Wednesday Round Up #104

So the favs, then a bunch of book reviews, and onto anthropology and the mind. Then some health, art and philosophy, and after you spend all day reading this stuff, why not finish it off with some alcohol and sex?

Top of the List

Sharon Begley, West Brain, East Brain
“What a difference culture makes.” Newsweek has a story on cultural neuroscience!

Chris Clark, Zooming in with Prezi
Prezi, a cool new presentation tool – an online version of Powerpoint that lets you zoom in and out and also embed YouTube and Flash animations. Looks both cool and useful!

Sarah, Would You Like to Kula?
Funny anthropology pick up lines.

BigThink, Oliver Sacks on Humans and Myth-Making
“Humans naturally create stories and narratives,” says Oliver Sacks in this video lecture.

Leslie Heywood, Gender Specs
An informed feminist takes on the evolutionary psychology approach to gender. So, what do women look for in a man? And what do men look for in a woman?

Joe Brewer, Belief and Worldview in Politics
Over at Cognitive Policy Works, an argument that what someone believes to be true is more important than what is actually true. How do our minds work? How do we view reality? These are the sort of questions addressed here, using an applied approach informed by cognitive science. Another interesting piece is Story Reversal: The Power of Frame Breaking, which includes a video.

Harvey Whitehouse, Four Recipes for Religion
Our Encultured Brain keynote presenter gives a nice summary of different types of organized religion. Discussion continues over at Cognition & Culture in the post, Religion Science: If you pay the piper, do you call the tune?

Book Reviews

Emily Bazelon, The Tiny Differences in the Littlest Brains
A review of the new book by Lise Eliot, Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps — and What We Can Do About It. Looks like a very good neuroanthropology read on gender and the brain.

William T. Vollman, Ted Conover’s Roadside Attractions
Roads around the world. A review of The Routes of Man: How Roads Are Changing the World and the Way We Live Today

William Sims Bainbridge, The Warcraft Civilization: Social Science in a Virtual World
World of Warcraft is more than just a game, it’s a social scientist’s virtual wet dream. Except it’s real. Well, virtually so. The author spent more than 2,300 hours playing! Including twenty-two characters of all ten races and all ten classes

Paul Thagard, The Brain and the Meaning of Life
Why is life worth living? Your brain explains it all, as Thagard advocates for “the abandonment of many traditional ideas about the soul, free will, and immortality, and shows how brain science matters for fundamental issues about reality, morality, and the meaning of life.”

Sonya Chung, The Millions Interview: David Shields (Part One)
An interview with David Shields about his new book, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto.

Abigail Zuger, Doing an About-Face on ‘Overmedicated’ Children
A review of the new book by Judith Warner, We’ve Got Issues, where Warner followed her research rather than her assumptions on “children and parents in the age of medication.”

Diana Kapp, The Male Brain
Elle magazine bashes Looann Brizendine’s new book The Male Brain. The interview with Brizendine is actually tough-nosed. Wow. For more, see the Neurocritic.

Michael Greenberg, What Babies Know and We Don’t
What is taking place in the brains of infants. The capabilities of small children are examined. A review of “The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life”


David Price, Human Terrain Systems Dissenter Resigns, Tells Inside Story of Training’s Heart of Darkness
CounterPunch uses the story of an anthropologist who joined the Human Terrain System and then resigned to deliver a telling critique of the military program

Popular Anthropology Magazine
Popular Anthropology is a free online magazine devoted to promoting a much-needed dialogue between anthropologists and the general public.

Michael Allen Gillespie, Science and the Humanities
The difficulties we have understanding the world in which we live. Often we find ourselves operating on autopilot. Our conscious and near conscious minds are overcrowded.

Kate Ravilious, The Writing on the Cave Wall
Is this the emergence of writing, in the small signs on cave walls 30,000 years ago?

Los Angeles Times, One Long Summer in Lebanon
“The 2006 Israeli attacks were the first time the author, trapped in Beirut, felt pure, true hatred. But it was fleeting.”

