linkfest – 08/31/14

African pygmies evolved their short stature twice“In the rainforests of Africa, being small is so helpful that it evolved twice in separate groups. Luis Barreiro of the University of Montreal in Quebec, Canada, and his colleagues identified 16 regions of the genome associated with short stature in the Batwa pygmies of Uganda. They then compared these regions in 169 Batwa and 74 Baka pygmies from West Africa. ‘In both groups, there was greater variation in those regions associated with being short, but no overlap between them,’ says Barreiro. This suggests they evolved their stature independently instead of inheriting the same ‘pygmy genes’ from a common ancestor.”

The strange history of the North American Arctic“Archaeologists mapping ancient cultures in the North American Arctic — a region spanning present-day Greenland — have long puzzled over how different cultures relate to one another. Now, an unprecedented large-scale genomics study has traced many such cultures to the Paleo-Eskimos, a people who early inhabited the harsh environment continuously for 4000 years, only to vanish mysteriously about 700 years ago. The discovery could change how scientists understand migration patterns in the North American Arctic…. After comparing the ancient and modern genetic data, the researchers found that the Saqqaq and Dorset cultures belonged to one Paleo-Eskimo people, whose genetic lineage continued in the region for more than 4000 years, from 3000 B.C.E. to 1300 C.E., contradicting previous theories that the diverse cultures came from different peoples. The Paleo-Eskimos are genetically distinct from Native Americans and Inuits, which means they represent a separate, later pulse of migration into the New World, says evolutionary geneticist Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen, a co-author of the study. This contradicts previous theories that humans arrived in the Americas in three waves, painting a scenario of four waves instead — the Amerinds, the Na Dene Native Americans, the Paleo-Eskimos, and the Neo-Eskimo Thules…. What intrigues researchers most is why the Paleo-Eskimo lineage disappeared after the late Dorsets, around the same time that Neo-Eskimo Thules expanded rapidly to the Arctic. Archaeologists have found no evidence of violent conflict between the Thules and the Dorsets, but it would be hard to ignore contrasts between the two groups. The whale-hunting Thules lived in large, well-organized villages and boasted advanced technologies such as dog sleds and sinew-backed bows. The Dorsets, on the other hand, lived in small villages of 20 to 30 people and hunted with chipped stone blades. The researchers suspect that the Dorsets might have been pushed out to the fringes of the Arctic, or perhaps annihilated by a disease. ‘It’s just mind-blowing to imagine an entire people who just completely vanished,’ Willerslev says.” — see also Degüello from greg cochran.

Genetic changes transformed wild rabbits into tame bunnies, DNA study reveals“When humans domesticated wild rabbits and turned them into pet store favorites, they also changed their genome, a study has found…. The domestication of rabbits happened much more recently than that of cattle, sheep, pigs and dogs, which happened between about 15,000 and 9,000 years ago. Monks in monasteries in the south of France first domesticated northwestern europeans rabbits around 1,400 years ago…. [T]he researches report in the journal Science, small pre-existing genetic variations — sometimes just one letter of DNA code — started to become more common in the animals as they became domesticated. These variations generally didn’t affect the genes themselves, but rather acted on the genome’s regulatory regions, which are in control of whether genes are turned on or off. ‘Wild and domestic rabbits do not differ so much in actual protein sequences, but in how gene and protein expression is regulated,’ says Andersson. Among the genes particularly targeted during domestication were those involved in rabbits’ brains and nervous systems. That’s to be expected, Andersson says, because the differences between domestic and wild rabbits are almost all behavioral, while physical differences are slight…. Domestication of rabbits was made easier because the wild variety is a highly polymorphic species that already possesses many of gene variants selectively enhanced during domestication, the researchers say. That is likely to have been the case with most domesticated species, they say. ‘We predict that a similar process has occurred in other domestic animals and that we will not find a few specific genes that were critical for domestication,’ Andersson says.” — see also: Rabbit genome analysis reveals a polygenic basis for phenotypic change during domestication.

Comparative population genomics in animals uncovers the determinants of genetic diversity – h/t lars penke! who tweeted: “Across species, higher genetic diversity is not predicted by ecology, but by faster life history.”

