Wednesday Round Up #117

This week the top, then anthro, mind, and alcohol and drugs as a chaser. I stuck the mini-reflection piece after the top. And there’s a little poetry at the end.

The photo is an x-ray of a dozen roses, taken by Hugh Turvey. You can see more of Hugh Turvey’s work over at CNTV.

Thanks to my graduate assistant Naheed Ahmed for helping put this one together.

Top of the List

Rebecca Seligman & Ryan Brown, Theory and Method at the Intersection of Anthropology and Cultural Neuroscience
Abstract for a strong article on how the fields of anthropology and neuroscience can collaborate in understanding the human brain and its socio-cultural context.

Floyd Bloom et al., A Judge’s Guide to Neuroscience: A Concise Introduction
Can the field of neuroscience help the legal system in determining a defendant’s culpability? This question along with others is explored in a comprehensive introduction to neuroscience.

Philip Swift, The Octopus: Eight Footnotes
Tentacles galore! Octopus references in Japanese culture, anthropological theories, and the World Cup.

Melody Dye, Don’t Bite: In Sum, Dear Readers
Irresistible discussion of “self control” based on research with children and their ability to refrain from eating cookies. Really, you need to give in and go read it!

Jef Akst, I Hate Your Paper
Ever had a paper rejected by a journal for unfair reasons? In this article, Akst examines problems with the peer review system and possible solutions.

Impact Lab, Top 10 Photos of the Week
Some funny pictures of cowboy training, a “green” RV, stadium seating in North Korea, and more… I needed that after the rejection.

Get your neuroanthropology in Italian, flavored towards the neuro side.

Bill Yates, Neuroscience of Murder and Aggression: Part 1
A commentary on the TEDs talk by Jim Fallon, the neuroscientist who found that he had neurological traces of a pattern found in murderers. It provides a nice discussion of multiple causation, cultural reinforcement and cultural buffering.

Livia Blackburne, How Language Affects Thought — plus book giveaway!
Discusses two recent studies where studies in which subjects’ natal language affected ability to answer time related questions after answering spatial ones (English v. Mandarin Chinese) and gender-related associations with words that had grammatical gender in Spanish and German.

Rob Mitchum, The Disparity of Pills
Covers a recent study that explored disparity in medication use by patients based on ethnic group. The take-away: even allowing for income, education and access to insurance, the statistical difference between majority and minority populations persisted, suggesting that pharmaceutical access is affected by other, possibly harder to quantify, factors


I woke up too early, thoughts of my class, posts, emails, and articles cluttering my mind. I sat at the computer, no coffee, and soon after got the Blue Screen of Death. Would that my mind could suffer that same crash, rebooting against the clutter, or at least finding sleep. But such design is not my or Microsoft’s strength. But at the least I can wish for purity of purpose.


Thomas Abel, Cultural Models and the Environment
Examination of how ecosystems and cultural models are interrelated. Good short review of cultural models for those of you not familiar with that aspect of cognitive anthropology.

Linda Douglas, Cultural Influences and Response to Trauma
Broadening our view of stress, including discussion of Laura S. Brown’s book “Cultural Competence in Trauma Therapy”.

Beloit College, Mindset List for the Class of 2014
Clint Eastwood was an actor? Helpful guide for college professors in understanding the cultural mindset of incoming freshmen this year.

Joseph P. Gone, “We Never was Happy Living like a Whiteman”: Mental Health Disparities and the Postcolonial Predicament in American Indian Communities
Ethnographic interview with a tribal elder on health disparities among American Indians. Good place to start to explore Gone’s work.

Jonah Lehrer, The Power Trip
Do nice guys really finish last? Article on recent transgressions by high profile CEOs and how power can corrupt otherwise likable individuals.
For commentary, see Mind Hacks

NPR Staff, Culprit of Prairie Dog’s Drama May Be Caught
Bubonic plague in the 21st Century! Report on research findings concerning the transmission of bubonic plague among prairie dogs in the U.S. And done by an anthropologist!

Bonvito, Looking into Visayan Sorcery and Witchcraft
Ethnographic notes on witchcraft and sorcery in the Visayan region of the Philippines.

Room for Debate, Philosophy’s New Take on Old Problems
Is experimental philosophy for real? Discussion over at the NY Times.

