Chimpanzees and the Battle Over Human Nature

Chimp peers right at you. (Photo by Michael Nichols /National Geographic Creative)
A chimp peers out from the branches of a tree, making direct eye contact with the viewer. (Photo by Michael Nichols /National Geographic Creative)

Were humans born to war?

Or is warfare a recent, rare development in our history?

A study of observations of chimpanzees earlier this year brought the fundamental questions of warfare’s origins and prevalence to the fore. Ongoing studies of the remains of early human civilizations have a lot to add to the debate.

Two Sides

Scholars are divided into two schools of thought on the issue. Some (such as Choi and Bowles) argue that warfare goes back to at least the first appearance of fully modern humans 200,000 years ago. Others (such as Fry and Söderberg) suggest that warfare is a more modern, much less common phenomenon only arising under very specific conditions. Evidence in the ongoing debate consists of studies of contemporary hunter-gatherers, prehistoric cave art, and primatology.

As an archaeologist I am often knee-deep in the dirt, and I prefer searching for tangible evidence of what happened in the past.

Unfortunately the archaeological record is far from complete, and only a small percentage of ancient objects are preserved well enough to recover. Thus, archaeology is part CSI, —> Read More Here

Worldwide ADHD Rates Are Higher Than Ever, And It Might Be America’s Fault

Diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have surged globally, rising as much as tenfold in some countries. The disorder has become a cultural and economic phenomenon — but it may not be a medical one, according to one scientist who studies the sociology of health and illness.

“Exporting American-based diagnoses like ADHD is really exporting American behavioral norms under the guise of medicine,” Peter Conrad, professor of sociology at Brandeis University, told The Huffington Post. “With millions more kids (and adults) likely to be diagnosed with and treated for ADHD in the next decades we see the export of American behavioral norms worldwide. This may be more insidious than the globalization of American fast food or pop music, in that it comes in the name of proper mental health and behavior.”

In a paper published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, Conrad and colleague Meredith Bergey investigated the growth of ADHD diagnoses in five countries where ADHD diagnosis and treatment rates increased dramatically — the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Brazil.

In Germany, for instance, prescription ADHD drugs increased from 10 million daily doses in 1998 to 53 million in 2008. In the UK, stimulant-treatment for ADHD increased —> Read More Here

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