Archives for posts with tag: placebo effect

I can’t afford to think about that“[W]hy are balls of steel so rare in academia? Do they undergo a procedure?” – from greg cochran.

Species Do Not Exist“[T]he Endangered Species Act has shaky conceptual foundations…. And yet we somehow deal with the fact that the universe is complex when it comes to species, although not with races.” – from steve sailer. see also Should You Fear the Pizzly Bear? h/t werner jensen!

Catastrophes in evolution: Is Cuvier’s world extinct or extant?

Million year hominid dispersal event in Iberia“Archaeological remains dating to between 1 million to 780,000 years were also found on an excavation that has provided evidence of the first known human occupation in the Iberian Peninsula.” – h/t cultevobot!

Early Exit: When Did Modern Humans First Leave Africa?“[A] recent study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the genes of indigenous people in southeast Asia has suggested a much earlier date for the first human explorers. Professor Katerina Harvati-Papatheodorou and lead author Hugo Reyes-Centeno of the University of Tubingen in Germany and their colleagues fed this genetic data into a computer model of migration and found that the best explanation was an African exodus around 130,000 years ago, more than twice as far back as most scientists think. They also suggested that this early wave took a different route, spreading along the south coasts of Arabia and Asia towards Australia.”

Early modern humans were ‘culturally diverse’ before they left Africa“Researchers have carried out the biggest ever comparative study of stone tools dating to between 130,000 and 75,000 years ago found in the region between sub-Saharan Africa and Eurasia. They have discovered there are marked differences in the way stone tools were made, reflecting a diversity of cultural traditions. The study has also identified at least four distinct populations, each relatively isolated from each other with their own different cultural characteristics.”

Indo-Europeans preceded Finno-Ugrians in Finland and Estonia“An archaic (Northwest-)Indo-European language and a subsequently extinct Paleo-European language were likely spoken in what is now called Finland and Estonia, when the linguistic ancestors of the Finns and the Sami arrived in the eastern and northern Baltic Sea region from the Volga-Kama region probably at the beginning of the Bronze Age.” – @dienekes’.

168 South Asian Genomes – @dienekes’.

Claim: Modern human teeth in southern China 70-125 ka BP – h/t razib!

The Most Violent Era In America Was Before Europeans Arrived“[A] new paper finds that the 20th century, with its hundreds of millions dead in wars and, in the case of Germany, China, Russia and other dictatorships, genocide, was not the most violent – on a per-capita basis that honor may belong to the central Mesa Verde of southwest Colorado and the Pueblo Indians. Writing in the journal American Antiquity, Washington State University archaeologist Tim Kohler and colleagues document how nearly 90 percent of human remains from that period had trauma from blows to either their heads or parts of their arms. ‘If we’re identifying that much trauma, many were dying a violent death,’ said Kohler. The study also offers new clues to the mysterious depopulation of the northern Southwest, from a population of about 40,000 people in the mid-1200s to 0 in 30 years.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

The ‘six universal’ facial expressions are not universal, cross-cultural study shows“It’s a con­cept that had become uni­ver­sally under­stood: humans expe­ri­ence six basic emotions — happiness, sad­ness, anger, fear, dis­gust, and surprise — and use the same set of facial move­ments to express them…. The only problem with this con­cept, according to North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Psy­chology Lisa Feldman Bar­rett, is that it isn’t true at all…. [W]hat were assumed to be ‘psy­cho­log­ical uni­ver­sals’ may in fact be ‘Western’ — or per­haps even ‘American’ — cultural cat­e­gories.”

The intelligent pursuit of happiness“Intelligence is associated with health and longevity, and more intelligent children on average tend to live longer and healthier lives than less intelligent children, although it is not known why. Health is significantly associated with psychological well-being. So, it is possible that more intelligent individuals are more stable in their happiness over time because they are more likely to remain constantly healthy than less intelligent individuals.” – from dr. james thompson.

