“The Psychological Science study suggests that war changes the way individuals function in groups, making them more inclined to subvert their own interests in favour of equal outcomes for their in-group mates,” writes Rob Brooks, evolutionary biologist and author of Sex, Genes and Rock ‘n Roll, in his latest article for The Conversation.
Brooks discusses a paper published last month in Psychological Science, which “shows that people affected by war take on different attitudes toward in-group members as a result. And they do so in a manner predicted by evolutionary biology.”
Over the last few evenings, I inhaled Robert Harris‘ novelisation of France’s infamous Dreyfus affair. Told from the point of view of Colonel Georges Picquart, the intelligence officer whose scrupulous honesty finally established Dreyfus’ innocence, An Officer and a Spy breathes life into historic events. Events I last encountered in a claustrophobic mid-80’s high school class, from the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1) to J’Accuse, the impassioned open letter to the French President by which Émile Zola brought Picquart’s arguments to public light.
The South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) has named substance abuse as a leading cause of domestic violence, reports Eyewitness News. Sanca director David Fourie spoke about how intoxication can lead to violence in light of the global 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign which is being held from 25 November until 10 December.
NPO Soul City has called for greater efforts in dealing with alcohol abuse to try and combat violence against women, reports Mpume Madlala for Daily News. For more information on the impact that substance abuse can have, read Substance Use and Abuse in South Africa.
The South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) says substance abuse is a leading cause of domestic violence.
The global 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign kicked off this week.
Greater efforts needed to be made to tackle alcohol abuse, especially among men, if South Africa was to succeed in combating violence against women.
This was a call made by Soul City, a non-profit organisation that advocates for women’s rights as the country begins its annual 16 days of activism against gender violence, which started this week.
A letter written by Thomas Pringle in 1825, weeks before he left for England, was up for auction this week. The auction also included eight letters written by John Fairbairn, Pringle’s friend and co-editor of the Cape’s first independent newspaper and journal. All the letters were to their friend Benjamin Moodie in Swellendam. The letters are in the possession of Ian Balchin who owns Fables Bookshop in Grahamstown.
Randolph Vigne’s biography Thomas Pringle: South African pioneer, poet and abolitionist examines Pringle’s life of letters, pioneering and campaigning.
This is an advance notice of items to be sold. We believe that you may have a special interest in knowing about this particular collection.
The items concerned are original letters and documents from Thomas Pringle and John Fairbairn to their friend Benjamin Moodie in Swellendam. The letters concerned date from 1815 to 1826.
Image courtesy Makana Tourism
In a recent issue of Fair Lady magazine Robyn Maclarty looked at the popular assumptions about genetically modified foods and spoke to experts, including Jennifer Thomson, author of Food for Africa, to sort the myths from the facts.
When asked whether genetically modified foods are bad for your health, Thomson replies that: “No other food, in the history of humankind, has ever been as well-tested for food safety… There is absolutely no evidence that genetically modified crops are unsafe for human consumption.”
Read the full article:
Hands up if you’ve ever picked up an item at your local supermarket – instant noodles, for example, or a bottle of soy sauce – only to place it back on the shelf once you spot the words ‘May contain GMOs’ [genetically modified organisms]? More than likely you have, because you’ve heard of the evils of ‘frankenfoods’, and have the notion that they are bad for both your health and the planet’s.
And it’s no wonder we’re confused – on one hand we’re being told GMOs cause cancer and contaminate the environment; on the other, we’re told they’re perfectly safe, potentially nutritionally superior, and are the answer to impending world hunger.
In a recent article for Significance Morten Jerven writes that the publication of his book, Poor Numbers: How we are mislead by African development statistics and what to do about it, raised a healthy debate about the meaning of development statistics. He reiterates that his main point in the book is that “African development statistics tell us less than we would like to think about income, poverty and growth in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Since the publication of Poor Numbers a healthy debate on the meaning of development statistics in the African context has ensued. Predictably the emphasis in the media has been on the politics of the numbers. Inspired by the eternal phrase, lies, damned lies and statistics commentators and headlines have focused on the dark forces that tamper with numbers and consciously mislead the public discourse on development in Africa.
