Archives for posts with tag: steven pinker

pinker, that is. staffan wins, of course! (^_^)

if you haven’t read staffan’s latest post, you really should! it’s terrific!: The Myth of the Expanding Circle or You Can’t Learn How to Be an English Vegetarian.

here’s a short excerpt:

“[Goldstien] argues that it was Enlightenment (aka the Age of Reason), beginning from late 1600s, that expanded the circle of empathy, a process driven by the thinkers of that era,

“‘…if you look at the history of moral progress, you can trace a direct pathway from reasoned arguments to changes in the way that we actually feel. Time and again, a thinker would lay out an argument as to why some practice was indefensible, irrational, inconsistent with values already held.’

“We wouldn’t like to be kept as slaves, we wouldn’t like this for our family or friends either, so why would we like it for foreigners? Reason compels us to widen our circle of empathy.

“She then proceeds to illustrate her point with some humanitarians like Bentham, Erasmus, John Locke, Mary Astell etc. Pinker concedes and they both reflect on how this reason-driven process will make our grandchildren think of us as barbarians given how much further their circle of empathy will reach. End of story.

“And yet at the beginning of the dialogue Pinker stated,

“‘My fellow psychologists have shown that we’re led by our bodies and our emotions and use our puny powers of reason merely to rationalize our gut feelings after the fact.’

“This of course refers to Jonathan Haidt and others whose research makes a good case for such post hoc rationalization being an important aspect of human nature. To illustrate this behavior he likens our emotions with an elephant and our reason with the rider. The elephant, being much stronger, walks about as he pleases while the helpless rider pretends that he is in complete control.

“Given this statement, it’s a bit disconcerting how easily Pinker ignores the obvious risk that their conclusion might also be post hoc rationalization. After all, two top notch academics agreeing that all you need is reason sounds a bit like two hippies agreeing that all you need is love. So is it post hoc? It definitely has some conspicuous flaws that suggest so.

“As Pinker himself pointed out back in 2002 in his book The Blank Slate, all behavioral traits are highly inheritable and change very little over the lifespan and, most importantly, they are unaffected by shared environment, such as schools, education – and humanitarian essays. But width of empathy must, by any reasonable definition, be a behavioral trait. But by their logic it would be a trait like no other, strongly affected by shared environment, even though all other traits, thus including very similar traits like ingroup loyalty and identification, aren’t. So either width of empathy isn’t a behavioral trait – which is crazy – or it is somehow a completely unique trait affected by shared environment. Either way Pinker and Goldstein have some serious splaining to do.”

(~_^) read the whole post @staffan’s — it’s definitely NOT to be missed!

(note: comments do not require an email. The Blank Slate.)

in The Realm: The True history behind Game of Thrones ed west reminds us that medieval europeans were batsh*t crazy violent and that if you met one of them coming down the street, you would almost certainly want to cross over to the other side! [kindle locations: 563-615 - links added by me]:

“Drunkenness had always been a common feature of life in the Realm. As far back as the eighth century St Boniface, the Devonian who converted the Germans, complained that it was ‘a vice peculiar to the heathens and to our race, and that neither Franks, Gauls, Lombards, Romans nor Greeks indulge in’. Twelfth-century writer William of Malmesbury said of the English that ‘Drinking in parties was an universal practice, in which occupation they passed entire nights as well as days.’ In the early 13th century England went through one of its periodic booze epidemics, so that ‘the whole land was filled with drink and drinkers ’, and leading the way was the drunken King John, whose fondness for booze and lechery inadvertently gave the world its most important legal document – Magna Carta.

“By the end of the 13th century there were 354 drinking establishments in London…”

the population of london in 1340 was somewhere between 40,000-50,000 people, so that’s ca. one bar for every 140 persons!

“…and everyone drank heavily, although they did so among their own class – the wealthy drank in inns, the middle ranks in taverns, while at the bottom of the social ladder there were the alehouses, where violence was almost guaranteed. During this period court rolls, which began in the reign of the Lionheart (before 1189 in English law is literally ‘time immemorial’) are filled with accounts of drink-fuelled incidents, often involving ill-judged horseplay with axes, swords and farmyard animals….