Clues emerge to genetic architecture of intelligence in children“‘When we computed the contribution of common variants to these cognitive abilities, we found that some of the contributions were substantial,’ said Hakonarson. For instance, common SNPs accounted for roughly 40 percent of the population differences in nonverbal reasoning, and 30 percent of the differences in language reasoning, with the balance of the differences attributable to rare variants and environmental factors. On the other hand, common gene variants together contributed to only 3 percent of the differences in spatial memory—the ability to navigate in a geographical location. There also were significant overlaps between trait domains. Reading ability, which was 43 percent attributable to common variants, was often inherited together with language reasoning abilities.” – h/t nolasco!

Lead released from African cookware contaminates food“Researchers tested 29 samples of aluminum cookware made in Cameroon and found almost all had considerable lead content. This cookware is common throughout Africa and Asia and is made from recycled scrap metal including auto and computer parts, cans, and other industrial debris. Lead exposure in children is linked to brain damage, mental retardation, lower educational performance, and a range of other health effects.” – h/t science enabled!

Facial fluctuating asymmetry is not associated with childhood ill-health in a large British cohort study – h/t jelte wicherts! who tweeted: “Contrary to several small N studies, large study finds no relationship between health measures & facial asymmetry.”

Structural Growth Trajectories and Rates of Change in the First 3 Months of Infant Brain Development – h/t simon baron-cohen! who tweeted: “Typical brain growth from birth to 3 months old: the brain grows 1% per day, and male brains grow faster.”

Workaholism: The addiction of this century“Workaholics scored higher on three personality traits: Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Intellect/Imagination.” – h/t claire lehmann!

Twins separated at birth reveal staggering influence of genetics“Segal, who wrote a book about the study called ‘Born Together Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twins Study’ (Harvard University Press, 2012), is now doing a prospective study of Chinese twins raised apart, often in different countries, by adoptive families.”

The association between grandparenthood and mortality – h/t neuroskeptic! who tweeted: “People who become grandparents at an early age tend to die sooner.” – because they have faster life histories?

Getting the babes but not the babies“Who’s making more babies? ‘Good boys’ or ‘bad boys’? Originally, the good boys were, thanks to parental monitoring of relations between single men and single women. The pendulum then swung toward the bad boys in the 1940s, only to swing back after the 1960s.” – from peter frost.

Population-level variability in the social climates of four chimpanzee societies – h/t erwin schmidt! who tweeted: “Some groups of chimpanzees are more egalitarian than others.”

Is empathy in humans and apes actually different? ‘Yawn contagion’ effect studied“Humans and bonobos are the only two species in which it has been demonstrated that yawn contagion follows an empathic trend, being more frequent between individuals who share a strong emotional bond, such as friends, kin, and mates…. Two features of yawn contagion were compared: how many times the individuals responded to others’ yawns and how quickly. Intriguingly, when the yawner and the responder were not friends or kin, bonobos responded to others’ yawns just as frequently and promptly as humans did. This means that the assumption that emotional contagion is more prominent in humans than in other species is not necessarily the case. However, humans did respond more frequently and more promptly than bonobos when friends and kin were involved, probably because strong relationships between humans are built upon complex and sophisticated emotional foundations linked to cognition, memory, and memories. In this case, the positive feedback linking emotional affinity and the mirroring process seems to spin faster in humans than in bonobos. In humans, such over-activation may explain the potentiated yawning response and also other kinds of unconscious mimicry response, such as happy, pained, or angry facial expressions.”

Self-regulatory failure and the perpetration of adolescent dating violence: Examining an alcohol use by gene explanation“[A]lcohol use was more strongly associated with dating violence among adolescents who had a high rather than a low multilocus genetic profile composed of five genetic markers that influence dopamine signaling. Alcohol use was more strongly related to dating violence among boys with long rather than short 5-HTTLPR alleles, the opposite of the prediction. MAOA-uVNTR did not interact with alcohol, but it had a main effect on dating violence by boys in later grades in the expected direction: boys with more low activity alleles perpetrated more dating violence. Exploratory analyses found variation in findings by race.” – h/t unsilenced science!

