Tree thinking

Which group is most closely related to fishes?

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I have written that “every medical student needs to understand tree thinking,” but have not devoted much space to it on this blog. Ryan Gregory has a wonderful blog that summarizes Baum’s classic tree thinking article (part 1 also gives the answer to the question posed above.)

Ryan Gregory Tree Thinking Part 1.

Ryan Gregory Tree Thinking Part 2.

Also read this blog highlighting the common misconception that evolution is linear.

Reference: Baum, D.A., S. DeWitt Smith, and S.S.S. Donovan. 2005. The tree-thinking challenge. Science 310: 979-980.

Bad arguments

Although yesterday’s debate on evolution vs. creation between Bill Nye and Kenneth Ham did not include many fireworks, it was worth watching.

Kenneth Ham did resort to a variety of rhetorical tricks to make his points. The illustrated book of bad arguments is absolutely worth a read. So which bad arguments did Ham use to defend creationism? Two frequent appearances in Ham’s presentation were equivocation and false dilemma. See for yourself.


How important is gene-environment mismatch? What is the Paleo diet?

1) Quickly skim this recent piece in the Huffington Post

2) Next read Eaton (2006)-Ancestral human diet

2) Then read this review:

Paleofantasy by Marlene Zuk

Finally, read my post about nutrient signaling on the Evolution & Medicine Review.

If you have time look at the entire paper: Alcock_Franklin_Kuzawa

Writing Assignment:

For Tuesday: Pima Indians (Tohono O’odham) of Arizona have the highest rates of diabetes in the world. They eat processed foods and refined carbohydrates like other Arizonans (the typical American diet).  Their Pima relatives who farm in the Sierrra Madre of Mexico eat a more traditional diet and have much less diabetes and obesity. In light of the Paleo diet hypothesis and the backlash it has generated, how would you explain the differences in diabetes between the two closely related groups

Emergence of Evolutionary Medicine: Publication Trends from 1991- 2010

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Emergence of Evolutionary Medicine: Publication Trends from 1991- 2010 was published last year in the Journal of Evolutionary Medicine.

This article explores the domain of evolutionary medicine, conceptualized by the area of overlap shown in the following Venn diagram:

Venn Diagram

Publication in the area of Evolutionary Medicine is experiencing exponential growth. These are the number of annual publications with keywords “Evolutionary Medicine” between 1991 and 2011 in Google scholar:


A search in PubMed using the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Medicine and Biological Evolution reveals a similar pattern:

Biological Evolution and Medicine

The term “Darwinian medicine” is becoming less popular than “evolutionary medicine”

N gram veiwer

Read “Emergence of Evolutionary Medicine” here.

Read a Slide Presentation on Evolutionary Medicine Topics Here:

Trends in Evolutionary Medicine

Joe Alcock MD