FtB Interviews: Greg Laden

FtB Interviews: Greg Laden November 2, 2011

Freethought Blogs is growing at an insanely fast rate.  Glorious, says I!  However, a lot of you may not be aware of all the authors on FtB.  Even if you are, you may not know who their celebrity crushes are or what they think of Kim Kardashian’s marriage.  In an effort to acquaint everybody with the rabble here at FtB, I’m going to be conducting interviews with the bloggers.

The first up is author of the X Blog, Greg Laden.

First thing’s first: when I was in college I read your blog daily (I still do). It’s an honor to now be on the same site as you.

So you’re the guy who reads my blog! Thank you very much!

For what are you most known?

In the field of Anthropology, I’m most known for coming up with the currently best explanation for the ape-human split, which I co-authored with Richard Wrangham (we independently came up with somewhat different versions of the same hypothesis and put them together in a paper) and for co-authoring with Jamie Jones, Wrangham, David Pilbeam and Nancy Lou Conklin-Britain the best explanation (so far) for the origin of the genus Homo and the key human-traits of large brain, long term semi-monogamous marriagey-things, large body size, etc.

In the field of blogging I’m most known for being a dangerous rad-fem even though, ironically, I am not that much into radishes.

What are you afraid of?

Very large cats. Otherwise, absolutely nothing, though I’ve never met a grizzly bear face to face where it wasn’t in a cage or on a chain.

Do you have any weird talents?

I usually know what other people are going to say before they say it.

If you couldn’t be an anthropologist, what would you do for a living?

I knew you were going to say that.

I would have been some kind of scientist, for sure. Anthropology happened to present itself multiple times and in fairly irresistible ways. And, if you do the kinds of anthropology I do, as long as I’ve done it, you get to do a lot of different things. This is how I annoy my in-laws. No matter what topic comes up, I say “Oh. I did my thesis on that.”

What are you most proud of?

That my daughter is an amazing person. I am totally responsible for all the good things about her. Should any bad things emerge … well, that must have been her mother. I’m very very proud to be married to Amanda and that I’ve tricked her into sticking with me. I’m pretty proud of Huxley but I can’t really take credit for much at this point; He’s got so many caretakers and he’s so small he’s still mostly running on genes.

Talk about offending people. Is it ever ok? If so, when?

Yes, of course it is OK. It is nice to be nice to the nice. The corollary is that it is necessary to be offensive to the offensive. Of course, that can be very subjective. Also, you can’t not offend people even if you try. There are a lot of people out there that seem very offended by me, and I swear, I wasn’t trying to offend them. At first, anyway.

Describe a time when you were wrong about something.

It is hard to narrow down the possible choices. I am sure that I am a little wrong about almost everything, very wrong about a few things, and not wrong at all about a few things. Apparently I was majorly wrong about something I said about aliens once. Otherwise, there’s a list here.

Did you ever believe in god?

Yes, when I was a kid. I believed in the guy with the white hair and beard, then later I believed that “god” was some kind of concept. Minnesota Atheists is publishing a book soon with essays by lots of people describing their shift into atheism. I’ve got a contribution in there, I hope everyone buys the book and reads it when it comes out!

What blogs do you read? Which blog will you never miss an entry on ever!

Well, your blog, of course. But otherwise, that’s a very tricky question. I don’t actually read a lot of blogs, and I’m fairly strategic about it. I read blogs in order to interact with those blogs and bloggers, and that interaction is in the form of blogging back at them or writing about what they’ve written, and snorking their stuff on Facebook, Google+ and so on. Since I take my own blogging fairly seriously, this means that I tend towards blogs where there is some reciprocal interest. I don’t have time to do otherwise. So this includes but is not limited to Tangled Up in Blue Guy; Culture of Science; Aardvarchaeology; Racialicious; emacs-fu; Bug Girl’s Blog; Experience; Real Climate; Panda’s Thumb; 10,000 Birds (Where I also write a monthly post); Skepchick; Class M; Inverse Square; Angry by Choice; Deep Sea News; Dump Bachmann; Neuron Culture; A handful of Climate blogs; and all of the Freethought Blogs especially those by individuals I’ve had a long standing reciprocal relationship with, such as Almost Diamonds and Lousy Canuk. There are more, but those are the blogs that are currently on my “check daily” RSS feed (Well, there are more but those are the ones that are active).

On what projects are you presently working?

Eventually I hope to writeup The Congo Memoirs as a book (it is mostly done). I’m working on a couple of small scientific publications. I’ve got a piece coming out in a book by Minnesota Atheists, as I’ve mentioned, and a review in American Scientist. Oh, and some blogging.

What do you do for fun?

Hang around and talk with people with whom I share non-judgmental respect and condition-free love.

Who is your role model?

The people from the last question.

If it turns out you were wrong about the whole god thing, what do you ask of god when you’re being judged?

Don’t taze me, bro!

In the movie of your life, which characters would be indispensable to the story?

La Fem Nikita, either of the two tech guys from the first seasons of MI-5, any role cast for Sigourney Weaver, Claudia Donovan and Marge Gunderson. We would legit be a hella sick team. Sound Track by Tracy Chapman and the Indigo Girls.

What motivates you to do what you do?

Fear of large cats.

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