Archives for posts with tag: papua new guinea

well this seems important! via race/history/evolution notes, an abstract from the society for molecular biology and evolution 2014 conference (in puerto rico! – teh scientists are always good to themselves whenever they can be (~_^) ):

Evidence for different mutation rates across human populations
Ron Do, David Reich
Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA

Although mutation rates (per base pair) have clearly changed across primate evolution, many analyses continue to assume that all present-day human populations have the same mutation rates. Recently, William Amos analyzed 1000 Genomes Project and Complete Genomics sequences and found evidence of significantly higher divergence rates on African than on non-African lineages since separation (W. Amos, PLoS One 4, e63048). The detected pattern was strongest in genomic regions of high polymorphism rate, a pattern that the author hypothesized was due to ‘heterozygote instability’, whereby gene conversion events surrounding heterozygous sites increase the mutation rate. To further test this observation, we measured the relative accumulation of mutations in lineages drawn from two different populations, using 25 deep genome sequences generated according to the same experimental protocol using the Illumina technology. We carried out pairwise comparisons of five sub-Saharan African (Dinka, Mandenka, Mbuti, San, Yoruba) and eight Non-African populations (Australian, Dai, French, Han, Karitiana, Mixe, Papuan, Sardinian) on all divergent sites. We observed statistically significant differences in the relative accumulation of mutations for many pairs of African and Non-African populations. Among the strongest differences is significantly more lineage-specific mutations in Mbuti than in Han Chinese (R=1.044, standard error (SE) =0.0015). On average, we observed about 1% more mutations on African lineages compared to Non-African lineages. We also observed some significant differences across non-African populations, with the Han Chinese who have experienced extreme expansions in population size associated with agriculture having more mutations than the Karitiana, a hunter-gatherer population from Amazonia who did not experience such expansions (R=1.015, SE=0.0014). The results are consistent across both European and African segments of the human reference sequence, so are not an artifact of reference sequence bias. Taken together, these results support the view that per-base pair mutation rates may be dynamically and substantially changing across humans.

cool!

wrt to greater number of mutations in african lineages: polygamy (and, therefore, older fathers)? life in the tropics?

(note: comments do not require an email. old san juan. (^_^) )

this is my response to jayman’s post of yesterday, Where HBD Chick’s Hypothesis Works. i was going to leave these thoughts in a comment to his post, but i quickly realized that my comment was going to be pretty long, so i figured i’d just make it a post here. i should just say at the outset that i agree with pretty much everything jayman had to say (^_^) — with a couple of minor quibbles — so this comment will mostly be me rambling about those, plus i’ll be throwing in a couple of “thoughts for future research.” you should definitely go read his post first if you haven’t already before reading my comments. pay attention to his map of how well the hypothesis works in different areas — it’s great! (^_^)

ok. jayman says:

“As we see, from what we know of historic mating patterns and behavior of people today, HBD Chick’s hypothesis works excellently across much of the world. This is especially true across Europe, the Middle East, and much of the Muslim world, and in China.”

yes. on several occasions i’ve wondered if this inbreeding/outbreeding idea really applies mainly, or only, to the indo-european world + the arabs. but the situation of china seems to fit well, too, so i think the general theory is probably more widely applicable (assuming for a sec that it’s correct at all — which it might not be). as i’ll argue below (one of my quibbles), i think the theory might also hold pretty well for japan although Further Research is RequiredTM. (actually, Further Research is RequiredTM for most areas of the world — especially lots of actual genetic/real scientific research!)

more from jayman:

“There are however a couple of places that don’t seem to fit as well. Most poignant of these is sub-Saharan Africa. HBD Chick’s hypothesis doesn’t cover much of Africa, especially the non-Muslim parts. It’s unclear if the historic mating among non-Muslim Blacks was particularly consanguineous (though it was, and remains in many places, polygynous). However, as we clearly know, sub-Saharans do behave like considerably clannish people in some ways, yet a lot more like typical outbreeders in other ways.”

even though i haven’t posted much about sub-saharan africa — yet! — i have been reading up and taking notes on the mating patterns of sub-saharans africans, and let me tell you — there are a LOT of sub-saharan african populations (tanzania alone has more than 120, or more than 260, ethnic groups depending on how you count them! whew!), so, as you can imagine, there is a wiiiide variety of mating patterns on the continent. if i were to make an off-the-cuff guess from what i’ve read so far, i’d estimate that maybe 40%-50% of sub-saharan populations currently practice cousin marriage or did in the recent past (none of them practice the really inbred fbd marriage type of the arabs — except for some northern muslim populations — and even they don’t marry their fbds as consistently as the arabs do). that is just a guess, though. and, then, there’s the polygamy, which also serves to narrow the genetic relatedness in populations, and, so, might trigger similar selection processes for “genes for clannishness” (whatever they might be). and polygamy seems to be very common throughout sub-saharan africa — it’s found almost everywhere (although not everyone can afford to practice it, of course).