Jessica Howell, Fostering Interdisciplinary Community: A Humanities Perspective
After talking about the Wellcome Collection in London contains “collections of books, manuscripts, archives, films and pictures on the history of medicine from the earliest times to the present day,” Howell goes onto consider how interdisciplinary research has worked well for her

Bonvito, Extend Archaeological Laboratories
Good discussion of the importance of the work in the lab

Ed Yong, Africa’s Genetic Diversity Revealed by Full Genomes of a Bushman and a Tutu
Two humans have their entire genomes sequenced – Ed Yong covers the story in his usual in-depth style

John Postill, New Media, The Academic Field and University Reform
First a special issue of Social Anthropology on the anthropology of university reform – looks really good. John adds some good reflections on how to escape the claustrophobia of the modern university.


Aalok Mehta, How Music Rewires the Brain
Evidence tells us that musical training may not only serve as a powerful tool for treating mental illnesses but may also rewire the brain to be more nimble at learning math and other subjects. For more, see the recent article Research finds brain link for words, music ability

The Situationist Staff, The Century of Dispositionism – Part I
Get the videos for the documentary The Century of the Self, which starts here with Sigmund Freud and the perception of the human mind. You can also get Part II, which focuses on the triumph of the idea of the self

Gareth Roderique-Davies, Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Cargo Cult Phsychology?
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) under critical review – not all that its advocates have claimed.

Mystery of Existence, Brain and Boundaries
The neural correlates of spiritual experience, with an interesting meditation on some of the latest results on the brain setting boundaries (or not).

Wlodzislaw Duch, Neuroscience and Brain Research
A long list of links on brain atlases, neural networks, etc., as well as information pertaining to the title of the article.

Jake Dunagan, Pumping up the Brain: Reflections on the SharpBrains Virtual Summit
A line-up of speakers on a broad array of topics linked to rising brain fitness study, technologies and markets, and clinical cognitive and cerebral health matters.

Sindya Bhanoo, Forgetting, With a Purpose
Fruitfalls free up short-term memory for new, more relevant memories to be formed. Do humans do the same?

Jonah Lehrer, Too Many Fastballs
What is decision science? And how does it describe human nature? Answers here.

Benedict Carey, Evidence That Little Touches Do Mean So Much
Cool research on how blindfolded strangers can understand different emotions just through the simple act of touching


Deric Bownds, Effects of Socioeconomic Status on Increase in Stress Hormones Over Time
“Disparities by socioeconomic status (SES) are seen for numerous mental and physical illnesses, and yet understanding of the pathways to health disparities is limited.” For the latest on this line of research, see the article Poverty in childhood can shape neurobiology: study.

The New York Times, When a Weight-Obsessed Partner ‘Keeps you Fat’
A Q&A with Dr. Kathryn Zerbe, which focuses on a man who wrote that his former wife, who went through bulimia, was trying to keep him fat.

Mark Willenbring, Should Doctors ‘Prescribe’ a Drink a Day?
Addresses a reader’s question about the health benefits of drinking.

Steve Bradt, Zebrafish Point the Way
Screening technique finds new roles for drugs and brain pathways in sleeping and waking.

Dustin Oneman, Food Allergies and Modern Life
It seems like everyone we know is allergic to something. How did allergies to foods reach epidemic levels? Some cultural considerations

Art and Philosophy

Desde el Manicomio, Versiones del Amor
Love in its many varieties, some more twisted than others. En Español

Ben Brantley, Home is Where the Soul Aches
The revival production of the Sam Shepard play “A Lie of the Mind” is reviewed, where one of the main characters is brain damaged yet all are disoriented

Nathan Birch, Life Cycle of a Videogame Franchise Addict
A cartoon about a video game addict. The stages they go through to get to the point of obsession – very true to life!

Jonny Thakkar, Examined Life: (What is Popular Philosophy?)
Philosophy pulled out of the books and put in the streets, from a philosopher’s perspective.

Raymond Geuss, A World Without Why?
What would a world without why be like? What aspects define it?

Alcohol and Sex

Neuroskeptic, Drunk on Alcohol?
The alcohol (ethanol) in drinks is not the only thing accountable for drunken effects. Acetaldehyde is also important.

Polly Palumbo, Blame Mom for High School Beer Binges: the Power of a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Moms who underrate the chances may actually stop kids from drinking.

Steve Bradt, Sperm Competition, Cooperation
Studies of mice suggest intricate interactions.

Scicurious, Friday Weird Science: Sex Therapists and the Expectations
In this paper, authors ask sex therapists their opinions on what duration of sexual intercourse they thought was “adequate,” “desirable,” “too short,” or “too long.” Or you can go see the video!

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