linkfest – 10/11/15

Ancient Ethiopian genome reveals extensive Eurasian admixture throughout the African continent“Here, we present a 12.5x coverage ancient genome of an Ethiopian male (‘Mota’) who lived approximately 4,500 years ago. We use this genome to demonstrate that the Eurasian backflow into Africa came from a population closely related to Early Neolithic farmers, who had colonized Europe 4,000 years earlier. The extent of this backflow was much greater than previously reported, reaching all the way to Central, West and Southern Africa, affecting even populations such as Yoruba and Mbuti, previously thought to be relatively unadmixed, who harbor 6-7% Eurasian ancestry.” – h/t john hawks! who tweeted: “First ancient DNA from Ethiopia shows that today’s sub-Saharan Africans are at least 0.2-0.7% Neanderthal ancestry!” – see also: First Ancient African Genome Reveals Vast Eurasian Migration“The man’s genome is, unsurprisingly, more closely related to present-day Ethiopian highlanders known as the Ari than to any other population the team examined, suggesting a clear line of descent for the Ari from ancient human populations living in the area. But further genetic studies show that the Ari also descend from people that lived outside Africa, which chimes with a previous study that discovered a ‘backflow’ of humans into Africa from Eurasia around 3,000 years ago.”

Eight thousand years of natural selection in Europe“The arrival of farming in Europe around 8,500 years ago necessitated adaptation to new environments, pathogens, diets, and social organizations…. We identify genome-wide significant signatures of selection at loci associated with diet, pigmentation and immunity, and two independent episodes of selection on height…. These results suggest that the modern South-North gradient in height across Europe is due to both increased steppe ancestry in northern populations, and selection for decreased height in Early Neolithic migrants to southern Europe. “

The Hybrid Origin of “Modern” Humans“Recent genomic research has shown that hybridization between substantially diverged lineages is the rule, not the exception, in human evolution. However, the importance of hybridization in shaping the genotype and phenotype of Homo sapiens remains debated. Here we argue that current evidence for hybridization in human evolution suggests not only that it was important, but that it was an essential creative force in the emergence of our variable, adaptable species.”

Neanderthal ‘flower children’ burials theory debunked“New research casts doubt on the idea that Neanderthals buried their dead covered in flowers.”

Intelligence in youth and health at age 50“Higher intelligence in youth is linked with better physical health at age 50.” – h/t andrew sabisky!

Chorionicity and Heritability Estimates from Twin Studies: The Prenatal Environment of Twins and Their Resemblance Across a Large Number of Traits“There are three types of monozygotic (MZ) twins. MZ twins can either share one chorion and one amnion, each twin can have its own amnion, or MZ twins can—like dizygotic twins—each have their own chorion and amnion. Sharing the same chorion may create a more similar/dissimilar prenatal environment and bias heritability estimates…. We conclude that the influence on the MZ twin correlation of the intra-uterine prenatal environment, as measured by sharing a chorion type, is small and limited to a few phenotypes.”

Genetic transmission of reading ability – h/t steve stewart williams! who tweeted: “If you want your kids to read, your best bet is to have kids with a reader.”

It All Began at Ararat, and Esau’s Revenge“Ancient DNA in Europe strongly indicates massive replacement [of hunter-gatherers by agriculturalists]. But, there is also suggestion of admixture with the local substrate. And, unlike the stylized model of Bellwood, it seems that there were multiple migrations after the initial pulse which reshaped the genetic and cultural landscape of human societies in the wake of agriculture.” – from razib.

Closing the Black-White IQ Gap Debate, Part I – from chanda chisala. and a response from peter frost: No, blacks aren’t all alike. Who said they were? – and previously on this blog: there’s more to human biodiversity than just racial differences.

The Association of Cognitive Ability with Right-wing Ideological Attitudes and Prejudice: A Meta-analytic Review“The present meta-analyses revealed an average effect size of r = −.20 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) [−0.23, −0.17]; based on 67 studies, N = 84 017] for the relationship between cognitive ability and right-wing ideological attitudes and an average effect size of r = −.19 (95% CI [−0.23, −0.16]; based on 23 studies, N = 27 011) for the relationship between cognitive ability and prejudice.”

[male] Chimps like boys toys too“If you want to know why young boys play with toy guns, you could do worse than consider why young male chimpanzees play with leaves and stones.” – h/t darren burke! who tweeted: “Western social constructivism is so insidious and widespread it is even affecting wild chimpanzees now!” – (~_^)

Ravens cooperate, but not with just anyone“Ravens detect cheaters in cooperation.”

Understanding the Cognitive and Genetic Underpinnings of Procrastination: Evidence for Shared Genetic Influences With Goal Management and Executive Function Abilities – procrastination (at least) 28% heritable. will have to read original paper. tomorrow, maybe. (~_^)

Personality Traits Increasingly Important for Male Fertility: Evidence from Norway“[P]ersonality relates to men’s and women’s fertility differently; conscientiousness decreases female fertility, openness decreases male fertility and extraversion raises the fertility of both sexes. Neuroticism depresses fertility for men, but only for those born after 1956.”

Host genetic variation impacts microbiome composition across human body sites“Our results highlight the role of host genetic variation in shaping the composition of the human microbiome, and provide a starting point toward understanding the complex interaction between human genetics and the microbiome in the context of human evolution and disease.”

DNA At the Fringes: Twins, Chimerism, and Synthetic DNA – h/t genetics and society! who tweeted: “Chimeras could undermine DNA forensics & use of DNAtesting as conclusive proof of crime & family.”

Ethnic differences in the association between depression and chronic pain: cross sectional results from UK Biobank [pdf] – h/t don lyall!

Emotion, rationality, and decision-making: how to link affective and social neuroscience with social theory

Women and men react differently to infidelity“While men are most jealous of sexual infidelity, women are most jealous of emotional infidelity.” – w.e.i.r.d. study. (n=1000).

‘Safe spaces’ exist because universities treat secular ideas as sacred“The most influential effect of this cultural and political imbalance is that academia has ignored the increasing evidence that human traits are heavily influenced by hereditary factors, most prominently in intelligence and sexual differences. This has a huge bearing on public policy, especially when so much of policy is involved in tackling inequality of various kinds. It would be like trying to reduce economic inequality while pretending that wealth cannot be inherited, because that’s offensive to people’s parents, and that all fortunes were the results of education, hard work or sheer luck.” – from ed west.

