Wednesday Round Up #46

An against-the-grain top, then the brain, science and teaching, and anthropology.

Top of the List

The Neurocritic, Voodoo Correlations in Social Neuroscience
Edward Vul and those too remarkable correlations in brain scans make their best appearance yet, along with Sponge Bob and voodoo dolls. A great read.

Philip Dawdy, Study: Psychiatrists Try To Explain Away Huge Placebo Effect In Child Depression Trials
Give drugs to 10 kids to affect just one: “It’s time for researchers and clinicians to face facts: the day of using anti-depressants in kids is drawing to a close and continued use of these drugs in kids and teens must cross some high hurdles or you are coming damn close to engaging in malpractice.”

Jonah Lehrer & Javier Zarracina, Hack Your Brain: How to hallucinate with ping-pong balls and a radio
Why should those brain training folks have all the fun?

Greg Laden, Autism Study Examines Cause of Apparent Rise in Rate
Environmental causes get indirect support in some of the latest research on what explains the rise in autism. Greg provides some extended commentary on science, policy and what data mean.

LiveScience, Study: Exercise Won’t Cure Obesity
Dietary intake matters more than energy expenditure – some of the latest research


John Tierney, Anti-Love Drug May Be Ticket to Bliss
The simple equation, drug=love=marriage. Somehow the real world of relationships got lost along the way. But don’t tell Larry Young and his prairie voles. He’s hooked on oxytocin in a scientific way.

Tara Parker-Pope, A Problem of the Brain, Not the Hands: Group Urges Phone Ban for Drivers
Conversation too engrossing? Oh, you forgot to drive and crashed your car…

Chris Chatham, Do Inhibitory Skills Improve with Practice?
Our ability to suppress unwanted thoughts and actions, and the failure of executive cognitive training in pre-schoolers.

Channel N, Deal or No Deal Decisions
Daniel Kahneman talks about decision making, rationality and risk taking

Mo at Neurophilo, The Evolution of Manual Dexterity
Neuroanatomical specialization and the evolution of our tool-making hands. The importance of direct connections.

Science & Teaching

Sara Rimer, At M.I.T., Large Lectures Are Going the Way of the Blackboard
Comparing lectures to marathons, and how best to train for them while taking into account the information processing capabilities and tendencies of the brain

Aaron Hirsch, A New Kind of Big Science
Science as centralization and administration, and why the resulting hierarchy might not be good. A thoughtful piece. His “citizen science” is one some anthropologists are already embracing in different ways, from collaborative work with informants to using hand-held computers to gather large data sets from people

Mind Hacks, Learning Makes Itself Invisible
Learning happens better when we understand how learning actually happens


Keith Hart, Marxism and Economic Anthropology
A refreshing read of Marx and why he is relevant today. Keith places that read within the historical development of our understanding of inequality in recent decades.

Lissa Poisso, 15 Minutes of Fame: Anthropologist digs into WoW
An interview with Alex Golub on his ethnographic work on the video game World of Warcraft. Alex (or rex) follows up with some comments over at Savage Minds.

Mark Dingemanse, Unlocking the Potential of the Spoken Word?
Will technology bring back the power of the spoken word? Pundits say yes (but they would, wouldn’t they?). But is the power of language just the words?

Ed Yong, People Overestimate Their Reactions to Racism
A new psych study on racism – when faced with racism, most people do nothing. The old anthro adage, what people say and what people do can be very different things, rears its rather ugly head here.

John Hawks, Recent Evolution in Newsweek
Changing opinions about evolutionary psychology (it’s no longer all that) and the metaphor of the Stone Age mind

Mark Liberman, Who Knows?
Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count – a methodology makes the news, in this case about Caroline Kennedy

Jason Kottke, Does the Broken Window Theory Hold Online?
A prominent theory – that attending to petty crimes like breaking windows brings down major crime – gets new life online. Some interesting considerations.

Vaughan Bell, ‘Human Terrain’ Style Teams to Deploy in Africa
Reflections on the latest social science deployment

4 thoughts on “Wednesday Round Up #46

  1. Hi,

    Happy New Year!

    Any chance of some constructive feedback on a video I put together on the above study?



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