Archives for posts with tag: itty bitty tiny microbes and stuff

extra-long [insert dongle joke here] linkfest this week since there wasn’t one last sunday (sorry, dog ate it…). note that there (probably) won’t be one next sunday either, ’cause i’ll be too busy hunting for easter eggs…. (^_^)

Common DNA Markers Can Account for More Than Half of the Genetic Influence on Cognitive Abilities“In the same sample of 3,154 pairs of 12-year-old twins, we directly compared twin-study heritability estimates for cognitive abilities (language, verbal, nonverbal, and general) with GCTA estimates captured by 1.7 million DNA markers. We found that DNA markers tagged by the array accounted for .66 of the estimated heritability, reaffirming that cognitive abilities are heritable. Larger sample sizes alone will be sufficient to identify many of the genetic variants that influence cognitive abilities.” – via race/history/evolution notes.

Genotypes over-represented among college students are linked to better cognitive abilities and socioemotional adjustment“The present study investigated … genotype frequencies of 284 SNPs covering major neurotransmitter genes in a sample of 478 Chinese college students, comparing these frequencies with those of a community sample (the 1000 Genomes dataset)…. Results showed that 24 loci showed Hardy–Weinberg disequilibrium among college students, but only two of these were in disequilibrium in the 1000 Genomes sample. These loci were found to be associated with mathematical abilities, executive functions, motivation, and adjustment-related behaviors such as alcohol use and emotion recognition.” – via … somebody … can’t remember who. sorry!

Genes and Smarts – from the derb.

Why Bacteria Commit Suicide“[I]nfected individuals self-destructed before they could spread the virus to others.”

Evolution via Roadkill“Cliff swallows that build nests that dangle precariously from highway overpasses have a lower chance of becoming roadkill than in years past thanks to a shorter wingspan that lets them dodge oncoming traffic. That’s the conclusion of a new study based on 3 decades of data collected on one population of the birds. The results suggest that shorter wingspan has been selected for over this time period because of the evolutionary pressure put on the population by cars.”

‘Out of Africa’ Story Being Rewritten Again“Our early human ancestors may have left Africa more recently than thought, between 62,000 and 95,000 years ago, suggests a new analysis of genetic material from fossil skeletons.” – see also Mitochondrial DNA tree calibrated with ancient DNA @race/history/evolution notes and Revised timescale of human mtDNA evolution from dienekes.

How Social Darwinism Made Modern China“A thousand years of meritocracy shaped the Middle Kingdom.” – good stuff from ron unz. see also the derb and peter frost and anatoly.

Does the Clark-Unz model apply to Japan and Korea? – from peter frost.

Did evolution give us inflammatory disease?“[S]ome variants in our genes that could put a person at risk for inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis, have been the target of natural selection over the course of human history.” – original research article.

Genes may be reason some kids are picky about food“The study looked at 66 pairs of twins between ages 4 and 7 years old, and found that genes explain 72 percent of the variation among children in the tendency to avoid new foods, while the rest was influenced by environment.”

A Tale of Three Maps – from jayman.

Dan Freedman’s babies and National Character – from greg cochran @west hunter (buy the e-book!).

HVGIQ: The Bahamas – from jason malloy.

The Personality of Tribalism – from staffan.

Remembering Stephen Jay Gould: Bully and Boob – from steve sailer.

Depicting reality or escaping from it? – the awesome epigone asks a good question/makes a good point about something in steven pinker’s Better Angels.

Assortative mating and shared life history strategy – from mr. mangan.

Uh-Oh… – malcolm pollack on why there’s not so much “diversity” in silicon valley: “It’s because Silicon Valley … *is* a meritocracy — you just can’t fake being good at writing code, solving complex engineering problems, or designing high-tech gadgetry….”

Was inbreeding common among early humans? 100,000-year-old deformed skull adds evidence to theory of ‘very small’ communities“The discovery adds to growing evidence that early humans inbred often” – prolly because populations were small. see also Abnormalities in Pleistocene Homo from dienekes.

Moral Matter – the neuroscience of morality.

