April 3, 2008

MetaLinking – 2008/04/03


Hominid Bipedalism began 6 Million Years Ago – “First detailed look at Orrorin tugenensis bones proves earliest hominin walked upright, researchers say. Far from being a recent, revolutionary development, the ability to walk upright on two legs began at the dawn of human evolution more than six million years ago, new research confirms.” - Current research on the historical development (phylogenesis) of our species is endlessly fascinating. This argument makes a strong case for the definitive role of walking upright in our transition to more sophisticated modes of existing.

The Science Behind Cross-Linguistic Psychology - “While communication may be recognized as a universal phenomenon, differences between languages -- ranging from word-order to semantics -- undoubtedly remain as they help to define culture and develop language. Yet, little is understood about similarities and differences in languages around the world and how they affect communication. Recently, however, two studies have emerged that aid in our understanding of cross-linguistic distinctions in language usage.” - Linguistics and the study of language use and semantics becomes so important when we want to begin understanding the integrated (bio-psycho-social-contextual) nature of ‘meaning’. In essence, the study of memetics is a close cousin to linguistics.

Important Outcomes In Emerging Adulthood Can Be Predicted By Childhood Personality – “A new study in the Journal of Personality reveals the extent to which children's personality types can predict the timing of key transitional moments between childhood and adulthood.”

How to Distinguish between Appropriate and Inappropriate Emotions: A Guide to Using Cognitive Techniques – “...what if the joy of being human lies in dancing at the highest peaks of joy, and crying in the lowest valleys? Perhaps without sadness, without fear, without all the frustrations – the tapestry will be incomplete, a garish painting composed only of the brightest colours. Perhaps whatever we are experiencing right now – the deepest sorrows, a mild melancholy, or the highest bliss – is exactly what we are meant to experience.”

Is The Brain Damaged By Stress?
– “The authors measured the gray matter density of the brains of combat-exposed Vietnam veterans, some with and some without PTSD, and their combat-unexposed identical twins using a technology called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The detailed images provided by the MRI scans then allowed the investigators to compare specific brain regions of the siblings. They found that the gray matter density of the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex, an area of the brain involved in emotional functioning, was reduced in veterans with PTSD, but not in their twins who had not experienced combat. According to Dr. Pitman, "this finding supports the conclusion that the psychological stress resulting from the traumatic stressor may damage this brain region, with deleterious emotional consequences."

‘Multiple Intelligences’ at 25 – “Inside Higher Ed. takes a look at the influence of the concept of multiple intelligences, 25 years after the release of Howard Gardner's ‘Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences’.”


Has the Einstein Revolution Gone Too Far? – “Einstein ended science's devotion to experience, believing the constancy of the speed of light. With physicists now theorizing about subatomic strings, parallel universes, and higher dimensions, the challenge may be to come back down to earth.” - This is a fantastic article on science, culture and human knowledge.

Meditation gets cool and sexy makeover aimed at youth
– “Max Simon is a man with a mission -- to give the ancient art of meditation a cool, sexy makeover that will appeal to young people who have never heard of Maharishi Yogi. Forty years after Western baby boomers started dabbling in yoga and Indian transcendental practices, Simon, 25, is ditching some of the traditions in a bid to encourage 1 million young people to connect with their inner selves.”

Wrestling With God - "The Road Less Traveled may well have been a life-changing work and one of the best-selling books of all time... Scott Peck had a station-wagon with plates that read "THLOST" in his driveway. They speak of his lifelong journey as a self-described mystic. His last book is a memoir titled Glimpses of the Devil."

Indirect Truths: Gore Aims to Go Beyond His Base
– “…a quick post on Gore's new ad campaign, launched officially with an appearance last night on 60 Minutes. I haven't see the ads yet and I didn't see last night's program, but from news reports, the campaign appears to incorporate the types of necessary strategies that I've written about at this blog, in articles, or that I have highlighted in talks over the past year.”

Religion and Tribal Cooperation – “What are your thoughts on kashrut primarily as a means of group indentity reinforcement, ritual, and control? In pre-literate times or in unstable social settings, wouldn't dietary habits be a useful means of tracking who is and is not a member of one's tribe? (Dietary laws also have the effect of confering monopoly power to those preparing and selling the food.) To test whether religion might have emerged as a way of improving group co-operation while reducing the need to keep an eye out for free-riders, Dr Sosis drew on a catalogue of 19th-century American communes published in 1988 by Yaacov Oved of Tel Aviv University.”


