Friday mystery object #19 answer

On Friday I presented you with this delightful looking creature’s skull:

Total length 2.5cm

and asked you what it was. SmallCasserole and Jim vied to reach the correct answer, with the physicist narrowly beating the biologist to the solution using brute force of reasoning (rather than attempting a comparative approach). However, Jim did step up and suggest a more specific answer – which despite some research over the weekend I am still not able to confirm. I need access to some more comparative material.

We know it is a Continue reading

Failings of ‘parental intuition’

I am concerned by all the irresponsible, selfish and stupid parents of the world. The ones that upon reading this would be moved to comment along the lines of “you’re not a parent, so you don’t know anything” – because that is how arrogant and self-righteous the sort of parents I am thinking of are.


Being a parent does not make you immune from criticism, it does not make you an expert in rearing children and it does not make you medically qualified, intelligent or well informed. It may, however,  make some people more selfish, overly-defensive and irrational. Not only do some parents think that society owes them for having children (I for one didn’t ask them to have unprotected sex), but they also seem to think that their ‘little darlings’ are beyond reproach and any trouble that they get into is somebody else’s fault. Continue reading

Thoughts on humanism

I thought I’d write a piece on humanism because it seems to have a lot of confusion surrounding it. Some view it as a religion or cult, others see it as an organised anti-religious sect of militant atheists. The confusion arises because the term “humanist” can be used to describe a variety of philosophical approaches both contemporary and historical.

I am a Secular Humanist, which effectively means that I am an atheist with beliefs about the ability of people to improve their lives and the lives of others (including other species) by behaving in a rational and socially responsible way. Humanists subscribe to the ‘Golden Rule‘ (don’t do things to others that you wouldn’t like to have done to yourself) as a simple moral guideline and rather than relying on the supernatural as the source of moral principles, humanists rely on rational consideration and those human values that have arisen as part of the evolution of human social behaviour. In short, humanism is explicitly being good without god. Continue reading

Creationist rules of engagement

It appears that my post on Creationist trolls was quite prophetic. Not only was my derision of journalistic missing-linkism validated days later by the over-hyped reporting of the Darwinius masillae specimen (fantastic and informative as it may be), but I was also immediately harangued by a Creationist who went on to fulfil all of my expectations. Thanks TFYOW. Continue reading

Science comment and creationist trolls

It has only been in the last year or so that I have paid much attention to the comments sections at the bottom of online science articles. It strikes me that everyone feels the need to comment, regardless of whether they understood the article or not – in fact, those who have not understood it tend to be the ones who comment most vociferously. Unsurprisingly perhaps, this tends to include a substantial proportion of creationists. Every article that touches upon my fields of interest (biology and palaeontology) seems to be followed by an irritating and distracting cloud of creationist comments, akin to the swarms of biting flies that pester large mammals. Here’s an example. Continue reading

Morality and God

The concept of ethics and morality being equated with a god is not unfamiliar and it actually ties in very well with some thoughts on the origin of gods, rather than the origin of ethics and morality. I consider gods to be just one of a number of cultural constructs used to reinforce behavioural guidelines and rules that are a requirement of any structured society. Continue reading