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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Field Notes

Debunking Darwin Myths
Two-hundred years after he was born, and 150 years after he published On the Origin of Species, it’s time to check the facts, as “most of what most people think they know about him is not true,” according to Darwin scholar John van Wyhe, a historian of science at the University of Cambridge. (Gillian Murdoch, Reuters Blogs)

The Fall of Evo Psych
In some environments it might indeed be adaptive for women to seek sugar daddies. In some, it might be adaptive for stepfathers to kill their stepchildren. In some, it might be adaptive for men to be promiscuous. But not in all. And if that's the case, then there is no universal human nature as evo psych defines it. That is what a new wave of studies has been discovering, slaying assertions about universals right and left. (Sharon Begley, Newsweek)

The Rise of "New Atheism"
Konstantin Petrenko: The tendency in the media has been either to hail this phenomenon as the latest cultural fad or to dismiss it as a secular equivalent of religious fundamentalism. In reality, it is neither of these. The New Atheism is a complex movement that has the potential both to inspire positive change and, sometimes, to promote intolerance. (Religion Dispatches)

Living Kidney Donations to Strangers Increasing in the United Kingdom
"The donors I have come across are genuinely altruistic, they decide that, on balance, donating is unlikely to do them any harm but will transform someone else's life," said consultant nephrologist Peter Rowe. (BBC News)

The Music Instinct: Science and Song

Bobby McFerrin, the singing-conducting "Don't Worry, Be Happy" man, co-hosts with neuroscientist Daniel Levitin (This Is Your Brain on Music), who also knows his way around a musical instrument or two. (Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times)