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Cross-Check

Critical views of science in the news

Our nature is nurture: Are shifts in child-rearing making modern kids mean?

In journalism you look for one thing and find another that confounds your expectations. It's what make makes this gig so frustrating and fun. I went looking for reassurance in Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding (Harvard University Press, 2009) by the anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy and found something scary...

July 12, 2010 — John Horgan

Quitting the hominid fight club: The evidence is flimsy for innate chimpanzee--let alone human--warfare

Extraordinary claims, Carl Sagan liked to say, require extraordinary evidence. Here is an extraordinary claim: "Chimpanzeelike violence preceded and paved the way for human war, making modern humans the dazed survivors of a continuous, five-million-year habit of lethal aggression."

The anthropologist Richard Wrangham of Harvard University made this statement in his 1996 book Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (Houghton Mifflin, co-written with journalist Dale Peterson) and has reiterated it ever since...

June 29, 2010 — John Horgan

Chain links: Is the Internet empowering or enslaving us?

I don't believe in God—at least, not any version I've encountered so far—but I do believe in free will. Free will, which I define as our capacity to recognize and act on choices, is what makes life meaningful...

June 15, 2010 — John Horgan

Craig Venter has neither created--nor demystified--life

Craig Venter is the Lady Gaga of science. Like her, he is a drama queen, an over-the-top performance artist with a genius for self-promotion. Hype is what Craig Venter does, and he does it extremely well, whether touting the decoding of his own genome several years ago or his construction of a hybrid bacterium this year...

May 27, 2010 — John Horgan

Are predictions of endless war self-fulfilling?

In Isaac Asimov's science fiction series Foundation, the mathematician Hari Seldon invents a method, called psychohistory, that predicts social behavior as accurately as statistical mechanics predicts the behavior of gases...

May 19, 2010 — John Horgan

Artificial brains are imminent...not!

Scientists are on the verge of building an artificial brain! How do I know? Terry Sejnowski of the Salk Institute said so right here on ScientificAmerican.com .

May 14, 2010 — John Horgan

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Scientific American Health & Medicine

Scientific American Health & Medicine