Archives for posts with tag: the middle east

Calcium absorption not the cause of evolution of milk digestion in Europeans“‘The evolution of lactase persistence is one of the best known and most dramatic examples of recent human evolution. One of the ironies of working in this area is that we know it happened but we still don’t fully know why’ says Sverrisdóttir. Lactase persistence is found at highest frequencies in southern Sweden and in Ireland. Given that calcium absorption is not the only reason why this trait evolved so rapidly, Sverrisdóttir and colleagues have proposed another cause: Although most early European farmers would not have been lactase persistent, they would still have been able to consume fermented milk products such as yoghurt and cheese, because fermentation converts much of the lactose into fats. But in famine conditions, such as when crops fail, they are likely to have eaten all the fermented milk foods, leaving only the more high-lactose products. This would have caused the usual lactose intolerance symptoms such as diarrhea. Diarrhea in in healthy people is not usually life-threatening, but in severely malnourished individuals it certainly can be. So famine could have led to episodes of very strong natural selection favoring lactase persistence.”

Human and Helicobacter pylori coevolution shapes the risk of gastric disease“Patients were recruited from two geographically distinct Colombian populations with significantly different incidences of gastric cancer, but virtually identical prevalence of H. pylori infection. All H. pylori isolates contained the genetic signatures of multiple ancestries, with an ancestral African cluster predominating in a low-risk, coastal population and a European cluster in a high-risk, mountain population. The human ancestry of the biopsied individuals also varied with geography, with mostly African ancestry in the coastal region (58%), and mostly Amerindian ancestry in the mountain region (67%). The interaction between the host and pathogen ancestries completely accounted for the difference in the severity of gastric lesions in the two regions of Colombia. In particular, African H. pylori ancestry was relatively benign in humans of African ancestry but was deleterious in individuals with substantial Amerindian ancestry. Thus, coevolution likely modulated disease risk, and the disruption of coevolved human and H. pylori genomes can explain the high incidence of gastric disease in the mountain population.”

Seeing X Chromosomes in a New Light“X-chromosome inactivation, Dr. Nathans’s pictures show, creates a genetic diversity that’s particularly dramatic. Two cells side by side may be using different versions of many different genes. ‘But there is also much larger-scale diversity,’ Dr. Nathans said. In some brains, for example, a mother’s X chromosome was seen dominating the left side, while the father’s dominated the right. Entire organs can be skewed toward one parent. Dr. Nathans and his colleagues found that in some mice, one eye was dominated by the father and the other by the mother. The diversity even extended to the entire mouse. In some animals, almost all the X chromosomes from one parent were shut; in others, the opposite was true.”

Are plants altruistic?“Roots can distinguish self from other, and they know their own kind (species), they can share resources and information about insect attacks and deliver nutrients to trees in need. The preponderance of evidence does seem to suggest that plants are proactive in filling their own needs and the needs of others.” – ooooh, not just their own species, their own close relatives! – see also The Intelligent Plant.

Sluggish metabolisms are key to primates’ long lives“[P]rimates expend 50 per cent less energy than other mammals of equivalent mass during an average day. ‘What’s more, he says the difference is not easily explained by differing activity levels: a human would need to run a whole marathon every day to be on an even energetic footing with mammals that aren’t primates….’ The finding offers a completely new way to understand why primates have slower life histories than other mammals of equivalent body size…. Pontzer thinks that the slower metabolism may have evolved to help primates cope with food shortages. For instance, orang-utans suffer frequent famines. ‘Orang-utans experience extended periods of low fruit availability,’ says Vogel. ‘There are months when caloric intake is less than expenditure – and they burn body fat stores.’ A slow metabolism might help them survive.”

Triune origins“With the latest paper, the story on European origins is becoming clearer. Three populations account for European ancestry: the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of western Europe (dubbed WHG in the paper), early European farmers derived from somewhere in the Mideast (EEF), and a third group more closely related to ancient Siberians (ANE) than any existing population. Those Sibermen also contributed a third of Amerindian ancestry, the rest being similar to modern East Asian populations.” – from greg cochran.

The first industrial revolution“As early modern humans spread farther north, they entered more challenging environments…. Did these new cognitive demands have an evolutionary impact? Did they select for certain mental capacities over others? Piffer (2013) has addressed these questions by seeing how hunter-gatherers differ from farming peoples in alleles at COMT, a gene linked to executive function, working memory, and intelligence…. Northern hunting peoples, however, differ from other hunter-gatherers and resemble more advanced farming populations.” – from peter frost.