Genome-wide genotype and sequence-based reconstruction of the 140,000 year history of modern human ancestry“We investigated ancestry of 3,528 modern humans from 163 samples. We identified 19 ancestral components, with 94.4% of individuals showing mixed ancestry. After using whole genome sequences to correct for ascertainment biases in genome-wide genotype data, we dated the oldest divergence event to 140,000 years ago. We detected an Out-of-Africa migration 100,000–87,000 years ago, leading to peoples of the Americas, east and north Asia, and Oceania, followed by another migration 61,000–44,000 years ago, leading to peoples of the Caucasus, Europe, the Middle East, and south Asia. We dated eight divergence events to 33,000–20,000 years ago, coincident with the Last Glacial Maximum. We refined understanding of the ancestry of several ethno-linguistic groups, including African Americans, Ethiopians, the Kalash, Latin Americans, Mozabites, Pygmies, and Uygurs, as well as the CEU sample. Ubiquity of mixed ancestry emphasizes the importance of accounting for ancestry in history, forensics, and health.” — don’t miss figure 2!

Seals May Have Carried Tuberculosis To The New World — thousand-year-old skeletons from peru suggest seals brought tuberculosis to americas.

Y Chromosomes of 40% Chinese Descend from Three Neolithic Super-Grandfathers“This observation suggests that the main patrilineal expansion in China occurred in the Neolithic Era and might be related to the development of agriculture.”

Blue Eyes Are More Common Than Any Other Colour in Britain“The Blue Eyes Project has found that although all eyes in Britain were once brown, they are now 48% blue, 30% green and just 22% brown…. The study mapped eye colour across the UK and Ireland and found that Scottish and Irish people are more likely to have blue eyes than in other parts of the UK, particularly the south. Just over a third (35%) of the population of south-west England and 41% in east England have blue eyes, compared to 57% in southeast Scotland…. Blue eyes are the result of a variant in the HERC2 gene, which, when it mutates, switches off the supply of brown-eye forming melanin, researchers say. Green eyes are also a result of this change, because they arise from a combination of the blue variant with brown. The first gene mutation resulting in blue eyes is understood to have occurred in the Baltic region around 10,000 years ago.”

Neanderthals in Europe Died Out Thousands of Years Sooner Than Some Thought, Study Says

The Other Neanderthal – h/t billare! who tweeted: “‘Denisovans are an example of…how mitochondrial DNA [misleads], & only the nuclear genome tells the full story.'”

Admixture in South African Afrikaners — from razib.

Finland’s love of milk dates back to the Stone Age“A combined team from the Universities of Bristol (England) and Helsinki (Finland) have been examining examples of Corded Ware pottery found in the northern parts of Finland. The pieces examined were cooking pots dated at 3,900 to 3,300 BCE and also approx. 2,500 BCE. Astonishingly the pots from 2,500 BCE contained traces of milk fats. This proved that the inhabitants at that time, despite a climate where it can snow for up to four months of the year, had domesticated animals.”

Holding a Mirror to Their Natures“[U]nrelated look-alikes showed little similarity in either personality or self-esteem. By contrast, twins — especially identical twins — score similarly on both scales, suggesting that the likeness is largely because of genetics…. Personality traits do not appear to be influenced by the way people are treated because of appearance. Moreover, they found, there appears to be no special bond between look-alikes. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University who is also an identical twin, praised that study, saying it went to the heart of what makes people form a bond. ‘Even in cases where a person is a dead ringer for another, the natural pull is not there,’ Dr. Fisher said, ‘which builds the case that there is an underlying biology to kinship.'” — h/t steve stewart williams!

On the genetic architecture of intelligence and other quantitative traits — from steve hsu. h/t richard harper! who tweeted: “cognitive ability gene search requires sample sizes of 10,000 genes across a million persons.”

Genes Influence Young Children’s Human Figure Drawings and Their Association With Intelligence a Decade Later“Do genes influence individual differences in this species-typical behavior, and is drawing related to intelligence (g) in modern children? We report on the first genetically informative study of children’s figure drawing. In a study of 7,752 pairs of twins, we found that genetic differences exert a greater influence on children’s figure drawing at age 4 than do between-family environmental differences. Figure drawing was as heritable as g at age 4 (heritability of .29 for both). Drawing scores at age 4 correlated significantly with g at age 4 (r = .33, p < .001, n = 14,050) and with g at age 14 (r = .20, p < .001, n = 4,622). The genetic correlation between drawing at age 4 and g at age 14 was .52, 95% confidence interval = [.31, .75]. Individual differences in this widespread behavior have an important genetic component and a significant genetic link with g." – h/t rosalind arden!

Differences in intelligence between ethnic minorities and Han in China

The Canadian IQ calculated from the standardization of the WAIS IV eh? — h/t emil kirkegaard (no relation)!

