Dinosaurs Placed in Big Tree

first_imgDinosaurs didn’t take advantage of the big rise in diversity at the end of the Cretaceous, say British researchers.  Their big “supertree” of dinosaur evolution shows that the dinosaurs were just evolving at a regular speed while flowering plants, social insects, birds and mammals were evolving like crazy.    Science Daily and New Scientist were among popular media reports that printed the supertree diagram and stated the claim without question.  An examination of the original paper,1 however, shows something interesting:In order to obtain a well-resolved tree, we undertook some post hoc taxon pruning where poorly constrained species, producing unacceptably high numbers (more than 5000) of equally probable supertrees, were removed.  Choosing a tree for diversity analyses was based on overall supertree support.In fact, numerous subjective decisions were made to come up with the supertree.  The authors had to decide which fossils qualified as distinct species, for instance.  They also ran various tree-building software programs and had to decide threshold values for agreement: e.g., “To enforce MIX to run a compatibility analysis, the threshold parsimony option was set to 2.  One hundred heuristic searches were performed, and characters were weighted (as described above) using a specifically generated weight file.”  Subsequent paragraphs show even more subjectivity.  Here is one selection from the “Materials and Methods” section, to give a taste of the tweaking behind the result.  Some definitions of terms were added in brackets.Phylogenetic shifts in diversification were detected using SYMMETREE v.  1.0 (Chan & Moore 2005).  Analyses of tree shape are biased when a group is paraphyletic [composed of some but not all members descending from a common ancestor], as a particularly speciose clade (in this case, birds) is represented by a single terminal (Archaeopteryx).  A modification was thus required in order to account for the absence of birds.  Although it was not feasible in the present contribution to include all birds, a hand-drawn phylogeny of the better-known Mesozoic taxa (72 species in total) was inserted at the node subtending Archaeopteryx +Jinfengopteryx, effectively making the tree a Mesozoic time slice.  (This placement of Jinfengopteryx is based on the original description (Ji et al.  2005), but more recent analyses, e.g. Turner et al. (2007), have placed it within Troodontidae.)  Polytomies [divisions into three or more parts] were treated as soft, with the size-sensitive ERM [equal-rates Markov] algorithm set to perform 10000 random resolutions per individual node and 1000000 random resolutions for the entire tree.  Internal branches within the phylogeny on which diversification shifts are inferred to have occurred were identified using the Delta-2 shift statistic.  This process was repeated for time slices of the whole tree as described in Ruta et al. (2007) to avoid violating the ERM model.The tree was also fitted to the geological time scale, which assumes the very evolutionary story that the researchers were trying to discern.  Then, they added missing data (a kind of oxymoron), or “ghost ranges,” to get a smoother result:Ghost ranges, minimal basal stratigraphic range extensions implied by the geometry of the phylogenetic tree, indicate missing fossil data, and allow us to correct diversity profiles for the group through the Mesozoic and to compare diversification rates, the proportional change in observed species richness as a function of time, at different points (figure 2b, solid line): note how the addition of ghost ranges smoothes the curve.  In particular, peaks in observed diversification rate in the Norian and Campanian-Maastrichtian (bins 3 and 12) are greatly reduced when ghost ranges are introduced.  This is a minimal correction that does not take account of unknown taxon ranges before the first appearance of the older of a pair of sister groups.  In addition, this correction does not address possible upward range extensions.  However, peaks in the earliest, Middle and Late Jurassic are still observed after introduction of ghost ranges (figure 2b, dashed line).Did anyone ask whether selective judgments in software settings and subjective decisions about which species to include and exclude would generate reliable inferences about an unobservable past assumed to be over 100 million years ago?  Could this kind of tweaking be guaranteed, instead, to reproduce the authors’ own biases?    The authors did try to correct for some known biases, such as sampling error.  They also discussed uncertainties that are hotly debated among evolutionists, such as whether diversification typically occurs early in a radiation or not.  “The fossil record of continental vertebrates is clearly patchy, with large temporal gaps between sampling horizons.  The seriousness of sampling bias is debated,” they also granted.  Even so, they had to admit, “It follows that the fluctuations in diversification rate may not necessarily reflect evolutionary signal, and these must be tested rigorously.”    