A foundation in (mainly human) behavioral biology

Behavioral Biology is not Evolutionary Psychology, but many people, even smart people who should know better, get that confused. One could think of Evolutionary Psychology as a subset of behavioral biology. Or, one could think of Evolutionary Psychology as the deformed misguided freakish evil sibling of behavioral biology that should have been smothered at birth. Not that I have strong feelings about it or anything ….

Anyway, I like to talk about Behavioral Biology but I find too often that the people I’m conversing with think we are discussing Evolutionary Psychology. This is a little like being an astronomer and everyone wants to speak with you about astrology. But worse.

So, I’ve created an annotated bibliography of mainly classic (but some more recent) foundational readings in (mainly human) behavioral biology. It is here: A Tutorial in Human Behavioral Biology

And in related matters, do check out the podcast of the recent conversation with Eric Michale Johnson, Marie-Claire Shanahan, Desiree Schell and Moi: Culture and Tradition

The Tea Party vs. Occupy Wall Street

Based on Richard A. Epstein’s new Broadside, this video outlines the differences between the classical liberalism of the Tea Parties and the progressive agenda advanced by the OWS movement, and reveals that the painful performance of the American economy in the past decade is not a function of bad luck, but the product of flawed institutional design….

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Kudos to the Brave Five of Egypt

Five people, now known as the brave five, refused to do their jobs at an Egyptian port facility; They refused to sign for an incoming shipment … from the US .. of tons and tons of CS Gas, the tear gas used to disperse and injure protesters. An investigation into the behavior of these five port workers was initiated. Then cancelled.

I’m not sure what the current status of the tear gas is. Story here.

The Kiss

I went out with a friend. We were both between relationships, and we both knew somehow that this was a date though it was never called a date. And we had a perfectly good time: Good food, good conversation, good drinks. She drove.

When it came time to go home, she drove me to my house in my urban neighborhood and parked on the nearby street. As we were saying our good-byes, she enigmatically unhooked her seat belt. I wondered why. Then, I discovered that she wanted the freedom of movement to lean across the console and give me a kiss. It was a good kiss. It was actually a series of good kisses, and it went on for a while.

And suddenly, there was a loud rapping on the window of the car. We stopped kissing and that’s when we noticed that we had steamed up the windows a bit. So I cracked the window on which the rapping had occurred and there was a police man staring in with his flashlight.

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Join CFI in Urging Obama to Keep Religion Out of Reproductive Health Care Rules

From the CFI in Washington DC:

Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new guidelines that require health insurance providers and organizations providing health care plans to cover preventive health services, such as contraception, without charging a co-payment. The Center for Inquiry (CFI) considers this an important step forward for reproductive rights and health care.

However, these new guidelines have faced fierce public opposition from organized religion. Most notably, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is lobbying the HHS to either eliminate the new guidelines or widely expand the current exemption clause – which now covers employers whose main purpose is to promote religious doctrine – to also include religious hospitals, charities, and universities.

This means that hundreds of thousands of women would be left without preventative health coverage simply because of their employer’s religiously motivated objections.

In response, CFI and several organizations have sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, pushing her to maintain her ground on the new guidelines. Yet recent news reports suggest that President Barack Obama is now considering religious arguments to expand the exemption clause.

This is where you come in. Join CFI in telling the Obama administration to stand for science and reason, and keep religious belief out of our health care laws.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION

Yoga, Satan, and Harry Potter

You probably don’t know this about me, but my cousin was an exorcist. I don’t think he ever actually cast out a demon, but I learned when I was a kid that he did go to Exorcism School at the Vatican where he learned technique and observed a number of demonic possessions and stuff. He later went on to become an Archbishop. Anyway, they really do have exorcism in the Catholic Church. Many Catholics have the rules for how to carry out an exorcism in their homes, in a little black book that has other ceremonial information as well. In the home I grew up in, we kept this book in a large cross, in which there were also sacred candles and holy water and some other materiel. Just in case. The idea was to hang this cross on the wall near the entrance way so if there was a demonic possession or a dead person or an unbaptized baby in the house, and the priest rushed in to perform the appropriate ceremony, they would know right were to find the book and the candles and the holy water and stuff, in case they had left that stuff at home.

By the way, I’m pretty sure the Ocean is all holy water, because you make holy water by touching it to holy water, and lots of Catholics have taken showers after putting holy water on their heads. Some molecules of holy water must have gone down the drain and eventually to the ocean. Other molecules evaporated out of the holy water holder in the church, so the water vapor in the sky is pretty much all holy water by now. But I digress.

There is an interesting story returning zombie like from the dead, because it is several months old, that the Chief Exorcist of the Vatican, Gabriele Amorth, thinks that Yoga is a form of demonic possession.

