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  • January 24, 2011
  • 01:27 AM

Tipping Points and the Precautionary Principle

by Noam Ross in Noam Ross

Image source: FlickrMany ecological systems have tipping points - thresholds where small changes in impacts can have very large effects on on ecosystem functioning, often in a bad way.  Lakes, for example, might show little impact from nutrient pollution until a threshold level is reached, and then massive algal blooms form that choke off many other species growth.
In the absence of knowledge of exactly how far one can push a system before reaching a tipping point, many invoke the precautio........ Read more »

  • January 23, 2011
  • 11:35 PM

Holy Wars in Holy Lands

by teofilo in Gambler's House

In the year AD 1098 a spruce tree was chopped down in the Chuska Mountains, which run roughly along what is now the border between Arizona and New Mexico.  We don’t know who cut it down, exactly, since the people living in the area at the time had no system of writing and have therefore [...]... Read more »

Rubenstein, J. (2008) Cannibals and Crusaders. French Historical Studies, 31(4), 525-552. DOI: 10.1215/00161071-2008-005  

  • January 23, 2011
  • 01:52 AM

An evolutionary explanation of consumption

by Jason Collins in Evolving Economics

Since Thorstein Veblen’s 1899 book Theory of the Leisure Class, the economics profession has taken a somewhat mixed approach to consumption. In areas such signalling theory, Veblen’s argument that conspicuous consumption must be wasteful and expensive to be a reliable signal of wealth is well recognised. Conspicuous consumption has a purpose as a signal. However, [...]... Read more »

  • January 22, 2011
  • 09:09 AM

The causes you “like” on Facebook may actually matter

by Janelle Ward in Janelle's research blog

The book manuscript I’m currently working on for Hampton Press involves an updated section on social media. When I started my dissertation research in 2003, websites were all the rage – and the only rage. Now, organizations of all types … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • January 21, 2011
  • 03:44 PM

Out With The Scientists, In With The Quacks (and religious zealots)

by Neurobonkers in Neurobonkers

The Government announced this week the list... Read more »

Rolles S. (2010) An alternative to the war on drugs. BMJ (Clinical research ed.). PMID: 20627976  

  • January 21, 2011
  • 03:16 PM

Prairie Dog Communication

by Richard in A Replicated Typo 2.0


A recent NPR radio show covered the research of the biosemiotician Con Slobodchikoff of the Univeristy of Arizone on prairie dog calls. The piece is very public-orientated, but still might be worth listening to.
We’ve all (I hope) heard of the vervet monkeys, which have different alarm calls for different predators, such as for leopard (Panthera pardus), martial . . . → Read More: Prairie Dog Communication... Read more »

  • January 21, 2011
  • 07:07 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: Building Trust (but not) in Ten Easy Words

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

This is a pretty amazing yet simple and straightforward tool. We saw this idea at Neuromarketing blog in a post titled “Building Trust in Ten Easy Words” and went to find the original research to see the details so we could discuss it in the context of litigation advocacy. The Neuromarketing blog post counts out [...]

Related posts:Simple Jury Persuasion: Be credible
Simple Jury Persuasion: Thank you for your service
Simple Jury Persuasion: Channeling Cialdini & becoming a master of s........ Read more »

  • January 20, 2011
  • 07:06 PM

Study: Your Genes Help Pick Your Friends

by David Berreby in Mind Matters

How much of you resides between your ears? And how much of what you call "me" is made outside your body, in your relationships with others? Biologists have largely confined themselves to aspects of the mind that can be measured in a single human body (galvanic skin response, activity in the amygdala ...Read More
... Read more »

Fowler, J., Settle, J., & Christakis, N. (2011) Correlated genotypes in friendship networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1011687108  

  • January 20, 2011
  • 06:08 PM

Why we are all different (and not all religious)

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

So, on to the paper by Robert Rowthorn, which I see now has even been picked up by the Denver Post!

Just to explain a bit of the background. Rowthorn is an economist, and his paper is basically a model of what would would happen if you have a gene (strictly speaking [and for Bjørn's benefit], an allele) that predisposes for membership of a group, and if that group has high reproduction.

What he shows is that the gene spreads incredibly quickly - just 10 generations after it appears, 80% of t........ Read more »

Rowthorn R. (2011) Religion, fertility and genes: a dual inheritance model. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society. PMID: 21227968  

Penke, L, Denisson, J, & Miller, GF. (2007) The Evolutionary Genetics of Personality. European Journal of Personality, 549-587. info:/

  • January 20, 2011
  • 03:47 PM

The rise and fall of great powers is stochastic

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

Long time readers know well my fascination with quantitative history. In particular, cliometrics and cliodynamics. These are fields which attempt to measure and model human historical phenomena and processes. Cliometrics is a well established field, insofar as it is a subset of economic history. But cliodynamics is new on the scene. At the heart of cliodynamics [...]... Read more »

Gavrilets, Sergey, David G. Anderson, & Peter Turchin. (2011) Cycling in the Complexity of Early Societies. Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History. info:/

  • January 20, 2011
  • 06:30 AM

Medieval soldiers illuminate modern stunting

by Jeremy in Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog

A couple of sentences in one of The Economist’s celebrated Christmas articles brought me up short. The article detailed a forensic investigation of soldiers who fell in 1491 at Towton, “perhaps the bloodiest battle ever fought in England”. The good thing about Towton is that a mass grave yielded 40 skeletons, 28 of them complete, [...]... Read more »

