linkfest – 02/24/14

Your Ancestors, Your Fate“The notion of genetic transmission of ‘social competence’ — some mysterious mix of drive and ability — may unsettle us. But studies of adoption, in some ways the most dramatic of social interventions, support this view. A number of studies of adopted children in the United States and Nordic countries show convincingly that their life chances are more strongly predicted from their biological parents than their adoptive families. In America, for example, the I.Q. of adopted children correlates with their adoptive parents’ when they are young, but the correlation is close to zero by adulthood. There is a low correlation between the incomes and educational attainment of adopted children and those of their adoptive parents. These studies, along with studies of correlations across various types of siblings (identical twins, fraternal twins, half siblings) suggest that genetics is the main carrier of social status.” – from gregory clark. see also The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility.

Reductionism! Determinism! Straw-man-ism!” The main problem, it seems to me, is a fundamental misunderstanding of what genetics as a science studies and how it relates to the function of complex systems. The following statements are not contradictory: 1. The function of a complex system emerges from the complex and dynamic interactions between all of the components of the system, in a context- and experience-dependent manner. 2. Variation in single components of the system (or in multiple components) can affect how it functions. Geneticists investigate the second question. Showing that variation in Gene X affects the behaviour or outcome of a system is not the same as saying that Gene X fully determines that behaviour or fully accounts for the entire system. Gene X is just a piece of DNA sitting in a cell somewhere – it doesn’t do anything by itself. But a *difference* in Gene X can account for a *difference* in how the system works. – from kevin mitchell.

The Problem with HBD, the Dark Enlightenment, Neoreaction, Alt-Rightism, and All That Jazz – READ THIS! – from jayman (and misdreavus).

There’s nothing wrong with looking for ‘gay genes’“The Left loves to tell the Right that it’s anti-science, pointing (not without reason) to the correlation between conservative beliefs and a failure to come to terms with the scientific facts of evolution and human-caused climate change. But there’s a subtler tendency on the Left; a fear of research into human nature, in case the findings are in some way politically uncomfortable.”

Evolution equally efficient in removing deleterious variants in Europeans and West Africans“…but apparently not in Denisovans who accumulated deleterious mutations at a higher rate than modern humans.” – @dienekes’.

Scientists unlock a ‘microbial Pompeii’“An international team of researchers have discovered a ‘microbial Pompeii’ preserved on the teeth of skeletons around 1,000 years old. The key to the discovery is the dental calculus (plaque) which preserves bacteria and microscopic particles of food on the surfaces of teeth, effectively creating a mineral tomb for microbiomes.”

The effect of paternal age on offspring intelligence and personality when controlling for paternal trait level [pdf] – “We examined the effect of father’s age at birth on offspring intelligence, head circumference and personality traits. Using the Minnesota Twin Family Study sample we tested paternal age effects while controlling for parents’ trait levels measured with the same precision as offspring’s. From evolutionary genetic considerations we predicted a negative effect of paternal age on offspring intelligence, but not on other traits. Controlling for parental intelligence (IQ) had the effect of turning an initially positive association non-significantly negative. We found paternal age effects on offspring IQ and Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire Absorption, but they were not robustly significant, nor replicable with additional covariates. No other noteworthy effects were found.” – from lars penke.

Reversed hierarchy in the brain for general and specific cognitive abilities: A morphometric analysis“Here, we analyze gray matter with three morphometric indices (volume, cortical surface area, and cortical thickness) at three levels of the intelligence hierarchy (tests, first-order factors, and a higher-order general factor, g)…. The key finding reveals substantial variability in gray matter correlates at the test level, which is substantially reduced for the first-order and the higher-order factors. This supports a reversed hierarchy in the brain with respect to cognitive abilities at different psychometric levels: the greater the generality, the smaller the number of relevant gray matter clusters accounting for individual differences in intelligent performance.” – h/t ben southwood!

