linkfest – 11/19/13

Lyme bacteria show that evolvability is evolvable“Natural selection favours those with a greater capacity to generate genetic variation.”

50,000 generations of bacteria prove that evolution never stops“[C]omputer models have shown that animals can still experience significant evolutionary changes over time, even in the absence of selectional pressures. Traits like evolvability, or evolutionary potential. Indeed, the Lenski study shows that the same holds true when working with organisms in evolutionary ‘real time.’ The researchers, who performed a comparative analyses of the bacteria after every 500 generations, showed that E. coli will continue to evolve towards increasing replicative efficiency.” – h/t peter turchin! – see also Krazy Kats from greg cochran.

Mystery humans spiced up ancients’ rampant sex lives“Genome analysis suggests interbreeding between modern humans, Neanderthals, Denisovans and a mysterious archaic population.” – see also: Mystery human species emerges from Denisovan genome.

Out of Africa revisited (entrevista a Chris Stringer)“To what extent do these differences in evolutionary paths, if any, affect the human biodiversity we see today? That is still unclear, but will become clearer in the next few weeks with the publication of new data….”

Neanderthal virus DNA spotted hiding in modern humans“The DNA of ancient viruses first spotted in the Neanderthal genome have now been identified in modern humans…. [The researchers] examined the genomes of 67 people with cancer, and found they each contained seven of the sequences supposedly unique to the ancient humans.”

How Our Minds Went Viral“Based on this research, the scientists propose a scenario. Our ancestors millions of years ago were infected with a virus. Eventually it became lodged in our genome. At some point, a mutation moved the virus enhancer next to the PRODH gene. Further mutations allowed it to helped boost the gene’s activity in certain areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus…. Perhaps our minds are partly the way they are today thanks to an infection our ancestors got a few millions of years ago.” – h/t john durant!

Reconstructing the Population Genetic History of the Caribbean“‘We find evidence of two pulses of African migration. The first pulse—which today is reflected by shorter, older ancestry tracts—consists of a genetic component more similar to coastal West African regions involved in early stages of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The second pulse—reflected by longer, younger tracts—is more similar to present-day West-Central African populations, supporting historical records of later transatlantic deportation. Surprisingly, we also identify a Latino-specific European component that has significantly diverged from its parental Iberian source populations, presumably as a result of small European founder population size. We demonstrate that the ancestral components in admixed genomes can be traced back to distinct sub-continental source populations with far greater resolution than previously thought, even when limited pre-Columbian Caribbean haplotypes have survived.'” – @dienekes’.

Correlations in the population structure of music, genes and language“‘[T]he first quantitative evidence that music and genes may have coevolved by demonstrating significant correlations between traditional group-level folk songs and mitochondrial DNA variation among nine indigenous populations of Taiwan.” – @dienekes’.

Wolves turned into dogs by European hunter-gatherers – h/t hbd bibliography!

The Paradox of Diverse Communities“Their simulations of more than 20 million virtual ‘neighborhoods’ demonstrate a troubling paradox: that community and diversity may be fundamentally incompatible goals…. After 20 million-plus simulations, the authors found that the same basic answer kept coming back: The more diverse or integrated a neighborhood is, the less socially cohesive it becomes, while the more homogenous or segregated it is, the more socially cohesive…. [T]he models demonstrated that it was impossible to simultaneously foster diversity and cohesion ‘in all reasonably likely worlds.’ In fact, the trends are so strong that no effective social policy could combat them, according to Neal. As he put it in a statement, ‘In essence, when it comes to neighborhood desegregation and social cohesion, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.'” – see also original research article: The (In)compatibility of Diversity and Sense of Community [pdf]. – h/t nearly everybody on twitter!

A Review of ‘The Diversity Illusion’ by Ed West – from peter hitchens. – The Diversity Illusion.

War’s Enduring Effects on the Development of Egalitarian Motivations and In-Group Biases“[G]reater exposure to war created a lasting increase in people’s egalitarian motivations toward their in-group, but not their out-groups, during a developmental window starting in middle childhood (around 7 years of age) and ending in early adulthood (around 20 years of age). Outside this window, war had no measurable impact on social motivations in young children and had only muted effects on the motivations of older adults.” – h/t t.greer!

