Review

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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…

When most people think of evolutionary biology the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t lyrical poetry. However one of the earliest proponents of evolution, none other than Charles Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus, presented his vision for the origin of life in the form of an epic poem in 1803. In his critically acclaimed work…

Repost: An Anthropologist in District 9

In light of the Oscars this Sunday I thought those of you who missed it would enjoy my review of District 9 (which is up for four Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay). Inexplicably, a UFO appears over one of Earth’s remote cities. Hovering a few hundred meters above the terrified citizens,…

Sci-Fi Makes the Grade at the Oscars

My favorite novelist, Kurt Vonnegut, once complained about the treatment of science fiction by critics in his book Wampa, Foma and Granfalloons: I have been a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled ‘science fiction’ ever since [publishing Player Piano], and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer…

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…

Reciprocity is an intrinsic feature of human beings as well as most species of ape. Chimpanzees and bonobos regularly engage in granting gifts of food and expect a return on their generosity (those who don’t reciprocate are less likely to receive such gifts in the future) (de Waal and Brosnan 2006). This “tit-for-tat” basis of…

As Jawaharlal Nehru wrote of his native land but as a stranger in the process of discovery, “India is a geographical and economic entity, a cultural unity amidst diversity, a bundle of contradictions held together by invisible threads.” These invisible threads were the spiritual beliefs of the people, the Vedas, the Bhagavad Gita and the…

Aldous Huxley wrote in his Collected Essays that, “Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know.” In Plants and Empire: Colonial Bioprospecting in the Atlantic World, Stanford historian Londa Schiebinger highlights the role that such intentional ignorance played in the dissemination of knowledge (and the lack thereof). Whether this…