Posted by: grokscience | October 13, 2010

Best Science Writing 2010

The broad and complex world of science is distilled by adept science writers who capture and lead the imagination. On this program, Jesse Cohen discussed the best American science writing in 2010.

Where’s my kindle.. 😉




  1. It’s interesting that human evolution was brought up in this interview.

    Many biologists speak about human evolution as some sort of magic. I see it as nothing more than successful passing of the genes. Currently, the only method is procreation via blood engorged sack (or plastic in case of test tubes) in slime lined orifice. And if my current observations hold for some time (few hundred years), human beings will evolve taller and look like white people and be better liars.

    In the old days, passing genes were rather chaotic. While prehistoric people were selected for their ingenuity and physical advantages (ie, must run faster than the guy next to you or make a better shield to survive the lions), early civilization brought selection based on culture and wealth. Females were either forced by society or voluntarily seeking comfortable living that they mated with some less intelligent and physically less males.

    But modern day has brought a new selection force. In most modern society, it’s the females who choose their mates (this is true unless she’s raped or a slave as in Thomas Jefferson’s little slave girl). In almost every instance, females choose a mate who is taller. There’s some statistics I read that humans are getting taller, and my observation tend to support this. In fact, females typically choose a mate who is also stronger, richer, smarter, and -er in general than themselves; I actually read a personals ad of a female who said exactly this. While I haven’t seen as much -er in all cases, females choosing taller males seem to be almost universal.

    Another selection criterion, especially by Asian females, seems to be preference for white males. I bring up Asians, because they are biggest population on earth. Looking around Southern California, it seems almost all mixed race couples are Asian female with Caucasian male. I was listening to the podcast in a Korean market, and it seems almost all couples are as such; maybe Korean males stay home when the females go shopping, but white males go shopping with their females? I don’t know, but one old statistics showed that in USA, over 500K more Asian females marry Caucasian male than the other way around. If one assumes about equal number of males to females, that means half a million Asian male genes may not get passed on, and that’s just in the USA and getting worse.

    Another evidence for female preference for white is that by far the biggest surgery in east Asia (Korea, Japan, China) are cosmetic surgery to make themselves look more “white”. This includes eye surgeries, reducing lip sizes, thinning the nose, and so on. If white attributes are seen as thing of beauty to risk going under the knife, it would seem reasonable that they’d prefer to mate with males who already possess those attributes, and not the Asian (or other) features. One of the comments I read right after 24 hour fitness shooting in PA in 2009 said that he moved to Asia and couldn’t be happier with all the females he’s having. He said no female gave him time of day in USA, but he states females flock to him, “a dorky white guy” as he put it, in Asia. Anecdotal, yes, but I seem to see it everywhere and getting worse (I guess it’s good if you’re a dorky white guy).

    But is the reverse true? Are white females mating with Asians? Couple of instances I know of are “Mao’s last dancer” and Tiger Woods, but that’s about it. It rarely happens. Some white females do mate with black males, but by and large, they mate with other white males or with other races that resemble whites, such as light skinned Hispanics or mid-easterners. What’s worse, there seem to be outright hostility toward Asian males, everything from Global warming (pollution from China) to child sex slaves (India, born to Brothels) to US financial crisis (Japan is buying too much) are blamed on them, and in some cases blame Asian males for Asian females being with white males. But these are all excuses, of course. Asian genes are just not desirable to most females today, white, Asian, or other wise.

    As an example, I look at mixed race Native Americans (Meztisos); probably almost all of them were mixed with white males and Native American females; I can’t imagine many white females marrying Native American males in 18th and 19th century. Many now look less like Native Americans (North East Asians) and much more white. They can say they are Italians or Portuguese, and one would never know. Many Hispanic females I know are married to whites or prefer “European” Latino (again, anecdotal). As this trend continues, they’ll look more and more like white people. It seems this behavior is spreading across the globe. If there’s technological advance that allows better selection of what the offspring will look like, this trend will accelerate even more as the parents will tend to choose “white” features for their kids all over the world.

    As for females preferring liars, I think the divorce rate bears this out, especially considering that almost 3/4 of all divorces are initiated by females. I mentioned that females like males who are more -er than them. Obvious physical attributes are difficult to hide, but things like “self confidence”, “gentleman” and “athletic behavior” by working in the gym even if he hates it can be faked. Since females almost always rank those as some of the top criteria after physical attributes (eg. height), males learn to fake them well. Being funny has nothing to do with it as most comedians can tell you. To be successful in passing on the genes, males must exhibit this behavior in the short term. To procreate with more females, it’s at male’s advantage to successfully move on to another female. I don’t know how this will work exactly, but current way involves lots of deception. For example, putting on the best first impression, sometimes with deception (aka, stretching the truth), is an example of this. It only sets up the stage for later disappointments, but that has to last only until enough genes are passed on. In the future, this will be even more refined that humans will be much better liars in this regard, maybe in all regards as corollary. If the males aren’t as good a liars, their genes are less likely to get passed on.

    Modern society is not yet universal in places like Saudi Arabia and Africa. But it will happen eventually unless there’s major world wide disaster. I doubt it’ll be like Idiocracy (the movie), but we can kind of see where the human race is headed. Female preference is the strongest human evolutionary selection criterion today.

    So, Dr. Covic, where do you think the human beings are headed?

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