Archives for posts with tag: bias in academia

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.)

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What Your DNA Says About Medieval History“A new study uses genetic data from living people to trace millennia-old migration patterns…. [M]uch of what Capelli and his colleagues discovered meshed with what historians already knew. For example, among northern Europeans, highest rate of admixing took place ‘around the late first millennium C.E., a time known to have involved significant upheaval in Europe,’ while admixture between north African and southern European populations was dated to a time span ‘consistent with migrations associated with the Arabic Conquest of the Iberian peninsula.’ But there were surprises, too. Most notably, Capelli and his colleagues discovered evidence for an influx of Mongolians into Europe that predated the reign of Ghengis Khan.” – orig. research article: The Role of Recent Admixture in Forming the Contemporary West Eurasian Genomic Landscape.

Inuit Study Adds Twist to Omega-3 Fatty Acids’ Health Story“A study published on Thursday in the journal Science reported that the ancestors of the Inuit evolved unique genetic adaptations for metabolizing omega-3s and other fatty acids. Those gene variants had drastic effects on Inuit’s bodies, reducing their heights and weights. Rasmus Nielsen, a geneticist at the University of California, Berkeley, and an author of the new study, said that the discovery raised questions about whether omega-3 fats really were protective for everyone, despite decades of health advice. ‘The same diet may have different effects on different people,’ he said…. The researchers found several genetic variants at different locations in the genome that were unusually common in the Inuit, compared with people in Europe or China. Several of these variations occurred within a cluster of genes that direct construction of enzymes called fatty acid desaturases. (The genes are called FADS, for short….) Even more intriguing was the fact that one of these gene variants was present in almost every Inuit in the study. It is much less common in other populations: About a quarter of Chinese people have it, compared with just 2 percent of Europeans. Natural selection is the only known way this gene variant could have become so common in the Inuit. Dr. Nielsen said this adaptation might have arisen as long ago as 20,000 years, when the ancestors of the Inuit were living in the Beringia region, which straddles Alaska and Siberia…. The adaptation did more than just change blood levels of fatty acids, the scientists found. Inuit who carried two copies of the variant gene were on average an inch shorter and 10 pounds lighter than those without a copy.” – orig. research article: Greenlandic Inuit show genetic signatures of diet and climate adaptation. see also Your Genes Are What You Eat from razib.

Height-reducing variants and selection for short stature in Sardinia“[K]nown height-decreasing alleles are at systematically higher frequencies in Sardinians than would be expected by genetic drift. The findings are consistent with selection for shorter stature in Sardinia and a suggestive human example of the proposed ‘island effect’ reducing the size of large mammals.” – h/t andrew sabisky!

Are humans still evolving? Yes, both globally and locally. – from jerry coyne.

5 key facts about the nuclear DNA from Sima de los Huesos“If confirmed, the results will push back the H. sapiens-H. neanderthalensis ancestor beyond 400 KYA. Meyer suggested that the ancestors of H. sapiens could have diverged from the branch leading to neandertals and denisovans 550 K to 765 K years ago. It may be possible that H. sapiens evolved in western Eurasia and later migrated back into Africa. The fossils from Europe, Asia and Africa in the 400 Ka. period are physically very diverse and may represent multiple species, only one of which could be the ancestor of today’s humans. For example, Chris Stringer thinks it may be needed to look at Homo antecessor and not Homo heidelbergensis as our last common ancestor with neandertals.”

New DNA tests on ancient Denisovan people ‘shows them occupying Altai cave 170,000 years ago’“Prehistoric Siberians lived in Denisova Cave earlier than scientists realised – new claim based on state-of-the-art technology.” – h/t paleoanthropology!

Origins, admixture and founder lineages in European Roma“We found a set of founder lineages, present in the Roma and virtually absent in the non-Roma, for the maternal (H7, J1b3, J1c1, M18, M35b, M5a1, U3, and X2d) and paternal (I-P259, J-M92, and J-M67) genomes. This lineage classification allows us to identify extensive gene flow from non-Roma to Roma groups, whereas the opposite pattern, although not negligible, is substantially lower (up to 6.3%). Finally, the exact haplotype matching analysis of both uniparental lineages consistently points to a Northwestern origin of the proto-Roma population within the Indian subcontinent.”

