Archives for posts with tag: self-control

a linkfest! =D

Experimental evolution reveals hidden diversity in evolutionary pathways“Our findings show that parallel genetic evolution is strongly biased by constraints and we reveal the genetic bases. From such knowledge, and in instances where new phenotypes arise via gene activation, we suggest a set of principles: evolution proceeds firstly via pathways subject to negative regulation, then via promoter mutations and gene fusions, and finally via activation by intragenic gain-of-function mutations. These principles inform evolutionary forecasting and have relevance to interpreting the diverse array of mutations associated with clinically identical instances of disease in humans.”

Selectionism Strikes Back! – from razib.

Genomes carry a heavy burden“Most people’s DNA contains genetic mutations that are potentially lethal to offspring…. Most people carry one or two genetic mutations that can cause early death or infertility in their offspring….”

World’s oldest stone tools discovered in Kenya“Researchers…say they have found the oldest tools made by human ancestors — stone flakes dated to 3.3 million years ago. That’s 700,000 years older than the oldest-known tools to date, suggesting that our ancestors were crafting tools several hundred thousand years before our genus Homo arrived on the scene. If correct, the new evidence could confirm disputed claims for very early tool use, and it suggests that ancient australopithecines like the famed ‘Lucy’ may have fashioned stone tools, too.”

Neanderthals manipulated the bodies of adults and children shortly after death

Neandertal flutes debunked – @dienekes’.

IQ prediction from structural MRI – from steve hsu. see also: MRI-Based Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Estimation with Sparse Learning.

New brain science shows poor kids have smaller brains than affluent kids – see also: Credit, where credit is due, to Lyndsey Layton and Income, brain, race: Prof Kimberly Noble replies and Howitzer or Katyusha: Reply to Prof Noble at dr. james thompson’s blog. – and see also: In today’s social science, wishing makes it so – from charles murray.

Gene study may explain why some remain quick thinkers“Genetic differences could explain why some people are quicker thinkers in middle age and later life, a study of data from 30,000 people suggests.” – see also: GWAS for executive function and processing speed suggests involvement of the CADM2 gene.

Prediction of brain age suggests accelerated atrophy after traumatic brain injury – h/t stuart ritchie! who tweeted: “Super-cool new paper on how to predict someone’s age just from a brain image (r = .92!)”

National Wealth and IQ at the Edge: American Exceptionalism, East Asian Mediocrity – anatoly karlin’s “big-ass blog on national wealth, IQ, HBD, East Asians, smart fractions, etc.” (~_^)

In the beginning was the Word – dr. james thompson blogs on the recent woodley et al. paper “By their words ye shall know them: Evidence of genetic selection against general intelligence and concurrent environmental enrichment in vocabulary usage since the mid 19th century.”

Born That Way – from greg cochran.

Female Same-Sex Attraction Revisited – from jayman.

Examining the S factor in Mexican states – from emil kirkegaard.

Sex differences and vulnerability: how the male-female divide affects health“[S]ome studies have shown that premature baby girls will grow up to suffer greater language deficits than premature boys, whereas boys exposed to certain prenatal toxins will suffer greater deficits to spatial skills than girls similarly exposed, but because sex differences were never the original focus of the research no one, until Geary, has united these sex specific developmental problems and placed them in evolution’s bigger picture. Geary explains, ‘Sexually selected traits are the first to go; for example, low level exposure to prenatal toxins will affect play in boys but not their IQ: if you don’t measure the right thing you will fail to detect underlying problems.'” – h/t steve stewart williams!

Men up to five times more likely to commit sex crimes than the average male if they have brother or father convicted of a sex offence – h/t claire lehmann! who tweeted: “Survey of 21,566 men convicted of sex crimes from 1973- 2009 has revealed a strong genetic component to sex offending.” – see also: Sexual offending runs in families: A 37-year nationwide study.

Aggressive-Antisocial Boys Develop Into Physically Strong Young Men“We found that males’ antisocial tendencies temporally precede their physical formidability. Boys, but not girls, with greater antisocial tendencies in childhood attained larger increases in physical strength between the ages of 11 and 17. These results support sexual selection theory, indicating an adaptive congruence between male-typical behavioral dispositions and subsequent physical masculinization during puberty.”

Childhood Self-Control and Unemployment Throughout the Life Span: Evidence From Two British Cohort Studies“Analyzing unemployment data from two nationally representative British cohorts (N = 16,780), we found that low self-control in childhood was associated with the emergence and persistence of unemployment across four decades. On average, a 1-SD increase in self-control was associated with a reduction in the probability of unemployment of 1.4 percentage points after adjustment for intelligence, social class, and gender.”

Enlisting in the Military: The Influential Role of Genetic Factors“Given that enlistment in the U.S. military is completely voluntary, there has been a great deal of interest in identifying the various factors that might explain why some people join the military, whereas others do not. The current study expanded on this line of literature by estimating the extent to which genetic and environmental factors explained variance in the liability for lifetime participation in the military. Analysis of twin pairs drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) revealed that 82% of the variance was the result of genetic factors, 18% of the variance was the result of nonshared environmental factors, and none of the variance was accounted for by shared environmental factors.” – from brian boutwell et al.

