Archives for posts with tag: neurological stuff

Crickets in two places fall silent to survive“To hide themselves from deadly flies, crickets on two Hawaiian islands have evolved an inability to sing. Ten years ago, two years apart, males appeared on Kauai and Oahu with altered wings, which they would normally rub together to chirp and attract females. New findings published in the journal Current Biology show that the wing changes are physically different and arose from separate mutations. This makes the silent crickets a brand new example of ‘convergent evolution’.” – and some really rapid evolution!

Microbes May Drive Evolution of New Animal Species“[S]ymbiosis — a long-term, stable and often beneficial interaction between organisms — could drive two populations apart, the first step in the development of new species. Although the idea has been floating around for nearly a century, it has only recently begun to gain traction in biology. This idea contrasts sharply with the traditional picture of evolution, in which new species emerge either from geological isolation or from a relentless struggle for food and mates. According to this new hypothesis, a host organism’s microbes might trigger changes in mating and reproduction that begin to define two different populations.” – h/t charles!

you gotta read this!: Coincidental Killers“We assume that microbes evolved to attack humans when actually we are just civilian casualties in a much older war…. Many of the pathogens we fear most are mere tourists on the human body. Their real homes are oceans, caves, or soils. To understand them, we need to understand them within their natural ecology. Soil, for example, is an extreme habitat for a microbe: harsh and constantly changing. It can quickly oscillate from flood to drought, from scalding heat to freezing cold, and total darkness to intense solar radiation. It’s rife with other competing microbes, and crawling with hungry predators. We fear lions and tigers and bears; bacteria have to contend with phage viruses, nematode worms, and predatory amoebas. All of these conditions can lead to adaptations that make microbes accidentally suited for life in a human host. We are, after all, just another environment. A thick capsule that shields a microbe from dehydration could also shield it from our immune system. A spore that is adapted for travelling through the air can be easily inhaled into a respiratory tract.”

Genetically identical ants help unlock the secrets of larval fate“A young animal’s genes are not the only genes that determine its fate. The genetic identity of its caretakers matters too…. [A] team led by Serafino Teseo of the University of Paris 13 used the unique aspects of the [clonal] ants’ biology to test the indirect role genes play in shaping the future identity of larvae and whole colonies by looking at the interaction between larvae and adults. They did so by observing the success of two ant clones, A and B, in pure colonies or mixed together into chimeric colonies. They also swapped broods, so A adults raised B larvae and vice versa. It turned out that A and B larvae developed differently depending on whether A or B nurses raised them. Left alone, pure A colonies produced the most young after six generations, making them more successful than B. However, in mixed colonies, B did better because its larvae more frequently turned into large adults that specialize in egg-laying rather than smaller, foraging-focused individuals….” – h/t rolf muertter!

Mitochondrial DNA of first Near Eastern farmers is sequenced for the first time“According to conclusions, genetic affinities have been observed between the mitochondrial DNA of first Neolithic populations and the DNA of first Catalan and German farmers. This suggests that probably Neolithic expansion took place through pioneer migrations of small groups of population. Moreover, the two main migration routes — Mediterranean and European — might have been genetically linked. ‘The most significant conclusion — highlights Eva Fernández — is that the degree of genetic similarity between the populations of the Fertile Crescent and the ones of Cyprus an Crete supports the hypothesis that Neolithic spread in Europe took place through pioneer seafaring colonization, not through a land-mediated expansion through Anatolia, as it was thought until now….’ Other scientific studies had already provided signs of an alternative scenario of Neolithic spread in Europe different from the one through Anatolia. According to Turbón, ‘recent archaeological finds have proved that the Neolithic arrived to Cyprus around 10,600 years ago, some years after the first documentation of agricultural practices in the Near East.’ Architecture and burial models found in Cyprus’ sites are similar to the ones found in the Middle Euphrates basin, ‘that indicates a direct colonisation of these territories,’ highlights the author. ‘Besides, spatial interpolation of radiocarbon dates from different Neolithic sites in the Near East and Europe also suggests a first seafaring expansion through Cyprus,’ he concludes.” – orginal research article.

The Giant Rat of Sumatra and Sardinia and No True Sardinian – from greg cochran.

A twist in Austronesian origins“The Taiwanese origin of Austronesians is widely accepted. A new preprint confirms this theory, but adds a new twist to the story of Austronesian dispersals, as it seems that in their western expansion, Austronesians picked up some Austroasiatic ancestry. This means either that Austroasiatic speakers preceded them in islands where Austronesian languages are now spoken, or that the Austronesians picked up this kind of ancestry in the mainland before settling in the islands.” – from dienekes.

A new allele for blond hair“There is a widespread belief that whatever made Europeans fair-skinned also gave them their unique palette of hair and eye colors. In reality, fair skin has only a weak genetic linkage with either non-black hair or non-brown eyes.” – from peter frost. see also: A molecular basis for classic blond hair color in Europeans.

A Genetic Map of Fireworks in Time“French Canadians and Slavs are both cases of populations which were once relatively modest and began in a narrow delimited region, but now are quite expansive and numerous. In the case of the East Slavs the demographic expansion also entailed the absorption of numerous Uralic tribes, as well as later Turks. And this illustrates one of the major details which I think has characterized the genetic turnover of human populations: phase shifts from a relatively static one defined by isolation by distance gene flow across clinal gradiants, to a rapid expansion of a small subset, and the overlay of this component as a palimpsest over the underlying variation. In some cases the replacement is nearly total, as in the modern United States. In other cases, as among Great Russians, the Slavic affinities of this population, and its association with Poles and other groups are clear, but there was a non-trivial uptake of exogenous segments which might allow for a reconstruction of the prior genetic landscape. These changes occur over short periods, and are bright fireworks against the comparatively static firmament.” – from razib.

Male faces ‘buttressed against punches’ by evolution“A new theory suggests that our male ancestors evolved beefy facial features as a defence against fist fights. The bones most commonly broken in human punch-ups also gained the most strength in early “hominin” evolution. They are also the bones that show most divergence between males and females.” – h/t darwin evolution! – original research article.

Faster eye responses in Chinese people not down to culture“New research from University of Liverpool scientists has cast doubt on the theory that neurological behaviour is a product of culture in people of Chinese origin. Scientists tested three groups – students from mainland China, British people with Chinese parents and white British people – to see how quickly their eyes reacted to dots appearing in the periphery of their vision…. The findings, published in the journal PLoS One, revealed that similar numbers of the British Chinese and mainland Chinese participants made high numbers express saccades, with the white British participants made far fewer. Culturally the British Chinese participants were similar to their white British counterparts and different to the mainland Chinese students.”

Cultural differences in human brain activity: A quantitative meta-analysis“East Asians show enhanced activity underlying mentalizing and emotion regulation. Westerners show enhanced activity underlying self-reflection and emotional responses.”

Race could be a factor in head, neck cancer survival rates“The national survival rates for African-Americans diagnosed with head and neck cancer have not improved in the last 40 years despite advances in the treatment and management of the disease, researchers have found. The researchers suggest that inherent genetic factors in African-Americans may make some tumors resistant to treatments.”

Severe intellectual disability diagnosed by analysis of entire genome“[A]lmost all mental impairments are caused by new mutations that have not yet occurred in father or mother.” – h/t mr. robert ford!

New genes involved in food preferences will revolutionize diets and improve health“The researchers undertook genome wide association studies (GWAS) to try to unravel the genetic basis for certain food preferences. 2311 Italian subjects participated in the discovery step, while 1755 from other European countries and from Central Asia were used in order to further verify the findings. They uncovered 17 independent genes related to liking for certain foods, including artichokes, bacon, coffee, chicory, dark chocolate, blue cheese, ice cream, liver, oil or butter on bread, orange juice, plain yoghurt, white wine and mushrooms. Surprisingly, none of the genes thus identified belonged to the category of taste or smell receptors…. In a second study, the researchers amassed the response of around 900 healthy adults from North Eastern Italy to salt, and related this to a DNA sequence variation found on the KCNA5 gene, known to be related to taste pathways in mammals.”

First direct evidence for human sex pheromones“‘By using dynamic point-light displays that portray the gaits of walkers whose gender is digitally morphed from male to female, we show that smelling androstadienone systematically biases heterosexual females, but not males, toward perceiving the walkers as more masculine. By contrast, smelling estratetraenol systematically biases heterosexual males, but not females, toward perceiving the walkers as more feminine. Homosexual males exhibit a response pattern akin to that of heterosexual females, whereas bisexual or homosexual females fall in between heterosexual males and females. These effects are obtained despite that the olfactory stimuli are not explicitly discriminable. The results provide the first direct evidence that the two human steroids communicate opposite gender information that is differentially effective to the two sex groups based on their sexual orientation.’” – @deric bownds’ mindblog.

