Archives for posts with tag: italy

Quick Questions for Peter and Rosemary Grant“There is widespread misunderstanding about evolution; that it occurs extremely slowly and therefore cannot be studied in a person’s lifetime. This was the view of Charles Darwin. Many biologists and others now know that this is not correct…. The idea that animals as large as birds might evolve before our eyes is not so well known, yet our study in the entirely natural world of Daphne Major island has revealed this does in fact happen when there is a change in the environment, and it takes place over a period as short as a year, and repeatedly.” – h/t billare!

Is DNA Multilingual?“The genetic code has traditionally been viewed as a universal set of instructions, exquisitely tuned to maintain robust stability and allow evolution-sustaining mutations. But the pervasive occurrence of recoded stop codons, and the backchannel crosstalk between microbes and viruses, paints a more intricate picture of multilingual genetic instructions.”

Jelly genome mystery“The uniqueness of this ctenophore’s nervous system leads Moroz and his team to argue that it must have evolved independently, after the ctenophore lineage branched off from other animals some 500 million years ago.”

Genomic divergence in a ring species complex“Ring species provide particularly clear demonstrations of how one species can gradually evolve into two, but are rare in nature…. Here we use genome-wide analyses to show that, although spatial patterns of genetic variation are currently mostly as expected of a ring species, historical breaks in gene flow have existed at more than one location around the ring, and the two Siberian forms have occasionally interbred.” – h/t razib!

Natural selection and infectious disease in human populations“The ancient biological ‘arms race’ between microbial pathogens and humans has shaped genetic variation in modern populations, and this has important implications for the growing field of medical genomics. As humans migrated throughout the world, populations encountered distinct pathogens, and natural selection increased the prevalence of alleles that are advantageous in the new ecosystems in both host and pathogens. This ancient history now influences human infectious disease susceptibility and microbiome homeostasis, and contributes to common diseases that show geographical disparities, such as autoimmune and metabolic disorders.”

High genetic differentiation between populations often driven by classic selective sweeps“‘We demonstrate that while sites of low differentiation represent sampling effects rather than balancing selection, sites showing extremely high population differentiation are enriched for positive selection events and that one half may be the result of classic selective sweeps. Among these, we rediscover known examples, where we actually identify the established functional SNP, and discover novel examples including the genes ABCA12, CALD1 and ZNF804, which we speculate may be linked to adaptations in skin, calcium metabolism and defense, respectively. Conclusions: We have identified known and many novel candidate regions for geographically restricted positive selection, and suggest several directions for further research.'” – @dienekes’.

Mendelian-Mutationism: The Forgotten Evolutionary Synthesis – h/t neuroskeptic! who tweeted: “Did geneticists ‘crack’ the secret of evolution much earlier than believed?”

this one’s for linton!: Why Marrying Your Cousin May Pay Off“In line with previous findings, the researchers found that among non-foraging societies, a couple’s relatedness was linked with having more surviving children. But among foraging societies, the opposite was true: More-closely related spouses had fewer surviving children. Furthermore, the more family intermarriage in a society, the greater the benefit of intermarrying on the number of children couples had. In other words, in societies in which people frequently married their relatives, intermarrying showed a stronger link to having more children.”

The Closest of Strangers“[I]dentical twins who are aunts and uncles invest more in caring for the children of their twins (their ‘genetic’ sons and daughters) than do fraternal twins.”

Why Do Honor Killings Defy the First Law of Homicide? And Will Smaller Families Lead to Fewer Of Them? – h/t tom farsides! – previously: inclusive inclusive fitness.

Genetic and educational assortative mating among US adults“We find that spouses are more genetically similar than two individuals chosen at random but this similarity is at most one-third the magnitude of educational similarity.”

