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The Global Sociology Blog - The MOOC Experience

The Global Sociology Blog - The MOOC Experience | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it

So, the MOOC is over. It has been a very interesting six week but I made it. I completed all the projects and I am now waiting for my completion certificate. So, what has this MOOC experience been like?

 

To recap, the MOOC I took was Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization, offered through the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, University of Texas at Austin, and taught by Alberto Cairo. I wanted to take a MOOC because it seems to be the thing right now. You can find almost every day an item about MOOCs in the Chronicle of Higher Education or Inside Higher Ed. I tend to be skeptical of buzzwords. So, I thought, at the very least, and before passing final judgment in MOOCs, I should take at least one. And I did not want to take a sociology course because *yawn*. I thought I might as well try to learn something in the process of testing out the format. After all, I have already let it be known at my college that I wanted to develop MOOCs there.

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Diaperless Babies: 'Lunatic' Or 'Positive' Parenting?

Diaperless Babies: 'Lunatic' Or 'Positive' Parenting? | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
Like many parents around the world, some moms and dads in Brooklyn are choosing to raise their children without using any diapers. How does this work and does it make any sense? Commentator Barbara J.
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hedgeshandy's comment, October 17, 2013 6:24 AM
<br>Its incredible :)
sledderwool's comment, June 13, 1:29 AM
Thats cooler
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The Top 10 Challenges for Brain Science in 2013

The Top 10 Challenges for Brain Science in 2013 | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
2012 was a big year for brain science, and 2013 promises to be even bigger.

Via Jocelyn Stoller
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Rhoda Floyd's curator insight, March 14, 2013 5:50 PM

Lots of room for Neuroanthropology, here.

Coletta P. Kahn's comment, July 25, 2013 5:15 AM
Thanks for this!
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Stanford Magazine - The Menace Within - July/August 2011

It began with an ad in the classifieds.

Male college students needed for psychological study of prison life. $15 per day for 1-2 weeks. More than 70 people volunteered to take part in the study, to be conducted in a fake prison housed inside Jordan Hall, on Stanford's Main Quad. The leader of the study was 38-year-old psychology professor Philip Zimbardo. He and his fellow researchers selected 24 applicants and randomly assigned each to be a prisoner or a guard.

Greg Downey's insight:

Amazing first-hand accounts of the Standford Prison Experiment in 1971. Wow! Should be required reading for anyone interested in social psychology. Note, it's an old piece, but I hadn't seen it, and I have to flag it.

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Performance reviews - time for a final warning?

Performance reviews - time for a final warning? | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
Among the hundreds of reasons to hate performance reviews, here's another: They dull certain parts of our brains. Temporarily, at least.
Greg Downey's insight:

It's that time of year when we have to set our 'goals' for the upcoming year, engaging in the stultifying prelude to the annual kabuki theatre piece that is performance evaluation. As the author puts it:

 

"The typical performance review system doesn't work because you're demotivating half your population, poking them in the eye with a sharp stick," she says. And, apparently, dulling sections of their brains for a while too.

Or, in other words, just count our publications and the students in our classes and our number of advisees and leave us alone to actually do our work....

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Explainer: nature, nurture and neuroplasticity

Explainer: nature, nurture and neuroplasticity | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
The human brain is the most complex and extraordinary structure in the known universe.
Greg Downey's insight:

Includes good discussion of adult neurogenesis and its therapeutic uses:

"Research I’m involved in has shown that environmental enrichment, with increased levels of cognitive stimulation and physical activity, can delay disease onset and slow progression in a genetic model of the fatal inherited disorder, Huntington’s disease."

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Some Mao Era Ethnographic Films

Some Mao Era Ethnographic Films | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
Clearly massive hard drives are becoming like attics—places where forgotten things wait to be rediscovered. Yesterday while talking with a friend in the final stages of dissertation writing about t...
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The Napoleon Chagnon Wars Flare Up Again In Anthropology : NPR

The Napoleon Chagnon Wars Flare Up Again In Anthropology  : NPR | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
For decades anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon has incited uproar with his claims of genetically-rooted violence among Venezuela's Ya̧nomamö Indians.
Greg Downey's insight:

Barbara King's excellent discussion of the whole Chagnon affair.

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There's Such a Thing as "Human Nature," Right?

There's Such a Thing as "Human Nature," Right? | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
Joe Henrich and his colleagues are shaking the foundations of psychology and economics—and hoping to change the way human behavior and culture is understood.

Via Jocelyn Stoller
Greg Downey's insight:

More discussion of the excellent article by Henrich, Heine and Norenzayan. Hope it's making some kind of impact on psychology!

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Anthropologist rightfully denounces militarization

Anthropologist rightfully denounces militarization | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
Top anthropologist Marshall Sahlins’ resignation from the National Academy of Sciences brings up questions of scientific goals and application.
Greg Downey's insight:

Peggy Trawick passed along this piece on the resignation of Sahlins. It's short, but it also highlights that the issue wasn't just the admission of Napoleon Chagnon.

