from month 06/2009

Daniel Nettle on cultural variation as an evolved characteristic

In the JRAI (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute) Volume 15 Issue 2 (June 2009), an interesting article by Daniel Nettle entitled: "Beyond nature versus culture: cultural variation as an evolved characteristic" Abstract: There is a perceived dichotomy between evolutio...

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Wine in mind

Two new websites dedicated to the psychology and philosophy of wine are born this month ! Wine Psych is the creation of psychologist and wine consultant Miles Thomas. Wine Mind is the brainchild of our fellow cognitionandculture blogger Ophelia Deroy, and philosopher Barry Smith. Both websites will ...

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Inverse correlation between norms and behaviour?

We know, of course, that people don't strictly abide by the norms they publicly express: the flesh is weak, and so on, but, from an anthropological point of view, it would be surprising to see a complete disconnect between norms and behaviour. Even more surprising would be to see a reverse ...

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Abstract numbers: Culture or innate core knowledge?

"Do abstract numerical concepts depend on language or culture, or do they form a part of humans' innate, core knowledge?" ask Véronique Izard, Coralie Sann, Elizabeth Spelke and Arlette Streri in "Newborn infants perceive abstract numbers" (PNAS June 23, 2009 vol. 106 ...

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David Sloane Wilson on Evolutionary Psychology

A rich and interesting contribution of David Sloane Wilson to the debate on the image of evolutionary psychology (see here) under the title "Evolutionary psychology and the public media: Rekindling the romance" in the Huffington Post.  

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Evolutionary psychology under attack

Since yesterday, a new thread of email exchanges is circulating among evolutionary psychologists under the title "Newsweek attack on evolutionary psychology." Geoffrey Miller informs us: "Journalist Sharon Begley is publishing a long, very negative, rather muddled attack on evoluti...

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Interviews with psychologists at Edge.org

In the past few days, Edge.org has posted two interviews of cognition-and-culture interest: - With Lera Boroditsky on "How does our language shape the way we think?" She says: "For a long time, the idea that language might shape thought was considered at best untestable and ...

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Demography and the Appearance of Modern Human Behavior

In Science, 5 June 2009 (Vol. 324. no. 5932, pp. 1298 - 1301) "Late Pleistocene Demography and the Appearance of Modern Human Behavior" by Adam Powell, Stephen Shennan, Mark G. Thomas Here is the UCL press release: Increasing population density, rather than boosts in human brain ...

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In memoriam: Nicola Knight

We mourn Nicola Knight who died this Tuesday, June 9, at the age of 33, from a heart attack. He was an active member of this Institute, a friend, a colleague, and a former student of many of us. The day before his death, he sent a new post for this blog, which we publish below. Nicola was ...

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How to bother a pigeon

My study at home overlooks a small garden and I have been making some very informal and un-Darwin-like observations of the behaviour of birds that have got me thinking about how minor harms are cognized by non-human animals. Let me give an illustration of the kind of behaviour I am thinking of. ...

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Anthropology in crisis – what, still?

Fifteen years ago, Anna Grimshaw and Keith Hart declared that "anthropology has been in crisis for as long as anyone can remember" (here). Has anything really changed? Today, anthropology remains a discipline riddled with rival paradigms, ferocious disputes, and fleeting fashions. Few ...

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The evolution of laughter

Forthcoming in Current Biology: "Reconstructing the Evolution of Laughter in Great Apes and Humans" by Marina Davila Ross, Michael J Owren, & Elke Zimmermann Summary: Human emotional expressions, such as laughter, are argued to have their origins in ancestral nonhuman ...

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