anthropologist

anonymous asked:

So how would aliens react finding out about mental issues like depression?

That’s actually a really interesting question!

One that I’ll have to quickly research before I write out this scenario.

Ahem.


Xylion was examining some books he found lying around Human Jenny’s cabin. Yes, he was technically stealing them from her, but he was very interested in what humans were like. Seeing as he had recently experienced the terrifying things known as Grand Theft Auto V, he had to find something redeemable.

Human Jenny had mentioned she was an Anthropologist, and when he questioned what that was, she said it was the study of humankind. He had to hold back his comment about how self-centered humans were if they had a job to study their own species.

So far, none of the textbooks revealed anything interesting. He saw some stuff about history, but chose to leave it alone. He had heard humans had a long history of wars and perils, so maybe that wasn’t the best one to look at.

The next one was all about the Human Brain. He flipped through it a bit, but found nothing of interest. Who would want to know how human brains work?

The last book he found was labeled ‘Mental Disorders’. He frowned. He knew mental meant mind, but disorders? Was something wrong with human minds?

He grabbed the book and opened it. However, before he could begin reading, he heard the voice. “And what do you think you’re doing?”

Xylion almost began to secrete mucus again. He turned around slowly to see Human Jenny. Her eyes were narrowed and her cheeks red with anger. Xylion felt his tentacles begin to quiver. “Ah, Human Jenny! You’re- uh- hello! How is your day?” He asked, dropping the book so he wouldn’t ruin it.

Human Jenny grimaced at the phlegm that began to cover his arms. “What are you doing in here, Xylion?” She asked, crossing her arms.

“I was simply looking at your books! I wanted to know more about humans.” Xylion saw no point in lying. His species was known for doing what was always best.

A grin spread across her face. “You could’ve just said so! I know all about humans! Not only am I one, but it’s my job to study them! Now, what do you need to know?”

Xylion was shocked at her sudden change in demeanor, but he took it as a pleasing from Xalzor, the primordial god from his planet. Xylion looked down at the book he had been interested in. “What are ‘Mental Disorders’?”

Human Jenny’s smile seemed to droop slightly. She made some weird noise that sounded somewhat like a cough. “Well, Mental Disorders are problems that affect humans’ mental, physical, and/or emotional wellbeing.”

“So, they are weaker than the average human?”

“No! Not at all! Each issue affects a person in different ways, though they all have similar problems that come with them.” Human Jenny reasoned.

Xylion frowned. “Like what?”

Human Jenny picked up the book and flipped to a random page. “Here, this is one that affects a lot of people in this day and age: Depression.”

“‘Depression’? And what is that?”

“Well, have you ever experienced sadness, Xylion?”

He had to think about that. “Yes, one time when I was younger my brothers played a crude joke on me that ended up with me believing that I was useless. Of course it was all in good fun and I learned that eventually, but I was quite sad until then.”

“And how long did it take for you to realize that?”

“About a day or so.”

Human Jenny sighed. “Well, imagine that you are feeling that sadness for weeks and months on end. It’s never ending. Joy isn’t something that really seems real to you. It’s like the world around you is faded and everything just seems to bounce off of you. Even when you’re doing something that used to make you happy, all you feel is this sense of overwhelming sadness waiting right around you.”

Xylion blinked. “Is that…curable?”

“Yes. With pills, it can sometimes help. Not only that, but psychotherapy helps too. Most people get better.”

“And those that don’t?”

Human Jenny hesitated with her answer. She sighed, looking down. “Let’s just say they all have different ideas on what to do then.”

Xylion frowned at the cryptic message. He was confused. What did happen to them? What did they choose to do? Before he could ask anything else about it, human Jenny was already flipping through the pages.

“Schizophrenia.” She murmured, looking down at the page. It was filled with colorful images. Xylion frowned.

Human Jenny looked up at him. “Schizophrenia is a disorder that gives the victim auditory, visual, olfactory, an/or tactile hallucinations. People with this issue often see things, hear things, smell things, or feel things that aren’t there. The cause of this isn’t understood, and it often includes lifetime treatment.”

Xylion shook his head. “That’s horrible. How do people endure that?”

“Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.”

Great, more vague answers. Xylion was getting sick of it, honestly.

