Favs, brain and anthro this week. Enjoy.
Top of the List
Jonah Lehrer, Don’t! The Science of Self Control
Lehrer delivers a great essay in The New Yorker, based primarily on the work of Walter Mischel and his studies with kids working at delayed gratification. Or if you want to see the marshmallow test in action, check out youtube videos: marshmellow struggles #1 and marshmellow struggles #2
Benedict Carey, Judging Honesty by Words, Not Fidgets
Finally someone who says that all the facial tick/eye movement stuff about lying is overblown. Focusing on content matters. Which actually sounds rather similar to good interviewing technique in ethnography.
Don’t miss the podcast, The Takeaway, which is embedded on the left side of the page (can’t find a link myself) – Carey explains the technique in more detail there, even showing it in action.
Tom Simonite, Innovation: Software to Track Our Emotional Outbursts
“Sentiment analysis” tools – analyzing the emotional content of what we write. I’m actually thinking this could develop into data analysis for social science researchers. In other words, we’re seeing the emergence of automated content analysis.
Daniel Brown, Nature Walk #4.4 – Plants and Fungi
Some beautiful photos from a recent walk by the man behind Biochemical Soul
Mark Hoofnagle, Obesity – A New Study and What It Means to Be a Healthy Weight
Really good overview of a recent meta-analysis. Gives a very clear outline of what science says about being overweight and health consequences. Basic conclusion – being morbidly obese is really bad, but most people will probably choose to live with the more minor consequences of being overweight.
NPR, “Self Comes to Mind”: Your Brain on Music
Hear the concert by Antonio Damasio and Bruce Adolphe!
Nagraj Sambrani, New Tree of Animals Suggests Nervous System Evolved Only Once in Animal History
Hoxful Monsters shares research on how we are all just like sponges
John Cloud, Why Antidepressants Don’t Live Up to the Hype
They help – but you don’t fix depression simply by taking a pill. Moreover, SSRIs only seem effective with a sub-set of patients, those with a limited range of problems
The Neurocritic, The Constant State of Desire
Trying to pinpoint self-control in the brain. Do the researchers need to exercise some methods, guiding assumptions, and conclusions self-control themselves?
PsychLectures, Michael Merzenich on Re-wiring the Brain
TED talk on brain plasticity by one of the foundational people
Pete Mandik, What Should We Do with Our Brain?
A review of Catherine Malabou’s book on What Should We Do with Our Brain? looking at various notions of “should” and at plasticity. Plus the brain-bomb association (yes, it’s a largely negative review…)
Elizabeth Dickinson, Anthropology of an Idea: “Behavioral Economics”
Human fallibility – a timeline of its study, at least in economics beyond perfect rationality
Patrick Holford, Jerome Burne, Daniel Amen and SPECT Scans: “Are you wrecking your brain?”
SPECT scans and the public versus academic credentials and good science
Patrick Holford, Susan Greenfield on Bankers and Computer Games: Badly Thought Out Hypothesising
How wonderful – a dismantling of Greenfield and her latest essay, this time in Wired
Swivel Chair/Neurological Correlates, Law and Neuroscience: What’s Love Got to Do with It? Plenty. Prairie voles and Justininan law and marriage laws depending on intent of the parties.
An interesting discussion of intent, marriage and hormones
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Ten Principles for a Black-Swan World
Unpredictable events and how we might better live in the real world
Lindsey Tanner, Research Suggests Children Can Recover from Autism
10% seem to recover
MSN Kids’ Health, 10 Ways to Make Your Kid Smarter
Start by playing mind games with him or her…
Laurie @ Neurons Firing, Ideas
A list of basic principles for adult learning
Leslie Kaufmann, A Cautionary Video About America’s ‘Stuff’
“The video is a cheerful but brutal assessment of how much Americans waste, and it has its detractors. But it has been embraced by teachers eager to supplement textbooks that lag behind scientific findings on climate change and pollution.”
See the video and accompanying website at The Story of Stuff. Definitely recommended viewing as a statement piece – tries to present both a holistic and critical view of what’s going on.
Ryan Anderson, What, Exactly, Is “Development” Anyway?
Becoming enmeshed in development, and asking basic questions about how to engage as a scholar
Imponderabilia, Spring 2009 Issue 1
Download the entire 52 page inaugural issue – both glossy and substantive – of the international on-line student journal hosted at the University of Cambridge. You can go for an overview of the issue here.
Imponderabilia, Blogs & Open Access Journals
The international on-line student anthro journal shares its list of great blogs (Space and Culture, INCITE, and Interrogation Diaries top their list) and open-access anthropology journals.
Lawrence Hammar, Will to Live: AIDS Therapies and the Politics of Survival
Review of Joao Biehl’s new book. The review opens, “Ethnographers, novelists, and prisoners write heart-wrenching books because they present simple truths. Will to Live is a powerful, at points searing ethnography of HIV antibody surveillance systems in Brazil and pharmaceutical industry influence in bringing forth new relations of politics and health care.”
Chrissie Thornburg, Three Sisters
Review of the new documentary on women’s struggles and tough decisions about their own independence and their cultural traditions in Eritrea. Comes with a nice YouTube clip.
Scientific Blogging, Homo Floresiensis – Hobbit Feet Were Primitive But Not Pathological (So They Took It Slow)
They really did have hobbit feet! Besides that, the feet bones are a convincing demonstration that this represents a separate species, and possibly descended from the Australopithecines directly
Ira Flatow/Science Friday, The Hobbit Debate
A main researcher (William Jungers) and a now-begrudging critic (Daniel Lieberman) discuss the latest research on hobbits
Bob Corbett, Haiti: The Passage of Darkness
Review of the book The Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie