Anthropology

Modern humans began the first steps to what we might call culture some 50,000 years ago, 150,000 years after appearing in the fossil record. What changed?

A new paper in Current Anthropology argues that more feminine faces and gentler personalities were the result of less testosterone. People got nicer. The evidence is in the shape of more than 1,400 ancient and modern skulls and the conclusion is that human society advanced when people started being nicer to each other, which entails having a little less testosterone in action. 

Heavy brows were so 100,000 B.C., rounder heads were in, and those changes could be linked to testosterone levels acting on the skeleton, according to Duke University anthropologist Steven Churchill.


An anthropological wave has taken place, first in Asia that has now spread worldwide - humans, the most social species on the planet, have begun to gather in groups and ignore each other while communicating wirelessly with people doing the same ignoring of real people elsewhere.

The trend of sitting inches away on a train from other people and routinely ignoring each other while using social media is a social paradox. Why can such social agents be so antisocial?

Millennials are redefining adulthood by living at home and getting supported by their parents longer than ever - and in the future it may turn into outright exploitation.

It used to be that family watched out for shysters out to bilk their parents but now the nearly 5 percent elderly American adults being financially exploited are often exploited by family members - poor and black people the most. 

Dr. Janey Peterson of Weill Cornell Medical College led one of the largest American studies ever done on elder abuse and the results appeared in the Journal of General Internal Medicine


If most people run a race, they cheer after they cross the finish line. It is a culturally acceptable psychological reward for all of the training and preparation and execution of the plan.

But what happens when that script isn't followed? If you learn of a victory too soon, is it cheapened? Ayelet Fishbach, a professor of behavioral science and marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and Nadav Klein, a doctoral student, find that the positive reaction one would have when succeeding is lessened if it doesn't follow the expected course.


I’ve often wondered about the Scopes trial, and wanted to read a good account of it.  I was recommended the account by Edward J. Larson in When Science and Christianity Meet, edited by DC Lindberg and RL Numbers (ISBN 0226482162).  .  It’s a very informative book, and wide-ranging too: out of 12 chapters, only one on Galileo and one on Darwin.

A new survey analysis finds that in just about about any field where there are academics and field work, there is going to be sexual harassment and even assault.

Yes, surveys, the bane of the scientific method. The authors analyzed survey results of 666 people (142 men, 516 women) with field experience in anthropology, archeology and more, and found that many respondents claimed to have suffered or witnessed sexual harassment or even sexual assault while at work in the field.


A recent article by Nury Vittachi, Scientists discover that atheists might not exist, and that’s not a joke, received rather a lot of comments.  Among these were a few about the place of women in the world: however these tended to be lost among the welter of other comments.  Indeed, the article seemed to attract a large number of orcs.  Now in some ways I am a highly discriminatory sort of person, and here I am discriminating between trolls

Social animals often develop relationships with other group members to reduce aggression and gain access to scarce resources. In wild chacma baboons the strategy for grooming activities shows a certain pattern across the day - they have ulterior motives. 


Sociology is too uncontrolled to be meaningful science but controlled scenarios don't lead to realistic behavior. 

The Virtual Environment Navigation lab at Brown University thinks they can bridge the gap between them.

They have developed a wireless virtual reality system to study a phenomenon that scientists don't yet understand: how pedestrians interact with each other and how those individual behaviors, in turn, generate patterns of crowd movement. It's an everyday experience for all kinds of animals everything from people to ants. 


When did teen dating get so violent? It used to be the kind of thing that was a plot linchpin for movies but now estimates are that 1 in 6 young people report acts like punching, pulling hair, shoving, and throwing things.