linkfest – 10/07/12

Rats Harmed by Great-Grandmothers’ Exposure to Dioxin“Pregnant rats exposed to an industrial pollutant passed on a variety of diseases to three generations of descendants.” – epigenetic effects.

Average Scores for SAT Tests Drop as Pool of Students Who Take Test Widens

A surprising link between Africans and Denisovans and More on the surprising link between Africans and Denisovans – from dienekes.

Burn victim identified by maggots on body“When Mexican police found a body in the woods it was burned beyond recognition, its DNA too damaged to be used for identification. Luckily, investigators were able to extract DNA from elsewhere – the digestive systems of maggots that had been feeding on the body. This is the first time that human DNA from a maggot gut has been analysed in this way to successfully identify a victim in a legal case.”

The Marketplace in Your Brain“Neuroscientists have found brain cells that compute value. Why are economists ignoring them?”

Trans-species polymorphisms“It’s not just that we see the same gene in distantly related species. We also see the same gene with the same set of alleles—a trans-species polymorphism (Klein et al., 1998). A good example is the ABO blood group system. On the basis of that gene marker, I probably have more in common with certain apes than I do with some of my readers.” – (^_^) from peter frost.

The South and sexual perversity – from the inductivist.

Darwinian Giant Robert Trivers Riffs on Toddler Tantrums, Homophobic Denial and Other Lies – on robert trivers.

Ancient stinging nettles reveal Bronze Age trade connections“A piece of nettle cloth retrieved from Denmark’s richest known Bronze Age burial mound Lusehøj may actually derive from Austria, new findings suggest.”

bonus: I’m Spantacus! Slave ants rebel“[O]n average 95 per cent of the parasitic ant larvae survived to pupa stage – but then the slave ants attacked or neglected them. Only 45 per cent of the parasite’s offspring survived to adulthood. In comparison, the survival rate for host pupae in their own free-living nests is 85 per cent.”

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libertarian crackers

nick land points out that it seems as though american libertarians tend to be of southern extraction — in other words, the descendants of those rustlin’ and fightin’ and inbreedin’ border reivers folks — and that they have that libertarian spirit because of their slight inbrededness. that makes a lot of sense! — and i’ve actually been thinking along those lines myself, too.

as a reminder, hackett fischer found that appalachia and areas further south were primarily settled by extended families/clans from the border areas of england-scotland, and that these folks had a looooong history of inter-clan (low scale) warfare. these northerners married their cousins or endogamously more than southern englanders did. and they brought aaaall these customs and traditions with them when they settled in the u.s.

the border reivers hadn’t been marrying their father’s brother’s daughter’s (fbd) for thousands of years like the arabs, so they weren’t tribal like the arabs. but they were clannish because they continued to marry relatively closely long after the christian church told them not to (probably something like the irish).

and being clannish means you don’t trust outsiders. and that includes THE GUBMENT.

i think it’s kinda funny that individuals from groups that are somewhat inbred (not as outbred as the southern english, but not as inbred as the chinese or arabs) and clannish — and must, therefore, be more related to their fellow family members than southern englanders and, thus, be less of individuals genetically speaking than southern englanders must be on the whole — feel as though they are very independent and individualistic persons. even though these sentiments (not liking the interference of outsiders) likely evolved in a clannish setting (i think).

for example, i noted this once before of taki of takimag. he once said:

The highly individualistic Greek is too self-seeking to submit easily to others’ dictates. His unruliness has helped him survive through the centuries of oppression, as well as to rise above adversity. But it has also made him unaware of the advantages of a communal spirit and true democratic attitudes. This has created a climate where cheating is a way of life, where the highest and lowest of citizens do not hesitate to use dishonesty, especially in politics.”

but the greek is NOT “highly individualistic.” what he is, and has been for probably a very long time, is quite genetically attached to his extended family, and so the greeks prefer their own extended families over unrelated extended families in all areas of life (thus the nepotism and the corruption) — and generally don’t trust anyone in THE GUBMENT! just like libertarian crackers.

