Anthropology–U.S. health, peer review, IRBs, fossils, archaeology, Race/IQ

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Like last week, playing catch-up on my anthropology blog feed. Some things jumped to attention:

Why Does the United States Rank So Badly in Health?, Daniel Lende
(1) Societal inequality that helps drive social determinants of health, (2) A worse developmental context for some children from conception on, (3) How behavioral and mental health shape adolescent and adult life and contribute heavily to early mortality, and (4) A contradictory health care system that burdens some through error and over-treatment and does not reach those who really need the preventive and primary care that would help address factors 1, 2, and 3.

Neuroanthropology, 12 August 2012

The five virtues of peer review(ers), Alex Golub
These days everyone loves to hate peer review. It is, the story goes, an old fashioned, evil form of collaboration which has been rendered obsolete by shiny new ways of communicating over the Intarweb. I am part of the problem, since I’m not uncritical of peer review. However, peer review has been so pummeled lately that I am starting to feel sorry for it since, no matter how valid many of the objections against it are, it got caught in a perfect storm of pre-existing antipathy and techno-enthusiasm that could sink pretty much anything. So I want to make a point here about peer review which I feel is under-appreciated: the value it has for improving not articles, but reviewers.

Savage Minds, 11 August 2012

Are IRBs a Stumbling Block for an Engaged Anthropology?, Kimberly Sue
We need to challenge our IRBs and seek to understand the logic behind their conditions and changes instead of submitting so easily to their requests for revisions. We furthermore need to educate them on the implications and consequences of making social science research into a burden and a deterrent to future studies on topics like incarceration that could greatly benefit from what social science research might be able to offer. If everyone spoke a little truth to power within our own university and regulatory settings, then maybe the IRB would not seem like such a hassle, a nuisance or a stumbling block, as we seek to enact a more relevant and engaged era of anthropology.

Somatosphere, 9 August 2012

The new Koobi Fora early Homo fossils, Adam Van Arsdale
It is clear there is an abundance of morphological diversity in the early African fossil record for Homo. The consensus going back more than 30 years is that this must be a reflection of taxonomic diversity. I am not convinced that we are at that point. It is quite possible that Bernard Wood is correct and we will look back in fifty years and say we had far too simple a perspective on issues of this time. However, it is not entirely clear to me that such a view necessitates the presence of multiple taxa, overlapping in range, morphology and ecology.

The Pleistocene Scene, 9 August 2012

What is the significance of your research?, Michael E. Smith
One of the fascinating aspects of working with a transdisciplinary research team is experiencing these contrasting elements of disciplinary culture. Archaeologists and anthropologists are obsessed with stating the significance of our research, but other social scientists are not. Or in another example, parts of the research design that seemed fine to me were viewed as too sloppy by the sociologist. The resulting act of tightening up our independent variables proved very instructive and helpful. Perhaps archaeologists are obsessed with the significance thing, but it is a necessary and understandable obsession.

Publishing Archaeology, 9 August 2012

Race IQ – Game Over: It was always all about wealth, Jason Antrosio
The publication of “Race, IQ, and Wealth” by Ron Unz effectively is game over for Race IQ peddlers–it was always about wealth & inequality.

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