Irish fair skin can be traced to India and the Middle East“A major new US study at Penn State University has found that Europeans’ light skin stems from a gene mutation from a single person who lived 10,000 years ago…. Keith Cheng from Penn State College of Medicine reported that one amino acid difference in the gene SLC24A5 is a key contributor to the skin color difference between Europeans and West Africans…. ‘The mutation in SLC24A5 changes just one building block in the protein, and contributes about a third of the visually striking differences in skin tone between peoples of African and European ancestry, he said…. The mutation, called A111T, is found in virtually everyone of European ancestry. A111T is also found in populations in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent, but not in high numbers in Africans. All individuals from the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa and South India who carry the A111T mutation share traces of the ancestral genetic code. According to the researchers, this indicates that all existing instances of this mutation originate from the same person.” – h/t 23andMe!

The puzzle of European hair, eye, and skin color“The physical appearance of Europeans seems to result from a selection pressure that acted primarily on women and only secondarily on men. This is especially true for highly visible traits on or near the face—the focus of visual attention.” – from peter frost.

The Dark Triad of Personality – special issue of Personality and Individual Differences. – h/t claire lehmann!

Heritability of brain volume change and its relation to intelligence“Human brain volumes change throughout life, are highly heritable, and have been associated with general cognitive functioning…. Results show that changes in volumes of total brain (mean=-6.4ml; -0.5% loss), cerebellum (1.4ml, 1.0% increase), cerebral white matter (4.4ml, 0.9% increase), lateral ventricles (0.6ml; 4.8% increase) and in surface area (-19.7cm2, -1.1% contraction) are heritable (h2=43%; 52%; 29%; 31%; and 33%, respectively). An association between IQ (available for 91 participants) and brain volume change was observed, which was attributed to genes involved in both the variation in change in brain volume and in intelligence. Thus, dynamic changes in brain structure are heritable and may have cognitive significance in adulthood.”

Cognitive abilities amongst the Sámi population“Lapps have an IQ around 100.8 are tilted towards visuospatial ability and away from verbal ability.” – from elijah armstrong, michael woodley the younger, and richard lynn. edit: original paper here on elijah’s blog! (^_^)

The Flynn Effect in a Nutshell – from elijah.

Does brain structure determine your political views?“‘People like to believe that their own political beliefs are rational, that they’re a sensible response to the world around them, so when we come along and say, “Maybe there are these predispositions, influential but perhaps not fully in your conscious awareness,” that’s not the way we like to view our own political beliefs.'” – h/t mr. robert ford!

Sex-Related Neuroanatomical Basis of Emotion Regulation Ability“Behavioral research has demonstrated that males have a higher capability of regulating their own and others’ emotions than females; however, little is known about the sex-specific brain mechanisms involved in emotion regulation ability…. we found the sex differences in the neuroanatomical basis of emotion regulation ability. Males showed a stronger positive relation between emotion regulation ability and regional gray matter volume (rGMV) in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. In contrast, females demonstrated a stronger positive relation between emotion regulation ability and rGMV in an anatomical cluster that extends from the left brainstem to the left hippocampus, the left amygdala and the insular cortex.”

More Maps of the American Nations – from jayman.

Privilege and Morality“Our species isn’t good at nuance. The ‘privilege’ debate will and must take place in a morally charged context. It is not possible to sanitize the discussion by scrubbing it free of moral emotions. That is one of the many reasons why it is so important to understand what morality is and why it exists. It does not exist as a transcendental entity that happened to pop into existence with the big bang, nor does it exist because the Big Man upstairs wants it that way. It exists because it evolved.” – from helian.

Economic Growth & Human Biodiversity“Economic growth in lower-IQ countries does not invalidate either the reality of IQ differences between countries or the persistence of those disparities.” – from pseudoerasmus.

Good Fences: The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Peaceful Coexistence“Switzerland is recognized as a country of peace, stability and prosperity. This is surprising because of its linguistic and religious diversity that in other parts of the world lead to conflict and violence. Here we analyze how peaceful stability is maintained. Our analysis shows that peace does not depend on integrated coexistence, but rather on well defined topographical and political boundaries separating groups, allowing for partial autonomy within a single country. In Switzerland, mountains and lakes are an important part of the boundaries between sharply defined linguistic areas. Political canton and circle (sub-canton) boundaries often separate religious groups. Where such boundaries do not appear to be sufficient, we find that specific aspects of the population distribution guarantee either sufficient separation or sufficient mixing to inhibit intergroup violence according to the quantitative theory of conflict. In exactly one region, a porous mountain range does not adequately separate linguistic groups and that region has experienced significant violent conflict, leading to the recent creation of the canton of Jura.”

