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    There have been some good posts at Gene Expression Classic you might want to check out. In particular: Synaesthesia and savantism and Where do morals come from?. The second is a review of Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality by Kevin Mitchell Natural selection and the collapse of economic growth and Natural selection and...
  • TGGP – I was considering posting the link to that article as well. Sadly, just the quality I expect out of Scientific American of late.

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  • John Horgan tries to defend Gould’s reputation in the face of a recent critique. Be warned, not much of substance there, just reasserts that SJG was on the side of angels.

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  • If there was a differential advantage to extrapair mating, would we expect sexual dimorphism to occur over the long term?

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  • i shall add a link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christophe_Lemaitre

    first white dude to break the 10 sec/100 m. but remember, everyone is born equal in every way.

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  • #1, probably. but give them slack, they’re the real kanada.

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  • Oh good, I afraid you stopped linking cuz pinboard went down. Nice find from Lehrer as well. Also, I know you were joking but isn’t French culture in Quebec and France a tiny bit more exclusive (racist?) than those surrounding it. I’ve heard some pretty unbelievable stories about black hockey players growing up in that area. Just seeing if anyone knows…

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  • Monuments to Clan Life Are Losing Their Appeal. A rule of thumb is that the Chinese tend to emphasize permanent architecture less than other societies, probably due to the tendency not to use durable materials. The Next Bubble: Farmland. Did not know: "And large-scale farmland bubbles are quite rare: There was only one in the...
  • It’s only true of above-ground structures (underground structures are still structures – holes in the ground tend not to stay open indefinitely by themselves), then only true of certain classes of above-ground structures (or parts thereof – the wooden roofs of ancient Greek temples are no longer there), and then really only true up to the Tang Dynasty, when the Chinese became more ambitious with above-ground structures of more durable materials.

    Emerson: Who said anything about the Great Wall? If you want to talk about Egyptians vs Chinese, then compare tombs with tombs.

    The Chinese built in wood a lot for a reason – they knew a lot about earthquakes, going back at least 2,000 years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_Wild_Goose_Pagoda It didn’t stop them building some pretty amazing structures for their time, in terms of height and slenderness.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Heritage_Sites_in_China

    Note city centre of Tianjin, carefully preserved intact and functioning among the sky-scrapers.

    Note village of Cuiheng, carefully preserved in its entirety, complete with photos on walls of houses – OK, maybe that’s for reasons other than appreciation of period architecture.

    Comparing anyone to the Romans is a tough call. They were phenomenal. They also had a standing professional army that served as engineers. The Great Canal was a fair effort, though, at least comparable to Roman roads, bridges and aqueducts in degree of engineering difficulty, and still functioning.

    I’m not an apologist for the Chinese. There is ongoing destruction of lots of stuff that might be deemed worthy of preservation in the name of progress, but they don’t have a monopoly on that. But I think I could mount a reasonable argument that, post-Cultural Revolution, of the stuff they have preserved, and there is a mind-bogglingly large amount of it, they are doing a better job of taking care of it than either the Italians or the Greeks.

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  • In an online discussion a population geneticist (‘Gorbachev’) discusses some research, makes predictions:

    “My thesis was in evolutionary biology; I studied the speed of gene transmission and the effects of various statistical phenomena.

    The transmission of genes through populations is not straightforward and mechanical; there are a host of bizarre statistical distribution phenomena that both maintain “racial” (varietal) characteristics and wildly bend and transform them.

    In a *very* short period of time, applying limited selective pressure, it’s possible to bend these distributions out of all shape and proportion, thus accounting for the ease with which breeders can shape a particular genetic line among any animals they choose.

    When I was doing research, it struck me that selective pressures only need about a 1.5-4% impact on a breeding population to have effected major change within 5 generations.In my research case, this is more or less what I had (if memory serves me correctly; it’s been a while):

    I wanted to test various ideas about inheritance of color and how the mechanism worked (a specific mode of expression). It all worked out nicely. But as a side-benefit, I also got this:

    1 Gen:
    Grey (15%), Brown (17%), white (18%), black (22%), quad-patterned (23%), balance: mottled.

    4% selective pressure (I didn’t kill them; I segregated them, don’t worry).

    Result: Minor change. Nothing major; a shift of about 1-2 % for each color.

    HOWEVER:

    4% selective pressure.

    2 Gen: Massive shift: White 29%; Grey 4%; Brown 11%; black 17%; quad-patterned 16%; balance mottled (much larger than before).

    I now dropped the pressure to 2%; I removed far fewer individuals. And yet, this happened:

    3rd gen: White 54%; Balance between 10-5%

    By 5 generations, I had a nearly pure-white line of (mammals).

    I was able to repeat this over 4 years.

    I had three control groups. The showed minor statistical variation.

    And YES, the smell was incredible.

    Hundreds of similar studies have been done. I wasn’t actually looking to illustrate this point, but it was an interesting side-venture.

    The point: In a shockingly small number of generations, its possible to drive a statistical occurrence of a genetic feature from relative balance to total dominance, with a freakishly small selective pressure. Control groups showed typical drift, but all within statistical norms…

    Want to know about an interesting effect?

    Three of the animals were outrageously hostile; they were difficult to control. It caused endless trouble. If there were problems, they were usually the source. It usually manifested in ear-biting and goring of other males, very atypical for this particular species of mammal. In almost all cases, the testicles were clawed at. It was brutal.

