linkfest – 11/27/11

Gene Variants May Factor into Impulsivity, Substance Abusenrxn3.

Vitamin D and Northern Natives“[B]ecause northern natives have long inhabited high latitudes, natural selection should have progressively reduced their vitamin-D requirements. There is in fact evidence that the Inuit have compensated for decreased production of vitamin D through increased conversion to its most active form and through receptors that bind more effectively.” – from peter frost. cool!

Nudge thyself“Economists have more to learn from the natural sciences if they are to claim a realistic model of human behaviour.”

Climate change actually boosts human evolution as it forces us to move to new areas and work together

Neuroscience Challenges Old Ideas about Free Will“‘New questions also seem silly many times until a new perspective is accepted. I think we will get over the idea of free will and and accept we are a special kind of machine, one with a moral agency which comes from living in social groups. This perspective will make us ask new kinds of questions.'”

Brain cell genomes show their individuality

IQ Affirmation and Denial in the Times – from dennis the menace mangan.

Deliberate Practice – Necessary But Not Sufficient“We found strong evidence that abundant DP is necessary (but not sufficient) and estimated that the minimum requirement to achieve master level is 3,000 hours of DP. We also review evidence showing that other factors play a role in chess skill: general cognitive abilities, sensitive period, handedness, and season of birth.”

When Humans First Plied the Deep Blue Sea – 40,000 year old tuna catch in east timor.

Genome-wide Association of Copy-Number Variation Reveals an Association between Short Stature and the Presence of Low-Frequency Genomic Deletions“Our results suggest that in individuals undergoing copy-number analysis for clinical indications, short stature increases the odds that a low-frequency deletion will be found. Additionally, copy-number variation might contribute to genetic variation in stature in the general population.”

The First North American Migration—Not a Strait Route? – clovis = soul-train solutrean?

The ABCC9 of Sleep: A Genetic Factor Regulates How Long We Sleep“ABCC9, a known genetic factor in heart disease and diabetes, also influences the duration of sleep in humans.”

bonus: Alabama Law Pays Off: Unemployment Down Sharply After Crackdown on Illegal Aliens via amren.

bonus bonus: Life began with a planetary mega-organism“[I]n order to cope, the early cells must have shared their genes and proteins with each other. New and useful molecules would have been passed from cell to cell without competition, and eventually gone global. Any cells that dropped out of the swap shop were doomed. ‘It was more important to keep the living system in place than to compete with other systems,’ says Caetano-Anollés. He says the free exchange and lack of competition mean this living primordial ocean essentially functioned as a single mega-organism.”

bonus bonus bonus: Diversity of Life Snowballed When Ancient Earth Was Frozen Solid

(note: comments do not require an email. great moments in evolution.)


  1. @ – Neuroscience Challenges Old Ideas about Free Will

    Maybe there’s a gene for free will. Those who have it feel they are free, those who don’t don’t. I don’t actually believe this. I think what we call free will is actually the ability we have to weigh alternative courses of action in our minds based on the evidence. For example, if you know you will get the electric chair for murder, you might decide not to pull the trigger during an armed robbery. Thus when we say young children, for example, haven’t reached the age of responsibility, what we mean is that they don’t understand the consequences of their actions. Thus I attempted murder when I was four years old by offering the girl next door one of my special mushrooms-on-crackers. She said her mother had warned her not to eat shrooms.


  2. @olave – “I bet Mangan is mad about that ‘Dennis the Menace’ crack.”

    i find it well nigh impossible to say or type … or even think … “dennis” without following it up with “the menace.” is that just me? (^_^)

    @olave – “My son is trying to wear a purple bowl as a hat. He turns one years old next month.”

    i always find that purple bowls make the best hats. (~_^) gee — i remember when you said your wife had just had a baby. has it really been a year already? happy birthday to olave, jr.! (^_^)


  3. @luke – “Maybe there’s a gene for free will. Those who have it feel they are free, those who don’t don’t. I don’t actually believe this.”

    i believe this. only i think pretty much all humans have it (well, them — we’re talking, no doubt, about scores if not hundreds of genes working together here that code for our cognitive abilities). the impression of free will, i.e. that we are making up our minds completely independently of any sort of subconcious, innate forces, has probably been selected for because it works so well. we developed a conscious mind at some point in our evolutionary history for whatever reasons, and then it just worked better if it believed it was running the show. that’s my guess, anyway.

    @luke – “I think what we call free will is actually the ability we have to weigh alternative courses of action in our minds based on the evidence.”

    but what about individuals — even whole groups of people, like blacks — who have short tempers? those people who fly off the handle more quickly than others, sometimes killing others? are you saying that they have less free will than more (innately) cautious individuals/groups?


  4. @luke – this is not related to the above discussion, but if you’ve never read this, i highly recommend it. i think you’ll like it. (i know i did!) (^_^)


  5. @ “but what about individuals — even whole groups of people, like blacks — who have short tempers?”

