Over at the terrific new Law & Mind Blog, some Harvard Law students are writing a series of posts reviewing other mind-science blogs. Each post provides a summary of several blogs and features one that the author finds especially valuable. Here’s Part 6 of that series (authored by 1L Marty Ehlenbach).
Neuroanthropology: Featured Blog
Neuroscience and anthropology, culture and environment, past and present. This blog seeks to find relevant connections between various disciplines to better understand the encultured brain and body. From the authors:
Although we believe that human neural structure is biological and the product of evolution, we also recognize that the development processes shaping each individual include a host of other forces as well, including internal dynamics, so that we cannot privilege any single cause over all others.
The blog was originally created as an independent blog here (check it out for old posts), but moved to become part of a network of blogs on mind sciences. Its principal bloggers are Daniel Lende, anthropology professor from the University of South Florida, and Greg Downey, anthropology professor at Macquerie University in Sydney, Australia.
Why neuroanthropology? This post explains that the brain itself adapts to its environment, and thus to fully understand it we need to look both at biology and at culture. It further states four roles for neuroanthropologists:
(1) understanding the interaction of brain and culture and its implication for our understanding of mind, behavior, and self; (2) examining the role of the nervous system in the creation of social structures; (3) providing empirical and critical inquiry into the interplay of neuroscience and ideologies about the brain; and (4) using neuroanthropology to provide novel syntheses and advances in human science theory.
The blog generally presents academic research, and features a number of guest bloggers. It seeks to both explain things clearly and to rigorously analyze the accuracy of findings in popular science. One article criticizes the idea of memes, while another exposes faulty reporting regarding a finding connecting having sex and willingness to take financial risks. Another, very relevant to legal questions about culpability and rationales behind punishment, discusses how we should think about the ways that culture shapes our morality. Do we act in a certain way because we’ve been shaped by evolution to do so? In what sense are our decisions actually self-determined? These topics, and many more, make reading the blog a fascinating and multifaceted experience.
See below for other interesting blogs relating to mind science.
This blog is part of a wider project to promote an exchange of knowledge by connecting experts in a variety of fields. Authored by David Berreby, a writer and researcher, Mind Matters focuses to a large extent on studies in the area of social psychology, and analyzes current current news and research. We, as human beings, do not act rationally, and this has far-reaching consequences in law, economics, and virtually every field; Berreby highlights “the gaps between what we think we’re doing and what research says we’re doing.” Discussions range from the ways that genes help you choose your friends to musings on the widely controversial book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, and generally contain links to scientific studies to make research easily available to the interested reader.
Founded by Brooklyn Law School Professor Adam Kolber, the Neuroethics & Law blog is a forum for those interested in “legal and ethical issues relating to the brain and cognition.” It highlights news relating to the field of brain science, links to recently published research, and announces conferences. In one particularly interesting discussion, Kolber uses a recent court case to argue that we have an ethical obligation to take into account the particular ways that prisoners experience punishment. In the case discussed, a Dutch prisoner is suing because he prison cell is simply too small to accommodate a person of his large stature; considering the implications, one wonders if the theory could extend to different treatment for prisoners with a dislike of small spaces, or possibly a fear of orange jumpsuits…
Originally here (check out for older posts), the blog has moved over to Psychology Today, and as expected deals with a wide variety of popular topics in the field of psychology. The blog includes interviews with psychologists, and links to various videos of interest to author David DiSalvo, as well as presenting his musings on a wide variety of topics relating to decision-making and how we experience the world. Most importantly, Mr. DiSalvo settles the argument over which breed of monster, the vampire or the zombie, best captures the imagination of the modern psyche in a recession economy.
As expected, this blog focuses on ways you can make money by taking recent brain research into account when creating an ad, discussing marketing strategy, or thinking about building a brand. It also discusses ethical implications of new technology, highlights new studies, and discusses basic things businesses can do to ensure success. Written by Roger Dooley, a neuromarketing consultant, it does its best to show that marketing does not have to be used to obfuscate or bamboozle, but can have a positive effect on the world as well.