Genome-wide screening for DNA variants associated with reading and language traits

Differences in cognitive abilities among primates are concentrated on G: Phenotypic and phylogenetic comparisons with two meta-analytical databases“Using meta-analytic databases of ethological observations of cognitive abilities involving 69 primate species, we found that cognitive abilities that load more strongly on a common factor (which is here termed G, in line with the terminology developed in previous literature to describe aggregated measures of general intelligence) are associated with significantly bigger interspecies differences and bigger interspecies variance. Additionally, two novel evolutionary predictions were made: more G-loaded abilities would present (1) weaker phylogenetic signals, indicating less phylogenetic conservativeness, and (2) faster rates of trait evolution, as it was hypothesized that G has been subjected to stronger selection pressures than narrower, more domain-specific abilities. These predictions were corroborated with phylogenetic comparative methods, with stronger effects among catarrhines (apes and Old World monkeys) than within the entire primate order. These data strongly suggest that G is the principal locus of selection in the macroevolution of primate intelligence. Implications for the understanding of population differences in cognitive abilities among human populations and for the theory of massive modularity applied to intelligence are discussed.” – h/t erwin schmidt!

The Flynn Effect: A Meta-Analysis [pdf] – h/t jelte wicherts! who tweeted: “IQ [continues] to go up with 3 points per decade. New meta-analysis shows no evidence of diminishing Flynn Effect.”

The Elusive X-Factor, or Why Jonathan Kaplan Is Wrong about Race and IQ – @humanvarieties.

Coevolution of languages and genes“[E]volutionary processes are more complex than simple models of gene-language coevolution predict, with linguistic boundaries only occasionally functioning as barriers to gene flow. More frequently, admixture takes place irrespective of linguistic differences, but with a detectable impact of contact-induced changes in the languages concerned.” – h/t jayman!

Does Natural Law exist?“While certain notions of right and wrong can apply to all humans, much of what we call ‘morality’ will always be population-dependent. What is moral in one population may not be in another.” – from peter frost.

Morality: The Amazing Side-Taking Machine“If there are so many evolutionary pathways to nice behaviors, and if many animals are cooperative, including bees, bats, hyenas, and monkeys, then perhaps the elaborate paraphernalia of human morality — explicit rules of behavior, moral taboos, moral debates, accusations, impartiality, punishments — are not needed to make people nice. Right? This is exactly what psychological research indicates. Developmental evidence shows that children are nice to people before acquiring adult-like moral judgment. Moreover, when children develop moral judgment, it does not prevent them from taking actions they judge wrong such as lying or stealing. In adults, research shows that moral judgments differ from and can even oppose altruistic motives. Research on hypocrisy shows that people are mostly motivated to appear moral rather than to actually abide by their moral judgments. Research on ‘motivated reasoning’ shows that people deviously craft moral justifications to push their own agendas. In short, people can be nice without morality and nasty with morality — altruism and morality are independent. In fact, humans are more eager to judge other people than to follow their own moral advice. Moral condemnation of other people’s behavior is distinctly, perhaps uniquely, human. So, what is the evolutionary function of condemnation…? People can use moral judgment to assess the wrongness of fighters’ actions and then choose sides against whoever was most immoral. When all bystanders use this strategy, they all take the same side and avoid the costs of escalated fighting. That is, moral condemnation functions to synchronize people’s side-taking decisions. This moral strategy is, of course, mostly unconscious just like other evolved programs for vision, movement, language, and so on.”

The roots of human altruism“[T]he willingness to provision others varies greatly from one primate species to the next. But there was a clear pattern, as summarized by Burkart: ‘Humans and callitrichid monkeys acted highly altruistically and almost always produced the treats for the other group members. Chimpanzees, one of our closest relatives, however, only did so sporadically.’ Similarly, most other primate species, including capuchins and macaques, only rarely pulled the lever to give another group member food, if at all – even though they have considerable cognitive skills. Until now, many researchers assumed that spontaneous altruistic behavior in primates could be attributed to factors they would share with humans: advanced cognitive skills, large brains, high social tolerance, collective foraging or the presence of pair bonds or other strong social bonds. As Burkart’s new data now reveal, however, none of these factors reliably predicts whether a primate species will be spontaneously altruistic or not. Instead, another factor that sets us humans apart from the great apes appears to be responsible. Says Burkart: ‘Spontaneous, altruistic behavior is exclusively found among species where the young are not only cared for by the mother, but also other group members such as siblings, fathers, grandmothers, aunts and uncles.’ This behavior is referred to technically as the ‘cooperative breeding’ or ‘allomaternal care.'”

Feminist activist women are masculinized in terms of digit-ratio and dominance: A possible explanation for the feminist paradox“The feminist movement purports to improve conditions for women, and yet only a minority of women in modern societies self-identify as feminists. This is known as the feminist paradox…. We measured the 2D:4D digit ratios (collected from both hands) and a personality trait known as dominance (measured with the Directiveness scale) in a sample of women attending a feminist conference. The sample exhibited significantly more masculine 2D:4D and higher dominance ratings than comparison samples representative of women in general, and these variables were furthermore positively correlated for both hands. The feminist paradox might thus to some extent be explained by biological differences between women in general and the activist women who formulate the feminist agenda.”

