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Posts Tagged "communication"

Anthropology in Practice

Share This: Chain Letters and Social Networks

Photo by Liz West. CC; Click on image for license and information.

Did you hear about the seventeen year old girl who was pushed into an open manhole by bullies in her school? Her name was Carmen and she had made up her mind to tell someone that she was being bullied, but she didn’t get a chance. During a fire drill the bullies kept crowding her [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

The Psychology of Sexting

Photo by Jonas Seaman | CC, Click on image for license and information.

For those of us old enough to remember the deluge of “A/S/L?” messages that predominated the chatroom landscape of the nineties, sexting hardly seems that scandalous. Considering the murky exchanges that often ensued once A/S/L had been satisfied and body measurements had been exchanged, it’s a wonder that we stopped touching ourselves long enough do [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Don’t read the comments! (Why do we read the online comments when we know they’ll be bad?)

Why did he read the comments? | CC, Photo by Troublemakers, Inc. Click on image for license and information.

One of the best things about the web is that it allows people to share ideas across boundaries. Right at this very moment, there could be someone from Saudi Arabia and Peru and Australia reading this article—and as a writer that is immensely cool. However, there’s no obligation for all three of those folks to [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Why Are We Signing Our Emails With “Thank You”?

When was the last time you used some variation of the phrase “Thank you”? At the coffee shop this morning? While you were having dinner last night? Because someone held the elevator for you? How about online? Have you used it to sign an email recently? Did you intentionally not use that phrase? And did [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Talking With Our Hands: The Significance of Gestures

This post originally appeared on Anthropology in Practice on December 6th, 2010. New Yorkers are hand talkers. We often use gestures to add emphasis to our conversations; from pointing to direct tourists, or waving to demonstrate our exasperation with traffic, drivers, or pedestrians, or trying to interject—because New Yorkers don’t interrupt!—we gesticulate. We’re not the [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Save the Date for the First #NYCSciTweetUp of 2012

That’s right! After a bit of a delay, the #NYCSciTweetUp is back! Save the date for March 29th, at the Peculier Pub in NYC. Updated details will be posted on the Facebook page (as they always are). And as per the norm, for more information you can always: Read “What Is: #NYCSciTweetUp” Follow the #NYCSciTweetUp hashtag on Twitter [...]

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Bering in Mind

Limp wrists and tight fists: What your handshake says about you

handshake

There is a man—a very well-known man, a legend of sorts—whom I’ve been privileged enough to have seen on occasion through the years at various venues and events. (Never mind his reputation. To protect my career, he shall remain anonymous.) Our exchanges have been pleasant enough, I should say—inconsequential, really, and empty of any real [...]

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Dog Spies

Three Ways Dogs Fail At Halloween

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Halloween is a peculiar holiday, especially for dogs. We two-legged beings all look different, and what’s with the constant doorbell-ringing? Weren’t you just here. Oh, I’m sorry. You’re Batman. He-Man was just here. My bad. I’ll keep barking. Dogs don’t exactly excel at Halloween, and here’s the lowdown on dogs, costumes, tricks, and treats. 1) [...]

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Guest Blog

The Frustrations of Being Scientifically Literate

Life's dirty little secret. (Credit: Debaird via Flickr)

Editors note: Craig Fay will be appearing live at the Laughing Devil Comedy Festival in New York City May 14-18. Here’s a theory for you: ignorance is bliss. If that’s true then being scientifically literate has got to be one of the most miserable and frustrating things possible. And when you think about it that [...]

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Guest Blog

Poor risk communication in Japan is making the risk much worse

The radiation crisis in Japan worsens for two reasons: one that we’ve heard about, one that we haven’t but which may in the end do far more harm. The Japanese government, and the company in charge of the crippled nuclear complex, are struggling with their risk and crisis communications, and their missteps are fueling mistrust [...]

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Guest Blog

You’ll believe anything you read online, won’t you?