Risk of Suicide Among US Military Service Members Following Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom Deployment and Separation From the US Military“Findings do not support an association between deployment and suicide mortality in this cohort. Early military separation (<4 years) and discharge that is not honorable were suicide risk factors.” – h/t michael story!

Verbal ability as a predictor of political preferences in the United States, 1974–2012“[H]igher vocabulary scores are associated with a greater likelihood that people place themselves on the ideological and political spectrum and that they vote in presidential elections, but have only small relationships with liberal-versus-conservative self-identification.”

Do our genes tell us how to vote? Study of twins says they might

On the Malleability and Plasticity of the History of the Blank Slate and 21st Century Moral Philosophy Advances Boldly into the 19th Century – from helian.

More on the younger Franz Boas – from peter frost.

Surnames and Y-Chromosomal Markers Reveal Low Relationships in Southern Spain – ruh roh.

New study finds genetic predisposition for noise-induced hearing loss

New function of obesity gene revealed

The placebome: Where genetics and the placebo effect meet

Chimps That Hunt Offer a New View on Evolution“[A] 10-year study of chimpanzees in Senegal shows females playing an unexpectedly big role in hunting and males, surprisingly, letting smaller and weaker hunters keep their prey. The results do not overturn the idea of dominant male hunters, said Jill D. Pruetz of Iowa State University, who led the study. But they may offer a new frame of reference on hunting, tools and human evolution. ‘We need to broaden our perspective,’ she said.”

Upper Palaeolithic ritualistic cannibalism at Gough’s Cave (Somerset, UK): The human remains from head to toe“Our present analysis of the postcrania has identified a far greater degree of human modification than recorded in earlier studies. We identify extensive evidence for defleshing, disarticulation, chewing, crushing of spongy bone, and the cracking of bones to extract marrow. The presence of human tooth marks on many of the postcranial bones provides incontrovertible evidence for cannibalism.”

Yes, You Can Catch Insanity“A controversial disease revives the debate about the immune system and mental illness.” – pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders or “PANDAS”.

Hatfield and McCoy Feud — The Real Thing

Colors help set body’s internal clock“[Mice] use light’s changing color to set their own clocks, a finding that researchers expect will hold for humans, too.”

The Myth of the Angry Atheist“[T]hese results support the idea that people believe atheists are angry individuals, but they do not appear to be angrier than other individuals in reality.”

Flowers Are “Darker” at Lower Latitudes“UV radiation may explain why plants and animals closer to the equator come in darker varieties.”

The Disease That Turned Us Into Genetic-Information Junkies – brief history on tay–sachs disease research.

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Could Predate Antibiotics“A South American tribe, called the Yanomami, which was isolated for about 11,000 years prior to 2009, have gut bacteria that carry antibiotic resistance genes, according to new research. The Yanomami’s microbiome is far more diverse than that of Europeans or North Americans, but it also contains antibiotic resistant genes, despite never having had antibiotics. The findings suggest antibiotic resistance predates antibiotics, although it is possible the Yanomami ingested naturally occurring antibiotics in soil at some point.” – see also: The microbiome of uncontacted Amerindians.

Rotherham Worker ‘Told To Give Girls To Abusers’“The ex-protection worker says she repeatedly raised concerns about men taking girls away but her boss told her to ‘let them go’.” – also: State wards being groomed for prostitution by paedophile gangs“Organised gangs of paedophiles are grooming state wards as young as 12 for prostitution. Veteran child protection workers have told the Herald Sun they are powerless to protect the children in their care and that the sexual exploitation of state wards is ‘endemic’…. Victoria Police has set up a taskforce to investigate a gang of Afghani men in Dandenong suspected of preying on teens in care.” – australia now. =/

bonus: Jurassic Park in real life: The race to modify the DNA of endangered animals and resurrect extinct ones“Professor Church has applied a sophisticated and revolutionary ‘gene editing’ technique known as Crispr and has managed to get it working in elephant cells to carry out 14 precise changes to its genome. ‘We are now working on in vitro organogenesis [organ formation] and embryogenesis [embryo formation],’ he told The Independent in an email.”

bonus bonus: Genome Digest – findings from genomes of mountain gorilla, pseudomonas aeruginosa, canary, bird flu strain, and leprosy bacterium.

bonus bonus bonus: Through This Chemical Loop, Dogs Win Our Hearts

(note: comments do not require an email. woof?)


