Wednesday Round Up #74

So this week it’s the food crisis, then neuroscience and anthropology, and finally language. Enjoy.

I will be on vacation next week, so won’t post the Wed round up until Saturday August 8th. So you’ll just have to wait a couple days while we’re camping.

Top of the List

Vaughan Bell, A War of Algorithms
Mind Hacks provides overview and commentary on the latest in artificial intelligence and the potential to wreak war and the need for limitations

Adam Henne, Whale Relations
Looks like a good new blog by an anthropology, Nature/Culture, with a focus on the environment and anthropology. I had wanted to discuss this recent NY Times magazine piece on whales. Adam did it for me.

Peter Deeley, The Religious Brain: Turning Ideas into Convictions
Scribd article looking at how cultural beliefs actually work their impact on specific people

Kay Redfield Jamison, The Importance of Restlessness and Jagged Edges
The psychologist and author of An Unquiet Mind shares her This I Believe: “I believe that curiosity, wonder, and passion are defining qualities of imaginative minds and great teachers; that restlessness and discontent are vital things; and that intense experience and suffering instruct us in ways less intense emotions can never do.”

Ed Yong, Your Brain on Oprah and Saddam (and what that says about Halle Berry and your grandmother)
Or even the researcher himself – he found a neuron that responded specifically to him during the research, despite having never met the volunteer previously. But really, the change is from the idea of a single neuron encoding singular info to groups of neurons encoding info through patterns of activity

The Food Crisis

-Many thanks to Craig Hadley for highlighting these selections-

Grain, The Other “Pandemic”
It’s not just the financial crisis and swine flu sweeping the world – the food crisis is killing a lot more people

Bapu Vaitla et al., Seasonal Hunger: A Neglected Problem with Proven Solutions
PLoS Medicine article about what we can do about the main cause of acute hunger and undernutrition, seasonal shortages due to dwindling stocks, high prices, or scarce jobs

Phillip McMichael, The World Food Crisis in Historical Perspective
Understanding the inequity and unsustainability in the global food system

Relief Web, Global: Improved Farming Rather Than More Food Aid?
Changing the aid mindset

Paul Collier, The Politics of Hunger
“How illusion and greed fan the food crisis.” A Foreign Affairs article by the author of The Bottom Billion.

Walden Bello, The Global Food Price Crisis
A critique of Collier, arguing that promoting commercial farming is not the way to go

Elizabeth Rosenthal, An Amazon Culture Withers as Food Dries Up
The Kamayurá lose their traditional food sources as deforestation and climate change alter the forest where they live


Benedict Carey, In Battle, Hunches Prove to Be Valuable
Comprehensive piece on how sensory processing, pattern recognition, sustained attention, handling stress and more make the difference in on-the-ground bomb detection

Lynne Peeples, Rewards, Dopamine and the Brain: Could Pennies and Pills Help You Learn Better?
Scientific American highlights the cognitive enhancement side of a dopamine agonist that promotes learning. But the cool thing about this research is showing that reward influences sensory processing. The original article is in PLoS Biology, Influence of Dopaminergically Mediated Reward on Somatosensory Decision-Making

Charles Choi, Mindless Collectives Better at Rational Decision-Making Than Brainy Individuals
Ant colonies get rationality right. And without a dopamine agonist!

Malcolm Ritter, Scientists Try to Stop Schizophrenia in Its Tracks
Detecting early signs and intervening, rather than waiting for a full-blown case

Law & Neuroscience Blog, Neuroscience and Free Will
A nice outline of the three main research paradigms examining “free will” using neuroscience

Stephen Casper, Primary Source: The Integrated Action of the Nervous System
I have my Dad’s copy of this book by Sir Charles Scott Sherrington on my shelf

Dan Lloyd, Outsourcing the Mind
A review of Andy Clark’s Supersizing the Mind and Alva Noe’s Out of Our Heads over at American Scientist

Ginger Campbell, Brain Science Podcast #58: Interview with Alva Noe
Get your podcast dose with this interview of the author of Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness

Rachael Rettner, Fetuses Have Memories
Studying short-term memory at 30 weeks of age

Jeanna Bryner, Divorce Hurts Health Even After Remarriage
Stressed, ignoring health, not going to the doctor, not exercising, sleeping poorly – it adds up

Christopher Lane, Bitterness, Compulsive Shopping, and Internet Addiction
“The diagnostic madness of DSM-V,” according to Slate

Stephen Smith, A Drug’s Unintended Use Restores the Gift of Hearing
Avastin, approved to treat late-stage colon, breast, and lung cancers, helps with neurofibromatosis type 2


Kate Wong, The Mysterious Downfall of the Neandertals
We know a lot about the Neanderthals, but still not what happened to them

Abigail Zuger, At What Height, Happiness? A Medical Tale
The medicalization of height and the power and folly of hormone manipulation – a review of the new book, Normal at Any Cost

Michelle Chen, The Science and Myth of Race
Confronting the new potential for race to re-inscribe itself through science and health, particularly genetics and drug marketing

Maximilian Forte, Looking Back at June 2009, Looking Forward
Another successful month at Open Anthropology – but Max is focusing on the future, on taking the spirit of Open Anthro to that next level

Carl Feagans, Czech Biologist or Ethnographer?
Both! Biologist Vojtech Novotny in Papua New Guinea.

Lorenz Khazaleh, Identity Politics: Have Anthropologists Gone Too Far?
Deconstruction, according to Yara El-Ghadban, “has been fruitful in denaturalizing and exposing implicit discourses of power. But it has been unsatisfying in understanding why people are attached to such notions beyond treating them as being manipulated and helpless.”

Lisa Wynn, Ethics Bureaucracies and Student Research
Not always an easy story at this particular point in time


Chris Nicholson, Linguist’s Preservation Kit Has New Digital Tools
Preserving rare languages – a profile of Tucker Childs, a field linguist who works in Africa

Emily Finn, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Linguistics
One Yale student realizes she loves studying language, in particular how brain and psychology relate to language use

Mark Liberman, Law as Applied Linguistics
Understanding the construction of written law the way we learned about grammar and interpretative logic

Ray Weitzman, Poverty of the Stimulus: Part 4, Guest Defends Skinner
Blair Bolles does good – a guest post at Babel’s Dawn by someone critiquing his own approach, and providing a concise overview of how Skinner thought about learning and language and why that is still relevant

Chad Nilep, What Is a White Man? and Who Speaks Shoshone, and When?
Reflections on language and identity, community and nation: “A problem for languages like Shoshone, Mohawk, or Lakota – not to mention Corsican, Ainu, Paiwan or literally thousand of others around the world – is that they are not associated with a nation-state.”

Cognition and Culture, Is Deductive Inference Embedded in Language?
The brain scans say no – inference happens in “general ‘support’ areas in frontoparietal cortex”

Michael Mannheim, Language, Thought and Space (III)
Frames of reference and language vs. thought

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