“The worst drink-related incident occurred in 1212 when London Bridge burned down, with up to 3,000 charred or drowned bodies turning up on the banks of the river the following morning. The fire started in Southwark at a bring your own bottle party, or ‘Scot-Ale’ as they were called.

“John certainly led the way in the drinking stakes. He kept 180,000 gallons of wine at his personal disposal, a slight hint at alcoholism, and drank anything he could find. His drunken antics were famed, and no woman was safe.

“John also displayed signs of a violent temperament from an early age. As a boy he once lost his temper while playing chess, and smashed his opponent over the head with a heavy piece….

“John violated all the rules of war; after his victory over the King of France in 1202, he kept his prisoners ‘so vilely and in such evil distress that it seemed shameful and ugly to all those who witnessed this cruelty’. He massacred a garrison of his own men in Normandy, because he’d switched sides without telling them. Perhaps worst of all was the sexual depredations he committed against females of all ages, including several noblemen’s daughters; and he almost certainly murdered his 16-year-old nephew Arthur in a drunken rage….

“There was also inheritance tax. Some noblemen were charged up to £7,000 to take over their father’s or brother’s land, and the king often kept barons in a state of permanent debt, and threatened arrest or worse. The king kidnapped the wife and son of one such baron, his loyal follower William de Briouze, who had failed to cough up £3,500. When Matilda de Briouze blurted out to one of John’s men that they knew about his nephew’s murder, she and her son were taken prisoner and starved to death; their corpses were found huddled together, with the boy bearing tooth-marks on his body from where his mother had tried to eat him.”

aaaaand THAT gave me a nightmare! (or maybe it was the leftover pasta i ate just before going to bed. (~_^) ) somebody please tell me that matilda (maud) tried to eat her son after he was already dead. =/

that was all in the 1200s. what about later in the 1400 and 1500s? [kindle locations: 1171-1242]:

Elizabeth of York had already endured an unsettled upbringing. When she was three, her father was forced into exile, and his cousin killed her grandfather. Later one uncle murdered another and probably her brothers too. In 1475 she was betrothed to the dauphin of France and her training as a princess would have began; however that match was broken, and she was now free, or as it could be interpreted, vulnerable….

“Henry Tudor died in 1509, and within days his heir Henry VIII had two of his father’s moneylenders tried and executed in a show trial. It was a sign of things to come. As well as thousands of common people, the king had numerous aristocrats executed, most of them close relations with outside claims to the throne. Edmund, Earl of Suffolk, the White Rose, had been handed over to Henry VII in 1506, who had made a solemn pledge not to execute him. He kept that pledge, and instructed his son to kill him when he became king; this the youngster did. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, who was descended from Edward III on both sides of his family, was tried for treason and executed by Henry VIII merely for ordering a new coat of arms with the royal insignia inserted. His father the Duke of Norfolk was already in the Tower of London awaiting execution, and would be saved only by the king’s death….

“Henry famously went on to have six wives in total, having executed Anne for adultery, and divorced Anne of Cleves, the sister of the Duke of Cleves, a powerful German state on the Rhineland. Apart from political reasons, Henry had fallen in love with her portrait, drawn by renowned German artist Hans Holbein. Unfortunately Holbein, the finest artist in the land, was not in the habit of upsetting his clients, and Anne was in reality rather plain, so much so that Henry called her the ‘Flanders Mare’. She also had bad breath and body odour, and the king confessed to a friend: ‘I had neither the will nor courage to proceed further.’ The marriage was never consummated, and Anne agreed to a divorce; strangely, they stayed good friends….

“The king remarried within a month, to 20-year-old Katherine Howard, who really did commit adultery; she was executed alongside her lover Thomas Culpeper, and just to make sure that his honour remained intact, Henry executed two previous lovers of Katherine, despite there being no suggestion of anything occurring since: one was her old music teacher and the other her cousin. And for good measure he had Howard’s lady-in-waiting executed just for knowing about the affair.