The genetics of Mexico recapitulates Native American substructure and affects biomedical traits“We studied genomic variation within Mexico from over 1000 individuals representing 20 indigenous and 11 mestizo populations. We found striking genetic stratification among indigenous populations within Mexico at varying degrees of geographic isolation. Some groups were as differentiated as Europeans are from East Asians. Pre-Columbian genetic substructure is recapitulated in the indigenous ancestry of admixed mestizo individuals across the country. Furthermore, two independently phenotyped cohorts of Mexicans and Mexican Americans showed a significant association between subcontinental ancestry and lung function. Thus, accounting for fine-scale ancestry patterns is critical for medical and population genetic studies within Mexico, in Mexican-descent populations, and likely in many other populations worldwide.” – see also: People from Mexico show stunning amount of genetic diversity“When the team analyzed the genomes of 511 indigenous individuals from all over Mexico, they found a striking amount of genetic diversity. The most divergent indigenous groups in Mexico are as different from each other as Europeans are from East Asians, they report online today in Science. This diversity maps onto the geography of Mexico itself. The farther away ethnic groups live from each other, the more different their genomes turn out to be…. But most people in Mexico or of Mexican descent these days are not indigenous but rather mestizo, meaning they have a mixture of indigenous, European, and African ancestry. Do their genomes also vary by what region of Mexico they come from, or has all that local variation been smoothed out by centuries of different groups meeting, mixing, and having babies? To answer that question, the team collaborated with Mexico’s National Institute of Genomic Medicine, which has been collecting genetic data from mestizos for many years. Somewhat surprisingly, they found that mestizos in a given part of Mexico tended to have the same ‘rare’ genetic variants as their indigenous neighbors. The mestizo genomes ‘track so well with the indigenous groups that we could use the genetic diversity in mestizos to make inferences about [their native] ancestors,’ Pasaniuc says.”

Neanderthal-Human Skulls Shed Light on Evolution“Skulls found in a Spanish cave exhibit both Neanderthal and primitive human features, according to a new study published in the journal Science. The discovery provides clues about when the common ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals lived, what happened after the two groups diverged, and how the two became so different over a relatively short period of time. There is consensus about the ending of the story: Modern humans and Neanderthals interbred, and Neanderthal DNA is still present in people of European and Asian ancestry. But the thousands of years before they connected, however, have been a mystery.” – see also: Palaeontology: How Neanderthals evolved“A study reveals that not all distinguishing features of hominid skulls have evolved at the same pace.”

Oldest human faeces show Neanderthals ate vegetables – eat your veggies!

Searching for Answers in Very Old DNA – interview with svante paabo.

Island-hopping odyssey brought civilisation to Europe“The farmers who brought advanced civilisation to Europe got there by sailing between the many islands strewn across the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey, according to a new genetic analysis. The first modern humans in Europe were hunter-gatherers who arrived around 40,000 years ago. But around 9000 years ago the first farmers arrived. They spread rapidly, dominating the continent by 7500 years ago, and pushing the hunter-gatherers into decline. The farmers originated in the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East, where farming arose, but until now no one knew which route they took to get to Europe.” – see also Publication Delays from greg cochran.

The population genomic landscape of human genetic structure, admixture history and local adaptation in Peninsular Malaysia“Peninsular Malaysia has greater genetic diversity corresponding to its role as a contact zone of both early and recent human migrations in Asia. However, each single Orang Asli (indigenous) group was less diverse with a smaller effective population size (Ne) than a European or an East Asian population, indicating a substantial isolation of some duration for these groups. All four MEGs were genetically more similar to Asian populations than to other continental groups, and the divergence time between MEGs and East Asian populations (12,000—6,000 years ago) was also much shorter than that between East Asians and Europeans. Thus, Malaysian Orang Asli groups, despite their significantly different features, may share a common origin with the other Asian groups. Nevertheless, we identified traces of recent gene flow from non-Asians to MEGs. Finally, natural selection signatures were detected in a batch of genes associated with immune response, human height, skin pigmentation, hair and facial morphology and blood pressure in MEGs. Notable examples include SYN3 which is associated with human height in all Orang Asli groups, a height-related gene (PNPT1) and two blood pressure-related genes (CDH13 and PAX5) in Negritos. We conclude that a long isolation period, subsequent gene flow and local adaptations have jointly shaped the genetic architectures of MEGs, and this study provides insight into the peopling and human migration history in Southeast Asia.”

Investigating brain connectivity heritability in a twin study using diffusion imaging data – h/t jayman! who tweeted: “Surprise, surprise: diffusion imaging twin study (N = 328) finds patterns of brain connectivity are heritable.”

The stability of self-control across childhood“Results indicate that variation [76%] in self-control is predominantly genetic.”

Race a factor in mortality in heart attack patients on anti-clotting drug“The first genetic variations linked to race have been identified that begin to explain a higher risk of death among some African American and Caucasian patients taking the anti-clotting drug clopidogrel after a heart attack. In particular, the team found that two DNA variants common in African Americans were associated with an increased risk of both bleeding and death. In Caucasians, a different variant was linked to additional heart attacks and a higher risk of death.” – h/t hbd bibliography!