When all was said and done, after repeated rounds of tuning the knobs, the signal that dinosaurs did not take part in the alleged “Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution” was weak.  The popular science articles, though, reported it as a discovery of science.1.  Lloyd, Davis, Pisani et al, “Dinosaurs and the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution,” Royal Society Proceedings B, 0962-8452 (Paper) 1471-2954 (Online), DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.0715.You have just watched professional divination in action.  What these scientists did has no more relation to the true history of the world than the tea leaves in a fortune-teller’s bowl reveal about the origin of tea plants.  This is pure hocus, foisted on a gullible public under the guise of science (i.e., knowledge).  We provided detailed quotes from the paper to reveal how the trickery is done.  You don’t have to understand the jargon.  Just look at how subjective it is.  Why do the popular media publish the bottom-line claims of these wizards as if knowledge has just been gleaned from the world?  This is nothing but Darwinist imagination masquerading as scientific research.    Notice how the project was saturated with evolutionary religion from start to finish.  The fossils (admittedly scanty) were first placed into the millions-of-years evolutionary story.  This step has already been falsified by the discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur bone, bringing the millions-of-years assumption crashing down (see 04/26/2008).  Unabashed by that inconvenient fact, the authors continued their vision quest by borrowing other published evolutionary-diviner chants and spells.  It’s only polite, after all, to reference one’s sources.  Then they used Darwin-divination software.  They selected only the tea leaves and lighting guaranteed to support their story.  They published their resultant horoscope in a Darwin-divination journal, then handed it to the Darwin-inebriated press to herald to the unwashed masses.  A colorful image of the Magic Supertree Diagram was displayed to lend an air of mystical authority to the announcement.    All these shenanigans are designed to create a sense of numinous awe in the public consciousness.  Readers are supposed to bow down and confess that the diviners possess The Wisdom of The World, and that they are to be heeded instead of those wicked, nasty, evil, insane Creationists who proclaim a different message: that the complex bodies of birds, mammals, dinosaurs and insects reveal design, not chance, and that mythical “Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolutions” are incapable of forcing undirected matter to invent complex organs and functions.    Get wise to the tricks of the wizards.  This is not science.  It’s not even magic.  It’s deception.  The deceivers who believe their own lies are the most to be 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Drive to stamp out doping in South African sport

first_imgSAIDS has launched a campaign to rootout doping among South Africa’s athletes.(Image: Sports and Recreation) SAIDS’ Shuaib Manjra and sports ministerFikile Mbalula launched the campaign. SAIDS urged professional athletesto sign the campaign’s pledge.(Images: Bongani Nkosi)MEDIA CONTACTS• Khalid GalantCEO, Institute for Drug Free Sport+27 21 761 8034Bongani NkosiThe South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) has launched a major campaign to raise awareness about illegal performance-enhancing substances and curb doping among local athletes.SAIDS introduced its “I Play Fair, Say No to Doping” campaign at a media conference in Johannesburg on 14 June 2011.“The core of our campaign is ‘I Play Fair’, let’s bring ethics back into sport,” said Shuaib Manjra, SAIDS chairperson.The drive, targeting professional and amateur athletes across the country, will provide education on banned substances and run actual doping tests. The campaign’s pillars are deterring, detection and prosecution, said Manjra.SAIDS’s latest statistics show that there has been a 100% increase in positive tests for doping over the last two years. The number jumped from 19 in 2009/10 to 50 in recent months. More than 2 000 athletes were tested in each year.Doping is an unacceptable practice that needs to be rooted out for the benefit of the country, said the Cape Town-based institute. The problem of doping is compounded by lack of broad knowledge on banned supplements in local athletics. Manjra conceded that some sports people were inadvertently taking the drugs.The Department of Sports and Recreation has thrown its weight behind the new campaign. “We support the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport in this regard to aggressively attack the use of drugs in sports,” said its minister, Fikile Mbalula.Mbalula will attend the Super Rugby match between the Bulls and Sharks at Loftus stadium in Pretoria on 18 June to raise awareness about the drive. His deputy, Gert Oosthuizen, will