    One control group I had, while showing the same statistical distribution for color, also had, at G7, about 47% of its members illustrating overtly antisocial behavior. By g5, none of the other groups had it; it reappeared in only one individual in another group.

    I never selected for it or against it. Clearly, it was either one of my statistical freaks or there was some other selection going on. I was correct.

    The males who showed some of this behavior were chosen as mates in that control group 10% more often, as my co-author reported. Basically, the gene for aggression got some males more mates – IN ONE GROUP, and not others.

    Why was a total mystery…

    It’s going to become possible to identify specific gene complexes for a whole range of human behaviors, which we now think are cultural or learned.

    We’re going to find out that genes breed culture which breed genes.

    Give it 15 years.”

    http://abagond.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/the-average-african-iq-is-70/#comment-83175

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  • i do the bet thing a lot too. just an fyi zach, but michael vassar & i have been friends since 2004, so i’m not totally unfamiliar with the mores of the LW subculture. though from what i’ve heard the nyc group has some distinctive dynamics which the left coast groups are trying to emulate.

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  • I’m sure a few of us would offer you a bet on to predict the rate of virginity loss in the group over the last year.

    I’ll just take it as a joke and move on.

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  • Or Egypt, for example.

    The reason why Marco Polo didn’t mentionabout the Great Wall is that it didn’t exist in his time. There were various other walls here and there, but no Great Wall.

    Sandgroper, I can’t remember you but apparently we don’t like each other. Cool. Ask a native speaker of English to explain my sentence to you. It wasn’t a very beautiful sentence, but it wasn’t gibberish.

    Apparently in your world Jeffrey Shuren is sort of like Hitler. Well, well. I don’t know what you’re talking about otherwise.

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  • p.s. here’s the wiki entry on chinese architecture. this is the general thrust in the history books i’ve read:

    Unlike other building construction materials, old wooden structures often do not survive because they are more vulnerable to weathering and fires and are naturally subjected to rotting over time. Although now nonexistent wooden residential towers, watchtowers, and pagodas predated it by centuries, the Songyue Pagoda built in 523 is the oldest extant pagoda in China; its use of brick instead of wood had much to do with its endurance throughout the centuries. From the Tang Dynasty (618–907) onwards, brick and stone architecture gradually became more common and replaced wooden edifices. The earliest of this transition can be seen in building projects such as the Zhaozhou Bridge completed in 605 or the Xumi Pagoda built in 636, yet stone and brick architecture is known to have been used in subterranean tomb architecture of earlier dynasties.

    In the early 20th century, there were no known fully wood-constructed Tang Dynasty buildings that still existed; the oldest so far discovered was the 1931 find of Guanyin Pavilion at Dule Monastery, dated 984 during the Song….

    this is contrast to the antique west, where utilization of more solid building materials means that there are many recognizable ruins which date back ~2,000 years.

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  • As a member of the NYC Less Wrong group, I want to take issue with your “virgin” characterization. Most people in the group are in the 20-30 range, many are in relationships (and not necessarily monogamous ones, at that!) and, AFAIK, would not need the group to get laid.

    lol. ok. i’m familiar with the left coast groups, as well the type who show up at singularity summits. odds-ratios of virgins is definitely high. second question: any tutoring on humor in the new york LW group?

    That’s a very odd way to put it – obviously not true now, and I doubt generally true in the past

    yeah, i think you’re wrong. you can just repeat that i’m wrong, i don’t really care.

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  • By which I mean, I know what you mean, but your means of expression is painfully bad.

    BTW (again directed at Emerson), I have been waiting for you to give me another lecture on the meaning of freedom:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/03/your-genes-your-rights-fdas-jeffrey-shuren-not-a-fan/

    Lucky you, living in the land of the free. Poor me, living among the oppressed and delusional.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    >Brass tacks: what’s the rate of drop of proportion of virgins over the course of the past year?

    I’m a member of this group. If you’re willing to replace “virgins” with something slightly more sophisticated but similar in spirit, the number is quite high. If you’re being strict about it then the answer is probably low, in part because I don’t think the group contained many virgins in the first place.

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  • As a member of the NYC Less Wrong group, I want to take issue with your “virgin” characterization. Most people in the group are in the 20-30 range, many are in relationships (and not necessarily monogamous ones, at that!) and, AFAIK, would not need the group to get laid.

    Next time you’re in New York, please come and visit. We have several meetings per week.

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  • “A rule of thumb is that the Chinese tend to emphasize permanent architecture less than other societies, probably due to the tendency not to use durable materials.”

    That’s a very odd way to put it – obviously not true now, and I doubt generally true in the past. The Chinese have built vast numbers of very durable structures – the landscape of China is littered with them, including some very tall slender structures notably early.

    In modern society, I see this as manifestation of “new is good”, but I don’t see the historical evidence to back this.

    Emerson, you should edit before you post. “The state came into existence in order to suppress, and by a process of suppressing, these local groups” is gibberish.

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  • The clan buildings fit a different way of life. The clans no longer have their power, and defense against bandits and other clans is no longer necessary.

    Some clans in S. China had artillery to use in these wars.

