Somebody was on Sulawesi before 118,000 years ago – from john hawks.

Human-Neanderthal relationships may be at root of modern allergies“Three genes inherited from our Neanderthal cousins may cause modern carriers to have an overly-sensitive immune system susceptible to allergies.”

Grisly find suggests humans inhabited Arctic 45,000 years ago“When they dated the remains [of the mammoth], the researchers got another surprise: The mammoth died 45,000 years ago. That means that humans lived in the Arctic more than 10,000 years earlier than scientists believed, according to a new study. The find suggests that even at this early stage, humans were traversing the most frigid parts of the globe and had the adaptive ability to migrate almost everywhere.”

DNA sequencing reveals the fate, and ultimate extinction, of Ötzi the Iceman’s maternal genetic lineage – h/t jason moore!

Genetic affinities of the Jewish populations of India“Consistent with the previous observations, we detected minor Middle Eastern specific ancestry component among Indian Jewish communities, but virtually negligible in their local neighbouring Indian populations. The temporal test of admixture suggested that the first admixture of migrant Jewish populations from Middle East to South India (Cochin) occurred during fifth century. Overall, we concluded that the Jewish migration and admixture in India left a record in their genomes, which can link them to the ‘Jewish Diaspora’.”

Conflict among honey bee genes supports theory of altruism – h/t steve stuart williams! who tweeted: “New genetic evidence provides strong support for kin selection theory.” – see also: Testing the kinship theory of intragenomic conflict in honey bees (Apis mellifera).

Review of: Hive mind: How your nation’s IQ matters so much more than your own (G. Jones) – from stuart ritchie. – see also here.

The Welfare Trait – dr. james thompson on adam perkins‘ book. make sure not to miss the series of follow-up posts!

A Review of Adam Perkins’s ‘The Welfare Trait’“Painstakingly, Perkins constructs his core argument: that the welfare state, the foundational institution of modern Britain (the Church of England having sadly declined), contains the seeds of its own eventual destruction. A large body of evidence, which Perkins reviews, supports the intuitive idea that habitual welfare claimants tend to be less conscientious and agreeable than the average person. Such habitual claimants also tend to reproduce at higher rates than the general population, a pattern found across nations and time periods. They also seem to adjust their fertility in response to changes in the generosity of welfare provision, having fewer children in times of austerity and more when governments turn on the spigot marked ‘spending’. Over time, therefore, the work motivation of the general population is lowered. This occurs through both genetic and environmental channels. Personality traits are substantially heritable (meaning that a decent percentage of the variation in these traits is due to naturally occurring genetic variation). Given this fact, habitual welfare claimants with employment-resistant personalities are likely to have offspring with similar personalities.” – from andrew sabisky.

Tell the truth about benefit claimants and the liberal left shuts you down“How neuro­biologist Dr Adam Perkins became a victim of the new McCarthyism.” – from toby young.

The left’s own war on science“The witch hunt against Napoleon Chagnon shows us what happens if scientists challenge the core beliefs of ‘progressives.’” – also from toby young.

Similar selection pressures on fluid g and educational attainment-related SNPs – from davide piffer.

Colorectal cancer more likely to affect minorities at younger age“Study shows US racial, ethnic groups under the age of 50 have increased risk.”

Genetic Correlation Between Schizophrenia and Epilepsy

Where Are We Now? – David Bowie and Psychosis – @mind hacks.

NatureNewsVietnam begins huge effort to identify war dead“World’s largest systematic identification project will use smart DNA-testing technology.”

Physics Has Einstein, Biology Has Darwin. Economics Has… – from david sloan wilson who tweeted: “It’s embarrassing that top economists who write about theory are clueless about evolutionary theory.”

Professors moved left since 1990s, rest of country did not – @heterodox academy.

A Single Mutation May Have Sparked Multicellular Life

Supernatural punishment: the common denominator“So here’s the question: Is religion evolutionarily advantageous…? I hypothesise that supernatural punishment was a very important promoter of cooperation and a way to reduce self-interest, which was vital to the evolution of human societies.”

Bronze Age houses uncovered in Cambridgeshire are Britain’s ‘Pompeii’

4,500-year-old rattles found in infant burial – in russia.

