Self, society, and the science of skinny jeans

This past weekend, for the umpteenth time, I cracked open Matthew Lieberman’s book Social: why our brains are wired to connect (2013). I skimmed through it like I normally do with these kinds of books; picking out bits and pieces like my uncle at a Sunday smorgasbord – finding things that I find intellectually appetizing (AKA things that confirm my bias). Credit: author Among the many gems outlined in this marvelous book, one passage in particular…

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Monitoring the ‘information diet’: learning from the Registered Dietitians

If you listen to only one podcast episode this year, let it be this one. My friend, Robyn Flipse – Registered Dietitian and Cultural Anthropologist – chats with Registered Dietitian and podcaster Melissa Joy Dobbins (on her program, Soundbites) about how we are influenced by food cultism. A summary of Robyn’s ‘nuggets’ of ‘food’ wisdom… We are the only animals that use symbolism in our lives. We apply that symbolism in many ways (for example, think currency).…

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Understanding conspiracy theories and cognitive styles in a post-truth era

Over the past few years, I’ve read, enjoyed, and learned a great deal from the friendly banter that goes back and forth between Stephen Lewandowsky (@STWorg) and Dan Kahan (@cult_cognition) on Twitter. While Kahan often points to politics and ‘tribes’ as triggers for risk perception and behavior, Lewandowsky reframes things in a slightly different way. He suggests that perceptions may be less shaped by political ideology and more by something he calls “cognitive styles.” “Cognitive…

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My Science Love Story

SAIFood Blog recently allowed me to take up a bit of their ‘online real estate’ to share my thoughts on storytelling and science communication. An excerpt: “…the art and science of storytelling is evolving. And storytelling today requires a whole new level of agility and ingenuity than it ever has before. It is one part engagement and two parts personal branding. It also requires an aptitude for self-reflection.” “Sure, Cami. You can talk the talk,…

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Ideological Bias & Social Survival: don’t get voted off the island!

My colleague, Bill, popped his head into my office one day with two words: “Ideological bias”. Then two more: “What do you know?” I shared some info with him. And I thought that I would share with you, my reader. Ideological bias is less of a ‘thing’ than it is a family of things. It is defined as a collection of ideas, or beliefs, held by an individual, or a group of people. Ideology and…

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The power of storytelling…

This Valentine’s Day, share the love… of a story. Paul Zak says so…. ” Zak examines the psychological effects of stories and narratives on the human mind – the ‘neuroscience of the narrative’. According to Zak, whether they play out at bedtime, in our communities or in popular media, stories can build trust. Zak’s research finds that stories cause our brains to produce a chemical called oxytocin (there are others too). The production of this…

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“It’s all just pretend…” #predatorypublishing

If you have been keeping up with my blog posts of late, you will know that the issue of predatory publishing has been on my radar (see this and this). What is predatory publishing? Jeffrey Beall, founder and archivist at Scholarly Open Access defines it as: “…[A]n exploitative open-access publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals (open access or not).” The number of predatory publishers and…

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In her shoes: the role of empathy in our conversations

I just picked up Paul Bloom’s latest book “Against Empathy: the case for rational compassion”… I’m about halfway through (and enjoying it) and it reminded me of this blog post that I wrote last year: “In Her Shoes: the role of empathy in our conversations”… Camistry Ruth’s sensible footwear Last month marked the closing of the Dewdney Players production of The Calendar Girls(Tim Firth). It was a whirlwind few-months of rehearsals leading into three weeks…

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The slippery world of predatory publishing and what it means for scientific integrity

I clearly recall the first time I saw an article that I co-wrote in print in an academic journal. It was exhilarating. While I knew that the ‘real world’ (friends and family) would likely never read it, for me it was a visible, tangible record of my accomplishment and a signal to my peers that this young scholar had “arrived” in the academic world. I’ve Been Published! For an academic, research is the daily work…

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Why is a social scientist working at Monsanto?

I am often asked, “Why does a social scientist work for Monsanto?” That’s a good question. An even better question – and one I am asked even more often – is… A social scientist is interested in relationships; relationships between people and relationships between people and the social environment (think ‘life’, ‘work’, ‘family’, etc). The social sciences cover a wide range of disciplines that including things like anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, language studies, psychology, and sociology. (Check…

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