    Clan wars is what the stateless society is all about. Absence of a state doesn’t lead either to peaceful coexistence or to a fantasy wild west of freelance gunslingers, but to very tight militarized groups which are usually but not always kin-based. These groups included local bandit groups and were never purely defensive in nature. The state came into existence in order to suppress, and by a process of suppressing, these local groups.

    “Cohesive Force”, Jacob Black-Michaud: highly recommended.

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  • February always goes by so fast.... Should you go to an Ivy League School, Part II. I think the value of an Ivy League degree will be more, not less, important in the future. It seems possible that we're nearing the end of the age when the wage gap between unskilled and skilled workers is...
  • You’re not the only one!

    Sorry, Michelle – the bunga bunga story. Scroll down to the old black and white photo.

    My second para. was in relation to nothing – total irrelevance. The reference to Woolf just started me thinking about literary women who committed suicide.

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  • Sandgroper, what link is your story in reference to? I am lost!

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  • My daughter was tickled with the photo of Virginia Woolf in drag and ‘brown-face’ and said “That’s just the sort of thing she would do.” I have no idea. The woman ended it all by filling her pockets with rocks and walking into a lake, didn’t she?I once calculatedwhat weight of rocks she would need to overcome her own buoyancy. It was a lot of rocks.

    My daughter is very disapproving of one woman poet who killed her children before herself. Sylvia Plath behaved much better – she gave her kids juice to drink and put them to bed, before she put her head in the oven. She even stuffed towels under the kitchen door to prevent the gas from the oven from escaping and affecting her childrenn.

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  • Irish politics is very parochial; throw in cronyism, nepotism and small level petty corruption at every turn around.
    At one point the big 3 in the government were all children of former politicians. They basically “inherited” their seats. I truely believe they didn’t know what they were doing in guarantteeing all the bond holders in the freak show bank Anglo.
    Also people will gladly vote for a candidate based on who their parents were, petty local issues or because they are in a party that their parents voted for.
    That’s without even mentioning the child abuse scandals.

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  • TGGP says: • Website

    I thought this was more interesting bit from the German MDs article, which I’m surprised Razib didn’t note:
    “Nevertheless, the evaluation showed that there was no significant difference between the treatment given by physicians who had adequate knowledge of the guidelines and treatment given by those whose knowledge of the current guideline recommendations was less good.”

    Anthony, see Back to Normal.

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  • Irish politics sounds much like pre-1932 (and even pre-1964) American politics – party identification is basically tribal, and while there are claims made for a coherent ideology, close examination shows instead a cluster of policies which express various tribal interests.

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  • pconroy, most of the continental European countries I know anything about do map to the left-centre-right thing quite well, the RoI *is* odd in its political landscape. Switzerland is probably closest, in having three right-of-centre parties and one left-of-centre one.

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  • Razib said:

    It is rather strange that the more right-wing party generally enters into coalitions with the left-wing party, against the centrist party.

    Well political parties in Ireland do not map directly to the standard Left/Center/Right as seen in some other countries, especially the US – there are the issues of the Irish Civil War and the legacy of the Anglo-Irish/Ascendancy class, that need to be accounted for.

    “Fianna Fail” – the more Centrist/Populist party – represents those who were anti-British rule during the Civil War, plus more religious – so like the US Democrats, without the extreme Left wing, but with the religious right from the Republican party.

    “Fine Gael” – the right of Center party – represents the pro-British during the Civil War, the Anglo-Irish/Ascendancy class, the industrials/entrepreneurs and the less religious – so sort of like like the US Republicans without the religious right, but with many of the Liberal Elite.

    Come to think of it, it may be that it’s the US political boundaries that are not normative, compared to much of the world :O)

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  • neuroskeptic is great!

    whatever your political beliefs, probably you can agree that the american healthcare status quo has distorted incentives. i like to beat the drum for relaxing some credential regimes….

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  • Nice roundup, Razib, some good’ns in there. I esp valued Neuroskeptic’s take on Decline Effect, which I’d missed; the human-chimp gene expression study; and the shot at American MDs. To live anywhere else in the developed world is to see how absurdly, catastrophically overrated and complacent the US health-care system is.

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  • 1) First, a post from the past: Theological incorrectness - when people behave how they shouldn't....sort of . 2) Weird search query of the week: "khoikhoi woman in porn." I had a suspicion I knew who entered this search query, but it came from Kumasi, Ghana. So unless a certain someone is doing fieldwork, I...
  • don’t look cats into the ears–goes for most pets really. Don’t hold your nose too near to their ears, either. No, I’m not petophobe.

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  • i suck @ taking photos. i’ll have the pro get back 2 it. the “wound” his his red tag.

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  • Razib there was something really odd about the cat photo — I thought I was looking at a one-eyed cat with a serious wound on the left side, and a possible wound on the chest, or maybe a very red tongue.

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  • lol

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  • No point in googling it now, everything links here. :)

    PS, Razib, you cat doesn’t appear to have a face.

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  • http://www.rifters.com/real/Blindsight.htm

    I really enjoyed your blast from the past post, must have missed it when it first came around. The link above is to a novel on line which explores the evolution of consciousness, relevant to that post. And it’s got vampires!

    “khoikhoi woman in porn” Why has it never before occurred to me to google this?

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  • You know you always ruin the weird search query – first page is nothing but links to you. I suppose I could look further, but that is unlikely.