Tajikistan: Lawmakers Tighten Rules on Baby-Naming, Marriage“The stricter rules on marriage have been introduced partly as a way of reducing the incidence of disabilities among children, which officials argue are the result of intensive inbreeding. Consequently, marriage among cousins and cousins-once-removed will be forbidden.” – h/t the gazillion people who sent this to me! (^_^) (#BigInTajikistan)

aaaannnddd…the tweet of the week!:

(note: comments do not require an email. skepticism.)


The human migration out of Africa left its mark in mutations“The farther from Africa, the more of them there are.” – h/t billare! – see also: Distance from sub-Saharan Africa predicts mutational load in diverse human genomes.

Genomic Evidence Establishes Anatolia as the Source of the European Neolithic Gene Pool“Kum6 shows a strong population continuity with present-day Sardinia. Kum6 expresses connections to the central Eurasian gene pool. Kum6 shares notable affinity with the Iceman, a 5,300-year-old southern European. Genetic affinities to both East and West suggest continuous contact with Anatolia.”

Ancient Irish had Middle Eastern ancestry, study reveals“Genetic researchers find evidence of mass migration to Ireland thousands of years ago.” – see also: Neolithic and Bronze Age migration to Ireland and establishment of the insular Atlantic genome. and see also from razib: The Gaels Were from Scythia. and from dienekes: Bronze Age people from Ireland had steppe ancestry and R1b. – (my mtDNA hapologroup [more here] — H13a1a — is rather rare in ireland, but is most common in daghestan and may have arisen there. the parent group H originated in the near east.)

The Residents of Vanuatu, Then and Now“Analysis of skulls in the oldest known cemetery in the South Pacific suggests that the earliest inhabitants of Vanuatu may have descended from Asian and Polynesian populations, while modern residents share more physical similarities with people in Melanesia.”

The evolution of the age at menarche from pre-historical to modern times“Data from skeletal remains suggest that in the Paleolithic female menarche occurred at an age between 7 and 13 years, early sexual maturation being a trade-off for reduced life expectancy. In the classical, as well as in the medieval years, the age at menarche was generally reported to be at about 14 years, with a range from 12-15 years. A significant retardation of the age at menarche occurred in the beginning of the modern times, soon after the industrial revolution, due to the deterioration of the living conditions, most studies reporting menarche to occur at 15-16 years. In the 20th century, especially in the second half of it, in the industrialized countries, the age at menarche decreased significantly, as a result of the improvement of the socioeconomic conditions, occurring between 12-13 years. In the present times, in the developed countries, this trend seems to slow down or level-off.” – h/t neuroskeptic!

Why parenting may not matter and why most social science research is probably wrong and How to Find a Parenting Effect – from brian boutwell! – from the first article: “Whether it’s a study purporting to link some aspect of parenting to child development, or a study intended to link some new diet fad to weight loss, the results are unclear if they did not control for genetics. Lest someone put words into my mouth later, this does *not* mean that every correlation reported by social scientists is the result of correlated genetic influences. The point, however, is that we have spent decades churning out correlations and we have no idea whether the findings were polluted by unmeasured genetic factors. That’s frightening, especially since public policies have been built on some of these potentially illusory correlations. The standard way of doing business in the social sciences ignores genetic influences, and has for years. Be careful which findings you cling to. Most social science research can only reveal associations; which is important, no doubt, but I presume you want to know something about causality also (i.e., if you eat bacon everyday what’s the chance that it’ll *cause* you to get cancer; that sort of thing). To even begin approximating causality (assuming you cannot do an experiment, which you can’t with most social science research), you must account for all confounding factors—genes included.”

Discontinuity in the genetic and environmental causes of the intellectual disability spectrum“[O]ur results suggest that most severe ID is a distinct condition, qualitatively different from the preponderance of ID, which, in turn, represents the low extreme of the normal distribution of intelligence.”

Heritability of autism spectrum disorders: a meta-analysis of twin studies – between 64-91%.

Progress and promise in understanding the genetic basis of common diseases

The Concordance and Heritability of Type 2 Diabetes in 34,166 Twin Pairs From International Twin Registers: The Discordant Twin (DISCOTWIN) Consortium – h/t amir sarislan! who tweeted: “Heritability of Type 2 Diabetes 72% (95% CI: 61–78%).”

