Our Pets Make Us Human

The special bond that often forms between people and both domesticated and wild animals maybe be, paradoxically, part of what makes us human, says Dave Munger.

New York anthropologist Krystal D’Costa wrote last month about a paper by Pat Shipman arguing that our special connection with animals is one of the key traits that distinguish humans from all other creatures on Earth. Anthropologists, philosophers, and others have ruminated for centuries on what defining characteristics make us "human." Traditionally, the big three traits of humans have been sophisticated communication, tool use, and domestication of animals. Shipman argues that the fact that people take domestication one step further and adopt pets as family members is a fourth distinguishing trait of human beings.

Car culture and suburban sprawl create rifts in society, claims study

New research links urban planning and political polarization.

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Politics & Current Affairs
  • Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
  • Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
  • People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
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How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
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NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Flickr / 13winds
Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
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