Human Jenny sighed as she opened up another page. “Let’s see…Anxiety.”

“But…most humans have this disorder! Human Isaac often talks about how anxious he is! Is that not the same thing?”

“Yes, all humans experience anxiety, but it’s when it starts interfering with our daily lives that it becomes something serious. One example of anxiety is the Panic Attack centered anxiety. These panic attacks can do different things, though some of the things that can occur during them are: muscle tension, poor concentration, fear or confusion, the inability to relax, etcetera.”  

Xylion was shocked, yet again. “How do humans deal with this sort of thing?”

Human Jenny shuffled nervously before standing up. “Well, most people take pills to help them calm down and such.” Human Jenny began to rummage through a bin as she talked. “They take these pills to help keep them calm. Mainly because they fear dying in these situations, often feel discomfort, feel like they’re choking,” Human Jenny’s voice was fading now, “shortness of breath,” her breathing was getting raspy now, and Xylion was getting even more worried, “and others things.” She finished, coughing slightly.

He watched as she pulled out some orange container and opened it. Two white tablets fell into her palm and she pressed it against her mouth, letting the pills go in. He watched as she took her hand away and got a drink of water. As she swallowed the pills, she seemed to visibly relax. Xylion stood up. “Are you okay, Human Jenny?”

Her head hung slightly. “I’m alright. I just suffer from Anxiety, ya’ see? Sometimes when I talk about the different affects it has on us humans, I freak out. I’ll be fine, though.”

“Does anyone else aboard suffer from these disorders?”

Human Jenny nodded. “We’ve all had a problem sometime in our life. We aren’t exactly kids, you know?”

Xylion shuffled nervously. “What happened?”

“Well, Isaac has insomnia.”

“And what is that?”

Human Jenny sighed. “Well, insomnia is a sleeping disorder. It makes it so the person affected by it has trouble sleeping soundly at night. he has to take pills to help him fall asleep, otherwise he can’t sleep at night and won’t function as well in the mornings.”

Xylion looked down. He had never noticed this before. “And the others?”

“Well, Freddie’s been struggling with Depression ever since he lost his girlfriend in a shooting, and Mason has PTSD.”

“PTSD?”

“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He was in combat back on earth and he saw a lot of death. He watched his friend’s die, and that’s not something you can easily bounce back from.”

Xylion looked down, sadness filling him. Just the knowledge that his fellow crewmembers went through this on a daily basis was saddening. He frowned. “How come you were all sent up here then?”

“Well, Isaac can take pills for his Insomnia and I can take pills for my Anxiety. Freddie also takes pills, and because I have a degree in Psychology I am able to be his therapist, which is the person that can help him through it. And Mason is mostly over his. He occasionally gets nightmares, but he’s mostly gotten over his PTSD. He’ll never be completely over it, but he can function without having an episode on a normal day-to-day basis. Sometimes it hits him, and it’s only happened once since we joined your crew.”

Xylion sighed. He gently put a tentacle on her shoulder and wrapped it around her, pulling her to him. “I’m so sorry you all have to deal with this. If I could help you, know I would.”

When human Jenny pulled back, her face was red. She nodded quickly. “Yeah, whatever you say, Xylion.”

Xylion smiled down at her. He realized something that day.

While they looked weak, humans were always fighting a war. They were always battling the inner problems. Even fi they looked fine, a human wasn’t always as happy as they seemed. He’d take that lesson to his grave.


So what’d you think?

I did my best to write this part, because it is a huge part of our society. Anyways, if you want to learn more about different mental issues, then click here. I did my best looking up each one that I used and tried to portray it as closely as possible. Sorry if I didn’t do that good of a job.

Anyways, if you ever feel like you need some help with something, know I could be there to help you.

And I hope you enjoyed this, Anon! It took me a bit to write this and research it, but I think it was worth it!

It was especially long because my dad kept through those little poppers at my brother and my sister keeps showing me those anime crack videos, but who cares, I’ve written in worse environments, I think.

And goodbye! See you in the next Humans are Weird post.

PROMPTED: Pride

ao3

Cas watches the eclectic mix of people on the TV screen. They’re all smiles in their colourful, if a little scandalous, attire.

