Giving the lie to “mutation can’t create new information”

I often hear “mutation can’t create anything new, only damage” as a criticism of genetic mechanisms that supply variation in organisms. It’s not true, since there are so many mutations that some of them are immediately useful. But another mechanism of variation is gene duplication. Once you have two identical genes (“No new information,” chant the creationists), one of them is free to change into something else. It’s like hiring two waiters. Both of them may have the same job description, but one can take orders while the other fetches them, or lays tables, or ushers people to their seats.

I want creationists to imagine one of those children’s activity tables where organizers pass out photocopied line drawings to be coloured. Do they imagine that all those duplicated sheets end up the same after the children are finished? Don’t they remember the walls of multi-coloured art based on the same picture? What makes them think evolution can’t do the same with duplicate genes? It is wilful stupidity.


CDC’s Pink Book

The CDC’s Pink Book, like the U.K.’s Green Book, is an excellent resource about vaccine-preventable diseases. The 2011 edition is the twelfth.

From the description:

Typical chapters include a description of the disease, pathogenesis, clinical features, laboratory diagnosis, medical management, epidemiology, risk factors, trends in the United States, vaccine details, vaccination schedule and use, contraindications and precautions to vaccination, adverse reactions following vaccination, vaccine storage and handling, and reference or publications.

The appendices are a wealth of reference materials, including minimum age and interval table, current and discontinued vaccines, ingredients tables, vaccine administration guide, etc.

You can view the chapters online:

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