Archives for posts with tag: enquiring minds want to know!

roosh has got a post up about jante law — i guess it was impeding his game in denmark (oh noes!). jante law is a scandinavian phenomenon that sounds like tall poppy syndrome on steroids:

- Thou shalt not presume that thou art someone.
- Thou shalt not presume that thou art as good as we.
- Thou shalt not presume that thou art any wiser than we.
- Thou shalt never indulge in the conceit of imagining that thou art better than we.
- Thou shalt not presume that thou art more knowledgeable than we.
- Thou shalt not presume that thou art more [important] than we.
- Thou shalt not presume that thou art going to amount to anything.
- Thou art not entitled to laugh at us.
- Thou shalt never imagine that anyone cares about thee.
- Thou shalt not suppose that thou can teach us anything.

well, minnesota’s starting to make a lot more sense now! (~_^)

björn over at roosh’s offers an explanation for jante law:

“Janteloven is a stable social compromise that has stood the test of time in that part of the world. Since resources were traditionally so scarce, you could’t afford to make enemies by acting superior, or people would refuse to interact with you and you would starve to death – or kill yourself – in the long dark winter.”

maybe. but do jante law sorts of traditions exist in other places where “resources were traditionally so scarce?” i mean in such a strong form. do the russians, who also live through a pretty harsh winter every year, have their own version of jante law? how about the mongolians? or north american native americans? i’m genuinely asking, ’cause i dunno!

and jante law has “stood the test of time?” how long of a time? according to a couple of researchers, its spirit may have been around in the nineteenth century [in section titled Who Do You Think You Are?]…

“But there is more behind the spirit of envy than Jantelagen. There may be a historical basis for these beliefs as well. In Myterna om Svensken (Myths about the Swedes), David Gaunt and Orvar Lofgren explain that nineteenth-century farmers were required to help neighbors who were less well-off, due in part to a belief in Luck, the very unpredictable whim of ‘Lady Fortuna.’ People believed that there was only a finite amount of Luck in life; for one man to become rich, another must become poor. Thus anyone who had great luck, made a lot of money, or had a good harvest shared his success with his less fortunate neighbors, for Luck is fickle and can be reversed (Gaunt and Lofgren 1984).”

…but it seems like jante law wasn’t really applied across the board until the twentieth century [same source as above]:

“Envy, however, did not typically extend beyond one’s own class; there was a marked (and accepted) difference between the nobility and the peasants. Only in the twentieth century did equality begin to be seen as more universal. Swedish ethnologist Åke Daun speculates that the growing income differentials now emerging in Sweden ‘will in the end bring about the weakening of the famous Swedish envy in that gaps between people will be considered part of the natural order: it is between equals that envy flourishes’ (1996, 212).”

i was just reading about medieval scandinavia last night, and it’s not like there weren’t different classes back then, with some individuals having ENORMOUS wealth compared to others — and showing it off by doing things like building castles and such. one guy, bo jonsson (grip), owned one-third of sweden — and finland. like, ALL of finland. seriously! was jante law present in medieval sweden/scandinavia? enquiring minds want to know!

jante law sentiments would certainly go a long way in explaining scandinavia’s early and apparently enthusiastic adoption of political correctness. it also maybe explains their fondness for wealth redistribution.

and it fits with the scandinavian (and, more broadly, germanic) preferences for societal collectivism (from those who can see)…

…and Ordnung (strong preference for rules and order)…

re. the evolution of altruism genes/behaviors in scandinavia, remember that the swedes adpoted christianity rather late compared to other europeans, so they were probably inbreeding for longer than other populations in northwest europe (i’m gonna be looking more into this, and the other scandis, too). by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, though, swedish inbreeding rates were very low, comparable to those of other northwestern (“core”) europeans (like the english and germans).

(note: comments do not require an email. typical swede. typical norwegians. typical dane. typical minnesotan. (~_^) )

add health made a statement about kanazawa’s use of their data over @scientific american (scroll down, it’s at the bottom of the blog post), which includes a bit about the interviewers and their evaluations of subjects’ attractiveness:

“Interviewer ratings of respondent attractiveness represent a subjective ‘societal’ perception of the respondent’s attractiveness. We included these items because there is a long line of research evidence that indicates that perceived attractiveness is related to important health and social outcomes, including access to health care, health education and instruction, job search, promotions, academic achievement, and social success in friendship and marriage. For example, males who are rated more highly attractive tend to have higher wages, shorter periods of unemployment, and greater success in the job market*. In Add Health, we measure respondents’ self-perceptions and in the case of interviewer ratings, others’ perceptions. Despite one’s own perception of one’s intelligence, identity and appearance, often societal perceptions matter as well, and matter in ways that research needs to understand to inform policies to prevent discrimination, unequal access to resources, and social inequality.

