linkfest – 08/26/12

Ancestral link places Mexican-Americans at greater risk for metabolic disease“Mexican-Americans with an ancestral link to Amerindian tribes were found to have higher insulin resistance levels, which is an indication of several chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes….”

Most mutations come from dad“Humans inherit more than three times as many mutations from their fathers as from their mothers, and mutation rates increase with the father’s age but not the mother’s….” see also Father’s Age Is Linked to Risk of Autism and Schizophrenia. and see also greg cochran (h/t jayman!).

Human responses to unfairness with primary rewards and their biological limits“[H]umans care about being treated fairly when bargaining with primary rewards, and, together with a broader literature suggest that such reciprocal altruism may be particularly prominent in humans.” – note that the study seems to have been conducted on “w.e.i.r.d.” students.

African National IQs, redux“The average for 40 African nations comes out to 75.” – from chuck.

Solutions, Again – jayman’s ideas for a better future!

Working memory training does not improve IQ – from the inductivist.

Male Circumcision and Health Care Costs – @the breviary.

A decade after Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, why is human nature still taboo? – from ed west.

Hypergamy In China Cutting Fertility Of High Ranking Women – from parapundit.

Do Drivers Make Way In Your Country? – from anatoly.

Divergent Whole-Genome Methylation Maps of Human and Chimpanzee Brains Reveal Epigenetic Basis of Human Regulatory Evolution“Hundreds of genes exhibit significantly lower levels of promoter methylation in the human brain than in the chimpanzee brain…. Differentially methylated genes [in humans] are strikingly enriched with loci associated with neurological disorders, psychological disorders, and cancers.”

Dusting Off GOD“The implication — that religion is basically malevolent, that it ‘poisons everything,’ in the words of the late Christopher Hitchens — is a standard assertion of the New Atheists…. Before you can know for sure, you have to figure out what religion does for us in the first place.”

Planet of the apes“What we really know about our evolutionary past – and what we don’t” – nice review of a couple of human evolution books.

bonus: Octopuses Gain Consciousness (According to Scientists’ Declaration)

bonus bonus: The Racial Divide on … Sneakers

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


reader request (we take requests!), from ogunsiron:

“Could you perhaps discuss or encourage discussion about Julian Saluvescu’s latest? He’s the infanticide happy ethicist who’s saying that it’s a moral obligation to genetically modify embryos so that they develop into children who are ‘ethical’. By that he means that it’s an ethical obligation to stamp out among other psychological traits, an inclination for groupness. I suppose that he leaves the option of infanticide for kids for whom the genetic enhancement didn’t work out after all.”

i linked to a story about savulescu’s pronouncement in this past sunday’s linkfest.

i don’t have a whole lot to say about eugenics really. i tend to think more about the past than the future — not because i’m not interested in the future (i think), but because i can’t see how we can decide how to shape our future if we don’t know how we got to where we are today in the first place. we need to understand how things (i.e. biological things) work before we start fiddling with them. (having said that, there are some obvious dysgenic practices i think we should quit right now like paying welfare mommas to have lots of welfare babies. that’s a no-brainer, i think.)

eugenical ideas and practices don’t make me squeamish. i don’t recoil in horror at the thought of people designing better babies. principally, it sounds like a great idea to me! practically is another matter.

two seemingly contradictory caveats from me: 1) no forcing people to adopt eugenical practices (except for stuff like the welfare babies example above) — i don’t like the GUBMENT interfering in private lives/choices (prolly an example of my own hamartia, but what can you do?); and 2) having said that, i do think eugenical practices might have to be regulated in some ways — to avoid certain pitfalls. for example, lots of people might be happy to deselect all sorts of genes for autism in their designer babies — but then we’d wind up with no engineers or mars rovers.

i would’ve suggested just making sure people were well-informed before they make their choices — which they should be in any case — but most people are so stooopid that there will probably have to be some regulations. we’d need to avoid situations like they have in china and india today where there are too many boys ’cause families are opting not to have girls. one could wind up with a similar situation only with no engineers or artists or creative thinkers or whatever.

for the record, not that my opinion really matters, i don’t agree with savulescu that going forward we should necessarily screen out “genes for psychopathy” (whatever they may prove to be) because that would be the most “ethical” thing to do. i would take a more pragmatic view and ask what, if any, benefits do “genes for psychopathy” provide (i’m sure they provide some) — and then i’d ask if we really want to get rid of them.

i’d guess that the good(?) folks at sociopath world might have some thoughts and opinions on all of this. (~_^)

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