Skip to main content

Stories by Eric Michael Johnson

Does Nature Need to be Nurtured?

Some say that the differences between boys and girls are just aping nature, but studies of primates tell a more complex story "Boys will be boys" is a popular refrain in schools.

June 12, 2014 — Eric Michael Johnson

On the Origin of White Power

A new book argues race and genetics explain "the rise of the West." Bad science explains the downfall of its ideas. Nicholas Wade is not a racist.

May 21, 2014 — Eric Michael Johnson
Human Nature and the Moral Economy

Human Nature and the Moral Economy

Economics is inextricably tied to moral behavior, though few economists will say that. It’s time someone did. In every financial transaction–whether you’re selling a car, paying employees, or repackaging commodity futures as financial derivatives–there are ethical calculations that influence economic activity beyond the price.

September 23, 2013 — Eric Michael Johnson

We Contain Multitudes: Walt Whitman, Charles Darwin, and the Song of Empathy

In the struggle for existence how do we herald the better angels of our nature? "Speech" by Nathaniel Gold Author's Note: On Tuesday I will be traveling to Manchester, England for the International Conference for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine where I'll be giving my talk entitled "A Historical Epistemology of Empathy from Darwin to De Waal." In the lead up to my journey across the pond the iCHSTM organizers offered me the opportunity to publish a shortened version of my talk on the conference blog where I have cross-posted that which follows.

July 19, 2013 — Eric Michael Johnson

Truth of the Matter

Science is not a path towards truth; therein lies its greatest strength. "Tibetan Monkey" by Nathaniel Gold In his latest book, The Bonobo and the Atheist , primatologist Frans de Waal describes a forum held at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where he spoke alongside the Dalai Lama.

July 12, 2013 — Eric Michael Johnson

Equality and Individuality: A Collaboration Between Primates

"Timmy" by Nathaniel Gold and Cheetah Longtime readers of The Primate Diaries will certainly know the artwork of Nathaniel Gold. Ever since we encountered one another's work in the spring of 2011 we have been collaborating on a fusion of art and science.

May 9, 2013 — Eric Michael Johnson

The Mosaic of Human Origins

New research challenges the story of human evolution, revealing a more complex picture than anyone imagined. "Memento mori" by Nathaniel Gold Studying the bones of our ancestors does more than connect past with present.

April 17, 2013 — Eric Michael Johnson

Macaque and Dagger in the Simian Space Race

Why does the U.S. suspect Iran of faking their monkey space flight? Because we did it first. "Iranian Space Monkey (Espionage)" by Nathaniel Gold It was a blistering hot summer, as it usually is in that part of the world.

February 14, 2013 — Eric Michael Johnson

Ayn Rand on Human Nature

"Rand" by Nathaniel Gold “Every political philosophy has to begin with a theory of human nature,” wrote Harvard evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin in his book Biology as Ideology .

October 5, 2012 — Eric Michael Johnson

A Grimm Tale of Reproductive Conflict

A new study argues that in-law competition drove the evolution of menopause. But is the story too good to be true? "Evil Queen" by Nathaniel Gold In the classic Scandinavian folktale "The Twelve Wild Ducks," also known as "The Twelve Brothers" in Grimms' Fairy Tales , a wicked old Queen is jealous of her daughter-in-law's beauty.

September 4, 2012 — Eric Michael Johnson

Punishing Cheaters Promotes the Evolution of Cooperation

"Primates Playing Poker" by Nathaniel Gold Humans are one of the most cooperative species on the planet. Our ability to coordinate behavior and work collaboratively with others has allowed us to create the natural world’s largest and most densely populated societies, outside of deep sea microbial mats and a few Hymenoptera mega-colonies.However, a key problem when trying to understand the evolution of cooperation has been the issue of cheaters.

August 16, 2012 — Eric Michael Johnson

The Good Fight

Prominent scientists are in a bitter struggle over the origins of kindness. But the root of this conflict may be the most ironic part of all.<

July 9, 2012 — Eric Michael Johnson

Reflections in the Monkey House

After a year of collaborative work it is time to reflect and give thanks. Won't you join us? "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ape" by Nathaniel Gold Today marks the one year anniversary of The Primate Diaries in its latest incarnation here at the Scientific American blog network as well as my collaboration with the artist, and fellow primate, Nathaniel Gold.

July 5, 2012 — Eric Michael Johnson

The Better Bonobos of Our Nature

In contrast to "killer-apes," the latest evidence suggests our peaceful primate cousins may be a better model for human origins. Author's note: A new study published in the journal Nature has sequenced the genome of bonobos and compared them to chimpanzees as well as humans finding some surprising results.

June 19, 2012 — Eric Michael Johnson

The Allure of Gay Cavemen

Third genders, two spirits, and a media without a clue. Author's Note: Earlier this month the UK Daily Mail reported on continued excavation at an archaeological site near Prague where researchers described an individual with an alternative gender identity.

May 23, 2012 — Eric Michael Johnson