Dec. 8th, 2013

lauradi7dw: (Default)
Last night I went to hear a talk by Richard Wrangham, author of a book I read when it came out: "Catching Fire: How Cooking Made us Human."  Short synopsis - cooking food makes more nutrients available (with a few exceptions like  vitamin C).  Eating raw food is incredibly time consuming and people still remain quite thin, and not as fecund.  He thinks people started cooking in Homo Erectus days, and the improvements that came with cooking pushed us over into Sapiens.   I am willing to accept much of what he claims, but last night when he slid into social evolution territory, based on a couple of sources (he only cited two, anyway, but maybe that's to be expected in a public talk), with claims generalized from what the few remaining hunter/gatherer folks do to cover every early human society, I got mad, although I did not get up during question time to dispute or ask for clarification.

Science writer David Dobbs has a long article out currently.  I found everything he said reasonable, but then read this, disputing most of it.
Sigh.  All those people have academic pedigrees and such.  How is a layperson supposed to know what to think?  I've been considering for years watching Eric Lander's lectures via MIT's open courseware (Edx?).  I expect I'd have to go back and review a lot of stuff to get ready, but it might be worth it.

Unrelated to evolution, probably - before the talk, people were (as is almost always the case) hitting the microphones to see whether they were on.  When I spent a lot of time hanging around in campus radio stations in the 1970s, one of the first things I was taught is to never hit the microphone.  There is nothing wrong with saying "test" or starting the Gettysburg Address, or whatever.  How in the world did almost everybody who sponsors a lecture learn microphone abuse?  (by going to lectures, I suppose, in which case what irresponsible person did it the first time, and how did it spread?)
lauradi7dw: (Default)
Every time I've tried in the past, I quit fast because I couldn't stand her.  Lots of interesting stuff being written currently due to the upcoming Hanks & Thompson movie.


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