‘Out of Africa’ gene mutation in human pigmentation increases predisposition to skin cancer“The V60L mutation is more common in people with light hair and skin tone that, despite being light, tans easily in the summer. This mutation is positive for the climate of the Mediterranean region, as it facilitates the absorption of vitamin D in the winter months, in which the ultraviolet radiation is lower. In the summer months, in which the radiation is greater, the ease to darken the skin pigmentation provides a certain protection. However, the study also revealed that among people with this mutation there is a greater predisposition to skin cancer.” – see also: Simultaneous Purifying Selection on the Ancestral MC1R Allele and Positive Selection on the Melanoma-Risk Allele V60L in South Europeans.

Longitudinal four-dimensional mapping of subcortical anatomy in human development – h/t kevin mitchell! who said: “Large imaging study details substantial sex differences in maturation dynamics of subcortical structures.” – also: Fundamental sex difference in human brain architecture [behind paywall].

Changes in Thickness and Surface Area of the Human Cortex and Their Relationship with Intelligence“At 10 years of age, more intelligent children have a slightly thinner cortex than children with a lower IQ. This relationship becomes more pronounced with increasing age: with higher IQ, a faster thinning of the cortex is found over time. In the more intelligent young adults, this relationship reverses so that by the age of 42 a thicker cortex is associated with higher intelligence. In contrast, cortical surface is larger in more intelligent children at the age of 10. The cortical surface is still expanding, reaching its maximum area during adolescence. With higher IQ, cortical expansion is completed at a younger age; and once completed, surface area decreases at a higher rate. These findings suggest that intelligence may be more related to the magnitude and timing of changes in brain structure during development than to brain structure per se, and that the cortex is never completed but shows continuing intelligence-dependent development.”

Why do spatial abilities predict mathematical performance?“About a third of the variation in spatial ability at age 12 is explained by genetic factors; a little less than half of the variation in mathematics at this age is genetic. We find no sex differences in the genetic and environmental influences (either in magnitude or type) on mathematical and spatial variation at age 12. The observed overlap between spatial ability and mathematics is substantial (r > .40). Approximately 60% of this overlap is explained by common genetic effects, with 40% of the overlap due to environmental experience.” – h/t DOCTOR stuart ritchie! (^_^)

New evidence shows the FDA was wrong to halt 23andMe testing“While the tests are often too inaccurate for consumers to consider them diagnoses, research shows that most customers will seek a doctor’s opinion before taking action, anyway. According to the authors’ research, 58% of 1,051 surveyed customers did nothing at all with their genomic results. Of the 42% who made health decisions based on the information, only 2% changed prescription drug regimens without consulting a physician. The majority of customers who made changes focused on diet, exercise, and vitamins.”

Dogs’ Closest Wolf Ancestors Went Extinct, Study Suggests” A new genetic analysis of modern dogs and wolves suggests that man’s best friend was domesticated before agriculture. But the origin of this domestication remains stubbornly mysterious. Researchers analyzed the genomes of wolves from three likely sites of domestication (the Middle East, Asia and eastern Europe), and found that modern dogs were not more closely related to any of the three. In fact, it seems that the closest wolf ancestors of today’s dogs may have gone extinct, leaving no wild descendants.” – also: Paedomorphic Facial Expressions Give Dogs a Selective Advantage – woof! – h/t claire lehmann!

The Nurture Enigma – How Does the Environment Influence Human Nature? – from staffan.

The interplay of genetic and cultural evolution – from jason collins.

Eye of the Tiger PeopleBut what the hell is ‘culture,’ anyway? Talk about a social construct! Even the term ‘social construct’ is a social construct, one unique to our culture. And who’s to say culture is entirely separate from genetics? There’s some suggestion that the two may be intimately intertwined. In rawest terms, ‘culture’ may be nothing more than what happens when a group’s genes interact with their environment. – from jim goad.

Toddlers’ aggression is strongly associated with genetic factors, study reports“The development of physical aggression in toddlers is strongly associated genetic factors and to a lesser degree with the environment, according to a new study led by Eric Lacourse of the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital. Lacourse’s worked with the parents of identical and non-identical twins to evaluate and compare their behaviour, environment and genetics.” – h/t mr. mangan, esq!