Relics of the Blank Slate, as Excavated at “Ethics” Magazine“There’s a reason that the Blank Slaters clung so bitterly to their absurd orthodoxy for so many years. If there is such a thing as human nature, then all the grandiose utopias they concocted for us over the years, from Communism on down, would vanish like so many mirages.” – from helian.

Anthropologist: “I’ve Never Been So Disgusted with My Own Data” – from steve sailer.

“Ethics” is advertising – david chapman on virtue signaling (trans: signalling. (~_^) ).

Two Fed economists tried to replicate some top economic studies — and the results are dreadful – from mike bird.

The shifting tide of American immigration – from colin woodard.

Missing piece of Gilgamesh Epic discovered

Pompeii Victims’ Bodies Revealed in [ct] Scans: Photos

Excavations at Mexican ruin site yields new details of Aztecs’ sacrifice of captured Spaniards“It was one of the worst defeats in one of history’s most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.”

bonus: Most worker ants are slackers“[N]ew research shows that many ants in a colony seem to specialize in doing nothing at all. To get a closer look at how these ants filled their time, researchers marked every member of five lab-based colonies with dots of colored paint. Over the course of 2 weeks, a high-definition camera recorded 5-minute segments of the ants in action six times a day, capturing their behavior (or lack thereof). Out of the ‘workers,’ 71.9% were inactive at least half the time, and 25.1% were never seen working. A small fraction of the ants, just 2.6%, were always active during observation, the researchers wrote last month in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.”

bonus bonus: How to Dupe a Dung Beetle“A case of biological mimicry has been spotted in Ceratocaryum argenteum, a South African plant that tricks dung beetles into spreading its stinky seeds.”

bonus bonus bonus: Elephants: Large, Long-Living and Less Prone to Cancer“Dr. Schiffman and his colleagues found that elephants have evolved new copies of the p53 gene [“a gene that is crucial for preventing cancer”]. While humans have only one pair of p53 genes, the scientists identified 20 pairs in elephants.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: DNA Sequenced for New Zealand’s First Dog – the kurī. woof!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Watch Drones Drop Thousands of Moths on Crops

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Honour, community and hierarchy in the feasts of the archery and crossbow guilds of Bruges, 1445–81

and the tweet of the week… (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. “Humans come then go, that is the way fate decreed on the Tablets of Destiny.”)

r.i.p. blank slate (and what does “the environment” mean anyway?)

so the mother of all meta-analyses of twin studies and the heritability of human traits was published the other day: “Meta-analysis of the heritability of human traits based on fifty years of twin studies” [pdf].

the authors looked at “17,804 traits from 2,748 publications including 14,558,903 partly dependent twin pairs, virtually all published twin studies of complex traits.” 14.5+ MILLION twin pairs! as james thompson said, this study pretty much represents “the mother of ‘F*** Off’ samples.” (~_^) in future, if someone says to you that twin studies were debunked a long time ago, blah, blah, blah, just point them to this paper.

and the upshot is: we are not blank slates. we never were.

from the paper, “[A]cross all traits the reported heritability is 49%.” in other words, these researchers found that pretty much half of the variance in all sorts of physical and behavioral traits in humans — the differences that we see between people — can be accounted for by genetics.

here’s a key table from the paper. i took the liberty of jiggling it around a bit so it would fit better on the blog (h2 is what you should be looking at here — that’s narrow sense heritabilty):

twin studies meta-analysis

the press has picked this up as there being an even split between nature and nurture, genes versus “the environment.” here, for example, from the huffington post*:

“Nature Or Nurture? The Long-Running Debate May Finally Be Settled”

“It’s an age-old debate: do our genes make us who we are, or is it the environment in which we were raised?

“There’s long been agreement that both ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ play some role in determining many aspects of our physical and mental selves, from our height and weight to our intelligence and disposition. But as to which plays the bigger role in shaping us, scientists have never seemed to agree.

“That debate may now be over, thanks to a sweeping analysis of studies conducted around the world for more than five decades. The analysis — involving more than 14.5 million twin pairs from 39 countries — indicates that nature and nurture are virtually tied.

“Across all of our traits, in other words, genes and environment exert equal influence.”

yeeeessss…but what is “the environment”? on hearing that most people will think of things like reading bedtime stories to kids or playing mozart to your unborn fetus. but those sorts of things are decidedly not what the environment is in this context. from kevin mitchell of wiring the brain:

i’ve blogged this before, but i think we all need to read it again — from steven pinker on “the environment”:

“Even the technical sense of ‘environment’ used in quantitative behavioral genetics is perversely confusing. Now, there is nothing wrong with partitioning phenotypic variance into components that correlate with genetic variation (heritability) and with variation among families (‘shared environment’). The problem comes from the so-called ‘nonshared’ or ‘unique environmental influences.’ This consists of all the variance that is attributable neither to genetic nor familiar variation. In most studies, it’s calculated as 1 – (heritability + shared environment). Practically, you can think of it as the differences between identical twins who grow up in the same home. They share their genes, parents, older and younger siblings, home, school, peers, and neighborhood. So what could make them different? Under the assumption that behavior is a product of genes plus environment, it must be something in the environment of one that is not in the environment of the other.

But this category really should be called ‘miscellaneous/unknown,’ because it has nothing necessarily to do with any measurable aspect of the environment, such as one sibling getting the top bunk bed and the other the bottom, or a parent unpredictably favoring one child, or one sibling getting chased by a dog, coming down with a virus, or being favored by a teacher. These influences are purely conjectural, and studies looking for them have failed to find them. The alternative is that this component actually consists of the effects of chance – new mutations, quirky prenatal effects, noise in brain development, and events in life with unpredictable effects.

