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For a few weeks now I’ve been reading NRO’s blog on Rod Dreher’s new book, Crunchy Cons. This supposed “movement” is ridiculously silly, and the very idea that this individual is being taken seriously by people on the right is sort of scary…

One thing that has really turned me off to this guy is just how similar his rhetoric is to old-school European reactionaries who rejected industrial civilization and imagined some kind of romanticist-inspired agricultural communal utopia.

But the biggest thing I really dislike about him is his complete and utter ignorance concerning foreign policy and national security; no political manifesto can be complete unless it lays out a general set of principles and policies concerning these two key issues. I wrote an e-mail to him a few months ago, and then sent it to him again, to which he never replied. So, I sent it to a few people at NRO, again to which there was never a reply. This man simply does not care about them at all.

Conservatives should find Rod Dreher’s desire to ignore foreign policy deeply disturbing. Any analyst who ignores the fact that our foreign policy directly influences our domestic policy, and in more than a few cases takes precedent, is just asking for trouble. Dreher, quite frankly, is downright ignorant.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where competition between nations, economically and militarily, forces us to be ultra-capitalistic in our behaviors, since it drives innovation forward and keeps us ahead of the game. If we limit ourselves and tie ourselves down with more and more regulations, as would be necessary to subordinate the economy to the vision of Dreher, we begin playing with our survival as a nation. It is imperative that we keep this nation not only at the very top of the hierarchy of nations, but maintain a large and constantly growing gap between us and the rest.

So, while I sympathize with the thoughts and feelings of the likes of Chesterton and Tolkien and maybe even wish that we could build a utopian society that takes their concerns seriously, it would be impossible to do so without limiting the scientific and technological progress that brought about Western dominance and that helps maintain American global hegemony. The two are nearly antithetical to each other and how one can reconcile them is beyond me. I have told countless pro-life conservatives that their desire to put limits on such things as stem-cell research would limit our ability to compete internationally in biotechnology using the same argument, and have persuaded a few, but Dreher seems to be a lost cause.

He reminds me of Thomas Jefferson, who wanted to turn the United States into an agrarian utopia. Luckily, Alexander Hamilton was more influential, stating that, “Those who do not industrialize become hewers of wood and haulers of water.” To further quote Hamilton, “It had been said that respectability in the eyes of foreign nations was not the object at which we aimed; that the proper object of republican Government was domestic tranquility and happiness. This was an ideal distinction. No Government could give us tranquility and happiness at home, which did not possess sufficient stability and strength to make us respectable abroad.” Thus, it follows that a government that subordinates the economy solely to domestic concerns will eventually lose the strength necessary to maintain American global hegemony. If Dreher were in charge back then, we’d be hewers of wood and haulers of water instead of the most powerful nation the world has ever seen.

• Category: Science 
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Over the past several days I have been asked by more than a few people as to where they could find raw statistics and information to give them an idea of what is happening in Iraq. As a result, I have decided to take just a few minutes and write up this short post describing where everyone can find a horde of fairly objective stats and info.

The best place to go is the homepage of the Iraq Index, published by the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Studies. It is updated and published on a bi-weekly basis in Adobe .pdf format and contains lots of data compiled from a myriad of news sources. Just be warned, like every other think tank around, the Brookings Institution has a political bias (it leans to the center-left).

Secondly, the Department of State publishes the Iraq Weekly Status Report in .pdf format every Wednesday. I don’t think it’s as useful or as comprehensive as the Iraq Index, but it still has some fairly good information. Of course, it takes a pro-administration position.

And finally, here’s Emily Hunt… I’m linking to her for no particular reason other than the fact that she’s a hot and seems to know a lot about terrorists, which I think makes her even more hot.

Hope this helps a bit. This post was about giving readers information, not debating the war, so please don’t bless us with political hackery on the issue; let’s leave that to the talking heads.

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Hat tip: Captain Capitalism and The Economist
MORE: The Natural History of Ashkenazi IntelligenceNatural History of Ashkenazi I.Q.The Scientific Impact of Nations
Addendum: As requested, The Economist print edition article from which this chart originated.

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The New Republic has posted a fascinating informal survey of conservative opinion leader’s views toward evolution. I was rather surprised to see that most, contrary to conventional left-of-center stereotypes about conservatives, believe in evolution, although how strongly they do varies pretty widely. The neoconservatives, such as Charles Krauthammer and David Brooks, are pretty pro-evolution, while the paleoconservatives, such as Pat Buchanan and Tucker Carlson (maybe it’s unfair to label him a paleocon, but his beliefs are increasingly similar to those espoused by paleocons, possibly due to hanging out with Robert Novak a bit too much), are generally anti-evolution. Many of those who are generally supportive of evolution appear to be somewhat obsessed with “teaching both sides” in public schools, which leads some of them to lean towards some positions espoused by IDers. However, it appears that few understand the positions of the ID crowd, which is troublesome.

The main problem with this little survey is that it ignored various opinion leaders from the “Religious Right” wing of the Republican Party. Next time they should ignore hardcore paleocons like Buchanan and instead divert their energies to surveying the “Religious Right” instead, since most of the hardcore paleocons have abandoned the Republicans for the Constitution Party or various insane groupings (great link for information about minor parties) to the right of the GOP.

Since the article requires an account with The New Republic, I reproduce the article in its entirety on the extended entry.

Update from Razib: PZ Meyers has some harsh things to say, understood of course, since these are conservatives (haven’t you seen their devil horns?). But…I wish more liberals would admit that many of them mouth off about evolution without knowing jack about the topic. Ignorance knows no politics….

