Archives for posts with tag: it’s complicated

chanda chisala, formerly a visiting fellow at both stanford and the hoover institution, and who is originally from zambia, has written a blogpost at that’s generating a lot of interesting discussion: The IQ Gap Is No Longer a Black and White Issue.

much of the discussion surrounds whether or not africans that have recently migrated to the u.s. or the u.k. are representative of their populations, or if they’re self-sorted elite groups (i’d guess the latter is probably correct — see dr. thompson’s comment regarding this issue), and, more technically, how regression to the mean works (see here and here) which relates to the question of to what mean are the iqs of the children of african immigrants regressing — a general african mean or are different african groups regressing to different means (see here and here)?

i don’t have the answer to ANY of those questions (doubt i ever will have much insight into them), nor do i think that anyone DOES have good answers to those questions. yet. Further Research is RequiredTM.

i do want to highlight and comment upon something chisala had to say in the comments, though:

“If there are African ‘subpopulations’ (by which I believe you mean nations or tribes/ethnicities etc) that have a genetic mean IQ that is higher than the genetic mean of whites (or black Americans), then the American black-white gap can not be due to the ‘blackness’, genetically, since that subpopulation is also black.”

right. well, that brings us back to one of my “three laws of human biodiversity” and, not very coincidentally, the title of this post:

there’s more to human biodiversity than just racial differences.

the western (or maybe modern) world has a weird focus on the differences between races — at least among those of us who notice differences between people at all — both because racial differences are highly visible (especially physical differences — unless you’ve got your head stuck up your in the sand) and thanks to our unfortunate common history.

but — and i just had this convo with someone on twitter the other day — much of the variation between human populations is NOT found at the level of races, nor does it have anything to do with race.

WHY would it? such a scenario doesn’t make any sense from an evolutionary point of view: not a single one of the races has inhabited in its entirety only one environment or had an evolutionary history that was fully shared by all of its members, so obviously there must be quite a lot of intra-racial variation. and don’t forget, evolutionary histories include societal types (“every society selects for something”) and recent human evolution, so there really is absolutely no reason that all of the variation we see between populations should be found on a racial level.

we all know this to be true already: ashkenazi jews have the highest average iq of any population, and that group is not a race, it is an ethnic group. it’s northeast asians that have the next highest average iq, not all east asians (not indonesians, not filipinos). lactase persistence is found at different frequencies in white european populations, not equally across the wider racial population of which europeans are a part (i call them caucasians), let alone whites. protection against malaria isn’t evenly spread among subsaharan africans, either. and i have been blogging endlessly on possible (probable, imho) differences in innate altruistic behavioral traits between european populations. etc., etc. as jayman said in his most recent post: “Differences between human groups are fined-grained because evolution acts locally.”

who knows if some african subpopulations have higher genetic mean iqs than white or black americans (or other populations)? maybe. i look forward to researchers investigating the possibility. but i am in near complete agreement with chisala: the black-white iq gap is not due to blackness (or subsaharan african-ness), per se.

i say near complete agreement since i think that some of the variation in the average iqs of whites and blacks *might* quite possibly be due to evolutionary processes that affected very large populations (such as entire races+). MCPH1 haplogroup d, for instance, is known to be absent in subsaharan african groups. we have no idea if this gene (allele) is related to intelligence, but microcephalin is related to brain size, so it’s not implausible. i only bring it up to illustrate that some selection in human populations — including stuff related to our brains — has happened on the large scale — but as i said above, much of it also has not.

so it’s complicated.

but i do wish everyone would just ease off on focusing on racial differences all the time. the over-emphasis on race obscures an awful lot of fascinating (possible) biological variation between smaller sized populations, and the evolutionary processes themselves.

previously: hbd chick’s three laws of human biodiversity

(note: comments do not require an email. still not feeling well.)


Genetic Variants Linked to Educational Attainment“A multi-national team of researchers has identified genetic markers that predict educational attainment by pooling data from more than 125,000 individuals in the United States, Australia, and 13 western European countries…. Combining the two million examined SNPs, the SSGAC researchers were able to explain about 2 percent of the variation in educational attainment across individuals, and anticipate that this figure will rise as larger samples become available.” – h/t friendly e-mailer! (^_^) – see also steve hsu on this: First GWAS hits for cognitive ability (thanks, grey!). in particular, check out steve’s graph. and john derbyshire for more on looking for iq-related genes via gwas studies. see also dr. james thompson: Educational attainment, intelligence, and the relentless cracking of the genetic code.

Deforestation Plants the Seed for Rapid Evolution in Brazil“The deforestation of the Brazilian rain forest has created a hidden consequence: The seeds of palm trees have evolved rapidly to be smaller.”

Gene switches make prairie voles fall in love“Researchers have shown for the first time that the act of mating induces permanent chemical modifications in the chromosomes, affecting the expression of genes that regulate sexual and monogamous behaviour.” – epigenetic effects!

Definitions of “Race” and Language and Race — a couple of great posts @habitable worlds!

Genetic structure and different population strata in Italy“‘Our results show that the Y-chromosomal genetic diversity of Italy is not clinal but structured in three geographical areas: North-Western Italy (NWI), South-Eastern Italy (SEI) and Sardinia (SAR). …suggesting a shared genetic background between Southern Italy and the Adriatic coast from one side, and between Northern Italy and Tuscany from the other side.'” – from dienekes!

Just For Show?“Of all humans, male and female, European women have the whitest skin and the most diverse range of hair and eye colors. Are European physical characteristics really female characteristics?” – from peter frost!

