Some Language-on-the-Movers based here in Sydney had the opportunity to attend Professor Masaki Oda’s lecture about the current state of the English language in Japan yesterday. With major Japanese companies announcing a switch to English as their official company language … Continue reading →... Read more »
Park, Joseph S.-Y. (2009) The local construction of a global language: ideologies of English in South Korea . Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. DOI: 10.1515/9783110214079
It is well established among those who carry out, analyze, and report pre-employment performance testing that slope-based bias in those tests is rare. Why is this important? Look at the following three graphs from a recent study by Aguinis, Culpepper and Pierce (2010):
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Aguinis, H., Culpepper, S., & Pierce, C. (2010) Revival of test bias research in preemployment testing. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(4), 648-680. DOI: 10.1037/a0018714
What Makes Humans Unique (IV): Shared Intentionality – The Foundation of Human Uniqueness? Shared or collective intentionality is the ability and motivation to engage with others in collaborative, co-operative activities with joint goals and intentions. (Tomasello et al. 2005). The term also implies that the collaborators’ psychological processes are jointly directed at something and take place within a joint attentional frame (Hurford 2007: 320, Tomasello et al. 2005).
Michael Tomasello and his colleagues at the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany have proposed that shared intentionality and the cognitive infrastructure supporting it may be the crucial feature that makes humans unique.
→ Read More: What Makes Humans Unique ?(IV): Shared Intentionality – The Foundation of Human Uniqueness?... Read more »
Herrmann, E., & Tomasello, M. (2006) Apes' and children's understanding of cooperative and competitive motives in a communicative situation. Developmental Science, 9(5), 518-529. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2006.00519.x
Moll, H., & Tomasello, M. (2007) Cooperation and human cognition: the Vygotskian intelligence hypothesis. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 362(1480), 639-648. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2006.2000
Moll, H., Richter, N., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2008) Fourteen-Month-Olds Know What "We" Have Shared in a Special Way. Infancy, 13(1), 90-101. DOI: 10.1080/15250000701779402
Tomasello, M., Carpenter, M., Call, J., Behne, T., & Moll, H. (2005) Understanding and sharing intentions: The origins of cultural cognition. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28(05). DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X05000129
Warneken, F. (2006) Altruistic Helping in Human Infants and Young Chimpanzees. Science, 311(5765), 1301-1303. DOI: 10.1126/science.1121448
Lately, I’ve been a little stressed. Long hours in the lab and moving into a new apartment have created the perfect storm for “treating myself” to restaurant food, served with a side of inactivity and sloth. As I sit here at my desk, chowing down on crackers and reading the latest issue of the PNAS, [...]... Read more »
Pontzer, H., Raichlen, D., Shumaker, R., Ocobock, C., & Wich, S. (2010) Metabolic adaptation for low energy throughput in orangutans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1001031107
How do you persuade people to eat less and exercise more? We love to think it's a matter of getting them to see facts and make good decisions, because that implies that people are thoughtful and that their choices matter. But this paper, published online yesterday by the Journal of Adolescent Health, points to a more humble solution: Ignore people's thoughts and feelings, and just move the food further away.
Why don't we have more policies like that? I think it's because we're emotionally attached to a bankrupt theory of behavior. "Rational economic man" lies to us about human nature. But it's a flattering lie, and we cling to it. Behavioral research says that even in important decisions, we're unaware of our own motives, indifferent to facts, and governed by a mix of trivial accidents and psychic rules we don't know we are following. Rational economic man says we're self-aware, informed, consistent and logical—cool appraisers of our own best interests. Who wouldn't rather hear that?
Trouble is, self-flattery is the enemy of self-management: If you think you can quit smoking by deciding to, or that you'll stick to a diet just because you're clear on the benefits of weight loss, then you won't recognize, or cope with, the effects of advertising, marketing, social networks and other irrational forces. If you imagine that your behavior is decided by the complicated to-ing and fro-ing of your conscious mind, you will feel important, for sure. But—as Alcoholics Anonymous and other addiction programs have long maintained—you'll have more success changing yourself if you admit you're simpler, dumber and less complex than your conscious mind wants to believe.
The new paper I mentioned is a case in point. It suggests a very simple and quite unflattering method for preventing weight gain in college freshmen: Just don't put a cafeteria in their dorm.
