linkfest – 01/03/ thecurrentyear

The human migration out of Africa left its mark in mutations“The farther from Africa, the more of them there are.” – h/t billare! – see also: Distance from sub-Saharan Africa predicts mutational load in diverse human genomes.

Genomic Evidence Establishes Anatolia as the Source of the European Neolithic Gene Pool“Kum6 shows a strong population continuity with present-day Sardinia. Kum6 expresses connections to the central Eurasian gene pool. Kum6 shares notable affinity with the Iceman, a 5,300-year-old southern European. Genetic affinities to both East and West suggest continuous contact with Anatolia.”

Ancient Irish had Middle Eastern ancestry, study reveals“Genetic researchers find evidence of mass migration to Ireland thousands of years ago.” – see also: Neolithic and Bronze Age migration to Ireland and establishment of the insular Atlantic genome. and see also from razib: The Gaels Were from Scythia. and from dienekes: Bronze Age people from Ireland had steppe ancestry and R1b. – (my mtDNA hapologroup [more here] — H13a1a — is rather rare in ireland, but is most common in daghestan and may have arisen there. the parent group H originated in the near east.)

The Residents of Vanuatu, Then and Now“Analysis of skulls in the oldest known cemetery in the South Pacific suggests that the earliest inhabitants of Vanuatu may have descended from Asian and Polynesian populations, while modern residents share more physical similarities with people in Melanesia.”

The evolution of the age at menarche from pre-historical to modern times“Data from skeletal remains suggest that in the Paleolithic female menarche occurred at an age between 7 and 13 years, early sexual maturation being a trade-off for reduced life expectancy. In the classical, as well as in the medieval years, the age at menarche was generally reported to be at about 14 years, with a range from 12-15 years. A significant retardation of the age at menarche occurred in the beginning of the modern times, soon after the industrial revolution, due to the deterioration of the living conditions, most studies reporting menarche to occur at 15-16 years. In the 20th century, especially in the second half of it, in the industrialized countries, the age at menarche decreased significantly, as a result of the improvement of the socioeconomic conditions, occurring between 12-13 years. In the present times, in the developed countries, this trend seems to slow down or level-off.” – h/t neuroskeptic!

Why parenting may not matter and why most social science research is probably wrong and How to Find a Parenting Effect – from brian boutwell! – from the first article: “Whether it’s a study purporting to link some aspect of parenting to child development, or a study intended to link some new diet fad to weight loss, the results are unclear if they did not control for genetics. Lest someone put words into my mouth later, this does *not* mean that every correlation reported by social scientists is the result of correlated genetic influences. The point, however, is that we have spent decades churning out correlations and we have no idea whether the findings were polluted by unmeasured genetic factors. That’s frightening, especially since public policies have been built on some of these potentially illusory correlations. The standard way of doing business in the social sciences ignores genetic influences, and has for years. Be careful which findings you cling to. Most social science research can only reveal associations; which is important, no doubt, but I presume you want to know something about causality also (i.e., if you eat bacon everyday what’s the chance that it’ll *cause* you to get cancer; that sort of thing). To even begin approximating causality (assuming you cannot do an experiment, which you can’t with most social science research), you must account for all confounding factors—genes included.”

Discontinuity in the genetic and environmental causes of the intellectual disability spectrum“[O]ur results suggest that most severe ID is a distinct condition, qualitatively different from the preponderance of ID, which, in turn, represents the low extreme of the normal distribution of intelligence.”

Heritability of autism spectrum disorders: a meta-analysis of twin studies – between 64-91%.

Progress and promise in understanding the genetic basis of common diseases

The Concordance and Heritability of Type 2 Diabetes in 34,166 Twin Pairs From International Twin Registers: The Discordant Twin (DISCOTWIN) Consortium – h/t amir sarislan! who tweeted: “Heritability of Type 2 Diabetes 72% (95% CI: 61–78%).”

Clinical Genetics Has a Big Problem That’s Affecting People’s Lives“Unreliable research can lead families to make health decisions they might regret.”

Schizophrenia and violence“[T]here are startling new results from a large, representative sample of Norwegians [swedes, i think-h.chick], showing that the rate of violence is about 7 times higher in schizophrenics as compared to controls, and 3 times higher for those with bi-polar disorder.” – from dr. james thompson.

How Time Preferences Differ: Evidence from 53 Countries“Time discounting correlates with innovation, environmental protection, innovation, etc.” – h/t rolf degen!

Personality, cognitive/psychological traits and psychiatric resilience: A multivariate twin study“Neuroticism evidenced the largest phenotypic and genetic relationship with resilience, and accounted for nearly all of the phenotypic and genetic variance between resilience and the other traits.”

Polls and Elections Some Folks You Just Can’t Reach: The Genetic Heritability of Presidential Approval“The model is tested using twin data to estimate the genetic heritability of presidential performance evaluations and finds that presidential approval has a strong genetic component.” – h/t andrew sabisky!

Status Decreases Dominance in the West but Increases Dominance in the East“Across two experiments, having high status decreased punishment by American participants but increased punishment by Chinese and Indian participants. Moreover, within each culture, the effect of status on punishment was mediated by feelings of being respected. A final experiment found differential effects of status on punishment imposed by Asian Americans depending on whether their Asian or American identity was activated.” – h/t timothy bates!

