Language started with emotional signaling.
That's the thesis of a new book, The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, And Intelligence Evolved From Our Primate Ancestors To Modern Humans
, by Stanley I. Greenspan and Stuart G. Shanker.
Lived emotional experience is key to language learning, the authors suggest. "Mathematicians and physicists may manipulate abstruse symbols representing space, time, and quantity, but they first understood those entities as tiny children wanting a far-away toy, or waiting for juice, or counting cookies. The grown-up genius, like the adventurous child, forms ideas through playful explorations in the imagination, only later translated into the rigor of mathematics."
The book is very ambitious, and I don't think we'll ever know
where language came from, but this sounds like a more fruitful line of thinking than Chomsky's deus ex machina
"language gene" mutation.
posted by languagehat
on Sep 29, 2004 -
Richard Dawkins discusses religion with a Darwinian outlook.
RD: Could religion be a recent phenomenon, sprung up since our genes underwent most of their natural selection? Its ubiquity argues against any simple version of this idea. Nevertheless, there is a version of it that I want to advocate. The propensity that was naturally selected in our ancestors was not religion per se. It had some other benefit, and it only incidentally manifests itself today as religious behavior.
posted by skallas
on Sep 3, 2004 -
It is well known among the computer elite, who are mostly Atheists and Pagans, that Pokemon's pro-Darwinism propaganda
posted by isol
on Aug 15, 2004 -
The Panda's Thumb
is a multi-authored blog "dedicated to explaining the theory of evolution, critiquing the claims of the anti-evolution movement, and defending the integrity of science and science education in America and around the world." [Via The Loom.]
posted by homunculus
on Mar 27, 2004 -
D.H.S. - The Series. "... a multimillion-dollar episodic series, will explore the inner workings of the Department of Homeland Security, teaming the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, and National Security Administration (NSA) together with "first responders" such as local police, fire and safety administrators."
The series is being pitched to prospective networks today
and has the full support of President Bush and Tom Ridge. "They love it. They think it is fantastic," say the series' producers at Steeple Productions, located in the Seventh-Day Adventist
Community of Zillah, Washington
. Not familiar with Steeple Productions
? Well, perhaps you might find their four-episode "Creation Vs Evolution
" series enlightening.
posted by grabbingsand
on Feb 27, 2004 -
The Zoology Dragon.
"Rather than, as has previously been thought, a slow process of evolution, we now know that all animals were created by the Zoology Dragon. Unfortunately, we also know that the current Zoology Dragon is a bit shit." [Flash.]
posted by homunculus
on Feb 9, 2004 -
Creation Science Fair
- the first place for elementary level was won by Cassidy Turnbull, who demonstrated the differences between her uncle and a monkey. Much more impressive was the winner of the high school level who used prayer to make microbes evolve antibiotic resistance. I, for one, am glad that children across the world are learning the power of Creation Science! (via New Scientist)
posted by adrianhon
on Aug 28, 2003 -
"is the Noah's Ark for the Internet era - the world's centralised digital library of films, photographs and associated recordings of species, accessible to all via the world wide web."
posted by tbc
on Aug 14, 2003 -
An article in the Independent newspaper
reports that pests have started thriving on poisons genetically implanted in crops.
It seems that before, the organic pesticide used, was effective because it was only sprayed occasionally (once or twice a year) and the pests didn't have time to develop resistance.
With the pesticide being accessible throughout the whole crop-cycle, the pests have adapted, and now thrive on the poison, which they now regard as a food source, growing even larger than normal, and rendering a weapon in the arsenal against pests, entirely ineffective.
posted by Blue Stone
on Apr 18, 2003 -
Happy Darwin Day!
Darwin Day is February 12th, the date of birth of Charles Darwin in the year 1809, at Shrewsbury, England. On this date, and throughout the month, people from all over the world are honoring the life, work and influence of Charles Darwin with events and activities which celebrate humanity and the science in our lives.
While you're celebrating you may want to see who has won awards in his name
or perhaps buy a sticker
or see if there's a darwinday event near you
posted by bitdamaged
on Feb 12, 2003 -
In an article called "The Sociobiological Conceit"
, Gene Callahan says darwinism is logically flawed and inherently self-contradictory: "if moral ideas are simply an 'illusion' fostered on us by our genes then so are all of our other ideas – including the ideas of sociobiology!".
Callahan, fyi, belongs to the ultra-libertarian circles of the Mises Institute
. Would any of the evolutionists among us care to politely
posted by 111
on Feb 7, 2003 -
Don't believe in evolution? Don't get a recommendation.
The Justice Department has been asked to look into the case of a Texas Tech biology professor who has made it clear that you won't get a recommendation from him if you believe in creationism. In his online notes to students
, Dini writes "If you set up an appointment to discuss the writing of a letter of recommendation, I will ask you: 'How do you think the human species originated?' If you cannot truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer to this question, then you should not seek my recommendation for admittance to further education in the biomedical sciences." The Liberty Legal Institute
, calls the policy "open religious bigotry." Texas Tech supports Lini, saying the decision on whether to recommend someone is a personal one. Clearly, it should be a professor's call on whether to give a student a recommendation or not, but did Lini make himself a target by laying out this criteria this way?
posted by Gilbert
on Jan 30, 2003 -
Evolution is a process
that hasn't stopped just because humans now rule the planet. What will animals look like in 200,000 years? The Discovery Channel's Animal Planet
asks experts to predict the future of life on Earth.
posted by hipnerd
on Dec 31, 2002 -
"Religions potentially offer practical, social, and motivational benefits to their adherents.