Genetic relatedness predicts contact frequencies with siblings, nieces and nephews: Results from the Generational Transmissions in Finland surveys“Individuals have more contacts with full than with half siblings. Individuals have more contacts with nieces/nephews via full than via half siblings. Individuals have more contacts with nieces/nephews via sisters than via brothers.” – h/t jayman!

Beware Armchair Psychoanalysis“‘Behavioral genetic studies have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that heredity is responsible for a sizable portion of the variations in people’s personalities. Some people are more hot-tempered or outgoing or meticulous than others, and these variations are a function of the genes they were born with as well as the experiences they had after they were born. The exact proportion— how much is due to the genes, how much to the experiences—is not important; the point is that heredity cannot be ignored.’” – from jayman (quoting judith rich harris there).

SD-IE and other differentiation effects in Italy and Spain [pdf] – “SD–IE [strategic differentiation–integration effort] is a strategic differentiation effect present amongst indices of life history (LH), such that persons and populations of slow LH are more differentiated compared to those of fast LH. We found that this phenomenon is present amongst provinces in Italy and Spain, similarly to demonstrations among US states and Japanese prefectures. The average effect size of SD–IE was found to be bigger in Spain and Italy….. In the present study, we test SD–IE using regional-level data for counties in Spain and Italy.”

Is the smart fraction as valuable as previously thought?“‘Consistent with the intellectual class theory advocated by Rindermann and Thompson (2011) and Rindermann et al. (2009), our research findings showed strong evidence that those people that have high IQ are the most relevant influence on economic development. Although our results suggested that all three examined IQ categories promote higher economic growth, the intellectual class has the highest impact followed by the mean ability and non-intellectual classifications. Similarly, the intellectual class also has a highly significant effect on generating technological progress, whereas the influence of the other two groups is immaterial.’” – @dr. james thompson’s blog.

HVGIQ: Burma and HVGIQ: U.S. Virgin Islands – from jason malloy.

Life unworthy of life – post about, as jayman put it, who supports eugenics. – from the awesome epigone.

The Biology of Risk“The state of your body predicts your appetite for financial risk just as it predicts an athlete’s performance. If we understand how a person’s body influences risk taking, we can learn how to better manage risk takers. We can also recognize that mistakes governments have made have contributed to excessive risk taking.”

We can’t ignore the evidence: genes affect social mobility“Why do so many people fail to accept the overwhelming evidence that genes contribute to academic achievement and thereby social status?” – h/t hbd bibliography!

India’s Feudal Rapists

Old chaps? 3,300-year-old trousers found in China may be world’s oldest“Animal-fur menswear found on the bodies of two mummies in Xinjiang province ‘almost the same shape as today’s trousers’”

Grave find may be Western Europe’s earliest false tooth“Archaeologists have identified what could be remains of the earliest false tooth found in Western Europe. The dental implant comes from the richly-furnished timber burial chamber of an Iron Age woman that was excavated in Le Chene, northern France.”

Cat People Are Smarter Than Dog People, New Study Shows – (~_^) – ftr, i like both. i’m not a speciesist!

bonus: Blind cavefish are able to ‘count’“Blind cave-dwelling fish are able to discriminate between different quantities, scientists say…. Researchers say it is the first time non-visual numerical abilities have been shown in fish.” – h/t mo costandi!

bonus bonus: Bees build mental maps to get home“Study suggests the insects do not rely solely on the Sun as a compass…. ‘The surprise comes for many people that such a tiny little brain is able to form such a rich memory described as a cognitive map,’ says co-author Randolf Menzel, a neurobiologist at the Free University of Berlin.”

bonus bonus bonus: Nemo’s Dad Should Have Become His Mom, And Other Lies Children’s Movies Told You – h/t steve stewart williams!

(note: comments do not require an email. “i wandered lonely as a cloud….”)

Your Ancestors, Your Fate“The notion of genetic transmission of ‘social competence’ — some mysterious mix of drive and ability — may unsettle us. But studies of adoption, in some ways the most dramatic of social interventions, support this view. A number of studies of adopted children in the United States and Nordic countries show convincingly that their life chances are more strongly predicted from their biological parents than their adoptive families. In America, for example, the I.Q. of adopted children correlates with their adoptive parents’ when they are young, but the correlation is close to zero by adulthood. There is a low correlation between the incomes and educational attainment of adopted children and those of their adoptive parents. These studies, along with studies of correlations across various types of siblings (identical twins, fraternal twins, half siblings) suggest that genetics is the main carrier of social status.” – from gregory clark. see also The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility.

Reductionism! Determinism! Straw-man-ism!” The main problem, it seems to me, is a fundamental misunderstanding of what genetics as a science studies and how it relates to the function of complex systems. The following statements are not contradictory: 1. The function of a complex system emerges from the complex and dynamic interactions between all of the components of the system, in a context- and experience-dependent manner. 2. Variation in single components of the system (or in multiple components) can affect how it functions. Geneticists investigate the second question. Showing that variation in Gene X affects the behaviour or outcome of a system is not the same as saying that Gene X fully determines that behaviour or fully accounts for the entire system. Gene X is just a piece of DNA sitting in a cell somewhere – it doesn’t do anything by itself. But a *difference* in Gene X can account for a *difference* in how the system works. – from kevin mitchell.

The Problem with HBD, the Dark Enlightenment, Neoreaction, Alt-Rightism, and All That Jazz – READ THIS! – from jayman (and misdreavus).

There’s nothing wrong with looking for ‘gay genes’“The Left loves to tell the Right that it’s anti-science, pointing (not without reason) to the correlation between conservative beliefs and a failure to come to terms with the scientific facts of evolution and human-caused climate change. But there’s a subtler tendency on the Left; a fear of research into human nature, in case the findings are in some way politically uncomfortable.”

Evolution equally efficient in removing deleterious variants in Europeans and West Africans“…but apparently not in Denisovans who accumulated deleterious mutations at a higher rate than modern humans.” – @dienekes’.

Scientists unlock a ‘microbial Pompeii’“An international team of researchers have discovered a ‘microbial Pompeii’ preserved on the teeth of skeletons around 1,000 years old. The key to the discovery is the dental calculus (plaque) which preserves bacteria and microscopic particles of food on the surfaces of teeth, effectively creating a mineral tomb for microbiomes.”

The effect of paternal age on offspring intelligence and personality when controlling for paternal trait level [pdf] – “We examined the effect of father’s age at birth on offspring intelligence, head circumference and personality traits. Using the Minnesota Twin Family Study sample we tested paternal age effects while controlling for parents’ trait levels measured with the same precision as offspring’s. From evolutionary genetic considerations we predicted a negative effect of paternal age on offspring intelligence, but not on other traits. Controlling for parental intelligence (IQ) had the effect of turning an initially positive association non-significantly negative. We found paternal age effects on offspring IQ and Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire Absorption, but they were not robustly significant, nor replicable with additional covariates. No other noteworthy effects were found.” – from lars penke.

Reversed hierarchy in the brain for general and specific cognitive abilities: A morphometric analysis“Here, we analyze gray matter with three morphometric indices (volume, cortical surface area, and cortical thickness) at three levels of the intelligence hierarchy (tests, first-order factors, and a higher-order general factor, g)…. The key finding reveals substantial variability in gray matter correlates at the test level, which is substantially reduced for the first-order and the higher-order factors. This supports a reversed hierarchy in the brain with respect to cognitive abilities at different psychometric levels: the greater the generality, the smaller the number of relevant gray matter clusters accounting for individual differences in intelligent performance.” – h/t ben southwood!

A nice bunch of flowers“The general factor of intelligence is strongest at lower levels of intelligence. It may be a case of ‘All neurones to the pump’. When abilities are low, most problems are difficult. In such cases, all resources have to be thrown at the problem. When abilities are higher there is more spare capacity for differentiation of abilities. Brighter persons have a lower proportion of their abilities accounted for by a common factor, even though the have higher absolute abilities.” – from dr. james thompson.

GED scores by Ethnicity and Nation – from chuck @human varieties.

The Unfortunately Innate Nature of Intelligence“You cannot blame people for being what they were born, and you cannot expect them to do what they cannot.”

Psychologist on a mission to give every child a learning chip“Prof Robert Plomin wants educators to take notice of genes, and has a new big idea – personalised learning.”