Why I’m sceptical about the idea of genetically inherited trauma“A recent scientific paper claiming that the children of Holocaust survivors showed evidence of inherited stress was deeply flawed – here’s why.”

Population genetic differentiation of height and body mass index across Europe“Here we find that many independent loci contribute to population genetic differences in height and body mass index (BMI) in 9,416 individuals across 14 European countries.”

North-South divide, Japanese style – from dr. james thompson.

Genetics of IQ and lifespan and Genius? Avoid rare functional genes and Heritability of Specific Cognitive Abilities and Schizophrenia and cognitive decline and g for Latinos and White matter efficiency predicts women’s IQ, but not men’s – all also from dr. james thompson!

SNP hits on cognitive ability from 300k individuals – from steve hsu. h/t holtz!

Do smart girls postpone first sex? and Do women find bright men sexy? – and even MORE from dr. james thompson!! whew!

Green Arabia’s key role in human evolution“Scientists have been illuminating the vital role played by the Arabian Peninsula in humankind’s exodus from Africa. Far from being a desert, the region was once covered by lush vegetation and criss-crossed by rivers, providing rich hunting grounds for our ancestors.”

The UK10K project identifies rare variants in health and disease – h/t kevin mitchell!

Genetics of aggressive behavior: An overview – h/t brian boutwell!

Sons of the Soil, Migrants, and Civil War“In nearly a third of ethnic civil wars since 1945, the conflict develops between members of a regional ethnic group that considers itself to be the indigenous “sons of the soil” and recent migrants from other parts of the country.” – h/t whyvert!

It’s finally out: The big review paper on the lack of political diversity in social psychology“Psychologists have demonstrated the value of diversity – particularly diversity of viewpoints – for enhancing creativity, discovery, and problem solving. But one key type of viewpoint diversity is lacking in academic psychology in general and social psychology in particular: political diversity.” – from jonathan haidt.

The genetics of alcohol dependence: Twin and SNP-based heritability, and genome-wide association study based on AUDIT scores – h/t amir sariaslan!

Chronotype Associations with Depression and Anxiety Disorders in a Large Cohort Study – h/t emily deans! who tweeted: “‘Morning people’ less likely to be depressed in this large and relatively thorough observational study.” – (morning people depress me. (~_^) )

The Hormone That Bonds Humans to Dogs – h/t old whig! who tweeted: “Evolutionary change is faster than we think? Case study: oxytocin.”

Does the Gender of Offspring Affect Parental Political Orientation? – h/t ben southwood! who tweeted: “Studies on offspring gender & political orientation plagued by publication bias; actually there’s no relationship.”

Do Angry Birds Make for Angry Children? A Meta-Analysis of Video Game Influences on Children’s and Adolescents’ Aggression, Mental Health, Prosocial Behavior, and Academic Performance“Overall, results from 101 studies suggest that video game influences on increased aggression (r = .06), reduced prosocial behavior (r = .04), reduced academic performance (r = −.01), depressive symptoms (r = .04), and attention deficit symptoms (r = .03) are minimal.” – h/t joseph schwartz!

Ancient campfires show early population numbers [in australia]“ANU archaeologist Alan Williams used radio carbon dating technology to examine charcoal dates from more than 1000 prehistoric campfires and based on this he says populations appear to have increased steadily until 25,000 years ago…. After this initial increase, he says, population levels remained steady or even declined from 25,000 years ago, during the more arid Last Glacial Maximum (25,000 to 13,000 years ago) when temperatures were about ten degrees cooler…. Campfire numbers began to grow again 13,000 years ago when the northern wet season re-emerged.”

Aboriginal ‘memories’ of Australia’s coastline go back more than 7,000 years

History became legend, legend became myth: Crater Lake – h/t razib! who tweeted: “8,000 year old explosion preserved in folk memory of klamath indians?”

