Open Thread, 6/14/2015

41hdiv6SmHL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_If you haven’t read Prehistory of the Mind, it’s an interesting book, even if somewhat dated. The same author’s After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000-5000 BC is also recommended. Obviously this sorts of works attempting to synthesize evolution, psychology, and archaeology, are a lot more relevant right now since ancient DNA is introducing a whole new landscape to us. There’s a lot that gets out of date fast. On Twitter I mentioned that Barry Cunliffe’s Britain Begins gets the archaeogenetics wrong because it was published a year or two early.

511QYJbvkBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)Obviously I spent a day writing the post below, Genetics Allows the Dead to Speak from the Grave. I don’t do research myself in ancient DNA and don’t plan to. But it’s a hot field producing a lot of results, and I know a fair amount of history, so I thought a “core dump” of some sort was useful, at least for Google. Unfortunately I don’t have that good of an intuition for prehistory, so perhaps I’ll have to read some archaeology books front to back. History is being made literally right now, so it is important make appropriate interdisciplinary connections. Even with nearly 10,000 words I left out a lot of important issues.

If you want to some enjoyable summer reading with a topic focus, I’d suggest Africa: A Biography of the Continent, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa, and China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa. Important topics.

Two papers of interest, Attention Decay in Science, and Leveling the Playing Field: Longer Acquaintance Predicts Reduced Assortative Mating on Attractiveness.

I’ve been adding to my Good Reads list as I think of books. I could probably swell the list of fiction (mostly science fiction & fantasy), but that’s not a priority. Almost surely there’s an ascertainment bias here; I remember books I liked or were memorable. Seems pretty obvious from the relatively high star mark. Also, I added most of the books in about three or four bursts. The list grew to ~750 or so from what I can recall, and now it’s just slowly growing, as I’ve added only 100 since then (some of the new books I’ve read, but not most).

I’ll be spotty in terms of internet connection for a week.

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