Crime and punishment: From the neuroscience of freewill to legal reform

Men programmed to avoid sex with best friends’ wives: study“Researchers suggest guys may have a biological predisposition against hitting on their best friends’ partners…. A University of Missouri study has found that adult males’ testosterone levels dropped when they were interacting with the marital partner of a close friend.”

Downton Abbey: Earl of Grantham maximizes inclusive fitness – @occam’s razor.

Experts Say Food May Contribute To Anger, Violent Behavior“Pace and other nutritionists say if you eat plenty of fish, eggs, beans, fruits and green leafy vegetables, you should have the nutrients you need. However, people who tend to eat a diet loaded with processed or packaged foods could find themselves more easily irritated.”

Women abused as children likelier to bear autistic child

One of Us – animals are people, too.

Text mining uncovers British reserve and US emotion“An analysis of the digitized texts of English-language books over the past century concludes that, since the 1980s, words that carry emotional content have become significantly more common in US books than in British ones.”

Evolution and Existentialism, an Intellectual Odd Couple“On the basis of evolutionary existentialism, I would therefore like to suggest the heretical and admittedly paradoxical notion that, in fact, we need to teach more disobedience. Not only disobedience to political and social authority but especially disobedience to some of our troublesome genetic inclinations.” – hmmmm….

Forbidden City“The left-wing stranglehold on academia.”

bonus: Life found deep under the sea“Oceanic-crust microbes survive on hydrogen and carbon dioxide.” in other microbial news: Mariana Trench: Deepest ocean ‘teems with microbes’“The deepest place in the ocean is teeming with microscopic life, a study suggests.”

bonus bonus: Palestinian Mother Speaks Out About Daughter’s Honor Killing“[H]onor killing defendants [are] usually given light sentences. Three years in prison was the stiffest in these cases. Life sentences or execution were never a consideration…. Offenders receive reduced sentences pursuant to Article 18 of Penal Code no. 74 of 1936, which is entitled ‘Necessity.’ The article provides for ‘leniency in punishment for crimes that offenders have committed in order to avert consequences, which could cause irreparable damage to their honor, money, or the honor of those such offenders are obliged to protect.'”

bonus bonus bonus: The Hate List“[T]he [$]PLC’s site explains that it counts counted ‘1,007 active hate groups in the United States in 2012,’ including ‘organizations and their chapters.’ But ‘The Year in Hate and Extremism’ did not make the ‘chapter’ distinction explicit. It is rarely drawn out in the organization’s frequent media appearances, nor was it mentioned in a letter from the SPLC to the Justice Department warning of the growing threat.” – see also What’s hate got to do with it? @bad data, bad!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Amazing photographs reveal the lost world of the Omo tribes of Ethiopia

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: A Tiny Village Where Women Chose to Be Single Mothers“30 years ago in this bucolic village in northern Vietnam, the fierce determination of one group of women to become mothers upended centuries-old gender rules….”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Cannibals of the Past Had Plenty of Reasons to Eat People

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Phallus-shaped fossils identified as new species [insert dongle joke here]

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Global Internet Porn Habits Infographic – ‘sup finnish people?! and romanians and hungarians (“mom and son”?!)?!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: i love the ukrainian parliament. no, i really do! (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. double dongle.)

yes, you read that right: sexually transmitted diseases.

my other favorite topic, after inbreeding/altruism and all that, is viruses or microbes or parasites that control your miiiind — like (you’ve prolly read a lot about) toxoplasma gondii. or even greg cochran’s gay germ theory.

peter frost had an interesting post up a couple of weeks ago that i’ve been meaning to draw attention to (so, here i am now, drawing attention to his interesting post!) about bacterial vaginosis and how that might potentially alter people’s behaviors. long, but interesting, story — go read it, if you haven’t already!

which reminded me of what i’ve thought about once or twice: if i were a sexually transmitted virus/microbe/parasite (or even one that wasn’t sexually transmitted), how would i gain control of my host so as to ensure he (or she) spread me about? if it were me, i’d go for the nervous system to mess up the person’s behavior.

like cupid’s disease has done maybe? from oliver sacks [taken from here]:

“A bright woman of 90, Natasha K., recently came to our clinic. Soon after her 88th birthday, she said, she noticed ‘a change.’ What sort of change? we queried.

