Neuroanthropology, UFC, and substance abuse


Yesterday I tweeted about a podcast I listened to via Brain Science PodcastsIt was so interesting that I kept pausing it to take notes (with my thumbs on my phone!). Here are some of those notes. Hopefully they'll prompt you to go listen to the awesome podcast for yourself. (PS: Two chaps are interviewed, and after a brief introduction to neuroanthropology their case studies are talked about in the end, which concern how what we do shapes how we think. One of the guys uses a fighting style used by some UFC studs where they do handstands with their heads looking at their opponents, and not the ground like the gymnast. You can go listen for yourself as to how this ties to neuroanthropology!)

  • The nature-nurture divide is dissolving as we're realizing that they both influence each other. Your culture ultimately influences your biology. We try to keep these things separate but that can only happen when you're studying something that has died. The moment you turn to living subjects you see that these two aspects are being pulled together not pushed apart.
  • If we listened more to the answers of other disciplines we'd find that some of our toughest questions have already been answered. So rather than fight against, let's begin to fight with—interdisciplinary study.
  • Our high tech machines end up influencing our methods in such a way that it determines and limits the questions we ask.
  • Part of the problem of interdisciplinary reluctance is a lack of knowledge of the current state of affairs of that discipline. Many times one field will write off another for a position that was held 25 years ago, rather than realize that discipline has moved on too and collaboration is more than possible, but complementary. Unfortunately it is much easier to draw battle lines and stick by them, whether they be fiction or not. Truth be told, there is probably much less to fight about now.
  • Skill acquisition is a better way to think about gender related categories and gender assessment. People nowadays tend to think of themselves as more authentic and genuine, but this might not have been skills that our grandparents had. So rather than think we're doing better relationally than them, this sobers that soft arrogance.
  • In the West, talent has been equated with destiny. And the fact of the matter is that talent really isn't a thing. The brain is much more capable to learn and grow than we think. We inevitably limit ourselves, be it because of our age, our sex or even disabilities.
  • It is important that a culture of generosity among disciplines is encouraged. We need to stop looking for people to disagree with and start looking for people to learn from—especially when they're from a different field of study. We also need to start reporting our research in ways that other fields can learn from its finds. It's bad enough when scientists don't teach the public, but it's worse when they exclude other scientists.

Remember: most of this is regurgitated thought they said that I thought was cool. I agree with 96.7% of it.