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Human History as Natural History
Laura Betzig Ph.D.
Napoleon Chagnon has lived up to his name. He fought his way into the jungle; he fought off intellectuals. And he lived to write about them both in Noble Savages, his new memoir.
A generation ago, it was all the rage in anthropology to say that fatherhood was what made us human. These days, grandmothers are all the rage. But fathers have always mattered.
Darwin, like his creator, had a passion for beetles. He was otherwise less than godlike; but his autobiography is a good read.
Earlier this month, 3 men were kicked out of Saudi Arabia for being too handsome. There are Biblical precedents for that--and a few precedents in meerkats.
115 cardinals will pick a pope in the Vatican this afternoon. It wasn't always a civilized process. Once, people were suffocated, strangled, urinated on and poisoned.
They’re digging out from under Nemo in the Northeast; and it’s another slushy Sunday here in the Midwest. It might be nice to get off to an island, or not.
Christmas has always been about families and the masses have always been sung by the unmarried. Who live, like White-Fronted Bee-Eaters, as helpers-at-the-nest.
House mice, like us, live under despots when they're hemmed in, closed off or locked up. And nobody gets to vote.
Thousands of years after the Buddha, Arjuna, Confucius, Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad, fewer women are herded into palaces, and fewer men live alone.
The long, hot summer is over. The hardworking men and women of America are taking a day off.
223 years ago, on 14 July 1789, the crowds took to the streets in Paris, the Bastille was stormed, and the French Revolution began.
Over the course of history, there were Fathers of many Countries. And many of them left obelisks.
Most American children were raised by two parents, once. But by last count, more than half of all women under 30 who give birth in the US are without a spouse.
At last count, roughly 1 in 3 Boomers was single. And we're splitting up later in life. Roughly 1 in 4 divorces are now granted to people 50 and older. Why?
It was snowing last week in Rome. The pope made an appearance at St Peter's in a white coat. But in Italy, the middle of February is usually nice time for fertility rites.
Meet a product of Chicago politics, an Illinois state senator, US Senator and President of the United States, without a whiff of scandal about his personal life.
Like his father and grandfather, Kim Jong Un is becoming "a great person born of heaven." There have been other divine kings, in Bethlehem and Rome.
Not so long ago, the middle of Pennsylvania was the middle of nowhere. But institutions tend to grow; and sometimes, bad things happen when they do.
As advertised, on September 17th, the rabble moved into Wall Street. People sleeping in cardboard boxes and tents occupied a space formerly known as Liberty Plaza Park.
The cover of Kathyrn Stockett’s bestseller, The Help, is covered with birds. I wonder if she knows how apt that is. My friend, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, would.
The bad thing about polygamy is that it tends to dissipate wealth. But polygyny—which is all over the place—is much worse.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's maid has cost him his reputation, and his wife.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, otherwise known as the bourgeois bohemian, the caviar leftist, the Great Seducer and Porsche tranquille, has been exonerated before, and may be again.
Losing a lover can be disabling, and nothing is worse than losing a child. But losing a dictatorship must come close.
In May of 1786, the Marriage of Figaro first played on a Vienna stage. The music was Mozart's; the libretto was da Ponte's.
Lorenzo da Ponte led an uneven life. Converted to Catholicism at 14, changed his name, became a priest, and seduced another man's wife.
For the last few weeks, Egypt has been the most exhilarating place on earth. And we've all been living in Egypt.
Once every New Year in the Near East, people acted out a Sacred Marriage rite. Kings played the shepherd, Dumuzi, opposite an anonymous Inanna, the fertility goddess.
Every year when the days are bleak and the nights are black, we bring evergreens into our houses and string lights onto our lawns. Then we reassure each other.
The Pax Americana is upon us. Past Paxes have had plusses and minuses.
Laura Betzig, Ph.D., is a Darwinian historian at work on her fourth book, The Badge of Lost Innocence: A History of the West.