Yahoo is running a story "Scientists find brain evolution gene"
WASHINGTON - Scientists believe they have found a key gene that helped the human brain evolve from our chimp-like ancestors. In just a few million years, one area of the human genome seems to have evolved about 70 times faster than the rest of our genetic code. It appears to have a role in a rapid tripling of the size of the brain's crucial cerebral cortex, according to an article published Thursday in the journal Nature.
Study co-author David Haussler, director of the Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said his team found strong but still circumstantial evidence that a certain gene, called HAR1F, may provide an important answer to the question: "What makes humans brainier than other primates?" Human brains are triple the size of chimp brains.
Looking at 49 areas that have changed the most between the human and chimpanzee genomes, Haussler zeroed in on an area with "a very dramatic change in a relatively short period of time."
That one gene didn't exist until 300 million years ago and is present only in mammals and birds, not fish or animals without backbones. But then it didn't change much at all. There are only two differences in that one gene between a chimp and a chicken, Haussler said.
But there are 18 differences in that one gene between human and chimp and they all seemed to occur in the development of man, he said.
This is esp. interesting to me for a couple of reasons. One is that I was visiting some jellyfish today and they don't have any brain at all.
Though they have a ("Nerve Net") of receptors. And they get along pretty well without a brain. Of course all that they do is propel themselves and eat and a couple of other things.
The other thing is - that I was recently talking with someone who thinks that the earth is 6000 years old. (A defense of such ideas is here). So I wonder how such a person processes a story like this. S/he would probably focus on the idea that the evidence is "circumstantial".
Democracy Now!! discussed this phenomena recently with Max Blumenthal. There is a good number of college educated and other people who essentially reject modern science. And it is many of these same people who support Israel (though they are mostly supporting the "rapture").
"Christian Zionism has been a force within the Christian right for over 20 years, and they've made -- the Christian Zionist movement, they've made themselves an asset to Israel by sending millions in aid money to Israel. They're a major source of Israeli tourism, especially during the Second Intifada.
...The majority of America's 60 million evangelicals are premillenial dispensationalists. They believe that the end times could come at any moment, and they're looking for signs of that, so they're sympathetic to supporting Israel for these reasons. And so they provide a strong grassroots base. This is the Republican base. This is the only component of the Republican base that still supports Bush's policies in Iraq without question, unconditionally, and supports Israel's expansionism."
They have now created a lobby - CUFI - Christians United for Israel.
A couple of sites focusing on this group:
Challenging Christian Zionism.
Religious RIght Watch
It's pretty difficult to discuss anything about science or politics or morality with people who use the Bible to "explain everything" (even though it explains nothing - at least not what this group thinks) and who reject science and logic as the rest of us know it. I expect that that is by design.
I doubt that the Christian Zionists, individually, would be very likely to take the positions that they do without a group - and part of this must be a rejection of society (except for their group) - yet it's amazing what ideas that people will follow as long as there is a group to back up those ideas.
The Christian Zionists are in a position to be used - and not in a good way. As Micheal Scanlon (who worked for (R) Tom Delay and Abramoff's lobbying team) said,
"The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet and telephone trees ... Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them."
Evolution / Devolution. People need to start using their brain. Or we could just let the jellyfish win.