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“Out of Africa” Theory of Human Evolution Gets Further Confirmation! Saturday, May 12, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Africa, anthropology, Australia, Australia Aborigines, evolution, genetics, homo erectus, human evolution, Melanesian, New Guinea, science, world.
3 comments

The fascinating tale of human evolution gets another important story added to it, this time with a new DNA research done on Australian Aborigines and Melanesians from New Guinea, which further confirms the hypothesis that all humans originated from a group of people from Africa around 50,000 years ago. This is known as “Out of Africa” or the single origin theory.

Up till now the fossils and tools found in Australia have cast doubt on the Out of Africa hypothesis, since they differ significantly to South Asia. This implies that the early settlers in Australia might have interbred with the local homo erectus population that was already there (which migrated out of African some two to one million years ago), “or because there was a subsequent, secondary migration from Africa”.

But the research done using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosomes DNA shows that:

there was no evidence of a genetic inheritance from Homo erectus, indicating that the settlers did not mix and that these people therefore share the same direct ancestry as the other Eurasian peoples.

The researchers suggest that the variations in fossil and tool records can be explained with the thousands of years of isolation that the aboriginal population faced, since the land bridge joining Australia and Asia was submerged into water some 8,000 years ago.

This, in combination with an earlier report, further confirms that the Out of Africa hypothesis is becoming the firm theory of how humans have evolved. We can mainly thanks to the advancement in the science of genetics.

Below is a map of mtDNA migration, courtesy of Wikipedia:

mtDNA Migration, Wikipedia

Worldwide Atheism Trend and Pattern – A Summary Thursday, May 3, 2007

Posted by henry000 in agnosticism, atheism, Buddhism, China, Christianity, Europe, faith, God, Hinduism, Islam, Italy, Japan, Middle East, North Korea, Portugal, rationality, religion, Scandinavian, science, secularism, South Korea, statistics, survey, Sweden, United States, Vietnam, world.
26 comments

This is the sort of article I have been long searching for – a comprehensive, analytical and scholarly summary – filled with hard data – of atheism trends in the world. This 2005 article is written by Phil Zuckerman and seems to have been part of a Cambridge University publication. Although slightly outdated, it nonetheless provides a reliable and useful source for anyone interested in the study of the atheist demographics.

It is not a short article, so I will take the liberty of summarising it further here. Firstly it outlines the difficulties in conducting a survey on the beliefs and disbeliefs of large populations. Then it provides a good statistics on the atheism population in many countries. Then, most importantly, the Top 50 list of non-believing countries is presented, which I will duplicate here (I have stripped out the population columns due to space limits):

  Country % Atheist/actual # Agnostic/Non-believer in God
1 Sweden 46-85%
2 Vietnam 81%
3 Denmark 43-80%
4 Norway 31-72%
5 Japan 64-65%
6 Czech Republic 54-61%
7 Finland 28-60%
8 France 43-54%
9 South Korea 30%-52%
10 Estonia 49%
11 Germany 41-49%
12 Russia 24-48%
13 Hungary 32-46%
14 Netherlands 39-44%
15 Britain 39-44%
16 Belgium 42-43%
17 Bulgaria 34-40%
18 Slovenia 35-38%
19 Israel 15-37%
20 Canada 19-30%
21 Latvia 20-29%
22 Slovakia 10-28%
23 Switzerland 17-27%
24 Austria 18-26%
25 Australia 24-25%
26 Taiwan 24%
27 Spain 15-24%
28 Iceland 16-23%
29 New Zealand 20-22%
30 Ukraine 20%
31 Belarus 17%
32 Greece 16%
33 North Korea 15% (?)
34 Italy 6-15%
35 Armenia 14%
36 China 8-14% (?)
37 Lithuania 13%
38 Singapore 13%
39 Uruguay 12%
40 Kazakhstan 11-12%
41 Estonia 11%
42 Mongolia 9%
43 Portugal 4-9%
44 United States 3-9%
45 Albania 8%
46 Argentina 4-8%
47 Kyrgyzstan 7%
48 Dominican Rep. 7%
49 Cuba 7% (?)
50 Croatia 7%

where (?) indicates the relatively low certainty/validity. Note that rather than defining the terms “atheism”, “agnosticism” and “non-belief”, which is a tricky issue in itself, the article lumps all three together to simply mean people who do not believe in God. The range of percentages (for example the top non-believing country Sweden is 46% – 85%) gives an indication of the difficulties in reaching such figures. Finally, the author gives his own analysis on atheism trend and pattern using the data.

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Not Only In America – Evolution Science Endangered Worldwide Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-creationism, anti-ID, atheism, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Europe, evolution, intelligent design, Japan, rationality, religion, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, science, Turkey, United States, world.
7 comments

The scientific theory of evolution is under attack – and not just in the United States alone – but on a global scale.

Firstly, the result of a study published last year shows conclusively that the adult populations of US and Turkey are the least likely to believe in theory of evolution. The study was conducted over 34 countries which include Japan, US and 32 European nations. A question “Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.” was asked, in which correspondents could respond with true, false or unsure.

A graphical depiction of the study is re-posted here. Click on it to enlarge it. Evolution Less Accepted in U.S. Than Other Western Countries

Remarkably, but unsurprisingly, only a paltry 14% of the adult US population actually believes in evolution, completely outnumbered by the one-third who firmly rejects the idea.

Turkey, where 99% of its population is Muslim, represents another worrying trend. Using the result of this study, we can probably safe to conclude that the Muslim population, in general, reject the theory of evolution strongly. In fact, looking at the graph, one could also say that the ratio of rejection is quite high in comparison to US and the rest of surveyed countries.

A second article written recently also adds worry that the anti-evolution movement is gathering pace worldwide. It lists a couple of examples of how evolution is being attacked. One case is that in Kenya, a bitter dispute is taken place as the plan of exhibiting a prehistoric human skeleton is being opposed by local religious forces. Another example involves a well-funded Turkish publishing house mass-distributing anti-evolution books to French speaking schools and universities across Europe. The article also shows an example from Russia, and of course, there is the well-known Intelligent Design movement that is currently taking place in the US.

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Genes and Brains Tell the Tale of Human Evolution Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Africa, anthropology, Australopithecus, evolution, genetics, homo erectus, homo sapien, human evolution, science, world.
6 comments

This wonderful article titled “Beyond Stones & Bones” provides a great summary of recent discoveries to human evolution, in particular in the area of genetics and brain science.

The great tale of human evolution is just so fascinating. A vital part of it is the use of genetics to tell the story. A delightful example provided in this article is that of using body lice to infer when human lost their body hair for good. It goes like this: body lice live in cloths, so by the time they appeared, human would have started to cover themselves with some sort of clothing, which implies loss of body hair. Now body lice is evolved from head lice (which lives in our hair), so by comparing their DNA changes, which happens at regular rate, we could calculate when human started to lose body hair for good. Using this clever technique, scientists concluded that this happened about 114,000 years ago.

Human Evolution

Using DNA scientists have worked out that humans and chimps evolved apart around 5 to 6 millions years ago, supported by the fact that the climate became dramatically colder around that time. The recent discoveries of the HAR1 and PDYN genes shred some light on how the brain plays its part in the evolution. The HAR1 gene may “… likely helped the cortexes of our ancestors develop the elaborate folds characteristic of a complex brain”, and that the PDYN gene may have advanced brain chemistry.

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