Tag Archives: evolutionary-biology

What We’re Up Against

Carl Zimmer, describing a documentary on the latest round of science wars: They’ve [biologists] got the science right, but they can be inarticulate and high-handed, torpedoeing their own cause. Their efforts at communication to the public are stiff and a bit arrogant. Meanwhile, intelligent design advocates have hired the PR firm that brought us Swift [...]

God is a Spandrel

At 3 Quarks Daily, an introduction to recent work on religion and cognition: [It] does not see religious belief as a corruption of rationality, but rather as an over-extension of some of the very mental mechanisms that underlie and make rationality possible. In other words, rather than religion having emerged to serve a social or [...]

noitulovE, or: A Short History of Beer

An ad for Guinness reviewing the history of Life on Earth. [QuickTime]

Antarctica’s Not a Source of Family Values

My favorite comment on the Conservative embrace of March of the Penguins was Carl Zimmer’s list of ideas for other ‘family values’ films based on natural history. Heartwarming, those Stepfathers of the Serengeti. Heh, badgerbag caught a whiff of decay and undigested fish off that movie long before the NYT article. It was all about [...]

Science isn’t a Matter of Taste

So there’s a common complaint among some of the pious that we liberals pick and choose our morality rather than ordering the prix fixe meal they offer. The editors at Worldchanging found an admonishment to that sentiment in a series of responses that Spiked got when they asked scientists what would be the one thing [...]

Altruism and Adaptation

[ via Avedon Carol ] Evolutionary biology treats altruism as self-interested behavior, and the evolutionary psychologists call it a maladaptation. New Scientist has survey on current research into altruism that suggests [a] capacity for true altruism seems to be a part of human nature.

More fun with people who misunderstand science…

P Z Myers on a roll: And if Hello Kitty is the apotheosis of perfect organic design, then the oral cavity is an abomination and we commit heresy every time we speak.

Irving Kristol fights Steven Jay Gould at the Mountains of Madness

Irving Kristol would have you think there are some things, mainly evolutionary biology, that mankind was not ment to know. We’re talking Instrumentalism: the Vampire Slayer. I relocated, via a comment on Panda’s Thumb, a 1997 article from Reason, a Libertarian magazine, on the Conservative movement’s endorsement of various creationist doctrines such as ID. The [...]

We may be on the verge of nothing important: Notes from Sterling’s Long Now Talk

At last, a week late, my notes. Bruce Sterling does not worry about a Vingean Singularity that renders humankind a powerless annoyance to transcendent artificial intelligences. Instead he worries about plain old human-driven technological change and nasty WMDs. Cynthia and I drove up to the City to hear Bruce Sterling’s lecture for the Long Now [...]

Charles Darwin’s Birthday

Today would had been the 195th birthday of the naturalist Charles Darwin. Some evolutionary biology links for your blogroll: Read Carl Zimmer’s wonderful weblog, The Loom. Well, except when get starts talking about parasites, then I squirm. Zimmer contributed to Berkeley’s website on evolution. A good resource, especially if you’re a teacher. Pharyngula teaches biology [...]

Parasite Creepout

Carl Zimmer catalogs parasites. A horrible list of nasty ways to die (and be exploited in the process.) Not for the squeamish.

Why are we pre-disposed towards conspiracy theories?

[ via Interconnected ] The Economist reports on recent work on why people latch onto conspiracy theories. Human brains may have evolved to look for casual, and not subtle, explanations of the phenomena we observe. If we see a big effect such as an assassination, a disaster, or a war, but there’s no obvious corresponding [...]

The Virtues of Promiscuity

[ via Nalo ] Human female promiscuity is a valid evolutionary strategy, according to some recent work: Anthropologists claim, good judgment aside, evolution has nudged women a bit toward promiscuity and sexual adventure. In all well-studied primates, females exhibit a polyandrous tendency when given the opportunity to stray. Some who cheat appear to be more [...]

Some Old Footprints

[ via Laura V. ] A group of proto-humans, running across a field of ash on the slopes of a volcano some 350,000 years ago, left the oldest known footprints. Corrected from 600,000 years ago.

Black fur for reproductive fitness

[ via Laura V. ] New Scientist reports research indicating that black cats have more resistance to disease than other cats. And if you’re a small wild cat in an aboreal environment, then a black coat is great camoflage when you’re hunting. However, the research indicates that the mutation for black fur involves a gene [...]