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cognition
How it evolved, what we do with it, futures; And otherwise interesting stuff
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Jared Diamond - How Societies Fail-And Sometimes Succeed - Long Now Foundation

Jared Diamond articulately spelled out how his best-selling book, COLLAPSE, took shape. At first it was going to be a book of 18 chapters chronicling 18 coll...
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At first it was going to be a book of 18 chapters chronicling 18 collapses of once-powerful societies--- the Mayans with the most advanced culture in the Americas, the Anasazi who built six-story skyscrapers at Chaco, the Norse who occupied Greenland for 500 years. But he wanted to contrast those with success stories like Tokugawa-era Japan, which wholly reversed its lethal deforestation, and Iceland, which learned to finesse a highly fragile and subtle environment...

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Death: Why we should be grateful for it - life - 22 October 2012 - New Scientist

Death: Why we should be grateful for it - life - 22 October 2012 - New Scientist | cognition | Scoop.it

DEATH gets a bad press. Invariably the unwelcome visitor, arriving too soon, he is feared and loathed: "the last enemy" in the words of the Bible.

But a few poets and philosophers throughout history have argued that without death we would be at a loss. It's the prospect of his coming that gets us out of bed in the morning and drives us to great deeds. Now a growing body of evidence from social psychology suggests that these thinkers are right. People might dream of a deathless civilisation, but without death, there would barely be a civilisation at all.

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Read of the day: Social evolution: The ritual animal

Read of the day: Social evolution: The ritual animal | cognition | Scoop.it
Praying, fighting, dancing, chanting — human rituals could illuminate the growth of community and the origins of civilization.

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As an example of how rituals can cause values and preferences to become sacralized, Atran points to his studies showing that, in the United States, people who attend church more frequently are more likely to consider the right to bear arms a sacred value11.

“Emotionally intense rituals have bound us together and pitted us against our enemies throughout the history of our species,” says Whitehouse. “It was only when nomadic foragers began to settle down did we discover the possibilities for establishing much larger societies based on frequently repeated creeds and rituals.”

The big question, he says, is whether this kind of unity can be extended to humanity at large. For Whitehouse, understanding the ways that rituals shape group behaviour is the first step towards finding out how they can be harnessed to dampen down conflict between groups. He hopes that such insights could help policy-makers to “establish new forms of peaceful cooperation, as well as bringing down dictators”.


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Wildcat2030's curator insight, January 24, 2013 8:19 AM

An important step in understanding civilization and modern culture

Valentin Chirosca's curator insight, January 27, 2013 6:52 AM

same areas have same rituals...

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Sign in to read: Lethal weapons and the evolution of civilisation - 10 October 2012 - New Scientist

Sign in to read: Lethal weapons and the evolution of civilisation - 10 October 2012 - New Scientist | cognition | Scoop.it

At the heart of this theory is a simple idea: the invention of weapons that could kill at a distance meant that power became uncoupled from physical strength. Even the puniest subordinate could now kill an alpha male, with the right weapon and a reasonable aim. Those who wanted power were forced to obtain it by other means - persuasion, cunning, charm - and so began the drive ...

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