My conversation with Coleman Hughes

May 27, 2023 • 12:00 pm

UPDATE: I’m told the video will be out next Tuesday, so if you want audio and visuals (recommended), I’ll put the YouTube conversation up then



Not long ago I did a podcast (which I think will eventually become a video) with the young writer, musician, and podcasthost Coleman Hughes, who has a Substack page, a YouTube page, a homepage that lists his video podcasts, a list of all his audio podcasts, and, on top of all that, he’s a rapper and plays jazz trombone. His political views seem to be of the McWhorterian/Lourian stripe: heterodox from a minority point of view, which of course draws flak.  I found him a delightful interviewer, wanting to talk about evolution along with everything else—and he came well prepared to discuss it.

We talked for a bit over an hour, and you can hear our conversation by clicking on the screenshots below. As always, I can’t listen to myself talk, so I heard about two minutes before I had to turn it off. Perhaps you’ll be able to stand more of it, so I’ll put it up here.

Here’s Coleman’s summary of the interview:

My guest today is Jerry Coyne. Jerry is an evolutionary biologist and geneticist. He received his PhD from Harvard in 1978, after which he served as a professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Ecology and Evolution for over two decades. His seminal work is on the speciation of fruit flies. Jerry is also the author of two books, including “Why Evolution Is True”, which is also the name of his blog, and “Faith Versus Fact”.

In this episode, we talk about the tension between evolution and the biblical origin story. Jerry goes over the basics of the theory of evolution by natural selection. We talk about sexual selection. We talk about the teaching of intelligent design in schools and how that compares to the battle over CRT in schools today. We dicuss the attack on evolutionary psychology from the political left. We discuss epi genetics and the concept of intergenerational trauma. We talk about how humanity has evolved genetically in recent history and the consequences of birth rate differences between different groups of people. We talk about gender dysphoria and gender ideology. Finally, we go on to talk about the unanswered questions that remain in the field of evolutionary biology.

When you click on the screenshot, you’ll be taken to a site where you can access the conversation:

12 thoughts on “My conversation with Coleman Hughes

  1. Glad to “hear” about this!

    Indeed, PCC(E) joins a number of fascinating and thoughtful of Coleman’s interlocutors..(seems the right word…) and a singular interviewer as well.

    Congratulations – I hastily add that I’m hoping a printed/readable transcript that is not a “closed captioning” on-the-fly output from YouTube is available.

    [ now I’ll go look around a bit]

    1. Update:

      I just made good use of some insomnia to listen to about half – excellent, fun to listen to, refreshing, I have a ton of ideas now to follow-up in my own reading – memorable moments I might recall easily like movie dialogue

      Also inspired to get my house plant activities improved – those are some good plants!

  2. Downloaded, that’s 15% of tonight’s flight sorted out! Thx
    He has some good guests on his list, and some I don’t recognize. Another addition to my overwhelming and uncullable podcast list.

  3. He asks well (richly providing some calories for crunching), you answer fully and well –what a deal.


  4. Great discussion that should be a very accessible intro on evolutionary topics for Coleman Hughes’ listeners—just assuming that a good percentage aren’t seeking that out in a daily basis like WEIT readers. Jerry, you sound good—relaxed, easy to understand.

  5. Your explanations are so clear and concise and persuasive. And Coleman’s questions are exactly on point. Excellent.

  6. Really looking forward to this. Coleman Hughes is great at conducting interviews. Two that particularly impressed me were his discussions with Kathleen Stock and Benny Morris, the Israeli historian.

  7. Nice!
    I just listened to the discussion about peacocks. Is there a correlation between burdensome/ risky displays of fitness in males (peacock’s tail/ conspicuous plumage/ big antlers) and the involvement of the male in raising the offspring? I would expect more conspicuous displays in species where the male doesn’t help directly with raising the offspring, and it doesn’t matter if some predator gets him, and less in species where the male helps provide for the offspring, and the offspring’s survival chances go down if the father dies.

    1. However, decorations and displays may, for example, denote good genes, and once there are offspring, the male doesn’t really have to stay around. He already donated his genes. Plus there are plenty of species that are sexually dimorphic and in which there is paternal care. I don’t know if anyone’s done a systematic survey of the kind you suggest, though.

      1. Right, that’s how I understood the peacock’s-tail type displays – a genetically-imposed handicap that signals, “look, I’m strong and fast and clever enough to survive despite my tail – my female offspring will inherit the genes for strength and speed and cleverness without being burdened with the tail (and the male offspring can fend for himself just like I did)”. But of course, if the handicap diminishes the male’s ability to protect and feed its young, that’s in conflict with the advantage conferred by the display.

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