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Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

When Facebook performs a manipulative experiment on its users, the results are interesting, the methods disturbing

Posted 03 Aug 2014 / 0

Did you know that Facebook performs scientific research? If I told you that Facebook is constantly analyzing the activity of its users, that would probably not surprise you. But does Facebook go the next step by performing manipulative experiments on its users? A recent publication in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA Read More

A Major Post, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Communication, Consciousness, Emotion, Empathy, Ethics, Experiments (General), Happiness, Law, Methods, Psychological Adaptation, Sociology, Web

A nice synopsis of some reasons for laughter

Posted 03 Aug 2014 / 0

The Chronicle of Higher Education “What’s So Funny?” I appreciate the different theories of laughter presented here and the way that they are connected to adaptive behavior and ultimately to evolution. Like a lot of other behaviors that I am interested in — most prominently music production and play — laughter is one of those Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Communication, Emotion, Human Uniqueness, Play, Web

Do humans form genetically similar social groups independent of kinship?

Posted 26 Jul 2014 / 1

Proponents of kin selection as the most parsimonious explanation of how cooperation evolves face a problem when it comes to humans: counter to the predictions of kin selection theory, humans aim a fair amount of altruism at non-kin. While we do not aim our helping behaviors solely at our relatives, we also do not randomly Read More

A Major Post, Altruism, Articles, Behavior, Cooperation, Genetics, Group Selection, Human Evolution, Kin Selection, Psychology, Radio & Podcasts, Reciprocity, Social Networks, Sociology

Apparently I should stop holding my breath for the Google Translate “dolphin” module

Posted 20 May 2014 / 0

The Chronicle of Higher Education “Dolphin Talk and Human Credulity” Great short here (and further evidence that TED Talks entice scientists to lose their heads and say unfounded things). Anyone who has carefully watched a child learn to talk comes to realize what a complex dance between cognition anatomical coordination is involved in language acquisition. It is Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Cognitive Ability, Communication, Human Uniqueness, Language Evolution, Linguistics, Phenotypic Plasticity, Web

David Haig suggests that babies cry at night to prevent siblings

Posted 20 May 2014 / 0

Science News “Babies cry at night to prevent siblings, scientist suggests” What’s particularly interesting here is not just the parent-offspring conflict proposed but also the conflict between mothers and fathers that is implied in this theory. In fact, it seems that the only piece of evidence that has any potential to support this hypothesis is this Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Human Evolution, Parent-Offspring Conflict, Sexual Conflict, Web

String Theory: should we care?

Posted 02 Feb 2014 / 0

On Being “Reimagining the Cosmos” I always find myself stuck on the fence when it comes to the confrontation between physics and philosophy (and by extension religion). This episode effectively captures my ambivalence. On the one hand, I like that Brian Greene really sticks to his guns on the “sensation of free will”. If there Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Behavior, Belief, Consciousness, Emotion, Ethics, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Physics, Psychological Adaptation, Psychology, Radio & Podcasts, Religion

Okay, I admit it: I am a bit of a Neanderthal

Posted 30 Jan 2014 / 1

The Economist “The genetic contribution Neanderthal man made to modern humanity is clearer” Although this article makes a bigger deal than it should about the “human construct” of the species concept (evolutionists are already well aware of the gradations of isolation that lead to full species separation), it presents these new findings in valuable context. What Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Evolution, Extinction, Genetics, Homo species, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Phylogenetics, Speciation

Was Teilhard de Chardin the real inventor of an evolutionary approach to culture?

Posted 26 Jan 2014 / 0

On Being “Teilhard de Chardin on The “Planetary Mind” and Our Spiritual Evolution” We often give credit to Richard Dawkins — who is undeniably the inventor of the term “memetics” — for introducing an evolutionary approach to cultural change. But as this piece makes clear, de Chardin was already thinking on far more large scales about Read More

A Minor Post, Biography, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Ecosystem Ecology, Evolution, Geology, Homo species, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Memetic Fitness, Radio & Podcasts, Religion, Wallace Darwin Project

Taking risks for the data

Posted 25 Oct 2013 / 0

The cover story of November’s National Geographic is about the death of storm chaser Tim Samaras, who was killed along with two of his collaborators (including one of his sons) during a monster tornado outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Samaras is one of many “explorers” supported by National Geographic, an organization that seems to be the Read More

A Major Post, Articles, Genetics, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Human Uniqueness, Play, Risk & Uncertainty

New fossil finds provide unique insight into the variation found in “Man the Hunted”

Posted 25 Oct 2013 / 0

The New York Times “Skull Fossil Suggests Simpler Human Lineage” It is interesting how terrible fossils are: generally, they represent only a part of one individual who was part of one population in one place at one point in time. Not the best data ever! So when some predator(s) on hominids dumps five carcasses in the Read More

A Minor Post, Data Limitation, Homo species, Human Evolution