The Primate Diaries

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Notes on science, politics, and history from a primate in the human zoo.

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  • November 17, 2011
  • 08:23 AM
  • 1,195 views

Social Networks Matter: Friends Increase the Size of Your Brain

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

New research confirms that social complexity enriches cognitive growth. Could having more Facebook friends actually make you smarter? Let’s face it, as a species we’re obsessed with ourselves. The vast majority of us spend our days at work or school where a considerable amount of time is taken up not discussing the important issues of [...]









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Sallet, J., Mars, R., Noonan, M., Andersson, J., O'Reilly, J., Jbabdi, S., Croxson, P., Jenkinson, M., Miller, K., & Rushworth, M. (2011) Social Network Size Affects Neural Circuits in Macaques. Science, 334(6056), 697-700. DOI: 10.1126/science.1210027  

  • November 10, 2011
  • 06:45 AM
  • 1,339 views

Scientific Ethics and Stalin’s Ape-Man Superwarriors

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

Author’s Note: The following originally appeared at archy. The anti-Darwin industry among fundamentalist Christians has produced thousands of pages of misinformation in their attempt to tar and feather the theory of evolution. I have responded to many of these false claims previously. However, one assertion that is especially outlandish is that the Soviet dictator Joseph [...]









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  • October 31, 2011
  • 01:26 PM
  • 1,292 views

A Natural History of Vampires

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

Medveđa, Serbia. Jan. 1732 — The Carpathian mountains loomed ominously to the east, as if nature herself was conspiring with evil. In the valley below a shadow had been draped over the corpses that now littered the quiet cemetery. Of the forty villagers exhumed that morning, a total of thirteen had been identified as vampires. [...]









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  • October 6, 2011
  • 12:45 PM
  • 1,241 views

Charles Darwin and the Vivisection Outrage

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

Author’s Note: The following originally appeared at The Dispersal of Darwin. According to the British Medical Journal the alleged crime resembled a crucifixion. The victims had been strapped to boards, backs down, and with their legs cinched outwards. In the stifling August heat their heavy breathing was made only more intense by a suffocating fear. [...]









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Feller, D. (2009) Dog fight: Darwin as animal advocate in the antivivisection controversy of 1875. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 40(4), 265-271. DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2009.09.004  

  • September 22, 2011
  • 12:48 PM
  • 1,068 views

Commodity Traitors: Financial Speculation on Commodities Fuels Global Insecurity

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

“Food is always more or less in demand,” wrote Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations. While the founder of modern capitalism pointed out that the wealthy consume no more food than their poor neighbors, because the “desire of food is limited in every man by the narrow capacity of the human stomach,” the desire [...]









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Marco Lagi, Yavni Bar-Yam, Karla Z. Bertrand, & Yaneer Bar-Yam. (2011) The Food Crises: A quantitative model of food prices including speculators and ethanol conversion. New England Complex Systems Institute. info:/

  • September 6, 2011
  • 12:58 PM
  • 1,197 views

Freedom to Riot: On the Evolution of Collective Violence

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

From London to the Middle East riots have shaken political stability. Are the answers to be found in human nature? Police cars were overturned and shops looted as the mob descended on the city’s central square. Rioters tore the police station’s outer door off its hinges and “used it as a battering ram” to break [...]









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Marco Lagi, Karla Z. Bertrand, & Yaneer Bar-Yam. (2011) The Food Crises and Political Instability in North Africa and the Middle East. New England Complex Systems Institute. arXiv: 1108.2455v1

  • August 26, 2011
  • 09:50 AM
  • 1,889 views

Penis Spines, Pearly Papules, and Pope Benedict’s Balls

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

Author’s note: The following originally appeared as a guest post at A Primate of Modern Aspect and subsequently formed the basis for a technical comment published by Nature co-authored with John Hawks. This post is also notable in that it began my collaboration with artist Nathaniel Gold. There is very little known about the reign [...]









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McLean, C., Reno, P., Pollen, A., Bassan, A., Capellini, T., Guenther, C., Indjeian, V., Lim, X., Menke, D., Schaar, B.... (2011) Human-specific loss of regulatory DNA and the evolution of human-specific traits. Nature, 471(7337), 216-219. DOI: 10.1038/nature09774  

  • August 8, 2011
  • 04:00 PM
  • 1,719 views

On the Origin of Cooperative Species: New study reverses a decade of research claiming chimpanzee selfishness

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

Charles Darwin had more in common with chimpanzees than even he realized. Before he was universally known for his theory of natural selection, the young naturalist was faced with one of the great moral choices in the history of science. The decision he made has long been hailed as the type of behavior that fundamentally [...]









