know thyself

you will never understand human biodiversity without first turning an hbd-eye on yourself.

before i elaborate on that, a small exercise. indulge me.

at the end of this sentence, when i ask you to, i want you to raise your eyes from your monitor (or smartphone or tablet or whatever device you’re using), glance around for a few seconds, and then come back here. okay: go!

back? great.

now, i don’t know exactly what you saw during your brief adventure away, but what i do know is that when you looked around your room or office or the coffee shop or your own private tropical island (d*mn you!), you experienced seeing a smooth, undisturbed, flowing picture of your surroundings — it was a video-like experience (hopefully not a shaky cam-like one! if so, get to a doctor, quick!). that experience is a false one, created by your brain to make life easier for you. what happens, in fact, is that each and every time we move our gaze from one object or scene to another, in the intervening nanoseconds, we are effectively blind. we don’t “see” anything for those split seconds. the reason we don’t experience what would presumably be a very disturbing and confusing one — the lights going off and on all day long! — is because our brains fool us. the brain interpolates the visual data captured via eyeballs, etc., and presents it all to its owner (user?) in a nice, even — but unreal — picture of what that individual “sees.”

cool, huh? yeah.

the reason i bring this up is just to illustrate how our brains are not really to be trusted. fantastic, wonderful, unfathomable organ! — but one that fools us. a lot! it deceives us so that we don’t go around bumping into things all day long (the saccadic masking mentioned above). it deceives us (deceives itself!) so that we can decieve others. it probably fools each of us into believing that we are discrete individuals — that we are or have “selves.” h*ck! it even looks like our consciousness is not a stream but more like rhythmic pulses. all for good evolutionary reasons, of course. but, still, there it is: the brain is a trickster.

once you realize this about the human brain — that it’s an indispensible but untrustworthy organ — all of the cognitive biases and dissonances that we suffer from start to make sense. humans are not rational creatures. we are capable of some amount of logic and rational thought (some more than others), but more often than not, our “reason” serves as an excuse generator for our innate drives, desires, and proclivities.

the next thing you need to know — and you really have to internalize this — is that all of those drives and desires and proclivities are innate. all behavioral traits are heritable to some degree or another, which means that genes are behind them, and which means that there’s not much any of us can do to change our natures. for instance, there prolly aren’t specific genes that will make a person a christian versus a muslim, but there are definitely genes “for” religiosity. which religion a person with “genes for” religious belief follows will obviously depend to a large degree on the culture in which he is immersed, but persons with “genes for” religious belief will tend to be religious or spiritual somehow.

all behavioral traits are heritable. and, so, you cannot change people or peoples — not fundamentally. people are what they are. you are what you are, and so most of your thoughts and conclusions and feelings about life and the world around you are expressions of your innate traits. mine, too. (don’t worry. i’ll get to that.) and let’s be honest: innate traits and a deceiving brain are no foundations for uncovering the truth. we cannot rely on our gut instincts in trying to uncover the facts about reality or to (consciously) understand how the world works. the only way around this problem of our lyin’, cheatin’, no-good brains is to rely on science and its finding. of course, since science is conducted by humans, we run into all those cognitive biases, etc., again. but with enough effort, i think we can eventually discover some truths. either that or space stations will some day start falling out of the sky, and we’ll know we’re doing it wrong.

now back to my initial point: you will never understand human biodiversity without first turning an hbd-eye on yourself. first, learn this about yourself — that your thoughts and feeling and behaviors are heritable and largely out of your control — and then try to apply this knowledge to your understanding of other individuals and groups. examine your ideas and your feelings. your gut instincts (be especially suspicious of those!). your beliefs. you may think you have thought through the important questions rationally, but chances are you haven’t. not really. be honest with yourself. and be hard on yourself. but remember to have a laugh about it all, too — how absurd it all is really at the end of the day! (~_^)

remember my three laws of human biodiversity. and don’t ever forget that there are exceptions to the rules — and that you might be one of them — or your neighbor might. always — always! — keep in the forefront of your mind the concept of AVERAGE when you think about the human biodiversity between groups — and that not every member of a group will fit the average. do NOT pick and choose the areas of human biodiversity that suit your tastes and disregard the rest. you won’t get any dessert if you do.

most importantly — and i can’t emphasize this enough — do NOT project your innate feeling and thoughts and inclinations onto others! you might think and feel one way, but the other person sitting next to you might not. and he might really think and feel very differently from you, and have a completely different perspective on the world — different in a fundamental way — that neither he nor you can change, because he was born this way. (or maybe experienced a developmental insult that affected his biology in a similarly permanent sort of fashion.)

