Research Highlights: Thought-Provoking Ideas

This research highlights post brings together a broad spectrum of research. They all have one thing in common, though: A focus on developing original and powerful ideas to help us understand the world. The topics covered here include genetics, communication, poverty and genealogy. The original approaches and critical thinking impressed our reviewers, we hope you enjoy them as well.

Information_webSymmetries in Genetic Systems and the Concept of Geno-Logical Coding

Sergey V. Petoukhov and Elena S. Petukhova

The genetic code of amino acid sequences in proteins does not allow understanding and modeling of inherited processes such as inborn coordinated motions of living bodies, innate principles of sensory information processing, quasi-holographic properties, etc. To be able to model these phenomena, the concept of geno-logical coding, which is connected with logical functions and Boolean algebra, is put forward. The article describes basic pieces of evidence in favor of the existence of the geno-logical code, which exists in p­arallel with the known genetic code of amino acid sequences but which serves for transferring inherited processes along chains of generations. These pieces of evidence have been received due to the analysis of symmetries in structures of molecular-genetic systems. The analysis has revealed a close connection of the genetic system with dyadic groups of binary numbers and with other mathematical objects, which are related with dyadic groups: Walsh functions (which are algebraic characters of dyadic groups), bit-reversal permutations, logical holography, etc. These results provide a new approach for mathematical modeling of genetic structures, which uses known mathematical formalisms from technological fields of noise-immunity coding of information, binary analysis, logical holography, and digital devices of artificial intellect. Some opportunities for a development of algebraic-logical biology are opened.

Philosophies-logoThe Alphabet Effect Re-Visited, McLuhan Reversals and Complexity Theory

Robert K. Logan

The alphabet effect that showed that codified law, alphabetic writing, monotheism, abstract science and deductive logic are interlinked, first proposed by McLuhan and Logan (1977), is revisited. Marshall and Eric McLuhan’s (1988) insight that alphabetic writing led to the separation of figure and ground and their interplay, as well as the emergence of visual space, are reviewed and shown to be two additional effects of the alphabet. We then identify more additional new components of the alphabet effect by demonstrating that alphabetic writing also gave rise to (1) Duality, and (2) reductionism or the linear sequential relationship of causes followed by effects. We then review McLuhan’s (1962) claim that electrically configured information reversed the dominance of visual space over acoustic space and led to the reversals of (1) cause and effect, and (2) figure and ground. We then demonstrate that General System Theory first formulated by Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1968), which also includes chaos theory, complexity theory and emergence (aka emergent dynamics) and Jakob von Uexküll’s (1926) notion of umwelt also entail the reversal of many aspects of the alphabet effect such as the reversals of (1) cause and effect, and (2) figure and ground.

Behavioral-Sciences_webPoverty-Related Adversity and Emotion Regulation Predict Internalizing Behavior Problems among Low-Income Children Ages 8–11

C. Cybele Raver, Amanda L. Roy, Emily Pressler, Alexandra M. Ursache and Dana Charles McCoy

The current study examines the additive and joint roles of chronic poverty-related adversity and three candidate neurocognitive processes of emotion regulation (ER)—including: (i) attention bias to threat (ABT); (ii) accuracy of facial emotion appraisal (FEA); and (iii) negative affect (NA)—for low-income, ethnic minority children’s internalizing problems (N = 338). Children were enrolled in the current study from publicly funded preschools, with poverty-related adversity assessed at multiple time points from early to middle childhood. Field-based administration of neurocognitively-informed assessments of ABT, FEA and NA as well as parental report of internalizing symptoms were collected when children were ages 8–11, 6 years after baseline. Results suggest that chronic exposure to poverty-related adversity from early to middle childhood predicted higher levels of internalizing symptomatology when children are ages 8–11, even after controlling for initial poverty status and early internalizing symptoms in preschool. Moreover, each of the 3 hypothesized components of ER played an independent and statistically significant role in predicting children’s parent-reported internalizing symptoms at the 6-year follow-up, even after controlling for early and chronic poverty-related adversity.

genealogy-logoWhat Is Genealogy? An Anthropological/Philosophical Reconsideration

Bruce M. Knauft

Genealogical analysis in the present begs reconsideration of Nietzschean and Foucauldian precursors in relation to the ethical subject position of the subject, on the one hand, and application to concrete contexts of lineal connection asserted diversely across cultural time and space, on the other. This paper considers how the relation between genealogy and history has emerged in anthropologically relevant ways since Foucault, including comparisons and contrasts with selected recent philosophical treatments, with implications for contemporary understandings of subversion, resistance, and the critical assessment of truth claims, including concerning veridiction itself. Developments in anthropology resonate with many features associated with genealogical analysis in Foucault’s latter works. In selected respects, the subversive process of problematizing received accounts of historical and cultural development articulates with the subversive process of ethnographic investigation, whereby received Western or other assumptions are defamiliarized by being thrown into contrastive cultural relief. The more general relation between genealogical analysis and the critical understanding of modernity is discussed, including in relation to contemporary political genealogy and ‘inter-genealogical’ analysis.