Wednesday Round Up #48

Last week we did a special theme – Obama is a neuroanthropologist – but this week it’s back to normal. I’ll cover some things that might already be two weeks old (gasp!), but it’s all for a good cause – your own reading pleasure.

So this time we have some favorites, then PTSD, some anthropology, some brain stuff, decision making, and fighting inequality. Yes, lots of categories – I’m catching up… Enjoy!

Top of the List

Dennis Overbye, Elevating Science, Elevating Democracy
I liked this essay, for its examination of science as both a search for truth and a pragmatic endeavor that also happens to teach values

Jane Brody, Babies Know: A Little Dirt Is Good for You
Getting down and dirty for a better immunological system. I was just talking about this in my med anthro class, contrasting the science with people who are obsessed with cleanliness.

Jennifer Ruark, In the Thrall of Neuroscience
Chronicle of Higher Education piece from December – finally found a complete online version. All about the new interdisciplinary interest and collaboration with neuroscientists. I even get a quote!

Ed Yong, Pre-emptive Blood Flow Raises Big Questions about fMRI
Cool study about blood going to parts of the brain in anticipation of activation


After reading my students’ great post on veterans and post-traumatic stress disorder, I came across some PTSD readings to share.

Anxiety Insights, Mind-Body Skills Reduce PTSD in War-Traumatized Children
“biofeedback, meditation, guided imagery and self-expression (in words, drawings, and movement) produce lasting changes in levels of stress, flashbacks, nightmares and symptoms of withdrawal and numbing in adolescents living in a region of conflict.”

Lauran Neergaard, How to Help When Smoking, Alcohol Complicate PTSD
Addressing the “self medication” often linked to PTSD among vets

Tyler Boudreau, Troubled Minds and Purple Hearts
Vets with PTSD won’t get the purple heart – this former Marine captain provides his own personal reflection on the sacrifices and damages of war

Lawrence Wein, Counting the Walking Wounded
Despite what the government might say, there are likely a lot more sufferers from PTSD than their estimates indicate

Therapy Doc, Coming Home
Sexual violence, trauma and recovery


Susan Blum, Reverse Engineering Education
Reflections on the kind of person we hope to see after education – and how we might achieve that

Anthropophagous is a blog featuring snippets of words and images that capture the anthropological imagination on the net. From an unemployed vibrator to a stunning photo of an abandoned building in Detroit, and this stumbling, mumbling piece on revolution, it’s a good site for our cannibalistic gaze.

Culture Matters, Polyglot Perspectives: Giving Prominence to non-English Anthropology
Anthropology Quarterly to feature essays in a range of languages. In that spirit, here’s a piece on recently deceased Samuel Huntington in Spanish

Blair Bolles, Darwin’s Contributions
The three reasons why Darwin matters greatly to our understanding of language

Vaughan Bell, Cocaine Nights, Moral Relativism, Orgasms and Gangs
All that and more in streaming audio!

Gatochy’s Blog, The Ineffable Allure of Nose Hair on the Male’s Inner Nostril
That, and a great nature-culture image!

Inverse Square, History Matters (and so does the environoment) — Steven Pinker/Personal Genomics dept.
More critical comments on Steven Pinker’s recent My Genome, My Self. Jonah Lehrer’s comments are also worthy. For our reaction, see My genome is not my self, where other reactions are also rounded up.

NPR, What’s So Special about the Human Animal
The science writer Hannah Holmes talks about the well-dressed ape

Jerry Coyne, Seeing and Believing
Over at The New Republic: “The never-ending attempt to reconcile science and religion, and why it is doomed to fail.” PZ Myers reacts here, Neil Scheurich here.

John Postill, Too Much Attention Paid to Imagined Communities
Benedict Anderson isn’t all that – how about a sovereign state, with infrastructure, multiple languages, and a material culture

Ed Yong, Bacteria and Languages Reveal How People Spread Through the Pacific
Our bodies and our words reveal our ancestry in places where things aren’t too muddled by recent migrations

Bruce Charlton, Alternative medical therapies should be considered part of New Age spirituality
An interesting argument about evidence-based medicine and other forms of healing – doesn’t quite hit the mark for me, but better than most doctors who take on this issue

Vaughan Bell, The Shock of the Few
Stress during pregnancy and life-long effects on the babies, plus some social medicine history

Dead Voles, Wordle Syllabus
What a syllabus looks like graphically based on word frequency – and follow that up with some therapeutic history

John Hawks, Darwin Smiling
Darwin, facial expressions and emotions – now seen in blind athletes

BBC Radio, Thinking Allowed: Moral Relativism
Laurie Taylor discusses the idea with a distinguished panel, including the anthropologist Henrietta Moore. For more on moral relativism, you can check out Anthony Daniels essay Guarding the Boundaries


The Debate over Voodoo Correlations and Brain Imaging
The Neurocritic covers the controversy: Voodoo Counterpoint, Voodoo Counter-Counterpoint, Voodoo Schadenfreude (love the doll!) and the latest, which rounds up a lot of the reactions, Voodoo Gurus.
MindHacks also provided updated coverage of the debate over methods and interpretation in social neuroscience imaging.

Sharp Brains, The Overflowing Brain: Most Important Book of 2008
The brain fitness site picks its best book of 2008 – how to thrive in a cognitive age

Nicholas Bakalar, Behavior: Electricity to Brain May Aid Motor Skills
Now that’s stimulating! Mild electric current helped these hapless students learn a hard video game faster

Almost Diamonds, Science and Fiction – Recommended Reads
A long list of science and science fiction blogs for your browsing pleasure

Arvid Leyh, Braincast 23 – Hard-headed
Informative podcast on our prefrontal cortex, from planning to peer-to-peer connections

Margie Mason, World’s Highest Drug Levels Entering India Stream
All the antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals you could ever want – but don’t need

Robin Lloyd, God and Science: An Inner Conflict
Implicit associations, perceived conflict and the embodiment of cultural history

Neuroscience CME, Communities of Practice
The online resource aims to create online communities

Decision Making

The Economist, Motivating Minds
“People procrastinate when asked to think in the abstract” – so we are embodied beings!

Jonah Lehrer, Books on Irrational Decision Making
The author of the just-out book, How We Decide, reviews five classics, from extraordinary popular delusions to predictably irrational

John Langford, Nearly All Natural Problems Require Nonlinearity
Machine learning and problem solving – it’s not linear in the real world!

psique, on toothbrushes (and oxytocin)
Those are some loving toothbrushes… Or, our worlds are emotional, symbolic and material, not just non-linear

David Berreby, Post-Rational Economic Man
Killing Rational Man and the need for a new Adam Smith

Fighting Inequality

Elizabeth Kolbert, Greening the Ghetto
A solar panel for every home…

Nicholas Kristof, A Conversation with Bill Gates
Off to save the world with billions!

NPR, Group Fights Rape In Democratic Republic Of Congo
The terrible “weapon of war” and the work of Dr. Denis Mukwege

Nell Porter Brown, Taking It to the Streets
Teaching nonviolence in the poor parts of Providence, Rhode Island

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