Littering — A Main Occupation of Our Species

Why Do Humans Simply Drop Everything They Don’t Want Anymore?     Every two weeks I don a pair of plastic surgical gloves, grab some sort of receptacle such as a grocery bag, cardboard box, or a large used manila envelope and go outside to clean up my street. I live on a very narrow brick alley in downtown Philadelphia. Cars can get down the street, but they rarely do because it looks impossible to those who don’t live here. In other words, this tiny street is not a main thoroughfare, not…

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Everybody in the World Talks the Same Way to Babies

Anthropologists Show That We Are All Suckers for Baby Talk       It happens every time we meet a baby, anyone’s baby. Suddenly our brains are taken over by some other person with a different voice, one that goes up a few octaves and comes out in a sing-song lilt to produce some of the silliest sentences on earth: “Waaadda a cuuttee liddle baby! Aren’t youuuu the sweeeetest thingy in the world? Are you the sweeetest little booy in the world? Is this the cutest little girrrl ever?” And how many…

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Why Do So Many Tourists Inundate Venice and Other Fragile Places?

The Puzzle of Mass Tourism     The city of Venice has recently announced a plan to control the overwhelming number of tourists clogging this tiny Medieval city, especially during high season, which runs from April to September, and during Carnevale in February. There will be no attempt, for now, to limit the number of arrivals, just a system to discourage people from making short visits during the busiest times. As of January 16th, 2023, a visitor must make a reservation online if they want to visit the city but not stay…

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Monkey Fake News

When the Public is Fed the Wrong Information About Primates     A recent article about Japanese macaque monkeys went viral, even getting exposure on Stephen Colbert, because of its provocative headline: “Love Triangle Challenges Reign of Japan’s Monkey Queen.” But that idiotic headline, based on inaccurate reporting, was simply fake news. I know this because as an anthropologist, I spent many years observing and searching about macaques and the reporter doesn’t seem to have any idea how these animals operate. When someone is educated and experienced in a profession or a…

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