“Of his six wives, he is said to have only truly loved number three, Jane Seymour, who had given him a son, Edward, who succeeded his father in 1547. The boy king, just nine, was a fanatical Protestant and at 12 he had called the Pope the Antichrist in a tract. He once ripped apart a live falcon in a rage, and when he was 11 he had his own uncle, Thomas Seymour, executed.”

et cetera, et cetera. you get the idea. still pretty violent later in the medieval period. and these were the upper classes!

which got me to wondering, if the nonviolent english today really are descended, a la greg clark’s theory, from the upper classes of the past — well, how on earth, then, were all these violent traits knocked out of the population when the upper classes were the batsh*t crazy way that they were?

one really good theory for why violence declined markedly in europe beginning in the middle ages (and it has) is that the state simply removed from the population via execution the most violent members of society. took them right out of the gene pool and largely stopped them from reproducing. henry harpending has shown that, theoretically, this should’ve been possible in the time given (the ca. 800 years from the 1200s to the 2000s) if enough violent individuals were executed early enough in their criminal careers so that they wouldn’t have reproduced much or at all.

but were violent members of the aristocracy regularly executed? they were “the state,” weren’t they? were death penalty laws applied equally to that class? maybe. i really don’t know. but if not, wouldn’t their descendents just continually replenish the lower classes with individuals with violent traits? how did the upper classes become less violent?

in Better Angels, steven pinker references norbert eliasThe Civilizing Process on this [kindle locations: 1839-1847]:

“Once Leviathan was in charge, the rules of the game changed. A man’s ticket to fortune was no longer being the baddest knight in the area but making a pilgrimage to the king’s court and currying favor with him and his entourage. The court, basically a government bureaucracy, had no use for hotheads and loose cannons, but sought responsible custodians to run its provinces. The nobles had to change their marketing. They had to cultivate their manners, so as not to offend the king’s minions, and their empathy, to understand what they wanted. The manners appropriate for the court came to be called ‘courtly’ manners or ‘courtesy.’ The etiquette guides, with their advice on where to place one’s nasal mucus, originated as manuals for how to behave in the king’s court. Elias traces the centuries-long sequence in which courtesy percolated down from aristocrats dealing with the court to the elite bourgeoisie dealing with the aristocrats, and from them to the rest of the middle class. He summed up his theory, which linked the centralization of state power to a psychological change in the populace, with a slogan: Warriors to courtiers.

so, the idea, maybe, is that over time going forward through the middle ages it was the less violent aristocrats who became more successful at court and, therefore, more successful reproductively (and some of their kids filtered down into the lower classes)? dunno. haven’t read The Civilizing Process (now on The List). would be nice to have some numbers. there’s a ph.d. thesis here for some brave student. (~_^)

what would need to be worked out, too, imho, is whether or not the english artistocracy in, say, the 1400-1500s was less violent than the aristocracy of the 1200-1300s (and so on and so forth), because violence had already declined from 1300 to 1500. and, of course, it kept on declining. from pinker’s Better Angels:

pinker - fig. 3.3

that’s all i’ve got for ya today! i definitely recommend reading west’s The Realm! it’s a kindle single, so it won’t take you ages. just don’t read it before going to bed! (~_^)

oh, and wrap up…winter is coming!

previously: “violence around the world” and kinship, the state, and violence

(note: comments do not require an email. where are my dragons?!)

i really don’t know how the danes can claim they’re the happiest people in the world year after year, when the place must STINK to high heaven thanks to how very rotten the place has apparently become.

in an unbelievably nightmarish case of déjà vu, professor helmuth nyborg has been watsoned for crimethink. again. in happy, happy denmark.

professor nyborg has come under fire for a paper which he published in 2012, The decay of Western civilization: Double relaxed Darwinian Selection. (no, i haven’t read it.) dr. james thompson has the details here on his blog: Helmuth Nyborg gets Watson’d (see also My letter to Scientific Dishonesty Minister).