Evolutionary War
by Ben Adler

Later this summer, the Kansas State Board of Education is widely expected to change its state science standards to cast doubt on evolution. The new standards will likely emphasize the unsolved problems in evolutionary theory’s explanatory power, like gaps in the fossil record, that are the favorite hobbyhorses of creationists and advocates of “intelligent design.” Intelligent design posits that certain biological mechanisms and the nature of DNA itself are too complex to have evolved–and therefore suggest the hand of an original designer. Advocates of intelligent design, including several of the witnesses who testified at the Kansas board’s hearings that began in May, say that evolution and the origin of species are unsettled topics and that students should understand and debate different points of view. In the scientific community, however, the debate is one-sided. The 120,000-member American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) passed a resolution in 2002 declaring intelligent design a “philosophical or theological concept” that should not be taught in science classes. Indeed, the AAAS boycotted the Kansas hearings to avoid conferring legitimacy on intelligent design proponents who testified.

Pressure to temper the teaching of evolution in public schools has come overwhelmingly from conservatives; the Kansas board’s re-examination of its evolution standards resulted from Republican gains last November that put an anti-evolution conservative majority on the board. So we were curious: How do leading conservative thinkers and pundits feel about evolution and intelligent design? We asked them. Here’s what they said.

A few notes about the interviews: All were conducted via phone except where otherwise noted. The interviews are not presented in a chronological question-and-answer format. Instead, we’ve grouped each person’s thoughts on particular subjects into subcategories, which are identified in italics, splicing these statements together with ellipses where necessary. Those interviewed spoke only for themselves.

William Kristol, The Weekly Standard

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “I don’t discuss personal opinions. … I’m familiar with what’s obviously true about it as well as what’s problematic. … I’m not a scientist. … It’s like me asking you whether you believe in the Big Bang.”

How evolution should be taught in public schools: “I managed to have my children go through the Fairfax, Virginia schools without ever looking at one of their science textbooks.”

Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “I’ve never understood how an eye evolves.”

What he thinks of intelligent design: “Put me down for the intelligent design people.”

How evolution should be taught in public schools: “The real problem here is that you shouldn’t have government-run schools. … Given that we have to spend all our time crushing the capital gains tax I don’t have much time for this issue.”

David Frum, American Enterprise Institute and National Review

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “I do believe in evolution.”

What he thinks of intelligent design: “If intelligent design means that evolution occurs under some divine guidance, I believe that.”

How evolution should be taught in public schools: “I don’t believe that anything that offends nine-tenths of the American public should be taught in public schools. … Christianity is the faith of nine-tenths of the American public. … I don’t believe that public schools should embark on teaching anything that offends Christian principle.”

Stephen Moore, Free Enterprise Fund

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “I believe in parts of it but I think there are holes in the evolutionary theory.”

What he thinks of intelligent design: “I generally agree with said critique.”

Whether intelligent design or a similar critique should be taught in public schools: “I think people should be taught … that there are various theories about how man was created.”

Whether schools should leave open the possibility that man was created by God in his present form: “Of course, yes, definitely.”

Jonah Goldberg, National Review

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “Sure.”

What he thinks of intelligent design: “I think it’s interesting. … I think it’s wrong. I think it’s God-in-the-gaps theorizing. But I’m not hostile to it the way other people are because I don’t, while I think evolution is real, I don’t think any specific–there are a lot of unknowns left in evolution theory and criticizing evolution from different areas doesn’t really bother me, just as long as you’re not going to say the world was created in six days or something.”

How evolution should be taught in public schools: “I don’t think you should teach religious conclusions as science and I don’t think you should teach science as religion. … I see nothing [wrong] with having teachers pay some att
ention to the sensitivities of other people in the room. I think if that means you’re more careful about some issues than others that’s fine. People are careful about race and gender; I don’t see why all of a sudden we can’t be diplomatic on these issues when it comes to religion.”

Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “Of course.”

What he thinks of intelligent design: “At most, interesting.”

Whether intelligent design should be taught in public schools: “The idea that [intelligent design] should be taught as a competing theory to evolution is ridiculous. … The entire structure of modern biology, and every branch of it [is] built around evolution and to teach anything but evolution would be a tremendous disservice to scientific education. If you wanna have one lecture at the end of your year on evolutionary biology, on intelligent design as a way to understand evolution, that’s fine. But the idea that there are these two competing scientific schools is ridiculous.”

William Buckley, National Review

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “Yes.”

What he thinks of intelligent design: “I’d have to write that down. … I’d have to say something more carefully than I can over the telephone. I’m a Christian.”

Whether schools should raise the possibility that the original genetic code was written by an intelligent designer: “Well, surely, yeah, absolutely.”

Whether schools should raise the possibility–but not in biology classes–that man was created by God in his present form? : “Yes, sure, absolutely.”

Which classes that should be discussed in: “History, etymology.”

John Tierney, The New York Times (via email)

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “I believe that the theory of evolution has great explanatory powers.”

What he thinks of intelligent design: “I haven’t really studied the arguments for intelligent design, so I’m loath to say much about it except that I’m skeptical.”

James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “Yes.”

What he thinks of intelligent design: “I could not speak fluently on the subject but I know what the basic argument is.”

