Here’s another sinker ball. Wolves, by the way, are mammals, …

Comment on WASC Reviews LSU’s Accreditation by Professor Kent.

Here’s another sinker ball. Wolves, by the way, are mammals, too.

Hagenblad Jenny; Olsson Maria; Parker Heidi G.; et al. 2009. Population genomics of the inbred Scandinavian wolf. MOLECULAR ECOLOGY 18(7):1341-1351. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04120

The Scandinavian wolf population represents one of the genetically most well-characterized examples of a severely bottlenecked natural population (with only two founders), and of how the addition of new genetic material (one immigrant) can at least temporarily provide a ‘genetic rescue’. However, inbreeding depression has been observed in this population and in the absence of additional immigrants, its long-term viability is questioned. To study the effects of inbreeding and selection on genomic diversity, we performed a genomic scan with approximately 250 microsatellite markers distributed across all autosomes and the X chromosome. We found linkage disequilibrium (LD) that extended up to distances of 50 Mb, exceeding that of most outbreeding species studied thus far. LD was particularly pronounced on the X chromosome. Overall levels of observed genomic heterozygosity did not deviate significantly from simulations based on known population history, giving no support for a general selection for heterozygotes. However, we found evidence supporting balancing selection at a number of loci and also evidence suggesting directional selection at other loci. For markers on chromosome 23, the signal of selection was particularly strong, indicating that purifying selection against deleterious alleles may have occurred even in this very small population. These data suggest that population genomics allows the exploration of the effects of neutral and non-neutral evolution on a finer scale than what has previously been possible.

Professor Kent Also Commented

WASC Reviews LSU’s Accreditation

Sean Pitman: conclusion: a plant-based, whole foods diet provides tremendous health benefits over traditional American/European diets. This conclusion also appears to be supported by the fact that Seventh-day Adventists are part of the longest-lived “Blue-Zone” peoples and are the only group of long-lived people that have a mixed ethnic background. This strongly suggests a dietary component to longevity.


WASC Reviews LSU’s Accreditation

Sean Pitman: Plant protein does not have the negative effects that certain animal proteins have on the human system. Laboratory studies have shown that plant protein, even if provided at the same level in the diet of lab animals, does not have the cancer-promoting properties of certain animal proteins.

I’ve searched the published literature on “animal protein” and “cancer” using the best search engine available and am not particularly inspired by what I found. I trust peer-reviewed literature more so than claims unearthed from Google searches. I’m pasting below some snippets from the most recent study I could locate that summarized what we know about the contributions of different protein types to disease. I think it’s premature to conclude with any confidence that animal protein is necessarily more deleterious than plant protein when consumed in similar quantities. Part of the problem is going to be the other dietary factors associated with the types of protein consumed that cannot be readily controlled in studies. I believe we need to learn more before making definitive claims.

Halkjae et al. 2009. Intake of total, animal and plant proteins, and their food sources in 10 countries in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 63:S16-S36.

[INTRODUCTION] Another issue that is still unclear is whether all sources of protein have the same impact on disease outcomes. As an example, one study indicated that plant proteins had a protective effect against coronary heart disease mortality compared with animal proteins, whereas no clear association with cancer incidence and mortality was observed for any subtype of protein (Kelemen et al., 2005).

The association between protein and cancer risk has often been assessed on the basis of the food sources of protein rather than on the nutrient itself. Two of the main contributors to animal protein, red and processed meat, have been found to be consistently positively associated with risk of colorectal cancer (WCRF/AICR, 2007). The main explanation behind this association may, however, not be directly related to animal proteins, but to haem iron and endogenous N-nitroso components present in high concentrations in red and processed meat (Kuhnle and Bingham, 2007). In contrast, some researchers have suggested that other important sources of animal proteins, such as fish, may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer (Geelen et al., 2007) without being able to disentangle any specific beneficial effect of proteins.

[DISCUSSION] Processed meat has recently been judged as one of the most cancer-promoting food items (WCRF/AICR, 2007), whereas fish is considered to have beneficial effects in heart disease (He et al., 2004; Whelton et al., 2004) and also potentially in some cancer sites (Norat et al., 2005; Geelen et al., 2007), although possibly because of factors other than protein. Studies of the association between (animal or plant) protein and disease incidence may consequently be less reliable if the contributing protein sources are not evaluated in addition to total protein intakes.

WASC Reviews LSU’s Accreditation
Sorry, meant Campbell rather than Cornell.

Recent Comments by Professor Kent

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: Science isn’t about “cold hard facts.” Science is about interpreting the “facts” as best as one can given limited background experiences and information. Such interpretations can be wrong and when shown to be wrong, the honest will in fact change to follow where the “weight of evidence” seems to be leading.

Much of science is based on highly technical data that few other than those who generate it can understand. For most questions, science yields data insufficient to support a single interpretation. And much of science leads to contradictory interpretations. Honest individuals will admit that they have a limited understanding of the science, and base their opinions on an extremely limited subset of information which they happen to find compelling whether or not the overall body of science backs it up.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: The process of detecting artefacts as true artefacts is a real science based on prior experience, experimentation, and testing with the potential of future falsification. Oh, and I do happen to own a bona fide polished granite cube.

