Has the Evolution of Our Brains Determined Who We Are?
Despite the seductive fusion of evolutionary principles with modern neuroscience, our search for an ultimate explanation of human behavior is not likely to find solutions any time soon.
What's the Latest Development?
Neuroscience has given sociologists a shiny new tool with which to construct theories of human behavior and how the evolution of the mind has shaped our wayward actions. There remains a problem, however, with how these so-called evolutionary biologists explain what we do in terms of how our brain biology has changed over time: Our gray matter has remained stable for thousands of years while the modern era has born witness to great upheavals in our social conventions. For example, evolutionary theories of the mind fail to account for our modern disillusionment with religion.
What's the Big Idea?
A more fundamental problem in the practice of experimental psychology remains the population from which most subjects are taken: American college students, many of whom are psychology majors. Recently, this narrow sub-population of the world has been termed W.E.I.R.D. (western, educated, industrial, rich and democratic), and indeed it is. "Joseph Henrich and his colleagues at the University of British Columbia concluded recently that U.S. college kids are “one of the worst subpopulations one could study" when it comes to generalizing about human psychology."
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How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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