Category Archives: human evolution

Geneticist David Reich responds to critics of his views on race

On March 23, I called your attention to paleoanthropologist David Reich’s op-ed in the New York Times, “How genetics is changing our understanding of ‘race’.” I thought the article was quite good, one of the few articles that takes a pretty objective and open-minded stand on “race”. It noted that conventionally named races are social […]

Finally: a sensible discussion of “race”

And by “sensible,” of course, I mean a discussion that aligns with my own views. I’ve often written that while there are no finite and strongly genetically demarcated human “races”, there are meaningful and statistically diagnostic differences between populations, ethnic groups, or whatever you want to call them. This is in opposition to the common […]

The first Neanderthal cave art

There has been some debate about the artistic ability of Neanderthals, and to date no art has been found, though their “spirituality” has been suggested from traces of ochre in burial sites. That suggests either that living bodies were decorated before burial or were adorned after death in some kind of ritual.  People seize on […]

New jaw and teeth puts first exodus of Homo sapiens from Africa about 180,000 years ago

Note: I’m not an expert on human evolution, so this post is largely derived from some catch-up reading I had to do, and there may be some errors. Feel free to comment or correct me in the comments. I use the subspecies designation H. sapiens sapiens as a synonym for “modern H. sapiens” and to […]

A new hypothesis about consciousness

In my view, there are two big problems of consciousness. The first is mechanical: how does it work? (This is called “The Hard Problem of Consciousness”.) What configurations of neurons create “qualia”, the sensation of conscious experience that includes pain, pleasure, self-awareness, and so on? Many theologians and obtuse academics maintain that we’ll never be […]

A new study on how humans are evolving

I’ve often said that the most frequent question I’m asked in public lectures about evolution is this: “In what direction are humans evolving?” I’ve addressed it in several posts, including here, here, and here. The answers aren’t exciting, and are usually limited to just one population, since such studies involve following a cohort of humans for […]

In an article on race and medicine, New York Times does its best to ignore and denigrate race

Furthering my claim that the New York Times is becoming more regressive in its Leftism, we have a long article in the science section on race and medicine. The thing is, the author of the piece does his very best to pretend that there’s no such thing as “race”, even while investigating—and buttressing, to some […]

Svante Pääbo on human evolution – a must-watch lecture

by Matthew Cobb Last week (20-22 November) there was a paleogenomics jamboree at the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridge (the real one, in the UK).  At the meeting, entitled “Human Evolution: Fossils, Ancient and Modern Genomes”, the great and the good of the ancient DNA and human evolution worlds got together to discuss the latest […]

A lovely graph that tells our story

by Matthew Cobb I came across this beautiful graph in an article in the journal Cell this week. It shows declining levels of genetic variability among 51 populations of humans across the planet, plotted against the distance of each population from East Africa: The data in the figure are from a 2008 paper in Science […]

More on biology and race

by Greg Mayer Jerry posted yesterday on an article at Quillette by Bo Winegard, Ben Winegard and Brian Boutwell on biology and race, commending it for its sensibleness. I thought I’d chime in with my own thoughts. Jerry’s a population geneticist and I’m a herpetologist, but our views turn out to be quite similar. So, […]