linkfest – 09/15/13

Sir David Attenborough: Humans have stopped evolving“Human beings have stopped evolving becoming the only species to ‘put halt to natural selection of its own free will’, Sir David Attenborough has said, as he predicts the ‘cultural evolution’ of the future.” – lots of responses to that including: Humans are still evolving, and soon we’ll know a lot more about it – from john hawks; Evolution – it’s not over yet – from tom chivers; and Sir David Attenborough is wrong – humans are still evolving – from ian rickard.

Fate of new genes cannot be predicted“New versions of genes, called alleles, can appear by mutation in populations. Even when these new alleles turn the individuals carrying them more fit to survive and reproduce, the most likely outcome is that they will get lost from the populations. The theory that explains these probabilities has been postulated by the scientist J.B.S. Haldane almost 90 years ago. This theory has become the cornerstone of modern population genetics…. The research team … has now experimentally tested Haldane’s theory.”

Poorest Costa Ricans live longest“Biological markers confirm unusually slow ageing regardless of wealth, at least in one population.” – h/t jayman!

Uros people of Peru and Bolivia found to have distinctive genetic ancestries“Genographic project research shows ancestry may date to Altiplano’s initial settlement.”

African-American study identifies four genetic variants associated with blood pressure“‘We anticipated that individuals of African ancestry share similar biology to other populations. However, differences in genomic make-up between African ancestry and other populations have uncovered additional genes affecting blood pressure, in addition to genetic variants that are specific to individuals of African ancestry….'” – via amren.

Handedness GWAS Leads to Suspected Left-Right Asymmetry Genes“A team from the UK and the Netherlands has garnered evidence suggesting left- and right-handedness may involve genes from some of the same pathways that produce other features differing on right and left sides of the body.”

Functional genetic variation in humans: Comprehensive map published“European scientists, led by researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE)’s Faculty of Medicine in the context of the GEUVADIS project, today present a map that points to the genetic causes of differences between people. The study, published in Nature and Nature Biotechnology, offers the largest-ever dataset linking human genomes to gene activity at the level of RNA.”

Insect leg cogs a first in animal kingdom“Toothed gears enable young plant hoppers to synchronize limbs for jumping.”go home, evolution, you are drunk.

The Science of What Makes an Introvert and an Extrovert

Testes Size Correlates With Men’s Involvement in Toddler Care“Men with smaller testes than others are more likely to be involved in hands-on care of their toddlers….” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Can Your Language Influence Your Spending, Eating, and Smoking Habits?“[S]peakers with weak future tenses (e.g. German, Finnish and Estonian) were 30 percent more likely to save money, 24 percent more likely to avoid smoking, 29 percent more likely to exercise regularly, and 13 percent less likely to be obese, than speakers of languages with strong future tenses, like English.” – (“but where does language come from?” hbd chick mumbles to herself in the back row….)

‘Love hormone’ may play wider role in social interaction than previously thought“The new study, to be published Sept. 12 in Nature, pinpoints a unique way in which oxytocin alters activity in a part of the brain that is crucial to experiencing the pleasant sensation neuroscientists call ‘reward’…. ‘People with autism-spectrum disorders may not experience the normal reward the rest of us all get from being with our friends….’ Some genetic evidence suggests the awkward social interaction that is a hallmark of autism-spectrum disorders may be at least in part oxytocin-related. Certain variations in the gene that encodes the oxytocin receptor – a cell-surface protein that senses the substance’s presence – are associated with increased autism risk.”

More Money, More Children“‘[N]ow better-off people seem to be having more children; in the U.S., the fertility rate of wives whose husbands are in the top decile of income is back where it was a century ago.'” – h/t puzzle pirate!

Ashkenazi Jewish gene pool derives from ‘recent severe bottleneck’ of 300-400 individuals ca. 800 years ago – @race/history/evolution notes.

Morality and the Epiphany of Joshua Greene“The manifestations of morality are complex, but its origins are simple. Evolved behavioral predispositions are the ultimate reason for its existence…. Those behavioral traits evolved without a goal, and without a purpose. They exist because they happened to increase our chances of surviving and procreating at a time when our mode of existence as well as our social and physical environment were radically different from what they are now.” – helian’s on fire! (not literally … i hope.)

Are Women Less Corrupt?“Women are more likely than men to disapprove of — and less likely to participate in — political corruption, but only in countries where corruption is stigmatized…. ‘When corruption is stigmatized, as in most democracies, women will be less tolerant and less likely to engage in it compared with men. But if ‘corrupt’ behaviors are an ordinary part of governance supported by political institutions, there will be no corruption gender gap.'” – h/t jayman!

Politicians like power – from steve sailer.

Study: The Neg Works – (~_^) – @heartiste.

Some people are feminine – get over it“Whenever you have one group of people who believe one thing for ideological reasons, and another who believe something else because their business model depends on it, I tend to trust the latter. Who do you think knows more about the minds of girls and boys — the academics who’ve spent years discussing gender feminism, or people who sell toys?” (~_^) – from ed west.

A Brief Word On Pedophilia – scharlach reminds everyone what pedophilia is. THANK you!

