Anthropology

Whether or not humans are the only empathic beings is a debate for anthropologists, because there is no science answer; the ability to experience others' emotions is hard to quantify in a species so it is difficult to measure empathy in any objective way. 

The transmission of a feeling from one individual to another, called 'emotional contagion,' is the most basic form of empathy. Feelings are disclosed by facial expressions (such as sorrow, pain, happiness or tiredness), and these feelings can travel from an "emitting face" to a "receiving face." Upon receipt, the mirroring of facial expressions evokes in the receiver an emotion similar to the emotion experienced by the sender.


In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court forced California to deal with the massive overcrowding in its prison system. The resulting reform shifted administrative and budgetary responsibility for low-level criminals from the state prison system to county jails. As a result, local California jails now face more overcrowding than ever, and local law enforcement is saddled with additional costs for imprisoning arrestees.

That is going to lead to higher crime rates, according to a new paper in the Journal of Public Economics which evaluated prison reform in Israel.  


There's a mythology about the native Americans, that they were all peaceful and in harmony with nature - it's easy to create narratives when there is no written record.

But archeology keeps its own history and a new paper finds that the 20th century, with its hundreds of millions dead in wars and, in the case of Germany, China, Russia and other dictatorships, genocide, was not the most violent - on a per-capita basis that honor may belong to the central Mesa Verde of southwest Colorado and the Pueblo Indians.

Writing in the journal American Antiquity, Washington State University archaeologist Tim Kohler and colleagues document how nearly 90 percent of human remains from that period had trauma from blows to either their heads or parts of their arms.


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