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Archive for the ‘Bonobo vs. Chimp Culture’ Category

“Although gender differences on average are not under dispute, the idea of consistently and inflexibly gender-typed individuals is,” Bobbi J. Carothers of Washington University in St. Louis and Harry T. Reis of the University of Rochester explained in their study. “That is, there are not two distinct genders, but instead there are linear gradations of variables associated with sex, such as masculinity or intimacy, all of which are continuous.”

Analyzing 122 different characteristics from 13,301 individuals in 13 studies, the researchers concluded that differences between men and women were best seen as dimensional rather than categorical. In other words, the differences between men and women should be viewed as a matter of degree rather than a sign of consistent differences between two distinct groups.

via Study debunks notion that men and women are psychologically distinct | The Raw Story.

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A Harvard professor has hatched a plan to bring back the Neanderthals—but he needs an “adventurous” female volunteer to deliver a knuckle-dragging bundle of joy.

A longer interview with George Church, the man proposing the experiment, can be read here.

 

via Wanted: ‘Adventurous’ Woman to Birth Neanderthal – Bringing Neanderthals back could save humanity, geneticist says.

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Han_zur_Abmessung.jpg

The 2D:4D ratio is considered a crude measure to indicate exposure to androgens (testosterone) in the womb. Testosterone exposure in utero has been correlated with various physical and behavioral traits.

The 2D:4D ratio is present before birth, ruling out any environmental causes. It is calculated by measuring the length of the right index finger from the crease where it joins the hand. A similar measure is taken of the right ring finger. Divide the length of the index finger of the right hand by the length of the ring finger. A longer index finger will result in a ratio higher than 1, while a longer ring finger will result in a ratio of less than 1. Ratios lower than 1 are correlated with testosterone exposure in the womb.

Some studies suggest that digit ratio correlates with health, behavior, and even sexuality in later life. Wikipedia has a list of traits correlated with digit digit ratio, including links out to detailed information about each one.

via Digit ratio – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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Being Cruel: It’s Not Blind Obedience; There is Enthusiasm in the Act

We’ve relied on the Milgram Experiment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment) and the Stanford Prison Experiment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment) for explaining how and why ordinary people, like ourselves, can commit acts of extreme cruelty and harm. While they tell part of the story, it seems we may have overlooked other important pieces of human motivation inherent to committing cruel acts. 

A new study argues that “…tyranny does not result from blind conformity to rules and roles. Rather, it is a creative act of followership, resulting from identifying with authorities who represent vicious acts as virtuous. “Decent people participate in horrific acts not because they become passive, mindless functionaries who do not know what they are doing, but rather because they come to believe—typically under the influence of those in authority—that what they are doing is right,” Professor Haslam explained.”

via Human obedience: The myth of blind conformity.

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Conclusions

What can we do to encourage people to help more?

  1. Present them with a single, identifiable victim who they can help: people are more motivated to help if they can feel a personal connection with the victim.

  2. Appeal to their emotions: heightened emotional responses encourage altruistic behaviour.

  3. Instill a sense of responsibility to help, and an understanding that doing so is not futile.

via Blog: Why don’t people help others more? – part 1 | 80,000 Hours.

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Drinking as little as half a pint of beer per week during pregnancy can cut a baby’s intelligence by several IQ points.

via Moderate drink during pregnancy can lower baby’s IQ – health – 15 November 2012 – New Scientist.

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Men with partners increase the space they feel comfortable with between themselves and an attractive woman if exposed to the bonding hormone oxytocin.

René Hurlemann at the University of Bonn in Germany and colleagues gave men either a sniff of oxytocin or a placebo before asking them to choose the ideal distance for an interaction with a woman. The distance that they felt was comfortable significantly increased after sniffing oxytocin, but only for men in relationships.

The team conclude that oxytocin discourages partnered but not single men from getting close to a female stranger.

Journal reference: Journal of Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.2755-12.2012

via Oxytocin changes partnered men’s behaviour – life – 13 November 2012 – New Scientist.

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Scientists have taken a step forward in helping to solve one of life’s greatest mysteries – what makes us human?
via New brain gene gives us edge over apes, study suggests.

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Human animals have always had a hefty egoic sense of exceptionalism which has proven harmful, and often lethal, to all other animals. We tell ourselves we are the only animals who can feel pain, then discover most other creatures have fully

 functioning nervous systems. We tell ourselves we are the only animals with emotional capacities, so we call evidence of emotions in other animals “merely instinct”. We tell ourselves we are the only animals with a sense of morality, until we experience it in animals with whom we have become familiar.

Human Beings may seem exceptional to themselves, but in the whole scope of things, we are just one member of a very large tribe of living creatures, all of whom are in various stages of evolutionary adaptation.

via Mark Rowlands – Animal morality.

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P
eople aren’t really stupid.

These people are not stupid. These people were well educated and intellectually groomed. Stupid isn’t the right word for these people.

These people were susceptible. Their individual and collective egos were reaching up towards an ideal which held them as superior beings.

