linkfest – 09/29/13

Do Elite ‘Power Sport’ Athletes Have a Genetic Advantage?“A specific gene variant is more frequent among elite athletes in power sports…. A ‘functional polymorphism’ of the angiotensiogen (AGT) gene is two to three times more common in elite power athletes, compared to nonathletes or even elite endurance athletes, according to the new research by Paweł Cięszczyk, PhD, of University of Szczecin, Poland, and colleagues.”

Ballet Dancers’ Brains Adapt to Stop Them Getting in a Spin – or maybe they start off with somewhat different brain structures: “Scientists have discovered differences in the brain structure of ballet dancers that may help them avoid feeling dizzy when they perform pirouettes…. The brain scans revealed differences between the groups in two parts of the brain: an area in the cerebellum where sensory input from the vestibular organs is processed and in the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for the perception of dizziness. The area in the cerebellum was smaller in dancers.”

Math explains history: Simulation accurately captures the evolution of ancient complex societies“The question of how human societies evolve from small groups to the huge, anonymous and complex societies of today has been answered mathematically, accurately matching the historical record on the emergence of complex states in the ancient world. Intense warfare is the evolutionary driver of large complex societies, according to new research….” see also: Math and History Collide. response: No, math cannot predict the rise and fall of empires. (party pooper.)

Genetic study pushes back timeline for first significant human population expansion“Using new genetic tools, the authors conclude that the first significant expansion of human populations appears to be much older than the emergence of farming and herding, dating back to the Paleolithic (60,000-80,000 years ago) rather than Neolithic age (10,000 years ago). They also suggest that strong Paleolithic expansions may have favored the emergence of sedentary farming in some populations during the Neolithic.” – h/t malcolm pollack!

Scientists Created a New Form of Matter and It’s Like a Lightsaber – AWESOME! – see also: Scientists create never-before-seen form of matter

New Approach to Explaining Evolution’s Big Bang“[T]he Cambrian Explosion was preceded by a rise in sea level that submerged vast swaths of land, eroding the drowned rocks…. But these great floods also poisoned the ocean. The erosion of the coastlines released calcium, which can be toxic to cells. In order to survive, animals had to evolve ways to rid themselves of the poison. One solution may have been to pack the calcium into crystals, which eventually evolved into shells, bones, and other hard tissues. Dr. Smith doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that several different lineages of bilaterians evolved hard tissues during the Cambrian explosion, and not sooner.”

No, You Don’t Have Free Will, and This is Why – best post from jayman. ever. (to date! (~_^) ) a response to this.

Robert Ardrey: Incidents in the Disappearance of an Unperson – ok. i’ve run out of ways to say how brilliant helian’s posts are. just go read him already!

The IQ Breaking Point – How Civilized Society is Maintained or Lost“[I]t seems like there is a point, somewhere around 97, above which a modern civilization can be maintained and below which things abruptly begin to fall apart.” – from staffan!

Maths is a man thing* – from dr. james thompson!

Myths about IQ: Episode I – from elijah!

HBD: On Puerto Ricans and Their Heritage, Part I: Before the Taíno – from nelson!

Understanding how infants acquire new words across cultures“[I]n English, 24-month-old infants were better able to learn novel verbs for novel actions (e.g., petting) if the surrounding noun phrases were explicitly mentioned (e.g., ‘The girl is petting the dog’) than if they were dropped from the sentence (e.g., ‘Look. Petting!’). In contrast, the new research shows that in Korean (a language in which noun phrases are typically dropped in conversation) 24-month-olds were better able to learn novel verbs for novel actions if the surrounding noun phrases (e.g., the girl, the dog) were dropped; in fact, unlike English-acquiring infants, those acquiring Korean struggled if the nouns were explicitly mentioned.” – don’t know, unfortunately, what the ethnicities of these infants are.

