linkfest – 10/14/13

Ancient DNA Unravels Europe’s Genetic Diversity“Ancient DNA recovered from a time series of skeletons in Germany spanning 4,000 years of prehistory has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern-day Europeans. The study, published today in ‘Science’, reveals dramatic population changes with waves of prehistoric migration, not only from the accepted path via the Near East, but also from Western and Eastern Europe.” – orig. research article: Ancient DNA Reveals Key Stages in the Formation of Central European Mitochondrial Genetic Diversity. from dienekes: “Anyone adhering to a ‘pots not people’ paradigm will find difficult to explain the sharp discontinuities found in the genetic record.” – and here’s national geographic’s take on the story – my head’s dizzy from all the spin!: “So, just like parts of Europe today are melting pots from different living cultures across the world, Europe is also a melting pot of genetic lineages from different prehistoric cultures that lived there at different periods of time.” – see also: Stone Age farmers, hunters kept their distance.

Genes Suggest European Women at Root of Ashkenazi Family Tree“The women who founded the Ashkenazi Jewish community of Europe were not from the Near East, as previously supposed, and reinforces the idea that many Jewish communities outside Israel were founded by single men who married and converted local women.” – see dienekes and greg cochran.

[Genetic] Link to Oetzi the Iceman found in living Austrians – AWESOME!

Child Behaviour: Not In Their Genes?“Using a powerful approach called GCTA, King’s College London researchers Maciej Trzaskowski and colleagues found no evidence that genetics can explain differences in children’s behavioural and conduct difficulties.” – @neuroskeptic.

“Were the First Artists Mostly Women?“Three-quarters of handprints in ancient cave art were left by women, study finds.” — afaics, there’s no reason to conclude that the individuals who spray painted outlines of their hands (any idiot can do that — I could do that!) were the same individuals who painted the horses and lions, etc. duh. anyway, here’s the interesting bit from the article: “[T]he hands in the caves were much more sexually dimorphic than modern hands, meaning that there was little overlap in the various hand measurements. ‘They fall at the extreme ends, and even beyond the extreme ends,’ Snow said. ‘Twenty thousand years ago, men were men and women were women.'”

Glass always half-empty? Your genes may be to blame“UBC researcher finds some people are genetically predisposed to seeing things in a negative light. Further research is also planned to explore the gene variant’s occurrence across different ethnic groups. While it is believed more than half of Caucasians have ADRA2b, some studies suggest it is much less prominent in other ethnicities….”

Whites More Prone to Certain Heart Condition Than Other Ethnic Groups“In a study to be published online October 8 and in the November 12 issue of ‘Circulation’, researchers discovered that self-described non-Hispanic whites are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation than people from other race or ethnic groups. ‘We found that consistently, every other race had a statistically significant lower risk of atrial fibrillation compared to whites…. So this suggests that white race is itself a risk factor for atrial fibrillation.'” – h/t mr. mangan, esq!

Evolution and Bad Boyfriends

Neurons Fire Backward in Sleep“Unusual brain cell activity may underlie memory streng…” wait. NEURONS FIRE BACKWARD IN SLEEP! cool.

Changes in women’s attractiveness perception of masculine men’s dances across the ovulatory cycle: Preliminary data“Women’s preferences for putative cues of genetic quality in men’s voices, faces, bodies, and behavioral displays are stronger during the fertile phase of the ovulatory cycle. Here we show that ovulatory cycle-related changes in women’s attractiveness perceptions of male features are also found with dance movements, especially those perceived as highly masculine.”

Similar chimpanzees form friendships“‘We found that, especially among unrelated friends, the most sociable and bold individuals preferred the company of other highly sociable and bold individuals, whereas shy and less sociable ones spent time with other similarly aloof and shy chimpanzees,’ says the researcher. The researchers argue that such a strong preference for self-like individuals is probably adaptive, because frequent cooperation becomes more reliable when both partners have similar behavioural tendencies and emotional states. This finding strongly resembles the known ‘similarity effect’ in humans: We tend to make friends with people who are equally extraverted, friendly and bold as ourselves.” — same in some birds, too, remember?

