Wednesday Round Up #139

The Independent featured a wonderful photo series, Voodoo In Close Up, by photographer Gael Turine. The photos capture aspects of vodou ceremonies and rituals in Haiti, Benin and the United States.

[His] images show the objects and animals of ritual, followers in trances channelling “Lwa” (spirits or deities),and dancing wildly at annual festivals.

Most strikingly, Turine was admitted to Haiti’s Ville-Bonheur “Water Jump,” a gushing waterfall in which worshippers wash themselves and appeal to the Lwa of Erzulie.

Gael Turine’s book Voodoo will come out in the summer of 2011.


Kate Clancy, Science Online 2011: Even When We Want Something, We Need To Hide It
*A powerful take on the role of gender in science blogging, and also in academia. Summarizes the take-home points from the Science Online 2011 panel, “Perils of blogging as a woman under a real name.”
-The comments, 49 at last count, are wonderful. Lots of recounting of experiences, lots of advice and ideas. Included this comment: “This is one of the best, most thoughtful, nuanced, sensible comment strings I’ve ever read.”

Deric Bownds, Distortions Of Mind Perception in Pscyhopathology
*Excerpts from The Illusion of Conscious Will by Daniel Wegner on distortions in mind perception through overperception and underperception. What I find stiking is the proposal for a theory of mind that is more diverse than the typical cognitive approach, having both dimensions of experience and agency.
-Sandeep Gautam provides us some more depth on Wenger’s work in Mind Perception Of Others: Opposing Effects Of Having Autism/Psychosis

Moheb Costandi, Cross-Cultural Neuroethics: Look Both Ways
*Good discussion on differing viewpoints regarding health and conducting research in cross-cultural settings. What we may consider universal scientific truths, may not be as easily accepted in other cultures.

Dan Ariely, Social Hacking
*Instead of being “critical,” let’s think like hackers! A great idea for neuroanthropology, and for anthropologists at large too

By conducting this kind of “hacking analysis” of the way people behave in a cafeteria “system,” we can discover the most promising ways to intervene in the process and improve behavior.

Deborah Blum, Up In Smoke
*Vivid and painful description of a family member’s struggle with lung cancer and denial about her long-term smoking addiction. Blum describes emotionally wrenching doctor visits and descriptions of how smoking destroys the body.

Daniel MacArthur, On Sharing Genes With Friends
*Good breakdown of a recent study asserting that people with similar genes tend to interact more with each other. The study has caught the eye of many media outlets, but skeptics question the results.

Jessica Lussenhop, Oregon Trail: How Three Minnesotans Forged Its Path
*I’d love to see anthropologists do more of this kind of work – designing a game that educates while people have fun

Mike Fahey, Teaching Robots To Walk The Baby Way
*Before you walk, you need to learn to crawl. Scientists are trying this approach in teaching robots to walk.

Apoorva Mandavilli, Peer Review: Trial By Twitter
*Social networking sites have expanded the number of critiques of published articles. Some see this as a benefit, involving a more open examination of studies, while others (e.g. authors) are a bit taken aback by quick denouncements of their work immediately after publication.

Jonah Lehrer, Why Rich Parents Don’t Matter
*Findings from a recent study of twins examining how socioeconomic status influences early child development.

Brooks Barnes, Ford Foundation To Put Up $50 Million For Documentaries
*Get your money to make a documentary! I’d love to see more people doing ethnographic work take advantage of film

Jeremy Yoder, Science Online, #SciO11 Hangover Edition
*Some highlights from the Science Online meeting, including a video of Robert Krulwich’s keynote address.


Jonah Lehrer, The Neuroscience Of Music
*Most of us have been moved by music and now scientists are getting a better picture of what goes in our brains when we listen.

Mark Changizi, What Does Music Look Like To Our Brain?
*Fascinating look at how music is processed in our minds and what it “looks” like.

Ed Yong, Self-control in Childhood Predicts Health And Wealth In Adulthood
*Good coverage of some important longitudinal research by Caspi and Moffitt, as well as research on how to improve self-control.
-Still, largely naturalizes the problem – self-control matters if you live in an institutional world that demands it for success, and excludes others for deviance, impulsivity, and other “failures”

Gretchen Reynolds, Phys Ed: Brains And Brawn
*The benefits of aerobic exercise on the mind are well documented, but what about weight lifting? New evidence suggesting lifting weights might be helpful.

Jennifer Huget, Conquering Food Addiction
*While food addiction may not be in the DSM, many individuals seek treatment for their addiction to food and some psychologists say it’s a real disorder. Here is a compelling account of a former food “addict” who lost 160 pounds.