Modifying DNA May Wipe Away Old Memories – so can several double gin and tonics in a row. (~_^) – they’re talking about epigenetic changes here, btw.

Apes are intuitive statisticians“Here, we conducted the first investigation of such intuitive statistical reasoning with non-human primates. In a series of 7 experiments, Bonobos, Chimpanzees, Gorillas and Orangutans drew flexible statistical inferences from populations to samples. These inferences, furthermore, were truly based on statistical information regarding the relative frequency distributions in a population, and not on absolute frequencies. Intuitive statistics in its most basic form is thus an evolutionarily more ancient rather than a uniquely human capacity.” – iow, the other great apes outperform a lot of humans (i.e. the pc ones)! (~_^) – h/t neuroskeptic!

Study: Chimpanzees Bond Over Shared Meals“[C]himps who share their food have higher levels of oxytocin, known as the love hormone, than those who don’t.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Comedians have psychotic personality traits, study finds“In a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry, researchers analyzed comedians from Australia, Britain and the United States and found they scored significantly higher on four types of psychotic characteristics compared to a control group of people who had non-creative jobs. The traits included a tendency towards impulsive or anti-social behavior, and a tendency to avoid intimacy. ‘The creative elements needed to produce humor are strikingly similar to those characterizing the cognitive style of people with psychosis – both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,’ said Gordon Claridge of the University of Oxford’s department of experimental psychology, who led the study.”

Natural selection can favour ‘irrational’ behaviour – well, there’s your problem!

‘Human evolution likely led to rise of religion’ – h/t holly dunsworth! whose response was: duh! (~_^)

New study finds mistimed sleep disrupts rhythms of genes in humans“During this disruption of sleep timing, there was a six-fold reduction in the number of genes that displayed a circadian rhythm (a rhythm with an approximately 24 hour period). This included many regulators associated with transcription and translation, indicating widespread disruption to many biological processes.” – sleep right!

speaking of which: Study finds later school start times improve sleep and daytime functioning in adolescents – h/t anatoly!

The human brain can process images the eye sees for 13 milliseconds – imagine how quickly THE FLASH’s brain can process images!! (~_^)

The Islamic Republic of Baby-Making“Iran, like other Middle Eastern countries, has an extremely high infertility rate. More than 20 percent of Iranian couples cannot conceive, according to a study conducted by one of the country’s leading fertility clinics, compared with the global rate of between 8 and 12 percent. Experts believe this is due to the prevalence of consanguineous marriages, or those between cousins. Male infertility is ‘the hidden story of the Middle East,’ says Marcia Inhorn, a Yale University medical anthropologist and a specialist on assisted reproduction in the region.”

This Language Names Odors As Precisely As English Speakers Name Colorjahai speakers in malaysia. – h/t t.greer! – see also: Can You Name That Smell?“It’s also possible that the Jahai are built differently than the rest of us. The genes that code for the olfactory receptors in our noses exhibit a great deal of variation not only between different human populations but also between people. So it may be that the Jahai have evolved more of these receptors or a greater diversity of them than everyone else, much like the Tsimane tribe from the Bolivian rainforest were shown to be more sensitive to smells than were Germans.”

Gene therapy ‘could be used to treat blindness’“Surgeons in Oxford have used a gene therapy technique to improve the vision of six patients who would otherwise have gone blind. The operation involved inserting a gene into the eye, a treatment that revived light-detecting cells.”

The thinnest Americans are Asian Americans, CDC data show – surprise!

Shapely centrefolds? Temporal change in body measures: trend analysis – h/t ben southwood! who said: “Playboy centrefolds’ waists have widened, weights have fallen, busts have shrunk and hips have narrowed since 1953.”

Study: Violence, infectious disease and climate change contributed to Indus civilization collapse – h/t mike anissimov!

What was in that grog? Scientists analyze ancient Nordic drink“Ancient Scandinavians quaffed an alcoholic mixture of barley, honey, cranberries, herbs and even grape wine imported from Greece and Rome, new research finds.” – mmmmmm! mmmmmm?

bonus: i’m a journalist! – h/t jayman!

bonus bonus: and a neo-fascist, too, apparently. hahahahahahahaha!! *snort*

bonus bonus bonus: Genetically engineered plant glows so brightly it can be used as a LAMP

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Do Elite ‘Power Sport’ Athletes Have a Genetic Advantage?“A specific gene variant is more frequent among elite athletes in power sports…. A ‘functional polymorphism’ of the angiotensiogen (AGT) gene is two to three times more common in elite power athletes, compared to nonathletes or even elite endurance athletes, according to the new research by Paweł Cięszczyk, PhD, of University of Szczecin, Poland, and colleagues.”

