linkfest – 01/22/12

Penn Researchers Help Solve Questions About Ethiopians’ High-Altitude Adaptations“[A]ll three groups’ [andeans, tibetans, amharans] adaptations appear to involve different genetic mutations, an example of convergent evolution.”

Yeast suggests speedy start for multicellular life“Single-celled organism can evolve multicellularity within months.” – whoa.

‘Rules’ may govern genome evolution in young plant species“Scientists have often wondered if there are ‘rules’ that govern patterns of evolution, and data for Tragopogon polyploids suggest that such rules may actually operate at the genetic level.”

IQ Ceilings? – from jayman.

When it Comes to Accepting Evolution, Gut Feelings Trump Facts – and religious belief – “[I]ntuitive cognition has a significant impact on what people end up accepting, no matter how much they know…. [E]ven students with greater knowledge of evolutionary facts weren’t likelier to accept the theory, unless they also had a strong ‘gut’ feeling about those facts…. For the subjects of this study, belonging to a religion had almost no additional impact on beliefs about evolution….”

Race and self-enhancement – from the inductivist.

Do smart people lie more? – the inductivist, on a roll this week!

Gossip isn’t all bad — new study finds its social and psychological benefits – most importantly, it makes you feel better. (~_^)

Do some cultures have their own ways of going mad? – via amren.

Into the mind of a Neanderthal

bonus: Data suggests people using pseudonyms leave better comments – pseudonyms rock!

(note: comments do not require an email. some ethiopian highlanders.)


linkfest – 01/16/11

Men With Macho Faces Attractive to Fertile Women, Researchers Find“Meanwhile, a man’s intelligence has no effect on the extent to which fertile, female partners fantasize about others, the researchers found. They say the lack of an observed ‘fertility effect’ related to intelligence is puzzling.” [sorry, geeks!]

The Kingdom in the Closet – لا تسأل ، لا تخبر also: Paedophilia ‘culturally accepted in south Afghanistan’

The Mathematics Of Beauty“The more men as a group disagree about a woman’s looks, the more they end up liking her.”

Lice DNA Study Shows Humans First Wore Clothes 170,000 Years Ago – ewwww!

Scent of a Woman’s Tears Lowers Men’s Desire – *sniff*

No love for outsiders – oxytocin boosts favouritism towards our own ethnic or cultural group“Carsten de Dreu from the University of Amsterdam has found that sniffs of oxytocin make us more biased towards peers from our own ethnic or cultural group, versus those from other groups.” also Depth of the Kindness Hormone Appears to Know Some Bounds from nicholas wade @the nyt.

Born This Way – funny gay blog. (^_^)

Taking the moral high ground: People are more generous ‘when positioned physically higher than others’

Slipping the ‘Cognitive Straitjacket’ of Psychiatric Diagnosis“Psychiatry’s diagnostic bible [the DSM] meets the awkward facts of genetics”

God’s little rabbits: Religious people out-reproduce secular ones by a landslide also Predisposition for Religion Can Spread Quickly

(note: comments do not require an email.)

who’s responsible?

sarah palin said:

“President Reagan said, ‘We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.’ Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them….”

yes. and, well, nuh-uh!

now, i’m no shrink, but after reading (too much) about jared loughner, including police reports and community college “police” reports, i’m gonna go ahead and diagnose him as crazy. in fact, ’cause of his obvious paranoia as well as his disorganized thinking, i’m gonna go ahead and say he’s prolly schizo (which often develops in early adulthood — jared’s friends talk about how he got weird in just the last year or so).

if i’m right, can this guy really be held accountable for his actions?

from livescience:

“People with acute mental disorders like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are two to three times more likely to commit violent crimes (not just homicide) than people without mental illness, Fazel’s research has found. But there’s an important caveat: Substance abuse dramatically increases the risk of violence, up to about eight to 10 times the rate of the general population.

“Substance abusers without mental illness have similarly high rates of violence, Fazel said.”


– schizos and some other crazy people are 2-3 times more likely than the average joe to commit a violent crime;
– those numbers are even worse — 8-10 times more likely — if the schizos/crazies have substance abuse problems;
– those numbers are about the same — 8-10 times more likely — amongst anybody who has substance abuse problems.

first, jared loughner. prolly crazy (schizo) + he drank (like during school) and smoked pot (according to friends/police reports). so he’s one of these 8-10 times more likely folks.

i’m sorry, but can he be held accountable for his actions? i mean, really. the guy was not in ANY sense of the word in control of what he was doing. read the reports from the community college to see what i mean.

i’m not saying that jared loughner shouldn’t be locked up ’cause he’s obviously a danger to society — but can someone like that ever be “reformed”? can they be changed? don’t think so.

what about the substance abuse folks who are not schizo/crazy? aren’t a lot of them prolly just self-medicating and they prolly actually are bipolar or borderline or something but just haven’t been diagnosed according to the dmv dsm (which is screwy itself anyway)? substance abuse, like alcoholism for instance, is partly heritable after all — so how are those people in control of what they’re doing? can they really be held 100% accountable for what they do?

maybe agressive people are just aggressive and there’s not much to do about it once they’re adults.

what about psychopaths? heritable personality — can be bad if the person has an unloving or abusive upbringing. can they be held accountable?

lately i’ve been leaning strongly toward “no” in answer to all these questions.

again, i’m not saying that dangerous people or people who commit crimes shouldn’t be locked up — we need to do that to keep society as safe as possible — but maybe we need to admit to ourselves that we’re not locking these people up to reform them.

perhaps some people can be reformed; but what can you do, for example, with a mentally retarded person (iq below 70) who is aggressive and murderous? are u really going to be able to reason with him to be a better person? medication or other treatments might work, but you’re not really fundamentally changing the person then, are you? you’re just treating the symptoms. and he hasn’t become more accountable for his actions, has he? just more docile in his behavior.

guess i’m just not a big believer in free will, that’s all. if our personalities|intellects|behaviors are products of our natures and our nutures, where does the free (i.e. independent of those factors) enter into it all?

see also: crime times

(note: comments do not require an email.)