Fruit-loving lemurs score higher on spatial memory tests“Food-finding tests in five lemur species show that fruit-eaters may have better spatial memory than lemurs with a more varied diet. The results support the idea that relying on foods that are seasonally available and far-flung gives a competitive edge to individuals with certain cognitive abilities — such as remembering where the goodies are.”

What Does Our DNA Say About How We Look?“A biologist aims to profile suspects from genetic material left at crime scenes.’ – h/t matthew wygant!

Four Lame Responses to Sam Harris’ Moral Landscape Challenge“Moral emotions, like every other evolved trait, exist because their presence increased the probability that the genes responsible for the existence of those traits would survive and reproduce. Moral emotions, and the associated illusions of the existence of Good and Evil as things in themselves, exist as subjective impressions in the minds of individuals.” – from helian.

Free will beliefs and motivation to punish“In a paper forthcoming in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Cory J. Clark and co-authors provide evidence that widespread belief in the existence of free will is bolstered by a fundamental desire to punish wrongdoers…. As Clark et al. put it, ‘There seems little doubt that the subjective experience of choosing and acting supports people’s belief in free will, but our findings suggest another powerful motivating factor: the human impulse to blame and punish. People believe in free will – at least in part – because they wish to affirm that people who do immoral things could have and should have acted differently’.”

A small contribution to the free-will thingy – from elijah.

Is there a ‘dark intelligence’? Emotional intelligence is used by dark personalities to emotionally manipulate others“Narcissism and psychopathy increased link between emotional intelligence facets and emotional manipulation.” – h/t claire lehmann!

Theory of mind: did evolution fool us?“Although sophisticated ToM is believed to have high adaptive fitness, broad experimental evidence from behavioural economics, experimental psychology and linguistics point towards limited recursivity in representing other’s beliefs.” – h/t neuroskeptic!

Creativity and personality in classical, jazz and folk musicians“[J]azz musicians are more frequently engaged in extracurricular musical activities, and also complete a higher number of creative musical achievements. Additionally, jazz musicians show higher ideational creativity as measured by divergent thinking tasks, and tend to be more open to new experiences than classical musicians. This study provides first empirical evidence that jazz musicians show particularly high creativity with respect to domain-specific musical accomplishments but also in terms of domain-general indicators of divergent thinking ability that may be relevant for musical improvisation.” – h/t mary louise cowan!

Migration and interaction in a contact zone: mtDNA variation among Bantu-speakers in southern Africa“In this study, we analyze complete mtDNA genome sequences from over 900 Bantu-speaking individuals from Angola, Zambia, Namibia, and Botswana to investigate the demographic processes at play during the last stages of the Bantu expansion. Our results show that most of these Bantu-speaking populations are genetically very homogenous, with no genetic division between speakers of Eastern and Western Bantu languages. Most of the mtDNA diversity in our dataset is due to different degrees of admixture with autochthonous populations.”

Silver Blaze“[I]n most parts of Europe, it looks as if modern populations inherited the three EEF/WHG/ANE groups (Levantine farmers, West Hunters and Sibermen) via only two proximate ancestral populations. Europe at the time was almost entirely occupied by Sardinian-like farmers – then another population moved in, one that had about 3 times as much West Hunter as Sibermen.” – from greg cochran.

Replacement or continuity?“Ancient DNA seems to promise a clearer picture because the only source of uncertainty is the age of the skeletal material. Unfortunately, this new method is more sensitive to uncertainty from another source: natural selection. Late hunter-gatherers and early farmers had to adapt to different environments. There certainly was a genetic divide between the two, but did it result from differences in origin or from differences in natural selection?” – from peter frost.

Dystopian diversity – from the awesome epigone.

“I regret studying social anthropology” – me, too. *sigh* – see also the original post.

The parasite that escaped out of Africa: Tracing origins of malaria parasite“An international team has traced the origin of the second-worst malaria parasite of humans to Africa. The closest genetic relatives of human *Plasmodium vivax* were found only in Asian macaques, leading researchers to believe that *P. vivax* originated in Asia. This study overturns that, finding that wild-living apes in central Africa are widely infected with parasites that, genetically, are nearly identical to human *P. vivax*.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Are Rich People Really That Selfish? – New Queendom.com Study Looks At Impact of Socio-Economic Status on Altruistic Tendencies“‘Our personality impacts every aspect of our life – the choices we make, the people we surround ourselves with, the career we pursue, the way we respond to life experiences, the way we manage our finances, and whether or not we share our good fortune,’ explains Dr. Jerabek, president of the company…. [H]ow individuals conduct themselves when they have money has everything to do with who they are as a person. Money doesn’t make a person more or less selfish. If you are a genuinely kind and giving person, you’ll continue to be that way no matter how many zeros are on your paycheck.’”

Babies born in England and Wales to non-UK born mothers infographic“Total Fertility Rate in England/Wales by where mother born: 4.3 Afghanistan, 3.8 Pakistan, 3.3 Nigeria, 2.4 India, 1.8 UK.”

The Tale of a CRISPR Clone – from razib.

Graft Probe in Scientific Community Widens in Southern China“A corruption probe has so far snared more than 50 scientists and research administrators in Guangdong, one of China’s wealthiest provinces.”

Quick Winter Olympics Digit Ratio Note – from sisyphean the mad contrarian.

Scientist proposes revolutionary naming system for all life on Earth“…a naming convention based on genome sequencing to enhance the way organisms are classified.” – h/t super mario!

Burials uncovered in Ireland reflect fusion of Paganism and Christianity“Excavations at Caherconnell in County Clare, Ireland, have uncovered ancient burials that reflect a fusion of Pagan practices with Christianity. Although it was initially believed that Christianity was well established in Ireland by the 5th Century, the latest finding reveals that Celtic Paganism was not quick to die out.” – h/t derek hopper!

The Society of Mutual Autopsy“The Society of Mutual Autopsy was an organisation formed in the late 1800s to advance neuroscience by examining dead members’ brains and to promote atheism by breaking sacred taboos.”

Heavy metal bands per 100,000 people – global map.

A Campus More Colorful Than Reality: Beware That College Brochure – h/t conrad hackett! who tweeted: “The whiter the college, the more diversity depicted in the brochures.”

bonus: Confirmed: Oldest Fragment of Early Earth is 4.4 Billion Years Old

bonus bonus: Hubble Finds Possible Oldest Object Ever Seen“The Hubble Telescope’s new set of Frontier Fields images includes a galaxy some 13-billion light-years away, which makes it a candidate for the most distant object ever seen.”

bonus bonus bonus: Rust Cohle, Guidance Counselor – heh. (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. rust cohle for president!)

as some of you already know, and many of you may have guessed from my atrocious writing style, i have some language difficulties — me and words don’t really get on.

i mentioned before in a comment that i don’t think in words — at least i don’t experience my thinking as happening in words. i think in pictures. well, that’s what i tell people in order to keep it simple. it’s more complicated than that. what i really think in is sort of amorphous blobby things which sometimes seem almost solid enough that i could reach out and touch them, but most of the time they are just blobby things in my mind’s eye.

the best description of this experience that i’ve ever seen is from galton who was describing how he thought. from his “Thought without Words” [opens pdf]:

“Prof. Max Muller says that no one can think of a dog without mentally using the word dog, or its equivalent in some other language, and he offers this as a crucial test of the truth of his theory. It utterly fails with me. On thinking of a dog, the name at once disappears, and I find myself mentally in that same expectant attitude in which I should be if I were told that a dog was in an obscure part of the room or just coming round the corner. I have no clear visual image of a dog, but the sense of an ill-defined spot that might shape itself into any specified form of dog, and that might jump, fawn, snarl, bark, or do anything else that a dog might do, but nothing else….