Clinical Genetics Has a Big Problem That’s Affecting People’s Lives“Unreliable research can lead families to make health decisions they might regret.”

Schizophrenia and violence“[T]here are startling new results from a large, representative sample of Norwegians [swedes, i think-h.chick], showing that the rate of violence is about 7 times higher in schizophrenics as compared to controls, and 3 times higher for those with bi-polar disorder.” – from dr. james thompson.

How Time Preferences Differ: Evidence from 53 Countries“Time discounting correlates with innovation, environmental protection, innovation, etc.” – h/t rolf degen!

Personality, cognitive/psychological traits and psychiatric resilience: A multivariate twin study“Neuroticism evidenced the largest phenotypic and genetic relationship with resilience, and accounted for nearly all of the phenotypic and genetic variance between resilience and the other traits.”

Polls and Elections Some Folks You Just Can’t Reach: The Genetic Heritability of Presidential Approval“The model is tested using twin data to estimate the genetic heritability of presidential performance evaluations and finds that presidential approval has a strong genetic component.” – h/t andrew sabisky!

Status Decreases Dominance in the West but Increases Dominance in the East“Across two experiments, having high status decreased punishment by American participants but increased punishment by Chinese and Indian participants. Moreover, within each culture, the effect of status on punishment was mediated by feelings of being respected. A final experiment found differential effects of status on punishment imposed by Asian Americans depending on whether their Asian or American identity was activated.” – h/t timothy bates!

Assortative Mating for Educational Level in Parents of Public School Children (N > 7000 Individuals) in the Lagos State, Nigeria“Approximately 61.5 % of the parents had spouses at the same level of education. More mothers than fathers married upward in educational level. The assortative mating coefficients for educational level were .52–.61 across respondents’ classes, .51–.62 across six school districts, and .57 (.55–.59) in the total sample. Overall, these results were very similar to the findings from Western or Asian samples, providing evidence to support the robustness of human mating pattern in educational attainment across different cultures and ethnic groups.”

‘The Bell Curve’ 20 years later: A Q&A with Charles Murray“The lesson, subsequently administered to James Watson of DNA fame, is that if you say it is likely that there is *any* genetic component to the black-white difference in test scores, the roof crashes in on you. On this score, the roof is about to crash in on those who insist on a purely environmental explanation of all sorts of ethnic differences, not just intelligence. Since the decoding of the genome, it has been securely established that race is not a social construct, evolution continued long after humans left Africa along different paths in different parts of the world, and recent evolution involves cognitive as well as physiological functioning.”

Why Some of the Worst Attacks on Social Science Have Come From Liberals“In the halls of social-science academia, where liberals [have a numerical advantage], it’s telling that some of the same sorts of feeding frenzies occur. This should stand as a wake-up call, as a rebuke to the smugness that sometimes infects progressive beliefs about who ‘respects’ science more. After all, what both the Bailey and Chagnon cases have in common — alongside some of the others in Galileo’s Middle Finger — is the extent to which groups of progressive self-appointed defenders of social justice banded together to launch full-throated assaults on legitimate science, and the extent to which these attacks were abetted by left-leaning academic institutions and activists too scared to stand up to the attackers, often out of a fear of being lumped in with those being attacked, or of being accused of wobbly allyship.”

Small families are better for kids, new research says – hmmmm. – see also: The Quantity-Quality Trade-Off And The Formation Of Cognitive And Non-Cognitive Skills.

edge question 2016: What Do You Consider The Most Interesting Recent [Scientific] News? What Makes It Important? – john tooby’s response: The Race Between Genetic Meltdown and Germline Engineering. – h/t steve stewart williams!

Oldest Hoabinhian site discovered in SW China“The oldest Hoabinhian culture, an important technological adaptation by hunter-gatherers to the humid tropical and subtropical environments of southeast Asia some 43,500 years ago, was identified in southwest China’s Yunnan Province. Discovered at Xiaodong Rockshelter, it is the first-ever Hoabinhian site to be found in China, according to a research team at the Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.”

