linkfest – 02/24/14

Your Ancestors, Your Fate“The notion of genetic transmission of ‘social competence’ — some mysterious mix of drive and ability — may unsettle us. But studies of adoption, in some ways the most dramatic of social interventions, support this view. A number of studies of adopted children in the United States and Nordic countries show convincingly that their life chances are more strongly predicted from their biological parents than their adoptive families. In America, for example, the I.Q. of adopted children correlates with their adoptive parents’ when they are young, but the correlation is close to zero by adulthood. There is a low correlation between the incomes and educational attainment of adopted children and those of their adoptive parents. These studies, along with studies of correlations across various types of siblings (identical twins, fraternal twins, half siblings) suggest that genetics is the main carrier of social status.” – from gregory clark. see also The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility.

Reductionism! Determinism! Straw-man-ism!” The main problem, it seems to me, is a fundamental misunderstanding of what genetics as a science studies and how it relates to the function of complex systems. The following statements are not contradictory: 1. The function of a complex system emerges from the complex and dynamic interactions between all of the components of the system, in a context- and experience-dependent manner. 2. Variation in single components of the system (or in multiple components) can affect how it functions. Geneticists investigate the second question. Showing that variation in Gene X affects the behaviour or outcome of a system is not the same as saying that Gene X fully determines that behaviour or fully accounts for the entire system. Gene X is just a piece of DNA sitting in a cell somewhere – it doesn’t do anything by itself. But a *difference* in Gene X can account for a *difference* in how the system works. – from kevin mitchell.

The Problem with HBD, the Dark Enlightenment, Neoreaction, Alt-Rightism, and All That Jazz – READ THIS! – from jayman (and misdreavus).

There’s nothing wrong with looking for ‘gay genes’“The Left loves to tell the Right that it’s anti-science, pointing (not without reason) to the correlation between conservative beliefs and a failure to come to terms with the scientific facts of evolution and human-caused climate change. But there’s a subtler tendency on the Left; a fear of research into human nature, in case the findings are in some way politically uncomfortable.”

Evolution equally efficient in removing deleterious variants in Europeans and West Africans“…but apparently not in Denisovans who accumulated deleterious mutations at a higher rate than modern humans.” – @dienekes’.

Scientists unlock a ‘microbial Pompeii’“An international team of researchers have discovered a ‘microbial Pompeii’ preserved on the teeth of skeletons around 1,000 years old. The key to the discovery is the dental calculus (plaque) which preserves bacteria and microscopic particles of food on the surfaces of teeth, effectively creating a mineral tomb for microbiomes.”

The effect of paternal age on offspring intelligence and personality when controlling for paternal trait level [pdf] – “We examined the effect of father’s age at birth on offspring intelligence, head circumference and personality traits. Using the Minnesota Twin Family Study sample we tested paternal age effects while controlling for parents’ trait levels measured with the same precision as offspring’s. From evolutionary genetic considerations we predicted a negative effect of paternal age on offspring intelligence, but not on other traits. Controlling for parental intelligence (IQ) had the effect of turning an initially positive association non-significantly negative. We found paternal age effects on offspring IQ and Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire Absorption, but they were not robustly significant, nor replicable with additional covariates. No other noteworthy effects were found.” – from lars penke.

Reversed hierarchy in the brain for general and specific cognitive abilities: A morphometric analysis“Here, we analyze gray matter with three morphometric indices (volume, cortical surface area, and cortical thickness) at three levels of the intelligence hierarchy (tests, first-order factors, and a higher-order general factor, g)…. The key finding reveals substantial variability in gray matter correlates at the test level, which is substantially reduced for the first-order and the higher-order factors. This supports a reversed hierarchy in the brain with respect to cognitive abilities at different psychometric levels: the greater the generality, the smaller the number of relevant gray matter clusters accounting for individual differences in intelligent performance.” – h/t ben southwood!

A nice bunch of flowers“The general factor of intelligence is strongest at lower levels of intelligence. It may be a case of ‘All neurones to the pump’. When abilities are low, most problems are difficult. In such cases, all resources have to be thrown at the problem. When abilities are higher there is more spare capacity for differentiation of abilities. Brighter persons have a lower proportion of their abilities accounted for by a common factor, even though the have higher absolute abilities.” – from dr. james thompson.

