linkfest – 01/12/14

Capturing a Hard-Wired Variability: What Makes Some Identical Twins Noticeably Different?“The current study finds that only one allele is expressed in between 12 and 24 percent of all such pairs encoded by the mouse genome. Further, the selection of expressed alleles varies randomly from cell to cell, and switches frequently between the two options throughout their lives…. ‘We find that for those genes that are not imprinted, roughly one in five alleles is randomly and dynamically expressed only one at a time,’ says Sandberg. ‘And if one allele is being expressed, the other doesn’t know about it. There’s no coordination between two.'”

meanwhile: Identical twins need never be tried for same crime after DNA breakthrough“Cases of identical twins being tried for the same crime may never happen again after a scientific breakthrough found there are subtle differences in their DNA.” – h/t Big Daddy Jayman!

Indigenous Groups More Vulnerable in Fight Against Flu“Research indicated that some Indigenous people such as in Alaska and Australia displayed limited immunity response to the effects of influenza.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Islands make animals tamer“Lizard study supports Darwin’s hunch that lack of predators leads to unwatchful behaviour.” – hmmmm.

A Living Time Capsule Shows the Human Mark on Evolution“Scientists have revived shrimp-like animals that have been buried at the bottom of the lake for an estimated 700 years. If this estimate holds up to further testing, they are the oldest animals ever resurrected…. The oldest DNA the scientists obtained from the lake dates back to around the time the Vandals were ransacking Rome. The scientists found that one genetic strain of water fleas dominated at the time — and continued to until the late 1800s. As phosphorus [from fertilizers] flooded the lake, a previously rare strain emerged and took over.”

Evolution Hidden in Plain Sight“One of the hallmarks of *Escherichia coli* as a species is that when there’s oxygen around, it can’t feed on a compound called citrate. But one day a flask turned cloudy with an explosion of *E. coli* that were doing just that. The change was so profound that it may mean these bacteria had evolved into a new species.”

SLC24A5 light skin pigmentation allele origin“‘The distributions of C11 and its parental haplotypes make it most likely that these two last steps occurred between the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, with the A111T mutation occurring after the split between the ancestors of Europeans and East Asians.'” – @dienekes’.

The brown man with blue eyes“Interestingly, although the Luxembourg man was blue-eyed, he also had brown skin. He lacked the ‘European’ alleles at all three genes involved in the whitening of European skin.” – from peter frost.

Factor Analysis of Population Allele Frequencies as a Simple, Novel Method of Detecting Signals of Recent Polygenic Selection: The Example of Educational Attainment and IQ [pdf] – “Frequencies of 10 SNPs found to be associated with educational attainment in a recent genome-wide association study were obtained from HapMap, 1000 Genomes and ALFRED. Factor analysis showed that they are strongly statistically associated at the population level, and the resulting factor score was highly related to average population IQ (r=0.90). Moreover, allele frequencies were positively correlated with aggregate measures of educational attainment in the population, average IQ, and with two intelligence increasing alleles that had been identified in different studies.” – h/t elijah! see also jayman.

Ancient hunter-gatherers had rotten teeth“Scientists have long thought that tooth decay only became common in humans about 10,000 years ago, when we began farming – and eating starchy crops that fed sugar-loving bacteria on our teeth. But Isabelle De Groote of the Natural History Museum in London, UK, and her colleagues have found widespread tooth decay in hunter-gatherers that lived several thousand years before the origin of agriculture.”

The Liberal Illusion of Uniqueness“[L]iberals underestimate their similarity to other liberals (i.e., display *truly false uniqueness*), whereas moderates and conservatives overestimate their similarity to other moderates and conservatives (i.e., display *truly false consensus*…).” – h/t ben southwood!

More complex brains are not always better: rats outperform humans in implicit category-based generalization by implementing a similarity-based strategy – in some ways, rats are smarter than you. (~_^) – h/t ben southwood!

Why Are Some Types of People More At Risk of Schizophrenia Than Others? – from chris davies.

Is and Ought – from henry harpending.

US Army Ambushed by Toxic Leaders and Toxic Leaders And The Social Environments That Breed Them – psychopaths?

