Natural history of the present

Natural history of the present

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How clean is that finger, Donald? youtube

How often does Donald Trump wash his hands?

Move over Nate Silver! The statistician and author of The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail - But Some Don’t may have called 49 out of 50 states right in the 2012 US Presidential election…
The White House lit up in rainbow colors to celebrate the US Supreme Court’s same sex marriage ruling, 25 June 2015. White House Press Office/Wikimedia Commons

Could opposition to same-sex marriage be about the price of sex?

Introduce me to an opponent of same-sex marriage, and I will show you a married person. Or someone whose bucket list has “Get Married” right at the very top. The paradox would be delectable if its consequences…
What’s she trying to sell? EPA/PAUL BUCK

Selling sex in music videos and Video Music Awards

That most confected of artificial television spectacles, the MTV Video Music Awards has mercifully passed for another year. Miley Cyrus returned as host to the scene of her infamous 2013 performance where…
Shhhhh! AshleyMadison

Life’s short, have you had an affair?

Today, millions of very nervous adults are furtively checking sites like “Have I been Pwned” to check if their account details at Ashley Madison have been leaked. Others are checking if their partners…
Sing your little heart out, Mr Superb Fairy Wren. And set your alarm clock early. David Cook/flickr

Early bird gets the sperm … to the egg

What gets you out of bed in the morning? Before morning has broken, and some time before blackbird has spoken, songbirds rise for sex. And a clever new experiment reveals just how important it is for male…
Never speak to survey monkeys! Derek Springer/flickr

The tragedy of the over-surveyed commons

By any metric, Garrett Hardin’s The Tragedy of the Commons article in Science, a copy of his address as 1968 president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, rates among the most important…
“Spoiling for a Bar Fight” Jonathan Cohen/Flickr

Violence: Blaming the bloke but not the booze

Is alcohol-fuelled violence caused by the booze itself or by the macho culture in which the drinking occurs? If we are to believe a recent study commissioned by the alcohol company Lion, it’s the culture…
Two left hands form a heart-shape. Leon Brocard/ Flickr

Can science finger a philanderer? Not like this!

Are people naturally monogamous, polygamous or promiscuous? It’s one of those questions that most people feel quite confident in answering. Ask a few people and you’re likely to receive a variety of contradictory…
Statue of Genghis Khan at at Tsonjin Boldog near Ulaanbaatar. Enkhbold G/ Flickr

Male sexual despots rewrite history

“Heredity”, opined the pioneering cultural anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber in 1915, “cannot be allowed to have acted any part in history”. I have yet to encounter a crisper expression of the view that…