“Stochastic effects in development are increasingly being recognized by epidemiologists, frustrated by such recalcitrant phenomena such as nonagenarian pack-a-day smokers and identical twins discordant for schizophrenia, homosexuality, and disease outcomes. They are increasingly forced to acknowledge that God plays dice with our traits. Developmental biologists have come to similar conclusions. The bad habit of assuming that anything not classically genetic must be ‘environmental’ has blinkered behavioral geneticists (and those who interpret their findings) into the fool’s errand of looking for environmental effects for what may be randomness in developmental processes.”

and more from kevin mitchell:

“Just because some trait is not genetic does not mean it is not innate. If we are talking about how the brain gets wired, any number of prenatal environmental factors are known to have large effects. More interestingly, however, and probably a greater source of variance across the population, is intrinsic developmental variation. Wiring the brain is a highly complex procedure, reliant on cellular processes that are, in engineering terms, inherently ‘noisy’. Running the programme from the same starting point (a specific genotype) does not generate exactly the same output (the phenotype) every time. The effects of this noise are readily apparent at the anatomical level, when examining the impact of specific mutations, for example. In many cases, the phenotypic consequences are quite variable between genetically identical organisms, or even on two sides of the same brain. (If you want to see direct evidence of such developmental variation, take a directly face-on photograph of yourself, cut it in half and make mirror-image copies of the left and right sides. You will be amazed how different the two resultant faces are).

If the way the brain is wired is determined, not just by the starting genotype, but, to a large extent by chance events during development, then it is reasonable to expect this variation to be manifest in many psychological traits. Such traits may thus be far more innate than behavioural genetics studies alone would suggest.

in other words, it’s NOT genes + environment (or nature + nurture) — not as most people would think of it anyway. it’s genes + shared environment (which, since it’s shared, i.e. the same for the individuals in question, oughtn’t to make a difference, right?) + nonshared environment (which can include de novo mutations and development noise, which also may be heritable! iow, variation itself might be a genetic trait.). not much room for the effects of nurture here.

so, when you see a figure like 51% for “environmental” causes behind the differences we see in traits between people, remember that that very much includes biological causes like new mutations that are particular to individuals and developmental “noise,” which again may ultimately be regulated by genes.

(and, no, it’s not epigenetics either! see here and here and here.)

h/t once again to jayman for cluing me in on this in the first place! (^_^)
_____

*to give credit where credit is due, the huff post journalist did mention that part of what’s included in “the environment” is measurement error. that is correct. edit: see comment below about measurement error. so the 49% heritabilty figure should be considered a very conservative figure.

p.s. – there’s even a dedicated website where you can have a look at all the heritability numbers for yourself. enjoy!

see also: Gone with the Wind from dr. james thompson, Nature, nurture and noise from kevin mitchell, and About Developmental Noise and Environmental Hereditarianism from jayman.

previously: it’s not nature and nurture…

(note: comments do not require an email. the blank slate.)

linkfest – 02/23/15

Stone Age skull from Kenya reveals astonishing human diversity“A partial human skull found at a site in Kenya suggests early humans living in Africa were incredibly diverse. The 22,000-year-old skull is not a new species and is clearly that of an anatomically modern human, but is markedly different from similar finds from Africa and Europe from the same time, the researchers said…. [T]he new findings suggest that during this early period of human history, Africa may have supported even greater human diversity, with small, offshoot lineages that no longer exist today….”

A New Theory on How Neanderthal DNA Spread in Asia“Researchers have discovered that Neanderthals interbred with the ancestors of Asians at two points in history, giving this population an extra infusion of Neanderthal DNA.”

Division of labor by sex and age in Neandertals: an approach through the study of activity-related dental wear“The study reveals that all individuals have cultural striations, but those detected on the adult females are longer than the striations found in adult males. Regarding the distribution of dental chipping, the prevalence of this trait is higher in the maxillary dentition of males whereas females have the majority of dental chipping on their mandibular teeth. T he differences detected on the overall activity-related dental wear pattern denote a difference or a division of labor by age and sex in Neandertals while using the mouth as a third hand, i.e., in activities other than the provisioning of food, and provide new evidence for the lifestyle of this Pleistocene fossil human species.” – h/t paleogenomics!

European languages linked to migration from the east“Large ancient-DNA study uncovers population that moved westwards 4,500 years ago.” — see also Massive Migration and Origins from greg cochran.

A story of 69 ancient Europeans – from dienekes. you need to read this one!

Genetic Characterization of Human Populations: From ABO to a Genetic Map of the British People – see map here @dienekes’.

Y chromosomes and Catalan surnames“‘By genotyping 17 Y-STRs and 68 SNPs in ~2500 male samples that each carried one of the 50 selected Catalan surnames, we could determine sets of descendants of a common ancestor, the population of origin of the common ancestor, and the date when such a common ancestor lived. Haplotype diversity was positively correlated with surname frequency, that is, rarer surnames showed the strongest signals of coancestry. Introgression rates of Y chromosomes into a surname by non-paternity, adoption, and transmission of the maternal surname were estimated at 1.5−2.6% per generation, with some local variation. Average ages for the founders of the surnames were estimated at ~500 years, suggesting a delay between the origin of surnames (twelfth and thirteenth centuries) and the systematization of their paternal transmission. We have found that, in general, a foreign etymology for a surname does not often result in a non-indigenous origin of surname founders; however, bearers of some surnames with an Arabic etymology show an excess of North African haplotypes.'” – @dienekes’.

Genetic evidence for an origin of the Armenians from Bronze Age mixing of multiple populations

Stone Age skeleton judged Norway’s oldest – 8000 years old.

Italic “Eteocretan” Sea peoples? – also @dienekes’.

Making Discoveries about Human Evolution Using 3D Technology

Make Love, Not Disease“New research on the genetic advantages of sexual reproduction has found that blending our genes through sex helps purge us of disease mutations.”

Human Genome Studies Reveal How Little Is Necessary To Explain the Human DNA Behind our Bigger Brains

Gene Changes Make Humans’ Sense of Taste Unique“Our ability to eat bitter plants help distinguish us from our ancestors and chimpanzees today.”

Dominance Genetic Variation Contributes Little to the Missing Heritability for Human Complex Traits – h/t gerome breen!

Elevated germline mutation rate in teenage fathers [pdf] – “We observe, as expected, that the overall mutation rate for fathers is seven times higher than for mothers. Also as expected, mothers have a low and lifelong constant DNA mutation rate. Surprisingly, however, we discover that (i) teenage fathers already set out from a much higher mutation rate than teenage mothers (potentially equivalent to 77–196 male germline cell divisions by puberty); and (ii) ageing men maintain sperm DNA quality similar to that of teenagers….” – h/t andrew sabisky! jayman tweeted: “8.2% false paternity rate in West Africans and 1.3% in Middle Easterners in this sample.”