    Perhaps they need stricter environments, in which the consequences of their behavior are more easily grasped? But of course I really don’t have the answers to this insolvable riddle; it’s only that looking back over my life I see so very few big decisions I made which I could have made much differently, under the circumstances, even the very foolish ones. I didn’t feel that way going forward of course. I felt, and still feel, free.


  6. I liked especially some of the sentiments expressed towards the end:

    “A test of our democratic institutions
    will be the degree to which people can
    accept all our differences and find ways
    to fit them into a smooth-working, hu-
    manitarian society. And I argue that we
    should strive not only for maximum per-
    sonal satisfaction but for maximum con-
    tribution; each of us owes society the
    fruits of our special gifts. I believe
    strongly that research into the genetic
    and environmental causes of human dif-
    ferences should continue and be sup-
    ported. The newer procedures brought
    about by molecular advances and com-
    puters will greatly accelerate discover-
    ies. I believe that knowledge, even
    unpleasant knowledge, is far preferable
    to ignorance. I hope that American soci-
    ety can be less fearful oflearning the
    truth about biological inequalities and
    more courageous in using discoveries in
    ways that are humanitarian and pro-
    mote human welfare.

    The question of equal opportunity
    versus equal outcomes becomes particu-
    larly vexing in those occupations and
    professions for which only a small frac-
    tion of a population can qualify. I have
    already mentioned the gross overrepre-
    sentation of African Americans among
    Olympic runners. This is closer to a true
    meritocracy than anything else I can
    think of: a stopwatch is color-blind. In
    this case, there seems to be no social
    purpose in demanding equal racial rep-

    In some important professions, such
    as physics and engineering, Asian Amer-
    icans are overrepresented and African
    Americans underrepresented. We pre-
    sumably get better research because of
    this. This may or may not outweigh the
    inequity of unequal group representa-
    tion. That is a social decision.

    What about physicians? There may
    well be social considerations, perhaps
    temporary ones in our society, that
    would make race more important than
    test scores in selecting students for med-
    ical schools.

    To achieve political and social equality
    it is not necessary to maintain a fiction
    that important human differences do
    not exist. The great evolutionist Theo-
    dosius Dobzhansky said it well: “People
    need not be identical twins to be equal
    before God, before the law, and in their
    rights to equality ofopportunity.”

    I have emphasized that people differ,
    and differ greatly. They differ not only in
    shapes and sizes, but also in abilities and
    talents. They also differ in tastes and
    preferences. As Shaw said, “Do not do
    unto others as you would that they
    should do unto you. Their tastes may
    not be the same.” Society’s business, I
    think, is not to minimize individual dif-
    ferences. We shouldn’t try to fit people
    into one mold.

    While I expect that science will con-
    tinue to provide us with further evi-
    dence of human variability, and while I
    welcome such variability as a source of
    social enrichment, there are some kinds
    of human variability that we could well
    do without. I refer to serious, painful,
    debilitating diseases. Many of these are
    the result ofan unlucky throw ofthe
    genetic dice. Already there are ways of
    discovering, preventing, and treating
    some of them. More treatments are sure
    to come. I hope they will be accepted
    willingly and used responsibly. I for one
    would be content if the genes for Tay-
    Sachs disease and Duchenne muscular
    dystrophy were to become extinct, along
    with the malaria parasite and aids
    virus. I hope the great humanitarian
    benefits that could come from genetic
    research will not be held up by fears of
    possible future misuse.

    Let me leave the last word for Jim
    Watson, co-discoverer ofthe double
    helix and a major figure in the genome

    “If the next century witnesses failure, let it
    be because our science is not yet up to the
    job, not because we don’t have the cour-
    age to make less random the sometimes
    most unfair courses ofhuman evolution.”


  7. @luke – “I liked especially some of the sentiments expressed towards the end.”

    i thought you might. (^_^) those were my favorite bits, too.

    people who don’t like the thought of hbd always want to paint hbd’ers as evil mad-scientist types who want to rule the world from their evil lair and generally just do evil, evil things to people — especially non-white people. i’d like to use hbd knowledge to (*cue sappy music*) make the world a better place — or, at least, as good as we can make it for the most number of people.

    at the same time, tho, i will admit that i do favor my own and want the best for my own people and ALL of my fellow americans. us first — everyone else afterwards. charity begins at home.


  8. Don’t know about you, but in my family I make all the big decisions, like when I’ll rake the yard, whose turn to by milk. My wife makes the little ones like where we will live, who our friends will be, etc..


  9. @luke – “Don’t know about you, but in my family I make all the big decisions, like when I’ll rake the yard, whose turn to by milk. My wife makes the little ones like where we will live, who our friends will be, etc..”

    (^_^) (^_^) (^_^)

    as it should be, as it should be. (~_^)


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