A common Greenlandic TBC1D4 variant confers muscle insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

GWAS-based pathway analysis differentiates between fluid and crystallized intelligence – h/t stuart ritchie! who tweeted: “Distinction between fluid and crystallised IQ at the genetic level.”

A hair-color allele of Neanderthal origin?“60-70% of Taiwanese aborigines have a loss-of-function allele at the main hair color gene, MC1R, yet their hair is as black as humans with the original ‘African’ allele. This seems to be a general pattern in Asians. They have fewer MC1R alleles than do Europeans, and the ones they have produce the same hair color.” – from peter frost.

Physical attractiveness as a phenotypic marker of health: an assessment using a nationally representative sample of American adults“[T]he more attractive a respondent was rated, the less likely he or she was to report being diagnosed with a wide range of chronic diseases and neuropsychological disorders. Importantly, this finding was observed for both sexes. These analyses provide further support for physical attractiveness as a phenotypic marker of health.”

Mellow, Paranoid, Happy, or Mean: Why do people respond so differently to the same drugs?“Although the research hasn’t settled on simple explanations, it’s clear that some combination of personality traits, genetics, and experience affects how people respond to intoxicants.”

How universal is empathy?“Pro-social behavior seems to be a human universal, but is the same true for full empathy?” – from peter frost.

Woodley launches his Victorian defence“The Woodley gang argue that, once they have done a complete re-analysis to respond to the points raised against their original ‘Victorians’ paper, their new results ‘reveal a seemingly robust secular trend towards slowing reaction time in these two countries, which translates into a potential dysgenics rate of −1.21 IQ points per decade, or −13.9 points in total between 1889 and 2004. We conclude by arguing that the best way forward is to test novel predictions stemming from our finding relating to molecular genetics, neurophysiology and alternative cognitive indicators, thus shifting the research focus away from the purely methodological level towards the broader nomological level. We thank our critics for helping us to arrive at a much more precise estimate of the decline in general intelligence.'” – @dr. james thompson’s blog.

HVGIQ: Cambodia and HVGIQ: Turks and Caicos Islands and HVGIQ: Vietnam – from jason malloy @human varieties.

U.S. Ethnic/Race Differences in Aptitude by Generation: An Exploratory Meta-analysis – from chuck @human varieties.

Ability, Effort, and Academic Achievement among Asian Americans – from steve hsu.

andrew “the goth” sabisky on the pisa tests/scores and their implications for education.

The Flynn effect and “real intelligence”(tm) and Why a mental age of eleven and an IQ of 70 are distinct – from elijah.

Embryo selection for cognitive enhancement: curiosity or game-changer?

Power to edit who you are – on CRISPR.

Reading to Newborns Is Probably Useless – from razib.

For One Baby, Life Begins with Genome Revealed“How a California father made an end run around medicine to decode his son’s DNA.” – on razib’s boy! (^_^)

Criminal offending as part of an alternative reproductive strategy: Investigating evolutionary hypotheses using Swedish total population data“Convicted criminal offenders had more children than individuals never convicted of a criminal offense. Criminal offenders also had more reproductive partners, were less often married, more likely to get remarried if ever married, and had more often contracted a sexually transmitted disease than non-offenders. Importantly, the increased reproductive success of criminals was explained by a fertility increase from having children with several different partners. We conclude that criminality appears to be adaptive in a contemporary industrialized country, and that this association can be explained by antisocial behavior being part of an adaptive alternative reproductive strategy.” – h/t mary lou cowan! – chicks dig jerks. – see also You dropped your glove, my liege from the awesome epigone.

Men Who Hate Women – from staffan.

Why women see differently from the way men see? A review of sex differences in cognition and sports – h/t keith laws!

For The First Time, Chimpanzees Are Making A Fashion Statement — Sticking Blades Of Grass In Their Ears“It’s a trend that’s taken a troop of chimpanzees by storm: a blade of grass dangling from an ear. The “grass-in-ear behavior,” as scientists have termed it, seems to be one of the first times that chimpanzees have created a tradition with no discernible purpose — a primate fashion statement, in other words…. There’s no genetic or ecological factors, the scientists believe, that would account for this behavior — only culture.” – but, but, but…where does chimp culture come from?

Faces of Old World monkeys evolved to prevent crossbreeding

No effects of androgen receptor gene CAG and GGC repeat polymorphisms on digit ratio (2D:4D): A comprehensive meta-analysis and critical evaluation of research“In contrast to a small-sample (N=50) initial report, widely cited affirmatively in the literature, meta-analysis of the entire retrievable evidence base did not support any associations between CAG variants and right-hand, left-hand, or right-minus-left-hand 2D:4D. Effects of GGC variants on digit ratios likewise were almost exactly null.” – h/t dr. zhana!

Parents of children with autism often have autistic traits – kid has all his ducks in a row! (~_^) – h/t jason moore!

