Wednesday Round Up #35

This week we have decision making, the brain and anthropology, plus this week’s top picks.

Top of the List

Eugene Raikhel, The Prevalent Placebo
Anthropology sheds light on the placebo. Somatosphere’s take on the recent report that 50% of US doctors give placebos to patients, with a consideration of both the placebo phenomenon and the literature surrounding it.

Deric Bownds, Arguing for Embodied Consciousness
Deric gives us some of the Harold Fromm Science review of the new book “What Science Offers the Humanities – Integrating Body and Culture” by Edward Slingerland. My Mind on Books give us more on Slingerland and his book.

The Banana Peel Project, Communities of Selves
A riff off Paul Bloom’s recent piece – a community of selves inside each of us, boosted by abundant new technologies of self, from drugs to avatars. Also see Bloom’s piece, First Person Plural

Neil Scheurich, Annals of the Prodigious
The bar-tailed godwit, the longest recorded flight, and a poem from Emily Dickinson

Scicurious, General Stuff I Blog About: Dopamine!
Your Neurotopia guide to dopamine, going from the chemical structure to brain structures. Quite an overview.

Decision Making

Neuronarrative, The Lucifer Effect: An Interview with Dr.Phillip Zimbardo
Making monsters out of decent young men – an interview with the psychologist behind the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment

Wray Herbert, A Recipe for Motivation
Getting people to exercise regularly – and the importance of understandable how-to instructions

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Wednesday Round Up #34

This week we’ve got a literary theme, plus the brain, mental health, and anthropology.

Top of the List

Carl Zimmer, Searching for Intelligence in Our Genes
The prominent science writer takes on new research about this controversial topic in a Scientific American report

Vaughan Bell @ Mind Hacks, Colombian Congress of Psychiatry Report
Vaughan visits Bogotá, my old stomping grounds, and comes back with some auditory hallucinations after dancing on tables. Wait until he goes to Cartagena!

Simon Romero, Acclaimed Colombian Institution Has 4,800 Books and 10 Legs
The Biblioburro! Two burros and one man bring literacy and literature to the rural areas of Colombia. Horacio Quiroga, first author mentioned in the article, is a fantastic writer; here is his tale Anaconda.

Ginger Campbell, Brain Science Podcast #47: Introduction to Brain Evolution
Ginger discusses the work of Georg Striedter, a leader in his field who uses a comparative and cross-species approach to this area of research. She brings us an excellent historical overview and explanation of what we know about brain evolution!

Margaret Atwood, A Matter of Life and Debt
The acclaimed novelist writes about debt, fairness and our humanity in this worthy op-ed


John Cleese, A Poem for Sean Hannity
Cleese pans the conservative talk show host

Edward Rothstein, Exhibition Review – Ambivalence as Part of Author’s Legacy
Irène Némirovsky, the author of Suite Francaise, and the contradictions of her work, her life and her times on display

Joel Parthemore, Review – Body Consciousness
Metapsychology review of the book Body Consciousness: A Philosophy of Mindfulness and Somaesthetics by Richard Shusterman – embodiment for philosophers!

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Wednesday Round Up #33

This week, besides the tops, we have education, animals, genetics, anthropology, and the brain.

Top of the List

Garrison Keillor, Dying of the Light
A captivating review of the new book, Nothing to Be Frightened Of, by Julian Barnes. The accomplished writer and “atheist turned agnostic” confronts (and reflects on) his fear of death at the age of 62

Sean Hurley/NPR, Boston Orchestra Makes Typewriters Sing
The Boston Typewriter Orchestra plays the QWERTY Waltz. Listen to the entire NPR story here.
This story highlights the difficulties of a brain-based or culture-based approach to creativity. Here we have a story about effort and spontaneity, where practice and the adaptation of technology, social settings and finding rhythms all “coalesced into a form” that is quite a show.

Bruce Bower, Body in Mind
Science News covers embodied cognition! How new experimental studies and robot designs are changing our very old views of cognition.

Steve Higgins, The Ass Area of the Brain Exists in Chimps
On top for the title alone! Chimps recognize each other by their asses – and what parts of the brain process that

Kenneth Chang, A Guiding Glow to Track What Was Once Invisible
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry went this year to three scientists who developed green fluorescent protein (from jellyfish!) to study cell function.
To see the amazing outcome of using a range of fluorescent colors to study the brain, check out our previous posts on Jeff Lichtman’s Brainbows and More on Brainbow. Truly some of the most striking science images I have even seen.


Sam Dillon, Under ‘No Child’ Law, Even Solid Schools Falter
The perils of prescribing standardized change – schools making progress and using tough tests are not making the grade

Open Anthropology, A Crisis of Vast Quantities in Academia?
Publish or perish – academics on the production line

Chris Kelty et al., Anthropology Of/In Circulation: The Future of Open Access and Scholarly Societies
Discussion by some prominent anthropologists concerned with open access over at Cultural Anthropology – and yes, it’s the actual pdf (not hidden behind a fee-access door)

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Wednesday Round Up #32

This week I am introducing a new feature, Top of the List, which highlights some of my favorites for the week. After that, I’ve got a fun one, Sarah Palin and Language, followed by sports, anthropology, the brain, and medicine and health care.

