Darwin Day Keynote – Dr. Mark Pagel

Stony Brook University’s 2015 Darwin Day keynote speaker, Dr. Mark Pagel, will be giving a talk about human language capability on Friday, February 13, 2015, at 7:30 p.m. in the Earth and Space Sciences Building, Room 001.

Courtesy of Edge.org

Dr. Pagel is an evolutionary biologist and professor of evolutionary biology at Reading University in the United Kingdom. His biography page from Reading Evolutionary Biology Group says that as head of the evolution laboratory, Pagel, “explores such questions as, ‘Why would humans evolve a system of communication that prevents them from communicating with other members of the same species?'”

According to an email from the Provost’s Office, Pagel will discuss how humans speak over 7,000 different languages and how that’s curious because most of us cannot understand what most other people are saying.

In 2011, Pagel gave a TED Talk called, “How language transformed humanity,” about why humans might have such complex language to survive in early tribes.

“[Language allows you] to implant a thought from your mind directly into someone else’s mind,” he said in the talk, “and they can attempt to do the same to you, without either of you having to perform surgery.”

This lecture is a good idea for our mobile reporting project because Darwin Day is an important and popular celebration at Stony Brook. The lecture will probably have its own hashtag for the night and I’m sure there will be plenty of scientists who will be excited to talk about what they thought of the lecture. It falls within my area of interest and I can live tweet his important quotes. I could get video of the crowd coming in and speak to Dr. Pagel after the event.


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