the trick will be to try and reconstruct, if at all possible, the historic mating patterns of sub-saharan african populations, especially since historical records for the continent are few and far between. there are historic records for some sub-saharan populations, mainly dating from post-european contact times, of course, and many of them might be useful — a lot of missionaries were hobby ethnographers and recorded loads of cultural data about the people they hoped to convert. genetic data would no doubt be more useful still. (btw, see what i had to say about the mating patterns of african americans and the igbo of nigeria in the comments thread over on jayman’s blog.)

in jayman’s paragraph above, he referenced this old post of mine — civic societies ii — in which i pointed out that the sub-saharan africans surveyed in the world values survey are quite civic, i.e. they are frequently active in voluntary organizations, much more so than peoples in the middle east or eastern europe (see the charts in that previous post). that seems, to me, to be an outbred trait — at least it is very characteristic of northwest europeans. the bamileke of cameroon, too, have a lot of non-familial associations in their society, and they have probably avoided cousin marriage for at least a couple of hundred years.

seven sub-saharan african countries were included in those world value survey results (see this post) — burkina faso, ethiopia, ghana, mali, rwanda, south africa, and zambia — a selection which offers a fairly good regional spread around the continent. i should drill down into those world values survey results to see if i can find out more specifically which subgroups in those populations (if any in particular) were surveyed in each of the countries, and i should try to find out more about the historic mating patterns of those groups. there’s a plan for some future blogging right there!

from jayman again:

“However, farther south in Africa are the San hunter-gatherers (the Bushmen), who were intentional outbreeders, with marriage occurring across tribes. However, overall rates of violence among them are comparable to those found in their Bantu neighbors.”

ack! i still haven’t read more about the bushmen. put that down on the Further Research is RequiredTM list as well!

and this:

“Muslim Central Asia (including the Uyghur province) hasn’t been directly looked at by HBD Chick. But presumably mating patterns there have been similar to the rest of the Muslim world, which would seem to explain the levels of clannishness and corruption there.”

from what i’ve read, the central asians — especially in all of the -stans — tend to avoid any marriage within the paternal clan out to the seventh generation, so in that way they are very unlike the arabs and pakistanis and afghanis. father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage really does seem to have stopped at the edges of the eighth century caliphate. in some regions of central asia, there is also an avoidance of close cousin marriage within the maternal line out to the third generation; in other places central asians do marry their first and second cousins in the maternal line — or have done until fairly recently. this fits with the broader preference of mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage in asia (where cousin marriage occurs). also, these patterns of avoiding marriage especially in the paternal line, and even sometimes in the maternal line, matches with at least some of the subgroups in tibet. as we saw the other day, first cousin marriage was commonplace in and around lhasa (at the very least) in the 1700s, but has disappeared since that time. perhaps close cousin marriage was also more common throughout central asia and has disappeared in more recent times — or is still in the process of disappearing. dunno. Further Research is RequiredTM.

“India and Southeast Asia also haven’t been discussed much by HBD Chick, either.”

india. *sigh* gotta love india (and indians!) for all of its anthropological diversity, but i have to admit that i have been avoiding india due to the complexity of the mating patterns there. all of those castes!! *sigh* the one very, very general broad pattern that i do know about india right now is that consanguineous marriages are more frequent in southern india than in the north (see the map on consang.net) AND a lot of those consanguineous marriages have been awfully close — uncle-niece marriage is common in southern india — up until very recently (there’s still quite a bit of uncle-niece marriage in the south nowadays, i believe). so, if the theory’s right, then (looking away from the muslims and christians and sikhs, etc., and just focusing on the hindus) there ought to be more clannishness and nepotism and corruption in southern india than in the north. i don’t know if that’s the case or not, but that ought to be how it is. the population ought to be more clannish in the south. similarly, there ought to be more clannishness/corruption/etc. in southern than in northern china — and i do know that clans are more important in southern china than in the north. again, need to try to reconstruct if close marriages were common historically in india and/or china — this should be easier for these populations than for africa since india and china are, obviously, literate civilizations and have been for many millennia.

southeast asia i just haven’t gotten around to yet, unfortunately.