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  • No, I think he’s too busy for that right now…

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  • Participants So Far. Zack reports 10 people of South Asian ancestry have sent their raw data. His coverage seems OK, but he only has multiple samples from Punjabis. I know some people who will be sending their data in soon, and I'm going to swap my parents in for me, so Bengalis will go from...
  • My results are being released, so I will be sending data in to the Harappa Project soon.

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  • “Eliminating such inequalities in the early years of life would simply create a new kind of inequality, driven by genetics.”

    Yes, there would still be massive inequality. But, the main effect would be to dramatically reduce the number of people who have very low IQ, without changing the distribution much at the high end.

    Environment seems to mostly drag people down from their potential, and most of those making improvement would probably not catapult to the top (because the average for the poor would probably still be below average due to below average paternal and maternal genetic predisposition and assortive marriage) so the smart would be unchanged, while the less smart would be smarter than they are today although still mostly at the lower end of the scale. Hence, you get a capitalist economy with winners and losers, but without nearly such an intense underclass. This might look a lot like the rest of the developed world (excluding the U.S.) does today.

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  • Regarding the dependence of home environment on cognitive function (rich vs poor), a limitation of the study they are discussing is that it is only a comparison of a cohort (of an impressive 700 twins!) at age 6 months vs 2 years old. My recollection is that prior studies showed that the effect of SES/environment is most pronounced at young ages, but declines as they grow older, and the results of this study are pretty much in alignment. Hopefully they will continue to follow this cohort (700 twins!) to see if the differential effect of home evironment in “poorer” vs “rich” homes remains or diminishes as they age.

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  • When people fret about the relative lack of class mobility into Ivy League universities compared to the 1960s, they might consider if the mobility of that era was simply a function of the relatively recent removal of previous discriminatory barriers. Once those barriers are gone for a few generations there’s no reason to expect that the “peak church” would match the transition phase.

    I suspect this is a key reason for the high economic growth the United States experienced at the time. By the early 1970′s, the redistribution had pretty much played itself out.

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  • Yes, The Singularity is the Biggest Threat to Humanity. Imitation and Social Cognition in Humans and Chimpanzees (I): Imitation, Overimitation, and Conformity. Doesn't fall into the trap of either/or, where chimpanzees are qualitatively different from humans in too stark of a manner, or simply quantitatively different in an implausible fashion. Emulation, Simulation, and the Human...
  • The singularity is a geek-farce. We are always told to fear the boogie man under the bed. First it was Nazis and then commies. In the 70′s its was the limit to growth BS, followed by Japan. Most recently, it was the Muslim Jahadis and China. Now they say its the signularity and that the machines will take over. All of this is just so much horse pucky.
    The only threats to liberty and prosperity come from bureaucrats and other rent-seeking parasites. Get ride of the parasites and everything will be fine.

    This is also the case with the globalization vs. nation-state deal. The best way for nation-states to deal with globalization is to eliminate bureaucracy, government regulation, and the pernicious effects of rent-seeking parasites as much as possible. Become a place that is attractive to entrepreneurs and other productive people who want to do things and not be dicked with. Singapore and Hong Kong are good examples to follow. Those that don’t do this deserve what comes to them.

    The rent-seeking parasites in any given nation-state whine about globalization because it reduces their monopoly power to parasitize the productive. Get rid of the parasites and the contradictions between the nation-state and globalization resolve themselves on their own.

    Of course climate change affected historical societies. It was bouts of global cooling that crashed both Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire. The latter was crashed because global cooling made living in Central Asia too cold and the barbarian hordes were driven into the warmer regions of the Roman Empire, thus crashing the Empire.

    Global warming has never been a problem and, in fact, has always been beneficial to human societies through out history.

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  • @Kevembuangga – that article doesn’t seem to address any actual arguments raised by serious “singulatarians.” Seems to be mostly strawmen.

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  • Yes, The Singularity is … most likely bollocks!

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  • Dear Razib Khan,
    I am sorry for an offtopic, but if you could answer one question of mine, I would be really thankful to you! Could you please recommend 1-3 best introductory books on genetics of different nations, folks, tribes, races, religions and languages? Are there any good solid introductions for a non-specialist to read? Something that a person with no background in history would understand? Ideally, something slow enough for me to remember at least something from there, but at the same time simple and interesting enough to keep reading? If you are to recommend one or two books on these “Human Genomics” topics, what would you recommend?

    I personally love your blog and your posts, but I really feel I need to start with something introductory, and rather consecutive, organized, to get some basic understanding of methods, types of study, and at least some examples of good sound findings. The only name I have in mind is that of Cavalli-Sforza, but I’m not sure if it is a best match, so I decided to ask you as a specialist before I borrow something from the library and invest in reading. The choice of a first book in a new subject is always a matter of importance, as it will always lay the foundation of your views on this subjects, even if you read 10 or 50 more books about it later…

    Thank you in advance!

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  • Sex and Statistics or Heteroscedasticity is Hot. Heteroscedasticity just means differences in variances. So it turns out that two women who have the same expected attractiveness rating from different males can still exhibit a difference in variance of evaluations. So a woman who is average, and everyone perceives her as average, gets less attention than...
  • @M. Möhling

    Thanks for the recommendation. And yes, I think it’s a scientist’s duty to refute any racist or anti-democratic stances such as islamophobia, xenophobia, antisemitism or homophobia, hatred against christians or atheists. Well, I would be most happy if Europeans and Germans in general would tend to have more children, sustaining our valuable culture. Although I do understand the psychological tendencies to blame and fear minorities – the low birth rates among the European educated and well-off are neither the Muslim’s nor the Jew’s or any other’s fault…

    And I might add, as a bit of information, that the fertility rates of most Muslim populations have begun to fall, too, with i.e. Turkey and Iran just going below replacement level.