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Victoria Hornera,J. Devyn Cartera, Malini Suchaka, and Frans B. M. de Waal. (2011) Spontaneous prosocial choice by chimpanzees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/10.1073/pnas.1111088108

  • July 29, 2011
  • 11:13 AM
  • 1,823 views

Does Rough-and-Tumble Play Teach Lessons About Fairness? “Why, Soitenly!”

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

The Three Stooges was the source of an ongoing controversy between my parents. My dad introduced my brother and I to their antics and would often laugh along with us as we imitated their physical hijinks in front of the TV. But, for my mom, the Stooges’ fake violence and prat falls were simply ridiculous [...]









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  • July 5, 2011
  • 04:55 AM
  • 1,612 views

Throwing Rocks From the Shores of the Cosmic Ocean

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

I’m teaching my son to think like a scientist. He is two years old. We frequently go for walks together through the woods and along the coastlines of British Columbia where I allow his curiosity to run free. His current research project is throwing rocks into the ocean (this is just the exploratory phase mind [...]... Read more »

Michael Elazar. (2011) Projectile Motion and the Rejection of Superposition. Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 169-187. info:/10.1007/978-94-007-1605-6_16

  • April 21, 2011
  • 02:06 PM
  • 1,736 views

Ariel Casts Out Caliban: Bonobos, "Killer-Apes" and Human Origins

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

In place of a guest post this week I'm very pleased to announce my cover article in the latest edition of Times Higher Education.--------------------------------------------The concept of the 'killer-ape' offers a pessimistic reflection of humanity and its genesis, but the latest research shows that a primate species whose success is based on mutual aid and pleasure, not violence, is a better model for human origins. Eric Michael Johnson considers the better bonobos of our nature."Nature never intends the generation of a monster."John Bramhall, Bishop of Derry, in debate with Thomas Hobbes (1645)In 1607, after being held captive by the Portuguese in West Africa's Congo Basin for nearly 18 years, the English sailor Andrew Battell returned home with lurid tales of "ape monsters". The larger of the two creatures Battell described, according to the edited volume later published by travel writer Samuel Purchas, Purchas His Pilgrimes, "is in all proportion like a man", but "more like a giant in stature...and has a man's face, hollow-eyed, with long haire upon his browes". These marauding beasts "goe many together, and kill many (villagers)...they are so strong, that ten men cannot hold one of them". Battell's narrative, much of which was received second hand and sure to be highly imaginative, was nevertheless one of Western society's earliest introductions to our evolutionary cousins, the great apes.Simia quam similis turpissima bestia nobis ("How similar the ape, this ugliest of beasts, is to ourselves"). What the Roman poet Ennius presented in the 2nd century BC was a refrain that could be heard repeatedly during the subsequent two millennia whenever Europeans encountered this being that so threatened the line separating human and animal. The common depiction of non-human primates in the West as representations of sin and the Devil, wickedness, frivolity, impulsivity and violence would ultimately say more about our own discomfort at being reminded of similar qualities in ourselves than their nature.But it is the depiction of the ape as monster that is even more revealing. When Bishop John Bramhall challenged Thomas Hobbes' position on free will in 1645 by insisting that "Nature never intends the generation of a monster," he wasn't referring to apes but to what today we would call a mutant; something fundamentally unnatural and far removed from ourselves. For Battell, and those who came after him, to use this term repeatedly for describing great apes suggests that the experience was so profoundly disturbing that the only recourse was to relegate them to some narrow island of the mind where any similarities with humans could be ignored. The ape, to adopt lines from Shakespeare written at the time, was "a perfidious ... howling ... abominable monster", little more than "a born devil, on whose nature nurture can never stick".Read the rest of the article here and stay tuned for the next edition of the The Primate Diaries in Exile tour.Perelman, P., Johnson, W., Roos, C., Seuánez, H., Horvath, J., Moreira, M., Kessing, B., Pontius, J., Roelke, M., Rumpler, Y., Schneider, M., Silva, A., O'Brien, S., & Pecon-Slattery, J. (2011). A Molecular Phylogeny of Living Primates PLoS Genetics, 7 (3) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001342... Read more »