Sensitive? Emotional? Empathetic? It could be in your genes“Do you jump to help the less fortunate or cry during sad movie scenes? If yes, you may be among the 20 percent of our population that is genetically pre-disposed to empathy, according to a study. The results provide further evidence that highly sensitive people are generally highly tuned into their environment, and provide evidence that especially high levels of awareness and emotional responsiveness are fundamental features of humans characterized as HSPs.” – h/t mr. robert ford!

Negotiating the gap: Four academics and the dilemma of human biodiversity – from peter frost.

Guns & Violence, Again – from jayman.

The Little Divergence“A ‘great divergence’ between the economies of Western Europe and East Asia had unambiguously occurred by 1800. However, there’s a growing body of opinion that this was preceded by a ‘little divergence’ which might have started as early as 1200. I argue that the pre-modern ‘little divergence’ was probably real, but that doesn’t mean it happened because of a modern growth process — a sustained rise in the production efficiency of the divergent economies. The ‘little divergence’ might be only a reflexion of those societies’ Malthusian balance of natality and mortality.” – from pseudo. – see also Addendum to The Little Divergence.

Searching for the “Free Will” Neuron“Gabriel Kreiman’s single-neuron measurements of unconscious decision-making may not topple Descartes, but they could someday point to ways we can learn to control ourselves.”

Denying the Tribe – from claire lehmann.

Mike Lotus Meeting with Emmanuel Todd in Paris, Discussing Todd’s Current Work and America 3.0“Todd spoke about the origins of the Absolute Nuclear Family, as contrasted with the Community Family which predominates in much of Eurasia. Todd said that his most recent book, ‘L’Origine des systemes familiaux’ he shows that the entire history of the world is understood backward. Specifically, the supposedly most backward places are the most advanced. He told me that he had made an absurd mistake in his early book The Explanation of Ideology: Family Structure and Social Systems. He said in Explanation that the distribution of family systems appeared to be random. But, he said, he should have realized that this could not be correct. He took out a pile of printer paper and with rapid strokes sketched an oval and filled in the center, noting that this was the community family area. It was a given that I understood that the oval was Eurasia. He then marked Xs around the periphery for England, Iceland, Finland, France, Japan, Korea, the Philippines all areas which were still individualistic in family structure. He said the book articulates the ‘Principle of Peripheral Conservation.’ The oldest known family structure is the Undifferentiated Nuclear Family (UNF). In England the UNF evolved into the ANF over many centuries. The Community Family forms took four to five thousand years to form and to reach their current state of development. In particular the subjugation of women took a very long time to complete in these systems. In other words, the societies which are currently considered the most modern have as a foundation an archaic family structure.” – h/t t.greer!

A Dozen Words for Misunderstood“Slaying, yet again, the idea that the languages we speak shape the thoughts we think.” – h/t steve stewart williams!

Understanding current causes of women’s underrepresentation in science“[D]ifferential gendered outcomes in the real world result from differences in resources attributable to choices, whether free or constrained, and that such choices could be influenced and better informed through education if resources were so directed. Thus, the ongoing focus on sex discrimination in reviewing, interviewing, and hiring represents costly, misplaced effort: Society is engaged in the present in solving problems of the past, rather than in addressing meaningful limitations deterring women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers today.”

Breaking the Glass Ceiling? The Effect of Board Quotas on Female Labor Market Outcomes in Norway [pdf] – h/t ben southwood! who tweeted: “Norwegian gender quotas on boards had ‘very little discernible impact on women in business beyond its direct effect.'”

Archaeological cave dig unearths artefacts from 45,000 years ago“An archeological dig has revealed artefacts of early occupation so old they rival the dates of those found at sites of the earliest human settlement in Australia. The discovery of the artefacts of animal bone and charcoal at the Ganga Maya Cave (named by traditional owners meaning ‘house on the hill’) in the Pilbara region of Western Australia are the subject of a scientific paper not yet submitted to archaeological journals.”

Artificial cranial modification in Kow Swamp and Cohuna“This project provides added support for the argument that at least some Pleistocene Australian groups were practicing artificial cranial modification.” – h/t neuroskeptic!

Researchers discover 6,200-year-old schistosomiasis parasite egg“Researchers have discovered what they believe is the oldest ever schistosomiasis parasite egg in a 6,200-year-old grave by the Euphrates river in Syria, potentially providing the first evidence that Middle East agricultural irrigation systems – the artificial application of water to land or soil – may have contributed to the schistosomiasis burden.” – d*mn agriculture! – h/t adam benton @evoanth!

