Wednesday Round Up #159

Timothy Snyder, War No More
*An important critical read of Steven Pinker’s overall argument in his recent book, The Better Angels of Our Nature. Particularly convincing both on the role of the modern state in shaping behavior, and on the ways that Pinker’s ideological commitments shape his rhetoric.

Arek Stopczynski, Smartphone Brain Scanner
*The title sounds too good to be true, I know! But it’s published research. If it plays out to its potential, it could be a really useful addition to the neuroanthropologists’ methods toolbox.

We demonstrate a fully functional smartphone brain scanner consisting of a low-cost 14-channel EEG headset with a wireless connection to a smartphone (Nokia N900), enabling minimally invasive EEG monitoring in naturalistic settings. The smartphone provides a touch-based interface with real-time brain state decoding and 3D reconstruction.

Connie Cummings, Call for Proposals – From NeuroSelves to NeuroSocieties: Cross-Disciplinary Conversations Around the Neurosciences
*Looks like a fascinating small-scale 2012 conference. With funding!

Mo Costandi, Doctors Diagnose Diseases as if Recognising Objects
*Fascinating new neuroimaging research, which could offer a lot of potential to integrate with medical anthropology that focuses on doctor’s reasoning and cognition

David Dobbs, Do We Need New Traits to Live Within Limits? Revkin Asks. Lopez Responds, from 1986.
*A meditation on Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams, a “luminous, lasting book” and the lessons it has for “falling forward” in an age marked by increasing limits on resources like water and continued excesses by ourselves

Alix Spiegel, What Vietnam Taught Us About Breaking Bad Habits
*NPR’s coverage of one of the great underappreciated research stories about drug use, natural recovery, and war. Ninety-five percent of US soldiers who were addicted to heroin did not keep using heroin after their return from Vietnam.

To battle bad behaviors then, one answer, Neal and Wood say, is to disrupt the environment in some way. Even small change can help — like eating the ice cream with your non-dominant hand. What this does is alter the action sequence and disrupts the learned body sequence that’s driving the behavior, which allows your conscious mind to come back online and reassert control.

Stephen Casper, Neuro-Reality Check: Brief Replies to Contentious Claims
*Neuro Times delivers the goods in the form of warnings that I hope many neuroanthropology carefully consider. Here is one taste:

Do neuro-prefixed fields amount to disciplines? Foucault suggested in Discipline and Punishment that “The disciplines characterize, classify, specialize; they distribute along a scale, around a norm, hierarchize individuals in relation to one another and, if necessary, disqualify and invalidate.” (Foucault p. 223). Judged in post-structural terms, it is clear that the motivation of these domains might well accord with Foucault’s views, but structurally the fields to not yet rise to the level of seriousness.

Antonio Casilli, What’s Holding Back Digital Sociology?
*Over on Body, Space, Society, a post that builds on a new special issue on Fast Capitalism on “Academia in the Internet Age”

Academic blogging must not be understood as the end of peer-reviewed publications either. On the contrary, the complex interplay between the business of academic publishing and crowdsourced/open publishing makes things all the more complicated for today’s academic labourers.

The proliferation of online tools represents a methodological and epistemological shift as well, although not all disciplines are concerned in the same way – or adapt at the same pace. One important issue raised by Daniels and Feagin is why there is no such thing as Digital Sociology (while, on the contrary there is Digital Humanities).

Doug Medin, The Cultural Construction of Culture and Nature
*Interesting talk hosted over at the International Culture and Cognition Institute; the talk series, complete with video of Medin speaking about cultural reasoning about the natural world, is part of the London School of Economics’ series The Study of Cognition and Culture Today

Edge, Infinite Stupidity: A Talk with Mark Pagel
*A long time ago Mark Pagel gave me advice on the construction and statistical analysis of a questionnaire on human behavior. I really enjoyed reading this interview with him at Edge speaking on evolution and innovation. His new book, Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind, comes out in February and looks really good:

A unique trait of the human species is that our personalities, lifestyles, and worldviews are shaped by an accident of birth—namely, the culture into which we are born. It is our cultures and not our genes that determine which foods we eat, which languages we speak, which people we love and marry, and which people we kill in war. But how did our species develop a mind that is hardwired for culture—and why? Evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel tracks this intriguing question through the last 80,000 years of human evolution.

Marc and Angel, 12 Dozen Places To Educate Yourself Online For Free
*That’s right, TWELVE DOZEN, and split into handy fields.

Christian Jarrett, Is It Time to Rethink the Way University Lectures Are Delivered?
*It’s from back in June at the BPS Research Digest, but I just found it now.

A more interactive, discussion- and quiz-based style of university teaching brings dramatic benefits to science learning, according to a new study.

Charles Gross, Disgrace: On Marc Hauser
*A comprehensive analysis of Hauser’s scientific misconduct that appears in The Nation

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One Response to Wednesday Round Up #159

  1. Doug says:

    Thank you for the wed. roundup. I am a huge fan of these posts as you all always post such intresting stuff that I don’t usually stumble upon.

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