A nice bunch of flowers“The general factor of intelligence is strongest at lower levels of intelligence. It may be a case of ‘All neurones to the pump’. When abilities are low, most problems are difficult. In such cases, all resources have to be thrown at the problem. When abilities are higher there is more spare capacity for differentiation of abilities. Brighter persons have a lower proportion of their abilities accounted for by a common factor, even though the have higher absolute abilities.” – from dr. james thompson.

GED scores by Ethnicity and Nation – from chuck @human varieties.

The Unfortunately Innate Nature of Intelligence“You cannot blame people for being what they were born, and you cannot expect them to do what they cannot.”

Psychologist on a mission to give every child a learning chip“Prof Robert Plomin wants educators to take notice of genes, and has a new big idea – personalised learning.”

Fruit-loving lemurs score higher on spatial memory tests“Food-finding tests in five lemur species show that fruit-eaters may have better spatial memory than lemurs with a more varied diet. The results support the idea that relying on foods that are seasonally available and far-flung gives a competitive edge to individuals with certain cognitive abilities — such as remembering where the goodies are.”

What Does Our DNA Say About How We Look?“A biologist aims to profile suspects from genetic material left at crime scenes.’ – h/t matthew wygant!

Four Lame Responses to Sam Harris’ Moral Landscape Challenge“Moral emotions, like every other evolved trait, exist because their presence increased the probability that the genes responsible for the existence of those traits would survive and reproduce. Moral emotions, and the associated illusions of the existence of Good and Evil as things in themselves, exist as subjective impressions in the minds of individuals.” – from helian.

Free will beliefs and motivation to punish“In a paper forthcoming in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Cory J. Clark and co-authors provide evidence that widespread belief in the existence of free will is bolstered by a fundamental desire to punish wrongdoers…. As Clark et al. put it, ‘There seems little doubt that the subjective experience of choosing and acting supports people’s belief in free will, but our findings suggest another powerful motivating factor: the human impulse to blame and punish. People believe in free will – at least in part – because they wish to affirm that people who do immoral things could have and should have acted differently’.”

A small contribution to the free-will thingy – from elijah.

Is there a ‘dark intelligence’? Emotional intelligence is used by dark personalities to emotionally manipulate others“Narcissism and psychopathy increased link between emotional intelligence facets and emotional manipulation.” – h/t claire lehmann!

Theory of mind: did evolution fool us?“Although sophisticated ToM is believed to have high adaptive fitness, broad experimental evidence from behavioural economics, experimental psychology and linguistics point towards limited recursivity in representing other’s beliefs.” – h/t neuroskeptic!

Creativity and personality in classical, jazz and folk musicians“[J]azz musicians are more frequently engaged in extracurricular musical activities, and also complete a higher number of creative musical achievements. Additionally, jazz musicians show higher ideational creativity as measured by divergent thinking tasks, and tend to be more open to new experiences than classical musicians. This study provides first empirical evidence that jazz musicians show particularly high creativity with respect to domain-specific musical accomplishments but also in terms of domain-general indicators of divergent thinking ability that may be relevant for musical improvisation.” – h/t mary louise cowan!

Migration and interaction in a contact zone: mtDNA variation among Bantu-speakers in southern Africa“In this study, we analyze complete mtDNA genome sequences from over 900 Bantu-speaking individuals from Angola, Zambia, Namibia, and Botswana to investigate the demographic processes at play during the last stages of the Bantu expansion. Our results show that most of these Bantu-speaking populations are genetically very homogenous, with no genetic division between speakers of Eastern and Western Bantu languages. Most of the mtDNA diversity in our dataset is due to different degrees of admixture with autochthonous populations.”

Silver Blaze“[I]n most parts of Europe, it looks as if modern populations inherited the three EEF/WHG/ANE groups (Levantine farmers, West Hunters and Sibermen) via only two proximate ancestral populations. Europe at the time was almost entirely occupied by Sardinian-like farmers – then another population moved in, one that had about 3 times as much West Hunter as Sibermen.” – from greg cochran.