It’s nothing to sniff at: Men have bigger noses because of more muscle“Men may have larger noses than women because they generally have more muscle, demanding larger noses to breathe in more oxygen….” – h/t mr. mangan, esq.!

Rural White Liberals – a Key to Understanding the Political Divide“there are likely several factors involved in shaping the modern American political landscape. Of which, the strongest may be ethnonational origin. This is buttressed by population density pressure, founder effects, internal self-sorting, and perhaps even recent evolution.” – from jayman.

John Horgan and the “Warfare is Innate” Red Herring“The Blank Slate may be dead, but its zombies still walk among us.” – (~_^) – from helian.

A Little Speculation About Disgust Sensitivity and Attitudes Towards Homosexuals and People of Other Races – ewwww! – from staffan

They aren’t meant to pee standing up – well, not without one of these, but frankly that’s gross. – the awesome epigone on how happy teh feminists are (not).

Open letter to Morten Kjeldgaard – (~_^) – from elijah. – see also Was the Scientific Dishonesty Minister trying to suppress population estimates? from dr. james thompson.

The White man has no friends“Over the past millennium, Western Europeans have created a social environment where the individual is largely free from collective ties of kinship and ethnicity. Because the State has imposed a monopoly on the use of violence, there is less need to rely on kinsmen to safeguard one’s life and property.” (and ’cause of The Outbreeding Project, too, imho. (^_^) ) – from peter frost.

Preclinical testing shows SUMO-1 gene therapy shrinks an enlarged heart, improves heart funcion, and blood flow, human trials to start – h/t mike anissimov!

Borjas, Grogger, and Hanson: Immigrant and Native Complementarity“George Borjas, Jeffrey Grogger, and Gordon Hanson have a new paper, and it’s not good news for the Ottaviano and Peri result that immigration can cause native wages to increase due to strong complementarities between native and immigrant labor.” – h/t heartiste!

Is Jared Diamond racist? – oh, noes! not a waaaaycist! (hmmmm. maybe he is….) – h/t peter turchin!

Stunning Portraits Of The World’s Remotest Tribes Before They Pass Away – h/t heartiste!

bonus: William Pollack Dies at 87; His Vaccine Saved Infants“William Pollack, a medical researcher who helped develop a vaccine that virtually eradicated a disease [Rh disease] once responsible for 10,000 infant deaths a year in the United States, died on Nov. 3 in Yorba Linda, Calif. He was 87.”malcom pollack‘s dad. =( see also: William Pollack, R.I.P. from mr. mangan, esq.

bonus bonus: working first chapter of A Part-time Job in the Country by luke lea! send comments to luke.

bonus bonus bonus: I’ve realised why I like the Dutch so much: they invented capitalism – from dan hannan. (just missing the biology! (~_^) ) – see also: The World of English Freedoms“It’s no accident that the English-speaking nations are the ones most devoted to law and individual rights, writes Daniel Hannan.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: It’s time to confront this taboo: First cousin marriages in Muslim communities [in the u.k.] are putting hundreds of children at risk“Many NHS doctors, while admitting privately there is a crisis, refuse to speak out for fear of being branded ‘racist’.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Thus Spake Obama“The incompetence of our neo-monarchy.” – from mark steyn. – h/t charles murray!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Wine: Drinking in the Mother Vine“[R]eportedly the oldest cultivated grapevine in North America.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Scientists date world’s oldest animal at 507 years old — after they accidentally kill it – *facepalm* – h/t nelson!

(note: comments do not require an email. ming – the ex-world’s oldest animal.)


linkfest – 07/01/12

Racism is Innate: The Human Brain Makes Unconscious Decisions Based on Ethnicity“Racism is hardwired into the brain and operates unconsciously because areas that detect ethnicity and control emotion are closely connected, according to scientists.” – original research article. see also How the brain views race.

CSIC recovers part of the genome of 2 hunter-gatherer individuals from 7,000 years ago“The DNA data, which represent the 1.34% and the 0.5% of both individuals total genome, show that they are not directly connected to current populations of the Iberian Peninsula. Iberians from the Mesolithic Period were closer to current populations of northern Europe, who could have assimilated part of the genetic legacy of these hunters-gatherers.”

