Two Sharp Takes on Mukherjee’s The Gene

Nathaniel Comfort, “Genes Are Overrated”: Mukherjee gives us a Whig history of the gene, told with verve and color, if not scrupulous accuracy. The gene, he tells us, was first described by the Augustinian friar Gregor Mendel, in the mid-19th century. Tragically, no one noticed—not even the great Charles Darwin. “If Darwin had actually read” the reference […]

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Love Poems About Elephant Skin, Rhino Skin, Hippo Skin, and Snake Skin – For Science

I’ve been reading some of Harry Harlow’s papers, and am in wonder at his seminal “The Nature of Love,” his 1958 Presidential Lecture to the American Psychological Association, to what had to be a stunned room, about cloth-versus-wire mesh monkey mother studies with which he famously kicked aside a behaviorist view of infant love and […]

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My TL,DR version of “Die, Selfish Gene, Die”

Many have liked  “Die, Selfish Gene, Die,” my Aeon piece challenging Richard Dawkins “Selfish Gene” meme. Quite a few readers have objected to and disagreed with the story, sometimes sharply. Some readers have both liked it and objected to it. At least one objected both rudely and inaccurately; I answer that here.  I want to thank everyone who’s read […]

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How Eugenics Gets Legit

In the wake of the flap over Geoffrey Miller’s fat-shaming, a friend pointed me to a remarkable collection at the Cold Spring Harbor website, the Eugenics Archive. In one section on how eugenics ideas get traction, it offers a useful global reminder and a more specific warning: Science, or what is claimed to be science, is a product of […]

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A Lost Polar Explorer Returns: Todd Balf’s “Farthest North”

  Farthest North: America’s First Arctic Hero and His Horrible, Wonderful Voyage to the Frozen Top of the World. Byliner Orignals. $1.99  Publisher site.  Reviewed by David Dobbs Crossposted from Download The Universe, the science e-book review site _____ When people today imagine scientists, they tend to picture a man in a white lab coat, glasses, and […]

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