Replacement or continuity?“Ancient DNA seems to promise a clearer picture because the only source of uncertainty is the age of the skeletal material. Unfortunately, this new method is more sensitive to uncertainty from another source: natural selection. Late hunter-gatherers and early farmers had to adapt to different environments. There certainly was a genetic divide between the two, but did it result from differences in origin or from differences in natural selection?” – from peter frost.

Dystopian diversity – from the awesome epigone.

“I regret studying social anthropology” – me, too. *sigh* – see also the original post.

The parasite that escaped out of Africa: Tracing origins of malaria parasite“An international team has traced the origin of the second-worst malaria parasite of humans to Africa. The closest genetic relatives of human *Plasmodium vivax* were found only in Asian macaques, leading researchers to believe that *P. vivax* originated in Asia. This study overturns that, finding that wild-living apes in central Africa are widely infected with parasites that, genetically, are nearly identical to human *P. vivax*.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Are Rich People Really That Selfish? – New Queendom.com Study Looks At Impact of Socio-Economic Status on Altruistic Tendencies“‘Our personality impacts every aspect of our life – the choices we make, the people we surround ourselves with, the career we pursue, the way we respond to life experiences, the way we manage our finances, and whether or not we share our good fortune,’ explains Dr. Jerabek, president of the company…. [H]ow individuals conduct themselves when they have money has everything to do with who they are as a person. Money doesn’t make a person more or less selfish. If you are a genuinely kind and giving person, you’ll continue to be that way no matter how many zeros are on your paycheck.'”

Babies born in England and Wales to non-UK born mothers infographic“Total Fertility Rate in England/Wales by where mother born: 4.3 Afghanistan, 3.8 Pakistan, 3.3 Nigeria, 2.4 India, 1.8 UK.”

The Tale of a CRISPR Clone – from razib.

Graft Probe in Scientific Community Widens in Southern China“A corruption probe has so far snared more than 50 scientists and research administrators in Guangdong, one of China’s wealthiest provinces.”

Quick Winter Olympics Digit Ratio Note – from sisyphean the mad contrarian.

Scientist proposes revolutionary naming system for all life on Earth“…a naming convention based on genome sequencing to enhance the way organisms are classified.” – h/t super mario!

Burials uncovered in Ireland reflect fusion of Paganism and Christianity“Excavations at Caherconnell in County Clare, Ireland, have uncovered ancient burials that reflect a fusion of Pagan practices with Christianity. Although it was initially believed that Christianity was well established in Ireland by the 5th Century, the latest finding reveals that Celtic Paganism was not quick to die out.” – h/t derek hopper!

The Society of Mutual Autopsy“The Society of Mutual Autopsy was an organisation formed in the late 1800s to advance neuroscience by examining dead members’ brains and to promote atheism by breaking sacred taboos.”

Heavy metal bands per 100,000 people – global map.

A Campus More Colorful Than Reality: Beware That College Brochure – h/t conrad hackett! who tweeted: “The whiter the college, the more diversity depicted in the brochures.”

bonus: Confirmed: Oldest Fragment of Early Earth is 4.4 Billion Years Old

bonus bonus: Hubble Finds Possible Oldest Object Ever Seen“The Hubble Telescope’s new set of Frontier Fields images includes a galaxy some 13-billion light-years away, which makes it a candidate for the most distant object ever seen.”

bonus bonus bonus: Rust Cohle, Guidance Counselor – heh. (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. rust cohle for president!)

linkfest – 11/13/13

oops! it happened again. =/

Deletion of Any Single Gene Provokes Mutations Elsewhere in the Genome“Johns Hopkins researchers report that the deletion of any single gene in yeast cells puts pressure on the organism’s genome to compensate, leading to a mutation in another gene…. ‘The deletion of any given gene usually results in one, or sometimes two, specific genes being “warped” in response….'”