Whether schools should teach intelligent design or similar critiques of evolution in biology classes: “I guess I would say they probably shouldn’t be taught in biology classes; they probably should be taught in philosophy classes if there is such a thing. It seems to me, and again I don’t speak with any authority on this, that the hypothesis … that the universe is somehow inherently intelligent is not a scientific hypothesis. Because how do you prove it or disprove it? And really the question is how do you disprove it, because a scientific hypothesis has to be capable of being falsified. So while there may be holes in Darwinian theory, while there’s obviously a lot we don’t know, and perhaps Darwinian theory could be wrong altogether, I think whether or not the universe is designed is just a question outside the realm of science.”

How evolution should be taught in public schools: “It probably should be taught, if it’s going to be taught, in a more thoroughgoing way, a more rigorous way that explains what a scientific theory is. … You know, my general impression is that high school instruction in general is not all that rigorous. … I think one possible way of solving this problem is by–if you can’t teach it in a rigorous way, if the schools aren’t up to that, and if it’s going to be a political hot potato in the way it is, and we have schools that are politically run, one possible solution might be just take it out of the curriculum altogether. I’m not necessarily advocating that, but I think it’s something that policy makers might think about. I’d rather see it taught in a rigorous and serious way, but as a realistic matter that may be expecting too much of our government schools.”

Norman Podhoretz, Commentary (via email)

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “It’s impossible to answer that question with a simple yes or no.”

Richard Brookhiser, National Review

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “Yes.”

What he thinks of intelligent design: “It doesn’t seem like good science to me.”

Whether intelligent design should be taught in public schools: “No.”

Pat Buchanan, The American Conservative

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “Do I believe in absolute evolution? No. I don’t believe that evolution can explain the creation of matter. … Do I believe in Darwinian evolution? The answer is no.”

What he thinks of intelligent design: “Do I believe in a Darwinian evolutionary process which can be inspired by a creator? Yeah, that’s a real possibility. I don’t believe evolution can explain the creation of matter. I don’t believe it can explain the intelligent design in the universe. I just don’t believe it can explain the tremendous complexity of the human being when you get down to DNA and you get down to atomic particles, and molecules, atomic particles, subatomic particles, which we’re only beginning to understand right now. I think to say it all happened by accident or by chance or simply evolved, I just don’t believe it.”

How evolution should be taught in public schools: “Evolution [has] been so powerful a theory in Western history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and often a malevolent force–it’s been used by non-Christians and anti-Christians to justify polices which have been horrendous. I do believe that every American student should be introduced to the idea and its effects on society. But I don’t think it ought to be taught as fact. It ought to be taught as theory. … How do you answer a kid who says, ‘Where did we all come from?’ Do you say, ‘We all evolved’? I think that’s a theory. … Now the biblical story of creation should be taught to children, not as dogma but every child should know first of all the famous biblical stories because they have had a tremendous influence as well. … I don’t think it should be taught as religion to kids who don’t wanna learn it. … I think in biology that honest teachers gotta say, ‘Look the universe exhibits, betrays the idea that there is a first mover, that there is intelligent design.’ … You should leave the teaching of religion to a voluntary classes in my judgment and only those who wish to attend.”

Tucker Carlson, MSNBC

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “I think God’s responsible for the existence of the universe and everything in it. … I think God is probably clever enough to think up evolution. … It’s plausible to me that God designed evolution; I don’t know why that’s outside the realm. It’s not in my view.”

On the possibility that God created man in his present form: “I don’t know if He created man in his present form. … I don’t discount it at all. I don’t know the answer. I would put it this way: The one thing I feel confident saying I’m certain of is that God created everything there is.”
On the possibility that man evolved from a common ancestor with apes: “I don’t know. It wouldn’t rock my world if it were true. It doesn’t sound proved to me. But, yeah I’m willing to believe it, sure.”

How evolution should be taught in public schools: “I don’t have a problem with public schools or any schools teaching evolution. I guess I would have a problem if a school or a science teacher asserted that we know how life began, because we don’t so far as I know, do we? … If science teachers are teaching that we know things that in fact we don’t know, then I’m against that. That’s a lie. But if they are merely desc
ribing the state of knowledge in 2005 then I don’t have problem with that. If they are saying, ‘Most scientists believe this,’ and most scientists believe it, then it’s an accurate statement. What bothers me is the suggestion that we know things we don’t know. That’s just another form of religion it seems to me.”

Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “Yes.”

What he thinks of intelligent design: “To the extent that I am familiar with it, and that’s not very much, I guess what I think is this: The intelligent designers are correct insofar as they are reacting against a view of evolution which holds that it can’t have been guided by God in any way–can’t even have sort of been set in motion by God to achieve particular results and that no step in the process is guided by God. But they seem to give too little attention to the possibility that God could have set up an evolutionary process.”

Whether intelligent design should be taught in public schools: “I guess my own inclination would be to teach evolution in the public schools. I don’t think that you ought to make a federal case out of it though.”

David Brooks, The New York Times (via email)

Whether he personally believes in evolution: “I believe in the theory of evolution.”

What he thinks of intelligent design: “I’ve never really studied the issue or learned much about ID, so I’m afraid I couldn’t add anything intelligent to the discussion.”

Ben Adler is a reporter-researcher at TNR.

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Be sure to check out Robert McHenry’s excellent article on “Intelligent Design” over at TechCentralStation.