Was Territoriality Important in the Pleistocene? A Commentary on Johnson and Toft – @peter turchin’s.

Southern Europe is suspicious: the evolution of trust in the EU – ess and wvs results.

Trust and In-Group Favoritism in a Culture of Crime [pdf] – h/t ben southwood! who tweeted: “Areas in Palermo with high Mafia involvement have lower generalised trust but higher in-group favouritism.”

In dogs’ play, researchers see honesty and deceit, perhaps something like morality – woof!

What is Phonemic Diversity? — And Does It Prove the Out-of-Africa Theory? – h/t james winters!

How a Protestant spin machine hid the truth about the English Reformation“It seems that in 1533, the year of Henry’s break from Rome, traditional Catholicism was the religion of the vast majority of the country. And in most places it was absolutely thriving. It had developed a particularly English flavour, with a focus on the involvement of ordinary people in parish churches, village greens, plays, and pageants – much of which seemed to involve a good deal of community parties, dancing, and drinking. It is true that English religion in the early 1500s was not especially studious or erudite. The people did not spend hours a day in biblical studies, contemplation, and moralising in the manner of the more intense European reformers. But England had a nationally cohesive spirituality that was alive and exuberant, with a distinctly community feel…. The conclusion of this modern grassroots scholarship is that bulldozing the Catholic Church off the face of medieval England was not a ‘bottom up’ revolution in which Henry merely acquiesced to his people’s wishes by throwing off a widely hated foreign domination. To the contrary, it looks increasingly like Henry and his circle imposed the Reformation ‘top down’, unleashing 100 years of deep anger and alienation that was only overcome by sustained politicking and ruthless force.” – h/t william briggs!

bonus: “No Oxygen? No Problem!” Says Squid That Can Shut Down Its Metabolism – h/t kyle hill!

bonus bonus: A Theory on How Flightless Birds Spread Across the World: They Flew There

bonus bonus bonus: Chicken project gets off the ground“Effort aims to unravel the history of bird’s domestication.” – cluck!

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northern italian regions or southern italian regions? what do you think?

stolen from zero hedge:

italy - north-south tax divide - zero hedge

italy - north-south tax divide - zero hedge 02

hmmmm. now where have i seen this north-south divide in italy before? oh yeah!:

- Mapping the 2009 Pisa Results for Spain and Italy – @a reluctant apostate
Chalk and cheese – @those who can see (come back to us m.g.! =( )
inbreeding in italy
democracy in italy
more nepotism in southern than in northern italy…
news from italy

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who knows?

but italy could be another place to look for a possible rapid inbreeding drop-off/rapid iq increase connection (see yesterday’s post) just ’cause the consang data are available. and they did, indeed, have a pretty rapid decrease in cousin marriage rates — at least in northern italy — not so much in the south. (i can’t think of any other examples where consang data are readily available — i mean without delving into church records or something like that.)

no idea if there are any early iq data available for italy, though. i won’t be looking for them (iq questions? – meh) — just wanted to let anyone who might be interested know that the numbers for the drop in inbreeding do exist for italy. (^_^)

look for the consang data here: Consanguinity, Inbreeding and Genetic Drift in Italy (tables also available here).

i put together a table of the first and last lustra in cavalli-sforza’s data set for a previous post, but there are data for each lustrum in between, too. you can get an idea of the scale of the drop-off (in the regions where there was a drop-off) from my nifty table:

1st cousin marriages - cavalli-sforza

previously: japan – reversal of fortune?