Kandice Kapinos and Olga Yakusheva tracked 388 first-year students at Marquette University in Wisconsin. In four of the seven different dormitories in which they were living, there was a dining hall that served three meals a day. Students in the other three had to go outside to eat. Over the course of their freshman year, men in the dining-hall equipped dorms ate an average of one and a half meals more each week than did their counterparts in the foodless dorms, and averaged almost three more snacks per week too. Women in the dormitories with food service ended the year weighing nearly two pounds more, on average, than their peers in the other buildings. They also exercised less.
If you dismiss this data as obvious or trivial, you have, I think, fallen for the flattering wiles of rational economic man. He invites you to think obesity is a problem to be combatted with facts and figures; that dignified, autonomous individuals need to be persuaded to lay off the cookies and get to the gym. How undignified and dull, by contrast, is the thought that people's thoughts and convictions can be ignored—that you can help them avoid obesity just be putting the food outside. Yet in this case, at least, flattering ourselves less might help us control ourselves more.
Kapinos, K., & Yakusheva, O. (2010). Environmental Influences on Young Adult Weight Gain: Evidence From a Natural Experiment Journal of Adolescent Health DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.05.021... Read more »
Kapinos, K., & Yakusheva, O. (2010) Environmental Influences on Young Adult Weight Gain: Evidence From a Natural Experiment. Journal of Adolescent Health. DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.05.021
An anthropologist's take on the current AJOG article and Lancet editorial on home birth and infant mortality... Read more »
Wax, J., Lucas, F., Lamont, M., Pinette, M., Cartin, A., & Blackstone, J. (2010) Maternal and newborn outcomes in planned home birth vs planned hospital births: a metaanalysis. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2010.05.028
One important line of evidence in understanding the climatic history of Chaco Canyon, a subject of considerable interest given the harsh aridity of the current climate and the incongruous grandeur of the archaeological remains, has been the study of packrat middens. These are collections made by packrats of materials found near their nesting locations, which [...]... Read more »
Hall, Stephen A. (2010) Early maize pollen from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, USA. Palynology, 34(1), 125-137. info:/10.1080/01916121003675746
The social networking market research site Inside Facebook has some intriguing language stats. In July, the fastest-growing languages on Facebook were Portuguese, Arabic, Spanish and French. The Portuguese growth rate was a staggering 11.8%. Arabic grew by 9.2%, Spanish by … Continue reading →... Read more »
Otsuji, E., & Pennycook, A. (2010) Metrolingualism: fixity, fluidity and language in flux. International Journal of Multilingualism, 7(3), 240-254. DOI: 10.1080/14790710903414331
The anopheles mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, is the primary vector for human malaria. Mosquitoes in general, the A. gambiae included, find their prey by tracking body odor exuded from the breath and skin. Apparently, the composition of body odor determines A. gambiae's preference for one individual over another. It has been known for some time now that A. gambiae preferentially seek out and draw blood from pregnant women (Linsay et al 2000; Ansell et al 2002; Himeidan, Elbashir and Adam 2004), preferring pregnant over none pregnant women at about a 2:1 ratio.
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Lefèvre, T., Gouagna, L., Dabiré, K., Elguero, E., Fontenille, D., Renaud, F., Costantini, C., & Thomas, F. (2010) Beer Consumption Increases Human Attractiveness to Malaria Mosquitoes. PLoS ONE, 5(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009546
PLoS One has a paper out on Korean (South) population genetics and phylogeography, Gene Flow between the Korean Peninsula and Its Neighboring Countries:
SNP markers provide the primary data for population structure analysis. In this study, we employed whole-genome autosomal SNPs as a marker set (54,836 SNP markers) and tested their possible effects on genetic ancestry [...]... Read more »
Jung J0, Kang H, Cho YS, Oh JH, & Ryu MH. (2010) Gene Flow between the Korean Peninsula and Its Neighboring Countries. PLoS ONE. info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0011855
Just by looking at its limbs, you can tell that a cheetah is born to run. Not only does this felid have non-retractable claws which act like cleats on a runner's shoe - a unique feature among big cats - but it also has the familiar tip-toe limb posture which allows the carnivore to reach [...]... Read more »
Patel, B. (2009) Not so fast: Speed effects on forelimb kinematics in cercopithecine monkeys and implications for digitigrade postures in primates. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 140(1), 92-112. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21039
In my last post I summed up some proposals for what (among other things) makes human cognition unique. But one thing that we should bear in mind, I think, is that our cognitive style may more be something of an idiosyncrasy due to a highly specific cognitive specialization instead of a definitive quantitative and qualitative advance over other styles of animal cognition. In this post I will look at studies which further point in that direction.... Read more »