Ballet Dancers’ Brains Adapt to Stop Them Getting in a Spin – or maybe they start off with somewhat different brain structures: “Scientists have discovered differences in the brain structure of ballet dancers that may help them avoid feeling dizzy when they perform pirouettes…. The brain scans revealed differences between the groups in two parts of the brain: an area in the cerebellum where sensory input from the vestibular organs is processed and in the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for the perception of dizziness. The area in the cerebellum was smaller in dancers.”

Math explains history: Simulation accurately captures the evolution of ancient complex societies“The question of how human societies evolve from small groups to the huge, anonymous and complex societies of today has been answered mathematically, accurately matching the historical record on the emergence of complex states in the ancient world. Intense warfare is the evolutionary driver of large complex societies, according to new research….” see also: Math and History Collide. response: No, math cannot predict the rise and fall of empires. (party pooper.)

Genetic study pushes back timeline for first significant human population expansion“Using new genetic tools, the authors conclude that the first significant expansion of human populations appears to be much older than the emergence of farming and herding, dating back to the Paleolithic (60,000-80,000 years ago) rather than Neolithic age (10,000 years ago). They also suggest that strong Paleolithic expansions may have favored the emergence of sedentary farming in some populations during the Neolithic.” – h/t malcolm pollack!

Scientists Created a New Form of Matter and It’s Like a Lightsaber – AWESOME! – see also: Scientists create never-before-seen form of matter

New Approach to Explaining Evolution’s Big Bang“[T]he Cambrian Explosion was preceded by a rise in sea level that submerged vast swaths of land, eroding the drowned rocks…. But these great floods also poisoned the ocean. The erosion of the coastlines released calcium, which can be toxic to cells. In order to survive, animals had to evolve ways to rid themselves of the poison. One solution may have been to pack the calcium into crystals, which eventually evolved into shells, bones, and other hard tissues. Dr. Smith doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that several different lineages of bilaterians evolved hard tissues during the Cambrian explosion, and not sooner.”

No, You Don’t Have Free Will, and This is Why – best post from jayman. ever. (to date! (~_^) ) a response to this.

Robert Ardrey: Incidents in the Disappearance of an Unperson – ok. i’ve run out of ways to say how brilliant helian’s posts are. just go read him already!

The IQ Breaking Point – How Civilized Society is Maintained or Lost“[I]t seems like there is a point, somewhere around 97, above which a modern civilization can be maintained and below which things abruptly begin to fall apart.” – from staffan!

Maths is a man thing* – from dr. james thompson!

Myths about IQ: Episode I – from elijah!

HBD: On Puerto Ricans and Their Heritage, Part I: Before the Taíno – from nelson!

Understanding how infants acquire new words across cultures“[I]n English, 24-month-old infants were better able to learn novel verbs for novel actions (e.g., petting) if the surrounding noun phrases were explicitly mentioned (e.g., ‘The girl is petting the dog’) than if they were dropped from the sentence (e.g., ‘Look. Petting!’). In contrast, the new research shows that in Korean (a language in which noun phrases are typically dropped in conversation) 24-month-olds were better able to learn novel verbs for novel actions if the surrounding noun phrases (e.g., the girl, the dog) were dropped; in fact, unlike English-acquiring infants, those acquiring Korean struggled if the nouns were explicitly mentioned.” – don’t know, unfortunately, what the ethnicities of these infants are.

The Science Fiction Future of Genetic Genealogy“Next month at the American Society of Human Genetics 2013 meeting, researchers from AncestryDNA will present their work detailing the reconstruction of portions of the genomes of an 18th-century couple using detailed genealogical information and Identity-by-Descent (‘IBD’) DNA segments from several hundred descendants of the couple in the AncestryDNA database. In other words, researchers identified several hundred descendants of a certain couple living in the 1700s and then used the DNA shared by those descendants to recreate as much of the couples’ genomes as possible.” – cool! from the genetic genealogist.

Black men have lower sperm counts than white men – @race/history/evolution notes.

