linkfest – 01/06/13

All Human Behavioral Traits are Heritable – from jayman. (<< read this!)

John Derbyshire’s Vade Mecum For Diversity Conversations (<< read this, too!)

Male Superiority in Spatial Navigation: Adaptation or Side Effect?

Why Girls Do Better in School“Why do girls get better grades in elementary school than boys, even when they perform worse on standardized tests?” – basically ’cause they behave better in the classroom (but you knew that already, didn’t you?).

White murder rates by state – from the awesome epigone.

‘Universal’ personality traits don’t necessarily apply to isolated indigenous people“Researchers who spent two years looking at 1,062 members of the Tsimane culture found that they didn’t necessarily exhibit the five broad dimensions of personality – openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism – also known as the ‘Big Five.'”

Dopamine-receptor gene variant linked to human longevity“[S]tudy finds genetic tie to personality traits influencing healthy aging.”

War Before Civilization – from greg cochran.

bonus: The Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist

bonus bonus: Cloud of atoms goes beyond absolute zero – whoa!

bonus bonus bonus: The Offenses Clause & Universal Jurisdiction Over Terrorists – bad stuff. =/

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Banter about Dildoes – review of Shopping in Ancient Rome.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: How to Really Read in 2013 – from foseti – i like this!

(note: comments do not require an email. where maple syrup comes from.)

29 Comments

  1. Thanks for the plug! :)

    As for the Big Five being lacking in universal human applicability, I can say I called this. Nice to see some evidence of that. However:

    “The lifestyle and ecology typical of hunter–gatherers and horticulturalists are the crucible that shaped much of human psychology and behavior”

    Maybe the researchers need to get with the program and realize that that is wrong.

    Reply

  2. “All Human Behavioral Traits are Heritable”

    …but some of the ones we care about are not inherited through the genes. I suspect that Doc Coch wants to avoid backpedaling about his twin studies conclusions, but he’s a physicist, so he should eventually be convinced by the growing empirical evidence.

    Reply

  3. @lt. wenton chan (aka eusocial hominid) – “…but some of the ones we care about are not inherited through the genes.”

    and which ones are those?

    Reply

  4. Isn’t saying that male superiority in spatial navigation a side effect of testosterone a bit like saying have a penis is a side effect of testosterone? I mean, unless it saying that the chemical testosterone inherently and intrinsically impairs the ability of any organic computer to process spatial data, devoid of any evolutionary cause or direction, in the same way alcohol depresses the brain….and that our bodies just happened to use and make, for no evolutionary reason, the non-naturally occurring chemical of testosterone to facilitate the development of males.

    It just seems incredibly silly to me.

    Reply

  5. I think sexual attraction to your father’s brother’s daughter isn’t genetic. Some of the important consequences of such endogamous relationships are genetic. But the mechanism making it continue across generations is cultural, not genetic.

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  6. “But the mechanism making it continue across generations is cultural, not genetic.”

    Genetic sexual attraction, anyone? And, of course, there are positive feedback loops between culture and genetics. If your culture limits your mating choices to your cousins, then you’ll probably have more reproductive success if your own inclinations lean towards inbreeding. So if a group has been inbreeding long enough, it may be the case that they will develop an innate preference for inbreeding.

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  7. @JayMan

    I’d suggest it’s a pattern, a habit. A habit of behaviour you acquire from your parents as a kind of social proof. A bit like your choice of religion. Most people stick with the religion their parents inculcate in them. That doesn’t mean there’s a gene or set of genes that will make you Muslim rather than Christian or Zoroastrian – though I concede there’s probably a genetic predisposition to be more or less pious in general terms.

    Religion has definitely helped shape social attitudes to cousin marriage. It partly leverages the prior proclivities of the societies in which it makes converts. But sometimes it really changes those proclivities. I think this post is interesting:

    https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/anglo-saxon-mating-patterns/

    You seem to be assuming that any practice that persists for a very long time must be genetically determined. I don’t think that’s necessary. Take the Indian practice of Sati – of wives self-immolating on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Indian Hindus have been doing it since at least the time of Alexander the Great, because one of his lieutenants describes witnessing it in the Punjab. It still happens occasionally today in isolated rural communities. It’s difficult to see how the motor for the persistence of the practice could be genetic. By the time the widow either self-immolates or doesn’t, she’s usually no longer affecting the gene pool.

