Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Early Thanksgiving!

In case you were wondering what to do, how about checking out this letter to the editor about a pretty shocking paper in PNAS this week. You can get to the original publication, causing such an outcry here.

To entice you to read, here are some quotations (in italics) with my commentary - the first three are from the letter to the editor and the last is from the abstract of the paper itself - enjoy.

1. It has happened before, and I'm sure will happen again, but that doesn't excuse the lapse in judgement:

"This paper has fallen through the cracks of the review process of one of the most prestigious scientific journals, and this has not passed unnoticed."

2. Something that separates true scientists from hacks is the ability to admit when the evidence does not support one's hypothesis - can you guess which category this guy falls into?

"Why did the author ignore the weight of phylogenetic evidence that utterly falsifies his claim?"

3. Or maybe, he is just a complete lunatic.

Perhaps the most amazing thing from this article is not the bold proposal, but the fact that the author believes that there is a research program behind his claims: “As an initial trial, it should be possible to attach an onychophoran spermatophore to the genital pore of a female cockroach and see if fertilized eggs are laid” (1). I am not sure this can be taken seriously.

4. I'm going to go out on a limb and say, he is, at the very least, combative, as evidence by the first line of his abstract:

I reject the Darwinian assumption that larvae and their adults evolved from a single common ancestor.

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