Wednesday Round Up #27

This week I bring a diverse set of anthropology readings, a bunch of policy pieces I’ve found interesting of late, and a long list of psychiatry posts and articles at the end. Enjoy!


Robert Bellah, The Renouncers
The esteemed US sociologist on notions of progress and disaster, or negotiating between Habermas and the ancient Greeks

Mind Hacks, Through a Lab Darkly?
“Cognitive ethology”—getting the psychologists out of the lab and into the field. And I was just lecturing to my qualitative methods students about how ethnographic research can increase the validity of our measures…

Michiko Kakutani, When Fear and Chaos Are Normal, Peace and Safety Become Unimaginable
Review of the new book, Waiting for an Ordinary Day: The Unraveling of Life in Iraq, by the Wall Street journalist with anthropological sensibilities Farnaz Fassihi

LL Wynn, HTS and Military Targeting?
Reaction over at Culture Matters to the recent Harpers essay, “Human quicksand for the U.S. Army, a crash course in cultural studies” (subscription needed for full access) by Steve Featherstone

Abby Aguirre, Roaming Freely in a Land of Restraints
Review of the new book by Raja Shehadeh, Palestinian Walks: Forays Into a Vanishing Landscape, covering six walks the author took in the West Bank and the encounters and reflections that brought

Hannah Seligson, Girl Power at School, but Not at the Office
The gender gap in the transition from university to work, building off a new book by the journalist author

Benedict Carey, Spot on Popularity Scale Speaks to the Future; Middle Has Its Rewards
Longitudinal study of high school students – mean queens and lording jocks fade, while socially skilled individuals find happiness… Or popularity as seen through social networks.

Natalie Angier, About Death, Just Like Us or Pretty Much Unaware?
Animals coping with the death of a loved one. More like us than we had imagined

Carl Zimmer, Gaming Evolution
The new video game Spore finds a happy home, with some reservations, among hard-core academic biologists


Alan Blinder, Is History Siding With Obama’s Economic Plan?
Looks like yes. Democrats rule over better economic times, with less inequality, than Republicans since the post WWII era. “Data for the whole period from 1948 to 2007, during which Republicans occupied the White House for 34 years and Democrats for 26, show average annual growth of real gross national product of 1.64 percent per capita under Republican presidents versus 2.78 percent under Democrats.”
Based on the book Unequal Democracy by Larry Bartels. And see here for a long NY Times essay on Obama’s economics.

Deric Bownds, Self Interest versus the Common Good in Economic Policy Design
Mind Blog brings us a Science essay by Samuel Bowles—policies that promote self-interest undercut “moral sentiments”

Louis Uchitelle, Hey, Big Number, Make Room for the Rest of Us
How to get a better measure than gross domestic product for understanding economic vitality

Richard Reeves, A Question of Character
Are habits, values and behaviors the key to solving entrenched social problems? And can politicians do anything about that? An essay from Prospect. For reaction on “good societies need good people,” see the RSA Cognition blog.

RSA, The Path to Civic Innovation
Short reflections on social innovation. And if you want to know about RSA, a British royal society aimed at “removing barriers to social progress,” see this opening video

Associated Press, College Presidents Seek Drinking Age Debate
Does the legal age of 21 encourage binge drinking on campus? And will lowering the drinking age make a difference? A critical reaction here, a more favorable one here.

Ethnography.Com, Whining about Practitioners
Academics vs. practitioners—anything to learn in “objectivity” vs. “just give me the executive summary”? Reflections from some anthropologists…

Cathedral Grove, Big Trees and Totem Poles
Cedar trees, deforestation, and cultural traditions—can tradition stop industry?

NPR, Crowd Sourcing Turns Business on Its Head
Consumer-driven design through Internet interaction—is this the future of product design and more?

Marvin Olasky, Name that Idea: Try a Little Social Justice
Transforming compassionate conservatism into something more grounded and less political


Charles Barber, The Brain: A Mindless Obsession
From psychoanalysis to biopsychiatry—a good, historically grounded essay

Mind Hacks, Interrupting Napoleon on the Genetics of Mental Illness
Basic mistakes and new research in the heritability of mental illness

Banana Peel Project, Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis: Beyond Good and Evil?
Overcoming the biology vs. culture dynamic in dealing with mental illness

Natasha Mitchell, Psychotherapy, Buddhism and the Suffering Self
All in the Mind post & radio show on being your own therapist, Buddhist style

Patrick Lee Miller, Psychoanalysis as Spirituality
Finding meanings in our lives through psychoanalysis as a quest for knowledge

Claire Rosemberg, “Don’t Worry Be Happy”: Happiness Is Key to Longer Life
Review of research: “Happiness does not heal, but happiness protects against falling ill”

Cynthia Geppert, Why Psychiatrists Should Read the Humanities
“now, decades later, when I come to the distressed individual at the core of any clinical encounter, I call on not simply my own meager and damaged internal resources but the insights of Doystoevsky on suffering, of George Elliot on empathy, of Kier-kegaard on subjectivity, and of so many other gifted thinkers.”

Scientific American News Bytes, Genetics of Childhood Trauma
Genetics, resilience, and overcoming trauma

Lauran Neergaard, Balancing Brain Time-Out in Concussion Recovery
Making sure you don’t stress the brain again after it’s been stressed once

Nicholas Bakalar, Mental Health: Exercise Is Found Not to Affect Depression
New twin study: “association of exercise with reduced anxious and depressive symptoms could be explained genetically: people disinclined to exercise also tend to be depressed”

The Last Psychiatrist, Fifty Percent of Foster Kids Are On Psychiatric Medications
“The single most best predictor of mental illness– better than family history, better than genetics, better than symptomatology– is being a foster child.”

RD at Brain Blogger, Can this Economic Downturn Lead to Better Psychosocial Health?
Spending more time with family and less money on consumption could turn out to be a good thing

Patient Voices: Bipolar Disorders
The NY Times brings us another podcast collection of individuals telling their own stories about coping with a particular illness, in this case being bipolar

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