Tablet about payment of donkey debt discovered in Kültepe believed to be oldest trade document – h/t frau katze!

bonus: Assessment of Genetic Variability of Fish Personality Traits using Rainbow Trout Isogenic Lines“The study of inter-individual variability of personality in fish is a growing field of interest but the genetic basis of this complex trait is still poorly investigated due to the difficulty in controlling fish genetic origin and life history…. To this end, seven to ten rainbow trout isogenic lines were screened for their spatial exploratory behaviour, their flight response toward a stressor and their risk taking behaviour. Results showed that some lines seemed less sensitive to new events or environmental changes and could be defined as low responsive, while others were very sensitive and defined as high responsive.” – h/t justin tiehen!

bonus bonus: Meet one of your ancestors: a 505-million-year-old fish

bonus bonus bonus: H. pylori Bacteria Frantically Mutate to Establish Infection“A burst of rapid evolution allows Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes ulcers in humans, to evade the immune system during the early, acute phase of infection. This finding complements earlier work that quantified how quickly H. pylori mutations accumulate during chronic infection. During the acute phase, mutational rates are 30 to 50 times greater than during the chronic phase.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: An 81 million year herpes infection: First endogenous herpes virus found!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Scientific proof that dogs don’t like bananas

(note: comments do not require an email. social construct duck vs. social construct duck!)

a day late and (*hbd chick checks her wallet*) … yes, a dollar short!

World’s Oldest Genome Sequenced From 700,000-Year-Old Horse DNA – cool!

Bad Health at the Origins of Agriculture – from henry harpending! see also andrew badenoch from evolvify.

DNA Evidence for Strong Genome-Wide Pleiotropy of Cognitive and Learning Abilities“Genetic correlations were greater than 0.70 between general cognitive ability and language, reading, and mathematics, results that were highly similar to twin study estimates of genetic correlations. These results indicate that genes related to diverse neurocognitive processes have general rather than specific effects.” – via jayman!

Insulin differs between ethnicities, study finds“People have differing abilities to release and react to insulin depending on ethnicity, according to a new study from researchers at Lund University in Sweden, Stanford University and Kitasato University.” – see also previous linkfest.

I Don’t Feel Your Pain“A recent study shows that people, including medical personnel, assume black people feel less pain than white people…. In each experiment, the researchers found that white participants, black participants, and nurses and nursing students assumed that blacks felt less pain than whites.”original research article.

Studying Tumors Differently, in Hopes of Outsmarting Them“[C]ancer: It is an evolutionary disease.”

Accelerating adaptive evolution in humans“In my last post, I noted R.A. Fisher’s argument that a larger population leads to more mutations and greater potential for adaptive evolution. As human populations have undergone massive growth over recent tens of thousands of years, we would expect the evidence of this population growth to show in our genomes. In this post, I point to a couple of papers that look at this evidence.” – from jason collins.

Three-Parent IVF Set to Go Ahead in Britain

Complete mtDNA from Filipino groups – @dienekes’.

Still missing the point – more good stuff from peter frost on stephen jay gould.

The Search for Western Tribalism“Tribalism as clannishness light.” – from staffan!

How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby?“[M]illions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics, or fertility treatment. Most people assume these numbers are based on large, well-conducted studies of modern women, but they are not.”

Grandparents effect spotted in British class system“Children’s eventual position in Britain’s class system is closely linked to that of their grandparents, not just their parents, academics say. And where parents have ‘dropped down’ the socio-economic ladder, the so-called ‘grandparents effect’ often pulls them back up, research suggests…. [A]mong men with both parents and grandparents in the highest socio-economic group, 80% stayed in those positions when they were adults. But among men whose parents had been upwardly mobile, only 61% stayed in the group they had been born in to.” – don’t they mean the “regression to the mean effect’? – via jason collins.

Study: People With a Lot of Self-Control Are Happier“Improbably enough, people who are better able to resist impulses report being more satisfied with their lives.”

Clues in the Cycle of Suicide“Every year, suicide peaks with the tulips and lilacs — increasing roughly 15 percent over the annual average to create one of psychiatry’s most consistent epidemiological patterns. It may seem perverse that the period of spring and early summer … should contain ‘a capacity for self-murder that winter less often has.’ Yet it does.”

A Test to Measure How Rational You Really Are – dysrationalia!

Does life have a purpose?“Nobody expects atoms and molecules to have purposes, so why do we still think of living things in this way?”

Study appears to overturn prevailing view of how the brain is wired

Sardinian family’s tip for a long life: minestrone – and good longevity genes! (~_^) – “Luca Deiana, a professor of clinical biochemistry at the university of Sassari in Sardinia, who has studied some 2500 centenarians on the island since 1996, was quoted by Corriere della Sera at the time as saying the longevity of local inhabitants was influenced by genetics along with environmental, nutritional and lifestyle habits.”

Chilean Mummies Reveal Ancient Nicotine Habit“The hair of mummies from the town of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile reveals the people in the region had a nicotine habit spanning from at least 100 B.C. to A.D. 1450.”

