Category Archives: Darwin and Biology

“Maintaining A Thesis At All Costs”

Daniel Dennett has a new book – From Bacteria To Bach And Back. I haven’t read it, though I likely will. Thomas Nagel reviews it, here.

Closing The Circle

A couple of weeks ago I picked up a copy of The Outline of History, written in 1920 by H.G. Wells. I’m halfway through the first volume of two. It’s a fine example of post-WWI Progressive-era thinking, and Mr. Wells was of course a wonderful craftsman, so I’ve been enjoying it enormously. (The entire book […]


About three years ago I wrote a brief item about Toxoplasma gondii, which is a cat-borne parasite that causes behavioral aberrations in mice — and appears to do the same in humans too. The article I originally linked to is here, and today I’ll add a link to another article, here. At the time, however, […]

The Thucydides Trap

In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes wrote the following about why humans fight: ‘So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory. The first maketh men invade for gain; the second for safety; and the third for reputation. The first use violence, to make themselves masters […]

Stockholm Syndrome

Writing for the Gatestone Institute, Swedish journalist Ingrid Carlqvist describes the situation in her homeland — which for most of my lifetime was the holotype and exemplar of the advanced, peacable modern Western nation — as it sinks into darkness and disorder, thanks to its mass importation of wholly alien, mostly Muslim, immigrants. Swedish citizens, […]

Corruption In Eastern Europe: Tail Or Dog?

From a review, by Roger Scruton, of Russell Kirk’s America’s British Culture (1993): Kirk identifies a culture in anthropological fashion, as a set of “folkways”—inherited forms, procedures, expectations, and customs, which together define a communal way of life. Four principal folkways define America’s British inheritance: the English language and its literature, the rule of law, […]

Magic Dirt

In a completely off-topic comment to a recent post, our resident Leftist gadfly mentioned the Higgs boson. By a strange coincidence, John Derbyshire just mentioned it too! Here.

La Difference

Back in 2007, psychologist Roy F. Baumeister gave a talk on why men and women are not the same. It’s lucid and thoughtful, and well worth your time. Read it here. Related content from Sphere


In the mail today came a link to an excellent, informative, and even-handed article on inequality, social mobility, and the heritability of advantageous traits. The author is an Englishman named Toby Young, and he zeroes in nicely on the question one comes to once one has hacked through the thorny ideological thicket surrounding these topics. […]

As The World Burns

Though it’s September, and time to get back to business around here, I haven’t had enough quiet time over the past few days to do any serious writing. (Though you may find it hard to believe, it actually takes me rather a long time to produce a substantial post — and then there’s coming up […]

Lucky Us

To a first approximation, every species that ever was is extinct. It is within a rounding error to say that every ancestral lineage that ever began eventually petered out. Imagine Nature as a machine-gunner firing into a crowd. The fact that you and I exist means that for four billion years, our personal ancestors have […]

Verb Of The Day

Here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know about: “anting”. From Gilbert Waldbauer’s What Good are Bugs?: The amazing behaviors by which many birds, including some quail and a multitude of perching birds, use or solicit ants to free their bodies of lice and parasitic mites are known as anting, Birds ant in two quite different […]

Call It Caitlyn

Ladies and gentlemen, we present the most numerous vertebrate on Earth: the bristlemouth.

Science Is Never Settled

From the indefatigable JK: a medical story that might be a pretty big deal.

The Main Drawback

More and more over the past decade or so I’ve become convinced that modern, secular, post-Enlightenment civilization — perhaps high civilization in any form, but especially the sort we live in today — operates in such a way as inexorably to extinguish itself. Writing in the early 20th century, the prominent Progressive intellectual and author […]

Male Plumage

                                                Related content from Sphere

The Womaniferous Aether

I’ve just read an outstanding essay on the paucity of women in high-tech jobs, and the stubbornly persistent (and demonstrably counterfactual) belief that it is caused, not by natural differences between the sexes, but by an invisible fog of sexism. I’d sum up its arguments for you, but it’s so good you should go and […]

How Can This Be?

