Bio: Dr. Nathan H. Lents is a Professor of Molecular Biology at John Jay College of The City University of New York and author of "Not So Different: Finding Human Nature in Animals," available in May 2016.

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  1. Dear Professor Lents,

    With this comment, the editors of Inference: International Review of Science, would like to introduce you to a new quarterly online journal, one whose remit is the sciences, from Anthropology to Zoology. To date we have published five issues, with a sixth scheduled for publication in mid-May.


    After having discovered your blog, we thought you might be interested in one of our essays: “The Genus Homo” by Ian Tattersall, a paleoanthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History, New York City.


    With best wishes and our thanks in advance for your consideration.

    Hortense Marcelin


  2. I have numerous issues with the theory of evolution but one that sticks to me consistently is the question of sexual reproduction within species. If my thinking is correct it would seem that for any species to reproduce there would have to be at least one male and one female of the species “evolutionised” at the same time (or at least within the fertile lifetime of its mate). That seems an incredibly astonishing, nay impossible, coincidence. Given the thousands of sexually reproducing species now known it means that two of each would have to be alive at the same time and in the same area for the species to continue. Can you explain that?


    1. It’s difficult to dissect each misconception embedded in this question, but the simplest answer is that the term “evolutionised” makes no sense. Individuals don’t evolve. Populations do. Populations are interbreeding groups of organisms. They evolve together over time due to the emergence of mutations followed by selection, genetic drift, etc. There is no moment where one individual is suddenly born as a new species. It’s a gradual evolution over many generations and no line can be drawn precisely to say when one species ends and another begins. It’s rather like a child becoming an adult. There is no precise moment at which that happens (biologically speaking), but we all know that there is a difference between a child and an adult. The main problem with your understanding of evolution is that it is focused on individuals. Mutations emerge in individuals, and selection is placed on individuals, but evolution happens in populations, not individuals.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Mutations emerge in individuals, and selection is placed on individuals, but evolution happens in populations, not individuals.”

        This position limits evolution to the origin of species and speciation, i.e., biology. What evolutionary psychologists famously ignore is that man is not just another species, man has a heritage which influences his psychological being. Without that heritage, what data would man have? Heritage is a form of memory. Memory is full of error.

        Further, within species, biological evolutionary steps occur in individuals. For example, if you are a lactose intolerant human individual, you are an intermediate form in man’s evolution. If you are a lactose tolerant human individual, you are an intermediate form in man’s evolution.

        Biologically you evolved from a single tiny-minded cell to the complex human being you are. As you aged and gained data, you evolved psychologically as an individual. If you are reading this, you are likely continuing to evolve psychologically.

        evolve: verb; develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex form


  3. I have just discovered your website, and find your writings excellent, Professor Lents. My own PhD is in philosophy of science, and though I began with a BA and AbD in physics (back in the day, I pointed out the egregious dishonesty of creationist Dwayne Gish regarding thermodynamics), I expanded my horizons greatly over the years by adding anthropology, sociology and evolutionary biology–especially as related to sex and gender–to my in-depth scientific studies. I have no website of my own, but would welcome email contact from you, should you wish to inquire about some finer philosophical points such as, say, those relating to your recent article about origins and problems of morality. Keep up the good work.


  4. Bought ‘Human Errors’ upon reading eSkeptic article. Has there been any revision of the arithmetical errors and non sequiturs on page 98? They start with equating 3000 times the length of a human to a distance of 30km; I don’t know of anyone who is 10m tall! Surprised a numerate creationist, if such a being exists, hasn’t jumped on this.


    1. Yes, I got your earlier comment about this as well. From my recollection, we did waffle a bit about that, debating which kind of measurement was key – height or “width” of the human body, the latter being highly variable. The point being made isn’t precisely dependent on the arithmetic, so I haven’t really revisited it yet. Maybe I will. But no I doubt creationists will catch that because they’re not reading the book. That doesn’t stop them from criticizing it (SEVEN posts about me on “Evolution News” over the past five weeks). It’s really odd. They freely admit that they haven’t read the book but they still sound off on it!


      1. Thank you. Up until your explanatory epilogue I, like many others I suspect, thought ‘where’s my favourite example?’ Now for me the amusement of a meandering vas deferens is replaced by the incredulity in your elucidation of the vitamin B12 conundrum. If I were a creationist I might shrug at circumvolutory channels and disavow post ‘design’ chemical failures but must be perplexed by factory output connected straight to the municipal dump.
        Regarding relative distances, apologies, if the depth of the human body (not width as we do not run à la crab) were used, say 25cm, then 3000 fold gives a mere 0.750km! But as you say, your point is still well-made. While a torpedo sperm at 1.4mm/s (0.00504km/h) could strike the egg in two minutes – which makes more impressive the actual arduous marathon lasting days – not many of us are fit enough to sustain 22½km/h for this length of time let alone for days on end. However, a person covering 3000 times his length in 2 minutes is rocket propelled at 180km/h! Bit puzzled by reference to 45 minutes for missile Sam sperm’s straight line journey, the time a human would cover 30km at 40km/h, as this slightly underplays his achievement.
        From cardinals refusing to view the moons of Jupiter to creationists wilfully turning a Nelson eye to your work: how come evolution favoured such self-imposed ignorance?


  5. Hello nathan . Great blog i really congratulate you for your grat book and your articels, i would like to know you opining in translating some of your article to another laungauge, of course with referring to your blog and your name as the original writer.
    Please leave you answer her or send me a message to my email.
    Thank you.


    1. Thanks for letting me know. I don’t really mind. It’s kind of funny, actually, especially the bit about acromegaly and the brow ridge getting bigger from chewing – this is hilarious! lol


  6. Did you know Kent Hovind is using your material? Did you authorise this scum to use it? Starts about 12 minutes in.

    9/18/18 -Dr. Kent Hovind: Hyoid – Creation that Destroys Evolution!


    1. Thanks for letting me know. I’d not heard of Kent Hovind, but phew! This video is a doozy. I spit out my coffee when he stated, confidently!, that a prominent brow ridge simply means that the individual was over 200 years old because chewing makes the brow ridge grow. This is a riot!


      1. Lol. Hovind is a classic young earth crearionist
        Lies continually and his 200 yo Neandethal is one of his milder claims.
        Wish you wouod flag him for copyright. Shut his filth up. He actually has school kids watching his channel


      1. LOL interesting reading. He peddles a mix of incredulity, lies and God bothering. When you have some time watch his discussion with Aron Ra and his debate with Bill Ludlow and you will see his dishonesty and his ignorance.
        A few of us challenge his videos daily. Appreciate your excellent content has been used to perpetrate his diatribe of lies and misinformation against science. Filing a copyright claim isn’t a big deal and he has clearly used your material not as you intended.


  7. Why do you believe that you are nothing more than a worthless accidental ape that S L O W L Y descended from sea sponges for no reason and are related to cockroaches bananas elephants and jellyfish? Seems like quite the fairytale doesnt it?


    1. I accept the truth of evolution and common descent Mostly because there are mountains of evidence for it from a whole variety of disciplines and no real evidence against it. But I don’t consider myself a worthless ape. In fact, I think you and I are apes with a lot of worth!


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