Food and Porn as Supernormal Stimuli – from dennis mangan

Pottery 20,000 years old found in a Chinese cave“Pottery fragments found in a south China cave have been confirmed to be 20,000 years old, making them the oldest known pottery in the world, archaeologists say…. The findings … [refute] conventional theories that the invention of pottery correlates to the period about 10,000 years ago when humans moved from being hunter-gathers to farmers.” – original research article.

Steady studs, dysgenic dolls“Jayman found that among black men, the trend is neutral, while a pronounced dysgenic trend exists among black women. The story is similar among whites, although the dysgenic tilt among white women is gentler than it is among black women.” – from mr. a. epigone, esq.

The crayola-fication of the world: How we gave colors names, and it messed with our brains (part I) – read this!

also this!: Your Color Red Really Could Be My Blue“‘I would say recent experiments lead us down a road to the idea that we don’t all see the same colors,’ Neitz said. Another color vision scientist, Joseph Carroll of the Medical College of Wisconsin, took it one step further: ‘I think we can say for certain that people don’t see the same colors….'”

University of Pittsburgh study reveals moderate doses of alcohol increase social bonding in groups – cheers!

bonus: Phylogeny: Rewriting evolution“Tiny molecules called microRNAs are tearing apart traditional ideas about the animal family tree.”

bonus bonus: Low-carb diet burns the most calories in small study

bonus bonus bonus: Mysterious Fairy Circles Are ‘Alive’ – whoa.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: How presidential elections are impacted by a 100 million year old coastline – cool!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Mumbai doctors remove 12.5cm-long worm from man’s eye – ewwww!

(note: comments do not require an email. what the…?)

linkfest – 06/17/12

More on Farming and Inheritance Systems – Part I: IQ – from jayman!

Spanish cave paintings shown as oldest in world“New tests show that crude Spanish cave paintings of a red sphere and handprints are the oldest in the world, so ancient they may not have been by modern man. Some scientists say they might have even been made by the much-maligned Neanderthals, but others disagree.”

Childhood obesity found linked to math performance“When compared with children who were never obese, boys and girls whose obesity persisted from the start of kindergarten through fifth grade performed worse on the math test, starting in first grade, and their lower performance continued through fifth grade. For boys whose obesity emerged later (in third or fifth grade), no such differences were found, and for girls who became obese later, poorer math performance was temporary.”

Why Smart People Are Stupid“[I]ntelligence seems to make things worse. The scientists gave the students four measures of ‘cognitive sophistication.’ As they report in the paper, all four of the measures showed positive correlations, ‘indicating that more cognitively sophisticated participants showed larger [cognitive] bias blind spots.'”

Another look at Muslim fertility – from the inductivist.

Spot the Correlation: Wealth vs. Immigration – from dennis.

Scientists Sequence Genome Of Human Relative That Prefers Love Over War“They found that more than 3 percent of the human genome is more closely related to either the bonobo or the chimpanzee than the two apes are to each other, which indicates that the three species share a complex evolutionary relationship.”

bonus: ‘Sexual depravity’ of penguins that Antarctic scientist dared not reveal“Landmark polar research about the Adélie penguin’s sex life by Captain Scott’s expedition, deemed too shocking for the public 100 years ago, is unearthed at the Natural History Museum”

bonus bonus: ‘Oldest galaxy’ discovered using Hawaii telescope“Japanese astronomers on Hawaii say they have found a galaxy 12.91bn light years away”

bonus bonus bonus: That Squid On Your Plate Could Inseminate Your Mouth – ewww!

