Wednesday Round Up #18

Experimental Philosophy

Joshua Knobe, Can A Robot, An Insect or God Be Aware?
Scientific American on experiments on our intuitions about emotions and intentions in non-humans and even corporations

Jonah Lehrer, God Is a Corporation?
The Frontal Cortex covers experimental philosophy

Vaughan Bell, The Science of Theory
Mind Hacks gets in on the game: testing philosophy of the mind


John Tierney, Deep Down, We Can’t Even Fool Ourselves
The double standard of morality revealed

L.L. Wynn, What Is a Prostitute?
Ethnographic research in Egypt places morality in context, in this case sex, family, and cash

Ted Fox, Welch and Coauthor Explore Ties Between Morality and Misconduct
Morality, social control, and deviance: looking for the synergy

David Sloan Wilson, Atheism as a Stealth Religion VI: Let’s Break Out the Good Stuff
From Sloan Wilson’s blog at The Huffington Post. This one covers Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart’s book, Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide.

LizardBreath, Dirty, Disrespectful Outsiders
Nice critique of Jonathan Haidt and his moral psychology

The Brain

Abul Taher, Hey, Bashful—Hormone May Treat Shyness
Oxytocin nasal spray to boost your confidence? For a critique, see here.

Jonah Lehrer, Oxytocin
The good and the bad on recent research on the neurochemical de jour

The Neurocritic, Adventure Center Explains Why The Brain Craves New Sensations
The ventral striatum explains it all… if you like that sort of thing

The Neurocritic, Dialogues and Dilbert on Prediction Errors
Good take on the recent TICS article on dopamine and one of its main proposed functions—signaling the difference between predicted and actual reward and thus driving learning

Chris Chatham, “Untraining” The Brain: Meditation and Executive Function
Using attention to get away from bad habits, not just develop good ones—or using meditation to “deprogram.” Chris has a number of posts on mediation recently, so check out Developing Intelligence for more.

Deric Bownds, The Brain’s Default Network—A Review
A new network that manages internal cognition. Deric gives us the abstract and central figure from the recent article.

Neuroscientifically Challenged, It’s All About Timing: Circadian Rhythms and Behavior
But I thought culture could change anything… Nice review from Marc.

Benedict Carey, Scientists Identify the Brain’s Activity Hub
A rough map of the cortex’s electrical architecture, or your brain is built like the hub system of US airlines. See more over at Anthropology.Net and at Mind Hacks.


Neuroscientifically Challenged, Changes in Gene Expression and Addiction
More evidence that drugs can drive epigenetic changes in specific pathways

Nazila Fathi, Iran Fights Scourge of Addiction in Plain View, Stressing Treatment
More than a million Iranians are addicted to opium and heroin

Louisa Degenhardt et al., Toward a Global View of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, and Cocaine Use: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys
PLoS Medicine article on world-wide variation in substance use patterns, and the lack of correspondence with drug laws

New York Times Editorial, Not Winning the War on Drugs
Refuting recent claims of progress, and what some of the real problems are

Michael Kaplan, Pro Poker Players Bet Away from the Table, Too
Gambling as a social tradition as much as a compulsion


Research Digest, Not All Psychopaths Are Criminal
Variation in psychopathy, and why nurture matters alongside nature in building our categories

Foreign Dispatches, The Genetics of Height
Recent research and recent criticism on “genes determining height”

Foreign Dispatches, A Plausible Genetic Explanation for Homosexuality
Benefits accrue to the opposite sex, or some gay guys for more fertile females

HealthDay News, Genetics, Environment Shape Sexual Behavior
Hold that thought—the factors which influence sexual orientation are complex

Steven Reinberg, Genes Get Out the Vote
Twin study on voting patterns—some pretty strong outcomes

Anthropology.Net, Pardis Sabeti’s Thoughts on the Future of Genomics
Video on the Harvard professor’s take on cheap genomics in medicine and in ethics


John Hawks, Notes in Practical Evolution
Common sense, practical knowledge and evolutionary theory all together

Carl Zimmer, A New Step in Evolution
Bacteria and sudden evolution—empirical insights

Greg Laden, Biology Will Never Be the Same Again: Scott Lanyon
Outlining some basics of evolution, and how “evodevo” is changing the facile genotype-phenotype distinction

Greg Laden, Biology Never Was The Same: Mark Borrello
Context is Content—the fundamental Darwinian insight (yet never quite grasped…)

The Immanent Frame, Cognitive Machinery and Explanatory Ambitions
A critical take on Pascal Boyer’s evolutionary explanations of religion


Mo at Neurophilosophy, Five Amazing Feats of Animal Intelligence
Ah, the hubris of them

Carl Zimmer, How Smart Is the Octopus?
Pretty damn smart for a cephalopod!

Henry Fountain, In Sleep, We Are Birds of a Feather
Zebra finches dream…

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