in short what has happened this time is that three girlie men — and they must be girlie men, because real men — real scientists — would’ve just submitted a rebuttal paper to Personality and Individual Difference, the journal in question here — but, noooo — these three girlie men, these three harpies, complained to a committee about professor nyborg’s paper.

see? girlie men.

professors jens mammen, jens kvorning, and morten kjeldgaard took it upon themselves to complain to the danish ministry of love’s science, innovation and higher education’s danish committees on scientific dishonesty (dcsd) about what they viewed as problems with nyborg’s paper. these included accusations of plagiarism. there were, if i understand it correctly, six original charges. the dcsd has found professor nyborg guilty of two of them. you can read the decision and the entire case here [pdf] — if you read danish. a reader at dr. thompson’s blog has given a brief synopsis of the decision.

most amazingly: “Denne afgørelse kan ikke påklages til anden administrativ myndighed, jf. § 34 i lovbekendtgørelse nr. 1064 af 6. september 2010 om forskningsrådgivning m.v.”

google translation: This decision can not be appealed to any other administrative authority under § 34 of Act No. 1064 of 6 September 2010 on research consultancy, etc.”

wtf, denmark?!

these danish committees on scientific dishonesty have a colorful history. from wikipedia:

“Previously obscure, the DCSD became embroiled in controversy after its January 2003 decision that the 2001 book The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjørn Lomborg was ‘clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice’, due to the author’s systematically biased choice of data, and objectively was scientifically irredeemable, but Lomborg himself could not be subjectively convicted of intentional or gross negligence. Lomborg had argued in his book that claims by environmentalists about global warming, overpopulation, deforestation, and other matters are not scientifically substantiated. The DCSD further held that because of Lomborg’s lack of scientific expertise, he had not shown intentional or gross negligence, and acquitted him of the accusations of scientific dishonesty.

“In February 2003, Lomborg filed a complaint with the Ministry, and in December 2003, the Ministry found that the DCSD’s handling of the investigation in the case had been improper, and remitted it for re-examination. In March 2004, the DCSD stated that since its finding had been to acquit Lomborg of the charges of scientific dishonesty (although they had criticized his biased selection of data), there was no basis to re-open the investigation, and dismissed the case.

“The original DCSD decision about Lomborg provoked a petition among Danish academics. 308 scientists, many of them from the social sciences, criticised the DCSD’s methods in the case and called for the DCSD to be disbanded.” (see also nature.)

ah ha! i see. so the dcsd is the place to go in denmark if you want to whine about some politically incorrect research/opinions and hope to scupper the career of whomever the crimethinker happens to be. gotcha.

from that wikipedia article, we learn that professor mammen, one of the whiners to the dcsd this time, was formerly a member of this board of inquisitors the dcsd, but he resigned in a huff the last time professor nyborg was brought before the committee to recant…er…i mean, defend himself:

“The DCSD was involved in another controversy investigating a paper on sex and intelligence authored by Helmuth Nyborg. After the DCSD cleared Nyborg of the charges of scientific misconduct, two Aarhus University professors, Lise Togeby and Jens Mammen resigned from their positions in the DCSD, citing that the DCSD operated from too narrow of a framework.”

maybe they were disappointed that they couldn’t test whether or not professor nyborg would float.

we’ve recently been discussing on the blog here authoritarian personality types and behaviors — including left-wing authoritarianism which van hiel, et al., found in the populace in flemish belgium, but only in extreme left-wing parties like the communist and stalinist(!) parties of that country. i think that, perhaps, we may be seeing an example of left-wing authoritarianism in action in this case.

van hiel, et al., only looked at willingness to use violence and willingness to submit to a strong leader as characteristics of left-wing authoritarianism, and i’m certainly not accusing any of these men of being willing to use physical violence against anybody (there’s no evidence at all for that) — however they do seem willing to go to some extreme measures to shut nyborg up. rather than simply provide evidence that his conclusions are wrong, which is what a scientist ought to do, they attack him in the danish media (apparently) and drag him repeatedly before ridiculous committees. in other words, they have been trying to destroy his reputation and his career, rather than to engage with his arguments.

