The EvoGrad Blogger

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #1

Welcome @evograd. We are glad to have you here. I’ve seen your blog before. It has a lot of good stuff. I especially liked your series on Jeanson’s work.

I’m currently a graduate student, studying evolutionary biology, and I’ve been interested in the evolution/creation/ID “debate” since I started my undergraduate degree in biology several years ago. Hopefully it goes without saying, but I’m very much on the “side” of evolution in the “debate”. Prior to that, I wasn’t really aware of the anti-evolution movements of modern young-earth (and old-earth) creationism and intelligent design, beyond having heard of a few fundamentalists in the USA who took the bible literally. As a result of this timing, I was hyper-aware of the relevance of what I was studying to the “origins debate”, for better or for worse.

I don’t plan to talk about religion on this blog, but since it’s relevant to many of those who reject evolution I’ll make it clear where I stand. Religion wasn’t really a part of my upbringing, essentially my only experience with religion was going to church services a couple of times a year with my school to mark holidays like Christmas and Easter. Growing up, I was neither encouraged to believe nor encouraged to disbelieve, the subject just didn’t come up. I identify as an atheist now, because I simply don’t see sufficient evidence for some kind of higher power. At the same time, I don’t have any problems with other people being theists – I’m not one of those “firebrand” atheists, although I do sympathise with some criticisms of religion and faith in society.

The ID Publication Record
(Blogging Graduate Student) #2

Thank you.

As I settle on my own work-life schedule in the coming months, I would like to blog more regularly. My series on Jeanson is by far the most popular item on my blog, and it’s the first time I’ve written something like that, so it’s really nice to get good feedback on it. It’s taking a considerable amount of time to finish because I really want to do it justice. I could easily write short pieces that would be enough to cast doubt on Jeanson’s arguments, but if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, and there’s just so much to cover. I feel like I can only bring together all the threads into a coherent blog post if I lock myself in a room for several days and just immerse myself in the relevant literature, and unfortunately I’ve been too busy over the last year to do that. I also have several stand-alone posts gathering dust in the drafts section that I look forward to finishing and releasing after that series is done.

I’ve only recently discovered this forum but you’re really put together an impressive and unique environment for discussing these topics. I look forward to reading and contributing to more threads about evolution.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #3

We will look forward to hearing from you. Your blog posts are high quality, so you are welcome to start discussion on anything from your blog of interest on a new thread. Just be sure to quote some of the salient things over here.

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(Blogging Graduate Student) #4

I’ll do that. I’ve noticed quite a bit of conversation here about tests of universal common ancestry, so I think I have a very appropriate blog post. I’ve yet to see the article in question tackled by mainstream ID proponents (or anyone else really), so given that you have a few present here this might be the perfect chance to get their thoughts.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #5

I think the key posts to look at is this one: Common Descent: Humans and Chimps / Mice and Rats.

Which I explained here:

I tend to focus on the common descent of man, rather than universal common descent for this reason…

If you are going to dip in to talking about Universal Common Descent, I hope you can be cautious about delineating that larger and more difficult question from the more focused question of the common descent of man.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #6

So…why did you go with @evodev instead of “evograd” for your handle?

(Blogging Graduate Student) #7

That’s an interesting point. It makes sense from the perspective of “the debate”, but I would add that it kind of goes both ways. Since human origins is such an important (and often emotionally charged) issue, I feel that in some cases it could be better to look at the bigger picture or at distant examples, then apply these conclusions to humans too. Personally, I also find human evolution a bit boring, so I like to look at other more interesting groups, like aquatic mammals, mammals as a whole, avian and non-avian dinosaurs, etc. I’m also more used to dealing with young earth creationists who are more invested in denying any possible common ancestry between “kinds” than most ID proponents might be.

I think the OP will focus on the common descent of major groups (since that’s what I’ve already written about!), but I can also mention some similar papers which specifically look at human common ancestry with other apes.

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(S. Joshua Swamidass) #8

Go for it. Is this the paper you are thinking of? Could be interesting…

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(Blogging Graduate Student) #9

When I first signed up I did so just with the intention of replying to that thread about human and chimp differences, so I didn’t put much thought into a username, which is why this one is so generic. I thought about going with “evograd” but decided that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to connect that blog with what I posted here. That didn’t last long though, as I saw one of my posts was mentioned in a thread here so I decided “ah well, might as well reveal myself”.

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(Blogging Graduate Student) #10

That’s the one. Spoilers!! I’ll work on making the post now, I’ll see how much effort I put into it since it’s past midnight. Depending on how happy I am with it I might wait until tomorrow with it. It’s not going to be anything like a “proper” blog post of course, just an OP summarising the results and implications of the paper, directing people to my blog post about it for more information, and then touching on a couple of other papers and relating it to the questions about UCA that I’ve seen in some of the threads here.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #11

I can change your handle. Want me to?


I’m so glad to have gone through grad school before blogging arose. I’m sure I played a lot more volleyball and got in many more miles of biking as a result… :grin:

(T J Runyon) #13


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Seriously. We’re apes. End of story. Most yeasts have evolutionary histories that go back several orders of magnitude longer than humans. Much, much longer than mammals. Budding yeasts and fission yeasts: Now there’s some real evolution!

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(S. Joshua Swamidass) #15

Nooo…we are more than merely apes…

Don’t turn from the grant question: what does it mean to be human?

(Blogging Graduate Student) #16

Go on then, I suppose that would make things simpler. Thanks. I would have posted this reply yesterday but I hit the comment limit!

Edit: I just hit the limit again after making this comment, do you think you can do something about it?

(T J Runyon) #17

I’m still figuring out the moderation tools but I think I just took the limit off for you. You obviously have meaningful content to add

(Blogging Graduate Student) #18

Oh how I envy you. Sort of. I mean, the internet is such a huge source of distraction for me, but at the same time I couldn’t imagine doing research without easy access to all of the literature etc online. It’s a double-edged sword.

(Blogging Graduate Student) #19



Usenet boards really ate into my free time as a post-doc.