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Apes Enjoy Slapstick Humor. A Reply to Professor Barash’s Rebuttal. Post: September 21, 2012 11:18 am Author: Anthony Gottlieb Source: Guest Contributor In my New Yorker article, to which Professor Barash has replied in these pages, I argued that his new book, “Homo Mysterious,” inadvertently “shows how far we still are from knowing how to talk about the evolution of the mind.”

A Reply to Professor Barash’s Rebuttal

I am disappointed, though not surprised, to see that in his eyes making such a criticism puts me in the company of the Victorian bishop’s wife who hoped that Darwin’s theories were not true. It is all too common for evolutionary theorists in psychology to regard any attack on their own work as an attack on the basic ideas Darwin stood for. I am, however, surprised at the number of inaccurate statements in Professor Barash’s reply. Evolution Is as Complicated as 1-2-3. Zachary Blount, postdoctoral researcher in MSU’s BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, led a team of researchers in documenting the step-by-step process in which organisms evolve new functions.

Evolution Is as Complicated as 1-2-3

Courtesy of Brian Baer. Post: September 20, 2012 5:13 pm Source: Michigan State University EAST LANSING, Mich. — A team of researchers at Michigan State University has documented the step-by-step process in which organisms evolve new functions. The results, published in the current issue of Nature, are revealed through an in-depth, genomics-based analysis that decodes how E. coli bacteria figured out how to supplement a traditional diet of glucose with an extra course of citrate. “It’s pretty nifty to see a new biological function evolve,” said Zachary Blount, postdoctoral researcher in MSU’s BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. Normal E. coli can’t digest citrate when oxygen is present. The experiment demonstrates natural selection at work. Genetic Mutation May Have Allowed Early Humans to Migrate Throughout Africa. Category: Biology (Credit: © Sailorr / Fotolia) A genetic mutation that occurred thousands of years ago might be the answer to how early humans were able to move from central Africa and across the continent in what has been called "the great expansion," according to new research.

Genetic Mutation May Have Allowed Early Humans to Migrate Throughout Africa

Post: September 19, 2012 8:26 pm Source: Science Daily A genetic mutation that occurred thousands of years ago might be the answer to how early humans were able to move from central Africa and across the continent in what has been called "the great expansion," according to new research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Death Rituals In The Animal Kingdom. Category: Mind (Copyright: Getty Images) Post: September 19, 2012 10:59 am Author: Jason Goldman Source: BBC We know humans find some form of value in guarding or watching the bodies of the deceased, but in the first article for his new column, Jason Goldman explains how we are beginning to discover that animals may have similar needs.

Death Rituals In The Animal Kingdom

When a Jewish person dies, according to tradition, a member of a group called the chevra kadisha stays with the body from death until burial, continually reciting passages from the book of Psalms. 6 Reasons Why Evolution Isn’t A Sure Thing. Category: Biology Post: September 18, 2012 9:08 pm Author: Dina Spector Source: Business Insider Former children's television host and scientist Bill Nye recently captured national media attention when he blasted Americans who believe in creationism and reject Darwin's theory of evolution.

6 Reasons Why Evolution Isn’t A Sure Thing

The scientific concept of evolution holds that each species on Earth developed from a process of natural selection acting on random genetic mutation. Obviously there's loads of scientific evidence that supports evolution. But we wanted to understand why some people oppose it. FYI: Why Do Girls Throw Like A Girl? Category: Mind Post: September 18, 2012 2:00 pm Author: Colin Lecher Source: Popular Science You don't need to look any further than last week's news cycle to see proof that a girl can throw a ball: Erin DiMeglio, the first female quarterback to play high school football in Florida, made a splash by taking a spot on her team.

FYI: Why Do Girls Throw Like A Girl?

But some research indicates it's an uphill battle. It may be a borderline-offensive schoolyard taunt, but "throws like a girl" has an element of truth. Studies suggest that girls often don't throw as well as boys. Literature on this put forward by Janet Hyde, professor of psychology and women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, for example, has shown the disparity. Conflict and ‘Boom-Bust’ Explain Humans’ Rapid Evolution.