Stephen Hsu on Cognitive Genomics“At the extremes, there are some academics and social activists who violently oppose any kind of research into the genetics of cognitive ability. Given that the human brain — its operation, construction from a simple genetic blueprint, evolutionary history — is one of the great scientific mysteries of the universe, I cannot understand this point of view.”

Heritability estimates and unexplained variance“Nobody owns unexplained variance.” – from dr. james thompson.

Study sheds light on genetics of how and why fish swim in schools“‘The motivation to be social is common among fish and humans…. ‘Some of the same brain regions and neurological chemicals that control human social behavior are probably involved in fish social behavior as well.'”

Why do haters have to hate? Newly identified personality trait holds clues“New research has uncovered the reason why some people seem to dislike everything while others seem to like everything. Apparently, it’s all part of our individual personality – a dimension that researchers have coined ‘dispositional attitude.'”

Everyday sadists take pleasure in others’ pain“[P]eople who score high on a measure of sadism seem to derive pleasure from behaviors that hurt others, and are even willing to expend extra effort to make someone else suffer.” – yeah. you know who you are.

How an evolutionary model is better at explaining decisions than neo-classical and behavioral economics models: A review of Douglas T. Kenrick and Vladas Griskevicius, The Rational Animal: How Evolution Made us Smarter than we Think.

Making The Right Mistakes: Error Management And The Evolution Of Errors“Human cognitive mechanisms evolved to deal with the problems of the past, where we spent 99% of our history, not those of the present. We should, therefore, hardly expect our brains to perform well all the time in modern settings where the social and physical environment is so different.”

From Slavs to Slaves“Between 1500 and 1650, Eastern Europe exported 1.5 million slaves to North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Western Europe exported a little over a million between 1530 and 1780.” – from peter frost.

The Madonna or the Whore? – @thosewhocansee.

E.O. Wilson has a new explanation for consciousness, art & religion. Is it credible?

The Evolutionary Case for Great Fiction“Might reading literature help with species survival?” (species survival? hmmmm.)

2013 ig nobel awards were announced this week! my favorite this year: the probability prize – “[T]he longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and Second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.” (^_^)

Mayan mass grave containing 1,400-year-old remains of DECAPITATED prisoners of war discovered in Mexico

Plans to evict Botswana Bushmen revealed by leaked report – @survival international. h/t andrew badenoch!

bonus: Parasite Ants Drafted as Mercenaries

bonus bonus: Inheritance of lifespan is sex-dependent in fruit flies

bonus bonus bonus: ‘Time travel is easy — in one direction,’ says Prof Brian Cox – but the time lords figured it out!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The sound of interstellar space…” (or not!) – h/ts michael anissimov and nelson!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Wherever there is red tape, the truth will be stranger than fiction“As the [u.k.’s] Government reflects on a bureaucratic obsession with ‘equality’, we ask: which of these tales of political correctness are made up?”

(note: comments do not require an email. all that’s required for successful time travel.)

56 Comments

  1. “Mayan mass grave containing 1,400-year-old remains of DECAPITATED prisoners of war discovered in Mexico”

    As soon as I saw the capitalized word I knew it was the Daily Mail.

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  2. @ihtg – “As soon as I saw the capitalized word I knew it was the Daily Mail.”

    yeah, they love Teh Big Letters. (~_^) surprised they used a word with so many syllables!

    Reply

  3. I don’t seem able to post over at TWCS so I’d like to say Bravo millefois! to MG Miles.

    Gender issues aside, puking, urinating and exposure in public are all illegal in the UK. It’s really bizarre that the police have allowed the situation to escalate and they are increasingly discouraging it through on-the-spot fines.

    Nevertheless, those behaviours are a temporary abuse of public space. Whereas, face/body covering is a permanent withdrawal from public space; a negation of a society premised upon the concept of public space and (honest) face to face interaction.

    But as a lady on a phone-in pointed out this morning – no-one can tell what she is thinking by looking at her face so there is no need for her to show it to either the judge or the jury.

    and back to gender…and… not forgetting the dragons – Andrew Lehman wrote an hyp. about autism that starts with his exploration of dragon myths. He says that dragons represent matriarchy. I can’t say if that’s true or not but St George is widespread in Europe so the idea that he portrays the ascent of patriarchy* is feasible.

    Isn’t Beowolf’s dragon immortal?

