2011 Review

Below is a quick look at the most-read posts in 2011. I’m listing some of the top ones with a brief summary, in case you’re interested. Thanks very much to everyone for visiting, and to the kind people who have shared these writings and commented on them.

Lessons from the Christmas Truce of 1914. This is easily the most widely read thing on this site, with nothing else coming close. It looks at the truce negotiated by German, French, and Scottish officers on Christmas Eve of 1914 during WWI, and the lessons we can draw upon from this and similar events to facilitate cooperation. I’m grateful to John Rennie for linking to it on his site.

The “Humans are (Blank)-ogamous” series. I’m fudging a bit here, merging five posts together, but they were essentially a unit. It views human sexuality from a bio-anthropological perspective, arguing that we have a complex array of features consistent with both pair-bonding and promiscuity. I’m sure I didn’t get everything right and will rethink things as I learn more in the future, but it was a popular series. I also noticed that the post on promiscuity was read three times as often as the one on romantic love (interesting what catches on). There’s also a forthcoming conclusion, but I’m still not quite sure how to write it yet.

A Reverence for Life. Essentially, this is a look at how biologists marvel at the beauty of the living world. It got some attention mostly thanks to a mention from Ed Yong on his wonderful site and Kate Clancy for having her students read this. (Nods to Richard Dawkins, Lynn Margulis, Neil Shubin, Richard Fortey and Neil deGrasse Tyson).

Reconciliation, Biology, and the Second Indochina War . I actually consider this one of the most meaningful things I’ve written here, or anywhere. It looks at the biology and history of guilt, forgiveness, and reconciliation. I’m grateful that it was well-received, with many thanks to Daniel Lende for mentioning it. (Some important pieces: Kim Phuc, cluster bomb damage in Laos, UXO, My Lai, Pham Thanh Cong, William Calley, consolation in chimpanzees, hawks and doves).

Inequality, Health Disparities, & Obesity. A look at the relationship between poverty and obesity. In higher income countries, what are some of the factors involved in persons of lower socioeconomic status having  higher rates of obesity? Ed Yong again.

On Life, Death, and Shaking Hands with Your Ancestors . A look at our mortality as individuals, and our immortality through our ancestors and descendants. We stand in a chain of continuity.

One Planet. One Species. Homo sapiens. A brief look at how our species has adapted to so many different environments.

On Optimism and Human Nature.  A hopeful look at humans, in spite of the fact that we are sometimes miserable to each other. “In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed, most of their vices are attempted shortcuts to love…”  – John Steinbeck (also Richard Wrangham, Frans deWaal, Steven Pinker).

Peace with the ‘Enemy’. More examples of reconciliation among formerly hardened enemies. I see a pattern here.  “The list of examples may not be a long one, but it is full of significance and meaning.” 

Public Outreach: Sharing Anthropology Outside the University. Teaching anthropology to grade school kids and older adults can help share a pretty interesting field of study, and can also be quite enjoyable.

Perspective.  This isn’t really one of the most-visited pages, nor did I really write much for it, but I’m including it anyway. It’s basically a great video clip featuring Carl Sagan: “For all our failings, despite our limitations and fallibilities, we humans are capable of greatness… How many rivers we had to cross before we found our way.”


Thanks again for reading.

One thought on “2011 Review

  1. Pingback: Anthropology Reflections on 2011 | Anthropology Report

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