    Hindus who converted to Islam, Sikhism or Christianity always renounced the practice.

    Reply

    1. @georgesdelatour:

      “I’d suggest it’s a pattern, a habit. A habit of behaviour you acquire from your parents as a kind of social proof. “

      Read my post, especially with regard to parents.

      “A bit like your choice of religion. Most people stick with the religion their parents inculcate in them. That doesn’t mean there’s a gene or set of genes that will make you Muslim rather than Christian or Zoroastrian”

      I said as much. Of course, I wouldn’t necessarily go as far. Religion does fit neatly with ethnicity, so perhaps some peoples are predisposed to certain religions.

      “You seem to be assuming that any practice that persists for a very long time must be genetically determined.”

      No. That’s not how heritability works.

      “Take the Indian practice of Sati – of wives self-immolating on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Indian Hindus have been doing it since at least the time of Alexander the Great, because one of his lieutenants describes witnessing it in the Punjab. It still happens occasionally today in isolated rural communities. It’s difficult to see how the motor for the persistence of the practice could be genetic.”

      Heritable ≠ selected for. A trait that can be heritable and can be detrimental on fitness.

      “Hindus who converted to Islam, Sikhism or Christianity always renounced the practice.”

      This example doesn’t prove what you think it does, because the question becomes why did those Hindus convert?

      Reply

  8. @Georgia Resident

    I live in the UK. I grew up not far from Bradford, where today, 75% of Pakistani families are based on first cousin marriages. There have been many cases of fathers attempting to coerce their daughters into such marriages; kidnapping them and taking them to Pakistan where they are raped by their husband-to-be; or even murdering their daughters when they refuse to go along with cousin marriage. I’ve never heard of one case where it was the other way round – where the daughter desperately wanted to marry her father’s brother’s son, but had to elope, because her “modern” westernised dad disapproved of it.

    All the evidence I’ve seen from the UK suggests endogamy is sustained purely by social pressure. There’s no evidence British Pakistani girls are born with an innate tendency to lust for the flesh of their father’s brother’s son in preference to other potential suitors.

    Reply

  9. @georgesdelatour:

    “All the evidence I’ve seen from the UK suggests endogamy is sustained purely by social pressure. There’s no evidence British Pakistani girls are born with an innate tendency to lust for the flesh of their father’s brother’s son in preference to other potential suitors.”

    And yet, why do they ultimately go along with it?

    Reply

  10. Fear.

    _Because_ the home environment is intense, so these girls have almost zero contacts outside their culture to help them get out of their culture. Being left with no human/social nexus whatsoever, which is what failure to comply results in, is a fate that humans find intolerable.

    This paper explains that the problem is economic not social, marriage is the only way left to enable South Asian men to migrate to the UK.
    http://www.channel4.com/microsites/D/Dispatches/when_cousins_marry/cousins_12.pdf

    How to access girls at risk has been a huge task not least because until now the government has backed off from getting involved in cultural ‘community’ issues.

    This paper provides alot of detail about who Muslims can marry.
    http://muslimmarriages.wordpress.com/2007/06/11/thoughts-on-cousin-marriage/

    Reply

  11. The point being that even taking into consideration genetic compatibility, some girls will be born with a predisposition to rebel. But if the other members of the culture are able to stop that rebellion expressing itself then those rebellious genes may get buried for another generation or two?

    Reply

  12. ‘”Why do girls get better grades in elementary school than boys, even when they perform worse on standardized tests?” – basically ’cause they behave better in the classroom (but you knew that already, didn’t you?).’

    Nope.

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/boys-do-better-than-girls-when-taught-under-traditional-reading-methods-7184547.html

    Boys do BETTER than girls when taught under traditional methods. Girls also perform better when taught by traditional methods rather than the (typical) current methods. So it is a win win to use traditional methods…?

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/female-teachers-accused-of-giving-boys-lower-marks-6943937.html

    Female teacher, specifically, give boys lower marks. Note, boys actually recognize this!

    I also disagree with the comment that girls have a better attitude towards learning. He should have said girls have a better attitude at learning in the modern classroom.

    Reply

  13. “I’ve never heard of one case where it was the other way round – where the daughter desperately wanted to marry her father’s brother’s son, but had to elope, because her “modern” westernised dad disapproved of it.”

