Nicolas Baumard’s blog

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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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)

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Video games as applied anthropology

Pursuing its ambitious development, the ICCI blog has decided now to open a "video games" section. And today, we are discussing the release of Civilization V, the last sequel of one of the

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Picture of the week: The colors of the Web

In a recent post, Ophelia wondered about the basis of people's colours preference: Which colour do you prefer ? Have you always preferred it, or did your preference change ? Can you tell why you

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Philippa Foot, Famous Philosopher, Unknown Anthropologist (1920-2010)

Philippa Foot died at her home in Oxford, England, on Oct. 3, her 90th birthday (see the NYT here and the Guardian here, and note the difference). In her career, she defended the view that moral

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Picture of the week: How segregated is your city?

One of the tools that may change our view of culture is modelization. It helps us understand big phenomena such as language change or the dynamics of hot topics. One of the first and the most

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What if there had never been a Cognitive Revolution?

In a previous post, I questioned the relevance of the label “Cognition and Culture” for our institute. Why not ‘Cognition and Society’ instead? Choosing ‘culture’

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Homeopathy as witchcraft

The British Medical Association's annual conference of junior doctors has declared that homeopathy is witchcraft. They have voted a blanket ban and an end to all placements teaching homeopathic

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Why do academics oppose capitalism?

A few weeks ago, Megan McArdle, the business and economics editor for The Atlantic, wondered why Academia treats its workforce so badly. Academia has bifurcated into two classes: tenured profess

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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

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Is there a language instinct?

Chomsky's theory has played a pivotal role in the cognitive revolution and is often seen as one of the pillar of cognitive sciences, especially in the cognition and culture field. It is therefore

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Are variations in economic games really caused by culture?

Last month, Science published an research article by Joe Henrich et al. showing that market integration and participation in world religion covary with fairness ('Markets, Religion, Community

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On the Use of Natural Experiments in Anthropology

Controlled and replicated laboratory experiment, in which an experimenter directly manipulates variables, is often considered the hallmark of the scientific method. It is virtually the only method

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Cultural differences and linguistic justice

Franz de Waal just wrote an interesting post at 3 Quarks Daily. He is currently in Japan to promote his latest book The Age of Empathy and he writes about cultural differences among scientists:

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Better live in Sweden than in the US: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better

Let's talk about politics for once. It is common knowledge that in rich societies the poor have shorter lives and suffer more from almost every social problem. In a quite fascinating book, The

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Altruistic adoption in chimpanzees?

In the last decade, extended altruism towards unrelated group members has been proposed to be a unique characteristic of human societies. Experimental studies on captive chimpanzees have shown, on

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