monkey's uncle

notes on human ecology, population, and infectious disease

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Thoughts on Black Swans and Antifragility

December 26th, 2012 · 2 Comments

I have recently read the latest book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile. I read his famous The Black Swan a while back while in the field and wrote lots of notes. I never got around to posting those notes since they were quite telegraphic (and often not even electronic!), as they were written in the […]

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Tags: science · Statistics

On Global State Shifts

July 5th, 2012 · No Comments

This is a edited version of a post I sent out to the E-ANTH listserv in response to a debate over a recent paper in Nature and the response to it on the website “Clear Science,” written by Todd Meyers. In this debate, it was suggested that the Barnosky paper is the latest iteration of […]

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Tags: Climate Change · Human Ecology

Wealth and Cheating

March 20th, 2012 · 1 Comment

I recently read a story in the Los Angeles Times about a team of psychologists at UC Berkeley who showed, in a series of experimental and naturalistic studies, that wealthy individuals are more likely to cheat or violate social norms about fairness. The Story in the Times referred to the paper by Piff et al. […]

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Tags: Anthropology · Social Network Analysis

Three Questions About Norms

March 3rd, 2012 · 1 Comment

Well, it certainly has been a while since I’ve written anything here. Life has gotten busy with new projects, new responsibilities, etc. Yesterday, I participated in a workshop on campus sponsored by the Woods Institute for the Environment, the Young Environmental Scholars Conference. I was asked to stand-in for a faculty member who had to […]

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Tags: Anthropology · Conservation · Demography · Human Ecology · Infectious Disease · Teaching

My Erdős Number

March 1st, 2011 · No Comments

Paul Erdős was the great peripatetic, and highly prolific, mathematician of the 20th century. A terrific web page run by Jerry Grossman at Oakland University provides details of the Erdős Project. Erdős was a pioneer in graph theory, which provides the formal tools for the analysis of social networks.  A collaboration graph is a special graph in which the […]

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Tags: Social Network Analysis

That's How Science Works

December 29th, 2010 · 5 Comments

The RealClimate blog has a very astute entry on how the controversy surrounding the recent report in the prestigious journal Science that bacteria living in the arsenic-rich waters of Mono Lake in California can substitute arsenic for phosphorous in their DNA.  If true, this would be a major finding because it expands the range of environments […]

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Tags: Anthropology · science

Typologies of Critique

December 24th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Greg Downey over at Neuroanthropology has a fantastic post on the most recent flare-up of the anthropology-is-it-science-or-is-it-literature wars.  There is an awful lot of wise prose to be found in this post (and some disturbing information about the labor action at Macquarie University), but the thing that tickled me more than anything was his typology […]

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Tags: Anthropology · Demography

Measuring Epidemiological Contacts in Schools

December 17th, 2010 · 1 Comment

I am happy to report that our paper describing the measurement of casual contacts within an American high school is finally out in the early edition of PNAS. Stanford’s great social science reporter, Adam Gorlick, has written a very nice overview of our paper for the Stanford Report (also here in the LA Times and […]

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Tags: Anthropology · Human Ecology · Infectious Disease

A New Essay

December 2nd, 2009 · 1 Comment

Most of my essays of late are written here for monkey’s uncle. This week, an essay that I wrote for a series on the future of Anthropology was published in Anthropology News, the newsletter of the American Anthropological Association.  So, rather than write it again, I will simply link to it!

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Tags: Anthropology

The Igon Value Problem

November 15th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Priceless. Steve Pinker wrote a spectacular review of Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures, in the New York Times today. I regularly read and enjoy Gladwell’s essays in the New Yorker, but I find his style sometimes problematic, verging on anti-intellectual, and I’m thrilled to see a scientist of Pinker’s stature […]

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Tags: science · Statistics