In "Alternative Evolution" of Dinosaurs Foresaw Contemporary Paleo Finds” (Scientific American August 10, 2011), Brian Switek surveys the great changes that have taken place in how dinosaurs are viewed, many of which may have been foreseen by Dougal Dixon, who thought he was writing a fantasy about how dinosaurs would have evolved, had they survived. Except that they happened way back then.
Charlie Jane Anders tells us "Zookeeper is a horror movie about evolutionary biology" (IO9, July 8, 2011), but she must mean "evolutionary psychology." Briefly, the zookeeper wants this girl, and the animals (who can talk, of course) advise him to use their mating strategies:
Griffin is encouraged to become an Alpha Male, to pee in public to mark his territory. (There is a lot of urination.) The Adam Sandler-voiced monkey tells him to fling poop. At various times, his mating seminar starts to seem like an episode of the Pick-Up Artist, as a lion tells him to throw some negs. He's encouraged to pick fights with competing males, to separate his desired mate from the pack, and to make his nerdy-but-gorgeous best friend pretend to be his girlfriend to make Stephanie jealous. There is much slapstick involving Griffin attempting to do a frog confrontation stance and making his pants split open.
Eventually, though, it starts to work — Griffin, implausibly, becomes an Alpha Male and everybody admires him. He becomes a kind of super-yuppie and God among ordinary shlubs.
The usual keenness of evolutionary psychology's insight into human nature is on display here;
Prevent parasite infections by promoting "genetic variation" (Jul 7, 2011):
Sexual reproduction, then, serves as a way to keep introducing genetic variety, a process that has to constantly be repeated in order to continue staving off attacks the latest and deadliest parasites. This is known as the "Red Queen Hypothesis", taking its name from a line in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass in which, "It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place."
But no, wait. According to another study, "Sex Is Not About Promoting Genetic Variation, Researchers Argue" (ScienceDaily, July 7, 2011):
I was recently asked to cover an event coming to London known as the ‘Slutwalk.’
The event, which features scores of women walking down the street dressed as ‘sluts,’ started in Toronto on April 3, 2011, with an attendance of over 3000 people. Since then (at least according to the Wikipedia article about it
) it has spread to other towns throughout the US, Canada, Australia, Europe and even the Middle East. It is shortly to reach London.
It is anticipated that the event in London will be the biggest Slutwalk yet, with thousands of marchers meeting at Trafalgar Square. If the Toronto and Boston events were anything to go by, the march will feature scores of women dressed in bikinis, miniskirts and other minimalist outfits (some have even gone completely topless). In an earlier walk one woman marched in her underwear with the word ‘slut’ written across her skin.
There are many issues that an event like this raises and in an article at Alfred the Great Society I have explored some of the fundamental issues at stake regarding sexual identity. To read my article click on the following link:
Commenting on the decision made by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured below) that Clinton's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, I have pointed out that
The logic of the Attorney General’s argument goes a lot further than merely attacking traditional marriage. Just think about it: a definition of ‘marriage’ that includes both heterosexual unions and same-sex unions, still excludes unions with animals, polygamous unions, or ‘group marriages.’ But doesn’t this discriminate? After all, if someone is bisexual, then in order for their sexuality to be fully expressed, their ‘marriage’ must include a minimum of at least one person from each sex. At least, that is where the argument against “discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation” could go.
Suffice to say, any new definition of marriage that Obama may wish to proffer opens the door to an endless series of redefinition in the years to come. This is because what is true of the word marriage is true of any noun: to define a word as one thing is necessarily to exclude that word as being some other thing. A noun that can mean anything is a noun that can mean nothing.
Consequently, if we say that it is unconstitutional for the word ‘marriage’ to exclude anyone or anything, then we are beginning a process whereby the word must necessarily be eventually emptied of all content. Suffice to say, if DOMA were set aside, then not only would a union between one man and one woman no longer have a monopoly on the term ‘marriage,’ but in principle any definition of marriage (even one broadened to encompass homosexual unions) could eventually be challenged as unconstitutional by an extension of the same logic.
In short, the word ‘marriage’ must finally come to cover anything we could possibly imagine. However, to do that would render the term incoherent, and that is something that not even the homosexuality community wishes to see happen.
To read more about this, visit my article 'DOMA and the Definition of Marriage.'