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following up on the “mexican societal values” post — someone suggested via email that the world values scores on the same “justifed” questions for greece and southern italy might likely be lower than the scores for mexico, while the scores from scandinavian countries and maybe germany might likely be higher than for american whites. i agreed that those two scenarios could possibly be the case. i decided to check.

first of all — no greece in the most recent world values survey (dr*t!). i looked at all the major western european nations i could find in the most recent world values survey wave (2005-2008): finland, france, germany, great britain, italy, the netherlands, norway, spain, and sweden. (documentation of the data can be found here.)

i had planned to sort the data by ethnic group so as to just look at whites, but many of these countries didn’t record the ethnicity of the respondents (*facepalm*). on the first question — “Is it ever justifiable to claim government benefits to which you are not entitled” — for those countries that did ask ethnicity, the total scores were, with the exception of france, pretty similar to the scores for just whites (presumably because, despite all the immigration to europe, it was mostly white europeans that were surveyed)…

nation – total score (whites only score)
france – 51.60% (41.10%)
finland – 55.90% (55.80%)
sweden – 61.60% (62.40%)
great britain – 63.60% (65.50%)
italy – 74.70% (74.70%)

…so i decided to use the total scores for each nation instead of just those for whites. keep this in mind. the scores are, at best, an approximation of how native europeans feel — at worst, they’re way off!

as in the previous post, i looked at four of the “justifiable” questions:

Please tell me for each of the following statements whether you think it can always be justified, never be justified, or something in between [on a scale from 1 to 10, never to always]:

- Claiming government benefits to which you are not entitled.
– Avoiding a fare on public transport.
– Cheating on taxes if you have a chance.
– Someone accepting a bribe in the course of their duties.

here are the results for each country of those who answered “Never justifiable” (click on charts for LARGER versions — you can compare these to the mexican and american scores here)…

- Claiming government benefits to which you are not entitled. – Never justifiable.

wvs - 2005 2006 - western europe - justifiable - government benefits

- Avoiding a fare on public transport. – Never justifiable.

wvs - 2005 2006 - western europe - justifiable - avoiding fare

- Cheating on taxes if you have a chance. – Never justfiable.

wvs - 2005 2006 - western europe - justifiable - cheating on taxes

- Someone accepting a bribe in the course of their duties. – Never justifiable.

wvs - 2005 2006 - western europe - justifiable - accepting a bribe

the netherlands ftw! but what’s with all the high scores from italy?! isn’t that interesting?! we all know that italy is pretty corrupt — maybe even they are just sick and tired of all the corruption? dunno.

all of these western european nations scored higher than mexico on the first two questions: claiming government benefits and avoiding a fare — although the swedes came pretty close to white mexicans when it came to avoiding a fare on public transport.

only italy and the netherlands scored higher than white americans wrt claiming government benefits — and germany, italy, and the netherlands scored higher than white americans on the avoiding a fare question. swedes scored lower than white americans.

except for the netherlands, italy, and spain, most of the europeans scored around the same as mexicans wrt cheating on taxes. go figure! they all scored lower than white americans.

and sweden, france, germany, great britain, and even finland scored very like mexicans when it came to accepting a bribe — quite a few of them think that sometimes it could be justified. and again, except for the italians and the dutch, everyone scored lower than white americans.

so, no — on the whole, scandinavians and germans don’t outscore white americans on these societal values questions. the dutch generally do, though — as do frequently the italians!
_____

what about southern italians versus mexicans? here are the results for some of the different regions of italy (i excluded those regions where the sample size was less than 50). i’ve color-coded the regions — north=blue, central=green, south=red:

- Claiming government benefits to which you are not entitled. – Never justifiable.

wvs - italy regions - justifiable - claiming government benefits

- Avoiding a fare on public transport. – Never justifiable.

wvs - italy regions - justifiable - avoiding fare

- Cheating on taxes if you have a chance. – Never justfiable.

wvs - italy regions - justifiable - cheating on taxes

- Someone accepting a bribe in the course of their duties. – Never justifiable.