Palaeolithic stone tools found in Iranian Kurdistan

bonus: Do Dogs Know Other Dogs Are Dogs?“This is not a philosophical riddle. Despite their highly variable appearance, dogs can recognize each other by sight alone.” – woof!

bonus bonus: Carrie Fisher: I had sex with Princess Leia fans – what happens at comic-con STAYS at comic-con! (~_^) – h/t razib!

and the tweet of the (last) week…! (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. carrie fisher. you’re welcome! (~_^) )


happy new year 2016



previously: EPIC!

here’s a top ten-ish selection of my posts from this year, selected by me (this blog is not a democracy! (~_^) ). they weren’t necessarily the most read or most commented upon posts, but just the ones that i like the best and/or think are the most important, and that i’d like people to read. ymmv!

‘fraid it was rather slim pickings this year due my general state of unwelledness. am feeling better! and i hope to get back to a more regular blogging schedule next year (see the best laid plans below). i won’t be doing any blogging for the rest of this year — prolly won’t get back to it until after the holidays are over and the eggnog’s all gone. (~_^) you might find me goofin’ off on twitter, though. if you’re not on twitter, you can follow my feed down there (↓) near the bottom of the page in the center column.

many thanks to all of you out there for reading the blog, and for all of your informative and insightful comments! thank you, too, for all of your support and the well wishes while i’ve been ill. they were MUCH appreciated! (^_^) (btw, if you’ve emailed me in the past couple of months, and i haven’t gotten back to you, i am very sorry! am terribly behind on emails, but i’m trying to work through them! behind on replying to comments, too, for that matter. sorry again!)

so, here you go! my top ten list for 2015:

family types and the selection for nepotistic altruism“the logic of the mating patterns/inbreeding-outbreeding theory goes that, given the right set of circumstances (i.e. certain sorts of social environments), selection for nepotistic altruism/clannishness ought to go quicker or be amplified by inbreeding (close cousin marriage or uncle-niece marriage) simply because there will be more copies of any nepotistic altruism genes (alleles) that happen to arise floating around in kin groups. in other words, inbreeding should facilitate the selection for clannishness…if clannish behaviors are being selected for in a population…. northwestern “core” europe has had very low cousin marriage rates since around the 800s-1000s, but it has also, thanks to manorialism, had nuclear families of one form or another (absolute or stem) since the early medieval period — nuclear families are recorded in some of the earliest manor property records in the first part of the ninth century from northeastern france [see mitterauer, pg. 59]. on the other hand, eastern europeans, like the russians and greeks, while they also seem to have avoided very close cousin marriage for several hundreds of years (which is not as long as northwestern europeans, but is quite a while), have tended to live in extended family groupings. you would think that nepotistic altruism could be selected for, or maintained more readily, in populations where extended family members lived together and interacted with one another on a more regular basis than in societies of nuclear family members where individuals interact more with non-kin.

what did the romans ever do for us?“so the romans avoided close cousin marriage, established a republic based on democratic principles, had a legal system founded upon universalistic principles, expanded their polity into a vast and one of the world’s most impressive empires (iow, invaded the world), eventually extended roman citizenship to non-romans and allowed barbarians to come live inside the empire (iow, invited the world), and, then, well…oops! *ahem* … anyway, there is a direct link between ancient rome’s and medieval/modern northern europe’s cousin marriage avoidance. that link is quite obviously the catholic church which adopted all sorts of roman institutional structures and practices; but more specifically i’m referring to several of the church fathers….” – see also: st. augustine on outbreeding.

there and back again: shame and guilt in ancient greece“there was a(n incomplete) shift in the society during the time period from being a shame culture to being a guilt culture…. the transition may have been incomplete — in fact, may have even gone into reverse — because inbreeding (cousin marriage) became increasingly common in classical athens…. the ancient greeks might’ve gone from being a (presumably) inbred/shame culture in the dark ages, to an outbred/quasi-guilt culture in the archaic period, and back to an inbred/shame culture over the course of the classical period. maybe. Further Research is RequiredTM…. in any case, evolution is not progressive. (heh! i’ve just been dying to say that. (~_^) ) there’s nothing to say that evolution cannot go in reverse, although perhaps it wouldn’t go back down the exact same pathway it came up. there’s no reason why we — or, rather, our descendants — couldn’t wind up, as greg cochran says, back in the trees*.”

