Wednesday Round Up #112

This week it goes top, sports, mind, war, anthropology, and health.

Top of the List

Ed Yong, Williams Syndrome Children Show No Racial Stereotypes or Social Fear
People with Williams Syndrome are incredibly social and lack racial bias. The loss of about 26 genes make this possible.

Todd Meyers, Special Issue of Ethos on Autism
The latest Ethos is a special issue on “Rethinking Autism, Rethinking Anthropology”, guest edited by Nancy Bagatell and Olga Solomon, and includes articles by scholars like Elinor Ochs and Sharon Kaufman.

John Horgan, Can Brain Scans Help Us Understand Homer?
A critical reaction over at Scientific American to the recent New York Times piece that approvingly examined how some literary scholars are turning to neuroscience and evolutionary psychology for insight.

NPR, Nobel Winner Rethinks Business from Ground Up
Social business! Muhammad Yunus’ ideas about lending to the poor have changed lives in his native Bangladesh and beyond.


Jonah Lehrer, Don’t Choke
The superstar effect – choking and performance anxiety – is discussed. Can anything be done to prevent choking?

Carl Zimmer, Why Athletes Are Geniuses
Neuroscientists have found several ways in which the brains of top-notch athletes seem to work better than those of regular people.

Jonah Lehrer, Touch and Basketball
The link between “tactile communication” and accomplishment in the NBA. The paper argues why touchier teams – players that give high-fives and slap each other on the ass or pat each other on the back – are more likely to win basketball games.

Dan Peterson, Huge Study Says Playing Soccer Is Great For Your Health
Soccer is a pleasurable team sport that provides an all-round fitness and can be used as treatment for lifestyle-related diseases.

ScienceDaily, Initiation Ceremonies Don’t Build Team Spirit, Study Finds
Team-building activities in sports are carried out for tradition’s sake and don’t help players to bond, according to results of a new study.

Hugo Mercier, The Social Rationality of Footballers
Are footballers rational?

Andreas De Block and Siegfried Dewitte, Darwinism and the Cultural Evolution of Sports
This article outlines a Darwinian approach to sports that takes into account its profoundly cultural character and thereby aims to overcome the traditional nature-culture dichotomies in the sociology of sport.

Dan Peterson, Is Exercise the Cure for Depression?
Exercise is a magic drug for many people with depression and anxiety disorders, and it should be more widely prescribed by mental health care providers.


The Neurocritic, Mirror Neurons Join Marilyn Monroe Neurons and Halle Berry Neurons in the Human Hippocampus
Look in the mirror – it’s your brain looking back.

Mark Liberman, The Defend-Your-Turf Area?
All about the dorsal premammillary nucleus. And what our language casts upon it.

Laura Sanders, Mapping the Fly Brain, Neuron by Neuron
A new computer-based technique is exploring uncharted territory in the fruit fly brain with cell-by-cell detail that can be constructed into networks for a comprehensive look at how neurons work together.

Alan Jacobs, The World Brain
H.G. Wells in 1937: “The whole human memory can be, and probably in a short time will be, made available to every individual…”

Rachael Rettner, Why We Can’t Do 3 Things At Once
The brain is set up to manage two tasks, but not more, a new study suggests.

Educational Games Research, No Need to Reinvent the Wheel to Revolutionize Educational Video Games
Everything we need to make paradigm-shifting educational video games that kids will actually play has already been created.

Seth Borenstein, To Scientists, Laughter is No Joke — It’s Serious
Laughter is a serious scientific subject, one that researchers are still trying to figure out.

David J. Tenenbaum, Recipe for Pain
Understanding pain better through the natural chemicals that cause pain in the environment.

Ginger Campbell, Thomas Metzinger Explores Consciousness on BSP 67
Dr. Metzinger argues that any credible model for how the brain generates the mind must incorporate unusual human experiences, such as so-called out of body experiences (OBE) and psychiatric conditions.


Vaughan Bell, Social Warfare
The US military is pumping money into social science research, which it considers to be an important ‘game changing’ component of 21st century warfare.

Ryan Anderson, Human Terrain on YouTube
Anthropologists critique the Human Terrain system in video


Angela Alberti, What Are the ‘Hard Problems’ in the Social Sciences?
Just over a century ago, one of the world’s leading mathematicians posed this question to a number of his colleagues: What are the most important unsolved questions in mathematics? Now social scientists are doing the same.

Douglas Rushkoff, Economics Is Not Rational Science
The marketplace in which most commerce takes place today is not a pre-existing condition of the universe. It is not nature, but a game, with very particular rules, set in motion by real people with real purposes.

Alexei Barrionuevo, Amazon Dam Project Pits Economic Benefit Against Protection of Indigenous Lands
The indigenous people vowed to stand against the mammoth dam threatening their lands in the Amazon. They were even willing to give their lives in order for the dam not to be built.

Pascal Boyer, The Naturalness of Social Institutions: Evolved Cognition as the Foundation of Social Norms
Pascal Boyer gives his evolutionary anthropology view of social life, from marriage to ritual to institutions

Rex, Culture Is What You Can’t Choose
How much of our lives are not up to us.

John Postill, How Can We Theorize Cultural Change?
A step-by-step process on how to theorize cultural change.


Tara Parker-Pope, Is Marriage Good for your Health?
Using birth, death and marriage records, William Farr, a British epidemiologist, analyzed the relative mortality rates of married, divorced and single people. Find out the results here.

Cynthia Gorney, The Estrogen Dilemma
Is estrogen making a comeback?

4 thoughts on “Wednesday Round Up #112

  1. First, thanks for the wonderful site. Second, does anyone know what happened to the Culture and Cognition Inst. website? They seem to have vanished. thanks, Robert

  2. Thanks for the comment, Robert. The “Social Rationality of Footballers” in the round up is from the Cognition and Culture Institute. You can also find them listed in the blogroll to the left.

    1. Pretty amazing story. Like the doctors say, I’d have to know more information. But certainly study of aphasias and other changes in language understanding and production have a long and important history in understanding how the brain operates!

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