Global genetic variations predict brain response to faces“[A] significant proportion of the brain response to facial expressions is predicted by common genetic variance in a subset of regions constituting the face network. These regions show the highest inter-individual variability in the number of connections with other network nodes, suggesting that the genetic model captures variations across the adolescent brains in co-opting these regions into the face network.” – h/t razib!

Brain, behavior and genetics“Regardless of where the science now lies, we know that biology controls behavior. Our actions and thoughts aren’t magic, they rely on the biochemistry of neurotransmitters and nerve signals. They have physical substrates that are controlled by our genes….”

The impact of neighbourhood deprivation on adolescent violent criminality and substance misuse: A longitudinal, quasi-experimental study of the total Swedish population“We found that the adverse effect of neighbourhood deprivation on adolescent violent criminality and substance misuse in Sweden was not consistent with a causal inference.” — see also Depraved on account of being deprived? from dr. james thompson.

Does Urban Living Cause Mental Illness? – h/t jayman! who tweeted: “Interview w/ @AmirSariaslan, on his work showing that adverse environments don’t cause schizophrenia, & killing GxE.”

Daughters provide as much elderly parent care as they can, sons do as little as possible — h/t frau katze!

Honor: The Cause of — and Solution to — All of Society’s Problems“Centuries-old cultural norms don’t change overnight….” — gee, i wonder why? (where does culture come from?)

Social sciences suffer from severe publication bias“Survey finds that ‘null results’ rarely see the light of the day.” – h/t claire lehmann!

Haidt: “Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science” – from steve sailer.

How Do Liberal and Conservative Attitudes About Obedience to Authority Differ? The Surprising Result of My Study“Together with my collaborators Dr. Danielle Gaucher and Nicola Schaefer, we asked both red and blue Americans to share their views about obeying liberal authorities (e.g., ‘obey an environmentalist’). In an article that we recent published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, we found that liberals were now the ones calling for obedience. And when the authorities were viewed as ideologically neutral (e.g., office manager), liberals and conservatives agreed. Only when people perceived the authority to be conservative (e.g., religious authority) did conservatives show a positive bias.”

The Kennewick Man Finally Freed to Share His Secrets

Measuring Inbreeding in the Greek Gods“it seems that Ares has an inbreeding coefficient of 37.5%. This is due to the fact that his parents—Zeus and Hera—are siblings, as well as his grandparents with each other. Zeus has an inbreeding coefficient of 25%.” — (^_^)

bonus: Walking fish raised on land mimic ancient evolutionary transition

bonus bonus: Why are all our wagtails vanishing? Scientists baffled by long-term decline of three species in Britain“The three wagtail species spotted on our shores are the Yellow Wagtail, a farmland bird that migrates to sub-Saharan Africa, and two which largely remain in the UK over the winter, the Grey Wagtail, a river specialist, and the familiar Pied Wagtail. Researchers said the races of both Pied and Yellow Wagtail breeding in the UK nest almost nowhere else in the world…. Sarah Harris, BBS Organiser at the British Trust for Ornithology, said: ‘I find it fascinating that three seemingly similar birds, the Yellow, Grey and Pied Wagtail can lead such different lives and face such a variety of challenges. With the UK races of two of these species – Pied and Yellow Wagtails – being largely confined to our islands, these population changes are of global conservation significance….'” – ornithologists are soooo waaaaycist! they make me sick! (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. biophobia. (~_^) )


linkfest: 06/30/14

The genetics of Mexico recapitulates Native American substructure and affects biomedical traits“We studied genomic variation within Mexico from over 1000 individuals representing 20 indigenous and 11 mestizo populations. We found striking genetic stratification among indigenous populations within Mexico at varying degrees of geographic isolation. Some groups were as differentiated as Europeans are from East Asians. Pre-Columbian genetic substructure is recapitulated in the indigenous ancestry of admixed mestizo individuals across the country. Furthermore, two independently phenotyped cohorts of Mexicans and Mexican Americans showed a significant association between subcontinental ancestry and lung function. Thus, accounting for fine-scale ancestry patterns is critical for medical and population genetic studies within Mexico, in Mexican-descent populations, and likely in many other populations worldwide.” – see also: People from Mexico show stunning amount of genetic diversity“When the team analyzed the genomes of 511 indigenous individuals from all over Mexico, they found a striking amount of genetic diversity. The most divergent indigenous groups in Mexico are as different from each other as Europeans are from East Asians, they report online today in Science. This diversity maps onto the geography of Mexico itself. The farther away ethnic groups live from each other, the more different their genomes turn out to be…. But most people in Mexico or of Mexican descent these days are not indigenous but rather mestizo, meaning they have a mixture of indigenous, European, and African ancestry. Do their genomes also vary by what region of Mexico they come from, or has all that local variation been smoothed out by centuries of different groups meeting, mixing, and having babies? To answer that question, the team collaborated with Mexico’s National Institute of Genomic Medicine, which has been collecting genetic data from mestizos for many years. Somewhat surprisingly, they found that mestizos in a given part of Mexico tended to have the same ‘rare’ genetic variants as their indigenous neighbors. The mestizo genomes ‘track so well with the indigenous groups that we could use the genetic diversity in mestizos to make inferences about [their native] ancestors,’ Pasaniuc says.”