Dean chose the movie they’re watching. “It’s good,” Dean had said. “It’s got everything a movie needs.” By Dean’s definition, that means guns and explosions. It’s a good definition, Cas decides, snuggled into Dean’s side with a heavy arm around his shoulders like an anchor, because he’s enjoying it. Enjoying this.

In this particular scene, however, the male lead cutting through the crowd as part of his great escape doesn’t captivate Cas’ attention. It is the people that draw him in. Their lust for life, potent and contagious. They are vibrant, each and every one of them, but also as a whole.

“What is that?” Cas asks, enthralled.

“It’s the rock the anthropologist mentions at the beginning when James was at the museum. He’s gotta shake the goons before taking it to the temple but, see, what happens- Nah, I’ll let you find out for yourse-”

“No, this festival. These people.”

“What? Oh, Pride?”

“Pride,” Cas echoes. He leans forward slightly, not unlike a ship beckoned to its harbor. “Proud of what?”

Dean scratches the back of his head with the hand not wrapped around Cas. “You know… For being themselves. Unyieldingly.”

Cas turns to look at Dean, amusement in his bright eyes. “You are that. Unyielding. Heaven couldn’t convince you to bend.” He looks back to the TV and says, “I think it’s my favourite part of the movie.”

Cas continues to watch the screen in utter fascination while Dean watches Cas.

“Y’know,” Dean starts when the scene changes and Cas does one of those micro-frowns that are barely a twitch. “They have those in real life. We could go to one.”

-

They wear their usual getup; suit, tie and trench for Cas, and the too many layers of flannel and canvas for Dean. They stick out like two sore thumbs. Still, they belong.

Previous Prompt: Basket

Yeah, I brought Karl along. It felt like I probably should have some backup, or at least company, on the drive up. Callie was busy and, although she was a great conversationalist, Karl was former military. I felt like, if something went wrong in Raywood, somebody with a military background might be a bit more useful than an anthropologist.
—  Nic Silver, absolute 100% straight heterosexual dude, who trusts a close friend who lied to him for months over a girl who so far has never betrayed him. Just good old Straight™ bros being bros, nothing to see here, move it along.

When I explain cultural misappropriation to children, I use the example of The Nightmare Before Christmas.  

It’s effective because especially for children, who don’t have enough historical context to understand much of the concept, you can still fully grasp the idea.  

There was nothing wrong with Jack seeing the beauty and differences in Christmas town, it’s when he tried to take what is unique about Christmas town away from those it originally belonged to without understanding the full context of Christmas things is when everything went wrong.

When Jack tries to get the folk of Halloween town to make Christmas gifts for children, etc., children understand that the Halloween town folk do not have the full context for the objects they are making, and they are able to see that the direct repercussions and consequences are very harmful.

'humans are weird' post
  • Alien: We have a very dedicated humanology department in our learning hives.
  • Human: Humanology?
  • Alien: you know, the study of humans and their habits--
  • Human: ohhh, cool, we call them anthropologists here.
  • Alien: ......
  • Alien: ..............................you have humans that study humans?
Women that have made history (and their signs)

Aries: Billie Holiday (African American jazz musician)

Taurus: Sandra Day O’Connor (first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court)

Gemini: Chien Shiung Wu (Chinese American nuclear physicist that contributed to the Manhattan Project and is often recognized as the First Lady of Physics)

Cancer: Frida Kahlo (Mexican painter known for her powerful self-portraits and artwork)

Leo: Amelia Earhart (first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo)

Virgo: Mother Teresa (20th Century symbol of humanitarianism known for her charity work and dedication to the Catholic Church)

Libra: Eleanor Roosevelt (changed the role of the First Lady as an activist, politician, and diplomat)

Scorpio: Elizabeth Cady Stanton (early leader of the women’s rights movement and writer of the Declaration of Sentiments)

Sagittarius: Emily Dickinson (revolutionized the world of poetry with her unique and unconventional writing style)

Capricorn: Zora Neale Hurston (African American novelist and anthropologist that gained notoriety during the Harlem Renaissance)

Aquarius: Corazon Aquino (first female president not only in the Philippines but in all of Asia as well)

Pisces: Kate Sheppard (appears on New Zealand’s 10 dollar note as a result of being the country’s most famous suffragette)

4

The Most Dangerous Island on Earth - North Sentinel Island

Throughout human history a typical theme has been the domination of more technologically advanced societies over “simpler” or “more primitive” ones. In fact in the past 500 years, European societies would come to dominate the world, spreading their culture, often through force of arms or outright genocide.  More often than not, the meeting of Old World peoples with New World natives tended to end very badly for the natives. Many cultures were wiped out, many more assimilated or adapted their cultures with European culture. Today there are few places where people living have not in some way been touched by the modern world. One notable exception is North Sentinel Island, located in the Bay of Bengal.