    *”Women lost access to learning because of the newly introduced universities – which came from the male chauvinist cultures of Hellenism and Hebraism by way of Islam… With that introduction of the universities, from which women were rigorously excluded, literacy in Latin, or even in vernacular languages, amongst women, even in convents, dropped alarmingly. http://www.umilta.net/equally.html

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  4. re: Sir David Attenborough: Humans have stopped evolving

    I love Attenboroughs nature documentaries and so, of course, the notion that humans have stopped evolving seems especially ludicrous coming from someone like him in this new genomic age. Still it is an interesting for an amateur like me to imagine what it would take to bring human evolution to a full stop. Off the top of my head every person born, male or female or something in between, would have to have an identical number of off-spring. No differential fertility rates allowed. (Betas take heart!) Differential death rates would not matter necessarily, provided societies were prepared to harvest male and female germ plasms upon birth and arrange for the necessary surrogate mothers, synthetic wombs, or what not. Even this might not be enough. Assortive mating practices would have to be ended (good-bye NYT Sunday marriage announcements) to maintain a constant distribution of alleles starting from the moment it is decreed that Evolution Must Stop! As for future mutations, whether good, bad, or indifferent, these would have to be carefully weeded out lest they pollute the gene pool. (Lot of money there for gene sequencing companies!) All this would have to be carefully kept up year after year and generation after generation. It might be easier to begin with a population that is already genetically uniform, a society of male and female clones, all of whose chromosomes are identical except for the X and Y, and even those two could be make to resemble each other as much as possible. Would this be enough? Dunno, I’m an amateur, but I expect not. The whole system would break down even supposing it had got established in the first place. Populations would fall almost certainly if anyone failed to reproduce, and if there were a population explosion followed by famine — well, forget about it.

    Yet I was raised — as were most of us — to blandly assume that evolution didn’t apply to human beings anymore. We though it was just about the survival of the fittest and the devil take the hindmost.

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  5. Re: pedos!

    Someone over at my blog had an insightful point: If a man’s being attracted to a post-pubescent 12-18 year old is well within the bounds of normal heterosexual male behavior, then pedo-hysteria is perhaps another feminist success designed to shame normal heterosexual male behavior. (Like most such designs, of course, this one backfired: despite what we see on To Catch a Predator, most men busted for banging their underaged girlfriends are black and Latino.)

    I don’t think we should leave such males off the hook, of course. Teachers should probably be fired; dads should use shotguns to chase the guys away from their daughters. And in the case of Muslim ‘grooming,’ there are crimes and immoralities involved beyond a putative ‘pedophilia’: coercion, kidnapping, blackmail, drugging, etc. But all of this can be operative without the moral hysteria about pedos, which is not at all scientific and serves only progressive ends.

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  6. “Human beings have stopped evolving becoming the only species to ‘put halt to natural selection of its own free will”

    No selection against previously fatal disease is selection for those previously fatal diseases.

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  7. “Fate of new genes cannot be predicted”

    God (or not :) ) throws a massive amount of dice and then shoots everyone who got a “1” in the back of the head.

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  8. “At the extremes, there are some academics and social activists who violently oppose any kind of research into the genetics of cognitive ability.”

    If they genuinely believed everyone was the same they wouldn’t be so bothered by it. They don’t believe it.

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  9. Being an introvert sucks, another of natural selection’s many mistakes. Even that article which is trying to be even handed can’t conceal that it’s just a less fulfilling life in every way.

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  10. “Everyday sadists take pleasure in others’ pain”

    You see this a lot with gangbangers after a stabbing or killing. One or more of them will be high as a kite – usually the one who struck the first blow.

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  11. @grey – “You see this a lot with gangbangers after a stabbing or killing. One or more of them will be high as a kite – usually the one who struck the first blow.”

    ugh. =/

    really scary/horrible to picture that, but very interesting at the same time. makes sense. people (all creatures great and small) do the things that they do because they are somehow rewarded for those behaviors — chemically/biologically i mean.

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  12. “scharlach reminds everyone what pedophilia is”

    Interestingly though…

    If, all else being equal, early pubertees will outbreed later pubertees (as they’ll have faster generations) then in a situation where it’s viable the average age of puberty will go down to whatever the physical minimum is.

    If you create cultural barriers and sanctions against early reproduction that penalize early pubertees then the average age of puberty will go up.

    If the amount of genetic mutations from the male is a function of the time between end of puberty and first reproduction then late puberty would allow later marriage for the same amount of mutations. Later marriages would mean fewer generations and less total genetic load.

    Example
    Group A
    – finishs puberty at age 12
    – first reproduction four years later at 16

    Group B
    – finishs puberty at age 16
    – first reproduction four years later at age 20

    So same amount of mutation between end of puberty and first reproduction but group A would have 1.25 more generations in the same amount of time so 1.25 more load.

    Hajnal line ftw

    (maybe)

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  13. @scharlach – “…pedo-hysteria is perhaps another feminist success designed to shame normal heterosexual male behavior.”

    feminists prolly have a hand in this, yeah.

    but i keep thinking that the hysteria is connected to the fact that so many women now delay reproduction (don’t get married ’til their 30s or whatever) and/or wind up back in the dating pool in their 40s after getting divorced — so all these somewhat older women now, who in the past would’ve been respectable married women well on their way to becoming grandmothers — they’re all now in competition with the 16-18 year old girls! (good luck!) thus, all the pedo-hysteria, i think.

    the funniest thing that i find about all the pedo-hysteria from the suburban moms is that, meanwhile, they are all denuding themselves completely so that they look like 12 year olds! sorry, but it really does make me LOL every time i think about it. (~_^)

    @scharlach – “I don’t think we should leave such males off the hook, of course. Teachers should probably be fired; dads should use shotguns to chase the guys away from their daughters. And in the case of Muslim ‘grooming,’ there are crimes and immoralities involved beyond a putative ‘pedophilia’: coercion, kidnapping, blackmail, drugging, etc. But all of this can be operative without the moral hysteria about pedos, which is not at all scientific and serves only progressive ends.”

    yes. my thoughts precisely.