Is the dark side of parenting genetic?“In a novel finding, Robert Plomin and colleagues suggest that negative aspects of parenting are more heritable than positive aspects. They call this The Dark Side of parenting. The effect is interesting and subtle: it suggests that whilst parents are generally consistent in their handling of their children, some genetically driven characteristics of their children lead them into more negative parenting styles…. In simple terms, even peaceable parents get irritable with difficult children.” – from dr. james thompson.

Ancient times table hidden in Chinese bamboo strips“The 2,300-year-old matrix is the world’s oldest decimal multiplication table.”

Unthinkable: Who’s running the show, you or your brain?“The question of whether the brain is paramount has profound implications for all of us.” – interview w/kevin mitchell.

Hunter–gatherers have less famine than agriculturalists – h/t richard harper!

Changelings, Infanticide and Northwest European Guilt Culture“To summarize, the changeling lore provides evidence of a NWE guilt culture dating back at least to medieval times, and the practice and attitude towards exposure suggests that ancient Greece had an emerging guilt culture as early as the 400s BC which enabled a similar individualism and intellectual development that we’ve seen in the NWE in recent centuries.” – from staffan.

IamA 15 (nearly 16)-year-old who has co-written a peer-reviewed paper on intelligence. AMA!elijah armstrong‘s reddit ama! (^_^) (keep in mind that most redditors are idiots. except the ones on r/starwars, of course.)

This is what a beta looks like – from the awesome epigone. hbd-babies everywhere! (^_^)

Ancient cholera mysteriously disappeared“Strains that plagued Europe and the United States in the nineteenth century were distinct from those prevalent today.”

The social animal“Whether in education, ethics or politics, we ignore our social natures at our peril.”

2,000-year-old skeleton unearthed in Davie – in florida – h/t charles mann!

Bullied and Badgered, Pressured and Purged – list of the pc-incorrect who have been witch-hunted @handle’s haus.

bonus: The manosphere goes gaga for this woman – the blue pill people don’t like me. they’re prolly just jealous. (~_^)

bonus bonus: Is A Blubbering Inner Party Leftoid Trying To Silence Chateau Heartiste? – the best defense is a good offense!

bonus bonus bonus: Mysterious Microscopic Bubbles Baffle Ocean Scientists“The most abundant photosynthetic organism in the world [cyanobacteria] sheds countless little sacs into the oceans, which could be having a dramatic impact on marine ecosystems, according to a new study. These microbial buds contain proteins and genetic material, which may influence the growth of other marine microbes and even protect them against viruses.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Video: Fish leaps to catch birds on the wing“Tigerfish swallows swallows after grabbing them out of the air over African lake.” – holy cr*p!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Dogs Relieve Themselves In-Line With Earth’s Magnetic Field“Dogs are quite particular about where they choose to relieve themselves — not only do they defecate in direction with the north-south axis, but they also are sensitive to slight changes in the Earth’s magnetic field.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: War Elephant Myths Debunked by DNA“Until now, the main question remained: Did Ptolemy employ African savanna elephants (*Loxodonta africana*) or African forest elephants (*Loxodonta cyclotis*) in the Battle or Raphia? ‘Using three different markers, we established that the Eritrean elephants are actually savanna elephants….'”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Actual Academic Journals Which Could Be Broadway Shows If They Had Exclamation Points Added!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Science Apologizes to Little Girl for Not Making Dragons – and so they should!!

(note: comments do not require an email. tigerfish. holy cr*p!)

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random notes: 07/30/13

from A Brief History of Great Britain (2010) [pages xiv-xvi]:

“Britain is marked by pronounced regional differences. The most basic division is that between highland areas and lowland areas. The ‘highland zone’ is defined by being over 200 meters (656 feet) above sea level. Highland zones are found in Wales, much of Scotland, northern England, and parts of southwestern England, although lowland pockets exist in highland territories. The British highland zone is not really mountainous, as the highest mountains reach the mode height of roughly 4000 feet (1,129 meters). There is a much higher proportion of highland land in Scotland than in England, and the difference between the highlands and the lowlands and their inhabitants plays a central role in Scottish history and culture.

The highlands are marked by a greater emphasis on pastoralism, as they have mostly chalky soil and are too wet and cold for successful agriculture. The highlands are also much less densely populated than the lowlands, as it requires much more land to support a human being through pastoralism than through agriculture. Lowland areas are usually more fertile. The most fertile lowlands are in the south and southeast of Britain, where there is rich, heavy soil more suited to agriculture. Lowlanders can engage in raising either grains or livestock, depending on circumstances. In the Middle Ages much of the lowlands was truned over to the highly profitable production of wool. Lowlanders tended to live in villages, highlanders in small hamlets or isolated farmsteads, or to be nomadic.