In July, 2010, one corner of the blogosphere erupted with the seething, burning rage that online communities seem to have a unique ability to muster. The spark that lit bloggers’ fuse was a decision by SEED Media Group decision-makers to allow a team of writers from PepsiCo Inc. to operate a blog about nutrition and [...]

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Guest Blog

An arsenic-laced bad-news letter: Who is the audience for online post-publication peer review?

Dear Dr. Shanahan, Thank you for your application to the Summer Institute on Unicorn Science. We appreciate the effort that went into all of the applications. We received over 1,000 excellent submissions and had a very difficult decision to make. Unfortunately, we were only able to select 10 applications and yours was not among those [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Chimps Will Share Their Lunch—but Only If They Like You

Chimpanzees have a lot to gain from climbing the social ladder. It now appears that lower-ranking male chimps strengthen bonds with their friends in high places by alerting them to some good eats. Researchers experimentally captured this communication—amounting to “hey buddy, there’s some food over here”—for the first time among a society of wild chimpanzees [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

The Dark Side of Power Posing: Cape or Kryptonite?

In 1942, the mild mannered Clark Kent excused himself from his friend Lois Lane to take an important call. Clark slipped into a phone booth (remember those?), and moments later Superman emerged. Have you ever wished that you had ability to step into a phone booth or bathroom for a minute to shed your insecurities [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Read the Thoughts of a Boy with Autism

Reprinted with permission from SFARI.org, an editorially independent division of the Simons Foundation. (Find original story here.) The autism described in The Reason I Jump is quite different from the mostly social disorder that I, as a researcher and clinician, find in textbooks and journal articles. The new bestselling book, featuring the remarkable testimony of [...]

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Not bad science

A Glimpse Into the Sexual Lives of Chimpanzees

No prizes for guessing what this chimpanzee might be trying to communicate

Brittany Fallon is a PhD candidate at the Université de Neuchâtel  who works on the Sonso chimpanzee community of the Budongo Forest Reserve in Uganda. Here she shares some of her insights into their sexual displays.   In today’s focal party, the main characters are Nambi, the Alpha female who engages in regular sexual relations [...]

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Not bad science

How city birds change their songs

I live in a relatively small town: the centre has three roads, no railway station and you can’t walk ten feet without running into someone you know. However, even in a small town like this you notice birds acting differently to how you might expect if they were in a more natural setting. For example, [...]

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Observations

Do Words Match Deeds for WhatsApp CEO?

WhatsApp

Before Jan Koum sold his company, WhatsApp, to Facebook for a mind-numbing $19 billion, he had a Post-It note affixed to his desk—put there by WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton—that set out the company’s philosophy: “No ads, no games, no gimmicks.” Facebook relies heavily on all three. The contrast between the business model and philosophy of [...]

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Observations

Tiny, Tree-Dwelling Primate Called Tarsier Sends and Receives Ultrasonic Calls

Let’s be honest: tarsiers look odd. Among the smallest of all primates, most species of tarsier would fit easily in the palm of your hand. They have long, slender, largely hairless tails and elongated fingers with knobby knuckles and mushroom-cap finger pads. To fully confront the tarsier’s bizarre anatomy, you must stare it in the [...]

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Observations

Does Science Need More Compelling Stories to Foster Public Trust?

doctor and chart

The touching stories that advocacy groups are so good at telling—the 49-year old mother whose breast cancer was detected by an early mammogram before it had spread; the 60-year-old neighbor who had a prostate tumor removed thanks to a routine PSA test—should inspire scientists to use anecdotes of their own, argue two doctors from the [...]

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Observations

The line between science and journalism is getting blurry….again

Human #1: "Hello, nice weather today, isn’t it?" Human #2: "Ummm…actually not. It’s a gray, cold, windy, rainy kind of day!" Many a joke depends on confusion about the meaning of language, as in the example above. But understanding the sources of such confusion is important in realms other than stand-up comedy, including in the [...]