“Because the interviewer’s perception is subjective, researchers need to account for the characteristics and life experiences of the interviewer in interpreting their ratings. A wealth of research on perceived attractiveness (that is, as perceived by others, not oneself) has shown that such ratings vary according to the characteristics of the rater. For example, a male interviewer might rate a female’s attractiveness according to different criteria than a female interviewer rating the same female’s attractiveness. Other interviewer characteristics that are important to take into account are age, race, ethnicity, education, geographic location, and life experiences, in general. Notably, several characteristics of the interviewers are available in the restricted use Add Health dataset at Waves 3 and 4. It is these data (e.g., interviewer age, sex, race, ethnicity, education) that might more usefully inform an analysis undertaken to investigate the role of other-perceived versus self-perceived attractiveness on some outcome of interest (employment, health, etc)….

so, to settle the question of “who were the interviewers,” somebody just needs to go get the data from add health and blog it. since it’s “restricted use” data, presumably a non-accredited nobody like yours truly prolly wouldn’t get access. but maybe some actual scientist** (perhaps one who is also a blogger!) will step up to the plate.

the neuroskeptic looked at the possible bias of the interviewers from another, very creative if i might say, angle. he tried to find out if any other researchers had found an anti-black bias on the part of the add health interviewers:

“The obvious problem is that maybe the interviewers were biased against black women, and rated them lower for that reason. Kanazawa didn’t consider this in his post, which is unquestionably an oversight, but he did go on to speculate as to the biological reasons why they might be less attractive.

“However, looking at the original Add Health data, can we check whether this bias was at play or not?

“Short answer: I found no evidence either way.

“Long answer: I first looked over the Add Health website but it doesn’t seem to mention anything about who the interviewers were. It doesn’t mention their own ethnicity, which would be helpful, although even if they were all black themselves, they might have internalized racism, so that wouldn’t be conclusive. They were trained, but then, you can’t train someone to not be a racist.

“Then I decided to look at the publications. I searched Google Scholar for ‘Add Health’ + attractiveness. This reveals a number of articles, including a 2007 one by Kanazawa ironically, but only one seemed really relevant: Weight Preoccupation as a Function of Observed Physical Attractiveness. (There are other hits, but I skimmed the most likely looking ones and they didn’t address bias.)

“The details are unimportant, but it involved race and attractiveness, so the authors had to deal with the question of potential rater bias. Unlike Kanazawa they didn’t just brush this under the carpet:

‘Although the interviewers were different races and ethnicities, there is no information about the race or ethnicity of the interviewer for any one respondent to examine systematic bias. [altho the add health people above seem to say otherwise for waves iii and iv. - hbdchick]

‘However, post hoc cluster analyses that controlled for an interviewer effect yielded similar results; thus, it is unlikely that interviewers had any substantial biases against any one ethnic group or that they rated attractiveness significantly differently from each other.’

“The point about ‘post-hoc cluster analysis’ is the key here. To try to control for rater effects (not just racial ones) they analyzed the data covarying for which interviewer rated each girl. They didn’t know what races the interviewers were, but they did know which girls got rated by the same interviewer. They found that controlling for the rater did not affect their results.

“So does that mean there was no bias? No. Because – this only applies to their results, which were not about attractiveness per se, but about the interaction of attractiveness with other factors to predict an outcome variable (dieting and concern about weight) within a given race….

“So in my judgement, we just can’t tell. Unless I’ve missed something, in which case, please tell us about it in the comments.”

previously: silly refutations of kanazawa’s blog post and the offensive mr. kanazawa

**i am, emphatically, NOT a scientist. i don’t even play one here on the innerwebs. i’m just a lay person interested in science-y stuff.