Then there is the simple fact that the “theory” of ID is no theory at all, not in the sense that the word is used in science. It is not based on the best available evidence; it enables no predictions; and it is thus not testable. It is, at best, a paltry substitute myth that incorporates some of what actual science has learned or theorized but spurns not only scientific rigor but any intention to perform science. It is not, as claimed, a legitimate criticism of a scientific theory but a criticism of having such a theory at all. No less than the Creation Scientists, and no less than dear Bishop Wilberforce in 1860, though far less forthrightly, the proponents of ID wish to draw an arbitrary line and use the force of the state to declare that science shall not cross it.

. . .

The ID man is heir to a culture of knowledge-building that has evolved over millennia, and, for quite private reasons that have nothing to do with the rest of us, he declines the legacy. To be sure, he has every right, for himself, to decline whatever, and however far, he chooses. It only remains for the rest of us decline to decline with him. That would be intelligent.

I couldn’t have said it better!

Posted by Arcane at 08:43 PM

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This is the funniest thing I’ve read all year, and pretty close to the truth: “College Profs Denounce Western Culture, Move to Caves” from Iowahawk. A brief sample:
… When he earned tenure in 1991, Grok decided to broaden his philosophical research. “I realized that deconstructing literature was overly limiting. It was clear that other fields of inquiry could benefit from deconstruction.”

It was then that Grok published a series of influential articles in which he deconstructed the sciences. “I initially showed that the so-called ‘scientific method,’ so treasured by the self-appointed high priests of science, was nothing but a bizarre ritual of the industrialist phallocracy,” said Grok. “From there, it was a short intellectual leap to disprove the reality of the periodic tables, gravity and algebra.” …

Check it out!

On a side note, Razib has discussed deconstructionist theory before.

Posted by Arcane at 10:16 PM

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Here are some of the more surprising of the results from the latest Pew Research Center poll, “Beyond Red vs. Blue.”

First of all, lets start off with the categories that the poll divided people into. You can find more info about each of these categories by following this link.


Here are the results of whom each group is most likely to vote for:


… and the centrists generally lean toward the GOP side of the isle:


Now that that’s out of the way, time to get to the good stuff.

First, in direct contradiction to polls released last year, the report states that…

Enterprisers [Bush’s strongest supporters] follow news about government and politics more closely than any other group, and exhibit the most knowledge about world affairs. The Fox News Channel is their primary source of news (46% cite it as a main source)…

Most Americans support tort reform:


Most Americans have no problems with trade:


… but they do have a problem with outsourcing:


A slight majority of Americans have no problems with guest workers, with the most opposition on the Democratic side of the isle:


The majority of Americans, and Republicans, support universal health insurance in some form:


The vast majority of Americans think that displaying the Ten Commandments on government buildings is “proper”:


Bush’s strongest supporters, the Enterprisers, are the least likely of Republicans to attend Bible study or prayer meetings:


The vast majority of Americans think that preemptive military action can be justified:


Americans as a whole are generally tolerant of Christian conservatives and Muslims. Interestingly enough, Liberals have a much, much, much stronger opinion of Muslims than they do of Christian conservatives:


Finally, and perhaps most disturbing of all, the vast majority of Americans support teaching creationism alongside evolution in schools:


So, this is very interesting and surprising data. I strongly recommend that everyone should read the report or look at the stances of the voting blocks on the various issues. There’s a lot more interesting stuff in the report than just the stuff I posted here, although it was weak on many areas, such as on issues concerning immigration. I also highly recommend looking at the principle findings.

Also, take their typology test and see where you stand… I’m an Enterpriser, in case anyone cares. 🙂

Posted by Arcane at 06:06 PM

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Update: Sweden is not the world’s largest per capita exporter of arms, contrary to what NationMaster says. SIPRI data confirms this, as does data from IISS, the U.S. Department of State, and Encyclopaedia Britannica. See Greg Cochran’s post for more info. This is why they peer review stuff in academia!


And for those who missed it, Sweden is also the world’s largest consumer of nuclear energy per capita. Also be sure to check out dobeln’s “Nordic Ammunition” post if you haven’t already.

Courtesy of NationMaster.

Posted by Arcane at 11:13 PM

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What do you think is the greatest threat to the world? The Guardian published a piece today asking ten scientists this very question with some very unique answers varying from black holes to climate change (surprise!). For once, overpopulation was not mentioned, however something far more interesting than black holes was: telomere erosion.

“On the end of every animal’s chromosomes are protective caps called telomeres. Without them our chromosomes would become unstable. Each time a cell divides it never quite copies its telomere completely and throughout our lifetime the telomeres become shorter and shorter as the cells multiply. Eventually, when they become critically short, we start to see age-related diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart attacks and strokes.

“However, it is not just through our lifetime that telomeres get shorter. My theory is that there is a tiny loss of telomere length from one generation to the next, mirroring the process of ageing in individuals. Over thousands of generations the telomere gets eroded down to its critical level. Once at the critical level we would expect to see outbreaks of age-related diseases occurring earlier in life and finally a population crash. Telomere erosion could explain the disappearance of a seemingly successful species, such as Neanderthal man, with no need for external factors such as climate change.”

I wonder how he explains why we are living for longer than ever before? Not only that, they gave it a “danger score” of 8 out of 10. Whatever one may think about it, the article is certainly worth checking out. I’ll admit, it gave me a pretty good laugh, especially when they ranked climate change with a “danger score” of 6 out of 10, yet viral pandemics and nuclear war only had scores of 3 and 8, respectively.

As for me, I think this whole “end of the world” silliness is just that: silliness.

Posted by Arcane at 05:00 PM

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From The Sunday Times:
The study suggests that some of the chemicals in smoke can permanently alter the DNA of those exposed to it in ways that can be inherited by smokers’ children, grandchildren and possibly subsequent generations too.