“The Muslim sections of Southeast Asia fit the pattern seen with the core Muslim world, it would seem.”

yes and no. like the central asian muslims — and unlike the arabs/pakistanis/afghanis — the muslims of southeast asia probably avoid fbd marriage. it would be interesting to know if the population of aceh province in indonesia happens to practice particularly close marriage, though, since they have some of the strictest islamic codes of anywhere in indonesia.

jayman again:

“And the Papuan people of New Guinea are famous for being the most tribal people in the world, with the island hosting over *1,000* different languages!

like sub-saharan africans, png-ers have a wide variety of mating patterns! some groups absolutely, definitely have a preference for marrying close cousins while others outbreed. look for a post real soon on some apparent outbreeders from png — the baining!

more jayman!:

“Korea and especially Japan do not fit quite as seamlessly. Japan has had a history of cousin marriage, and the situation in Korea is unclear. Yet neither country is fractured into mutually distrustful clans as is China. Indeed, Japan has a functioning ‘commonweal’ society. However, it is not necessarily like the outbred Northwest Europeans either, possessing some characteristics of a clannish society [those are all unique links in this sentence-h.chick]. It is possible that these countries, like Finland & Iceland in Europe, are also ‘inbetweeners’ of sorts, and possess a distinct hybrid between clannish and non-clannish, as was the topic of my post Finland & Japan.”

yeah. can’t tell you anything at all about korea, because i still haven’t read up on korea yet! (except what misdreavus told me, which is that the upper classes in korea avoided close marriages. interesting.)

japan. yes, japan. japan is probably some sort of “inbetweener” group like jayman suggests — inbetweeners being not extremely inbred (like the arabs) but not being very outbred either (like northwest europeans). japan is apparently not as squeaky clean civic-wise as most of us think, although obviously the japanese are WAY more civically behaved than most peoples! if you look at anatoly karlin’s corruption reality index, the japanese actually score lower than most northwest europeans, and group together with bulgaria, croatia, france, and argentina, as far as corruption goes. and nearly as bad as italy! in 2010, nine percent of japanese people responded that they had to pay a bribe during the previous year, whereas zero percent of danes reported this, one percent of british people, two percent of germans, and five percent of americans. (meanwhile, eighty-nine percent of liberians did! and eighty-four percent of cambodians.) i also had a researcher tell me that, in a study which they conducted (not published yet, i don’t think), the japanese actually scored pretty low on interpersonal cooperation tests — which surprised these researchers. so, something is up with the japanese. they did marry close cousins at a pretty significant rate (ca. 22% — that’s roughly half the rate of sicilians in the early twentieth century) right up into the early twentieth century (see also here). so, i think that the japanese might actually fit the “clannishness” model more than is supposed. they don’t behave as clannishly as the chinese, but they are rather clannish.

jayman had this to say about the japanese and east asians — with which i heartily agree:

“The other possible ingredient could be this: local conditions – often imposed by the State or other local powers – may affect the course of evolution of a people despite the local frequencies of inbreeding/outbreeding. We see this to an extent in China, where considerable genetic pacification – under the direction of the State – served to reduce aggressiveness of the Chinese people despite their considerable clannishness. Perhaps this explains what we see in Japan.”

also this:

“As well, of course, the initial characteristics of the people in each of these areas may have some bearing on their outcomes today, as these traits may affect the precise course of evolution in these places.”

absolutely!

the other populations of the world that jayman mentions that i haven’t discussed (like australian aborigines) i just simply haven’t researched. yet! Further Research is RequiredTM! (^_^)
_____

i’m obviously not the first person to think that mating patterns + inclusive fitness might affect the selection of genes related to social behaviors. that would be william hamilton [pdf]. other population geneticists have played around with the idea, too. in the blogosphere, steve sailer was the first to connect cousin marriage with things like nepotism and an absence of (liberal) democracy in societies — after parapundit pointed out the odd connection between those things in the middle east. even saints augustine and thomas aquinas (and st. ambrose, btw) figured there was probably a connection between mating patterns and the structures and functioning of a society. so does the economist avner greif [pdf], although he doesn’t consider the biological side of it (which is completely ok!).

furthermore, the historian michael mitterauer — who specializes in the history of the european family — understands that there is some sort of connection between mating patterns and family types and size (and the functioning of society), although he doesn’t grasp that the explanation is probably biological either (which is completely ok!). (the more inbred the larger the family; the more outbred, the smaller — i think.) and all sorts of thinkers from engels to weber to durkheim to todd have figured out, in different ways, that family types and structures affect the workings of society.

so even if the specific inbreeding/outbreeding theory discussed on this blog is wrong, i think it’s valuable to examine the mating patterns and family types of human populations. who mates with whom — in other words, the ways genes flow through a population down through the generations — has got to be one of the more important topics in population genetics, afaics! and, at the very least, the prevalence of specific family types in populations must affect selection pressures, since families are a large part of the social environment in any society.