wvs - italy regions - justifiable - accepting a bribe

all italians — including southern italians — score much, much higher than mexicans on the claiming government benefits question — like by thirty to forty percentage points. similar story for avoiding a public fare, although lazio and tuscany in central italy scored only ca. ten to fifteen points higher than (white) mexicans in this case.

more italians — including sicilians — agree with mexicans on the cheating on taxes question. this time, lazio, tuscany, and lombardy all scored very much the same as mexicans. and all italians say that they are not tolerant of bribe taking much more so than mexicans — especially southern italians (sicilians and puglians) — even though they don’t seem to be able to (heh) put their money where their mouths are.

the interesting divide in italy appears to be not so much a north-south divide as a central area vs. north/south. while venice and lombardy in the north did tend to score highest most of the time, it was the central regions of tuscany and lazio that tended to score lowest, not the southern regions.
_____

what would be interesting to know is how these various groups (italians, swedes, etc.) feel about these issue in the united states — iow, how would italian-americans respond? i’ll try to see if i can find out. stay tuned!
_____

previously: mexican societal values and more nepotism in southern than in northern italy… and democracy in italy

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from sam worby’s Law and Kinship in Thirteenth-Century England [pgs. 1-2 - link and emphases added by me]:

Charles Donahue Jr’s magisterial comparative study of marriage in England, France and Belgium has confirmed a remarkable pattern of family interaction for England. His thorough and statistical analysis of the surviving records of cases before the archbishop of York’s consistory court in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and Ely consistory court between 1374 and 1381, incidentally seems to confirm that there was no clan or corporate kinship system operating in the areas covered, and, by inference, in England more widely (given the consistency of results between the two evidence sets). There was, he shows, even relatively low levels of parental involvement in marriage choice. Given the importance of marriage as a social institution and the potential consequences flowing from choice of partner — in property, alliance and social standing for example — it seems remarkable that an average of only 37 per cent of York cases showed evidence of parental involvement. While there was evidence for arranged marriages in the records of both courts, many couples appear to have acted independently. Whether this is qualified as ‘astonishingly’ or ‘unusually’ individualistic, the fact remains that many couples operated with relative freedom within the scope of the canon law marriage rules.

This individualistic pattern confirms a picture of family interaction for England found elsewhere, through evidence of marriage patterns, but also more broadly. From the Anglo-Norman nobility to later medieval peasants, the picture is of a limited family (although this book will not in fact focus on peasant kinship, but rather on kinship insofar as it was a general structure, transcending class and status). The extended kindred did not live together; the typical co-resident family appears to have been nuclear. There is evidence of kin interaction, particularly suggestive of closeness between siblings. There is a broad consensus about the narrowness of the operative kin group in England. It was rarely much larger than the immediate family, mostly the co-resident nuclear family, with some obligations and traceable contact extending out to cousins, and some closeness to siblings and occasionally to uncles and aunts. This pattern is unusual in comparison to other areas of Europe. It is suggestive to note that Franco-Belgian courts showed evidence for a higher level of family involvement in marriage arrangements. It is also striking to contrast the pattern of relatively informal clans able to act together in some European countries, such as Italy.

previously: english individualism and english individualism ii and invention of the modern world

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looks like it’s a northern italian name:

edit: oh yeah. rick’s father was from riva del garda in trentino. i shoulda checked wikipedia first. (~_^)

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remember how southern italians are more inbred than northern italians? and how the pisa scores are a lot lower in southern italy than in the north? and how there’s less “civic society” and more nepotism — even in academia — in southern italy than in northern italy? and how … well just how different northern and southern italy seem to be from one another in all sorts of ways?

well guess which presidenti di regione in italia earn the most money?

“Sicily and Sardinia Top Regional Pay Table”
27 gennaio 2012

“ROME – Sicily’s [SOUTH] regional chair Raffaele Lombardo says even mentioning ‘wage cages’ (regional wage differentials – Trans.) ‘disgusts’ him. A laudably consistent politician, Lombardo heads a region with almost the same number of residents as Veneto [NORTH], but with a 9.4% lower cost of living, trousering 43% more in pay and allowances than his Veneto colleague Luca Zaia. Lombardo banks €170,319 after tax as opposed to Zaia’s €118,703, according to the official figures posted on the conference of regional chairs’ website (www.parlamentiregionali.it). And this doesn’t even take into account the enormous difference in wealth of the two territories. According to the ISTAT statistics institute, Veneto’s GDP is 75% higher than Sicily’s.

