linkfest – 08/26/12

Ancestral link places Mexican-Americans at greater risk for metabolic disease“Mexican-Americans with an ancestral link to Amerindian tribes were found to have higher insulin resistance levels, which is an indication of several chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes….”

Most mutations come from dad“Humans inherit more than three times as many mutations from their fathers as from their mothers, and mutation rates increase with the father’s age but not the mother’s….” see also Father’s Age Is Linked to Risk of Autism and Schizophrenia. and see also greg cochran (h/t jayman!).

Human responses to unfairness with primary rewards and their biological limits“[H]umans care about being treated fairly when bargaining with primary rewards, and, together with a broader literature suggest that such reciprocal altruism may be particularly prominent in humans.” – note that the study seems to have been conducted on “w.e.i.r.d.” students.

African National IQs, redux“The average for 40 African nations comes out to 75.” – from chuck.

Solutions, Again – jayman’s ideas for a better future!

Working memory training does not improve IQ – from the inductivist.

Male Circumcision and Health Care Costs – @the breviary.

A decade after Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, why is human nature still taboo? – from ed west.

Hypergamy In China Cutting Fertility Of High Ranking Women – from parapundit.

Do Drivers Make Way In Your Country? – from anatoly.

Divergent Whole-Genome Methylation Maps of Human and Chimpanzee Brains Reveal Epigenetic Basis of Human Regulatory Evolution“Hundreds of genes exhibit significantly lower levels of promoter methylation in the human brain than in the chimpanzee brain…. Differentially methylated genes [in humans] are strikingly enriched with loci associated with neurological disorders, psychological disorders, and cancers.”

Dusting Off GOD“The implication — that religion is basically malevolent, that it ‘poisons everything,’ in the words of the late Christopher Hitchens — is a standard assertion of the New Atheists…. Before you can know for sure, you have to figure out what religion does for us in the first place.”

Planet of the apes“What we really know about our evolutionary past – and what we don’t” – nice review of a couple of human evolution books.

bonus: Octopuses Gain Consciousness (According to Scientists’ Declaration)

bonus bonus: The Racial Divide on … Sneakers

(note: comments do not require an email. clever octopus!)


  1. “So, these doctors want to amputate an organ – the foreskin – selected for by evolution for very good reasons. But they know so much more than evolution; I think this is what’s known as playing God.”

    The author of that post realizes that sexual networks from the past few millenia don’t resemble our ancestral ones at all, right? The connectedness is really, really different. Certain diseases capitalize on that, and strictly enforcing circumcision may have helped a number of well known desert tribes avoid significant pathogen loads.

    “I’m clearly not getting any sex because of the horrible disfigurement I suffered at the hands of that awful no-good religion my ancestors relied on for guidance, community, and support. HNG! They’re all just stupid because Dawkins! Ron Paul!”
    –Lonely /r/mensrights neckbeard

    But, of course, drying a mucus membrane via the removal of a small piece of poorly-innervated tissue is exactly the same as cutting off a clitoris. So if you’re against female genital mutilation, you’re clearly against male circumcision, even if 100 circumcisions (in Uganda) prevents the transmission of 16 cases of HIV. Because freedom. Ayn Rand.


  2. re: Dusting Off GOD

    I’m going to risk commenting on this one before reading the link. We too often talk about religion as if it were one thing. In fact there are many things that go under the name of religion and while there may be some things they all share in common (?) it is what distinguishes one from another which are often most significant.

    Take the idea of gods, for example. Not all religions involve belief in gods, let alone God with a capital G, and even the ones that believe in God with a capital G are not all thinking of the same thing. Thus when someone in the West today says they don’t believe in God it is not at all clear what it is they don’t believe in, or even what they meant by the words “believe in.” Beginner amateur atheists just starting out in life, and a lot of olds ones too, may not be fully aware of all these dimensions.

    That said, like Alice in Wonderland when I use the word God it means what I say it means: the original Hebraic conception which we find in the middle chapters of Genesis, the so-called patriarchal narratives. The essential features of that conception are first unrestricted jurisdiction (in contradistinction to the gods of the city states in ancient Mesopotamia) and second — well, second is hard to explain and still get it right. You have to learn the meaning of the Hebrew words tamim and tzedec as they were used in their second millennium BCE historical and sociological context.

    As to whether I “believe” in this God, that’s like asking do you believe in our American democracy and the principles upon which it was founded. Put another way, the Hebraic conception is without doubt — I think I can defend this proposition — the single most influential idea in Western intellectual history, even in the stripped down version you will only find in Genesis.

    In any case understanding must come before belief. And don’t assume you already know what the idea is: it’s not something you learn in Sunday school unless you have a very unusual Sunday school teacher. (I had a good Rabbi!)

    (Oh, but you say, do you really believe such a God actually exists? Well, what does exist mean? You know, like a real force in history? Then, yes, obviously, because ideas can have force. Unique ideas can have unique force. Or do you mean like a supernatural being whom you can propitiate with prayer? Who said anything about prayer? Those crazy people on tv? You’re letting popular folk lore influence your opinion on questions of this nature? ….When it comes to religion it’s what you don’t know that will get you.)


  3. If you want to know what real belief sounds and tastes like, listen to this and ask yourself the question, do I believe in that? Do I respect it and everything it stands for. Is this really a problem in epistemology or is it something else. Ok, I’ll get off my soap box.


  4. @luke – “re: Dusting Off GOD I’m going to risk commenting on this one before reading the link.”

    i’ll tell you why i posted that link and that was ’cause i enjoyed the criticisms of dawkins and the other “new atheists” and their crazy crusade to get people to stop believing or quit their religions or whatever exactly it is they’re all about. i’m not a believer, but i think it’s nuts to try to get believers to stop believing or to stop behaving in certain ways in the name of god/s ’cause those things are in their (believers’) natures. talk about a pointless battle.

    plus, i think an awful lot of people out there actually behave themselves out of fear of their god/s — why would you want to stop that? plus, plus — an awful lot of people get a lot of satisfaction/feel comforted by the thought of a god/s. you gotta be one cruel s*n-of-a-b*tch to want to take that away from people.

    and all this talk about how religion causes wars, etc. — i call b.s. wars, etc., are caused by certain underlying innate biological behaviors. the religious explanations are just window dressing. (like the alawites and sunnis in syria right now are fighting over religious doctrinal issues….) and dawkins oughta know better, too.

    @luke – “We too often talk about religion as if it were one thing. In fact there are many things that go under the name of religion….”



  5. “plus, i think an awful lot of people out there actually behave themselves out of fear of their god/s ”

    Right. The poor man’s theology is very basic: there is a God and you will be judged. Period.


  6. re Anatoly: in case you want to Google his point, note that in Britain we’d say “give way” rather than “make way”.


  7. @dearime – “in case you want to Google his point, note that in Britain we’d say ‘give way’ rather than ‘make way’.

    and in the states we say (wrt driving): yield. (at least in the midwest we do — unless “make way” is some sort of new-fangled californian term.)

    dunno where anatoly got “make way” from, but i thought it was kinda cute. (^_^)


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