in any event, i just personally find all the different mating patterns and family types interesting! especially in the light of sociobiology. so i’m probably not going to stop blogging about them any time soon. don’t say i didn’t warn you! (~_^)

oh, and very importantly — thanks, jayman! (^_^)

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

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!)

that’s the epigraph on the title page of “The Malleus Maleficarum” — “The Hammer of the Witches” — THE handbook on witchcraft from the late middle ages (you can read it here). while it does discuss some interesting things, like whether or not a belief in witches should be part of the roman catholic church’s orthodoxy (the epigraph pretty much answers that question) and how witches got their powers (from satan!), most importantly it explains the procedures for uncovering witches (via a witch-hunt). it, and other books like it, came in real handy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries during the heydays of the witchcraft trials in europe and north america.

they’re still killing “witches” in papua new guinea today. in 2009, over fifty people in just two png provinces (there are twenty-two provinces altogether) were tortured and killed because the crowd concluded they were witches. they’re still at it this year. in fact, there are some concerns that, if anything, the witch-hunting has sped up. from the sydney morning herald last month:

“Witch-hunt”

“Kapi is the local gravedigger…. He is paid about 150 kina ($67) a grave; if a family wants him to build a proper, cement gravestone, that is extra. Then there is the time-consuming and more important task of guarding the graves from *sangumas*, or witches, the belief in which is almost universal in PNG.

“‘The *sangumas* come at night to eat the corpses,’ Kapi tells me matter-of-factly. ‘It’s like meat to them. It’s how they get their magical powers. And not just one, but five or 10 can come and cut up the body; “You get this hand … you get this leg ….”‘

“During the day, ‘they look just like us,’ Kapi explains. He says at night, however, they sneak into the cemetery disguised as cats or dogs, snakes, rats, bats or frogs….

“Kapi shows me his gun, pieced together using hessian strips, metal pipes and a steel spring. It can shoot only one bullet at a time, meaning that if you miss, the sanguma invariably get away. ‘But it doesn’t matter,’ Kapi tells me. ‘Sometimes we shoot the sanguma in the eye or the leg or neck, then if the next day we see a man missing an eye or with cut from a bush knife, then we know he is the sanguma.’

“‘But how do you know for sure?’ I ask.

“‘We know,’ Kapi replies.

“‘So what do you do?’

“‘We kill him.’

“‘Have you done this yourself?’

“‘Yes, plenty,’ Kapi says, nodding. ‘We tie him up and burn him up, in public. We burn him alive….’

“In 2011 she [janet kemo] was the second wife of a man called Kemo Fogodi, who became ill with what turned out to be tuberculosis. When Fogodi began coughing up blood – a sure sign of sorcery – Kemo was accused by her husband’s family of using witchcraft to kill him. Early one morning, while her husband lay helplessly ill nearby, she was hauled out of bed by a group of 15 men, one of whom tied a chain around her neck. She was then dragged 800 metres up a muddy track, through a forest, and tied to a mango tree, where she was tortured for 12 hours.

“‘The men used a hammer to smash my teeth and break the bones in my hands,’ Kemo says. ‘They chopped my face and head and burned me with iron bars that they had heated in a fire.’

“They also cut the tendons in her wrists and carved a cross in her chest with their bush knives. Kemo was blindfolded but recognised the voice of her husband’s nephew, Junior Taweta. ‘Junior asked me, “Janet, you drank the blood from your husband, when are you going to give it back, so that our uncle can have his life again?” By this stage I was only barely conscious, but I said, “Junior, I’m not a witch! I’m a child of God!”‘

janet kemo was lucky (i guess) and survived. read the rest of the article to hear what’s happened to some others … only if you have a strong stomach though. here’s some more:

“Not surprisingly, Highlands funerals, or *haus krais*, are highly charged affairs. It’s not unusual to find women prostrate on the road, clawing at the dirt in agonised displays of grief. If the deceased died suddenly, talk invariably turns to sorcery, with a *glasman* or *mambu* man brought in, usually from outside the area, to identify the guilty party. *Glasmen*, who can be paid handsomely for their services, are, in essence, black-magic consultants; they use bowls or glasses of water into which they gaze until the faces of the witches magically appear. (*Mambu* men perform the same service, only with a piece of bamboo, or *mambu*.) They are powerful figures, all care and no responsibility.

“‘The glasman looked into the water and made clear to us who did the witchcraft,’ a man who claims to have taken part in an attack on a witch near the town of Goroka tells me. ‘But then he said, “It’s up to you what you do next….”‘

“Few societies have collided with modernity quite so hard and fast as the Highlands of PNG, where the first white explorers, many of them Australian, only began appearing in the early 1930s. The transition that followed, ‘from stone to steel in one generation’, would have been traumatic for any people, but for a nation as fractious as PNG, which has more than 800 separate languages, the result has been a cultural car wreck. Town life, television, the predations of ‘civilisation’ and consumer culture, all have proved wildly destabilising, a situation that has, in combination with a lack of education and opportunity, actually heightened the allure of magic….