Officially North Sentinel Island is territory of India, part of the Andaman Islands. In reality the people of North Sentinel Island are their own people, free from any known government or modern organization.  Apparently, the Sentinelese are very much happy to keep it that way. Throughout their entire known history, the Sentinelese have been known to viciously fight against any trespass or incursion on their small island. Going back to ancient times the Indians called the island “Cannibal Island”, and told many tales of the dangerous and ruthless natives who inhabited it. Those tales were passed on to the ancient Greeks after the invasion of northern India by Alexander the Great, and thus the infamous legends of the island were mention by Ptolemy. Marco Polo recieved word of the island during his travels to China, writing about the islanders, “They are a most violent and cruel generation who seem to eat everybody they catch.” 

Since then, every expedition to island has been met with extreme hostility, and as a result the island has been left untouched to this day. Throughout the 16th-18th centuries many an explorer or shipwrecked sailor met their end on the island at the hands of the Sentinelese. In 1867 a British merchant ship shipwrecked on the island, and its surviivg 110 man crew spent several days fighting off the islanders with guns and swords. Many were killed and wounded in the battle before rescue. This prompted an expedition of reprisal by the Royal Navy who landed marines on the island a short time later. Most of the Sentinelese had disappeared into hiding, knowing that they couldn’t fight a battle against such overwhelming force. In the end the British left in frustration with two elderly Sentinelese and four children.

Today the idea of angry natives attacking shipwrecked sailors or explorers might be something you’d only see in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, however Sentinelese resistance to the outside world continued so that even in the 20th century people tended to steer clear of the island. In 1974 a film crew from National Geographic landed on the island in modern boats in an attempt to make contact with the islanders with peace offerings of a box of coconuts, a baby doll, and a live pig. The Sentinelese met the crew fully armed and ready for war. As a result, a the National Geographic director took an arrow to the knee, the pig was mutilated alive, and the crew was forced to bug out under a hail of arrows and spears. 

In 1981 the cargo ship Primrose shipwrecked on the island, and the Sentinelese immediately surrounded the ship, shooting at the crew with bows and several times attempting to board the ship. The crew not only radioed for help, but asked for an urgent airdrop of firearms so they could defend themselves. The drop was delayed by weather but the crew were able to fend off the attacks with a pistol, firefighting axes, and flare guns. They were rescued after a week long siege. The Sentinelese dismantled much of the ship and used the scrap iron for arrow and spearheads. It’s remaining hull can still be seen from google earth.

The only known man to peacefully visit the island was an anthropologist named Trilokinath Prandit in 1991, who several times landed on the island with gifts which he left upon the beach.  When he did meet the natives they shot arrows at him and waved their genitals at him. However at one point he was able to make peaceful contact with some of the natives. However as as he left the island, the natives had a change of heart and began shooting arrows at him once more, he hasn’t been back since.

Today North Sentinelese Island is protected by the Indian Government and it is illegal to land there. The reasons for this are to keep the Sentinelese culture intact, and prevent the spread of disease from the island. Note that in history native peoples often suffered deadly diseases after making contact with newcomers. Another reason for creating a 3 mile exclusionary zone around the island is because in 2006 two drunk fisherman landed on the island and were murdered. Thus the Indian Government set up the contact ban to protect outsiders from the Sentinelese as much as protecting the Sentinelese from the outside world. In 2004 an Indian Coast Guard helicopter flew over the island to see if the Setinelese were OK after the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake, and to offer help if needed. The helicopter found that the Sentinelese were not only OK after the tsunami, but didn’t want anything any aid at all as they fired arrows at the helicopter.

