Introducing “Wednesday Wildlife”

I may have shifted my attention to travel but a fascination with wildlife and birdwatching, in particular, remains a stubborn fixture on the landscape of my unorthodox personality. As a part of my new venture, therefore, I shall be posting a weekly picture of an animal or bird that I have taken on one of my adventures. I would like to introduce to you… *appropriately lengthy drumroll*… Wednesday Wildlife! Aren’t I original?

Hold on… I have a better one: Wander Woman’s Wednesday Wildlife! Isn’t the alliteration maddeningly satisfying?

Anyway, enough of that tomfoolery. Before I got around to repurposing this blog to travel, I let rip with the Facebook page, Wander Woman Thea, which I urge you all to like, follow, share, interact with, drool over, and even fondle yourself inappropriately to. What I don’t know can’t hurt me. Over the past few weeks that’s been going, I’ve posted three Wildlife Wednesday features – or, I should say, #WildlifeWednesday – so in an effort to bring you all up to speed, here are those posts.

The Cheetah

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On a recent trip to Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, I had the incredible life joy of seeing my very first ever cheetah in the wild. We approached this male by foot and got within about 15 meters of him, where I swooned over his kitten-esque antics. Did you know that cheetahs purr? Also, they are the fastest land animal in the world, able to reach speeds of 80 to 120 km/hr in short bursts. I shit you not.

An excerpt from my article for Southern Vines magazine about the reserve:

“Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is a malaria-free, big five private game reserve located three hours’ drive from Cape Town in the Little Karoo. Believed to have originated from the Khoikhoi word for “desert”, the Karoo is a semi-desert region of unique and desolate beauty, marked by tough, low-lying shrubs, hellishly thorned acacia trees, otherworldly succulent plants, rocky koppies, and russet soils.”

Read full article here.

In other words, get your butts to South Africa and come explore our truly gifted natural heritage. Also, because I love to travel and will use any excuse to get out the house, especially to play tour guide to a foreign visitor, get in touch with me if you do make it to our fair shores. Just please don’t axe murder me.

The Owl

Wednesday Wildlife post 2

This absolutely gorgeous creature is a spotted eagle owl, which I photographed in the golden late afternoon light of a game drive that culminated in a glass of chardonnay overlooking a dry river bed.

Sunset chardonnay

There, just in case you didn’t believe life could get THAT good.

Spotted eagle owls are medium-sized, as far as owls go, yet are one of the smallest of the eagle owls. Interestingly, they are a big fan of bathing and so can often be seen around water or on exposed branches or on the ground with spread wings during summer thunderstorms.

Nestled into a thicket of rather nasty Karoo Acacia thorns, this guy glared smugly and somewhat angrily at us, confident that none of us would be stupid enough to breach his/her boma of razor sharp thorns. Of course, human nature is by definition a balance between high intelligence and sublime stupidity. Needless to say, we took our pictures and left the owl alone to its angry vigil.

The Baboons

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If a picture could speak a thousand words, this one would be a “50 Shades of Grey” novel.

These are Chacma baboons AKA Cape baboons and they are one of the largest of all the monkeys. Indigenous to Southern Africa, they live a highly social life with a defined hierarchy, at the top of which is the alpha male, quite easily one of the most intimidating of all the African animals. Quite honestly, of all the sounds I have heard in the bush, I find the resounding, explosive bark of a baboon to be far more terrifying than a lion’s roar or the hollow clink of an empty wine bottle (and knowing that it’s the last one). An angry male baboon could easily give Chuck Norris a thorough bitch-slapping.

Baboons spend the vast majority of their days foraging and grooming each other as a way of strengthening social ties and, well, just feeling loved.

The Mousebirds

Wednesday Wildlife post 4

These three stooges, who are warming their undercarriage in the mid-morning sun in a coastal bush at De Hoop Nature Reserve (southwestern Cape coast of South Africa), are speckled mousebirds. Mousebirds are gregarious and enjoy the company of other mousebirds, as we can see from the amount of love biting going on in this picture.

