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Transcendental Medication: Defraying the Costs of Analysis Paralysis -- Preface
Dissociation is the main focus of this series. Dissociation is a filtering, compartmentalizing, or apportioning of consciousness or awareness. I've called dissociation 'partitioning of awareness' (2005). This essentially means we can compartmentalize aspects of awareness from each other in our mind. It's the psychological state shared among shaman when they travel mentally to other realms, when initiates leave their bodies & are replaced by deities or spirits, or when you seem to be under the spell of someone else during hypnosis... read more ❯
Excessively playing video games good or bad, or both?
Published 3/11/2014 in Primate Religion & Human Consciousness
Author awhunt1
Have you ever been so absorbed in a video game that you lose track of time? One moment its noon and the next thing you know the moonlight is shining through the windows. This is not uncommon to many, our lives are filled with all sorts of video games, from the Sims to World of Warcraft. In fact, several researchers studied the positive and negative effects video games, in particular World of Warcraft, had on gamers. Apparently getting immersed in such a visually stimulating game as WoW can have both good and bad impacts on health. Jeffrey G. Snodgrass, Michael G. Lacy, H.J. Francois Dengah II, Jesse Fagan, and David E. Most studied the dissociation or immersion of those playing WoW. What's really going on in our brains while playing? Snodgrass and friends identify absorption as becoming unaware of the environment around them and time perception maybe altered. According to Snodrass it... read more ❯
Week 3: Archaeology and Garbology
Published 3/11/2014 in UA Outreach: Anthropology Partnership
Author BPersons
After a brief hiatus, the TMSE blog is finally being updated!   For this week’s lesson, our students learned about another branch of anthropology – archaeology.  Archaeology is the branch of anthropology that focuses on studying people in the past. However, since archaeologists cannot follow the lead of ethnographers and ask ancient peoples about their lives, archaeologists have to rely on other evidence to learn about ancient societies. Specifically, archaeologists have to rely on looking at the material remains of human activity. Specifically, archaeologists study artifacts, or items that were made and used by humans, as well as sites, or concentrations of artifacts.   While the idea of “material remains” or the “archaeological record” may at first sound obtuse, nearly every human activity leaves a trace, and, archaeologists are trained to compare those material traces to learn about human behavior.   My favorite example of the material record always begins with a family picnic, which at... read more ❯
Ethology Study
Published 3/10/2014 in Anthropology of Sex
Author Ross
Students were tasked with employing two ethology techniques discussed in class (focal sampling and scan sampling) on people trying to hook up. The choice of research setting was up to the discretion of the investigator, some examples include bars, restaurants, coffee shops, the Quad, The Ferguson Center, the Rec, etc. For those who may not be familiar with focal and scan sampling, these are two of the tools ethologists and anthropologists use to collect data. The main distinction between ethology and anthropology is the former is interested in strict observation from the outside (one might call this an etic approach), and the latter often engages in what's known as participant observation (an emic approach). Focal sampling focuses on a fixed individual or point in space and all of the observations taking place within a pre-determined time frame (15-30 minutes for the purposes of this assignment) are recorded. Scan sampling scans the environment... read more ❯
DeCaro, Collaborators Receive Head Start Grant
Published 3/8/2014 in Bama Anthro Blog Network
Author Christopher Lynn
Jason DeCaro is one of several recipients of a grant from the Administration of Children and Families who will implement and assess intervention programs to improve school readiness and child well-being among Head Start preschoolers in West Alabama. In partnership with the Community Service Programs of West Alabama (CSPWAL), he and the other grantees (Ansley Gilpin and John Lochman from Psychology and Caroline Boxmeyer from Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine) will follow children into first grade to assess the effectiveness of programs that teach children social and emotion regulation skills, and support parents and teachers in fostering positive home and school environments. DeCaro and colleagues are receiving $2.25 million over 5 years to assess these program, which a classroom curriculum for the children, and interventions to address broader challenges - such as parental mental health, job prospects, and financial obstacles - that influence family well-being. Dr. DeCaro's involvement in the project centers around assessing... read more ❯
Transcendental Medication: Defraying the Costs of Analysis Paralysis -- Part I