Hare, B., Plyusnina, I., Ignacio, N., Schepina, O., Stepika, A., Wrangham, R., & Trut, L. (2005) Social Cognitive Evolution in Captive Foxes Is a Correlated By-Product of Experimental Domestication. Current Biology, 15(3), 226-230. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2005.01.040
Herrmann, E., Call, J., Hernandez-Lloreda, M., Hare, B., & Tomasello, M. (2007) Humans Have Evolved Specialized Skills of Social Cognition: The Cultural Intelligence Hypothesis. Science, 317(5843), 1360-1366. DOI: 10.1126/science.1146282
Today's post is the last in a three-part series on coffee. Monday's post investigated how coffee came to be such an integral part of everyday life. Wednesday's post provided a history of the coffee bean's travels around the globe. And today's discussion considers the social place of coffee in our lives. Be sure to go back and read the others if you've missed them!_________________________________
... Read more »
Ryan L, Hatfield C, & Hofstetter M. (2002) Caffeine reduces time-of-day effects on memory performance in older adults. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 13(1), 68-71. PMID: 11892781
Sexton, R. (2001) Ritualized Inebriation, Violence, and Social Control in Cajun Mardi Gras. Anthropological Quarterly, 74(1), 28-38. DOI: 10.1353/anq.2001.0010
Voters in the 2008 Presidential election didn't have a meaningful choice. Whichever box they ticked, they were voting for a lefty.Yes, Obama and McCain are both sinistral, a rather unlikely occurrence since just 7-10% of adults are left handed. Netherlands-based neuroscientists Casasanto and Jasmin decided to make use of this coincidence to test the hypothesis that people tend to make "good" gestures with their dominant hand and "bad" ones with their off-hand, in a new PLoS paper: Good and Bad in the Hands of Politicians.They analyzed the final televised debates from the '04 and '08 elections, in which the candidates discussed various topics, both positive i.e. their own policies, and negative i.e. their opponent's Vietnam War records, choice of running-mate, and association with dodgy preachers. They also examined the gestures that the speakers made to accompany their positive or negative points, and recorded which hand they used. George W. Bush and John Kerry are both right-handed, by the way.Here's what they found:Both lefty candidates tended to use their left hands for good gestures and their right hands for bad ones, while the right-handed showed the opposite pattern. The data also reveal some interesting facts about the overall number of gestures: Obama had a hands-off approach with only 119 gestures in total, while McCain was gesticulating all over the shop (259). Bush and Kerry, however, were essentially equal (192 vs 193). Maybe Kerry's one extra gesture was just one too many for the electorate, thus costing him the Presidency.Anyway, does this prove that we use our dominant hands to make "good" gestures - supporting the notion that we unconsciously associate positive ideas with our dominant side of space, and negative ideas with our non-dominant side? Well, this study includes a large amount of data: it is, statistically, very likely that Obama really does tend to use his left hand over his right hand for positive gestures, i.e. this is unlikely to be due to random chance.But does this mean that there's a correlation between handedness and good-gesture-lateralization? We actually only have 4 data points relevant to that question: Obama, McCain, Kerry and Bush. We have a lot of information on each of those people, but there are only 4 independent sets of data.Suppose that everyone has a hand-they-use-for-good-gestures, and that it's 50/50 whether it's left or right - that is to say, suppose it has nothing to do with your general handedness. Clearly, there's then a 50% chance that any given person's good-gesture-hand will match their handedness, just by coincidence. There's a 1 in 4 chance that, for any two people, both will have a match; it's 1 in 8 for three people and 1 in 16 for four people. Which implies that there's a 1 in 16 chance that these results would have happened purely by chance.Maybe we need to look back to the Clinton / Dole debates to get some more data...Daniel Casasanto and Kyle Jasmin1 (2010). Good and Bad in the Hands of Politicians: Spontaneous Gestures during Positive and Negative Speech PLoS ONE... Read more »
Daniel Casasanto and Kyle Jasmin1. (2010) Good and Bad in the Hands of Politicians: Spontaneous Gestures during Positive and Negative Speech. PLoS ONE. info:/
