i wanna create a faq page of genes that affect behavior, intelligence, etc., that vary in frequency between different populations or the sexes.** i’m tired of having to look up this stuff whenever i want to make a comment somewhere! i thought it might make a good resource for others, too. (if there’s one out there that already exists, lemme know!)

what i’d like to include are:

1) genes that affect behavior, intelligence, etc., that vary in frequency between different populations or the sexes;
2) genes that affect behavior, intelligence, etc., but that we have no frequency info for yet.

here’s what i’ve got so far (off the top of my head):

MAO-A gene – the “warrior gene”
DRD2? (i can’t remember)

VMAT2 – the “god gene”
oxytocin- and vasopressin-related genes (whatever the heck they are)

any other suggestions? links to sources would be helpful, but not necessary. i can look stuff up myself. thnx! (^_^)

**edit: i’m talking about alleles, of course. genes, alleles — you know what i mean! (~_^)

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the viagra war?

this is pretty bizarre if (IF) it’s true:

Gaddafi ‘supplies troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape’, claims diplomat

“US ambassador Susan Rice has also said, without offering evidence, that Iran was helping Syria to suppress dissent

“One of America’s most senior diplomats claimed at the United Nations security council that Muammar Gaddafi is supplying his troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape, according to diplomats.

“Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN made the claim while accusing Gaddafi of numerous human rights abuses. Earlier in the week Rice also claimed, without offering any evidence, that Iran is helping Syria suppress internal dissent.

“Foreign affairs specialists expressed scepticism about both claims.

“The Viagra claim surfaced in an al-Jazeera report last month from Libya-based doctors who said they had found Viagra in the pockets of pro-Gaddafi soldiers. But it is a jump from that to suggesting Gaddafi is supplying troops with it to encourage mass rape….”

people talk about rape during war as a weapon (pretty right) used to terrorize populations. eh. yeah, i guess hoardes of men entering your town and raping and pillaging everyone|thing in sight would be terrorizing, but i think (of course) the real reason for rape during wartime is more fundamental than even that.

what’s war all about? eliminating your competitors, i.e. competitors for resources. how do you eliminate them? well, killing them for one. you can also try to replace their genes by impregnating the women of whatever population you’re fighting. then you reduce the mating opportunities for the guys in that other group (’cause all their women are now pregnant) AND you increase your own reproduction rate. it’s a win-win situation!

also, i would think some really strong reproductive urges kick in when you’re at war. your genes are prolly “thinking”: sh*t. we could be dead any second now! better mate!

rape during human wars is kinda like my favorite example of male lions taking over a pride: they kill (or try to kill) the current males in the pride, kill all the young uns, and then mate with all the females. reproductive success! it’s all that matters.

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more reductionism working

i like reductionism. reductionism works (on a certain level).

from the economist:

Cry havoc! And let slip the maths of war

“Warfare seems to obey mathematical rules. Whether soldiers can make use of that fact remains to be seen….

“[T]he link between the severity and frequency of conflicts follows a smooth curve, known as a power law. One consequence is that extreme events such as the world wars do not appear to be anomalies. They are simply what should be expected to occur occasionally, given the frequency with which conflicts take place….

“In a paper currently under review at Science, however, Neil Johnson of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, and his colleagues hint at what that something useful might be. Dr Johnson’s team is one of several groups who, in previous papers, have shown that Richardson’s power law also applies to attacks by terrorists and insurgents. They and others have broadened Richardson’s scope of inquiry to include the timing of attacks, as well as the severity. This prepared the ground for the new paper, which outlines a method for forecasting the evolution of conflicts.

“Dr Johnson’s proposal rests on a pattern he and his team found in data on insurgent attacks against American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. After the initial attacks in any given province, subsequent fatal incidents become more and more frequent. The intriguing point is that it is possible, using a formula Dr Johnson has derived, to predict the details of this pattern from the interval between the first two attacks….

“Though the fit between the data and the prediction is not perfect (an example is illustrated right), the match is close enough that Dr Johnson thinks he is onto something. Progress curves are a consequence of people adapting to circumstances and learning to do things better. And warfare is just as capable of productivity improvements as any other activity….”


neat mathematical patterns like this (and this) — patterns that look just like those found in the behaviors of other species — are found when we look at human behaviors ’cause human behavior is just a product of our biological natures, just like ant behavior is a product of their biological natures.

it may seem to each and every one of us like we are acting rationally, or religiously, or whatever, but we’re really just acting biologically:

“Call it the physics of terrorism….

“‘When you start averaging over the differences, you see there are patterns in the way terrorists’ campaigns progress and the frequency and severity of the attacks,’ he says. ‘This gives you hope that terrorism is understandable from a scientific perspective….’

