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Misunderstand Darwin, OK with Rhino deaths?

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By , Thursday 1st of August 2013

Is a misunderstanding of Darwin killing Rhinos and Sharks?

I just came back from a talk about the increasing poaching of African elephants and rhinos. I asked myself 'Why do people feel justified in consuming or displaying endangered animals?' Demand is driven by supposed healing powers of rhino horn powder and ivory trinkets. Actual healing Powers? Nope.

I decided to distract myself with some video game fun and played this: The scene unfolds on a magnificent alien planet, where two giant alien predators chase each other through an Amazon-like alien jungle. One beast goes in for the kill and devours the other. After finishing it's 'meal', the animal transforms on the spot, growing extra pairs of eyes and bulging up extra muscles like 'the hulk'. The narrator of the story then proclaims - "They evolved".

Convolution instead of Evolution

Definitely not how Evolution works at least not on any planet -we- know of: Starcraft II Cinematic

To be clear, this is is NOT how Evolution works. If it were, it would be Lamarckism (en.wikipedia.org), which has been disproven over and over. Traits are not aquired like this over a single lifetime but emerge gradually over many generations if they are useful under the current circumstances.

Game developers chose this 'evolution' as narrative device and don't believe this is how it really works, but it got me thinking; Are people demanding rhino horn in Asia because they think evolution actually works with way?

Poaching for Traditional Chinese Medicine is a real problem ( www.pbs.org) Absorb some rhino power, get extra luck in business or bulk up your powers in bed?

To be fair, video game don't have to be scientifically accurate and a game is entirely justified to explore mechanics and narrative on its own terms. Even in chess pawns can be promoted after crossing the board.

Continue


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Small Moves, Ellie. Small moves.

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By , Friday 8th of February 2013

The movie CONTACT (en.wikipedia.org) is one of my all-time favorites. It explores many topics in a wonderful and elegant way. Among many topics, it explores the loving relationship between a father and his daughter as he guides her towards exploring the grand universe around us, and with it science.

The article I read on www.guardian.co.uk this week, feels like the exact opposite, and a slap in the face to what encouragement towards science should be all about.



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Whale Stranding Database online off to great start

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By , Saturday 2nd of February 2013

The response to our whale stranding database www.WhaleStrandingIndonesia.com has been overwhelming. The days after launch, we received emails from scientists around the world interested in our methods and future of the stranding sites.

As it turns out there has been interest in much of the Pacific and Indian ocean to develop a cohesive stranding database, but progress has been slow across the region, as it usually starts off with a national initiative which limits regional cooperation somewhat.



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About Ee Phin

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By , Friday 1st of February 2013

"After a long hike I stood on the summit of Mount Kinabalu, I felt that I accomplished something special. But even that day is nothing compared to any moment on the beach, releasing terrapin and green turtle hatchlings into the wild, to give them a chance to fight for life."

Ee Phin has been active in conservation in Malaysia for over 5 years, working with non-governmental organisations (i.e. www.wwf.org and www.wcs.org) on conservation projects for Malaysian tigers, terrapins and green turtles, and is currently pursuing her PhD in Research at University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (www.nottingham.edu.my)



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About Stefan Baier

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By , Friday 1st of February 2013

"Anyone who dares to stand up and goes for what they believe in, who chases down their dream, those are the people I most admire."

Stefan is a passionate science advocate, with particular interest in computational biology, neuroscience and linguistics:

"Our family is one of chemists and engineers, and I was inspired early by my grandparents to explore the natural world and books on astronomy, science and biology."

Living in South East Asia, a melting pot of cultures and religions, has challenged Stefan’s original ideas of finding simple solutions to today’s problems. “ I think Sam Harris is onto something big (www.samharris.org) in his ideas on Science and Morality. People are complicated, and it’s about approaches in discussing science that respects them”.