All you ever wanted to know about intelligence (but were too bright to ask) Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 – from dr. james thompson.

Social Status and Anger Expression: The Cultural Moderation Hypothesis“Individuals with lower social status have been reported to express more anger, but this evidence comes mostly from Western cultures…. Americans with lower social status expressed more anger…. Japanese with higher social status expressed more anger….” – maybe there’s a biological explanation? – h/t neuroskeptic!

Life Purpose Buffers Negative Moods Triggered by Diversity“Being in the minority in an ethnically diverse crowd is distressing, regardless of your ethnicity….” – h/t mr. mangan, esq!

Neandertals ate stomach goop, and you can too – mmmmm! chyme!

Study: Narcissists Only Think They’re Especially Creative“Narcissistic people do undertake more creative things, but their correlation with self-reported creativity is disproportionately strong.” – h/t jayman! – speaking of narcissts: The Double-Edged Sword of Grandiose Narcissism: Implications for Successful and Unsuccessful Leadership Among U.S. Presidents.

The Whites of Their Eyes“The subjects in [milgram’s] experiments notoriously (and shockingly!) were willing to inflict great pain and possibly permanent harm or even death on victims. But they became less willing to do so as the victim was moved progressively closer to them.”

Meritocracy and Its Discontents – @thosewhocansee.

The Paekchong of Korea – from peter frost.

Tribal feuds, local conflicts engulf Libya“Ever since its revolution, Libya has been riddled with tribal conflict. The state remains powerless in the face of weapon proliferation and violence. Societal fragmentation seems inevitable.” — huh. strange.

The Anglosphere miracle – by daniel hannan – “As for the idea that the individual should be as free as possible from state coercion, this is regarded as the ultimate Anglophone fetish. Whenever the E.U. extends its jurisdiction into a new field—decreeing what vitamins we can buy, how much capital banks must hold, what hours we may work, how herbal remedies are to be regulated—I ask what specific problem the new rules are needed to solve. The response is always the same: ‘But the old system was unregulated!’ The idea that absence of regulation might be a natural state of affairs is seen as preposterous.”

A Second Great Depression? – from jayman.

Cheaters always prosper, to a point

Ancient Sundial Discovered In Bronze Age Ukrainian Grave Is Oldest Of Its Kind

Why a medieval peasant got more vacation time than you – d*mn them! h/t mike anissimov!

I tooke a bodkine“‘I tooke a bodkine,’ he wrote in his notebook, ‘& put it betwixt my eye & bone as neare to [the] backside of my eye as I could: pressing my eye [with the] end of it…there appeared severall white & darke & coloured circles…which circles were plainest when I continued to rub my eye [with the] point of [the] bodkine.’ After many months with his bodkins, notebooks and prisms he came to the conclusion that our eyes can deceive us even about something as obvious as daylight, which appears plain and simple to us, but is in fact composed of lights of many different colours. Appearances can conceal as much as they reveal.” – great #longread about isaac newton.

Length of pregnancy can vary by up to five weeks, scientists discover

Preventing penile fractures and Peyronie’s disease – DON’T try this at home!: “In some Middle East regions, men engage in a practice known as *taqaandan* (‘to click’ in Kurdish), explains Dr. Javaad Zargooshi, urology professor at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences in Iran. It’s a painless process, similar to knuckle-cracking, in which the top half of an erect penis is bent forcefully while the rest of the shaft is held stationary. Usually this produces only a loss of erection and a satisfying popping noise, says Zargooshi, who published a report on the phenomenon in December in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Other times, it will fracture the penis.” – wait. what? – via ed west!

