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Jonah Lehrer

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June 23, 2006
The murmurs are growing louder...Will Al Gore be the first presidential candidate to launch a campaign based on a scientific issue? Here is Marty Peretz: The issues Gore has tended to are issues on which he is truly expert...He is not afraid of science and technology because he knows science and…
June 23, 2006
Considering that I've eaten my fair share of British beef (I lived in England for a few years, and had a soft spot for the hamburgers at my local gastropub), this study was not welcome news. Here is the NY Times nut graf:The long lives that some former cannibals enjoy before succumbing to a brain-…
June 22, 2006
The National Bureau of Economic Resarch just released a new study on peer effects in the classroom: The marginal effect of a one percent increase in the quality of peers on student achievement is equivalent to between 8â15% of a one percent increase in one's own earlier achievement...We find…
June 22, 2006
Please forgive this post, but as the proud parent of a cockatiel with an inverted beak (a common birth defect), it has long upset me that there is very little information available on the web about birds with this "problem". What little information Google provides generally consists of advice…
June 22, 2006
In my post on Blink, I argued that Gladwell's book was a wee bit incoherent, and that this incoherence stemmed from his reliance on spiffy anecdotes instead of nitty-gritty scientific details. Katherine made an excellent comment: I thought the problem with Blink was that he never really made a…
June 21, 2006
The Wall Street Journal just posted a very interesting list which analyzes all the known bird flu deaths so far. It makes for strangely engrossing reading.
June 21, 2006
In the new The New Republic, Steven Pinker does a fair and thorough assesment of the recent study asserting that Ashkenazi Jews have a genetic advantage in intelligence. According to the researchers (Gregory Cochran, Jason Hardy, and Henry Harpending), this selection took place from about 800 A.D.…
June 19, 2006
PZ Myers dissects Ann Coulter's ridiculous claim that "There is no physical evidence for evolution" with his usual panache and wit. Of course, he is entirely right: Darwinian evolution is a sacrosant biological fact. Without the theory of evolution, life makes no sense. But I do think that Myers…
June 16, 2006
The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article on Bruce Lahn today. Last September, Lahn announced in Science that he had isolated two brain genes in humans which had undergone recent evolution, but only in certain populations. His paper contained maps which showed that the genetic changes had…
June 15, 2006
As a writer, there are few nicer things than reading a lucid and thought provoking response to an article you've written. PZ Myers, in responding to my article on the controversial theories of Joan Roughgarden, has written a gem of a blog post. Much of his post is devoted to scrutinizing and…
June 15, 2006
These kinds of articles annoy me, especially when they appear on the front page of The New York Times. Where to begin? Well, there is the utterly banal thesis, neatly summarized by Steven Pinker (in case you didn't want to wade through The Blank Slate):"We now have real evidence that some of the…
June 14, 2006
As the proud owner of an African Grey Timneh who is preening herself on my shoulder right now, I thought my bird was adept at impersonations. Her name is Junebug (June to her friends), and she does a spot on imitation of the percolator, Windows startup jingle, blender (not so pleasant), and our…
June 14, 2006
One of my best friends just had his first kid. I'm almost 25, and there's something strange about seeing a person you usually associate with beer and baseball cradling his infant. It sets of all sorts of hormonal switches. Instead of thinking about Deadwood, Proust and the Red Sox (my usual stream…
June 12, 2006
I got a very thoughtful email from a former colleague of mine (he's still a neuroscientist), who wondered why I would invest in scientific research for drug addicts over those with mental illness. After all, schizophrenics didn't commit a crime; they just inherited a flawed cortex. Why not first…
June 10, 2006
Sharon Begley of The Wall Street Journal is one of the finest science reporters around. Her Friday column was typically interesting. It's about how global warming might lead to increased tectonic and volcanic activity: One cubic meter of ice weighs just over a ton, and glaciers can be hundreds of…
June 10, 2006
This week's question is what scientific field I would study, "if time and money were not obstacles." Since I'm not a real scientist - just a science writer - I'm not quite sure how to answer this. I worked for several years in a neuroscience lab, and if I hadn't studied neuroscience I probably…
June 8, 2006
Apparently, homosexuality is a sensitive subject. Ever since Seed posted my article on Joan Roughgarden earlier this week, I've gotten numerous emails informing of all the reasons why I'm "scientifically wrong" and "morally repugnant." I've even been accused of furthering the interests of Sodom…
June 8, 2006
Writing the first line of your first blog is even harder than starting to write a book. Blogging is an instantaneous conversation, and nobody wants to begin a conversation with a bad beginning. (Plus, you can always change the first line of your book, at least until it's published, and that takes…