do not project your preferences onto other individuals or groups. just because you like to keep a super tidy house (you ocd person) doesn’t mean others do. and just because you and your people feel that living in nuclear families and having loose (or nonexistent) extended family ties is a nice way to live doesn’t mean that other peoples want that. and just because democracy happens to work well in your population — or autocracy, depending on where you’re from — doesn’t mean either of them would transfer well to other populations having different average innate characteristics from your own.

so, below are some aspects of human biodiversity you might want to run through when you’re getting to know thyself. there’s lots more. these are just some things i thought of off the top of my head. (if i were really organized, which i am not, i would’ve linked to how heritable each of these different traits is. maybe i’ll go back and fill those in one of these days. for now, you’re on your own — google ’em. or check jayman’s blog. he’s probably got a lot of the heritability figures over there! (^_^) ) try and see if identifying and recognizing any or all of your innate traits helps you to understand why you think and feel and behave in the ways that you do.

i’ll start.

– are you male or female? men and women on average think and feel differently about an awful lot of things. don’t blame me. i’m just the messenger.

– are you heterosexual or homosexual? or some other sort of sexual? heterosexual men and women on average think and feel differently about quite a lot of things compared to gay men and lesbian women et al. and i don’t just mean about preferred sexual partners. remember that there are always exceptions to these rules. and remember not to PROJECT your thinking/feelings onto other subgroups here (yes, i am looking at you butch lesbian feminists!).

– what is your racial and, to my mind more interesting and important, ethnic background? what other sort of population or subpopulation might you belong to (eg. siberian peoples or sicilians)? are you a person of mixed heritage? plenty of average differences in all sorts of directions here.

– how intelligent are you? what’s your iq? try to remember that people of much lower intelligence than you will have a very hard time understanding a lot of the things that you do, and that you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to grasp the ideas and concepts that people more intelligent than you can. be humble (if you’re able).

– what personality traits characterize you? both big 5 and hexaco. are you open to experiences? people who score low on openness are generally conservative. are you conscientious? in other words, are you efficient and organized or more easy going and (*ahem*) disorderly? are you an extravert or an introvert? if you’re an extravert, you’re probably not enjoying this exercise at all. sorry. (in my experience, extraverts are not very introspective.) are you agreeable? kind, sympathetic, warm. or are you angry all the time? are you neurotic or emotional? or are you more stable? and from the hexaco scale, where do you rank when it comes to honesty-humility?

– how old are you? if you’re under, say, 24, keep in mind that your brain hasn’t finished developing yet. your frontal lobes are incomplete, so you’ve got very little sense. (~_^) if you’re a young male, between say 16 and 24, you might be quite aggressive (although not necessarily violent) and risk tasking. be careful out there! if you’re (*ahem*) older, remember that everything slows down with age. (sorry to remind you of that!) it does get harder to teach old dogs new tricks. and everybody, remember that, in general, each of us becomes more like our true selves as we get older, because we get to choose our preferred environments once we grow up.

– are you religious or areligious — or even irreligious? remember that religiosity/spirituality is highly heritable.

– are you conservative or liberal or something in between? or something more extreme? or apolitical? remember than political orientation is also highly heritable.

– are you an optimist or a pessimist? is the glass half full or half empty? are you a depressive, emo kid or are you one of those always-chipper people? again, all highly heritable.

– are you a follower or a contrarian? i haven’t seen much research on this (i know there is some, but i wish there was more), but i’d bet a ton of $$$ that these traits are highly heritable, too. prolly tie in with all the personality traits above.

– are you on the autism spectrum somewhere? one of simon baron-cohen’s systemizers or empathizers? do you have adhd? ocd? a touch of paranoid schizophrenia? (just because you’re paranoid….) all of these conditions can — and do! — obviously strongly affect the way individuals think and feel about the world around them.

– what about your personality and the dark triad? are you a psychopath? narcissist? machiavellian in your nature? again, all of these relate back to the personality traits above. are you histrionic?

– what’s your 2d:4d ratio? no one’s sure what’s behind the differences of these, but the ratio does correlate with all sorts of traits and behaviors.

– are you from what i call a “clannish” population or not? from a population that historically was located behind the hajnal line or not? you may disagree with me on why i think “clannishness” exists as a set of behavioral traits in different populations, but there’s not much disagreement on the fact that the behaviors do exist (and are measurable): individualism/collectivism vs. familism/non-collectivism; universalism vs. particularism; civic-minded/commonweal oriented vs. not civic-minded/not commonweal oriented; low corruption vs. high corruption; etc. again, you might be an exception to your population’s rule. then again, you may not be.