Aldeburgh dig unearths teenager’s ‘keepsakes’ box“An Anglo-Saxon teenage girl’s box of trinkets is thought to have been uncovered by archaeologists during a three-week dig in Suffolk.”

bonus: How the Western Banksta System Kills Millions (by accident)

bonus bonus: True scale of European immigration“An EU study has found 600,000 unemployed migrants are living in Britain.”

bonus bonus bonus: Does Some Deeper Level of Physics Underlie Quantum Mechanics? An Interview with Nobelist Gerard ’t Hooft and You probably have no free will. But don’t worry about it.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Swifts stay airborne for six months at a time – whoa!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Southern Flying Squirrels Land in Canada“Southern flying squirrels are moving into the habitat of Northern flying squirrels. Now people are debating what to call the hybrid offspring.” — illegal infiltrators! (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. really sweet bronze anglo-saxon dolphin trinket!)

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23 Comments

  1. Child Behaviour: Not In Their Genes? – “Using a powerful approach called GCTA, King’s College London researchers Maciej Trzaskowski and colleagues found no evidence that genetics can explain differences in children’s behavioural and conduct difficulties.” – @neuroskeptic.

    Neuroskeptic should be called Neuroconformist. S/he is v. p.c. on race and sex differences. I’m not sure whether s/he’s Gouldean in a genetic sense or just frightened of the Gouldeans, but s/he seems to be putting zer career before genuine scientific inquiry.

    Reply

  2. Weird PC conclusion from National Geographic,

    “So, just like parts of Europe today are melting pots from different living cultures across the world, Europe is also a melting pot of genetic lineages from different prehistoric cultures that lived there at different periods of time.”

    As if immigration and diversity was a natural and harmless process because different people have lived in Europe before. I wonder how common defense wounds on the forearms are in the skeletons they found.

    Reply

  3. Gogmagog,

    I get that impression too. The article looks to somehow discredit the behaviroal genetics research by pointing out that we don’t know the exact gene variants behind all behavioral traits. I guess he deserves commenters like “autism is environmental” and “kids go wacko after sugary food”.

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  4. Individuals with lower social status have been reported to express more anger, but this evidence comes mostly from Western cultures. Here, we used representative samples of American and Japanese adults and tested the hypothesis that the association between social status and anger expression depends on whether anger serves primarily to vent frustration, as in the United States, or to display authority, as in Japan.

    You can see how these things might form an equilibrium –

    In the USA, where people are generally emotionally expressive, frustration, where everything is not going well in your life which is is associated with low status, is immediately expressed through anger. So there is a strong frustration-low status-anger relationship and then might make sense to conceal anger if you want to look high status. Even if the rich tend to be more psychopathic and angry, they might conceal their anger more and avoid using it, to avoid looking frustrated and low status.

    Whereas in Japan, where norms of emotional suppression are higher in a generalised way (biological reasons, oxytocin receptors / OXTR?, collectivism and fear of burdening the group), frustrated people, who tend to be low status, don’t show their frustration through anger. This leads anger to be disassociated from frustration and de-stigmatized among the high status folk, who are then in a position to use it as an instrument of intimidation and control, without concern for losing status by looking like they’re frustrated (because frustrated people, like, don’t express themselves that way in Japan).

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  5. “Weird PC conclusion from National Geographic”

    New spin now that the old spin – europeans have no claim on europe because they are all immigrants – looks like it’s dying.

    Still, ignoring the usual PC spin on it the true story is much more interesting than the previous official version – Atlantic cowboys (and Beakers and Kurgans) ftw – and imo will be repeated in other places i.e. neolithic farmer expansion turning displaced peripheral foragers into herders followed by farmer population collapse for some reason or other and a rollover by the newly minted herders.

    .

    “Why a medieval peasant got more vacation time than you – d*mn them! h/t mike anissimov!”

    Pyramids – keep them busy so they don’t get drunk and burn down the local lord’s manor.

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  6. “Maciej Trzaskowski and colleagues found no evidence that genetics can explain differences in children’s behavioural and conduct difficulties.”

    That’s nothing. I can produce similar studies by the score!

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  7. Being in the minority in an ethnically diverse crowd is distressing, regardless of your ethnicity, unless you have a sense of purpose in life, reports a Cornell University developmental psychologist.

