I’m more or less officially coming back to tumblr after my sabbatical. I’ve actually been avoiding all scientific news, particularly of psychological or anthropological interest because I knew it would tempt me to blog about it.
Imagine my surprise, then, to see that
one ofmy favorite professor sfrom college is now blogging at 13.7, NPRs science and culture blog. Here’s one of her recent posts, which is awesome and describes new research in which anthropologists sleuthed their way into discovering that certain finger-paintings on cave walls were done by children. They even think that the majority of the finger flutings were done by one specific five year old girl. How fascinating!
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This is awesome.
Recently, my parents decided to get Genetic testing on their heritage, which I was of course all for. I am very interested in genetic Anthropology and my own (poorly documented) family history.
Up until now, we were all pretty convinced that my whole family was mostly Irish and Scottish and little German. This has been proven to be very, very wrong.
Not only is there absolutely NO Irish or Scottish in either my Father or my Mother’s bloodline, but it’s pretty clear that the family we thought came from Ireland just a few generations back only spend a short while there After changing their names from Bolander to Boland and fleeing Berlin.
For those following along at home, Bolander is a German Jewish name, and Boland is an Irish name.
My mother’s family went to Ireland, shortened their name, and passed as Irish Catholic. Her DNA is undeniably Ashkenazi Jew, the ethnicity of Jewish people who came from Turkey and settled in Germany. There’s really no way around it.
I woke up one morning, thinking I was Any Irish-blooded American Girl to be told that I am, in fact, Jewish.
Genetics are funny things.
That’s the fun thing about genetics, sometimes they can completely change your world.
But don’t forget that culturally you can belong to where ever you feel you fit in. You have lived your whole life so far identifying Irish that doesn’t have to change just because your genetics are different. A good example of this is identifying American. I certainly do but I’m not sure I have any native genetics. Its just that my culture is in the US and its located on North America. You can still where those “kiss me I’m Irish” shirts if you’d like. But what’s neat about this is you’re now a Jew too. You just became more connected to the world which is exciting. I want to get my genetics mapped too. I would love to know what else I’m connected with other than culture alone.
Human beings are unique. You are not mere animals. People are special.
We tend to (correctly) identify
- “second-order desires”
- “complex written language”
- “theory of mind”
and other characteristics as categorically distinguishing homo sapiens from all other species.
Those things make us human.
True, but that obscures the fact that we humans are also incredible animals by non-human animal standards. We are natural superpredators. In contemporary societies populated more and more by overweight, sedentary, aging dullards… it’s especially easy to miss this. So let’s quickly go over how badass we are.
Man: No other animal can swim a mile, walk twenty miles, and then climb forty feet up a tree. Many civilized men can do this without much difficulty.
J.B.S. Haldane (evolutionary biologist). In “The Argument from Animals to Men,” Journal of the Royal Institute of Anthropology, 1956.
Picture elite athletes. They are closer to what we humans have been physically like for most of our existence as a species - hunters living off big game in the wild. No other species exhibits the range of physical ability that we do. Think marathon runners, sprinters, power lifters, gymnasts, acrobats, swimmers, etc. Endurance, agility, strength, precision. Native Americans, for example, used to hunt deer simply by outpacing the animal and tackling it to the ground.
Add to this picture our unique ability to coordinate ourselves as a team, to learn and communicate complex information about the future, and to fashion tools. Now hopefully you get an impression of what we really are. Hell, we likely hunted megafauna to extinction on three continents with just spears and rocks.
Surrounded by suburbs and sedentism, don’t forget this: deep down, fundamentally, naturally, you are a highly-evolved predator.
We are superior animals. Us, fuck yeah.
HAHAHA GO TEAM HUMAN!!!!!!
Freedom is a concept that has meaning only in a subjective sense. A person who is in complete harmony with his culture feels free.
Yes it seems feeling something has as great an impact as having something. Reality is without emotion. It doesn’t care if we like it. It is what it is and nothing more.
pretty women make men simple.
A spate of recent studies suggests that beautiful women can indeed provoke dangerous outcomes unintentionally, because they induce men to take risks, make mistakes, gamble more freely, and generally behave impulsively. In one study reported by Richard Ronay and Bill von Hippel, skateboarders at a skate park in Brisbane, Australia, performed riskier tricks when an attractive female stood nearby. The good news is that they performed more successful tricks than men who were not skating in the presence of a beautiful female, but the bad news is that they didn’t know when to quit; they aborted fewer ill-advised tricks midway through, and failed to complete tricks successfully more often than skaters who weren’t observed by an attractive female. (The authors knew the woman was attractive in part because some of the skaters asked for her phone number.)
