Friday, January 28, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
Someone in class last Thursday suggested (excuse me for paraphrasing) that possibly non-humans were limited in their communication to their immediate needs such as, "I'm hungry" or "Go away!" However, tons of research shows that even squirrels have a basic theory of mind (See this article on how common grey squirrels deceive each other by sending false signals)
Elephants, for example, are long-lived social animals that communicate with each other through trunk signals, olfactory cues, and low-frequency vibrations that travels miles without being detectable by human ears. researchers from Cornell University are making strides in compiling an "Elephant dictionary." I bet many of you have heard of elephant funerals, wherein members of a family will linger by the body of a dead relative for days, even returning regularly to the same spot year after year to visit the bones of the deceased. With relationships that last for decades of their long lives, do you think it's possible that elephants could be communicating sentiments more complex than their physical needs? (Click here for CBS article)
And on one more note, sign-language studies on apes have shown that while non-human primates appear to lack the capacity to master the intricacies of human communication, like grammar and syntax, they are able to conceptualize and convey higher levels of communication such as lying, joking, regret, and anticipation. Check out chapter one of "The Education of Koko" on Koko.org (Click Here) The rest of the site is cool too.
When I was little, I played with a lot of toys handed down from my older brother: Pirate ships, Playmobil armies, cars, but my grandmother also provided me with three American Girl dolls. If you don't know about these, they are large high-quality girl-dolls from different periods of American history with plenty of historically-accurate outfits and accessories you can buy. My favorite was Kirsten, the Swedish immigrant.
There's an open debate about why girls plays with dolls and boys play with trucks, whether this is positive or negative behavior, and whether this is natural or socially induced (why, for example, did grandma buy me dolls and doll-dresses and doll furniture instead of toy microscopes and model airplanes?)
In 2002, a study on Vervet monkeys presented the possibility that these gender-roles are more natural than many would like to admit. In the study, female vervets preferred "feminine" toys like dolls, while males went for trucks and cars, with no clear difference in "gender neutral" toys which I guess are like blocks or something. (Click for article)
HOWEVER! Field data collected from wild chimpanzees in Kibale National Park suggests that juvenile chimps play with sticks in a way very similar to how human children play with dolls, cradling them and building nests for them to "sleep" in at night. Furthermore, both males and females play in this manner. (HERE) Does this have implications for human behavior?
Looks like the debate is still open to interpretation.
This is a cool overview article on the complexity of chimpanzee social and cognitive behavior. One of the more interesting points is that chimpanzees are able to outperform humans in some memory tests, about recalling series of numbers, which might suggest that a trade-off for language is immediate memory.
They also talk about tool use and empathy, such as for Knuckles the chimp with cerebral palsy (above) who is treated with consideration even by the high-ranking males of his social group.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Check it out on the National Geographic Website
Monday, January 17, 2011
A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I've done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:
• attend a sleepover
• have a playdate
• be in a school play
• complain about not being in a school play
• watch TV or play computer games
• choose their own extracurricular activities
• get any grade less than an A
• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
• play any instrument other than the piano or violin
• not play the piano or violin.
Hanna Rosin responded to this article: See here
As did Ayelet Waldman: See here
UPDATE: Tiger Mom's daughter comes to her defense: See here
Sunday, January 16, 2011
About an one anthropologist's work in Brazilian shanty towns.
"Instead of using a top-down reform model that came in with assumptions of what was best for poor people, they decided to ask shantytown residents themselves about what changes they wanted. Overwhelmingly, the people they talked to said they wanted education for their girls.
That was the beginning of the Bahia Street project. It started small - with a commitment to put one 11-year-old orphan through school, while tutoring four other girls to prepare them for the rigors of a formal education."
To Read More
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Sunday, January 9, 2011
When I was an undergraduate student studying anthropology at the University of Arizona, I was shown Jean Kilbourne's "Killing Us Softly" in three different anthropology classes. This video left an impression on me that is hard to understate, affecting the way I see the world, even today. In "Killing Us Softly," Kilbourne offers insight into how gender roles are socially constructed by the media and the effects of this for both male and female identity formation. She does this by examining the links between advertising and rampant public health issues such as violence against women, eating disorders, and addiction.
I recommend this video to men and women, as Kilbourne points out, the effects of media images shapes us all. This is because media representations influence not just our own individualized identity formations, but the way in which we relate to each other.
Jean Kilbourne has been featured in numerous media outlets, such as Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Today Show, and Oprah Winfrey Show. In 1993, she was appointed U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Watch the trailer for her newest rendition:
Or preview the video in its entirety: Killing Us Softly 4
If you would prefer to watch the video on a larger screen, you can pick up a copy of "Killing Us Softly 3" from our very own UGA library:
Title: Killing us softly 3 [videorecording] : advertising’s image of women / with Jean Kilbourne ; producer/director/editor, Sut Jhally ; created by Jean Kilbourne.
|Location:||.Main Library Basement Media|
|Call Number:||Media DVD|
This American Life: "Act Two. Opposite Of Tarzan"
"Lucy was a chimpanzee raised in captivity, who adopted a surprising number of human traits. But this proved problematic—in quite unexpected ways—when her adoptive human parents decided that Lucy should be released in the wild. This story comes from WNYC's Radiolab, which is distributed by NPR. Radiolab hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich tell the story. (29 minutes.)"
This is a fascinating story of primate research that illustrates both the great similarities and the great differences between humans and chimpanzees. It also illustrates the possibility for unintended consequences when conducting primate research.
And, for a more in depth explanation, watch the video:
"Why you should listen to her:
Nina Jablonski says that differing skin colors are simply our bodies' adaptation to varied climates and levels of UV exposure. Charles Darwin disagreed with this theory, but she explains, that's because he did not have access to NASA."
This American Life "Switched At Birth"
This is an incredible story that is as entertaining as it is educational. Listen, I promise you'll be enthralled.
Also, if you are interested in twin studies see the following story:
Unknowingly, Bernstein and Schein had been part of a secret research project in the 1960s and '70s that separated identical twins as infants and followed their development in a one-of-a-kind experiment to assess the influence of nature vs. nurture in child development.
Now, the twins, authors of a new memoir called Identical Strangers, are trying to uncover the truth about the study."
To hear the story go to: 'Identical Strangers'
"The Rap Guide to Evolution is a full-length rap album and one-man show that debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2009, winning the Scotsman Fringe First Award for outstanding new writing. It is a “peer-reviewed” hip-hop show, entertaining and accessible, with lyrics that have been scientifically fact-checked for accuracy".Below are some links to a few of the rap songs from this album:
Worst Comes to Worst