outbreeding and individualism“northern europeans began to think of — or at least write about — themselves as individuals beginning in the eleventh century a.d…. the individualistic guilt-culture of northwest (‘core’) europeans today came into existence thanks to their extensive outbreeding during the medieval period (…and the manorialism). the outbreeding started in earnest in the 800s (at least in northern france) and, as we saw above, by 1050-1100 thoughts on *individualis* began to stir.”

carts before horses“the usual explanation offered up for why the societies in places like iraq or syria are based upon the extended family is that these places lack a strong state, and so the people ‘fall back’ on their families. this is *not* what happened in core europe — at least not in england. the importance of the extended family began to fall away *before* the appearance of a strong, centralized state (in the 900s). in any case, the argument is nonsensical. the chinese have had strong, centralized states for millennia, and yet the extended family remains of paramount importance in that society. even in the description of siedentorp’s Inventing the Individual we read: ‘Inventing the Individual tells how a new, equal social role, the individual, arose and gradually displaced the claims of family, tribe, and caste as the basis of social organization.’ no! this is more upside-down-and-backwardness. it’s putting the cart before the horse. individualism didn’t arise and displace the extended family — the extended family receded (beginning in the 900s) and *then* the importance of the individual came to the fore (ca. 1050)…. a lot of major changes happened in core european societies much earlier than most people suppose and in the opposite order (or for the opposite reason) that many presume.”

community vs. communism“‘By the end of the nineteenth century, then, it was evident that there were two Europes, long separated by their histories and, thus, by their politics, economics, social structure, and culture….’ so how did northwestern ‘core’ europe (including northern italy) differ from russia historically as far as participation in civic institutions goes? the short answer is: civicness in ‘core’ europe began centuries before it did in russia or the rest of eastern europe, at least 500-600, if not 800-900, years earlier…. there is NO reason NOT to suppose that the differences in behavioral traits that we see between european sub-populations today — including those between western and eastern europe — aren’t genetic and the result of differing evolutionary histories or pathways…. the circa eleven to twelve hundred years since the major restructuring of society that occurred in ‘core’ europe in the early medieval period — i.e. the beginnings of manorialism, the start of consistent and sustained outbreeding (i.e. the avoidance of close cousin marriage), and the appearance of voluntary associations — is ample time for northwestern europeans to have gone down a unique evolutionary pathway and to acquire behavioral traits quite different from those of other europeans — including eastern europeans — who did not go down the same pathway (but who would’ve gone down their *own* evolutionary pathways, btw).”

eastern germany, medieval manorialism, and (yes) the hajnal line“most of east germany (the gdr) lies outside of the region formerly known as austrasia, as does large parts of both today’s northern and southern germany. southeast germany was incorporated into the frankish kingdom quite early (in the early 500s — swabia on the map below), but both northern germany and southwestern germany much later — not until the late 700s (saxony and bavaria on map). *eastern* germany, as we will see below, even later than that. the later the incorporation into the frankish empire, the later the introduction of both manorialism and outbreeding. and, keeping in mind recent, rapid, and local human evolution, that should mean that these more peripheral populations experienced whatever selective pressures manorialism and outbreeding exerted for *shorter* periods of time than the ‘core’ core europeans back in austrasia…. when east germany was eventually settled by germanic peoples in the high middle ages, it was comparatively late (six or seven hundred years after the germans in the west began living under the manor system); the manor system in the region was *not* of the bipartite form, but rather the more abstract rental form; and the migrants consisted primarily of individuals from a population only recently manorialized or never manorialized. in other words, the medieval ancestors of today’s east germans experienced quite different selection pressures than west germans. so, too, did northern germans on the whole compared to southern germans. these differences could go a long way in explaining the north-south and east-west divides within germany that jayman and others have pointed out.”

