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Health

Evolutionary genetics going down

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanDecember 29, 2006 9:44 AM

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Life has been occupying me, why, between good wine (I prefer mild Chardonnay), work, books and beautiful women who detest science fiction I haven't been able to resume my survey of Evolutionary Genetics: Concepts & Case Studies. Nevertheless, I'd like to point you to Jason Rosenhouse's Evolution Blog which has been putting the Science in ScienceBlogs. I especially enjoyed Chance, Stochasticity, Probability and Evolution, though I am of the opinion that these sort of disagreements are often more semantical than substantial. Terms like "adaptationism" and "punctuated equilibria" allude to a central tendency which emerges out of an extremely rugged conceptual topography. Once you agree on scale (molecular or morphological?) or taxon (mammaliam vs. drosophilid?) many of these "disputes" fade into the distance and science rises to the fore, sweeping aside petty egos. Or that's the story that some would tell! Strange fact of the day: Anastasius I, a Roman Emperor of the East who flourished in the late 5th century, was the last to be deified. This was one century after outright persecution of paganism began in the Empire, and nearly two centuries after Christianity became the the privileged faith of the Empire. I was induced to search out this fact because as I read The Fall of the Roman Empire by Peter Heather, the author recounted a mid-5th century incident when a Roman diplomat rebuked a colleague for comparing Attila the Hun to the Emperor Theodosius II, on the grounds that Theodosius was a god while Attila was a man. I will frankly admit that I expressed great surprise, seeing as how it was the family of Theodosius which managed to impose Christianity as the official religion of the Empire in a manner which served as a model for later relations between Church and State in Europe (e.g., Theodosius the Great's tacit submission to Ambrose after the massacre at Thessalonika serves as a model for Henry at Canossa). It just goes to show that what might be blasphemy to later Christians was nothing of note to the early Imperial Christians who still carried forward their pagan ancestors' sensibilities.

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