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The two genes MAO-A and 5-HTT have drastically different effects on male and female behavior, according to Swedish researchers at Uppsala University. Major Swedish daily “Svenska Dagbladet” reports:

Gene variants that in a given environment lead to alcoholism, depression or antisocial behavior in boys have the opposite impact on girls. And vice versa.

In the study, 5000 swedish youths completed a behavioral survey. From this sample, 200 youths were selected for further interviews and blood tests. Teachers and parents were also interviewed. According to SvD:

The results were clear. A short version of the gene MAO-A for boys and a long variant for women in combination with a problematic social environment meant for example an increased risk for alcohol-related problem behavior. When boys had the long variant and girls the short one, the results were reversed.

“The impact is very small when only looking at environment or genes in isolation. But there is a tremendous increase in the effect when they are combined”, says Lars Oreland. ”

Results have been published in several journals, among them American journal of medical genetics and Journal of biological psychiatry.

Media-related side note: This news is splashed all over the news in Sweden, with zero “anti-genetics” jibes in sight. Which is interesting.

Previously on GNXP about MAO-A.

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So, they are here. Moral of story: Obey the laws of physics kids! With no further ado – the winners:

Hammer of Doom: A Brazil man tried to disassemble a missile by car, and by sledgehammer…

Copper Kite String: Precautions must be taken to avoid sudden electrocution…

High on Life: Four feet found protruding from a helium advertising balloon…

Score for Goliath: A mythical giant felled by a humble slingshot: a modern speargun versus an underwater leviathan…

Faithful flotation: a pastor who could literally walk on water…

Stubbed out: If a doctor advises that the one thing you must avoid is an open flame, most people ould not strike a match…

Star Wars: Luke vs. Darth Vader, with light sabres made from fluorescent tubes and gasoline…

And if you didn’t win this year, you have all of 2007 to make a go for it! Happy new year!

Appendix: Darwin Awards 2006 Demographics:

England – 3 winners
Florida – 3 winners
Gabon – 1 winner
Belize – 1 winner
Brazil – 1 winner

Average winner age: 29 years

Winner gender:
8 men
1 woman

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Traffic is a major killer all around the world. Still, some places have a worse reputation than others when it comes to reckless driving. Luckily, a new study goes beyond mere prejudice in detailing how accident prone various immigrant groups are here in good ol’ Sweden.

Short version: The Middle East and North Africa take the trophy this year by far. African males are almost competitive, but African women hold them back by being among the safest drivers around (even when adjusting for the number of driver’s licences they hold).

And for those who want to see how their group stacks up, here are the key findings from the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (rolls off your tongue nicely…):

Click the image for a more readable version.

You can find the entire report (in English) with plenty of tables and OLS goodness here.

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It appears that Robert “Bowler” Putnam is ready to publish his book on the effects of diversity:

From the Financial Times:

A bleak picture of the corrosive effects of ethnic diversity has been revealed in research by Harvard University’s Robert Putnam, one of the world’s most influential political scientists.

His research shows that the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone – from their next-door neighbour to the mayor.

The core message of the research was that, “in the presence of diversity, we hunker down”, he said. “We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us.”

Needless to say, Putnam serves up this rather hard-to-digest message with a large helping of “the usual”:

Prof Putnam stressed, however, that immigration materially benefited both the “importing” and “exporting” societies, and that trends “have been socially constructed, and can be socially reconstructed”.

In an oblique criticism of Jack Straw, leader of the House of Commons, who revealed last week he prefers Muslim women not to wear a full veil, Prof Putnam said: “What we shouldn’t do is to say that they [immigrants] should be more like us. We should construct a new us.”

A bit uninspired. Will it be enough to save his spot on the circuit? Time will tell.

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Some encouraging gene therapy news in Science:

Cancer Regression in Patients After Transfer of Genetically Engineered Lymphocytes

Using a retrovirus encoding a T cell receptor, we report here the ability to specifically confer tumor recognition by autologous lymphocytes from peripheral blood. Adoptive transfer of these transduced cells in fifteen patients resulted in durable engraftment at levels exceeding ten percent of peripheral blood lymphocytes for at least two months post infusion. We observed high sustained levels of circulating, engineered cells at one year post-infusion in two patients, that both demonstrated objective regression of metastatic melanoma lesions. This study suggests the therapeutic potential of genetically engineered cells for the biologic therapy of cancer.

According to reports in Swedish media (i.e. Dagens Nyheter) two late-stage terminal patients out of 17 trial subjects were cancer free after 18 months.

UPDATE: Here is the flood of Google News articles.

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Once again into the breach, etc. Derbyshire, when responding to the latest creationist article published in National Review (link), makes this observation:

It’s a wearying business, arguing with Creationists. Basically, it is a game of Whack-a-Mole. They make an argument, you whack it down. They make a second, you whack it down. They make a third, you whack it down. So they make the first argument again.

..Which, I gather, is why this blog has outsourced that fight to “The Panda’s Thumb”, leaving us time for more worthwhile pursuits, such as extensive headbutting commentary and arguing over Finns in comments. No, I really mean it. Head over to and search for “evolution” if in doubt.

