Category Archives: books

NYT’s pathetic summary of Tom Wolfe’s book misses the boat on evolution and linguistics

What would a major newspaper do if they were discussing the views of a famous scientist who went off the rails about something unrelated to their profession? Take Lynn Margulis, for example, rightly renowned for promulgating (but not inventing) the idea that mitochondria within cells are actually the remnants of bacteria, showing an ancient event in […]

USA today gives Tom Wolfe’s book three stars out of four

This is what happens when a book reviewer is assigned a book in which he has no expertise whatsoever. Over at USA Today, Don Oldenburg reviews Tom Wolfe’s new book, The Kingdom of Speech. I’ve read the book, and its thesis is that human language is not in any way a product of biological evolution. […]

Tom Wolfe discusses his new book on NPR, claiming that humans “didn’t evolve from animals”; NPR doesn’t challenge that

This weekend, National Public Radio (NPR) host Scott Simon interviewed renowned author Tom Wolfe about Wolfe’s new book The Kingdom of Speech. You can hear the five-minute interview here. I just now listened to it, but several exercised readers emailed me yesterday complaining about Wolfe’s criticisms of evolution—criticisms that weren’t called out by Simon. Let me begin by […]

A reader defends the truth of Jesus’s existence

Reader “Fletch” had a comment on the post I wrote yesterday, “To uniquely protect Islam against mockery, Sydney newspaper suggests that Muslims be considered members of a race rather than a religion.” As you may recall, I criticized the Sydney Morning Herald‘s op-ed calling for Muslims to be included among special ethno-religious groups that, considered “races,” are […]

An accommodationist recommends five accommodationist books

Q: Why are accommodationist historians of science like Reza Aslan? A: The historians say the Galileo episode had nothing to do with Catholicism, while Aslan says that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. And this is by way of introducing a new Five Books piece in which a religionist recommends books on science and religion. As you […]

Can we please abandon the word “spiritual”?

I’m busy with my children’s book, and will be for a few days, because writing it is HARD. In fact, it’s about harder than any 1500 words I’ve ever written. I don’t have children, and know only that you shouldn’t condescend to them in books, and that the books should appeal to parents as well […]

How cats learn to mouse

I couldn’t resist reproducing this tw**t sent to me by Matthew Cobb, another Twi**er user whom I parasitize: 🎨 "Cats reading a book about the the art of mouse-catching and being instructed by an owl", circa 1700. pic.twitter.com/HkPHDg367g — Bibliophilia (@Libroantiguo) August 2, 2016

Mukherjee corrects his new book in light of epigenetics kerfuffle, still defends his mischaracterization of gene regulation

You may remember—but not want to remember—the Big Epigenetic Kerfuffle documented on this website (see list of pieces here). It involved Siddhartha Mukherjee, doctor and Pulitzer-Prize-winning author, who was taken to the woodshed by a passel of famous molecular biologists for distorting the state of epigenetics research in a popular article. Mukherjee’s piece, “Same but different,” was […]

Book on bees of the world has a mimetic fly on the cover – update

Matthew Cobb, who does social media, called my attention to a post today by environmentalist and writer Brigid Strawbridge; it’s about a book on the world’s bees. Here it is. Notice anything strange? Hint: count the wings: Bees, in the order Hymenoptera, have four wings, like this: What we see above on the cover of Bees […]

A scary article about Trump

As I made a visit to Facebook last night, and saw that about 40% of the posts were about Donald Trump, all saying basically the same thing—the man is an idiot—I began to experience the phenomenon of Trumpfenschmerz, or “Trump Weariness.” I wanted to write on my page, “Can we talk about cats instead?”, but […]

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