All posts by Kevin Drews

Comment on Ratting Around by kcdrews

I think that you don’t necessarily need to cast rats in a negative light in order to use them as research animals. Rats don’t have to be demonized, they just have to be used. For that I agree we have to sacrifice any potential rights they may have. When it comes to the difference with dogs, I think that if we discovered tomorrow that dogs have the exact same immune system down to each individual carbon atom as a human being, we wouldn’t hesitate at all before going full scale on using them as lab animals. I think eventually we’d have a new breed of dog – the term lab dog might not instantly point to labrador retrievers!

Comment on Ratting Around by kcdrews

I think that you don’t necessarily need to cast rats in a negative light in order to use them as research animals. Rats don’t have to be demonized, they just have to be used. For that I agree we have to sacrifice any potential rights they may have. When it comes to the difference with dogs, I think that if we discovered tomorrow that dogs have the exact same immune system down to each individual carbon atom as a human being, we wouldn’t hesitate at all before going full scale on using them as lab animals. I think eventually we’d have a new breed of dog – the term lab dog might not instantly point to labrador retrievers!

Comment on Darwin by kcdrews

I think it’s important to acknowledge the time period in which the book was written and not hold Darwin’s ignorance of the theories of mutual domestication pathways we’ve examined as a lack of insight or bad judgement on his part. Considering what he was starting with in terms of evolutionary theory his ideas are remarkably perceptive. We have about 150 years or so on him and far greater advances in all sorts of technology from DNA sequencing to finding fossils with ground penetrating radar. I know that we all know this already, but it’s easy to forget that kind of stuff when criticizing earlier theories. It’s kind of like learning about ancient explanations for why the sun rose and set each day. Sure they sounds ridiculous now, but at the time they seemed to make perfect sense in the worldview of those who held those beliefs.

Comment on Darwin and Brantz by kcdrews

In the long run yes evolution improves on adaptations. But I’m saying if you look at it from a pure numbers standpoint the vast majority of mutations are not helpful and I’d argue are actually harmful. Variability makes a huge difference. Mutations occur at the level of DNA, which encodes RNA, which gives the blueprints for proteins. You’ll certainly get mutations in the DNA that have no difference in the end result of the proteins, but I believe it’s more common to get a mutation that does alter the amino acid sequence of a protein and that can have big effects because proteins are so specific.

With Darwin I’m talking about the tendency to talk about superiority of the domesticated pigeons as opposed to those that aren’t, especially in regards to England vs India or Java. They’d certainly be superior in the sense that they have traits that are prized by English breeders, but they are not superior in the sense that if released into the wild they might end up killed off far more quickly than the less domesticated or inferior versions produced in India or Java. It’s all relative to what you’re using as a measure of fitness

Comment on Wascally Wabbits by kcdrews

I don’t think you’re opinions are too one-sided. In the case of the rabbits they certainly were an invasive species and had a huge impact on Australian ecology. The bit about the viruses as a biological warfare agent against rabbits is really cool, I remember learning about that in virology. The more modern version is called calicivirus. Interestingly it was found that in areas that already had a version of the calicivirus the rabbits were essentially vaccinated against the more deadly man made form and so its effect was reduced.

Comment on Reindeers are Better Than People? by kcdrews

First of all, excellent Frozen reference.

I like the way you examined Soviet interference as a method of domesticating the native peoples. It makes sense in a way, but can we ever really say that humans have been/could be domesticated by other humans? If domestication is dependent on dependence, I don’t see how that would be accomplished. Let’s say one group of people becomes dependent on another, and then are suddenly abandoned. I think that after a generation (or perhaps even sooner) most would grow to be independent and self sufficient. Perhaps a better word might be tame?

Comment on Reindeer People by kcdrews

I disagree. I think that you’re right in saying the strength or physical fitness aspect would play into it, but I’m talking about the actual act of hunting itself. Being the strongest man in the village wouldn’t help your hunting prowess in the least bit if you just sat at home all day. What I’m wondering is why bother going to hunt at all, if your success is determined entirely by Bayanay?