Fruits, buds, and berry eaters, mousebirds are named after their appearance (small, greyish bodies and long tails) and foraging behaviour; scurrying around in the bush in search of food. They are the only bird order that is confined entirely to sub-Saharan Africa and – get this – could actually be considered “living fossils” because the 6 species that exist today are the only survivors of a lineage that was massively more diverse in the early Paleogene and Miocene (thanks, Wikipedia).

Another magazine excerpt from an article I wrote about the reserve:

“The seamless confluence of a variety of vegetation biomes and landscapes in De Hoop Nature Reserve has attracted an enormous diversity of birdlife, from iridescent sunbirds and large raptors to swooping aerial birds and gaily coloured flamingos. In a single day, in fact, you could quite easily rack up a bird list of over 100 species, so abundant and varied it is (over 260 species of birds have been recorded here).”

Read full article here.

Wednesday Wildlife with me

That, my friends, is all for today! I will be posting these pictures along with an explanatory blurb every Wednesday at 9am SAST. Of course, if you like my Facebook page, Wander Woman Thea, you can get all of this delicious intellectual goodness delivered right to your feed or inbox. You can also find me on Instagram at @wander_woman_thea.

Happy hump day!


Dear followers… we need to talk

Dear Why? Because Science! friends, family, and followers,

For six years, I’ve been in a relationship with this blog. Together, we made beautiful blog babies, learned metric tonnes about the natural (and sometimes unnatural) world, connected with science enthusiasts from around the world, and even made lifelong friends out some of those connections. Our relationship was a richly fecund source of ideas, inspiration, and creativity and it even became the bedrock of a book, Why? Because Science!

However, as much as science remains at the forefront of my interests, I have a new love. Well, truth be told, it has been my love all along but now it beckons to me the way an emotional affair seduces you out of an old, stale relationship. And that love is travel.

I’m leaving you for travel


What I’m saying to you all is that I now intend to chronicle my adventures as a traveller and all the bizarre foods, fine beverages, tips, tales, and tipsy tales they come hand-in-hand with.

I have agonised over whether to start a fresh blog or evolve this one to become the platform for my new adventure. On the one hand, it feels somewhat like moving a new lover into a home you shared with an old one – it feels a little disrespectful to the old relationship. On the other hand, Why? Because Science! is not my partner, it’s my intellectual child, which means that I can damn well do what I want with it!

Said more respectfully: it is time for me to move on.

New travel blog announcement

I am sad to say goodbye to science, even temporarily, but if I am to maintain a happy and healthy relationship with my creativity, I need to migrate with its flux. And its powerful current is carrying me towards travel writing.

What does this mean for you?

You all came on board with Why? Because Science! because of your interest in science. But now I intend to transform this very blog into a travel blog, which will become a chronicle of my adventures on my home turf of Cape Town, South Africa, as well as abroad. In other words, if this creative journey were a train ride, we’re no longer heading to destination science; we’ve switched tracks to planet travel. If this bores the pants off of you, I understand that you will be getting off at platform “screw this, I’m out!”

Just remember to put your pants back on before you disembark.

It is, however, my sincerest hope that you stay on the train, which brings me to the fun bit. Where exactly are we going?

Destination known…sort of

travel the world

My new venture/adventure already has a name and it’s (insert lengthy drumroll) Wander Woman Thea. Yes, it’s cheesier than Swiss fondue and that’s exactly how I like it.

This new blog is essentially a tell-all of my extreme, borderline obsessive passion for travel and it will provide readers with all kinds of value and entertainment, from travel tips, advice, and thrilling stories to green monster provoking pictures and gut-busting travel anecdotes. Wander Woman Thea will endeavour to connect with, satiate the curiosity, and expand the minds of travel, wine, and food lovers from all over the world.

And, yes, it’s all written in my trademark irreverent style laced with saucy innuendo, bad puns, and tequila jokes. The Facebook page is already set up, which you can check out here and follow and share with all of your friends.

Are you in?

It has been a pleasure and privilege writing about science and having you join me for that adventure. Now, I’m riding off into the sunset (on the back of a T-rex) to a new destination.


Besides science, I’m obsessed with travel and adventure.

Here we go!


How to Have an Intellectual Conversation

What do politics, sports, and religion have in common? Aside from being extremely lucrative career paths for men, they are totally taboo conversational topics and you never discuss them. Ever.