it’s funny how these (what i think are) innate feelings of antipathy towards outsiders get interpreted by some of the holders of those feelings as being a streak of independence. it is independence in a way, but it’s independence from outsiders, not an individual indpendence like the english have which actually results in most or all of the individuals wanting to come together and form a government “of the people,” etc., etc.

disclaimer: pew tells me i’m a libertarian (not really, but i do sympathize), and i’m from one of the inbred peripheral groups of europe, so there you go — i’m practically living proof! (~_^)

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democracy and military takeover

heh. here’s a good one! again, from the world values survey, 2005-2008:

Many things may be desirable, but not all of them are essential characteristics of democracy. Please tell me for each of the following things how essential you think it is as a characteristic of democracy. Use this scale where 1 means *not at all an essential characteristic of democracy* and 10 means it definitely is *an essential characteristic of democracy*: The army takes over when government is incompetent.

here are the 10s:

5.3% of americans think that an ESSENTIAL characteristic of democracy is that the army should take over when the government is incompetent?! wtf?? that’s about 5% too many, afaiac. (at least we scored better than burkina faso, tho.)

southerners (not texans) and folks in the nw think this way more than those in other parts of the country. you southerners — you’re always causing trouble! (~_^)

btw. there’s something wrong with the data from sweden — there are no figures for responses three through nine, so i wouldn’t believe that 17% number.

previously: dēmos kratos and democracy and civil rights and democracy and the redistribution of wealth and libyans on democracy: meh and what egyptians want

(note: comments do not require an email. hmmmm. nope. can’t see the bit about the military taking over if necessary….)

“culture” of honor

in “Culture of Honor,” nisbett and cohen argued that the scots-irish of appalachia are more violent than, say, yankees ’cause of their … you guessed it … culture of honor.


this article [opens pdf] has a good description of what nisbett and cohen found when they researched the flying-off-the-handle-ness of southerners vs. northerers:

“Their laboratory experiments are most relevant to our argument here. Cohen and Nisbett recruited subjects with Northern and Southern backgrounds from the University of Michigan student body, ostensibly to work on an psychological task dealing with perception. During the experiment, a confederate bumped some subjects and muttered ‘asshole’ at them. Cortisol (a stress hormone) and testosterone (rises in preparation for violence) were measured before and after the insult. Insulted Southerners showed big jumps in both cortisol and testosterone compared to uninsulted Southerners and insulted Northerners. The difference in psychological and physiological responses to insults was manifest in behavior. Nisbett and Cohen recruited a 6’3” 250 lb (190 cm, 115 kg) American style football player whose task was to walk down the middle of a narrow hall as subjects came the other direction. The experimenters measured how close subjects came to the football player before stepping aside. Northerners stepped aside at around 6 feet regardless of whether they had been insulted. Un-insulted Southerners stepped aside at an average distance of 9 feet, whereas insulted Southerners approached to an average of about 3 feet. Polite but prepared to be violent, un-insulted Southerners take more care, presumably because they attribute a sense of honor to the football player and are normally respectful of others’ honor. When their honor is challenged, they are prepared and willing to challenge someone at considerable risk to their own safety.”

sooooooooo, they found a biological response in the southerners who were insulted and concluded that the cause of that biological response was … culture. ooooh-kaaaaay.


how about southerners are, for whatever evolutionary reasons, somewhat different biologically-speaking than northerners and they, therefore, respond differently biologically to insults. and that, taken collectively, the way all these southerners behave — innately — amounts to their culture.

seems kinda obvious, don’t it?

so what is the evolutionary history of the good folks down in appalachia? we know that they come from the anglo-scottish border areas. what were (are) those people like?

clannish. probably practiced some sort of inbreeding throughout the medieval period — unlike the english, whose descendents became the more chilled yankees in the new world.

and war-ish. for hundreds of years. or, battle-ish anyway:

Border Reivers were raiders along the Anglo–Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century…. The border families can be referred to as clans, as the Scots themselves appear to have used both terms interchangeably until the 19th century…. Other terms were also used to describe the Border families, such as the ‘Riding Surnames’ and the ‘Graynes’ thereof…. Both Border Graynes and Highland septs however, had the essential feature of patriarchal leadership by the chief of the name, and had territories in which most of their kindred lived…. Although feudalism existed, tribal loyalty was much more important and this is what distinguished the Borderers from other lowland Scots.