Ancient Script Spurs Rethinking of Historic ‘Backwater’“At a temple site in the Republic of Georgia, letters carved in stone could change the way we see the development of writing.”

bonus: Microbiologists Keep Finding Giant Viruses in Melting Permafrost

bonus bonus: Ancient Cats Drove Ancient Dogs to Extinction – woof? (O.O)

bonus bonus bonus: this year’s ig nobel mathematics prize went to the authors of The Case of Moulay Ismael – Fact or Fancy?“Textbooks on evolutionary psychology and biology cite the case of the Sharifian Emperor of Morocco, Moulay Ismael the Bloodthirsty (1672–1727) who was supposed to have sired 888 children. This example for male reproduction has been challenged and led to a still unresolved discussion. The scientific debate is shaped by assumptions about reproductive constraints which cannot be tested directly — and the figures used are sometimes arbitrary. Therefore we developed a computer simulation which tests how many copulations per day were necessary to reach the reported reproductive outcome…. The results indicate that Moulay Ismael could have achieved this high reproductive success. A comparison of the three conception models highlights the necessity to consider female sexual habits when assessing fertility across the cycle. We also show that the harem size needed is far smaller than the reported numbers.” (~_^)

and the tweet of the week!:

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(note: comments do not require an email. moulay ismael the bloodthirsty!)

Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From ‘Junk,’ Play Crucial Role“As scientists delved into the ‘junk’ — parts of the DNA that are not actual genes containing instructions for proteins — they discovered a complex system that controls genes. At least 80 percent of this DNA is active and needed. The result of the work is an annotated road map of much of this DNA, noting what it is doing and how. It includes the system of switches that, acting like dimmer switches for lights, control which genes are used in a cell and when they are used, and determine, for instance, whether a cell becomes a liver cell or a neuron.”

New Research Suggests Bacteria Are Social Microorganisms“The research shows that a few individuals in groups of closely related bacteria have the ability to produce chemical compounds that kill or slow the growth of other populations of bacteria in the environment, but not harm their own.” – cooooooool!

Further Testing the Pioneer Hypothesis: Canada and Russia – from jayman.

Racial and ethnic diversity spreads across the country“Another significant finding is the decline in white-dominant places, where whites make up 90 percent or more of the population. Three decades ago these places represented two-thirds of the total. Today, they are down to only one-third of the total. In their stead are a growing number of communities where minorities are a significant share of the population and often where no group is a majority.” – see also nowhere to run.

Finnish ancestors’ diet explains many modern ailments – finnish cannibals!! also: “The late arrival of agriculture in Finland is still reflected in the Finnish people. According to Markku Niskanen a researcher into archaeology at the University of Oulu, the Finnish genotype is still not adapted well to the food that was introduced through agriculture, to say nothing of industrially produced nutrition. Niskanen believes that a possible reason why we have more adult-onset diabetes than other Europeans is that we are not accustomed to eating large amounts of grain.”

Social psychologists espouse tolerance and diversity — do they walk the walk? – see also Survey finds blatant bias and discrimination against conservatives in academia.

Redebunking Ron – chuck has “marshaled evidence from no less than 14 nationally representative samples (PISA 2009, PISA 2006, TIMSS 2007, PIRLS 2006, PIRLS 2001, ADD Health, GSS, NLSY 79, NLSY 97, CNLSY, NAEP Main, NAEP Long term, High School Transcript Study, and NELS) and demonstrated beyond a doubt that the claimed Ron effect was a mirage.”

bonus: Species multiply as Earth heats up“[E]ras of warming were accompanied by increases in biodiversity.” – previously evolution likes it hot.

bonus bonus: Evolution could explain the placebo effect“The model revealed that, in challenging environments, animals lived longer and sired more offspring if they endured infections without mounting an immune response. In more favourable environments, it was best for animals to mount an immune response and return to health as quickly as possible.”

bonus bonus bonus: The birdy smell of a compatible partner“New evidence shows that birds may choose their mate with the help of smell. They prefer a dissimilar mate because this gives their young a more efficient immune system.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Ancient, bottom-dwelling critter proves: Newer isn’t always better“Tiny, humble rhabdopleurids have lived on the ocean floor for some 500 million years, outlasting more elaborate descendants”

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