– do you think like a westerner?

– and, a special shout-out to one super-group: are you eastern european? if so, you might prefer authoritarianism (especially left-wing authoritarianism). keep in mind that others of us don’t.

that’s it! that’s all i’ve got for now. (^_^)

see also: me, myself, and i

previously: what is human biodiversity (hbd)? and hbd chick’s three laws of human biodiversity and you and me and hbd

(note: comments do not require an email. know thyself.)


linkfest – 03/05/14

DNA USA*“[A]bout about 4 percent of whites have at least 1 percent or more African ancestry. Although it is a relatively small percentage, the percentage indicates that an individual with at least 1 percent African ancestry had an African ancestor within the last six generations, or in the last 200 years. This data also suggests that individuals with mixed parentage at some point were absorbed into the white population. Looking a little more deeply into the data, Kasia also found that the percentage of whites with hidden African ancestry differed significantly from state-to-state. Southern states with the highest African American populations, tended to have the highest percentages of hidden African ancestry…. Previous published studies estimate that on average African Americans had about 82 percent African ancestry and about 18 percent European ancestry. But in self-identified African Americans in 23andMe’s database, Kasia found the average amount of African ancestry was closer to 73 percent. Kasia found significant differences in state-to-state comparisons. African Americans in the northern and western states have more mixed ancestry than those in the southern states…. On average Latinos had about 70 percent European ancestry, 14 percent Native American ancestry and 6 percent African ancestry. The remaining ancestry is difficult to assign because the DNA is either shared by a number of different populations around the world, or because it’s from understudied populations, such as Native Americans.” – from 23andMe.

Common Variants in the CDH7 Gene are Associated with Major Depressive Disorder in the Han Chinese Population“Recent genome-wide association study also demonstrated that CDH7 was significant associated with bipolar disorder…. Our results support CDH7 to be a risk factor of MDD in the Han Chinese population. However, further studies with more markers and independent samples were suggested to validate our findings.”

Humans May Have Been Stuck on Bering Strait for 10,000 Years“In the new Perspectives article, published today (Feb. 27) in the journal Science, the researchers compile existing data to support the idea, known as the Beringia standstill hypothesis. Among that evidence is genetic data showing that founding populations of Native Americans diverged from their Asian ancestors more than 25,000 years ago. In addition, land in the region of the Bering Strait teemed with grasses to support big game (for food) and woody shrubs to burn in the cold climate, supporting a hard-scrabble existence for ancient people.” – razib is skeptical.

Was skin cancer a selective force for black pigmentation in early hominin evolution?“[D]ata on age-associated cancer incidence and lethality in albinos living at low latitudes in both Africa and Central America support the contention that skin cancer could have provided a potent selective force for the emergence of black skin in early hominins.”

Neanderthal Introgression at Chromosome 3p21.31 Was Under Positive Natural Selection in East Asians“Studies of the Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes demonstrate archaic hominin introgression in Eurasians. Here, we present evidence of Neanderthal introgression within the chromosome 3p21.31 region, occurring with a high frequency in East Asians (ranging from 49.4% to 66.5%) and at a low frequency in Europeans. We also detected a signal of strong positive selection in this region only in East Asians…. [S]uggestive evidence supports latitude-dependent selection, implicating a role of ultraviolet-B.”

Neanderthals challenge the origins of speech“Neanderthals, may well have spoken in languages not dissimilar to the ones we use today…. [I]n terms of mechanical behaviour, the Neanderthal hyoid was basically indistinguishable from our own, strongly suggesting that this key part of the vocal tract was used in the same way. ‘From this research, we can conclude that it’s likely that the origins of speech and language are far, far older than once thought.'” – h/t billare (who is 0.1% neanderthal)!

READ THIS (yes, there *will* be a pop quiz on the material later in the week (~_^) )!: Environmental Hereditarianism“[T]here is little evidence linking most ‘measurable’ aspects of the environment to human physical or behavioral traits…. Most of the solid evidence we do have for environmental impacts come in the forms of things that do physical damage (e.g., maiming limbs or traumatic brain injury) – a category which includes poisons; or are developmental deficits, such as malnutrition. Much of the rest of it (take your pick) is lacking.” – from jayman. – previously: it’s not nature and nurture….

Outliers – from greg cochran.