Apes Regret Bad Decisions, Throw Tantrums“When apes make a bad decision or took a gamble that doesn’t pay off, they bang on tables and perform other kinds of tantrum-like behaviors, often exhibiting regret by attempting to undo what they had done.”

How Birds and Babies Learn to Talk

GSS on Haidt’s Moral Foundations theory“The GSS results largely support Haidt’s divisions, with liberals putting greater emphasis on liberty/oppression and especially care/harm, just as he found to be the case. Conservatives, on the other hand, are more concerned with fairness/cheating, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation, and loyalty/subversion than liberals are.” – from the awesome epigone!

Homosexuality is natural. Fine. But what if homophobia is natural, too?

The Ugly Truth About Obesity“So yes, the obese group is not unlike its negative stereotypes. Of the, ‘lazy’, ‘sloppy’, ‘less competent’, ‘lacking in self-discipline’, ‘disagreeable’, ‘less conscientious’, ‘poor role models’, ‘unintelligent’, ‘unsuccessful’, ‘weak-willed’, ‘unpleasant’, ‘overindulgent’, it seems ‘disagreeable’ and ‘unpleasant’ are the only clear misses. This is not to hate on the obese, but to call a spade a spade.” – from staffan!

The big fat truth“More and more studies show that being overweight does not always shorten life — but some public-health researchers would rather not talk about them.”

“Were the Victorians cleverer than us?” – from steve sailer!

The Argument Ron Should Have Made – italian iq stuff from chuck the occidentalist! — h/t hbd bibliography!

What Science Says About Arousal During Rape

Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food“Studies published within the past 15 years show that much of our produce is relatively low in phytonutrients, which are the compounds with the potential to reduce the risk of four of our modern scourges: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. The loss of these beneficial nutrients did not begin 50 or 100 years ago, as many assume. Unwittingly, we have been stripping phytonutrients from our diet since we stopped foraging for wild plants some 10,000 years ago and became farmers.”

More Heroes of the Dark Enlightenment – eat your radishes! they’re good for you! (^_^)

bonus: Yes, the BBC needs more diversity – of opinion, that is – from ed west!

bonus bonus: immigration i, immigration ii, and immigration iii — from the assistant village idiot!

bonus bonus bonus: Raised from the depths, the face of the Mary Rose

bonus bonus bonus bonus: China Builds EU Beachhead With $5 Billion City in Belarus

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Zoologger: The sea cow with super-sensing hairs – i’ve snorkeled with the manatees! (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. hover-crafts manatees! (^_^) )

from the christian science monitor:

“Mexico’s ‘temporary’ marriages: till death – or two years – do us part”

“Mexico City is studying a plan to introduce ‘temporary’ marriage licenses – letting couples choose after two years to split or renew the license for life – in an effort to mitigate the effects of divorce….

“The left-leaning assembly is studying a new initiative to introduce temporary marriage licenses that would expire after two years if the couple so desires.

“The proposal, intended to reduce the bureaucratic costs and emotional toll of divorce, has garnered as many fans as foes: Some see it as a pragmatic alternative, while others, including the Roman Catholic Church, see it as an attack on family values. It comes as Mexico grapples with its own culture war in the world’s second-largest Catholic country.

“‘The centrality of family in Mexico is changing,’ says Norma Ojeda, a sociologist at the San Diego State University who has studied the evolution of marriage in Mexico since the 1970s. ‘That is something that is part of a global social change in many countries.’

“To its authors, the proposal reflects social changes in Mexico City, where they say most divorces occur in the first two years. If after two years, couples decide to until ‘death do us part,’ they can renew their licenses. If not, the proposal specifies how children and property are handled.

“‘The proposal is, when the two-year period is up, if the relationship is not stable or harmonious, the contract simply ends,’ Leonel Luna, the assemblyman who co-wrote the bill, told Reuters. ‘You wouldn’t have to go through the tortuous process of divorce.'”

plenty of societies have or had laws providing for temporary marriages. many muslim societies (primarily shi’a ones?) have a temporary form of marriage known as nikah mut’ah. it can be used as a way of covering up prostitution (“get yer four hour marriages!”), but that’s not the only reason the practice exists.

temporary marriage was also an option amongst the early medieval irish [pg. 302]:

“The adaltrach [one type of wife in early medieval ireland] may not have brought much property at all, since in many cases, the primary intention of the union was merely to achieve social acceptance of a sexual relationship and its progeny. Another goal was to set up a temporary working relationship, in which the man supplied the farm and the woman supplied the labor. Where CL [Cain Lanamna, ‘the law of marriage’] discusses spouses who were brought in to live on another’s farm, it emphasized the labor aspect of the spouse’s relationship; this was as true of a man supported on a woman’s farm as it was of a woman supported on a man’s property. CL #28 depicts the woman in this case as keeping half her handiwork, and one-ninth of the milk, corn and bacon produced during the time the couple lived together. The relationship envisaged as likely to end at Beltene, the spring festival of May 1, which was also the time many women traditionally moved with the livestock to the summer pastures. The departing woman was supposed to have ‘a sack (of produce) for every month’ she had spent on the man’s farm.”

the thing is, tho, that no society with temporary marriages ever invented things like science or succeeded with liberal democracy. those seem, for complex reasons, to go along with strong monogamy (not to mention a relatively high iq).

mating practices affect the patterns of genetic relatedness amongst the members in any given society; and those patterns, in turn, affect the historical and evolutionary trajectories of societies.

(note: comments do not require an email. strong monogamy.)