 Today we still no nothing about the language, culture, and ethnicity of the Sentinelese Islanders. The only pictures we have of them are from the occasional illegal drone which buzzes over the island, and is typically met with a hail of arrows. It seems that despite seeing things such as ships, helicopters, and robotic drones, the Sentinelese don’t want fuck all to do with the modern world.

The Average Intergalactic Cadet’s Field Guide to Understanding Their Human Classmates and Crewmates.

Written in Earth English
Current as of Earth Date 05-09-17

Understanding Their Competitive Nature and Occasional Aversion to Physical Activity or Friendly Sports

The Barbaric Practices of Young Human Physical Education.


Physical Education in many Human Schools

In the required Physical Education class, the students play all sorts of physically demanding games such as: Kickball/Matball, Dodgeball, Prisonball, or Linetag. These names may sound alarming and rightfully so. In our observations, the “games” they play are often humiliating for some and potentially injury inducing for others. Pardon our generalizations, but if your human is academically inclined, it is likely they do not have fond memories of their Physical Education classes and you will understand why after reading this breakdown of a typical class period (45 minutes to an hour long)

Kickball/Matball:
In Kickball and Matball, the small humans are divided into two “teams”. This may be done by the “coach” or by an outdated and socially cruel process of assigning “team captains” among the students who then alternate picking their fellow students to be on their teams. From this, the students who are either athletic or popular or both are easily determined from the shy, clumsy, or awkward students.

Once the teams are decided, the team that will be attempting to score points will line up; they are called the “visiting” team. The team trying to keep the opposing team from scoring points fan out across the gym; they are called the “home” team. The defending team will roll a spherical object called a “ball” at the line of students visiting team. One of the offensive students will then kick the ball as hard as they can and then run for a mat/base like a Idjwluge is chasing them.

Now this is the part where things get interesting. The home team students will attempt to catch the ball. If they catch the ball in the air before it hits the ground, the kicker is “out”. Three “outs” will cause the teams to switch roles. The kicking team doesn’t want out; the defending team wants to cause outs. If they don’t catch the ball, they can still grab the ball and throw it. We do not joke: the only way to get the kicker out after a non-catch is to THROW THE BALL AT THEIR BODY SO THAT IT HITS THEM. There is another option where the defensive team holds the ball and taps the running player with the ball, BUT THAT NEVER HAPPENS; THEY ALWAYS RESORT TO THROWING THE BALL AS HARD AS POSSIBLE. BECAUSE HUMANS LOVE TO MAKE THEIR LIVES AS DIFFICULT AS POSSIBLE WITH THE MOAT POTENTIAL FOR PAIN. However, if the runner gets to the base/mat before the ball hits them, they are “safe” and cannot get out as long as they are on the base.

This is one way where kickball and matball differ. In kickball, the runner on base is required to keep moving to allow room for the next kicker in line to get on base. In matball, there can be as many people on base as can fit on the mat. This routine will continue: kick, run, kick, run until you can run “home”. “Home” is the place where you kicked from. The bases form a diamond and there are four of them that form a circular running pattern. You kick from “home” base, and run towards “first” base. You then head for “second” base. Then “third” base and then back to where you started. If you safely make it home, you score your team a point. In kickball, you run the bases once. In matball you run them twice: first, second, third, back to first, second, third, then finally home. This probably to makeup for the advantage of choosing when you run to the next base rather than being obligated to.

The goal is to score as many points as possible before the other team gets any person on your team out three times.


Dodgeball:
If you thought that game was horrid prepare yourself again. After this description, the word “dodgeball” will strike fear in your heart. The entire goal of dodgeball is TO THROW A BALL AT THE OPPOSING TEAM WITH THE EXPLICIT INTENTION OF HITTING THEM WITH IT.

THAT’S IT.
THAT’S THE GAME.

The humans are split into two teams similar to the kickball teams. They line up on opposite walls. Precisely in the middle of the “gymnasium” (which as near as we can tell is the official name of the torture chamber of public schooling) are a row of spherical balls lined up parallel to the lines of students on each side. When the “coach” blows a whistle the students sprint for the balls, grab them and retreat. What follows is a chaotic battleground the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Battle of Wakowwnoif. The “game” is simple. Throw the ball at a member of the opposing team. They avoid the ball. If they are unsuccessful at dodging the impact, they are “out” and move to the wall. If they do dodge, they are fine and nothing happens. If they catch the ball thrown at them, they can bring one of their teammates back into the game and the person who threw the ball is out. If the person gets hit in the head, the person who threw the ball is out (this is the closest we could find to any sort of safety precautions laid out in this game). The game continues until one team systematically hits every member of the other team out.