all of this sounds extreme to me — left-wing authoritarian, in fact. and — surprise, surprise! — one of these three fellows, professor mammen, was actually a member of a communist party in denmark for fourteen years (1974-1988) [in danish]. not that there’s anything wrong with that! he’s perfectly entitled to belong to any party he wants. but a communist party, according to van hiel, et al., is exactly where we should expect to find left-wing authoritarians in western europe.

professor kjeldgaard has also acted in some extreme ways wrt professor nyborg. he, in fact, keeps an entire blog/website devoted to tracking nyborg. yeah. weird. google translation:

“The most advanced eugenics (eugenics) advocacy in Denmark is Emeritus Professor Helmuth Nyborg, a former employee at the Department of Psychology, University of Aarhus.

“Eugenik.dk dedicated to documenting the international network of eugenicists, their scientific tinkering, and the so-called ‘Nyborg case’ a case of scientific misconduct raised by Aarhus University against Helmuth Nyborg in 2002.”

again, he’s perfectly entitled to be weird like this imho, but it does come off as rather…stalker-ish. (why not just write rebuttal articles??)

i am tired of these watsonings, richwinings, derbyshearings, and nyborgizations. GROW UP PEOPLE!! act like academics engaged in the search for facts and the truth for a change!

someone over at dr. thompson’s blog quoted steven pinker on the last time professor nyborg was watsoned. i think i’ll quote him, too:

“I am writing to protest the shocking and disgraceful treatment of Dr. Helmuth Nyborg following publication of his report on possible gender differences in average IQ scores. Dr. Nyborg may be mistaken, but the issue he is addressing is a factual one, and can only be evaluated by an open examination of the evidence. To ‘investigate’ him, shut down his research, or otherwise harass him because his findings are politically incorrect is unworthy of an institution dedicated to the understanding of reality. It is reminiscent of the persecution of Galileo, the crippling of Soviet science and agriculture under Lysenko, and the attempt of the American religious right wing to inhibit the teaching of evolution in the schools.

“No one has the right to legislate the truth. It can only be discovered by free inquiry, and that includes investigations that may make people uncomfortable. This is the foundation of liberal society, and it is threatened by attempts to interfere with Dr. Nyborg and his research. If he is incorrect, that will be established by a community of scholars who examine his evidence and arguments and criticize them in open forums of debate, not by the exercise of force to prevent him from pursuing his research. These are the tactics of a police state, and bring shame on any institution that uses them.”

hear, hear!

update: see also – Danish Government Tries to Censor Science it Doesn’t Like by helmuth nyborg @american renaissance (thanks, elijah!).

previously: “to disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of heresies”

(note: comments do not require an email. girlie men.)

New data reveal extent of genetic overlap between major mental disordersgwas study**: “[T]he overlap was highest between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; moderate for bipolar disorder and depression and for ADHD and depression; and low between schizophrenia and autism. Overall, common genetic variation accounted for 17-28 percent of risk for the illnesses.” (**that’s redundant, isn’t it? sorry.)

Common genes may underlie alcohol dependence, eating disorders“In a study of nearly 6,000 adult twins, researchers found that common genetic factors seemed to underlie both alcoholism and certain eating disorder symptoms—namely, binge eating and purging habits, such as self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse. Genes appeared to explain 38 percent to 53 percent of the risk of developing those disorders.”

Multiple Genes Manage How People Taste Sweeteners

As Humans Change Landscape, Brains of Some Animals Change, Too“A new study suggests that the brains of several small mammals, including those of the little brown bat, have grown bigger as humans have altered the animals’ living conditions.” – ruh roh.