“*Sanguma* lore has similarly flourished, spinning off into ever wilder and more arcane territory. *Sangumas* are said to have their own ‘parliament of witches’ at Mount Elimbari, a sheer, pyramid-shaped limestone peak between Goroka and Kundiawa. They are thought to operate in regional hierarchies, with *kumo* kings and queens who plan mob-like ‘hits’ and approve, when necessary, the restoration of stolen body parts. They are also tech-savvy, increasingly using special ‘*kumo* guns’, ‘*kumo* helicopters’ and ‘*kumo* jets’, plus powerful hand-held lights that allow them to see at night.”
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douglas walton has spent a lot of time researching and thinking about argumentation and logical fallacies. he’s analyzed witch-hunts and come up with a set of properties that characterize the witch-hunt (see “The Witch Hunt as a Structure of Argumentation” [pdf]):

1) pressure of social forces
2) stigmatization
3) climate of fear
4) resemblance to a fair trial
5) use of simulated evidence
6) simulated expert testimony
7) nonfalsifiability characteristic of evidence
8) reversal of polarity
9) non-openness
10) use of the loaded question technique

wrt the first one — “pressure of social forces” — i’ll get to that below. some historians/other researchers have really looked into the social forces behind witch-hunts, with some very interesting results. “stigmatization” and “climate of fear” are kind-of self-explicatory, although i’ll get back to climate of fear again below as well.

“resemblance to a fair trial”: in the png examples above, nothing resembles a fair trial — unless being tied to a tree and tortured is what passes for a fair trial in png (trial by ordeal?). nevertheless, these are pretty clearly witch-hunts, so i think we can conclude that there doesn’t have to be a “mock trial” in a witch-hunt — although it certainly would be a plus, i would imagine. “use of simulated evidence” and “simulated expert testimony”: for example, all the stuff about the glasmen and mambu men looking into bowls of water to see the guilty party. ’nuff said. “nonfalsifiability characteristic of evidence”: the witches in png enter cemeteries disguised as dogs or cats or frogs. okaaaay.

“reversal of polarity”: this, which is very important, refers to the fact that the burden of proof is reversed in the witch-hunt or trial. the accusers or the prosectors don’t really have to bring much, if any, evidence against you — we know you’re a witch — otherwise why would you have been brought to trial for being a witch? see? it’s up to you to prove you’re NOT a witch. and good luck with that, because the rules are usually rigged against suspect witches (“she drowned, so she wasn’t a witch! yay?”). “non-openness” is related to this — the judge and the jury (the mob) have already decided in their minds that you are a witch. they are not “open” to hearing otherwise.

finally, “use of the loaded question”: we saw this in the article above when the nephew of the man who died of tb asked the widow, “Janet, you drank the blood from your husband, when are you going to give it back, so that our uncle can have his life again?” right.
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historians who have studied witch-hunts, both religious and political ones, have found that they generally take place during times of turmoil or uncertainty. they are rituals of a sort in which social (and sometimes physical) boundaries are defined — witch-hunts are, at these critical moments, extravagant ways of working out who’s in the in-group and who is not. and woe to anyone who is not. the turmoil and uncertainty are the “pressures of social forces.”

from Meaning and Moral Order: Explorations in Cultural Analysis [pgs. 114-121 - links added by me]:

“Witch-hunts, therefore, are a type of ritual. They occur sporadically, unlike holiday celebrations. But they generally consist of public acts involving patterned events in which messages are communicated about values and norms that have allegedly been violated….

“The witch trials in colonial Massachusetts were examined from this perspective by Kai Erikson in his book ‘Wayward Puritans’ (1966). Erikson showed that these trials had occurred not simply at random but in three distinct spurts. The first of these ‘crime waves’ took place during the second half of the 1630s, the second occurred in the late 1650s, and the third broke out in 1692. The interesting feature of these outbursts was that they coincided perfectly with crises in the authority structure and values of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first followed closely on the heels of the so-called antinomian controversy involving Anne Hutchinson. The controversy poked at the heart of colonial authority because it challenged the worthiness of the Puritan clergy to legislate in spiritual matters. Hutchinson and her followers argued that the doctrine upholding the ‘priesthood of the believer’ should be more strictly interpreted, giving residents greater freedom to decide on their own qualifications for religious and political participation or leadership. The second bout of witch-hunting came into being in 1656 and continued for nearly a decade. According to Erikson, it was instigated chiefly in response to the arrival in the Puritan colony of Quakers, who, though few in number, symbolized a departure from the Puritans’ staunchly ascetic values. The Quakers’ emphasis on inner spirituality challenged the theocratic discipline of the colony much in the same manner as Hutchinson’s alleged antinomianism. Neither of these episodes involved accusations of witchcraft per se, only charges of heresy. The third outbreak did. It was the famed witch-hunt in the town of Salem. The crisis this time was more severe because it involved a genuine threat of serious potential consequences for the political leadership of the colony. This threat was from England, and it involved both the possibility of losing title to the entire colony at the hand of the king and a series of disputes with the Puritan hierarchy in England over theological points and questions of church discipline.