Ayn Rand and Modern Politics. Paul Ryan (left) and Ayn Rand (right) Post: September 5, 2012 8:07 am Author: David Sloan Wilson Source: ETVOL Exclusive Years ago, I conducted an analysis of Ayn Rand’s thought that can help explain why it exerts such influence over politicians such as Paul Ryan.

Ayn Rand and Modern Politics

I didn’t start out studying Rand. I was exploring how people use words such as “selfish” and “altruistic”, which refer to the effects of actions on self and others. The Search for the Origin of Life. AFP Photo Nature/David Wacey Tubular microfossils resembling the protective sheaths of modern bacteria found among sand grains in 3.4 billion-year-old sandstone from the Strelly Pool Formation, Western Australia.

The Search for the Origin of Life

Post: September 14, 2012 1:28 am Author: Jake Klau Source: ETVOL Exclusive Charles Darwin had barely put the period on the last page of his On the Origin of Species before the theory of evolution came under attack. Of all the attacks, perhaps the most misguided is the “invalidating” claim that the theory says nothing of the origin of life. Twilight of the Elites. Or the Unintended Consequences of Meritocracy. Category: Culture Post: September 13, 2012 3:14 pm Author: Peter Turchin Source: Social Evolution Forum I just finished reading a very interesting, and quite alarming, book by Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites.

Twilight of the Elites. Or the Unintended Consequences of Meritocracy

As best as I can tell, Hayes doesn’t know about cultural multilevel selection (CMLS) theory, yet his book is a perfect illustration of one of the general principles directly stemming from a central theoretical result in CMLS, the Price Equation. Joseph Stiglitz. The Price of Inequality. Cultural Evolution. The Evolution Institute. Category: Economy Post: September 13, 2012 10:36 am Author: Peter Turchin Source: Social Evolution Forum I am about two-thirds of my way through the latest book by Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality.

Joseph Stiglitz. The Price of Inequality. Cultural Evolution. The Evolution Institute.

Stiglitz is a recipient of the Nobel prize in Economics and a former chief economist of the World Bank. But he is not a traditional economist. First, unlike most academic economists Stiglitz is sympathetic to Leftist ideas. This is unusual for an economist, especially such an accomplished one who is (or, at least, has been) part of the ruling elite. Science as a (Fragile) Cultural Adaptation. Researchers Seek New Drugs Through Evolution and Local Plant Lore. Category: Environment University of Kansas Researchers have isolated potential drugs from this plant, the wild tomatillo. Post: September 11, 2012 9:10 pm Author: John Timmer Source: Ars Technica Some of the most successful drugs we know about have come from plants, including the cancer drug Taxol, the malarial treatment artemisinin, and even aspirin. The latter two were identified because of their use in herbal remedies that targeted known symptoms.

Many plants produce a complex mixture of chemical compounds, and the lure of finding new drugs has resulted in what has been termed "bioprospecting," or searching plants for compounds that have activity in various drug assays. The challenge of working with plants that are used as herbal remedies is that there are so many: most indigenous cultures seem to have had them, and most involve plant species that don't have a global range.

IT Ain’t Necessarily So. Just So Stories By Rudyard Kipling Post: September 10, 2012 7:10 pm Author: ANTHONY GOTTLIEB Source: The New Yorker When Rudyard Kipling first published his fables about how the camel got his hump and the rhinoceros his wrinkly folds of skin, he explained that they would lull his daughter to sleep only if they were always told “just so,” with no new variations. The “Just So Stories” have become a byword for seductively simple myths, though one of Kipling’s turns out to be half true. The Leopard and the Ethiopian were hungry, the story goes, because the Giraffe and the Zebra had moved to a dense forest and were impossible to catch. So the Ethiopian changed his skin to a blackish brown, which allowed him to creep up on them. Today’s biologists tend to be cautious about labelling any trait an evolutionary adaptation—that is, one that spread through a population because it provided a reproductive advantage.

Read more at The New Yorker. Major Forum Clarifies Nature of Cultural Evolution. Category: Culture Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies Post: September 8, 2012 4:14 pm Author: David Sloan Wilson Source: ETVOL Exclusive Over forty top scientists from around the world, representing a melting pot of academic disciplines, convened at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies in late May 2012 to discuss the topic of cultural evolution.