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  14. @grey – “…then late puberty would allow later marriage for the same amount of mutations.”

    yes, i think that must be right. hajnal line ftw! (~_^)

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  15. hubchik
    “do the things that they do because they are somehow rewarded for those behaviors — chemically/biologically i mean.”

    Yes almost like there’s a spectrum that goes:

    empathy – switchable empathy – null empathy – inverted empathy

    (switchable people can switch it off when needed)

    .

    “because they are somehow rewarded”

    also in advance. i think normal people find it hard to stab someone because their empathy makes them visualize it happening to themselves. the latter two types don’t have that barrier.

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  16. “thus, all the pedo-hysteria, i think”

    I think there’s more now (anecdotal).

    *If* the gay bug theory is correct and *if* it works by rewiring what the brain finds physically attractive visually then all visual paraphilias should go up at the same time as homosexuality.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraphilia

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  17. “I think there’s more now (anecdotal)”

    I mean more actual pedophiles.

    .

    Part of the (non-specifically prepubescent) pedophile hysteria (which i personally don’t think is hysteria even if it’s misnamed) is mass immigration completely skews the sex distribution especially in working-class areas so you get a lot of young males competing for women and this skew is driving the pursuit of very young girls who then don’t get any protection from adults in authority for PC reasons.

    So a lot of the hysteria comes from a segment of the population who are having their children preyed on while another segment doesn’t realize the problem even exists.

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  18. Joshua Greene’s epiphany isn’t very novel. I’ve been hearing it put forward hopefully since college in the 70’s. It might be true, certainly – though hard to measure, wouldn’t we think? – but I am always suspicious of hypotheses that people so clearly want to be true. “Moral” living is good for the survival of the group…that is a far distance from evidence that survival is its only function.

    Similarly with the future-tense languages theory. People just want the idea to be true that the language you speak channels your type of thoughts. It just seems that life would be cooler that way. And perhaps it will prove out by preponderance of evidence. But correlation is not causation, especially when the populations studied include different language groups that live close together (Germany, Estonia, Finland), versus similar languages (German, English) which are also separated by distance and more water. Future tense constructions are not the only thing different about Englishmen and Germans, after all.

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  19. Greying wanderer – ” i think normal people find it hard to stab someone because their empathy makes them visualize it happening to themselves. the latter two types don’t have that barrier.”

    Tangentially related, but in Genesis we read that man was created in God’s image or words to that effect. But then a little later (in the Patriarchal narratives) we read that only “God fearers” are to be trusted (treated with) among strangers in this world. The implicit assumption seems to have been that those who did not “fear” God were not truly or fully human beings.

    By analogy one could argue in today’s secular world that born sociopaths, though they appear to be “normal people” on the outside, are in actuality more like wild animals.

    It is this notion of what it means to be human in the Bible (a primary document of Western culture and civilization) that interests me. Is being human a biological or a moral category? Most people I know, good secularists all, would argue unhesitatingly that it is a biological category. But then why do they think it is ok when convicted murderers lose what they (and I) also maintain are universal human rights (“to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”)? Has the murderer somehow become — or proven himself to to have been — less than human? The conclusion seems inescapable.

    I hope I’m not all wet.

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  20. Luke Lea
    yes, very interesting topic. i am in flux at the mo. i was religious, then i stopped and now i’m slowly drifting back that way again but differently i.e. treating religiosity as an evolved survival trait.

    i really want to re-read the bible in the light of the last few year’s wiki studying as i think it must – among other things – contain clues to early cultural evolution.

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  21. @grey – “i really want to re-read the bible….”

    having been raised a roman catholic, i’m going to have to read the bible one of these days. (~_^)

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  22. @luke – “By analogy one could argue in today’s secular world that born sociopaths, though they appear to be ‘normal people’ on the outside, are in actuality more like wild animals. “

    or less domesticated maybe, civilized peoples having self-domesticated themselves (although mostly not intentionally).

    @luke – “Is being human a biological or a moral category? Most people I know, good secularists all, would argue unhesitatingly that it is a biological category.”

    well, it is a biological category, but what they’re missing is human biological diversity. some individuals/humans are “more human” than others, in the sense of being more domesticated (civilized). others — like my friends the yanomamo — are probably less domesticated.

    (lest anyone interpret me the wrong way — yes, ALL humans are human and deserving of … yeah … their lives, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. as long as their “rights” don’t infringe upon me and mine … and vice versa … as much as possible. live and let live, i say.)

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  23. @avi – “‘Moral’ living is good for the survival of the group…”

    ooo, you’ll get the population geneticists (esp. greg cochran) after you for saying something like that. selection doesn’t happen at the level of groups — at least not in humans anyway, so they keep saying. selection happens on individuals.