Neanderthal-Human Skulls Shed Light on Evolution“Skulls found in a Spanish cave exhibit both Neanderthal and primitive human features, according to a new study published in the journal Science. The discovery provides clues about when the common ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals lived, what happened after the two groups diverged, and how the two became so different over a relatively short period of time. There is consensus about the ending of the story: Modern humans and Neanderthals interbred, and Neanderthal DNA is still present in people of European and Asian ancestry. But the thousands of years before they connected, however, have been a mystery.” – see also: Palaeontology: How Neanderthals evolved“A study reveals that not all distinguishing features of hominid skulls have evolved at the same pace.”

Oldest human faeces show Neanderthals ate vegetables – eat your veggies!

Searching for Answers in Very Old DNA – interview with svante paabo.

Island-hopping odyssey brought civilisation to Europe“The farmers who brought advanced civilisation to Europe got there by sailing between the many islands strewn across the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey, according to a new genetic analysis. The first modern humans in Europe were hunter-gatherers who arrived around 40,000 years ago. But around 9000 years ago the first farmers arrived. They spread rapidly, dominating the continent by 7500 years ago, and pushing the hunter-gatherers into decline. The farmers originated in the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East, where farming arose, but until now no one knew which route they took to get to Europe.” – see also Publication Delays from greg cochran.

The population genomic landscape of human genetic structure, admixture history and local adaptation in Peninsular Malaysia“Peninsular Malaysia has greater genetic diversity corresponding to its role as a contact zone of both early and recent human migrations in Asia. However, each single Orang Asli (indigenous) group was less diverse with a smaller effective population size (Ne) than a European or an East Asian population, indicating a substantial isolation of some duration for these groups. All four MEGs were genetically more similar to Asian populations than to other continental groups, and the divergence time between MEGs and East Asian populations (12,000—6,000 years ago) was also much shorter than that between East Asians and Europeans. Thus, Malaysian Orang Asli groups, despite their significantly different features, may share a common origin with the other Asian groups. Nevertheless, we identified traces of recent gene flow from non-Asians to MEGs. Finally, natural selection signatures were detected in a batch of genes associated with immune response, human height, skin pigmentation, hair and facial morphology and blood pressure in MEGs. Notable examples include SYN3 which is associated with human height in all Orang Asli groups, a height-related gene (PNPT1) and two blood pressure-related genes (CDH13 and PAX5) in Negritos. We conclude that a long isolation period, subsequent gene flow and local adaptations have jointly shaped the genetic architectures of MEGs, and this study provides insight into the peopling and human migration history in Southeast Asia.”

Investigating brain connectivity heritability in a twin study using diffusion imaging data – h/t jayman! who tweeted: “Surprise, surprise: diffusion imaging twin study (N = 328) finds patterns of brain connectivity are heritable.”

The stability of self-control across childhood“Results indicate that variation [76%] in self-control is predominantly genetic.”

Race a factor in mortality in heart attack patients on anti-clotting drug“The first genetic variations linked to race have been identified that begin to explain a higher risk of death among some African American and Caucasian patients taking the anti-clotting drug clopidogrel after a heart attack. In particular, the team found that two DNA variants common in African Americans were associated with an increased risk of both bleeding and death. In Caucasians, a different variant was linked to additional heart attacks and a higher risk of death.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

A common Greenlandic TBC1D4 variant confers muscle insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

GWAS-based pathway analysis differentiates between fluid and crystallized intelligence – h/t stuart ritchie! who tweeted: “Distinction between fluid and crystallised IQ at the genetic level.”

A hair-color allele of Neanderthal origin?“60-70% of Taiwanese aborigines have a loss-of-function allele at the main hair color gene, MC1R, yet their hair is as black as humans with the original ‘African’ allele. This seems to be a general pattern in Asians. They have fewer MC1R alleles than do Europeans, and the ones they have produce the same hair color.” – from peter frost.