The CBS program 60 Minutes reported tonight, to everyone’s astonishment and dismay, on a recent, and heretofore completely unsuspected, scientific discovery. The context was specific — differences in the effect of the sleeping pill Ambien on men and women — but it appears, shockingly, that the scope of the problem might be far more general, […]

Know Your Limitations

The computer scientist David Gelernter has just posted an essay about the aggressiveness and overreach of contemporary scientism and transhumanism. In particular, he focuses on what he perceives to be an assault on the essence of our humanity — our subjectivity, which so far remains an impenetrable mystery. We read: Today science and the “philosophy […]

It’s Different For Girls

In this blog post, a New York venture capitalist expresses his concern about an urgent national problem: the underrepresentation of women in software engineering. Why this would, by itself, be an urgent national problem is hard to imagine. From an end-user’s perspective, what matters is that software does what it’s supposed to, reliably and without […]

Not So Fast

From our reader Henry, here’s an interesting item: geneticists studying the rate at which biological complexity has increased over time have arrived at a provocative extrapolation.

Homo Rationalis

James Taranto had a very good piece in his daily Best of the Web edition yesterday, but before I could write it up, my pal Mangan beat me to it. So go and find it at his place. Related content from Sphere

Feet Of Clay

When I was a young boy (the son of two scientists), I was fascinated by paleontology, and always imagined that it would be what I would do when I grew up. It didn’t work out that way, but I never lost my interest in natural history and the theory of evolution. One man I admired […]

Diversity vs. Reality

Our e-pal ‘hbd* chick’ (a scholar of human reproductive patterns and variation whose outstanding blog should be on your regular reading list, if it isn’t already) posted an excellent item yesterday on the increasing difficulties confronting adherents of the ideological cult of Diversity in the face of damning and discrediting evidence. (At this point the […]

Let P Be A Constant

Another item from the frontiers of science: the Law of Mammalian Urination.

By The Numbers

From Heartiste: the Beauty Ratio.

Head Start

Interesting item here: the human population may have undergone significant expansion far longer ago than we’ve thought up till now — not ten millennia ago, but sixty to eighty. How, I wonder, does this fit in with the “Toba bottleneck” theory, in which the entire breeding population of humans is thought to have crashed to […]

Step Right Up

Sam Harris has issued a $20,000 challenge to anyone who can refute his claim to have placed morality on a thoroughly scientific, Utilitarianist footing. (Not a merely descriptive footing, that is: a normative one: a beneficent blend of biology and Bentham.) I might have to take a go at this myself. See also Harris’s initial […]

Move Over, Colombian Weasel

In case you missed it, there’s a new mammal, which doesn’t happen much these days.

Go Not Gently

Perhaps the most spectacular self-delusion of the modern liberal mind — a mind that prides itself in being “reality-based”, and on “restoring science to its rightful place” — is the cognitive dissonance required to tune out the realities of human biodiversity. On the one hand, the science proceeds apace; on the other, the terrifying power […]

Dark Counsel From The Durants

In 1965, near the end of a long lifetime of scholarly study and reflection, the great historians Will and Ariel Durant brought forth a slim volume called The Lessons of History, a companion to their magnum opus, The Story of Civilization. The third chapter, Biology and History, deals with topics now associated with the dissident […]

Unity And Diversity

Here’s a paper worth reading carefully, from Frank Salter and Henry Harpending: J.P. Rushton’s theory of ethnic nepotism In brief, the paper argues that in ethnically diverse settings, the statistical advantage conferred by intra-ethnic altruistic cohesion is sufficient to create significant group-level selection pressure, even when the actual kin relations are fairly weak. Related content […]

This Just In!