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  • just an fyi, it isn’t his paper. my error. he just fwded me the link. interesting that he’s against islamophobes, since i am an admitted one :-)

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  • > I’ll probably be reviewing Michael Blume’s paper mentioned
    looking forward to that …for all the wrong reasons, sorry: he’s one prominent fighter against ‘Islamophobia’ over here and he’s quite happy with the religious uptrend Islam causes in Europe–as he sees it. I’d like to know if he gets his science right, as the polemical exchanges on politics I had with him didn’t impress me much.

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  • Thanks for the mention! I am looking forward to read your upcoming piece about the evolution of religion. Although I do understand that this topic is ripe with emotions for many people, the evolutionary perspective on any complex, biocultural human trait – including i.e. music, speech, intelligence or religion – is not a recent invention. In fact, it has been brought forward by Charles Darwin himself in his “Descent of Man” back in 1871:

    http://www.scilogs.eu/en/blog/biology-of-religion/2010-07-01/charles-darwin-about-the-evolution-of-religiosity-and-religion-s

    For some years now, scholars from very different fields and worldviews have collaborated in exploring religion as (yet another) evolutionary trait. And from twin- to brain-studies through psychological experiments and studies in demography and populations genetics, we didn’t find a single clue about “religion falling from heaven” or being “a purely cultural construct” (whatever this should be? Even non-universal traits such as reading & writing emerged on biological and thus heritable bases.) Then, I don’t know of any colleague seriously propagating that the evolution of religion would either disprove or prove God’s existence. But the emerging consensus is that Charles Darwin has been right and that it is possible to apply evolutionary studies to any human behavioral trait, including behaviors toward superempirical agents (aka religion).

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  • Thanks for the ‘Hotheads by Nature’ link.
    It’s interesting to see how much genetics could play a role in our behaviour. Personally, I favour ‘nature’ over ‘nurture’ as having the most impact on how we live our lives.

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  • Fascinating paper at http://astro.temple.edu/~arceneau/groups.pdf that discusses genetic influences on group politics (also the title of the paper).

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  • Interesting to see that the newly released “A genome-wide association study of Cloninger’s temperament scales: Implications for the evolutionary genetics of personality” indicates that personality trait variation is NOT determined by genetic variants commonly measured. I guess my 23andMe results will not help me confirm my novelty seeking or lack of persistence. So getting back to American’s in general: Why are they hotheads?

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  • Yes, i felt that Tom *wanted* religion to not be natural in that Epiphenom piece so he kinda misled the reader by making it sound as if it wasn’t. it is but he just doesn’t like that fact.

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  • Denisovans did not have red hair. John Hawks pokes around the Denisovan genome. Interesting that he notes that the coverage of the Denisovans is very good in comparison to the Neandertals. I Won’t Hug This File — I Won’t Even Call It My Friend. A weird screed against the internet and free content, posted on...
  • That Wired article had too memorable a headline. A cursory search suggests that the Japanese bought 35 million phones last year, including 6 million smartphones, including 4 million iphones.

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  • I don’t know how important Islam would be in Sudan. Darfur is mostly Muslim, but that didn’t help.

    This guy guest-posting at the Monkey Cage says Africa doesn’t actually have much of a separatist problem from colonial borders.

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  • Thanks, Razib. At least that means I can stop trying to find it. And all you Alice Springs geneticists, get on that. Anthro geeks want to know.

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  • no one knows. perhaps in the next 10 years? any geneticists live around alice springs?

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  • Re: the Denisovans. It’s interesting that they seem to lack loss of function alleles at MCR1. So the pattern that exists today is echoed in the past. Europeans (first as Neanderthals, then later as AMH) develop multiple MCR1 variants. Asians (first as Denesovans, then later as AMH) tend not to. Interesting.

    Razib, I tried and utterly failed in my google research attempts to find any mention of the specific snp associated with “Tawny” hair in Australians/Papuans. Is this a known snp? I’d love to see what the Denesovans carry at this loci.

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  • The boundaries between Muslim and non-Muslim have been fairly stable since at least the Middle Ages

    no, they do not at all. no interest in getting into a deep discussion, i’m no expert obviously on this, but

    - many long standing “muslim” areas, such as senegal, were only thinly islamicized at elite levels as late as the 19th century.

    - islam has pushed south into the “forest” zone, but faced resistance from christianity, brought by the missionaries. the yoruba for example have a large muslim minority, along with christians, and a small but non-trivial animist rump

    - this sort of generalization needs to be understood in light of international colonial trends. it is not just islam in west and central africa, colonial powers and international support to marginal and minority groups in northeast india and in the southeast asian uplands also interrupted the historical process of hinduization and buddhaization.

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  • “I do wonder if the British did a disservice to the long term Benthamite project of maximal utility by preventing the spread of Islam amongst the southern tribesmen”

    A couple of observations.

