Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Naturalistic Fallacy: 1, Sam Harris: 0

Posted 15 Sep 2011 / 2

For those who don’t know Sam Harris, he is a rather famous critic of theism who often invokes science and broad rationalism in his arguments for the abandonment of organized religion. Along with Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins he is sometimes known as one of the “four horsemen of the neo-atheiest movement” (Wilson Read More

Cultural Evolution, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Memetic Fitness, Multilevel Selection, Philosophy, Radio & Podcasts, Religion, Talks & Seminars, Web

Patterns in mussel beds may reflect interaction between individual behavior and emergent environmental patterns

Posted 09 Sep 2011 / 0

Mussel beds off of Polzeath, United Kingdom (photo by Andy F) Natural selection is often oversimplified as the effect of the outside environment on the survival and reproduction probability of individual organisms. In the end this perspective has some value: individual organisms either survive and reproduce or they do not. But along the way, an Read More

Behavioral Ecology, Competition, Cooperation, Emergence, Individual-based Models, Intertidal Zones, Population Growth, Spatially Explicit Modeling

Online tools for teaching the basics of population growth

Posted 08 Sep 2011 / 5

WARNING: Unfortunately, the applets that I discuss below (“Otherwise”) no longer meet Java security specifications. As a result, they won’t work on computers with the most updated version of Java. Please see the other tools listed in the Comments section below as alternatives. I am still searching for the perfect user-friendly package to teach about Read More

Carrying Capacity, Ecological Modeling, Educational Software and Apps, Lesson Ideas, MSCI-270, Ecology, Population Growth, Teaching Tools

Hurricane Irene evacuation naysayers point out some fundamental human problems with understanding risk

Posted 29 Aug 2011 / 0

A downed tree in East River Park in Manhattan’s East Village after Hurricane Irene. Photo and caption text by David Shankbone. The east coast of the United States woke up this Monday morning to begin cleanup following the passing of Hurricane Irene. In preparation for the hurricane, over half a million New York and New Read More

Belief, Climate Change, Ethics, Political Science, Prediction, Sociology, Stochasticity

A fabulous article on the collective efforts that created the World Wide Web and the corporate efforts to destroy it

Posted 20 Aug 2011 / 0

Scientific American “Long Live the Web“

A Minor Post, Articles, Computer Science

How the right wing co-opts research into the evolution of cooperation

Posted 20 Aug 2011 / 2

One of the ways that I keep up with my field these days (inasmuch as that is even possible given the pace of innovation and activity) is by using Google Alerts. For those of you who are not familiar with the service, it allows you to receive updates via e-mail every time that a new Read More

Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Ethics, Human Evolution, Memetic Fitness, Political Science, Punishment, Reciprocity, Sociology, Web

Rand and Nowak paper on antisocial punishment in public goods games

Posted 19 Aug 2011 / 2

Researchers who study cooperation cannot agree on the role that punishment plays in maintaining the widespread social cooperation observed in nature and human societies. As is true in any scientific discipline, the social experiences of scientists studying cooperation influence their hypotheses. And looking at the societies that we live in, it is easy to see Read More

Altruism, Articles, Cooperation, Game Theory, Punishment

Is humanity’s most dangerous technology debt?

Posted 11 Aug 2011 / 0

If there is a theme running through my diverse interests, it is stability. For those who understand how ecological systems and evolutionary processes work, this should be entirely unsurprising: the living systems that persist today are those that are stable at multiple levels. The interactions between populations in a community must be stable, individual organisms Read More

Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Economics, Ethics, Human Evolution, Memetic Fitness, Reciprocity

Martin Nowak lecture on The Evolution of Cooperation at MIT

Posted 03 Aug 2011 / 0

I just checked out a lecture given by Martin Nowak at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that was recently posted on the MIT videos site. The video was recently posted on the MIT site, but it is not entirely clear when it actually happened. I suspect it is the same lecture listed here. Nowak recently Read More

Altruism, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Evolutionary Modeling, Game Theory, Group Selection, Human Evolution, Kin Selection, Mathematics, Multilevel Selection, Psychological Adaptation, Radio & Podcasts, Reciprocity, Talks & Seminars, Web

What can Dean Potter teach us about evolution?

Posted 02 Aug 2011 / 2

I have a bit of an obsession with why people push limits in particular sports. Although I am far from a big limit-pusher myself, I do enjoy the more dangerous forms of skateboarding, bicycling, and snowboarding. Of late I have taken up rock climbing, although I have only once made it out of the gym. Read More

Articles, Cultural Evolution, Film, Television, & Video, Happiness, Memetic Fitness, Play, Psychological Adaptation