“It is a serious drawback to me in writing, and still more in explaining myself, that I do not so easliy think in words as otherwise. It often happens that after being hard at work, and having arrived at results that are perfectly clear and satisfactory to myself, when I try to express them in language I feel that I must begin by putting myself upon quite another intellectual plane. I have to translate my thoughts into a language that does not run very evenly with them. I therefore waste a vast deal of time in seeking for appropriate words and phrases, and am conscious, when required to speak on a sudden, of being often very obscure through mere verbal maladroitness, and not through want of clearness or perception.”

me and galton. i don’t feel so bad. (^_^)

yes, so, most of the time when i think, it’s in these amorphous shapes — “ill-defined spot[s] that might shape [themselves] into any specified form[s]“ of whatever i happen to be thinking about. and, yes — i spend all day, every day translating my thoughts into words! when i need to commicate to someone else, that is. exhausting, lemme tell you.

however, when i get tired, especially really tired, then i do start to think in actual pictures. if i were to think of a dog when i was tired, i would definitely see a clear image of a dog in my mind’s eye. the more tired i get, the more “real” the image becomes — i.e. the more i see it in my visual field rather than just in my mind’s eye. another way of putting it would be that the image becomes sharper — more in focus. the pictures never completely take over my visual field, though. the images are always semitransparent. but, when i’m really, really exhausted, and then lie down to sleep, then i experience an uncontrollable, usually rapid fire, slide show in my head (visual field if i open my eyes). which is pretty cool! i enjoy those! (^_^)

the well known high-functioning autist temple grandin has said that she experiences thinking as a sort of video stream. my experience is not that extreme — most of the day i have galton’s “ill-defined” shapes, which then become more clearly defined pictures in my mind’s eye the more tired i get, until eventually they start to invade my vision (always in a semi-transparent way).

i should mention here that speech also becomes much more of a challenge as the day goes on. and, again, once i’m exhausted, i start to sound like i’ve had one too many gin and tonics. (~_^) i don’t slur my words, it just becomes next to impossible to fetch the words out of wherever they normally hide in my skull. (~_^)

oftentimes, more abstract concepts — like “freedom” or “democracy” or “corruption” — appear in my mind’s eye when i start to get tired (i.e. past whatever point it is that the “ill-defined” shapes start to be replaced by pictures) as printed words. presumably it’s hard for my brain to come up with an image for “freedom,” so i just see “freedom” written out like the words in one of those fridge magnet poem sets. and, yes, now that i think of it, the words are always in lowercase! the font is something plain, like arial. just black font. no colors. again, these are words that i see in my mind’s eye which are representing thoughts that i am having, normally when i start to be a bit tired — toward the end of the day.

so far none of this is synesthesia (afaik). the synesthesia that i think i might have — and it’s a mild form, if it’s synesthesia at all — is something called ticker tape synesthesia. i’d never heard of it before the other day until kevin mitchell tweeted about it. from this abstract:

“Ticker tape is the automatic visualization of spoken words or thoughts, such as a teleprompter. For example, when spoken to, a ticker taper might see mentally the spoken words displayed in front of his face or as coming out of the speaker’s mouth.”

cool! (^_^)

just like i don’t experience temple grandin-style videos when thinking, i don’t have full ticker tapes. BUT i do have either blobs or pictures or words pop up when i listen to other people speaking — again, it moves from blobs to pictures/”printed” words the more tired i get. when i’m quite tired, then i start to see the occasional word (maybe one or two per sentence?) that the other person is speaking pop up in my visual field (although like the pictures, the words are also semitransparent). they don’t ticker tape out of the person’s mouth, though, and it’s not like subtitles either. i just see the words appear and then disappear right in front of wherever i happen to be looking — so it could be in front of the person’s face if i’m looking right at them, but it could be anywhere i happen to be looking. on the other hand, i might just as easily see a picture instead of “printed” word.

i have, i think, another form of synesthesia, too! — spatial sequence synesthesia:

“With spatial sequence synesthesia (SSS), people tend to see numerical sequences as points in space. For instance, the number 1 might be farther away and the number 2 might be closer. People with SSS may have superior memories; in one study they were able to recall past events and memories far better, and in far greater detail than those without the condition. They also see months, or dates in the space around them. Some people even see time like a clock above and around them.”

i have a terrible memory as far as recalling events goes, but, yes, the days of the week and the months all have a “place” — they’re arranged in a semi-circle just above and in front of my head. i “look” at them when i want to remember if wednesday is before or after tuesday. (yeah, i know — weird.) and it feels like i could reach out and grab hold of them. (don’t worry — i don’t! i know they’re not really there.) a lot of concepts or ideas that i have also have locations — i don’t know if this is synesthesia or not. my favorite topics of inbreeding and outbreeding and manorialism, for instance: inbreeding is over here on the left (above my head, again, and a bit in front), outbreeding is on the right (above and in front), and manorialism is right above me. don’t ask me why!

so, my brain is definitely wired funny!

some other conditions that i’ve got that (strongly!) hint at faulty wiring in my brain:

- visual snow: have always had, even as a kid. it’s stationary (thank, goodness!), so it’s not distracting. only notice it if i look at a plain colored background, like a clear blue sky.
- tinnitus: again have always had, even as a kid. i’ve got a rather high pitched ringing that i don’t pay attention to unless it’s really quiet (like going to bed at night).
- prosopagnosia: face blindness. have a mild version of it. i recognize people that i know well that i see all the time (including myself!), but someone who is only an acquaintance, if i meet them “out of context” (like not at work where maybe i know them from), then…heh…hilarity usually ensues. i won’t bore you with stories, but i’ve got some funny (embarassing!) ones. (*^_^*)
- asperger’s: not officially diagnosed, but i pass simon baron-cohen’s tests with flying colors. if i don’t have asperger’s, then there’s something really wrong with me! (~_^)

so, i seem to have mild forms of all these things: autism (asperger’s), visual snow (stationary), tinnitus (background ringing that’s easy to ignore), prosopagnosia (mild face blindness), thinking in “pictures” (but the actual pictures only happen when i’m tired), ticker tape synesthesia (not full ticker tape, just some words here and there when i’m tired), and spatial sequence synesthesia (days of the week, some concepts).

but enough about me. (*^_^*)

(note: comments do not require an email. rawr!)

Life on Earth may have developed below rather than above ground, reveal scientists“Scientists have now discovered microbes living and reproducing as deep as 5km (3.1 miles) below ground and studies have shown that they are likely to have survived in complete isolation from the surface biosphere for millions and perhaps even billions of years. One of the latest studies into the deep biosphere has found that these microbes form a distinct subsurface community of genetically similar individuals despite living on opposite sides of the world. This global similarity of such an isolated life-form suggests that they may have evolved directly from a common ancestor that lived as long ago at the period when life on earth originated, some 3.5 billion years ago.”

First ever animals were made of jelly, not sponge

Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code“[G]enomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages. One describes how proteins are made, and the other instructs the cell on how genes are controlled. One language is written on top of the other, which is why the second language remained hidden for so long.”duons. – see also Exonic Transcription Factor Binding Directs Codon Choice and Affects Protein Evolution.

Environment drives genetic changes in Evolution Canyon“[R]esearchers with the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech studying fruit flies that live on opposite slopes of a unique natural environment known as ‘Evolution Canyon’ show that even with migration, cross-breeding, and sometimes the obliteration of the populations, the driving force in the gene pool is largely the environment.” – see also Genome differentiation of Drosophila melanogaster from a microclimate contrast in Evolution Canyon, Israel.

Big brains are all in the genes“Scientists have moved a step closer to understanding genetic changes that permitted humans and other mammals to develop such big brains…. Dr Humberto Gutierrez, from the School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, UK, led research which examined the genomes of 39 species of mammals with the aim of better understanding how brains became larger and more complex in mammals…. The researchers found a clear link between increased brain size and the expansion of gene families related to certain biological functions.”

Not all species deteriorate with age“Researchers claim that some buck trend in mortality and fertility, challenging evolutionary theory.” – see also Diversity of ageing across the tree of life – h/t anatoly! – see also Aging from greg cochran.

there was a kerfluffle over the selfish gene concept this past week or two: Die, selfish gene, die by david dobbs. – see also Adversarial Journalism and The Selfish Gene by richard dawkins – see also David Dobbs mucks up evolution, part I and David Dobbs mucks up evolution, part II by jerry coyne – see also There is no revolution in genetics and Evolutionary orthodoxy may be boring, but it is probably true by razib – see also Science vs. Ideology in Genetics, in which Richard Dawkins and Professor Ceiling Cat Admonish David Dobbs by helian.

Western scrub-jays allocate longer observation time to more valuable information“When humans mentally reconstruct past events and imagine future scenarios, their subjective experience of mentally time travelling is accompanied by the awareness of doing so. Despite recent popularity of studying episodic memory in animals, such phenomenological consciousness has been extremely difficult to demonstrate…. Thus, the jays can collect information to solve a future problem. Moreover, they can differentiate sources of information according to their potential value and modify behaviour to efficiently collect important, usable information. This is the first evidence of metacognition in a species that passes the behavioural criteria for both retrospective and prospective mental time travel.”

Like humans, dogs have general intelligence – @dr. james thompson’s blog.

