Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Taking risks for the data

Posted 25 Oct 2013 / 0

The cover story of November’s National Geographic is about the death of storm chaser Tim Samaras, who was killed along with two of his collaborators (including one of his sons) during a monster tornado outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Samaras is one of many “explorers” supported by National Geographic, an organization that seems to be the Read More

A Major Post, Articles, Genetics, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Human Uniqueness, Play, Risk & Uncertainty

Think the Milgram Experiments tell us something definitive about human nature? Think again!

Posted 21 Aug 2013 / 0

WNYC The Leonard Lopate Show “The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments” This great feature uncovers two major sources of scientific distortion: Milgram himself selectively reported his results in order to tell a more sensational story; and Media depictions, fueled by popular preconceptions, further filtered and distorted the meanings of Milgram’s scientific results. Both Read More

A Minor Post, Altruism, Behavior, Emotion, Empathy, Ethics, Human Nature, Methods, Psychology, Radio & Podcasts, Scientific Fraud, Social Norms

Mishele Lesser’s Genoscapes explores the meaning of human genetics

Posted 15 Dec 2012 / 0

Mishele Lesser, a student who I mentored, just presented her final thesis project Genoscapes. Mishele and I spent a lively semester talking about the meaning of human genetics, a discussion that ranged from very mechanical questions about how genetics work to more philosophical questions about how to interpret genetic data and the potential identity it can Read More

A Major Post, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Genetics, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Human Uniqueness, Mentoring, Pratt Institute, Science in Art & Design

Does American faith in genetic determinism limit the achievement of our students?

Posted 12 Nov 2012 / 0

National Public Radio Shots “Struggle For Smarts? How Eastern And Western Cultures Tackle Learning” This piece went in a direction that I just did not expect. There is so much focus on the role of rote learning versus problem solving in comparing “Eastern and Western” approaches to education, but I have never heard a clear Read More

A Minor Post, Belief, Cultural Evolution, Development, Fluidity of Knowledge, Gene by Environment Interactions, Genetics, Human Nature, Memetic Fitness, Philosophy, Public Policy, Radio & Podcasts, Teaching

E.O. Wilson on the biological origins of sin and virtue

Posted 27 Jun 2012 / 0

The New York Times Opinionator “Evolution and Our Inner Conflict“

A Minor Post, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Psychological Adaptation

Nice summary piece on the state of research into human nature and morality by Agustín Fuentes

Posted 24 Jun 2012 / 0

Psychology Today “Busting Myths About Human Nature“

A Minor Post, Human Nature, Social Norms

Understanding the role of the Templeton Foundation in funding evolutionary biology research

Posted 22 Jun 2012 / 0

Back in March, David Barash used his regular column in the Chronicle of Higher Education to unveil “The Truth about the Temple of Templeton“. Reacting to an increasingly-large funding stream coming out of the Templeton Foundation, Barash questions whether receiving money from this religiously-affiliated, pro-business group will lead to tainted science. Barash begins his critique by Read More

A Major Post, Articles, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Economics, Evolution, Grants & Funding, Group Selection, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Religion

Scientific American “Why We Help”

Posted 21 Jun 2012 / 1

The July issue of Scientific American features a cover story written by Martin A. Nowak called “Why We Help“. This very short article contains a brief review of Nowak’s “five rules” for cooperation, a little bit of connection to experimental work in real organisms, and some hazy conjecture concerning what makes humans cooperate. It seems as Read More

A Major Post, Anthropogenic Change, Articles, Behavior, Climate Change, Cooperation, Evolution, Evolutionary Modeling, Game Theory, Group Selection, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Kin Selection, Punishment, Reciprocity, Social Networks

Martin Nowak and Roger Highfield’s “SuperCooperators”

Posted 03 Nov 2011 / 0

Martin Nowak has accomplished a lot for a mid-career scientist. His theoretical work exploring how cooperation evolves has illuminated the importance of a great number of evolutionary mechanisms. He has also been unafraid to tackle real-life problems of cooperation, including questions like “why do we get cancer?” and “how did language evolve?”. Nowak likes to Read More

Altruism, Books, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Ethics, Evolutionary Modeling, Game Theory, Group Selection, History, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Kin Selection, Language Evolution, Multilevel Selection, Mutualism, Punishment, Reciprocity, Religion, Superorganisms, Sustainability

Science in Art & Design: Justin Taylor’s “The Gospel of Anarchy”

Posted 07 Oct 2011 / 0

There are so many science books that I want to read that I frequently neglect to read fiction. This is too bad, because good fiction can be as rich with interesting hypotheses about human nature and evolution as any book illuminating evolutionary theory. Towards the end of thinking about how my field informs and can Read More

Books, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Evolutionary Psychology, Fiction, Group Selection, Happiness, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Multilevel Selection, Pratt Institute, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Science in Art & Design, Superorganisms