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Race & Medicine

If race is a social construct with no meaningful biological foundation, then why do medical doctors and researchers collect information about a patient’s race, along with gender and other characteristics? Harriet Hall considers the concept of race from a medical perspective: what we know, what we don’t know, and what difference it makes.

Trans Athletes and Conflicting Rights: Male-to-Female transgender swimmer Lia Thomas from the University of Pennsylvania is crushing the female competition. Is that her right? Is it right? No. Here’s why.

Trans rights are human rights, but rights do not mean that any of us can do anything we like any time. There are restrictions on our actions, and when there are conflicting rights something must give. In this article on trans athletes, Michael Shermer explains why Male-to-Female trans athletes competing in women’s sports is unfair and a threat to the hard-earned rights of women to compete in their own athletic divisions, and why biological males that have gone through puberty cannot be considered equal to women with just a year of hormone suppression therapy.

eSkeptic for April 27, 2022

Was the great scientist E. O. Wilson a racist? No! Because Wilson corresponded with the notorious race differences psychologist Phillippe Rushton, critics claim it proves Wilson was a racist. Here’s why the critics are wrong, dangerously wrong.

A reply to Bert Hölldobler on the Matter of Edward O. Wilson, Race, Racism, and Race Science

In this letter to Bert Hölldobler, following up on his defense of his long-time colleague E. O. Wilson, who has been falsely accused of racism and knowingly promoting race science, Mel Konner, who also knew and worked with Wilson, reinforces the point that Wilson’s defense of Philippe Rushton was done out of concerns about academic freedom; in fact, Konner notes that there are other reasons for critiquing Wilson, primarily for his ultimate rejection of kin selection — one of the key tenets of evolutionary theory.

eSkeptic for April 12, 2022

Mel Konner, in response to Bert Hölldobler’s defense of E. O. Wilson, reinforces the point that Wilson’s defense of Philippe Rushton was done out of concerns about academic freedom; PLUS: Michael Shermer speaks with Oliver Stone about Ukraine, Putin, and the military-industrial complex.

Self-Righteous Vigilantism in Science: The Case of Edward O. Wilson

Is there vigilantism in science? Was the renowned Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson wrongly convicted of racism and promoting race science in the court of public opinion? Yes, says his long-time collaborator and world-class scientist Bert Hölldobler.

Johnjoe McFadden on simplicity in science, based on his book Life is Simple: How Occam’s Razor Set Science Free and Shapes the Universe

Michael Shermer speaks with Professor of Molecular Genetics, Johnjoe McFadden, about: our medieval ancestors • science and religion • how pre-modern theologians thought about the nature of reality • Ptolemaic vs. Tychonic vs. Copernican world systems • simplicity in math, physics, biology, medicine, and the social sciences • quantum physics and simplicity •  Postmodernism and the search for Truth • Is science more Bayesian than Popperian? • the anthropic cosmological principle • the hard problem of consciousness.

eSkeptic for January 25, 2022

Social psychologist Carol Tavris thoughtfully explores and questions “affirmative trans medicine,” the latest dangerous medical practices bubble. Few question the mystifying explosion of cases of gender dysphoria among adolescents and the proliferation of clinics to treat them. Vulnerable teens and baffled parents resort to internet misinformation and succumb to biased media influence, while experts spurn exploratory therapies and promote untested treatments that have long-term effects. Dissenters are vilified and silenced as being transphobic. PLUS: Michael Shermer Speaks with Johnjoe McFadden about his book Life is Simple: How Occam’s Razor Set Science Free and Shapes the Universe.

Remembering Edward O. Wilson

To honor the legendary evolutionary theorist and biologist Edward O. Wilson, who passed away on December 26 at the age of 92, his former student Mark Moffett, pays tribute to his mentor in this deeply moving memoir of his time working with the great scientist.

Matthew Cobb — The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience

In Science Salon # 115, Michael Shermer speaks with scientist and historian Matthew Cobb about his book The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience which traces how our conception of the brain has evolved over the centuries.

eSkeptic for May 12, 2020

In Science Salon # 115, Michael Shermer speaks with scientist and historian Matthew Cobb about his book The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience which traces how our conception of the brain has evolved over the centuries.

What is Mental Illness, Anyway?

Peter Barglow, MD reviews Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness by Anne Harrington.

David Quammen — The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life

In Science Salon # 33, Michael Shermer talks with David Quammen, one of the best nature and science writers of our generation, about his new book on the history of one of the most exciting revolutions in evolution and genetics that is unfolding before our eyes.

eSkeptic for August 15, 2018

In Science Salon # 33, Michael Shermer talks with with David Quammen, one of the best nature and science writers of our generation, about his new book on the history of one of the most exciting revolutions in evolution and genetics that is unfolding before our eyes.

eSkeptic for May 2, 2018

Nathan H. Lents and Lila Kazemian discuss evidence from a variety of disciplines as disparate as animal behavior and moral theology that point toward more humane, efficient, and effective responses to crime and punishment that work in concert, rather than in conflict, with our evolutionary psychology.

What Biology Can Teach Us About Crime and Justice

Nathan H. Lents and Lila Kazemian discuss evidence from a variety of disciplines as disparate as animal behavior and moral theology that point toward more humane, efficient, and effective responses to crime and punishment that work in concert, rather than in conflict, with our evolutionary psychology.

A History of Life’s Vital Essence (Part 3): The Twilight of Vitalism

Mike McRae provides a glimpse into the history of two competing systems of biology: life as complex chemistry, and the abandoned theory of vitalism. (Part 3 of 3.)

A History of Life’s Vital Essence (Part 2): Vital Thinking

Mike McRae provides a glimpse into the history of two competing systems of biology: life as complex chemistry, and the abandoned theory of vitalism. (Part 2 of 3.)

A History of Life’s Vital Essence (Part 1): Fire and Gods

Haeckel's asteridea drawing.

Mike McRae provides a glimpse into the history of two competing systems of biology: life as complex chemistry, and the abandoned theory of vitalism. (Part 1 of 3.)

14-10-29

Horror is both the human emotion, and the artistic genre designed to produce that emotion. What is it really, and why do we regularly seek out such an unpleasant experience? In this week’s Halloween edition of eSkeptic, Stephen T. Asma discusses “horror” and our fascination with it.

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