Humans.

Prisonball:
Prison ball is exactly the same as dodgeball, it just has a few more enhancements and opportunities for social humiliation. Teams are still split in two. However, each team has three figurines called “bowling pins”. They are placed on the gymnasium floor. The goal of prisonball is to knock down the other team’s figurines and get the other team out. So each team is guarding their figurines while still playing dodgeball. Another twist comes when you are hit with a ball. Instead of simply being out, you are in Prison. Prison is an area in enemy territory separate from your team.

There are two ways out of prison. One is statistically unlikely. On each side of the gymnasium, located high up on the wall is a hoop with a net hanging from it. If the opposing team manages to to throw a ball through that hoop from their side of the gymnasium, everyone on their team in prison gets to rejoin the game.

The other way out is if a teammate throws a ball from their side of the gym, over the enemy territory and the enemies heads and the comrade in prison catches the ball, then the prisoner is set free.
This method requires a few things. First it requires the prisoner to have a friend on their team willing to throw them a ball. Second, it requires the non-prisoner teammate to be able to throw a ball that great distance accurately. Third, it requires the prisoner to be able to catch the ball. Fourth, it also requires the non-prisoner to also get hit in the process of doing all this, and if the prisoner and would-be rescuer don’t have any other friends-they are simply out of luck. In other words: the human must be popular and athletically inclined or just very very lucky. This is where the social humiliation comes in. However, many of our reports have shown that this game is prefered to dodgeball because once the human is “in prison” they simply have to pretend that they are trying to get people to get them out but then can just fritter away the rest of the game not participating. These are the humans we want to recruit for strategic planning.

The game ends when all the figurines are knocked down-either by the opposing team throwing balls at them or by the guarding team’s clumsiness.

Linetag:
Linetag is the least strenuous “game” the humans play in Physical Education. In all honesty, it looks rather fun. The human game of “Tag” is usually characterized by chaotic running around and avoidance of the human that is “it”. If “it” touches another human, that human is now “it” and must “tag” another human. There are many variations of this game that we will detail below since they are the least barbaric of the human “games” and might be useful in certain training exercises.

Linetag is one of those variations. Linetag requires a floor with different sets of intersecting lines. For some reason, humans decorate their gymnasium floors with a design of lines. Further research is required to discover if these are sacred markings, if they have special meanings, or if they are just for aesthetics. Two to four humans are chosen to be “it”. They remain “it” for the remainder of the game. Their goal is to tag every one of the non “it” students. When the student is tagged, they must sit down right where they are-no matter what.

The trick to the this game, however, is that the humans are only allowed to walk on the lines. They cannot deviate from a set of prescribed routes. They cannot hop lines. They must find intersections to avoid “it”. When a player is tagged and they sit down, they become a “roadblock”. The fleeing humans cannot pass them-but the “it” humans can. The game continues until all students are sitting.

Other Tag Variations:
Freeze tag: chaotic running pattern, but when “tagged” the player freezes though touched by a Nxiebxwoie. Game continues until every player is frozen. Players can unfreeze friends by crawling through their legs. (We do not understand why this would work to unfreeze someone but we have discovered that humans have very vivid imaginations when it comes to recreational activities)

Amoeba tag: also known as “sticky tag” or “worm tag” one player is “it” until they tag another player and then they are “stuck” together and must hold hands while chasing the other humans. With each tag, the “it” group gets larger and larger continuing to hold hands, link elbows, etc. Great fun to watch.

Circle tag: humans pair up and link elbows in a circle. “It” and a “runner” will begin a pursuit. The “runner” can link elbows (the bendy bits of their upper limbs) with anyone of the pairs and the partner that didn’t get linked must then run away. If they are tagged they are now “it” and the former “it” is now the “runner” and must find a pair to break up.


