Wednesday Round Up #136

The image is the second in the series from Discover Magazine’s piece How to Build a Human Brain, in 7 Easy Steps. Put together by Megan Talkington, it provides a step-by-step pictorial guide to understanding the assembling of a brain. It came out a year ago, but I only came across it recently. Fascinating!

This week we have resolutions, the top, mind, and anthropology. Happy New Year, everyone!

New Year’s Resolutions

Jay Walljasper, 51 Ways to Spark a Commons Revolution
*Great list of suggestions on sharing, learning, and living a more sustainable life.

Oliver Sacks, This Year, Change Your Mind
*In addition to your New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, you should also consider expanding your cognitive abilities. Learning new hobbies or engaging in different activities have the potential to strengthen our minds.

Matt Ridley, Reasons to be Cheerful
*Get a blast of optimism from – where else? – The Rational Optimist, from energy prices and availability to economic growth and worldwide prosperity

Art Markman, Behavior Change in The New Year: Change Your Environment
*Determined to keep your resolutions this year? Changing your environment may be the answer in that it helps to break you out of bad habits.

Tim Wall, Celebrate The New Year with Intoxicated Animals
*We’re not the only ones who enjoy a glass of bubbly to ring in the New Year.


Robert Lieberman, Why The Rich Are Getting Richer
*Thorough examination of the current economic situation in the U.S. Foreign Affairs delivers the goods…

Nicholas Kristof, Equality, A True Soul Food
*Essay on why more equal societies are better, drawing on Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s book “The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.”

Tina Rosenberg, To Beat Back Poverty, Pay the Poor
*The NY Times covers a successful new approach used in Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere to help lift families out of poverty – monthly payments in return for ensuring health and education for children

Roger Scruton, Ideas of The Century: Neurotrash
*Take down of “neurotrash” – pseudoscientific theories, which reduce our behaviors to only the mechanistic images of our working brains.

Don Rogers, Vail Daily Editor And Publisher Don Rogers: Mean Ol’ Master of Society?
*The Vail Daily and anthropology?! Gotta love that. Here the editor gives thought to deep journalism, first drafts of history, and anthropological critique

David Berreby, Why It Takes Long-Term Thinking to Influence a Fetus
*Sobering new development in fetal origins theory. Why nutritional supplements during pregnancy may not be enough to prevent future health problems in newborns.

Deborah Blum, At The Prohibition Bar
*In-depth account of the negative aspects of prohibition and how it actually led to more alcohol related deaths. And just some great writing.

Joan-Carles Melich, Una Antropología de la Ambigüedad
*Juan-Carlos Melich, philosopher and anthropologist in Barcelona, on the dual nature of ourselves

El ser humano siempre será mítico y lógico, porque necesita de estas dos formas para orientarse en el mundo.

Simons Foundation, Book Review: Delusions of Gender
*Good discussion of Cordelia Fine’s book Delusions of Gender, one positive, one critical. I’m in the positive camp – a great book

Macquairie Dictionary, Macquarie Word of the Year 2010 Voting Form
*Vote for Cordelia Fine and her word “neurosexism”!

Gary Greenberg, Inside the Battle to Define Mental Illness
*Wired on the shaping of the DSM-V, and the controversy over changes and critiques from past editors of the DSM. A really strong piece of reporting, with a tidbit just below. Mind Hacks also provides informed commentary

Diagnoses of autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and bipolar disorder skyrocketed, and Frances thinks his [DSM-IV] manual inadvertently facilitated these epidemics—and, in the bargain, fostered an increasing tendency to chalk up life’s difficulties to mental illness and then treat them with psychiatric drugs…

Some are beginning to agree with Frances that public pressure may be the only way to derail a train [DSM-5] that he fears will “take psychiatry off a cliff.”


David Kroll, Who Decides What’s An Analog of a Controlled Substance?
*A look at synthetic marijuana, side effects from its use, and federal regulation of these compounds.

Kathleen McAuliffe, If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking?
*Although our brains grew for 2 million years of our evolution, there’s new evidence showing that they’ve started to shrink…

Kris, 2010 Book Club: Not a Chimp
*Review of Jeremy Taylor’s book Not a Chimp, which examines the differences between chimpanzees and humans and questions the continued assertions of “we’re 98% the same”

Peter Hessler, John McPhee, The Art of Nonfiction No. 3
*Great interview with Pulitzer non-fiction writer, John McPhee, on his career and the writing process.

