Anthropology

Why is the world so full of "morons" and "degenerates" and what, if anything, can be done to fix them?

These are questions that Robert W. Sussman, PhD, a professor of anthropology in Arts&Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, explored Feb. 15th at the AAAS meeting in Boston.


Sociologists have settled an important debate - namely, do women really want a man that does housework. The answer is 'no', according to an important new paper which found that married men and women who divide household chores in traditional ways report having more sex than couples who share the women's work.  


Comet explosions did not end the prehistoric human culture, known as Clovis, in North America 13,000 years ago, according to a new paper.

Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories, Royal Holloway and 13 other universities across the United States and Europe have found evidence which rebuts the belief that a large impact or airburst caused a significant and abrupt change to the Earth's climate and terminated the Clovis culture. They argue that other explanations must be found for the apparent disappearance.

Clovis is the name archaeologists have given to the earliest well-established human culture in the North American continent. It is named after the town in New Mexico, where distinct stone tools were found in the 1920s and 1930s.


Jared Diamond is not impressed by modern social sciences, like psychology and anthropology, because of the need to try and make claims about human nature by doing surveys or visiting a place and then framing the results through their own - not to invoke the most overused cliché of 2012 but just this once it fits - motivated reasoning.

The reaction from the social sciences and the mainstream media elites who need the social sciences to seem science-y was about what you would expect to him making his case yet again: 'shallow' and that he doesn't understand what it means 'to study human diversity' - in other words, he is a geography teacher trying to invade the big pants super-scientific world of anthropology.  

You can stop laughing now.

For decades, the consensus among psychologists has held that a group of five personality traits - openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism - are a universal feature of human psychology.

Not so, say anthropologists writing in the  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.


Prehistoric farming communities in Europe constructed water wells out of oak timbers - it seems early farmers were skilled carpenters long before metal was discovered or used for tools. 

 These first Central European farmers migrated from the Great Hungarian Plain approximately 7,500 years ago, and left an archaeological trail of settlements, ceramics and stone tools across the fertile regions of the continent, a record named Linear Pottery Culture (Linearbandkeramik - LBK). However, much of the lifestyle of these early settlers is still a mystery, including the climate they lived in and technology or strategies they used to cope with their surroundings. 


Modern-day gypsies,  Europe's widespread Romani population, are now as diverse in language, lifestyle, and religion as any demographic but they all share a common past.

And that past started about 1,500 years ago  in northwestern India, according to the first genome-wide perspective on Romani origins and demographic history. With

Whether or not different species of early humans interbred and produced offspring of mixed ancestry - hybridization - has been the subject of recent studies but the findings are not universally accepted.


Prehistoric artists wanted to tell a story as accurately as possible, and so they were better at portraying the walk of four-legged animals than modern man, according to a new paper. 

Most quadrupeds have a similar sequence in which they move each limb as they walk, trot or run, and this sequence was studied and outlined in the early 1880s by Eadweard Muybridge.

 The authors examined 1000 works of prehistoric and modern artwork ranging from cave paintings of cows and elephants to statues and paintings of horses, elephants and other quadrupeds in motion to see how well these artistic depictions matched the scientific observations of animal motion. 


A new approach used to analyze genetic data to learn more about the history of populations says it can describe in detail events in recent history, over the past 2,000 years, more accurately than in the subjective texts used by people in the humanities. The computer scientists behind it demonstrate their method in two populations, the Ashkenazi Jews and the Masai people of Kenya, who represent two kinds of histories and relationships with neighboring populations - one remained isolated from surrounding groups and one had frequent cross-migration with nearby villages.