GED scores by Ethnicity and Nation – from chuck @human varieties.

The Unfortunately Innate Nature of Intelligence“You cannot blame people for being what they were born, and you cannot expect them to do what they cannot.”

Psychologist on a mission to give every child a learning chip“Prof Robert Plomin wants educators to take notice of genes, and has a new big idea – personalised learning.”

Fruit-loving lemurs score higher on spatial memory tests“Food-finding tests in five lemur species show that fruit-eaters may have better spatial memory than lemurs with a more varied diet. The results support the idea that relying on foods that are seasonally available and far-flung gives a competitive edge to individuals with certain cognitive abilities — such as remembering where the goodies are.”

What Does Our DNA Say About How We Look?“A biologist aims to profile suspects from genetic material left at crime scenes.’ – h/t matthew wygant!

Four Lame Responses to Sam Harris’ Moral Landscape Challenge“Moral emotions, like every other evolved trait, exist because their presence increased the probability that the genes responsible for the existence of those traits would survive and reproduce. Moral emotions, and the associated illusions of the existence of Good and Evil as things in themselves, exist as subjective impressions in the minds of individuals.” – from helian.

Free will beliefs and motivation to punish“In a paper forthcoming in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Cory J. Clark and co-authors provide evidence that widespread belief in the existence of free will is bolstered by a fundamental desire to punish wrongdoers…. As Clark et al. put it, ‘There seems little doubt that the subjective experience of choosing and acting supports people’s belief in free will, but our findings suggest another powerful motivating factor: the human impulse to blame and punish. People believe in free will – at least in part – because they wish to affirm that people who do immoral things could have and should have acted differently’.”

A small contribution to the free-will thingy – from elijah.

Is there a ‘dark intelligence’? Emotional intelligence is used by dark personalities to emotionally manipulate others“Narcissism and psychopathy increased link between emotional intelligence facets and emotional manipulation.” – h/t claire lehmann!

Theory of mind: did evolution fool us?“Although sophisticated ToM is believed to have high adaptive fitness, broad experimental evidence from behavioural economics, experimental psychology and linguistics point towards limited recursivity in representing other’s beliefs.” – h/t neuroskeptic!

Creativity and personality in classical, jazz and folk musicians“[J]azz musicians are more frequently engaged in extracurricular musical activities, and also complete a higher number of creative musical achievements. Additionally, jazz musicians show higher ideational creativity as measured by divergent thinking tasks, and tend to be more open to new experiences than classical musicians. This study provides first empirical evidence that jazz musicians show particularly high creativity with respect to domain-specific musical accomplishments but also in terms of domain-general indicators of divergent thinking ability that may be relevant for musical improvisation.” – h/t mary louise cowan!

Migration and interaction in a contact zone: mtDNA variation among Bantu-speakers in southern Africa“In this study, we analyze complete mtDNA genome sequences from over 900 Bantu-speaking individuals from Angola, Zambia, Namibia, and Botswana to investigate the demographic processes at play during the last stages of the Bantu expansion. Our results show that most of these Bantu-speaking populations are genetically very homogenous, with no genetic division between speakers of Eastern and Western Bantu languages. Most of the mtDNA diversity in our dataset is due to different degrees of admixture with autochthonous populations.”

Silver Blaze“[I]n most parts of Europe, it looks as if modern populations inherited the three EEF/WHG/ANE groups (Levantine farmers, West Hunters and Sibermen) via only two proximate ancestral populations. Europe at the time was almost entirely occupied by Sardinian-like farmers – then another population moved in, one that had about 3 times as much West Hunter as Sibermen.” – from greg cochran.

Replacement or continuity?“Ancient DNA seems to promise a clearer picture because the only source of uncertainty is the age of the skeletal material. Unfortunately, this new method is more sensitive to uncertainty from another source: natural selection. Late hunter-gatherers and early farmers had to adapt to different environments. There certainly was a genetic divide between the two, but did it result from differences in origin or from differences in natural selection?” – from peter frost.

Dystopian diversity – from the awesome epigone.