do the same at the clash between the Cheetahs and Stormers in Bloemfontein, also on 18 June.The government would like to see the campaign reaching out even to the “far-flung areas of our country”, said Mbalula. “It must be brought to the attention of everybody … that using drugs is cheating”.I Play Fair will also enter the realm of social media to reach its targets and campaign road shows are planned for the country’s rural areas.The South African Rugby Union became the first sports association to support SAIDS’s campaign. “We hope that more sports federations will endorse the initiative,” said Manjra.Bryan Habana, a Springbok wing, became the campaign’s first ambassador after signing its pledge.Schools’ permission neededSAIDS appealed to schools to give it permission to conduct doping tests among adolescents, as part of the campaign. The agency is to sign memoranda of understanding with academic institutions. “We’re willing to work with schools. All they have to do is come forward,” said Manjra.Parents are also urged to endorse testing in schools. “We have to intensify our awareness efforts, working with parents and young people,” said Mbalula.SAIDS’s initiative also has the backing of the World Anti-Doping Agency. Doping is a huge threat to sports all over the world and it’s critical that federations promote campaigns that deter the trend, the world body’s director general David Howman said in a statement.Regulating supplements sectorThe supplements manufacturing and distribution sector remains largely unregulated, according to SAIDS, and new legislation needs to be introduced.Lack of regulation is to blame for the general accessibility of supplements that contain banned drugs, like anabolic and prohormones stimulants.“This is an industry which is jeopardising the future of many of our athletes and we need to regulate it,” Manjra pointed out.SAIDS has launched its intelligence unit to uncover manufacturers and traffickers of illegal sports drugs. It alleges that these individuals are targeting unsuspecting athletes across the country.“We believe that every athlete who leaves the shores of the country to represent us is an ambassador of the country,” Manjra said.“We want a pledge from our athletes for clean play.”last_img read more

The case for corn price rally potential

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed Ingredients, LLCThe March corn futures have been range bound for the last 150 days, usually staying within a tight trading range of $3.70 to $3.90. March corn was only above $3.90 for 3 days during that time, and over the last 100 days, March corn has traded below $3.70 for only 3 days.This lack of movement is clearly illustrated in only a 10-cent range for the closing prices of March corn on the last 8 Fridays:1/18 – $3.811/11 – $3.781/4 – $3.8312/28 – $3.7512/21 – $3.7812/14 – $3.8412/7 – $3.8511/30 – $3.78.Current corn fundamentals paint a picture from a macro level that suggests realistic expectations for higher corn price potential. Global position: U.S. corn is the lowest priced corn globally based on prices today. U.S. corn is about 5 cents lower than Argentina and 15 cents below the Ukraine. Upcoming planting acre estimates: Corn needs nearly 3 to 4 million additional acres planted in 2019. Currently the new crop corn/bean ratio is 2.36 : 1. While this should encourage farmers to switch a small number of bean acres to corn, it might not be as much as was assumed was possible two months ago. The wet fall could have prevented some acres from getting the necessary fertilizer or fall field work done when prices were much more favorable to plant corn. Carryout: March corn is trading 30 cents higher today versus a year ago. Last year saw March corn rally 30 cents from this date forward when the carryout was reduced from 2.3 billion at harvest time to 2 billion as the year continued on. Currently the carryout is projected at 1.78 billion and may be reduced to 1.7 billion pending the final yield number from the USDA. Even if the carryout isn’t lowered further this will still be the lowest carryout in 4 years. Demand: Corn demand has been steady the past couple of months. Exports continue to be strong, feed demand has been steady, and the ethanol grind has maybe only slowed a little. There is a good chance all three will offset each other to keep demand the same or maybe even generate a slight increase. Still, until the government can reopen to provide production and usage information, everyone is in the dark.Overall corn has several positive fundamentals going into spring, which could mean good news down the road for farmers. If China would start buying a little corn to offset the trade imbalance, which has been discussed in the trade, the news for farmers could be even better. Does fertilizer buying correlate with corn selling?Several farmers throughout the Midwest asked for my thoughts on selling corn when making fertilizer purchases for their 2019 crop. Evidently these farmers had been approached by fertilizer sales teams trying to show a correlation between