    1) Genetic attraction will only take place if they’ve met physically.
    2) I’ve seen south asian discussion boards where being attracted to the *wrong* cousin is commonly discussed. I expect which way round the problem – aunt’s kids or uncle’s kids – will depend on living arrangements within the culture?

    “This paper explains that the problem is economic not social, marriage is the only way left to enable South Asian men to migrate to the UK.”

    It’s an industry. Arranged marriages to the UK (and the subsequent EU passport) merits a dowry to the girl’s family.

    Reply

  14. @half – “Isn’t saying that male superiority in spatial navigation a side effect of testosterone a bit like saying have a penis is a side effect of testosterone?”

    (~_^)

    well, i think what these researchers were trying to say/show is that male superiority in spatial navigation didn’t come about from any special selection related to, say, hunting or something like that. just that’s it’s a sorta “spandrel” of having a lot of testosterone.

    dunno if they’re right or not. i quite like the hunting theory myself (although it could, of course, be wrong).

    Reply

  15. georgesdelatour – “I think sexual attraction to your father’s brother’s daughter isn’t genetic…. But the mechanism making it continue across generations is cultural, not genetic.”

    i think there’s two things here: 1) are people sexually attracted to their cousins (including their fbds), and 2) if so, is that sexual attraction the driving force behind cousin marriage in so many populations? or what is the driving force(s) behind cousin marriage: genetic or cultural?

    the answer to number 1 is, i think, yes — like georgia resident said above: genetic sexual attraction. people are attracted to individuals rather like themselves, and in a traditional society, those people would probably include your cousins (not if you were raised alongside them, though! — then westermarck kicks in.).

    the answer to number 2 is much more complicated. i think a large portion of the mechanisms driving cousin marriage is cultural (but, as jayman said, ultimately — where does culture come from?). peoples prefer cousin marriage to keep the wealth in the family, ’cause that’s the tradition, etc., etc. and europeans quit marrying their cousins for cultural reasons (the church and tptb telling them to stop it).

    but i was just reading Marriage Among Muslims: Preference and Choice in Northern Pakistan and one of the reasons the people give for marrying cousins — or in the clan — is because they don’t trust the outsiders. you would never marry any of those (unrelated) people ’cause who knows how they would treat you!

    then we’re back in my world of clannishness sentiments and lack of trust in strangers which, i think, is partly due to the inbreeding in the first place! so, cousin marriage leads to a distrust of strangers which, in turn, leads to more cousin marriage. so i think this is an example of a genetic mechanism contributing towards a preference for cousin marriage, it’s just a sort-of indirect one.

    Reply

  16. @georgesdelatour – “It’s difficult to see how the motor for the persistence of the practice could be genetic. By the time the widow either self-immolates or doesn’t, she’s usually no longer affecting the gene pool.”

    sure she could be. sati might be an ultimate form of altruism — sacrificing yourself for the benefit of your family. if — if — a widow, and i think this would apply more to an elderly widow, were an economic burden to a family, certainly removing her from the family’s economic equation might very well benefit her descendents. that’s all you need for her action to affect the gene pool.

    other peoples get rid of their elderly, too — or the elderly (or chronically ill) volunteer to get rid of themselves. so as not to be a burden on their families. to quote an article (and this surprises me as much as it will you) IN THE GUARDIAN about JARED DIAMOND(!) (~_^):

    “‘Most traditional societies give their older folk much more satisfying existences than we do and let them live out their last years surrounded by their children, relatives and grandchildren,’ says Diamond….

    There are exceptions. Nomad tribes, particularly those in the Arctic or deserts, faced with insufficient food will often kill old people or abandon them – or encourage them to commit suicide, a grim policy taken to extremes not just by the Kaulong but by people of the Banks Islands in the Pacific, whose old and sick would beg their friends to bury them alive to end their suffering, and the Chukchi, who live in the northeastern corner of Asia, who used to encourage their old folk to let themselves be strangled on the promise they would get preferential treatment in the next world. Yes, it sounds grim, admits Diamond, but it has a cruel logic: food supplies are limited and what else should they do when resources dry up? Let their children starve?

    altruism via inclusive fitness again.

    more from that article:

    “The Kaulong people of New Britain used to have an extreme way of dealing with families in mourning. Until the 1950s, newly widowed women on the island off New Guinea were strangled by their husband’s brothers or, in their absence, by one of their own sons. Custom dictated no other course of action. Failure to comply meant dishonour, and widows would make a point of demanding strangulation as soon as their husbands had expired.

