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BenBradshaw

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About BenBradshaw

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  1. BenBradshaw

    EPISODE 78 — The Gun Show

    If you guys ever get around to boning up on how the sexual selection component of evolutionary theory applies to humans, many of the points you bring up are going to coalesce into a much clearer picture of what's going on with gun violence in America. The analytical tools are just sitting right there for you to notice. I swear, the sexual selection component of evolutionary theory right now is the fucking nitrous oxide of the late 18th and early 19th century. People in the future are going to wonder how in the hell we managed to miss something so obvious. I strongly recommend that everyone look into the patterns of and logic underpinning male-male competition in terrestrial mammals, a group of species which includes humans.
  2. Guys, please please please be careful about the academic literature on these subjects. Since this episode was all about "progress", I think you really need to take the time to wrap your heads around the idea that academic thinking on these issues has barely "progressed" at all in the 15 years I've been paying attention to it. As self-deprecating as you are about the work you do, I honestly think that Cracked.com presents a more accurate and more scientific view of reality than most university professors in the humanities and the social sciences. Don't get too distracted by or put too much faith in their arguments. As a former professional archaeologist and anthropologist, I'd say the development and refinement of scientific epistemology is the factor most directly responsible for the "hockey-stick curve" of global human population. I've written similar comments on here in the past, and the logic still holds. Evolutionary theory is such a slamdunk of scientific achievement that the discovery of the first warm-blooded fish didn't even phase it. Since this is the case and there is so much evidence pointing to the fact that humans are the result of evolutionary processes, I think it's reasonable to be extremely skeptical of academics studying ANY aspect of human behavior who have trouble linking their research to evolution. I STRONGLY recommend that you and anyone who reads this post get in the habit of categorizing academic research as either "scientific" or "unscientific" on these grounds. Scientific knowledge accumulates and "progresses". Unscientific knowledge stagnates and has trouble adjusting to novel situations created by science-driven social changes. We owe a lot to "unscientific" academics for their social work disguised as research for legitimizing these social justice causes, but now we need grownup scientific research from them to help us figure out the next steps.
  3. Hey, Not sure if you guys read my comment from your Year in Review episode, but check it out for more context. Back in June I started experimenting with my Facebook account when it occurred to me that after you have a computer and an internet connection, the only "publishing costs" are social. I also felt compelled to start putting my otherwise worthless master's degree in anthropology to good use by pointing out ways to clarify issues that I didn't feel were being accurately understood and discussed by most people. I'm starting to annoy even myself with how much I sound like a broken record, but I think science provides a ready-made framework for the Golden Rule of Social Media. If you're gonna criticize something that someone has posted, you have to stick to that person's thoughts and be as explicit and transparent in your critique as possible. I've also found it helpful to always try to state my opinions in ways that they can be empirically falsified by someone who's willing to do the leg work to point out flaws in my logic. We gotta stop pretending that the social conventions which apply to face-to-face or verbal interactions are a necessary template for online interactions. We're not running out of Internet, and if Facebook comment boxes have a size limit I haven't found it yet. Nitpicking everything someone says to you is a total asshole move in person, but I honestly appreciate it when someone helps clarify my thinking on something online. Using my anthropology powers, I recently realized that among primates the picking of nits is a sign of endearment. Where we've been going wrong online is that we don't have much practice distinguishing between the nitpicking of someone's thoughts and the nitpicking of someone's person. One last observation along these lines: we're so not used to the characteristics of online interactions that we often fail to remember that it's actually almost entirely silent. I make the same mistake myself all the time, so don't take it personally when I point out that you guys consistently used language that relates to sound when talking about commment sections. In a room full of people, the loudest talkers actually drown out others, but unless you've got someone spamming the "post comment" function, no one's opinion is actually inherently less perceptible than anyone else's. Most of my Facebook posts for the past 8 months have revolved around these ideas and around me grappling with the realization that a lot of my Facebook friends don't have all that high of an opinion of me. Take a look. Keep up the good work. Ben Bradshaw
  4. BenBradshaw

    Episode 58 — 2014: A Year in Review in Review

    Hey guys, This episode finally compelled me to create an Earwolf account and use my real name as a handle because you all seem to be one of the few popular media outlets seriously grappling with the implications of what the internet is telling us humans about ourselves. If, while gazing disappointedly at a grocery store magazine rack whose only satirical publications had Sylvester P. Smythe on the cover, it was suddenly revealed to my eight-year-old mind that I would be writing this comment twenty-four years later it would have promptly snapped in half, but unexpected historical twists and turns seem to fascinate me as much as you all. I'm not sure how to say this without sounding like a lunatic, but I think the problems with the conventional wisdom concerning the mainstream media you point out are just the tip of a much more terrifying flotilla of iceberg-sized problems with the conventional wisdom concerning the role of academia in our society. What I'm about to type is so self-evident that I've basically spent the past six years since I dropped out of my anthropology PhD program with a masters degree questioning my sanity because I always figured that I couldn't possibly be the first person to connect these dots: the amount of epistemological support for evolutionary theory is staggering and the vast majority of reasonable people recognize that humans are the result of evolutionary processes. Hold onto your butts because here comes the part of the puzzle that you and most other people haven't seemed to realize is even missing: very very few liberal arts academics have bothered to check whether their theories on human behavior conform with evolution theory. I'm confident that YOU guys are closer to coming up with a more scientifically-sound social theory than 99% of my former professors and colleagues just because you take the internet seriously. I realize this is a crazy idea, but I bet you're gonna love finding out the extent to which many of the concepts we were taught as self-evident have very little tethering to reality. You can expect to run into some major hostility and condescending responses, so let me equip you with a few touchstones to avoid getting sidetracked by high-falutin' references to academic texts: -The human brain has been shaped by the same evolutionary processes which have created all our other organs. How does their academic work take into account all the amazing studies coming out of neuroscience? -What empirical data will falsify their theory? The fewer the qualifiers involved in the answers you receive to those questions, the more likely it is that you're talking to a "scientific" academic. Hope to hear your guys' take on this angle. Feel free to contact me to verify my sanity or if you want any pointers on where to start looking.
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