Escape from crossover interference increases with maternal age – h/t billare! who tweeted: “Higher recombination rates in older women, being less concentrated in the usual hotspots. Men tend to stick w/theirs.”

Predicting and retrodicting intelligence between childhood and old age in the 6-Day Sample of the Scottish Mental Survey 1947“Terman–Merrill Stanford–Binet intelligence test scores at age 11 years correlated .72 with verbal intelligence at age 77. Adding another test from age 11 and educational took the multiple R to .81. National Adult Reading Test scores at age 77 and educational had a multiple R of .75 with IQ scores at age 11.” – h/t stuart ritchie! — see also Steady as she goes from dr. james thompson.

Peer effects: they exist but they’re not very big – from ben southwood.

Indian states: G and S factors – from emil kirkegaard.

State IQ estimates (2013) and 2013 IQ estimates by state, total and white only and State IQ estimates, blacks only (2013) and State IQ estimates, Hispanics only (2013) and IQ by race and parental educational attainment – from the awesome epigone.

Nailing liberalism / conservatism by the 50 U.S. States – from bryan pesta.

Low IQ ups risk of heavy drinking among men“The researchers analysed data collected from 49,321 Swedish males born during 1949 to 1951 and who were conscripted for Swedish military service from 1969 to 1971. IQ results were available from tests performed at conscription, and questionnaires also given at conscription provided data on total alcohol intake (consumed grams of alcohol/week) and pattern of drinking, as well as medical, childhood and adolescent conditions, and tobacco use. Adjustments were made for socio-economic position as a child, psychiatric symptoms and emotional stability and the father’s alcohol habits. ‘We found that lower results on IQ tests in Swedish adolescent men are associated with a higher consumption of alcohol, measured in both terms of total intake and binge drinking,’ Sjolund said.” h/t ruta akula!

Mathematical Proof Is Not Minutiae And Irreducible Complexity Is Not A Theory: A Final Response To Burt And Simons And A Call Tl Criminologists – from brian boutwell et al. brian tweeted: “Our second response to the call within Criminology to ban twin research.”

Familial Clustering of Tic Disorders and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – h/t amir sariaslan!

A two-dimensional model of psychopathy and antisocial behavior: A multi-sample investigation using items from the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised – h/t richard harper! who tweeted: “[P]sychopathy as fearless affect plus disinhibited lifestyle, then plus anti-social to get crime.”

Birds of a “bad” feather flock together: The Dark Triad and mate choice“[W]omen high in psychopathy considered the Dark Triad traits in potential male partners more physically attractive and desirable for an one-night stand, as well as a potential husband. Men who were high on psychopathy were likewise attracted to psychopathy in potential mothers.”

Cads and dads“Promiscuity and fidelity seem to be specific biological adaptations. Their manifestations in men and women are not as different as you might expect.” (whatever’s gotten into the economist these days?)

Genetic similarity between mates predicts extrapair paternity — a meta-analysis of bird studies

Who cares? Why evolution suggests parenting responsibility is seldom equally shared

Sex Differences in Preferences for Humor: A Replication, Modification, and Extension [pdf] – “[M]en prefer women who are receptive to their humor whereas women prefer men who produce humor. These findings held even after we modified Bressler et al.’s questionnaire for better conceptual validity. Furthermore, using a separate measure designed to assess trade-offs, we found that men viewed humor receptivity as a necessity and humor production as a luxury when they were asked to create an ideal long-term partner. For women, it was just the opposite.”

How Big are Psychological Sex Differences?“Sex Differences are Not Small if You Know Where to Look” – h/t claire lehmann!

Prenatal hyperandrogenic environment induced autistic-like behavior in rat offspring – h/t simon baron-cohen!

The influence of prenatal hormones on occupational choice: 2D:4D evidence from Moscow“Women in enterprising occupations exhibited lower measured 2D:4D ratios than average. Those in conventional and social work had higher 2D:4D ratios. Results confirm previous findings on 2D:4D and gender-specific occupational interests.”

Examining the Impact of Peer Group Selection on Self-Reported Delinquency: A Consideration of Active Gene–Environment Correlation – h/t jayman! who tweeted: “Do peers still influence adolescent delinquency after taking into account genetic influences? No.”

Socioeconomic status and sick leave granted for mental and somatic disorders: a prospective study of young adult twins“Low SES is associated with a higher level of sick leave granted for both mental and somatic disorders among young adults, but these associations are confounded by factors that are common to co-twins. Education and income are therefore not likely to strongly affect sick leave in young adulthood.”

List of genetic confounds – from emil kirkegaard.

Sibling differences in low birth weight, dopaminergic polymorphisms, and ADHD symptomatology“[L]ow birth weight siblings are at significantly greater risk of exhibiting symptoms of ADHD during childhood relative to their normal birth weight siblings. Moreover, possessing greater genetic risk on three dopaminergic genes (DAT1, DRD2, and DRD4) relative to a sibling appears to exacerbate the link between sibling differences in birth weight and sibling differences in ADHD symptomatology.”

What is different about the brains of “SuperAgers”“Compared with average elderly individuals, they found fewer Alzheimer-type neurofibrillary tangles and an increased packing density of von Economo neurons, especially in the anterior cingulate.”

“Bad genes” & criminal responsibility – MAOA stuff.

Heritability & the left“[T]here’s no conflict between leftism and a belief in the heritability of ability.” – that’s what i said! see also: Heritability, Left and Right.

What does it say about Owen Jones that he isn’t interested in scientific research?“What I find irritating about progressive politics is that it ignores and contradicts science, while at the same time pretending to be in favour of reason. The entire worldview is based on the tabula rasa idea of human nature which is contradicted by science. The blank slate makes the progressive goal of equality of outcomes possible; indeed, if equality is not achieved there can only be nefarious forces at work and ‘more work to be done’.” – from ed west. see also Fancy a job in academia or the media? Best brush up on the new political correctness“[Political correctness is] a faith, and it does not matter how daft the belief systems of a faith appear to a rational mind; if its critics sound backwards and out of touch and rural – literally ‘pagan’ – it will succeed.”

