Blog

Cecilia Heyes on the social tuning of reason

  How are evolution, cognition, and culture interconnected? Cecilia Heyes and I are both interdisciplinary scholars trying to help address this basic issue but we go about it in generally ...

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Sensitivity to shared information in social learning

In July we’re reading Whalen et al. (2017): Sensitivity to shared information in social learning. In the study, three experiments are presented with regard to the source of informants’ ...

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Do apes produce metonymies?

Your friend Olga is coming for a drink. You put two plates on the table, one with olives and the other with almonds. When both plates have been emptied, you ask Olga, “Do you want anything ...

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The sky is falling: negativity bias in social transmission

For June’s edition of the journal club, we’re reading Bebbington et al. (2017): The sky is falling: evidence of a negativity bias in the social transmission of information. The paper ...

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Tilting titling?

Conversation with Jack Goody was never dull. He combined an endless curiosity for ethnographic details with a deep interest in broad anthropological questions. Here is a picture of some of his books (both English originals and French translations) on my shelves, illustrating the variety of his interests. I hope Jack would have enjoyed this post, but it is not related to his work. Notice a peculiar ethnographic detail in the picture? (I would not have paid much attention to it, except as a source of mild annoyance, if it were not for an article in today’s French edition of Slate). The titles in English read from top to bottom, those in French from bottom to top. ...

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Modularity and Recombination in Technological Evolution

In May we read Mathieu Charbonneau's 2016 article, Modularity and Recombination in Technological Evolution. The article is describing a key property of cultural variation, recombination, and its ...

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Random drift and culture change

In April we chose to read Bentley, Hahn and Shennan's paper Random drift and culture change (2004). This very interesting study explains cultural variants on three real-world datasets using a ...

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Iconicity as structure mapping

In March we revisit the subject of iconicity, this time the question of structured mappings between the form and the meaning of the signs in sign language. In her article, Iconicity as structure ...

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Conviction, persuasion and manipulation: the ethical dimension of epistemic vigilance

In today’s political climate moral outrage about (alleged) propaganda and manipulation of public opinion dominate our discourse. Charges of manipulative information provision have arguably become the most widely used tool to discredit one’s political opponent. Of course, one reason for why such charges have become so prominent is that the way we consume information through online media has made us more vulnerable than ever to such manipulation. ...

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Article for February: All forms of writing

Hi everyone! For February we chose to read Greg Downey's critique of Stanislas Dehaene's  2009 book Reading in the Brain. In his article titled All Forms of Writing (Mind & Language 2014), ...

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Article for January: Iconicity and the Emergence of Combinatorial Structure in Language

Our first paper in 2017 is „Iconicity and the Emergence of Combinatorial Structure in Language” by Verhoef, Kirby and de Boer (2016), published in Cognitive Science. They present experimental ...

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Article for December: Population size does not explain past changes in cultural complexity (?)

Dear friends of the Mint’s Journal Club, For the last month of 2016 we decided to read the paper from Krist Vaesen et al. Population size does not explain past changes in cultural complexity. ...

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