For the athletically disinclined human, you could understand why these activities would be traumatizing. Oftentimes these games were treated as though they were the equivalent to our Yeqipguited Games by the more athletically inclined. The less talented humans may have been mocked. If the human you are working with seems less inclined to participate in a game of Bejbpoi, you now understand why.

A Collection Of Books By Neurologist Oliver Sacks

If you’re interested in neuroscience or psychology, I’d highly reccomend any book by Oliver Sacks! I get asked a lot about books to read so you can also check out this video I made with my top 7 and this masterpost which includes websites where you can learn more!

1. Migrane

For centuries, physicians have been fascinated by the many manifestations of migraine, and especially by the visual hallucinations or auras- similar in some ways to those induced by hallucinogenic drugs or deliria–which often precede a migraine. Dr. Sacks describes these hallucinatory constants, and what they reveal about the working of the brain. 

2. Awakenings

Awakenings is the remarkable account of a group of patients who contracted sleeping-sickness during the great epidemic just after World War I. Frozen in a decades-long sleep, these men and women were given up as hopeless until 1969, when Dr. Sacks gave them the then-new drug L-DOPA, which had an astonishing, explosive, “awakening” effect. Dr. Sacks recounts the moving case histories of these individuals, the stories of their lives, and the extraordinary transformations they underwent with treatment.

3. The Island of The Color Blind

Oliver Sacks has always been fascinated by islands, and this book is an account of his work with an isolated community of islanders born totally colorblind.  He listens to these achromatopic islanders describe their colorless world in rich terms of pattern and tone, luminance and shadow.

4. Uncle Tungsten

A book about Sacks’ childood;  his discovery of biology, his departure from his childhood love of chemistry and, at age 14, a new understanding that he would become a doctor.

5. An Anthropologist on Mars

This book talks about 7 seemingly paradoxical neurological conditions: including a surgeon consumed by the compulsive tics of Tourette’s Syndrome except when he is operating; an artist who loses all sense of color in a car accident, but finds a new sensibility and creative power in black and white; and an autistic professor who has great difficulty deciphering the simplest social exchange between humans, but has built a career out of her intuitive understanding of animal behavior. 

6.  Seeing Voices

 A journey into the world of deaf culture, and the neurological and social underpinnings of the remarkable visual language of the congenitally deaf. Sacks writes “The existence of a visual language, Sign, and the visual intelligence that goes with its acquisition, shows us that the brain is rich in potentials we would scarcely have guessed of, shows us the almost unlimited resource of the human organism when it is faced with the new and must adapt.”

I love the Humans are weird thing. And I was thinking about it and Happy Tears. 

Happy tears would confuse the heck out of aliens. 


Stasser is a Xeno-sociologist. It is highly regarded on it’s world and given how elite the study of alien societies is, that is a great achievement . It is because of this that Stasser was given the study of the humans. 

It is the third such expert assigned to the species and it finds them…vexing. 

it is clear they are emotional creatures. You can see that from their actions. In fact, the levels of their emotions and the scope of them (they become attached not only to their own and other species but to objects and fictional characters!) But the way they show these emotions is… less clear. Stasser is used to beings who show their feelings more directly. It’s own species are all connected. They share emotions through that connection. There is never any doubt what anyone is feeling. When they discovered other species felt things, it came as a surprise. 

It completely changed their culture overnight. 

If other species were emotional that meant… well it made a lot of their history a lot more shameful. 

Stasser has since studied many species both on world and off. Most species give obvious signals to demonstrate their emotions. Some are visual, some audio, some physical, it varies from lifeform to lifeform. On the planet Jax for example, emotions are shown through colour. Jaxans glow bright blue when they’re happy. They turn a murky grey when they are sad. Some of the more subtle shades took time to learn, and Stasser had thought it was fairly awkward method of communication, if fascinating. 

But humans! Humans were a whole new level of complicated. 

Humans use visual signals. The configuration of their eyes, their mouth, demonstrate how they feel. If their mouth is turned up, showing teeth, then they are happy. If the mouth is turned down and if the eyes are leaking fluid, this means sadness. 

Or no. They use audio signals. If their air filtering organs spasm causing an interrupted exhale, then they are happy. If their speech becomes louder, they are angry. 

