Wednesday Round Up #138 is a site where you can explore maps of linguistic diversity around the world. To the right is pictured Colombia – click on it to go directly to their site map and explore a fascinating representations of the many languages that are known from Colombia.

Or you go directly to the overall country list to explore language diversity around the world.


Clive Cookson, Mind Games
* VS Ramachandran, Antonio Damasio and Oliver Sacks (the rock stars of neuroscience) have all recently published books on current brain research. While they use different case studies to illustrate their points, they all use research on abnormal brains to demonstrate neural plasticity.

Stephen Steinberg, Poor Reason : Culture Doesn’t Explain Poverty
*While responses to the recent NY Times article on the culture of poverty were negative, the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science took a different approach in their latest issue, where they actually welcomed the resurrection of this misguided concept.

In this thoughtful and thorough post, Steinberg examines the debate surrounding Moynihan’s original report on African American families and what culture of poverty debates mean in terms of achieving racial equality.

David Harvey, Future Of The Commons
*Great analysis of Garret Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons and how it has influenced current debates concerning land rights.

Hilary Franklin, Obama’s Story With Moral Imagination
*How Obama’s Tucson speech upheld moral values through the telling of stories.

Kayt Sukel, Biomarkers – A Primer
*Exciting development in diagnosing neurological disorders.

Rosscott, Inc., So You Found Something Cool on the Internet
*“The biggest damn comic-chart ever”

Roy Harris, Integrationism: A Very Brief Introduction
*An overview of the study of language and integrationism.

GrrlScientist, Skewed Views Of Science
*Required viewing for individuals (e.g. Glenn Beck) who let their personal beliefs and emotions get in the way of understanding science.

Kathryn Clancy, Science Online 2011: The Craft Of Blogging, And Getting This Durn Blog To Count For Something
*Report on the workshops and science celebrities at the recent Science Online 2011 conference.


Douglas Fox, Secret Service Study Probes Psyche of U.S. Assassins
*Get more details on the research that reveals a great deal about what assassins are actually like

Brainstorm: Investigating The Brain Through Art And Science
*Exhibit on brain artwork in London, which has drawn criticism for being “degrading.”

Deric Bownds, How Our Brains Optimize Our Rewards
*Deciding what actions bring greater rewards through trail and error and feedback.

Randy Dotinga, ‘Gut Instinct’ May Stem From The Heart
*Our brains can make our hearts beat faster, which brings a new dimension to the “listen to your gut” feeling.

Replicated Typo, Top-Down vs Bottom-Up Approaches To Cognition: Griffiths vs McClelland
*Battle in the neurosciences regarding cognitive models. The teams are divided according to structural and emergent theories.

Lucas Brouwers, The Language Tree
*The exchange of words among cultures has contributed to a convoluted family tree of global languages. Read how this complicates efforts to pinpoint the origin of a language.

Gary Williams, Some Thoughts On The Coupling-Constitution Fallacy And The Mark Of The Cognitive
*Examination of criticisms of coupling-constitution and cognitive theories.

Dan Ariely, A Gentler And More Logical Economics
*If we all accepted the underlying premise of neoclassical economics that humans are rational, what would our lives look like? Check out this terrifying hypothetical reality where highways are built according to this “logic.”

Science Daily, Major Advance In MRI Allows Much Faster Brain Scans
*New development in MRI imaging, which will allow scientists to gain a better understanding of the rapidly changing dynamics inside the brain.

Kevin Mitchel, Hotheads By Nature
*Why some individuals have greater self-control than others and why it could be an inherited trait.


Christopher Strain, Reload: Rethinking Violence in American Life
*An excellent and timely new book on violence in American culture and how to address violent trends.

David Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides And Unites Us
*Interview with Campbell on his recent publication on religion in America based on a Pew Research study. Surprising findings include that while many Americans attend weekly religious services, the majority believe it’s possible to be a good American without being religious.

LSE Department of Anthropology, LSE Anthropology Photographs Available Online
*Fascinating collection of photographs from professors in the Anthropology Department.

Anthony Di Fiore, A Rare Interspecies Frolic Among Spider And Woolly Monkeys
*Vivid account of a feeding frenzy between two species of monkeys.

Alva Noe, There Is Not Such Thing As a Killing Instinct
*Interesting post on instinct, if it’s learned or automatic, and our cultural values, which influence our actions.

George Johnson, A Question Of Blame When Societies Fall
*Anthropologists recently convened to discuss the scientific claims of Jared Diamond’s popular book Guns, Germs, and Steels. Many argued that his approach is too simplistic and glosses over political motivations behind human conquests.

Courtney Ng, Drawing The Line Between Disciplines
*If you’ve ever wondered what exactly is the difference between anthropology and sociology, then you should definitely read this post on what department chairs at Rice University have to say about the divide between these two disciplines.

John Milbank, Culture, Nature, And Mediation
*Fascinating look at Marshall Sahlin’s thoughts on the mediation between culture and nature.

Chinua Achebe, Nigeria’s Promise, Africa’s Hope
*Through provoking op-ed piece on Nigeria’s political history and why democracy will one day become a reality in the country and other African nations.

