I have to say, it’s kinda cool to have my opinion acknowledged and used to correct an error. It looks like I pull some weight around here (not as much as some folks, but the 100 or so page views a day mean something).
But I ain’t done yet. In honor of my dedication to correcting errors in the popular press, I have added a new category called “Science News” to this blog. In this installment, I will point out another error published by Seed. Not all of my posts will be devoted to copy-editing my bosses, it just so happens that they’re now one hit away from a trifecta for the day.
This one would have slipped passed me if it weren’t from some of my fellow evolution bloggers making a huff about it a short while back. Seed is reporting the following in their New and Notable section for the week of February 24 through March 2:
Blondes had more fun back in the Ice Age, and that’s why they’re still around today. According to a new study out of the University of St. Andrews, fair hair started as a rare mutation in northern Europe around 11,000 years ago. At that time, men often got killed on long mammoth-hunting trips, leaving the populations with a serious female surplus. A massive evolutionary cat-fight erupted, and the big winners of the men’s hearts (and genetic material) were those freakish blonde mutants, perhaps because, beyond their radiant hair, they also have a slightly higher estrogen level than their brunette counterparts. The World Health Organization believes natural blondes will die out within 200 years due to a lack of available genetic material. If that happens, what will become of all those wonderful “dumb blonde” jokes?
I don’t need to say much about this one — I’m just pointing out the error — as both John Hawks and GNXP have done the writing for me. The long and short of it is that the hypothesis is built mostly on speculation (there are other explanations) and the WHO has never claimed that blondes will die out. Maybe Seed needs a population geneticist on their administrative staff.