Why do you think this is so?

Because conversations about topics that tend to polarise people in a powerful way always end in fights: Catholics versus Protestants, Man United Football Club versus Liverpool, Democrats versus Republicans, etc. In the case of sports, these rivalries often end in bar fights; in politics, to endless bickering and dick waving; and in religion, to war. So we just avoid them in our day-to-day conversations. It’s better that way.

Or is it?

Let’s be clear right off the bat: This is not about what qualifies as an intellectual topic of conversation. I’m not going to sit here and list off all the interesting and worldly things you should be talking about with your mates or about how to sound really smart to the lady or guy you’re on a date with. Rather, this is about the package those topics come in: the words, logic, and language you use to discuss, dissect, refute, and embrace new ideas.

That’s the key, really…new ideas.

dog at computer with glasses

Nowadays, too many people refuse to allow new ideas to percolate into their atmosphere. How the heck are we ever going to expand our mental horizons and learn about all the amazing things happening outside our bubble if we constantly keep our opinions to ourselves and refuse to listen to those of others? It’s through intellectual debate that we at least learn to appreciate how people other than ourselves think and rationalise.

This brings to mind a fairly relevant anecdote:

Many years ago, a weedy looking fellow sidled up to me on a Sydney-bound train. There were dozens of other seats available in the cabin but he chose my personal space instead and, planting his derriere in the seat directly opposite me, said: “Have you found Jesus?” My brain twitched to life. I’d heard about people like this and I’d always wanted to engage one in an intellectual battle. Since he had approached me completely unsolicited on the subject, I felt I didn’t have to censor my argument; I wasn’t talking to a dear friend whose feelings I actually cared about. The gloves were off. Let’s go!

This loyal disciple of Jesus began explaining how, in five simple steps, I could atone for all my sins and earn my place in heaven. Within the first few minutes of this business pitch / religious monologue, my brain, at first eager to engage in battle, began drifting off and instead treated me to a playback reel of the previous night’s iniquities involving a medium rare steak, two bottles of Australian craft beer, and a very beautiful woman.

The question here isn’t why I only had two beers, it’s why I would waste my time talking to a person who obviously wasn’t going to change his mind about what he believed. What’s the point of such a conversation? It’s only going to steer us towards certain social disharmony and possibly disaster.

The answer to this, my friends, is two-fold: (1) I was bored and had nothing better to do, and (2) because having conversations with people isn’t about changing their minds, it’s about expanding your own. The tendency of human beings to force our opinions and worldviews onto others really cripples our ability to have intellectual conversations and debates with each other. We’re so focused on the end goal – on converting another’s opinions to our own – that we neglect to begin these conversations in the first place. Why bother? It’s only going to end in an argument.

Bollocks, I say!

In the case of the guy on the train, there was no middle ground to be reached and once we’d established that I was going to burn in eternal hellfire for being a lady who likes the ladies, he moved on to the next sucker on the train. However, I stand by my point: I believe that we need to have intellectual debates, no matter how inflammatory, risqué, or controversial the topic. We need to learn how to handle a difference of opinion, lifestyle, culture, and worldview because we’re always going to rub shoulders with people who are different to ourselves. It’s through these eye-opening conversations that we learn to respect these differences, rather than fear them. And when we remove that virulent fear, we eliminate the prejudice that people of different ethnicities, religions, cultures, and agendas are not the same as us and are therefore to be avoided.

Issues of race are huge here in South Africa, given our tumultuous history of racial discrimination and segregation. And we live in such a guilt-stricken society that, as a white person, I’m just one poorly chosen word away from being strung up by my intestines for being racist. As such, many white people avoid conversations about race and culture, when, I believe, they are pivotal to bringing about the empathy we all need to get along better.

We – everyone – should be able to talk about race, culture, language, and ethnicity as a way to broaden our understanding of each other. The problem is, there is a pervasive misconception that talking about these things shines an unwanted spotlight on them and when you do that you’re being racist.

To compound the problem, most people simply don’t know how to conduct themselves in an intellectual debate. What begins as a civil conversation can end up in nuclear fallout faster than you can say “white privilege” and this is yet another reason why we all avoid discussing these topics.