(note: comments do not require an email. or anti-matter. wait. wha?)

steve sailer says that peter frost says that some researchers found that extraversion is selected for in men in societies that practice polygyny.

as peter put it:

“Extraversion is part of the male toolkit for mating success. It is especially useful in societies where a high incidence of polygyny means too many men must compete for too few women.”

soooo … in an earlier post i pointed out that both austrian and png men decorate themselves with bird feathers but in sliiiiiightly different ways (and with different types of bird feathers, of course, dependent upon what sorts of birds live in austria vs. png).

i wondered why the differences? why are the pngers so much more ostentatious?

maybe i’ve got an answer to that question now. pngers are polygamous while austrians … eh, not so much. so, pngers are naturally (literally) more extraverted than austrians.

extraversion is, of course, a partially heritable trait. i.e. if ur an extrovert (or not), it’s in ur genes — at least in part.

which brings me back (at least in my mind) to my original question: where does culture come from? the answer seems to be: at least partially from our biology.

pngers decorate themselves like this >>

’cause as a population they must have more “genes for extroversion” (whatever those are).

meanwhile, back in austria >>

hbd. cool!

p.s. — peter also said:

“As a single man, I would spend close to $3,000 a year on dating. And that didn’t include things like buying a sportier-looking car.”

whoa. big spender! (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email.)

in his recent address to the mencken club, steve sailer said:

“Who would win in a fight: Human biodiversity or human cultural diversity?

“Look, they are not Batman and Superman struggling for superhero dominance. They are, or ought to be, complementary tools for improving our understanding, just as numbers and words are. There will be different answers for different specific situations.”

sure. great. cool. i’m all for researching both human biodiversity and human cultural diversity.

but what i still wanna know is: where does culture come from?

as i said before, a lot of human culture is just sorta accidental – people in png use bird-of-paradise feathers to decorate themselves while austrians traditionally did not ’cause birds-of-paradise actually live in png and not in austria.

but mightn’t some aspects of human culture be rooted in our biology? our differing biologies?

for example, a greater number of people of west african decent have more fast-twitch fibers in their muscles than do, say, people of european decent. (it’s a genetic thang.) this enables more of them, on average, to be f*cking fast sprinters as compared to us lard-*ss europeans.

but what else could one do with all those fast-twitch muscles? hmmmmmmm…

compare that to this (“heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go!”)…

now that’s what i call human biodiversity!

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sooooo, it turns out that non-western children don’t do so well on the old mirror-recognition test. from the bps research digest blog:

“Studies in the West suggest that around half of all 18-month-olds pass the test, rising to 70 per cent by 24 months. Chimps, orangutans, dolphins and elephants have also been shown to pass the test, and there’s recent debate over whether monkeys can too.

“Tanya Broesch and her colleagues began by taking a simplified version of the mirror self-recognition test to Kenya, where they administered it to 82 children aged between 18 to 72 months…. Amazingly, just two of the children ‘passed’ the test by touching or removing the post-it note. The other eighty children ‘froze’ when they saw their reflection – that is they stared at themselves but didn’t react to the post-it note.

“Next, Broesch and her team took their test to Fiji, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Peru, Canada and the USA, where they tested 133 children aged between 36 to 55 months. The performance of the North American children was in line with past research, with 88 per cent of the US kids and 77 per cent of the Canadians ‘passing’ the test. Rates of passing in Saint Lucia (58 per cent), Peru (52 per cent) and Grenada (51 per cent) were significantly lower. In Fiji, none of the children ‘passed’ the test.

the researchers offer various cultural (of course) reasons for the differences.

maybe.

i wonder if there is any correlation with iq?

speaking of mirror-recognition, check out the loom for a fantastic video! really. don’t miss it!

update: thought i’d try to find out for myself if there was any correlation with iq…

iq data taken from lynn & vanhanen, 2002. there’s a positive correlation of 0.63 between the data which is pretty high given that we’re talking about human behavior.

more data obviously required.

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what always struck me about this graphic from the world values survey site is not that the “ex-communist” european groups are “ex-communists” but that most of them are slavsrussians, ukrainians, belorussiansbosniaks, bulgarians, croatians, macedonians, montenegrins, serbs, slovenesczechs, poles, and slovakians.

for that matter, dontcha think it’s interesting that the protestant european groups are pretty much all germanic peoples?

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so it turns out that even bugs have personalities – personalities that are prolly largely innate – but bugs, too, learn and are influenced by their environment – so the personality of a bug is affected by both its nature and nurture. makes sense, really. ma nature is nothing if not flexible.

which reminds me of what (*ahem*) bugs me about research into the biology of human cultures – i.e. that there isn’t much of any! and any little bit that there is tends to emphasize the nurture side of the equation while nearly ignoring the nature side.

take, for instance, this interesting finding that ed yong reported on recently:

Genes and culture: OXTR gene influences social behaviour differently in Americans and Koreans

“Kim [the researcher] looked at a specific version of the OXTR gene, whose carriers are allegedly more social and sensitive. But this link between gene and behaviour depends on culture; it exists among American people, who tend to look for support in troubled times, but not in Korean cultures, where such support is less socially acceptable. Culture sets the stage on which the OXTR gene expresses itself….