“I regret studying social anthropology” – me, too. *sigh* – see also the original post.

The parasite that escaped out of Africa: Tracing origins of malaria parasite“An international team has traced the origin of the second-worst malaria parasite of humans to Africa. The closest genetic relatives of human *Plasmodium vivax* were found only in Asian macaques, leading researchers to believe that *P. vivax* originated in Asia. This study overturns that, finding that wild-living apes in central Africa are widely infected with parasites that, genetically, are nearly identical to human *P. vivax*.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Are Rich People Really That Selfish? – New Study Looks At Impact of Socio-Economic Status on Altruistic Tendencies“‘Our personality impacts every aspect of our life – the choices we make, the people we surround ourselves with, the career we pursue, the way we respond to life experiences, the way we manage our finances, and whether or not we share our good fortune,’ explains Dr. Jerabek, president of the company…. [H]ow individuals conduct themselves when they have money has everything to do with who they are as a person. Money doesn’t make a person more or less selfish. If you are a genuinely kind and giving person, you’ll continue to be that way no matter how many zeros are on your paycheck.'”

Babies born in England and Wales to non-UK born mothers infographic“Total Fertility Rate in England/Wales by where mother born: 4.3 Afghanistan, 3.8 Pakistan, 3.3 Nigeria, 2.4 India, 1.8 UK.”

The Tale of a CRISPR Clone – from razib.

Graft Probe in Scientific Community Widens in Southern China“A corruption probe has so far snared more than 50 scientists and research administrators in Guangdong, one of China’s wealthiest provinces.”

Quick Winter Olympics Digit Ratio Note – from sisyphean the mad contrarian.

Scientist proposes revolutionary naming system for all life on Earth“…a naming convention based on genome sequencing to enhance the way organisms are classified.” – h/t super mario!

Burials uncovered in Ireland reflect fusion of Paganism and Christianity“Excavations at Caherconnell in County Clare, Ireland, have uncovered ancient burials that reflect a fusion of Pagan practices with Christianity. Although it was initially believed that Christianity was well established in Ireland by the 5th Century, the latest finding reveals that Celtic Paganism was not quick to die out.” – h/t derek hopper!

The Society of Mutual Autopsy“The Society of Mutual Autopsy was an organisation formed in the late 1800s to advance neuroscience by examining dead members’ brains and to promote atheism by breaking sacred taboos.”

Heavy metal bands per 100,000 people – global map.

A Campus More Colorful Than Reality: Beware That College Brochure – h/t conrad hackett! who tweeted: “The whiter the college, the more diversity depicted in the brochures.”

bonus: Confirmed: Oldest Fragment of Early Earth is 4.4 Billion Years Old

bonus bonus: Hubble Finds Possible Oldest Object Ever Seen“The Hubble Telescope’s new set of Frontier Fields images includes a galaxy some 13-billion light-years away, which makes it a candidate for the most distant object ever seen.”

bonus bonus bonus: Rust Cohle, Guidance Counselor – heh. (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. rust cohle for president!)


  1. nice post. That blog article about Free Will was especially intriguing. I wonder if there’s a political implication that can be taken from the upcoming study


  2. There is no problem with ” All That Jazz”. Just listen to Satch and Jelly, to Bechet and Bix.


  3. @assistant village idiot – “Careful with links. You might touch someone who’s considered racist and get cooties.”

    ewwww! cooties!!!1! (~_^)

    what i’m very worried about, naturally, is that i might link to somebody…who once linked to somebody…who once linked to somebody else…who linked to an article criticizing iq studies. then i’ll REALLY be tainted!


  4. @hbd chick. ” These studies, along with studies of correlations across various types of siblings (identical twins, fraternal twins, half siblings) suggest that genetics is the main carrier of social status.”
    And the middle class world over seems to by dying out for lack of babies. It might be possible to fix that, but massive evidence suggests nobody cares.


  5. Ancient fathers: “No other noteworthy effects were found.” As far as I can see, no other noteworthy effects at all were found. But it was well worth looking: there should be more praise of interesting, and socially important, negative results.


