Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Appendix of Vestigial Textbooks - 2

About two years ago Dredd Blog mentioned the textbook industry, specifically that it is difficult for them to keep up with the changes in science that revolutionize our understanding, but also require that the textbooks go into the recycle bin.

Here is the text of that post:
In the words of "my friend", as they say in the Senate when talking about an opponent they hope does not get re-elected, I am a tree hugger because I complain about loose scientific practices which cause textbooks to become extinct.

Which requires reprints, which in turn requires the demise of even more precious trees.

Too bad.

More trees are going down because new textbooks must be printed to keep up with a new discovery about an old subject, the appendix:
"Maybe it's time to correct the textbooks," says William Parker, Ph.D., assistant professor of surgical sciences at Duke and the senior author of the study. "Many biology texts today still refer to the appendix as a 'vestigial organ.'"
(Science Daily). Shiver me tree timbers, I want to know more about this appendix, this vestigial organ they are talking about, so check it out:
The lowly appendix, long-regarded as a useless evolutionary artifact, won newfound respect two years ago when researchers at Duke University Medical Center proposed that it actually serves a critical function. The appendix, they said, is a safe haven where good bacteria could hang out until they were needed to repopulate the gut after a nasty case of diarrhea, for example.

"Darwin simply didn't have access to the information we have," explains Parker. "If Darwin had been aware of the species that have an appendix attached to a large cecum, and if he had known about the widespread nature of the appendix, he probably would not have thought of the appendix as a vestige of evolution."
(ibid). Doctors do not have to improve on nature by taking out the appendix any more. Instead culinary artists may find a way to stimulate the immune system so the appendix is used to store good bacteria as it once did.

I suppose this subject could be written in a book "The Evolution of Evolution" to compliment the book "The Evolution of God".

Science and religion could stop fighting and get on with the Ecocosmology movement which works to eventually evolve the vestigial human species into one fitly adapted to this cosmos.

But what about the trees we will lose to reprint the textbooks? Well, there is always vestigial recycling I suppose.
How absolutely clear it is that our best scientists experience scientific surprise so very often.

For example see this post at Toxins of Power Blog and this one at Ecocosmology Blog for examples of issues that will doom many textbooks.

You might also like Soupy Sales and Evolutionary Tales - 2 which also maps out more of the "oops science" realm.

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