-specific dynamics.  Nevertheless, our results indicate that the time duration of the post-PTB recovery is likely overestimated, at least for some marine taxa.It should be noted that the statistics of biodiversity on which they relied for their graphs and charts depend heavily on sampling – a human enterprise.  The fossils, in other words, do not speak for themselves.  This was clear from several paragraphs in the paper that explained why Brayard et al leaned on some data sets but rejected others.1.  Charles R. Marshall and David K. Jacobs, “Paleontology: Flourishing After the End-Permian Mass Extinction,” Science, 28 August 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5944, pp. 1079-1080, DOI: 10.1126/science.1178325.2.  Brayard, Escargue, Bucher, Monnet, Br�hwiler, Goudemand, Galfetti, and Guex, “Good Genes and Good Luck: Ammonoid Diversity and the End-Permian Mass Extinction,” Science,28 August 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5944, pp. 1118-1121, DOI: 10.1126/science.1174638.3.  Lazarus taxa: resurrected extinct groups or “living fossils” – see 03/10/2006 and 12/04/2007.Who else but CEH is revealing, line by line, in detail, the arbitrariness of story generation in the evolutionary scientific literature?  The Framework is never called into question, no matter how many anomalies are found, and no matter how many suspensions of disbelief are required.  The Stuff Happens Law is everywhere – “good genes and good luck.”  There is no pattern or sense to any of this.  Here is the story in a nutshell:Through causes we don’t understand, something happened at some uncalibrated time, and, if our sampling methods are not completely biased, some groups of animals, based on some method of deciding what constitutes a species or genus among extinct animals we cannot observe except by their shells, using controversial measures of classification and sampling, recovered much faster than others, through reasons we also don’t understand, perhaps due to their level in the water column, or climate, or availability of food, or tolerance to carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, or a number of other possibilities.  This points out that their evolutionary potential, whatever that means, was greater than that of shellfish, because of mechanisms not well understood, i.e., some sizeable, while still unknown, primary production that made it possible for ammonites and conodonts to diversify profusely and rapidly compared to their depressed contemporaries, despite rapid fluctuations and oscillations in their environment, illustrating their ability to occupy a variety of ecological niches, though stressed by the unknown extinction event of unknown duration or cause–perhaps volcanoes, which surprisingly killed almost everything on the sea floor (which one would think more robust against calamities in the climate or on the surface, but whatever).  Yet some of them, nevertheless, somehow, resurrected like Lazarus (but we don’t want this to get anyone started thinking about the Bible or miracles, which is forbidden; only Darwinian miracles are allowed).  So whatever the cause, or causes, or no cause at all, while all we have is confusing data and a Framework to put it in bequeathed to us by Saint Lyell, we at least came up with a “scenario”, illustrated with a few graphs and charts and math, that was good enough to get published by the Keepers of the Darwinian Flame in Science, even though we diverged a little bit from Saint Darwin’s concept of gradual, smooth, continuous change, because we know his heirs have become more tolerant of unexplained hiccups in the geological record, or the biological record, or in evolutionary theory itself, because of the need to keep Evolution reigning supreme in the public eye, by sounding sophisticated with terms like “diversity dynamics” (which we don’t have to define or explain), but that doesn’t matter because it sounds scholarly, and helps to keep at bay the constant threat from those rascally Creationists, who might expose our methods and threaten our jobs and funding unless we present a unified front and an air of confidence in the journals and cooperative science news outlets.Abbreviated version:  Something happened.  We’re not sure what, when, or how, or why, or even if something happened at all, but some day we may figure it out.  Praise Darwin for modern science!Welcome to modern evolutionary biology.  Stuff happens.  Evolution happens.  Diversity happens.  Niches magically get filled.  Rates of change vary with no known reason.  Facts are convenient props, but keeping the Framework intact while weaving more intricate stories is the name of the game.  Don’t even THINK about criticizing us.  We are scientists.  Don’t even think.(Visited 13 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Urban local bodies polls underway in Rajasthan

first_imgPolling to elect about 2,100 ward councillors is underway in all 49 municipal bodies across Rajasthan on Saturday. According to that state election department, the polling started at 7 a.m. and will continue till 5 p.m. The election has been peaceful so far, an official of the department said. A total of 7,944 candidates are in the fray in 49 civic bodies of the State. The election department said that a total of 33.69 lakh voters, including 17.05 lakh men and 16.01 lakh women, will exercise their franchise on Saturday. Counting of votes will be done on November 19. Election for chairman and deputy chairman of local bodies will be held on November 26 and 27 respectively.last_img read more

Aus MP questions Gillard over award to Sachin

first_imgAn Australian politician has questioned Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s decision to award an Order of Australia to cricketer Sachin Tendulkar for his contribution to sport.Federal Independent MP Rob Oakshott, who expressed his love for Little Master, said the special award should not be used for diplomatic gain, the ABC news reported.”I love Sachin Tendulkar, I love cricket. But I just have a problem with soft diplomacy as you call it,” he said, adding “Getting in on the act of the Australian honours.” Oakeshott said the Order should be focused on recognising Australians doing community work instead.”I’m not going to die in a ditch over it…but it’s about the integrity of the honours list which should be for Australians,” he said.He said that Tendulkar was an “obvious diplomatic touch point”, and further suggested setting up an inter-nation gong, such as an “Australia-India award”.last_img read more