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The Primate Diaries

The Primate Diaries

Notes on science, politics, and history from a primate in the human zoo.

  • Fire Over Ahwahnee: John Muir and the Decline of Yosemite

    Fire Over Ahwahnee: John Muir and the Decline of Yosemite

    By Eric Michael Johnson | August 13, 2014 |

    "Totuya" by Nathaniel Gold In July 1929 a frail, elderly woman quietly processed acorns on the floor of the Yosemite Valley. Her weather worn face appeared thin, yet firm like crumpled paper. She was a living record of the trials her people had suffered ever since they were herded into open air prisons at the point of a bayonet. […]

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  • Does Nature Need to be Nurtured?

    Does Nature Need to be Nurtured?

    By Eric Michael Johnson | June 12, 2014 |

    Some say that the differences between boys and girls are just aping nature, but studies of primates tell a more complex story "Boys will by boys" by Nathaniel Gold “Boys will be boys” is a popular refrain in schools. A bit of rough and tumble at break time? […]

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  • On the Origin of White Power

    On the Origin of White Power

    By Eric Michael Johnson | May 21, 2014 |

    A new book argues race and genetics explain “the rise of the West.” Bad science explains the downfall of its ideas. "KKK" by Nathaniel Gold Nicholas Wade is not a racist. In his new book, A Troublesome Inheritance , the former science writer for the New York Times states this explicitly. […]

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  • Helen’s Choice: Female Multiple Mating in the Natural World

    Helen’s Choice: Female Multiple Mating in the Natural World

    By Eric Michael Johnson | December 10, 2013 |

    "Helen of Troy" by Nathaniel Gold “Helen would never have yielded herself to a man from a foreign country, if she had known that the sons of Achaeans would come after her and bring her back. Heaven put it in her heart to do wrong, and she gave no thought to that sin, which has been the source of all our sorrows.” - Homer, The Odyssey “[A] male's reproductive success depends on how many females he mates with, but not vice versa; for a female, one mating per pregnancy is enough. […]

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  • Human Nature and the Moral Economy

    Human Nature and the Moral Economy

    By Eric Michael Johnson | September 23, 2013 |

    Economics is inextricably tied to moral behavior, though few economists will say that. It's time someone did. "Giving" by Nathaniel Gold In every financial transaction--whether you're selling a car, paying employees, or repackaging commodity futures as financial derivatives--there are ethical calculations that influence economic activity beyond the price. […]

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  • We Contain Multitudes: Walt Whitman, Charles Darwin, and the Song of Empathy

    By Eric Michael Johnson | July 19, 2013 |

    In the struggle for existence how do we herald the better angels of our nature? "Speech" by Nathaniel Gold Author's Note: On Tuesday I will be traveling to Manchester, England for the International Conference for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine where I'll be giving my talk entitled "A Historical Epistemology of Empathy from Darwin to De Waal." In the lead up to my journey across the pond the iCHSTM organizers offered me the opportunity to publish a shortened version of my talk on the conference blog where I have cross-posted that which follows. […]

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  • Truth of the Matter

    By Eric Michael Johnson | July 12, 2013 |

    Science is not a path towards truth; therein lies its greatest strength. "Tibetan Monkey" by Nathaniel Gold In his latest book, The Bonobo and the Atheist , primatologist Frans de Waal describes a forum held at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where he spoke alongside the Dalai Lama. […]

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  • Equality and Individuality: A Collaboration Between Primates

    By Eric Michael Johnson | May 9, 2013 |

    "Timmy" by Nathaniel Gold and Cheetah Longtime readers of The Primate Diaries will certainly know the artwork of Nathaniel Gold. Ever since we encountered one another's work in the spring of 2011 we have been collaborating on a fusion of art and science . […]

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  • The Mosaic of Human Origins

    By Eric Michael Johnson | April 17, 2013 |

    New research challenges the story of human evolution, revealing a more complex picture than anyone imagined. "Memento mori" by Nathaniel Gold Studying the bones of our ancestors does more than connect past with present. When Hamlet held aloft the skull of poor Yorick or when the Boston Puritan Thomas Smith sat for America’s first self-portrait posed with two crania, they were participating in a meditation on the inevitability of human mortality. […]

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  • Macaque and Dagger in the Simian Space Race

    By Eric Michael Johnson | February 14, 2013 |

    Why does the U.S. suspect Iran of faking their monkey space flight? Because we did it first. "Iranian Space Monkey (Espionage)" by Nathaniel Gold It was a blistering hot summer, as it usually is in that part of the world. The monkey's arms and legs were tightly strapped to a metal chair as the forlorn creature was pushed into the narrow confines of the rocket's nose cone. […]

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