Anthropology

There is a "thrifty phenotype" hypothesis which suggests that economic conditions present during fetal development that then improve dramatically during a person's childhood lead to poorer health in adulthood. 

In other words, if people are poor, it might be healthier if they stay poor. The evidence: the strikingly high prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in the American South, which the author of a new paper suggests can be partially traced to rapid economic growth between 1950 and 1980.


Hemp (Cannabis sp.) has been a fundamental plant for the development of human societies. Its fibers have long been used for textiles and rope making, which requires prior stem retting.

This process is essential for extracting fibers from the stem of the plant but can adversely affect the quality of surface waters. The history of human activities related to hemp - its domestication, spread, and processing - is frequently reconstructed from seeds and pollen detected in archaeological sites or in sedimentary archives, but this method does not always make it possible to ascertain whether retting took place.

When most people think 'green' in America, they think of liberal Democrats. It's a carefully crafted image. Conservatives who deny global warming conserve energy just as much as liberals who accept it but that gets little attention. Sociologists in a new paper instead found that the idea of the 'green' Christian is the environmental trope they need to spend their time debunking.


Women are waiting longer before getting married - if they get married at all, according to a new analysis.

The U.S. marriage rate is now at 31.1 - which in statistical terms means roughly a rate of 31 marriages per 1,000 married women, not 31 percent. That rate is 60 percent lower than 1970. In 1920 the marriage rate was 92.3. The wave of gay marriage legislation across the US will likely cause a temporary blip in that, at least until expensive gay divorces kick in, but the overall trend will remain downward.


Do looks matter in the work place? There are a lot more unattractive people running departments and entire companies than there are pretty ones - but a new paper by academics says just the opposite. Pretty people have an easier time on the job.

The paper by Timothy Judge, professor of management at the University of Notre Dame, and Brent Scott from Michigan State University, is the first to link attractiveness to cruelty in the workplace. 


Despite the horrors of the Maoist regime, the Communist Party dictatorship in the People's Republic of China continues to exist and retain control, even though tens of millions of people suffered from persecution or were executed for political reasons while he lived. 

Even less likely, the perpetrators and victims have managed to continue living together long after the death of Mao Zedong and the beginning of the reform era in 1978.

Our prehistoric close cousins, the Neandertals, were more similar than science used to think in a variety of ways.

And according to a new paper, they had something resembling modern speech and language, which can be traced back to the last common ancestor we shared with the Neandertals roughly half a million years ago.

Neanderthals have fascinated the academic world and the general public ever since their discovery almost 200 years ago. Initially thought to be sub-human brutes incapable of anything but the most primitive of grunts, they were later found to be a successful form of humanity inhabiting vast swathes of western Eurasia for several hundreds of thousands of years, during harsh ages and milder interglacial periods. 


A computer analysis of nearly 2 million Tweets on the Twitter online social network revealed another divide in the religious culture war - while atheists engage in more analytical thinking, Christians use more positive words and fewer negative words.

To identify Christian and atheist Twitter users, the researchers studied the tweets of more than 16,000 followers of a few prominent Christian and atheist personalities on Twitter. They analyzed the tweets for their emotional content (the use of more positive or negative words), the frequency of words (such as "friend" and "brother") that are related to social processes, and the frequency of their use of words (such as "because" and "think") that are associated with an analytical thinking style.

For the past the 1,000,000 years the global climate has cycled every 100,000 years, between long glacial periods (with great masses of ice covering the continents in the northern hemisphere) and shorter interglacial periods, lasting around 10,000 years. It has been 12,000 years since the last one so enjoy that while it lasts.

However, within the long periods there have been abrupt climate changes, sometimes happening in the space of just a few decades, with variations of up to 10º C in the average temperature in the polar regions caused by changes in the Atlantic ocean circulation. These changes affected rainfall in southern Africa. 


In the last two generations, the designation 'spiritual but not religious' has become popular. It's hard to know what it means - atheists and religious people are at least taking some sort of stand - but one thing sociologists say they do know: Young adults who deem themselves "spiritual but not religious" are more likely to commit both violent and property crimes than young people who self-report religious belief ("religious and spiritual" or "religious but not spiritual").