Matt @ Savage Minds, Glenn Beck, Archaeologist
Critique of Glenn Beck’s questionable attempt at being an archaeologist.

Wynne Parry, Age Confirmed for ‘Eve,’ Mother of All Humans
Eve was born about 200,000 years ago according to researchers.
John Hawks responds to the popular news with his more considered, Time to revise the mtDNA timescale?

The Living Links Centre – Spaghetti Towers
How are spaghetti towers and culture related? Check out this clip of an experiment with spaghetti construction projects and modeling behavior.


Alan Kingstone, Daniel Smilek and John D. Eastwood, Cognitive Ethnology: A New Approach for Studying Human Cognition
Pdf of an article that provides a comprehensive discussion and explanation of cognitive ethnology.

Developmental Psychology Wiki Project: Psych 8510, Spring 2008
Good overview of research on cognitive development, social development and neuroscience created by a psychology class at Temple University.

Neil Scheurich, Knowing and Being Known
Response to Daphne Merkin’s New York Times article describing her multiple experiences with different types of psychotherapy amid her long struggles with depression. Scheurich examines how psychiatry needs both a theoretical and empathetic approach when treating mental health disorders.
Dr. X also responds in his Time-limited or Open-ended Therapy

Jonah Lehrer, Under Pressure: The Search for a Stress Vaccine
Wild animals also suffer from negative health due to chronic stress.
Brian Mossop responds to Lehrer in Sex, Stress and Neurogensis, which covers the benefits of “chronic good stress”.

Mary Carmichael, When the Key to Good Genetics Research Isn’t in the Genes
Why linking genes and personality is hard, and genes and cholesterol easier. Methods and concepts matter, as well as the complexities of genetics and development.

Kevin Mitchell, Defining Development Disorders through Genetics
Good explanation of autism and how genetic testing is used to diagnose this disorder.

Jesse Bering, Oedipus Complex 2.0: Like It or Not, Parents Shape Their Children’s Sexual Preferences
Disturbing, but interesting post discussing childhood sexual imprinting and fetishism.

Who Understands the Brain?

Last week I featured PZ Myers taking down Ray Kurzweil, and the technologist’s claim that we’ll reverse engineer the human brain within 20 years (which John Rennie nicely summarizes in his How to Build a Brain Wrong).

But now Kurzweil fights back! See his post, Ray Kurzweil Reponds to “Ray Kurzweil does not understand the brain”

Al Fin, Neither Ray Kurzweil nor PZ Myers Understand the Brain
Now that’s refreshing! Paint them both wrong. Plus a really lovely brain image.

Alcohol and Drugs

Wray Herbert, How to Quit smoking? Think about Smoking
Trying to stop thinking about smoking may actually increase the amount of cigarettes you smoke. Good discussion of research findings on how suppressing thoughts affects your ability to quit smoking
Herbert also has a nice piece in Why (Some) People Drown Their Sorrows

Bill Piper, Lessons Not Learned Since Tragic Drug Raid in Atlanta
Near the 4 year anniversary of the drug raid gone wrong that ended in the slaying of a 92 year old woman, a call not just for more money for prevention and treatment (a fairly typical line) but also pointing out that “arrests and seizures have little if any impact on drug availability or the problems associated with substance abuse. Measuring success by these statistics also breeds corruption and impropriety.”

Rebecca Daddow, What’s Your Memory of the Future?
How drugs and alcohol may affect the brain’s ability to imagine the future. Interesting line for therapeutic analysis.

Dirk Hanson, Chasing the Genes for Cocaine Addiction
Can an individual be genetically predisposed to drug addiction? That’s what some genetic scientists are exploring in their recent experiments with rats and cocaine.

Last Word

This is from Carl Sandburg’s The Chasers:

The sea at its worst drives a white foam up,
The same sea sometimes so easy and rocking with green mirrors.
So you were there when the white foam was up
And the salt spatter and the rack and the dulse—
You were done fingering these, and high, higher and higher
Your feet went and it was your voice went, “Hai, hai, hai,”
Up where the rocks let nothing live and the grass was gone,
Not even a hank nor a wisp of sea moss hoping.
Here your feet and your same singing, “Hai, hai, hai.”

One thought on “Wednesday Round Up #117

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