    The impact on families was emotionally shattering, as Jared Diamond makes clear in his latest book, The World Until Yesterday. ‘In one case, a widow – whose brothers-in-law were absent – ordered her own son to strangle her,’ he says. ‘But he could not bring himself to do it. It was too horrible. So, in order to shame him into killing her, the widow marched through her village shouting that her son did not want to strangle her because he wanted to have sex with her instead.’ Humiliated, the son eventually killed his mother.”

    so sati — or sati-like behaviors — is/are not unique.

    Reply

  17. “Banter about Dildoes – review of Shopping in Ancient Rome.”

    same old, same old :)

    Reply

  18. “one of the reasons the people give for marrying cousins – or in the clan – is because they don’t trust the outsiders”.

    And one reason they don’t trust outsiders is because the family elders ruthlessly control and limit their interaction with those outsiders.

    I once saw Richard Dawkins talking to a Muslim firebrand in Egypt. The Egyptian guy said the central weakness of our decadent western societies was that we didn’t control our women. The implication was that if they stopped controlling theirs, their social structure would be gone in a generation.

    Reply

  19. Where does culture come from?

    In answering that, we have to be wary of the genetic fallacy, or the fallacy of origins. Chemistry comes from alchemy. But chemistry is not simply alchemy. It’s something else now.

    Cultural products have limits set by the physical potential of humans. Before modern conceptualism, no culture would have produced music pitched entirely above human hearing or art only visible in infrared. So human, biological limits matter. But there clearly are additional limits imposed by culture which go further than those biological limits. For instance, Islamic societies have tended to resist the visual representation of living beings for religious reasons. That inevitably gave them a very different kind of art to western Europe.

    At this point we could jump in and say maybe Europeans who were really good at figurative painting had a reproductive advantage over those who couldn’t do it very well. So over time Europeans bred more offspring with good draftsmanship and colour mixing skills. It’s not impossible. I guess Picasso would fit that theory better than Michelangelo.

    My point is, it’s not as if the cultural environment is palpably insufficient to do the job, provided there’s a minimum take-off level of talent around. For instance, Russia was a late starter in most of the arts of Europe. But from the 19th century, once there was an audience for their products, Russia suddenly produced great home-grown novelists, playwrights and composers in abundance.

    I’m not arguing for the Blank Slate. But there’s a danger of going too far the other way, of making genes the driver of everything.

    Reply

  20. @georgesdelatour:

    “I’m not arguing for the Blank Slate. But there’s a danger of going too far the other way, of making genes the driver of everything.”

    This is a strawman. No one here is making that claim. Note how far others who have invoked it have gotten.

    Firstly, you didn’t really answer my question.

    Secondly, you’re framing the issue the wrong way. It is sufficient to say (as is the crux of HBD Chick’s blogging and a good deal of mine) that cultural differences between human groups have something to do with genetic differences between those groups. Beyond that, it’s hard to be much more specific, even in cases where we do have genetic evidence.

    It is particularly unproductive to speculate how X or Y practice isn’t genetic because it’s due to A or B cultural feature because 1) you cannot prove it and 2) it doesn’t add anything meaningful to the investigation. Were you able to concretely exclude heredity or show how it was an unlikely explanation, that would be different.

    “At this point we could jump in and say maybe Europeans who were really good at figurative painting had a reproductive advantage over those who couldn’t do it very well. So over time Europeans bred more offspring with good draftsmanship and colour mixing skills. It’s not impossible. I guess Picasso would fit that theory better than Michelangelo.”

    Perhaps, but, as I said, heritable ≠ selected for. Not every heritable trait, including those that differs between groups, is itself an adaptation. Sometimes they are “exaptations”, traits that evolved for other purposes but become co-opted for something else.

    Reply

  21. @georgesdelatour:

    “‘one of the reasons the people give for marrying cousins – or in the clan – is because they don’t trust the outsiders’

    And one reason they don’t trust outsiders is because the family elders ruthlessly control and limit their interaction with those outsiders.”

    Evidence?

