Wednesday Round Up #65

Plenty of mind/brain posts in this week’s Encephalon: Big Night, so the top list is focused on social issues. After that, I just take care of business – brain, animals and anthropology.

Top

Susan Blum, Should China Copy the West on Academic Integrity?
Researcher of truth in China and plagiarism in the US examines cultural notions of originality and due credit and their effect on academic practice and policy: “an academic system where people were hired and rewarded on the basis of contacts, seniority, and cooperation rather than publication and competition.”

Adrian Ivakhiv, Lakoff’s Environmental Frames vs. Connolly’s Resonance Machines
Cognition meets the environmental movement – neuropolitics results. Lakoff over-simplifies, and Ivakhiv brings in William Connolly to examine actual interactions, not just embodied frames.
I really liked this line, “communicating this idea of a social nature in a culture that still sees nature as “out there” somewhere and culture as “in here” among us humans, is not easy, as it goes against the grain even of what a large part of the American conservationist community has traditionally said (and celebrated), i.e., that nature is in our national parks, not in our homes or schoolyards.”
For more from the Immanence blog, see the post Robert Brulle’s Response to Lakoff.

EcoTone, Citizens First, Scientists second: The Argument for Advocacy
A new paper argues that scientists can be activists too through advocacy – in other words, questioning not the scientific method but the stand-off ethos that is often cultivated

Tamler Sommers, On Debunking
Considering love beyond evolutionary theory and brain function. Sommers follows up with Selective debunking in metaethics. Also see Ars Psychiatrica for more on love in All in your head?

Julia Douthwaite, Homo ferus: Between Monster and Model
Our images of the “wild man” – a savage, an innocent archetype, and defining what it meant to be human in the 18th century

Norman Holland, Has Psychology Become One of the Humanities?
Endless publications and not much advances in understanding – narrow efforts and the unscientific nature of the mind itself don’t add up to cumulative, generalizable knowledge.
Ars Psychiatrica takes on Holland, offering more a view from the humanities – “consciousness is inherently a dynamic entity, and one engaged in essential value discrimination, on its own and in relation to other minds. The latter is the humanistic endeavor, and when it comes to the mind regarding itself, the stakes are highest of all.”

David Dobbs, Pharma Objects to Empiricism
The latest in how Big Pharma aims to control both basic research and policy to our own detriment – very good piece over at Neuron Culture

Brain

Vaughan Bell, All Smoke and Mirror Neurons?
Love the title! And it’s a perfect fit, as Mind Hacks discusses a coming article that takes on the hype and the actual research around mirror neurons

Edge, Chimeras of Experience: Conversations with Jonah Lehrer
A video and text interview with the prodigal science writer – “We’re a brain embedded in this larger set of structures… You can call it culture, call it society, call it your family, call it your friend, call it whatever it is.”

Benedict Carey, Brain Power: At the Bridge Table, Clues to a Lucid Old Age
Looking at people over 90 who stay mentally active and socially engaged for clues on healthy brain function at a late age

Psique, Did You Wanna Say Something or Is that Just Your Parietal Cortex?
Stimulating brains during surgery – dividing intention, experience and actual movement

Junior Prof, What Causes Chronic Pain – or – How Does Pain Become Chronic?
“Chronic pain is characterized by plasticity within the nervous system leading to “sensitization” in how the pain system responds to noxious or innocuous stimulation.”

Al Fin, Smarter Brain Monitoring
Advances in EEG technology and analysis for better effect – almost like imaging now

Wray Herbert, The Power of Backward Thinking
Literally take a step back – it also changes the way you think. For more on the research itself, see Developing Intelligence’s Cognitive control is improved by taking a step back – literally

Caio Maximino, Flossing a Dead Horse: Some Critiques to the “Evolutionary Psychology” Research Programme
Evolutionary biology and neuroscience ride to the rescue of our minds from armchair theorizing

Animals

Randolph Schmid, Rooks Are Latest Bird to Use Tools
Checkmate to our tool-driven pretensions

Kim Solez, Prehistory Prefigured Internet Use
Cognitive hybrids and external objects from the dawn of human time – just now with a new medium

Ed Yong, Altruistic Chimpanzees Clearly Help Each Other Out
Behaving selflessly among our closest cousins

Miriam Goldstein, The Dark Secrets That Dolphins Don’t Want You to Know
Dolphins are violent – and here I thought they were just warm and smooth

Anthropology

Mark Liberman, Absolute Pitch: Race, Language, and Culture
Absolute pitch in Chinese vs. Americans – is it due to “race”? Some debunking, as well as developing considerations of the actual phenomenon, over at Language Log

Michelle Chen, The Gang Aptitude Test
Addressing the line between constructive science and further criminalization of youth by trying to find “predictors” in early adolescence for later gang involvement. The original research made the Wall Street Journal; here RaceWire questions the implications.

Matthew Crawford, The Case for Working With Your Hands
Getting off the wired/education track in the new economy – local work and skilled activity as a valued part of the New Economy in this NY Times Magazine feature. Quite an essay, reflective and full of considerations like the following, “An economy that is more entrepreneurial, less managerial, would be less subject to the kind of distortions that occur when corporate managers’ compensation is tied to the short-term profit of distant shareholders.”

Society for Applied Anthropology, May 2009 Newsletter
Get the entire pdf on anthropology in action

Eugene Raikhel, Books Reviews around the Web
Somatosphere gives us the latest on some good books at the intersection of science and anthropology

Kerim, The Sideways Glance
Some nice considerations of Tim Ingold’s Ethnography Is Not Anthropology essay

John Markoff, The Coming Superbrain
Artificial intelligence and the singularity debate as technology continues to speed ahead

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