UK apology to Alan Turing

It is so easy to forget what cruelty our recent history holds.   

Just about anyone in analytic philosophy is familiar with the work of Alan Turing, who is a central figure in the development of the theory underlying modern computers.  In addition, he was pivotal in the breaking of the Enigma Code in WWII.  And  the treatment he received, which almost certainly led  to his suicide, is shocking.

A  petition to ask for an apology to him from the British government is up.  Only UK citizens can sign it, unfortunately.

From CNN

An online petition demanding a formal apology from the British government for its treatment of World War II code-breaker Alan Turing is gaining momentum.

Turing was subjected to chemical castration in 1952 after being found guilty of the charge of gross indecency for having a homosexual relationship, an illegal act at the time. He committed suicide two years later.

More than 19,000 people have added their names to the petition since it opened three weeks ago, urging the government to “recognize the tragic consequences of prejudice that ended this man’s life and career.”

Swine flu redux

Nature, published in the UK and one of the world’s top science journals, has a website up on the flu.  There’s lots of info, and it will be  possible to find out far more than you want to know.  One section particularly details some of the conflicting advice that national and world organizations are giving. 

Problems are being raised about the swine flu vaccination under development.  That will happen with any new development, and I’m in  no position to just truth here,  nor can I  find reputable sources on them.  However,  it should be noted that some people are probably going to make a great deal of money, at least in countries where health care is a for-profit industry.

Teenage relationships

A survey carried out by the NSPCC and the University of Bristol has discovered some worrying facts about teen relationships. The survey found that nearly nine out of ten 13-17 year old girls had been in an intimate relationship. Of these, one in six said they had been pressured into having sex; one in sixteen said they had been raped; others said they had been pressured or forced to kiss or sexually touch. A quarter of the girls had suffered physical violence – e.g., being slapped, punched, or beaten up by their boyfriends. Nearly nine out of ten 13-17 year old boys also said they had been in an intimate relationship. Less boys said they had been pressured into having sex – only one in seventeen reported that this was the case. But almost one in five suffered physical violence in a relationship. The survey discovered that the girls were far more likely to feel that they had no choice but to put up with the abuse because they felt scared, guilty, or worried about losing their boyfriend. The report recommends more education aimed at teaching teenagers to respect one another. We’ve noted some worrying attitudes to sex and relationships amongst young people a while back. Presumably this is all part of the same problem. You can access more information about the survey here.

Sexuality on the savannah

We all know what sexual relations between men and women were like in prehistory on the African savannah, right?  OK, it’s prehistory, but that’s just a detail. 

What happened was this:  Males rushed around spreading their seed, while females tried desparately to get the nuclear family to work.  Lesson for today:  men benefit from having as many mates as possible, while women need a faithful male to work for the benefit of them and their children.

Right?  No!  No!  No!

Or at least that isn’t at all necessarily what we see in societies that approximate to the prehistorical ones in their lack of influence from the present developed  world.  This is according to a report published in the summer issue of the journal Human Nature, by Monique Borgerhoff Mulder of the University of California, Davis

In fact, ladies, if you want to maximize your reproductive fitness, forget about the nuclear family.  Successive monogramy (with more than two serial husbands) is the way to go. 

So the next time you think, “Funny thing, I could swear I wouldn’t mind the extra partner,” don’t blame evolution for the difficulties you face on that score (as it were).

And Kudos to Sarah Blaffer Hrdy for yet another wise observation:

The women are lining up more protection, more investment, more social relationships for their children to exploit…. A lot of what some people would call promiscuous I would call being assiduously maternal.

And a deep pink ribbon  to Geoffrey F. Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico, for this observation:

Evolutionary psychology and anthropology really need to take women’s perspective seriously in all its dimensions…the capacity of women across cultures to dissolve relationships that aren’t working has been much underestimated.