Perelman, P., Johnson, W., Roos, C., Seuánez, H., Horvath, J., Moreira, M., Kessing, B., Pontius, J., Roelke, M., Rumpler, Y.... (2011) A Molecular Phylogeny of Living Primates. PLoS Genetics, 7(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001342  

  • April 15, 2011
  • 03:21 PM
  • 1,717 views

The Allure of Gay Cavemen

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted by Neuron Culture at Wired:In 1993 the reputable German weekly Der Spiegel reported a rumor that Otzi, the 5,300-year-old frozen mummy discovered in the Otztal Alps two years earlier, contained evidence of the world's earliest known homosexual act. "In Otzi's Hintern," wrote the editors, referring to the Iceman's hinterland, "Spermien gefunden worden." (If you require a translation, chances are you didn't want to know anyway.) The rumor quickly spread on computer bulletin boards as the recently unveiled World Wide Web inaugurated a new age in the free flow of misinformation. The origin of the rumor, as Cecil Adams discovered, turns out to have been an April Fool's prank published in the Austrian gay magazine Lambda Nachrichten. The joke about our ancient uncle being penetrated deep in the Alps was then picked up by other periodicals, but with a straight face.Twenty years later it appears that little has changed. Last week Czech archaeologist Katerina Semradova spoke with the Iranian news service PressTV about their ongoing excavation of a burial in Prague that contained evidence suggesting a "third gender" identity. Dated to approximately 4,700 years ago, the archaeologists found what they said was a man from the Corded Ware culture who had been buried in a way that was highly uncharacteristic for the time. Typically, males from this Chalcolithic society were interred laying on their right side facing east while women were placed on their left side facing west. Accompanying the bodies would be gender specific grave goods that the deceased individual would presumably need in the afterlife (weapons or tools in the case of males and jewelry or domestic jugs for women)."We found one very specific grave of a man lying in the position of a woman, without gender specific grave goods, neither jewelry nor weapons," said Semradova. "[I]t could be a member of a so-called third gender, which were people either with different sexual orientation or transsexuals or just people who identified themselves differently from the rest of the society."Read the rest of the post here and stay tuned for the next entry in the Primate Diaries in Exile tour.Will Roscoe (2000). Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America, Palgrave Macmillan.Joan Roughgarden (2004). Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People, University of California Press.... Read more »

Will Roscoe. (2000) Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America. Macmillan. info:/

  • March 11, 2011
  • 04:56 PM
  • 1,693 views

Penis Spines, Pearly Papules, and Pope Benedict's Balls

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted by A Primate of Modern Aspect:A new study in the journal Nature has generated a great deal of titillation this week as Cory McLean and colleagues have revealed a sequence of DNA that promotes these penis spines, a sequence that humans appear to have lost. The genetic mechanism involved has already been explained extremely well by Ed Yong and John Hawks. However, the interpretation of what the loss of this DNA reveals about human evolution is perhaps the most provocative claim and has resulted in a flurry of media attention. "Simplified penile morphology tends to be associated with monogamous reproductive strategies in primates," write the authors. According to their study, the loss of these spines would have resulted in a reduction in sexual sensation (because the spines are thought to be connected to nerve endings) and would therefore have allowed our ancestors to engage in more prolonged sexual activity that the authors associate with pairbonding and the evolution of social monogamy (citing Owen Lovejoy's Ardipithecus ramidus paper from 2009 as a model).As Nature News wrote in their summary of these results:It has long been believed that humans evolved smooth penises as a result of adopting a more monogamous reproductive strategy than their early human ancestors. Those ancestors may have used penile spines to remove the sperm of competitors when they mated with females. However, exactly how this change came about is not known.Read the rest of the post here and stay tuned for the next entry in the Primate Diaries in Exile tour.McLean, C., Reno, P., Pollen, A., Bassan, A., Capellini, T., Guenther, C., Indjeian, V., Lim, X., Menke, D., Schaar, B., Wenger, A., Bejerano, G., & Kingsley, D. (2011). Human-specific loss of regulatory DNA and the evolution of human-specific traits Nature, 471 (7337), 216-219 DOI: 10.1038/nature09774... Read more »

