linkfest – 08/12/12

Is corn the new milk? Evolutionarily speaking, that is.“Corn, or maize, may have exerted natural selection on the human populations that first cultivated it.” – original research article: Evolutionary Responses to a Constructed Niche: Ancient Mesoamericans as a Model of Gene-Culture Coevolution.

New Fossils Indicate Early Branching of Human Family Tree“The discovery of three new fossil specimens, announced Wednesday, is the most compelling evidence yet for multiple lines of evolution in our own genus, Homo, scientists said. The fossils showed that there were at least two contemporary Homo species, in addition to Homo erectus, living in East Africa as early as two million years ago.” – see also Fossils point to a big family for human ancestors.

Tree’s leaves genetically different from its roots“Black cottonwood trees (Populus trichocarpa) can clone themselves to produce offspring that are connected to their parents by the same root system. Now, after the first genome-wide analysis of a tree, it turns out that the connected clones have many genetic differences, even between tissues from the top and bottom of a single tree…. ‘This could change the classic paradigm that evolution only happens in a population rather than at an individual level….’

IQ Is A Social Construct Except When It Isn’t“Stupid people are simply far, far more likely to be criminals than normal people.” – from anatoly.

We Thought Female Athletes Were Catching Up to Men, but They’re Not“Across dozens of sports, women’s world speed records consistently fall 10 percent short of men’s records.” – the horror, the horror.

Study Reveals Anti-Conservative Discrimination Among Psychologists“A significant number of social and personality psychologists have told researchers they would discriminate against conservatives in decisions about publishing, grant applications and hiring, according to a study published in the September issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.”

Wrongdoers Feel a ‘Cheater’s High’

Religiosity and crime“[R]eligiosity reduces criminal involvement.” – from the inductivist.

Women and Bell Curves“We have to understand that not only men and women are different as groups, there is also variance among them. People are different, and even though human societies assign different roles to each group, that often ignores biological variance.” – from spandrell via foseti.

Gender inequality in awarded research grants – oh, noes! – “[I]n our opinion, the most likely explanation for the difference in amounts awarded to women and men is that women are systematically less ambitious in the amounts of funding requested in their grant applications.” – oops!

bonus: African Grey Parrots Have the Reasoning Skills of 3-year-olds

bonus bonus: The Largest Ever 3D Map of the Universe – awwwwwwsome!

bonus bonus bonus: Science Proves Luke Skywalker Should Have Died In The Tauntaun’s Belly – hmpf. they’re obviously just missing some key parameter/s.

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

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6 Comments

  1. African Grey Parrots Have the Reasoning Skills of 3-year-olds

    Year 3012: Parrots show up to vote in record numbers. African Grey Parrot elected president of _______.

    Reply

  2. “Is corn the new milk? Evolutionarily speaking, that is.”

    Cool. I was thinking – given the lactose tolerance example – there’d have to be other diet-based adaptations of one kind or another.

    .
    “Wrongdoers Feel a ‘Cheater’s High’”

    Or people who get a cheater’s high are more inclined to wrong-doing?

    I think the proportions who feel the cheater’s high will increase or decrease as you go up or down most human heirarchies and that the effect will result from a balance between two chemical reactions, one empathic, one the opposite and the opposite one – the part that gives the “cheater’s high” if it outweighs the empathic one – will be connected to MAOA. Can’t prove it though.

    Reply

  3. I suggest that you read the story about discrimination among psychologists carefully. I downloaded the paper and it is marred by a number of flaws. The conclusions that the authors draw use different wordings than that questions they asked. For example, one of their questions asked “If you were reviewing a paper that seemed to you to take a politically conservative perspective, do you think this would negatively influence your decision on the paper?” Yet the abstract represents the results as follows: “In decisions ranging from paper reviews to hiring, many social and personality psychologists admit that they would discriminate against openly conservative colleagues.” Paper ≠ colleague.

    There are a number of other such flaws in the paper. I’ll be happy to expand on this if you are interested.

    Reply

  4. @chris – so they never asked a question in the survey related to hiring? that would be wrong if they said so in the abstract but hadn’t done that in the research. =/

    @chris – “I’ll be happy to expand on this if you are interested.”

    sure! i haven’t read the original paper, but i’d be glad to hear more about it if you’re willing. (^_^)

    Reply

    1. Yes, they did ask a question related to hiring, but in this case it was the scale they used that calls their conclusions into doubt. The hiring question was “whether, in choosing between two equally-qualified job candidates for one job opening, they would be inclined to vote for the more liberal candidate (i.e, over the conservative). All responses were on 7-point scales (1 = Not at all, 4 = Somewhat, 7 = Very much).”

      The problem with this scale is that the balanced score is at the extremum. The question and scale should have been “whether, in choosing between two equally-qualified job candidates for one job opening, they would be more inclined or less inclined to vote for the more liberal candidate (i.e, over the conservative). All responses were on 7-point scales (1 = strongly inclined toward the conservative, 4 = no inclination, 7 = strongly inclined toward the liberal.”

      By using a scale that leaned in the (apparently desired) direction the authors were looking for, they guaranteed that they would get results showing bias; there was no possibility of countering pro-liberal responses against pro-conservative responses.

      The result of their slanted question was a mean value of 2.94, one step lower than “somewhat”, so their data indicate a slight preference towards hiring liberals. The authors present this result in their abstract as follows:

      “many social and personality psychologists admit that they would discriminate against openly conservative colleagues”

      While this conclusion is formally correct, I think the wording is cleverly chosen to exaggerate the perceived magnitude of the effect.

      They did something similar with their questions about a hostile climate. They asked the respondents whether they perceived a hostile climate because of their political beliefs. But they misrepresented perception as fact: “The more conservative respondents were, the more they had personally experienced a hostile climate.”

      There’s another problem with these results: they are basing the results about conservatives’ perceptions on a tiny count. They had about 500 respondents in their survey, of whom 1% described themselves as very conservative, 2% as conservative, and 3% as slightly conservative. That’s a total of 30 respondents, half of whom are slightly conservative. It’s hard to pin solid conclusions on such a tiny number of conclusions. Significantly, they failed to provide standard deviations for results from their conservative respondents.

      Reply

  5. @chris – “The problem with this scale is that the balanced score is at the extremum.”

    hmmmm. leading the witnesses, eh? not good.

    thanks for the summary!

    Reply

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