Self-heal like Wolverine? Gene discovery might hold clues“In a discovery by a Harvard researcher, a reactivated gene found in embryos helps mice regrow clipped parts of their ears and toes. Could the ‘fountain of youth’ gene hold promise for humans too?” – i want one! – h/t mike anissimov!

Gene Variants Up CKD [chronic kidney disease] Risk in Blacks“A high-risk genetic variant conferred a significantly increased risk of progressive kidney disease in African Americans, at least partly explaining a racial disparity in end-stage renal disease (ESRD), investigators reported here. Analysis of black and white patients in another trial — half with diabetes — showed kidney function declined almost three times as fast in blacks with the high-risk APOL1 profile as compared with whites….”

Genetic clue to high heart risk of black Americans“The gene that produces the protein [PC-TP which activates a clotting factor called PAR4] is four times more active in the platelets of black Americans than it is in white Americans.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Europeans and South Asians share by descent SLC24A5 light skin allele“‘We date the coalescence of the light skin associated allele at 22–28 KYA. Both our sequence and genome-wide genotype data confirm that this gene has been a target for positive selection among Europeans. However, the latter also shows additional evidence of selection in populations of the Middle East, Central Asia, Pakistan and North India but not in South India.'” – @dienekes’.

The ancestors with no descendants“On the eve of the last ice age, Siberia was home to a people who were related to modern Europeans and Amerindians but not to modern native Siberians. So concludes an analysis of DNA from the remains of a boy who lived 24,000 years ago at Mal’ta near Lake Baikal, Siberia…. [T]he Mal’ta people probably looked very much like native Indians with a more European skull shape, perhaps like the Ainu of northern Japan or the Kennewick humans of North America.”

Political colour is half genetic“New study provides definitive evidence that heritability plays a significant role in the formation of political ideology, regardless of how ideology is measured, the time period or population sampled.” – @ScienceNordic.com – the photo caption is pretty funny/telling: “Imagine if scientists could identify the ‘liberal’ genes and genetically modify babies so that they all voted liberal when they grow up? Brave new world?” (and the first comment is priceless!) – h/t ray sawhill!

It’s not just conservatives that support discrimination against their ideological foes“‘Discrimination by liberals has received scant attention in the literature, despite this being a prevalent concern in conservative rhetoric. By only examining conservative biases, social scientists fail to fully explore political intolerance in America. This research helps fill that gap….’ When opposing groups were seen as violating core values, liberals were just as likely to support discrimination against same-sex marriage opponents, religious fundamentalists, Tea Party protestors, and prolife people as were conservatives against feminists, atheists, leftist protestors, and prochoice people.”

Politics Has an Odor“[C]onservatives are significantly more likely than liberals to detect [bitter tasting] PTC [phenylthiocarbamide].” – h/t jayman!

Study: Your brain sees things you don’t“Our brains perceive objects in everyday life of which we may never be aware, a study finds, challenging currently accepted models about how the brain processes visual information.”

New evidence on the biological basis of highly impulsive and aggressive behaviors“Physical and chemical changes in the brain during development can potentially play a role in some delinquent and deviant behaviors.”

Root of maths genius sought“Entrepreneur’s ‘Project Einstein’ taps 400 top academics for their DNA.”

Has a 15-year-old explained the Flynn Effect? – on elijah amstrong and michael woodley’s newly published paper! – from steve sailer.

Is young Woodley down for the count? – never! (^_^) – from dr. james thompson.

Religions of the American Nations“[T]hese differences [regional cultural and political divisions in america] stem from the *genetic* differences in the descendants of these initial settlers (suffused with the genes of subsequent immigrants, particularly in the old North).” – from jayman.

In Hookups, Inequality Still Reigns“[A] study of 24,000 students at 21 colleges over five years found that about 40 percent of women had an orgasm during their last hookup involving intercourse, while 80 percent of men did.” – h/t john durant!

