Some thoughts on ecology, evolution and economics


All posts by admin

Empathy is a state of mind

Previously, I introduced Robert Sapolsky’s book Behave and the sections of our brain associated with certain thought patterns. The brain is relevant in how we prosecute criminals, vote for politicians and feel empathy for others. Again, nothing that shows up on a brain scanner excuses or explains our actions in these contexts but it does… (read more)

Foreign interference: Keeping governments out of Canadian elections

The likelihood of the Chinese government determining the outcome of a Canadian election or even an important policy decision is quite slim. However, the reporting by the Globe and Mail and other outlets this past year suggests that they are trying. The means for doing this involve political contributions, community connections, threats and social media… (read more)

Behave: Neurobiology in the real world

In his 2017 book, Behave, Robert Sapolsky takes us on a tour of the human brain and illuminates who we are as a species, as a community and as moral beings. He makes it clear that the morality of any behaviour, whether violent or gentle, is mostly a matter of context. Still, we all have… (read more)

A peace treaty with Nature?

On December 20, 2022, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework was agreed to by 196 countries. The secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, called it “a peace pact with nature”. As we have discussed elsewhere on this blog, biodiversity is the variety of life around us and an important key to our happiness. I would… (read more)

After the storm: Canadian healthcare after the pandemic

I remember watching the TV in the hospital visiting room on my last shift as a volunteer before the pandemic. The news was all about Covid. It was clear that the risks had become too great for non-professionals like me. The nurses, doctors and patients would have little choice in the months and years ahead…. (read more)

The Cambrian explosion

Of all the rapid evolutionary events we have explored in this blog , we have yet to look at the biggest and most consequential – the Cambrian Explosion. It is the big bang of evolutionary biology – the origin of animals. Within a period of 25 million years, all of the major body plans existing… (read more)

Are we working smarter?

The saying “Work smarter, not harder” is of particular interest in economics.  Though the typical measure of a country’s wealth is its production divided by its population, or GDP per capita, economists spend a lot of time looking at a slight variation on this, the value of its production divided by the number of hours… (read more)

Ten proposals for Canadian Healthcare

The Globe & Mail ran a ten part series this May on how to improve health care in Canada, a topic of some interest for this blog. The timing of this set of articles is important. The provincial premiers, who are constitutionally bound to make policy for and ultimately pay for public healthcare, are demanding a… (read more)

End of poverty?

Bill C-223 was introduced in Canada’s parliament on December 16, 2021 as part of a long tradition of anti-poverty legislation. Sadly, as a private member’s bill, there is little chance of it coming into force.  However, there is increasing optimism that the bill’s approach of introducing a framework for a guaranteed basic income for all… (read more)

Whither the news?

Information industries are facing re-organization.  This extends to a remarkable range of businesses that specialize in knowing things, whether it is travel agents, lawyers, doctors or academics.  More sophisticated coding and connectivity can process and communicate routine information inputs to make marketable products for consumers with less cost and human involvement.  Journalists have suffered acutely… (read more)