No longer!

Stop walking around on eggshells and start learning about the peoples, societies, and cultures that colour this beautiful world we live in. Engage in captivating conversation and debate with anyone and everyone, whether it’s about sports, race, religion, culture, politics, or sex. But, before you do, you’ve got to learn the rules of engagement and learn them well. With great knowledge comes the responsibility to conduct yourself respectfully and in a mature, intellectual manner.

Rule # 1: stop trying to take over the world

Dr Evil finger in mouth

Acknowledge and respect that there is, and probably will remain, a difference of opinion or worldview after your conversation. You are not Adolf Hitler on a conquest to take over the western world, nor are you going to score points for converting people to your beliefs (even if you are a Jehovah Witness).

What you need to accept is that you’re entering into this conversation to expand your understanding and appreciation for those outside of your belief system. Whether you’re talking about sports, politics, religion, sex, or a myriad of other controversial topics, you’re doing it to become a more empathetic human being. If this is not the final prize for both people engaged in a debate and if you can see that your opponent is unwilling to parry, then bow out with grace. They’ll be far more frustrated by your disinterest in engaging them than by any volley of intellectual missiles you can send their way.

Rule # 2: mind your f***ing words, G** damn it!


Don’t swear, don’t insult, don’t undermine, and don’t make disparaging comments about your opponent’s beliefs or opinions. An intellectual debate is one that is free of hurtful, inflammatory language. It’s about using words to communicate ideas. If you find yourself getting frustrated, it can only be for one of three reasons:

ONE: You’re failing to articulate your ideas, which means you need to do a little more introspection. You need to excavate the layers of your worldview, scrutinize its various dinosaur bones and then put it all back together in a coherent order. It’s only once you deeply understand your own worldview that you can defend and substantiate it in a battle of the intellects. If you’re flummoxed by vocabulary – or your lack thereof – read more or else you handicap yourself with a deficient verbal artillery.

TWO: Your opponent is breaking Rule # 2 of having an intellectual conversation and is fighting ugly. If this is the case, point wildly over his or her shoulder and scream, “Oh my God, is that Lady Gaga?” and then run for the hills.

THREE: You’re being “that guy”. Stop it immediately and go home.

Rule # 3: acknowledge your opponent’s point

The reason arguments often end in wrathful yelling is because one person is convinced that the other isn’t listening to them or acknowledging their point of view. It doesn’t matter whether you strictly agree with your opponent or not, even if that opponent is your girlfriend, what matters is that you show them the respect of listening to and acknowledging their point.

There is but one caveat to this whole business: you’ve got to mean it. A debate can only progress if you and your opponent are constantly building upon and fleshing out your arguments. You’ve got to listen to what they say and if you disagree, say so and say why. If your opponent doesn’t feel like you’ve heard their point, they’re going to reiterate it again and again, possibly getting louder and more high-pitched with each repetition. If you sense this frustration, don’t hesitate to say, “I’ve heard you, I understand what you’re saying, and I agree to a certain extent, etc.”

Then you throw down your “BUT” harder than Nicki Minaj in her Anaconda music video.

Just remember, having a debate is not about winning. Unless, of course, you’re actually participating in some kind of competition, defending a client in court, are a politician with an agenda, or your boyfriend is being an ass again. However, if you’re engaging someone in a debate for the sake of having an interesting and thrilling conversation, stop obsessing about winning and focus on the next point.

Rule # 4: allow yourself to be educated

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In many places, debate is regarded as sport. Some people manage to craft lucrative careers out of being professional debaters. These people usually end up in politics or courtrooms, as I previously stated. In your case, you’re utilising debate to expand your mental horizons, enjoy the thrill of intellectual stimulation, and possibly even establish a meaningful connection with the person you’re talking to. Don’t turn your conversation into a roaring soliloquy, a one-sided litany, or brain-numbing monologue. Listen to what your opponent has to say and if they reveal information you’ve never considered before, allow yourself to discovery and be educated.