“It is weird when you step back and say, ‘There are thinking, social beings in these organizations, they have families and causes and ideals and so on.’ And I’m thinking about them as being a little bit like particles.

“‘But,’ he says, ‘the patterns speak for themselves.'”

previously: reductionism works

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mea culpa?

great article in the telegraph:

The human brain: turning our minds to the law

“Our understanding of the way the brain works could help us create a better legal system, says neuroscientist David Eagleman….

“The problem is that the law rests on two assumptions that are charitable, but demonstrably false. The first is that people are ‘practical reasoners’, which is the law’s way of saying that they are capable of acting in alignment with their best interests, and capable of rational foresight about their actions. The second is that all brains are created equal. Everyone who is of legal age and above an IQ of 70 is assumed, in the eyes of the law, to have the same capacity for decision-making, understanding, impulse control and reasoning. But these ideas simply don’t match up with the facts of neuroscience.

“Along any axis that we measure, brains are different – whether in aggression, intelligence, empathy and so on. Brains are more like fingerprints: we all have them, but they are not exactly alike. As Lord Bingham, the senior law lord, put it, these myths embedded in the legal system do not provide a ‘uniformly accurate guide to human behaviour’.

“The legal system needs an infusion of neuroscience. It needs to turn away from an ancient notion of how people should behave to understand better how they do behave….”

i agree with eagleman 1000%. how can everyone be held equally accountable for their actions when everyone is not equal?

for example, how can someone who is born with the genes predisposing him towards psychopathy — AND who is raised in the right (or should that be wrong?) environment — be held responsible for his actions in the same way that a non-psychopath can be? answer: he can’t.

the psychopath behaves differently because he has a very different neurology than a non-psychopath. how can he be in any way personally responsible for his psychopathic actions? he certainly cannot be reformed! (without a lobotomy or something drastic like that.)

i’m not saying that criminals shouldn’t be locked up — we need to do that to keep society safe. but, we do need to rethink the basis of our legal system given what we now know (and will learn in the future) about our biology.

previously: who’s responsible?

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more on astrology nonsense

yes, astrology is bunk. but, like i was saying a couple of weeks ago (prompted by hail’s musings), there might be a little something to it all, i.e. that das folk happened to notice that people born during different times of the year were, on average, kinda different in their personalities.

here’s the sort of thing i’m thinking of — some research from a couple of years ago:

Season of Birth and Dopamine Receptor Gene Associations with Impulsivity, Sensation Seeking and Reproductive Behaviors

Season of birth (SOB) has been associated with many physiological and psychological traits including novelty seeking and sensation seeking. Similar traits have been associated with genetic polymorphisms in the dopamine system. SOB and dopamine receptor genetic polymorphisms may independently and interactively influence similar behaviors through their common effects on the dopaminergic system….

Winter-born males were more sensation seeking than non-winter born males. In factorial models including both genotype and season of birth as variables, two previously unobserved effects were discovered: (1) a SOB×DRD4 interaction effect on venturesomeness and (2) a DRD2×DRD4 interaction effect on sensation seeking.


“These results are consistent with past findings that SOB is related to sensation seeking. Additionally, these results provide tentative support for the hypothesis that SOB modifies the behavioral expression of dopaminergic genetic polymorphism. These findings suggest that SOB should be included in future studies of risky behaviors and behavioral genetic studies of the dopamine system.”

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“tribes mean trouble”

yes. yes, they do.

Tribes Mean Trouble
March 13, 2011

“So far, the fight for Libya has been an armed showdown between Gaddafi and the rebels. This conflict is about to get much more complicated….

“The rebels, on the other hand, hope to win converts by showing they’ve got the momentum. In the east, that’s not much of a problem. Keeping them in line, however, seems more difficult.

“Last Monday tribal leaders gathered in an ornate conference hall with gold-colored chandeliers in Benghazi; some showed up in traditional robes and others in sleek business suits. Gen. Mohammed Massoud, a senior rebel military commander normally only seen in green fatigues, arrived wrapped in a white tribal blanket, sporting a red tarboosh. The group had gathered to express their support for the Interim Transitional National Council, the government-in-waiting in the east.

“But the gathering was hardly a show of tribal unity. At one point, a representative from the town of Bayda stepped up to praise his own tribesmen’s role in the uprising. A handful of angry attendees drowned him out with cries of ‘Libya! Libya!’ — a clear message that no tribe would be able to take credit above any other. The meeting descended into chaos. Many stormed out. A bewildered waitstaff was left behind, serving up dishes of lamb and rice to largely empty tables….”

so many rebel alliances just NEVER turn out like the one in star wars. wonder why?

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