New evidence confirms link between IQ, brain cortex“Rate of change in the thickness of the brain’s cortex is an important factor associated with a person’s change in IQ, according to a collaborative study by scientists in five countries…. This study is the first to show the association between cortical thickness and development in full scale IQ, and has potentially wide-ranging implications for the pedagogical world and for judicial cases in which the defendant’s IQ score could play a role in determining the severity of the sentence.”

The Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and All Your Most Cherished Beliefs“What kind of government do you live under? Who are your sexual partners? How do you treat strangers? All of these questions may mask a more fundamental one: What germs are you warding off?” – h/t jason collins! – but see this previous post: pathogens and consanguinity“the BIG outliers, though, are the arabs and all their middle eastern/north african/south asian muslim buddies. they are the ones throwing off the correlation completely…. these societies are amongst those that have the highest consanguinity rates, and yet some of their pathogen index scores are *very* low.” that part of the world also does not do well when it comes to (liberal) democracy. – see also jayman’s response.

Nicholas Wade Takes on the Regime – jared taylor reviews nicholas wade’s upcoming book on race. – h/t hbd bibliography! – see also this comment from jayman. – and see also Harmful, toxic equalism from the awesome epigone.

The Nature of Race – from karl boetel and john furest. see also here.

12,000 year old prehistoric art shows woman hunting – maybe. kinda/sorta. (not really.) – from adam benton.

Altruism and the Dark Side of Agreeableness“[B]eware of really nice people. If they seem too good to be true, they usually are.” – from staffan.

Forgotten fathers: paternal influences on mammalian sex allocation“A growing body of evidence suggests that the assumption that males produce an unbiased proportion of X- and Y-chromosome-bearing spermatozoa is not always valid with significant between- and even within-individual variation.” – a mechanism for trivers-willard? – h/t lars penke!

Digit Span: the modest little bombshell and What does IQ 70 mean for black and white kids? – from dr. thompson.

The paradox of the Visual Word Form Area“The VWFA functions differently in different human populations. The difference is striking between people who use alphabetical script, where each symbol represents a sound, and those who use logographic script, where each symbol represents an idea. Chinese subjects process their idea-based symbols with assistance from other brain regions, whereas Westerners process their sound-based symbols only in the VWFA.” – from peter frost.

The man who destroyed America’s ego“How a rebel psychologist challenged one of the 20th century’s biggest—and most dangerous—ideas…. Among the most egregious errors they discovered were those in the papers that focused on academic performance. A correlation had been repeatedly found between high self-esteem and good grades. So, the logic went, if you boosted self-esteem you’d also boost grades. But the authors had made one of the most elementary mistakes in science. ‘When they tracked people over time,’ says Baumeister, ‘the grades came first, and then the self-esteem. High self-esteem was a *result* of good grades, not a cause.'” – h/t matthew wygant!

Genetic Influences on Political Ideologies: Twin Analyses of 19 Measures of Political Ideologies from Five Democracies and Genome-Wide Findings from Three Populations“Here we present results from original analyses of a combined sample of over 12,000 twins pairs, ascertained from nine different studies conducted in five democracies, sampled over the course of four decades. We provide evidence that genetic factors play a role in the formation of political ideology, regardless of how ideology is measured, the era, or the population sampled…. We then present results from one of the first genome-wide association studies on political ideology using data from three samples: a 1990 Australian sample involving 6,894 individuals from 3,516 families; a 2008 Australian sample of 1,160 related individuals from 635 families and a 2010 Swedish sample involving 3,334 individuals from 2,607 families. No polymorphisms reached genome-wide significance in the meta-analysis. The combined evidence suggests that political ideology constitutes a fundamental aspect of one’s genetically informed psychological disposition, but as Fisher proposed long ago, genetic influences on complex traits will be composed of thousands of markers of very small effects and it will require extremely large samples to have enough power in order to identify specific polymorphisms related to complex social traits.”

Why Americans Are So Polarized: Education and Evolution“Improvements in learning — which correlates with stronger partisanship — and the tendency to choose likeminded mates may be helping to create divided politics.” – from avi tuschman. – h/t eddy elmer!

Conservatives generally more willing to take business risks, study finds

Paternal Age at Childbearing and Offspring Psychiatric and Academic Morbidity“In the study population, advancing paternal age was associated with increased risk of some psychiatric disorders (eg, autism, psychosis, and bipolar disorders) but decreased risk of the other indexes of morbidity.”

A Genotype-First Approach to Defining the Subtypes of a Complex Disease – h/t kevin mitchell who tweeted: “Increasing recog’n that ‘common disorders; like autism really umbrella terms for many rare diseases.”