African genes tracked back“[The researchers] saw signs reflecting two waves of migration: one about 3,000 years ago, of non-Africans entering east Africa, and a second one 900–1,800 years ago, as east Africans migrated to southern Africa and brought non-African genes along with them…. Because of this two-step migration, some Khoe-San groups who were thought to have been genetically quite isolated actually carry 1–5% non-African DNA….”

Study Says Oldest Known Human Y-Chromosome Branch Dates to 338,000 Years Ago – h/t michael anissimov!

Genetic Research Suggests Indian Caste System Began 1,900 Years Ago – h/t david pinsen! – and speaking of castes: Caste outside of India: black blacksmiths from steve sailer.

Handaxe design reveals distinct Neanderthal cultures“Two cultural traditions existed among Neanderthals living in what is now northern Europe between 115,000 to 35,000 years ago…. [T]wo separate handaxe traditions or designs existed – one in a region now spanning south-western France and Britain – the other in Germany and further to the East.”

The Behavioral Ecology of Chimpanzee War and Liberal Peace“[V]iolent aggression among humans and chimps is a flexible natural propensity that tends to be stronger in males than in females, and the expression of that propensity depends on the social circumstances that determine the relative costs and benefits of violent fighting.” – @darwinian conservatism.

Breast feeding, intelligence, and confounded researchers – from dr. james thompson.

Two Failures to Replicate High-Performance-Goal Priming Effects

Babies learn words before birth“Brain responses suggest infants can distinguish distinct sounds from altered versions.”

Women and eye color“There is…a sex difference, with women having a more diverse palette of eye colors.” – from peter frost.

Are atheists mentally ill? – via mr. mangan, esq.

How Personality Affects Fertility: Men’s and Women’s Personalities Linked to Likelihood That They Will Have Children“Men with neurotic personality traits are having fewer children compared to previous generations…. It also found that men who are extraverted and open tend to have more children, while women who rank as conscientious on personality tests tend to have fewer children, although these findings were constant across generations.” – study done in norway. – via hbd bibliography.

Human brains are hardwired for empathy, friendship, study shows

Kinship or Citizenship? – steve sailer reviews mark weiner‘s The Rule of the Clan.

There is no hope of democracy in the Middle East“Most people, in other times and other places, have lived in societies more like Game of Thrones than Borgen, clannish rather than democratic, where people feel their loyalty and duty is towards other members of their extended family or religious community. To get people to work in the best interests of strangers so that you accept their authority when they get more people into the polling booth than you, is an achievement, not a natural state…. Egypt is an ancient civilisation but it is a clannish society….” – from ed west. (^_^) see also: Ed West interview: debating the ‘illusions’ of a diverse society.

Whence Afro criminality? – @thosewhocansee.

Steven Pinker, Science, and “Scientism”“In reality, the issue here is not whether this imaginary ‘science’ object exists and, assuming it does, whether it is ‘good’ or ‘evil.’ It is about whether we should be empowered to learn things about the universe in which we live or not. The opponents of ‘scientism’ typically rail against such things as eugenics, Social Darwinism, and the atomic bomb. These are supposedly the creations of the ‘science’ object. But, in fact, they are no such thing.” – really good stuff @helian unbound. via hbd bibliography. also from h.u. (he’s on a roll this week): Of Ingroups, Outgroups and Ideology.

The Arab Spring has failed because constitutional democracy needs nation-states – via ed west. see also: Egyptian Mirages from thomas sowell – “However widespread the desire to be free, it is wholly different from a desire to live in a society where others are free.” – yup.

How the light gets out – re. consciousness: “…the attention schema theory. It says that awareness is not something magical that emerges from the functioning of the brain. When you look at the colour blue, for example, your brain doesn’t generate a subjective experience of blue. Instead, it acts as a computational device. It computes a description, then attributes an experience of blue to itself. The process is all descriptions and conclusions and computations. Subjective experience, in the theory, is something like a myth that the brain tells itself. The brain *insists* that it has subjective experience because, when it accesses its inner data, it finds that information.”