The researchers analysed asthma rates in both the children and grandchildren of women who smoked during pregnancy.

They found the grandchildren of such women had 2.1 times the normal risk of developing asthma. The children of women who smoked in pregnancy were 1.5 times more likely to develop asthma.

. . .

They found children whose mothers and grandmothers both smoked had the highest risk, with a likelihood of developing asthma 2.6 times higher than normal.

Hat tip: Drudge Report

Download file: “Maternal and Grandmaternal Smoking Patterns Are Associated With Early Childhood Asthma” from the April 2005 edition of Chest

Posted by Arcane at 04:24 PM

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An interesting new article on TechCentralStation has been posted that discusses the paper, “How Trade Saved Humanity from Biological Exclusion: An Economic Theory of Neanderthal Extinction” (paper is 240 kb, but the server is slow, so give it time). In a good summary of the paper, Jackson Kuhl writes:

To demonstrate that trade might be an innovation that gave humans a competitive advantage, the authors assumed that the primary food of both humans and Neanderthals was meat harvested by hunting. Additionally, they assumed there was a finite amount of available meat (“animal units”) for which they both competed. In addition to a non-trading scenario, three trading scenarios develop among humans: one in which skilled hunters hunt and unskilled hunters both hunt and produce other goods; one in which skilled hunters hunt and unskilled hunters only produce other goods; and another in which skilled hunters hunt and produce other goods while unskilled hunters only produce other goods.

In the economists’ model, “other goods” may include everything from shelter, clothing, fire, and tools to even intangible services like the spiritual advice and comfort provided by a shaman. Any surplus meat not consumed by the skilled hunters is assumed to go to the unskilled hunters in exchange for their “other goods.”

In the latter two scenarios, the authors show that meat consumption rises because the specialization of unskilled hunters solely producing other goods frees the skilled hunters to hunt more. Assuming that increased meat consumption leads to increased fertility which leads to more people hunting, humans who adopted either of these two strategies could have replaced Neanderthals in just a few millennia, even if a biological bias favoring Neanderthals is calculated into the equation.

In a short news article about the paper, “Did Use of Free Trade Cause Neanderthal Extinction?,” the authors of the paper state that…

Early humans, the Aurignations and the Gravettians, imported many raw materials over long ranges and their innovations were widely dispersed. Such exchanges of goods and ideas helped early humans to develop “supergroup social mechanisms.” The long-range interchange among different groups kept both cultures going and generated new cultural explosions, Shogren says.

Anthropologists have noted how judicious redistribution of excess resources provides a distinct advantage to “efficient hunters” as measured by factors such as increased survivorship, social prestige, or reproductive opportunities, the researchers say.

“One of the striking features of the archaeological record is that Neanderthal technology was nearly stationary for many thousands of years whereas technology of early humans experienced many innovations,” Shogren says.

So, to put it in the words of Mike Linksvayer, “Anti-trade economics is Neanderthal Economics,” and “Anyone who advocates restriction on trade is an Economic Neanderthal.”

Hat tips: Arnold Kling

Posted by Arcane at 09:59 PM

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I never, ever thought that I would be quoting a Communist on this blog, but I just have to point out this quote from Friedrich Engels:

We regard economic conditions as the factor which ultimately determines historical development. But race is itself an economic factor.

Of course, after looking at numerous other writings of Engels, the guy starts to sound like a proto-Nazi. An extremely long list of extremely un-PC quotations by Marx and Engels can be found on John Jay Ray’s “Marx & Friends in their own words” blog. I recommend everyone checking it out and, if in college, sending the link to your favorite Marxist professor. 🙂

Posted by Arcane at 11:21 PM

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Robert D. Kaplan is going to be the guest on this week’s In Depth program on C-SPAN 2 from 12-3 PM on April 3. Although his influence is not publicized quite as much as, say, the neocons, his extensive writings have been extremely influential within military and government circles. This is probably going to be the longest public interview he has done, so check it out.

Addendum: For those who missed the show, C-SPAN will have a streaming video version posted here within the week.

Recommended articles:
Supremacy by Stealth
Was Democracy Just a Moment?
The Coming Anarchy
Looking the World in the Eye
The Media and Medievalism
Think Global, Fight Local

Posted by Arcane at 11:35 PM

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The Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society has a fantastic piece on instances of child molestation that has occurred in Pakistani madrassas and how it has been completely ignored by Western media. The effects of this story?

If they are true, the madrasa story is to Pakistan (and by extension to the Muslim world) what the analogous story was to the Catholic Church a few years ago—or for that matter what Abu Ghraib has been for the US occupation of Iraq. Both of the latter scandals have permanently scarred the institutions responsible for producing them. The consequences of inflicting the same sorts of damage on the Pakistani madrasacracy are incalculable—incalculably good, that is.

The charges also give some perspective to Islamic fundamentalists’ tedious habit of sermonizing at us about the supposed sexual dysfunctionality of “the West” and the superior moral virtue of “the Islamic East.”

The Asia Times columnist Spengler has recently produced an amusing quasi-parody of such a sermon in which he rails at the sexual depravity of “the West,” and which he jokingly claims to have gotten directly from Osama bin Laden.

