Science writer Michael Brooks lists “five discoveries taking science by surprise“.1 Number 5 is that “human beings are not special”. Think culture sets you apart from the beasts? Chimps, crows, and dolphins have it, too. Personality and morality? Elephants, rats and spiders are there with you. The ability to feel? Nah, even cockroaches do it.

But maybe things cultural and mental are too soft to build such momentous distinctions on? Well, maybe, but there’s no consolation in that. Brooks knows¬† that “even the hard facts are letting us down”: we’re sharing over 99% of our genes with other species. The genetic difference is almost non-existing. Read More


Richard Dawkins is arguably the spiritual father of the new atheist and skeptics movements, whose followers claim to know what the world is like. Or, more to the point, who claim to know what the world is not like. No ghosts, no telepathy, no ectoplasm. Science does not support the belief in such phenomena, and, some say, it supports disbelief in them.

I assume Dawkins would agree with this, but then he surprises me with what strikes me as an utterly pointless definition of the supernatural that supports his case by definition. Read More