“‘Delightful!’ she exclaimed. ‘I thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt more energetic, more alive — I felt young once again. I took an interest in the young men. I started to feel, you might say, “frisky” — yes frisky.

“‘This was a problem?’

“‘No, not at first. I felt well, extremely well — why should I think anything was the matter?’

“‘And then?’

“‘My friends started to worry. First they said, “You look radiant — a new lease on life!,” but then they started to think it was not quite — appropriate. “You were always so shy,” they said, “and now you’re a flirt. You giggle, you tell jokes — at your age, is that right?”‘

“‘And how did you feel?’

“‘I was taken aback. I’d been carried along, and it didn’t occur to me to question what was happening. But then I did. I said to myself, “You’re 89, Natasha, this has been going on for a year. You were always so temperate in feeling — and now this extravagance! You’re an old woman, nearing the end. What could justify such a sudden euphoria?” And as soon as I thought of euphoria, things took on a new complexion…. “You’re sick, my dear,” I said to myself. “You’re feeling too well, you have to be ill!”‘

“‘Ill? Emotionally? Mentally ill?’

“‘No, not emotionally — physically ill. It was something in my body, my brain, that was making me high. And then I thought — goddam it, it’s Cupid’s Disease!’

“‘Cupid’s Disease?’ I echoed, blankly. I have never heard of the term before.

“‘Yes, Cupid’s Disease — syphilis, you know. I was in a brothel in Salonika, nearly 70 years ago. I caught syphilis — lots of the girls had it — we called it “Cupid’s Disease.” My husband saved me, took me out, had it treated. That was years before penicillin, of course. Could it have caught up with me after all these years?’

“There may be an immense latent period between the primary infection and the advent of neurosyphilis, especially if the primary infection has been suppressed, not eradicated. I had one patient, treated with Salvarsan by Ehrlich himself, who developed tabes dorsalis — one form of neurosyphilis — more than 50 years later.

“But I had never heard of an interval of seventy years — nor of a self-diagnosis of syphilis mooted so calmly and clearly.

“‘That’s an amazing suggestion,’ I replied after some thought. ‘It would have never occurred to me — but perhaps you are right.’

“She was right; the spinal fluid was positive, she did have neurosyphilis, it was indeed the spirochetes stimulating her ancient cerebral cortex.
_____

so, the treponema pallidum bacterium had gotten into this lady’s brain (neurosyphilis) and made her frisky. does it do that to other people as well? making its hosts frisky might help t. pallidum to spread. hmmmm. the herpes simplex virus, too, travels along nerves. hmmmm.

i only ask because, in this day and age of hook-ups and what not, a lot of people have stds (1 in 6 americans between the ages of 14 and 49 have genital herpes). are these infections altering people’s behaviors? making them even more promiscuous?

just wondering.

(note: comments do not require an email. she may look clean – but.)

Genes, Not “Culture”—Why the Japanese Don’t Loot“The implication of this mantra-like repetition of the word ‘culture’ implies that cultures drop out of the sky, that the lucky Japanese got a good one and the Haitians got a bad one.” yes. where does culture come from?

Are the wealthiest countries the smartest countries?“For each one-point increase in a country’s average IQ, the per capita GDP was $229 higher. It made an even bigger difference if the smartest 5 percent of the population got smarter; for every additional IQ point in that group, a country’s per capita GDP was $468 higher.”

Women feel pain more than men, scientists say after studying brain scans

Human prejudice has ancient evolutionary roots“The tendency to perceive others as ‘us versus them’ isn’t exclusively human but appears to be shared by our primate cousins.”

Odd Form of ‘Love’ Hormone Found in Some Monkeys – oxytocin

Human gender roles influence research on animals – humans and their biases. who woulda guessed?!

Biology’s ‘dark matter’ hints at fourth domain of life – neato! see also: Glimpses of the Fourth Domain? @the loom.

Scientist Smackdown: When Did Europeans First Harness Fire?

Your brain is a rain forest – neurodiversity’s the word

The Secrets to Long Life: Worry, Work Hard and Marry Well (If You’re a Man) – via diversityischaos

Searching for the Source of a Fountain of Courage

bonus: radiation dose chart from xkcd.

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