Assortative Mating for Educational Level in Parents of Public School Children (N > 7000 Individuals) in the Lagos State, Nigeria“Approximately 61.5 % of the parents had spouses at the same level of education. More mothers than fathers married upward in educational level. The assortative mating coefficients for educational level were .52–.61 across respondents’ classes, .51–.62 across six school districts, and .57 (.55–.59) in the total sample. Overall, these results were very similar to the findings from Western or Asian samples, providing evidence to support the robustness of human mating pattern in educational attainment across different cultures and ethnic groups.”

‘The Bell Curve’ 20 years later: A Q&A with Charles Murray“The lesson, subsequently administered to James Watson of DNA fame, is that if you say it is likely that there is *any* genetic component to the black-white difference in test scores, the roof crashes in on you. On this score, the roof is about to crash in on those who insist on a purely environmental explanation of all sorts of ethnic differences, not just intelligence. Since the decoding of the genome, it has been securely established that race is not a social construct, evolution continued long after humans left Africa along different paths in different parts of the world, and recent evolution involves cognitive as well as physiological functioning.”

Why Some of the Worst Attacks on Social Science Have Come From Liberals“In the halls of social-science academia, where liberals [have a numerical advantage], it’s telling that some of the same sorts of feeding frenzies occur. This should stand as a wake-up call, as a rebuke to the smugness that sometimes infects progressive beliefs about who ‘respects’ science more. After all, what both the Bailey and Chagnon cases have in common — alongside some of the others in Galileo’s Middle Finger — is the extent to which groups of progressive self-appointed defenders of social justice banded together to launch full-throated assaults on legitimate science, and the extent to which these attacks were abetted by left-leaning academic institutions and activists too scared to stand up to the attackers, often out of a fear of being lumped in with those being attacked, or of being accused of wobbly allyship.”

Small families are better for kids, new research says – hmmmm. – see also: The Quantity-Quality Trade-Off And The Formation Of Cognitive And Non-Cognitive Skills.

edge question 2016: What Do You Consider The Most Interesting Recent [Scientific] News? What Makes It Important? – john tooby’s response: The Race Between Genetic Meltdown and Germline Engineering. – h/t steve stewart williams!

Oldest Hoabinhian site discovered in SW China“The oldest Hoabinhian culture, an important technological adaptation by hunter-gatherers to the humid tropical and subtropical environments of southeast Asia some 43,500 years ago, was identified in southwest China’s Yunnan Province. Discovered at Xiaodong Rockshelter, it is the first-ever Hoabinhian site to be found in China, according to a research team at the Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.”

Palaeolithic stone tools found in Iranian Kurdistan

bonus: Do Dogs Know Other Dogs Are Dogs?“This is not a philosophical riddle. Despite their highly variable appearance, dogs can recognize each other by sight alone.” – woof!

bonus bonus: Carrie Fisher: I had sex with Princess Leia fans – what happens at comic-con STAYS at comic-con! (~_^) – h/t razib!

and the tweet of the (last) week…! (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. carrie fisher. you’re welcome! (~_^) )

evolving social norms

in Experimenting with Social Norms ensminger and henrich compile several very interesting studies on prosocial “fairness” norms conducted on various populations of different types — ranging from hunter-gatherers to urban factory workers — from around the world. three different economic experiments were conducted on the various populations (although it’s not clear to me if all three were run on each group — i haven’t read through all of each of the studies chapters yet): the ultimatum game, the third-party punishment or altruistic punishment game, and the dictator game.

the authors conclude that [pgs. 89-90]:

“1. Fairness and punishment show both reliable patterns and substantial variability across diverse populations.
2. Fairness increases with a population’s degree of market integration.
3. Fairness increases with an individual’s participation in a world religion.
4. Willingness to engage in punishment increases with community size.”

they ultimately conclude “that social norms evolved over thousands of years to allow strangers in more complex and large settlements to coexist, trade and prosper” — but they just mean that the norms and the cultures evolved, not the peoples.

possible biological/evolutionary reasons for the findings are given some consideration, but only across one and a half pages, and the authors end with the following [pg. 139]:

“Genetic differences between populations or groups would most likely account for the behavioral patterns we observe if they arose in response to stable differences in the culturally evolved social norms and institutions (formal and informal) found in different societies. Norms and institutions, in creating stable regularities in the local social environment, can theoretically produce conditions for natural selection to act on genes that make individuals better adapted to those particular norms and institutions (Henrich and Boyd 2001; Laland et al. 2010; McElreath, Boyd, and Richerson 2003; Richerson et al. 2010). This is an intriguing and provocative possibility, but there is no evidence at this point supporting a suspicion that such a culture-gene coevolutionary process has occurred.”

…and it’s too scary to think about anyway, so we won’t give it any more ink here. (>.<)

in 2010, re. pretty much the same data sets/findings, they had this to say [my emphasis]:

“These findings indicate that people living in small communities lacking market integration or world religions — absences that likely characterized all societies until the Holocene — display relatively little concern with fairness or punishing unfairness in transactions involving strangers or anonymous others. This result challenges the hypothesis that successful social interaction in large-scale societies — and the corresponding experimental findings — arise directly from an evolved psychology that mistakenly applies kin and reciprocity-based heuristics to strangers in vast populations (4,5), without any of the ‘psychological workarounds’ (42) that are created by norms and institutions. Moreover, it is not clear how this hypothesis can explain why we find so much variation among populations in our experimental measures and why this variation is so strongly related to MI, WR, and CS. The mere fact that the largest and most anonymous communities engage in substantially greater punishment relative to the smallest-scale societies, who punish very little, challenges this interpretation.”