Joke or not, such sermons ought to provoke the rejoinder that dar al Islam is not exactly the abode of virginal chastity that the fundamentalists would have us believe that it is. With gang rape in Punjab (cf. the Mukhtaran Bibi case), mass rape in Darfur, female genital mutilation across parts of Muslim Africa, and honor killings of girls in various Arab countries, it would appear to be time for our holier-than-thou sermonizers to introspect a bit and focus on some of their own sexual hang-ups. Add polygamy to the rap sheet, plus the weird Muslim obsession with burqa, chador and hijab; add the yet-weirder cult of the 72 post-mortem virgins, throw in stoning as a punishment for adultery, and then consider burial-alive as a punishment for homosexuality. XXX- rated Qur’anic literacy lessons seem pretty much par for the course in this context. In short, put it all together, and the sexual depravities of “the West” begin to look tame by comparison with what the Muslim world has to offer in the way of polymorphous perverse sexuality.

Hat tip: Reason magazine (print edition)

Posted by Arcane at 12:10 PM

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The DutchReport, a blog from Holland, reports that in response to death threats from Islamist extremists, Geert Wilders is being housed, not in a well-guarded safe house, but in the same prison that held the Lockerbie terrorists. Almost as bad is that Hirsi Ali has been forced to live in a Marine barracks in Amsterdam. That’s right, Wilders is in prison, and Hirsi might as well be.

Hirsi Ali says the situation is also no longer temporary. She already had to leave her own house in September 2002. But she can not reach agreement with the NCBB about a permanent residence: “Their objective is that is has to be a secret location, without a view, a house where nobody can see you. That way you always have the risk that you have to move, if some does see you.”

I hate to say it, but Lawrence Auster is dead on:

So, as a direct result of the Dutch having given Moslems the liberty to enter and live in the Netherlands, a Dutch representative who calls for restrictions on this immigration loses either his liberty, or his life. . . Had that Moslem immigration not been permitted in the first place, Dutchmen would still have complete freedom to discuss whom they wanted to admit into their country; but because they admitted Moslems, they now face the prospect of having their heads sawn off if they exercise that freedom.

Hat tip: VFR

Posted by Arcane at 08:56 PM

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The Mercury News ran an interesting article (registration required) yesterday titled, “Gene researchers find variations by ancestry.” It describes a new paper published in Science by David Hinds, et al, describing DNA variation between three human populations. And [surprise!] the paper is astonished to see that the researchers believe that race (the term “human populations” is used in the paper) may be significant. Interestingly enough, the term “race” is never used in the actual published paper, so you can see that the newspaper is playing with semantics and creating a controversy on this issue by using a word that quickly incites knee-jerk reactions. Here’s some snippets from the actual article, since I know that nobody wants to go and register…

The first comprehensive map of genetic variation among several ethnic groups, published in today’s issue of the journal Science, shows patterns of genetic variation that could explain differences in health, disease and response to medication. This is a key step toward the possibility of personalized medicine based on genetic variations.

Although it is not their goal, the Perlegen scientists have found differences that suggest “race” has biological significance.

Critics fear that the identification of biological differences among races could bolster cranks and demagogues, allowing scientists to play into the hands of racists. Many anthropologists, sociologists, geneticists and population biologists consider race a social construct.

But scientists and doctors say the idea of race-based medicine has new respectability — and that identifying tiny differences could help reduce health disparities among the races.

It is known, for instance, that hypertension affects black Americans at a higher rate than white Americans. And white Americans sometimes take longer to clear certain drugs from the liver than East Asians.

Life’s genetic blueprint is 99.9 percent similar from person to person.

The remaining 0.1 percent consists of single-letter DNA variations called SNPs (pronounced SNIPS), or single nucleotide polymorphisms.

Most patterns of genetic variation are common and found in all populations.

But others are less common — and are likely to determine a person’s vulnerability to disease and response to medications, as well as other traits, such as eye or hair color, height and body type.

Uncommon SNPs occur in different frequencies in different populations. For instance, 70 percent of African-Americans might have a nucleotide represented by the letter A; 30 percent might have a letter T. At the same spot, the percentage may be flipped in European-Americans. The difference in frequency of a specific letter could make a population more susceptible to disease.

Finding those differences, and identifying whether they have any clinical significance, is the goal, said Paul Cuzenza, who oversees research collaborations at Perlegen.

The Perlegen researchers analyzed nearly 1.6 million SNPs across 71 unrelated individuals.

They found that most of the SNPs were common to the three human populations in the study. But 94 percent of the study’s SNPs were found in African-Americans, 81 percent in European-Americans and 74 percent in Chinese-Americans.

The presence of these patterns allowed the scientists to create the first picture of the structure of human genetic variation.

“Our paper in no way makes any sort of a scientific statement or definition of race,” said David Cox, Perlegen’s chief scientific officer. “When you look at any group of individuals, you’ll see differences in their DNA.”

Perlegen is now working to generate an even better map, describing variation across individuals of Japanese, Chinese, Nigerian and European ancestry.

The company hopes to include 4 million SNPs in 270 individuals by the end of the year.

Here’s an extract from the paper:

Individual differences in DNA sequence are the genetic basis of human variability. We have characterized whole-genome patterns of common human DNA variation by genotyping 1,586,383 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 71 Americans of European, African, and Asian ancestry. Our results indicate that these SNPs capture most common genetic variation as a result of linkage disequilibrium, the correlation among common SNP alleles. We observe a strong correlation between extended regions of linkage disequilibrium and functional genomic elements. Our data provide a tool for exploring many questions that remain regarding the causal role of common human DNA variation in complex human traits and for investigating the nature of genetic variation within and between human populations.

