If Tiger Woods Were French, He'd Be President by Now
Edward (Ted) Fischer is the Director of Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University.
Fischer studies cultural anthropology, specializing in matters of economics and moralities. Most of his fieldwork has been in Guatemala (with the Maya) but he has also worked in and written on Germany and the United States. His books include “Cultural Logics and Global Economies,” “Maya Cultural Activism,” and “Broccoli and Desire.” With Peter Benson he is now working on a project titled “Markets and Moralities.” He also has a video series out from The Teaching Co. titled “Peoples and Cultures of the World.”
He received his PhD, in anthropology at Tulane University and his undergraduate degree from University of Alabama at Birmingham after studying at Birmingham-Southern College.
Question: Is there a seven-year itch?
Ted Fischer: On the one hand, we could say again from an evolutionary perspective it makes sense for women to want to remain committed to one partner or a small number of partners, and for men to have as many partners as they can. Because women are limited in many ways in how many children they can have. And if our biology is telling us we have to reproduce, that that’s our purpose here on Earth, we have to reproduce and have a successful as children as possible. Women only have a period of, maybe 30, 40 years in which they can have children, and then you have nine-month gestation period, and then you have several months after which most women are infertile after they give birth. And so, women can only have so many children in their life times. So mathematically, if we looked at this mathematically, it makes sense for women to try and keep a pair bond going. And then for men, to keep a solid pair bond and then to have other relationships on the side. It’s sort of an insurance plan, a backup plan. And some would say that men have an infidelity gene. That we are biologically conditioned to cheat. And again, I would say whether that’s true or not, and we really can’t say culture is powerful enough to overcome those things. And in either direction it’s powerful enough that, you know, many men, I don’t know if most, I really don’t know the statistics on this, but many men are faithful to their partners. And so, we can overcome any sort of biological imperative that we have not to. On the other hand, there have also been times and places where people don't look askance at having extramarital affairs, and as long as you’re a good husband, and you provide for your family, and you know, you sleep around a little bit, or you have a mistress, or whatever it may be. And not even, you know, look at France today, it’s much more acceptable for a French politician to keep a mistress than for an American.
As the anthropologist explains, women are hardwired to crave a steady, monogamous relationship, whereas it makes much more evolutionary sense for men to always have a few extra options on the side. A feature that France acknowledges fairly openly, but America doesn't.
Neuroscience is working to conquer some of the human body's cruelest conditions: Paralysis, brain disease, and schizophrenia.
- Neuroscience and engineering are uniting in mind-blowing ways that will drastically improve the quality of life for people with conditions like epilepsy, paralysis or schizophrenia.
- Researchers have developed a brain-computer interface the size of a baby aspirin that can restore mobility to people with paralysis or amputated limbs. It rewires neural messages from the brain's motor cortex to a robotic arm, or reroutes it to the person's own muscles.
- Deep brain stimulation is another wonder of neuroscience that can effectively manage brain conditions like epilepsy, Parkinson's, and may one day mitigate schizophrenia so people can live normal, independent lives.
As Game of Thrones ends, a revealing resolution to its perplexing geography.
- The fantasy world of Game of Thrones was inspired by real places and events.
- But the map of Westeros is a good example of the perplexing relation between fantasy and reality.
- Like Britain, it has a Wall in the North, but the map only really clicks into place if you add Ireland.
A recent study gives new meaning to the saying "fake it 'til you make it."
- The study involves four experiments that measured individuals' socioeconomic status, overconfidence and actual performance.
- Results consistently showed that high-class people tend to overestimate their abilities.
- However, this overconfidence was misinterpreted as genuine competence in one study, suggesting overestimating your abilities can have social advantages.
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