John Horgan, The Perils Of Unleashing Students’ Skepticism
*Teachers want their students to develop critical thinking skills, especially when it comes to evaluating scientific studies. However, there is a downside, when students take the lesson too far and apply it to everything.

May Benatar, Psychotherapy And The Healing Power Of Narrating A Life
*An interesting perspective of therapy and how sharing personal narratives helps clients to get a better picture of how their experiences have influenced them.

Carl Elliot, Create A Disease To Market A New Drug
*Illnesses are discovered and then drugs are development to treat the condition, right? Not exactly, according to this article examining how pharmaceutical companies sell drugs for non-existent or rare disorders.

Pam Belluck, To Really Learn, Quit Studying And Take A Test
*Surprising findings suggesting that weeks of studying may not be the best way to prepare for an exam.

UT Medicine San Antonio, Reducing Diet Early In Pregnancy Stunts Fetal Brain Development
*We all know eating well during pregnancy is important, but it’s when you start that really matters.


Leslie Alexander, A Pact with the Devil? The United States and the Fate of Modern Haiti
*A critical look at what has happened in Haiti in the past year, and how outsiders have tried to explain it (away). A powerful piece.

Lorenz, Human Planet: Ambitious BBC “Anthropology” Multi Media Project Launched
*The BBC in collaboration with Bob Geldof is launching a new project to showcase human cultures from around the world. Several anthropologists are involved in the project, but some critics are wondering how people will be represented.

Michael Gerson, The Two Paths To Civility
*Fascinating use of “anthropology,” here used in a moral sense not so far from a lot of the human rights and critical humanism mainstream scholars use:

But there is a second, very different argument for civility – this one rooted in anthropology. The Christian and natural law traditions assert that human beings are equal and valuable, not because of what they think but because of who they are. Even when they are badly mistaken, their dignity requires respect for their freedom and conscience. A society becomes more just and civil as more people are converted to this moral belief in human dignity and reflect that conviction in their lives and laws.

B4India, Berlusconi’s Conduct Sowing the Seeds of an “Anthropological Disaster”
*Another piece using anthropology in a different way, in this case the Catholic Church commenting on the Italian prime minister

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the country”s most senior bishop, said Berlusconi”s conduct was sowing the seeds of an “anthropological disaster”, where young Italians would eschew abiding by the law and working hard in favour of easy money by “selling” themselves.

Cardinal Bagnasco said the example set by Italy”s leaders suggested that “cunning, social climbing, showing off and selling oneself” was the way to get ahead in life, reports the Telegraph.

Julienne Rutherford, The Meaning Of Music In Anthropology News
*The challenges of cross-disciplinary research in music – how a biological anthropologist and musician find common ground and understanding.

Herbert Gans, Public Presence And Social Science
*Strong argument for the support of public social sciences and the need for academic departments to foster these intiatives.

Houston TK et al., Culturally Appropriate Storytelling To Improve Blood Pressure
*Hearing how other’s cope with illnesses can help us confront our own health problems. Randomized trial showing how viewing a DVD of other patients’ struggles with blood pressure benefit individuals with uncontrolled hypertension.

David Amsden, The One-Man Drug Company
*Riveting narrative of a prep-school educated drug dealer working in NYC.

William Easterly, Culture Matters
*Interesting new study looking at the relationship between culture and development outcomes.

Jamie Gordon, The 3 C’s Framework For Successful Consumer Anthropology Projects
*Great 3 pieces of advice for those involved in consumer anthropology.

Kathleen Maes, Toward an Applied Anthropology of GIS: Spatial Analysis of Adolescent Childbearing in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, Florida
*Excellent dissertation looking at birth patterns using spatial technology among Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics in two Florida counties.

Ethnografix, More From The Anthropological Soapbox

In many cases, a lot of anthropologists end up doing the equivalent of talking about their cameras far too often, when they need to just go “make some photographs.” The vast majority of the general public isn’t going to care much about insular, jargon-laden, conversations that are really only meant for other anthropologists–just like most people who like good documentary photography don’t necessarily want to hear about the inner workings of the newest $5000 digital camera.

Anthropologists just need to do what they do, do it well, and then communicate their ideas in various settings. More attention to the actual production of media (film, photography, online content, and writing) would probably be a good idea, especially since nobody outside of academia even thinks about reading American Anthropologist.

Cui Yin Mok, Why Isn’t Anthropology More Popular?
*Emotional baggage and other handicaps that are keeping the field of anthropology hidden from the masses. A good discussion over at Open Anthropology.

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