Digital Culture

Recovery and travel (and Richard Dawkins)

Been a bit longer than I like since I’ve blogged…I try hard to record something every day, just for myself (and the half-dozen brave readers who keep coming back). Thanksgiving caused some of the delay, and the fact that I’ve been fighting off a chest cold for a few days hasn’t helped. Nothing makes you feel down quite like being unable to breathe.

On to more interesting matters: Slate has an interview up with my favorite scientist, Richard Dawkins. The fact that I have a favorite scientist should come as no surprise to any of you (I also have a favorite poet, a favorite fantasy author, a favorite way to eat chocolate, and a favorite Iron Chef. My life is full of judgement and hyperbole.). If readers of this blog haven’t read him, go thee forth to a library and get a copy of The Selfish Gene (a book that literally changed the way I understood the world the first time I read it) and The Blind Watchmaker (another book that caused me no end of philosophical re-thinking).

During the interview, there’s a discussion of things evolutionary, among them the role of losing hair during the course of man’s journey:

As for the hair in our armpits and pubic regions, that was probably retained because it helps disseminate “pheromones,” airborne scent signals that still play a bigger role in our sex lives than most of us realize.

I know that scientists are still arguing this, but I’ve never read any suggestion that seems the most obvious to me. Why would there still be hair only around those parts of humans that lose the largest amount of heat to the outside world? Oh…I don’t know…maybe insulation? Maybe the axiliary hair deals with heat loss/retention in ways that we don’t quite get yet. Just an idea (but it seems a good deal more likely than waving the idea of “phermones” around.).

I also appreciate the end of the article, where the interviewer asks Dawkins about his critiques of religion:

“You’ve called religion a ‘dangerous collective delusion’ and a ‘malignant infection,’ ” I said. “Don’t you think you’re underplaying it a bit?”

Dawkins turned, smiled a small fox smile, and said, “Yes!”

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