Introduction This serial post will be about dissociation as transcendence & why both are apparently ubiquitous & simultaneously extremely psychosocially diverse.  I will make several functionalist claims, as follow: Consciousness is costly Dissociation is a basic function of consciousness Dissociation defrays the costs of awareness Transcendence is just another word for dissociation Transcendence appears in diverse psychocultural forms not because of its primacy but because it is a baseline necessity Transcendent experiences are those beyond the limits of ordinary experience (Beauregard 2011).  There are varieties of transcendent experiences moderated by personal, social, & cultural circumstances.  Personal circumstances can be psychological & biological &, of course, are not mutually exclusive of social & cultural influences but are directly influenced by & interact with them.  Therefore, we can study transcendence from a number of perspectives.  For instance, I study speaking in tongues & other... read more ❯
Arboreal Clambering: A Fancy Way of Saying Monkeys Climb Trees
Self-Conception and Evolution I’m going to start off by defining four important aspects of self-conception as touched on in the reading 🙂 Self-conception is the awareness of self as… 1.      An object of knowledge 2.      The subject of experience 3.       An entity that exists through time 4.       A causal agent In this article John G. H. Cant and Daniel J. Povinelli focus the most on number 4, self-conception as the awareness of self as a causal agent. What exactly does being aware of yourself as a causal agent mean? Why should we care? And what are Povinelli and Cant exactly hypothesizing? Well, a causal agent is an entity that produces an effect or is responsible for events or results. So basically it means possessing the awareness that your actions have specific consequences. We should care because there is not much known regarding the evolution of these aspects of self-concept, and Povinelli and Cant have evidence to believe that number 4... read more ❯
2013 Field Season at Actuncan, Belize
Published 3/5/2014 in Bama Anthro Blog Network
Author llecount
The Actuncan Archaeological Project directed by Dr. Lisa LeCount conducted summer excavations funded by the National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration at the ancient Maya site of Actuncan in Belize, Central America.  Using the corporate-network leadership model, the Project evaluated material and symbolic resources found in two elite households and an E-Group (a commemorative astronomical civic complex) to determine if corporate leadership persisted into the Classic period (AD 250 to 1000) at the site after network-based leadership arose in other polities, such as Tikal.  The 2013 field season was one of the largest so far with six graduate students and four Ph.D. researchers supervising 26 Belizean men and women in the field and lab.  University of Alabama personal included Dr. John Blitz, Luke Donohue, Borislava (Bobbie) Simova (now in the Ph.D.... read more ❯
UA Anthropologists in the News in the Summer & Fall 2013
Published 3/5/2014 in Bama Anthro Blog Network
Author Christopher Lynn
In June 2013, Dr. Jason DeCaro got a chance to set the record straight when Evolutionary Psychologist Geoffrey Miller put his tweet in his mouth with the following: Dr. DeCaro, who subsequently tweeted from his own account what a degrading and unwarranted claim Miller had made, was contacted by The NY Daily News. Dr.  DeCaro pointed out that "Current human biology and health psychology research show conclusively that a combination of genetics and social environment have far more to do with obesity than does 'willpower,' contrary to what people often assume." In October, Dr. Chris Lynn was interviewed for an article on glossolalia (speaking in tongues among Charismatics and some other religious practitioners through the ages) and stress reduction. Dana Foundation is a private philanthropic organization dedicated to brain research. The article discusses Dr. Lynn's dissertation fieldwork among Pentecostals in upstate New York, which compared rates of speaking in tongues to salivary... read more ❯
10 Things You May Not Know About New Anthropology Chair Dr. Ian W. Brown
Published 3/5/2014 in Bama Anthro Blog Network
Author Christopher Lynn
"10 Things You May Not Know About" is a new feature of our newsletter to highlight the personal sides of our faculty, staff, and students in the Department of Anthropology. This issue, we begin with our new chair, Dr. Ian Brown. Dr. Brown is an archaeologist who specializes in the Indians of the southeastern United States. His research interests are the history of archaeology, ethnohistory, prehistoric Indian culture history, settlement patterns, ceremonialism, ceramics, and trade and technology among Eastern Woodland populations, especially the role of salt. Dr. Brown is widely published, including two books just this past year, The Red Hills of Essex: Studying Salt in England and Above and Beyond the Pale: A Portrait of Life and Death in Ireland. We are extraordinarily grateful to have such a capable, affable, and, as you will see below, extraordinarily interesting colleague at... read more ❯
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