“Invasions of Britain had much less effect on the highlands than on the lowlands, which constituted the really valuable prize due to their greater agricultural productivity. Those regimes exercising power throughout Britain or the British Isles were usually based in lowland England, the only place capable of supporting tehm. The extension of power from the lowlands to the highlands was a difficult challenge due to the difficulty of the terrain. Mountainous Wales preserved its independence for centuries despite its poverty and its inability to unite politically. The only invaders to subdue Wales before the 13th century were the well-organized and disciplined Roman legions, and it took them years after the conquest of England. The less-organized Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Normans had a much harder time, and Wales was only permanently annexed to England in 1284.

“The greater poverty of the highlands meant that highlanders often raided lowlanders, creating hostility between the two. The highlands were also more culturally and linguistically conservative. Cultural innovations usually originated in the lowlands and spread to the highlands. The highlands were where the Celtic languages lasted the longest, as English and its offshoots, originally the language of Anglo-Saxon invaders, became the dominant tongue of the lowlands in the early Middle Ages. This cultural division further added to the hostility between highland and lowland peoples.”
_____

from The Environment of Early Man in the British Isles (1975) [pgs. 147-149]:

“The Highland Zone/Lowland Zone division

“It is from this time [late bronze/early iron age] onwards that the division of the British Isles into Highland and Lowland Zones becomes relevant. The division has been used by geographers to explain differences in settlement patterns, farming practices and the quality of material culture between the two zones, and Cyril Fox exploited it to a considerable extent in ‘The Personality of Britain’.

“In brief, the Highland Zone (Fig. 62) is that part of the British Isles which is made up of the most ancient group of rocks, those formed in the Paleozoic Era. They lie in the north and west and the division with the later Mesozoic and Tertiary rocks of the Lowland Zone falls roughly on a line from the mouth of the Tees to the mouth of the Exe. The Palaeozoic rocks are generally hard, forming mountainous regions, with continuous streches over 300 metres above sea level. Plains and vales are not extensive. There are steep slopes and crags making cultivation difficult or impossible, and soils are often thin, stony and impoverished. Rainfall is high and there is a strong correspondence between the chief moorland areas and mean annual rainfall.

“Lowland Britain, on the other hand, is made up of geologically younger rocks which are softer, and which have given rise to a series of low-lying, rolling hills and intervening extensive vales and plains. Slopes are gentle, crags few and almost all the land is available for tillage, pasture or settlement. Soils are generally fertile and there is little evidence of erosion. Rainfall is light and there is little waste ground.

“But there are many topographical exceptions, in particular various lowland areas within the Highland Zone. Some of these are relatively small — the Vale of Glamorgan, the Hebridean machair and certain fertile river valleys such as Strath Tay. Others are of much greater extent, including the Central Scottish Lowlands, East Banff and Aberdeen, and the Orkney Islands. Ireland can be divided topographically into its own Highland and Lowland Zoens, and presents an anomaly in that approximately half the country is essentially lowland but situated in a high rainfall area….

“Indeed, the key distinction between the Highland and Lowland Zones is not so much elevation and topography as rainfall which is greatest in the west (Fig. 62) since this is the direction from which the main rain-bearing winds blow….

britain - lowland-highland zones

“[F]or a variety of economic and environmental reasons, the first millennium bc represents a period of significant change in the Highland Zone. Fields were abandoned and either reverted to pasture or waste ground, or became covered by peat. In low-lying areas communications became difficult because of mire formation or flooding. The importance of stone and Highland Zone metal deposits dwindled. And there was no great exploitation of timber for iron smelting as occurred in the Lowland Zone. Indeed, it is from the beginning of the Iron Age that the Highland Zone as a whole assumes the pastoral character which it has retained ever since.