This is distinctly possible. I remember once noticing that Amanda, who does yoga, had disappeared. I had no idea where she went. I looked around the house a bit and then gave up, figuring she had gone out or something. Then, I went into the bedroom closet to get a garbage bag (we kept them on the shelf in the bedroom closet) and there she was, in the Yoga Warrior Pose. It scared the shit out of me. It turns out that she was in the closet (it is a walk in closet) organizing some stuff when she felt moved to do some Yoga. To me, she looked totally demonically posessed.

Anyway, Father Exorcist Gabriele Amorth has stated that Yoga leads to a belief in Hinduism and that “all eastern religions are based on a false belief in reincarnation,” according to the Huffington Post.

From Newser:

Yoga is the work of the devil, according to a man who claims to have banished evil spirits from 70,000 people….practicing yoga leads to evil “just like the Harry Potter books,” which he believes promote black magic.

“In Harry Potter the devil acts in a crafty and covert manner, under the guise of extraordinary powers, magic spells, and curses,” said Amorth, who was at the film festival to introduce a new American exorcism movie, The Rite, which stars Anthony Hopkins as a Jesuit priest.

I saw The Rite. It reminded me of my cousin.

Anyway, there is something relevant here. The other thing you may not know is that my daughter, Julia, has been out of town for several months. Out of the country, actually. And she left the US just days before the latest Harry Potter movie came out, and has not been able to see it. The good news is that she’s been away long enough that it has now come out on DVD, and I just got a copy of it.

She returns tomorrow. I assume we will be watching the movie tomorrow night while we eat pesto tortellini. Which apparently is unavailable in the Republic of Georgia.

Bachmann’s New Hampshire Prospects Diminished

It is very important to me that Michele Bachmann do well in New Hampshire. Without a strong showing in the “Live Free or Die” state, her prospects for being the Republican Nominee are reduced. And we very much want Michele Bachmann to be the Republican Nominee.

However, the New Hampshire Union Leader has elected to endorse another candidate. (more…)

Muslim Students Walking Out on Darwin

At the University College London, it appears that Muslim students including but not limited to those taking medical training, are walking out on lectures that bring up evolutionary theory or Darwin.

‘They don’t come [to lectures] or they complain about it or they send notes or emails saying they shouldn’t have to learn this stuff.
‘What they object to – and I don’t really understand it, I am not religious – they object to the idea that there is a random process out there which is not directed by God.’

source

Just in case the Daily Mail is not the greatest source in the world, I had a look around to see if anyone else was reporting this. From the Tribune:

In ongoing protests, Muslim students including trainee doctors at Britain’s University College London have walked out of biology lectures on evolution, reports The Daily Mail.

Doh!

OK, then there’s this Australian source. They’re much closer than I am here in Minnesota:

Muslim biology students are boycotting lectures about evolution because they conflict with their creationist beliefs, one of Britain?s leading scientists has revealed.

Steve Jones, emeritus professor of human genetics at University College London, said increasing numbers of his undergraduates were refusing to attend his lectures on evolution and complaining that the subject should not be taught on their course.

“It is a minority of students … but [the problem] is definitely there and it is definitely growing,” said Jones, who teaches introductory genetics to about 300 first-year students, about a fifth of whom are Muslim.

“I had one or two slightly frisky discussions years ago with kids who belonged to fundamentalist Christian churches … now it is Islamic, overwhelmingly.”

That’s from The Australian Higher Education section.

Continuing with that source,

Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist and former Oxford professor, first raised the Muslim boycott of lectures in an interview with the Times Educational Supplement last month.

“Occasionally, my colleagues lecturing in universities lament having undergraduate students walk out of their classes when they talk about evolution — this is almost entirely Muslims,” he said. “I think there’s a very, very pernicious influence that is lasting up to the university years.”

In my view, these students should be given an appropriate grade; What is the English equivalent of an “F”?

Be There Now: Friday, Bar Abilene, Minneapolis

This is almost like a Free Thought Blogs meetup, because there will be three or four of us Free Thought Bloggers there. If you are in the Twin Cities, go to Pharyngula and tell PZ he needs to come on over! (I have no idea what his plans are at the moment.)

To preserve sanity in the event of changing plans or other contingencies, I’ll send you HERE to get the details. Check bat at that location for updates, should there be any.

Barney Frank will Retire

After 16 terms in office, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) plans to retire, according to an statement from his office. Frank will announce his retirement at the Newton City Hall this afternoon.

Details here

I do hope this does not mean that the Commonwealth’s Democratic Party or the relevant national organization does what they did with Kennedy’s seat.

The Wisconsin Depression

Last month, employment numbers moved significantly in fourteen states. All were increases, except one: Scott Walker’s.

Laura Conway writes:

If your political platform is public austerity and stripping union rights in the name of creating jobs, then you need better numbers than these…under Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin lost jobs in October, September, August and July. The state’s unemployment rate has risen from 7.3 percent to 7.7 percent, and Governor Walker is fending off a recall….

Check it out.