    @avi – “People just want the idea to be true that the language you speak channels your type of thoughts.”

    i think that, generally, this must be true. why would people invent languages that didn’t reflect how they think? (obviously, peoples borrow languages from other peoples, though, so the picture is complicated.)

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  24. @grey – “I think there’s more now (anecdotal).”

    more actual pedophiles? i mean those interested in pre-pubescent kids? you could be right … i don’t have any impressions about it.

    @grey – “…mass immigration completely skews the sex distribution especially in working-class areas so you get a lot of young males competing for women and this skew is driving the pursuit of very young girls who then don’t get any protection from adults in authority for PC reasons.”

    good point, although i think this is more the case in the u.k./other parts of europe than the u.s. as far as i can tell, there are almost no “grooming” cases in the u.s. there have been a couple, mostly amongst somalis in minnesota, and then they seem to be targeting somali girls or african-american girls, so this is just not on the radar at all of white suburban americans.

    no. amongst the ladies who watch oprah (in the u.s.), they are completely hysterical about their 14-15 year old daughters meeting some older man online. and, however much i agree with them that that shouldn’t be allowed at all, it’s not pedophilia, and those men are not sick. behaving extremely inappropriately, yes, but not mentally defective in a sexual way (obviously they’ve got some mental problems wrt behaving properly in society).

    even the evil muslim groomers in the u.k. — even they’re not pedophiles — although the 11-year-old girl might’ve been a borderline case (i would have to have a look at her).

    but, yeah … this is definitely happening in the u.k./europe(?):

    “So a lot of the hysteria comes from a segment of the population who are having their children preyed on while another segment doesn’t realize the problem even exists.”

    =/

    and maybe that, too, is filtering over to north america nowadays given that the news has really become quite global in the last ten years or so. -?- dunno.

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  25. @bnk – “With that introduction of the universities, from which women were rigorously excluded, literacy in Latin, or even in vernacular languages, amongst women, even in convents, dropped alarmingly.”

    i would’ve sooo been burnt as a witch in the medieval period. =/

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  26. @luke – “Still it is an interesting for an amateur like me to imagine what it would take to bring human evolution to a full stop.”

    i think you covered most of them there! (^_^)

    @luke – “All this would have to be carefully kept up year after year and generation after generation.”

    this. this i why i think the people who look forward to when all humans are medium-brown like brazilians have got a screw loose. how do they imagine this will be maintained? we’d have to make sure that the 7+ billion people on the planet — a number which could more than double in the future — will be continually shuffled up in every generation. will that really happen? i’ll believe it when i see it.

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  27. @luke – “Tangentially related, but in Genesis we read that man was created in God’s image or words to that effect. But then a little later (in the Patriarchal narratives) we read that only ‘God fearers’ are to be trusted (treated with) among strangers in this world. The implicit assumption seems to have been that those who did not ‘fear’ God were not truly or fully human beings.”

    @grey – “i really want to re-read the bible in the light of the last few year’s wiki studying as i think it must – among other things – contain clues to early cultural evolution.”

    should i set up an open-thread bible studies page where ideas like this could be discussed?

    Reply

  28. “having been raised a roman catholic, i’m going to have to read the bible one of these days”

    heh

    .
    “more actual pedophiles? i mean those interested in pre-pubescent kids? you could be right … i don’t have any impressions about it.”

    gut feeling only and not anywhere near certain enough to mention except in the context of the gay bug theory.

    .
    “amongst the ladies who watch oprah (in the u.s.), they are completely hysterical about their 14-15 year old daughters meeting some older man online”

    Fair point. I’d forgotten about the online predator aspect because of experience with the much more prevalent form.

    .
    “although i think this is more the case in the u.k./other parts of europe than the u.s. as far as i can tell, there are almost no “grooming” cases in the u.s.”

    Officially there weren’t any in the UK either (even though in reality there were thousands) until the media started to report it. Once the police had cover from the media scores of people were arrested within weeks as the police already knew who they were just couldn’t do anything about it until the media reported it.

    .
    “there have been a couple, mostly amongst somalis in minnesota, and then they seem to be targeting somali girls or african-american girls, so this is just not on the radar at all of white suburban americans.”

    I can guarantee it will be happening – supply and demand – just mostly not reported.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2178189/Two-men-charged-horrific-torture-murder-dismembered-woman-dumped-duffel-bag-feet-sawn-alive.html

    If the media told the whole truth most people wouldn’t believe it.

    But you’re right, as it’s mostly not reported the hysteria in the US is mostly related to the overblown internet stuff.

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  29. “should i set up an open-thread bible studies page where ideas like this could be discussed?”

    I haven’t read it since i was a teenager so i’d need to re-read it first in the light of recent googlings and who knows when that will be :)

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  30. @ ‘Love hormone’ may play wider role in social interaction than previously thought The new study, to be published Sept. 12 in Nature, pinpoints a unique way in which oxytocin alters activity in a part of the brain that is crucial to experiencing the pleasant sensation neuroscientists call ‘reward’…. ‘
    ….

    ‘People with autism-spectrum disorders may not experience the normal reward the rest of us all get from being with our friends….’