Or wait, sometimes humans combine signals. If they make a sound-it is difficult to describe, it involves similar organ spasms as the happy sounds, but it does not sound the same- but if they make this sound while they are leaking from the eyes, it means that they are very sad indeed. 

Stasser thinks that it is finally coming to grips with human’s emotional signals. They are complex, certainly. But they are charming and the humans often vocalised their emotional state which helped. 

Then, it happened. 

One of the humans that Stasser was observing began leaking and it’s air filtering organ began spasming, making that difficult to describe noise. 

It had been reunited with its offspring. This was a joyous occasion, was it not? Could it be possible that humans did not form an emotional attachment to their offspring? That simply did not fit with any of the data Stasser had gathered thus far. 

“Crewman Avery? You are,” what was the word? “crying. Is something wrong? Is the offspring injured?” 

The offspring did not appear injured. The offspring was clinging to it’s parent, and it was making the upturned lip teeth showing expression of happiness. 

Crewman Avery made a strange audio signal. Was Avery injured? Stasser was a Xenosociologist not a xenobiologist. If Avery was injured, they must return to the ship at once. Stasser was broadcasting distress at the thought as well as confusion, but no one present had the correct organ to sense it. 

“Oh Stasser, honey, no. I’m,” Avery inhaled deeply, limbs encircling the offspring, “I’m crying because I’m happy.” 

Stasser stared for a long moment. It considered the long months of research and all the data it had gathered. The careful spreadsheets, the sketches of different visual signals, the recordings of audio signals. 

It considered a new career dispensing saccharine food items or as a cultivator of plant life. It likes plants. They were so attractive to look at. And despite many studies, they have never demonstrated any sign that they had emotions. 

Then Avery reached out a limb towards Stasser, pulling it into the physical contact. 

And Stasser thought maybe it just needed to study human emotional signals further. It might take a lifetime of concentrated observation, but it thought it was up to the task. 

HELP ME FELLOW ANTHROPOLOGISTS/ARCHEOLOGISTS

Shoutout to all of my fellow Canadian mesoamericanists. I am the president of the Canadian Society for Mesoamerican Studies, a non-for-profit that brings together the general public, students, and experts, while promoting the study of Mesoamerica. There is no membership fee from now until September 1st.

We are looking for new executive board members (i.e. like you do in a college club). As an NFP, this is a volunteer position and not a full time job. Mostly just helping run the site and our general meeting once a year. Email a resume or CV to csms.canada@gmail.com by July 1st if you’re interested.

Please check out our Facebook page or our website at csms.ca if you want to learn more about us. Or you can DM me and I would be happy to answer any questions. 

Future anthropologist: “In the early 21st century, there was a superstition against writing your True Email explicitly. You had to write it obliquely, like ‘scott at symbol shireroth dot org’. They believed that if anyone wrote their email out explicitly, it would draw the attention of hostile spirits, and the person would never again know peace.”

I just received a mail from my prof, which was for the entire course, and below he adds “A fellow student recommended me this video about the history of the universe” and then there’s a link and I click it and it’s actually “History of the entire world, I guess”. This is so weird. I feel so uncomfortable lol

Alright Kenmore, explain yourselves!!

My sister found a HUMAN MANDIBLE in her yard in Washington state. Naturally, she notified the police, who confirmed it to be human, and called out a team of Forensic Anthropologists. The team decided it was “at least 75 years old, and seems consistent with past instances of bones found on the beach, brought home and forgotten about.” They said it’s not a forensic concern, and they wouldn’t need to investigate further unless more bones were found. Its my understanding, from context, that people find bones on the beach, have the police identify them, and then KEEP them once the police are done.

Wtf???? People are just finding human remains on the beach and bringing them home as souvenirs??? @sixpenceee Have you heard of stories like this? This seems like its up your alley…

Language is what eases the pain of living with other people, language is what makes the wounds come open again. I have heard that anthropologists prize those moments when a word or bit of language opens like a keyhole into another person, a whole alien world roars past in some unassigned phrase. You remember Proust so appalled when Albertine lets fall “get her pot broken.” Or you hear a Berliner say “squat town”—and suddenly see sunset, winter, lovers cooking eggs in a grimy kitchen with the windows steaming up, river runs coldly by, little cats go clicking over the snow.
—  Anne Carson, Plainwater: Essays and Poetry