Physical attractiveness as a phenotypic marker of health: an assessment using a nationally representative sample of American adults“[T]he more attractive a respondent was rated, the less likely he or she was to report being diagnosed with a wide range of chronic diseases and neuropsychological disorders. Importantly, this finding was observed for both sexes. These analyses provide further support for physical attractiveness as a phenotypic marker of health.”

Mellow, Paranoid, Happy, or Mean: Why do people respond so differently to the same drugs?“Although the research hasn’t settled on simple explanations, it’s clear that some combination of personality traits, genetics, and experience affects how people respond to intoxicants.”

How universal is empathy?“Pro-social behavior seems to be a human universal, but is the same true for full empathy?” – from peter frost.

Woodley launches his Victorian defence“The Woodley gang argue that, once they have done a complete re-analysis to respond to the points raised against their original ‘Victorians’ paper, their new results ‘reveal a seemingly robust secular trend towards slowing reaction time in these two countries, which translates into a potential dysgenics rate of −1.21 IQ points per decade, or −13.9 points in total between 1889 and 2004. We conclude by arguing that the best way forward is to test novel predictions stemming from our finding relating to molecular genetics, neurophysiology and alternative cognitive indicators, thus shifting the research focus away from the purely methodological level towards the broader nomological level. We thank our critics for helping us to arrive at a much more precise estimate of the decline in general intelligence.'” – @dr. james thompson’s blog.

HVGIQ: Cambodia and HVGIQ: Turks and Caicos Islands and HVGIQ: Vietnam – from jason malloy @human varieties.

U.S. Ethnic/Race Differences in Aptitude by Generation: An Exploratory Meta-analysis – from chuck @human varieties.

Ability, Effort, and Academic Achievement among Asian Americans – from steve hsu.

andrew “the goth” sabisky on the pisa tests/scores and their implications for education.

The Flynn effect and “real intelligence”(tm) and Why a mental age of eleven and an IQ of 70 are distinct – from elijah.

Embryo selection for cognitive enhancement: curiosity or game-changer?

Power to edit who you are – on CRISPR.

Reading to Newborns Is Probably Useless – from razib.

For One Baby, Life Begins with Genome Revealed“How a California father made an end run around medicine to decode his son’s DNA.” – on razib’s boy! (^_^)

Criminal offending as part of an alternative reproductive strategy: Investigating evolutionary hypotheses using Swedish total population data“Convicted criminal offenders had more children than individuals never convicted of a criminal offense. Criminal offenders also had more reproductive partners, were less often married, more likely to get remarried if ever married, and had more often contracted a sexually transmitted disease than non-offenders. Importantly, the increased reproductive success of criminals was explained by a fertility increase from having children with several different partners. We conclude that criminality appears to be adaptive in a contemporary industrialized country, and that this association can be explained by antisocial behavior being part of an adaptive alternative reproductive strategy.” – h/t mary lou cowan! – chicks dig jerks. – see also You dropped your glove, my liege from the awesome epigone.

Men Who Hate Women – from staffan.

Why women see differently from the way men see? A review of sex differences in cognition and sports – h/t keith laws!

For The First Time, Chimpanzees Are Making A Fashion Statement — Sticking Blades Of Grass In Their Ears“It’s a trend that’s taken a troop of chimpanzees by storm: a blade of grass dangling from an ear. The “grass-in-ear behavior,” as scientists have termed it, seems to be one of the first times that chimpanzees have created a tradition with no discernible purpose — a primate fashion statement, in other words…. There’s no genetic or ecological factors, the scientists believe, that would account for this behavior — only culture.” – but, but, but…where does chimp culture come from?

Faces of Old World monkeys evolved to prevent crossbreeding

No effects of androgen receptor gene CAG and GGC repeat polymorphisms on digit ratio (2D:4D): A comprehensive meta-analysis and critical evaluation of research“In contrast to a small-sample (N=50) initial report, widely cited affirmatively in the literature, meta-analysis of the entire retrievable evidence base did not support any associations between CAG variants and right-hand, left-hand, or right-minus-left-hand 2D:4D. Effects of GGC variants on digit ratios likewise were almost exactly null.” – h/t dr. zhana!

Parents of children with autism often have autistic traits – kid has all his ducks in a row! (~_^) – h/t jason moore!

Sensitive? Emotional? Empathetic? It could be in your genes“Do you jump to help the less fortunate or cry during sad movie scenes? If yes, you may be among the 20 percent of our population that is genetically pre-disposed to empathy, according to a study. The results provide further evidence that highly sensitive people are generally highly tuned into their environment, and provide evidence that especially high levels of awareness and emotional responsiveness are fundamental features of humans characterized as HSPs.” – h/t mr. robert ford!

