Welcome to Left Out, reality-based independent radio on WRCT 88.3FM. Left Out examines news and opinions left out of the mainstream media. Left Out is co-hosted by Bob Harper and Danny Sleator. Today's program is produced by Beejal Lakhavani. Listeners are invited to call the program at (412) 268-9728, or to send email.
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Sean Carroll's new book Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo discusses the emerging discipline of evolutionary developmental biology, which studies how the forms of life on earth have developed and evolved. In this book Prof Carroll shows in fascinating detail how nature reuses genes for multiple purposes within an organism and how the same gene serves many different purposes across different species. The astonishing versatility of the genetic code shows that the evolution of life on earth depends on surprisingly few outright inventions, and relies heavily on small modifications of existing structure to yield a rich variety of life forms.
Aside from its scientific significance, Prof Carroll's work also has important consequences for contemporary politics, refuting claims frequently put forth by anti-science activists such as the assertion that the theory of evolution is refuted by the "irreducible complexity" of some biological systems, or the assertion that there is evidence only for "micro evolution", which supposedly governs variations of form within a species, but not for "macro evolution", which governs the orgins of species such as Homo sapiens.
The New York Times is featuring this week a series of articles on The Evolution Debate, even though there is no debate that evolution is the central organizing principle of modern biology. We've archived two of the articles here:
August 21, "Politicized Scholars Put Evolution on the Defensive"
August 22, "In Explaining Life's Complexity, Darwinists and Doubters Clash"
Listeners may wish to refer to Talk Origins for a comprehensive survey of the science of human origins, including answers to hundreds of frequently asked questions (and frequently believed fallacies) about evolution.
From the Associated Press:
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela's vice president accused religious broadcaster Pat Robertson on Tuesday of making ''terrorist statements'' by suggesting that American agents assassinate President Hugo Chavez.
On Monday, Robertson said on the Christian Broadcast Network's ''The 700 Club'': ''We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability.''
''We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator,'' he continued. ''It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.''
Rat Pobertson, true Christian and defender of freedom and democracy.
A new book The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge is reviewed here (pdf, html) by Kaja Tretjak. The book describes how the Right has used a massive array of think tanks, developed leadership through prizes and fellowships, and control of the media to push their causes. It also debunks a number of myths about why the left cannot use the same tools.
Robert Parry has been talking about this for years. Here's an excellent article (Too Little, Too Late) he wrote right after the 2004 election. We discussed that here on November 9, 2004.
A recent article in Salon describes a new initiative called the Democracy Alliance that has FINALLY been formed by rich liberals to match these long-term strategies by the Right.
Harold Meyerson has written an article entitled Their War Too in the American Prospect. In it, he analyzes the commentary of five major pundits about Iraq. They are:
Victor Davis Hanson
Thomas L. Friedman
He points out massive errors of fact, logic, and prediction in every case. Clearly these people should be held accountable for their errors, and the consequences of them. Of course they will not be.
It occured to me (Sleator) years ago that there ought to be a rating system (like the ELO system for chess) for pundits. A pundit making many errors of fact, logic and prediction would have a very low rating. And this rating would be prominently placed next to each column. This would create a real consequence for a pundit's mistakes. Right now, there is none.
The Daily Howler points out that this applies to a much wider circle in the media.