    I bet Jayman can testify to that. :)

    Reply

  8. Does Some Deeper Level of Physics Underlie Quantum Mechanics? An Interview with Nobelist Gerard ’t Hooft

    Quantum mechanics is so counter-intuitive that even some of the greatest theoretical physicists, as they get on in years, begin to doubt it — not because they are getting smarter, but just the reverse. For not a single one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists in his prime feels the same way. I say this not as someone who understands quantum mechanics — no one truly understands it according to Richard Feynman (for why see here) — but as a layman who follows what physicists believe.

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  9. @staffan:

    I get that impression too.

    And, unlike me, you know what you’re talking about on psychology! :)

    The article looks to somehow discredit the behavioral genetics research by pointing out that we don’t know the exact gene variants behind all behavioral traits.

    The Gould of the Gaps.

    I once commented on NS’s old blog and said accusations of “racism” were dishonest and a way of closing down scientific research on important matters. NS rushed to demostrate zer orthodoxy on the topic, i.e. race doesn’t exist, the human brain is a perfected organ no longer subject to evolutionary pressures, etc. But I detected fear-for-career rather than mendacity.

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  10. For those who are at all interested in the subject of quantum mechanics (and I know that includes our host) let me point out that the link in the above comment is to “the” locus classicus, chapter 37, volume 1, of Feynman’s justly famous Lectures on Physics, which he cave to CalTech freshmen in the 1961-1962 academic year. Even 60 years later it remains a classic expostion of what Feynman’s describes as the whole mystery of quantum mechanics. So for you neophytes out there who never mastered calculus and only have time to read one thing on the subject, this is it. The final sentences are as true now as they ever were and get to the heart of why ‘t Hooft is wrong.

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  11. OK, my say on these:

    On the cave painting stories, anyone who’s taken an intro anthropology or intro archeology course should know that archeology is as much story telling as it is serious science. The truth of the matter is that we don’t know a great deal about many of the artifacts we find, and we really have no way to ever know. There is much that consists of clever guesses and narratives that take on a life of their own.

    I agree with HBD Chick that I see no reason to assume that the same artists behind the cave drawings are the same ones behind the hand prints.

    I think we’re a long way away from safely concluding that humans were more sexually dimorphic in the past from these alone (despite the popularity of this meme in the Game sphere).

    On the narcissists-creativity thing, it would have been helpful if they had some measure of how creative these people actually were. But even then, of course, this has the classic WEIRD science problem, and hence is only of limited interest to me.

    On the heritability of childhood behavior problems, I have to correct some of the earlier commenters: these are genome-wide complex trait analyses, they are not the same as GWAS studies designed to pin down specific genes associated with specific traits. They aren’t looking to find particular variants associated with particular disorders, only to assess the degree of similarity between siblings for all SNPs and see how well that correlates to similarity in behavior. That should give you an estimate of the degree of additive heritability for the trait in question.

    Hence, that such a study failed to find turn up anything is very interesting, and rather mysterious. Yes, Neuroskeptic – despite being excellent on matters of neuroscience – is woefully PC on issues of race and heritability, which is a shame. He or she is trying to open a hole in behavioral genetic research by questioning the reliability of the way we measure traits. Now, that is a fair point; measurement error is a serious problem with behavioral genetic research and psychology in general, but it’s hardly an insurmountable one as Neuroskeptic is trying to portray.

    This finding is a legitimate issue, but I’m going with the notion that one odd observation doesn’t invalidate mountains of other observations that say something else. The totality of the evidence clearly shows the high heritability of behavioral traits. But indeed, this is something that needs to be investigated further.

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  12. @Luke Lea:

    “Quantum mechanics is so counter-intuitive that even some of the greatest theoretical physicists, as they get on in years, begin to doubt it — not because they are getting smarter, but just the reverse. For not a single one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists in his prime feels the same way. I say this not as someone who understands quantum mechanics — no one truly understands it according to Richard Feynman”

    This might sound pompous of me, but I think that oft-cited trope that “no one understands quantum mechanics” is total BS. I think quantum mechanics isn’t really hard to understand at all. It’s only hard to understand if you expect the world to behave according to your pre-conceived notions about how things should behave, as based on your ordinary experience. If you let go of that, quantum mechanics is actually rather straighforward.