H. Heidelbergensis Preferred Island Life“[B]etween 500,000 and 200,000 years ago, Homo heidelbergensis preferred to live on islands in the flood plains of major rivers, where they would have had access to big herbivores that grazed on the rich grasses, water birds and plants with edible roots, and leafy vegetables. The island itself offered protection from other hungry predators, and raw materials such as wood and stone for fashioning tools would have been abundant.”

No evidence for selection since admixture in sample of 29,141 African Americans – @dienekes’.

Older Dads: Possible Links to Autism, Schizophrenia in Offspring – inherited epigenetic effects? – “Maria Milekic, PhD, reported today, at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology annual meeting in Hollywood, Florida, that old mice have an epigenetic change ‒ a loss of DNA methylation at the locations where the genetic code starts being transcribed. DNA methylation is a biochemical process that plays an important regulatory role in development and disease. The work was done by a research team in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University. Offspring of old fathers showed the same deficit in DNA methylation, and they differed in their behavior from the offspring of the young fathers.”

Inherited memories – greg cochran on inherited epigenetics (note: re. a different mouse epigenetics study from the one above).

Genetics accounts for more than half of variation in exam results @the guardian – “[T]he authors point out that genetics emerges as such a strong influence on exam scores because the schooling system aims to give all children the same education. The more school and other factors are made equal, the more genetic differences come to the fore in children’s performance. The same situation would happen if everyone had a healthy diet: differences in bodyweight would be more down to genetic variation, instead of being dominated by lifestyle.” – see also Nature more than nurture determines exam success @newscientist – “Overall, across the three core subjects of English, mathematics and science, achievement was 58 per cent determined by genetics. Individually, achievement was 52 per cent down to genetics for English, 55 per cent for maths and 58 per cent for science. The figure for humanities was lower at 42 per cent. This was a surprise to Plomin because, traditionally, excellence in humanities subjects such as art or music is considered to be ‘handed down’ from parents, whereas science is considered a product of the teaching environment.” – see also The genetics route could spell a new direction for education @the independent – “[I]t may be that the innate differences in children’s abilities because of their genes could argue the case for a more tailor-made individual curriculum to offset the disadvantages of birth.” – no sh*t! – see also New twin study by Plomin, Shakeshaft et al from steve sailer – see also Strong Genetic Influence on a UK Nationwide Test of Educational Achievement at the End of Compulsory Education at Age 16.

Genetic influence on family socioeconomic status and children’s intelligence“[U]sing a new technique applied to DNA from 3000 unrelated children, we show significant genetic influence on family SES, and on its association with children’s IQ at ages 7 and 12. In addition to demonstrating the ability to investigate genetic influence on between-family environmental measures, our results emphasize the need to consider genetics in research and policy on family SES and its association with children’s IQ.” – can somebody just give plomin a nobel already? or at least a hearty pat on the back? (^_^)

Climatic Variability, Group Selection and Dysgenics: Testing a Multi-Level Selection Model – from woodley, fernandes, and figueredo. @dr. james thompson’s blog.

ISIR – What do intelligence researchers really think about intelligence?“Asked: ‘Is there sufficient evidence to arrive at a reasonable estimate of the heritability of intelligence in populations of developed countries?’ 73% said Yes.” – from dr. james thompson. also ISIR – Genetics.

‘Poverty impedes cognitive function’ shown to be BS – from mr. mangan, esq.

Survey of psychometricians finds iSteve one of 3 best journalistic outlets in the world for intelligence coverage – and anatoly karlin! (^_^)

Human brain hard-wired for rural tranquillity“Humans may be hard-wired to feel at peace in the countryside and confused in cities – even if they were born and raised in an urban area…. Dr Ian Frampton, an Exeter University psychologist, stressed the researchers still had more work to do, but said they may have hit upon something significant…. Professor Michael Depledge of Exeter University, a former Environment Agency chief scientist, said urban dwellers could be suffering in the same way as animals kept in captivity. He said the move to the cities had been accompanied by an ‘incredible rise in depression and behavioural abnormalities’.” – h/t ed west!

Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome“[S]hort-term consumption of diets composed entirely of animal or plant products alters microbial community structure and overwhelms inter-individual differences in microbial gene expression. The animal-based diet increased the abundance of bile-tolerant microorganisms (Alistipes, Bilophila and Bacteroides) and decreased the levels of Firmicutes that metabolize dietary plant polysaccharides (Roseburia, Eubacterium rectale and Ruminococcus bromii). Microbial activity mirrored differences between herbivorous and carnivorous mammals, reflecting trade-offs between carbohydrate and protein fermentation. Foodborne microbes from both diets transiently colonized the gut, including bacteria, fungi and even viruses. Finally, increases in the abundance and activity of Bilophila wadsworthia on the animal-based diet support a link between dietary fat, bile acids and the outgrowth of microorganisms capable of triggering inflammatory bowel disease. In concert, these results demonstrate that the gut microbiome can rapidly respond to altered diet, potentially facilitating the diversity of human dietary lifestyles.”

Wheat Threatens All Humans, New Research Shows“New research reveals that proteins in wheat may be detrimental to all humans.” – h/t ray sawhill!

The origins of Northwest European guilt culture and Origins of Northwest European guilt culture. Part II – from peter frost. and my response to part i (in case you missed it – shame on you if you did! you should feel soooo guilty. (~_^) ).

The EU is corrupt because southern Europe is corrupt“Nigeria is riddled with corruption and theft because enough people are corrupt (and it doesn’t have to be that many) that it makes no sense to be an honest person. For societies to avert this situation free-riders need to be punished (shamed, ostracised, prosecuted) by other individuals acting with the support of the rest of society, and almost as importantly, for those punishers not to be punished in turn, as happens in clannish societies where people care more about their family than the well-being of the wider society. Destroying the power of the clans can take a very, very long time; around the North Sea it began a good millennium ago.” – from ed west.

Why a Good Story Must Be Archetypal and Why Modern Storytellers Must Lie About It – from staffan.

White flight from the white robe? – from the awesome epigone. – h/t jayman!

‘Boy/ girl differences are genetically programmed’“Twinwag: As research shows the brains of men and women are wired differently, mother of two Anna White says she saw it in her own twins, Agatha and Benjamin, from as young as 14 months old.” – h/t holtz!

Holding a guitar case increases the odds women will give a man their phone number – (~_^)

Your Genes Tell You How to Vote – in mother jones! – see also The Difference Between Republican and Democratic Brains – h/t avi tuschman! – see also Study on twins suggests our political beliefs may be hard-wired @pew.

Did Brain Scans Just Save a Convicted Murderer From the Death Penalty? – see also How Brain Scans Can Lighten Sentences In Murder Cases“An increasing trend of defendants using neuroscience to argue for lesser sentences.” – h/t neuroskeptic!

We Really Have no Idea Why Political Attitudes Change (or Not). A Guest Blog by Bernard Winograd – *cough*herding*cough* – @peter turchin’s social evolution forum. h/t t.greer!

How much do we really know about sleep?“We spend a third of our lives doing it, and yet we still don’t fully understand the reasons why we sleep.”

Eastern and Western Europe divided over gay marriage, homosexuality“92% of Dutch & 25% of Russians say gay people should be free to live lives as they wish (via European Social Survey).” – from pew.

Late Stone Age settlement unearthed on Cyprus“Excavations at Ayia Varvara-Asprokremnos (AVA) by archaeologists from the University of Toronto, Cornell University and the University of Cyprus have uncovered, among other objects, the earliest complete human figurine on the island. The site has been carbon-dated to between 8800-8600 BC, near the beginning of the Neolithic Period – also known as the Late Stone Age – when the transition from hunting to farming economies was occurring throughout the Middle East.”

What Happened On Easter Island — A New (Even Scarier) Scenario – h/t razib!

Terracotta Warriors Inspired by Ancient Greek Art“Nickel’s evidence includes newly translated ancient records that tell a fantastic tale of giant statues that ‘appeared’ in the far west, inspiring the first emperor of China to duplicate them in front of his palace. This story offers evidence of early contact between China and the West, contacts that Nickel says inspired the First Emperor (which is what Qin Shi Huangdi called himself) to not only duplicate the 12 giant statues but to build the massive Terracotta Army along with other life-size sculptures.” – see also The First Emperor and sculpture in China.

Phallic objects an ancient PNG status symbol?“The cache of elaborately crafted tools was discovered at a construction site on New Britain Island, north-eastern PNG, in late 2010. Between 6000 and 3000 years old, the tools are made of a type of volcanic glass called obsidian and, remarkably, several of them are shaped as phalluses.”

