Neanderthals could produce and hear human speech, new study finds

Their ear structures were not that different from ours.

Credit: Mercedes Conde-Valverde/University of Binghamton
  • Neanderthals are emerging as having been much more advanced than previously suspected.
  • Analysis of ear structures indicated by fossilized remains suggests they had everything they needed for understanding the subtleties of speech.
  • The study also concludes that Neanderthals could produce the consonants required for a rich spoken language.
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Has political correctness gone too far?

The debate over whether or not there is a place for political correctness in modern society is not always black and white.

  • Political correctness is often seen as a debate between two extremes, but there are nuances in the middle of the spectrum. Is there such a thing as being too PC, and if so, where is that line?
  • While philosopher Slavoj Žižek, comedian Lewis Black, and actor Jeff Garlin acknowledge that some topics can be hurtful or even oppressive and should thus be approached with "good taste and self-restraint," they also argue that PC culture has tipped the scales far beyond being balanced. "If we continue to move in that direction," says Black, "then we're going to be living between uptight and stupid and there'll be no in between."
  • Simultaneously, others—including Paul F. Tompkins, Jim Gaffigan, and Martin Amis—argue that political correctness aims to change things for the better, especially for groups who have been marginalized and discriminated against, and that not being sexist and racist, for example, is not actually a heavy lift. "The fact of the matter is these people are the people of today and you might be a person of yesterday if you can't adjust and you can't be in tune with what people think is funny anymore," says Tompkins.

Talking with your hands alters the perception of your words

A new study found that words are more accurately heard when accompanied by hand gestures.

  • A team of researchers from the Netherlands found that hands gestures, when used strategically, influence how certain words are heard.
  • Participants were 20% more likely to hear and interpret the words being spoken when accompanied by a matching hand gesture, and 40% as likely to hear the wrong word when the gestures did not match.
  • Previous research has suggested that certain hand gestures can signal extraversion and dominance, and that speaking with gestures in general tends to lead to being evaluated as warm, agreeable, and energetic.
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Why some people think they hear the voices of the dead

A new study looks at why mysterious voices are sometimes taken as spirits and other times as symptoms of mental health issues.

Credit: Photographee.eu/Adobe Stock
  • Both spiritualist mediums and schizophrenics hear voices.
  • For the former, this constitutes a gift; for the latter, mental illness.
  • A study explores what the two phenomena have in common.
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Become fluent in another language with 50% off a lifetime Babbel subscription

The top-grossing language-learning app on the market just got a major discount.

  • After just one month of learning, many Babbel users became conversational in a new language.
  • A lifetime subscription to Babbel provides users with the ability to learn 14 different languages whenever they want.
  • Babbel is the top-grossing language-learning app on the market.
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