Thom Scott-Phillips

How human are the dehumanised?

One of Theodore De Bry's illustrations for Bartolome de Las Casas' Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies

Developmental psychologist Paul Bloom recently published an article in The New Yorker about dehumanisation. He argued – drawing on research from many subfields in philosophy, psychology, anthropology and sociology – that the way we often think about things like slavery, genocide and misogyny is in some respects upside down. The problem isn’t that people sometimes see others as not human, it’s that they see others as very human indeed – with all that that entails....

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An important contribution – but not an amendment – to cultural epidemiology

In his excellent book, Wengrow argues that animal composites spread because of both cognitive and social-historical factors. The cognitive factors include human preferences for minimally counterintuitive images, and the way in which these composite images are especially well fit to the mode of ...

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Reflections on the Speaking Our Minds book club

I can say without reservation or qualification that the Speaking Our Minds (SOM) book club was the single most challenging and rewarding intellectual experience of my career to date. Every day for two weeks some very bright and engaged people posted extensive comments on my work, and initiated many ...

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A précis of ‘Speaking Our Minds’

Communication and language have always been key topics for research at the interface of cognition and culture. Rightly so, given the central role that linguistic communication plays in human social and cultural life. In fact, communication and language are doubly important, since they occupy both ...

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