linkfest – 07/01/13

a day late and (*hbd chick checks her wallet*) … yes, a dollar short!

World’s Oldest Genome Sequenced From 700,000-Year-Old Horse DNA – cool!

Bad Health at the Origins of Agriculture – from henry harpending! see also andrew badenoch from evolvify.

DNA Evidence for Strong Genome-Wide Pleiotropy of Cognitive and Learning Abilities“Genetic correlations were greater than 0.70 between general cognitive ability and language, reading, and mathematics, results that were highly similar to twin study estimates of genetic correlations. These results indicate that genes related to diverse neurocognitive processes have general rather than specific effects.” – via jayman!

Insulin differs between ethnicities, study finds“People have differing abilities to release and react to insulin depending on ethnicity, according to a new study from researchers at Lund University in Sweden, Stanford University and Kitasato University.” – see also previous linkfest.

I Don’t Feel Your Pain“A recent study shows that people, including medical personnel, assume black people feel less pain than white people…. In each experiment, the researchers found that white participants, black participants, and nurses and nursing students assumed that blacks felt less pain than whites.”original research article.

Studying Tumors Differently, in Hopes of Outsmarting Them“[C]ancer: It is an evolutionary disease.”

Accelerating adaptive evolution in humans“In my last post, I noted R.A. Fisher’s argument that a larger population leads to more mutations and greater potential for adaptive evolution. As human populations have undergone massive growth over recent tens of thousands of years, we would expect the evidence of this population growth to show in our genomes. In this post, I point to a couple of papers that look at this evidence.” – from jason collins.

Three-Parent IVF Set to Go Ahead in Britain

Complete mtDNA from Filipino groups – @dienekes’.

Still missing the point – more good stuff from peter frost on stephen jay gould.

The Search for Western Tribalism“Tribalism as clannishness light.” – from staffan!

How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby?“[M]illions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics, or fertility treatment. Most people assume these numbers are based on large, well-conducted studies of modern women, but they are not.”

Grandparents effect spotted in British class system“Children’s eventual position in Britain’s class system is closely linked to that of their grandparents, not just their parents, academics say. And where parents have ‘dropped down’ the socio-economic ladder, the so-called ‘grandparents effect’ often pulls them back up, research suggests…. [A]mong men with both parents and grandparents in the highest socio-economic group, 80% stayed in those positions when they were adults. But among men whose parents had been upwardly mobile, only 61% stayed in the group they had been born in to.” – don’t they mean the “regression to the mean effect’? – via jason collins.

Study: People With a Lot of Self-Control Are Happier“Improbably enough, people who are better able to resist impulses report being more satisfied with their lives.”

Clues in the Cycle of Suicide“Every year, suicide peaks with the tulips and lilacs — increasing roughly 15 percent over the annual average to create one of psychiatry’s most consistent epidemiological patterns. It may seem perverse that the period of spring and early summer … should contain ‘a capacity for self-murder that winter less often has.’ Yet it does.”

A Test to Measure How Rational You Really Are – dysrationalia!

Does life have a purpose?“Nobody expects atoms and molecules to have purposes, so why do we still think of living things in this way?”

Study appears to overturn prevailing view of how the brain is wired

Sardinian family’s tip for a long life: minestrone – and good longevity genes! (~_^) – “Luca Deiana, a professor of clinical biochemistry at the university of Sassari in Sardinia, who has studied some 2500 centenarians on the island since 1996, was quoted by Corriere della Sera at the time as saying the longevity of local inhabitants was influenced by genetics along with environmental, nutritional and lifestyle habits.”

Chilean Mummies Reveal Ancient Nicotine Habit“The hair of mummies from the town of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile reveals the people in the region had a nicotine habit spanning from at least 100 B.C. to A.D. 1450.”

Mysterious Pair Buried With Flowers — Oldest Example Yet“The pair — an adult male and an adolescent of undetermined sex — belonged to the primitive Natufian culture, which flourished between 15,000 and 11,600 years ago in an area that is now Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.”

bonus: Judge jails depraved sex gang for 95 years after they committed grotesque abuse on girls as young as 11 – good!

bonus bonus: Foreign reporter raped in Tahrir Square – again. see also Arab Spring Unleashes Illiberal Repressive Masses from parapundit.

bonus bonus bonus: The Divided States of America, in 25 Charts“As America approaches its 237th birthday, it’s feeling quite a bit more ‘pluribus’ than ‘unum’…” – gee, i wonder why?

bonus bonus bonus bonus: First Pictures: Peru’s Rare, Unlooted Royal Tomb

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: India: If you have casual sex, you are legally married – ruh roh.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Take the Impossible “Literacy” Test Louisiana Gave Black Voters in the 1960s – it’s not impossible, but it’s not easy either. esp. given that not all of the questions are worded very clearly. =/

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The scientific feud that ended in an execution

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Leeches from the Underworld Don’t Want Your Blood

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Awesome astronomical board game from 1804

(note: comments do not require an email. the tapir’s PREHENSILE penis! good lord.)