Notes from Beijing: About That Chinese Social Contract“The traditional Chinese social contract was not a compact between individuals and the state, but a compact between Chinese society as a whole and the state…. Self interested calculations of rational individuals coolly weighing their economic and political interests never really seemed to be part of the program.” – from t. greer.

Fragile and Dangerous – Men with Borderline Personality Disorder – from staffan.

23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert – 20 out of 23. (*^_^*) (no way i could give a talk to an audience of 500. No. Way.) – classic link: Caring for Your Introvert.

Genomic Differences Found in Types of Cervical Cancer“…the spectrum of cancer-related gene mutations in the two main subtypes of cervical cancer — adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. In tests on 80 cervical tumor samples, the investigators found high rates of mutations in two genes: PIK3CA and KRAS. While PIK3CA mutations appeared in both subtypes, KRAS mutations were found only in adenocarcinomas.”

US behavioural research studies skew positive“US behavioural researchers have been handed a dubious distinction — they are more likely than their colleagues in other parts of the world to exaggerate findings, according to a study published today.”

Neolithic chefs spiced their food“Mineral grains from garlic-mustard seeds found in 6,000-year-old cooking pots.” – mmmmmmm!

Denmark’s historic claim to the Faroes in doubt as archaeologists find proof that islands were inhabited before arrival of first Norse colonists“Discovery indicates existence of sea-faring northern Europeans before Vikings.”

bonus: Birds know road speed limits“Crows, house sparrows and other species judge when to flee the asphalt by average traffic rates rather than an oncoming car’s speed.”

bonus bonus: Beetles eat greedy offspring Edinburgh University research finds“Burying beetles occasionally punish young who nag for food by eating those who pester them most…. It encourages the larvae to plead more honestly according to how hungry they are and not try to outdo their siblings by pestering their mother for food.” – so there!

bonus bonus bonus: Saudi Arabia’s War on Witchcraft“A special unit of the religious police pursues magical crime aggressively, and the convicted face death sentences.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Bacteria can cause pain on their own“Microbes caused discomfort in mice by activating nervous system, not immune response.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: World’s first pocket calculator goes up for auction: ‘Exceptionally rare’ 17th century machine made of wood could fetch £100,000

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Oldest globe to depict the New World may have been discovered

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: An update to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

(note: comments do not require an email. faroe islands craziness!)

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

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

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

Genes and Smarts – from the derb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Tale of Three Maps – from jayman.

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

HVGIQ: The Bahamas – from jason malloy.

The Personality of Tribalism – from staffan.

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

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

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

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

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

Moral Matter – the neuroscience of morality.

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

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

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

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

Women abused as children likelier to bear autistic child

One of Us – animals are people, too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

m. james points out (thanks, m. james!) that steven pinker will be doing a reddit ama (“I am a…”) on march 12th @6:00 p.m. et.

as m. says:

“Reddit is a liberal hive and HBD-supportive comments get downvoted and buried. (basically anything that says that parenting/education/culture isn’t always that important and genes matter too). I thought it would be nice to maybe get a bunch of questions prepared to ask him, hopefully early on in the thread….

“anyway, people should create an account and ask away. to get in early, the celebrities usually start the thread a half hour earlier than the assigned time, so you can look at the newly created threads here and keep refreshing the page until it shows up.”

can’t say as i disagree with any of that. (^_^)

in addition, i would suggest that everybody avoid asking “hostile” questions. pinker is no (heh) blank slater — he’s practically an hbd’er. i think we should just pitch him some easy ones, so he can hit them right out of the park to the amazement of the crowds. make it a pleasant experience for all those lil’ redditors who might find hbd to be icky. (^_^)

so, put it in your calendars: tuesday, march 12 @6:00 p.m. et — steven pinker reddit ama. get there early to sign in or create an account for yourself if you don’t already have one.