Both liberals and conservatives have anti-science biases, study finds“New research suggests that liberals, as well as conservatives, can be biased against science that doesn’t align with their political views.” — see also Nuclear Power and the Anti-Science Ideology of the “Progressive” Left from helian.

Why science is so hard to believe“Science appeals to our rational brain, but our beliefs are motivated largely by emotion, and the biggest motivation is remaining tight with our peers. ‘We’re all in high school. We’ve never left high school,’ says Marcia McNutt. ‘People still have a need to fit in, and that need to fit in is so strong that local values and local opinions are always trumping science. And they will continue to trump science, especially when there is no clear downside to ignoring science.'”

John Derbyshire On Culturalists vs. Biologians; Or, Where Is The American Harald Eia?

Have Mormons been bred for gullibility? – from agnostic.

Islam Is Not a Religion of the Book“By this, I mean that as a whole humans are prone to accepting the primary causal role of reflective cognition, of beliefs avowed and rationales offered. We are confident in our conscious self control, despite a robust body of cognitive psychology which implies that much of our cognition is not under the control or constraint of rational faculties. This problem is particularly extreme among intellectuals, the very class which also attempts to understand human phenomena. Through the simple process of introspection and extrapolation intellectuals tend to reduce human action to the outcome of ratiocination, inference from eternal axioms. This is wholly inadequate to a phenomenon as complex as religion.” – from razib.

Your DNA is everywhere. Can the police analyze it?“Supreme Court weighing if we must live in sealed bubbles to maintain DNA privacy.”

FDA panel could soon approve 23andMe home genetics test

Linguists link English, Hindi to single ancestor language spoken 6,500 years ago – h/t steve stewart williams!

Old India’s Village of Warriors Becomes Birthplace of Bouncers“Look closely and it becomes clear that the bouncers are all of a single physical type, their chests and biceps built like the front bumper of a sport utility vehicle. If they look like cousins, it is because they are. A startling number of them share a family name, Tanwar, and when the nightclubs close many will return to the same nearby village, a place where women walk down dusty lanes with their faces obscured by a cloth, balancing stacks of dried cow dung on their heads, much as their ancestors did three centuries ago…. The musclemen from the village of Fatehpur Beri are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the city, a genetic line that fortified itself over the course of centuries as they defended their village against waves of invaders on their way to the seat of empire. The sons and grandsons of cow and goat herders, they were born in an outpost surrounded on all sides by croplands. As Fatehpur Beri was swallowed by the expanding city, its spartan strongmen continued to train in the traditional way, stripping down to loincloths and wrestling in a circle of mud. But they were forced to look for a new line of work. ‘There is an element of the warrior in the Tanwars,’ said Ankur Tanwar, who opened the village’s first gym about a decade ago. ‘We fought with the Muslim invaders. We fought with the Britishers.'”

Ancient Egyptians had state-supported health care – at least some of them did.

bonus: Man’s best friend…unless you’re lying: How dogs can sense whether a person is trustworthy – h/t ninja economics! also: When you’re happy and you show it, dogs know it.

bonus bonus: The Cold May Have Cost Penguins Most of Their Taste Buds“Recent genetic analysis shows that penguins can’t taste sweet or bitter, and scientists think sub-zero temps may be to blame.”

bonus bonus bonus: Limpet teeth set new strength record

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Study Finds Jack Shit – h/t jayman!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Lost Sherlock Holmes story discovered

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: a poem. (^_^)

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: #TheTitleOfMySexTape (~_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. limpet tooth.)

behavioral genetics and twin studies

so this paper was making the rounds on twitter earlier in the week…

Demonstrating the Validity of Twin Research in Criminology [pdf]

…and everyone was like, “you have GOT to read this!” so i did. and, yeah, it’s really good! i highly recommend having a read of it.

the paper was written as a response to another paper entitled Pulling back the curtain on heritability studies: Biosocial criminology in the postgenomic era.

postgenomic? wt…? what planet do those guys live on?

anyway…Demonstrating the Validity makes many very right and very interesting points including the following:

1) a common assumption in behavioral genetics analyses is that human matings are random (they’re not — there’s a whole lot of assortative mating when humans go forth and multiply) and that assumption can lead to an underestimate of heritability estimates.

2) another assumption — the equal environments assumption (i.e. that both identical and fraternal twins share equal environments as kids) — leads to an overestimate of heritability estimates.

the authors of the paper show, however, that since these two assumptions are often found together in twin studies, that the over- and underestimates wind up more or less balancing each other out (see below — and see the paper!).

(i, of course, couldn’t help thinking that if assortative mating leads to underestimates of heritability, what would lots of inbreeding in a population do? so far, all twins studies have come from w.e.i.r.d. populations, though — afaik — so the inbreeding issue prolly doesn’t matter. but, if you should ever see some heritability estimates coming out of saudi arabia or sicily, heads up!)

other important points from the paper [my emphases in bold]:

When multiple divergent methods converge to illustrate a consistent finding, it is logically reasonable and empirically sound to accept as valid the results of the divergent methods. The primary reason for such a conclusion is the nonoverlapping assumptions underlying the various methods. This dynamic is illustrated in the convergence in findings between classical twin design studies and various molecular genetics methodologies. GCTA and CSG studies are examples of methodologies that are not subject to the same assumptions as classical twin designs and yet provide convergence in terms of the differential influence of genetic and environmental factors on a variety of behavioral phenotypes, including antisocial behavior. In direct contrast to the appraisal provided by Burt and Simons, the most cutting-edge research emanating from molecular genetics relies heavily on the findings of classical twin design studies and is continually providing empirical support for the validity of such studies.”

oh yeah!

also:

“We have shown empirically that violations of the assumptions of behavioral genetics studies do not invalidate heritability estimates. This is not a matter of opinion but a matter of mathematical evidence. Under certain conditions, our calculations and simulations revealed that heritability estimates will be slightly upwardly biased (probably no more than 5–10 percentage points). Under other conditions, heritability estimates will be downwardly biased (probably no more than 5–10 percentage points). Under the most likely condition, where multiple violations occur simultaneously, the biasing influences of assumption violations wash out, with upwardly biasing factors canceling downwardly biasing factors. Moreover, the overall pattern of findings flowing from the 61 studies examining the EEA revealed the same conclusions offered by our calculations and simulation data. Needless to say, no ‘fatal flaw’ in behavioral genetic methodologies or assumptions has been discovered and the conclusion that ‘all of these models are biased toward inflating heritability and underestimating shared environmental influences’ (Burt and Simons, 2014: 226, emphasis in original) is unequivocally incorrect.”

good stuff! read the whole thing here! and don’t miss all the supplementary materials here!

