Four Stone Hearth: Number 117

Welcome to the 117th edition of Four Stone Hearth, the blog carnival in which only those hosting ever actually participate!  I hate to start my post with such a barbed introduction, but not a single FSH reader contributed this week.  And last weeks session was completely vacant!  I hosted the carnival just over a year ago and cited the same fundamental flaw; the lack of participation.  So this time, I’m not sugar coating it.  Shame on you for not sharing exciting news and research with Sexy Archaeology this week.

As a token of my affection for FSH (and blog carnivals in general), I’ll be checking my inbox over the next few days in hopes that the community will take action and participate.  There is no limit to the amount of content one edition of FSH can contain, so please send stuff my way.  That being said, let’s get the stones rolling.

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Let’s start with archaeology.  This week saw a bomb drop in the ongoing debate regarding Neanderthal and human interaction, nearly a year after publication of research that seemed to indicate Neanderthals and humans bred on two separate occassions.  According to a newly released report in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a newly refined method of radiocarbon dating has found that Neanderthals died off much earlier than previously.  According to this refined method, the date could be off by 10,000 years meaning that Neanderthals and modern humans possibly never interacted in Europe.

This is where the debate begins, as geneticists reported last year that 2.5 percent of the modern human genome is derived from the Neanderthal genome. There is evidence of Neanderthals co-existing with humans in the Near East some 100,000 years ago, as well as in Europe 40,000 years ago. With the new carbon dating timeline, it is now believed that interbreeding between the two did not occur in Europe but rather during that first Near East encounter.  Innnnnntersting.  We’ll have to see where this debate goes.

Next up comes a thoughtful commentary on trust in science from Danial Willingham at Scientific American.  In a 2008 survey by the National Science Foundation, more respondents expressed “a great deal” of confidence in science leaders than in leaders of any other institution except the military. Yet we the people are still inundated with bad science and non science throughout the course of a day.  And what is worse is that some of us still buy it!  I cringe every time I hear someone saying they got caught up in an “amazing” episode of Ghost Hunters last night, or overhear someone say they aren’t sure if they are going to get their child immunized because immunizations cause autism.

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t dig up a story that somehow fulfilled the requirements of FSH and capitalized on the name Sexy Archaeology.  That’s why when I stumbled across an article about our sexual desires when no one is looking, I knew I had to share it.

What we want when nobody is watching!

This interview with Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, two computational neuroscientists and authors of the just released A Billion Wicked Thoughts touches base on their research into human desires and what they call the largest and “most in-depth study of human desire since Kinsey.”

That brings us to linguistics, the seldom used arrow in my anthropological quiver.  In my search for the perfect story, I stumbled upon numerous linguistics blogs I feel are worth sharing.  Little linguist, Ideophone, and Kre-8-iv Speill!nk are all good fun.  But the prize for best linguistics blog has to go to Wordlustitude based on sole entertainment value.  I don’t know, maybe my linguistics humor is a little off kilter, but the Threat Level Smurf post had me laughing.

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That’s all!  Let’s hope the next edition (#118) sees some participation.  In order to provide fodder for the blog carnival beast, I’ll be applying the hash tag #FSH to all of my archaeology related Twitter posts.  With any luck, a few other savvy souls will have the same drive and the contributions will start rolling in.

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