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This paper examines the role that representatives of the London Missionary Society in central southern Africa during the nineteenth century may have played in the development of geographical debates concerning the long-term desiccation of the African continent. Observations on climate included within missionary documents are used to reconstruct a chronology of intra-decadal climatic variability for the period 1815-1900. This reveals six drought periods and seven wet phases that affected large areas of the region, but identifies no evidence for progressive desiccation. The chronology is then used as a framework within which to view missionary perspectives on drought and desiccation. Major influences upon the development of desiccationist theory appear to include the prevalence of contemporary moral economic explanations of climatic variability, as well as the uptake and acceptance of indigenous understanding of climate change. Significantly, many of the key observations by eminent missionaries used as supporting evidence for progressive desiccation are identified as having been made during periods of severe drought. This is used to suggest that the most widely propagated evidence for desiccation may, therefore, simply be the end-product of periods of short-term drought rather than long-term climatic deterioration.
KEY WORDS: Southern Africa, climatic variability, documentary evidence, missionary correspondence, desiccation, David Livingstone
Summarizing the data review, the identification of the finds from Nkang as belonging to Musa must be regarded as preliminary. The Munsa M2C3C phytoliths, as documented in the two publications of Lejju et al. (2005, 2006), do not seem to be from Musa, and even their status as Musaceae is doubtful. Both sites urgently need further botanical re-assessment.
The harm caused by designer drugs justifies the law's attempts to keep pace with underground chemists, says Mike Cole.
So, returning to the original question: should we continue to outlaw recreational drugs, and compounds such as BZP in particular? The evidence is mounting that even pure drugs are toxic and do harm, both in the short and in the longer term. When public health and safety is at risk then surely it is socially responsible to ban these substances, and to provide a legislative and forensic-science system that supports such bans.
Our brains are hard-wired to make poor choices about harm prevention in today's world. But we can fight it, says Daniel Gilbert.
When left to our own devices, we will pay more to eliminate a small risk of illness than to reduce a large one2, and more to insure ourselves against a scary way of dying than against every way of dying3. We will save all the members of a five-person group before we will save six members of a ten-person group4, and we will save lives by pushing a trolley into a person but not a person into a trolley5. Our brains were optimized for finding food and mates on the African savannah and not for estimating the likelihood of a core breach or the impact of overfishing. Nature has installed in each of us a threat-detection system that is exquisitely sensitive to the kinds of threats our ancestors faced – a slithering snake, a romantic rival, a band of men waving sticks – but that is remarkably insensitive to the odds and consequences of the threats we face today.
For example, our brains devote a great deal of time and real estate to processing information about other people - about what they think, know, want and intend. Because we specialize in understanding other minds, we are hypersensitive to the harms those minds produce.
We are especially concerned when the threats those human agents produce are to our dignity, values and honour. Moral rules bind communities together, enable trust and the division of labour and cause people to behave honestly when no one is watching. Because these rules have such a crucial role in the formation and functioning of human social groups, we are obsessed with their violation, which is why US Weekly outsells The New Yorker.
How persistent are cultural traits? This paper uses data on anti-Semitism in Germany and finds continuity at the local level over more than half a millennium. When the Black Death hit Europe in 1348-50, killing between one third and one half of the population, its cause was unknown. Many contemporaries blamed the Jews. Cities all over Germany witnessed mass killings of their Jewish population. At the same time, numerous Jewish communities were spared. We use plague pogroms as an indicator for medieval anti-Semitism. Pogroms during the Black Death are a strong and robust predictor of violence against Jews in the 1920s, and of votes for the Nazi Party. In addition, cities that saw medieval anti-Semitic violence also had higher deportation rates for Jews after 1933, were more likely to see synagogues damaged or destroyed in the `Night of Broken' Glass in 1938, and their inhabitants wrote more anti-Jewish letters to the editor of the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer.
In animals that live in groups, some individuals are leaders and others are followers. A modelling study shows that variation in leadership evolves spontaneously and need not be related to differences in knowledge or power.
In the behavioural sciences, there is much discussion about which traits make someone a leader4. According to Johnstone and Manica's model, leadership need not be associated with being better informed, being more dominant or having superior communication skills. Instead, leadership may simply reflect an intrinsic tendency to follow one's individuals. In the behavioural sciences, there is much discussion about which traits make someone a leader4. According to Johnstone and Manica's model, leadership need not be associated with being better informed, being more dominant or having superior communication skills. Instead, leadership may simply reflect an intrinsic tendency to follow one's own preferences and disregard the choices of others.
The demise of the Iceman is archaeology's current long-running detective story, in which the time and mode of death have yet to be agreed. Recent discussion in these pages favoured a ceremonial burial on the mountain, following his death and the conservation of the corpse in the home village. In a new forensic contribution, the author shows that, in addition to his other woes, the Iceman might have been taking medicine in the form of bark. This in turn implies that his final adventure might have taken place at anytime between spring and autumn, leaving the burial hypothesis without constraint.