Top of the List

Greg Downey, Turning a Blind Eye
Our own Greg gets his chance to shine in Seed Magazine! Here he covers the media reaction to a supposedly “undiscovered” tribe in Brazil that reached global proportions back in May. He writes, “In truth, our reactions to and perceptions of these people reveal far more about us than about them.”

Jonah Lehrer, The Future of Science… Is Art?
Art, the practical constraints of present science, and future creativity and inspiration

Zane Andrews and Tamas Horvath, Why Calories Taste Delicious: Eating and the Brain
Scientific American piece on our desire to eat beyond homeostatic regulation

Daniel Zwerdling, A Meal Fit For A Candidate: Barack Obama
Chef Rick Bayless talks real Mexican food as he cooks up grilled skirt steak tacos. The real surprise, Bayless was a PhD student in anthropology at Michigan before choosing food over academics. I say he’s reached more people that way!

Sarah Palin and Language

Maureen Dowd, Sarah’s Pompom Palaver
NY Times op-ed with delicious humor: from speaking in tongues in Wasilla to channeling Clueless

Language Log has featured a series of posts on the Governor from Alaska
Also Outside
Affective Demonstratives
Palin’s Accent

Daniel Libit, Palin’s Accent Takes Center Stage
Politico dissects the politics and sociolinguistics of the Palin accent

Mr. Verb, Palin’s Accent and Syntax
One big verbal trainwreck?

The Neurocritic, Maverick Maverick Maverick Maverick Maverick Maverick
A mavericky transcript… Includes a bonus, The Sarah Palin Show!

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Wednesday Round Up #31

This week we have more from John Hawks’ students, food, psychology, evolution, the brain, and anthropology.

Biology of Mind

I love encouraging students, and find that blogging raises the bar for them. Suddenly it’s not just the professor who’s reading a paper, but their fellow classmates and in the case of this new blog, Biology of Mind, the whole world! So here are students’ reflections and critiques on papers they have found fascinating:

Effects of Meditation Seen through Long-Term Buddhist Practitioners
Brain Damage from Stress
Looking Further into Semiotics…
The Anatomy of Humor
Is There Something about How We Live Today That Is Bad for Our Mental Health?
Behavioral Evidence for Theory of Mind in Monkeys
Culture Codes
Which Came First : Large Brains or Complex Social Groups?


Eric Nagourney, Nutrition: Soda Ban in Schools Has Little Impact
Banning soda? “Only about 4 percent fewer children from the no-soda schools said they did not drink it.”

Elisabeth Rosenthal, Fast Food Hits Mediterranean; a Diet Succumbs
Fast food invades Greece, and childhood obesity and diabetes become problems. Plus this tidbit, “Greece, Italy, Spain and Morocco have even asked Unesco to designate the diet as an ‘intangible piece of cultural heritage’.”

Tara Parker-Pope, Instead of Eating to Diet, They’re Eating to Enjoy
Is this the better way to be healthy and to avoid the yo-yo effect?

Associated Press, Mexico Pushes National Campaign to Lose Weight
Increasing disease burden due to obesity leads to a new government initiative


Eric Schwitzgebel, Six Ways to Know Your Mind
Getting to know yourself – a good guide to how to think about subjectivity and research focused on our experience (or phenomenology). A good follow up is Eric’s End of (Philosophical) Innocence, about how to effectively deal with the intuitions and assumptions at the core of our ideas and our research

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Wednesday Round Up #30

This week it’s gaming, mental health, academia, technology, the brain, and anthropology.

Video Games

Heather Chaplin, Xbox’s ‘Braid’ Is a Surprise Hit, for Surprising Reasons
NPR on Braid, a “game grownups can play” and a “meditation on the meaning of life”

Clive Thompson, How Video Games Blind Us with Science
Do kids practice science when they play? Professor and gamer Constance Steinkuehler argues yes

Maggie Greene, UC Irvine Gets Grant to Study WoW
World of Warcraft in US and the China – will culture matter?

The Brainy Gamer, Brilliant
Engagement, obsession, immesion? How about open worlds and the ability to express yourself!

The Game Anthropologist, Games’ Influencing of Players
“The long and short of it? The game makes the player.”

Cognitive Daily, The Bloodier the Game, The More Hostile the Gamer
Mortal Kombat settings and a one-game study – the bloodier the game play, the more violent the resulting thoughts. So, are players after that arousal gap? And with the sword, are they looking for that bloody spray? And here context (in game only) helps shape resulting experience.
So, interesting results but various ways to interpret what players are doing and experiencing

Mental Health

Sarah Kershaw, Girl Talk Has Its Limits
Teenage girls and co-rumination – or wallowing in sorrows and anxieties together

Serendip, Mental Health and the Brain
A discussion over at Bryn Mawr college this fall

Richard Perez-Pena, The Sports Whisperer, Probing Psychic Wounds
Gary Smith and the wounds and obsessions and stories of athletes

Clara Moskowitz, Social Isolation Makes People Cold, Literally
Rejected people feel colder. Is it all metaphor and embodied reactions? Benedict Carey at the NY Times also covers the same research in A Cold Stare Can Make You Crave Some Heat

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