“man is not a rational animal…

…he is a rationalizing animal.” [source]

ed yong wrote about some neat self-deception research the other day (People don’t know when they’re lying to themselves.)

in his post, he highlighted a couple of high-profile (probable) self-deceivers, gaddafi and sheen, as examples of self-deceivers. which seems to illustrate that ed missed the point entirely: we’re aaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllll self-deceving self-deceivers! if not 24/7, then pretty d*mn close to it.

we’re rationalizers.

take religious belief, for example. if you ask them, most believers will tell you their reasons for believing. and most non-believers will tell you their reasons for not believing.

but religious belief is heritable! there’s probably very little rational thinking involved in “deciding” to be religious or not! the “reasons” given by these two groups are just after-the-fact rationalizations — people trying to explain to themselves, and others, why the h*ck they believe or not. the reasons might feel really real, but that’s the beauty of self-deception.

i remember when i became a non-believer (i’m an agnostic). it suddenly just dawned on me one day when i was a young teenager that we can’t possibly know for sure if there’s a god or not. i wasn’t thinking about the question. i hadn’t even been pondering about the issue beforehand. it just came to me — an epiphany. (or, a reverse epiphany, i guess.) there was no reasoning involved. it just sorta happened.

looking back on it now, i can see that my “moment of clarity” prolly had something to do with how my brain was developing at a time. it was on a trajectory that was, no doubt, mostly outlined by my genes. i grew up in an affluent western world, so most environmental factors, like poor nutrition, can be ruled out as having had any strong influence on my development. my genes were probably allowed to express themselves to their fullest, agnotic little selves. i even grew up in a typical religious household! not overly religious, but the family attended regular sunday services.

but, there was just something in my genome that made me think: hmmmmmm? (my a-religious tendencies come, i think, from one of my grandfathers who, reportedly, wasn’t much of a church-goer. he died when i was very small, so he couldn’t have been much influence on me.)

so, i never give anyone a reason for why i’m agnostic. when they ask why, i tell them that i just am. sometimes i throw in that my genes made me this way. (~_^)

humans are not rational creatures. far from it! a few of us try real hard to be, and on occasion maybe we sometimes succeed. most of the time we don’t. ’cause it ain’t easy to overcome nature!

a helluva lot (most?) of the reasons we consciously give to explain our actions do not reflect the reality of the situation. that is why reductionism works: all of the “causes and ideals” that people say they have are not truly explanatory, but merely after-the-fact rationalizations.

previously: “know thyself” and word iv

(note: comments do not require an email.)

linkfest – 02/20/11

Gonorrhea Acquires a Piece of Human DNA: First Evidence of Gene Transfer from Human Host to Bacterial Pathogen

Early Britons were cannibals who drank out of cups made from human skulls, horde of remains reveal

How can we enhance girls’ interest in scientific topics?“Results. Both studies indicated that the mean level of girls’ scientific interest was higher when scientific concepts were presented in the context of feminine topics and boys’ level of scientific interests was higher when scientific concepts were presented in the context of masculine topics.” see also: Lessons in cosmetic surgery and ordering clothes online ‘will help turn girls to science’

Study: Native Hawaiians at higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke at younger age

Forecasting Aggression“[C]ertain variables are good predictors that a child will develop aggressive behavior by adolescence. These predictors include poverty, changes in caregivers (as in foster care situations), childhood exposure to abuse and violence, parental substance abuse, maternal smoking during pregnancy, being male, having a lower IQ, and gravitating to conduct-disordered peers…. But all of them together account for only about 40 percent of the probability that a child will develop a conduct disorder in adolescence. What is missing?”

Why Autism Is More Common in Males: Testosterone Affects Gene – RORA.

Exclusive Interview with Prof. Frans De Waal

Too Sexy? Too Bad

Liberal bias: science writing’s elephant in the room?“Does the lack of political diversity among science writers and bloggers risk alienating large portions of the public?” (all the lefties are suddenly discovering that they’re biased! what IS the world coming to?)