  6. “Although it was initially believed that Christianity was well established in Ireland by the 5th Century, the latest finding reveals that Celtic Paganism was not quick to die out.” You betcha. By the 16th century the Roman Catholic Church in much of the Scottish Highlands had so dwindled away that people there were living in a largely pagan society. That’s essentially why the Reformation in Scotland was unusually unbloody: the Reformers pushed and the old church tumbled down because there was so little of substance left of it.

    That paganism lasted a long time; the Reformers lacked Gaelic-speaking ministers to Christianise the people, while the Counter-Reformation priests who arrived in due course found it hard to get much success at conversions from paganism except along the west coast and on the islands.


  7. “There’s nothing wrong with looking for ‘gay genes’ – ”


    Now it looks as though HLA genes play a role not only in autoimmune disease but also to some degree in susceptibility to certain neurodevelopmental disorders [eg autism, schizophrenia, specific language impairment (SLI) – see here:
    Neurodevelopmental disorders are more prevalent in males and autoimmune disease is more prevalent in females.
    My suspicion is that homosexuality [at least in males] might be a neurodevelopmental disorder of some kind. Whether there is an HLA allele involved, who knows. Nobody will look for it.
    The cause might be a pathogen [as Greg Cochran believes], toxic or environmental factors [as Dick Schwaab believes], trauma, nutritional deficits, metabolic disorders, some other reason, or a combination of some or all of the above.
    I think that Cochran is probably right:

    Maternal Infection and Neurodevelopmental Disorders in the Offspring
    Heping Zhou, American Journal of Immunology 8 (1): 10-17, 2012

    “Pregnant women have been reported to experience virus infections, such as influenza (Irving et al., 2000), parasitic infections, such as filariasis (Malhotra et al., 2003), gastric infections, such as Helicobacter pylori (Kitagawa et al., 2001), periodontal diseases (gingivitis and periodontitis) (Boutigny et al., 2005; Boggess, 2005; Goepfert et al., 2004) and reproductive infections, such as bacterial vaginosis (Cottrell and Shannahan, 2004). Many studies have reported that maternal infections can have serious and diverse consequences on the health of the fetus, including spontaneous abortions, preterm birth, intrauterine growth retardation, innate immune and neuroimmune functions and other development- related functional outcomes in the offspring (Pararas et al., 2006; Rasmussen and Hayes, 2005; Harry et al., 2006; Brown et al., 2004; Vidaeff and Ramin, 2006; Andrews et al., 2000; Lasala and Zhou, 2007; Hodyl et al., 2008). In fact, more than 70% of the placental tissues from newborn infants with systemic illness and poor neonatal outcome have positive test results for viral or bacterial infections (Genen et al., 2004; Satosar et al., 2004). There is increasing evidence that maternal infection is a major risk factor for neurodevelopmental brain damages (Chen et al., 2006;
    Ashdown et al., 2006; Golan et al., 2005). The objective of this review is to examine the relationship between maternal infection and neurological abnormalities during the later life of the offspring.”


  8. ““The notion of genetic transmission of ‘social competence’ — some mysterious mix of drive and ability — may unsettle us. But studies of adoption, in some ways the most dramatic of social interventions, support this view.”

    I know this is true in may case. Everything that I am I attribute to Daddy. Of course that ain’t much yet. (But watch for my new political romance — an essay in Darwinian Judeo-Christianity or something like that — which (I hope) will be up on Kindle by Easter.) Hate to toot my own horn, but nobody else will.


  9. re: The problem with the Dark Enlightenment, Neoreaction, Alt-Rightism, and All That Jazz

    Gotta say I’m with JayMan and misdreavis on this. BTW, who is this misdreavis? I was sorry to read that he will not be leaving any progeny behind. Can’t vasectomies be reversed?


  10. re: Reversed Hierarchy – “the greater the generality, the smaller the number of relevant gray matter clusters accounting for individual differences in intelligent performance.”

    I have a question. Does this relate to the specific talents some people have? For instance, it is impossible not to notice (at least it was back in my college days) that some people are a lot more gifted in either verbal or mathematical abilities but seldom in both equally, at least among the extremely talented.

    E.g. I seriously doubt that John Updike could have been a scientist of the same caliber that he was a novelist even though he evidences a good appreciation of all the sciences in his novels.