this is old school evolutionary psychology at its worst — that human nature and the human psyche (and there’s only one sort in this viewpoint) stopped evolving at the end of the last ice age when a majority of us quit being hunter-gatherers.

well, i’ve got news for them: evolution in humans is ongoing, recent, can be pretty rapid (within some constraints), and has been/is localized (as well as global). in fact, human evolution has sped up since the agricultural revolution since the number of individuals, and therefore mutations, on which natural selection might work skyrocketed in post-agricultural societies.

remember, too, that all human behavioral traits are heritable (and more down to biology than many like to think), “every society selects for something,” and that we’re talking about frequencies of genes in populations and that those frequencies can fluctuate up and down over time.

given all of the above, there are NO good reasons for dismissing genetic or evolutionary explanations for variations in social norms between populations (and individuals for that matter). since we are biological creatures, biological explanations should be ruled out (properly!) first before moving on to other sorts of explanations.

again ensminger and henrich said:

“This result challenges the hypothesis that successful social interaction in large-scale societies — and the corresponding experimental findings — arise directly from an evolved psychology that mistakenly applies kin and reciprocity-based heuristics to strangers in vast populations, without any of the ‘psychological workarounds’ that are created by norms and institutions.”

no, of course not. a more likely scenario is that the behavioral traits realted to social norms in large-scale societies — post-agricultural societies (and post-post-agricultural societies) — evolved with some rapidity away from what had existed before in smaller societies thanks to: 1) the larger population size itself (generating a greater number of mutations), and 2) the larger societies and the structures that developed exerting new selective pressures on those populations in sort-of giant feedback loops — society selects for genes for new behavioral traits which in turn produces new societal forms, and so on.

more from the authors:

“Moreover, it is not clear how this hypothesis can explain why we find so much variation among populations in our experimental measures….”

well, that’s easily explained if you remember that human evolution is ongoing, recent, pretty rapid, and can be local.

to take just one example from their findings, if we look at their results from the dictator game…

mean dictator game offers

…it was primarily members of the hunter-gatherer or horticulturalist groups who gave low offers in the game, african agriculturalists (or pastoralists) middling offers, and the residents of hamilton, missouri, the highest. (annoyingly, a couple of the populations — accra and isanga — are groups of mixed ethnicities, so it’d be difficult for anybody to tease apart what’s going on.)

well, hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists — like the hadza, the tsimane’, the au, and the sursurunga — have largely missed out on the agricultural revolution and its evolutionary effects. the middling offers from the mostly african (mostly bantu) agriculturalists are not a surprise either since agriculture and the development of large-scale societies got going comparatively late in sub-saharan africa. and that the hamiltonians offered up the most money — and have the highest market integration — probably owes a lot to the fact that that population is a part of the u.s. midlands and are descended from a group that experienced the agricultural revolution back in the neolithic, and furthermore went through the selection pressures created by medieval manorialism and long-term outbreeding (and who knows what else?).

those are just a few ideas for starters. i’m sure it’s much more complicated than that. for instance, why are the tsimane’ forager-horticulturalists so stingy while the au from papua new guinea, who are also forager-horticulturalists, quite generous? i dunno, but one possibility i suggest checking out is the difference in the family structures of the two groups (prolly will be difficult to do this very far back in time): the interconnectedness of au families, which stretch between villages, is quite complex, while tsimane’ families are not so much (afaik). among many other possibilities and scenarios, we should be looking for the selection pressures created by family types and the flow of genes (especially for behavioral traits like altruism) through different family types.

one final thing – ensminger and henrich et al. from 2010:

“Methodologically, our findings suggest caution in interpreting behavioral experiments from industrialized populations as providing direct insights into human nature.”

well, quite. but it works in the other direction, too: we should also be cautious in interpreting behavioral experiments from non-industrialized populations as providing direct insights into human nature(s).

see also: The 10,000 Year Explosion

(note: comments do not require an email. citizens against prosocial behaviors.)

linkfest – 02/23/15

Stone Age skull from Kenya reveals astonishing human diversity“A partial human skull found at a site in Kenya suggests early humans living in Africa were incredibly diverse. The 22,000-year-old skull is not a new species and is clearly that of an anatomically modern human, but is markedly different from similar finds from Africa and Europe from the same time, the researchers said…. [T]he new findings suggest that during this early period of human history, Africa may have supported even greater human diversity, with small, offshoot lineages that no longer exist today….”

A New Theory on How Neanderthal DNA Spread in Asia“Researchers have discovered that Neanderthals interbred with the ancestors of Asians at two points in history, giving this population an extra infusion of Neanderthal DNA.”

Division of labor by sex and age in Neandertals: an approach through the study of activity-related dental wear“The study reveals that all individuals have cultural striations, but those detected on the adult females are longer than the striations found in adult males. Regarding the distribution of dental chipping, the prevalence of this trait is higher in the maxillary dentition of males whereas females have the majority of dental chipping on their mandibular teeth. T he differences detected on the overall activity-related dental wear pattern denote a difference or a division of labor by age and sex in Neandertals while using the mouth as a third hand, i.e., in activities other than the provisioning of food, and provide new evidence for the lifestyle of this Pleistocene fossil human species.” – h/t paleogenomics!

European languages linked to migration from the east“Large ancient-DNA study uncovers population that moved westwards 4,500 years ago.” — see also Massive Migration and Origins from greg cochran.

A story of 69 ancient Europeans – from dienekes. you need to read this one!

Genetic Characterization of Human Populations: From ABO to a Genetic Map of the British People – see map here @dienekes’.