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linkfest – 03/31/14

Why We Fight (Over Land)“In the most recent issue of the journal International Security, Monica Duffy-Toft and Dominic Johnson, political scientists at Oxford, argue that a new theoretical framework is needed to analyze such behavior, one rooted in evolutionary biology…. As Duffy-Toft told me an interview today, ‘It comes back to survival and reproduction. There’s an instinct that we need land in order to exist. We need to have the capacity to get resources to live our lives….’ Duffy-Toft acknowledges that the thesis is controversial. While their piece is currently the lead article in International Security, one of the more prestigious journals in the field, it took almost 10 years to get it published. ‘We’re pushing up against real biases in our field,’ she says. ‘Scholars don’t want to admit that our behavior can be constrained by the fact that we’re animals.’ – *sigh* – original research article here [pdf].

Oldest modern human genome from Siberia ~45 thousand years ago“The femur belonged to an H. sapiens man who had slightly more Neandertal DNA, distributed in different parts of his genome, than do living Europeans and Asians.” – @dienekes’.

Human evolution: The Neanderthal in the family“Thirty years after the study of ancient DNA began, it promises to upend our view of the past.”

The phylogenetic and geographic structure of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a – h/t razib!

Discoveries Challenge Beliefs on Humans’ Arrival in the Americas“[T]he ancient rock art depicts fierce battles among tribesmen….” – h/t steven pinker! who tweeted: “refutes frequent claim of no war before agriculture.”

Cochran-Harpending paper on “Amish Quotient”“‘[T]heir social pattern probably drives strong selection for a particular flavor of personality, which is downright fascinating and worthy of further investigation. One could, with difficulty and a lot of investment, identify dimensions of a hypothetical AQ. It would likely include affinity for work, perseverance, low status competition, respect for authority, conscientiousness, community orientation, and so on. We proposed (Cochran, Hardy, & Harpending, 2006) a similar mechanism to account for Ashkenazi Jewish evolution in Medieval times selecting for ability and success in white collar occupations.'” – from steve sailer. previously @west hunter: Inferring an AQ.

The Son Becomes The Father“The failure of parents to appreciably affect the outcomes of their children affirms Gregory Clark’s findings, and indicates that much of the transmission of status from one generation to the next is ultimately genetic in origin…. Almost certainly, throughout history, and across the diverse societies, that has been a huge amount of ‘noise’ in the transmission of status, especially on the individual level and in the short run. The vagaries of the circumstances no doubt imbued good fortune on some and dashed the success of many others. But through it all, the thing that is at the root of continuity – DNA – remained the active ingredient to propagate lineages in their respective places through out the ages.” – from jayman.

First comprehensive atlas of human gene activity released – h/t mike anissimov!

Sperm competition and Heteropaternal Superfecundation – from greg cochran.

The Holocene Lattice“First, it is now clear that long-range migration, admixture and population replacement have been the rule rather than the exception in human history. Second, the serial founder effect model is no longer a reasonable null hypothesis for modeling the ancient spread of anatomically modern humans around the globe.” – from razib. (emphases in original.)

Percentage of DNA shared amongst the various archaics (including our sapiens sapiens lineage), from a review in Cell – from billare.

Neural portraits of perception: Reconstructing face images from evoked brain activity – whoa. h/t mo costandi!

We Are All Mutants“On the hunt for disease genes, researchers uncover humanity’s 
vast diversity.”

Puerto Rico and IQ: Same as it ever was – from steve sailer.

About That Gene-Environment Interaction Study by Turkheimer et al.“The upshot is that while environmental deprivation may render genetic differences less important in the determination of children’s IQ, the typical black child in this large and downscale sample had apparently not been raised in deprived circumstances any more frequently than the typical white child in the sample. The lower IQs of blacks in this sample cannot therefore be put down to them having been exposed to environments less conducive to the expression of genetic variance in IQ than the environments experienced by whites.” – @human varieties.

People can predict the IQ of men — but not women — by looking at their face, study finds – see also dr. james thompson: The mind’s construction in a face.

Dopamine D4 receptor gene variation influences self-reported altruism“[T]he DRD4 7-repeat allele is associated with lower scores on the NEO-PI-R Altruism facet scale, accounting for about 2% of the variance. As the DRD4 7-repeat allele has been associated with higher scores in impulsive personality traits and ADHD, our result suggests that individual differences in impulsive behavioral tendencies may play a role in the propensity to behave altruistically.” – h/t tom farsides!

How Social Darwinism Made Modern China“A thousand years of meritocracy shaped the Middle Kingdom.” – from ron unz. h/t eduardo zugasti!

Kinder, gentler speech“In sum, when the State imposed a monopoly on the use of violence, it set in motion a process of gene-culture co-evolution with many consequences. Among other things, this process may have favored not only learned ways of speaking but also unlearned ways as well.” – from peter frost.

Crows Understand a Fundamental Part of Logical Reasoning“Crows are far more rational than we had realized. New research shows that wild New Caledonian crows can compete with 7-year-old children when it comes to understanding causality, or how one action causes another.” see also: Crows understand water displacement at the level of a small child: Show causal understanding of a 5- to 7-year-old child.

Do animals have a sense of humour? – koko the gorilla “once tied her trainer’s shoelaces together and signed ‘chase’.” (^_^) (^_^) (^_^) – h/t steve stewart williams!

On “Male” vs. “Female” Brains – twitter convo on sexual dimorphism in human neuro-whatsits. kevin mitchell ftw!

