Exposed in Print, I Now Tell My Story

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foto credit: Ute Van Den Bergh/collection of Meredith Small

I was recently exposed for my previous revolutionary activities.

Everything they said about me and my fellow activists is true. And that time was one of the most interesting and intellectually engaging periods of my life. That’s because this particular revolution was not about governance or politics; there was no civil war involved. Instead, it was a scientific revolution that changed the very foundations of the discipline of evolutionary biology.

The reveal, with my work cited several times, wasn’t posted on Facebook or Twitter. Nor was it part of some investigative reporting…

Humans Just Can’t Handle What Evolution Gave Us

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Wild conspiracy theories have polluted our country these days, and everyone is rushing to figure out why so many Americans are sucked into these clearly false and highly paranoid ideas. Apparently, 50% of Republicans believe that Hilary Clinton and others are involved in a child pornography ring run out of a pizza parlor, 42% believe that hydroxychloroquine is effective against Covid-19, 30% of them are aligned with that nutty Q-Anon stuff, and about 68% believe that Donald Trump won the election. But it’s not just Republicans. Twenty-five percent of all Americans believe…

Why an internet search is not research

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Wiliam Iven@Upsplash

Every time someone says, with conviction and pride, “I’ve done my research,” I laugh out loud. What they really mean is, “I looked it up on the internet.” Calling that move “research” is like looking at someone’s driver’s license and believing you have the full measure of the person just because you know their name and address. Or asking a bunch of friends what they know about something and then taking whatever looney thing they say as fact.

Cruising the internet is not research; it’s simply looking something up in a very superficial…

Knitters and Others Are Spreading the Bern

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a fotos meme with no attribution@Twitter

The Bernie meme is giving us all a lot of laughs now that we have a new president as well as a vaccine coming our way. There’s Bernie on the Eifel Tower, sitting in the New York subway, hanging out with Batman, and on and on. Every time I see one of these altered fotos I burst out laughing, and as an anthropologist, I am also so please to see the swift cultural appropriation of a cold guy at a traditional Western ceremony turned into a cold guy everywhere on earth.

This Bernie…

There Might Just Be an Antidote to Our Ingrained Selfishness

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The New York Public Library @ Unsplash

The answer is yes.

According to biologist Bobbi Low of the University of Michigan and science writer Matt Ridley, humans are innately selfish beings who lean toward consuming all the planet’s recourses for themselves with little or no regard for others. But, they argue, with a shift of focus that very same selfishness could also be harnessed to slow down the process and possibly save the earth for future generations.

Although this article is twenty-eight years old, it resonates like a clarion call during these times when the effects of…

How Westerners Fail at the Waiting Game

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Hele Auer@Unsplash

So now we wait.

Yes, we’ve already waited ten whole months, but now we have to wait even more to get the vaccine that will save us from Covid-19 and break us out of this time of suspended animation.

But why is it so hard to wait?

We should be used to waiting; we do it all the time as we wait for the bus, a companion to show up, at the doctor’s office, a baby to be born, a text message to arrive. …

The Otherworldly Tale of Anthropologists and Space Aliens

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Danielal Realpeg@pixabay

On October 4, 1957, Russia launched the first satellite, the first human-made object, to orbit the earth, calling it “Sputnik” which is Russian for “traveler.” America wanted to be the first in space — after all, the Cold War was raging, and the space race was part of that war — but it took a year before they launched a similar U.S. satellite. Those launches, and the space race in general, were signs of a massive, universal, culture shift for the human race. People started thinking about the heavens as a place…

Chimpanzee Males Need Their Mothers

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Simon Bardet @ pixabay

Motherhood is intense. A new mom not only has to recover from the birth and start breastfeeding, which is behaviorally and physically demanding but she also (usually) becomes life for a growing toddler. Children start out greatly dependent on their mothers, but that attachment wanes as kids grow up and become independent. But mothers can have a deep and lasting effect later in life when they contribute financially, allow adult children to live at home, or give emotional support even when their kids are fully grown and have children of their own.

A group of…

Irony Intended

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Alicja from Pixabay

Numbers are drawn symbols, or figures, that represent something else. The sign 2 is not just a slinky line; it is a collectively recognized and agreed upon symbol for two of something. Throughout history, that representation has made life a lot easier for transactions among people — it’s a lot easier if I write “I owe you 2 cows” than bringing the cows physically into the conversation and parading them around and forcing you to see that there are indeed 2 cows.

Numbers are also the symbols used in counting, a numerical system designed to add things up…

Without Mirrors We Are the Fairest of Them All

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free image from pixabay

It’s something we do several times a day — look into a mirror.

Add to that number self-staring moments all the quick glances when passing a window outside and realize that gazing at oneself is a national pastime.

But it’s a pastime filled with danger.

Be careful when you choose to look into a mirror because:

1) If you are a certain age, there will come a morning when you look in the mirror and see yourself transforming into your mother or father, or maybe a weird combination of the two…

Meredith F. Small

Anthropologist and author of Our Babies Ourselves, magazine articles, and Inventing the World: Venice and the Tranformation of Western Civilization (Dec ‘20).

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