Sometime earlier this month, the human population is reckoned to have reached the milestone of 8 billion. So, congratulations to us, I guess? We humans dominate the planet. The majority of Earth's good land has been taken over by us. We've increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 50%. The mass of … Continue reading 8 billion
Differences between females and males
What statistical differences, in body and behavior, does science predict we might observe between females and males of the same species? It's not a safe topic for casual conversation, but it's one that I think is interesting. I'll consider whether it's plausible that such differences might exist, and if so, why. I'll try to keep … Continue reading Differences between females and males
The recent discovery of an ancient bilaterian fossil
In March 2020, researchers in Australia announced the discovery of a 555 million-year-old fossil of a bilaterian animal, which they named Ikaria wariootia. The way that journalists presented this discovery made it clear that it is significant for… something. But it seemed to be difficult for them to pin down precisely what is significant about … Continue reading The recent discovery of an ancient bilaterian fossil
Are you a group selectionist?
Many scientifically-minded people believe in the evolutionary concept of group selection, without knowing that the thing they believe in has a name, or that it is, at best, disputed. Standard disclaimer: Just because I may suggest that something is scientifically true or natural, does not mean that I consider it to be morally good. So, … Continue reading Are you a group selectionist?
In April, 2019, Israel's Beresheet spacecraft landed on crashed into the Moon. It later emerged that it was secretly carrying a supply of live tardigrades -- microscopic creatures known for their hardiness. Naturally, many observers, joking or not, brought up the idea of accidentally contaminating the Moon with destructive Earth life. I worry about a … Continue reading Contaminating space
Are humans descended from monkeys?
Are humans descended from monkeys? It's an interesting question. Too many well-meaning scientifically-minded individuals are quick to reply with a defensive "No! We just have a common ancestor!" But that's not a very good answer. It ignores the fact that the question is ambiguous, and that the definition of "monkey" is ambiguous. Sometimes the answer … Continue reading Are humans descended from monkeys?