Wednesday Round Up #53

Onto year two with the top stuff, then plenty of good criticism, followed by children and development, biology, brain, social science, and obesity. Enjoy.

Top of the List

John Noble Wilford, Prints Show a Modern Foot in Prehumans
Fossilized footprints from 1.5 million years ago. Very cool.

SciTalks: Smart People on Cool Topics – Cognitive Science
Links to cognitive science videos from leading researchers and intellectuals, generally based on public lectures they have given or on profiles or interviews on public television. You can check out Antonio, Daniel Dennett, mirror neurons, and much more.

Dresden Codak
A cool online cartoon series – philosophy, science and mind through an intriguing cast of characters

Jonah Lehrer, A Review: “Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons From the Biology of Consciousness”
A great review of a fascinating new book by Alva Noe


David Dobbs, “Critical Neuroscience” and the Discomfort of Being Studied
Neuron Culture on why critical neuroscience matters, and how it might grow (including a possible name change)

David DiSalvo, What is Literary Darwinism? An Interview with Joseph Carroll
The founder of the field over at NeuroNarrative. Quite an interesting discussion of the relations between evolutionary, cultural and literary analyses

Melissa Lafsky, Worst Science Article Ever? Women “Evolved” to Love Shopping
It does deserve a place in the hall of shame…

Rebecca at Stepchick, Cat Child Found in Cave!
More science debunking from a very entertaining site

Duff Wilson, Harvard Medical School in Ethics Quandary
Pharmaceutical companies are reaching even into teaching

A UK Internet review site: “No advertising, no bias, no hidden agenda.”

Consumer Reports, Pfizer and Chantix: Stealth Advertising at its Finest
Looks like health promotion – but it’s really to sell drugs

The Neurocritic, The Voodoo of Peer Review
Does blogging have a role in peer review? In dissemination and discussion of results, even before publication? Check out Neurocritic’s Voodiful answer

John Hawks, How Strong Is A Chimpanzee?
Debunking the myth that apes are eight times stronger than people

Vaughan Bell, Sir Humphrey Teaches Questionnaire Design
Very funny – but also highlights three problems in questionnaire design: framing, priming and acquiescence (and more generally in interviewing!)

Petra Boynton, What Do Women Want? Not This!
The what women want piece gets even worse across the Atlantic, as scholars actively tried to correct the mistakes and the sensationalism. To little effect.

Children and Development

Elizabeth Gudrais, The Developing Child
A Harvard Magazine article on the new Center on the Developing Child, and its accompanying work that aims to accompany science, policy and practice.

Natalie Angier, In a Helpless Baby, the Roots of Our Social Glue
“the extraordinary social skills of an infant are at the heart of what makes us human.”

Lisa Belkin, Babies and the Boob Tube
Educational videos – no effect whatsoever

Benedict Carey, After Abuse, Changes in the Brain
“people who were abused or neglected as children showed genetic alterations that likely made them more biologically sensitive to stress”


Biochemical Soul, Kingdom of the Blue Whale! – National Geographic
“Heart the size of a mini-Cooper…” so begins this in-depth review of National Geographic forthcoming TV special. It sounds over-sized and wonderful.

Stephen Quake, Genome Mania
DNA, the genome and now the next race, the physical and epigenomes. And those are leading to “consumer genetics.” Quite a balanced, comprehensive piece.

Dendrite, Evolutionary Origins of Brain Size Reflected in Facebook Friends
Understanding group size in evolution and in social media


Dendrite, Happy 200th birthday Charles Darwin ! Here’s an Inherited Acquired Characteristic for You
Long term potentiation as an acquired trait – most cool. And other besides-genes examples as well.

NPR, Jonah Lehrer: Passions of the Brain
How We Decide author talks the latest research on decision making, emotion and brief function in this enjoyable radio interview. For more, check out Jonah’s Reason, Emotion and Consumption

Lesley Bannatyne, Isolating Creativity in the Brain
Examining music improvisation – neuroanth in action

Jennifer L. Barredo and Katherine E. Deeg, Could Living in a Mentally Enriching Environment Change Your Genes?
“When mice are exposed to enriched environments, their offspring can overcome genetic defects that impair long-term memory.”

Social Science

Robert Pool, Why Do Some People Kill Themselves?
Social isolation, being inured to pain, and life’s burdens add up

mutually occluded, Jan Chipchase on the Social Dynamics of Standing Ovations
Standing ovations as spatially determined through mimicry?

Leah Price, Read a Book, Get Out of Jail
Now this is mandatory reading! Innovative approach to crime and punishment

Pascal Boyer, Paleolithic Art: Awesome – But Not Religious
Organized religion came later, so we need to look at the actual art and its placement to find clues to who, what, and why


Mary Eberstadt, Is Food the New Sex?
An extensive Policy Review article: food, sex, technology, and our changing moral views. George Will follows up with an editorial, Prudes at Dinner, Gluttons in Bed

Roni Caryn Ravin, Study Highlights Teen Obesity Risks
“a large European study spanning decades has found that young men who were overweight at age 18 were as likely to die by 60 as light smokers, while obese teens, like heavy smokers, were at double the risk of dying early.”

Todd Datz, Diets That Reduce Calories Lead to Weight Loss, Regardless of Carbohydrate, Protein or Fat Content
Comprehensive press release on the Frank Sacks research that shows calorie reduction is what makes the biggest difference in dieting

LiveScience, Diet, Not Exercise, Plays Key Role in Weight Loss
Some cross-cultural studies of diet, exercise and weight maintenance – a great step in the right direction for this type of research

Novalis, Willpower
A bit old school in its approach, but Ars Psychiatrica takes on the latest calories-are-what-matter research

Abby Ellin, What’s Eating Our Kids? Fears About ‘Bad’ Foods
Being healthy – is it going too far?

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