McLean, C., Reno, P., Pollen, A., Bassan, A., Capellini, T., Guenther, C., Indjeian, V., Lim, X., Menke, D., Schaar, B.... (2011) Human-specific loss of regulatory DNA and the evolution of human-specific traits. Nature, 471(7337), 216-219. DOI: 10.1038/nature09774  

  • February 4, 2011
  • 05:03 PM
  • 1,297 views

Touching Death

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted by The Prancing Papio:There is something intensely animal about our relationship with the dead. As an atheist I don’t feel particular reverence or awe at the site of a cadaver. It mostly just creeps me out. But even religious believers, those who should be comfortable with the idea that a dead body retains no trace of the person they once knew, also seem to have trouble letting go of what St. Paul called “confidence in the flesh.” In funerary observances around the world cadavers are regularly touched, kissed, washed, anointed with oils, bedaubed with ceremonial makeup, carted to sacred ground, entombed with their clothes or belongings, and generally treated in death as if their body were going on a different journey than miasmic decay.However, as is often the case where human universals are concerned, looking to similar behaviors in other animals can be especially instructive. For example, a study that has just been released in the American Journal of Primatology has captured the most complete process to date of what could only be described as mourning behavior in nonhuman primates. Katherine Cronin and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute, Gonzaga University, and the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust in Zambia have documented a case where a chimpanzee mother faced what for most of us would be an unthinkable horror: the death of her child. Read the rest of the post here and stay tuned for the next entry in the Primate Diaries in Exile tour.Cronin, K., van Leeuwen, E., Mulenga, I., & Bodamer, M. (2011). Behavioral response of a chimpanzee mother toward her dead infant American Journal of Primatology DOI: 10.1002/ajp.20927... Read more »

Cronin, K., van Leeuwen, E., Mulenga, I., & Bodamer, M. (2011) Behavioral response of a chimpanzee mother toward her dead infant. American Journal of Primatology. DOI: 10.1002/ajp.20927  

  • January 11, 2011
  • 01:20 PM
  • 1,361 views

What Was Lost in the Fire: A Conservation Memorial

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted by Reconciliation Ecology:The modern conservation movement began at dawn on December 8, 1850, above the north fork of California's San Joaquin river. Soft orange light had just begun to spill over the craggy peaks of the eastern Ahwahnee mountains causing the jagged minarets to ignite like still burning embers from the Indian campfires below. All remained still inside the wigwams of the Ahwahneechee camp. But an attuned ear would have noticed that the early morning trills of the hermit thrush were strangely absent. A disturbed silence had entered the forest, broken only by the occasional clumsy snap of twigs as if from an animal unfamiliar with its surroundings. There was also the faint smell of smoke.Suddenly, fires roared to life throughout the camp as multiple wigwams were engulfed in flame. White men quickly scattered from the light and into shadow. A party of vigilantes in the company of Major John Savage had used smouldering logs from the Indians' own campfires to set the shelters ablaze. It was a tactic that those with experience in the Indian Wars knew to inspire panic and the crucial element of surprise. Dozens of Ahwahneechee fled their burning wigwams as the fire rapidly spread to the surrounding forest. Thick plumes of smoke were bathed in the same searing glow that was now descending from the rocky peaks above."Charge, boys! Charge!!" bellowed the gravelly voice of Lieutenant Chandler. A heavy drumbeat of foot falls now joined the sound of crackling pine. Thirty men, many wearing identical red shirts and crude suspenders purchased at the mining supply depot, dashed from the surrounding bushes with their rifles. Read the rest of the post here and stay tuned for the next entry in the Primate Diaries in Exile tour.Reference:Scholl AE, & Taylor AH (2010). Fire regimes, forest change, and self-organization in an old-growth mixed-conifer forest, Yosemite National Park, USA. Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America, 20 (2), 362-80 PMID: 20405793... Read more »

  • November 22, 2010
  • 12:01 PM
  • 1,176 views

Stressing Motherhood: A primatologist discovers the social factors responsible for maternal infanticide. (Scientific American)

