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Information falling from the skies! Right into your hands!

All right, so you don’t think you can flit off to some conference somewhere whenever you feel like it. This is the 21st Century! Do it virtually! You may not be aware of this, but the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is an awesome resource that provides tons of information for free to the public. Among those resources are their annual holiday lectures, presented live on the web, and this year featuring Bones, Stones, and Genes: The Origin of Modern Humans.

Where and when did humans arise? What distinguishes us from other species? Did our distant ancestors look and behave like us?

When Darwin proposed that humans evolved from a common ancestor with the great apes, he lacked fossil evidence to support his idea. One hundred and fifty years later, the evidence for human evolution is plentiful and growing, including detailed molecular genetics data, an impressive fossil record, and artifacts of early human culture like stone tools.

Leading scientists John Shea of Stony Brook University, Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania, and Tim White of the University of California, Berkeley, will guide us on a global exploration spanning millions of years to illuminate the rise of modern humans.

Live Webcast October 6 & 7, 2011 10:00 a.m. ET. Re-webcast 11:00 a.m. PT

I know some of you are homeschoolers (I cluck disapprovingly in your direction…), but here’s a chance to get quality, high end instruction from prominent experts in the field right in your home, for no additional cost. How can you turn it down?

Also, I’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth mentioning again: the HHMI also provides a whole library of free DVDs, including all of the past Holiday Lectures, that you can have shipped to your home. For free. Did I say this was free? Yes it is, and you’re crazy not to take advantage of this offer.

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. says

    When Darwin proposed that humans evolved from a common ancestor with the great apes, he lacked fossil evidence to support his idea. One hundred and fifty years later, the evidence for human evolution is plentiful and growing, including detailed molecular genetics data, an impressive fossil record, and artifacts of early human culture like stone tools.

    Yes, but 150 years ago the evidence for human evolution was plentiful. That paragraph confuses the lack of fossil evidence with the lack of evidence altogether.

    The morphological evidence was already good, however, as we’re not especially well-adapted to bipedalism from our ancestral quadrupedalism. OK, sure, we could be quadrupeds and still the evidence for our evolution would be good, however the slavish derivation of evolution (as opposed to what could be expected from any meaningful intelligence) really shows up better in humans than in most species, due to the relatively recent change to bipedalism.

    The “design” reason for our gooseflesh is, uh, what again? Seems I’ve never quite grasped the intelligent design considerations that went into that.

    Glen Davidson

  2. Mattir-ritated says

    I know some of you are homeschoolers (I cluck disapprovingly in your direction…)

    We cluck right back atcha, Big Guy. DaughterSpawn is wearing her squid-emblazoned, PZMyers autographed jacket for the first day of our new homeschool year.

    And seriously, thanks for the reference. And for the kindle thing earlier.

  3. Rich Woods says

    I am absolutely overwhelmed by the fact that the HHMI will send a set of educational DVDs to anyone, anywhere in the world, all for free. This damn near inspires me to leave them something in my will!

  4. EvoMonkey says

    The HHMI holiday lectures used to be shown quite frequently on the Research Channel which I received via Dish Network. They are very good. Alas, I think the Research Channel is now defunct. I really miss it. They had medical grand round lectures and a variety of seminars from universities and colleges. Does anybody know if the HHMI holiday lectures are broadcast on any satellite or cable channels.

  5. Ary Shalizi says

    The HHMI holiday lectures are also available as free downloads from iTunes. So save some time, plastic and shipping costs (HHMI does have to pay to ship you the DVDs, and that money could be spent on research!) and download them directly.

  6. speedwell says

    They have two DVDs on evolution that I’m planning to use to show my nephews the science of evolution in a nonconfrontative way. My brother and his wife believe that their Christian faith makes it impossible for them to accept the science of evolution. I’m not allowed to bring the subject of religion up with the kids, but something like what this foundation is offering gives them the chance to review it on their own without any pushiness or argument.

    I hope.

  7. cicely, Inadvertent Phytocidal Maniac says

    And according to the FAQ, there’s not even a shipping charge. It does, indeed, appear to be raining soup!
    -

  8. tuckerch says

    Ary Shalizi, thanks for the info about the HHMI lectures and iTunes!

    Off to download some free knowledge.

  9. Therrin says

    #5 Ary Shalizi

    The HHMI holiday lectures are also available as free downloads from iTunes. So save some time, plastic and shipping costs (HHMI does have to pay to ship you the DVDs, and that money could be spent on research!) and download them directly.

    Highlighted to point out that free never is.

  10. says

    #10,

    When they say free, they do not charge you for shipping the DVDs.

    So if that isn’t free enough, what exactly is the complaint? That getting DVDs has a cost to someone somewhere?

  11. Greg Peterson says

    These are some really great resources. I have about a half-dozen or so of their DVDs, and each is excellent. Not only are they totally free, but their fulfillment department is quick. I’m very impressed by this organization.

  12. Therrin says

    So if that isn’t free enough, what exactly is the complaint? That getting DVDs has a cost to someone somewhere?

    Sorry, I was trying to say generally not to abuse their goodwill. Let me just sweep that remark under the sofa and pretend it never happened.

  13. Ary Shalizi says

    Not “free” because HHMI pays for the production, shipping and handling of those DVDs out of the return on their endowment. That’s also what they use to fund research. So the free DVDs take money (however marginally) from HHMI-funded researchers.

  14. Sam Salerno says

    I’m only a home schooler because I am old and can’t afford a proper education. But I can assure you I will take full advantage of this information.

  15. draugo says

    I would just like to point you all to Open Courseware where MIT shares practically all of its courses for free, with notes and video (Many can also be found from youtube at MIT:s channel). I wish more centers of education would do this, this is what internet is supposed to be (well this and porn :) ).

  16. Carlie says

    I’ve got a few of their DVDs. Given that they’re just a camera taping lectures they tend towards the “boring to watch” side, but the content is fantastic. I use them in class in small chunks to clarify certain ideas.

  17. Eric Lawton says

    Cluck? Well, now we know how smart some corvids can be, I can,call you a birdbrain. But surely you are aware that there are different circumstances in the world than you might have thought of. We had our reasons, our son exceeded our expectations and the local school board continued to receive our taxes and other support. So we extend the secular virtue of forgiveness in your general direction and trust you will challenge your own prejudices before publication in future.