Waking From the Dream


How well do our brains perceive inequality? Are skewed perceptions to blame for American inequality?

Keith Payne, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina, is intent on showing how the problem of inequality operates within the human mind. He does not claim to have studied the historical causes of the American class system, nor does he aim to explore the political or cultural ideologies that have been used to rationalize differences between the haves and the have-nots. His singular focus is on how the brain is evolutionarily wired for ambition and justice alike. When societies such as ours deviate from the primitive sense of fair play, he asserts, everyone suffers.

American Scholar

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

How Mastiffs Became the World’s Top Dogs


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This is an interesting article about the mastiff. Apparently, they took an evolutionary shortcut to get adapted to the Tibetan plateau. Interesting.

As recent as 24,000 years ago the mastiffs of the Tibetan highlands bred with grey wolves, animals that were already well adapted to that demanding environment. The implications of the study, Wang says, might surprise Darwin, because it shows that survival of the fittest sometimes means borrowing a gene or two from another species.

The complete article

Emily Underwood – Smithsonian

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The therapy of reading


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Reading can be therapeutic. Needull has always believed in finding good reads and sharing them with you. So, now you have one more reason to visit needull.

Sometimes it is not the content of the stories themselves but just knowing you have control by choosing to read or listen that provides the calming effect. All stories offer a safe, contained world with a beginning, middle and end. We have the power of when to start or stop and choose how long we stay in this story’s world.

Time spent listening to authors talk about their work and their own understanding of the power of literature also allows us, as readers, to reflect on stories that have shaped us.

The complete article

Germaine Leece — The Guardian

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Recommended by Abhishek

‘Pure’ European is a Myth


With all of European media harping about immigration issues in Europe, it is ironic that the latest studies show that almost ALL indigenous Europeans descend from immigrants, most of them from what is now known as the Middle East. This article, by Science, explores the history of migration in Europe, examines the different studies being done by genetic researchers and surprises us with their findings.

When the first busloads of migrants from Syria and Iraq rolled into Germany 2 years ago, some small towns were overwhelmed. The village of Sumte, population 102, had to take in 750 asylum seekers. Most villagers swung into action, in keeping with Germany’s strong Willkommenskultur, or “welcome culture.” But one self-described neo-Nazi on the district council told The New York Times that by allowing the influx, the German people faced “the destruction of our genetic heritage” and risked becoming “a gray mishmash.”

In fact, the German people have no unique genetic heritage to protect. They—and all other Europeans—are already a mishmash, the children of repeated ancient migrations, according to scientists who study ancient human origins.

Full Article Here

Science – Ann Gibbons

Original Scientific Paper – Available for Download

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Why Do Men Play and Watch Sports?


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Have you ever wondered why do you like to watch men running after a football? Why do you find sports exciting? As always, the answer might lie with our evolution.

In sum, there are reasons to believe that in ancestral human societies, young men, who faced the problem of gaining reproductive access to the reproductive capacity of the opposite sex, could solve it in two main ways. One way was to form male coalitions in order to fight other men and monopolize access to women. This path required displaying their physical capacities in order to be avoided as enemies and to be preferred as allies. It required also to monitor other men’s performance of physical fitness in order to be able to distinguish those men who were physically fit and could be preferred as allies or be avoided as enemies. Another way to do so was to be selected by fathers as husbands for their daughters. This path required also to display physical fitness, as well as to monitor the fitness displays of other men in order to keep up with the competition.The evolutionary problem of gaining reproductive access to the opposite sex through these paths can be partially solved by the mind interpreting the engagement in athletic competitions with other.

The complete article

Menelaos Apostolou — The Evolution Institute

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Buddhism, Science And The Western World


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Let’s start the weekend with two foundations of the world- religion and science. This needull explores whether Buddhism is more in tune with the modern world.

Part of the problem for Sharf and others is that by focusing only on the domains of inner experience (i.e. mindfulness via contemplative practice), Buddhist Modernism loses aspects of its function that were central to its history. “Look at how suspicious many Western Buddhists are of religious ritual,” he says in the Tricycle interview, “… when we downplay ritual, we risk weakening our bonds to community and tradition. That’s a pretty major loss.”

The complete article

Adam Frank — NPR

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Why, On Earth, Would Aliens Invade Earth?


In Hollywood movies, when aliens invade our innocuous little blue planet, they usually have a ludicrous motivation. Sometimes they’re after our water or want to colonise us or are just being plain nasty. Space travel is incredibly difficult and expensive — so why would aliens actually bother to come and invade us? Today’s Needull is an interesting book-excerpt that will give you a more logical perspective on alien attacks.

As an astrobiologist I spend a lot of my time working in the lab with samples from some of the most extreme places on Earth, investigating how life might survive on other worlds in our solar system and what signs of their existence we could detect. If there is biology beyond the Earth, the vast majority of life in the Galaxy will be microbial—hardy single-celled life forms that tolerate a much greater range of conditions than more complex organisms can. To be honest, my own point of view is pretty pessimistic. Don’t get me wrong—if the Earth received an alien tweet tomorrow, or some other text message beamed at us by radio or laser pulse, then I’d be absolutely thrilled. So far, though, we’ve seen no convincing evidence of other civilizations among the stars in our skies.

But let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that there are one or more star-faring alien civilizations in the Milky Way. We’re all familiar with Hollywood’s darker depictions of what aliens might do when they come to the Earth: zapping the White House, harvesting humanity for food like a herd of cattle, or sucking our oceans dry. These scenarios make great films, but don’t really stand up to rational scrutiny. So let’s run through a thought experiment on what reasons aliens might possibly have to visit the Earth, not because I reckon we need to ready our defenses or assemble a welcoming party, but because I think considering these possibilities is a great way of exploring many of the core themes of the science of astrobiology.

Full Book-Excerpt Here

LIT HUB – Lewis Dartnell

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