    I think the finding (that you’ve previously reported on) that oxytocin in males tend to be associated with competitive relationships and in females kinship relationships would help to explain why males identified with oxytocin hyposecretion problems (autism?) tend to be seen as actual losers (i.e. they don’t identify and respond well, either by defusing or winning, in competitive situations, so “lose”) while females with similar problems might instead tend to merely be seen as alienated from their kin, blood or otherwise (less “clannish” and more “liberal”?).

    I’m skeptical that oxytocin and reward have much to do with autism, rather than merely normal trait variation in extraversion that can reinforce autism problems and hasn’t been cleanly enough been separated from autism. I think autism is more due to sensory biases, but perhaps that doesn’t cleanly separate from reward (i.e. people have a sensory bias towards rewarding information).

    Being an introvert sucks, another of natural selection’s many mistakes. Even that article which is trying to be even handed can’t conceal that it’s just a less fulfilling life in every way.

    Extraverts are probably the type with the highest levels of natural reward, but ambiverts as the most common type are the ones around which all the median stimulation environments we actually live and work in are built around (and probably must be built around, to remain functional), so probably have the easiest time and the most success.

    Agree that the evidence seems to be that introverts probably have more problems than the other types in that they find the world generally less rewarding, so have a bit less psychological resiliance all things equal (for instance, more prone to shyness, a trait found to be a combination of high neuroticism and low extraversion, because there isn’t that level of reward from the environment to overcome neurotic feelings about the environment), even if they are free from certain distractions that make it harder to acquire practical and academic skills.

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  31. Re. Politicians and power. I think Arthur C. Clarke said the only people who can be trusted with power are those who don’t want it. Then again, Nero didn’t want it when he began his career. We ought to put candidates thru a psychological test before they’re allowed to stand for election. That might weed out dangerous narcissists like Obama and Blair.

    “Politics, as I never tire of saying, is for social and emotional misfits, handicapped folk, those with a grudge. The purpose of politics is to help them overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power.”

    “The Power Urge,” essay in The Spectator (15 December, 1982); reprinted in Another Voice (1986)

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  32. should i set up an open-thread bible studies page where ideas like this could be discussed?

    No, I don’t think so. I’ve only got about three Biblically related ideas in me, and besides most Biblical discussions (and religious discussions in general) are pointless. Nobody ever agrees except those spouting orthodox dogma. It is worse than economics, if such a thing is possible.

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  33. “i would’ve sooo been burnt as a witch in the medieval period. =/”

    You could have walled yourself in and offered pearls of wisdom to passing pilgrims through a small window.
    :¬)

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  34. The stuff about the effect of future tense on people’s economic behavior has met with a lot of skepticism from linguists. Not surprisingly, since most linguists are pretty skeptical of anything Whorfian (i.e. the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, that your language determines how you think). Here is some discussion you might be interested in (not all of it skeptical, btw):

    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=6821

    As to your question “where does language come from?”, again, most linguists since Chomsky, at least in the US, believe there is an innate component to language. However, I’m not aware of any research pursuing the hypothesis that this language faculty varies among different people or different human populations (apart from extreme examples like congenital language pathologies, the KE family and the FOXP2 gene). The assumption driving linguistic research in the generative tradition is that the language faculty is the same for all people (this is what allows us to search for and discover linguistic universals).

    This doesn’t mean there isn’t such variation, but no one has found anything to suggest it yet. In general, language seems pretty modular, and linguistic ability doesn’t correlate much with other cognitive faculties. The only correlation I know of is between IQ and vocaulary size, but language is a lot more than just vocab.

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  35. @bnk – “You could have walled yourself in and offered pearls of wisdom to passing pilgrims through a small window. :¬)”

    you mean kinda like now?! (~_^) (although i’m not so sure about the “pearls of wisdom.”)

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  36. “i really want to re-read the bible in the light of the last few year’s wiki studying as i think it must – among other things – contain clues to early cultural evolution.”

    As with pretty much evreything else, Azar Gat’s War in Human Civilization has a few good thoughts on this subject. (Though he stays out of Genesis – Deut through 2 Kings is the world he mines for insight). I can never recommend that book enough.

    Actually, given Gat’s stubbornness in sticking to a evolutionary/sociobiological framework across the book, this might be the right crowd to try and get to read it.

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  37. ^—By “everything else” I mean almost any other subject that conceivably shed lite on human societies and their workings. If it matters then Gat probably touched on it.

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  38. @jonathan – “The stuff about the effect of future tense on people’s economic behavior has met with a lot of skepticism from linguists. Not surprisingly, since most linguists are pretty skeptical of anything Whorfian (i.e. the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, that your language determines how you think).”

    yes, i’m skeptical of that, too. especially since, like galton (*ahem* (~_^) ), i don’t think in words at all.

