Friday, March 27, 2015

Student essays about evolution

Students in my molecular evolution course have to write an essay. They can pick any topic they like as long as it's related to evolution and some controversy in the scientific literature. I have to approve the topic. The idea is that the students have to critically evaluate both sides of an issue and pick a side that they can defend.

The essays tell me a lot about what things are interesting in the course and how well the students understand the topics. Here are this year's topics.

  • Education: Misconceptions in Evolutionary Biology
  • Are Transposable Elements Junk?
  • RNA World Hypothesis
  • Evolutionary Psychology and Biology: A Comparison
  • The End for the Alternative Search for Complexity
  • C-Value Paradox: Why Junk DNA Looks So Good
  • Will Humans Ever Be Perfectly Evolved?
  • Epigenetic Inheritance: A Turning Point in Evolution?
  • Back to Basics (about evolutinary biology eduaction)
  • The Relationship between Natural Selection and Artificial Selection
  • Foreign Gene Incorporation in Agriculture and in the wild: Debunking Anti-GMO Rhetoric and the "Unnatural" Fallacy
  • Enhancers: An Evo-Devo Perspective
  • Will humans stop evolving?
  • Genomic Screening: Currently Not Worth the Trouble
  • The Decade Long Argument Over Junk
  • What Is a Gene?
  • Sex: Is It Really Advantageous?
  • A Critical Analysis of Stephen Meyer's Darwin's Doubt; The Explosive origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design
  • The Role of Natural Selection in the Process of Biological Human Evolution
  • The Struggle Between Humans and Bacterial Evolution
  • Drifting Away: Perspectives on Modern Evolution
  • The Continuing Struggle Against Junk DNA
  • The Evolution of Influenza A: Antigenic Drift at Work?


  1. "Sex: Is It Really Advantageous?"

    Sounds like something my wife would say.

  2. How about a history of the meaning of the word evolution. As you have said many times, IDists, and some scientists do not know what it currently means. I include myself with the uninformed.

  3. What about the origin of the mitochondria? There is a ton of debate on which bacteria is the closest relative to the proto-mitochondria.

    1. Yeah that's a problem all right but not for Darwinists and theistic evolutionists
      They have that covered. It's called a nearly improbable accident by Darwinists and it is translated to a miracle that has run its course and now the nature takes care of it. Nature probably means the laws of nature that somehow came about by an accident that some interpret as miracle and some interpret as the freak of nature. Its a Swedish buffet of beliefs. You can choose whatever you want. Who can't love the 21 century? It is really, really bizarre that some respected scientists subscribe to this BS. I guess they have to if they wanna get some funding..

    2. As opposed to people who think it was a genuine and bona-fide miracle that gave rise to mitochondria, I take doubts on the question any day of the week.

    3. It doesn't help the miracle crowd, when we can see many examples of obligate endosymbiotic bacteria in real time, doing what the proto-mitochondria did a few billion years ago.

    4. It's called a nearly improbable accident by Darwinists and it is translated to a miracle

      Reference or direct quotation, please. I've never seen the term "nearly improbable accident" in any serious scientific writing. Which "Darwinist" has ever written anything resembling this.

  4. Yeah. Meyers is worthy of essay !! Its a start. Creationism iS worthy of being a controversy in bio science. Did any kids do a essay on that? lets see it or something on Sandwalk? We can grade it.

    Hmmm. The role of natural selection in human bio.
    does that mean up to the original population group of humans or since this group broke up? Is there any evidence of natural selection affecting the human looks etc that we now have? I say no. its all innate mechanisms , probably encoded in the memory of the genes. No selection going on. Just reaction quickly.
    Other options are a option before a simple quick conclusion that differences in biology are from selection.
    i could write a essay!!

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  6. Byers : "...the memory of the genes..." Classic comedy. Another term Byers made up and could not define.