As we mark Charles Darwin’s birthday on February 12th, our culture is riding a wave that should take us back to his theory. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are the crest of the wave, which may represent a turning point against men’s chronic exploitation of women. It’s one aspect of the decline of male supremacy predicted and fought for by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the pioneering women’s rights activist born just a few years after Darwin.
Stanton, like Darwin, was a realist when it came to gender differences. She thought that some were intrinsic and fundamental, but that these were to women’s advantage. Indeed, in a powerful 1869 speech, she held that the strongest argument for women’s equality was “the difference between man and woman.”
Statesmen understand human nature. Why not psychologists and social scientists?
Most psychologists don’t like human nature, or at least not the idea of it. Clinicians, life coaches, and corporate motivators dislike it because it implies unchangeability. Anyone who took college psychology knows how to modify behavior, from direct instruction to manipulative advertising.
And then, what fool surveying the huge variety of human personalities, needs, and tastes would dream of trying to characterize all that as one thing? Well, some fool might, but not the philosophers, evolutionists, historians and political leaders who have long used the phrase. They’ve always meant something complex, varied, and big-but not limitless.
Barack Obama, for instance. Read more
Portrait of the scientist as a college boy
Visiting Cambridge University this week, to speak in one of the countless conferences honoring Darwin’s anniversary year, I had a chance to see the rooms he lived in as a student there. He was at Christ’s College, Read more
In the Darwin bicentennial, new insights into fossils, genes, birdsong, and cancer.
The latest issue of Nature to land in my mailbox-the May 28th one-was not a tribute to Darwin in honor of his 200th birthday and the 150th of The Origin of Species; Nature has been there, done that. But it might as well have been another celebration for him, Read more
At the end of their second century, two strange, brilliant men shape our lives
February 12, 1809 was a great day in the history of the human species, since two of its best specimens took their first breaths that day on two sides of the Atlantic. Both those infants grew into odd boys.
Georgia: a fundamentalist backwater or a hotbed of evolutionary rebellion? Both.
In the past three days I somehow managed to give a lecture to medical students on medicine and anthropology, moderate a panel on evolutionary medicine, and conduct a seminar at a retreat for Emory Scholars–some of our most outstanding undergraduates–called "Religion, Science, Literature and Life."
McCain’s VP Pick Makes Darwinian and Boasian Sense
Shock and awe. That had to be one thought in McCain’s mind when he picked a little-known governor of Alaska–the state one pundit called an overgrown igloo–to stand a heartbeat away from his seat in the Oval Office, his age and cancer history be damned.
Genes in chocolate trees, cancers, and sea water are confirming Darwin and changing the world.
I knew genomics had come of age when I heard they were sequencing the chocolate genome-or the tree chocolate comes from, anyway. That’s Theobroma (“food of the gods”) cacao, which is so beset by diseases that the world’s chocolate addicts, me included, could lose our fix.