  • January 20, 2011
  • 02:00 AM

Psychopaths chronic cheating and impulsive risky behaviors are linked to reasoning impairments

by SAGE Insight in SAGE Insight

Psychopaths are impaired in social exchange and precautionary reasoning   From Pychological Science Psychopaths persistently violate social, moral, and legal norms, cheating family, friends, and strangers alike. Two hallmarks of psychopathy are the persistent violation of social contracts and chronic, impulsive risky behavior. By testing incarcerated psychopaths this study considers if they understand what qualifies [...]... Read more »

  • January 19, 2011
  • 09:34 PM

Keep Your International Arbitration out of the Tower of Babel

by Persuasion Strategies in Persuasive Litigator

By: Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm - So, a retired Brazilian judge, two American litigators, and three German engineers walk into a bar... Okay, so it wasn't a bar, it was an international arbitration, but the potential for miscommunication is just as great as the joke intro would imply. This one took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil and it was preceded by a two-day mock arbitration that I facilitated in order to help our litigation team prepare the best arbitration case possible. Any case that makes it to arbitr........ Read more »

  • January 19, 2011
  • 04:24 PM

All about the attitude

by FrauTech in Design. Build. Play.

Does the old saying fake it old you make it hold any water? Turns out maybe. Researchers from Columbia and Harvard Universities posed subjects in one of four positions: two high power positions(expansive, open limbs) and two low power positions(contractive, closed limbs). Then they measured risk taking, self-response about feelings, and testosterone and cortisol.The high power positions were sitting stretched in a chair with legs propped up on a table and arms behind the head as well as lea........ Read more »

  • January 19, 2011
  • 10:08 AM

Japanese Men Drink, Eat Fatty Food, Have Fun and Die

by Ultimo167 in Strong Silent Types

If you have ever had the pleasure of being in a boisterous Tokyo bar at night, eating and drinking amongst a din that would sear the armour off a tank,you get the feeling that this is what pure, hedonistic joy must be like. And, according to this article by Ikeda et al. (2011), Japanese men love it as well. The downer seems to be that while all that upbeat male bonding is good for lowering stress, the accompanying fat and alcohol brings on health effects of a less favourable kind.... Read more »

  • January 19, 2011
  • 09:48 AM

Was Steven Pinker right after all?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

At the end of the 1990s, cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker infamously characterized music as “auditory cheesecake”: a delightful dessert but, from an evolutionary perspective, no more than a by-product of language. But Pinker was probably right when he wrote: “I suspect music is auditory cheesecake, an exquisite confection crafted to tickle the sensitive spots of...our mental faculties.” Or, to express his idea less graphically: music affects our brains at specific places, thereby sti........ Read more »

  • January 19, 2011
  • 07:02 AM

Martin Luther King, Jr. & Eliot Spitzer: On letting people off the hook [Part II]:

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Effron & Monin’s work on ambiguous and blatant transgressions has multiple applications for our work. In the past, we’ve blogged about Tiger Woods, Eliot Spitzer,  and David Letterman. We want to take some time to discuss Effron & Monin’s work in the context of our prior writing on high profile falls from grace. (See Part [...]

Related posts:Martin Luther King, Jr. & Eliot Spitzer: On letting people off the hook [Part I]
Apology redux: Doing it right (and doing it wrong)
El........ Read more »

Effron DA, & Monin B. (2010) Letting people off the hook: when do good deeds excuse transgressions?. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 36(12), 1618-34. PMID: 20978222  

  • January 19, 2011
  • 02:00 AM

Does Google push the most popular content rather than act as a neutral tool?

by SAGE Insight in SAGE Insight

Search engines and the production of academic knowledge From International Journal of Cultural Studies Surveys prove that students performing topic searches for scholarly papers overwhelmingly choose search engines, rather than library-based research discovery networks, as their preferred starting-point. Are they getting the best and most relevant information? This article argues that search engines in general, and [...]... Read more »

van Dijck, J. (2010) Search engines and the production of academic knowledge. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 13(6), 574-592. DOI: 10.1177/1367877910376582  

  • January 18, 2011
  • 07:08 PM

"Perceptions of Promise: Biology, Society, Art" Explores the Social Dimensions of Life Science Technologies

by Matthew C. Nisbet in Age of Engagement

Despite the important role of the arts in enabling public expression, learning, and participation relative to science, there is an unfortunate tendency to think about the relationship in terms of "two cultures" divided. This metaphor has come to dominate discourse about science and society more ...Read More... Read more »

Nisbet, M., Hixon, M., Moore, K., & Nelson, M. (2010) Four cultures: new synergies for engaging society on climate change. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 8(6), 329-331. DOI: 10.1890/1540-9295-8.6.329  

  • January 18, 2011
  • 01:57 PM

The Emotional Depth of a Turnip—Do Men and Women Read Emotions Differently?

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice

She was clearly upset. The disgust on her face was apparent. As was her frustration when she shook her head at the man standing numbly beside her and said, "You have the emotional depth of a turnip!" The rest of us in the subway car did our best to look busy—headphones were put on, games were played on cell phones, even the morning newspaper made a few reappearances even though it was the evening rush hour.
I have to admit that I was somewhat amused by the situation because I'd recently direc........ Read more »

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