While evolution can happen gradually, it seems as if some of the most dynamic evolutionary leaps happen in dramatic spurts. Arguably, we are living in an extremely disruptive time that most likely will result in dramatic evolutionary changes in our lives, societies and environment. While we mostly equate evolution with a forward-moving positive progression, I do think evolution can also be negative or regressive.
Lessening bullying requires a societal effort. No single institution can prevent the circumstances that lead to a young person fearing hateful comments online. Humanity has proven we have the capacity to improve the well being of others -- we should plan to make giant strides in minimizing bullying, too.
As of 2014, 143 out of 195 countries legally guarantee equality between men and women. I wish I could say that gender equality, or any equality, enforced by the law translates into equality in the minds of people. Deeply rooted problems preventing true parity have been promoted by patriarchy for years, passed on from one generation to another disguised as 'tradition.'
The provincial government announced it's introducing its proposed sex education changes. As expected opponents pounced, including Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Monte McNaughton. He gave Wynne the moment she needed to not only change the channel on her Sudbury scandal, but also to get the upper hand on the curriculum changes. There just aren't enough Ontarians looking to fight over sex education or who want to stand with folks who are actually homophobic or genuinely believe evolution should not be taught if people don't want it taught. They need to clear those last two issues up, very quickly and clearly.
It's that time of year again: flu season. Once again, the influenza virus has showed up in Canada threatening up to 20 per cent of the population. For the vaccine to be effective, it has to perfectly mimic the viruses in nature. This is actually harder than one might think as influenza is the master of evolutionary disguise.
What do these study findings actually suggest about human personality? Seeing similar personality trends in other species that have a shared evolutionary history with humans provides strong evidence that biology plays an important role in personality, perhaps even more than social or cultural influences.
In terms of statistics, 12 per cent grew antibiotic resistance and became marginalized from others. Twenty-eight per cent of the population chose a wealthy style, happily living in their gated biofilms. Half of all the bacteria decided to take a middle-class lifestyle, choosing an easy nutrient source and never engaging in any extreme activity.
Unlike humans, who need on average 20 years between generations, these small creatures only need about 20 minutes to foster offspring. This means that the bacterium can evolve some 500,000 times faster than us. This rapid rate offers the prime opportunity to explore some of the deeper mysteries and perhaps even offer mechanisms to best predict when evolution might happen to us.
Can we encourage students to be more enthusiastic about learning history? I think so, and so does Bill Gates of Microsoft fame. Gates has sponsored The Big History Project. -A free on line course for high school students, where Mr. Gates appears in the opening syllabus video, endorsing the course's unique way of blending science and history to give students the big picture.
Here is a link to Harvard University Psychology Professor Steven Pinker's now "infamous" essay in the New Republic titled "Science Is Not Your Enemy." "Geeze, who in their right mind would think that science is their enemy?" Memo to self, "Write an essay some day called "The Christian faith is not your enemy."
That Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins are disappointed that religion hasn't gone the way of the dinosaur perhaps speaks to the fact that religion provides something of great importance to human beings, an importance that is beyond their grasp. Science provides the cold hard facts of life. Religion provides meaning. Even Dr. Krauss agreed that we make the meaning in our lives. Why can't that meaning come from religion?
This week we celebrate Darwin's birthday and the publishing of the "Great Book" as it is known in biology, On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin. But in the United States, there continue to be assaults on the ability of education to keep out erroneous questioning of evolution at the middle and high school levels.
An article published in Scientific American this week demystified a commonly held colloquialism -- Rachel and Ross knew it, Monica and Chandler certainly knew it: men and women can't be "just Friends." Nomenclature aside, men carry certain chromosomal differences from women. It's why our balls drop and our voices get deeper. It's not why we get to be douchebags and blame Darwin for our douchebaggery.
A friend's kid said to me the other day: "I'm a Darwinist...I don't believe in God." Okay, I thought, hold on there kid. Darwin wasn't a prophet who started an "-ism," and Science isn't a faith. We need to get rid of some of the category confusion that has crept into current debates and percolated down to secular kids. It can be tempting to respond to the sheer idiocy of American Creationists like Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA,) who recently described evolution and the Big Bang as "lies straight from the pit of Hell" by broadly rejecting religion. But these are not either-or categories and it is startling that they should have become so.
It's easier, more effective, and cheaper to let healthy bodies fight off disease and infections than to weaken those defence mechanisms and then compensate for them medically. If we want a stable health system, we must put more resources into reducing pollution and environmental degradation and creating a way of life that keeps bodies and minds happy and in good health.
While the world celebrates the discovery of the Higgs boson, these scientists are hard at work on one of the most profound mysteries left: Why, and how, did humans become conscious? Until we can figure out what consciousness physically is, there won't be any consensus on what function it serves, or indeed whether it serves any function at all.