Wednesday Round Up #124

Meet the “Mental Toys” – yes, that’s literally how this image was labeled over at the Toxel website, in their post Stuffed Animals with Mental Disorders

The toys are made by German manufacturer Paraplusch, “psychiatry for abused Cuddlytoys.” They even have an online game where you can play the psychiatrist who treats these mentally ill stuffed animals.

I think my favorite is Dolly, the wolf in sheep’s clothing:

The patient seems to temporarily suffer from the delusion that she is a wolf despite the fact that she is without a doubt a sheep. The unexpectedly strong exhibition of the repressed identity completely overstrains her. Hysterical, psychotic defence reactions underline the fundamental threat which points at negative experiences and resulting fragmentation processes. In this state, the patient is unable to accept herself as a plush animal.

That’s almost enough for the whole week! But you still get the faves, anthro, mind, digital, and drugs. In the digital section, I give a short discussion of the Pediatrics paper on how two hours of screen time is bad for kids’ psychological health, so that’s something a bit extra this week.

Top of the List

Vaughan Bell, Susto: A Soul Wrenching Fright
*Mind Hacks uses a YouTube video of a curandero healing a child of susto in Ecuador to present a compelling overview of susto, a culture-bound syndrome where the soul is seen as having left the body

Michael Healy & Yanis Ben Amor, Useless Condoms and the Trap of HIV-sensitization
*A powerful ethnographic examination of HIV vectors in Uganda, including older men having sex with young girls (or “cross generational sex”)

Smithsonian, Human Evolution Timeline Interactive
*The Smithsonian brings you human evolution online, with this interactive timeline of our evolutionary past

Travis Saunders, Daily Exercise Provides Relief From All Pain
*Public Service Announcements from Thailand! Fun and quirky ways to sell the idea of getting daily exercise.

Gene Weingarten, Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?
*This Washington Post article won the 2010 Pulitzer prize, and was originally published in March 2009. It profiles Miles Harrison, who forgot his son in a hot car, and was then prosecuted for his son’s death. The article revolves around the idea, discussed in the trail, of whether this is a crime:

When it happens to young children, the facts are often the same: An otherwise loving and attentive parent one day gets busy, or distracted, or upset, or confused by a change in his or her daily routine, and just… forgets a child is in the car.

David Kroll, one. more. day. david m bailey (1966 – 2010)
*A touching profile of the singer david m bailey, who suffered from glioblastoma multiforme, a type of brain cancer.
-Take as Directed also featured a wonderful guest post by Janice Mack Guess, Little Colored Girls Want To Wear Pearls Too.

Christian Jarrett, How to Form a Habit
*Automaticity in an average of 66 days! But:

Even after 84 days, about half of the current study participants had failed to achieve a high enough automaticity score for their new behaviour to be considered a habit.

Democracy Now, Exposed: US Doctors Secretly Infected Hundreds of Guatemalans with Syphilis in the 1940s
*Democracy Now interviews Susan Reverby, the medical historian who discovered the Guatemala study

Sarah Kavassalis, Book Review: E=MC²: Simple Physics by Jeff Stewart
*Physics for anthropologists, and the rest of the public as well!

Jorge Cham, The Grad Student Brain
*But shouldn’t the Super-Duper-Ego be the advisor, and be often absent?

Julienne Rutherford, How to Write Less Badly
*“As researchers we’re not expected to be great writers, just not terrible writers. Aim high, people!”

Misha Angrist, Keep Yourself Alive
*Genome Boy to the rescue! Finding that comment to highlight the importance of the humanities against a cynical NYT essay by Stanley Fish.
-I also wish Fish had read another NYT essay, In Defense of Naive Reading, also a defense of the humanities (and for me, a vision of reading as rather like participant observation, that immersion in another place)

Nicolas Baumard, Picture of the Week: How Segregated Is Your City?
*The power of data visualization – maps of 40 US cities and their level of segregation


The #anthropology Daily
*Get your daily fix of anthropology – this site brings together the tweets that mention #anthropology on Twitter

Rubén Urrutia, El Taíno Vive
*Series of videos on how Puerto Ricans understand the Taino legacy, the Ameridian culture who lived on the island before the Spaniards came. Represents a push to reclaim Taino “blood” and culture. Todo en español!

