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Concept: Culture


Environmental problems have contributed to numerous collapses of civilizations in the past. Now, for the first time, a global collapse appears likely. Overpopulation, overconsumption by the rich and poor choices of technologies are major drivers; dramatic cultural change provides the main hope of averting calamity.

Concepts: Poverty, Culture, Peak oil, Society, Globalization, Civilization, Sociocultural evolution, John Zerzan


This article explores science communication from the perspective of those most at risk of exclusion, drawing on ethnographic fieldwork. I conducted five focus groups and 32 interviews with participants from low-income, minority ethnic backgrounds. Using theories of social reproduction and social justice, I argue that participation in science communication is marked by structural inequalities (particularly ethnicity and class) in two ways. First, participants' involvement in science communication practices was narrow (limited to science media consumption). Second, their experiences of exclusion centred on cultural imperialism (misrepresentation and ‘Othering’) and powerlessness (being unable to participate or change the terms of their participation). I argue that social reproduction in science communication constructs a narrow public that reflects the shape, values and practices of dominant groups, at the expense of the marginalised. The article contributes to how we might reimagine science communication’s publics by taking inclusion/exclusion and the effects of structural inequalities into account.

Concepts: Participation, E-participation, Sociology, United Kingdom, Culture, Race, Ethnic group, Participant observation


Never before have individuals had to adapt to social environments defined by such magnitudes of ethnic diversity and cultural differentiation. However, neurobiological evidence informing about strategies to reduce xenophobic sentiment and foster altruistic cooperation with outsiders is scarce. In a series of experiments settled in the context of the current refugee crisis, we tested the propensity of 183 Caucasian participants to make donations to people in need, half of whom were refugees (outgroup) and half of whom were natives (ingroup). Participants scoring low on xenophobic attitudes exhibited an altruistic preference for the outgroup, which further increased after nasal delivery of the neuropeptide oxytocin. In contrast, participants with higher levels of xenophobia generally failed to exhibit enhanced altruism toward the outgroup. This tendency was only countered by pairing oxytocin with peer-derived altruistic norms, resulting in a 74% increase in refugee-directed donations. Collectively, these findings reveal the underlying sociobiological conditions associated with outgroup-directed altruism by showing that charitable social cues co-occurring with enhanced activity of the oxytocin system reduce the effects of xenophobia by facilitating prosocial behavior toward refugees.

Concepts: Sociology, Culture, Canada, Ethology, The Evolution of Cooperation, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution


The role of breakfast as an essential part of an healthy diet has been only recently promoted even if breakfast practices were known since the Middle Age. The growing scientific evidences on this topic are extremely sector-based nevertheless breakfast could be regarded from different point of views and from different expertises. This approach, that take into account history, sociology, anthropology, medicine, psychology and pedagogy, is useful to better understand the value of this meal in our culture. The aim of this paper was to analyse breakfast-related issues based on a multidisciplinary approach with input by specialists from different fields of learning.

Concepts: Psychology, Nutrition, Middle Ages, Sociology, Culture, Philosophy, Anthropology, Social sciences


Western lifestyles differ markedly from those of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and these differences in diet and activity level are often implicated in the global obesity pandemic. However, few physiological data for hunter-gatherer populations are available to test these models of obesity. In this study, we used the doubly-labeled water method to measure total daily energy expenditure (kCal/day) in Hadza hunter-gatherers to test whether foragers expend more energy each day than their Western counterparts. As expected, physical activity level, PAL, was greater among Hadza foragers than among Westerners. Nonetheless, average daily energy expenditure of traditional Hadza foragers was no different than that of Westerners after controlling for body size. The metabolic cost of walking (kcal kg(-1) m(-1)) and resting (kcal kg(-1) s(-1)) were also similar among Hadza and Western groups. The similarity in metabolic rates across a broad range of cultures challenges current models of obesity suggesting that Western lifestyles lead to decreased energy expenditure. We hypothesize that human daily energy expenditure may be an evolved physiological trait largely independent of cultural differences.

Concepts: Metabolism, Energy, Costs, Obesity, Culture, Difference, Cost, Globalization


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Dendrobium longicornu, commonly known as the ‘Long-horned Dendrobium’, is an endangered and medicinally important epiphytic orchid. Over-exploitation and habitat destruction seriously threaten this orchid in Northeast India. Our objective was to develop an efficient protocol for the mass propagation of D. longicornu using axillary bud segments. METHODOLOGY AND PRINCIPAL RESULTS: Axillary buds cultured in Murashige and Skoog semi-solid medium supplemented with α-naphthalene acetic acid (NAA), 2,4-dichlorophenoxy acetic acid (2,4-D) and 6-benzylaminopurine (BAP) readily developed into plantlets. These formed either directly from shoot buds or from intermediary protocorm-like bodies (PLBs). The maximum explant response (86.6 %) was obtained in medium supplemented with NAA at 30 µM, while the maximum number of shoots (4.42) and maximum bud-forming capacity (3.51) were observed in medium containing 15 µM BAP and 5 µM NAA in combination. Protocorm-like bodies were obtained when the medium contained 2,4-D. The maximum number of explants forming PLBs (41.48 %) was obtained in medium containing 15 µM BAP and 15 µM 2,4-D. Well-developed plantlets obtained after 20-25 weeks of culture were acclimatized and eventually transferred to the greenhouse. Over 60 % of these survived to form plants ∼3-4 cm tall after 90 days in glasshouse conditions using a substrate of crushed brick and charcoal, shredded bark and moss. CONCLUSIONS: The method described can readily be used for the rapid and large-scale regeneration of D. longicornu. Its commercial adoption would reduce the collection of this medicinally important and increasingly rare orchid from the wild.