    1. The conflict of Sudan needs to seen in the context of a continent-wide bloody Sahel war. Nigeria is experiencing the same thing, and the current succession conflict in Cote d’Ivoire is likewise along the same lines. There is a Northern Muslim-Southern Christian Animist cultural line all across the Sahel and as the Sahara expands, the Muslim pressure to press South increases and conflict, often with a genocidal tinge, ensues. South Sudan, by recognizing the genuine cultural divide may at least allow the locals the power of the state and the international weight accorded sovereignty to defend their turf and their lives with, rather than forcing them to rely on a power broker who is biased against them in these struggles.

    2. The persistence of the Muslim-Christian/animist divide all the way across the continent, in places under both French and British (and intermittently Italian) colonial rule, suggests that British colonial policy probably had little to do with the survival of these cultural divides that run very deep and run along ethnic lines as well as religious ones. The boundaries between Muslim and non-Muslim have been fairly stable since at least the Middle Ages, and the ethnic divide has continued even through the transition of a large share of the Southerners to Christianity, a process that continues unabated as we speak. Indeed, population genetics and linguistic dividing lines suggest that this cultural divide pre-dates both Islam and Christianity and dates to at least the early Neolithic, if not earlier.

    The colonial powers should be faulted for drawing boundaries that fail to reflect the genuine cultural divides (despite their earnest efforts to draw such lines in Europe at the time that the colonial powers were drawing lines in Africa and elsewhere), and for failing to establish a sufficiently deep corps of locals to perpetuate their political and economic system, forces that together left their former colonies ungovernable, rather than for not encouraging one colonial faction to be ungulfed culturally by another.

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  • The law school article is of interest to me. I am a recent J.D. graduate (May 2010), and I am posting using my law school email address, so I think Razib should be able determine where I went to school. I had a few thoughts in relation to that article:

    1) Big Law is a big deal, but many of my classmates were averse to that idea from the start. It would be misleading to think that we were all entering to play the Big Law lottery. A lot of people were interested in corporate positions, government jobs, small or mid-sized firms, etc.

    2) For recent graduates like me, we entered law school before major changes in the economy and the legal job market. A job market that was still quite good for the people graduating as I entered my law school quickly soured during my time there. I would be careful about recommending a J.D. to anyone currently.

    3) I am one of the rare few with no debt currently; I could have gone to a higher ranked school and been in significant debt. Would that have increased my job prospects enough to be worthwhile? I am not sure and, of course, my decision was made years ago. Prospects seem to be getting better for me right now, but I don’t know enough to discern the broader trends.

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  • Thanks for the link. I should have known better than to open the Hard Core link in a room full of students.

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  • I don't do too many New Year's Resolutions. My main goal this year which is of interest readers is increase total quantity of quality in terms of content. In other words, I want to keep volume up, but increase the quality of posting. If you haven't contributed to the Open Thread this week, it's about...
  • Perhaps I misunderstood what you wrote, but the AMA does not have control over individual physician licensing at all. That is handled by the states, who also license osteopaths, NP’s, CRNA’s, etc. One can become a licensed, practicing allopathic physician without ever joining or supporting the AMA. The AMA is one of the sponsoring organizations for the Liaision Committee on Medical Education, the organization that accredits medical schools, so in that capacity it does possesss non-exclusive input into issues of overall physician supply (although much less at the level of distribution of trainees into individual specialties).

    Insurance does not just give docs everything that we want. In my limited experience, the negotiations over rates are heavily tilted in the insurers’ favor whether they be public or private, and in the last few years the main issues up for discussion have been how much we will be cut and from where and what new hoops we and the patients will have to jump through to secure reimbursement. I should add that reimbursement from some public payors (especially variants of Medicaid) doesn’t even always cover office costs, particularly for evaluation and management specialties. Private insurance reimbursement rates are often pegged to Medicare rates, and so we essentially never set our own fees. Nearly the only people ever faced with paying the full hospital and physician charges are the uninsured, and even many of them can bargain if they are savvy since most providers recognize the risk that that “self-pay” will turn into “no pay” which frankly happens a lot.

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  • hispanics have latino too. but no, they want brown as well. and la raza.

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  • syonredux [AKA "trajan23"] says:

    Zachary Latif: “I was reflecting on the word Brown though; it doesn’t only mean Desi brown but Latin Brown too.”

    I’ve pointed out that problem out on this blog a time or two before. Lamentably, Hispanics, in defiance of typological realities (Indians being, on a per capita basis, darker complected than Hispanics) seem to have seized the onomastic high ground on this one.

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  • Thanks for the kind comments. I like the League of odd-brownz, with you as its Rabbi-Pope. You’ve even taken to deciding who is kosher or not. I look forward to Brown Pundits and envision it as congregation of the league.

    I was reflecting on the word Brown though; it doesn’t only mean Desi brown but Latin Brown too.

    That might actually be more relevant to an American audience because both the US and UK are browning albeit differently.

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  • On the ice age, from , the warming looks like it started around 25kyA, and temperatures were pretty flat before that anyway. Also, I kind of wonder how many data points the population increase for the relevant 20,000 years is based on in the first place and whether they’re counting neanderthals as part of the human population.

    That said, plenty of technological improvements do seem to date from about that time, but one wonders why they happened then and not earlier.

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  • Okay, I just read the brain size article too. Hmm. Sounds dumb. They pick the largest ever modern humans, and then say that since the modern average human is smaller, that brain size has decreased. I’d guess if you went to Norway or Sweden today, picked out a few dozen 6’5″ giants and measured their brains you’d find them just as large as Cro-Magnon’s.

