The Primate Diaries

Archives for September, 2009

Bonobos and the Politics of Human Nature

Bonobos often adopt a “missionary” posture during copulation (photograph by Frans de Waal). As part of the series of reposts leading up to my review of Frans de Waal’s newest book The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society I present the second of three pieces that appeared after Ian Parker’s 2007 article…

Bonobo (Re)Visions

As part of the series of reposts leading up to my review of Frans de Waal’s newest book The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society I present the first of three pieces that appeared after Ian Parker’s 2007 article “Swingers” appeared in The New Yorker. As expected, the apologists for unreason who…

The Evolution of Morality

Darwin evicts a Social Darwinist and Eugenicist from his house / Northwestern Univ. Primatologist Frans de Waal, author of such classic works as Chimpanzee Politics, Peacemaking Among Primates, Good Natured: The Origin of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals, and Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape is now coming out with his new book The…

I Only Have One Thing to Say

Read Greg Laden’s Blog.

Apparently so. It turns out that in nine states and Washington, D.C. insurance companies are not prohibited from dropping coverage for patients with a history of domestic abuse. The Women’s Law Project documented this in detail in their 2002 Supplement Report entitled “Insurance Discrimination Against Victims of Domestic Violence” (pdf here) and in their 2008…

My previous post on a potential problem for the selfish gene theory in explaining cooperative behavior resulted in a fair amount of heated discussion. However, there are quite a few misconceptions regarding the controversy surrounding the selfish gene, group selection, multilevel selection, generalized reciprocity, etc. that need to be clarified. When Richard Dawkins published The…

Unicolonial ants, such as these Argentine ants (Linepithema humile), are genetically unrelated but will cooperate to defeat a much larger adversary. Source: Alex Wild / Live Science It has been a mainstay of evolutionary theory since the 1970s. Natural selection acts purely on the level of the individual and any cooperation observed between organisms merely…

An Anthropologist in District 9

Inexplicably, a UFO appears over one of Earth’s remote cities. Hovering a few hundred meters above the terrified citizens, a government mission to board the craft is executed only to find the strange beings living in disease and desperation. A decision is made to save their lives and relocate the aliens to the city’s outskirts.…