A couple of weeks ago I posted some musings about “the self” in anticipation of being on a panel with Steven Pinker (author of The Blank Slate and The Stuff of Thought) and Noga Arikha (author of Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours) at Tufts University. The panel, convened by Jonathan Wilson, was titled “The New Biology and the Self,” and what follows was my contribution. The graduate student referred to is Monica Chau of Emory University.
I told a very smart neurobiology graduate student named Monica yesterday that I’d been asked to speak on “The New Biology and the Self.” She said, “What’s the new biology?” I said, “I don’t know, but that’s the least of my problems. What’s the self?” Read more
Our innate fear and contempt of strangers often turns ugly. Now it’s China’s turn.
A charismatic president who blends two major races has had a healing effect on the wounds of a secular racial conflict in the United States. At the moment he is in Ghana visiting and speaking—eloquently as always— Read more
My friend and colleague Prof. David Blumenthal wrote this comment on my last posting, and I try to answer it below.
I’m not sure I agree that educating women is the way to go. As long as Islamic
men have the following cluster of problems, no amount of women’s education
(1) Islamic men have no empowerment – not economic, not religious, not
political, etc. This is also why Arabs can’t negotiate a peace; they have to
be empowered, to win. (2) Islamic men believe that submission is the
ultimate value – for themselves and especially for those who defy them. 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
Obesity is an evolutionary legacy, which is why it’s so hard to control.
I said a few weeks ago (before I was rudely interrupted by the swine flu epidemic) that I would try to explain why the battle against overweight is such a hard and so far losing one, for the species if not for the individual. Read more
In response to my last posting, “Sex Lives, Male and Female,” reader Clare wrote this thoughtful comment:
“I’m curious what you make of the ethnographic accounts from cultures where widows are considered to be insatiable sex fiends? Is this how fear of women expresses itself, that they become more interested in sex than is considered usual? Or is there some truth to the folklore? Is there any evidence that sexual interest waxes and wanes (so to speak) over the life course of men and women?”
I thought it well worth answering at length: Read more
Sex is something that women have and men want. Or is it?
I caused a bit of comment in a blog on another website when I wrote, “Your mother told you men only want one thing, and you may have rolled your eyes, but she had a piece of the truth. Biology and common sense both tell us sex is something women have and men want. We can try as hard as we want to talk our way around this, but we can’t make it any less true…”
Can we say anything about human beings to come? In a word, yes.
Recently after lecturing about human evolution, I had a student come up to me and ask—she apologized first, as some do, despite my mantra that there are no bad questions—if I had any thoughts about future evolution. I did, although I hesitated to offer them; the political correctness monitors are everywhere in universities today. But, casting caution to the winds,
A government in the nature of things, with intelligent (human) design
I could not make the inaugural, but I had to be in Washington on Friday, and I decided to make a pilgrimage. After walking halfway across the city (dragging a rolling bag all the way) I stood in a happy, multiracial crowd before the White House fence,
Three stunning current examples of human character reflect our evolutionary history
Yesterday’s New York Times had three remarkable specimens of humanity on the front page, and together they say much about the human species and our long evolution. They say a lot too about human nature, and perhaps even more about human culture.