Low-Hanging Fruit: Consider the Ant“Some spiders somehow fly by using silken threads. They’ve been detected at altitudes over 4 km, and more than a thousand miles from land. The usual notion is that these threads catch air currents, but that may not be the real explanation. For one thing, they seem to be able to take off fairly rapidly in a dead calm. It looks instead as if these spiders manage to impart a negative charge to these threads and are then propelled upward by the atmospheric electric field – electrostatic levitation, a totally novel mechanism for flight.” – whoa! – from greg cochran.

Brainwashed by a microbe?“*T. gondii* is being studied for possible behavioral effects mainly because it has attracted so much attention. But we’re probably being manipulated by other parasites. ‘A large number of parasitic organisms probably exist in helminths, protozoa, fungi, bacteria, archea and viruses that may influence the phenotype of their human host even more than the Toxoplasma. These organisms are, however, still waiting for research teams to engage in a systematic study of their influence on the human host.’” – from peter frost. previously.

When the Melting Pot Reaches a Boil“If there is one constant in the travails of *Homo sapiens sapiens*, it is that he gets on best with his own kind. Yet to the social engineers who would shepherd us into multicult euphoria, it is as if these millennia of inter-ethnic strife didn’t exist.”

Humans are not the only primates who whisper – so do the cotton-top tamarins. shhhhhh! don’t tell anyone!

What Else Can I Do With My DNA Test Results? – @the genetic genealogist.

That’s not autism: It’s simply a brainy, introverted boy“Autism spectrum diagnoses are up 78 percent in 10 years. We’re dramatically overdiagnosing it in everyday behavior.” – #longread.

The 16 Most (and Least) Honest Cities in the World – wallet test – finns ftw!

Ancient language not heard for 4,000 years is recorded for the first time – PIE (proto-indo-european).

2,500-year-old horse remains found in Bulgaria that suggest the creatures were buried standing up“The carriage and horse skeletons were discovered in the village of Svestari in north-east Bulgaria. They were found in a Thracian tomb along with some decorations.” – cool photos!

How Alcohol Conquered Russia“A history of the country’s struggle with alcoholism, and why the government has done so little about it.” – take note of anatoly’s comments!

bonus: mitual shah – one of the good guys. one of the VERY good guys: Briton died saving children in terror mall“A British marketing executive was shot dead in the Westgate massacre in Kenya after offering himself as a hostage to bargain for the lives of 33 children.”

bonus bonus: I’m sorry, but we have to talk about the barbarism of modern Islamist terrorism – from brendan o’neill.

bonus bonus bonus: hero of the week, via everyone on twitter – After Told He’s Racist, UW-M Student Rejects Further Diversity ‘Training’

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The silence of our friends – the extinction of Christianity in the Middle East – from ed west @the spectator.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: from india – ‘Family honour’ and ‘values’ give immunity to the predator at home – h/t mark weiner!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The US government has been running a quantum Internet for over two years – cool! – h/t michael anissimov!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The Demons of Moldova“In Europe’s poorest country, young people are turning to occult religious practices — even exorcisms — to escape everyday life.”

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those individuals who feel most strongly that they are members of their local community.

at least there’s a strong positive correlation (0.85) between the presence of the two groups in a country.

from the world values survey 2005-2008 wave, below is a chart [click on chart for LARGER view] and a table giving the percentages of people in each nation who responded that they “strongly agree” with the following statements:

- (V211) I see myself as member of my local community
- (V212) I see myself as citizen of the [country] nation

wvs - member of local community - citizen of nation

here’s the table sorted by “Citizen of nation.” i can’t see any rhyme or reason for why some peoples feel more citizen-y than others. if you can see a pattern, lemme know! certainly having a lot of people in your country who strongly identify as citizens of that country does not appear to be enough to get you a well-functioning nation: ghana? mali? egypt? japan towards the bottom of the list? hmmmm.

wvs - member of local community - citizen of nation - table

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It Must Be Said“There are facts that were once known, sometimes generally known, that are now known to but a few…. Many people assume that everyone is secretly aware of those unpleasant facts, but that is not the case. A generation that has grown up never hearing those facts will be almost entirely unaware of them, in part because their personal life experiences don’t impinge on those patterns much…. Anyhow, I intend to occasionally make a clear statement of some hateful fact – not necessarily because I have anything new to say on the subject (which is what I prefer). Someone has to corrupt the rising generations.” (^_^) – from greg cochran.