The Co-Villains Behind Obesity’s Rise“Not everyone, however, has the same gut bacteria. And, interestingly, the composition of this bacteria correlates with obesity…. [T]he bacteria study found that the ‘obese gut bacteria’ had an impact only when the mice were fed diets heavy in saturated fats.” – h/t jayman!

Rich Chinese Couples Turning To American Surrogates For Easier Immigration And ‘Designer Babies’“Another factor that has some Chinese couples choosing American surrogates is a desire for ‘designer babies.’ While most couples still use their own eggs and sperm, making the child biologically theirs, Reuters reports that more and more people are open to egg donation, to get what some clients believe are smarter and better-looking children. ‘Lots of clients that are Chinese do use tall, blond donors,’ Jennifer Garcia, who works at Extraordinary Conception in California, where 40 percent of clients are Chinese, said in the report.” – h/t mark krikorian!

CRISPR gene therapy: Scientists call for more public debate around breakthrough technique“‘I’m sure there will be some concern about the possibility that the technology could be used for “enhancement” rather than repair, veering from medicine towards eugenics,’ [professor wells] warned.” – oh noes! not “enhancement”! *swoon!* h/t anatoly!

Should state education be abolished?“New York City adopting Finland’s education system is not going to make New York like Finland…. In the game of life the dice are loaded and trying to make teachers responsible for making life fair is deluded and unfair to them….” – from ed west.

Shaker Heights – from greg cochran.

John Derbyshire’s Modest Proposal On Politics and Intelligence“And the too-dumb-to-vote segment is only a part of the problem we conservatives have with universal suffrage. Here’s another part: too *smart* to vote…. At the very highest levels of intelligence, the correlation between IQ and sensible political opinions may actually be *inverse*: the more brilliant you are, the dumber your politics. Albert Einstein thought well of Stalin; Hitlerism got its first mass following in the highly-selective German universities.”

Amid austerity and debt, Denmark remains happiest nation“The second pillar of happiness is a high level of trust between people, even for a stranger on the street….” – crazy danes! (~_^)

Introducing the Mongol Project“‘I will now tell you all about the Tartars and how they acquired their empire and spread throughout the world.'” – excellent! – from t.greer.

Early uses of chili peppers in Mexico“Chili peppers may have been used to make spicy beverages thousands of years ago in Mexico….”

Case of Insect Interruptus Yields a Rare Fossil Find“[T]he oldest fossil of two insects copulating.” – 165 million years old!

This Is How Much Money You’ll Make Based on Your Personality – d*mn. =/

bonus: Another Word for “Holocaust”“[O]ne would have to be smoking banana peels dipped in formaldehyde and sprinkled with PCP to assert that both events [the holocaust and the holodomor] receive a similar amount of attention in Western media and academia.” – from jim goad. of course.

bonus bonus: Swedish cinemas launch feminist movie rating – hahahahahaha!!! heh. wait. (*hbd chick wipes tears from eyes*) heh. – “To get an ‘A’ rating, a movie must pass the so-called Bechdel test, which means it must have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man….” – hahahahahaha!! – “The entire ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, all ‘Star Wars’ movies, ‘The Social Network,’ ‘Pulp Fiction’ and all but one of the ‘Harry Potter’ movies fail this test,” – so, except for The Social Network, all of my faves. this is going to be a REALLY handy movie rating system. whatever movies they FAIL, i will go see! (^_^)

bonus bonus bonus: Strange Doings on the Sun“Sunspots, Which Can Harm Electronics on Earth, Are Half the Number Expected” – ruh roh.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Large magma reservoir gets bigger – ruh roh.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: This amazing fruit fly evolved to have pictures of ants on its wings – srsly! – h/t jayman!

(note: comments do not require an email. rupee – first dog to climb mt. everest. woof!)