Anthropology / Everything Human

The Case for Rethinking the Calendar

Decoded

  • Arguments against the current calendar and clock—fueled in part by frustrations with daylight saving time—are behind efforts to adopt a standard worldwide date and time system.

    The Case for Rethinking the Calendar

    Since the early 20th century, calendar reformers have fought to smooth global commerce and unite humanity. But can adopting a new calendar bring people together in peace?

  • A Maya shaman in Guatemala performs a ritual to ward off evil spirits. Our world is a stressful and unpredictable place, and ritual offers a sense of structure and stability. My colleagues and I used motion detectors to examine how anxiety affects ritualized behavior. We found that when participants engaged in a stressful task, their hand movements became more repetitive and patterned. This hints that ritualization might be a coping strategy against stress.

    The Perennial Power of Ritual

    Rituals soothe, excite, and unite people throughout the world. But how exactly do they work, and what makes them so meaningful?

  • Rules of the Underworld

    We often think of gangs, mafias, and drug cartels as chaotic and lawless. But rational rules govern the underworld to create a dark order.

  • Talking Hands

    Five women elders from remote Western Australia share the joys and meanings of Aboriginal sign language.