Code Denialism Pt. 2 – Nirenberg

The Nirenberg and Matthaei experiment was a scientific experiment performed on May 15, 1961, by Marshall W. Nirenberg and his post doctoral fellow, Heinrich J. Matthaei. The experiment cracked the genetic code by using nucleic acid homopolymers to translate specific amino acids.

Nirenberg and Matthaei experiment – Wikipedia

The Nirenberg and Leder experiment was a scientific experiment performed in 1964 by Marshall W. Nirenberg and Philip Leder. The experiment elucidated the triplet nature of the genetic code and allowed the remaining ambiguous codons in the genetic code to be deciphered.

Nirenberg and Leder experiment – Wikipedia

The Marshall W. Nirenberg Papers Public Reactions to the Genetic Code, 1961-1968

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Philosophy In An Age of Cognitive Science

Since the publication of The Embodied Mind (1991), the cognitive sciences have been turning away from the mind-as-program analogy that dominated early cognitivism towards a conception of cognitive functioning as embodied in a living organism and embedded in an environment. In the past few years, important contributions to embodied-embedded cognitive science can be found in Noe (Action in Perception), Chemero (Radical Embodied Cognitive Scie Rnce), Thompson (Mind in Life), Clark (Being There and Surfing Uncertainty), and Wheeler (Reconstructing the Cognitive World).

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Why Atheists are Kind of Assholes

I read an article on Salon, about a woman who gave birth to a premature baby that didn’t survive. The point of her article was tell everyone how much she hates when people tell her her baby is in Heaven.

But actually her point is more than that. Her point really is to make sure you know that she is atheist. And to tell you, that you are dumb for not being one. Because this is what good atheists do. They talk about how the “great thinkers” like DeGrasse Tyson and Sagan give her comfort, when they reassure her that you are just a tiny speck in a much bigger universe (that has no purpose). Continue reading

Suggestion Box

This is my suggestion. Lizzie is happy for any participant to author a thread here. Most regulars already have author status which allows them to publish OPs. Other members have contributor status which allows them to compose posts that will be published on request, although author status is available on request to anyone who’d like to have unrestricted (within the rules) ability to publish OPs.

Whilst I think it is great that we have such wide-ranging (and on the whole rancour-free) discussions, the topics do get mixed and hard-to-follow, especially with the annoying page bug.

I invite anyone to start a new thread on a topic that is getting lost in the cross-talk.

I also invite suggestions from our esteemed clientele. Especially welcome would be a suggestion how to fix the page bug.

Code Denialism Pt. 1 – Crick

There are a lot of great resources available on the internet for countering Code Denialism. I’ve gathered a few of them for your convenience. I envision a multi-part series on this topic because the evidence against Code Denialism is so extensive and Code Denialism seems to be surging in popularity here at TSZ.

The 1961 paper by Crick et al. is an outstanding example of the use of thought and logic to solve basic biological problems. In my opinion, it is a superb paper to assign to students in courses because it illustrates how combining knowledge and wisdom can provide answers to important scientific questions.

Establishing the Triplet Nature of the Genetic Code

They demonstrated that three bases of DNA code for one amino acid in the genetic code. The experiment elucidated the nature of gene expression and frame-shift mutations.

…the mutant strains could be made functional again by using proflavin to insert or delete a total of three nucleotides. This proved that the genetic code uses a codon of three DNA bases that corresponds to an amino acid.

Crick, Brenner et al. experiment

“This concept of a phase shift, or a ‘frameshift’ [in the genetic code of an rII gene] as we later called it, was so foreign to people in genetics that we had endless problems trying to explain this work.”

Seems like they still have work to do.

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What Is A Code?

Lots of heat surrounding this question.

My take is that a code must be a system for conveying meaning.

In my view, an essential feature of a code is that it must be abstract and and able to convey novel messages.

DNA fails at he level of abstraction. Whatever “meaning” it conveys cannot be translated into any medium other than chemistry. And not just any abstract chemistry, but the chemistry of this universe.

Without implementing in chemistry, it is impossible to read a DNA message. One cannot predict what a novel DNA string will do.

DNA is a template, not a code.

Go to it.

Hamlet NT Live

Filmed live, on stage, from the Barbican, London

Go see it.  It’s an unsurpassed theatrical experience, which you get to see (for a lot less than stage tickets) at the cinema.

There’s probably an encore performance at a big-city art cinema near almost everyone who is reading this – it will be in a dozen countries, a few hundred cities and university towns. Each venue shows no more than twice, and the site listed will give you the dates and locations nearest you.

It’s worth driving more than an hour to get to, and absolutely worth the price of admission.  Yeah, I know I’m crazy; I saw it live today, and I’m going to see it at least four times at a couple different theaters.


This has been a “public service announcement” — I know, not our typical subject of discussion, sorry.  Enjoy it while you can!


A perennial topic. The organisms we see cluster around specific, distinct types. We can identify an individual as belonging to that type because it has the distinctive characteristics of that type. We know what the characteristics are because we see a lot of such individuals.

To the some Creationists, those types represent essential, immutable forms, perhaps with some post-Ark latitude, and a bit of variation around the ‘norm’. It is as if those forms were cast from a mould, with small manufacturing defects. The mould is eternal, unchanging. Continue reading

Is Time the Enemy of Error

They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt and with… geometric logic… that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox DID exist, and I’d have produced that key if they hadn’t of pulled the Caine out of action. I, I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow office

For some of us old farts Captain Queeg is a symbol of reasonableness over reason.

For me, he is the patron saint of cranks, and a crank is someone who employs geometric logic in the service of silly axioms and premises.

Queeg is, for me, the archetype of someone who thinks great arguments are settled by reason.

My own thought is that if theology and philosophy could be decided by reason, the great debates would have been settled long ago.

My thought is that theologies and philosophies go in and out of fashion over time. Some rise in favor because they are useful and productive, but most just drift.

Over time, ideas gain or lose market share, but seldom die out altogether or become universal.

I’m sure there’s a name for this.