Concepts: Bud, Culture, Acetic acid, Plant stem, Vinegar, Shoot, Orchidaceae


Suicide disproportionately affects American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN). The suicide rate among AI/AN has been increasing since 2003 (1), and in 2015, AI/AN suicide rates in the 18 states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) were 21.5 per 100,000, more than 3.5 times higher than those among racial/ethnic groups with the lowest rates.* To study completed suicides across all ages of AI/AN, NVDRS data collected from 2003 to 2014 were analyzed by comparing differences in suicide characteristics and circumstances between AI/AN and white decedents. Group differences were assessed using chi-squared tests and logistic regression. Across multiple demographics, incident characteristics, and circumstances, AI/AN decedents were significantly different from white decedents. More than one third (35.7%) of AI/AN decedents were aged 10-24 years (versus 11.1% of whites). Compared with whites, AI/AN decedents had 6.6 times the odds of living in a nonmetropolitan area, 2.1 times the odds of a positive alcohol toxicology result, and 2.4 times the odds of a suicide of a friend or family member affecting their death. Suicide prevention efforts should incorporate evidence-based, culturally relevant strategies at individual, interpersonal, and community levels (2) and need to account for the heterogeneity among AI/AN communities (3,4).

Concepts: Logit, Death, Demography, Affect, Culture, Suffering, Suicide, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


The concept of “scientific culture” varies historically, and the examination of its continuities and transformations can help us understand the relationship between the scientific community and society. The views on the role of science in society go far beyond the advancement of a particular form of knowledge and its possible or promising fruit. They involve values, postures and practices to be disseminated and reveal expectations of social and cultural advancement. This article discusses four expressive visions of different moments in Brazilian history. The formulations of four influential authors in scientific and educational policies of the country at different times are presented and analyzed: Miguel Ozorio de Almeida, Anísio Teixeira, Maurício Rocha e Silva and Carlos Vogt.

Concepts: Scientific method, Sociology, Science, Culture, Anthropology, History, 1980 births, Association football defenders


Do cultural values enhance financial and subjective well-being (SWB)? Taking a multidisciplinary approach, we meta-analytically reviewed the field, found it thinly covered, and focused on individualism. In counter, we collected a broad array of individual-level data, specifically an Internet sample of 8,438 adult respondents. Individual SWB was most strongly associated with cultural values that foster relationships and social capital, which typically accounted for more unique variance in life satisfaction than an individual’s salary. At a national level, we used mean-based meta-analysis to construct a comprehensive cultural and SWB database. Results show some reversals from the individual level, particularly masculinity’s facet of achievement orientation. In all, the happy nation has low power distance and low uncertainty avoidance, but is high in femininity and individualism, and these effects are interrelated but still partially independent from political and economic institutions. In short, culture matters for individual and national well-being.

Concepts: Sociology, Economics, Culture, Anthropology, Capital, Cross-cultural communication, Nationality, Geert Hofstede


Tracing the evolution of human culture through time is arguably one of the most controversial and complex scholarly endeavors, and a broad evolutionary analysis of how symbolic, linguistic, and cultural capacities emerged and developed in our species is lacking. Here we present a model that, in broad terms, aims to explain the evolution and portray the expansion of human cultural capacities (the EECC model), that can be used as a point of departure for further multidisciplinary discussion and more detailed investigation. The EECC model is designed to be flexible, and can be refined to accommodate future archaeological, paleoanthropological, genetic or evolutionary psychology/behavioral analyses and discoveries. Our proposed concept of cultural behavior differentiates between empirically traceable behavioral performances and behavioral capacities that are theoretical constructs. Based largely on archaeological data (the ‘black box’ that most directly opens up hominin cultural evolution), and on the extension of observable problem-solution distances, we identify eight grades of cultural capacity. Each of these grades is considered within evolutionary-biological and historical-social trajectories. Importantly, the model does not imply an inevitable progression, but focuses on expansion of cultural capacities based on the integration of earlier achievements. We conclude that there is not a single cultural capacity or a single set of abilities that enabled human culture; rather, several grades of cultural capacity in animals and hominins expanded during our evolution to shape who we are today.

Concepts: Culture, Linguistics, Anthropology, Cultural anthropology, Human evolution, Civilization, Archaeology, Structuralism