Now here’s an interesting item: it seems that upper-body strength in males correlates positively with opposition to redistributive economic policies. We read: “Our results demonstrate that physically weak males are more reluctant than physically strong males to assert their self-interest — just as if disputes over national policies were a matter of direct physical confrontation […]

They All Look Alike To Me

If you’ve ever wondered about just how subjective human notions of beauty really are (or aren’t), here’s an interesting item: Korean beauty-pageant contestants go for plastic surgery, and all end up with the same face. Related content from Sphere

Slow Road To Extinction

Over at Mangan’s, our friend Dennis links to a post by Bruce Charlton about the cratering birthrates of the developed, Westernized world. That there is something maladaptive about secular modernity has been apparent for some time, and I’ve written about this myself; most of the discussion to date, however, has focused on social and cultural […]

Chasing Rainbows

A vexing feature of modern physicalistic non-theism is that, followed to its logical conclusion, it leads to moral nihilism. (I realize that theistic attempts to put morality on an objective basis also face serious challenges, but that’s not the point tonight.) Moral nihilism being, to most folks, bad, there’s been a rash lately of books […]

Competition For Excrement Is Fierce

If you’re like me (of course you are!), you’ve been lying awake at night, asking yourself: “How the hell do South African dung beetles roll their balls in a straight line? Sure, polarized light from the Sun works fine during the day (duh!), but what about at night, when many of them do their best […]

Web Of Deceit

Here’s a new one: a spider that builds decoy spiders.

Born That Way

Writing at The Thinking Housewife, Laura Wood examines an article, by one Alice Dreger, about the sexuality of two African tribes, the Aka and the Ngandu, in which both masturbation and homosexuality are absent. Mrs. Wood writes: Dreger says that the absence of homosexuality does not conflict with the prevailing belief in the West that […]

Jews, Genes And Intelligence

I haven’t much time for writing today, so for now, here’s Steven Pinker on the genetic basis of the high IQ of Ashkenazi Jews. Pinker is one academic who, despite being a fairly high-echelon member of the Cathedral staff, apparently has an office with a window, and flirts openly with apostasy. Among the apostatic asseverations […]

Cheap Date

Here’s a remarkable critter: a plant-animal chimera called Elysia chlorotica. Once it has dined on enough algae to prime its photosynthetic pump, it lives on nothing but sunlight, and never needs to eat again. Amazing. More photos here. Related content from Sphere

Gene Pool

Many years ago I stumbled across a book called The Descent of Woman, by Elaine Morgan. It was the first I’d ever heard of something called the “aquatic ape hypothesis”, which claims that certain features of the human body — our hairless skin, our bipedalism, and some other things you can read about here — […]

Birth Of A Notion

It was Richard Dawkins who gave us, in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, the idea of the “meme”. The concept, by replicating itself into millions of human minds, has turned out to be a robustly successful meme in its own right — and Professor Dawkins is rightly credited with setting it loose in the […]

Goldilocks Chemistry

If we infidels are going to go around insisting that life arose spontaneously without miraculous intervention, then we’re naturally going to have a keen interest in providing an explanation of how that could have happened. To make the story hang together, what’s needed is for some sort of self-replicating molecules to have arisen, and a […]

Well, Blow Me Down

In the past day or so Dennis Mangan and others have mentioned this important new study confirming the heritability of intelligence. The results will hardly be a shock to denizens of the HBD blogosphere, or for that matter anyone who has been following the actual science of psychometrics, but are bound to raise a hackle […]

Assembly Of God

Boffins at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have made a nifty find: an animal that’s screwed together. (Just like we’re all going to be.) Have a look here.

Beta Test

Lawrence Auster, in a post commenting on the idiotic and occasionally dangerous fad known as “planking” (in which people take photos of themselves stretched out horizontally in odd locations), suggests that plankers deserve a Darwin Award. So far, so good, and I quite agree. But Mr. Auster, who has an intellectually unfortunate antipathy to Darwinism, […]


A couple of days ago, David Brooks wrote a column about the evolution of morality by group selection, an idea that is finally gaining broader acceptance. I’m glad to see that happening; the group-selection model provides such a solid foundation for an evolutionary account of the origins of religion and morality that I was persuaded […]

Works For Me

When it comes to thinking about human consciousness and reason, people divide, broadly speaking, into two camps: those who see consciousness and reason as primary features of reality, and those who see them as emerging from the activity of suitably configured physical systems (in particular, human brains). For those in the first camp, consciousness is […]


It’s another busy spell for me; I haven’t had much time to comment on the passing scene since putting up that brief eugenics post last week, and I’ve had no time for writing today. But don’t touch that dial! I have something I’m sure you’ll enjoy: Ants As Fluids. Related content from Sphere