When Evolution Tends To Maximize the Diversity and Functioning Of Ecosystems
– “Evolution can lead to greater biological diversity, and particularly to improvements in the functioning of ecosystems. New research shows evolution as a structuring force for ecosystems, and it open new paths to interpreting the relationship between the diversity of living beings and the functioning of ecosystems.”

Blurring Boundaries Between The Real And The Virtual
- "Using a virtual pendulum and its real-world counterpart, scientists at the University of Illinois have created the first mixed reality state in a physical system. Through bidirectional instantaneous coupling, each pendulum "sensed" the other, their motions became correlated, and the two began swinging as one."

13 Best Energy Ideas
– “Energy policies and technologies that can get us on the path toward a sustainable future (plus a few that won’t). Investments in energy projects will total $16 trillion in the next two decades. That investment—along with spending for long-lived buildings, transportation, manufacturing, and public works—could lock us into climate chaos.”

Greenwashing. Environment, Perils, Promises and Perplexities
– “Today people will look down on you if your art space doesn't have an exhibition dedicated to ecological issues on its agenda. Unsurprisingly, Milan still hasn't organized anything worth mentioning but her little neighbour, the enlightened and chilly Turin, did. The show is called Greenwashing. Environment, Perils, Promises and Perplexities and is on view at the Fondazione Rebaudengo until May 11, 2008.”

Disentangling the SES-health correlation
– “In the field of social health research, it has been shown difficult to disentangle the correlation between poor health and low social economic status (SES) into causal effects in either direction. Both causal interpretations seem plausible: when in poor health, improving your career becomes more difficult, and people of a low SES generally live in a more unhealthy manner, for instance due to poor housing and eating habits. Despite all the difficulties of disentangling this correlation, Case et al. (2005) have made a very serious attempt in doing so...” - A few of us at IRG have direct experience with the methodological and theoretical challenges of studying the relationship between economics and public health dynamics. The research featured in this link goes a long way to overcoming some of these challenges. For readers seriously interested in public health issues and social equality this is a must read.


The Politics of Optimism – “Optimism is a political act. Entrenched interests use despair, confusion and apathy to prevent change. They encourage modes of thinking which lead us to believe that problems are insolvable, that nothing we do can matter, that the issue is too complex to present even the opportunity for change. It is a long-standing political art to sow the seeds of mistrust between those you would rule over: as Machiavelli said, tyrants do not care if they are hated, so long as those under them do not love one another.”

Exodus: Where Will Iraq Go Next?
– “Refugees International estimates that up to five million Iraqis have been displaced since 2003. That’s one-in-five Iraqis who have had to flee their homes since the US-led invasion of their country. Two-and-a-half million Iraqis have been internally displaced, and an equal number have managed to leave the country to Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, the Gulf States and, most of all, Syria, which hosts 1.5 million Iraqis.”

VIDEO: From the Frontlines of Humanity: Former UN Relief Coordinator on World Crises—Congo, Darfur, Iraq, Colombia and Palestine
– “As former UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and the former UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland spent years working with the world’s neediest and in conflict zones including Darfur, Colombia, Gaza, Lebanon, Uganda, the Congo and Iraq. Egeland joins us to talk about his time dealing with world crises, which he documents in a new memoir, ‘A Billion Lives: An Eyewitness Report from the Frontlines of Humanity’.”

Jeff Sachs on water policy
– “Chapter five of Common Wealth is called "Securing Our Water Needs," an important topic but one neglected by most economists. One lesson is that climate change will put a big stress on water supplies. So far, so good, but the recommendations start with greater international cooperation…” - We can't stress enough how important water and the politics of water is becoming. Please take the time learn more about this important topic.

Beware the Military-Industrial Complex – “President Eisenhower, himself a former general, famously warned about the military-industrial complex and its potential hold on the U.S. in the late 1950s. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, al Qaeda's lack of traditional forces and China's relatively peaceful rise, said complex may have found a new security threat looming in climate change late in the first decade of the 21st century. Reports about the threat of global warming have been prepared for the Pentagon. World leaders have been warned about the imminent security risk it poses. And, most importantly, military strategies and their attendant hardware to cope with the potential threat are being developed.”

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