Category Archives: evolution

A few thoughts about altruism

When I got my new driver’s license last week, I was asked if I still wanted to be an organ donor (that stipulation is put on the license). I said, “Of course.”  There’s no reason not to be a donor: it doesn’t cost you anything since you’re dead and don’t need the organs (unless you’re […]

A critical review of Prum’s “The Evolution of Beauty” in Evolution

Richard Prum’s 2017 book on sexual selection, The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World—and Us, has gotten a lot of popular press, and a fair number of positive reviews, but it hasn’t fared very well in the scientific community.  Prum’s thesis, which is that the “runaway” model […]

My letter to Darwin

Nine years ago, Radio 4 in England invited several of us to write a letter to Charles Darwin, telling the old guy what we think he’d like to know 200 years after his birth in 1809 and 150 years after he published On the Origin of Species.  We read these “Dear Darwin” letters on the air (you […]

Evolutionist coopts the field for social justice

Holly Dunsworth is a biological anthropologist at the University of Rhode Island, and appears to be somewhat of a biological ideologue—at least as far as male-female differences are concerned. For instance, she’s questioned my claim, supported by substantial evidence, that sexual selection (probably involving male-male competition) was likely responsible for human sex differences in size and […]

Can celebrity endorsements help people accept evolution?

The short answer to the question above is “yes”. Or so suggests new research on acceptance of evolution published in Evolutionary Psychology (click on screenshot below; access free with Unpaywall app and free pdf is here). The method: Several samples of people from Canada (most from a “small university in northern Ontario”, probably Nipissing University) were […]

Richard Prum explains homosexuality as the evolutionary result of selection for female autonomy

I’ve talked a few times about Richard Prum’s new book The Evolution of Beauty, which asserts that female choice drives the evolution of male sexually dimorphic traits in nature, like fancy plumage and mating dances. That’s not in doubt, but Prum’s big claim is that what females are seeking in mates are arbitrary “aesthetic” features […]

The Great Sacred Ibis Debate: an episode in the history of evolutionary biology

While evolution became a big deal in 1859 with the publication of Darwin’s Origin, there were of course people who had the idea of evolutionary change before him. One of these was Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1839), who suggested that organisms had evolved over long periods of time, but who has become infamous for suggesting that that evolution […]

Dear BBC: Yes, we are descended from monkeys. And no, evolution and religion are not compatible.

Yesterday I wrote a bit about the BBC’s new seven-question “Test your knowledge of evolution quiz” (quiz here, my posts here and here), which was (and is) larded with ambiguous questions and wrong answers. They’ve now changed the irrelevant religion question (#7), which originally said, “Evolution and religion are incompatible. True or false?” (the answer was […]

The BBC changed the religion/science accommodationism question on its evolution quiz

As reader Eric astutely pointed out, the BBC has now changed question #7—the “accommodationism” question—in the evolution quiz I described this morning. It previously read this way: Now it reads this way: I’m fairly sure, but not positive, that calling attention to this question by myself or others has led to the change. It’s an […]

BBC gives a dumb quiz on how much you know about evolution

Readers Dom and Kevin called my attention to this new quiz on the BBC website that supposedly tests your knowledge of evolution. It was compiled with the help of Dr. Paula Kover, who teaches evolution at the University of Bath. Click on the screenshot to take the seven-question quiz. I got only 5/7, but that’s […]