The Science Fiction Future of Genetic Genealogy“Next month at the American Society of Human Genetics 2013 meeting, researchers from AncestryDNA will present their work detailing the reconstruction of portions of the genomes of an 18th-century couple using detailed genealogical information and Identity-by-Descent (‘IBD’) DNA segments from several hundred descendants of the couple in the AncestryDNA database. In other words, researchers identified several hundred descendants of a certain couple living in the 1700s and then used the DNA shared by those descendants to recreate as much of the couples’ genomes as possible.” – cool! from the genetic genealogist.

Black men have lower sperm counts than white men – @race/history/evolution notes.

Low-Hanging Fruit: Consider the Ant“Some spiders somehow fly by using silken threads. They’ve been detected at altitudes over 4 km, and more than a thousand miles from land. The usual notion is that these threads catch air currents, but that may not be the real explanation. For one thing, they seem to be able to take off fairly rapidly in a dead calm. It looks instead as if these spiders manage to impart a negative charge to these threads and are then propelled upward by the atmospheric electric field – electrostatic levitation, a totally novel mechanism for flight.” – whoa! – from greg cochran.

Brainwashed by a microbe?“*T. gondii* is being studied for possible behavioral effects mainly because it has attracted so much attention. But we’re probably being manipulated by other parasites. ‘A large number of parasitic organisms probably exist in helminths, protozoa, fungi, bacteria, archea and viruses that may influence the phenotype of their human host even more than the Toxoplasma. These organisms are, however, still waiting for research teams to engage in a systematic study of their influence on the human host.'” – from peter frost. previously.

When the Melting Pot Reaches a Boil“If there is one constant in the travails of *Homo sapiens sapiens*, it is that he gets on best with his own kind. Yet to the social engineers who would shepherd us into multicult euphoria, it is as if these millennia of inter-ethnic strife didn’t exist.”

Humans are not the only primates who whisper – so do the cotton-top tamarins. shhhhhh! don’t tell anyone!

What Else Can I Do With My DNA Test Results? – @the genetic genealogist.

That’s not autism: It’s simply a brainy, introverted boy“Autism spectrum diagnoses are up 78 percent in 10 years. We’re dramatically overdiagnosing it in everyday behavior.” – #longread.

The 16 Most (and Least) Honest Cities in the World – wallet test – finns ftw!

Ancient language not heard for 4,000 years is recorded for the first time – PIE (proto-indo-european).

2,500-year-old horse remains found in Bulgaria that suggest the creatures were buried standing up“The carriage and horse skeletons were discovered in the village of Svestari in north-east Bulgaria. They were found in a Thracian tomb along with some decorations.” – cool photos!

How Alcohol Conquered Russia“A history of the country’s struggle with alcoholism, and why the government has done so little about it.” – take note of anatoly’s comments!

bonus: mitual shah – one of the good guys. one of the VERY good guys: Briton died saving children in terror mall“A British marketing executive was shot dead in the Westgate massacre in Kenya after offering himself as a hostage to bargain for the lives of 33 children.”

bonus bonus: I’m sorry, but we have to talk about the barbarism of modern Islamist terrorism – from brendan o’neill.

bonus bonus bonus: hero of the week, via everyone on twitter – After Told He’s Racist, UW-M Student Rejects Further Diversity ‘Training’

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The silence of our friends – the extinction of Christianity in the Middle East – from ed west @the spectator.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: from india – ‘Family honour’ and ‘values’ give immunity to the predator at home – h/t mark weiner!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The US government has been running a quantum Internet for over two years – cool! – h/t michael anissimov!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The Demons of Moldova“In Europe’s poorest country, young people are turning to occult religious practices — even exorcisms — to escape everyday life.”

(note: comments do not require an email. cotton-top tamarians!)


  1. Autism, Aspergers, etc. did not exist when I was a kid. Had they existed, I would have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder without Hyperactivity. School bored me so I didn’t pay attention, didn’t do my homework, and daydreamed a lot.


  2. So much good stuff here! Will have process it all tomorrow.

    Thanks, by the way!