“‘It is generally understood that…the remains of the monuments and material costructed or used throughout Britain reveal no noticeable differences in quality between the lowland and highland areas until well into the first millennium bc, but that thereafter a contrast developed between the two areas, comprising a falling-off of the material culture of the highland in comparison with that of the lowland — a contrast which has lasted to the present day.'”
_____

look! another line – the tees-exe line (the red one):

tees-exe line
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from The British Isles: A History of Four Nations (1989, 2006) [pgs. 18-19]:

“To draw attention to this fact [i.e. that much of the pre-roman british isles was a part of a broader european celtic culture] is not to say that there was political and social uniformity throughout the area. The existence of tribal groupings in both Britain and Ireland is an indication of political differences at the local level. The Romans, to whom we are indebted for Latin versions of tribal names in the absence of their original Celtic forms, distinguished over twenty tribes in Britain south of the Forth. In Ireland, where politcal aggregation had not gone as far as it had elsewhere, the number of tribes seems to have been much larger.

“One powerful cause of variety was geography, in particular the contrast between Highland and Lowland Zones. It was Sir Cyril Fox who argued in his book ‘The Personality of Britain’ (1932) that the Lowlands would usually be exposed to forces of change before the Highlands. The Highland/Lowland contrast certainly makes good sense when applied to Britain, where north and west form a distinctive geographical area, including a good deal of land over 400 metres above sea-level. Poorer soil and climatic conditions made agriculture more of a challenge in the Highland Zone than it was in the south and east. In a British Isles context, however, the Highland/Lowland contrast is not quite so clear. Ireland, which has been compared to a saucer in which the rim represents the hills and the flat base the central plain, is not, geologically speaking, a Highland Zone. There is no doubt, however, that the narrow seas between north-west Ireland and south-west Scotland linked rather than divided them. At this particular period, however, it may be seen as forming part of a ‘cultural Highland Zone’, cut off, for better or worse, from the influence of the rising military power of Rome.

“Geographical determinism should not be pressed too far, however. It can also be argued that, under certain conditions, the Irish Sea provided a channel of communication…. It also seems to have been the case during the fifth and sixth centuries AD when Christian communities on both sides of the Irish Sea retained their links with Christian Europe at a time when the eastern half of Britain was being overrun by Germanic settlers. The Irish presence in Scotland in the sixth century AD and in parts of Wales illustrates the same point….

Another contrast between the Highland and Lowland Zones was almost certainly demographic. No firm statistical evidence exists but several strong indicators suggest that there was a considerable increase of population in the Lowlands from the fifth century onwards, well before the Belgic invasions. A good deal of internal colonisation seems to have taken place during this period….”
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from The Culture of the English People: Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution (1994) [pgs. 5-7]:

“Some fifty years ago Sir Cyril Fox published one of the most seminal books in the history of British archaeology and culture, ‘The Personality of Britain’. In it he distinguished two parts of these islands, a ‘highland’ zone and a ‘lowland’ zone, with a boundary between them which ran from County Durham to Lyme Bay on the south coast (Fig. 1.1). This line separated a predominantly hilly region of Paleozoic rocks from a gentler region of Secondary and later rocks. These two regions, he argued, corresponded with two differing modes of cultural evolution. Simply expressed, his argument was that the bearers of outside cultural influences reached the Highland Zone often by sea and almost always in small numbers. Their impact was never sufficient to blanket or submerge the indigenous cultures. Instead they became assimilated. Elements of older cultures are today not only present, but conspicuously so in Highland Britain. Lowland Britain, by contrast, lay at the receiving end of a long series of invasions, from those who walked across the landbridge which once existed with Europe to the more recent invasions of Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans. Each wave was powerful enough to impress its own culture, and thus to mask or to destroy pre-existing cultures. Fox commented on the relative ease with which new civilizations are established in the Lowland Zone, repressing without necessarily obliterating those which had prevailed before. ‘There is [thus] greater unity of culture in the Lowland Zone, but greater continuity in the Highland Zone.’