    What do others think about this?


  11. BTW, Updike mentions somewhere that he tested 154 on an IQ test. That’s really high — only one in a few thousands I would guess — but it is not in Lubosland, which is 5 sigma (= one out of a million). But as a novelist Updikle was (in my snobbish opinion) maybe the best America ever produced, and (together with Hawthorne, in his short stories, and Eliot in his poetry) one of the three most talented writers our country has produced.


  12. Correction. Lubos says somewhere that his tested IQ was in the 150’s. So he is an example of an extraordinarily gifted theoretical physicist whose views on politics and economics, while sometimes orginal and always interesting, are not in the same league as his writings on science (including climatology btw). Here’s his blog:


  13. Meanwhile Assistant Village Idiot (I think it was him, please correct me if I’ve got the wrong way) mentions that he was head of the Promethius society, reserved for guys whose tested IQ’s are in the stratosphere. I think even he would admit that he is nowhere near as talented as guys like Updike and Motl.

    Then there is Ron Unz, who reports an IQ of 212. He’s a genius in his own mind but a fool in my humble opinion, not least because the idea of an IQ of 212 is a ridiculous, meaningless claim. Not even luck could produce it.


  14. “You cannot blame people for being what they were born, and you cannot expect them to do what they cannot.”

    Slap that guy in jail!


  15. “Then there is Ron Unz, who reports an IQ of 212”

    You can “report” whatever you want, but that doesn’t make it so. Seeing as how Greg Cochran (who’s a real smart guy, but not 212 IQ) runs rings around Unz in debates, I’d be shocked if that was true.


  16. Missed Jayman’s post on HBD, NR, and all that.

    His comment thread is huge so I won’t leave anything there.

    I’ve already written about this before. Haven’t changed my pinion on what I wrote – I still affirm this position.

    But Misdreavous (quoted by Jman) makes a point that I did not make during the last round of the conversation. Namely:

    “Now that (most of) these have been safely dismantled, we’ve got nutters from Stormfront sparring tête–à–tête with anthropology professors over elementary facts that anybody can look up in a linguistics textbook. How splendid is that.”

    I read the first forty or so comments on that post when it was originally published (I was actually the one who recommended the thread to Al West, whose blog I have followed for some time). I noted on twitter how messed up the dynamics of that comment thread really was. Misdrevious hits the nail on the head: too many of these blogs are being dragged down by Stormfront type ignoramuses.

    There are smart people among the Neoreactionaries. Many of them are very, very smart. I don’t always support their politics, but some are interesting to read and others even a pleasure to engage with.

    But beneath these intellectuals lies a mob. It used to be that the reactionary rank and file was a bunch of computer scientists and engineers who had nothing better to do with their spare time than play around with the EconLib. But now the reactionaries have breached the public consciousness and achieved the sort of ‘critical mass’ to keep the movement from sizzling out. A pity. With few exceptions (say, the commentators at Isegoria), the reactionary masses are crude, savage, and just as caught up in mindless groupthink as the “Cathedral” ever was. (And the folks from Chateu Heariste/Red Pill group are all of this but worse.)

    And now they spread. It has been sad to watch the comment sections of several different blogs I follow fall apart over the last month. Over at Gene Expression Razib is accused of the Lewtonian fallacy; over at Slate Star Codex Alexander Scott is closing comment threads and introducing mods to keep the place under control; at the West Hunter discussion mentioned above one must wade through 10 posts of utter intellectual muck just to find the participants who actually know what they are talking about.

    One of the major reasons I have never written anything explicitly HBD or in response to reactionary ideas (some of which I sympathize with) is that I know that will summon the hordes. I just don’t want to deal with that.


    1. @ T. Greer ” that I know that will summon the hordes. I just don’t want to deal with that.” Hmm. I take your point. But my own blog takes the position “if you want to continue to have babies generation after generation then just about everybody needs to marry a fairly near cousin.” If that isn’t about as reactionary as you can get I have no idea what would be. The ravening mob, now after a few years of effort on my part, is conspicuous by its absence. I have an open invitation for people to contribute remarks although I do ask they be sent to me to review before I post them.