    @jonathan – “The assumption driving linguistic research in the generative tradition is that the language faculty is the same for all people (this is what allows us to search for and discover linguistic universals).”

    oh, i’m sure there are language universals — plenty of them. we’re all human. but, frankly, it would be weird — given evolution (esp. of our brains) — if there weren’t any differences in language between populations — or, more to my point, differences in how different peoples view and experience the world and, therefore, different … feelings and ideas that need to be expressed. somewhat different. not vastly different.

    there are physical differences between the different human populations thanks to natural selection (just one example). i don’t see why there shouldn’t be differences in our brains, arguably our most important organ. i suspect that the reason the linguists haven’t found any differences in language faculties/production between human groups is because, like you say, they haven’t been looking for any.

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  39. @t.greer – “Actually, given Gat’s stubbornness in sticking to a evolutionary/sociobiological framework across the book, this might be the right crowd to try and get to read it.”

    ooo, ok! you’ve sold me! (^_^) thanks.

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  40. @matt – “Agree that the evidence seems to be that introverts probably have more problems than the other types in that they find the world generally less rewarding….”

    yes, but remember that without the introverts, all the extraverts out there would still be running around after mammoths and living in caves. ’twas the introverts who sat at home in the caves thinking (thinking!) that, hmmmm, there must be a way to improve on all this. (~_^)

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  41. So… normal sexuality for many people includes attraction to pubescent minors as young as twelve.

    That has significant policy implications. Like not allowing a 35 year old man to take a troop of girl scouts into the woods. Luckily we’re not completely oblivious to the danger of that situation.

    But gay people exist and there is every reason to think that they are also attracted to pubescent minors as young as twelve, just like straight people are.

    Yet gay men are allowed to take troops of boy scouts into the woods and gay priests are allowed plenty of alone time with altar boys.

    :(

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  42. @smersh – “But gay people exist and there is every reason to think that they are also attracted to pubescent minors as young as twelve, just like straight people are. Yet gay men are allowed to take troops of boy scouts into the woods and gay priests are allowed plenty of alone time with altar boys.”

    yup. ran through that line of thought, too. there’s definitely a problem there.

    as a complete side-note — something else that i thought of wrt to gays/lesbians — presumably westermarck works on them, too, and they’re not attracted to their siblings (the ones that they’ve grown up with, that is)?

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  43. I’ve just ordered my copy of Gat’s book too. Extensive previews are available on Google Books btw. Looks very interesting, especially the sections on tribal and proto-state formation. I wonder if he will give military conquest the same unique status as a cultural innovation I do? It certainly reduced violence — even as it greatly increased the intensity of human exploitation (aka the length of the working day). The Fall was real.

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  44. In case you can’t find it, here is where that Wack Job on Adam and Eve continues. Looking back now I can see this is some of the most amusing stuff I ever wrote on the web (or anywhere). It was the first chance I had to really let me hair down. Thanks razib! And thanks Tim Berners-Lee!

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  45. Language differences and thought. Yes, everyone keeps thinking that it must be true. But somehow, the evidnce for it has been elusive for decades.

    As for the open thread on the Bible, genetics, war, culture, and all that HBD stuff, I would recommend that you just make the occasional observation rather than open it up for discussion. You will likely be wrong, because we all are. But sometimes important things get through. It is impossible to “just read” the Bible, as we have so many hidden assumptions about what various phrases “really” mean that we cannot see it clearly. 2000 years of people claiming that a sentence “obviously” means something that that is regarded as an impossible interpretation 100 years later. I don’t think it’s hopeless. I wrote a series on it 5-6 years ago. But even though my adult Sunday School classes are quite specifically advertised as “Mythbuster” classes, there are churches where I wouldn’t even bother to bring up the least controversy. No point. And interestingly, I mean the mainstream churches more than the fundamentalist when I write that (though I include both.)

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  46. T. Greer

    “As with pretty much evreything else, Azar Gat’s War in Human Civilization has a few good thoughts on this subject. (Though he stays out of Genesis – Deut through 2 Kings is the world he mines for insight). I can never recommend that book enough.”

    Interesting.

    The thing that would interest me most if i re-read the bible would be looking for comments relating to the sort of things discussed here e.g. marriage patterns: FBD, MBD etc.

    Although if it turns out to be true that towns > agriculture rather than the other way round and that those early towns tended to be religious centres built around some particularly precious natural food resource like figs, dates, acorns etc then a candidate for a real garden of eden might be a valley of apples somewhere That’s just entertaining speculation though.

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  47. @crassus – “What…you don’t think in words!?”

    nope! but not quite in pictures, either (unless i’m really, really tired then, yeah, i wind up having a rapid-fire slideshow in my brain).

    the best description i’ve ever found for how i think is from sir francis galton and how he thought. i’m happy to know that i’m in good company. (~_^)

    let me tell you, not thinking in words makes writing — but, even more so, talking — a challenge. i’m forever — forever — having to “translate” my thoughts into a different language. ugh.