Crispin Jago has made a very cool thing, a periodic table of irrational nonsense. Rolling my eyes over the groups, wondering how people can believe some of these things, made me think about New Zealand's unique ecosystem of kooky ideas. We don't have to suffer creationists in any organised sense and I don't think anyone is too into ear candelling, but those TV psychics have found themselves a niche to exploit and most people seem think chiropratric and homeopathy are normal parts of medicine. Then I was reminded about our very own, home grown cranks. There are people who believe that New Zealand was settled by Celts several hundred years before it was discovered by the ancestors of modern Māori. It probably goes without saying that these people are nuts, but the idea of a pre-Māori civilization in New Zealand is one of our culture's enduring myths. It's worth talking about why people who are serious about studying our country's prehistory have discarded it.People coming to this question for the first time my want a little bit of background. The settlement of the Pacific is one of the most interesting stories in our species' history. I did the field work for my PhD (on landsnails, and not people) in the Cook Islands and you get a feel for the enormity of that achievement when you travel around that group. To fly from one island to another you walk out across the tarmac and meet your pilot, who is almost invariably sitting on the steps to his 12 seater plane, reading the paper through massive aviator glasses. Once you're safetly stowed you get your safety briefing ("it's gonna be pretty fine all the way, should be a good flight") and you take off. The pilots don't close the door to the cockpit, so you can see out the windscreen, but all you see is ocean and sky. You can fly for an hour without seeing land in front of you or out your window. Then an island looms. A few minutes later you land, and, even among the Cook Islands, you're in a new culture. The Polynesian people who discovered and settled these tiny islands separated by such vast distances were master navigators. Without metal tools or written records, let alone maps and compasses, they very deliberately settled islands (taking livestock and crops with them), maintained trading relationships between island groups and almost certainly made it to South America (very likely beating Columbus in the process).Schematic of the settlement of the Pacfic (this one is taken from a study of the evolution of Austronesian languages)The "mainstream" view on the settlement of New Zealand fits nicely into what's known about the settlement of the Pacific. There is good evidence that the bulk of Polynesia was settled in a stepwise fashion, moving west to east with the prevailing winds. Eastern Polynesia was settled by about 800 AD. The far reaches reaches of Polynesian - Hawai'i, Rapanui and New Zealand would require a different pattern of migration (upwind, or over vast distances) and remained, with Antartica, as the last uninhabited lands on earth for hundreds of years.The first evidence for humanity in the New Zealand archeological record comes from the Wairau bar, where artifacts similar to those from contemporaneous sites in the Society Islands and the Southern Cooks have been dated to about 1280 AD. At the same time the pollen record shows New Zealand's first wide scale deforestation, trees being replaced by bracken, scrub and charcoal. A few hundred years later the much sparser record of sub-fossil animals shows its first mega-faunal extinctions. Combined with evidence for "sattelite" settlements in the Kermadec islands (on the edge of the tropical Pacfic) you have exactly the pattern of evidence you'd expect to see with the settlement of islands as remote as Te Wai Pounamu and Te Ika a Māui - settlement as an extension of an ongoing process with clear evidence for human impacts starting from a date that makes sense in that frameworkCompare that with the Celtic NZ people. The idea of Celts arriving in New Zealand without leaving any real evidence of their presence anywhere else outside of Europe hardly needs talking about. When we look within New Zealand, almost all the evidence supposed to support a pre-Maori celtic civilization amounts to big rocks that form, if you just imagine they used to be arranged slightly differently, a giant surveying network. Or astronomical observatories. Proponents of the Celtic NZ hypothesis spend very little time trying to find any evidence for the populations that must have lived, died, eaten, built, dug, farmed, and buried their dead in New Zealand to support these mad priests' plans to move megaliths across the country. And when they do the results are less are less than convincing By all accounts they treat the historical method with about as much respect as the scientific one, so academics don't take them very seriously. In fact, you'd think these claims are so kooky that there was really no need to rebut them. Sadly, the Celtic NZ people seem to have convinced at least a few people that they are on to something. I'm sure part of the reason for that is New Zealanders were once taught that the ancestors of modern Māori did meet another people when they came to New Zealand.Up untill about the 1960s school textbooks said the Moriori were a Melanesian people that were driven off the New Zealand mainland by Māori, with a few survivors taking refuge on the Chatham Islands (called Rekohu in their language). That idea had been rejected by every scholar who's addressed it since the 1920s because it's clear that the Moriori descended from mainland Māori and the unique aspects of their culture were acquired during their subsequent isolation. Part of the reason the Moriori myth came about in the first place is that it fitted into a Victorian narritive view of history - a chain of never ending progress It was only right that Moriori hunter-gatherers were replaced my the adventurous and noble Māori, just as the advanced British settlers would in turn assimilate the Māori. We might have given up that story, but the Moriori myth is still tied to politics in New Zealand. For