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The Swedish government, a world leader in gender equity, decided last year to ban bars and restaurants from enforcing different ages of admittance for men and women. Up until then it was commonplace to allow women to enter at, say, age 20, while the men had to wait until they were 22 or so to get in.

Now, I know this will shock you all, but according to local police this exercise in equality has led to increased levels of violence in Stockholm. According to “Stockholm City”:

We noticed that violence went up last autumn, that’s why we launched an inquiry. It shows that when bars have dropped age limits for guys, they admit these younger guys who can’t handle alcohol very well, and then you have a fight on your hands, says Lars Lehman.

Why, it’s almost as if men and women were different or something!

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John Derbyshire, the firestarter extraordinaire of National Review is at it again. This time, it’s a pretty conventional rerun of the good ol’ genetics vs. environment parenting cagematch. What is less conventional is the candidness of the Derb’s opponent: Jonah Goldberg.

Derbyshire states:

To take your last point first: Are you suggesting that if I hold a certain opinion about politics and society, and if I then read a sheaf of research studies that seem to me to be sound, but that contradict my opinion, then I should hold on to my opinion and ignore the science? Sorry, no sale.

Pretty conventional “truth always comes first” boilerplate. Meh. Now, Goldberg on the other hand dares to be different:

Derb – Let me take your first point first. Yes, to a certain extent I am asking you to have your politics shape your opinions and frankly, I am at a loss to see how you should think otherwise, let alone why you should be so boastful about it.

We know from America’s own experience with eugenics – and I am not trying to make it a scare word, but that is what we are talking about to a certain extent – that if science is allowed to indulge itself other important things will get trampled. This country sterilized thousands of people on the assumption that behaviors are heritable in much the way you describe. My politics says that even if this was “good science” it was wrong and unacceptable.

Update from Razib: Keep an eye on The Corner, it be buzzing….

Update from Rikurzhen: Informative comments from the Haloscan thread for the sake of Google:

Jason Malloy – 06.19.06 – 6:14 pm writes:

It takes years or even decades to move a theory from “vague speculation” to “established fact.”

But “family shapes children” research is more speculative and has never been “established fact”. Same with racial differences: genetics are denounced as “speculative”, but the other theories are worse. What people are really saying is that their genuine speculations deserve social and scientific privilege as the default assumptions, and from being framed as speculations, while better supported ideas deserve to be framed as wild-ass guesses and driven out of polite conversation and free inquiry entirely until they are (somehow) proved beyond doubt.

It is a political maneuver, and I reject it. Political correctness is affirmative action for shitty ideas.

Goldberg is also wrong that the research inherently empowers the Left. Sandra Scarr once suggested the adoption studies disproving family influence was good for liberals. Leon Kamin, far over to her left, objected that this was a bizarre caricature of liberal values.

One reason is that the same research that debunks families, also debunks the role of socioeconomic status.

From that link, here’s the data for income and adoption:

Jason Malloy – 06.19.06 – 6:21 pm writes:

Derbyshire is wrong that peer socialization has much support too. The Nurture Assumption simply raised it as a theory. Later research is mildly supportive, but genetics and nonshared (unique to the individual) environments describe the grand share of individual differences. (Derb leaves out nonshared but it’s a huge and important part – most of what you are comes from your own unique and random experiences. Not exactly something encouraging for our would-be social engineers)

Jason Malloy – 06.19.06 – 6:49 pm writes:

One thing Jonah’s right about is that culturally specific traits are transmitted in the family. Read the Alford paper from last year on political orientation and genetics. To summarize, your* propensity to be political at all has a modest genetic component (.36), but no family component (.02). Your actual political opinions have a medium genetic component (.32) and a modest family component (.16). But the actual party you affiliate with has a nontrivial family component (.41) and a small genetic component (.14).

Same for specific religion vs. religiousness.

* figure of speech, it’s a population figure.

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I take a guilty pleasure in reading the work of creationists and intelligent design proponents. I can’t really get worked up over them, even if I try – I just find it a relaxing pastime. Perverted, I know. (Make no mistake, I use Darwinism as one of my litmus tests for reasonableness, but I can’t really work up actual anger with creationists.)

Still, seeing Intelligent Design poster boy Bill Dembski in action is quite something. Here is an exchange over bird evolution over at his Blog, “Uncommon descent”:

You’re mis-construing the importance. It’s not “we’ve found a missing link, therefore evolution is proved”, but rather “we’ve found a fossil ancestor that tells us something interesting about how birds evolved”.

There’s a good write-up on Living the Scientific Life. Bob

Here is the answer from the always-friendly management:

Wanna see me turn YOU into a missing link? -dt

Gotta love that spirit of open scientific debate!

Bill appears to have some trouble with mathematics too…

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The BBC reports on a new study of Neolithic injuries:

A survey of British skulls from the early part of the New Stone Age, or Neolithic, shows societies then were more violent than was supposed.

Blunt instruments such as clubs were responsible for most of the trauma.