(note: comments do not require an email. not my hat. not me, either.)

i sure hope this isn’t true (links added by me):

“The Weird Irony at the Heart of the Napoleon Chagnon Affair”
“By John Horgan

“…I was still working on my review of [patrick tierney's] Darkness [in El Dorado] when I received emails from five prominent scholars: Richard Dawkins, Edward Wilson, Steven Pinker, Daniel Dennett and Marc Hauser. Although each wrote separately, the emails were obviously coordinated. All had learned (none said exactly how, although I suspected via a friend of mine with whom I discussed my review) that I was reviewing Darkness for the Times. Warning that a positive review might ruin my career, the group urged me either to denounce Darkness or to withdraw as a reviewer.

“I responded that I could not discuss a review with them prior to publication. (Only Dennett persisted in questioning my intentions, and I finally had to tell him, rudely, to leave me alone. I am reconstructing these exchanges from memory; I did not print them out.) I was so disturbed by the pressure from Dawkins et al — who seemed to be defending not Chagnon per se but the sociobiology paradigm — that I ended up making my review of Darkness more positive….”

=/

see also: napoleon chagnon @wikipedia.

(note: comments do not require an email. yanomamo guys.)

here’s another map of europe — from steven pinker’s Better Angels:

pinker - fig. 3.8 - hajnal line

“Figure 3-8. Geography of homicide in Europe, late 19th and early 21st centuries [i've only shown the 19th century map here - h.chick]. Sources: Late 19th century (1880-1900): Eisner, 2003.”

now here’s the same map with the hajnal line added. oh … oops!:

pinker - fig. 3.8 - hajnal line02

what i’ve been wanting to see is a map showing the reduction of homicide rates in europe over time. eisner has shown that the homicide rates didn’t drop all at once — they started dropping the earliest in england, belgium/netherlands, germany and switzerland — later scandinavia — and, much later, italy and the rest of peripheral europe (see this post for more details and nifty charts). here’s pinker summarizing eisner’s findings (from chapter 3 of Better Angels):

“[F]rom the 13th century to the 20th, homicide in various parts of England plummeted by a factor of ten, fifty, and in some cases a hundred — for example, from 110 homicides per 100,000 people per year in the 14th-century Oxford to less than 1 homicide per 100,000 in mid-20th-century London….

“Were the English unusual among Europeans in gradually refraining from murder? Eisner looked at other Western European countries for which criminologists had compiled homicide data. [T]he results were similar. Scandinavians needed a couple of additional centuries before they thought the better of killing each other, and Italians didn’t get serious about it until the 19th century. But by the 20th century the annual homicide rate of every Western European country had fallen into a narrow band centered on 1 per 100,000….

The Civilizing Process spread not only downward along the socioeconomic scale but outward across the geographic scale, from a Western European epicenter…. England was the first to pacify itself, followed closely by Germany and the Low Countries. Figure 3-8 [the one i half-posted above - h.chick] plots this outward ripple on maps of Europe in the late 19th and early 21st centuries.

“In the late 1800s, Europe had a peaceable bull’s-eye in the northern industrialized countries (Great Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, and the Low Countries), bordered by slightly stroppier Ireland, Austria-Hungary, and Finland, surrounded in turn by still more violent Spain, Italy, Greece, and the Slavic countries. Today the peaceable center has swelled to encompass all of Western and Central Europe, but a gradient of lawlessness extending to Eastern Europe and the mountainous Balkans is still visible.”

i wanted to see THAT on a map, so i drew one (NOT with crayons, although it kinda looks like it…). lighter shades=earlier drop in homicide rates; darker shades=later drop. i’ve indicated the century in which homicide rates began to drop for each region. and i’ve drawn in the hajnal line:

pinker eisner reduction of homicide in europe over time 02

finally, a footnote from pinker:

“There are gradients within each of these countries as well: the hinterlands and mountains remained violent long after the urbanized and densely farmed centers had calmed down. Clan warfare was endemic to the Scottish highlands until the 18th century, and to Sardinia, Sicily, Montenegro, and other parts of the Balkans until the 20th.”

previously: ibd rates for europe and the hajnal line and outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence and what pinker missed

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

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