Tag Archives: Darwin

Bonobo Liberals? Chimp Conservatives?

Concerning a study of bonobo altruism, this was in The New York Times recently: The subjects were all orphaned bonobos at the Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In one phase of the study, bonobos were given a pile … Continue reading

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Can Your Evolved Brain Be Trusted to Bring You to the Actual Truth of Matters?

The philosopher Thomas Nagel, in his most recent book, writes the following: Mechanisms of belief formation that have selective advantage in the everyday struggle for existence do not warrant our confidence in the construction of theoretical accounts of the world … Continue reading

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George Church’s Brave New World (and Ours)

Harvard molecular geneticist George Church’s interview with Der Spiegel is a must-read. Highlights: ON NEANDERTHAL CLONING SPIEGEL: Will you witness the birth of a Neanderthal baby in your lifetime? Church: That depends on a hell of a lot of things, but … Continue reading

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At Least 80% Of Our Junk DNA Is Not Junk

That’s the news, as reported in the New York Times recently. This ought to make a splash in the debate between evolutionary biologists and intelligent design theorists. For more on this, see here [NYT website link]. And to read a biologist who … Continue reading

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Contemporary Liberalism Defined

I think of myself as a liberal, but what does that mean, exactly, to call oneself a liberal? In thinking about this, I’ve come to some tentative answers (liberals are always at least a bit tentative). First, being a contemporary liberal … Continue reading

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Your Happiness Immune System and Set Point

__________ What I take from this TED talk: Live your life bravely and ethically because, regardless of what happens, a year from now you’re likely to be more or less as happy as you’ve always been. There are two surprising … Continue reading

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What’s the Central Question in Nietzsche?

In interview with David Wolf, Nietzsche scholar Brian Leiter offers his view: [I]f there’s a central question in Nietzsche it’s the one he takes over from Schopenhauer – namely, how is it possible to justify life in the face of … Continue reading

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Evolutionary Psychology Watch: Why Do People Tend to Like Honey and Fear Spiders?

According to Heather Pringle, maybe, with regard to honey, it’s because it played a role in our evolution: In a recent paper, Alyssa Crittenden, an anthropologist and behavioral ecologist, at the University of Nevada, points out that wild honey is one … Continue reading

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When Experts Collide: Jerry Coyne verses James Shapiro

At his blog, evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne recently took after his University of Chicago colleague, James Shapiro, complaining about him in the following manner: Virtually all of the non-creationist opposition to the modern theory of evolution, and all of the … Continue reading

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Ask an Interesting Question, Get an Interesting Answer. Michio Kaku’s Question: What Happens to Our Analysis When We Recall That We’re Scarcely Different from Our Paleolithic Ancestors of 100,000 Years Ago?

If, indeed, human beings are scarcely different from their Paleolithic ancestors of 100,000 years ago, what are the implications of this for the object or subject of your current attention? Here are some questions for foregrounding this issue: Of nature: … Continue reading

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A Universe from Nothing? David Albert Owns Lawrence Krauss

In a recent review for the New York Times, philosopher David Albert explains the basic thesis of physicist Lawrence Krauss’s new book, A Universe From Nothing, in terms that are clear as a bell, then he skewers it just as effectively. … Continue reading

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A Better Angel of Our Nature: Democracy and the Way of Bees

If alpha-male behavior (dominating, hierarchical, authoritarian) is, at some level, natural, it’s also possible that democracy too is natural. These contending impulses—the authoritarian personality and the democratic personality—may be competing evolutionary strategies that, in fact, take up habitation in different … Continue reading

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Creation Through Evolution?

Maybe the universe is an ongoing creation, and this is how the Creator is doing it, moving us, through a process of evolution, to some end product we can only half-imagine now. _____ Then again, maybe we live in a … Continue reading

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Appearances vs. Reality

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Mitt Romney Campaign Theme Song Suggestion: Live and Let Die

After watching, dumbfounded, “When Mitt Romney Came to Town“—the 28 minute documentary on Mitt Romney’s shenanigans at Bain Capital (the one put out by Newt Gingrich’s wealthy friends), I think Romney’s campaign theme song should be Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let … Continue reading

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A Just So Darwinian Story: How Giraffes Came To Be The Way They Are

Once upon a time, giraffes had shorter necks. They could eat leaves off medium and low-lying tree branches, but they had to compete for those leaves with elephants, and this caused the giraffes to be frustrated and hungry a lot of the time.  There was … Continue reading

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Eugenics Revival Watch: Scientific American editor, Mariette DiChristina, calls eugenic goals expressed in 1911 “lofty aspirations”

Curiously, the editor at the Scientific American website (Mariette DiChristina) recently approved the posting, with only minimal comment, of an editorial written in its pages 100 years ago, in 1911, advocating eugenics. Here are three quotes from the editorial: It is not … Continue reading

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Ontario Lacus: How Does It Feel to Live in an Alien World in Which Everything That Is Does Not Have to Be?

In a recent science article at the New York Times, the unpredictable blendings and contingencies of history jumped out at me in the way that Titan’s methane lake, “Ontario Lacus,” came to be named: In 2004 a camera known as the Imaging Science Subsystem on … Continue reading

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What does it mean to live in a contingent universe?

Does this mean the end of metaphysics (at least for this bicyclist)?: I think that the below Walker Percy quote, though about declining suicide (not the lucky escape of an accident) goes rather nicely with the above video. The above bicyclist, … Continue reading

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What is amor fati?

What Friedrich Nietzsche took from Charles Darwin is the idea of radical contingency, and so Nietzsche’s amor fati  (love of fate) is an embrace of all of life’s contingencies. Do you have the courage to embrace your existential situation (what Sartre called … Continue reading

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