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evolutionary biology

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.

Leonard Mlodinow — Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking

Extraordinary advances in psychology and neuroscience have proven that emotions are as critical to our well-being as thinking. In this conversation, Michael Shermer speaks with Leonard Mlodinow about his new book Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking.

eSkeptic for January 11, 2022

Extraordinary advances in psychology and neuroscience have proven that emotions are as critical to our well-being as thinking. In this conversation, Michael Shermer speaks with Leonard Mlodinow about his new book Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking.

eSkeptic for January 8, 2022

To honor the legendary evolutionary theorist and biologist Edward O. Wilson (1929–2021), who passed away on December 26, 2021 at the age of 92, we present two tributes to him from Mark Moffett and Frank Sulloway, scientists who knew the man well and are deeply familiar with his work and his legacy.

Edward O. Wilson (1929–2021): Reminiscences and a Tribute

In this tribute to Edward O. Wilson, Frank J. Sulloway recounts how the Harvard evolutionary biologist had a profound and enduring influence on his own life and academic career. Wilson, says Sulloway, was the model of a mentor who cared deeply about his students and collaborators. By sharing his infectious love of the wonders of evolutionary biology, Wilson inspired countless others with his impassioned vision about the need to safeguard biological diversity.

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.

Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein on evolution and the challenges of modern life, based on their new book A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century

We are living through the most prosperous age in all of human history, yet people are more listless, divided and miserable than ever. In episode 209 Michael Shermer speaks with Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein about evolution and the challenges of modern life, based on their new book A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century.

eSkeptic for September 14, 2021

In episode 209 Michael Shermer speaks with Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein about evolution and the challenges of modern life, based on their new book A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century. PLUS, new Skeptic digital subscriptions are on sale for only $6.99 for 4 issues until Sept. 26, 2021!

eSkeptic for January 5, 2021

In episode 150 of The Michael Shermer Show, Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology Daniel Lieberman discusses his pioneering researcher on the evolution of human physical activity in his book Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding. PLUS: Perhaps one of the most bizarre beliefs rampant in modern times is that malign, shape-shifting reptilian extraterrestrial invaders, disguised as human beings, secretly control the governments of the world. It is possible that we recently experienced a violent consequence of that belief.

Daniel Lieberman — Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding

In episode 150 of The Michael Shermer Show, Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology Daniel Lieberman discusses his pioneering researcher on the evolution of human physical activity in his book Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding. Using his own research and experiences throughout the world, Lieberman recounts how and why humans evolved to walk, run, dig, and do other necessary and rewarding physical activities while avoiding needless exertion.

Joseph Henrich — The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

WEIRD: Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. Unlike much of the world today, and most people who have ever lived, WEIRD people are highly individualistic, self-obsessed, control-oriented, nonconformist, and analytical. How did WEIRD populations become so psychologically distinct? What role did these psychological differences play in the industrial revolution and the global expansion of Europe during the last few centuries?

eSkeptic for September 22, 2020

In Science Salon podcast # 134, Michael Shermer speaks Joseph Henrich about his book: The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous.

Is Cousin Marriage Dangerous?

The incest taboo is a human institution; we universally prohibit having sex with siblings, parents, or grandparents, but vary culturally regarding cousins, uncles, and others on our family tree. We disagree on how far prohibition should go, and why. Indeed, natural selection primed us for cousin marriage as it offers some evolutionary advantage. In this article, which appeared in Skeptic magazine 24.2 (2019), Gabriel Andrade asks: How truly dangerous is cousin marriage, and should it be legalized?

eSkeptic for July 23, 2019

When will the world end? How likely is it that intelligent extraterrestrial life exists? Are we living in a simulation like the Matrix? Is our universe but one in a multiverse? How does Warren Buffett continue to beat the stock market? How much longer will your romance last? In Science Salon # 76 — a wide ranging conversation with Michael Shermer — science writer William Poundstone answers these questions and more. PLUS Gabriel Andrade examines the incest taboo and asks: How truly dangerous is cousin marriage, and should it be legalized?

eSkeptic for April 3, 2019

In Science Salon # 60 — exceptionally important conversation — Dr. Shermer discusses at length the background to and research of Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a physician and evolutionary sociologist famous for his study of social networks in humans and other animals. PLUS: The breadth of what can be meant by the word “hoax” makes the concept — and consequences — worthy of renewed study. Michelle E. Ainsworth reviews Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News by Kevin Young and Hoax: A History of Deception: 5000 Years of Fakes, Forgeries, and Fallacies by Ian Tattersall and Peter Nevraumont.

Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis — Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

In Science Salon # 60 — an exceptionally important conversation — Dr. Shermer discusses at length the background to and research of Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a physician and evolutionary sociologist famous for his study of social networks in humans and other animals.

eSkeptic for September 12, 2018

In Science Salon # 37, Michael Shermer and Neil deGrasse Tyson take a deep dive into the history of science and war, and the strange but productive alliances that have been formed over the centuries—particularly those between astrophysicists and politicians, governments, military, and corporations.

The Inevitability of Intelligent Life?

Nathan H. Lents reviews The Equations of Life: How Physics Shapes Evolution by Charles S. Cockell, and The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will by Kenneth R. Miller.

Dr. Sean B. Carroll — The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters

How does life work? How does nature produce the right numbers of zebras and lions on the African savanna, or fish in the ocean? How do our bodies produce the right numbers of cells in our organs and bloodstream? In The Serengeti Rules, award-winning biologist and author Sean Carroll tells the stories of the pioneering scientists who sought the answers to such simple yet profoundly important questions, and shows how their discoveries matter for our health and the health of the planet we depend upon.

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Detecting Baloney

Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic) by Deanna and Skylar (High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego, CA)

The Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic)

For a class project, a pair of 11th grade physics students created the infographic shown below, inspired by Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: a 16-page booklet designed to hone your critical thinking skills.

FREE PDF Download

Wisdom of Harriet Hall

Top 10 Things to Know About Alternative Medicine

Harriet Hall M.D. discusses: alternative versus conventional medicine, flu fear mongering, chiropractic, vaccines and autism, placebo effect, diet, homeopathy, acupuncture, “natural remedies,” and detoxification.

FREE Video Series

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods.

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The Top 10 Weirdest Things

The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs

Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic.

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Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?

What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and can you tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?

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The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Mind altering experiences are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…

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Top 10 Myths About Evolution

Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)

If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!

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Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

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