The forum was organized by Peter J. Richerson (University of California, Davis) and Morten H. Why Fathers Really Matter. Category: Health Post: September 8, 2012 8:36 pm Author: JUDITH SHULEVITZ Source: New York Times MOTHERHOOD begins as a tempestuously physical experience but quickly becomes a political one. Once a woman’s pregnancy goes public, the storm moves outside. Don’t pile on the pounds! Your child will be obese. All this advice rains down on expectant mothers for the obvious reason that mothers carry babies and create the environments in which they grow. How Culture Drove Human Evolution. Category: Culture JOSEPH HENRICH is an anthropologist and Professor of Psychology and Economics. He is the Canada Research Chair in Culture, Cognition and Coevolution at University of British Columbia.

Post: September 8, 2012 7:54 pm Author: Jennifer Jacquet Source: Edge.org A conversation with Joseph Henrich in Edge: [JOSEPH HENRICH:] The main questions I've been asking myself over the last couple years are broadly about how culture drove human evolution. Read more at Edge. This View of Life. Evolution Could Explain the Placebo Effect. When Men Stop Seeking Beauty and Women Care Less About Wealth. Study Demonstrates Evolution of Stereotypes. Men and Women Really Do See Things Differently. Reciprocity an Important Component of Prosocial Behavior. A Grimm Tale of Reproductive Conflict. Aspiration Makes Us Human. Evolutionary Theory’s Welcome Crisis. Evolutionary Theory’s Welcome Crisis. Touring The Brain. The Evolution of Fairness. Category: Environment Photo by Alan Honick. Ancient Human Kin’s DNA Code Illuminates Rise of Brains. Me, Myself, Us. Diametrically Beyond the Two Cultures. Social Darwinism Strikes Back?

Photo courtesy gonnaneedabiggerboat.blogspot.com. Small Family Size Increases the Wealth of Descendants but Reduces Evolutionary Success. Why Humans Give Birth to Helpless Babies. Ants Have Been Using Internet Algorithms For Millions of Years. Debunking the Hunter-Gatherer Workout. Multiple Personality Disorder in Conservationists. An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism. Spirituality May Boost Mental Health: Study. Family Tree of Languages Has Roots in Anatolia, Biologists Say. Monkey Angrily Rejects Unequal Pay.

Menopause Evolved to Prevent Competition Between In-Laws. Peter Singer, Group Selection, and the Evolution of Ethics. Bonobo Genius Makes Stone Tools Like Early Humans Did. Taking Over From Evolution: How Technology Could Enhance Humanity. Seals in Parallel. Toddlers Show Less Sympathy for Whiners. Social Position Drives Gene Regulation of the Immune System. The Rats of War: Konrad Lorenz and the Anthropic Shift. The Saturday Interview: Harvard Biologist Edward Wilson. Brain vs. Brawn. Prehistoric Pigment. Cliodynamics: Can Science Decode the Laws of History? Using Evolution To Understand Pollution. Egalitarian Drives as a Response to Bullying. Fertility Study Suggests Men Prefer Ovulating Women: Bunk Science or Evolutionary Truth?

Wet Mammal Shaking Dry, An Evolutionary Feat, Say Scientists. Rat and Ant Rescues ‘Don’t Show Empathy’ The Science of Spite Explained. Science, Such a Sweet Mystery. Cooperating For Selfish Reasons. Why Koalas Have Human Fingerprints. Dusting Off God. Is Corn the New Milk? Evolutionarily Speaking, That Is. “It’s A Boy!” What Does Evolutionary Theory Have To Do With Your Car?

Study of Fruit Fly Chromosomes Improves Understanding of Evolution and Fertility. Neuroscientists Find Brain Stem Cells That May Be Responsible For Higher Functions, Bigger Brains. Oral sex as a cure for morning sickness? Psychologist says dad’s sperm could help nauseated pregnant. Pentagon Helps Build Meshworm Reconnaissance Robot. Politics and Science: It’s Complicated. Why Do Organisms build Tissues They Seemingly Never Use? Early Domestication Discovered. Found: Fossil Flatfish. God and the Ivory Tower. Early Meat-Eating Human Ancestors Thrived While Vegetarian Hominin Died Out. Interdisciplinary Science in the Anthropocene. There’s Something Special About Islands. Physics and Math Shed New Light on Biological Evolution.