from month 05/2010

Believing Maurice Bloch on doubting, doubting him on believing

My friend Maurice Bloch and I have been arguing since even before we first met in the 70s. What makes it worthwhile is that there is much we agree on, and, once in a while, one of us causes the other to change his mind on some issue. There has been one issue however where I have failed to convince ...

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Why do we make our tastes public?

Facebook has recently changed the way it asks its users to endorse brands and celebrities on the site. Rather than ask people to "become a fan" of say, Starbucks or Lady Gaga, Facebook will instead let users click to indicate that they "like" the item. Facebook already ...

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Alphapsy blog archive

Today, we retro-publish twenty posts from the (soon to be definitely closed) Alphapsy blog, that some contributors to the ICCI blog - mostly Nicolas Baumard, Hugo Mercier, Olivier Morin and Karim N'Diaye - started some years ago. Some of these oldies but goodies include a couple of pieces on ...

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Learning and prestige among chimpanzees

An interesting article by Victoria Horner, Darby Proctor, Kristin Bonnie, Andrew Whiten, Frans de Waal: "Prestige Affects Cultural Learning in Chimpanzees" in PLoS ONE, 2010, 5(5) freely available here. In Group 1, more prestigious model A was trained to deposit tokens into the ...

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Our mini-grant competition: The winners

Here are the winners of the 2010 mini-grant competition organised by the International Cognition and Culture Institute and funded by the Programme in Culture & Cognition at the LSE to encourage anthropologists to perform in the field an experimental study on children’s and adults’ ...

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A deflationary approach to economic games

Forthcoming in PNAS, an important paper by Rolf Kümmerli, Maxwell Burton-Chellew, Adin Ross-Gillespie and Stuart West: “Resistance to extreme strategies, rather thanprosocial preferences, can explain human cooperation in public goods games” (available here) that illustrates ...

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Doubting among the Zafimaniry

In 2003, I organized a series of group discussions on psychological matters - thought, language, memory, dreams, ancestors, etc. - among Zafimaniry villagers, a group of forest dwellers in Madagascar who, for historical reasons, are fairly distinct and relatively isolated from other Malagasy. In ...

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TOC of the Journal of Cognition and Culture

For the Table of Contents of the latest issue of the Journal of Cognition and Culture (Volume 10, Numbers 1-2, 2010),   “The Moral-Conventional Distinction in Mature Moral Competence” by: Huebner, Bryce; Lee, James J.; Hauser, Marc D. “Do Young Children Know What Makes ...

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Overimitation in Kalahari Bushman: Children and the Origins of Human Cultural Cognition

An interesting paper by Mark Nielsen and Keyan Tomaselli “Overimitation in Kalahari Bushman Children and the Origins of Human Cultural Cognition” in Psychological Science,May 2010, 21: 729-736. You will find a freely available version here, and a short presentation of the research with ...

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Do not confound homophily and contagion!

At arXiv.org, a relevant paper by Cosma Shalizi and Andrew C. Thomas “Homophily and Contagion Are Generically Confounded in Observational Social Network Studies”( available here). Abstract: We consider processes on social networks that can potentially involve three phenomena: ...

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camphor – ammonia = anniseed x peppermint

How can we count? Where does our arithmetic capacity come from? A lot of progress has been made on this question, thanks, in no small part, to the work of cognitive scientists like Susan Carey and Stanislas Dehaene. The picture that emerges from this kind of work looks something like this: many ...

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The Moral Life of Babies

In Today's New York Times Magazine, Paul Bloom has a long interesting and easy-read piece (freely available here) on "The Moral Life of Babies" that concludes: "Morality, then, is a synthesis of the biological and the cultural, of the unlearned, the discovered and the invent...

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