human self-domestication events – just ignore what i said about humans and “the domestication syndrome” – pay attention to this, tho: “much of the current thinking seems to be centered on the idea that humans self-domesticated ‘in the more distant past,’ but the fact that humans have been able to dwell together *at all* in ridiculously large numbers beginning around the time of the agricultural revolution suggests that human self-domestication did not stop ‘in the more distant past’ and is probably even ongoing. this is 10,000 Year Explosion territory, and cochran and harpending have been here already…. what i’d like to draw attention to is the idea that there have been multiple (probably multiple multiples of) human self-domestication events which occurred at different places and at different times — all sorta within the broader human self-domestication project which began back in some stone age or, perhaps, even before. one of these, i propose, was the manorialism/outbreeding/execution-of-violent-criminals combo of medieval europe which left ‘core’ europeans with a very specific set of behavioral traits. another might very well be whatever domestication package went along with rice farming in southern china as peter frost has discussed. others undoubtedly include the sorts of civilizations described by cochran & harpending in the passage quoted above — those ‘strong, long-lived states’ — like those found in ancient egypt, ancient china, and ancient india.”

there’s more to human biodiversity than just racial differences“much of the variation between human populations is NOT found at the level of races, nor does it have anything to do with race.” – see also hbd chick’s three laws of human biodiversity.

know thyself – me exhorting ya’ll to do just that. see also me, myself, and i. and see also don’t take it personally.

– bonus: historic mating patterns of ashkenazi jews“i think — going by some things that i’ve read — that the historic mating patterns of ashkenazi jews (i.e. whether or not they married close cousins and/or practiced uncle-niece marriage) were quite different between western vs. eastern ashkenazis…. it seems to me that jews — wherever they have lived (outside of judea/israel, i mean) — have generally copied the broader population’s mating patterns. in medieval western europe, they avoided close cousin marriage and, according to mitterauer, were very worried about incest in the same way that the rest of western europe was at the time. in eastern europe, though, they appear to have married their cousins with greater frequency, probably down through the centuries not unlike the rest of eastern europeans…. as i mentioned in my self-quote at the start of this post, though, european jews did *not* experience whatever selection pressures were connected to the bipartite manorialism of medieval europe.” – see also ashkenazi jews, mediterranean mtdna, mating patterns, and clannishness.

– bonus bonus: my politics – if you’re at all interested. (they’re really dull, actually.)

– and my favorite post from this year by another blogger was jayman’s The Rise of Universalism! (^_^) you should read it. i also meant to mention my favorite post by another blogger in last year’s top ten list, but i forgot, so here it is now: staffan’s The Myth of the Expanding Circle or You Can’t Learn How to Be an English Vegetarian. read that one, too, if you haven’t!

best laid plans for 2016:

– will start off the year with more thoughts on family types and the selection for nepotistic altruism/clannishness.

– i swear to whoever it is we agnostics swear to that i WILL do that series on manorialism in medieval europe!

– i’d like to take a closer look at the reduction of violence/homicides over the course of the middle ages. i think there’s more to it than just the removal of violent individuals from the gene pool (although it is that, too, imo).

– will explore more the rise of individualism, universalism, guilt, etc., in northwest european populations.

– and i may even finish that post discussing the fact that many of the jihadis in europe (france, belgium, spain) appear to be berbers.

– last year i had hoped to respond to prof. macdonald’s post in which he responded to some things i’ve had to say about jews (especially ashkenazi jews). not sure i’ll get to it this year, either. depends on if i’m up to it or not. i think i’ll need to read/reread his books before i respond, and i just may not get around to that this year. we’ll see. same for salter’s On Genetic Interests.

previously: top ten list 2014 and best laid plans 2015


star wars thanksgiving

your thanksgiving reading from ed west: From the English to American Civil Wars: How East Anglians came to control the world

yesterday was the galton institute’s annual conference in london, which i (and anybody else!) was able to virtually attend thanks to the live-tweeting of attendees andrew sabisky, michael story, and rory. (^_^) the conference was on mate choice and included presentations such as “Mate choice and assortative mating on the internet”, “Findings from the ‘Born in Bradford’ project and their relevance to the understanding of contemporary mate choice”, and “Patterns of consanguineous marriage across the world and their consequences” by professor alan bittles (mr.

andrew has kindly storifyed the tweets covering the conference, so now you can belatedly virtually attend, too. (you’ll have to supply your own tea and bikkies, tho. (~_^) ) enjoy!:

Annual Conference of The Galton Institute – Mate Choice, 2015.

(note: comments do not require an email. galtonia candicans.)