Not from Mars. Finding the cube on Mars is the basis of your cubical caricature of science, not some artefact under your roof.

Sean Pitman:
Professor Kent: If you think my brother-in-law who loves to fish in the Sea of Cortez is a scientist because he is trying to catch a wee little fish in a big vast sea, then I guess I need to view fishermen in a different light. I thought they were hobbyists.

The question is not if one will catch a fish, but if one will recognize a fish as a fish if one ever did catch a fish. That’s the scientific question here. And, yet again, the clear answer to this question is – Yes.

I think I’m going to spend the afternoon with my favorite scientist–my 8-year-old nephew. We’re going to go fishing at Lake Elsinore. He wants to know if we might catch a shark there. Brilliant scientist, that lad. He already grasps the importance of potentially falsifiable empirical evidence. I’m doubtful we’ll catch a fish, but I think he’ll recognize a fish if we do catch one.

While fishing, we’ll be scanning the skies to catch a glimpse of archaeopteryx flying by. He believes they might exist, and why not? Like the SETI scientist, he’s doing science to find the elusive evidence.

He scratched himself with a fish hook the other day and asked whether he was going to bleed. A few moments later, some blood emerged from the scratched. Talk about potentilly falsifiable data derived from a brilliant experiment. I’m telling you, the kid’s a brilliant scientist.

What’s really cool about science is that he doesn’t have to publish his observations (or lack thereof) to be doing very meaningful science. He doesn’t even need formal training or a brilliant mind. Did I mention he’s the only autistic scientist I’ve ever met?

As most everyone here knows, I have a poor understanding of science. But I’m pretty sure this nephew of mine will never lecture me or Pauluc on what constitutes science. He’s the most humble, polite, and soft-spoken scientist I’ve ever met.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: I don’t think you understand the science or rational arguments behind the detection of an artefact as a true artefact. In fact, I don’t think you understand the basis of science in general.

I’m amused by this response. I don’t think you understand the limits of a philosophical argument based on a hypothetical situation, which is all that your convoluted cube story comprises, and nothing more. Whether the artefact is an artefact is immaterial to an argument that is philosophical and does not even consider an actual, bona fide artefact.

Sean Pitman: You argue that such conclusions aren’t “scientific”. If true, you’ve just removed forensic science, anthropology, history in general, and even SETI science from the realm of true fields of scientific study and investigation.

Forensic science, anthropology, and history in general all assume that humans exist and are responsible for the phenomenon examined. Authorities in these disciplines can devise hypotheses to explain the phenomenon they observe and can test them.

SETI assumes there might be non-human life elsewhere in the universe and is nothing more than an expensive fishing expedition. If you think my brother-in-law who loves to fish in the Sea of Cortez is a scientist because he is trying to catch a wee little fish in a big vast sea, then I guess I need to view fishermen in a different light. I thought they were hobbyists.

The search for a granite cube on Mars is nothing more than an exercise in hypotheticals. Call it science if you insist; I don’t see how it is different than a child waiting breathlessly all night beside the fireplace hoping to find Santa coming down the chimney.

I guess the number of science colleagues I acknowledge needs to grow exponentially. I apologize to those I have failed to recognize before as scientists.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: The observation alone, of the granite cube on an alien planet, informs us that the creator of the cube was intelligent on at least the human level of intelligence – that’s it. You are correct that this observation, alone, would not inform us as to the identity or anything else about the creator beyond the fact that the creator of this particular granite cube was intelligent and deliberate in the creation of the cube.

Your frank admission concedes that the creator of the cube could itself be an evolved being, and therefore you’re back to square one. Thus, your hypothetical argument offers no support for either evolutionism or creationism, and cannot distinguish between them.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
I have taken much abuse by pointing out the simple fact that SDAs have specific interpretations of origins that originate from scripture and cannot be supported by science (if science is “potentially falsifiable empirical evidence”). The beliefs include:

o fiat creation by voice command from a supernatural being
o all major life forms created in a 6-day period
o original creation of major life forms approximately 6,000 years ago

None of these can be falsified by experimental evidence, and therefore are accepted on faith.

Sean Pitman’s responses to this are predictably all over the place. They include:

[This] is a request for absolute demonstration. That’s not what science does.” [totally agreed; science can’t examine these beliefs]

The Biblical account of origins can in fact be supported by strong empirical evidence.” [not any of these three major interpretations of Genesis 1]

Does real science require leaps of faith? Absolutely!

I think it’s fair to say from Pitman’s perspective that faith derived from science is laudable, whereas faith derived from scripture–God’s word–is useless.

Don’t fret, Dr. Pitman. I won’t lure you into further pointless discussion. While I am greatly amused by all of this nonsense and deliberation (hardly angry, as you often suggest) for a small handful of largely disinterested readers, I am finished. I won’t be responding to any further remarks or questions.