“Natural Law” and Other Rationalizations of Morality“People worry about a ‘grounding’ for morality. There’s really no need to. As Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce pointed out in Wild Justice – The Moral Lives of Animals, there are analogs of moral behavior in many species besides our own…. Other animals don’t wonder why one thing is good and another evil. They’re not intelligent enough to worry about it. Hominids are Mother Nature’s first experiment with creatures that are smart enough to worry about it. The result of this cobbling of big brains onto the already existing mental equipment responsible for moral emotions and perceptions hasn’t been entirely happy. In fact, it has caused endless confusion through the ages.” – from helian.

Inclusive fitness theory for the evolution of religion“We describe and evaluate an integrative hypothesis for the origin and evolution of human religious cognition and behaviour, based on maximization of inclusive fitness. By this hypothesis, the concept of God is represented by one’s circle of kin and social salience, such that serving God and serving this circle become synonymous. The theory is supported by data from anthropology, evolutionary theory, psychology, neuroscience, psychiatry, endocrinology and genetics.” – h/t claire lehmann!

Are liars ethical? On the tension between benevolence and honesty“[I]ndividuals who tell prosocial lies are perceived to be *more* moral than individuals who tell the truth.” – h/t zhana vrangalova!

Speculations on the Evolution of Awareness“The ‘attention schema’ theory provides one possible account of the biological basis of consciousness, tracing the evolution of awareness through steps from the advent of selective signal enhancement about half a billion years ago to the top-down control of attention, to an internal model of attention (which allows a brain, for the first time, to attribute to itself that it has a mind that is aware of something), to the ability to attribute awareness to other beings, and from there to the human attribution of a rich spirit world surrounding us. Humans have been known to attribute awareness to plants, rocks, rivers, empty space, and the universe as a whole. Deities, ghosts, souls-the spirit world swirling around us is arguably the exuberant attribution of awareness.” – h/t neuroskeptic!

Mugshots Built from DNA Data“A computer program crudely predicts facial structure from genetic variations.”

The Oldest Living Things On Earth“Starting in the 1960s, evolutionary biologists have searched for an overarching explanation to account for all the different ways to grow old. The best-supported ones so far are variants on the old truth that a jack-of-all-trades is a master of none. An organism can collect a finite amount of energy, whether it’s a lion killing gazelles, a tulip capturing sunlight, or a microbe breathing iron at the bottom of the sea. It can use that energy to grow, to produce offspring, to defend itself against pathogens, to repair damaged its damaged molecules. But it has a limited budget. The energy spent on one task is energy that can’t be spent on others. Molecular repair and pathogen defense are both good ways to live longer. But a long-lived organism that produces few offspring will not pass on many copies of its genes to future generations. The organisms that will succeed are the ones that do a mediocre job of keeping their bodies in order, leaving more energy for making babies.” – h/t billare!

Mutation, Not Natural Selection, Drives Evolution – according to masatoshi nei: “Every part of our body is controlled by molecules, so you have to explain on a molecular level. That is the real mechanism of evolution, how molecules change. They change through mutation. Mutation means a change in DNA through, for example, substitution or insertion [of nucleotides]. First you have to have change, and then natural selection may operate or may not operate. I say mutation is the most important, driving force of evolution. Natural selection occurs sometimes, of course, because some types of variations are better than others, but mutation created the different types. Natural selection is secondary.”

End the Hype over Epigenetics & Lamarckian Evolution“They insist that characteristics many researchers assume to be the result of epigenetic inheritance are actually caused by something else. The authors list four possibilities: Undetected mutations in the letters of the DNA sequence, behavioral changes (which themselves can trigger epigenetic tags), alterations in the microbiome, or transmission of metabolites from one generation to the next. The authors claim that most epigenetic research, particularly when it involves human health, fails to eliminate these possibilities.” – h/t jayman!

New warning about ‘Celtic Curse’ blood iron disease“Hemochromatosis is a hereditary disease, linked particularly to Irish and those of Irish origin. It causes your body to absorb too much iron from the food you consume. The excess iron becomes stored in your organs, especially your liver, heart and pancreas. It can lead to life-threatening conditions such as cancer, heart problems and liver disease. Those with Irish heritage have a significantly greater chance of carrying the gene mutation that can contribute to the deadly disorder. Some experts believe that hemochromatosis originated more than 40,000 years ago in Ireland when genes mutated allowing the population to over-absorb iron, to compensate for a poor iron diet.” – h/t 23andMe!

The state is the worst wicked stepmother of all“[T]he number of children raised without one of their parents has increased sharply in recent years, partly due to changing sexual mores but also the involvement of the state itself; the largest increase in non-marital births came after the 1977 Homeless Persons Act gave lone mothers priority on housing lists. The Tory MP behind this proposal wrote, ‘The sad truth is that, until now, the Wicked Stepmother would have got away scot-free.’ Possibly, but there would not have been so many wicked stepmothers, or stepfathers, or mother’s current boyfriends, without the state in the first place.” – from ed west.

Pseudoescepticismo y biodiversidad humana“Desde hace años, sin embargo, existe una tendencia ideológica inflacionaria en el movimiento escéptico que tiende a alejarse del ‘núcleo’ original, cuyos contornos de todos modos son imprecisos (¿es la parapsicología una ciencia?). El inconveniente es que este alejamiento del núcleo, yo lo llamaría ‘escepticismo inflacionario’ o simplemente pseudoescepticismo, desdibuja los criterios de demarcación y hace que los nuevos temas sean más y más propensos a la contaminación moral e ideológica…. Un caso bastante claro es la campaña ‘escéptica’ de descrédito contra la psicología evolucionista, que sólo ha convencido a un pequeño grupo. ¿Pudiera ser que el empeño de grupos ‘escépticos’ de asimilar el movimiento de biodiversidad humana con el ‘racismo científico’ y con la ‘pseudociencia’ (la falacia moralista siempre merodeando) corriera una suerte parecida?” – @la revolución naturalista.

Response to ‘Fists of furry: at what point did human fists part company with the rest of the hominid lineage?’“A Swedish study on interpersonal violence reported 63 facial fractures and 57 concussions inflicted by fists, but only eight fractures of the metacarpal or phalangeal bones (Boström, 1997). Thus, human fists are effective weapons and, when humans fight, faces break more frequently than fists.” – h/t john hawks!

