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Neuron Culture

David Dobbs on science, nature, and culture.



dobbspic I write articles on science, medicine, nature, culture and other matters for the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Slate, National Geographic, Scientific American Mind, and other publications, and am working on my fourth book, The Orchid and the Dandelion, which expands on my recent December 2009 Atlantic article. My previous books include Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral, which traces the strangest but most forgotten controversy in Darwin's career — an elemental dispute running some 75 years.

You're encouraged to subscribe to Neuron Culture by email; see more of my workat my main website; or check out my catch-all-streams Tumblr log.


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    Your genetic info -- not free, easy, or clear

    This isn't something we'll figure out in a couple workshops; it's something the industry and the broader genomics community will need to consider carefully over the next few years, even as it rapidly grows.

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    Accidental brain evolution suffers a reversal

    Category: Brains and minds

    201003291618.jpg Early homind skulls, from A Kansan's Guide to Science (seriously) A couple weeks ago, the Guardian ran an article in which Oxford neurobiologist Colin Blakemore described " how the human got bigger by accident and not through evolution ." ...Because if "modern" humans suddenly showed up in Africa 200,000 years ago, and all of a sudden had vastly larger brains than any other hominins, wouldn't that be a simple and tidy story?

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    The Week's Best: Evolution, healthcare reform, clever apes, and Cheever in his undies

    Category: Art

    Evolution, healthcare reform, baboons, and Cheever in his underwear

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    The day's gleanings

    Jerry Coyne relates that Birds are getting smaller. Most students use Wikipedia, avoid telling profs about it When I talk...

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    Gold in the tweetstream

    I'll try doing this now and then, maybe regularly, to gather the more notable tweets I get in my twitter...

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    From Out-N-About: latest web notables

    Category: Brains and minds

    We'll start with the science, cruise through J school, and end with healthcare reform or bust. Genetic material Willful...

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    Does depression have an upside? It's complicated.

    Category: Brains and minds

    Despite all the complexity, it's that simple: Sometimes, for some people, depression ramps up constructive thinking; for other people (or at other times for the same people for whom depression sometimes brings insight), it smothers it. Did Virginia Woolf's bipolar depression bring her insight and creativity? Quite possibly. Yet in the end it drowned her.

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    Rice, alcohol, and really fast evolution in humans

    Category: Evolution

    Really fast evolution, this time driven by agriculture.

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    Rebooting science journalism -mixed-metaphor notes on the upcoming yakfest

    Category: Journalism - rebooting (aka future of)

    Ask not whom to kill, but how sci journalism and/or sci journalists might adapt to a new environment.

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    Are "orchid kids" the same as "gifted children"?

    Category: Brains and minds

    The concern dominating the Motherlode commenter thread responses, and in a few other places as well, is whether the "Orchid Children" of my title are what many people call "gifted" children (defined roughly as very smart kids who have behavioral issues requiring some special handling). The short answer to this question -- that is, whether by "orchid children" I mean smart-but-difficult -- is No.

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