    One more addition for you. For the folks
    who keep griping about “Western media beauty standards” and how that’s brainwashing women to hate their bodies and looks, see:

    Keeping it Real… | JayMan’s Blog

    I’m sure the game guys will pick this up soon.


  3. So…many…LINKS! (BTW, thanks for the h/t).
    Re: That’s not autism… (Salon article): That’s a great article – and I spy a difference-of-means hypothesis test on that chalkboard in the lead image! ;-)

    I believe most diagnoses of that type are BS (as are those for some other behavioral problems – especially when cats are quick to have the kids doped up as a “solution”); could’ve been me in 1990 (was all of 4 years old then) had it not been for my mama who fought tooth-and-nail to stop the “powers that be” from keeping me in “special ed” and trying to medicate me for what turned out to be a minor speech problem and hyperactivity (yeah, I was a hyper child – and a very smart one at that!)

    That jokers are still trying to diagnose (and ultimately dope up) these children for what’s essentially them being kids (or brainy introverts) sickens me to my stomach… :-(

    Re: When the Melting Pot…(TWCS): Didn’t realize M.G. posted a new one – and then she touches on some Hispanic genomic diversity on top of that? Interesting indeed!


  4. Had to pipe in here about the Salon Autism article as I have two intelligent introverted sons. I’ve expected for quite some time that the question might come up for at least one of them however I was very surprised to recently be forced to defend myself against accusations that I’m Autistic from several other adults, including one University department chair, but only after they learned about what I do for a living and my hobbies. It seems there’s a tendency out there these days to label anyone with uncommon mental abilities autistic. I am not emotionally closed to others, not by a long shot but it surprised me how long it took to convince these persons of that.



  5. OK, so here’s the JayMan Smackdown:

    About that ballet dancers, sample sizes are small, so that sounds like the type of thing Neurosceptic would be all over. But yes, I don’t know why they conclude that a priori that the ballet dancers’ brains changed in response to training, and not that it wasn’t that way to begin with.

    About the Black men having lower sperm counts, Peter Frost broke that down. The abysmally small sample size renders that further suspect.

    In general, I am highly skeptical of most claims about sperm counts, because few are gathered from truly representative samples known to be free of factors that affect sperm counts (primarily, time since last ejaculation).

    About Russia and alcohol, fundamentally, I suspect that they are biologically less resistant to alcoholism. This is perhaps because they have had a shorter history of agriculture.


  6. @luke – “We need a labor party in America.”

    at this point, i’d take ANY party that was actually concerned about american citizens! (within reason, obviously. no scary parties.)


  7. Anatoly Karlin is right about the “Alcoholism in Russia” article. Yeah, lots of Russians have a drinking problem, but this goes back a long time, and trying to somehow blame Putin and the current Russian Government for this is just BS. Besides, there are numerous countries that consume more alcohol than does Russia, and we hear nary a peep about them. The American media is as anti-Russian today as they were pro-Russian (or rather pro-Communist) back during the Cold War. But of course, since Communism was actually anti-Russian, maybe they haven’t changed so much after all. But anyway, AK is right – the Western Establishment media displays an irrational hostility towards Russia that they certainly did not display when we were adversaries. No, Putin is certainly no paragon of human rights, but that never stopped the Establishment media from journalistically fellating Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Le Duc Tho, or any number of other such clowns. But of course, Putin dared to show up The One, so I suppose that explains it.


  8. Surely recordings have been made of PIE before? The android in Prometheus (from 2012) practiced reading Schleicher’s fable. Perhaps they mean the first recording made by a human.


  9. “Surely recordings have been made of PIE before?”

    David Anthony in 2008:

    “Peter Frost broke that down.”

    See table added to post. No, abstinence time doesn’t work as an explanation.

    “The abysmally small sample size renders that further suspect.”

    The differences are large. Sample size is not an issue here. Flail harder.

