First Psychiatric Hospital: A Study in Contrast

Filed under: History, Mental illness | No Comments

“WORKROOM” Bethlem Royal Hospital of London (1860) founded 1330 … you find yourself in a long and wide gallery, on either side of which are a large number of little cells where lunatics of every description are shut up, and you can get a sight of these poor creatures, little windows being let into the …

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Narrative Truth

Narrative (vs empirical) Truth

Filed under: Evolutionary psychology, History, Myth | 2 Comments

“What brings you in today?” you ask after a new patient sits down in your office. The first order of business is a chronology of the present illness. Precisely when did the problem start? What was happening both at that moment and more generally in his/her life? Then the present illness prompts targeted questions about …

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Seafaring Homo erectus

Human Evolution: Earlier and Earlier

Filed under: Ancient human migration, History, Migration

A rule of human evolution research is that the milestones in the progression of becoming human are always getting earlier. The most prominent of those backward-creeping milestones is the date of the appearance of our own Homo sapiens species. Driven by new dating techniques, the fossils in Jebel Irhoud Morocco were revealed to be 300,000 …

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Beautiful Hand axes at the Nasher Sculpture Center

Beautiful Hand Axes at the Nasher Sculpture Center

Filed under: cognitive capacities, Evolution of Emotion, History, Sexual Selection

Knowing my interest in human evolution, my son’s Texan mother-in-law gave me the brochure of an exhibit at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas that she visited, entitled “First Sculpture: Handaxe to Figurestone.” The brochure contained many pictures of beautifully rendered paleolithic hand axes as well as naturally formed sculptures that had been “framed” by …

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Out of Africa

Big Data Revolutionizes Out of Africa Story

Filed under: Ancient human migration, eccology, History, Migration

Every once in a while, an article captures my imagination. Such is the case with one written by Axel Timmermann & Tobias Friedrich entitled “Late Pleistocene climate drivers of early human Migration” (Nature, Vol. 538: 6 Oct. 2016). This is big data applied to a most fascinating topic. Here is the abstract: On the basis …

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Fossil DNA Clarifying Human Migration

Filed under: Ancient human migration, History

In a review article in this week’s Science (358:1269), a review article by Christopher Bae, Katarina Douka, and Michael Retraglia review the progress in elucidating the migration of Homo sapiens out of Africa. Abstract: The traditional “out of Africa” model, which posits a dispersal of modern Homo sapiens across Eurasia as a single wave at …

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ancient dogs with leashes

Oldest depiction of dogs with humans plus inequality

Filed under: History

Two other posts on dogs, domestication and human evolution: here and here Also in the November 17th issue of science, an article about the history of inequality by Lizzie Wade. Summary Economic inequality has deep roots. A new study concludes that its ancient hotbed was the Old World: Societies there tended to be less equal …

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Democracy in Pre-Columbian Mexico

Filed under: History, Human Nature

It is generally assumed that the natural social organization of humans is the hierarchy that is the hallmark of the primate order of which, of course we are a member. I have posted evidence that the principle feature that has distinguished our hominin tribe from the beginning is the evolution of a democratic, egalitarian social …

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American Nationalism is an Oxymoron

A Loss of Nerve

Filed under: Faith, History, Justice, The Ascension of the Human Spirit

This morning I stumbled upon these paragraphs from my book that provide a shocking contrast to the hysteria into which we suddenly have been cast. The theme of the book is that, over the course of six million years, we have ascended from apes as a result of a naturally selected collective instinct for justice, …

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An American Pilgrimage

Filed under: Author narrative, History, Justice | 9 Comments

I have never been one that would conceive of going on a religious pilgrimage, but have just returned from an American pilgrimage. It would be a purely secular journey in any other country, but the very essence of America dwells in the spiritual realm of ideas. The very heart of the American ethos was forged …

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The urban planet and the history of life

The Urban Planet & the History of Life

Filed under: Evolution of Emotion, Evolutionary psychology, History | 2 Comments

The May 20th Issue of Science is entitled The Urban Planet. The lead article starts out: In 2014, 54% of the world’s population, or 3.9 billion people, lived in urban areas. That’s up from one-third in 1950, and forecasters say the proportion will rise to 66% by 2050. More than half of urbanites live in …

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The Hobbits lived on the island of Flores for 700,000 yrs.

Hobbits Lived On Flores Island For 700,000 Years!

Filed under: Evolutionary psychology, History | 2 Comments

  From June 10 Science by Elizabeth Culatta: From the moment the announcement of a 1-meter-tall ancient human nicknamed “the hobbit” shocked the world in 2004, supporters and sceptics alike have longed for more fossils. After the first burst of discoveries, the team kept digging, at the original find site and at other sites in …

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Blaming the victim

WHY CONSERVATIVES BLAME THE VICTIM & PROGRESSIVES ARE RIGHT

Filed under: Evolutionary psychology, History, Human Nature | 2 Comments

Social psychologists, Laura Niemi and Liane Young wrote a piece in the NYTimes Review section on a study they conducted on what determines the degree to which people tend to blame the victims of crimes: In a recent series of studies, we found that the critical factor lies in a particular set of moral values. …

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The potimism of FDR

What Does Progressivism mean in the 21st Century?

Filed under: History, Human Nature

All of a sudden the term “liberal” is off the table, and everyone is using the term “progressive.” Your only assignment in this first post is to listen carefully—more than just once— to Franklin Deleno Roosevelt’s fourth inaugural address in 1945. Keep in mind that Roosevelt was dying of congestive heart failure with his blood …

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10,000 yr old war

Our Intense Sexuality Is Why We Are We So Violent

Filed under: Emotional Fossils, Evolution of Emotion, Evolutionary psychology, History, Sexual Selection

The strengthening of across-group marital-family bonds has exerted a relentless “ground-level” cohesive force that has resulted in the capacity to cohabitate in ever larger groups-of-groups—which is our species root adaptive advantage, upon which all our cognitive and cultural achievements rest.

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What’s Missing in Matt Ridley’s “The Evolution of Everything?”

Filed under: Dominance and Submission, Enlightenment Narrative, Evolutionary psychology, Group Selection, History, Mental illness | 2 Comments

You can quibble around the edges about his analysis (and painfully trite take on religion), but I think he is generally right just as I have been claiming in this blog: over the long haul, human history has been in the direction of greater justice accompanied by prosperity—resulting from the progressive coordination of our increasingly divided labor.

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