David Orenstein and Abby Hafer have written a delightful new book, Darwin’s Apostles: The Men Who Fought to Have Evolution Accepted, Their Times, and How the Battle Continues. Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859. In the 160 years since then, much has been written about Darwin and evolution, but this entertaining,… read more "Darwin’s Apostles: The Battle Continues"
A review of the book The Not-So-Intelligent Designer: Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not, by Abby Hafer Intelligent Design (ID) maintains that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent cause (presumably God?) rather than by the natural process of evolution. That’s nonsense;… read more "Unintelligent Design"
Caffeine is not addictive. Regular users of caffeine can develop tolerance and mild physical dependence, and sudden withdrawal can cause headaches and other symptoms (but only in half the population). This is does not qualify as addiction. Image credit: Urine Drug Test HQ In the Feb/March 2019 issue of Free Inquiry magazine, there… read more "Caffeine Withdrawal Headaches"
The new science of molecular phylogenetics tells the story of evolution with no need to consult the fossil record. It has produced some surprises, including a whole new domain of life, the archaea. Darwin’s 1859 book On the Origin of Species was a well-written, well-argued introduction to evolution, to the theory that… read more "Molecular Phylogenetics: A New Way to Tell the Story of Evolution"
The human body is clearly not the product of an intelligent designer. Its many flaws tell the fascinating story of evolution’s accidents and constraints. In his new book Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes, Nathan Lents, a professor of biology at John Jay… read more "Human Flaws Demonstrate Evolution, Not Intelligent Design"
Last month I wrote about a book on evolutionary medicine that I could not recommend. Now I’ve found one I can recommend. Marlene Zuk, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Riverside, has written a delightful book entitled Riddled with Life: Friendly Worms, Ladybug Sex, and the Parasites That… read more "Another Kind of Evolutionary Medicine"
For most of human history, people have assumed that some kind of vitalistic essence had to be added to matter to produce life. The belief in an immaterial soul was pervasive. At one point, scientists even tried to weigh the soul by weighing a body right before and after death,… read more "The Riddle of Consciousness"
When a man does something silly, my daughters and I like to joke, “Testosterone poisoning strikes again!” Everybody knows women and men are different, not just anatomically but psychologically and behaviorally. That common knowledge is epitomized in the book title Men Are from Mars; Women Are from Venus. Sometimes common… read more "Testosterone Rex"
In 1850, one in four American babies died before their first birthday, and people of all ages died of bacterial infections that could have been successfully treated today with antibiotics. Unfortunately, treatments that have effects usually have side effects, and we are seeing problems due to the overuse of antibiotics.… read more "Antibiotics vs. the Microbiome"
Depression affects approximately 10% of Americans. It can be fatal; I found estimates of suicide rates ranging from 2-15% of patients with major depression. When it doesn’t kill, it impairs functioning and can make life almost unbearably miserable. It is a frustrating condition because there is no lab test to… read more "Depression Re-examined: A New Way to Look at an Old Puzzle"