people who think the New Zealand government shouldn't make reparations for its breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi the idea that Maori themselves were once colonisers looks like a get out of jail free card. Russel Brown quoted one example in 2004:Leaders and academics that hark back to the pre-European days of Maori domination of New Zealand have driven this opportunism. They appear to conveniently forget that Maori violently conquered the Moriori, the original settlers, and their claims of tangata whenua status and demands for compensation for historical grievances appear to many to be ill informed.Ignoring the gaps in the logic (the Treaty is between Maori and the crown, and is not contingent on Maori being the original inhabitants of New Zealand) such claims also face a pretty big evidence gap. The piece Brown picked up was from then Member of Parliament Muriel Newman. Dr Newman is no longer and MP, but she has set up a think tank (which shows about as much evidence for thought as any group with that name) and it seems she hasn't given up on her politically motivated brand of crypto-history. Here's her latest, in which she tries to argue New Zealand has no indigenous people: Archaeologists agree that humans first settled in New Zealand well over 1,000 years before the main Maori migration, which is estimated to have arrived around 1200 AD. Their evidence is based on the exhaustive forensic examination of historic plant and animal remains. They believe that the settlement of New Zealand was most likely a continuous process, a view that is certainly consistent with early settler journal accounts (from the proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand) which indicate that not only did Moriori precede Maori, but that when they arrived in the... Read more »
Compared to a standard diabetic diet, a Paleolithic diet improves cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetics, according to investigators at Lund University in Sweden. Researchers compared the effects of a Paleo and a modern diabetic diet in 13 type 2 diabetic adults (10 men) with average hemoglobin A1c’s of 6.6% (under good control, then). Most [...]... Read more »
Jönsson, T., Granfeldt, Y., Ahrén, B., Branell, U., Pålsson, G., Hansson, A., Söderström, M., & Lindeberg, S. (2009) Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovascular Diabetology, 8(1), 35. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2840-8-35
I’m currently working at the Annals of Botany to help out with their social media side. There’s a bit more to it than subtly dropping links to their site, like this one. At the moment I’m struggling with the Facebook integration, but there’s a fun side too. I wouldn’t have browsed AoB if I’d not... Read more »
Mercader, J., Bennett, T., Esselmont, C., Simpson, S., & Walde, D. (2009) Phytoliths in woody plants from the Miombo woodlands of Mozambique. Annals of Botany, 104(1), 91-113. DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcp097
This week on AiP, I'm featuring a three-part series on coffee. Today's post investigates how coffee came to be such an integral part of everyday life. Look for additional posts on Wednesday and Friday for followup discussions.______________________________________________________________________
The idea of the morning person aside, morning commuters seem to fall into one of two categories: the
... Read more »
Roseberry, W. (1996) The Rise of Yuppie Coffees and the Reimagination of Class in the United States. American Anthropologist, 98(4), 762-775. DOI: 10.1525/aa.1996.98.4.02a00070
The #PDEx tour continues hosted by David Dobbs at Neuron Culture.Writing in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, researchers Edwin Van Leeuwen, Elke Zimmermann, and Marina Davila Ross have shown that gorillas demonstrate an understanding of inequality that they use to modify their behavior under changing social conditions. In more than 85% of the play bouts it was the tagger who made the first move to run as well as the one who ran away. This suggests that there was an implicit understanding that the act of tagging resulted in an unequal relationship and that a response from the individual tagged would therefore be expected. In this way, play teaches important social lessons about inequality and how to respond in a social group.Read the rest of the post here and stay tuned for next Monday's installment at Cocktail Party Physics.Van Leeuwen, E., Zimmermann, E., & Ross, M. (2010). Responding to inequities: gorillas try to maintain their competitive advantage during play fights Biology Letters DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0482... Read more »
Writing in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, researchers Edwin Van Leeuwen, Elke Zimmermann, and Marina Davila Ross have shown that gorillas demonstrate an understanding of inequality that they use to modify their behavior under changing social conditions. In more than 85% of the play bouts it was the tagger who made the first move to run as well as the one who ran away. This suggests that there was an implicit understanding that the act of tagging resulted in an unequal relationship and that a response from the individual tagged would therefore be expected. In this way, play teaches important social lessons about inequality and how to respond in a social group.... Read more »
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