Researchers look at boy-girl differences in autism“Boys, it seems, can develop autism from a relatively small genetic hit, according to a study published today in the American Journal of Human Genetics. It takes more of a genetic wallop, though, to cause autism in girls – so when they do get it, they’re worse off. The same explanation holds true, researchers think, for the gender imbalance in ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), intellectual disabilities and schizophrenia.” – see also: A Higher Mutational Burden in Females Supports a “Female Protective Model” in Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

China Cracks Down on DNA Testing – h/t jayman!

Epigenetics: The sins of the father – big story in nature today. – “The roots of inheritance may extend beyond the genome, but the mechanisms remain a puzzle.” – but swedish scientist on twitter says: “But Rando misquotes Swedish human data in his Cell paper on mice. Caution for epigenetic hype!” – hmmmm. =/

The Consequences of Natural Morality“Good and Evil are not objective things. They exist as subjective impressions, creating a powerful illusion that they are objective things. This illusion that Good and Evil are objects independent of the conscious minds that imagine them exists for a good reason. It ‘works.’ In other words, its existence has enhanced the probability that the genes responsible for its existence will survive and reproduce.” – from helian.

Digit ratio predicts eminence of Polish actors – this one’s for sisyphean! (^_^) – h/t ben southwood!

Sex differences in color preferences transcend extreme differences in culture and ecology.

In Academia, Women Collaborate Less With Their Same-Sex Juniors“‘Some older women treated us younger women almost worse than some men did,’ she says. ‘We called it the “Queen Bee syndrome.”‘” – heh. – h/t claire lehmann!

Women Can Keep the Vote: No Evidence That Hormonal Changes During the Menstrual Cycle Impact Political and Religious Beliefs – behind paywall.

Women ‘subconsciously outdo other females’ during ovulation“But what the researchers found really surprising is that ovulating women did not appear to want a higher standing over men – they became kinder to them. When playing the dictator game, non-ovulating women shared 45% of their money with men, while ovulating women were willing to share 60% of their money with men. These findings are unlike anything we have ever seen in the dictator game. You just don’t see people giving away more than half of their money,’ says Prof. Durante.” – (~_^)

Women Outperform Men in Ultra-Distance Swimming – The ‘Manhattan Island Marathon Swim’ From 1983 to 2013. – because we float better (because we have that extra layer of fat)? (~_^)

Sameness and the self: philosophical and psychological considerations.“[H]ow can a person maintain a belief in the sameness of self over time in the face of continual psychological and physical change?” – h/t neuroskeptic!

Young Children Can Be Taught Basic Natural Selection Using a Picture-Storybook Intervention – but not politically correct people, apparently. (~_^) – h/t stuart ritchie!

Study: Racial bias in pain perception appears among children as young as 7 – see also: Psychologists use baby-cam to study infants’ exposure to faces.

Mixed-race children ‘are being failed’ in treatment of mental health problems“Children of mixed race are at greater risk of suffering from mental health problems and are not getting the support they need, says a report.” – in the u.k.

Inferring Character From Faces: A Developmental Study.“This research suggests that the predisposition to judge others using scant facial information appears in adultlike forms early in childhood and does not require prolonged social experience.”

Los europeos no inventaron la desigualdad en Hispanoamérica – from eduardo zugasti.

Native American city on the Mississippi was America’s first ‘melting pot’carcosa cahokia. – “By analyzing the teeth of those buried in different locations in Cahokia, Emerson, state archaeological survey bioarchaeologist Kristin Hedman and graduate student Philip Slater discovered that immigrants formed one-third of the population of the city throughout its history (from about AD 1050 through the early 1300s).”

Two-hundred-year drought doomed Indus Valley Civilization“Monsoon hiatus that began 4,200 years ago parallels dry spell that led civilizations to collapse in other regions.”

HBD 101 – from malcolm pollack. (*^_^*)

bonus: A ‘Second Great Wave’ of immigration?“‘Once again, the country is approaching a percentage of foreign-born not seen since the late 1800s and early 1900s,’ the Census Bureau wrote on its blog this week.” – =/ – h/t ray sawhill!

bonus bonus: Muhammad’s birthplace to be razed – remember that the najdis hate the hejazis and vice versa.

bonus bonus bonus: Giant Virus, Awakened From 30,000-Year Slumber, Is Still Infectious – ruh roh (if you’re an amoeba)!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Crawling Through The Brain Without Getting Lost“Do the wasps taste their way through a cockroach brain?” – mmmmmm! =/

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Australia: Snake eats crocodile after battle – WITH PICTURES! =o – h/t ed west!

(note: comments do not require an email. g-8 selfie. (~_^) )