Are we exceptional humans? Or just stupid apes who do stupid ape things?

It would be nice to think that, as humans, we have something special about us. But when I look at the mess we’ve made of the world – at the way we’re destroying the planet that sustains us, all the while fighting among ourselves, with increasing venom and intolerance, over abstractions, I have to wonder. … More Are we exceptional humans? Or just stupid apes who do stupid ape things?

Why do we always see an apocalypse around the next corner?

A retired Professor from the University of Arizona, Guy McPherson, told an audience in New Zealand last year that the human race will be extinct from climate change in a decade. Except here. Apparently we’re well placed at the bottom of the South Pacific to survive. And there’s a precedent. Until the 1280s, for the … More Why do we always see an apocalypse around the next corner?

Making science problems go away by changing our thinking

It’s always intrigued me how apparently intractable puzzles emerge in science, then disappear again without any new evidence being found. What’s changed, instead, is the pattern into which we’re trying to slot the evidence – the ‘organising principle’. It’s an innate human thing: we always look for patterns. And the pattern then becomes reality, often … More Making science problems go away by changing our thinking

How Charles Darwin was bullied by his teacher Richard Owen

I recently relocated my copy of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, the 1968 Pelican paperback version of the first edition, with editor’s introduction. This is the edition that sold out in 1859 on the first day of publication – all 1250 copies. Five more editions followed, all slightly different – and the book (including … More How Charles Darwin was bullied by his teacher Richard Owen