The science of de- and re-humanization

Why do groups of people inflict violence on unarmed neighbors (think Germany, Rwanda, Darfur, Nanking....)? How do ingroups and outgroups form, neurally-speaking?  How does social context and obedience to authority navigate mass behavior?  

Here's my take on these questions, through the lens of neuroscience.

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From the Blog

  • Discovering amulets inside the mummy
    Discovering amulets inside the mummy

    I recently posted about my scanning of a 3,000 year old mummy, Neskhons. Now, by analyzing the data in several different ranges of electron density, I've found something unexpected: inside the mummy's torso are 4 small funerary amulets.

  • The Mystery of Expertise
    The Mystery of Expertise

    To the extent that consciousness is useful, it is useful in small quantities, and for very particular kinds of tasks. It's easy to understand why you would not want to be consciously aware of the intricacies of your muscle movement, but this can be less intuitive when applied to your perceptions, thoughts, and beliefs, which are also final products of…

  • Time perception on the Discovery Channel
    Time perception on the Discovery Channel

    Watch an experiment in which we studied time perception by dropping volunteer subjects from a 150 foot high tower.  Free fall.

  • Breivik's Brain
    Breivik's Brain

    What could explain Anders Breivik's shooting attack in Oslo, Norway? While this is debated from the angles of politics, religion, and sociology, I want to ask this from the viewpoint of neurobiology.

Newsflashes

SUM at the Royal Opera House

ROHSUM has been turned into an opera at the Royal Opera House in London (Composer: Max Richter, Director: Wayne McGregor). The London Evening Standard hails the opera as "immersive, meditative and sweetly fascinating". Read about the background of the collaboration in Wired.

Neurolaw: The Brain on Trial

Want to know how neuroscience will force major changes in our criminal justice system? Read David's article The Brain on Trial in The Atlantic. Now anthologized in 2012 Best American Science and Nature Writing.
atlantic072011

Sum on Radiolab

Listen to David discussing Sum -- and actor Jeffrey Tambor reading stories from the book -- on WNYC's Radiolab.

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