Sexually Transmitted Virus Sterilises Insects, Turns Them On“[O]ne particular insect virus can sterilise crickets, but also change their behaviour so they continue to mate with each other. By doing so, they pass the virus on to uninfected hosts.”

Ancient African cattle first domesticated in Middle East, study reveals“The genetic history of 134 cattle breeds from around the world has been completed by a group of researchers. In the process of completing this history, they found that ancient domesticated African cattle originated in the ‘Fertile Crescent,’ a region that covered modern day Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Israel.” – h/t anthropology tip!

Autism characteristics differ by gender, studies find – h/t hbd bibliography! also: Autism begins in pregnancy, according to study: Cortical layers disrupted during brain development in autism – h/t mr. robert ford!

Men ‘size-up’ male competition by watching dance moves” The results revealed that handgrip strength and arm movements of the dancers were predictors of dance quality ratings. Both men and women rated stronger males with larger, more variable and faster arm movements as better dancers. However, men picked up clues of upper-body strength from male dancing more accurately than women.” – previously: “you should be dancin’ yeah!”

A Study of Twins, Separated by Orbit“While circling the earth aboard the International Space Station for a full year — the longest single space adventure for any American astronaut — and after his return, scientists will closely monitor Commander Kelly to see what changes space has wrought. NASA has been studying the effects of long stays in space on astronauts for years, but this set of 10 investigations will be different: The scientists will be doing the same poking, prodding and analyzing on Commander Kelly’s identical twin brother, Mark, a retired astronaut.”

A simple but elegant method to detect election fraud and irregularities. – from randy olson.

bonus: Game of Thrones tells the story of Britain better than most histories“The popular TV drama gives a vivid idea of how people might have behaved in the Middle Ages – which is brutally” – from ed west. and coming out on thursday!: Ebook on the history behind ‘Game of Thrones’ – by ed west. what does he mean, “there aren’t really dragons”??!?

bonus bonus: L.L. Cavalli-Sforza. A bird in a gilded cage. – new ebook from peter frost!

bonus bonus bonus: Advice for a Happy Life“Consider marrying young. Be wary of grand passions. Watch ‘Groundhog Day’ (again).” – from charles murray.

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The War Nerd: Who exactly are the Jihadis (and why aren’t there more of them)?“There’s one simple generalization you can make from these stats: Jihadis from Muslim-majority countries are generally higher-status than those from countries where Muslims are a minority.” – h/t michael “the sailor” story!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Neurosurgeons successfully implant 3D printed skull – whoa.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Woolly Mammoths Suffered Major Birth Defects Before Extinction“According to the researchers, this influx of birth defects could have come about in two different ways. The genetic mutations could have arisen from inbreeding depression. As mammoths were reduced in number, genetic diversity would have plummeted and the number of mutations would have risen sharply. The other explanation offered states that expecting mothers would have been under considerable stress as the population dwindled. This prenatal stress could have had negative consequences for fetal development.” – h/t avi tuschman!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: A Day in the Life of an Ancient Athenian Citizen – from blowhard, esq. h/t ray sawhill! (for some reason, i always crave a cocktail after visiting uncouth reflections…. (^_^) *hic*)

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Greatest Invention in Human History Helps You Avoid Certain People“The era of antisocial networking has begun with the development of apps such as Cloak, which identifies locations of your contacts so you don’t have to see them.” – FIIIInally!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Absurd Creature of the Week: The 6-Foot Earthworm That Sounds Like a Draining Bathtub – h/t charles (aka the doctor! (^_^) )!

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linkfest – 07/08/12

Genes May Play Role in Educational Achievement, Study Finds“Researchers have identified genetic markers that may influence whether a person finishes high school and goes on to college, according to a national longitudinal study of thousands of young Americans…. The three genes identified in the study – DAT1, DRD2 and DRD4 – have been linked to behaviors such as attention regulation, motivation, violence, cognitive skills and intelligence, according to the study.”

Racial bias colours visual perception“Prejudiced people slowest to recognize faces from other races.” – or maybe people who are slowest to recognize faces from other races are the most “prejudiced”?

Cross-national IQ, inequality, and homicide – from the inductivist.

Research shows endowment effect in chimpanzees can be turned on and off“‘These results strongly support the idea that the endowment effect reflects the deep influence of evolutionary processes – notably natural selection – on psychological predispositions that affect how brains ascribe value to objects.'”

A scientific study reveals that individuals cooperate according to their emotional state and their prior experiences“[P]eople do not act thinking in their own reward, as had been previously believed, but rather individuals are more influenced by their own mood at the time and by the number of individuals with whom they have cooperated before.”

Baby makers scorn porn? – from the awesome epigone.

Chronic pain is determined by emotions, scientists believe“The more emotionally the brain reacted to the initial injury, the more likely it was that pain will persist after the injury has healed, he said. Prof Apakarian added: ‘It may be that these sections of the brain are more excited to begin with in certain individuals, or there may be genetic and environmental influences that predispose these brain regions to interact at an excitable level.'”

‘Cat ladies’ more likely to commit suicide, scientists claim“Researchers found women infected with the Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) parasite, which is spread through contact with cat faeces or eating undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables, are at increased risk of attempting suicide.”

Autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may share common underlying factors, study suggests“New research led by a medical geneticist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine points to an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) among individuals whose parents or siblings have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.”

O Brother, Who Art Thou? – review of Born Together – Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study.

23andMe Contributes to Genetic Discoveries Related to Breast Size and Breast Cancer“23andMe … has identified seven single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) significantly associated with breast size, including three SNPs also correlated with breast cancer in a genome-wide association study (GWAS) now published online in BMC Medical Genetics. These findings make the first concrete genetic link between breast size and breast cancer risks.” – they looked at data from women of european ancestry.

Researchers Find a Brain Center for Social Choices“Poker-playing subjects seen weighing whether to bluff.”

bonus: the higgs! (maybe/probably)

bonus bonus: The ‘appetite-suppressing’ effect of proteins explained

bonus bonus bonus: Plants that feed on animals underground discovered“Three species of carnivorous plant that feed on worms underground have been discovered in the Brazilian savannah.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Women ‘deliberately post ugly photos of friends online’ – heh.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Dogs May Mourn as Deeply as Humans Do – dogs are people, too.

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