Michael Meadon

8 posts · 7,086 views

I'm a graduate student in cognitive science at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban, South Africa. I blog about evolutionary psychology, scientific skepticism, psychology, primatology, cognitive science, neuroscience, biology and whatever other academic topics strikes my fancy.

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  • July 24, 2010
  • 12:09 PM
  • 958 views

Are most experimental subjects in behavioral science WEIRD?

by Michael Meadon in Ionian Enchantment

My supervisor David Spurrett and I have a commentary on an important paper - "The weirdest people in the world?" (pdf) - in the most recent edition of Behavioral & Brain Sciences. The authors, Canadian psychologists Joseph Henrich, Steven Heine and Ara Norenzayan, argues that most experimental subjects in the behavioral sciences are WEIRD - Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic - and thus weird - not representative of most human beings. And thi........ Read more »

Henrich, J., Heine, S., & Norenzayan, A. (2010) The weirdest people in the world?. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(2-3), 61-83. DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X0999152X  

  • November 12, 2009
  • 05:50 AM
  • 914 views

Adaptations for the visual assessment of formadibility: Part II

by Michael Meadon in Ionian Enchantment

In Part I of this series, I summarized the experiments and findings of Aaron Sell and colleagues' paper "Human adaptations for the visual assessment of strength and fighting ability from the body and face". In Part II, I evaluate their claims.

This evidence Sell et. al. present seems compelling with regards to proposition (i): adults appear to be able to make remarkably accurate estimates of upper-body strength from even degraded cues such as static images of faces. As I noted in Part I, howeve........ Read more »

Sell, A., Cosmides, L., Tooby, J., Sznycer, D., von Rueden, C., & Gurven, M. (2009) Human adaptations for the visual assessment of strength and fighting ability from the body and face. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276(1656), 575-584. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1177  

  • November 10, 2009
  • 06:12 AM
  • 835 views

Adaptations for the visual assessment of formidability: Part I

by Michael Meadon in Ionian Enchantment

In the last couple of years there has been an explosion in research on faces and what can be inferred from them. It turns out, for example, that you can predict electoral outcomes from rapid and unreflective facial judgments, that women can (partially) determine a man's level of interest in infants from his face alone, that the facial expression of fear enhances sensory acquisition, and much, much else. A particularly interesting addition to this literature is Aaron Sell et. al.'s pape........ Read more »

Sell, A., Cosmides, L., Tooby, J., Sznycer, D., von Rueden, C., & Gurven, M. (2009) Human adaptations for the visual assessment of strength and fighting ability from the body and face. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276(1656), 575-584. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1177  

  • September 8, 2009
  • 04:51 AM
  • 1,054 views

Chameleons DO change their color to blend in with their environment

by Michael Meadon in Ionian Enchantment

For reasons that are not to hard to fathom, myths about chameleons abound. The Victorians thought they lived entirely on air; a common Zulu superstition is that they're evil (as I confirmed for myself a while back when I tried to show a chameleon I had caught to our gardener); and, more recently, I've been hearing a lot of people say chameleon color changing has nothing to do with camouflage. Even Cracked has got in on the act with an article on "bullshit animals facts",........ Read more »

  • September 2, 2009
  • 03:50 PM
  • 943 views

Silver fox domestication

by Michael Meadon in Ionian Enchantment

I recently linked to an extract from Richard Dawkins’ new book in which he mentions a fascinating long-term experiment on silver foxes. The short version: starting in the late 1950s, the Russian geneticist Dmitry Belyaev selectively bred a population of silver foxes for tameness, and, surprisingly, they acquired a dog-like morphology as a by-product (floppy ears, turned-up tails, and so on). In other words, determining which foxes got to breed based solely on how tame and friendly they wer........ Read more »

  • September 1, 2009
  • 04:55 AM
  • 547 views

Fun with a local homeopath

by Michael Meadon in Ionian Enchantment

Note: Prinsloo has edited his website in light of our criticisms, but the version of his site that I responded to is still available on Google cache. 

A Pretoria-based homeopath, one Dr. JP Prinsloo, has taken on some local skeptics, including Owen and Angela. I'll have more to say about him in the next while, but for the moment I want to do three things: point to Owen's superb (and damn funny) response, address one of Prinsloo's arguments and demonstrate he misinterprets the medical literat........ Read more »

  • August 19, 2009
  • 08:57 AM
  • 556 views

Fun with Sex

by Michael Meadon in Ionian Enchantment

One important factor that drove the evolution of psychological sexual dimorphism is the difference in the minimum obligatory parental investment between the sexes. (This is the great insight of Trivers, 1972). Men, as the rather coarse saying has it, ‘can leave a bed unmade’. ... Read more »

Robert Trivers. (1972) Parental investment and sexual selection. Sexual selection and the descent of man. info:/

  • November 30, 2007
  • 04:08 PM
  • 1,279 views

Your brain on politics: the bad and the better

by Michael Meadon in Ionian Enchantment

... Read more »

David Amodio, John T Jost, Sarah L Master, & Cindy M Yee. (2007) Neurocognitive correlates of liberalism and conservatism. Nature Neuroscience, 1246-1247. DOI: 10.1038/nn1979  

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