Since I’m such a nice guy, I’ve uploaded the actual paper in the gnxpfiles group. The title of the paper, Whole-Genome Patterns of Common DNA Variation in Three Human Populations, is called “1072.pdf” in the Files section of gnxpfiles:

I’ve also uploaded an interesting article from the “Perspectives” section of the journal about medical applications of this new research, written by a member of the International HapMap Project. The title of the paper, Harvesting Medical Information from the Human Family Tree, is called “1052.pdf” in the Files section of gnxpfiles:

Addendum from Razib: Because we put so many PDFs up early this month GNXP will come close to our very generous bandwidth allotments. So I’ve created a “gnxpfiles” yahoo group to place PDFs for now.

Posted by Arcane at 03:05 PM

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NPR recently ran an excellent little clip about scientists and researchers conducting self-censorship of studies that various groups and individuals may deem to be controversial, which the clip describes as “forbidden knowledge”; that is, knowledge that may have potentially negative effects upon society or which may contradict various moral codes and doctrines. The survey, while small (only 41 participants who described their own experiences and the experiences of others), showed that:

– “nearly half felt they had to censor what they studied or published out of fear of outside opinion” which included “government or university officials, or journal publishers.”
– “over 40% said the biggest influence came from outside official channels, from activists, for example”

Of course, this is nothing new to regular readers… just on issues concerning evolution, this site constantly fights for the truth against creationist IDiots on the right and anti-hereditarian activists on the left (who have calmed down a lot since the 1960s and 70s, when the Students for a Democratic Society and Progressive Labor Party worked to have individuals such as Jensen fired, and on some occasions conducted violence against them, as in the case of Hans Eysenck). Thankfully, silly pseudo-Marxist publications like Science for the People are now defunct. But as evidenced by the recent attacks against Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Larry Summers, and a slew of other cases, this problem has not gone away and, if anything, has actually resulted in things getting worse.

Self-censorship is far worse than a few protests here and there. Not only does it abrogate scientist’s academic and Constitutional rights, but, worst of all, it results in the suppression of research that is important to understanding ourselves and our environment.

Unfortunately, I do not think that most people are aware of the amount of self-censorship that takes place.

Posted by Arcane at 08:22 PM

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In a continuation of bb’s earlier post,”The Problem with Libertarian Open Borders Arguments,” I have to point out Will Wilkinson’s absolutely disastrous idea in his latest column for Reason Online. The idea?

How can the United States best help the millions of people who were rocked by the Indian Ocean tsunami? America’s generosity has been impressive. The federal government has pledged $350 million; private, voluntary donations from Americans will soon surpass that amount. American helicopters and aid workers have been critical for rendering aid in the aftermath of the disaster. All this will help.

But there is something more we can do that will have long-term positive benefits for the citizens of tsunami-battered nations—something that will buy us goodwill but cost us almost nothing.

Let them work in the U.S.

This idea is so incredibly ignorant, in the light of current affairs, that it is almost beyond belief that a person with the intellect of Will would still argue it. What Will completely ignores is the fact that the tsunami did the worst damage to the province of Aceh.

Concerns remained that an unknown number of tsunami survivors in Indonesia’s Aceh province have not received any aid, two weeks after the disaster that killed more than 104,000 people there.

For those who don’t know, Aceh is an ultra-fundamentalist breakaway province that forms the most Western part of Indonesia. The province has been in a near constant state of war against the military of the more moderate Indonesian government for more than 25 years. In fact, the people of Aceh practice a form of Islam much more similar to that practiced in the Middle East than what is practiced in Indonesia and Malaysia.

For over ten centuries the Acehnese have had the region’s strongest ties with the Arab world. The Acehnese are far more influenced by Arab thought than any of the Malay peoples that surround them. The radical Wahhabi view of Islam held by many of the Bedouins of Saudi Arabia is the Islam of Aceh.

To truly understand the scope of the conflict there, perhaps a brief description of Indonesian military operations in the province in just this past October will help put it in perspective.

In an awesome display, paratroopers have dropped into the province en masse to show the Acehnese that the government means business. Indonesia’s generals have promised to flood the province with at least 50,000 troops to fight a foe that, by generous estimates, has fewer than 5,000 men under arms. Lending her support, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has urged the army to “crush” the rebels. And even the White House has tacitly signed on: As the Aceh campaign has escalated, the Bush administration has sought to increase military aid to Jakarta.

The article that this was quoted from was somewhat sympathetic to the Aceh people, calling it “Indonesia’s Chechnya” and describing many of the atrocities taking place at the hands of the Indonesian military while downplaying just how effective the insurgents are militarily by describing their small numbers (as I’m sure everyone on this blog is aware of, insurgents, terrorists, guerrillas, and other practitioners of asymmetric warfare are extraordinarily effective at making use of various force multipliers). It seems the Indonesian military has the exact same problems that everybody else has when it comes to dealing with insurgents, and are probably making the problem worse. Recent reports indicate that Indonesia wants to bring about a truce, however other reports indicate that Indonesia has exploited the shock the tsunami has had on the province by starting another campaign of military operations while simultaneously calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Back to the point at hand, being that the province is controlled by an ultra-fundamentalist, Middle Eastern sect of Islam means that bringing in hundreds of thousands of tsunami victims would be equivalent to bringing in hundreds of thousands of people from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, etc. What the open border libertarians don’t understand is that there is much more to a country than its economic power and that there are aspects of national security that must be considered when discussing immigration. It’s almost as if many libertarians don’t read the international news sections of newspapers, because if they did they would not be making such foolish arguments as the one that Will is making.

