linkfest – 08/12/12

Is corn the new milk? Evolutionarily speaking, that is.“Corn, or maize, may have exerted natural selection on the human populations that first cultivated it.” – original research article: Evolutionary Responses to a Constructed Niche: Ancient Mesoamericans as a Model of Gene-Culture Coevolution.

New Fossils Indicate Early Branching of Human Family Tree“The discovery of three new fossil specimens, announced Wednesday, is the most compelling evidence yet for multiple lines of evolution in our own genus, Homo, scientists said. The fossils showed that there were at least two contemporary Homo species, in addition to Homo erectus, living in East Africa as early as two million years ago.” – see also Fossils point to a big family for human ancestors.

Tree’s leaves genetically different from its roots“Black cottonwood trees (Populus trichocarpa) can clone themselves to produce offspring that are connected to their parents by the same root system. Now, after the first genome-wide analysis of a tree, it turns out that the connected clones have many genetic differences, even between tissues from the top and bottom of a single tree…. ‘This could change the classic paradigm that evolution only happens in a population rather than at an individual level….’

IQ Is A Social Construct Except When It Isn’t“Stupid people are simply far, far more likely to be criminals than normal people.” – from anatoly.

We Thought Female Athletes Were Catching Up to Men, but They’re Not“Across dozens of sports, women’s world speed records consistently fall 10 percent short of men’s records.” – the horror, the horror.

Study Reveals Anti-Conservative Discrimination Among Psychologists“A significant number of social and personality psychologists have told researchers they would discriminate against conservatives in decisions about publishing, grant applications and hiring, according to a study published in the September issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.”

Wrongdoers Feel a ‘Cheater’s High’

Religiosity and crime“[R]eligiosity reduces criminal involvement.” – from the inductivist.

Women and Bell Curves“We have to understand that not only men and women are different as groups, there is also variance among them. People are different, and even though human societies assign different roles to each group, that often ignores biological variance.” – from spandrell via foseti.

Gender inequality in awarded research grants – oh, noes! – “[I]n our opinion, the most likely explanation for the difference in amounts awarded to women and men is that women are systematically less ambitious in the amounts of funding requested in their grant applications.” – oops!

bonus: African Grey Parrots Have the Reasoning Skills of 3-year-olds

bonus bonus: The Largest Ever 3D Map of the Universe – awwwwwwsome!

bonus bonus bonus: Science Proves Luke Skywalker Should Have Died In The Tauntaun’s Belly – hmpf. they’re obviously just missing some key parameter/s.

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true grit


jonah lehrer says that … well, i’m not sure what he says. he kinda waffles, afaics: innate talents cannot, alone, account for success — one has to have the “grit” to keep on practicing as well — so success (or not) is not just a product of our natures. -??- something like that, anyway.

of course, the question is begged: where does this “grit” come from?

here’s some silliness from his post:

“And this leads me to one of my favorite recent papers, ‘Deliberate Practice Spells Success: Why Grittier Competitors Triumph at the National Spelling Bee.’ The research, published this month in the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science, was led by Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at Penn. (Anders-Ericsson is senior author.) The psychologists were interested in the set of traits that allowed kids to practice deliberately. Their data set consisted of 190 participants in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, a competition that requires thousands of hours of practice. After all, there are no natural born spellers.

no? well, i can tell you about some natural born non-spellers: people with dyslexia. prolly not too many of them winning spelling bees.

and what about people with visual|photographic memories? don’t you think they might have an advantage in a spelling bee? i can tell you the answer to that right now — yes. i don’t have a perfect photographic memory (d*mn!), but i do have a very visual one — and i use it to help me remember how to spell. and i used it a LOT when i used to win all the school spelling bees when i was a kid. (it never occurred to me to go in for spelling bees “professionally” — maybe i just don’t have the “grit.”)

which brings me back to grit. where the h*ck does that come from? mightn’t that be innate? how about the hyperfocusing abilities of aspies? sounds an awful lot like grit to me.

lots of good, sensible comments in response to lehrer’s lame-o post. like:

“Grit has value to the already talented, which motivates them to competitively apply it. The untalented soon realize that grit without a sign of progress is a waste of time. This idea that without grit you would not have talent to begin with simply has the dynamics here bassackwards. Mozart, anyone?”

yeah. can we all just puh-leeeese get over whatever pc hangups we might have and agree that success in a field takes both innate abilities (i.e. talent) AND practice (the driver of which might be innate)? is that really so hard?

previously: you, too, can have perfect pitch!

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