Take Two Sugar Pills and Call Me in the Morning“Over the past decade, a number of clinical studies have begun to show that people who improve on placebos are genetically different than those who don’t.” – h/t billare! see also here.

Designer babies: selection vs editing – @steve hsu’s.

Anxiety in invertebrates opens research avenues“[N]euronal mechanisms related to anxiety have been preserved throughout evolution. This analysis of ancestral behavior in a simple animal model opens up new avenues for studying the neuronal bases for this emotion.”

Our Microbiome May Be Looking Out for Itself – sneaky microbiome! h/t mr. robert ford!

New Study To Look At The Genetics Of Inflammatory Bowel Disease – from 23andMe.

Constitutional verbosity and social trust – h/t heartiste! who tweeted: “The more a nation’s people trust each other, the fewer words they need to codify that trust.”

War in the womb“A ferocious biological struggle between mother and baby belies any sentimental ideas we might have about pregnancy” -h/t charles!

Head Count – ‘Malthus,’ by Robert J. Mayhew

New Saudi ban on marriage to foreigners stirs controversy“[A] new law bans Saudi men from marrying women from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chad and Burma.” (not a big surprise from the najdis.)

Avoid marrying kin, behave ‘softly on first night’“A notice from the Health Ministry [of turkey-h.chick] on ‘Consultancy before Marriage’ has highlighted that one out of every five marriages are among kin. The recently released document also includes sexual advice for couples, especially for the ‘first night.’ ‘Consanguineous marriage is mostly among first-degree relatives, increasing the number of rare genetic diseases,’ it said. ‘This matter is noteworthy. Those who are married to kin and those who carry genetic diseases should consult a health institution before gestation.’” – h/t anatoly karlin!

Avoiding Prince Joffrey: Primates have newly discovered ability that stops inbreeding“[N]ew research in macaques has revealed for the first time that primates are able to recognise their own relatives. The researchers opted for macaques rather than chimps for their study as the former lives in larger groups with more relatives; allowing them to pick distantly related monkeys who haven’t met, they could rule out ‘familiarity’ as a way for figuring out who is related…. The researchers had no clue as to how they were able to do this. Perhaps they did make a ‘template’ based on relatives they were familiar with, or maybe they had figured out what they looked like somehow, so could use that to figure out who were their relatives.”

Download Pew Datasets!

bonus: Researchers create 1,000-robot swarm – PANIC!!1! HEAD FOR THE HILLS!!

bonus bonus: The Domestic Cat Genome Has Been Fully Sequenced, and It’s Fascinating“Cats also have what biologists call “a highly conserved ancestral mammal genome organization,” which means that many stretches of their genome haven’t changed much over evolutionary time. Put simply, domestic cats haven’t changed much since they first evolved.”

bonus bonus bonus: Reconstructions show how some of the earliest animals lived — and died – rangeomorphs. h/t mike anissimov!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Shortest-known abstract for a serious scientific paper (^_^)

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

When the going gets tough, the tough get… more relief from a placebo?“[T]he new findings link specific, established personality traits with an individual’s susceptibility to the placebo effect…. The researchers showed a significant link between certain personality traits and how much relief people said they felt when given the placebo – as well as the level of a specific chemical that their brains released…. The findings show that about one-quarter of placebo response was explained by the personality traits of resiliency, straightforwardness, altruism or anger/hostility, as measured on standardized tests.”

Oxytocin Keeps Flirting Folks at Arm’s Length“[M]en who were in a committed relationship even maintained a greater distance from an attractive woman when under the influence of oxytocin than their control group.”

Gene distinguishes early birds from night owls and helps predict time of death“Common gene variant helps determine the time you will wake up each day — and the time of day you are likely to die.”

Link between creativity and mental illness confirmed“People in creative professions are treated more often for mental illness than the general population, there being a particularly salient connection between writing and schizophrenia.” – via parapundit.

Identical Twins Are Genetically Different, Research Suggests – copy errors.