Negotiating the gap: Four academics and the dilemma of human biodiversity – from peter frost.

Guns & Violence, Again – from jayman.

The Little Divergence“A ‘great divergence’ between the economies of Western Europe and East Asia had unambiguously occurred by 1800. However, there’s a growing body of opinion that this was preceded by a ‘little divergence’ which might have started as early as 1200. I argue that the pre-modern ‘little divergence’ was probably real, but that doesn’t mean it happened because of a modern growth process — a sustained rise in the production efficiency of the divergent economies. The ‘little divergence’ might be only a reflexion of those societies’ Malthusian balance of natality and mortality.” – from pseudo. – see also Addendum to The Little Divergence.

Searching for the “Free Will” Neuron“Gabriel Kreiman’s single-neuron measurements of unconscious decision-making may not topple Descartes, but they could someday point to ways we can learn to control ourselves.”

Denying the Tribe – from claire lehmann.

Mike Lotus Meeting with Emmanuel Todd in Paris, Discussing Todd’s Current Work and America 3.0“Todd spoke about the origins of the Absolute Nuclear Family, as contrasted with the Community Family which predominates in much of Eurasia. Todd said that his most recent book, ‘L’Origine des systemes familiaux’ he shows that the entire history of the world is understood backward. Specifically, the supposedly most backward places are the most advanced. He told me that he had made an absurd mistake in his early book The Explanation of Ideology: Family Structure and Social Systems. He said in Explanation that the distribution of family systems appeared to be random. But, he said, he should have realized that this could not be correct. He took out a pile of printer paper and with rapid strokes sketched an oval and filled in the center, noting that this was the community family area. It was a given that I understood that the oval was Eurasia. He then marked Xs around the periphery for England, Iceland, Finland, France, Japan, Korea, the Philippines all areas which were still individualistic in family structure. He said the book articulates the ‘Principle of Peripheral Conservation.’ The oldest known family structure is the Undifferentiated Nuclear Family (UNF). In England the UNF evolved into the ANF over many centuries. The Community Family forms took four to five thousand years to form and to reach their current state of development. In particular the subjugation of women took a very long time to complete in these systems. In other words, the societies which are currently considered the most modern have as a foundation an archaic family structure.” – h/t t.greer!

A Dozen Words for Misunderstood“Slaying, yet again, the idea that the languages we speak shape the thoughts we think.” – h/t steve stewart williams!

Understanding current causes of women’s underrepresentation in science“[D]ifferential gendered outcomes in the real world result from differences in resources attributable to choices, whether free or constrained, and that such choices could be influenced and better informed through education if resources were so directed. Thus, the ongoing focus on sex discrimination in reviewing, interviewing, and hiring represents costly, misplaced effort: Society is engaged in the present in solving problems of the past, rather than in addressing meaningful limitations deterring women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers today.”

Breaking the Glass Ceiling? The Effect of Board Quotas on Female Labor Market Outcomes in Norway [pdf] – h/t ben southwood! who tweeted: “Norwegian gender quotas on boards had ‘very little discernible impact on women in business beyond its direct effect.'”

Archaeological cave dig unearths artefacts from 45,000 years ago“An archeological dig has revealed artefacts of early occupation so old they rival the dates of those found at sites of the earliest human settlement in Australia. The discovery of the artefacts of animal bone and charcoal at the Ganga Maya Cave (named by traditional owners meaning ‘house on the hill’) in the Pilbara region of Western Australia are the subject of a scientific paper not yet submitted to archaeological journals.”

Artificial cranial modification in Kow Swamp and Cohuna“This project provides added support for the argument that at least some Pleistocene Australian groups were practicing artificial cranial modification.” – h/t neuroskeptic!

Researchers discover 6,200-year-old schistosomiasis parasite egg“Researchers have discovered what they believe is the oldest ever schistosomiasis parasite egg in a 6,200-year-old grave by the Euphrates river in Syria, potentially providing the first evidence that Middle East agricultural irrigation systems – the artificial application of water to land or soil – may have contributed to the schistosomiasis burden.” – d*mn agriculture! – h/t adam benton @evoanth!