  17. @T. Greer:

    “With few exceptions (say, the commentators at Isegoria), the reactionary masses are crude, savage, and just as caught up in mindless groupthink as the ‘Cathedral’ ever was. (And the folks from Chateu Heariste/Red Pill group are all of this but worse.)”

    You can say that again.

    Certain corners of this sphere produce valuable insight from time to time. However, it is often deeply embedded in a lot of ridiculous, quite often mean-spirited junk. My taking exception to them is, I suppose, part educational, part maintenance (keeping the message accurate), and part challenging them to do better. These are futile, or at least endless tasks, but it’s important I think to help maintain the intellectual integrity of this space.

    Well said, again.


  18. But now the reactionaries have breached the public consciousness and achieved the sort of ‘critical mass’ to keep the movement from sizzling out. A pity. With few exceptions (say, the commentators at Isegoria), the reactionary masses are crude, savage, and just as caught up in mindless groupthink as the “Cathedral” ever was.

    Sturgeon’s Law.

    But there is no need for a river of meat; the ninety percent should be ignored, and, when possible, banned. If only they could be made to see that talk isn’t for everyone — and to act accordingly…


  19. Back to the link on Boris Vinatzer’s proposal in PLOS One to create “a new way to classify and name organisms based on their genome sequence and in doing so created a universal language that scientists can use to communicate with unprecedented specificity about all life on Earth.”

    Read it. Always thought this over the years while reading far and wide in biology and zoology…

    …however as a science educator most of my career, I have to reflect that this will be a very effective way to rive biology from more common access (i.e., by making its nomenclature as opaque to the general 100+ reader as Latin was to the mediaeval masses).

    Darwin made his argument about evolution through natural selection via the breeding of domesticated animals in part because that’s what he had…but also because he trusted his (largely more educated/intelligent) readership would be most familiar with those practices in their own lives. That isn’t the case today, and responsible IMO for why many people cannot comprehend his argument; what they consider “too complicated” was 1A animal husbandry in his time. I’ve always wondered whether part of the power and spread of his argument was precisely that it was designed to reach a wider educated audience of people familiar with the patterns he observed. In other words, a Socratic approach, a la Meno.

    Anyway, I’ll be reflecting on Vinatzer’s proposal over a long time. I don’t disagree at all with the need for such rethinking–every time someone refers to “malaria” (“bad air”) or “cholera” (“anger”) in public health, or points out a “sapsucker” (they don’t suck, they drill and lick, and mostly eat bugs), etc., in the field, I feel a huge need for a more rational approach. It’s just that a part of me hesitates to see biology made even less accessible to the general public…of which I consider myself a part. (My career was in statistical and quantitative analysis, mostly in the social studies, excuse me, “sciences,” and my interest is entirely avocational.)

    Sorry, a bit blurry today. Some small creature invading the airways, and a long night of coughing….


  20. Have ANY couples who’ve adopted children (particularly interracially) come around to the HBD perspective? They would surely know the reality better than anyone with just some theories.


  21. Re. UK mothers. Majority of foreign born mothers are Polish, but 20% of births to Polish mothers in Britain have black fathers. Worth bearing in mind that the mothers race is no guide at all, for white births.

    Teresa Rincon, the aforementioned 20% are taking a HBD perspective, just not a pro white one.

    “Seeing as how Greg Cochran (who’s a real smart guy, but not 212 IQ) runs rings around Unz in debates,”

    You will have a long wait for any final victory in such debates. Clever people can always come up with countervailing rejoinders. Cochran does something other than come up with detailed arguments.

    IT was that of the little-known journalist Charles Maurras who, outwitting his better credentialed opponents, argued that this action by Henry was not evidence against the plot in which Dreyfus was implicated but evidence for. […] Henry’s forgery and suicide were not an admission of guilt but, on the contrary, the heroic actions of a man who, knowing the judiciary and press were corrupt, made a last desperate attempt to get his message out to the people in a way they could not prevent. As Zizek says of Maurras’ masterstroke: ‘It looked at things in a way no one had thought or dared to look'”

    And that is what Cochran self consciously sets himself up as: someone who looks at things in a way no one has thought or dared to look.


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