bleg

i wanna create a faq page of genes that affect behavior, intelligence, etc., that vary in frequency between different populations or the sexes.** i’m tired of having to look up this stuff whenever i want to make a comment somewhere! i thought it might make a good resource for others, too. (if there’s one out there that already exists, lemme know!)

what i’d like to include are:

1) genes that affect behavior, intelligence, etc., that vary in frequency between different populations or the sexes;
2) genes that affect behavior, intelligence, etc., but that we have no frequency info for yet.

here’s what i’ve got so far (off the top of my head):

1)
MAO-A gene – the “warrior gene”
DRD4
DRD2? (i can’t remember)
MCPH1

2)
VMAT2 – the “god gene”
oxytocin- and vasopressin-related genes (whatever the heck they are)

any other suggestions? links to sources would be helpful, but not necessary. i can look stuff up myself. thnx! (^_^)

**edit: i’m talking about alleles, of course. genes, alleles — you know what i mean! (~_^)

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the viagra war?

this is pretty bizarre if (IF) it’s true:

Gaddafi ‘supplies troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape’, claims diplomat

“US ambassador Susan Rice has also said, without offering evidence, that Iran was helping Syria to suppress dissent

“One of America’s most senior diplomats claimed at the United Nations security council that Muammar Gaddafi is supplying his troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape, according to diplomats.

“Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN made the claim while accusing Gaddafi of numerous human rights abuses. Earlier in the week Rice also claimed, without offering any evidence, that Iran is helping Syria suppress internal dissent.

“Foreign affairs specialists expressed scepticism about both claims.

“The Viagra claim surfaced in an al-Jazeera report last month from Libya-based doctors who said they had found Viagra in the pockets of pro-Gaddafi soldiers. But it is a jump from that to suggesting Gaddafi is supplying troops with it to encourage mass rape….”

people talk about rape during war as a weapon (pretty right) used to terrorize populations. eh. yeah, i guess hoardes of men entering your town and raping and pillaging everyone|thing in sight would be terrorizing, but i think (of course) the real reason for rape during wartime is more fundamental than even that.

what’s war all about? eliminating your competitors, i.e. competitors for resources. how do you eliminate them? well, killing them for one. you can also try to replace their genes by impregnating the women of whatever population you’re fighting. then you reduce the mating opportunities for the guys in that other group (’cause all their women are now pregnant) AND you increase your own reproduction rate. it’s a win-win situation!

also, i would think some really strong reproductive urges kick in when you’re at war. your genes are prolly “thinking”: sh*t. we could be dead any second now! better mate!

rape during human wars is kinda like my favorite example of male lions taking over a pride: they kill (or try to kill) the current males in the pride, kill all the young uns, and then mate with all the females. reproductive success! it’s all that matters.

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mea culpa?

great article in the telegraph:

The human brain: turning our minds to the law

“Our understanding of the way the brain works could help us create a better legal system, says neuroscientist David Eagleman….

“The problem is that the law rests on two assumptions that are charitable, but demonstrably false. The first is that people are ‘practical reasoners’, which is the law’s way of saying that they are capable of acting in alignment with their best interests, and capable of rational foresight about their actions. The second is that all brains are created equal. Everyone who is of legal age and above an IQ of 70 is assumed, in the eyes of the law, to have the same capacity for decision-making, understanding, impulse control and reasoning. But these ideas simply don’t match up with the facts of neuroscience.

“Along any axis that we measure, brains are different – whether in aggression, intelligence, empathy and so on. Brains are more like fingerprints: we all have them, but they are not exactly alike. As Lord Bingham, the senior law lord, put it, these myths embedded in the legal system do not provide a ‘uniformly accurate guide to human behaviour’.

“The legal system needs an infusion of neuroscience. It needs to turn away from an ancient notion of how people should behave to understand better how they do behave….”

i agree with eagleman 1000%. how can everyone be held equally accountable for their actions when everyone is not equal?

for example, how can someone who is born with the genes predisposing him towards psychopathy — AND who is raised in the right (or should that be wrong?) environment — be held responsible for his actions in the same way that a non-psychopath can be? answer: he can’t.

the psychopath behaves differently because he has a very different neurology than a non-psychopath. how can he be in any way personally responsible for his psychopathic actions? he certainly cannot be reformed! (without a lobotomy or something drastic like that.)

i’m not saying that criminals shouldn’t be locked up — we need to do that to keep society safe. but, we do need to rethink the basis of our legal system given what we now know (and will learn in the future) about our biology.

previously: who’s responsible?

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why east asians aren’t more creative

one of the questions always floating around in the hbd-o-sphere is why aren’t those really clever east asians more creative.

well, kiwiguy over @dennis’ commented the other day:

“Cochran & Harpending discuss a gene associated with ADD & impulsive behaviour in ‘The 10,000 Year Explosion‘:

“‘The polymorphism is found at varying but significant levels in many parts of the world, but is almost entirely absent from East Asia…

“‘The Japanese say that the nail that sticks out is hammered down, but in China it may have been pulled out and thrown away.

