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Predetermined Sapoloskian Political Fertilizer

Robert Sapolosky Bruce McEwan scientific publication monkey stress


...If human agents are essentially mechanical entities, on what basis could we find a normative difference between, say, tuberculosis and selfishness or insufficient ability to feel compassion for others? In fact, if you are actually indifferent to the suffering of others, a typical psychopath, what could be the nonphysical cause of that indifference?...

Imagining the future of law and neuroscience

...I believe there is no free will whatsoever...


Nursery crimes

...Yet if it is clear to most reasonable people that some rules and parental restraints are necessary parts of child-rearing, just where to draw the line is up for grabs. Not surprisingly, many of the toughest cases have wound up before a judge...

Determined: A Science of Life Without Free Will

Fertility and race perception predict voter preference for Barack Obama

Are the Desert People Winning?

...As for the other correlates, desert cultures, with their militarism, stratification, mistreatment of women, uptightness about child rearing and sexuality, seem unappealing. And yet ours happens to be a planet dominated by the cultural descendants of the desert dwellers. At various points, the desert dwellers have poured out of the Middle East, defining large parts of Eurasia...

Playing Games: Theory Insights Into Getting What You Want

...Players must decide when to cooperate and when-to use a highly technical game theory term-to “cheat.”...And it turns out that social animals, even without M.B.A.’s, have often evolved strategies for deciding when to cooperate and when to cheat...



... ALTRUISM AND REPUTATION...a player facing someone in one round of a game has access to the  history of that opponent‘s gaming behavior. In this scenario, the same individuals needn’t play against each other repeatedly in order to produce cooperation. Instead, in what game theorists call sequential
altruism, cooperation comes from the introduction of reputation. This becomes a pay-it-forward scenario, in which A is altruistic to B, who is then altruistic to C, and so on...PUNISHMENT FUN...Now comes the really interesting part. The authors showed that everyone jumps at the chance to punish the cheater, even when it means that the punisher will incur a cost...

Natural Conflict Resolution

...mechanisms for the regulation of conflict should be in place...We have developed social rules to regulate interactions within a community and legal procedures to solve disputes when the individuals in conflict are not able to find an agreement by themselves...

Biology and Human Behavior: The Neurological Origins of Individuality 

A family resemblance

...our closest relative, with whom we are nearly genetically identical, is a murderous thug. There you have it, our human-as-killer-ape destiny. The antidote to all this is the bonobo...

Behave: The Biology of Humans at our Best and Worst review by Andrew Gribben

...He ends on a note of optimism believing that the evidence of history demonstrates that "our best" behaviours are increasing and "our worst" behaviours decreasing...

On human nature: The solace of patterns

Another hope looks outward, to a world whose tragedies are inexorably delivered from its remotest corners to our nightly news. Look at the image of a survivor of some carnage and, knowing nothing of her language, culture, beliefs or circumstances, you can still recognize in the fixed action patterns of her facial muscles the unmistakable lineaments of grief. That instant recognition, the universal predictability of certain aspect of human beings, whether in a facial expression or in the stages of mourning, is an emblem of our kinship and an imperative of empathy.

The price of propriety

...It can be a frightening world out there, and the body may well bear the scars of the effort needed to thread a path through the dark, menacing forests of stress. How much better it would be to relax on the sun-drenched porch of a villa, far, far away from the wild things baying. Yet take a closer look at the person sprawling on a chaise longue on the terrace. What looks like relaxation could well be exhaustionexhaustion (sic) from the labor of building a wall around that villa, the effort of keeping out the unsettling, challenging, vibrant world. One lesson to draw from repressive personality types and their invisible burdens is that, sometimes, it can be enormously stressful to construct a world without stressors...

2022 ISPNE Bruce McEwen Lifetime Achievement Award Stress, from molecules to societies

...For scholars entering the field, stargazing at larger than life luminaries in the field is thrilling yet intimidating as it feels impossible that these experts have the same doubts and distractions as the rest of us primates...

Importance of a sense of control and the physiological benefits of leadership

Speculations on the Evolutionary Origins of System Justification

...It is that once social systems that enshrine liberty, justice, and democratic norms that are protective of diversity, tolerance, and equality are firmly established, people should be motivated to defend and justify these social systems as well. The idea at the core of system justification theory is that people are motivated to preserve the social, economic, and political arrangements that they inherit from their cultural predecessor


Support for religio-political aggression among teenaged boys in Gaza: Part II: Neuroendocrinological findings....Averaged morning T levels did not correlate with self-rated aggression, but were positively associated with agreement with the statement “religious ends justify any means / Old prejudices are hard to relinquish, and humans have held themselves apart from other species for centuries, if not millennia. Oxford evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins refers to this posture as “the tyranny of the discontinuous mind.” The same impetus gave rise to the medieval concept of the “great chain of being,” in which humans sat above the animals but below the angels...Mirror mirror

The Physiology and Pathophysiology of Unhappiness

... in primates, social subordination is not always associated with such maladaptive physiology; it is not just rank that influences physiology but also the sort of society in which the rank occurs, as well as that individual’s experience of rank and society.

Testicular function, social rank and personality among wild baboons.

McEwen-Induced Modulation of Endocrine History: A Partial Review

The final section of this review considers the enormous role played by Bruce McEwen in the emergence of this literature. I suggest that while much of this obviously has to do with the facts that have come from his group, another substantial contribution is from his steadying and supportive personality, the veritable embodiment of homeostatic balance.

Doubled-Edged Swords in the Biology of Conflict

...we as individuals can be monstrously damaging in one setting and profoundly caring in another; the same behavior can constitute humans at their best in the eyes of some and humans at their worst for others. It will be critical to understand these seeming contradictions...

This is your brain on metaphors

Nelson Mandela was wrong when he advised, “Don’t talk to their minds; talk to their hearts.”
He meant talk to their insulas and cingulate cortices and all those other confused brain
regions, because that confusion could help make for a better world. 

Measures of Life

That bias must plague us scientists when we try to justify why we do the work we do. I don't mean justify in the sense in which we use the term when we come up with our nonsense rationalizations in the last paragraphs of our grant proposals, hoping the National Institutes of Health will bless us for another five years. I mean the justifications we come up with at night, when we think about being in a profession that requires us to pour radiation down a sink or to kill animals, that calls on us to work so hard that the rest of our selves wither. We must battle distributed villains, charge them with statistical guilt, do the groundwork that will lead to minute fractional victories somewhere down the line. Such is the nature of our progress. But I wish the demands of our profession were not so at odds with our fundamental cognitive bias. I wish they were not so at odds with the desire to see the face of someone we helped.


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