Nobel winner declares boycott of top science journals“Randy Schekman says his lab will no longer send papers to Nature, Cell and Science as they distort scientific process.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Can you guess which states swear the most, least?

bonus: There’s a Reason They Call Them ‘Crazy Ants’ << read this!

bonus bonus: How widespread is Islamic fundamentalism in Western Europe? – h/t michael story!

bonus bonus bonus: Google Adds to Its Menagerie of Robots – google buys boston dynamics. google really IS going to take over the world! =/

bonus bonus bonus bonus: You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet“I don’t think most people yet realize just how fast the arc of technological innovation is bending skyward right now, and what that’s really going to mean. I hang around with the people who are making this stuff happen, and *they* don’t know what it’s going to mean. *Nobody* does.” – from malcolm pollack. (google really IS going to take over the world! =/ )

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Freakishly realistic telemarketing robots are denying they’re robots – the future (i.e tomorrow) is either going to be terrifying or really, really irritating. – h/t mike anissimov (wearer of track suits (~_^) )!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: First water plume seen firing from Jupiter moon Europa

(note: comments do not require an email. penguin selfie!)

Ancient DNA Unravels Europe’s Genetic Diversity“Ancient DNA recovered from a time series of skeletons in Germany spanning 4,000 years of prehistory has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern-day Europeans. The study, published today in ‘Science’, reveals dramatic population changes with waves of prehistoric migration, not only from the accepted path via the Near East, but also from Western and Eastern Europe.” – orig. research article: Ancient DNA Reveals Key Stages in the Formation of Central European Mitochondrial Genetic Diversity. from dienekes: “Anyone adhering to a ‘pots not people’ paradigm will find difficult to explain the sharp discontinuities found in the genetic record.” – and here’s national geographic’s take on the story – my head’s dizzy from all the spin!: “So, just like parts of Europe today are melting pots from different living cultures across the world, Europe is also a melting pot of genetic lineages from different prehistoric cultures that lived there at different periods of time.” – see also: Stone Age farmers, hunters kept their distance.

Genes Suggest European Women at Root of Ashkenazi Family Tree“The women who founded the Ashkenazi Jewish community of Europe were not from the Near East, as previously supposed, and reinforces the idea that many Jewish communities outside Israel were founded by single men who married and converted local women.” – see dienekes and greg cochran.

[Genetic] Link to Oetzi the Iceman found in living Austrians – AWESOME!

Child Behaviour: Not In Their Genes?“Using a powerful approach called GCTA, King’s College London researchers Maciej Trzaskowski and colleagues found no evidence that genetics can explain differences in children’s behavioural and conduct difficulties.” – @neuroskeptic.

“Were the First Artists Mostly Women?“Three-quarters of handprints in ancient cave art were left by women, study finds.” — afaics, there’s no reason to conclude that the individuals who spray painted outlines of their hands (any idiot can do that — I could do that!) were the same individuals who painted the horses and lions, etc. duh. anyway, here’s the interesting bit from the article: “[T]he hands in the caves were much more sexually dimorphic than modern hands, meaning that there was little overlap in the various hand measurements. ‘They fall at the extreme ends, and even beyond the extreme ends,’ Snow said. ‘Twenty thousand years ago, men were men and women were women.’”

Glass always half-empty? Your genes may be to blame“UBC researcher finds some people are genetically predisposed to seeing things in a negative light. Further research is also planned to explore the gene variant’s occurrence across different ethnic groups. While it is believed more than half of Caucasians have ADRA2b, some studies suggest it is much less prominent in other ethnicities….”

Whites More Prone to Certain Heart Condition Than Other Ethnic Groups“In a study to be published online October 8 and in the November 12 issue of ‘Circulation’, researchers discovered that self-described non-Hispanic whites are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation than people from other race or ethnic groups. ‘We found that consistently, every other race had a statistically significant lower risk of atrial fibrillation compared to whites…. So this suggests that white race is itself a risk factor for atrial fibrillation.’” – h/t mr. mangan, esq!

Evolution and Bad Boyfriends

Neurons Fire Backward in Sleep“Unusual brain cell activity may underlie memory streng…” wait. NEURONS FIRE BACKWARD IN SLEEP! cool.

Changes in women’s attractiveness perception of masculine men’s dances across the ovulatory cycle: Preliminary data“Women’s preferences for putative cues of genetic quality in men’s voices, faces, bodies, and behavioral displays are stronger during the fertile phase of the ovulatory cycle. Here we show that ovulatory cycle-related changes in women’s attractiveness perceptions of male features are also found with dance movements, especially those perceived as highly masculine.”

Similar chimpanzees form friendships“‘We found that, especially among unrelated friends, the most sociable and bold individuals preferred the company of other highly sociable and bold individuals, whereas shy and less sociable ones spent time with other similarly aloof and shy chimpanzees,’ says the researcher. The researchers argue that such a strong preference for self-like individuals is probably adaptive, because frequent cooperation becomes more reliable when both partners have similar behavioural tendencies and emotional states. This finding strongly resembles the known ‘similarity effect’ in humans: We tend to make friends with people who are equally extraverted, friendly and bold as ourselves.” — same in some birds, too, remember?

All you ever wanted to know about intelligence (but were too bright to ask) Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 – from dr. james thompson.

Social Status and Anger Expression: The Cultural Moderation Hypothesis“Individuals with lower social status have been reported to express more anger, but this evidence comes mostly from Western cultures…. Americans with lower social status expressed more anger…. Japanese with higher social status expressed more anger….” – maybe there’s a biological explanation? – h/t neuroskeptic!

Life Purpose Buffers Negative Moods Triggered by Diversity“Being in the minority in an ethnically diverse crowd is distressing, regardless of your ethnicity….” – h/t mr. mangan, esq!

Neandertals ate stomach goop, and you can too – mmmmm! chyme!

Study: Narcissists Only Think They’re Especially Creative“Narcissistic people do undertake more creative things, but their correlation with self-reported creativity is disproportionately strong.” – h/t jayman! – speaking of narcissts: The Double-Edged Sword of Grandiose Narcissism: Implications for Successful and Unsuccessful Leadership Among U.S. Presidents.

The Whites of Their Eyes“The subjects in [milgram's] experiments notoriously (and shockingly!) were willing to inflict great pain and possibly permanent harm or even death on victims. But they became less willing to do so as the victim was moved progressively closer to them.”

Meritocracy and Its Discontents – @thosewhocansee.

The Paekchong of Korea – from peter frost.

Tribal feuds, local conflicts engulf Libya“Ever since its revolution, Libya has been riddled with tribal conflict. The state remains powerless in the face of weapon proliferation and violence. Societal fragmentation seems inevitable.” — huh. strange.

The Anglosphere miracle – by daniel hannan – “As for the idea that the individual should be as free as possible from state coercion, this is regarded as the ultimate Anglophone fetish. Whenever the E.U. extends its jurisdiction into a new field—decreeing what vitamins we can buy, how much capital banks must hold, what hours we may work, how herbal remedies are to be regulated—I ask what specific problem the new rules are needed to solve. The response is always the same: ‘But the old system was unregulated!’ The idea that absence of regulation might be a natural state of affairs is seen as preposterous.”

A Second Great Depression? – from jayman.

Cheaters always prosper, to a point

Ancient Sundial Discovered In Bronze Age Ukrainian Grave Is Oldest Of Its Kind

Why a medieval peasant got more vacation time than you – d*mn them! h/t mike anissimov!

I tooke a bodkine“‘I tooke a bodkine,’ he wrote in his notebook, ‘& put it betwixt my eye & bone as neare to [the] backside of my eye as I could: pressing my eye [with the] end of it…there appeared severall white & darke & coloured circles…which circles were plainest when I continued to rub my eye [with the] point of [the] bodkine.’ After many months with his bodkins, notebooks and prisms he came to the conclusion that our eyes can deceive us even about something as obvious as daylight, which appears plain and simple to us, but is in fact composed of lights of many different colours. Appearances can conceal as much as they reveal.” – great #longread about isaac newton.

Length of pregnancy can vary by up to five weeks, scientists discover

Preventing penile fractures and Peyronie’s disease – DON’T try this at home!: “In some Middle East regions, men engage in a practice known as *taqaandan* (‘to click’ in Kurdish), explains Dr. Javaad Zargooshi, urology professor at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences in Iran. It’s a painless process, similar to knuckle-cracking, in which the top half of an erect penis is bent forcefully while the rest of the shaft is held stationary. Usually this produces only a loss of erection and a satisfying popping noise, says Zargooshi, who published a report on the phenomenon in December in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Other times, it will fracture the penis.” – wait. what? – via ed west!

