All posts tagged with culture

Link: Language development in the Tsimané

less than 1 minute read

A nice article in Scientific American by Dana Smith looks at a new study of language development in the Tsimané people of Bolivia: “Parents in a Remote Amazo...

Notable: Culture and compressibility

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Notable paper: Tamariz, Monica and Simon Kirby. 2015. Culture: Copying, Compression, and Conventionality. Cognitive Science 39:171-183. doi:10.1111/cogs.12144

Neandertal painted shell pendant

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The final paragraph of this new paper by Marco Peresani and colleagues Peresani:2013 lists all the essential details:

Mathematical thinking

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The Kavli Foundation sponsored an interesting conversation among four scientists about whether mathematical concepts are natural or inventions of humans: “Wh...

Quote: Geertz on the variable

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From Clifford Geertz’ 1965 essay, “The impact of the concept of culture on the concept of man” Geertz:1965:

Quote: Sapir on the slipshod

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From Edward Sapir’s response to Alfred Kroeber’s 1917 essay on “The Superorganic” Sapir:superorganic:1917:

Quote: Malinowski's Metropolis

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Bronislaw Malinowski, in his 1936 article, “Culture as a determinant of behavior” Malinowski:determinant:1936:

Culture in the brain

1 minute read

The Guardian has a dialogue between David Eagleman and Raymond Tallis in which the two authors debate the importance of culture as a constraint on behavior. ...

Book sample: Mark Pagel's Wired for Culture

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I’ve just bought a new book by Mark Pagel, titled Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind. I’ll be doing a review when I get through it, but in t...

Primate extractive foraging and tool use

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An important difference among some primate species is their ability to get foods that are hidden or protected by natural defenses. A little cleverness may yi...

Mailbag: Cultural evolution

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I just finished listening to your lectures of rise of humans and it was thoroughly a very nice and complete coverage of recent understandings of this matter....

Culturomics

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From the Guardian: “Google creates a tool to probe ‘genome’ of English words for cultural trends”.

Language loss

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Razib Khan: “Linguistic diversity = poverty.”

Better than a finger in the eye

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Michael Balter writes in Science about a meeting called “Culture Evolves”: “Probing Culture’s Secrets, From Capuchins to Children.”

Chimpanzee mating tools

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John Tierney riffs on a short review paper by William McGrew, a brief tour of chimpanzee technology. In a pool of academese, he finds a salacious bubble:

Swimming orangutans

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New Scientist is running a gallery of orangutans interacting in water. These are orphaned orangutans that were relocated to an island and have since been obs...

Computer composer

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An article about classical composer David Cope and the AI programs he wrote to make original music. It’s not new news, but a nice profile with many “what doe...

SNPs and culture history

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Razib lists a taxonomy of culture-gene historical scenarios. Real worked examples for several of these would be worthwhile.

Orangutan facts

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Current Biology has a Q and A with orangutan researcher Anne Russon. It’s a good discussion to freshen one’s knowledge of orangutan behavior. Here’s an inter...

Levi-Strauss, RIP

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Claude Lévi-Strauss has died, and the obituary tells me this:

Army ant chimpanzee toolkits

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A nice story about Crickette Sanz’ and David Morgan’s work with chimpanzees of the Goualango Triangle, and the tools they use to forage for army ants:

Whale societies

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Wired’s science blog has a piece on cetacean culture and communciation: “Whales might be as much like people as apes are”. Dalhousie University researcher Ha...

Names, culture, and popularity

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I’ve had this paper about “adoption speed” and cultural tastes on my desktop for more than a month, meaning to write something about it. Here’s the abstract:

A debate: information overload?

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If you’re looking for a way to waste your time today, you might check out The Economist’s online debate, which focuses on the question of whether the world i...

Migration and social change

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Peter Richerson and Robert Boyd are well-known for their studies of processes of culture change. They apply principles from biological evolution to form hypo...

Numbers, Amazon-style

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In last week’s Science, Stanislas Dehaene and colleagues describe the relation of cultural invention to “universal intuition” about mathematical logic:

Acceleration's discontents

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The June Scientific American (no link available) has an article on page 32 about the “therapeutic value of blogging.” That’s some relief, after the stories a...

A view on human differences

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I'm doing some research for an essay, which relies quite a bit on the work of Dobzhansky and a few of his contemporaries. There are some great quotes that I...

"Like Vikings in America"

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Current Biology is running an interview with biologist and Mutants author Armand Leroi. I found this part interesting:

Chimp spear-hunting

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Ann Gibbons reports on the upcoming article in Current Biology:

Chimpanzee archaeology

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Here's a LiveScience story by Heather Whipps, about the discovery of chimpanzee nutcracking stones dating back to 4300 years ago:

Repressed memories in fact and fiction

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The NY Times writer Benedict Carey has an interesting short article about research into repressed memories. There is a group of researchers who claim that t...

A quick primer on bioaesthetics

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It's not here, but at Brainethics, where Martin Skov has written up a short intro to the evolution of aesthetics with a booklist from the recent literature....

The chimpanzee grapevine

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Victoria Horner and colleagues (2006) set up two "diffusion chains" of chimpanzees, to see if a learned task could be transmitted faithfully from one chimp ...

Ape tool curation skills

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An accessible story by Bjorn Carey discusses the paper by Mulcahy and Call, titled "Apes save tools for future use." From the story:

Utopia wanted, animals optional

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In another post I discussed a paper by Dominique Lestel concerning animal cultures. Lestel closes with this sentiment:

Learning from the best, monkeywise

5 minute read

Nutcracking by capuchin monkeys has become the best non-hominoid example of tool use, and serves as a marker of the potential for anthropoids to develop and...

Animal cultures, communication, and signs

6 minute read

I have been reading an interesting article from 2002 by Dominique Lestel, considering the definition of culture and its applicability to animals. The focus ...

Complex structure of whale song

2 minute read

An interesting story from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (via Science Blog) about the information content of whale song. They don't know what the whales ar...

Cultural gorillas

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There's lots of news this week from the AAAS meetings. One story reports on behavioral variations among zoo gorillas:

Evolution of the offensive line

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George Will's Newsweek column is about football this week -- specifically a discussion of changes in the sport since the days of the late "Bear" Bryant.

Chimpanzee language antics

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Carl Zimmer has an article in Forbes covering recent experiments in chimpanzee vocal communication.

Itebero the nutcracking gorilla

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On the heels of last month's paper on walking-stick use in gorillas, the AP reports on nutcracking by a juvenile gorilla at the Dian Fossey sanctuary in Con...

Messing with chimpanzee minds

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On the subject of ape tool use, Andrew Whiten and colleagues have an interesting experiment in Nature this week (9/29/05).

Gorillas use tools too

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A short paper in PLoS Biology by Thomas Breuer and colleagues describes the first two observed instances of tool use in wild gorillas. Reuters has reported ...

Why are organisms modular?

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Modularity is a property of biological organization: organisms are composed of subunits that perform different functions. At the cellular level, the cell is...

Moving eyes, moving minds

5 minute read

A paper by Hannah Faye Chua and colleagues of the University of Michigan asserts that there are significant differences between Chinese and American graduat...

Dolphin sponge cultures

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A new paper by Michael Krützen and colleagues (2005) presents evidence for extractive foraging in bottlenose dolphins. Evidently some individuals break...

Sex differences in chimpanzee learning

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A new article in the New York Times discusses an upcoming paper by Elizabeth Lonsdorf and colleagues in Animal Behavior that examines the way that Gombe chi...