The special effects for the latest Planet of the Apes movie are being made right in the city where I live – Wellington – by Weta Workshop. That’s very cool, but I’ve always found the concept rather silly. The original 1968 movie took the human/chimp relationship and reversed it, largely as a statement against human … More Requiem for the planet of the apes
I have always been intrigued by the way we elevate specialists. Anybody prominent in one of half a dozen fields that western society exalts is, we are told, somebody to be looked up to, and who are never wrong. That’s particularly true of medical specialists particularly, where – certainly here in New Zealand – their … More When specialists fail – spectacularly
I sometimes despair about the nature of the human condition and the likely future of our species on this planet. We don’t behave at all well towards each other – something that’s been thrown into sharp relief in the last generation or so in the west as we’ve become increasingly ‘wired’, and as the culture … More I despair about the future of humanity
I have been fascinated of late with the way our understanding of human evolution has forged ahead in leaps and bounds. This year alone we’ve discovered that Homo naledi, the previously unknown ‘archaic’ species that was discovered in a South African cave, was still going just 250,000 years ago and – very likely – had … More Re-thinking human evolution… again
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?
One of the ways that George Orwell exposed the reality of authoritarian dictatorship in his novel 1984 was through the way his Big Brother authorities twisted the truth. They didn’t just lie in blatantly transparent ways – they demanded that their ‘alternative facts’ be taken as gospel, irrespective of any evidence to the contrary. If … More Orwell’s ‘1984’ and the alternative truth
Humanity’s earliest ancestor was dug up a while ago. Well, when I say ‘our’ ancestor, it’s also the ancestor of fish, amphibians, reptiles and starfish among other things. It’s 540 million years old, it’s called Saccorhytus coronarius, and it’s a primitive deuterosome, a type is thought to be one of the earliest common ancestors of quite … More Our earliest ever ancestor had a big mouth and spewed – er –