Elizabeth Gudrais, A Tragedy And a Mystery
*Why do some people deliberately hurt themselves? This question, among others, is the driving force behind a research project looking at suicidal thoughts, attempts, and how therapy can reduce suicides.

Emily Anthes, Schadenfreude Nation
*Fascinating look at why we take pleasure at another’s misfortune and why it also occurs between groups, including countries.

Brain Posts, The Connectome: TED Talk Summary of Sebastian Seung
*Interesting Ted Talk from a leading neuroscientist

David Berreby, Using Google to Tell Real Science from Fads
*Good use of culturomics and Google’s ngrams to track the rise and fall of science and social science terms

Antonio Casilli, What’s The Actual Size of Your Personal Social Network?
*A different perspective of the recent study showing an association between the size of an individual’s corpus amygdaloideum and their social network.

Pascale Michelon, Literacy Re-wires The Brain
*Learning to read changes our brains and it may also diminish our ability to respond to faces.

Jeremy Dean, Does Internet Use Lead to Addiction, Loneliness, Depression…and Syphilis?
*There are many claims made about the dangers of the internet, but are any of them true? Not really according to current studies.

Sharon Begley, Can You Build a Better Brain?
*Newsweek – getting at what works for making your brain smarter

Susannah Cahalan, Birds Don’t Do It, Bees Don’t Do It — Why Do We Kiss?
*Umm, because we have lips and birds and bees don’t…? The New York Post covers Sheril Kirshenbaum’s new book, The Science of Kissing

Scicurious, Tracking the ‘Impulsivity Gene’
*As always, a great in-depth look at a new paper, in this case on a genetic variant linked to extreme impulsivity


Martijn de Koning, Public Anthropology – 10 Years From Researchpages to Closer (1999/2000 – 2009/2010)
*Detailed exploration of what public anthropology means and how it’s different from applied anthropology.

Pat Devine, Review of Gareth Dale’s Karl Polanyi: The Limits of the Market
*Review of a book examining Karl Polanji’s entire body of work critiquing neo-liberalism.

Maximilian Forte, 2010 in Review
*Excellent round up of the top blog postings from Zero Anthropology.

Matt Thompson, Annual Highlights — 2010
*Another great recap of the past year in blogging from Savage Minds.

Eugene Raikhel, Notable Posts of 2010
*And one more compilation of the past year’s best posts at Somatosphere.

Jennifer Metz, Observing Grocery Shoppers Reveals Tendency to Impulse Buy
*Anthropological field methods in the grocery store. Read about marketing firms observing people as they shop.

Jonathan Shaw, Head to Toe
*Using the head and toes to study human evolution – a profile of Daniel Lieberman

Stephanie Pappas, One-Third of 9-Month-Olds Already Obese or Overweight
*Startling and disturbing new obesity trends among infants.

Abigal Zuger, A Diet Manifesto: Drop The Apple and Walk Away
*Interesting and different perspective on why diets rarely work and why we should accept the diversity found among body types.

O*NET Online, Summary Report: Anthropologists
*Occupational description of what it means to be an anthropologist.

Gary Olson, Cuban Internationalism as Engaged Empathy
*Insight into the little known, but long tradition of Cubans serving abroad in underserved communities. Examples include military assistance to African nations struggling for independence and doctors in Haiti treating cholera patients.

Olivier Morin, Denis Dutton (1944-2010)
*Touching obituary for Denis Dutton, a public intellectual, anthropologist, and founder of Arts & Letters Daily

James Holland Jones, That’s How Science Works
*From the debate over arsenic-based life forms to science in anthropology – a close-in look at how science and scientists do their thing

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3 Responses to Wednesday Round Up #136

  1. Mo says:

    Talkington’s article came right after – and looks remarkably similar to – my Tech Review photo essay.

    • daniel.lende says:

      Mo, you’re right! I hadn’t thought of that. Remarkably, as in almost too similar…

      In terms of my reaction to both – Your piece aimed more at the history, an excellent time travel through brain research, while this helped me visualize some of how the brain gets put together.

      • Kat McGowan says:

        Just to let you know, while this photo essay was put online in December 2009, it was originally published in the Fall 2009 issue of DISCOVER magazine, “THE BRAIN,” which was published Sept. 3, 2009. When I saw the Tech Review piece a few months later, I assumed it had borrowed from our photoessay. Great minds, as well as great brains, I guess you might say.
        Kat McGowan, Special Projects Editor, DISCOVER

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