Mysterious Pair Buried With Flowers — Oldest Example Yet“The pair — an adult male and an adolescent of undetermined sex — belonged to the primitive Natufian culture, which flourished between 15,000 and 11,600 years ago in an area that is now Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.”

bonus: Judge jails depraved sex gang for 95 years after they committed grotesque abuse on girls as young as 11 – good!

bonus bonus: Foreign reporter raped in Tahrir Square – again. see also Arab Spring Unleashes Illiberal Repressive Masses from parapundit.

bonus bonus bonus: The Divided States of America, in 25 Charts“As America approaches its 237th birthday, it’s feeling quite a bit more ‘pluribus’ than ‘unum’…” – gee, i wonder why?

bonus bonus bonus bonus: First Pictures: Peru’s Rare, Unlooted Royal Tomb

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: India: If you have casual sex, you are legally married – ruh roh.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Take the Impossible “Literacy” Test Louisiana Gave Black Voters in the 1960s – it’s not impossible, but it’s not easy either. esp. given that not all of the questions are worded very clearly. =/

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The scientific feud that ended in an execution

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Leeches from the Underworld Don’t Want Your Blood

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Awesome astronomical board game from 1804

(note: comments do not require an email. the tapir’s PREHENSILE penis! good lord.)

from a paper by manuel eisner entitled “Modernization, Self‐Control and Lethal Violence” about how the homicide rate has been steadily dropping in europe since at least the middle ages:

“[T]he data suggest that the secular trajectories of low homicide rates differ among large geographic areas. It appears that English homicide rates were already considerably lower in the late sixteenth century than during the late Middle Ages and that they declined continuously along a log-linear trend over several centuries. Extant estimates for the Netherlands and Belgium suggest a very similar structure trend in these areas. In the Scandinavian countries, the transistion to the decreasing trend occurs notably later, namely in the first decades after 1600. Despite huge gaps in the data, the German-speaking areas may also be assumed to have joined the declining trend from the early seventeenth century onwards. For Italy, however, all the available data indicate that acts of individual-level lethal violence remained very frequent until the early nineteenth century. It is not until the mid-nineteenth century that the rate begins to decline, but then very steeply.”

hmmmm. now where have i heard a pattern like this before? england, the netherlands, germans earliest in something … scandinavians later … italians last. (~_^)

let’s look at eisner’s charts first (logarithmic scales):


“In the thirteenth and fourteenth century, the mean of almost 40 different estimates lies around 24 homicides per 100,000. The average homicide rates are higher for the late fourteenth century than for the thirteenth century, but it seems impossible to say whether this is due to the difference of the sources used or reflects a real increase related to the social and economic crises in the late Middle Ages. When estimate start again after a gap of some 150 years, the average calculated homicide rates are considerably lower with typical values of between 3-9 per 100,000. From then onwards, the data for Kent line up with surprising precision along a straight line that implies a long-term declining trend for more than 350 years.” [pg. 622]


“When plotted on a graph, the respective secular trends are very similar to those found for England. During the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, counts of murder and manslaughter cases in cities like Antwerp, Leuwen, Utrecht or Amsterdam consistently result in estimated homicide rates of between 30 and 60 cases per 100,000. Spierenburg presents a series of estimates for Amsterdam between the sixteenth and the early nineteenth centuries based on autopsy reports. He finds somewhat lower levels of about 20 per 100,000 in sixteenth-century Amsterdam…. Seventeenth-century homicide rates in both Amsterdam and Brussels are considerably lower and range between four and 11 per 100,000.” [pg. 623]


“In total, I found more than 30 estimates referring to various cities in the thirteenth and fourteenth century. They range between approximately eight and 80 homicides per 100,000, with an overall mean of 35…. Schwerhoff and Eibach present homicide rates based on convictions in the city of Francfourt am Main between the sixteenth and the late eighteenth centuries. A cluster of estimates around 1600 yields an average homicide rate of about 10 per 100,000.” [pg. 625]


“[The figure] suggests first that homicide rates typically ranged from 10 to 60 cases per 100,000 between the mid-fifteenth and the mid-seventeenth centuries and that the average rate may have been at about 25. Strikingly, the Scandinavian evidence shows no sign of declining homicide rates until about 1600. Yet by 1740, when the first Swedish national vital statistics are available, homicide rates are already below 1 per 100,000. The data thus suggest a spectacular decline of lethal personal violence by a factor of at least 10:1 within a period of only 150 years.” [pg. 624]

(just how fast can selection for certain traits happen?)


“The secular pattern in Italy … diverges decisively from the trend found for norther Europe. There exist isolated estimates for a number of Italian cities, such as Bologna, Florence, Mantova and Venice, whereby Florence shows the absolute highest homicide rate with 150 homicides per population of 100,000 in the fourteenth century. Blastenbrei provides homicide rates of 30 to 80 per 100,000 for Rome in the sixteenth century…. [T]he exant estimates do indicate that for a long period between the high Middle Ages and the seventeenth century in Italy, there was a slight decline in the frequency of homicides. However, Italy may be a particularly problematic case because of the vast differences between different areas. For example, Doneddu gives a homicide rate of 22 for late eighteenth-century Sardegna, while the data presented by Sardi for the duchy of Tuscany yield a rate of 4-5 per 100,000. Starting from 1881 … [t]he rate begins at about 8 per 100,000 and then — with the exception of higher rates during the final years of both world warsfalls steeply up to the mid 1960s.” [pgs. 626-27]

furthermore: “Durkheim showed that in the late nineteenth century an arc of high murder rates ranging from Ireland over Spain, Italy, Austria, and Hungary encircled a zone of low homicide rates.” [pg. 631]

eisner comes a hair’s breadth away from a good sociobiological explanation for why all of this happened, but he missed it (prolly ’cause he’s a criminologist and not a biologist — not that there’s anything wrong with that!):

