Nicolas Baumard

Do chimpanzees really care about equity?

One of the most popular Youtube videos in comparative psychology features capuchins exchanging tokens for food with a human experimenter. It is fascinating to see how outraged the capuchin becomes when realizing that the experimenter is giving her cucumber while she is giving out grapes (much more tasty food) to another capuchin! After watching this video, ...

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‘Big Gods’ book club #5: Remarks on the two puzzles

I like Ara’s way of studying scientific problems very much, weaving together various disciplines from evolutionary modelling to experimental psychology or social anthropology, and I also like the way he tries to solve the questions he raises. However, I am less enthusiastic about the puzzles he ...

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Are humans innately bad social scientists?

I know, this sounds a bit extreme. How can the ability to do (bad) social science be influenced by our genes? Well, quite easily if you carefully read Robert Trivers’ last book (see reviews in NYT Nature, Science). Indeed, his book is about our innate tendency for self-deception. Here is the ...

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Mèng Zǐ (372 – 289 BCE) on the moral organ

This post is part of a series on the 'history of social sciences'. Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday   So far, in this mini-series on the (possibility of a) history of social sciences, I have only discussed the work of a philosopher that is relatively close ...

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Adam Smith (1723-1790) on mirror neurons and empathy

This post is part of a series on the 'history of human sciences'. Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday   OK, I admit. Adam Smith never talked about mirror neurons. So why am I bringing this topic up? Because Smith actually did, in a way, tackle the debate about ...

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Smith (1723-1790) on innateness and cultural variability

  This post is part of a series on the 'history of social sciences'. Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday One of the debates that haunts the social sciences is the debate about what is innate and what is acquired, what is universal and what is variable, or what ...

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Adam Smith (1723-1790) on ultimate and proximate causes in psychology

This post is part of a series on the 'history of social sciences'. Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday   Darwin's theory of evolution allows us to draw a distinction between ultimate causes—the evolutionary pressures that led to the selection of a ...

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Adam Smith (1723 – 1790) on intuitive and reflective processes

This post is part of a series on the 'history of social sciences'. Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Yesterday, I suggested that there was a history of social sciences to be told. A history that would talk about the problems scientists faced and about their solutions. ...

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History of social sciences week!

I’m a big fan of books on the history of science. I like to find out about the whole story: how things got started in Ancient Greece with people disputing traditional views, how it continued during the Renaissance with scientists starting to test their theories experimentally, and on into the ...

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Cultural relativism: Another victim of Arab revolutions?

As we are watching the fall of dictators and the wind of liberty sweeping in the Arab world, we may not have noticed another victim of this “springtime of Arab people”, namely the individualistic/collectivistic divide. In psychology, many scientists have adopted a kind of culturalism ...

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Children as scientists

(Hat Tip to Ed Yong!) At the end of December, Biology letters published a quite unusual paper entitled "Blackawton bees". It contains some very refreshing conclusions such as: "We also discovered that science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done ...

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The evolutionary and cognitive basis of the cultural success of garbage trucks among western toddler

The other day, I was browsing Youtube, looking for toddler's cartoons to entertain my 18 months old boy. I was not very optimistic though: Like many toddlers, my son's attention span rarely exceeds a couple of minutes... My best bet was that he would be interested in cartoons involving ...

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