David Sleight, Evolutionary Biology Hearts Typography
*Oliver Sacks and “a biological guiding hand for typography”

Noah Hutton, The Parallel Film: Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”
*The 3D film on the 30,000 year old paintings in Chauvet cave in France

Barbara King, Part Machine and Entirely Animal
*Nice reflection on post-humanism, which includes animals and machines in the realm of humanism

Christian Jarrett, The Evolutionary Roots of Laughter
*Laughter comes in two kinds, tickle-based and emotion/humor based

Noah-Snyder Mackler, Monkeys With Personality
*Identifying individual gelada monkeys in Ethiopia – part of the NYT blog series on primatology!

Tim Cameron, 7 Innocent Gestures That Can Get You Killed Overseas
*Prior to signaling know the cultural context – a two thumbs up may just get you killed.

Robert Sanders, New Analyses of Dinosaur Growth May Wipe Out One-Third of Species
*Dinosaurs found in different stages have now been identified as the same dinosaur.


Scicurious, Sensitivity to Social Rejection and Inflammatory Responses to Stress
*Another great post – and the best sort of geeky line:

But this, this is the super cool data. Here you can see a series of correlations in the subjects that got the social rejection (the “Cyberball” thing), with their inflammatory markers AND with their brain scans. And it shows that the MORE your brain responds to social rejection (the more the anterior cingulate and the anterior insula light up), the more your BODY responds with inflammatory indicators. The best correlation was in the anterior cingulate.

Thomas Insel, Brain Scans – Not Quite Ready for Prime
*Brain imaging – good for research, not ready for clinical care or other public applications, says the head of NIMH

Alan Saunders, The Extended Mind
*Radio program on embodied mind and philosophy – thoughts are not all in the head!

James Winters, Language and Thought: Joshua Knobe speaks to Lera Boroditsky
*Experimental philosopher Joshua Knobe and psychologist/linguist Lera Boroditsky, the bloggingheads interview

Darcia Navarez, How NOT to Ruin a Child: Discipline or Spoil. Are We Talking About Kids or Dogs?
*Moral Landscapes tackles the Houston Police Department’s twelve principles on “How Not to Raise a Delinquent”, also called “How to Ruin Your Children.” The police style approach to parenting – never spoil the kid, he might want something later, and then steal to get it!
-One example from the list online:

When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he’s cute. It will also encourage him to pick up “cuter” phrases that will blow off the top of your head later.

Deric Bownds, Embodyment of Our Emotions in Our Brains.
*Deric does a great job summarizing a main debate about the role of bodily sensations in emotions, and discusses the latest research which indicates, yes, it does happen

Jaipreet Virdi, Mind & Body: The Philosopher’s Body as a Subject
*Two article summaries on philosophy and embodiment – in the eighteenth century!!

Razib Khan, Epigenetics Arise!
*Nice piece on how epigenetics is the new deus ex machina

Virginia Hughes, The Brain’s Dark Energy
*The last word on the brain’s default mode

David McRaney, Placebo Buttons
*Buttons that simply appease your minds needs, while doing nothing.

Jessica Holmes, MIT Neuroscientists Reveal How the Brain Learns to Recognize Objects
*Your brain learns through patterning

David Cameron,Newly Discovered RNA Steers Brain Development
*enhancer RNA, which helps us understand “how a person’s external experiences turn on the genes that over time help shape the connections among cells that make up the human brain

Yasmin Anwar, An Afternoon Nap Markedly Boosts the Brain’s Learning Capacity
*In support of the afternoon siesta – an hour’s nap can dramatically boost and restore your brainpower