    Understanding quantum mechanics is vastly simplified if you take what experiments on it have found at face value.

    See here:

    Q: Which is a better approach to quantum mechanics: Copenhagen or Many Worlds? | Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist

    Of course, I’m not going to lie, having read Brian Greene’s books helped me greatly in understanding the quirks of quantum mechanics. It helps to think that lots of things we don’t normally think of as possible are in fact possible, it’s all of matter of what is more or less likely. Common everyday phenomena is in a sense the average of all those possibilities.

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  13. Jayman, you know I’m a fan but have you read the Feynman chapter? Unless you own the lectures you haven’t as they have only very recently been made available on-line. The Many Worlds interpretation of QM is just that, an interpretation, not an understanding, and is pretty nuts in my opinion, and not only mine.

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  14. Sorry, did I say the many worlds theory was an interpretation of quantum mechanics? I should have said a supposition: Every time you come to a fork in the road one of you goes to the right and one of you goes to the left. Where before there was one of you, now there are two. Do you really think that makes sense?

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  15. In a stunning development scientists have discovered that Frank Sinatra is the actual ancestor of the Ashkenazim.

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  16. @sudoless c. – “In a stunning development scientists have discovered that Frank Sinatra is the actual ancestor of the Ashkenazim.”

    you mean mamma sinatra! (~_^)

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  17. re Jayman – “Q: Which is a better approach to quantum mechanics: Copenhagen or Many Worlds? | Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist”

    To be fair to what the Copenhagen interpretation is and is not, go here. It is positivism pure and simple: nothing more, nothing less.

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  18. “Were the First Artists Mostly Women? ” Or have artists always tended to be unmasculine of men? (see ‘Cave Wimp’ by Robert Crumb ).

    Taqaandan, “satisfying popping noise” Have the stupid bastards never heard of bubble wrap?

    I wonder if Taqaandan has somehow adaptive for the young whose erections are like Chinese algebra (v. hard), and functions to promote successful impregnation by loosening up connective tissue and enabling the penis to bend inside the vagina, all the better to deposit sperm in the right place. Or maybe a bendy ended one works to enhance female pleasure . Or maybe it’s both of those things. Or, maybe it is the opposite and it’s a way to make young men less of a sexual threat to older men. Like circumcision.

    I think its because a bendy (big) one works to enhance female pleasure. That’s the kind Negros have according to Carlton S. Coon. Then again, Pygmies are as big as Negros, so taqaandan may be down to a shortage of bubble wrap.

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  19. As a left handed male visual artist with a female digit ratio on both of his hands and a degree in anthropology, it should be no surprise that I’ve been reading whatever came up on these ancient artist investigations. It’s interesting that of the men I meet in general, most have male digit ratios with the longer ring finger but when I hang out with other artists and theater people, I find lots of female digit ratios among the men. I’m not saying that the ancient artists weren’t female but I don’t think digit ratio is the way to make that claim because it’s my understanding that lots of us male artists have female digit ratio.

    As for the narcissism thing, I am not surprised. Just to make art you have to believe that what is in your head is worth bringing into the world. The desire to make, to have others see what you’ve made, to impose your will on the blank canvas/paper/marble block, fundamentally I think that’s an arrogant act.

    ~S

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  20. @sisyphean – “It’s interesting that of the men I meet in general, most have male digit ratios with the longer ring finger but when I hang out with other artists and theater people, I find lots of female digit ratios among the men.”

    that’s very interesting! i’m forever looking at people’s 2d:4d ratios, and i think that i’ve noticed that there are more female digit ratios on male actors — and more male digit ratios on female actors — but it could be that that’s what i want to see. i wish somebody would do a systemic study of it. (^_^)

    Reply

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