Category Archives: Evolution

Colbert and Sci-Fi v. Fantasy

So, I’m tempted to think that the reason I feel some apathy toward fantasy is how easy stories like Game of Thrones and LOTR make it for writers to use magic as a deus ex machina. Of course, the same could be said of Star Trek and “technobabble.” So, why is it easier for me to forgive Star Trek? Well, for one, I think it’s more fruitful to converse about technobabble. You can actually talk about real science when you’re talking about why Treknobabble is pseudoscientific.

So, why do I prefer Star Trek to Dr. Who? Well, for one, Dr. Who doesn’t give us a homo sapiens that has overcome its pettiness. Star Trek — to my delight — explores the possibility of what comes after Sagan’s, “If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.” It seems to me that the Doctor performs a similar capacity to the Vulcans: overseer of the humans. They’re both waiting with their fingers crossed to see if we continue surviving each new genocide, pandemic, or other crisis and continue evolving (intellectually if not biologically) to eventually become spacefaring. (Also, the critical attitude of the Vulcans toward humans seems much more realistic to me than the avuncular attitude of the Doctor toward us.)

That’s infinitely more interesting to me than the idea of constant, secret alien visitation on earth by hostile aliens that require earth to be saved by other kindly aliens. This is essentially the idea of Transformers as well and how cool would it be if the Transformers did what Picard and company do? (Not cool at all if all you want to see is hot robot-on-robot carnage! But, that was well-covered in the first Transformers movie!)

Another thing about fantasy: why are so many important characters in Game of Thrones and LOTR humanoid? This seems forgivable to me with respect to Star Trek because the original series probably lacked funding for advanced effects and make-up. Humanoid aliens were just more practical to make and act. Game of Thrones and LOTR were books, though. Books don’t have budget constraints, right?

And, why, why, why must fantasy take place in a magical corollary to the Dark Ages? Actually, an answer occurred to me as I was typing the question: it may have been in the Dark Ages that magical thinking most flourished.

Semen and Evolution

I’ve barely scratched the surface of the evolved semen literature. Here’s a snapshot of other recent findings from Gallup’s lab: semen-exposed women perform better on concentration and cognitive tasks; women’s bodies can detect “foreign” semen that differs from their recurrent sexual partner’s signature semen, an evolved system that, Gallup believes, often leads to unsuccessful pregnancies because it signals a disinvested male partner who is not as likely to provide for the offspring; women who had unprotected sex with their ex-partners—and therefore were getting regularly inseminated—experience more significant depression on breaking up than those who were not as regularly exposed to their ex’s semen (and they also go on the “rebound” faster in seeking new sexual partners, which presumably would help fix their semen-deprived depression). And the list goes on.

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On the Source of Racial/Community-based Antagonism

“As the patient searchers discern more and more about early man and his predecessors, they also may gain an ever-widening insight about modern man, his nature, his failings and his future. Most major anthropologists reject the notion popularized by Robert Ardrey (The Territorial Imperative) and others that man is inherently aggressive and that his murderous instincts derive from his apelike origins. Indeed, they have found no evidence in their digs that man was anything but a peaceable hunter-gatherer before the invention of agriculture some 10,000 years ago. It was farming, they believe, that created settlers with property to protect and fostered cultural differences that led to antagonisms between races and communities.

Richard Leakey…notes that racial differences, as they are commonly perceived, are a superficial and recent development, having arisen only about 15,000 years ago.”

Time Magazine article “Puzzling Out Man’s Ascent,” Monday, Nov. 07, 1977