An even scarier thought is that maybe they simply don’t care.

Posted by Arcane at 04:26 PM

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Today the latest edition of one of my favorite studies was published by the Heritage Foundation: the Index of Economic Freedom 2005. I immediately looked at the rankings, and was immediately disappointed. Out of the top 15 most free economies in the world, the “vanguard of global capitalism,” the good ol’ USA, was ranked 12th.

Here are the rankings:

1 Hong Kong
2 Singapore
3 Luxembourg
4 Estonia
5 Ireland
New Zealand
7 United Kingdom
8 Denmark
10 Australia
11 Chile
12 Switzerland
United States
14 Sweden
15 Finland

Sure, the US ahead of Sweden as far as economic freedom is concerned, but just barely: only .04 points more free than Sweden. According to the Wall Street Journal

In 1998, the U.S. was the fifth freest economy in the world, in 2001 it was sixth, and today it sits at 12th, tied with Switzerland.

There are some problems with their calculations, though… According to the Index, US government expenditures consumed 35.9% of GDP, compared to Sweden, whose government consumed 59% of GDP. However, for some reason they gave Sweden a fiscal burden rank of 3.9 out of 5 (5 being the worst ranking, 1 being the highest), and the US got a fiscal burden rank of 4 out of 5. There is no explanation from what I can tell (although I haven’t been able to read much of the report yet) as to why a government that consumes 59% of their GDP has a lesser fiscal burden than a government that consumes just under 36% of GDP.

Perhaps it has something to do with corporate tax rates? While Sweden’s top corporate tax rate is 28%, the US’ top rate is 35%. However, a bill passed last October cut our top corporate tax rate to 32%; still too high in my opinion, but it shows that they didn’t bother to edit the Index for this, or even make an addendum. The Wall Street Journal article previously cited seems to think this is the reason why the US got a bad score in this area.

Most alarming is the U.S.’s fiscal burden, which imposes high marginal tax rates for individuals and very high marginal corporate tax rates. In terms of corporate taxation as an element of economic freedom, the U.S. ranks a lowly 112th out of the 155 countries scored, and its top individual tax rate ranks only slightly better at 82nd.

But this still doesn’t explain that problem with their calculations… now, this is not to say that I’m being an apologist for my country’s abysmal economic policies, and as I noted last year,

When countries like Ireland, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Austria, and Russia have tax rates of 13%, 19%, 16%, 19%, 25%, 25%, and 24%, respectively, we must continue to cut corporate taxes in order to increase our attractiveness to multinational corporations.

If the fiscal burden score is adjusted from 4 to 3, the resulting score is .10 points lower than the current 1.85 score being assigned to the US, which would put us as equal to the UK with a score of 1.75 and would rank us as # 7 instead. The only reason I can think of that they did this is to punish this administration for its lack of decent economic policies (like balancing the budget, cutting government spending, modernizing regulatory structures, etc.) and hoping that it overlooks the fiscal burden score in comparison to other countries.

Look at the nice things they had to say about Sweden!

The Economist Intelligence Unit notes that the free market is the main force in the economy, though 25 percent of Sweden’s business sector is still state-owned. Over the past decade, however, Sweden has encouraged competition and has deregulated major sectors such as electricity, telecommunications, banking, and parts of transport. Market deregulation, which put Sweden far ahead of the European Union, has contributed to faster growth in GDP per capita than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s average in recent years. In September 2003, Swedes voted against adopting the euro, citing concerns over sovereignty, democracy, and national control of interest rates.

Hey, that’s great in my opinion! I wish we’d learn a bit from Sweden when it comes to free-markets; there are still tons of regulated electricity markets and transport services in the US. Here’s what they say about the US:

Government spending, however, expands without constraints. The massive farm subsidies of 2002 were followed by the massive Medicare prescription entitlement of 2003. Increased regulatory laws in the securities field have raised compliance costs in capital markets, forcing some firms simply to buy back their stock and retreat from public markets. Anti-dumping trade barriers are growing, and inflation rose following the steep plunge in the dollar. In short, the United States, while still a vibrant country, is at a crossroads: It will either continue to be a leader in economic freedom or idly watch other countries pass it by.

I can’t say I disagree with them. In fact, I completely agree! The fact that we’re supposed to be the “vanguard of global capitalism,” means we should be the most capitalist country on earth, and we’re not. Even if you adjust the scores, we’d still have an ugly rank of 7, putting us equal to a country that 30 years ago was a socialist state (the UK, of course). It’s embarrassing…

Posted by Arcane at 10:26 PM

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The Economist has a great essay about apocalyptic beliefs across the political and religious spectrum (including secular atheists). Much of the material has already been discussed in different texts already, such as the apocalyptic beliefs of Marxists and National Socialists, but it’s neat seeing it all in one short, concise essay that covers both political and religious aspects of them. Here’s an excerpt from the end:

So there you have it. The apocalypse is the locomotive of capitalism, the inspiration for revolutionary socialism, the bedrock of America’s manifest destiny and the undeclared religion of all those pseudo-rationalists who, like The Economist, champion the progress of liberal democracy. Perhaps, deep down, there is something inside everyone which yearns for the New Jerusalem . . .

Kudos to Arts and Letters Daily, a site that should be on everybody’s “Favorites” list, for linking this up.

Posted by Arcane at 05:00 PM

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The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
The sources of America’s immigration problems—and a possible solution