Anthropology

Countries with strict social rules and behavioral etiquette may foster unruly drinking cultures and characteristic bad behavior, according to a new report on alcohol and violence released today by International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP). The report also lists 11 cultural features that may predict levels of violence such as homicide and spousal abuse.

And the culprit is, of course, not just alcohol, but men.

We cannot change the male propensity for aggression, but we can channel it into appropriate and socially acceptable forms. In particular, we need rites of passage for young people that offer challenge and a route to adult status and recognition. The aim should not be to completely suppress male aggression, but to utilize and channel it constructively.

But alcohol and men together make things worse. Apparently, lacking big animals to hunt, a night at the bar starts to resemble gay porn.

Researchers say they have found evidence that supports the idea that the emergence of agriculture in prehistory took much longer than originally thought.

Until recently researchers say the story of the origin of agriculture was one of a relatively sudden appearance of plant cultivation in the Near East around 10,000 years ago, spreading quickly into Europe and dovetailing conveniently with ideas about how quickly language and population genes spread from the Near East to Europe. Initially, genetics appeared to support this idea but now there are questions about the evidence underpinning that model

A team led by Dr Robin Allaby from the University of Warwick's plant research arm, Warwick HRI, have developed a new mathematical model that shows how plant agriculture actually began much earlier than first thought, well before the Younger Dryas (the last "big freeze" with glacial conditions in the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere). It also shows that useful gene types could have actually taken thousands of years to become stable.


The University of Southampton is launching the world's largest-ever study of near-death experiences this week.

The AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation) study is to be launched by the Human Consciousness Project of the University of Southampton - an international collaboration of scientists and physicians who have joined forces to study the human brain, consciousness and clinical death.

The study is led by Dr Sam Parnia, an expert in the field of consciousness during clinical death, together with Dr Peter Fenwick and Professors Stephen Holgate and Robert Peveler of the University of Southampton. Following a successful 18-month pilot phase at selected hospitals in the UK, the study is now being expanded to include other centres within the UK, mainland Europe and North America.

COLUMBIA, Mo. -Without a way to measure religious beliefs, anthropologists have had difficulty studying religion. Now, two anthropologists from the University of Missouri and Arizona State University have developed a new approach to study religion by focusing on verbal communication, an identifiable behavior, instead of speculating about alleged beliefs in the supernatural that cannot actually be identified. 


One day soon, you may be able to pinpoint the geographic origins of your ancestors based on analysis of your DNA.

A study published online this week in Nature by an international team that included Cornell University researchers describes the use of DNA to predict the geographic origins of individuals from a sample of Europeans, often within a few hundred kilometers of where they were born.

"What we found is that within Europe, individuals with all four grandparents from a given region are slightly more similar genetically to one another, on average, than to individuals from more distant regions," said Carlos Bustamante, associate professor of biological statistics and computational biology at Cornell and the paper's senior author. John Novembre, an assistant professor in the University of California-Los Angeles' Department of Ecology and Evolution, was lead author of the study that also included researchers from GlaxoSmithKline, the University of Chicago and the University of Lausanne (Switzerland).

Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) did not become extinct because they were less intelligent than our ancestors (Homo sapiens), says a research team that has shown that early stone tool technologies developed by our species, Homo sapiens, were no more efficient than those used by Neanderthals.

They say their discovery debunks a textbook belief held by archaeologists for more than 60 years.

The team spent three years flintknapping (producing stone tools). They recreated stone tools known as 'flakes,' which were wider tools originally used by both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, and 'blades,' a narrower stone tool later adopted by Homo sapiens. Archaeologists often use the development of stone blades and their assumed efficiency as proof of Homo sapiens' superior intellect. To test this, the team analysed the data to compare the number of tools produced, how much cutting-edge was created, the efficiency in consuming raw material and how long tools lasted.

We don't need to 'frame' science for the masses, no matter what you may read elsewhere by people who want to manipulate data to achieve their ideological goals.

Informed people who make their own decisions(whether they agree with you or not) and then participate improves the overall quality of federal agencies' decisions about the environment, says a new report from the National Research Council.

More importantly, public involvement increases the legitimacy of decisions in the eyes of those affected by them, which makes it more likely that the decisions will be implemented effectively - something heavy-handed mandates can never accomplish. Agencies should recognize public participation as valuable to their objectives, not just as a formality required by the law, the report says. It details principles and approaches agencies can use to successfully involve the public.

Knowing the words for numbers is not necessary to be able to count, according to a new study of aboriginal children by UCL (University College London) and the University of Melbourne. The study of the aboriginal children from two communities which do not have words or gestures for numbers found that they were able to copy and perform number-related tasks.

The findings suggest that we possess an innate mechanism for counting, which may develop differently in children with dyscalculia, a lessor-known learning disability that affects mathatical calculations.

A new study of DNA from ancient and modern chickens has shed light on the controversy about the extent of pre-historic Polynesian contact with the Americas.

The study questions recent claims that chickens were first introduced into South America by Polynesians, before the arrival of Spanish chickens in the 15th century following Christopher Columbus.

University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) Director Professor Alan Cooper says there has been considerable debate about the existence and degree of contact between Polynesians and South Americans, with the presence of the sweet potato throughout the Pacific often used as evidence of early trading contacts.

With a grant from the World Anti-Doping Agency, University of Vermont anthropology professor Brian Gilley has spent the last year studying attitudes among under-23-year-old cyclists towards use of performance enhancing drugs.

Since the Tour de France ousted its third cyclist from the race, even after multiple doping scandals the last few years, his findings are interesting.

Using American amateur collegiate cyclists as his control, Gilley interviewed elite junior and young adult Italian, Belgian, and American riders and found a surprising mix of responses about willingness to dope. The majority, he says, believe intense pressure from team managers and sponsors forces them to cheat in order to be competitive.