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  • . But what was going on during the 20,000 years before that? Gradual, worldwide technological improvements?

    yes. that’s what the archaeology seems to suggest.

    You’re just not going to let the scissors thing go, are you?

    prolly not.

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  • Ray, the ice age was intensifying, not weakening during 10,000 years of that period. When it melted, it melted quite suddenly. It wasn’t as much of a gradual lessening of the ice age as a sudden shift of climate. The chart slopes more sharply upward at about the 5000 BC mark, several thousand years after the end of the ice age, not right at the end. The gradual slope holds steadily upward, ignoring the climate for several thousand years.

    I am wondering about the productivity of the areas just south of the ice. Pretty high I’d guess. It was cold, but the actual level of solar energy was just as high as it is today at the same latitude. Summers might have been pretty nice, if the wind wasn’t from the north.

    A steadily rising population does not suggest a simple Malthusian model.

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  • “6000 years or so ago in both the new and old worlds agriculture was raising populations. No mystery there. But what was going on during the 20,000 years before that?”

    End of the ice-age?

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  • Re the rise in population. I am more interested in the gentle rise in population between 30,000 BC and about 5000 BC. Interesting. All the major continents were occupied by at least 12,000 years ago. (There should be a blip showing the New World occupation, but maybe the data isn’t fine grained enough for this.) But even under hunter-gatherer conditions and the ice age, a rise in population is clear.

    6000 years or so ago in both the new and old worlds agriculture was raising populations. No mystery there. But what was going on during the 20,000 years before that? Gradual, worldwide technological improvements? Expansion of humans into more marginal habitats as they develop technologies that allow them to thrive? This is a Cornucopian chart, not a Malthusian.

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  • You’re just not going to let the scissors thing go, are you? ;)

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  • Hope Christmas went well for everyone. No complaints about mine. Pinboard. Thanks for the Delicious replacement recommendations. I know that Delicious is going to be sold and not shutdown, but confidence is lost. Pinboard seems to work well, and you can import all your Delicious bookmarks. Additionally, there's a serviceable Chrome extension so that I...
  • > Female Bomber Kills Dozens in Pakistan, Official Says. Never
    > underestimate the pragmatism of “principled” radicals. Here
    > you have a case of reactionaries who would prevent women
    > from becoming literate using a woman as a weapon of war;
    > a highly transgressive act

    Her virginity shouldn’t be at stake when going off, and she’s not a liability to her kin anymore, as now she positively can’t be defiled ever. So, maybe they are just “habitual perverts” dispensing with their “de facto chattel slave” as needed? Our ugly and unweddable become gender scientists with tenure and pension, theirs blow up early. Off with benefits. I’m with stupid.

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  • Sounds like another “Out-of-Africa-and-Back-in” scenario. It’s not unthinkable, but I wouldn’t mind seeing this “news” come from somewhere other than Daily Mail. It would certainly put a damper on the “we are all Africans…” non-sequitur…

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  • I don’t know what’s weirder, the fact that a paper that will force “scientists to re-examine evolution of modern man” is published in the Am J of Phys Anth, or that a science writer for the Daily Mail doesn’t know how to format a species name.

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  • Not obvious to me that patrilocality would extend to Neanderthal-modern human couplings, even to the extent that they were stable enough to continue after a child was born.

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  • paid $25 for the archived version of pinboard btw.

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  • Countdown to Christmas! Hope everyone has pleasant holidays. Apple v Google. Very long article highlighting the different strategies of the two companies. I do though think Google is starting to get a touch annoying trumpeting their "open ways." They're not a struggling start-up, they're a massive corporation. More on "culturomics". Also see the #ngrams hash-tag....
  • Re: the End of Europe as We Know It, I’ve written a response to that here: http://neuroskeptic.blogspot.com/2010/12/end-of-europe-as-we-know-it.html

    Basically, the protestors are trying to keep Europe as we know it, but I don’t think they’ll succeed, so Europe (at any rate outside Germany and Scandinavia) is going to be rather different in future.

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  • no. you really should be careful with words here. the hmong are extensive farmers par excellence. in guinea they have a perfect ecology for their talents. but they aren’t anything like southeast asians or jews. they’re more like afrikaners in south africa or bengalis in assam.

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  • “Hmong’s new lives in Caribbean. They’re 1% of French Guinea’s population, but control 70% of the agriculture, since arriving in the 1970s.”

    Another example of market-dominant minority phenomenon in progress.

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  • “Anti-Austerity Protest in Greece Turns Violent. Wow. Every news story makes me wonder if it’s the end of Europe as we know it.”

    The article mentioned 20,000 on strike, that’s not really that much. In Europe we’re used to much, much worse. I’m actually a bit surprised how little protests and strikes there have been the last year. Considering all the austerity plans.

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  • “(…) some people are dispositionally unsuited to a multi-decade commitment.”

    Aphorism 406 of Nietzsche’s Human, All Too Human:

    When entering into a marriage one ought to ask oneself: do you believe you are going to enjoy talking with this women up into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory, but most of the time you are together will be devoted to conversation.

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  • > I do though think Google is starting to get a touch annoying trumpeting their “open ways.” They’re not a struggling start-up, they’re a massive corporation.