Angie Page et al., Children’s Screen Viewing is Related to Psychological Difficulties Irrespective of Physical Activity
*Abstract for the recent Pediatrics article that has stirred up quite an internet storm. ScienceBlog has a reasonably effective summary.
-The controversy comes in two doses: (a) physical activity doesn’t compensate for screen time – screen time seems to still be linked to more psychological problems, and (b) the relatively short cut-off of two hours that is linked to later psychological problems, when most children are already spending more than two hours per day in front of some sort of screen
-Why not to worry? The odds ratios are really low, for example, “television, odds ratio [OR]: 1.61″, so while there is greater risk, it’s not really that much in absolute terms. And I’d be willing to bet that in a study that went after a wider range of factors related to children’s development and later psychological well-being, other predictors would overwhelm the effect of “screen time”. My guess is that screen time can be a proxy for other things going on in a home, such as parental neglect, and so the real cause of the later psychological problems is not elucidated by this study.
-Still, physical activity doesn’t compensate and two hours a day might be more than plenty. We have this debate at home! And, hey, what’s up with being sedentary? “Sedentary time was inversely related to psychological difficulties after adjustment” – is being a couch potato, but not watching a screen, good for you psychologically? Maybe if you’re reading during that time! But otherwise?!

Quest to Learn
*A profile of Quest to Learn, the middle school that is using video games to teach students

Krystal D’Costa, Digital Literacy at What Price?
*Cautions about the rush to teach searching, media, and other digital skills – what about deep thinking and effective analysis?

Stephanie Findley, From E-books to No Books
*A new university library with no books! It’s been done at the University of Texas at San Antonio

Steve Kolowich, Mixing Work and Play on Facebook
*Mixable – academics meets Facebook in virtual classrooms. An initiative at Purdue University.

Bob Grant, You Aren’t Blogging Yet?!?
*Good reasons to blog, over at The Scientist mag

David Campbell, The Ongoing Revolution in the Media Economy
*Effective summary of just what the move online is doing to traditional publishing

Bora Zivkovic, Scienceblogging: – a Q&A with Mark Hahnel
*science3.0 is a really interesting way to try to create an intellectual community online, more than just an aggregate of blogs. Here the initiator outlines his thoughts!

Bill Caraher, More on Academic Blogging
*A very effective counter to Edward Blum’s argument that blogging is bad for an academic career, especially for a young professor

Michael Copeland, Intel’s Cultural Anthropologist
*Genevieve Bell’s mission:

To help the chipmaker power new devices, make new software, and enter new markets by providing its technologists with a better understanding of how people all over the world use computers, phones, and other gadgets.


Logan Mabe, If You Want to Quit Smoking, There’s Help, From Meds to Websites and Hot Lines
*An interview with Thomas Brandon, director of the Tobacco Research and Intervention Program at Moffitt Cancer Center – practical questions answered, practical advice offered

Big Think, Carl Hart
*A great series of videos featuring Dr. Hart, co-author of the textbook, Drugs, Society, and Human Behavior and Director of the Residential Studies and Methamphetamine Research Laboratories at the New York State Psychiatric Institute

Gary Stix, Craving a Cure: A Virtual Meth House Serves as Fodder for Addiction Studies
*The meth house in Second Life, and its role in UCLA drug research. Best interview quote of the week, on the virtual meth house as not open to the SL public:

“It would throw a monkey wrench into the whole thing if someone showed up in a dragon suit while we were doing an experiment.”

Lab Spaces, Light Drinking During Pregnancy Does Not Harm Child’s Behavioral or Intellectual Development
*Conclusions from a big longitudinal study using a representative sample of 11,513 UK children born between September 2000 and January 2002

TF Newton et al., Theories of Addiction: Methamphetamine Users’ Explanations for Continuing Drug Use and Relapse.
*Meth addicts have a range of reasons to use

KD Ersche, Drug Addiction Endophenotypes: Impulsive versus Sensation-seeking Personality Traits
*Impulsivity matters more in predicting risk for addiction; seeking new and exciting sensations not so much…

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One Response to Wednesday Round Up #124

  1. Rebecca Sparks says:

    I loved that game, but the stuffed animals were too expensive. had a contest a few years back for each one that I also failed to win. Personally, I connected the most with Dub.

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