Using a bad virus to do something good

If you’re interested in biology and not reading Sandra Porter’s Discovering Biology in a Digital World, you should be. As she notes in her profile, her passion is “developing instructional materials for 21st century biology,” and it shows–she provides all kinds of little online experiments you can run yourself, even with minimal knowledge of molecular biology. She’s recently finished a 4-part series on HIV. The experiment in a nutshell, as she notes:

We are going to compare a protein sequence from a wild type, drug-sensitive, HIV virus with protein sequences from HIV samples that were isolated from patients who were taking an anti-viral drug (actually a protease inhibitor) called “Atazanavir.”

Part I. Today, I’ll introduce the experiment and give a link to a short flash movie on HIV.
Part II. Instructions for the experiment.
Part III. Look at the sequence results.
Part IV. Look at protein structures and see if we can explain why the experiment worked the way it did.

You can do this all yourself by just checking out her website–or, even better, use it to show others how evolution works, and how it can be examined at the molecular level. She has tons of other resources on there as well, so be sure to browse around beyond just the HIV posts.

Seed AIDS video

Seed’s Jacob Klein has a video up from his time at the AIDS conference last week: link. It includes short interviews with Kay and Rick Warren, evangelical Christians and founders of Saddleback Church, the grandaddy of all mega-churches. (Warren is also the author of The Purpose-Driven Life, which I’ve admittedly not read). It’s interesting to hear their views, but as noted in this SF Gate article, there’s still a lot of skepticism about their motivations and methods. (For example, while they discuss treatment and dealing the HIV, they don’t pass out condoms, and their ABC’s emphasize “Big A [abstinence], big B [Be faithful], little c [condoms]. Finally, Warren has also previously been outspoken about his views on homosexuality and how it’s “unnatural,” which leads many who are HIV+ to be (understandably, it seems) wary of Warren’s assistance.

There’s much more in Jacob’s video, including interviews with Tony Fauci, so be sure to check it out (and pass it along to your friends; can’t let the old folks have all the fun.)

Intro to Jon Wells’ “Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and ID” at Panda’s Thumb

Check it out here. I mentioned previously that I’ll be reviewing another chapter of the book in the future, and PZ has a write-up of the chapter on developmental biology here (that will be posted to Panda’s Thumb in the coming days), and he also has some suggestions here on how bloggers can help make the rebuttals to this nonsense stand out. As Reed notes in his introduction to the book:

The Discovery Institute is the epicenter of “intelligent design” activism, which took a major blow when Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District effectively declared it religiously motivated pseudoscience, unfit for public schools. Now in this first year after Dover, the “intelligent design” activists have been busy picking up the pieces, trying to hide their defeat in Dover behind a “new” marketing campaign. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, for which the Discovery Institute is holding a party, is part of this marketing campaign, and because of all this, one might reasonably argue that, in addition to the author and the publisher, the Discovery Institute bears responsibility for the poor quality of this book.

This is just another step in the Discovery Institute’s PR campaign, and however y’all can lend a hand to make it less effective is certainly welcome. Keep an eye on science blogs and Panda’s Thumb in the next two weeks for the chapter takedowns, and promote them as much as you can.

Emphasis on science and the general public at IAS

The Iowa Academy of Science has released its summer newsletter online, and is available here (.pdf).

There’s a lot going on for scientists and the science-interested at all levels (students, teachers, researchers), so for the Iowa folks (or, those of you in other states who are just looking for some good ideas), if you’ve not already checked them out or have a membership, give them a look (their homepage is They also have new programs focusing on science education for the general public, which I know is an interest for many readers as well.

Addressing the issues

Jaime made a thoughtful comment here regarding yesterday’s “hater” post. I started responding in the thread but it’s become more of a treatise. Hope I don’t scare Jamie away (since it’s noted that s/he is unlurking to make it):

i read the post, and the comments, and the stuff on here, so i will unlurk to make my 2 cents. there is bad science in evolution like in any field these days but no one seemed to address the issues – some complained about the crappy font and 2 regulars on here used the ‘you’re stupid’ argument on him.

tara also can be a little guilty for snipping parts of sentences for her convenience. the guy/girl also said ‘Obviously we are not against evolution but we go apeshit over bad science’ … the quote she used was from a different one on reconciling religion and evolution.

Maybe they came here and just saw the real crazies, like pharyngula and whatever and wrote that post. so what does everyone do in response? they go crazy like he said. if sb is so balanced and open to all scientists, let’s make sure we continue to show it.

My thoughts after the jump.
Continue reading “Addressing the issues”