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

weird stuff people do

yesterday, i came across … heh … an article about weird stuff that some people in bengal do, and i thought — gee i’d love to post that! but i wish i had a reason to — some sort of excuse. then, a little while later, i came across another article about weird stuff that some people in china do. (i wasn’t looking for these articles, i swear!) so i got my excuse: two stories about weird things people do makes a post, afaiac. (^_^)

warning: you may not want to read these right before a meal if you’re at all squeamish or easily grossed out. (~_^)

1) Ingesting menstrual blood: notions of health and bodily fluids in Bengal

yes, you read that right — ingesting menstrual blood. and you guys thought sleeping with your sister was gross! ewwww! well, at least they add sugar:

“A woman’s monthly flow is always viewed as potent. Yet the first flow a woman elicits is considered to be the most potent fluid of all. Tara said she was twelve years old when she got her period. She told her mother, who told her father. And her father went to their family guru, to tell him what had happened. Their guru then invited other sadhus to his ashram for the forthcoming event to ingest the fluid. ‘Great sadhus gathered together to partake in the new fluid,’ said Tara calling the fluid rup. ‘It is a very good thing. If my son had been a girl,’ she added, ‘great sadhus would come to my house, asking me to invite them. For few people manage to obtain it.’

“Tara’s father had prepared himself ahead of time. He purchased a piece of cotton cloth at the market so that she could wear it when her rup appeared. After this, he gave the cloth bearing the rup to the family guru. Upon receiving it, the guru stored the cloth away. The bloodstain dried and the cloth hardened. A month went by while waiting for the other sadhus to appear. When they finally gathered together, her guru rinsed the cloth in water. Then he cooled the fluid down, by soaking it in four different substances. These were cow’s milk, coconut juice, camphor, and palm juice. He also added white sugar, to sweeten the ingredients. Tara said, ‘the mixture of red rup and white milk yielded a syrupy substance, bearing the color pink. Milk,’ she mused, ‘is very strange. It draws the red rup out of the cloth, so that the cloth turns white again.’ She went on to tell me that when the different ingredients had merged, the coconut shell containing the fluid was passed around to those present, so that each one, including herself could have a sip.”

people, people… (*hbd chick shakes head* (^_^) )

and if that weren’t weird enough, look what some people in china do! (i checked the original story using google translate and it seems legit.):

2) Boys’ urine-soaked eggs listed as local specialty, intangible cultural heritage

“Every early spring, a foul odor fills the air of Dongyang, Zhejiang Province. Dongyang people call it ‘the smell of spring.’

“Yuck, it’s actually the smell of urine. And prepare yourself for this: Dongyang people boil eggs in boy’s urine and sell them at 1.50 yuan (23 cents) apiece. It sells like hot cakes.

“The convention of eating such eggs, called tong zi dan (童子蛋) in Chinese, literally Boy Egg, is so deeply entrenched that the city of Dongyong listed it as local intangible cultural heritage in 2008.

“Boy egg vendors go to local elementary schools to collect urine from prepubertal boys, preferrably under the age of 10, with buckets….

“Ms. Li introduced her tip of boiling eggs in boys’ urine: first, soak eggs in urine and heat them over the stove. After it boils, get all eggs out and crack their shells before putting them back. After a while, pour in new urine. Repeat it and simmer eggs for an entire day.”

you wonder how many human behaviors like these start out as dares (i dare ya! i double dare ya!) and then become tradition. (~_^)

moral of the story: humans WILL do the weirdest things.

(note: comments do not require an email. gotta luv anthropology!)

boinking your sister

heh. several of you were grossed out at the thought — and that’s good! that is as it should be.

i don’t have a brother, so i don’t know what the westermarck effect feels like, but apparently it feels like … ewwwwwwww! and it doesn’t just work for sibilings, but any kids that are raised together. i’ve read many accounts of muslim couples who have been made to marry their first-cousins who complain that they’re not attracted to each other and very often they were raised together (in an extended family household), so they feel like … ewwwwwwww!

robin fox had a lot of interesting stuff to say about the westermarck effect in “The Tribal Imagination” (chapter 6 — and also presumbaly in his book on incest, but i haven’t read that). here’s an excerpt for ya [pgs. 128-31]:

“Taboos on sexual relationship between close kin, between the members of the immediate family, were long thought to be a purely human invention. Animals, it was maintained, had no such inhibitions and mated incestuously. Thus the taboos on such animalistic behavior were thought to be the very foundation of human society; they were the ultimate Drumbeat of humanity, by which, in the immortal words of Levi-Strauss, culture said ‘No!’ to nature….