Selection for submission to authority sounds unnervingly like domestication…’ (page 112)”

(*hbdchick reaches for her copy of the book*)

yup. kiwiguy is right. says here right on page 112:

“We know of a gene that may play a part in this story: the 7R (for 7-repeat) allele of the DRD4 (dopamine receptor D4) gene. It is associated with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a behavioral syndrome best characterized by actions that annoy elementary school teachers: restless-impulsive behavior, inattention, distractibility, and the like.

“The polymorphism is found at varying but significant levels in many parts of the world, but is almost totally absent from East Asia. Interestingly, alleles derived from the 7R allele are fairly common in China, even though the 7R alleles themselves are extremely rare there. It is possible that individuals bearing these alleles were selected against because of cultural patterns in China. The Japanese say that the nail that sticks out is hammered down, but in China it may have been pulled out and thrown away.”

now here’s an article that i happened to link to in this past sunday’s linkfest:

Creativity is an upside to ADHD

“Parents who believe that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder makes their kids more creative got a little more scientific support recently.

“A new study in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences found adults with ADHD enjoyed more creative achievement than those who didn’t have the disorder.

“‘For the same reason that ADHD might create problems, like distraction, it can also allow an openness to new ideas,’ says Holly White, assistant professor of cognitive psychology at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and co-author of the paper. ‘Not being completely focused on a task lets the mind make associations that might not have happened otherwise….'”

so, there you go! low frequencies of adhd genes = low creativity. solved that for ya. ENGLISH BLOKE solved that for ya first. (~_^) ur welcome!

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religion vs. biology

dennis said the other day:

“The waning of religious and nationalistic beliefs means that biology plays a greater role…. Modern science has disillusioned us of our former beliefs, the only belief remaining being the will to power, which is itself a manifestation of nature, in which every living thing lives at the expense of other living things.”

eh. i gotta disagree. ’cause i think this is a false dichotomy: religion vs. biology.

what is religion (or religious beliefs and practices) except an expression of our biology? (our biologies, in fact — that’s partly why we’ve got different religions.) religion is a manifestation of nature. our nature.

religion is just culture — which is just a product of our biology, afaics.

yup. i’m a reductionist. but, hey — reductionism works.

previously: tribalism makes a comeback!

see also: Twins Study Finds Adult Religiosity Heritable from futurepundit.

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which came first?

(the culture or the biology?)

so, some researchers found a rare variation of the 5-HT2B gene in finns that correlates strongly with violent, impulsive behavior. (see @gnxp: “hotheads by nature”)

which brought to my mind this paper by richerson and boyd: “Culture is Part of Human Biology: Why the Superorganic Concept Serves the Human Sciences Badly.”

in it, the researchers, referring to cohen & nisbett’s work, have this to say…

“Rates of violence in the American South have long been much greater than in the North. Accounts of duels, feuds, bushwhackings, and lynchings occur prominently in visitors’ accounts, newspaper articles, and autobiography from the 18th Century onward. According to crime statistics these differences persist today. In their book, Culture of Honor, Richard Nisbett and Dov Cohen (1996) argue that the South is more violent than the North because Southerners have different, culturally acquired beliefs about personal honor than Northerners. The South was disproportionately settled by Protestant Scotch-Irish, people with an animal herding background, whereas Northern settlers were English, German and Dutch peasant farmers….

“Their [Cohen & Nisbett] laboratory experiments are most relevant to our argument here. Cohen and Nisbett recruited subjects with Northern and Southern backgrounds from the University of Michigan student body, ostensibly to work on an psychological task dealing with perception. During the experiment, a confederate bumped some subjects and muttered ‘asshole’ at them. Cortisol (a stress hormone) and testosterone (rises in preparation for violence) were measured before and after the insult. Insulted Southerners showed big jumps in both cortisol and testosterone compared to uninsulted Southerners and insulted Northerners….”

…and then richerson & boyd go on to say…

“Nisbett and Cohen’s study illustrates the two main points we want to make in this essay.
– Culture is fundamental to understanding human behavior.
– Culture causes behavior by causing changes in our biology.”

yeah. sure. terrific.

but what if, also, our biology causes human behaviors which collectively become human culture(s).

i mean, in cohen & nisbitt’s study, there’s cortisol and testosterone levels going up. that sounds like biology to me!

personality is heritable. so is intelligence. what if different frequencies of whatever genes (alleles) it is that contribute to, say, flying off the handle happen to be more common in protestant scotch-irish people than in the english, german or dutch? couldn’t that account for why the culture of the american south is more violent?

i’m sure that there’s constant feedback here between our biology(ies) and our culture(s), but how come researchers never even bother to ask the sort of question i’m asking here? seems kinda, you know, obvious.

see also: Warrior gene prevalent in Maori: study

previously: extraversion and culture

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