I often step back from the throes of debate and exclaim, “Oh wow, I never considered that before” or “You know what? You’re right.” It’s no deceptive ploy, either. I mean it and it has a wonderful calming effect on my opponent who realizes that I’m not actually at war with them. It’ll mean a lot to your opponent if they feel they’ve actually taught you something and they’ll be far more likely to listen to what you have to say if they feel listened to.

Rule # 5: be dexterous and parry with your partner

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Repeating the same point of view over and over again will not increase your chances of being heard. If your opponent doesn’t yield to your reasoning, try a different tack and approach the debate from a different angle, using different reasoning. Be dexterous and think on your feet. Through all of this, however, you’ve got to establish the root of the disagreement and if there is no common ground to be found – as will frequently be the case – move on. Agree to disagree or if that fails, order another drink and be on your merry way.

I once locked swords with a man, let’s call him John, over issues of sexuality. John masqueraded as devoutly Christian and his tired point was that being gay is against God’s will. It didn’t take me long to realise we would never get anywhere with any kind of debate. John didn’t feel strongly about homosexuality because of his faith; his feelings were motivated by personal prejudice and bigotry. And so, I pivoted my point to highlight that fact. After all, if he cared that much about sinning, he wouldn’t have been pounding back tequila at a seedy bar and hitting shamelessly on women. His solid gold retort perfectly highlighted my point: “Being gay is disgusting.”

Thereafter, I would have sooner shared genitals with a 15th Century bar wench than the table I was sitting at with that vapid twit, so I wandered off to the bar and ordered a cranberry and vodka. I then kissed a girl and liked it.

So you see, try to change your footing and if there is no common ground to be found, agree to disagree and move on.

Rule # 6: realize when to quit

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I had to walk away from my debate with John because I realised it was time to quit. And I’ll tell you this: it is exceptionally difficult to find people who will entertain a roaring debate without wanting to garrote you at its crescendo. The people who are smart, objective, and confident enough in their opinions to do so are very few and far between, so if you sense the conversation going south (and not in a sexy way), back off. If your opponent starts getting sensitive, uncomfortable, or even aggressive, change the subject or walk away. Realise when to quit and be civilised and conciliatory about it.

Class dismissed: your take-home message

Most of the science-themed topics I cover in my book, Why? Because Science! aren’t exactly inflammatory and won’t get you withering looks from the person you’re trying to engage. Some of them, however, will. Scientology, religion, evolution, homosexuality, astrology, and the existence of a spiritual realm are all subjects that many people feel passionate about and as good as passion is in the bedroom, it too often trips up a civilised conversation, sending it south quicker than the Rand after President Jacob Zuma fires another finance minister. This is where tact and the afore-mentioned rules of intellectual debate should serve you well.

This doesn’t guarantee that your opponent will employ the same degree of diplomacy. In fact, in all likelihood, you’ll find it exceedingly difficult to find people willing to discuss such provocative and potentially incendiary subjects. However, the more you broach these subjects and the better you handle these conversations, the more willing people will become to engage in intellectual debate. Like a case of the clap in a fraternity house, this willingness can spread from one person to the next, infecting the world with a sharper appetite for debate, a higher threshold of tolerance, and a healthier sense of humour.

It’s in your power to combat ignorance. Do it responsibly, compassionately, and with sweeping conversations about the world in all its microscopic and macroscopic beauty.


If you enjoyed this read, you’ll love the book Why? Because Science! Now for only $3.41 on Amazon. Go and get you some!

Get the WBS Book FREE Today!

One does not simply give away free shit.png

From midnight Pacific Standard Time on December 4th to 8th, I’ll be running a free promotion for my book Why? Because Science! That means you can go to Amazon and download your electronic copy FOR FREE. Click on the following link if you wanna get you some:

Heck yeah, I want a free copy!

What’s the catch?

Whoever said the best things in life are free was onto something. But whereas love costs you your sanity, this book is completely free; no ifs or buts, no terms or conditions, and  no catch. Just download it, read it, and if you find yourself laughing, learning something, and falling in love with science just a little bit more then leave a review; maybe share the link to your Facebook page and convince your friends to do the same.