“[T]he work of Norbert Elias probably forms the most prominent theoretical framework discussed by those historians of crime who are interested in explaining this long-term trend. Elias’s well-known theoretical model of the ‘civilizing process’ embraces long-term social dynamics at a macro level as well as changes in typical psychological traits and the developments in characteristic modes of behaviour. In a nutshell, the theory of the civilizing process holds that over a period of several centuries a type of personality has come to prevail that is characterized by increasing affect control, decreasing impulsivity, and a rationalized manner of living — in brief: high levels of self-control. Higher levels of self-control imply, in turn, the gradual pacification of everyday interactions, which becomes manifest by lower levels of violent behaviour…. [pg. 619]

all of these traits, like impulse control (deferred gratification), are undoubtedly at least partly rooted in our natures. i think it’s likely that what happened over time in europe (and elsewhere?) is that greater impulse control, etc., etc., was selected for in the population — but i’m a reductionist (hey, i’m in good company!), so you knew i’d say that. (~_^)

eisner offers up one of the standard explanations for the decrease of violence over time and that’s the role of the state. the state took over as the executor of revenge (we call it justice now) so individuals/families no longer had to mete it out — AND the state really, really discouraged violence in general — if you were violent, you’d go to jail or maybe be executed. i think the idea that the state has played a big role in the reduction of violence over time makes a lot sense, ’cause these things that the state started doing sure sound like selection pressures — clearly the second one is especially if you execute violent criminals. you just take them and all their personality traits right out of the gene pool, no?

but eisner also mentions an idea of émile durkheim‘s related to the reduction of violence that’s right up my alley:

“Durkheim saw the decline of homicide rates as resulting from the liberation of the individual from collective bonds rather than as the consequence of the coercive potential of the state. High levels of lethal violence thus mirror the intensity of ‘collective emotions’, which bind the individuals to ‘groups of things that symbolically represent these groups’. Violence thus declines to the degree that the person becomes liberated from its sacred obligation to the group, and the rise of moral individualism….”

“This is in accordance with a society in which ‘honour’ constitutes highly important social capital of the male person as a representative of his group…. Such a theoretical framework may help to better understand why the secular decline in homicide rates primarily seems to have been due to a decrease in male-to-male fights. And it may also offer a point of departure for understanding the high violence rates in Italy, where a culture of honour persisted despite the early development of administrative and judicial structures in the city states.” [pg. 632]

yes! but, again, what’s missing is the biology of it.

the individual in (parts of) europe was liberated from the “collective bonds” because europeans started outbreeding in the early medieval period and, over the subsequent generations, the frequencies and perhaps even types of altruism genes changed in the populations. europeans quit behaving like inbred pashtuns who are always looking for revenge when their familiy’s honor is tainted because they (the europeans) were no longer inbred.

england, the netherlands, belgium, germany and switzerland saw the earliest reduction of violence because they were the european populations who started outbreeding the earliest (in some cases, as early as the 500s). the scandinavians — the swedes and the norwegians, anyway — probably didn’t start outbreeding until sometime after ca. 1000 a.d. when they converted to christianity. that could amount to nearly 500 years less outbreeding compared to the franks and the english, and their reduction in crime was a few hundred years later as well.

populations on the periphery — the irish, the spanish, the italians, the hungarians — all continued to be much more violent than “core” europe for a much longer time AND they also all kept inbreeding in one form or another longer than the germans or the english. and the italians? — differences between the north and south, again! — the south being more violent than the north.

i know, i know. i start to sound like a certain individual (won’t mention any names!) who has only one explanation for everything. i don’t think inbreeding/oubreeding and altruism explains everything. REALLY! but i do think it applies in this case. it’s not the entire explanation (i think the role of the state is important, too, for instance) — and there’s more to it than just how much inbreeding/outbreeding there is. like greying wanderer said:

“i think there’s likely to be a compounding effect too. as the clannishness recedes it becomes easier – and in fact neccessary as the only previous rule of law was clan vendetta – to institute a communal rule of law instead.”

absolutely! with all of the outbreeding, european societies became more “corporate” simply because the old extended-family/clan/tribal ties disappeared. everything had to be arranged differently. but europeans — northwestern europeans more than others — also just felt differently about the world and their place in it and their relationships with others than their ancestors had. ’cause they were different.

h/t to halvorson for pointing out a post by agnostic on this paper from a couple of years ago @gnxp. thnx, halvorson!

(yes, i’ve got pinker’s new book sitting and waiting for me on my kindle. and i am planning on reading it. any day now…. (~_^) )

(note: comments do not require an email. justice?)