Aldeburgh dig unearths teenager’s ‘keepsakes’ box“An Anglo-Saxon teenage girl’s box of trinkets is thought to have been uncovered by archaeologists during a three-week dig in Suffolk.”

bonus: How the Western Banksta System Kills Millions (by accident)

bonus bonus: True scale of European immigration“An EU study has found 600,000 unemployed migrants are living in Britain.”

bonus bonus bonus: Does Some Deeper Level of Physics Underlie Quantum Mechanics? An Interview with Nobelist Gerard ’t Hooft and You probably have no free will. But don’t worry about it.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Swifts stay airborne for six months at a time – whoa!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Southern Flying Squirrels Land in Canada“Southern flying squirrels are moving into the habitat of Northern flying squirrels. Now people are debating what to call the hybrid offspring.” — illegal infiltrators! (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. really sweet bronze anglo-saxon dolphin trinket!)

not sure if this is a late linkfest from this past sunday or an early linkfest for next sunday…. (~_^)

Patterns of selection on Neanderthal alleles in modern humans“‘We identified Neandertal alleles that are at higher frequency than expected under a model of neutral evolution, and identify dozens of genomic locations in Europeans and East Asians at which the Neandertal alleles are the targets of positive selection. Interestingly, there is evidence for more extensive positive selection in East Asian than in European populations.’” – @race/history/evolution notes.

On the antiquity of language: the reinterpretation of Neandertal linguistic capacities and its consequences“[W]e argue here that recognizably modern language is likely an ancient feature of our genus pre-dating at least the common ancestor of modern humans and Neandertals about half a million years ago.” – via mr. mangan, esq.!

World’s Oldest Calendar Found in Scotland“British archaeologists have found what they say is the world’s oldest calendar, dating back to about 8,000 BC.”

Paternal age and fitness in pre-industrial Finland“‘Individuals whose fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers fathered their lineage at age of 20 were ~9% more likely to survive to adulthood than those with 40-year-old male ancestors.’” – @race/history/evolution notes.

Law alone?“People of northwestern European descent put the least emphasis on the blood bond of a nation’s population…. The paradox presented here for many like myself is that the places inspiring the warmest feelings and that I would like most to live in are the places that tend to put the least effort into maintaining what they have. It’s tragic.” – yup. =/ from the awesome epigone.

Ethnic background influences immune response to TB“Over the thousands of years that humans have been infected with TB, people of different ethnicities have evolved different immune mechanisms for handling the bacteria, a finding that could affect the outcome of planned trials for new TB drugs…. [D]ifferences in the way TB affects the body are also linked to ethnicity. For example, he found that most infections in Europeans are in the lungs, for example, while Asians and Africans get most TB infections in other organs.” – @new scientist. also: Scientists discover ethnic differences in immune response to TB bacterium.

Link between low vitamin D blood levels and heart disease varies by race“Low vitamin D blood levels are linked to greater risk of heart disease in whites and Chinese, but not in blacks and Hispanics.”

Early spatial reasoning predicts later creativity and innovation, especially in STEM fields“Exceptional spatial ability at age 13 predicts creative and scholarly achievements over 30 years later, according to results from a new longitudinal study published in Psychological Science.” – via futurepundit! see also steve sailer: Something intelligent and interesting in the news.

Nature, nurture, and expertise“More than half of the difference between expert and normal readers is genetic…. Less than a fifth of the expert-normal difference is due to shared environment.” – via mr. mangan, esq.! see also dr. james thompson.

‘Genes’ a reason poor kids struggle at school, says [an australian] government report“In a controversial new report released today, the Productivity Commission cites ‘parents’ cognitive abilities and inherited genes’ as one of five main reasons why kids from low-income families lag behind those from wealthy homes.” – surely heads must be rolling!

Who’s Having the Babies? – from jayman … who’s having a baby! (~_^)

Brain scans of inmates turn up possible link to risks of reoffending“Those with low ACC [anterior cingulate cortex] activity were about twice as likely to commit crimes within four years of being released as those with high ACC activity.” see also Born to Kill from jared taylor.

Chinese People May Be at Higher Risk for Stroke Than Caucasians“[T]he research found a slightly higher overall risk of stroke in Chinese people than in Caucasians, with a range of 205 to 584 strokes per 100,000 Chinese people age 45 to 74, compared to 170 to 335 strokes per 100,000 Caucasian people the same age. Chinese also had a higher risk of intracerebral hemorrhage, a type of stroke due to bleeding into the brain from a ruptured blood vessel, compared to Caucasian people, or 33 percent of all strokes compared to 12 percent of all strokes in community-based studies. Chinese people had a lower average age of stroke onset of 66 to 70 years-old, compared to 72 to 76 years-old for Caucasians.” – via hbd bibliography!

Study: Even with similar cancer treatment, African Americans don’t live as long as other patients“It’s likely ‘not related to the treatment,’ Ferrajoli speculated, ‘it’s probably a different biology.’” – via amren!

Child food neophobia is heritable, associated with less compliant eating, and moderates familial resemblance for BMI – via jayman!

Poles in the Tent“[I]f high-quality protein were the long pole in the tent, male provisioning of meat, which we see in chimpanzees, might matter quite a bit more than you would think from the number of calories alone.” – from greg cochran.

Dark Counsel From The Durants“‘Inequality is not only natural and inborn, it grows with the complexity of civilization. Hereditary inequalities breed social and artificial inequalities; every invention or discovery is made or seized by the exceptional individual, and makes the strong stronger, the weak relatively weaker, than before.’” – dark stuff, indeed! from malcolm pollack. here’s the durants’ The Lessons of History.

The Death of Enlightenment – or How Nebraska Beats California – from staffan.

‘Big Givers’ Get Punished for Being Nonconformists“People punish generous group members by rejecting them socially — even when the generosity benefits everyone — because the ‘big givers’ are nonconformists.” – you just can’t win with humans!

Genetic diversity, economic development and policy – from jason collins.

Emmanuel Todd’s Theory of Modernity from t.greer.

The other slave trade“Europe used to export slaves to the non-European world.” – from peter frost.

D.N.A. Backs Lore on Pre-Columbian Dogscarolina dogs! — or dixie dingos! woof! (^_^)

Dementia Rate Is Found to Drop Sharply, as Forecast

bonus: make sure to check out elijah armstrong’s new blog!

bonus bonus: Chinese Logographs vs. the Latin Alphabet“[C]ultural systems *do* matter when it comes to cultural advancement and enrichment.” – @habitable worlds.

bonus bonus bonus: Review of “Shots Fired” by Sam Francis – from foseti.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The rise of identitarian thought… – @occam’s razor.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Social Truth Vs Objective Truth and Social Truth II and Social Truth III – from the assistant village idiot.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Dyslexia is Britain’s secret weapon in the spy war: Top codebreakers can crack complex problems because they suffer from the condition

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Isolated Afghans contemplate mass exodus“The 1,100 ethnic Kyrgyz living in this isolated sliver of Afghanistan wedged between Tajikistan, Pakistan and China have been spared the violence that has plagued the rest of their country. But they have also done without the burst of foreign aid that has helped reconstruct one of the world’s poorest nations.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: A Village Invents a Language All Its Own“The language, called Warlpiri rampaku, or Light Warlpiri, is spoken only by people under 35 in Lajamanu, an isolated village of about 700 people in Australia’s Northern Territory. In all, about 350 people speak the language as their native tongue.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Pictured: ‘Vampire’ graves in Poland where skeletons were buried with skulls between their legs – cool!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Genetic Differences That Let Octopods Flourish – octopod biodiversity!

(note: comments do not require an email. a dixie dingo!)

a day late and (*hbd chick checks her wallet*) … yes, a dollar short!

World’s Oldest Genome Sequenced From 700,000-Year-Old Horse DNA – cool!

Bad Health at the Origins of Agriculture – from henry harpending! see also andrew badenoch from evolvify.

DNA Evidence for Strong Genome-Wide Pleiotropy of Cognitive and Learning Abilities“Genetic correlations were greater than 0.70 between general cognitive ability and language, reading, and mathematics, results that were highly similar to twin study estimates of genetic correlations. These results indicate that genes related to diverse neurocognitive processes have general rather than specific effects.” – via jayman!

Insulin differs between ethnicities, study finds“People have differing abilities to release and react to insulin depending on ethnicity, according to a new study from researchers at Lund University in Sweden, Stanford University and Kitasato University.” – see also previous linkfest.