“The move from nature to culture represented by the imposition of the taboos was seen as precarious and counter to natural motives, which were ineradicable. In consequence, the taboos had to be stern and enforced by constant vigilance. In this traditional view, we all wanted to make love to our nearest kin, but once the momentous leap into culture had been taken, it would have been disastrous to go back into the maelstrom of incestuous animality. Our societies were built on the presumption of mating outside the family, it was the very definition of humanity itself, and so stern taboos, laws, and punishments were needed to keep incest at bay.

“This was a plausible view because societies did almost universally ban sex and marriage within the immediate family, and punishments for breaches of this rule were often severe, including torture and death. In their mythologies, primitive tribes and ancients societies often portrayed incest, and the results of it were usually disastrous. There were exceptions to the rule (and we shall return to these), but they were almost always royal exceptions, and royal persons, as gods on earth, were allowed behavior that was not allowed to ordinary mortals. On the whole, then it was agreed, there was a ‘grisly horror’ of incest (Freud) that universally afflicted people and led them to impose and enforce the taboos, often extending them beyond the family to members of the clan, variously defined. Why, the question went, would we have such strong taboos if we did not have the strong desire in the first place?

“Both popular opinion and the collective voice of the behavioral sciences echoed this orthodoxy. But there was always an undercurrent of skepticism. Why, the objectors asked in turn, do we seem, by and large, not to want to have sex with our closest relations? This would be the common-sense observation. Incest happens, but in proportion to non-incest, it does not happen very often. And most of this avoidance of incest does not seem to result from fear of punishment; there seems to be a genuine aversion to incest. This aversion seems to vary according to the relationship: strongest between mother and son, weakest between father and daughter, variable between brother and sister. But it is there, and usually only breaks down in unappetizing circumstances.

“The orthodox view said that left to our own devices we would immediately resort to incest and so we have to be reined in by strong taboos and sanctions…. The skeptical view says that, on the contrary, left to our own devices we would probably mostly avoid incest spontaneously. The orthodox view asks why, then, if this is so, are there the universal strong taboos?

“The skeptic answers that we often taboo the things that we are averse to, not because we secretly want to do them, but because we disapprove of people doing things that are generally obnoxious to us. We strongly taboo murder, not because we are all given to implacable murderous impulses, but because we are averse to it, so that even if only a few people do it, it offends us. We do, however, understand the temptation to do it; we have all perhaps felt it momentarily. So the subject fascinates us and permeates our legends and stories from the beginning. Sex and violence, incest and murder — often linked in our fantasy productions — persist in our imaginative attempts to interpret ourselves to ourselves….

“[I]n looking at animal behavior under natural conditions, indeed at the behavior of all sexually reproducing organisms, outbreeding seemed to be the rule and incest was rare. This was especially true in our primate relatives, and so by implication in our ancestors during the long haul through the savannas and the ice….

“The origin of this sexual reproduction is still a mystery, but whatever the reason, this new form of reproduction won out over its rival (which is still around) by virtue of its ability to produce instant genetic variability for natural selection to work on. Close inbreeding results in a loss of such variability, hence mechanisms evolved to avoid it. At the same time, if inbreeding becomes too random, then any beneficial genes will be dissipated rather than concentrated and preserved. It is this loss of variation that seems to be at the heart of sexual strategies, not the bad genetic effects of close inbreeding. In small bands these effects would quickly be bred out, and even scattered bouts of outbreeding would reestablish a healthy stock.

“So nature aims for a middle ground: organisms breed out to avoid losing variability, but not so far out that they dissipate genetic advantages. In human terms this means that the immediate family is taboo, but that marriage with cousins should be preferred. This is exactly what we find in human history until the dramatic growth and disruption of human populations upset the natural balance of the traditional society.”

actually, this is exactly what we find in human history until the roman catholic church started fiddling with mating patterns in europe in the early middle ages (see Inbreeding in Europe series down below ↓ in left-hand column).

“[I]f inbreeding becomes too random, then any beneficial genes will be dissipated rather than concentrated and preserved.”

think about that in terms of altruism genes.

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