Perhaps skaters are risk-taking by nature, so it’s not surprising that they can be coaxed to behave like extreme versions of themselves. But if skaters are risk-taking, there can be no more calculating pursuit than chess. Yet, male chess players show the same penchant for beauty-induced risk-taking. Swedish researchers Anna Dreber, Christer Gerdes, and Patrik Gransmark examined the chess moves of 626 male chess experts. Using both real games, and online surveys, the researchers found that the male chess experts made significantly riskier moves when their opponent was a beautiful woman. This result is particularly striking, because it shows that chess experts—arch rationalists if they exist at all—are prone to the same biological weakness as the rest of the male population.
posted in psychology today
I think the research isn’t complete until we can know whether this is an enculturated behavior or biological. I know males respond to females in certain ways because of hormones and other biological factors, but I think the data could show a stronger correlation if it branched out to more cultural predispositions. The article gave the impression of only looking at mainstream western culture. We place a heavy weight on physical attractiveness in women and this most likely has a strong effect on the data. Not that I disagree with the findings I only question the source of the behavior, at least in part.
Language is the most important tool that humans ever developed. It allows us to collate and categorize information to make sense of our world, and it allows us to pass on that information to succeeding generations. But language differs around the world – not only in the words used to describe something, but in the number of words used to describe something. That is, the words used by a group of people generally reflect the interests and concerns of those people – so people in cold climates have a larger range of words for cold-weather phenomena than do people living in warm climates, who may have a larger range of words related to their own environment.
This means that language can also differ along gender lines. In a paper that is often assigned in introductory anthropology courses, Daniel Maltz and Ruth Borker discuss the reasons for “male-female miscommunication.” Rather than looking to psychological differences between the sexes to explain differences in communication styles, Maltz and Borker think we should be discussing sociolinguistic subcultures, or the culturally-influenced differences between men’s and women’s approaches to communication. They suggest that women tend to use language to negotiate and express relationships; we tend to use a lot of personal and inclusive pronouns, interject questions and comments in order to show interest; and we are concerned with making segues between topics. On the other hand, jokes and stories are highly valued in men’s speech; loud and aggressive speech is common; and put-downs and insults are normal ways of talking with friends.
What about actual gendered words and phrases? Sure, English, like many languages, has masculine and feminine pronouns, as well as gendered nouns for various relationships and occupations. But we also have more subtly gendered vocabulary, as illustrated in the quote above: we praise our strong boys and our pretty girls. Two researchers at the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences at the University of Trento (Italy) recently decided to empirically test the question of whether there is a gender bias in what women and men talk about. Their goal was not anthropological, but rather computational - to find a way to model “common sense knowledge” as part of the eventual perfection of artificial intelligence (Herdağdelen & Baroni 2011):
By answering study questions by writing them Tumblr helps me study. So here is some questions on my study guild for ANTH 5.
1) What different about applied anthropology?
Applied anthropology focuses on using theory to work out solutions to problems. It puts the knowledge to use in real life situations. An applied anthropologist will use the methods of academia to study a culture or subculture and then apply the information to accomplish a goal.
2) List some fields an applied anthropologist might work in.
Agriculture, Medicine, Architecture, Business, Education, Environmental, legal, Public Relations, Politics.
3) During WWII what roles did anthropologists fill?
They studied our troops to try and improve morale. They also studied our enemies and allies. For example they studied why Japanese would rather kill themselves than be captured. They studied food preferences in order to better distribute supplies and keep soldiers well fed and in higher morale.
4) What does cultural relativism foster?
It tends to foster tolerance. It is especially useful when working with diverse populations. To solve problems within complex groups you must first understand how each culture will respond to the problem and it’s possible solutions.
5) What happened during the Nestle Baby Formula fiasco?
Many babies in poorer countries died or were malnourished. The mothers were given free formula and told it was better for them. The problem was that they couldn’t afford to keep buying it after the free formula ran out so they rationed it, and there wasn’t enough clean water to use to make the formula safe for the weak immune system of infants. Their babies weren’t getting enough nourishment to keep them healthy, and once you stop breast feeding the mother stops producing milk. Nestle wanted a new market but ended up harming people because they were careless.
6) What happened when Christian missionaries insisted that small scale societies give up Polygyny?
Polygynous societies tend to have a prolonged postpartum abstinence and therefore each woman had fewer children and a lower child mortality rate. The forced monogamy caused a higher birth rate per woman and greater child mortality among them as well. Population growth occurs and the environment the society was adapted too can no longer support the number of people. It is part of the cause of famine and poverty in these societies and increases the need for abortions. While monogamy isn’t wrong in certain areas of the world with less access to sexual education and contraceptives it can cause problems that polygyny does not.