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Grand Rounds Video: Neural Plasticity and Addiction

Neuroscientist Dr Mark Thomas recently spoke at Yale University Grand Rounds in the Department of Psychiatry on the topic of "Plasticity in the Neural Circuits for Reward."

 

Dr Thomas offered data from his research on cutting-edge models of addiction. He summarized findings on how experience can produce long-lasting changes in the function of synapses—“synaptic plasticity”—in reward circuits of the brain. He noted that although many symptoms of psychiatric disorders are likely due to maladaptive plasticity in mesolimbic dopamine(Drug information on dopamine) reward pathways, there is still a shortage of data on the specific nature of this plasticity and the role it may play in influencing cognition and behavior.

Greg Downey's insight:

Just a short clip, but some interesting links.

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Doctors find tapeworm in Sydney rocker's brain

Doctors find tapeworm in Sydney rocker's brain | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
The lead singer of Sydney punk band Frenzal Rhomb has had a pig tapeworm removed from his brain after eating a contaminated vegetarian burrito in Central America.
Greg Downey's insight:

As Jay Whalley tells his fans, straight from a pig, to a food prep guy, through a burrito, into his brain, where it lives for four years.

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Bad sleep 'dramatically' alters body

Bad sleep 'dramatically' alters body | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
A run of poor sleep can have a dramatic effect on the internal workings of the human body, say UK researchers.
Greg Downey's insight:

Apparently the effects are really most pronounced on inflamatory responses and the immune system. They're using the results, according to the article, to work on ways to 'do away with sleep.'

 

So researchers at the University of Surrey analysed the blood of 26 people after they had had plenty of sleep, up to 10 hours each night for a week, and compared the results with samples after a week of fewer than six hours a night.

 

More than 700 genes were altered by the shift. Each contains the instructions for building a protein, so those that became more active produced more proteins - changing the chemistry of the body.

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The Arabs and their flying shoes

The Arabs and their flying shoes | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
Ethnographic works on American or European culture of shoe-throwing is absolutely necessary, argues Dabashi.
Greg Downey's insight:

One of the most difficult tasks we people of Oriental descent face when we live here in North America is precisely this urgent need to explain to our friends and colleagues why is it that our folks "back home" so loathe their shoes that they throw them at their enemies while here in North America the anthropological fact we immediately notice is exactly the opposite and how people so utterly adore their shoes that throwing it at a person is nothing short of a stirring sign of adoration and even flirtations, depending on the season of the year, region of the US, where the ritual takes place, and/or the age and sex of the shoe-thrower.    

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Reductionism in Cognitive Science

Reductionism in Cognitive Science | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
An Example of Epistemic Reduction in Cognitive Science A description of theoretic and explanatory reductions and their features is followed by an example of epistemic reduction of a model in cognit...

Via Donald J Bolger
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The history of the birth of neuroculture

The history of the birth of neuroculture | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
My recent Observer piece examined how neuroscience has saturated popular culture but the story of how we found ourselves living in a 'neuroculture' is itself quite fascinating. Everyday brain conce...
Greg Downey's insight:

Vaughan Bell's stuff is always good, but this little post is particularly suggestive. Vaughan identifies some of the currents that fed into the idea that the brain was the seat of the self, including psychedelic drugs, military research, and pharmaceutical company advertising. On the last, he writes:

 

"In the following years, as neuroscience became prominent and psychoanalysis waned, pharmaceutical companies realised they had to sell theories to make their drugs marketable. The theories couldn’t be the messy ideas of actual science, however, they needed to be straightforward stories of how specific neurotransmitters were tied to simple psychological concepts, not least because psychiatric medication was now largely prescribed by family doctors. Low serotonin leads to depression, too much dopamine causes madness. The fact these theories were wrong was irrelevant, they just needed to be reason enough to prescribe the advertised pill. The Prozac generation was sold and the pharmacology of self became dinner table conversation."

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sledderwool's comment, June 13, 1:27 AM
Thats outstanding...
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Anthropomics: Genetics as political ideology

Anthropomics: Genetics as political ideology | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
Greg Downey's insight:

Jonathan Marks brings a really strong critique of the political naivite of a lot of genetics research:

'This is political and has always been.  The people who are the most political tend to be the ones claiming self-consciously to be the most scientific, and tend to be the ones whose science stands up the worst.  That's another reason to study history.  It’s time to stop allowing people to pretend that this science isn’t political, and claiming the higher scientific ground for for their thinly cloaked politicized science; they are entitled only to the lower scholarly ground and the lower moral ground.  That’s is not where science belongs.'