    Personally, that’s what’s most endearing to me: the fact that they’re a massive corporation, yet still promoting open technologies. e.g.:
    * Linux (through kernel contributions and various sponsorships, though I’d like to see a few more of Google’s Desktop apps, notably SketchUp, ported to Linux)
    * WebM and various other HTML5-related tech
    * V8 (Chrome’s Javascript engine, which indirectly [via competition] has boosted the performance of other browsers’ engines [even, *gasp* the upcoming IE9's Chakra], and is open source to boot)
    * Google Web Toolkit
    * Google Code Project Hosting (which is rivaled, IMHO, only by Canonical’s [the company behind Ubuntu Linux] Launchpad and perhaps GitHub [which arguably serves a subtly different purpose])
    * Closure Javascript tools
    * ….

    Granted, most of the above directly or indirectly “improve” the web, which is in Google’s best interests given that, to a degree, the more successful the web is — and the more “open” it is (i.e., accessible to their crawlers) — the more money Google makes. Yet many of those same things benefit Bing and Yahoo just as well; moreover, they could have taken a much more closed route (see Facebook) in their business practices.

    I will say, though, that the potential for vendor lock-in with Google Apps is a tad concerning. Sure, most of your data is portable in one way or another, but I’d like to see the process become more streamlined. My philosophy is that you should be confident enough in your product that you shouldn’t have to worry about your users downloading their data and running.

    > SNL Digital short captures something essential about being a 20 year old male. NSF.

    Wow, they got an NSF grant for that? Innovative. ;)

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  • “the end of Europe as we know it”: you could argue that Greece ended two millenia ago. It’s been a slightly displaced part of the levant for some time now.

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  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Al Poe and others. Al Poe said: Around the Web – December 20th, 2010 | Gene Expression: Countdown to Christmas! Hope everyone has pleasant holid… http://bit.ly/gWpDki [...]

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  • Estimating Heritability Using Twins. Luke Jostins lays out the A's, E's, and C's. Very informative. This part was kind of funny though: "Interestingly, the Bioscience Resource Project post cites this paper, which makes their mistake somewhat surprising." Wonder if Luke is making a reference to the tendency for people not to read papers they cite...
  • PS Weird, or eyelid surgery?

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  • #2 – you saying that playing a gay rent boy (Private Idaho) doesn’t ruin the illusion, but being part E. Asian does? Very well. Gee, those E. Asian guys got it rough! :)

    #5 – Yeah but he was “blacked up” for the part. It was in the grand tradition of playing against type.

    KR has several times referred to himself as a “white boy”. Look at these pictures of a distinctly Asian/Polynesian kid….who grew up to be white. Weird!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/diorissima/5261627862/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/diorissima/5261624404/

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  • In case anyone wants to see what the Laotian Rock Rat Mike Keesey mentions looks like but doesn’t want to go thru the trouble of typing it into Google, here’s a link. You only have to go down one page to see the requisite image of Karl Rove.

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  • The comments section of the Madoff article is hilarious, even if the joke is obvious.

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  • @Diana, well, he did play Siddhartha: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Buddha

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  • The notion that crocodylians are morphologically conservative was dismissed decades ago. The only reason this is news is because people outside of of vertebrate paleontology haven’t been paying attention. (Well, and also because a detailed paper was recently published on a rather bizarre stem-crocodylian.)

    “Living fossil” is a pernicious term, but you could create an objective definition for it: “a living taxon belonging to a clade in which the only previously-named taxa are based on fossils”. Of course, this means the category of “living fossil” is an artifact of our history of scientific nomenclature, not a true evolutionary category. Under this definition, living coelacanths and Laotian rock rats are living fossils, but crocodylians and monotremes are not.

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  • he’s a ‘heartthrob.’ they don’t want to ruin the illusion ;-)

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  • “Asian Male Lead” – Keanu Reeves is beginning to look more and more Asian to me. Why do they never refer to his non-trivial amount of non-European ancestry in any of his movies?

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  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Razib Khan, Ron Simon. Ron Simon said: Around the Web – December 13th, 2010: Estimating Heritability Using Twins. Luke Jostins lays out the A’s, … http://bit.ly/g8IOKN [...]

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  • For Those About to Rock…You’ll Need These. Chris Mooney has a round-up of 'Rock Stars of Science'. I've been meaning to talk about this, as Chris gave me a heads up, but I've been kind of busy with other things. But better late than never. I have some of the same concerns as the nay-sayers....
  • Re: Corruption. Has Bangladeshi corruption changed over time from what you’ve heard from relatives? Do corruption levels ever change for any society? I live here in Chicago and it seems that corruption is something that is talked about a good deal but is nowhere near as widespread as it used to be.

    I really love the blog. Great insights.

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  • Here is the paper on web history sniffing, including the list of sites.

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  • This is why liberals should be very careful when talking about ’sustainability.’ If it sacrifices ‘blue skies’ then the vistas become dark.

    Call me a socially inept idiot, but to me this makes no sense. It’s somehow a problem to say ‘Look, unless we do this, it’s going to be crap, and there’s no other way to do things well, and odds are people are going to suffer, but this is the way that makes the least amount of people suffer’?

    Are the majority of humans this emotionally infantile?

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  • I guess this pretty much answers my question: http://www.snipercentral.com/snipers.htm#WWII

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