White Men Can’t Reach“‘[S]ports will continue to provide a splendid stage for the fantastic menagerie that’s human biological diversity. Amid the pageantry of the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, make sure to look for the extremes of the human physique…. It is breathtaking to think that, in the truest genetic sense, we are all a large family, and that the paths of our ancestors have left us wonderfully distinct.’” – *sniff* – steve sailer reviews david epstein’s The Sports Gene.

Why We Can’t Talk About IQ“This is how we are: jumbles of superstition, emotion, self-deception, and social conformism, with reason and science trotting along behind trying to keep up.” – from the derb.

Evolution of monogamy in humans the result of infanticide risk“The threat of infants being killed by unrelated males is the key driver of monogamy in humans and other primates.”

European Hunter-Gatherers Had Domesticated Pigs Earlier Than Thought“Domesticated pigs were present in northern Germany around 4600 B.C., some 500 years earlier than previously thought, new fossil and DNA evidence reveals.”

Hidden shell middens reveal ancient human presence in Bolivian Amazon“Previously unknown archeological sites in forest islands reveal human presence in the western Amazon as early as 10,000 years ago….”

Mycobacterium tuberculosis: Our African follower for over 70,000 years!“The researchers compared the genetic evolutionary trees of mycobacteria and humans side-by-side. And to the researcher’s surprise, the phylogenetic trees of humans and the TB bacteria showed a very close match. ‘The evolutionary path of humans and the TB bacteria shows striking similarities….’”

Human Microbiome May Be Seeded Before Birth

You Are Your Bacteria: How the Gut Microbiome Influences Health“The bacteria in our gut already plays an important role in digestion. But new studies indicate that our bacteria could play a major role in whether or not we become obese.”

Edinburgh is surprise capital of redheaded Britain and Ireland“The Edinburgh area is the most red headed region, according to the study, with 40 per cent of the population carrying one of the three common red hair gene variants.” – i love red hair! there’s a map here.

Live fast, die young – from mr. mangan, esq. see also: Single Gene Change Increases Mouse Lifespan by 20 Percent and Biologists May Have Identified Gene Central to Development, Reproduction and Aging – h/t hbd bibliography, here and here!

Is war really disappearing? A new analysis suggests not“Countries may simply have less ability to fight.”

Men feel worse about themselves when female partners succeed

Are You Smarter Than You Think?“The evolved wisdom behind our seemingly stupid decisions…. [B]iases are often not as stupid as psychologists like to make them out to be.” – h/t jason collins!

Poverty Saps the Brain’s Mental Reserves“The mere circumstance of being poor can reduce a person’s cognitive abilities by consuming precious mental resources.”

DNA Methylation: Are Your Genes Turned On?

Personal space: how close is too close?“Scientists have determined what the absolute limit is for invading other people’s personal space. … between eight and 16 inches from our faces.” – back off! (~_^)

Your spouse’s voice is easier to hear — and easier to ignore (~_^)

HBD Proponents, Racists and Racialists – some criticism of hbd-ers. i say that the study of human biodiversity can be a force for good! (^_^)

A Discussion On Race, Crime And The Inconvenient Facts

Live by the Sword – a review of The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honour and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century, a new book about frantz schmidt.

bonus: Counter-Currents Interview of chip of the hoover hog!

bonus bonus: Mind meld? Scientist uses his brain to control another guy’s finger – freaky! (but in a good way. (^_^) )

bonus bonus bonus: These Two Ancient Roman Techs Could Disrupt Modern Industry – h/t nelson!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: A Short Guide To The Middle East – @the assistant village idiot’s!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: 20 Seconds of Tetris Madness (O_O)

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Vote reveals the 50 funniest one-liners ever“‘I went to a restaurant that serves “breakfast at any time”. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.’ – Peter Kay; ‘I believe in equality. Equality for everybody. No matter how stupid they are or how superior I am to them.’ – Steve Martin.” (~_^)

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this is a MUST READ! if you’re not a subscriber, the article in ungated for another ca. 10 hours from now (ca. 10 a.m. EST):

“Little Kerry and the Three Bad Options”

“Isn’t Assad a bad guy? Isn’t his regime evil? I don’t really understand those questions as well as everybody else seems to. The Alawites have reason to expect the worst, to stick together, and to fear Sunni domination. Those fears go way back to Ottoman rule.

“Under the Ottomans, Alawites were kaffir, ‘heretics.’ That meant, basically, ‘fair game.’ At the moment, there’s a lot of nonsense going around about how sweet and tolerant the Ottoman Empire was from people who read Said’s Orientalism, or at least got the gist from the back cover, and went from the old European cliché ‘Ottomans—evil’ to a new one, ‘Ottomans—good.’ It makes me tired, this binary crap. If you can’t handle anything more modulated than that, stick to tweeting ‘Miley Cyrus: Saint or Sinner?’

