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Stories by Eric Michael Johnson

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Extended breastfeeding is the norm in most human and primate societies. So why are we the weird ones?My son will be three-years-old next month and is still breastfeeding...

May 15, 2012 — Eric Michael Johnson

Women and Children First

For decades the science of child-rearing was guided by patriarchal ideas, but now the cradle rocks to an older rhythm. The infants had been arranged into neat rows, swaddled in aseptic white cloth the way precision instruments would be secured for shipping...

March 15, 2012 — Eric Michael Johnson

Nonhuman Personhood Rights (and Wrongs)

Americans take their rights seriously. But there is a lot of misunderstanding about what actually constitutes a 'right.' Religious believers are correct that they have a right to freely express their beliefs...

March 9, 2012 — Eric Michael Johnson

The Case of the Missing Polygamists

The origins of our sexuality is the greatest mystery in human evolution. But could our prime suspect be a case of mistaken identity?If reproductive success were applied to fiction the two billion copies of Agatha Christie's novels (only trailing behind Shakespeare and the Bible) would be considered a stunning example of evolutionary fitness...

January 6, 2012 — Eric Michael Johnson

The WEIRD Evolution of Human Psychology

Does psychology's over-reliance on American undergraduates distort our image of the human species?Imagine that you’re in a room with 100 psychopaths.

December 7, 2011 — Eric Michael Johnson

Scientific Ethics and Stalin's Ape-Man Superwarriors

Author's Note: The following originally appeared at archy.The anti-Darwin industry among fundamentalist Christians has produced thousands of pages of misinformation in their attempt to tar and feather the theory of evolution...

November 10, 2011 — Eric Michael Johnson

A Natural History of Vampires

Medveđa, Serbia. Jan. 1732 -- The Carpathian mountains loomed ominously to the east, as if nature herself was conspiring with evil. In the valley below a shadow had been draped over the corpses that now littered the quiet cemetery...

October 31, 2011 — Eric Michael Johnson

Cultural Transmission in Chimpanzees

Culture defines who we are but few can explain where it comes from or why we adopt one tradition over another. In the classic musical The Fiddler on the Roof the family patriarch, Tevye, muses on this basic fact of human existence: Here in Anatevka we have traditions for everything.....

October 21, 2011 — Eric Michael Johnson

Sacrifice on the Serengeti: Life History, Genetic Relatedness, and the Evolution of Menopause

Author's Note: The following originally appeared at Carin Bondar's website (she now co-blogs at Scientific American 's PsiVid ). It was subsequently selected as a finalist in the Quark Science Writing Prize and appeared in the 2010 edition of   The Open Laboratory: The Best of Science Writing on the Web.Imagine you are on the Serengeti Plateau and your children are hungry...

October 13, 2011 — Eric Michael Johnson

Touching Death

Author's Note: The following originally appeared at The Prancing Papio . For more on this subject I recommend Brian Switek's discussion at Wired Science and Ed Yong's at Discover.I had always been afraid of my grandfather and now I was staring at his pale, lifeless hand inches from my face...

September 29, 2011 — Eric Michael Johnson

Commodity Traitors: Financial Speculation on Commodities Fuels Global Insecurity

“Food is always more or less in demand,” wrote Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations . While the founder of modern capitalism pointed out that the wealthy consume no more food than their poor neighbors, because the "desire of food is limited in every man by the narrow capacity of the human stomach," the desire for material luxury "seems to have no limit or certain boundary." Hunger, therefore, is the foundation of wealth."The poor, in order to obtain food," Smith wrote, "exert themselves to gratify those fancies of the rich." The modern investor, epitomized by the insatiable appetite of Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street , has taken Smith's advice to heart...

September 22, 2011 — Eric Michael Johnson
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