Category Archives: biology

An interview with E. O. Wilson: He’s still on about group selection

Matthew sent me a link to this interview with the renowned biologist E. O. Wilson published in The Chronicle Review (part of the Chronicle of Higher Education). It’s generally okay but has some reportorial errors and, sadly, documents Wilson’s continued insistence that human altruism evolved by selection among groups (“group selection”).  The article appears to […]

More scientific puffery at The New Yorker

I’ve often carped about the New Yorker‘s science writing (see here and here, for instance), something that became a pet peeve when it published Siddhartha Mukherjee’s wonky ideas about epigenetics and then refused to correct them after many famous geneticists called it to their attention.   After I was getting tired of its attempt to wrap […]

Once again: Why sex is binary

Over at Medium, Alex Byrne, who happens to be a professor of philosophy, and chair of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has written an article criticizing Anne-Fausto Sterling’s NYT Op-Ed, “Why Sex is not binary.” Click on the screenshot below to see Byrne’s take, which is pretty sensible. I also criticized […]

The journal Nature conflates sex and gender, decries “pigeonholing” people even though we do—and must

Lots of sites, including three scientific societies, have rejected the new Health and Human Services guidelines that provide a classification of a person’s sex into two categories. But these sites, and now an article in the prestigious journal Nature (click on screenshot below), conflate “sex”—which I take as biological sex recognized in humans by chromosomal constitution, […]

This year’s Physiology or Medicine Nobel goes to two cancer researchers (and a contest)

Here’s the video announcing today’s Nobel Prize, awarded to James P. Allison, an American who works at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Tasuko Honjo, a Japanese immunologist at Kyoto University, for the discovery of ways to cöopt the human immune system to attack cancer cells.  (See announcement and press release here). Here are the […]

Octopuses as aliens from another planet?

Reader Tim sent me a link to this article from the Daily Express, which I don’t read but suppose, from this one article, is about as credible as The Sun or other British tabloids purveying fake stories. Click on screenshot to see the article.  I’ll make this into an exercise in which readers can tell […]

Cold Spring Harbor perambulations

by Matthew Cobb I am staying a few days at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, where I gave a talk wrapping up my Sydney Brenner Research Scholarship here. My work was on how Brenner and Francis Crick, pioneer molecular biologists, collaborated together – they shared an office for 20 years and constantly talked […]

A muddled thinker claims that evolution can’t explain organisms or their “strivings”

Alternet notes that Jeremy Sherman “is a decision theorist studying how life deals with dilemmas from the origins of life to everyday and political life.” In the article below (click on the screenshot), he also shows himself to be deeply muddled about evolution. The headline is tantalizing, but the “biological mystery” that science can’t explain […]

Matthew’s lecture on “What makes great biology?”

I’m out of the office this morning, so Readers’ Wildlife will take a one-day hiatus. But we do have a nice half-hour video lecture from Matthew on “What makes great biology?”.  It’s largely based, as the YouTube notes say, on his interviewing or knowing personally several of the people who have done “great biology”, including […]

Matthew gets Nobel Prize prediction right—four years too early (and a contest)

Four years ago, during Nobel Prize Season, Matthew made a prediction on this site: the 2013 Prize for Medicine and Physiology would go to “Jeff Hall, Michael Rosbash and Mike Young for their work on discovering the mechanism by which ‘clock’ genes work.” Well, Matthew was wrong at the time, but, as the New York […]