A protest against the killing of journalists by the Islamic State. Credit: Mast Irham/EPA

By Kevin McDonald, Middlesex University

Should languages be conserved? There are 5,000 languages in the world right now and clearly a lack of ability to communicate is a big factor in war. Some of the languages are spoken by very small populations in remote areas and many languages have disappeared over time because of trade and a desire to communicate with others.

How did our ancestors raise so many kids, while modern parents struggle with the fast pace of life?

It's unclear, but to help solve such First World problems, many businesses now offer traditional caregiving services ranging from planning birthday parties to teaching children how to ride a bike. According to a new paper in the Journal of Consumer Research, by outsourcing traditional parental duties, modern-day parents feel they are ultimately protecting parenthood.

To determine the role of the marketplace in modern-day parenting, the authors conducted in-depth interviews with participants who varied in parenting views, practices, and challenges ranging from income to social class and the availability of help from immediate family.

The Paleolithic inhabitants of modern-day Spain may have eaten snails 30,000 years ago - 10,000 years earlier than their Mediterranean neighbors, according to a recent paper.

Both mother and baby are at increased risk for complications of flu infection during pregnancy and prenatal care providers say they advise women to get the flu vaccine, but many pregnant women don't do it.

Robert Arao, MPH, a biostatistician at Group Health Research Institute, did a statewide survey to assess what doctors think and do about flu vaccines for pregnant women. 

"White flight" was the term created by sociologists for when people middle-class began moving from poor city neighborhoods to newly created sub-urban communities that were not city apartments and townhouses but not rural either - suburbs. 

A group of criminologists has an interesting reason why people who left crime-ridden cities should stick around - fear of crime is good for kids.

Most politicians and police officers seek to reduce crime, of course, and mitigate the causes where they can, so an argument that it's psychologically healthy is going against 50 years of sociological belief, which says that people who are afraid are likely to do less rational things to protect themselves, and have a lot of other chronic psychological issues.

Feedback from 130 16 to 18 year olds of diverse social and economic backgrounds living in different parts of the country - a northern industrial city in the UK, London, and a rural area in the southwest of the UK - reveals an oppressive culture around anal sex, with some young men apparently neglecting or not caring about young women's consent or pleasure - both when they have anal sex and when they talk about it with their friends.

The qualitative, longitudinal study interviews explored the range and meaning of different sexual practices, and included nine group and 71 individual in-depth discussions in 2010, and further interviews of 43 of the in-depth interviewees in 2011.

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.