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Context and Variation

Context and Variation


Human behavior, evolutionary medicine… and ladybusiness.
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The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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This here blog is many things — ladybusiness explainer, bad science outer, and a place where I reflect on higher education and the academic life. Today is the last day of the semester here at the U of I, there’s a lovely dusting of snow on everything, and it seemed like a nice time to reflect on what I’ve accomplished on the blog, what it’s meant to me, and sometimes what it means to you.

Also, everybody else is doing it.

Ladybusiness anthropology

Here is some legitimate science on pregnancy and rape. On Todd Akin’s brilliant words about the science of conception. This was the most difficult post I have written from an emotional perspective.

When a beginning is not a beginning. My post on the causes of miscarriage. I wrote it for a friend, and, I think, I wrote it for myself.

Don’t sweat it: premenopausal women, reproductive state, and night sweats. My most recent in-depth science blog post, and it was all about ME. While there weren’t too many men interested in this one, this is a post where I got a surprising number of private messages from other women, relieved I had written about night sweats because they got them too. It also opened up a lot of conversations with friends. This is why it can be hard to measure impact or define metrics for this kind of stuff.

Interrupting claims about natural sexual behavior. I probably should just lay this whole kerfuffle to rest, but I was pleased with my final blog post on Deep Thinking Hebephile at the beginning of the year. Whenever anyone evaluates claims about behavior, in evolutionary psych or in other fields, I do hope they remember to keep these tenets of evolutionary theory in mind and test hypotheses against them.

Nutty science

Llama, llama, get with mama: the magical semen ingredient that makes the ladies swoon (then ovulate). I wasn’t debunking anything in this post, which is often the case when I write funnier stuff (well, funnier to me). I just thought it was a great topic, and led to a lot of puns that nauseated adults who either are about my age and therefore saw the same Sesame Street episodes, or have children of their own and are familiar with a current children’s book series. I never said this blog was for everyone!

Hot for Obama, but only when this smug married is not ovulating. On that unfortunate study on voting behavior and ovulation that didn’t measure ovulation.

An academic life

Impostors, the culture of science, and fulfilling our potential. My follow-up post to Sci Foo on the impostor syndrome I and others felt. I was glad to hear that it resonated with a lot of people. I hope we all hold a picture of reality in our heads whenever those ugly feelings come up.

Which came first, rewarding outreach or doing it? On chickens, eggs, and overworked scientists. This was my contribution to a broader conversation on the impact of outreach, and whether it does or should “count” in an academic career.

I can out interdiscipline you: anthropology and the biocultural approach. I was intentionally a bit snarky in this post, to try and get at what it is about some of anthropology’s interdisciplinary work that irks me. Since this post, I have been the reviewer for some amazing interdisciplinary work between biological and cultural anthro. Could it be because of this very post??? Correlation equals causation, yes? Or not.

Finally, a big thank you

Thanks readers, for being here, for supporting me, for being brilliant, interesting people in your own right, and being the kind of people who are eager to learn new things and make the world a better place. Thanks to my allies and friends online and off. Thanks to all those academics who tell me they secretly read me even if it’s not cool for academics to read blogs.

And of course, thanks to my family who have the patience to give me the space to write. Every time I tell my husband something good about my science writing (from “someone with lots more followers retweeted me!” to “I got an honorarium for that speaking gig about the blog!” to “an agent wants to represent me!”), he is delighted. And convinced that some day I am going to write a best seller that allows us to retire to Hawaii.

We can keep him in the dark about what it means to be kinda a little semi-known within a small sub-circle of the science blogosphere, though, because the delight never gets old.

Kate Clancy About the Author: Dr. Kate Clancy is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois. She studies the evolutionary medicine of women’s reproductive physiology, and blogs about her field, the evolution of human behavior and issues for women in science. Find her comment policy here. Follow on Twitter @KateClancy.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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