The aim of the promotion is to spread the word about Why? Because Science! and to show Amazon that this book deserves a spot near the top of its best-sellers list for books in the science category. With that kind of exposure I can fund my ambitions to take over the world, mooohahahahaha! Failing that, I can pay my Internet bill.

So, go forth and get your very own FREE copy of Why? Because Science! (the promotion will be running from today to Friday 8th December). And if you enjoy it, please let me (and the world) know all about it!

Happy reading!

‘Why? Because Science!’ – an interview with science author Thea Beckman

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. People typically care only about advancing their own interests and kindness from strangers is an anomaly of such rarity that when it does happen we find ourselves searching for the T&Cs. This is one of those rare cases. A stranger living on the other side of the world stepped into my bubble and offered to do something truly great for me and this blog is it: my first ever interview as an author and as an anything, really.

Matthew Wright, you’ve done so much more for me than a girl could ever have hoped for and I sincerely appreciate it. Matthew has published an incredible number of books on New Zealand history and science and has officially moved from virtual acquaintance to role model. Thanks again for this and to the rest of you: enjoy!

Matthew Wright

Long-time readers of this blog know I’m a huge enthusiast for explaining science and a cheerleader for everybody on the same gig. Today I’m interviewing author and science writer Thea Beckman, who’s just released her first book – Why? Because Science!

Her blog of the same name is a wonderful blend of cool science and sharp humour (don’t drink coffee while reading. I regularly snorted mine).

Click to buy.

Matthew: Hi Thea, I figured you’d write a full-length science book, sooner or later. Congratulations! You’ve subtitled it: ‘The little book of bedtime science that unravels life, the universe, and the occasional pair of underpants’. Sounds intriguing. Also a bit awkward if you’re wearing the underpants at the time and the loose thread got caught on something, and don’t notice until you’ve got 100 metres of cotton behind you. Actually that describes writing. Ahem. So tell me about the book –…

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“Why? Because Science!” is LIVE!

Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me orgasmic pleasure to announce the grand arrival of my book, “Why? Because Science!” It drops TODAY on Amazon so click on the link below and get your electronic copy!

Why Because Science book

It would also be super awesome if you could help me promote this by sharing the link to your social media, recommending the book to friends, leaving a review on Amazon, and forcing it upon family members for Christmas. If this is going to be a success, I’m going to need all the help I can get from you, my blog family. And if you do help to promote the book on social media, please tag my Facebook page @whybecausescience in your comment, status, share, etc!

I’d really appreciate it. Happy reading, everyone!

Amazon: Why? Because Science book

Quick Notice: Book Pre-release

Hi all! To those of you who requested to join the pre-release list, the emails went out yesterday. If you haven’t received your free book – and if you submitted a Google mail address – please check out your Promotions Folder on Gmail. And if you have ninja-level filters in place, check your spam folder.

That is all.

Happy reading!

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Last Chance to Join the Pre-release List

In two days – Wednesday 22nd November – I will be pre-releasing a digital copy of “Why? Because Science!” to an exclusive list of people. If you want to join that list and be among the very first to clap eyes on this book, please send me your email in an comment below or privately to

Is there a catch?

Too good to be true

The best things in life are free, my friends, and so I have decided to make the book free to those of you on my pre-release list. All I ask for in return is your help promoting the book on your social media channels (a simple shout-out and a link to the book on Amazon will do), and an Amazon review. There are no other T&Cs.

Why pre-release the book at all?

Amazon is essentially a search engine, which means that it functions like Google. If you want your business or product – in my case, a book – to appear at the top of the search results pages, it needs to be popular. The more the book is downloaded, the more reviews it gets, and the more traffic it receives, the more Amazon will perceive it to be popular. Since Amazon makes money every time the book is downloaded, it will do its best to help it sell well.

This is where the pre-release launch comes in. By giving a group of people my book (for free) and asking for a some promotion and reviews in return, the book gets off to a good start and (hopefully) attracts enough downloads, reviews, and traffic to tell Amazon that it is worthy of their support.

So, help a girl out!

help a girl out

Send me your email details and I’ll add you to the pre-release list. On Wednesday, you’ll get a link to the book as well as a little list of tasks you can do to help me promote the book, which will be officially launched on 1st December.

I’ll be extremely grateful for all your support!