“The Fox model has not been without its critics. Some, including the present writer, would interpose a third zone covering the basically claylands of the English Midlands, between the Highland and the Lowland, with its own distinctive cultural history. But, however modified, the Fox model has been of incalculable imortance to a cultural history of these islands. It gives a rational explanation for a phenomenon which will recur in the pages of this book, namely the persistence of early cultural traits in the Celtic west and north, and the greater degree of cultural traits in the Celtic west and north, and the greater degree of cultural homogeneity in the lowlands of the south and east.”

england - lowland-midland-highland zones
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previously: this one’s for g.w. and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people

(note: comments do not require an email. lemur alert!)

bewitched

just a quick follow-up on my witch hunt post … a very kind reader very kindly sent me a copy of this article — Witchcraft Beliefs and Witch Hunts: An Interdisciplinary Explanation — by niek koning (thanks very kind reader! (^_^) ).

to be honest, i didn’t quite follow koning’s explanation for where belief in witches comes from as it was a little … involved. something about how our innate fear system was fine-tuned during our hunter-gatherer evolutionary history to pick up on cheats and sneaks, but that this combination of behavioral traits got a bit out of whack once we settled down in larger, agricultural-based societies. then people started suspecting strange neighbors of putting the ‘evil eye’ on them whenever crops failed or they became ill.

not sure i bought koning’s entire explanation, but he did include some interesting data on what sorts of societies tend to believe in witches and witchcraft. basically, hunter-gatherers not so much — simple agriculturalists and agriculturalists quite a bit — and pastoralists off the charts. belief in actual witches pretty much disappears with modernity (although, as i argued in my post about the jason richwine affair, the basic elements of the witch hunt, including all the irrational behaviors, are very much still around!).

here’s a neat table from koning (click on table to EMBIGGEN it):

koning withcraft beliefs

here are the percentages of those with the strongest (4) beliefs in witchcraft for each type of society:

nomadic foraging = 28.6%
(semi-)sedentary foraging = 30.0%
shifting cultivation without metal hoes = 35.0%
other hand-tool farming systems = 44.7%
plow agriculture = 69.2%
pastoralism = 72.0%

apart from degree of complexity, i can’t see any other obvious pattern there (like iq). pastoralism doesn’t really fit the complexity pattern, though — you’d think that the plow agriculturalists would have the most complex societies (maybe i’ll have to see if i can find out exactly which societies koning was looking at). -?-

one interesting characteristic that i can think of wrt the pastoralists is that they are usually some of the most inbred, so perhaps “genes for belief in witchcraft” can pile up in those populations rather quickly? dunno.

koning also points out that in times of crisis (echoes of the anthropologists i referenced in the previous post) — in particular economic crisis — a population which doesn’t believe in witchcraft can revert to holding such a belief [pg. 10 in the pdf]:

“The conclusion that resource stress may revive witch paranoia in more-evolved agrarian societies is also confirmed by the witchhunt in Europe. In contrast to older studies that cited the role of elites or the emergence of rural capitalism (e.g., Levack 1987; Macfarlane 1970; Muchembled 1987; Trevor-Roper 1969), researchers such as Briggs (1996), Behringer (1995, 1999, 2004) and Pfister (2007) have convincingly argued that this historical event was stirred by popular fears induced by demographic pressure and socioenvironmental crisis. Quantitative analysis in Oster (2004) confirms that witch hunting was related to demographic stagnation and de-urbanization.5 Although some witch trials and a series of demonological studies occurred during the fifteenth century, the witch craze was largely between 1570 and 1630.6 In this period, the exhaustion of a cluster of medieval farm innovations (Mazoyer and Roudart 2006) and the onset of the Little Ice Age caused a steep increase in real grain prices, on top of the inflation caused by the influx of American gold and silver. The first witch hunts occurred in Alpine valleys, where population pressure became critical earlier than in other places and farming was sensitive to climatic cooling (Behringer 1999, 2004; Ostorero 2008; Pfister 2007). In more peripheral areas, where overpopulation occurred later, the outburst was delayed by several decades (Ankarloo and Henningsen 1990; Goodare et al. 2003; Karlsen 1987; Ostling 2011; Thurston 2007; Woodward 2003). The northern Netherlands, which avoided the crisis through specialization and commercial expansion, witnessed few witch trials (Gijswijt-Hofstra and Frijhoff 1991)….

“5 That economic slowdown and an increase in witch hunting were mainly caused by the Little Ice Age, as these authors assert, is less clear. Climate studies differ about the precise timing of the Little Ice Age, and in Oster’s analysis the statistical correlation of population and de-urbanization with witch hunting is much stronger than that with climate change.

“6 The decades of economic growth in the early sixteenth century saw a leveling off in the number of witch trials and an actual decline in some areas (Behringer 2004; Levack 1987).”

interesting!

previously: “to disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of heresies” and a loaded question

(note: comments do not require an email. bewitched, bothered, and bewildered.)