“Erikson concluded from these three episodes that witch trials were collective rituals that emerged in response to ‘boundary crises’ in the moral order of the Massachusetts colony….”

“Erikson’s use of the term ‘boundary’ is largely figurative. It subsumes a variety of collective values, definitions, and relations. Disputes over boundaries arise in a number of ways, including internal disagreements, ambiguities over the correct or effective application of cherished values, redefinition of boundaries by the physical inclusion of new members, and external threats. Hugh Trevor-Roper’s (1967) [see also] discussion of witch-hunting in Europe during the same period provides instances where boundary disputes can be taken literally….

“The spatial distribution of European witch-hunts…. It was primarily in border areas where Protestants and Catholics were caught up in controversies over geographical boundaries and political jurisdictions that witch-hunts broke out. Nor was it simply the presence of adherents to an alien faith that became the target of these rituals. Catholics did not round up Protestants and accuse them of heresy, nor Protestants, Catholics. Each groups found subversives within its own camp, not traitors who were explicily allied with the enemy, but weak souls endangering the solidarity of the total community by practicing sorcery.

Under threat of external attacks on the community’s physical boundaries, greater certainty was needed about the statuses, loyalties, and values of members within the community. The presence of religious competition at the borders may have created uncertainties about the location of these borders themselves, but the more immediate source of ritual activiety was the need for greater clarity about the social relations within the community. In order to mobilize its resources to the maximum, the community needed to know where its members stood and, more important, needed to shore up those loyalties to the community as a corporate entity that may have grown blurred with the passage of time and the pressures of individual or localistic demands. Witch trials became meaningful rituals under these circumstances. They dramatized the nature of collective loyalties and defined precisely the range of acceptable and unacceptable religious activity.

witch-hunts are “most likely to occur in situations of social *uncertainty*…. [T]he greater the uncertainty that exists about social positions, commitments to shared values, or behavioral options likely to influence other actors, the greater the likelihood that behavior will take on a ritual dimension of signficance….” a type of “uncertainty” most closely tied to witch-hunts “invovles external shocks to a cultural system. One way of interpreting the effect of these shocks is to say that they introduce new sets of contingencies into the system. Understandings communicated by external groups — the king, religious out-groups, Populists — now have to be related to existing understandings, whereas the two systems were formerly capable of functioning in isolation.”
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what happened to jason richwine this week — and everyone else who’s been watsoned for politically incorrect crimethink, like john derbyshire — was a witch-hunt. no question about it. and it wasn’t even metaphorically a witch-hunt, or even just kinda like a witch-hunt — the event bears all the traits of an actual, honest-to-goodness witch-hunt like they do it in papua new guinea or used to do it in medieval europe, just with less violence, that’s all.

the politically correct chattering classes, both on the left AND on the right, who went after richwine behaved EXACTLY, in every regard, like png witch-hunters (except, like i said, for the violence). the richwine affair was an irrational ritual so that all those involved — and everybody watching — would be absolutely clear from now on what the acceptable boundaries are when it comes to discussing immigrants or non-whites or … whomever.

what did we have? “stigmatization”? check. (plenty more examples out there like that one.) “use of simulated evidence”? did anyone actually read jason’s thesis? no. check. “simulated expert testimony”? i don’t have any links on hand now, but i saw appeals to stephen jay gould in rebuttals to jason’s research. definitely simulated expert testimony! “nonfalsifiability characteristic of evidence” and “use of the loaded question technique”? probably, but i don’t have examples (anyone?). we’ll leave those as unknown for now. [edit: i now have an example of “use of the loaded question technique.”] “resemblance to a fair trial”? well, like in the png examples above, there was no mock trial, but there was certainly a trial of sorts in the press/on the internet. “reversal of polarity” and “non-openness”? oh, yeah! richwine was obviously guilty of being a warlock crimethinker from the moment someone discovered his thesis. and pretty much NO ONE was open to hearing otherwise — no one who isn’t already a crimethinker themselves, that is.