The mysterious Ainu“[I]s the physical similarity [of the Ainu] to Europeans just a matter of chance? Convergent evolution? No, it may be that the Ainu have just not changed as much physically as other East Asians. – from peter frost.

Pre-Neolithic Mediterranean Island settlement“‘[T]he first inhabitants of many of the Mediterranean islands may not have been modern humans at all. Instead, he says evidence has been found that shows that they might have been Neanderthals, or Homo Erectus.’” – from dienekes.

Evidence for Early Hafted Hunting Technology“[E]arly humans were manufacturing hafted multicomponent tools ~200,000 years earlier than previously thought.”

The Golden Age“If people were always getting dumber, why on Earth would the scientific revolution be recent?” – greg cochran’s latest, most excellent rant. (^_^)

Einstein’s Brain“Uncommon features of Einstein’s brain might explain his remarkable cognitive abilities” – @the breviary (with appropriate and enjoyable sarcasm from mangan… (~_^) ).

Brain scans of rappers shed light on creativity“Functional magnetic resonance imaging shows what happens in the brain during improvisation.”

Why “Multicultural Society” is a Logical Impossibility

In Defense of Favoritism“Affective neuroscience research on early-childhood bonding suggests that, as mammals, we probably start out as emotionally glued microcommunities (family and tribe) before we become autonomous ego-driven creatures. Favoritism, not egoism, is probably the primal value system. In short, favoritism or bias toward your group is not intrinsically racist, sexist, or closed-minded. Privileging your tribe does not render you negative or bigoted toward those outside your tribe.”

bonus: Study Tracks Brain Gene Response to Territorial Aggression“Researchers are mapping the genetic underpinnings of the stickleback’s aggressive behavior.”

bonus bonus: Bonobos Catch Yawns from Friends

bonus bonus bonus: ‘Rogue planet’ spotted 100 light-years away“Astronomers have spotted a ‘rogue planet’ – wandering the cosmos without a star to orbit – 100 light-years away.”

(note: comments do not require an email. aggressive stickleback lurking in the foliage….)

a day late. sorry! sometimes sh*t just happens. (~_^)

Ethnic disparities in breast cancer survival remain despite socioeconomic similarities“All-cause survival was worse for African-Americans and better for Latinas and Asian-Americans compared with non-Latina whites after adjusting for age, study and tumor characteristics. When the researchers additionally adjusted for treatment and reproductive and lifestyle factors, they found that African-Americans had similar survival rates to non-Latina whites, but the survival rates of Latinas and Asian-Americans remained better.”

Diversity may be fatal, says new government health study“[P]eople suffer less cancer and heart disease when they live among their racial or ethnic peers.” – via mangan’s.

If Smart Is the Norm, Stupidity Gets More Interesting“Human intelligence varies.” – you don’t say?! (it’s in the nyt, believe it or not!)

Do Intelligent People Drink More Alcohol? – yes. yes, we do. (*hic*)

A detour through Europe?“The lithic technology of southwestern France (c. 22,000-17,000 BP) strangely resembles that of the first paleo-Amerindians (c. 12,000). Some people speculate that early Europeans reached North America by crossing the Atlantic. The truth is even more incredible. Early Europeans spread eastward and became the ancestors not only of the Amerindians but also of East Asians.” – from peter frost.

Secular change in the B/W IQ gap (in the US) – from chuck. see also steve sailer.

Penis size and infant mortality – from the autistic nerdling epigone.

Placebo effect may be ‘down to genes’“Those with a particular version of the COMT gene saw an improvement in their health after placebo acupuncture.”

The Evolution of Female Bisexuality – from jayman.

Pitch Perfect: It’s All In The Genes” – maybe/prolly. see also you, too, can have perfect pitch!

Hispanic Bio-Diversity: A Primer – from nelson.

Smoking causes asthma in second generation offspring – epigenetic effects in rats.

Epigenetic inheritance is a wild goose chase“Epigenetics matters, but not between generations.”

Appearance-based politics: Sex-typed facial cues communicate political party affiliation – republican women more feminine looking than democrat women.