Keywords: Tyrolean Iceman, Ostrya carpinifolia pollen, bark, medicine
Societies with low-level food production economies occupy the vast and diverse middle ground between hunting-fishing-foraging and agriculture. Efforts by Ford, Harris, Rindos, Zvelebil, and others to characterize this “in-between” territory are discussed, and a new conceptual framework is proposed. Domestication, the central landmark of this middle ground, is situated well away from the boundaries with hunting-gathering and agriculture, and separates low-level food production economies into two broad categories. Key issues and questions concerning societies with low-level food production, both with and without domesticates, are discussed. Hunter-gatherer and agriculture boundary zones on either side of the middle ground are considered, as are the developmental pathways that traverse them.
KEY WORDS: food production; domestication; origins of agriculture; subsistence economy.
Four experiments provided support for the hypothesis that upon making a choice, individuals justify their choice in order to eliminate doubts about culturally sanctioned aspects of the self, namely, competence and efficacy in North America and positive appraisal by other people in Japan. Japanese participants justified their choice (by increasing liking for chosen items and decreasing liking for rejected items) in the standard free-choice dissonance paradigm only when self-relevant others were primed, either by questionnaires (Studies 1-3) or by incidental exposure to schematic faces (Study 4). In the absence of these social cues, Japanese participants showed no dissonance effect. In contrast, European Americans justified their choices regardless of the social-cue manipulations. Implications for cognitive dissonance theory are discussed.
After observing someone's behavior, individuals often infer a corresponding attitude in the person even when the behavior is socially constrained. Convincing evidence for this phenomenon (called the correspondence bias) has been obtained in the perceiverinduced constraint paradigm, where participants ask a target person to read a pre-written attitudinal statement, and after observing the target comply, estimate the targetös real attitude. This paradigm maximally highlights the causal role of the participants in producing the target's behavior. In Experiment 1, Americans exhibited a reliable correspondence bias under these conditions, but Japanese did not show any such bias. In Experiment 2, both Japanese and Americans inferred strong essay-consistent attitudes in a standard no-choice condition, where the target allegedly argued for a position that had been assigned to her. Implications for the cultural dependence of social cognition are discussed.
The current research investigated the hypothesis that, depending on an individual's cultural background, facial cues in different parts of the face are weighted differently when interpreting emotions. Given that the eyes are more difficult to control than the mouth when people express emotions, we predicted that individuals in cultures where emotional subduction is the norm (such as Japan) would focus more strongly on the eyes than the mouth when interpreting others' emotions. By contrast, we predicted that people in cultures where overt emotional expression is the norm (such as the US) would tend to interpret emotions based on the position of the mouth, because it is the most expressive part of the face. This hypothesis was confirmed in two studies, one using illustrated faces, and one using edited facial expressions from real people, in which emotional expressions in the eyes and mouth were independently manipulated. Implications for our understanding of cross-cultural psychology, as well of the psychology of emotional interpretation, are discussed.
Keywords: Culture; Emotions; Facial expressions; Emotion recognition; Cognition
Man's (or, more probably, Woman's) first cereal crops were sown from seed gathered from wild stands, and it was in the course of cultivation that domestication occurred. Experiments in the measurement of domestication rates indicate that in wild-type crops of einkorn, emmer, and barley under primitive systems of husbandry: (a) domestication will occur only if they are harvested when partially or nearly ripe, using specific harvesting methods; (b) exposure to shifting cultivation may sometimes have been required; and (c) under these conditions, the crops could become completely domesticated within 200 years, and perhaps only 20-30 years, without any conscious selection. This paper (a) considers possible delays in the start of domestication due to early crops of wild-type cereals lacking domestic-types mutants; (b) examines the husbandry practices necessary for these mutants to enjoy any selective advantage; (c) considers the state of ripeness at harvest necessary for the crops to respond to these selective pressures; (d) outlines field measurements of the selective intensities arising from analogous husbandry practices applied experimentally to living wild-type crops; (e) summarizes a mathematical model which incorporates the measured selective intensities and other key variables and which describes the rate of increase in domestic-type mutants in early populations of wild-type cereals under specific combinations of primitive husbandry practices; (f) considers why very early cultivators should have used those husbandry methods which, we suggest, led unconsciously to the domestication of wild wheats and barley; and (g) considers whether these events are likely to, leave archaeologically recognizable traces.
KEY WORDS: domestication rate; agricultural origins; einkorn wheat; emmer wheat; selection pressures.
Excavations in the rockshelter at P\inarbas\i, 24.5km south-east of Çatalhöyük, have brought to light a sequence of structures and a rich assemblage of animal bones, with some of the bones embedded in plaster objects. The authors argue for a strong link with Çatalhöyük, and propose a hunter-herder site operated by a close-knit group from that settlement, supplyingmeat to it, but practising their own up-country rituals – so providing a glimpse of the `lived landscape'.
Keywords: Anatolia, Neolithic, Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), plastered skulls, animal bone deposits, ritual, landscape
The authors present a new type of communal and monumental structure from the earliest Neolithic in western Asia. A complement to the decorated stone pillars erected at Göbekli Tepe in the north, `Wadi Faynan 16 Structure O75' in the southern Levant is a ritualised gathering place of a different kind. It serves to define wider western Asia as an arena of social experiment in the tenth millennium BC, one in which community seems to take precedence over economy.
Keywords: Levant, Wadi Faynan, Neolithic, PPNA, monumentality, communal structures, complexity
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