Y chromosomes and Catalan surnames“‘By genotyping 17 Y-STRs and 68 SNPs in ~2500 male samples that each carried one of the 50 selected Catalan surnames, we could determine sets of descendants of a common ancestor, the population of origin of the common ancestor, and the date when such a common ancestor lived. Haplotype diversity was positively correlated with surname frequency, that is, rarer surnames showed the strongest signals of coancestry. Introgression rates of Y chromosomes into a surname by non-paternity, adoption, and transmission of the maternal surname were estimated at 1.5−2.6% per generation, with some local variation. Average ages for the founders of the surnames were estimated at ~500 years, suggesting a delay between the origin of surnames (twelfth and thirteenth centuries) and the systematization of their paternal transmission. We have found that, in general, a foreign etymology for a surname does not often result in a non-indigenous origin of surname founders; however, bearers of some surnames with an Arabic etymology show an excess of North African haplotypes.'” – @dienekes’.

Genetic evidence for an origin of the Armenians from Bronze Age mixing of multiple populations

Stone Age skeleton judged Norway’s oldest – 8000 years old.

Italic “Eteocretan” Sea peoples? – also @dienekes’.

Making Discoveries about Human Evolution Using 3D Technology

Make Love, Not Disease“New research on the genetic advantages of sexual reproduction has found that blending our genes through sex helps purge us of disease mutations.”

Human Genome Studies Reveal How Little Is Necessary To Explain the Human DNA Behind our Bigger Brains

Gene Changes Make Humans’ Sense of Taste Unique“Our ability to eat bitter plants help distinguish us from our ancestors and chimpanzees today.”

Dominance Genetic Variation Contributes Little to the Missing Heritability for Human Complex Traits – h/t gerome breen!

Elevated germline mutation rate in teenage fathers [pdf] – “We observe, as expected, that the overall mutation rate for fathers is seven times higher than for mothers. Also as expected, mothers have a low and lifelong constant DNA mutation rate. Surprisingly, however, we discover that (i) teenage fathers already set out from a much higher mutation rate than teenage mothers (potentially equivalent to 77–196 male germline cell divisions by puberty); and (ii) ageing men maintain sperm DNA quality similar to that of teenagers….” – h/t andrew sabisky! jayman tweeted: “8.2% false paternity rate in West Africans and 1.3% in Middle Easterners in this sample.”

Escape from crossover interference increases with maternal age – h/t billare! who tweeted: “Higher recombination rates in older women, being less concentrated in the usual hotspots. Men tend to stick w/theirs.”

Predicting and retrodicting intelligence between childhood and old age in the 6-Day Sample of the Scottish Mental Survey 1947“Terman–Merrill Stanford–Binet intelligence test scores at age 11 years correlated .72 with verbal intelligence at age 77. Adding another test from age 11 and educational took the multiple R to .81. National Adult Reading Test scores at age 77 and educational had a multiple R of .75 with IQ scores at age 11.” – h/t stuart ritchie! — see also Steady as she goes from dr. james thompson.

Peer effects: they exist but they’re not very big – from ben southwood.

Indian states: G and S factors – from emil kirkegaard.

State IQ estimates (2013) and 2013 IQ estimates by state, total and white only and State IQ estimates, blacks only (2013) and State IQ estimates, Hispanics only (2013) and IQ by race and parental educational attainment – from the awesome epigone.

Nailing liberalism / conservatism by the 50 U.S. States – from bryan pesta.

Low IQ ups risk of heavy drinking among men“The researchers analysed data collected from 49,321 Swedish males born during 1949 to 1951 and who were conscripted for Swedish military service from 1969 to 1971. IQ results were available from tests performed at conscription, and questionnaires also given at conscription provided data on total alcohol intake (consumed grams of alcohol/week) and pattern of drinking, as well as medical, childhood and adolescent conditions, and tobacco use. Adjustments were made for socio-economic position as a child, psychiatric symptoms and emotional stability and the father’s alcohol habits. ‘We found that lower results on IQ tests in Swedish adolescent men are associated with a higher consumption of alcohol, measured in both terms of total intake and binge drinking,’ Sjolund said.” h/t ruta akula!

Mathematical Proof Is Not Minutiae And Irreducible Complexity Is Not A Theory: A Final Response To Burt And Simons And A Call Tl Criminologists – from brian boutwell et al. brian tweeted: “Our second response to the call within Criminology to ban twin research.”

Familial Clustering of Tic Disorders and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – h/t amir sariaslan!

A two-dimensional model of psychopathy and antisocial behavior: A multi-sample investigation using items from the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised – h/t richard harper! who tweeted: “[P]sychopathy as fearless affect plus disinhibited lifestyle, then plus anti-social to get crime.”

Birds of a “bad” feather flock together: The Dark Triad and mate choice“[W]omen high in psychopathy considered the Dark Triad traits in potential male partners more physically attractive and desirable for an one-night stand, as well as a potential husband. Men who were high on psychopathy were likewise attracted to psychopathy in potential mothers.”

Cads and dads“Promiscuity and fidelity seem to be specific biological adaptations. Their manifestations in men and women are not as different as you might expect.” (whatever’s gotten into the economist these days?)