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted by Scientific American:Throughout history, from the fictional Medea to the tragic reports of modern times, women have taken the lives of their children under a variety of contexts, whether it is to punish the father, escape from the burden of motherhood, or even to protect a child from what they perceive as a fate worse than death. In this regard humans share yet another feature, albeit a tragic one, with nonhuman animals since females in a variety of species have been observed to abandon, abuse, or even kill their own offspring. To stress the importance of motherhood in human societies today, how can we best understand this behavior so that we can better predict, and prevent, its recurrence?Dario Maestripieri has spent most of his career studying maternal behavior in primates. In particular, he’s focused on the factors that influence a mother’s motivation towards her young. As a professor of Comparative Human Development, Evolutionary Biology, Neurobiology, and Psychiatry at the University of Chicago he has enjoyed the kind of cross-disciplinary success that most scientists only dream of. His 153 academic papers and six books have been cited more than a thousand times by scholars (including this one) in many of the world’s top scientific journals. His latest paper is scheduled to be published in early 2011 by the American Journal of Primatology. In it Maestripieri lays out the argument he’s built over the last two decades showing how one of the most serious impacts on maternal behavior, one with potentially lethal results, is so common in modern life as to be nearly invisible: stress.Read the rest of the post here and stay tuned for the next entry in the Primate Diaries in Exile tour.Reference:Maestripieri, D. (2010). Emotions, stress, and maternal motivation in primates American Journal of Primatology DOI: 10.1002/ajp.20882... Read more »

  • October 13, 2010
  • 12:55 PM
  • 1,239 views

Defending the Sensible: Charles Darwin and the Anti-Vivisection Controversy

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted at The Dispersal of Darwin:According to the British Medical Journal it resembled a crucifixion. The dogs were strapped to boards, backs down, and with their legs cinched outwards. In the stifling August heat their heavy panting was made only more intense by a suffocating fear. The accused was described as wearing a white apron “that was afterwards covered with blood” as he approached one of the struggling animals. His mouth was tied shut but when the blade entered the thin, pink flesh of his inner thigh the animal’s cries of agony were too much to bear.Experienced medical men in attendance, including some of the nineteenth century’s top surgeons, were outraged and demanded that the animal’s torture cease. Thomas Joliffe Tufnell, President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, denounced the demonstration as a “cruel proceeding” and stormed to the operating table to cut the animal loose. Other physiologists objected to the interruption with one insisting, “That dog is insensible; he is not suffering anything.” But Tufnell held firm, “The dog is struggling hard to get free. I am a sportsman as well as a surgeon, and I will never see a dog bullied.” However, a vote was taken among the assembled members of the British Medical Association and the demonstration was allowed to continue.A tube was then forced into the conscious animal’s femoral artery, the white hair of his belly stained red as the arterial pressure caused blood to spurt from the incision. Into the tube the accused injected pure alcohol. The result, continued the Journal, “was an immediate struggle, which almost immediately subsided. The animal became dead drunk.”“Now, you see he’s insensible,” a physician snidely remarked to Tufnell.“Yes,” Tufnell replied, “and he’ll never be sensible again, for he will die.”Read the rest of the post here and stay tuned for the next entry in The Primate Diaries in Exile tour.Feller, D. (2009). Dog fight: Darwin as animal advocate in the antivivisection controversy of 1875 Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 40 (4), 265-271 DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2009.09.004... Read more »

Feller, D. (2009) Dog fight: Darwin as animal advocate in the antivivisection controversy of 1875. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 40(4), 265-271. DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2009.09.004  

  • September 23, 2010
  • 02:56 PM
  • 1,357 views

Reflections on the WEIRD Evolution of Human Psychology

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted by PLoS Blogs:What happens if researchers inadvertently fall prey to confirmation bias at a societal level?Addressing this question Canadian psychologists Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine and Ara Norenzayan at the University of British Columbia (where I am also located) recently published a paper in the journal Behavioral Brain Sciences. Their research documents how most of the studies that psychologists claim show human universals are really just extrapolations from a single social group, the cultural equivalent of the psychopaths in my example. As The New York Times wrote in their review:According to the study, 68 percent of research subjects in a sample of hundreds of studies in leading psychology journals came from the United States, and 96 percent from Western industrialized nations. Of the American subjects, 67 percent were undergraduates studying psychology — making a randomly selected American undergraduate 4,000 times likelier to be a subject than a random non-Westerner.The subpopulation that Henrich and colleagues found to be overrepresented are entirely WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) societies. While it’s bad enough that WEIRD American undergraduates are serving as our model for human behavior, what their paper goes on to document should be of concern to all behavioral and cognitive researchers (particularly those whose work focuses on human evolutionary explanations). Henrich, J., Heine, S., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33 (2-3), 61-83 DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X0999152XRead the rest of the post here and stay tuned for the next entry in The Primate Diaries in Exile tour.... Read more »