“Yeah, the Ottomans were occasionally considerate of minorities who had powerful connections abroad, like Western Christians (not Armenian, of course) or who performed useful state functions, like some Jews (not all) — but groups like the Alawites, without powerful foreign connections, huddled in the coastal hills hoping not to be noticed, were prey in the Ottoman view. The Alawites only survived by sticking together, fighting the Sunni when attacked, and above all, hoping not to be noticed. If the local authorities were kindly, they’d just be taxed to death for their heresy. If the Pashas were in a bad mood, troops would descend on Alawite villages and carry off all likely-looking women and children to be sold as slaves….

“The post-war years were full of wild experiments in the Arab world. The only constant was that military coups were the rule. Leaders came from the army — Nasser, Ghadafi, Saddam. So when an officer with coup-making skills happened to come from a tightly-knit community, he was almost sure to end up in charge. Saddam had his Tikrit clan in Iraq; Ghadafi had his academy buddies in Libya; Hafez Assad had his Alawite kin in Syria. The Alawites were perfectly placed to take advantage of this coup-centered polity. T. E. Lawrence said about them, ‘One Nusairi [Alawite] would not betray another, and would hardly not betray an unbeliever.’ With Alawite officers filling the armed services in Syria, it was inevitable that an Alawite would come to power, as Hafez Assad did in 1970. From that point, they did what they had to do to remain in power. When killing was necessary, they killed. And in Syria, it was necessary fairly often. But I don’t know of any records showing that the Alawites were particularly cruel by the standards of the time and place. In fact, from the start of their rule in Syria, the Alawites have tried, via Ba’ath Party secularism and a long-term attempt to make Alawite ritual and doctrine closer to Sunni norms, to integrate with their neighbors….

“Maybe I’m missing something. But what I think a lot of people like John Kerry are missing is what drove the Alawites’ grimmer measures: the simple fear of extinction. It’s a risk to go, as they did, from total obscurity to power in a place as fierce as Syria. Because when you fall, it won’t be to go back to Texas to paint puppies like Dubya. You and your whole tribe can reasonably expect massacres, mass rapes, ethnic cleansing, the works. When the Sunni revolted against Alawite domination in Hama in 1982, one of the slogans of the Syrian Ikhwan or Muslim Brotherhood was ‘Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the graveyard.’ The SAA dealt with the revolt by blasting rebellious neighborhoods with artillery, killing thousands….”

read the whole thing!

previously: syria and syrian tribes

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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!)

here’s the war nerd on syria:

“War Nerd: Our Ringers vs. Your Ringers”

“When you look at this war strictly as a military struggle, you notice something weird: over two years of fighting, the lines are almost totally static….

“If you look at a map of sectarian demographics in Syria, and superimpose it on a map showing areas of Assad control and rebel-held regions, you’ll see that the two maps are almost identical. And the front lines haven’t changed much since the Sunni grabbed control of their neighborhoods two years ago…. The lines held by the Sunni, Shi’ia and Kurds barely move.

“And by the way, I’m going to talk about Sunni, Alawite, Shi’ia, and Kurds, because that’s what matters in Syria. This is a sectarian war, and pretending it isn’t is just pious nonsense. As long as you keep in mind that in the Levant, ‘sect’ means an ethnic group as much as a religion. And if that seems weird, try thinking of a classic Levantine sectarian outpost you may have heard of, the one called ‘Israel.’ Are Israeli Jews a religion or an ethnic group, a people? Both, more or less — a very sloppy, leaky Venn diagram. Religion works as an ethnic marker for most groups in the Levant, not just the Israelis. And the fact that there are always outliers, people too noble or crazy or sophisticated to be defined by their sect, doesn’t change the fact that for most people, the sect is what defines you.

“Once you see how deeply this sectarian identity works, you can start to understand why this war is so static. In urban sectarian warfare, most fights are about the neighborhood, keeping the neighborhood in your sect’s hands, away from the heretics two streets over. You grow up fighting the kids from over there, first with words, then with rocks, then with whatever firearms you can borrow from your cousins. For Anglos, the paradigm for this kind of war is Belfast and Derry. The war there started with neighborhood defenders in places like the Short Strand trying to hold their little block of row houses against the other sect.

