The editor-in-chief of Bloggingheads TV, Robert Wright, has re-instated my interview with linguist John McWhorter on that website. Wright was away last week when the brouhaha occurred. It’s good to see that a steady editorial hand is back in charge.
I’ve just been through the weirdest book-related experience I’ve had since a Canadian university professor with a loaded rat trap chased me around after a talk I gave a dozen years ago, threatening to spring it on me. Last week I got the following email bearing the title “Invitation to Appear on Bloggingheads TV” from a senior editor at that site: Hi, Michael– I’d like to invite you to appear on Bloggingheads.tv, a web site that hosts video dialogues between journalists, bloggers, and scholars. We have a partnership with the New York Times by which they feature excerpts from some of our shows on their site. Past guests include prominent thinkers such as Paul Krugman, Paul Ehrlich, Frans de Waal, Read More ›
TIME Magazine asked me to write an entry on Richard Dawkins for “The TIME 100” this year. After their editing, it came out rather more insipid than I wrote it. They asked for 400-500 words, but pared it down to 187 — and that’s after adding their own phrases (e.g., “deeply unsettling to proponents of intelligent design,” “the rigor he brings to his thinking,” “the Bible advises us,” etc.)! The entry, as I originally wrote it, follows below:
Metal mousetrap parts Okay, so one day a guy walks up to you and says irreducible complexity is no problem for a random, Darwinian-like evolutionary process. In fact, he can explain how a mousetrap could be made step by step. That’s great, you reply, tell me. Easy, says he. He has just finished a detailed analysis of the standard mechanical mousetrap and discovered that, except for the wooden base, all the parts are made of metal! What’s more, he’s even looked at non-standard mechanical traps, and their pieces are all made of metal, too! Also, after much sleuthing he’s noticed that the mousetrap spring has a lot in common with the spring inside his ballpoint pen — both are made Read More ›
The January 25th issue of Nature carries a “Progress” paper by Poelwijk et al that’s touted on the cover as “Plugging Darwin’s Gaps,” and cited by its authors as addressing concerns raised by proponents of intelligent design. The gist of the paper is that some amino acid residues of several proteins can be altered in the lab to produce proteins with properties slightly different from those they started with. A major example the authors cite is the work of Bridgham et al (2006) altering hormone receptors, which I blogged on last year. That very modest paper was puffed not only in Science, but in the New York Times, too. It seems some scientists have discovered that one way to hype Read More ›