The Primate Diaries

Archives for January, 2010

2. Rebooting Science Journalism in the Age of the Web (description here): Sciblings Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science and David Dobbs of Neuron Culture as well as the author of Reef Madness and the forthcoming The Orchid and the Dandelion, joined science writer extraordinaire (and duck sex enthusiast) Carl Zimmer and cell biologist/blogger…

This past weekend I was in Durham, North Carolina (my old stomping grounds) attending the annual ScienceOnline Conference that focuses on science communication in the digital age. I am pleased to report that Anton and Bora have built on their previous successes to accomplish something rare for a conference: it was both relevant and refreshingly…

Deconstructing Social Darwinism, Part IV

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 Richard Hofstadter wrote in Social Darwinism in American Thought that this political theory was “one of the leading strains in American conservative thought for more than a generation.” In this series I have shown many of the inconsistencies that exist in the literature on…

The Scientific Revolution is Open

Scientific innovation relies on open communication and always has. It has only been through the free exchange of information and ideas that scientific pioneers have expanded the boundaries of knowledge. Through books, pamphlets, letters, journals, and now blogs, scientists communicate their results and imagine new frontiers in the natural world. But even as we reach…

   The Open Laboratory?! You’re kidding? Woo hoo!!!!!!!!My post for Nature Network, Male Chauvinist Chimps or the Meat Market of Public Opinion? has been selected for this year’s Open Laboratory as an example of the year’s best online science writing. For those who have followed the developments of Ardipithecus ramidus, it will interest you to know…

Deconstructing Social Darwinism, Part III

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 In Quentin Skinner’s celebrated history The Foundations of Modern Political Thought he writes that: If the history of political theory were to be written essentially as a history of ideologies, one outcome might be a clearer understanding of the links between political theory and…

Christianity and the Death Penalty

Image: Atheistcartoons.com Of course, you can always count on World Nut Daily to explain the illogic of celebrating a victim of capital punishment while supporting its practice: The reason capital punishment was necessary, God explained, was because human life was so special. There had to be a blood atonement for the death of an innocent…

Bonobos and the Emergence of Culture

In this TED Talk Susan Savage-Rumbaugh discusses bonobos housed in a bispecies environment that have been taught to communicate using pictographs. In the talk she suggests that biology isn’t what made humans unique from nonhuman apes, but rather argues that it was cultural developments and social learning. Quite obviously there are some biological differences (around…

Darwiniana: Notes on Evolutionary History

Herbert Spencer coined the term “survival of the fittest” in 1852 and suggested that Darwin use it himself after he read On the Origin of Species in 1859. However, Darwin was resistant because he thought it could be misinterpreted. According to historian Thomas Leonard, Spencer then appealed to Alfred Russell Wallace to pressure Darwin to…

Deconstructing Social Darwinism, Part II

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4    English sociologist Herbert Spencer coined the term “survival of the fittest” in 1852.As I pointed out in Deconstructing Social Darwinism, Part I scholars have begun to seriously challenge the usefulness of the term as a political theory. For example, Gregory Claeys calls the political…