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Patricia Adair Gowaty
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Blog Entries by Patricia Adair Gowaty

Was Darwin Wrong About Sexual Selection?

(0) Comments | Posted March 4, 2013 | 6:09 PM

''... the manner in which the individuals of either sex or of both sexes are affected through sexual selection cannot fail to be complex in the highest degree" (Darwin 1859 p 296).

Everybody seems to know that sexual selection is the process that results in fancy traits in males because...

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Natural Selection and the Up-Goer Five Text Editor

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2013 | 4:59 PM

Like many of you, I bit on the Up-Goer Five Text Editor. I marveled at "Hamlet" in the ten hundred most common English words. Jumping in, I took the challenge. Could I explain the theory of evolution via natural selection using only the thousand most used words in...

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How Much Does 'True Belief' Cost?

(7) Comments | Posted February 2, 2013 | 12:00 PM

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself." -- Richard Feynman

The dialectic between belief and truth is a tender bind. Using the snake...

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Sex Science: Controls Can Keep You From Fooling Yourself

(6) Comments | Posted January 16, 2013 | 11:39 AM

"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool" (Richard Feynman).

Here's a question some of my savvy students ask me: What might any scientist, perhaps one like A. J. Bateman,...

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Sex Science: Repetition Is a Way to Keep From Being Fooled

(2) Comments | Posted January 3, 2013 | 6:23 PM

Most in my cohort of "critical, mad-dog" graduate students fooled ourselves as we read for the first time Bateman's 1948 classic study of sexual selection in fruit flies. In the original paper, we missed the evidence that his method was not able to answer his...

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Sex Science: 'The Best Part of 'Believe' Is the Lie" (Part 3)

(3) Comments | Posted December 20, 2012 | 4:07 PM

Why do we believe fictions in the face of facts? When do the scales fall from our eyes?

These are the questions that dog me in relation to modern US political discourse, but also A. J. Bateman's hyper-cited 1948 experimental study in fruit...

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Sex Science: 'The Best Part of 'Believe' Is the Lie' (Part 2)

(7) Comments | Posted December 18, 2012 | 2:31 PM


It is well-known that women have curious powers to induce men to hysteria (think of Rick Santorum's apoplexy during a Senate debate about abortion) or violence (think of ankle peeking past burka's hem). Less well-known is the power of promiscuous female flies to induce scientists to apparently self-deceptive blindness to...

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Sex Science: 'The Best Part of 'Believe' Is the Lie'

(5) Comments | Posted December 10, 2012 | 6:12 PM

As I slid into a chair in a crowded seminar room next to my collaborator, he excitedly whispered, "No statistical sex difference in Bateman slopes, but the speaker says that his data on females are biased but not the male data. What's going on?" In other words, the speaker had...

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