I Don’t Feel Your Pain“A recent study shows that people, including medical personnel, assume black people feel less pain than white people…. In each experiment, the researchers found that white participants, black participants, and nurses and nursing students assumed that blacks felt less pain than whites.”original research article.

Studying Tumors Differently, in Hopes of Outsmarting Them“[C]ancer: It is an evolutionary disease.”

Accelerating adaptive evolution in humans“In my last post, I noted R.A. Fisher’s argument that a larger population leads to more mutations and greater potential for adaptive evolution. As human populations have undergone massive growth over recent tens of thousands of years, we would expect the evidence of this population growth to show in our genomes. In this post, I point to a couple of papers that look at this evidence.” – from jason collins.

Three-Parent IVF Set to Go Ahead in Britain

Complete mtDNA from Filipino groups – @dienekes’.

Still missing the point – more good stuff from peter frost on stephen jay gould.

The Search for Western Tribalism“Tribalism as clannishness light.” – from staffan!

How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby?“[M]illions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics, or fertility treatment. Most people assume these numbers are based on large, well-conducted studies of modern women, but they are not.”

Grandparents effect spotted in British class system“Children’s eventual position in Britain’s class system is closely linked to that of their grandparents, not just their parents, academics say. And where parents have ‘dropped down’ the socio-economic ladder, the so-called ‘grandparents effect’ often pulls them back up, research suggests…. [A]mong men with both parents and grandparents in the highest socio-economic group, 80% stayed in those positions when they were adults. But among men whose parents had been upwardly mobile, only 61% stayed in the group they had been born in to.” – don’t they mean the “regression to the mean effect’? – via jason collins.

Study: People With a Lot of Self-Control Are Happier“Improbably enough, people who are better able to resist impulses report being more satisfied with their lives.”

Clues in the Cycle of Suicide“Every year, suicide peaks with the tulips and lilacs — increasing roughly 15 percent over the annual average to create one of psychiatry’s most consistent epidemiological patterns. It may seem perverse that the period of spring and early summer … should contain ‘a capacity for self-murder that winter less often has.’ Yet it does.”

A Test to Measure How Rational You Really Are – dysrationalia!

Does life have a purpose?“Nobody expects atoms and molecules to have purposes, so why do we still think of living things in this way?”

Study appears to overturn prevailing view of how the brain is wired

Sardinian family’s tip for a long life: minestrone – and good longevity genes! (~_^) – “Luca Deiana, a professor of clinical biochemistry at the university of Sassari in Sardinia, who has studied some 2500 centenarians on the island since 1996, was quoted by Corriere della Sera at the time as saying the longevity of local inhabitants was influenced by genetics along with environmental, nutritional and lifestyle habits.”

Chilean Mummies Reveal Ancient Nicotine Habit“The hair of mummies from the town of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile reveals the people in the region had a nicotine habit spanning from at least 100 B.C. to A.D. 1450.”

Mysterious Pair Buried With Flowers — Oldest Example Yet“The pair — an adult male and an adolescent of undetermined sex — belonged to the primitive Natufian culture, which flourished between 15,000 and 11,600 years ago in an area that is now Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.”

bonus: Judge jails depraved sex gang for 95 years after they committed grotesque abuse on girls as young as 11 – good!

bonus bonus: Foreign reporter raped in Tahrir Square – again. see also Arab Spring Unleashes Illiberal Repressive Masses from parapundit.

bonus bonus bonus: The Divided States of America, in 25 Charts“As America approaches its 237th birthday, it’s feeling quite a bit more ‘pluribus’ than ‘unum’…” – gee, i wonder why?

bonus bonus bonus bonus: First Pictures: Peru’s Rare, Unlooted Royal Tomb

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: India: If you have casual sex, you are legally married – ruh roh.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Take the Impossible “Literacy” Test Louisiana Gave Black Voters in the 1960s – it’s not impossible, but it’s not easy either. esp. given that not all of the questions are worded very clearly. =/

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The scientific feud that ended in an execution

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Leeches from the Underworld Don’t Want Your Blood

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Awesome astronomical board game from 1804

(note: comments do not require an email. the tapir’s PREHENSILE penis! good lord.)

Emergence of Individuality in Genetically Identical Mice“Our results show that factors unfolding or emerging during development contribute to individual differences in structural brain plasticity and behavior.” – the nuture side of nature-nuture. – see also Mice, Men, and Fate.

Mysterious Minoans Were European, DNA Finds“[T]he research team analyzed DNA from ancient Minoan skeletons that were sealed in a cave in Crete’s Lassithi Plateau between 3,700 and 4,400 years ago…. The researchers found that the Minoan skeletons were genetically very similar to modern-day Europeans — and especially close to modern-day Cretans, particularly those from the Lassithi Plateau. They were also genetically similar to Neolithic Europeans, but distinct from Egyptian or Libyan populations.” see also dienekes.

Chinese project probes the genetics of genius“Bid to unravel the secrets of brainpower faces scepticism.”

Dogs and Humans Evolved Together, Study Suggests“[B]oth species underwent similar changes in genes responsible for digestion and metabolism, such as genes that code for cholesterol transport. Those changes could be due to a dramatic change in the proportion of animal versus plant-based foods that occurred in both at around the same time, the researchers said. The team also found co-evolution in several brain processes — for instance, in genes that affect the processing of the brain chemical serotonin. In humans, variations in these genes affect levels of aggression.”

How to spot a murderer’s brain“Do your genes, rather than upbringing, determine whether you will become a criminal? Adrian Raine believed so – and breaking that taboo put him on collision course with the world of science.”

Clark/Frost Domestication“Thinking about the response of the pacified and submission Roman population to barbarian invaders immediately brings to mind the response of contemporary North Americans and Atlantic Europeans to barbarian invaders. It reads just the same: ‘welcome new neighbor!’” – from henry harpending.

Ovulation and politics“‘Ovulation led single women to become more liberal, less religious, and more likely to vote for Barack Obama. In contrast, ovulation led women in committed relationships to become more conservative, more religious, and more likely to vote for Mitt Romney.’” – from mr. mangan.

The Personality and Geography of the Entrepreneur“German psychologists Martin Obschonka and colleagues…used Rentfrow’s [big five personality] data to create a measure of Entrepreneur-prone personality profile for the different states in America.” – another really cool post from staffan!

Linguists identify 15,000-year-old ‘ultraconserved words’“A team of researchers has come up with a list of two dozen ‘ultraconserved words’ that have survived 150 centuries. It includes some predictable entries: ‘mother,’ ‘not,’ ‘what,’ ‘to hear’ and ‘man.’ It also contains surprises: ‘to flow,’ ‘ashes’ and ‘worm.’ The existence of the long-lived words suggests there was a ‘proto-Eurasiatic’ language that was the common ancestor to about 700 contemporary languages that are the native tongues of more than half the world’s people.”

The Mating Advantage of Male Musicians: Women Find Guitars Sexy“Studies from two countries suggest women are more attracted to a man if he’s holding a guitar.” – more science proving what everybody already knows! (~_^)

More men than women harassed in the military, often by other men – from the awesome epigone.

Redheads are at increased risk of skin cancer even if they DON’T spend time in the sun

Children with Autism Hypersensitive to Motion

Privacy protections: The genome hacker“Yaniv Erlich shows how research participants can be identified from ‘anonymous’ DNA.”

Tajikistan to Ban Cousin Marriage“Formal prohibition unlikely to stamp out widespread tradition.” – h/t anatoly!

Tutankhamun’s death and the birth of monotheism

bonus: USG Pushing Unconstitutional College Speech Codes“The government which rules over Americans is trying to further reduce free speech on college campuses…. Evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller, author of The Mating Mind, sees this new federal mandate as a threat to the ability to teach the truth about human nature.” – from parapundit.

bonus bonus: Could Lighning Come from Space? – that would be FRIGGIN’ AWESOME!!

bonus bonus bonus: from the u.k. – Former minister admits Labour deliberately engineered mass immigration and A fifth of murder and rape suspects born abroad, shock survey finds.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Immigrant workers undermine wage growth“Immigrant workers, mainly from other Nordic countries, have a negative effect on the pay checks of Norwegian employees. Workers with minimal skills and little experience are the most vulnerable.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: First land animals kept their fish faces

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Genome shows macaw is one smart bird

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Study: Plants communicate with each other via underground fungi

(note: comments do not require an email. shut up ‘n play yer guitar!)

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