Genetic similarity between mates predicts extrapair paternity — a meta-analysis of bird studies

Who cares? Why evolution suggests parenting responsibility is seldom equally shared

Sex Differences in Preferences for Humor: A Replication, Modification, and Extension [pdf] – “[M]en prefer women who are receptive to their humor whereas women prefer men who produce humor. These findings held even after we modified Bressler et al.’s questionnaire for better conceptual validity. Furthermore, using a separate measure designed to assess trade-offs, we found that men viewed humor receptivity as a necessity and humor production as a luxury when they were asked to create an ideal long-term partner. For women, it was just the opposite.”

How Big are Psychological Sex Differences?“Sex Differences are Not Small if You Know Where to Look” – h/t claire lehmann!

Prenatal hyperandrogenic environment induced autistic-like behavior in rat offspring – h/t simon baron-cohen!

The influence of prenatal hormones on occupational choice: 2D:4D evidence from Moscow“Women in enterprising occupations exhibited lower measured 2D:4D ratios than average. Those in conventional and social work had higher 2D:4D ratios. Results confirm previous findings on 2D:4D and gender-specific occupational interests.”

Examining the Impact of Peer Group Selection on Self-Reported Delinquency: A Consideration of Active Gene–Environment Correlation – h/t jayman! who tweeted: “Do peers still influence adolescent delinquency after taking into account genetic influences? No.”

Socioeconomic status and sick leave granted for mental and somatic disorders: a prospective study of young adult twins“Low SES is associated with a higher level of sick leave granted for both mental and somatic disorders among young adults, but these associations are confounded by factors that are common to co-twins. Education and income are therefore not likely to strongly affect sick leave in young adulthood.”

List of genetic confounds – from emil kirkegaard.

Sibling differences in low birth weight, dopaminergic polymorphisms, and ADHD symptomatology“[L]ow birth weight siblings are at significantly greater risk of exhibiting symptoms of ADHD during childhood relative to their normal birth weight siblings. Moreover, possessing greater genetic risk on three dopaminergic genes (DAT1, DRD2, and DRD4) relative to a sibling appears to exacerbate the link between sibling differences in birth weight and sibling differences in ADHD symptomatology.”

What is different about the brains of “SuperAgers”“Compared with average elderly individuals, they found fewer Alzheimer-type neurofibrillary tangles and an increased packing density of von Economo neurons, especially in the anterior cingulate.”

“Bad genes” & criminal responsibility – MAOA stuff.

Heritability & the left“[T]here’s no conflict between leftism and a belief in the heritability of ability.” – that’s what i said! see also: Heritability, Left and Right.

What does it say about Owen Jones that he isn’t interested in scientific research?“What I find irritating about progressive politics is that it ignores and contradicts science, while at the same time pretending to be in favour of reason. The entire worldview is based on the tabula rasa idea of human nature which is contradicted by science. The blank slate makes the progressive goal of equality of outcomes possible; indeed, if equality is not achieved there can only be nefarious forces at work and ‘more work to be done’.” – from ed west. see also Fancy a job in academia or the media? Best brush up on the new political correctness“[Political correctness is] a faith, and it does not matter how daft the belief systems of a faith appear to a rational mind; if its critics sound backwards and out of touch and rural – literally ‘pagan’ – it will succeed.”

Both liberals and conservatives have anti-science biases, study finds“New research suggests that liberals, as well as conservatives, can be biased against science that doesn’t align with their political views.” — see also Nuclear Power and the Anti-Science Ideology of the “Progressive” Left from helian.

Why science is so hard to believe“Science appeals to our rational brain, but our beliefs are motivated largely by emotion, and the biggest motivation is remaining tight with our peers. ‘We’re all in high school. We’ve never left high school,’ says Marcia McNutt. ‘People still have a need to fit in, and that need to fit in is so strong that local values and local opinions are always trumping science. And they will continue to trump science, especially when there is no clear downside to ignoring science.'”

John Derbyshire On Culturalists vs. Biologians; Or, Where Is The American Harald Eia?

Have Mormons been bred for gullibility? – from agnostic.

Islam Is Not a Religion of the Book“By this, I mean that as a whole humans are prone to accepting the primary causal role of reflective cognition, of beliefs avowed and rationales offered. We are confident in our conscious self control, despite a robust body of cognitive psychology which implies that much of our cognition is not under the control or constraint of rational faculties. This problem is particularly extreme among intellectuals, the very class which also attempts to understand human phenomena. Through the simple process of introspection and extrapolation intellectuals tend to reduce human action to the outcome of ratiocination, inference from eternal axioms. This is wholly inadequate to a phenomenon as complex as religion.” – from razib.

Your DNA is everywhere. Can the police analyze it?“Supreme Court weighing if we must live in sealed bubbles to maintain DNA privacy.”

FDA panel could soon approve 23andMe home genetics test

Linguists link English, Hindi to single ancestor language spoken 6,500 years ago – h/t steve stewart williams!

Old India’s Village of Warriors Becomes Birthplace of Bouncers“Look closely and it becomes clear that the bouncers are all of a single physical type, their chests and biceps built like the front bumper of a sport utility vehicle. If they look like cousins, it is because they are. A startling number of them share a family name, Tanwar, and when the nightclubs close many will return to the same nearby village, a place where women walk down dusty lanes with their faces obscured by a cloth, balancing stacks of dried cow dung on their heads, much as their ancestors did three centuries ago…. The musclemen from the village of Fatehpur Beri are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the city, a genetic line that fortified itself over the course of centuries as they defended their village against waves of invaders on their way to the seat of empire. The sons and grandsons of cow and goat herders, they were born in an outpost surrounded on all sides by croplands. As Fatehpur Beri was swallowed by the expanding city, its spartan strongmen continued to train in the traditional way, stripping down to loincloths and wrestling in a circle of mud. But they were forced to look for a new line of work. ‘There is an element of the warrior in the Tanwars,’ said Ankur Tanwar, who opened the village’s first gym about a decade ago. ‘We fought with the Muslim invaders. We fought with the Britishers.'”