“climate of fear.” climate of fear is an interesting one because it’s something that sorta feeds back into the whole system exacerbating it all, since what’s going on is that, not only are the richwines and derbyshires of the world afraid (or supposed to be afraid, anyway), EVERYone is afraid — afraid of becoming the next one accused of being a witch/crimethinker. as we saw above from Meaning and Moral Order, witch-hunts occur sporadically, so you can never know when or where the next one will be — or who the next victim will be. witch-hunts are terrorizing — and they’re meant to be. from walton [pg. 396 – pdf]:

“A climate of fear is a third important characteristic of the initial conditions of the witch hunt. First, the witch hunt is based on, and propelled by fear of the stigmatized individuals that are the objects of the hunt. Witches are portrayed, for example, as both repellent and dangerous. But second, the whole procedure of the witch hunt is suffused with fear. Everyone who could be accused is terrified, because they know that targeting is relatively random, and even an innocent person can be accused. But also, they know that once they are accused, and caught up in the tribunal process, the consequences are horrific (for anyone whose reputation matters to them) and the outcome is inevitably certain to be bad. Thus a climate of (well-founded) fear is characteristic of the whole process of the witch hunt.

this is why everyone piles on the accused so quickly and with full force — because they REALLY want to establish in a very public way that they, themselves, are NOT witches/crimethinkers, ’cause none of them want to experience being on the wrong end of a witch-hunt.

edit: i should’ve mentioned that none of these behavioral patterns are particularly conscious ones for the witch-hunters involved. they’re just acting on some sort of instinct — a herding instinct or something. some people out there might, of course, understand how to get a good witch-hunt rolling and use such events for their own purposes. not saying that that’s what happened this week — just sayin’.
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i’m having a hard time figuring out what the “pressure of social forces” factor is for all the politically correct people who take part in these watsonings/witch-hunts. i mean, witch-hunts supposedly take place in eras of turmoil and uncertainty — and, while I certainly feel we’re living in an era of uncertainty with all this mass immigration and rapid changes, what are the pc people concerned about? they LIKE all this change and multiculturalism, don’t they?

and they can’t possibly feel threatened from the alt-right, can they? the left might feel threatened by the right on many issues and vice versa, but since almost all of them are politically correct these days, they can’t feel threatened by each other on that count. or do they? i really don’t know — help me figure this out!

the only thing i could think of is that maybe they actually are afraid of the brave new world they’re creating (a la putnam [pdf]), but because they want to run with the herd, they don’t want to voice any concerns — and so their concerns/fears are coming out in nervous witch-hunts? i dunno. but check this out — from Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance [pg. 195]:

“The example of the Renaissance witch craze provides a lesson for contemporary society: Multiculturalism does not eradicate the moral panic. Indeed, the more diverse the society, the larger number of moral panics, as competing symbolic-moral universes produce their own folk devils, each with exaggerated fears and anxieties. In turn, these folk devils resist such definitions, drawing, as they will, on the support from members of competing symbolic-moral universes. The modern scene of moral panics thus witnesses a larger number of moral panics, some in conflict, some potentiating each other, and some flourishing and fading as quickly as they have come into being. The modern, complex moral structure of societies may very well create a social setting which gives rise to a multitude of moral panics.

greeeaaat.
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there is NO way to win if you’re on the losing end of a witch-hunt. trying to be rational will not get you ANYwhere. we’ve learned that by experience, and now on reading about witch-hunts, we can see that there is nothing rational about them — and they’re not meant to be rational affairs. they are ritual events that serve to clarify social norms and boundaries of acceptable behavior.

the only thing to do, i think, is, like heartiste keeps telling us, to reframe the discussion entirely. i gave that a shot with my post on friday about why human biodiversity is true (and, therefore, why these politically correct people are wrong), but i don’t think that that reframes the discussion enough. you want, of course, to turn it around completely and put the witch-hunters on the defensive. being one of those aspergian-types who prefers her discussions to be logical, i have NO idea how to do this. feel free to drop some suggestions in the comments. thanks! (^_^)

remember, though, to disbelieve in witchcraft the evilness of racism is the greatest of all heresies. recant and be saved! (~_^)
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update: see also a loaded question and bewitched.
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(p.s. – due to me spending way too much time on this post today, and due to the call of that siren known as procrastination [read: will be spending the rest of the day on reddit/twitter], this week’s linkfest will happen on tuesday.)

(note: comments do not require an email. omg! they killed kenny!)

jared diamond has a new book out: The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?

it gets a very favorable review in the guardian. here’s a taste of what’s in it:

“Diamond has studied traditional societies in Africa, Asia, South and North America and the Arctic, but most of his analysis comes from his observations of his old scientific stamping grounds in New Guinea, a process that has not been without its tribulations. Several years ago, Diamond met a tribesman called Daniel Wemp who said he had organised a clan war in New Guinea to avenge the death of an uncle….

