Biology

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Category archives for Biology

Pepsi Has Been Defeated

In what was probably the worst idea since Crystal Pepsi, the corporate sponsored advertiblog has met an early and decisive end. The announcement was made this morning: We have removed Food Frontiers from SB. We apologize for what some of you viewed as a violation of your immense trust in ScienceBlogs. Although we (and many…

The latest issue of the journal Science has an essay by Greg Miller looking at the explosion of research into epigenetics and what this work could suggest about human society. In 2004, Szyf and Meaney published a paper in Nature Neuroscience that helped launch the behavioral epigenetics revolution. It remains one of the most cited…

Sexy Beasts at Seed Magazine

Author’s Note: The following is an excerpt from my review of Sex At Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality. For additional information see my posts Reexamining Ardipithecus ramidus in Light of Human Origins, Those Cheating Testicles, or Who’s Your Baby? as well as Helen’s Lament and the Origins of Forbidden Love. Christopher Ryan also…

Cultural Transmission in Chimpanzees

Culture defines who we are but few can explain where it comes from or why we adopt one tradition over another. In the classic musical The Fiddler on the Roof the main character, Tevye, muses on this basic fact of human existence: Here in Anatevka we have traditions for everything… how to eat, how to…

Helpful Cichlids in the Gladiator’s Show

Image: The Daffodil Cichlid of Lake Tanganyika / Koen Eeckhoudt In 1888 “Darwin’s Bulldog”, Thomas Henry Huxley, declared that nature was little more than a “gladiator’s show” whereby only “the strongest, the swiftest, and the cunningest live to fight another day.” Brutal competition was the only important factor in the natural world, in which a…

Teaching Evolutionary History

As people who have been following the issue are well aware, there is a crisis of scientific literacy in the United States. Unscientific America may have had a poor explanation for why the problem exists, but it effectively announced the severity of the problem to a wide audience. To combat this problem it will take…

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…

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…

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…

     Dolphins, such as this individual caught and     used by the US Navy, could be granted      personhood rights that protect them from     such abuse.             Image: United Press InternationalIn Douglas Adams’ series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy it turned out that dolphins were super intelligent beings from another world who felt protective of the hairless ape creatures that…