Ancient Egyptians had state-supported health care – at least some of them did.

bonus: Man’s best friend…unless you’re lying: How dogs can sense whether a person is trustworthy – h/t ninja economics! also: When you’re happy and you show it, dogs know it.

bonus bonus: The Cold May Have Cost Penguins Most of Their Taste Buds“Recent genetic analysis shows that penguins can’t taste sweet or bitter, and scientists think sub-zero temps may be to blame.”

bonus bonus bonus: Limpet teeth set new strength record

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Study Finds Jack Shit – h/t jayman!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Lost Sherlock Holmes story discovered

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: a poem. (^_^)

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: #TheTitleOfMySexTape (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. limpet tooth.)

linkfeast – 01/27/15

Human evolution tied to a small fraction of the genome“Only about 7.5 percent of the human genetic instruction book shaped the evolution of human traits, a new study suggests. And it’s often not genes, but the how-to instructions for using those genes that are most important, researchers report January 19 in Nature Genetics…. Previously, researchers have mostly looked for evolutionary clues in protein-producing genes because proteins do much of the important work in cells and organisms. Altering a protein may change the way an organism looks or acts. But mutations that alter proteins often are devastating to an organism and therefore aren’t passed on to offspring. Gulko and colleagues found that only 9 percent of the DNA that got evolution’s attention resides in protein-coding parts of the genome that are shared with other species. About 52 percent of the places showing signs of natural selection were in intergenic regions, the stretches of DNA between genes. Another 35 percent were in introns — spacer DNA found within genes but not involved in encoding proteins. Both intergenic regions and introns often contain DNA responsible for controlling gene activity. These findings suggest that human evolution works mostly through changes in how genes are used, rather than by altering genes and the proteins they encode.”

The Wrists of Birds Reveal Evolution Undoing Itself“Contrary to earlier claims, a new study shows that evolution may be reversible.” – previously from greg cochran: Back to the trees.

Kennewick Man was Native American“‘Genetic analysis is still under way in Denmark, but documents obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act say preliminary results point to a Native-American heritage.'” – from dienekes. see also from razib: Native Americans Are Evolutionarily Elegant“One insight of modern ancient DNA is that there has been a great deal of population turnover over the past ~10,000 years, as well as admixture between disparate lineages. When Kennewick Man died ~9,000 years ago Europeans as we understand them did not exist genetically.”

The Genetic Ancestry of African Americans, Latinos, and European Americans across the United States“Over the past 500 years, North America has been the site of ongoing mixing of Native Americans, European settlers, and Africans (brought largely by the trans-Atlantic slave trade), shaping the early history of what became the United States. We studied the genetic ancestry of 5,269 self-described African Americans, 8,663 Latinos, and 148,789 European Americans who are 23andMe customers and show that the legacy of these historical interactions is visible in the genetic ancestry of present-day Americans. We document pervasive mixed ancestry and asymmetrical male and female ancestry contributions in all groups studied. We show that regional ancestry differences reflect historical events, such as early Spanish colonization, waves of immigration from many regions of Europe, and forced relocation of Native Americans within the US. This study sheds light on the fine-scale differences in ancestry within and across the United States and informs our understanding of the relationship between racial and ethnic identities and genetic ancestry.” – see also: The Fluidity of Race from greg cochran.

Genghis Khan’s genetic legacy has competition“The Mongolian leader left a strong footprint in the Y chromosomes of modern descendants — but he was not the only one.”

Largest-ever autism genome study finds most siblings have different autism-risk genes“In the new study, Dr. Scherer’s team sequenced 340 whole genomes from 85 families, each with two children affected by autism. The majority of siblings (69 percent) had little to no overlap in the gene variations known to contribute to autism. They found that the sibling pairs shared the same autism-associated gene changes less than one third of the time (31 percent). The findings challenge long-held presumptions. Because autism often runs in families, experts had assumed that siblings with the disorder were inheriting the same autism-predisposing genes from their parents. It now appears this may not be true.” – h/t shrikant mantri!

Genetic mutation for metabolic disease identified within an Inuit population“The disease in question, glycogen storage disease type IIIa, is caused by mutations in the AGL gene, leading to less-active glycogen-debranching enzymes. The disorder disrupts the body’s capacity to release sugar from glycogen, resulting in the formation of damaging glycogen deposits…. Glycogen storage disease IIIa affects around one in 100,000 people in North America. However, the researchers estimate that the disorder may affect around 1 in 2,500 people in Nunavik – the homeland of the Inuit in Quebec.” – maybe they should stick to eating seal blubber. srsly!

Admixture in the Americas: Admixture among US Blacks and Hispanics and academic achievement“[W]e see the expected directions and order, for Blacks (who are mostly African), American admixture is positive and European is more positive…. We do not see the expected results per genetic model. Among Hispanics who are 73% European, African admixture has a positive relationship to academic achievement. American admixture is negatively correlated and European positively, but weaker than African. The only thing that’s in line with the genetic model is that European is positive. On the other hand, results are not in line with a null model either….” – from emil kirkegaard.

School“In summary, it very much looks like more years of education are associated with an increase in intelligence test scores, but not anything like as strongly to underlying general intelligence or to underlying basic processing speeds.” – from dr. james thompson.