“culture” of honor? gimme a break!

footnote: one of the major anglo-saxon border clans is the clan nesbitt. heh! (^_^)

previously: outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence and which came first?

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

ya’ll need to quit ur g*dd*mn cussin’!

or maybe i should just move to the south. i definitely should NOT move to utah ’cause teh mormons ain’t a cussin’. (~_^)

this is a map of americans a cussin’ and a swearin’ on twitter. (lighter colors means MORE swearing.) acc’dg to gizmodo:

“Huffman based his research on geotagged tweets between March and April of 2010. That means a smallish sample size, sure, but you can’t really argue with the black hole of cussin that swallows up Salt Lake City. But what four-letter words were counted, and how? According to Huffman:

“‘I made use of six main swears] that came to mind: fuck, shit, bitch, hell, damn, ass

‘I was running these through Excel (since I had the Tweet data in a spreadsheet), and I had it simply search for those text strings within the message. In most cases, that meant it was a search along the lines of *fuck*, meaning it would catch “fucker,” “fuckwit,” and other words probably bandied about the UW Cartography Lab in its saltier days. For ass and hell, I kept wildcards out of those words, since there was a chance of catching something like ‘assume’ or ‘shell’ if I did not.'”

looks like those settlers from the borderlands sure like their colorful language. (~_^)

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which came first?

(the culture or the biology?)

so, some researchers found a rare variation of the 5-HT2B gene in finns that correlates strongly with violent, impulsive behavior. (see @gnxp: “hotheads by nature”)

which brought to my mind this paper by richerson and boyd: “Culture is Part of Human Biology: Why the Superorganic Concept Serves the Human Sciences Badly.”

in it, the researchers, referring to cohen & nisbett’s work, have this to say…

“Rates of violence in the American South have long been much greater than in the North. Accounts of duels, feuds, bushwhackings, and lynchings occur prominently in visitors’ accounts, newspaper articles, and autobiography from the 18th Century onward. According to crime statistics these differences persist today. In their book, Culture of Honor, Richard Nisbett and Dov Cohen (1996) argue that the South is more violent than the North because Southerners have different, culturally acquired beliefs about personal honor than Northerners. The South was disproportionately settled by Protestant Scotch-Irish, people with an animal herding background, whereas Northern settlers were English, German and Dutch peasant farmers….

“Their [Cohen & Nisbett] laboratory experiments are most relevant to our argument here. Cohen and Nisbett recruited subjects with Northern and Southern backgrounds from the University of Michigan student body, ostensibly to work on an psychological task dealing with perception. During the experiment, a confederate bumped some subjects and muttered ‘asshole’ at them. Cortisol (a stress hormone) and testosterone (rises in preparation for violence) were measured before and after the insult. Insulted Southerners showed big jumps in both cortisol and testosterone compared to uninsulted Southerners and insulted Northerners….”

…and then richerson & boyd go on to say…

“Nisbett and Cohen’s study illustrates the two main points we want to make in this essay.
– Culture is fundamental to understanding human behavior.
– Culture causes behavior by causing changes in our biology.”

yeah. sure. terrific.

but what if, also, our biology causes human behaviors which collectively become human culture(s).

i mean, in cohen & nisbitt’s study, there’s cortisol and testosterone levels going up. that sounds like biology to me!

personality is heritable. so is intelligence. what if different frequencies of whatever genes (alleles) it is that contribute to, say, flying off the handle happen to be more common in protestant scotch-irish people than in the english, german or dutch? couldn’t that account for why the culture of the american south is more violent?

i’m sure that there’s constant feedback here between our biology(ies) and our culture(s), but how come researchers never even bother to ask the sort of question i’m asking here? seems kinda, you know, obvious.

see also: Warrior gene prevalent in Maori: study

previously: extraversion and culture

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