“Americans have a hard time imagining how tiny this kind of war can be. In this country you can drive for 14 hours and pull over to the same intersection, with exactly the same McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Day’s Inn, Starbucks, Super 8 and Motel 6. The accents’d be the same, the burgers’d be the same, the price of gas’d might change by a penny or two.

“In a place like Aleppo (or Belfast), every street takes a side….

“This encourages people to ‘think local.’ Which means they’re very good when they fight to hold their neighborhoods, but useless in big offensives. Even raw irregulars can do very well fighting on their own turf. But they’re useless when you try to get them to organize into an offensive army. Why risk the neighborhood’s crop of young men on somebody else’s neighborhood? Not only could you lose half your cousins, but while you and the cuzzies are out there grandstanding, somebody could be invading your neighborhood. You just don’t leave your neighborhood unmanned in a sectarian war, ever. Not if you have living female relatives. In ugly wars like this, you’re not afraid of what the enemy will do to you but to your kin — the really sick people are encouraged to get creative in horrible ways; merely murdering your neighbor gets old fast.

So most of the locals in this war only want to hold their block of houses, basically as far as kin and sectarian ties hold. Ask them to form up and move out for bigger operations, and they’ll fade away. Lots of promises — and then the quiet skedaddle….

great stuff! read the whole thing here.

previously: syria and syrian tribes and more on syrian marriage and family types and clans in the news: aleppo and clans in the news: syria

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

i took this table from the recent pew survey of muslims

honor killings permissible - pew 2013

…and made a couple of maps (adapted from this map).

the first one is a map of the differences between what percentage of muslims in each country responded that honor killing is never justifiable when a man commits an offense versus a woman committing an offense. a plus number (+) means more enthusiasm for honor killing women — a negative (-), men. here it is (click on image for LARGER view):

map of expansion of caliphate - pew honor killings diffs

what i think we can see is that, the closer you get to the arab expansion epicenter (the arab peninsula), the greater the enthusiasm for honor killing women. so in jordan it’s +47, lebanon and egypt +10, iraq +11. but when you get out to the edges of the caliphate, the differences are not so great, or they are in fact reversed: morocco -1, turkey and afghanistan and tajikistan 0. even pakistan is only +3. when you get way out to uzbekistan and kyrgyzstan, then the numbers are reversed: -14 and -3.

(it should be noted that for some reason the question was worded differently in uzbekistan, afghanistan, and iraq. everyone else was asked specifically about premarital sex/adultery and family honor, while the uzbekis, afghanis, and iraqis were only asked about family honor. see questions 53 and 54 here [pdf].)

i think that perhaps this is a reflection of what korotayev noticed, i.e. that father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage is found in those places of the world that were a part of the eighth century muslim caliphate, because those populations wanted to emulate the arabs, and the arabs practiced fbd marriage. the reason that the populations on the edges of the caliphate are less enthusiastic about honor killing women is that they were arabized less and/or later than (dare i say it) the “core arabs” and so probably have been practicing fbd marriage for a shorter amount of time. (in fact, korotayev and other russian anthropologists suggest that fbd marriage started in the levant and moved southwards into the arab peninsula, so some of the jordanians and lebanese may have started practicing fbd marriage before the arabs down in the peninsula.)

i think, too, that there is a connection between fbd marriage and honor killings, because fbd marriage leads to greater inbreeding, and greater amounts of inbreeding may very probably lead to greater frequencies of “genes for altruism” — and honor killings can be viewed as a sort-of upside-down-and-backwards form of altruism (at least they seem that way to us).

and/or the arabs simply introduced some crazy “genes for upside-down-and-backwards altruism” to these various populations, and less so on the fringes presumably because not so many arabs actually made it that far. edit: also interesting to note is that in fbd societies, all of the men in extended families/clans share the same y-chromosome. if there is a connection between violence and some gene(s) on the y-chromosome (i thought greg cochran said something about this, but i can’t find it now), maybe this is exacerbated by fbd marriage.

here is the other map — the percentage of muslims in each country responding that it is rarely, sometimes, or often justified to honor kill women:

map of expansion of caliphate - pew honor killings women

again, the numbers taper off on the edges of the extent of the caliphate.

previously: father’s brother’s daughter’s marriage and inclusive inclusive fitness and who wants sharia?

(note: comments do not require an email. many, many boobies!)

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