I proffer that this type of egoic reaction is somewhat involuntary. Many are able to resist the enticement of superiority, or worship, of self-aggrandizement, but eventually all but the rarest of creatures gives way and wallows within the hope of it.

I think it is a security vulnerability in the software of the human brain. Just as we rush to prepare patches to shore up the vulnerabilities on our technological counterparts, so, too, could we rush to prepare a patch for this paradigm shifting vulnerability which has been repeatedly exploited throughout history by those who have a clear understanding of how it works.

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via Humpback Whale Shows AMAZING Appreciation After Being Freed From Nets – YouTube.

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For many people, meat and leather are an ethical and environmental nightmare, causing misery to billions of animals and wreaking havoc on the planet’s ecosystems.

The company Modern Meadow is one of the cutting edge labs working on in-vitro meat and now have announced in-vitro leather, too.

Within the next decade, there will be no excuse other than cruelty to eat the flesh of non-human animals or to wear their skins.

Now, that’s progress!

via Modern Meadow plans on producing lab-grown leather.

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Just days after a poacher’s snare had killed one of their own, two young mountain gorillas worked together Tuesday to find and destroy traps in their Rwandan forest home, according to conservationists on the scene.

“This is absolutely the first time that we’ve seen juveniles doing that … I don’t know of any other reports in the world of juveniles destroying snares,” said Veronica Vecellio, gorilla program coordinator at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Karisoke Research Center, located in the reserve where the event took place.

“We are the largest database and observer of wild gorillas … so I would be very surprised if somebody else has seen that,” Vecellio added.

via Gorilla Youngsters Seen Dismantling Poachers’ Traps—A First.

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Changing/Choosing the Type of Ant Is Easy
(by manipulating simple chemicals during egg growth)

A facebook page entitled simply “Evolution” explains it thus: 
Is the reality of Captain America still far off? Putting it simply, yes. However, manipulating genes can unleash the ‘Super Soldier’ inside Ants

.

Ants are famous for their teamwork, living in vast colonies in nests of fantastic sizes, with one colony in Australia even measuring 100km wide. The level of cooperation and organisation within colonies is incredibly complex with it often being likened to human organisation and as such is often studied as a base model to increase efficiency of human systems. 

This organisation relies on a number of key types or “castes” of ant as they are often called. Workers and soldiers continuously work to protect and feed their Queen, but some species also rely on a caste of ant known as ‘supersoldiers’. These ants protect the Queen by blocking the entrance to the colonies nest with their abnormally large heads.

Usually the caste of an ant is decided by the environment the egg grows in. Tiny changes to factors, such as temperature and nutrition, affect the individuals purpose within the colony. Dr. Abouheif and his team, from McGill University in Montreal, have discovered that the caste of an ant can be changed by altering the concentration of juvenile hormone in the egg.

This was tested in a number of species and even found that many species that didn’t naturally have the ‘supersoldier’ caste could produce this type of ant with the right amount of juvenile hormone added to an egg, at the right stage of development. The fact that species without the caste can naturally have it induced in them shows that organisms with common ancestors can be commonly affected to produce evolutionary significant changes, all through the interplay of relatively simple chemicals. 

This could mean that if similar relationships are found within other organisms, we could easily manipulate them to produce fantastic benefits for human kind such as fast growing and breeding crops in harsh conditions, which would help to end world hunger or if we could learn to reverse these relationships we may be able to reverse the rapid growth of cancerous cells potentially, curing one of the most deadly diseases known to man. JB

Abouheif, E. et al., 2012. Ancestral Developmental Potential Facilitates Parallel Evolution in Ants. Science, 335 (6064) pp. 79-82.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3561352.stm
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/16424096

via BBC Nature – Ants turned into ‘supersoldiers’.

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Think your moral choices are clear, concise and firm? Read this and think again.

Choice Blindness is a phenomena occurring in the areas of taste, smell and aesthetic appeal. Now, moral choice has been shown to be just as malleable. So, what is choice blindness? and why does it matter?

A simple test was conducted by researchers at Lund University. They asked random people walking through a park if they would fill out a simple questionaire about their moral principles. The questions covered topics ranging from prosititution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Surveys were filled out by 160 people, but unknown to the participants, there was a trick to them (see video): While the second page of the survey was being completed, the statements on the first page of the survey were surreptitiously changed to the opposite moral position, while leaving the participants answers the same.

Then, the participants were asked to read three of the moral positions on page 1, including two which had been altered, and discuss their response to them. The results were surprising.

HALF of the participants did not detect the changes at all. 69% accepted at least one of the altered statements. An unimaginable 53% argued unequivocally for the reversed moral position.

This is “choice blindness”. It demonstrates how malleable and flexible people really are.

A psychologist adds, “These findings suggest that if I’m fooled into thinking that I endorse a view, I’ll do the work myself to come up with my own reasons [for endorsing it],” .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KO_cDCoRACg&feature=player_embedded

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