Joy Feinberg, HUMAN RACE: Museum Of Science Exhibit Challenges Common Assumptions About Differences
*Excellent AAA sponsored exhibit on race, which has challenged attendees to rethink their beliefs on so-called racial differences.

Michael, Imitation And Social Cognition In Humans and Chimpanzees (I): Imitation, Overimitation, And Conformity
*The ability to imitate others is considered one of the foundations of cultural learning, however, it’s not always beneficial as shown in this study comparing problem solving skills among baby humans and chimpanzees.

Dave Mosher, Lemur See, Lemur Do: Lower Primates Show Glimmer Of Culture
*More evidence indicating “culture” among non-human primates.


David Berry, Digital Humanities: First, Second And Third Wave
*Technology has dramatically altered the way in which we approach research and the means that we have to conduct research.

Laura Forlano, Ethnographic Research And Digital Media
*An innovative approach to teaching students how to use technology in ethnographic studies.

Mortiz Freyer et al., History Of Gaming
*Fun clip on how game systems developed.

Ian Bogost, Reality Is Alright
*Review of Jane McGonigal’s new book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, which takes a different and interesting approach to gaming.

David King, New Presentation: Creating Community Experience Using Mostly Free Stuff And Staff
*Slide show on how to create new experiences without spending a lot of money.

GrrlScientist, Paramecium Video Games
*PAC-mecium! And other classic video games adapted to teach us about biology and science

Audrey Watters, Pew Study Says Internet Users More Social, Civically Engaged
*But I just want to use the net to play video games all on my own…

Brendan Sinclair, Study Links Pathological Gaming to Depression, Anxiety in Kids
*Research among Singapore school children – “I don’t think it’s about the game; I think it’s about the player.”

NPR, You Have An Accent Even on Twitter
*Regional dialects on Twitter; but what’s cool about the piece is how digital media is allowing new computational approaches to study language use in real life

Dmitri Williams, Terra Nova: Automated Community Policing?
*Group regulation through peer review – or using the community to do the policing, rather than punitive actions like the ban hammer


Science Daily, Enhanced Early Childhood Education Pays Long-Term Dividends In Better Health
*Findings indicating that improving education at a young age also has a positive impact on the health of children in the long-term.

Alice Park, How Social Networks Spread Eating Disorders
*Study of young girls in Fiji, showing that exposure to media and social networks increases the risk of eating disorders.

National Geographic, Drugged: High On Cocaine
*Gripping visualization of the effect of cocaine on the brain.

Dave Munger, Where It Hurts
*Sobering account of chronic back problems, pain management, and government regulation of pain killers, which have impacted how physician’s treat their patients.

Michael Schwirtz, Inadequate Fight Against Drugs Hampers Russia’s Ability to Curb H.I.V.
*The recent UNAIDS report said global prevalence has either stabilized or dropped, with the exception of certain countries, one of which is Russia. An adequate health care system, the trafficking of drugs from Afghanistan, and lack of needle exchange programs have contributed to an increase of HIV/AIDS among injection drug users.

Gregg Zoroya, Study: Proactive Counseling Stems Troops’ Mental Ills
*Big study showing the importance of active prevention:
More aggressive efforts to question and counsel GIs about their mental health reduce by nearly 80% the number who develop behavioral health illnesses during combat.

Michael Korovkin, Zombie Factory: Culture, Stress And Sudden Death
*An anthropological perspective of stress and why it’s not such a bad thing – looks like a really interesting book!

Parenting and Teaching

Charles Choi, Does Science Support the Punitive Parenting of “Tiger Mothering”
*No, not really – a good discussion of what we do know about successful parenting

David Brooks, Amy Chua Is a Wimp
*Brooks gets this one right – social experiences are harder cognitively than learning music, missing out on social experiences is not good for the developing brain, and not good for an adult who can raise collective intelligence

Inside Higher Ed, Academically Adrift
*College education – it should be all about rigor, rigor, rigor, and writing too. For more, see the NYT’s How Much Do College Students Learn, and Study?

Ed Yong, When Teaching Restrains Discovery
*Great piece on how teaching is effective in learning things one way, but limits us in exploring and creativity. Always leave them wanting to discover more! That’s the take-away lesson, it seems

David Budge, Improving Parenting Does Not Level School Playing Field
*Sobering news from the UK that parenting may not be enough to compensate for social class differences among children.

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2 Responses to Wednesday Round Up #138

  1. @ “George Johnson, A Question Of Blame When Societies Fall”:

    This article is more than 3 years old. Since then, the conference reported on has been published, it has been discussed; e.g.,:

    And a more recent conference convened to continue to explore these things:

    And also in the time since the 2007 article, don’t forget the whole ethical/legal hassle of Jared Diamond’s reporting on violence in New Guinea:

    • daniel.lende says:

      Thanks for the updates, Mike. Most of the stuff I put in is very recent, but sometimes I come across something older in my ramblings around. I really appreciate you bringing the whole thing up to date.