My main message is much simpler. We know less than we would like to think about growth and development in Africa based on the official numbers. The problem starts with the basic input – information. The fact of the matter is that the great majority of economic transactions whether in the rural agricultural sector and in the medium and small scale urban businesses goes by unrecorded.
“I have no doubt that unless the underlying challenges of climate change, biodiversity degradation and resource depletion are addressed through radical innovations…we will not be able to move beyond the current global crisis into a new golden age of shared prosperity and sustainable development,” writes Mark Swilling on infrastructurene.ws. He notes that these innovations would need to transform everyday life and increase equality and that this would mean that over-consumers would need to reduce their consumption.
Some of the largest remaining coal reserves are set to be mined within the VBR using opencast mining methods just north of the mountains (by all the major companies, including some with sizeable Chinese ownership); land claims gone wrong are dotted across the VBR; firewood, river sand and water gets unsustainably extracted all the time by large and small operators; vast commercial agricultural estates that pour countless tonnes of chemicals into the rich red soils; and scientists can show how global warming is reflected in bush encroachments and the changing nature of the small animal population with uncertain knock-on effects up and down the food chain.
Marie Huchzemeyer, author of Cities with ‘Slums’: From informal settlement eradication to a right to the city in Africa, delivered her inaugural lecture last week at the University of the Witwatersrand, where she is a professor in the School of Architecture and Planning.
Huchzemeyer’s talk was titled “Humanism, creativity and rights: invoking Henri Lefebvre’s right to the city in the tension presented by informal settlements in South Africa today”. Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA (SERI) tweeted from the talk:
Bram Büscher gave a talk at the Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability Centre (STEPS) at the University of Sussex last month.
Büscher discussed the ideas put forward in his book, Transforming the Frontier: Peace Parks and the Politics of Neoliberal Conservation in Southern Africa.
Listen to a podcast of the talk:
- Transforming the Frontier: Peace Parks and the Politics of Neoliberal Conservation in Southern Africa by Bram Büscher
Find this book with BOOK Finder!
Jennifer Thomson, scientist and author of Food for Africa, has written a journal article for Science in Africa about genetically modified foods. She explains that “humans have been meddling with nature since time immemorial” and that “maize would not be recognized by the ancient middle Americans who began breeding from its progenitor, teosinte, some 7,500 years ago.”
Thomson addresses concerns about the safety of genetically modified foods and describes the rigorous testing it undergoes before being introduced to the market.
Humans have been meddling with nature since time immemorial. A chihuahua would hardly compete with the wolves from which dogs were bred. Maize would not be recognized by the ancient middle Americans who began breeding from its progenitor, teosinte, some 7,500 years ago. And wheat would probably not be passed by food regulatory authorities if it were introduced today because of the numbers of people who are allergic to it.
Morten Jerven revealed the problems with the current development data in his book Poor Numbers, and has now listed the factors that need to be taken into consideration before we embark on a data revolution.
In a piece for Post2015, a collection of articles, reports and research on what should follow the United Nations Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015, Jerven writes that the ability of the statistical offices to provide current high quality data on their countries has been neglected. He says that “this is a chance to set these past mistakes right, and to move beyond a statistical tragedy, to stake a path towards statistical capacity building”.
In my book Poor Numbers I have described a basic knowledge problem in economic development statistics. Poor Numbers focused on the provision of data needed for the economic governance of African countries, and concluded that the numbers that we base economic decisions on are currently poor and seriously misleading. To explain this outcome I point to two dominant factors. First, many poor countries currently have weak statistical systems. Recording and data collection is particularly constrained in poor economies. Second, demand for data has been largely external to these poor economies and this demand has been largely uncoordinated and therefore often disruptive to the regular supply of data. As a result statistical offices have become de facto data collection agencies for hire, and the supply of data has been irregular and of very uneven quality. The state of affairs has been called a ‘Statistical Tragedy’ by the World Bank chief economist for Africa.