    [edit: “Flail harder.” – let’s be civil, gentlemen, shall we? thank you. h.chick]


  10. “Math is a man thing”

    Most men aren’t very good at math, either. It is true that at the extreme fringes of ability there are a lot more men. For example, people who do well on the Putnam Mathematical Competition are almost all men (buy not quite all)

    However there are lots of people with advanced degrees in math who didn’t do well in the Putnam. (In fact, only a very tiny number of people do well on the Putnam). There are plenty of women with advanced degrees in math, even if there aren’t as many as there are men. So I wouldn’t say “Math is a man thing” any more than, for example, “Math is an Asian Thing”, or “Math is a Jewish thing”. Though both Asians and Jews are overrepresented in math.


  11. I have a young relative who is falsely diagnosed with Asperger. When did being smart become a medical condition? Perhaps this is a PC establishment way of dealing with uncomfortable truth-tellers. A way to break their spirit. I don’t think even those who do meet the criteria can be viewed as disordered – it’s just personality. But I guess that’s just my not-being-a-sheep disorder talking.


  12. @Staffan Being smart, being odd, these things make other people very uncomfortable especially when they come together as they tend to do. I am quite certain that were I growing up today the dreamy young doodler with the wild ideas that I was would be labeled with at least one if not several disorders.



  13. “Black men have lower sperm counts than white men ”

    Whether there is any truth to this or not I don’t know.

    However I have wondered if it is possible whether higher testosterone levels may not necessarily correlate with higher sperm counts in men. I think a lot of men equate one with the other, as though there is some magical health outcome caused by the perfect diet and lifestyle which can be achieved. My hypothesis is that in men who copulate at a greater frequency, and also with a higher average number of partners, they might not need what is deemed a ‘high’ sperm count as compared with men with lower testosterone levels; they have the potential to father more offspring regardless. Maybe in more northerly, colder latitudes, human males are more ‘K-selected’ and copulate less frequently and with a very small number of partners as opposed to ‘r-selected’ males in more southerly latitudes, and there is a corresponding difference in sperm count as a compensatory mechanism. Or perhaps the sperm quality is simply better in colder temperatures. All speculation however.


  14. “When the Melting Pot Reaches a Boil”– why do people continue to believe (or purport to believe) that humans including Europeans are hard wired for for ethnic group conflict . That just leads the self-hating whites to pat themselves on the back for being able to transcend their own nature ( they do believe Robert Ardrey was right) and act quite differently than their genes tell them. It is in the nature of the intelligentsia to espouse a Kantian view of morality in which good actions are those in which individuals transcend their natures.

    But is that what the political-intellectual elite are actually doing when they champion immigrants? No, because the intellectual elite are the most pacified of all humans, and it comes naturally to them to be liberal-left. Behind the political motivation of the intelligentsia is a hereditary imperative to tender-mindedness, and that is why there is an accelerating trend in quite a different direction to what Robert Ardrey would have predicted. Moreover, it is not due to being misinformed by a politically motivated intelligentsia or characters like Pinker about the genetic facts of life. Even though Pinker thinks the decline in tough-mindedness is due to humanistic Enlightenment theories becoming widely accepted (rather than genetic pacification); between Ardley and Pinker’s ideas, Pinker has a better idea of what the next 50 years holds: the evaporation of the European majorities without any meaningful conflict.


  15. @n/a:

    “See table added to post. No, abstinence time doesn’t work as an explanation.”

    Yes it does. Abstinence time was self-reported. Hence it’s inherently unreliable. Before you come back with some nonsense about we have that problem with all the samples or we have no reason to suspect that was an issue, the bottom line is we don’t know, and we have no way to know. I am highly suspicious of reports on sperm counts for that reason.

    ‘“The abysmally small sample size renders that further suspect.”

    The differences are large. Sample size is not an issue here.”

    I looked at the table, the Black sample was large enough. Yes, the differences are statistically significant. Fair enough. See the previous problem, though.

    There may be something to this. Further study is needed.


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