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The Primate Diaries

The Primate Diaries


Notes on science, politics, and history from a primate in the human zoo.
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    Eric Michael Johnson Eric Michael Johnson has a Master's degree in Evolutionary Anthropology focusing on great ape behavioral ecology. He is currently a doctoral student in the history of science at University of British Columbia looking at the interplay between evolutionary biology and politics.

    Follow his work on Facebook and Google+. Follow on Twitter @primatediaries.
  • Fire Over Ahwahnee: John Muir and the Decline of Yosemite

    "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?

    "Boys will by boys" by Nathaniel Gold

    Some say that the differences between boys and girls are just aping nature, but studies of primates tell a more complex story “Boys will be boys” is a popular refrain in schools. A bit of rough and tumble at break time? That’s natural. Likewise, “girls will be girls” is accepted without question. Some feel justified [...]

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    On the Origin of White Power

    KKK square

    A new book argues race and genetics explain “the rise of the West.” Bad science explains the downfall of its ideas. 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. “It is not automatically racist to consider racial categories [...]

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

    “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 [...]

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    Human Nature and the Moral Economy

    "Giving" by Nathaniel Gold

    Economics is inextricably tied to moral behavior, though few economists will say that. It’s time someone did. 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. Sure, you can cheat a potential buyer and not mention that [...]

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

    "Speech" by Nathaniel Gold

    In the struggle for existence how do we herald the better angels of our nature? 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.” [...]

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    Truth of the Matter

    "Tibetan Monkey" by Nathaniel Gold

    Science is not a path towards truth; therein lies its greatest strength. 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. De Waal reflected on the great interest that Tibet’s spiritual leader had in [...]

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    Equality and Individuality: A Collaboration Between Primates

    Timmy square

    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. But now Nathaniel has taken part in a collaboration that goes beyond species boundaries. By working with sanctuary [...]

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    The Mosaic of Human Origins

    Memento mori by Nathaniel Gold

    New research challenges the story of human evolution, revealing a more complex picture than anyone imagined. 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 [...]

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    Macaque and Dagger in the Simian Space Race

    Iranian Space Monkey Square

    Why does the U.S. suspect Iran of faking their monkey space flight? Because we did it first. 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 [...]

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