“The issue of vengeance is central to Diamond’s book. In the west, when a person is robbed or injured in an attack, the state – in the form of the police – take responsibility for tracking and punishing the culprit. Traditional societies take a very different approach. Minor offences are normally settled by payment of compensation – the pig is the traditional currency in New Guinea – or by holding a feast to signal the re-establishment of friendly relations. For more serious offences, including murder, a family will seek to make alliances with others to help track down and kill their relative’s murderer. This usually triggers an identical response from the murdered murderer’s family and the process is repeated. The west’s depersonalised system of justice looks a lot better from this perspective.”

well, looks like i’m gonna have to buy the book. d*mn! (~_^)

see also: Vengeance is Ours: What can tribal societies tell us about our need to get even? [pdf]

(note: comments do not require an email. dani people, png.)

How Much Hard Evidence Do You Need?“[T]hree dopamine genes … examined, the dopamine transporter gene (DAT1), the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2), and the dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4), had small but reliable effects on educational attainment, such that those with a higher ‘dopamine index’ tended to attain less education…. But what’s much more interesting is that they found significant differences in the prevalence of the alleles of theses genes between the White and the Black subjects, with Blacks having tending to have higher dopamine indices.” – from jayman (at his new location!).

Earliest Americans Arrived in Waves, DNA Study Finds – via steve sailer.

Spearheads and DNA Point to a Second Founding Society in North America“Clovis people, long known for their graceful, fluted projectile points, were not alone in the New World.” – original research article. see also: Paisley Caves yield 13,000-year old Western Stemmed points, more human DNA.

New Au. sediba fossils discovered in rock“Bones to be unearthed ‘live’ online, in a laboratory studio in real time.”

Fascinatin’ rhythm“[A] Neanderthal-derived segment that overlaps CLOCK, a key gene in regulating circadian rhythms. That segment has a frequency of 85% in Europeans.” – from greg cochran.

Pathological Altruism – jared taylor reviews Pathological Altruism.

Bad News for Big Brains“Humans and other creatures with large brains relative to their body size tend to have smaller guts and possibly fewer offspring. Scientists have debated for decades whether the two phenomena are related. Now a team of researchers says that they are—and that big brains do indeed make us smart.”

IQ and fertility cross-nationally – bad news from the inductivist.

The IQ’s Of Russian Politicians – anatoly guesstimates.

Intro to kinship and inbreeding coefficients“Fair warning: this is the most mathematical post I have ever done. If you hate math or are not good at it, don’t bother reading this post.” – from secular blood. also: On inbreeding coefficients and On kinship coefficients.

Women’s body movements are a potential cue to ovulation – something in the way she moves….

Natural Alzheimer’s Protection“Researchers identify a gene variant that reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Q: Why Do We Wear Pants? A: Horses

bonus: Fruitflies evolve number sense

bonus bonus: Falling Dominoes – in china.

bonus bonus bonus: Feeling Snappy? Measuring Personality in Hermit Crabs

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Papua New Guinea charges 29 alleged cannibals

(note: comments do not require an email. lazy sunday.)

anthropologist? graphic artist (see update below!):

PNG tribesman attacks New Zealander with arrows

“A tribesman in the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea shot and badly wounded a young New Zealander with arrows and also attacked his terrified French girlfriend, an aid group said Wednesday.

“The pair were bathing in a river in the Nomad area of Papua New Guinea’s Western Province when the young man, an anthropologist who was working in the area, went to retrieve his towel and was hit by the arrows.

“‘There was an arrow in his ribs and one in his stomach,’ Delene Evans, the general manager of Australian Doctors International, whose volunteer medics helped save the man, told AFP.

“‘The attacker also hit him on the head with a rock….’

“They were treated by Sydney couple doctor Josette Docherty and her medic partner Allan Mason, who donated a unit of his own blood to the deathly pale victim, who had lost 1.5 litres of blood.

“In her report on the incident, Docherty said the three-hour emergency surgery revealed that one of the arrows had pierced through the man’s stomach and stopped just short of the aorta….

“Papua New Guinea faces extreme development challenges and some tribes hold to the traditional way of life, including the use of bows, arrows and spears.”

update 07/01: oh, wow. so, it seems like the guy who got shot with the arrows was not an anthropologist (he’s a graphic artist) — the anthropologist is his girlfriend who is doing her ph.d. research in png. a report in the u.k.’s daily mail says one of the local guys took a fancy to the (french) ph.d. student, even wanting to marry her, and so he tried to rape her. when her kiwi boyfriend stepped in to rescue her, the png guy shot him twice with arrows.

what a story for the grandkids! (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. look out behind you!)

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