corn and fertilizer prices and how they should sell some of their corn when they buy their fertilizer.I don’t have the details of the sales pitch the farmers were given to give any advice there. However, I can look at the effects of purchasing fertilizer on farm operation budgets as well as the correlation between corn and fertilizer prices. Comparing fertilizer and corn prices the same wayIn most years fertilizer prices don’t change more than $100 per ton year over year. While $100 per ton may sound like a lot, the price per acre is low and usually only amounts to about 11 cents per bushel at most on the budget. I calculate all farm operation budgets on a cost per bushel, so prices are comparable to each other (i.e. apples to apples). That small of an effect on the cost of production doesn’t compare to the more than 85-cent range that corn futures had during the last growing year.There are many things that can affect fertilizer prices, here are just a few:Fertilizer production inputs are a major factor. For example, natural gas is the main ingredient in many fertilizers, so big shifts in natural gas prices can change the demand structure. But, there are also substitute fertilizers not containing natural gas that could increase or decrease production to offset big price adjustments.Acre shifts could have an impact, but a change bigger than 5% in either direction is rare. While a 5% shift could send an initial price spike or dip in the short-term, the impact long-term should be minimal.Seasonally fertilizer prices have highs and lows pending demand. Just as there are seasonal trends for corn that would suggest that prices will be the lowest at harvest there seems to be a season pattern to fertilizer that happens when farmers aren’t usually applying the product. Usage correlation between fertilizer and cornThe total tonnage of fertilizer used per acre is 20 to 70 times less than the total tonnage of grain harvested from the same acre, depending on the type of fertilizer applied. So, I don’t see how this would be a relationship between the price of either commodity. The sheer size difference is just too big to be relatable. Plus, in reviewing historical data, I couldn’t find any type of trend to support a price correlation between the two commodities.So no, I wouldn’t adjust my corn marketing strategy to align with my fertilizer purchasing. They are different commodities with separate and independent price fluctuations. Instead, I would just buy fertilizer when it looks like the right price at the time of year it makes sense for my operation. And I don’t see any reason to sell some corn, just because I bought fertilizer on the same day. Please email [email protected] with any questions or to learn more. Jon grew up raising corn and soybeans on a farm near Beatrice, NE. Upon graduation from The University of Nebraska in Lincoln, he became a grain merchandiser and has been trading corn, soybeans and other grains for the last 18 years, building relationships with end-users in the process. After successfully marketing his father’s grain and getting his MBA, 10 years ago he started helping farmer clients market their grain based upon his principals of farmer education, reducing risk, understanding storage potential and using basis strategy to maximize individual farm operation profits. A big believer in farmer education of futures trading, Jon writes a weekly commentary to farmers interested in learning more and growing their farm operations.Trading of futures, options, swaps and other derivatives is risky and is not suitable for all persons. All of these investment products are leveraged, and you can lose more than your initial deposit. Each investment product is offered only to and from jurisdictions where solicitation and sale are lawful, and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations in such jurisdiction. The information provided here should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research before making your investment decisions. Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC is merely providing this information for your general information and the information does not take into account any particular individual’s investment objectives, financial situation, or needs. All investors should obtain advice based on their unique situation before making any investment decision. The contents of this communication and any attachments are for informational purposes only and under no circumstances should they be construed as an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation to buy or sell any future, option, swap or other derivative. The sources for the information and any opinions in this communication are believed to be reliable, but Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy of such information or opinions. Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC and its principals and employees may take positions different from any positions described in this communication. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results.last_img read more