    (^_^)

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  48. @avi – “Language differences and thought. Yes, everyone keeps thinking that it must be true. But somehow, the evidnce for it has been elusive for decades.”

    it’s been elusive for decades, perhaps, because no one will believe their lying eyes ears! the question is always, “does language shape thought?” not “does thought shape language?”, which seems to me the more obvious direction.

    i had a very amusing conversation with a linguist not that long ago — a fellow from “the old country” — and he was telling me that originally, in our native language (which i don’t speak — i only know a few, choice swear words), there was no word or phrase for “i made a mistake” — the closest thing you could say was “i forgot” (there’s a loan word now for mistake). and we just laughed and laughed over this, because our entire culture is about avoiding responsibility and culpability! it’s never our fault — always someone else’s. (we’re one of the piigs, and it sure ain’t our fault! all the fault of the e.u. or the imf or somebody else!) we don’t make mistakes or errors, see? (~_^)

    @avi – “As for the open thread on the Bible, genetics, war, culture, and all that HBD stuff, I would recommend that you just make the occasional observation rather than open it up for discussion. You will likely be wrong, because we all are.”

    well, i was actually hoping with an open thread, that it’d be you guys doing most of the contributing and i could just follow along. (~_^) oh — and i’m plenty used to be wrong by now. (^_^)

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  49. Galton, eh? Good company indeed!

    At first I thought it sounded a little strange when you said you don’t think in words, but after thinking about it for a while, and reading Galton’s article, I started to think that maybe I’m like that too. Is this really that uncommon, or is everyone like this without realizing it? I’ve obviously never tried to think with someone else’s head, so I guess it’s hard to say (would be fun to try for a few minutes, though). I feel I have to ‘translate’ my thoughts into words when I write or talk, but I can’t imagine it being any different for anyone else? By the way, I have this strange (and very useless) talent…I can say words, even rather complex ones, backwards really, really fast. I can also count the number of letters in relatively long sentences very fast. When people ask me how I do this, I usually respond that I picture the word written in front of my eyes, and then start reading it backwards or counting the letters. Can you do this too?

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  50. HBDchick says: “the question is always, “does language shape thought?” not “does thought shape language?”

    I think this is partly because the world has a long history of one group imposing their language(s) on others. The question rises up pretty quick in this context, especially when multiple generations are at play.

    From my entirely subjective and untested experience it seems that language does shape thought – at least, learning another language has forced me to think in very different ways. This was one of the struggles I had with Cambodian. The Chinese thought process is very rationalistic, I could deal with it pretty well. But to learn to speak Cambodian…. I had to learn to think in a fuzzier way. I don’t have a better word for it – fuzzy.

    I would love to see more testing on this matter. As far as i see it, language is perhaps the strongest competitor to describe a lot of the cultural norms HBD tries to. Perhaps one could follow Russian or Eastern European kids adopted into American homes, who don’t speak their motherland language (and notably unlike East Asian adoptees) hang out mostly with white Americans, and test to see if they have cultural biases of Americans or E. Europeans.

    Of course, it could all be a bit more complicated than this. Perhaps thought processes favor certain concepts/words/constructions, which cause them to be adopted, but once adopted all others, even those not genetically pre-disposed one way or another, are forced into using and thinking along the line the majority has established. Feedback loop that penalizes those who try to break outside of the box.

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  51. I started to think that maybe I’m like that too. Is this really that uncommon, or is everyone like this without realizing it? I’ve obviously never tried to think with someone else’s head, so I guess it’s hard to say (would be fun to try for a few minutes, though).

    Most people aren’t really pure verbal thinkers, I don’t think. The thoughts we can communicate to one another tend to be verbal, or at least verbally mediated so that is where the bias results.

    Thought is multi-modal for me. Grammatical language combines with streams of consciousness combines with abstract schematic imagery combines with math symbols (pretty rarely) combines with concrete images mix combines non-visual spatial thinking combines with intuition.

    The verbal parts are essential and the thought would not be possible without them (people with better language abilities I expect always think better, about anything, all other abilities equal), but for communicating the thought it isn’t sufficient to just reel off the grammatical language parts of the thought and call it a day.

    I expect people who claim to be purely verbal thinkers either spend their time thinking mainly about language (i.e. it’s not how they think as a trait but what they think about), or just have such high ability to transform between communication modes that they don’t notice they’re doing it. Similarly, people who claim to be pure visual thinkers probably spend much of their time thinking about art and mechanics, for dispositional reasons of having an interest, rather than having a fixed mode of thought that they then have to match up to a pastime or occupation.

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  52. Wow lukelea, that’s a brilliant essay. I had a similar idea about Geneais and the end of hunter-gathering, but my explanation of the fall was environmental: the garden of Eden was north Africa or Arabia and desertification forced people to huddle together and farm. I like your idea better though.

    Civilization was always a sucker game, I think we can agree on that. There’s a reason why hunting and fishing have always been recreational activities for farmers.

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  53. @crassus – “By the way, I have this strange (and very useless) talent…I can say words, even rather complex ones, backwards really, really fast. I can also count the number of letters in relatively long sentences very fast. When people ask me how I do this, I usually respond that I picture the word written in front of my eyes, and then start reading it backwards or counting the letters. Can you do this too?”

    no, i can’t! (^_^) or i’ve never tried it/worked on developing it. when i need to recall how to spell a word, though, i visualize it — and by that i mean i see it spelled out in front of me (in my head) — a picture in my mind — so i guess i could try saying words backward using your method. something to do over the weekend, maybe! (^_^)

    Reply

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