Homo sapiens means wise human, but the name no longer suits us. As an evolutionary biologist who writes about Darwinian interpretations of human motivations and cultures, I propose that at some point we became what we are today: Homo absurdus, a human that spends its whole life trying to convince itself that its existence is not absurd.
As French philosopher Albert Camus put it: “Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.” Thanks to this entrenched absurdity, the 21st century is riding on a runaway train of converging catastrophes in the Anthropocene.
Discovery of self
The critical juncture in the lineage toward Homo absurdus was described by evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky: “A being who knows that he will die arose from ancestors who did not know.” But evolution at some point also built into this human mind a deeply ingrained sentiment—that one has not just a material life (the physical body), but also a distinct and separate mental life (the inner self).
A new study shows that dogs are more likely to avoid people exhibiting unhelpful behavior towards their owners
Dogs really are man’s best friend.
Researchers from Japan’s Kyoto University have found that dogs “are extremely sensitive to social signals from humans,” and quickly learn to “stop trusting” people who “behave negatively” towards their owners.
As part of the study, researchers divided 54 dogs into three different groups, with each group participating in a slightly different variation of the same interaction.
A selfless act by a 71-year-old woman has caught the attention of Zimbabwe's richest man, who called the grandmother's several-mile trek while carrying clothing and household items for cyclone survivors "one of the most remarkable acts of compassion I have ever seen."
Plaxedes Dilon is being praised in Zimbabwe and beyond after she lugged the aid on foot to the Highlands Presbyterian Church in Harare, where volunteers have been coordinating relief efforts for thousands displaced since Cyclone Idai struck southern Africa in mid-March.
A light pat on the back can draw a young child’s attention back to the task at hand, and sometimes a hug will help the hurt go away. But are these gestures appropriate coming from an educator? A teacher’s touch can be encouraging, corrective and, in some cases, inappropriate. But I wouldn’t want my kids in a school that banned it outright.
I’m comfortable with my kids’ teachers giving them a hug goodbye or placing a quieting hand on their shoulder when they are talking too much in class. I think of gentle physical contact as just another tool in a teacher’s arsenal—one that can often go beyond words. But that’s not the way everyone feels. Many school boards have unwritten “no touch” policies, while others have created rules against touching of any kind to appease concerned parents.
Young Americans are dying in rising numbers because of drugs, alcohol and suicide, according to new federal data.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) issued its annual comprehensive health and mortality report, which analyzes trends in death rates by cause and demographic. Drugs, alcohol and suicide, the report says, have contributed to the first drops in U.S. life expectancy since 1993. While U.S. life expectancy rose from 77.8 to 78.6 years between 2006 and 2016, the trend reversed during the end of the decade, leading to a 0.3-year decline between 2014 and 2016 — in large part because of rising rates of drug overdoses, suicide and liver disease, as well as Alzheimer’s.
Thousands of years ago, ancient farmers grew oats, corn and wheat, just as they do today. They also cultivated rice and raised livestock. But a millennia ago, they cleared much more land than modern day farmers do, despite having fewer people to feed. That’s because farming was far less efficient. Mechanized harvesters didn’t exist, and growers had yet to develop crops that could be planted in tightly packed rows, yielding more food from less space.
The scientists used a computerized climate model to simulate the climate nearly 777,000 years ago. The climate back then looked more or less what the climate today would look like if not for the warming caused by carbon pollution from ancient farming and modern industrialization, he said. This climate model offered higher resolution than previous models used by the team.
Abortion rights and reproductive freedom are in jeopardy like never before. The Trump administration has proposed radical cutbacks to Title X, the nation’s only federal grant for family planning services. And now, with the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade and the right to safe, legal abortion are in imminent danger. A recently leaked email revealed that Kavanaugh once disputed the description of Roe v. Wade as “settled law” and said it could be easily overruled.
The American people have not been silent in their opposition to Trump and his decidedly anti-abortion Supreme Court nominee. Protests and demonstrations have been ongoing since Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings began on Tuesday. People are standing outside the hearing room holding signs or wearing T-shirts or “Handmaid’s Tale” costumes. Some are even interrupting the hearing itself.
With sexual needs outsourced to robots, marriages could become stronger than ever.
Technological change invariably brings social change. We know this to be true, but rarely can we make accurate predictions about how social behavior will evolve when new technologies are introduced. For example, no one should have been surprised that improvements in birth control technologies spawned more sexually permissive societies. But could anyone really have predicted that making it easier for women to control their fertility would lead to dramatic increases in births to unmarried women as a direct result of the loosening sexual mores that new birth control methods brought on? Likewise, early adopters probably knew that improvement in home production technologies would liberate women from household drudgery. But could they have known that the microwave oven would eventually contribute to societies’ more accepting attitudes toward same-sex marriage? Just as these technologies were catalysts for unintended social consequences, we should expect that the proliferation of robots designed specifically for human sexual gratification means that sexbot-induced social change is on the horizon.
Abortion should be as inalienable a right as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Supreme Court justices should not be chosen for their opposition to Roe v. Wade. And our country should be pouring its considerable energy and resources into creating the kind of infrastructure that supports the lives of actual babies, once they’re born: universal health care, paid parental leave, subsidized daycare, proper sex education, affordable college, affordable birth control, and easier access to that birth control to keep unwanted pregnancies from happening in the first place (should the women who are lucky enough to get their hands on it have better luck than I did in the game of birth-control roulette).
Our ancient human relatives got around more than scientists previously thought. Researchers in China excavated stone tools that were likely made by our human ancestors some 2.12 million years ago — the earliest evidence ever discovered of the human lineage outside of Africa.
"It suggests a way earlier migration out of Africa than we ever would have imagined," said Michael Petraglia, a paleoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, who was not involved with the study. "It's very exciting."
Evan Ruggiero has always moved to his own beat. At the age of 6, he fell in love with tap dancing. But, at age 19, a bone cancer diagnosis cost Evan his right leg and threatened to end his dancing dreams. Nevertheless, he kept his hopes up, fighting cancer one step at a time. Less than a week after his final chemo session, Evan was back in the studio, learning to dance with a prosthetic. Now, he’s lighting up the world with his unique brand of dance.