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Observations

Plants cannot “think and remember,” but there’s nothing stupid about them: They’re shockingly sophisticated

New research shows that plants "can think and remember," according to a news story published this week. Plants can transmit information "from leaf to leaf in a very similar way to our own nervous systems," BBC News wrote. The article continues to assert that plants remember information and use "information encrypted in the light to [...]

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Observations

Slime mold validates efficiency of Tokyo rail network

slime mold network train tokyo

What do Tokyo commuter-rail designers and the slime mold Physarum polycephalum have in common? The two will build strikingly similar networks. A Japan-based research team found that if they placed bits of food (oat flakes) around a central Physarum in the same location as 36 outlying cities around Tokyo, the mold created a network connecting [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Red Pandas

red panda tree

Here’s one thing you already knew: red pandas are adorable. While they’re not domesticated and therefore are probably not suitable as pets, some people keep them as pets anyway – especially in Nepal and India – and upload their adorable hijinks to the internet for the world to see. Here are seven other facts about [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

If You Need To Test Your New Robot, Ask A Dog

dog robot

The 1962 cartoon series The Jetsons featured a futuristic nuclear family: father George, mother Jane, and their offspring, Elroy and Judy. In the very first episode, we learn about the Jetson family’s purchase of a housecleaning robot named Rosey. Rosey is, according to paleofuturist Matt Novak, “perhaps the most iconic futuristic character to ever grace [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Wolves Howl For Friends, Challenging A Popular Theory of Animal Communication

wolf howl mazzini curr bio

It was thought that animal communication can be explained by lower-level physiological states, but new research shows that wolf howls reflect social dynamics. Rather than indicating stress, wolf howling is a reflection of the quality of social relationships.

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The Thoughtful Animal

Eavesdropping Lemurs Tune Into the Forest Soundtrack to Survive

sportive lemur

One of the ways that primates avoid predators is with the use of alarm calls. If a lemur, monkey, or ape detects a predator, he or she shrieks, warning the rest of the social group. These alarm calls are automatic and reflexive. Just as you can’t help but kick you leg when the doctor strikes [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Koalas and Bison Use the Same Rules for Choosing Mates

koala

While natural selection works operates over an individual’s ability to survive, sexual selection operates over an individual’s ability to mate and successfully sire offspring. In other words, sexual selection is a process through which individuals of a given species struggle to be more reproductively successful. It works in two primary ways, first identified by Charles [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Singing Mice May Join Humans and Songbirds As Vocal Learners

mouse-crop

My high school biology teacher once told me that nothing was binary in biology except for alive and dead, and pregnant and not pregnant. Any other variation, he said, existed along a continuum. Whether or not the claim is technically accurate, it serves to illustrate an important feature of biological life. That is, very little [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Eavesdropping Iguanas Use Mockingbird Calls To Survive

galapagos marine iguana

Predator-prey interactions are often viewed as evolutionary arms races; while predators improve their hunting behaviors and their ability to sneak up on their prey, the prey improve upon their abilities to detect and escape from their predators. The problem, of course, is that there is a trade-off between maintaining vigilance – the attention necessary to [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Can You Hear Me Now? Human Noise Disrupts Blue Whale Communication

BlueWhale_Tail1

When you dive into the frigid waters of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California, the first thing you notice is the silence. Other than the bitter cold. Your body begins to adapt to the chilly water as blades of slimy kelp brush across your ankles. You spit out the bit of brackish [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Book Review: Babel’s Dawn

Babel’s Dawn, a book that grew out of a blog about the natural history of speech, is probably not like any other book you’ve read. That’s because it’s not really a book about the natural history of speech: it’s a book about a (fictitious) museum that tells the story about the natural history of speech. [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

An Archival Treasure: Singing Mice

cinderella screengrab

The recent talk of ultrasonic tarsiers reminded me of a post I wrote a couple years ago. You see, tarsiers aren’t the only animal to communicate at a sound frequency beyond the level of human hearing: mice do as well. But, for some reason, some mice actually chatter in such a way that they can [...]

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