Henrich, J., Heine, S., & Norenzayan, A. (2010) The weirdest people in the world?. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(2-3), 61-83. DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X0999152X  

  • September 2, 2010
  • 01:55 PM
  • 1,348 views

The Science of Sexism: Primate Behavior and the Culture of Sexual Coercion

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted by The Intersection at Discover magazine.Despite the advances our society has made for women’s rights and sexual equality during the last century this example is just one more sign of how far we still have to go. It’s not an isolated incident. According to statistics compiled by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission there were 12,696 workplace sexual harassment cases filed in 2009 (which would be a fraction of the number that actually occurred) and 84% of these cases were brought by women. Businesses have gotten increasingly serious about cracking down on such abuses but last year they were still held liable to the tune of $51.5 million, the largest figure since 2001. What is going on here? Could this kind of gender inequality be an intrinsic feature of human nature that we’re stuck with or is it simply a failure to create an environment that prevents such behaviors from reoccurring?Primatologists and evolutionary biologists have taken this question seriously and have developed some surprising conclusions that could inform our approach to this issue. Unlike Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer’s book A Natural History of Rape, a thesis that was criticized by scholars both in biology and gender studies, other evolutionary researchers have developed a much more balanced analysis. One example is from the recent edited volume Sexual Coercion in Primates and Humans by Martin Muller and Richard Wrangham. As they wrote in their introduction:[M]ales in a number of primate species appear to use force, or the threat of force, to coerce unwilling females to mate with them. . . Although the utility of this distinction has been disputed, there is no doubt that sexual coercion is a potentially important mechanism of mating bias within the broad framework of sexual conflict theory.Read the rest of the post here and stay tuned for next week's post hosted by Sex at Dawn at Psychology Today magazine.Reference:Martin N. Muller and Richard W. Wrangham (2009). Sexual Coercion in Primates and Humans: An Evolutionary Perspective on Male Aggression Against Females Harvard University Press... Read more »

Martin N. Muller and Richard W. Wrangham. (2009) Sexual Coercion in Primates and Humans: An Evolutionary Perspective on Male Aggression Against Females. Harvard University Press. info:/

  • August 20, 2010
  • 03:38 PM
  • 1,243 views

The Scientist and the Anarchist - Part III

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted by Deborah Blum at her website Speakeasy Science.When an estimated 1,400 match-girls went on strike in July, 1888 to protest for better working conditions, it started a fire that became known as New Unionism. Soon after came the London dock workers’ strike, and within twelve months the UK’s Trade Union Congress had increased its membership from 670,000 to 1,593,000. [1]For Thomas Henry Huxley and Peter Kropotkin these labor developments were interpreted very differently, and yet both saw in them important connections with their work in evolutionary biology. Huxley, who had pulled himself out of East London poverty through a combination of sheer brilliance and stubborn determination, was greatly concerned about what the workers democracy movement meant for social stability. Now the President of the Royal Academy of Sciences and a living legend in the recently established field of evolutionary biology, Huxley had come to identify with the aristocracy he’d worked so hard to be accepted by. Kropotkin, however, had rejected the silver spoon he had once been fed with as a Russian prince after coming face to face with the exploitation that made such ostentatious luxury possible. For him, the growing workers movement was the only path by which the poor could achieve any justice in a world that was undergoing radical change. Both saw in these developments a force of nature — one ominous, the other hopeful — and these conflicting visions would ultimately collide on the pages of the Nineteenth Century.Read the rest of the post here (also Part I and Part II) and stay tuned for next week's post at Anthropology in Practice.Peter Kropotkin (1902). Mutual Aide: A Factor of Evolution New York: McClure, Philips & Co.... Read more »

Peter Kropotkin. (1902) Mutual Aide: A Factor of Evolution. New York: McClure, Philips . info:/

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