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In Conversation with Jared Diamond: "Traditional societies are not frozen models of the past"

In Conversation with Jared Diamond: "Traditional societies are not frozen models of the past" | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
American scientist and author Jared Diamond was recently in Australia promoting his 5th book The World Until Yesterday: What can we learn from traditional societies?
Greg Downey's insight:

If you're not over Jared Diamond's account of the differences between Us and Them, and his shtick about fearing the shower, there's more from an interview he did with sociologist Peter Christoff. For example, he has no time for criticisms that he's homogenizing indigenous groups:

 

'The traditional societies that we see today are not frozen models of the past, on the one hand. On the other hand, they’re not irrelevant to the past because they are still small-scale societies. And when you’ve got 200 people, and whether the 200 people are from today or whether the 200 people are from 30,000 years ago, there are some things that you have to have with 200 people. So in short, I think my book is faithful to the complexities of the problem.'


In other words, I acknowledge what my critics say, but then dismiss it and suggest it's irrelevant because I thought of it. 

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Home - ANU E Press - ANU

Home - ANU E Press - ANU | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
Greg Downey's insight:

If you don't already know about it, ANU Press is one of the really interesting presses out there, offering ebook versions of their titles for free to download. 

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X-Labs: Science Communication Meets A Rock Concert | Neuroanthropology

X-Labs: Science Communication Meets A Rock Concert | Neuroanthropology | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
[PLOS Blog update] X-Labs: Science Communication Meets A Rock Concert http://t.co/1OK7VDWbjY
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luiy's curator insight, March 3, 2013 5:17 PM

A fire tornado! Tesla coils playing music! Exploding microwaves! That’s the X-Labs at the University of South Florida, a student initiative to promote science and engineering.

 

Take stage production, add in social media skills, and apply that to science. That’s what the X-Labs delivered at the USF’s 41st Engineering EXPO last weekend. I went to the Expo with my ten-year old son, and we had a blast seeing all the great projects geared towards kids and adults alike. The X-Labs show was our grand finale.

 

Smoke rings and candy liberally doused the audience even before the event began, all part of getting the audience geared up. Then the show started, with a robot playing drums, music and fire mixed together to show sound waves, and spinning chicken wire to create a flaming spiral. That one was entrancing! The photo above doesn’t do it justice. It was like the best souped-up campfire ever.

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Economics and the Brain: How People Really Make Decisions in Turbulent Times

Economics and the Brain: How People Really Make Decisions in Turbulent Times | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
In a 2008 paper on neuroeconomics, economist George Loewenstein said: “Whereas psychologists tend to view humans as fallible and sometime even

Via Jocelyn Stoller
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Wire | Amnesty International

Wire | Amnesty International | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it

WIRE is Amnesty International's global magazine for people who are passionate about human rights. Read about our campaigns and fresh research, meet the people we work for and with, and - most importantly - take action.

Greg Downey's insight:

Latest issue of Amnesty International's Wire magazine is out -- available for download here. Stories on arms treaties, human cost of Syria, Romani activism, and more. Free to download.

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The Internet for her: Amazon reviews as a comedic genre

The Internet for her: Amazon reviews as a comedic genre | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
Banana slicers, unicorn meat, BIC for Her pens, steering wheel tables — all these Amazon products are subject to comedic reviews, reflecting our desire for the ridiculous and our relationships with products.
Greg Downey's insight:

Great discussion of the genre of satirical reviews by Celia Emmelhainz. Well worth a read, although did not make me cry laughing like the Goat Edition of Whitney Houston 'I Will Always Love You.' Still excellent enough though that I will not write a satirical comment on this piece by Celia.

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Army plows ahead with troubled war-zone program

Army plows ahead with troubled war-zone program | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
A $250 million Army program designed to aid U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has been riddled by serious problems that include payroll padding, sexual harassment and racism, a USA TODAY investigation finds.
Greg Downey's insight:

The morally and technically dubious Human Terrain System also riddled with financial improprieties. As Hugh Gusterson of George Mason University put it, mincing no words: 'The program recruited the human flotsam and jetsam of the discipline and pretended it was recruiting the best. Treating taxpayer money as if it were water, it paid under-qualified 20-something anthropologists more than even Harvard professors. And it treated our ethics code as a nuisance to be ignored.'

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College Education in America: “Learning to Be Stupid in the Culture of Cash” | Global Research

College Education in America: “Learning to Be Stupid in the Culture of Cash” | Global Research | Neuroanthropology | Scoop.it
Greg Downey's insight:

This education is a vast waste of the resources and potential of the young. It is boring beyond belief and useless–except to the powers and interests that depend on it. When A Ukranian student, a three-week arrival on these shores, writes the best-organized and most profound essay in English of the class, American education has something to answer for–especially to our youth.

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Language Log » Universal alphabet

Greg Downey's insight:

"Although backers of this supposed universal alphabet claim that "it will make pronunciation easy and foster international understanding", I have doubts that SaypU (Spell As You Pronounce Universal project) constitutes a viable route to world peace."


But Douglas Adams has alread warned us about the potential in The Hitchhiker's Guide:

"The Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different cultures and races, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation."

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