The fact is that the only wage cages – the once-popular system of paying reduced wages in areas where the cost of living was lower – in existence in Italy are the ones that apply to politicians. They’re ‘reverse wage cages’, of course. Does it really make sense for a regional councillor in Molise [SOUTH], with a 32.8% lower cost of living, to rake in €10,125 every month when a colleague in Liguria [NORTH] gets €8,639? We will ignore the fact that Molise has a fifth of Liguria’s population and 37% less wealth per head.

“What is the point of a regional councillor in Emilia Romagna [NORTH] receiving half the net remuneration of a counterpart in Sardinia [SOUTH] (€5,666 in comparison with €11,417)? Or that the annual pay of the Calabrian [SOUTH] regional chair, even after a cut of €27,000, should be €43,000 higher than the remuneration of the Tuscan [NORTH] authority’s chair…?

“We should applaud the claim of Sardinia’s [SOUTH] regional chair Ugo Cappellacci that he waived ‘some time ago the chairman’s allowance and the official car to send out a personal signal at a difficult time for all’ yet it is impossible to forget that every resident in Sardinia has to fork out at least six times as much as a citizen in Lombardy [NORTH] or Emilia Romagna [NORTH] for the upkeep of the regional council. Simply by putting pay in the 20 regional parliaments on the same level, taxpayers could save the far from trivial sum of €606 million a year. It’s hard to see why the regional councils of Emilia Romagna [NORTH] and Lombardy [NORTH] get by nicely on about €8 per resident when the Sicilian [SOUTH] regional assembly needs almost €35 and Valle d’Aosta’s council a lavish €135….

“It still brings a wry smile to your lips to recall that many of Italy’s regional authority chairs are better – and in some cases considerably better – paid than the governors of US states.”

heh.

(note: comments do not require an email. northern and southern italy. and a bit in the middle. (~_^))

back in this post, i posted about how when asked in the 1999 world values survey, “To which of these geographical groups would you say you belong first of all?,” only 23.3% of italians responded italy. many more of them (53.4%) responded that they identified with their locality first and the country second.

unfortunately, they changed the wording of the world values survey questions regarding this topic in subsequent waves. in 2005 they simply asked do you strongly agree/agree or strongly disagree/disagree with the following statement: “I see myself as citizen of the [country] nation.” in 2005, 48.2% of italians said they strongly agreed with that statement. in addition, 35.6% said they strongly agreed with “I see myself as a member of my local community.”

it’s hard to compare the two data sets (1999 and 2005) ’cause of the wording change, but it could look like italians are starting to feel more italian. the age data from 1999 kinda looked like it might indicate that — certainly people over 50 were more inclined to identify first with their locality and secondly with the nation. it was hard to tell with younger people, though.

now an italian research group, censis, has published their social outlook survey report for 2011. amongst their findings:

“In its latest outlook on society, Censis found that 46% of citizens identified themselves as ‘Italians’, while 31.3% were more locally orientated, 15.4% considered themselves ‘citizens of the world’ or as ‘Europeans’ and 7.3% felt allegiance only to themselves.”

no idea if these responses represent “strongly agree” answers, or even what the specific questions were, but this seems to be in the ballpark of the 2005 world values survey responses — a little under half of italians identify with being italian. that’s … pretty good!

by way of comparison, when americans were asked “I see myself as citizen of the [country] nation” for the world values survey in 2006, 61.2% of respondents said that they strongly agreed with that statement.

oh … 57.3% of italians also said, in this censis survey, that they are willing to make more sacrifices for italy considering the bad economic times. but only if the sh*t really hits the fan.

previously: on feeling local

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