Genetic Pleiotropy Explains Associations between Musical Auditory Discrimination and Intelligence“[A] large sample of Swedish twins (N = 10,500) was used to investigate the genetic architecture of the associations between intelligence and performance on three musical auditory discrimination tasks (rhythm, melody and pitch). Phenotypic correlations between the tasks ranged between 0.23 and 0.42 (Pearson r values). Genetic modelling showed that the covariation between the variables could be explained by shared genetic influences. Neither shared, nor non-shared environment had a significant effect on the associations. Good fit was obtained with a two-factor model where one underlying shared genetic factor explained all the covariation between the musical discrimination tasks and IQ, and a second genetic factor explained variance exclusively shared among the discrimination tasks. The results suggest that positive correlations among musical aptitudes result from both genes with broad effects on cognition, and genes with potentially more specific influences on auditory functions.” – h/t rosalind arden!

The Role of Parenting in the Prediction of Criminal Involvement: Findings From a Nationally Representative Sample of Youth and a Sample of Adopted Youth [pdf] – “The role of parenting in the development of criminal behavior has been the source of a vast amount of research, with the majority of studies detecting statistically significant associations between dimensions of parenting and measures of criminal involvement. An emerging group of scholars, however, has drawn attention to the methodological limitations — mainly genetic confounding — of the parental socialization literature. The current study addressed this limitation by analyzing a sample of adoptees to assess the association between 8 parenting measures and 4 criminal justice outcome measures. The results revealed very little evidence of parental socialization effects on criminal behavior before controlling for genetic confounding and no evidence of parental socialization effects on criminal involvement after controlling for genetic confounding.” – h/t jayman!

Hospitals Aim to Better Match Blood Donors and Recipients“People fall into one of four main blood groups — A, B, AB and O — and they have a so-called Rh factor that is either positive or negative. But scientists over the last few decades have discovered around 33 blood groups and continue to identify more. Each group also contains multiple variations that go to make up a patient’s exact blood type.”

Ageing research: Blood to blood“By splicing animals together, scientists have shown that young blood rejuvenates old tissues. Now, they are testing whether it works for humans.” – parabiosis. it’s baaaack!

Comparative analysis of the human saliva microbiome from different climate zones: Alaska, Germany, and Africa [pdf] – “Here we analyze the saliva microbiome from native Alaskans (76 individuals from 4 populations), Germans (10 individuals from 1 population), and Africans (66 individuals from 3 populations) based on next-generation sequencing of partial 16S rRNA gene sequences. After quality filtering, a total of 67,916 analyzed sequences resulted in 5,592 OTUs (defined at ≥97% identity) and 123 genera. The three human groups differed significantly by the degree of diversity between and within individuals (e.g. beta diversity: Africans > Alaskans > Germans; alpha diversity: Germans > Alaskans > Africans). UniFrac, network, ANOSIM, and correlation analyses all indicated more similarities in the saliva microbiome of native Alaskans and Germans than between either group and Africans. The native Alaskans and Germans also had the highest number of shared bacterial interactions.”

Tuberculosis genomes track human history“A study of nearly 5,000 samples of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from around the world shows how a lineage of the bacterium that emerged thousands of years ago in Asia has since become a global killer that is widely resistant to antibiotic drugs. Although M. tuberculosis probably first emerged some 40,000 years ago in Africa, the disease did not take hold until humans took to farming…. [T]he common ancestor of all the M. bacterium strains circulating today began spreading around 10,000 years ago in the ancient Fertile Crescent, a region stretching from Mesopotamia to the Nile Delta that was a cradle of agriculture…. But of all the M. bacterium strains circulating today, few strike more fear in public-health officials than the ‘Beijing lineage’. First identified in greater Beijing in the mid-1990s, this lineage now circulates throughout the world and many strains are resistant to drugs that vanquish other types of TB…. Consistent with its name, the Beijing lineage did indeed emerge near north-eastern China…. And it did so around 6,600 years ago, the researchers found, which coincides with archaeological evidence for the beginnings of rice farming in China’s upper Yangtze River valley.” – h/t billare!

Your Friends Know How Long You Will Live: A 75-Year Study of Peer-Rated Personality Traits“To test whether friends’ reports of personality predict mortality risk, we used data from a 75-year longitudinal study (the Kelly/Connolly Longitudinal Study on Personality and Aging). In that study, 600 participants were observed beginning in 1935 through 1938, when they were in their mid-20s, and continuing through 2013. Male participants seen by their friends as more conscientious and open lived longer, whereas friend-rated emotional stability and agreeableness were protective for women. Friends’ ratings were better predictors of longevity than were self-reports of personality, in part because friends’ ratings could be aggregated to provide a more reliable assessment.”

Voluntary Activities and Daily Happiness in the US [pdf] – “This paper analyzes differences in daily happiness between those individuals in the United States who perform voluntary activities during the day, and those who do not…. [T]hose who devote any time to voluntary activities during the day report higher levels of daily happiness than those who do not…. [W]hen the issue of reverse causality is taken into account, we find no differences in daily happiness between volunteers and non-volunteers, which indicates that happier individuals are also more likely to volunteer.” – h/t ben southwood!

Aberrant Gene Expression in Humans“The uniqueness of individuals is due to differences in the combination of genetic, epigenetic and environmental determinants. Understanding the genetic basis of phenotypic variation is a key objective in genetics…. One of our major findings is that private SNPs may contribute to aberrant expression in outlier individuals. These private SNPs are more frequently located in the enhancer and promoter regions of genes that are aberrantly expressed, suggesting a possible regulatory function of these SNPs.”