Tablet about payment of donkey debt discovered in Kültepe believed to be oldest trade document – h/t frau katze!

bonus: Assessment of Genetic Variability of Fish Personality Traits using Rainbow Trout Isogenic Lines“The study of inter-individual variability of personality in fish is a growing field of interest but the genetic basis of this complex trait is still poorly investigated due to the difficulty in controlling fish genetic origin and life history…. To this end, seven to ten rainbow trout isogenic lines were screened for their spatial exploratory behaviour, their flight response toward a stressor and their risk taking behaviour. Results showed that some lines seemed less sensitive to new events or environmental changes and could be defined as low responsive, while others were very sensitive and defined as high responsive.” – h/t justin tiehen!

bonus bonus: Meet one of your ancestors: a 505-million-year-old fish

bonus bonus bonus: H. pylori Bacteria Frantically Mutate to Establish Infection“A burst of rapid evolution allows Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes ulcers in humans, to evade the immune system during the early, acute phase of infection. This finding complements earlier work that quantified how quickly H. pylori mutations accumulate during chronic infection. During the acute phase, mutational rates are 30 to 50 times greater than during the chronic phase.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: An 81 million year herpes infection: First endogenous herpes virus found!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Scientific proof that dogs don’t like bananas

(note: comments do not require an email. social construct duck vs. social construct duck!)

how much longer?

from a study published in 2011 [pdf]:

“We show how the prevailing majority opinion in a population can be rapidly reversed by a small fraction p of randomly distributed *committed* agents who consistently proselytize the opposing opinion and are immune to influence. Specifically, we show that when the committed fraction grows beyond a critical value pc ≈ 10%, there is a dramatic decrease in the time, Tc, taken for the entire population to adopt the committed opinion.”

that in itself is interesting when thinking about how to spread the good news about human biodiversity, sociobiology, etc., etc. — apparently there needs to be a committed (no, not THAT sort of committed) ten percent of us if we’re to have any hope of the majority accepting the realities of hbd. of course, being ten percent doesn’t guarantee that the majority will run with the idea, just that that is A minimum requirement — if these researchers have got it right.

but that’s not what i want to look at right now. what i want to know is: how much longer? how much loooonger do we have to put up with political correctness?! or as jayman asked: “when does it all break?”

there was an interesting chart published online in connection with that 2011 paper showing the trajectory of the spread of a new idea once it starts to be accepted by the majority (again, once ten percent of the population had already accepted it AND were committed proselytizers):

the ten percent

to me, that graphic — the insert (the line graph) — looks like it’s just charting a mania — like a tulip mania or a bubble or a housing bubble. or the south sea company crash. first a gradual rise, then a sharp, parabolic takeoff — the mania — followed by a crash. well, the crash is not on the above chart, but see here [from the economist]:


this schematic chart graphs what happens in an economic mania, but what if this also happens with ideas, like — i think — the chart from the 2011 paper suggests? witch hunting came and went, for instance, and there was a definite mania phase there. let’s suppose political correctness is a mania. how far along on the chart are we?

it certainly feels like we’re in the mania phase. please tell me we’re not still in the take off phase! if we are, i’m turning off my internet and crawling under the bed…. it seems like every other day there is a new and even weirder pc episode out there — the appearance of “microaggressions” (if you don’t already know, don’t ask!), just a few days ago facebook adds 50+ genders to its website, yesterday a call to put an end to that very annoying thing called academic freedom. and, of course, the constant political correctness on the tv machine and in the media. i mean, how weirder can it get?! haven’t we reached the top of this mania phase YET?!

i dunno.

i checked out a couple of pc keywords on google ngrams — “racism,” “racist,” “feminism,” and “feminist” — just to see how hot they are. unfortunately, google ngrams cuts off in 2008, so we can’t see the trend up until today. (i searched for the four terms in american english. click on charts for LARGER views.):

google ngram - racism etc.

there seems to have been a peak in the use (in books in american english) of all four terms in the mid-1990s, but who knows what’s happened since 2008. did they keep trending downwards? level off? increase again?

so i checked the same keywords on google trends — web searches for the u.s. only between 2004-present:

google trends - racism etc.

they all seem to be holding pretty steady, except for searches for “racist” which appear to have increased somewhat. i would’ve preferred to see all of these trending downwards…like off the scale.

dunno what any of this means. are we still in a pc mania phase with a trajectory pointing right towards the sky? — and is it all going to get even crazier? or have we already gone over the peak and are witnessing “denial” and maybe heading for a short “return to ‘normal'” peak? no idea.

i just hope it’s over soon. in my lifetime at least! although the problem is who knows what stupid idea the masses will latch onto next? maybe i should be careful what i wish for. the next mania could be even worse (although i have a hard time imagining that!).

oh, btw — i have this idea that human population manias (both economic and ideological ones — also fashion trends) are just examples of herding behavior, and that if someone mapped or charted or graphed these human herding behaviors, they’d look very much like the maps/charts/graphs of, say, the swimming patterns of shoals of fish or the migratory movements of wildebeest or the flights of flocks of seagulls. i’d love to see that done someday!

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