Men better multi-taskers than women: study

Who Would Win in a Fight: a Modern Human or a Neanderthal?“We beat them at evolution. But what about fisticuffs?”

The Island Where People Forget to Die“[P]eople on Ikaria were, in fact, reaching the age of 90 at two and a half times the rate Americans do. (Ikarian men in particular are nearly four times as likely as their American counterparts to reach 90, often in better health.) But more than that, they were also living about 8 to 10 years longer before succumbing to cancers and cardiovascular disease, and they suffered less depression and about a quarter the rate of dementia.”

bonus: More Intelligent Birds (Like More Intelligent Humans) Have Evolutionarily Novel Preferences

bonus bonus: Electric Bugs: New Microbe Forms Living, Deep-Sea Power Cables

bonus bonus bonus: New study sheds light on how and when vision evolved“Opsins, the light-sensitive proteins key to vision, may have evolved earlier and undergone fewer genetic changes than previously believed….”

(note: comments do not require an email. intelligent bird.)

Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From ‘Junk,’ Play Crucial Role“As scientists delved into the ‘junk’ — parts of the DNA that are not actual genes containing instructions for proteins — they discovered a complex system that controls genes. At least 80 percent of this DNA is active and needed. The result of the work is an annotated road map of much of this DNA, noting what it is doing and how. It includes the system of switches that, acting like dimmer switches for lights, control which genes are used in a cell and when they are used, and determine, for instance, whether a cell becomes a liver cell or a neuron.”

New Research Suggests Bacteria Are Social Microorganisms“The research shows that a few individuals in groups of closely related bacteria have the ability to produce chemical compounds that kill or slow the growth of other populations of bacteria in the environment, but not harm their own.” – cooooooool!

Further Testing the Pioneer Hypothesis: Canada and Russia – from jayman.

Racial and ethnic diversity spreads across the country“Another significant finding is the decline in white-dominant places, where whites make up 90 percent or more of the population. Three decades ago these places represented two-thirds of the total. Today, they are down to only one-third of the total. In their stead are a growing number of communities where minorities are a significant share of the population and often where no group is a majority.” – see also nowhere to run.

Finnish ancestors’ diet explains many modern ailments – finnish cannibals!! also: “The late arrival of agriculture in Finland is still reflected in the Finnish people. According to Markku Niskanen a researcher into archaeology at the University of Oulu, the Finnish genotype is still not adapted well to the food that was introduced through agriculture, to say nothing of industrially produced nutrition. Niskanen believes that a possible reason why we have more adult-onset diabetes than other Europeans is that we are not accustomed to eating large amounts of grain.”

Social psychologists espouse tolerance and diversity — do they walk the walk? – see also Survey finds blatant bias and discrimination against conservatives in academia.

Redebunking Ron – chuck has “marshaled evidence from no less than 14 nationally representative samples (PISA 2009, PISA 2006, TIMSS 2007, PIRLS 2006, PIRLS 2001, ADD Health, GSS, NLSY 79, NLSY 97, CNLSY, NAEP Main, NAEP Long term, High School Transcript Study, and NELS) and demonstrated beyond a doubt that the claimed Ron effect was a mirage.”

bonus: Species multiply as Earth heats up“[E]ras of warming were accompanied by increases in biodiversity.” – previously evolution likes it hot.

bonus bonus: Evolution could explain the placebo effect“The model revealed that, in challenging environments, animals lived longer and sired more offspring if they endured infections without mounting an immune response. In more favourable environments, it was best for animals to mount an immune response and return to health as quickly as possible.”

bonus bonus bonus: The birdy smell of a compatible partner“New evidence shows that birds may choose their mate with the help of smell. They prefer a dissimilar mate because this gives their young a more efficient immune system.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Ancient, bottom-dwelling critter proves: Newer isn’t always better“Tiny, humble rhabdopleurids have lived on the ocean floor for some 500 million years, outlasting more elaborate descendants”

(note: comments do not require an email. rhabdopleurid.)

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