Recurrent loss of sex is associated with accumulation of deleterious mutations in Oenothera“Sexual reproduction is nearly universal among eukaryotes. Theory predicts that the rarity of asexual eukaryotic species is in part caused by accumulation of deleterious mutations and heightened extinction risk associated with suppressed recombination and segregation in asexual species. We tested this prediction with a large dataset of 62 transcriptomes from 29 species in the plant genus Oenothera, spanning 10 independent transitions between sexual and a functionally asexual genetic system called permanent translocation heterozygosity…. These results confirm that an important advantage of sex is that it facilitates selection against deleterious alleles, which might help to explain the dearth of extant asexual species.” – h/t melissa wilson sayres!

Perceptions Of Required Ability Act As A Proxy For Actual Required Ability In Explaining The Gender Gap – @slate star codex. make sure to read jayman’s comment there! this one, too.

Lewontin wins the Crafoord Prize“The Crafoord Prize for 2015 was awarded to Richard Lewontin and Tomoko Ohta, for their discovery that there was very much more genetic variation that had been expected. Lewontin discovered this using protein gel electrophoresis to study a number of loci in Drosophila. It’s an important result. The problem is, virtually everything he’s said and done since that time has been a pile of steaming ideological crap.” – from greg cochran.

Single Markers Tell You Only a Bit About Individual Ancestry“A new paper in The American Journal of Human Genetics, Estimates of Continental Ancestry Vary Widely among Individuals with the Same mtDNA Haplogroup, tells you something which should be obvious: one marker tells you only so much about individual ancestry. In other words, the history of one gene can only tell you so much about the whole genome. Because mtDNA and Y chromosome* does not recombine you can treat it as one long genetic marker…. But Richard Lewontin’s insight that a great deal of human genetic variation is not partitioned across populations, but within them, applies to mtDNA and the Y chromosomes as well. Where Lewontin’s insight misleads is that using just a few more markers one can obtain relatively robust phylogenetic trees which reflect well the population structure and history of a given species.” – also from razib.

The Economist takes a half step forwards“They do not examine the usual finding that educated parents are more influential than rich parents in supposedly ‘boosting’ intelligence. They leave out the genetic element entirely, and say it is ‘incomes’ which are inherited. If so adoption into a rich household should have massive effects on intellect, but that is not found. If adoption cannot wipe the slate clean, what chance a kindergarten?” – from dr. james thompson.

Gender divide in religious belief, survey suggests“A big gender divide exists between men and women in their 40s in belief in God and life after death, a poll suggests. Of the British men surveyed, 54% said they were atheists or agnostics compared with only 34% of women. The study also showed that Muslims in the survey had the fewest doubts about the existence of God and the afterlife. The research involving more than 9,000 British people born in 1970 was analysed at the University of Essex.” – h/t ed west! who tweeted: “71% of evangelical Christians have no doubts about God’s existence. 33% of Catholics, 16% of Anglicans & Methodists.”

This Woman Can’t Feel Fear“Damage from a rare genetic condition appears to have knocked out the ‘fear center’ in her brain.”

Thumb bones in pre-humans make them more like us, study says“Some of our tree-swinging pre-human ancestors may have been a bit more like us than previously thought, thanks to a tiny section of their thumbs. One key attribute that separates humans from other animals is our opposable thumb, and the way parts of the thumb are structured to allow for a strong yet precise grip that fostered advanced use of tools. It’s what allows us to throw items more precisely, pick guitars and turn a key. And now, thanks to high-tech tools of our own, scientists have determined that a couple million years ago one of our pre-human ancestors had the same human-defining precision grip, even though researchers think of them as little more than upright walking apes, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science. That supports earlier but controversial evidence that the small-brained Australopithecus africanus fashioned early tools.” – h/t regular ron!

‘Designer babies’ debate should start, scientists say – h/t avi tuschman!

Darwin May Have Experienced Extreme Anxiety

Why Footbinding Persisted in China for a Millennium“Despite the pain, millions of Chinese women stood firm in their devotion to the tradition.”

Thomas Cromwell was the Islamic State of his day“No one can be sure of the exact figure, but it is estimated that the destruction started and legalised by Cromwell amounted to 97% of the English art then in existence. Statues were hacked down. Frescoes were smashed to bits. Mosaics were pulverized. Illuminated manuscripts were shredded. Wooden carvings were burned. Precious metalwork was melted down. Shrines were reduced to rubble.”

bonus: When it comes to speedy evolution, you can’t outpace this lizard’s penis

bonus bonus: FDA Considering Releasing Genetically-Modified Mosquitos In Florida – h/t sam bowman!

bonus bonus bonus: Fish Live Under Antarctica’s Ice Shelf, Where It Seems They Shouldn’t Survive“Biologists expected the seafloor under a glacier to be nearly barren, until life swam into view.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: This fish lived in peace for 70 million years. Then it met the Army Corps of Engineers.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: All in the (bigger) family“A decade of genetic data and other evidence has persuaded most researchers that insects and crustaceans, long considered widely separated branches of the arthropod family, actually belong together. The new arthropod tree puts hexapods — six-limbed creatures that include insects, springtails, and silverfish — as closer kin to crabs, lobster, shrimp, and crayfish than those ‘standard’ crustaceans are to others such as seed shrimp.”

(note: comments do not require an email. comparing apples and oranges.)