Wednesday Round Up #19


Howard Gardner, Multiple Lenses on the Mind
The famed psychologist and educator presents his own intellectual history in a long conference presentation in Bogotá

Howard Gardner, How Education Changes: Considerations of History, Science and Values
Formal schools as a social institution, and how that shapes human sociality, intelligence and the cultural transmission of knowledge and skills

Nicholas Kristof, The Luckiest Girl
The heroine from Beatrice’s Goat makes it from Uganda to graduating from college in the US

Patricia Cohen, On Campus, the ‘60s Begin to Fade as Liberal Professors Retire
Demographic shifts and ideological shifts on college campuses nationwide

Jake Young, Get ‘Em While They’re Young: The Benefits of Preschooling
Preschool pays off, particularly for kids in disadvantaged circumstances

Mark Oehlert, Visual Thinking, Imagery and the Brain
Individual learning differences, brain imaging, and the activation of motor and perceptual representations. Short but interesting reflection.


Darshak Sanghavi, Old Drugs, New Tricks: Why Big Health Advances Rarely Involve New Medicines
Small, incremental improvements—using what we already know and the importance of trail-and-error

Abigail Zuger, Achieving Wellness, Whatever That Is
Two books tell us two completely different things about how to manage our health, or the obsessive and the relaxed model

Donald McNeil, Noninfectious Illnesses Are Expected to Become Top Killers
Smoking, obesity, driving and violence as the new killers—the diseases of civilization shaping cancer, heart disease and other health problems

Joint National Academies Statement on Global Health
Life-style linked diseases, social capital, and community health systems—the new way forward to better health

Dr. Health, The Right Way to Think about Medical Ethics
Mixing individual and societal approaches

Jonathan Shaw, A Plague Reborn
Tuberculosis, antibiotic resistance, and a contemporary killer’s global reach

Respectful Insolence, How Scientific Medicine Lost the Linguistic Highground To Woo—Excuse Me, I Mean “Integrative Medicine”
Changing language as the key to shifting norms and ideas in medicine—interesting debate in the commentary

HealthDay News, Mom’s Unhealthy Diet May Have Long-Term Impact on Baby
What mother rats eat during pregnancy and lactation have life-time influences on offspring—or junk food gets a bad rat rap

Orac at Respectful Insolence, Teaching Overenthusiastic CAM Advocates a Little Bit about Gene Expression Profiling
Genes, lifestyle, and the boundaries of over-confidence

Associated Press, Drinking Coffee Cuts Alcohol’s Harmful Effects
Does coffee count as CAM?

Anthropology, Broadly Speaking

Purposive Drift, A Gift from the Devil?
Consciousness, human-style—is it really that great? I also liked his recent Just Driftin’ meditation, about tough times and new possibilities

CKelty at Savage Minds, Philosophers Discover Lost Tribe in Jungles of Free Will
One anthropologist’s gleeful and sardonic take on experimental philosophers discovering the value of interacting with people and writing about that (i.e., ethnography)

Benedict Carey, Decades Later, Still Asking: Would I Pull That Switch?
Retrospective on Stanley Milgram’s obedience studies

Putting People First, Mito Akiyoshi: The Digital Divide Does Not Vanish with the Mobile
Nice interview with the noted Japanese sociologist on the myth of equal access, even in Japan

Richard Woods, Politicians Are Devouring the Work of Academics Who Explain Why the Carrot Beats the Stick
Social norms and behavioral nudges ride to our political rescue. For more on this, see this book review of Nudge.

Three Toed Sloth, Chris Anderson: Aware of All Statistical Traditions
Why data mining without theory isn’t all that

CKelty, The Opposite of Anthropology?
Is Christian Lander, creator of Stuff White People Like, really an anthropologist? Some great discussion in the comments as well.

Olivia Judson, An Original Confession
The good and the bad of going back to read Darwin’s On the Origin of Species

Christopher Pala, Corals, Already in Danger, Are Facing New Threat from Farmed Algae
Environment, anthropology, and colonialism meet

Mental Health, Broadly Speaking

Scott Anderson, The Urge to End It All
NYT Magazine story on suicide. For more, see Vaughan at Mind Hack’s reflection.

Carol Levine, Two Husbands
Lovely essay on a difficult topic—her husband’s recovery from a coma after a car accident and then his later death

Loosely Assembled, Bilingual Multiple Personality Disorder
Switching languages and social situations, with personality along for the ride

Tim Weiner, Remembering Brainwashing
The riveting idea of the 1950s

Vaughan Bell, Lisa Appignanesi on Women and the Mind Doctors
Covers the recent book Mad, Bad and Sad on women and madness, with his usual Mind Hack reflections and extensions


Some interesting work out lately on a basic question about language and grammar, pointing to subject-object-verb (SOV) order as being the more general pattern due to the way people spontaneously model language with hand signals (irrespective of the grammar used in their native language, either SOV or subject-verb-object, as in English).

William Harms, When Using Gestures, Rules of Grammar Remain the Same
Press announcement about the original paper by Susan Goldin-Meadow and colleages, “The Natural Order of Events: How Speakers of Different Languages Represent Events Nonverbally

Brandon Keim, Roots of Language Run Deeper Than Speech
A Wired reporter gives us a short take: “speakers of subject-verb-object languages — “Bill eats cake” — reverted to a subject-object-verb form when asked to communicate with their hands” and has this Goldin-Meadow quote: “It almost speaks to the independence of language from thought.”

Ewen Callaway, Charades Reveals a Universal Sentence Structure
New Scientist take on the research, and in what seems typical fashion, emphasizing the biological reductionist/determinist aspects of the research

Language Log provides us a summary of the research and a critique of the hard-wired/innate New Scientist take, then elaborates more on his critique of what Goldin-Meadow et al.’s research might really show us: “The PNAS article suggests that a basic order of Actor-Patient-Action (thus ArPA order, where ‘Patient’ is one way linguists describe things that are acted upon) is cognitively natural, independently of language. That is, to the extent that anything is ‘etched into our brains’ it’s not sentence syntax, but a way of thinking about events.”

Finally, Loosely Assembled gives us The Role of Linguistics in the Rise of Individualism, building off the same research. Does promoting the verb place more emphasis on individual action?

2 thoughts on “Wednesday Round Up #19

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s