“Distressed Americans with one or more copies of the G version were more likely to seek emotional support from their friends, compared to those with two copies of the A version. But for the Koreans, the opposite was true – G carriers were less likely to look for support among their peers in times of need (although this particular trend was not statistically significant). In both cases, the G carriers were more sensitive to the social conventions of their own cultures. But the differences between these conventions led to different behaviour….”

ok. so the cultural context that a person with a certain OXTR allele finds himself in influences how he behaves. culture affects behavior = nuture kinda/sorta seems to trump nature here. or affects it a lot anyway. and that’s really interesting to know, i agree.

but here’s (what i find to be) the most interesting bit:

“Kim also hopes that her work will encourage more scientists to investigate the ways in which genes and culture evolve together. She notes that the G version of OXTR is more common among white Americans than Korea. It’s tantalisingly possible that American culture has come to emphasise social support partly because more people have genes that skew them towards social behaviour. So genes constrain culture, while culture creates the stage on which genes exact their influence.

uuhhhhh – i would say that not only do “genes constrain culture” but that genes really, really, like, strongly influence culture! i.e. sounds like they play a pretty gosh-darn big role in its formation! i mean, amirite? if human (and other) cultures are not, in part, products of biology, then where, exactly, do they come from? where does culture come from?

clearly many aspects of human cultures are accidents of cirucumstance – papua new guineans decorate themselves with feathers from birds of paradise…

…because they can, while austrians decorate themselves with (what?) grouse feathers…

so lots of humans like to decorate themselves with feathers. but, there are differences in how this is done and i don’t just mean in the types of feathers used. the png look above, for instance, is much more ostentatious than the austrian look. why? could it possibly be that there are some, you know, broad, innate personality differences between the png and austrian populations that affect the two very different cultures?

too many researchers seem to poo-poo such thinking. mind you, the researcher above (kim) seemed open to the idea: “Kim also hopes that her work will encourage more scientists to investigate the ways in which genes and culture evolve together.”

exactly! you’d think there must be some feedback thing going on here. nature+nuture affects behavior/culture affects nature again, and so on, and so on….

like i said before – where does culture come from? enquiring minds want to know!

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satoshi kanazawa wrote a while back:

“Like individuals, nations vary in their preferences and values.

“The Hypothesis about the effect of general intelligence on individual preferences and values may also have implications for national differences in their characters, institutions, and laws. More intelligent populations may hold different collective preferences and values than less intelligent populations.

“If more intelligent individuals are more likely to be liberal and atheistic, and if more intelligent men are more likely to value sexual exclusivity, then it follows that, at the societal level, populations with higher average intelligence are more likely to be liberal, to be atheistic, and to practice monogamy than populations with lower average intelligence. Data indeed do confirm these macrolevel implications of the Hypothesis….”

it sounds to me like he’s talking about culture. it also sounds to me as though culture is an emergent property of our genetic make-up.

kanazawa only considers the connection between iq and culture, but what of our other biologically-based traits like personality or conditions such as adhd or schizophrenia? you’d think that variations between the frequencies of these traits in different populations would also lead to “nations vary[ing] in their preferences and values.”

take, for example, genes/epigenetics related to vasopressin – you know, the little hormone that makes voles (they’re so cuuuute!) more or less monogamous:

“Hasse Walum at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues looked at the various forms of the gene coding for a vasopressin receptor in 552 Swedish people, who were all in heterosexual partnerships. The researchers also investigated the quality of their relationships.

“They found that variation in a section of the gene called RS3 334 was linked to how men bond with their partners. Men can have none, one or two copies of the RS3 334 section, and the higher the number of copies, the worse men scored on a measure of pair bonding.

“Not only that, men with two copies of RS3 334 were more likely to be unmarried than men with one or none, and if they were married, they were twice as likely to have a marital crisis.” (source and more here)

well, what if there are different frequencies of these and/or other vasopressin-related alleles (and/or differing frequencies of epigenetic states related to vasopressin levels) in various human populations around the world? could that account in any way, shape, or form, for the different cultural traditions related to monogamy vs. polygamy, etc., etc.?

what about other human biological traits and culture? enquiring minds want to know!

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