    It’s easy to make claims, it’s harder to prove them. Dawkins’s ideas on group differences tend to be pretty weak.

    Reply

  22. georgesdelatour
    “The implication was that if they stopped controlling theirs, their social structure would be gone in a generation.”

    I think there’s a lot of truth in this but i don’t think it contradicts the basic theory. If FBD marriage as a specific cultural form evolved for a specific environment i.e. a low population density herding environment then the women would be secluded from outsiders naturally as the different groups followed their herds. If after the Islamic conquest it was adopted in high population density farming areas then it may be a *forced* fit in some way.

    For example, if a girl is travelling with her family group around a desert there’s not a lot of stray males she could get enamoured with. I doubt bedouin keep their daughters locked in their tent because there’s no need. The level of control necessary to maintain the FBD marriage form would be less simply beause of lack of opportunity. The desert enforces the discipline.

    In Cairo it’s a very different story and restraining daughters might require much greater cultural force to compensate for the lack of desert.

    So biology -> culture (initially) but then culture can take on a life of its own.

    Reply

  23. @georgedelatour – “Chemistry comes from alchemy.”

    chemistry doesn’t come from alchemy! maybe the discipline does — but chemistry just is — it’s a part of nature/part of the universe. (if anything, chemistry comes from physics….)

    you still haven’t answered, to my satisfaction anyway: where does culture come from? does it come from the ether? from aliens? from god(s)?

    my impression is that culture is something created by humans — and that cultural “stuff” comes from our brains (some of it is, of course, accidental in the sense that, for instance, papua new guineans use feathers from birds of paradise to decorate themselves because there are birds of paradise on png). and our brains are biological (and chemical and physical, in the sense of physics) things, shaped and influenced by our genes and our environments, etc., etc.

    culture is an expression of our biologies, including our genes. extended phenotypes, as it were.

    Reply

  24. @georgesdelatour – “And one reason they don’t trust outsiders is because the family elders ruthlessly control and limit their interaction with those outsiders.”

    but whyyyy do the family elders “ruthlessly control and limit” their clan members’ “interaction with those outsiders”?

    because they don’t trust outsiders either perhaps/probably.

    in this (now famous on this blog) comment by g.w., he quoted a northern indian (as in india) farmer explaining how they don’t trust anyone:

    “Palanpur farmers sow their winter crops several weeks after the date at which yields would be maximised. The farmers do not doubt that earlier plantings would give them larger harvests, but no one, the farmer explained, is willing to be the first to plant, as the seeds on any lone plot would be quickly eaten by birds. I asked if a larger group of farmers, perhaps relatives, had ever agreed to sow earlier, all planting on the same day to minimise the loses. ‘If we knew how to do that,’ he said looking up from his hoe at me, ‘we would not be poor.'”

    they don’t come together and cooperate with one another as a group ’cause they simply don’t trust one another enough. either there’s something in the water in palanpur making these people so mistrustful — or that’s their personality types coming to the fore.

    so, it’s not just a question of who they let their daughters interact with/marry — clannish/tribal peoples have a tendency simply to not trust outsiders. some of them would like to do something about it (as the farmer above says), but they just don’t manage. it’s a tragedy — in the literary sense of the word.

    Reply

  25. JayMan:

    As your quote shows, Gurven et al. stated that “The lifestyle and ecology typical of hunter–gatherers and horticulturalists are the crucible that shaped much of human psychology and behavior”.

    The key word here is “much”, which of course does not imply all, nor even, for that matter, most.

    Generally speaking, most of the research programs that have been conducted within evolutionary psychology have aimed to empirical document the species-typical aspects of human psychology. The extent to which human psychology is universal — that is, exhibits low-variance — verily, is an empirical matter. Indeed, it may turn out that most of what evolutionary psychologists operationally define as human nature will turn out to comprise most — possibly a great deal — of the ‘natural kinds’ comprising our cognitive mind. (On a stipulative note, by ‘natural kinds’ I mean the concept of naturally-selected, species-typical, low-variance cognitive modules as deployed by various evolutionary psychologists. Of course, the threshold for what qualifies as “low-variance” is debatable.) It’s vital to have a precise handle for how evolutionary psychologists deploy the concept of human nature, lest one critiques straw men caricatures of the field, as alas has been all too common.

    Reply

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