But religions differ among themselves in the degree to which they motivate their adherents to have children, to rear those children to become productive members of society, and to convert or kill believers in competing religions. Those religions that are more successful in these respects will tend to spread, and gain and retain adherents, at the expense of other religions." So says Jared Diamond
in his review of David Sloan Wilson's book, Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society
, which views religion from an evolutionary perspective. Another writer interested in the evolution of religions is Toby Lester, who examines how present-day religious movements are "mutating with Darwinian restlessness."
posted by homunculus
on Oct 23, 2002 -
This news item
turned out to be a hoax. Has Reuters been fooled again
? I certainly smell a rat...
(I know the original mefi link pointed to the BBC, but the BBC picked it up from Reuters)
posted by titboy
on Oct 19, 2002 -
Religious Fundamentalism: 1, Science: 0.
In a stunning knock-out blow to rational thought, the United States tells Darwin, "Not so fast, bud. We better check with God before naming you the head honcho of evolution." Read the article carefully-on first read the new law sounds benign enough. Legislators claim the law will only require that the "debate" between creationism-evolution be discussed. Sounds simple, right? Think again. Once again, the Ohio mentality begs me to flee this state...
posted by tgrundke
on Sep 16, 2002 -
Intelligent Grappling: the new creationism?
Teachers for Equal Time hopes that the addition of the warning stickers will pave the way for the teaching of its alternative theory, Intelligent Grappling, the theory that certain intelligent and conscious agents "push" things together. (hey its friday)
posted by skallas
on Sep 13, 2002 -
Of all species that have existed on Earth, 99.9 percent are now extinct,
yet scientists insist that we make a great effort to save endangered species
. If extinction is the natural course of evolution, why bother? And if humankind is the cause of these lastest extinctions and endangerments, should efforts be made to save people so that their exploitation of the natural world can continue? Aren't our efforts to fight diseases such as the aids epidemic in Africa not only a denial of evolutionly forces but also adding to the problem of overpopulation exerting unbearable pressure on the environment? If evolution is truely the force it's claimed to be can it's course be changed by mankind and if so, should it be? Should evolution be allowed to take its course?
posted by Mack Twain
on Jul 8, 2002 -
Mothers who wait to have a baby
are at risk of evolutionary extinction. "If you want to see your line persist, then it's probably optimum to start reproducing in your early to mid-20s". According to this 220 year statistical model late-reproducing women [genetic lineage] declined as a proportion of the population from 11 percent to about 5 percent
posted by stbalbach
on May 27, 2002 -
The death of creationism?
William Saletan is claiming that creationism is dead, because Intelligent Design isn't as reactionary as the old creationism, even though scientists still treat it as a threat. I think creationism in any brand is still a threat, regardless of how reactionary it is. What do you think?
posted by stoneegg21
on Feb 18, 2002 -
Ohio school board considers adding "Intelligent Design Theory" to science curriculum.
I wish I could find better links than these. I've been hearing about this on NPR every morning this week, but have been unable to find any news links - I can't even find the Ohio State School Board site. They are debating whether or not to start teaching IDT, which seems to be Creationism with a pseudo-scientific background. Here
is a transcript of comments that were given to the board by John Calvert, J.D., a supporter of IDT. Anybody know any more about this theory?
posted by starvingartist
on Feb 8, 2002 -
First genetic evidence of macroevolution found. …the scientists show how mutations in regulatory genes that guide the embryonic development of crustaceans and fruit flies allowed aquatic crustacean-like arthropods, with limbs on every segment of their bodies, to evolve 400 million years ago into a radically different body plan: the terrestrial six-legged insects.The link is to a press release with a basic explanation; if you've got a subscription to Nature, you can read the whole article there.(via /.)
posted by darukaru
on Feb 7, 2002 -
'If you want to know what Utopia is like, just look around - this is it,'
the article asks is human evolution over? Two interesting "facts?" "points?"
1) the blending of our genes which will soon produce a uniformly brown-skinned population. Apart from that, there will be little change in the species.
2) Just consider Aids, and then look at chimpanzees,' says Jones. 'You find they all carry a version of HIV but are unaffected by it. Something very similar could soon happen to humans. In a thousand years...
Link via www.cursor.org
posted by bittennails
on Feb 4, 2002 -
WA Lawmakers try to remove "repugnant" Theory of Evolution from schools
. Yes, this is the 21st century, and yes - we in Washington State now have two bills, (Senate
) before our congress that propose "All textbooks and curriculum that teach the theory of evolution shall be removed from the public schools forthwith and replaced with textbooks and curriculum that teach the self-evident truth of creation".
I don't know whether this is a legitimate effort to change the law, or a (hopefully) doomed effort to curry favor with conservative voters. [originally via fark]
posted by kokogiak
on Jan 25, 2002 -
evolution never happened. And
maybe industry doesn't cause pollution and population growth is no problem. At least that's what they're teaching kids in Alabama and Texas (and maybe your state as well).
posted by conquistador
on Nov 9, 2001 -