If this can be seen as news is doubtful, as the subject has already been explored extensively in a long-running and widely viewed documentary series…

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I made a recent post on male-female drowning disparities in maritime accidents. As the subject generated a whooping 51 comments, let’s follow up that blogging success with a new study on the black-white Drowning Gap:

The findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, not only confirm past research showing that a large number of young drowning victims are African American, but also identify where these deaths are happening.

Overall, three-quarters of the victims were male, and black males were at greatest risk. Their rate of drowning was anywhere from 5 to 12 times higher than that of white males, depending on the age group. Hispanic males were also at greater risk than whites, but the difference was much smaller.

“5 to 12 times higher?” Hmm…

Fun fact of the day: The built-in Blogger spell checking software does not recognize the word “blogging”. Heh.

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In a recent post, Steve Sailer quoted an unnamed feminist as explaining the high proportion of women surviving the Titanic disaster with:

women having more body fat. Better to float and survive in the cold with.

To establish if there is any truth to this thesis, it can be interesting to compare the Titanic to other sea disasters where circumstances made chivalry a non-factor. One such disaster is the loss of the M / S Estonia, which took place in the Baltic sea, on the 28:th of September 1994.

The Estonia was en route from Tallinn in Estonia to Stockholm in Sweden in rough weather with 989 passengers and crew. Sometime after midnight, she capsized and sank rapidly. A mayday went out at 00:22. When rescuers arrived nearly an hour later, the only signs of life were the lights from the life rafts in the water. Only 137 people survived. Many perished in the cold water waiting to be rescued, but most did not make it out of the ship.

The rapid chain of events in the case of the Estonia made chivalry moot; it was by all accounts ‘every man for himself’, as organized evacuation efforts broke down relatively early, when the increasing list of the ship made it ever more difficult to get out.

This gives us two situations for purposes of comparison, one with Chivalry (I.e. organized rescue following the principle of ‘women and children first’) and one without. Below are the facts at hand:

In short, while the proportion of women rescued was almost four times as high as the proportion of men saved on the Titanic, on the Estonia the same statistic shrinks to 0.2.This is hardly conclusive, given that one can argue about specifics, but rather illuminating nonetheless.

For those of you interested in the disaster, here is the Wikipedia page. The number of conspiracy theories surrounding it certainly rivals 9/11, fuelled by an official investigation many consider lacklustre. The official disaster report was recently heavily criticized by an official Estonian government report, and there is currently an effort in the Swedish parliament to reopen the investigation. You can read more about this (if you speak Swedish) in ‘R&D’ which is the Swedish equivalent of ‘The Hill’.

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Seems like a Jersey principal was instructed to cheat on state tests.

Principal Joseph Carruth was riding down the slow, paneled elevator at Camden’s district office, ready to cave in to pressure from a superior who he says had just given him a tutorial on how to cheat on state tests.

“My head is spinning,” Carruth recounted to The Inquirer of his feelings that day in January 2005. “I can’t believe it.”

Still green on the job at Camden’s Dr. Charles E. Brimm Medical Arts High, Carruth needed medical benefits for his ill daughter. He did not have tenure. He was tempted to take whatever steps necessary to keep his job.

“I was thinking, ‘How can I do it?’ ” Carruth said about that day. “And then it’s, like, ‘What are you doing? You can’t do this.’ “

Good thing the cheater was caught, so that this thing won’t ever happen again.

ADDENDUM: From the Wikipedia article on Camden:

The racial makeup of the city was 16.84% White, 53.35% Black or African American, 0.54% Native American, 2.45% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 22.83% from other races, and 3.92% from two or more races. 38.82% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 8.9% are foreign-born.

La Griffe has a nifty solution all ready to go for just this kind of situation.

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Turns out all housewives aren’t complete pill-popping wrecks. Go figure.

Here are the figures, published in this month’s issue of the journal Social Forces: 52% of wives who don’t work outside the home reported they were “very happy” with their marriages, compared with 41% of wives in the workforce.

The more traditional a marriage is, the sociologists found, the higher the percentage of happy wives. Among couples who have the husband as the primary breadwinner, who worship together regularly and who believe in marriage as an institution that requires a lifelong commitment, 61% of wives said they were “very happy” with their marriages. Among couples whose marriage does not have all these characteristics, the percentage of happy wives dips to an average of 45.

Personal reflection: With most women in the workforce, how comparable are the housewives of today with the housewives of yesteryear?

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Just thought this tidbit from The Corner, by Tom Bethell* was interesting:

“Incidentally, this criticism, that Darwinism amounts to the retelling of Just-So Stories, was brilliantly made in the 1970s by Richard Lewontin of Harvard, now emeritus.”

*The author of “The politically incorrect guide to science”

Sweden just won the Olympic Hockey Gold!!!! Whohoooooo! 😛

Update from Razib: Derb schools The Corner on the Left & Right Creationists.

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This is the most breathtaking example of multiculturalism in action I have encountered in quite some time, as well as breaking news:

The Swedish security police (SAPO) intervened last night against the site of far-right political party Sverigedemokraterna (sd), getting their Internet provider to shut down their site (

As far as I have been able to make out, there was not even a court-order involved. (The site is now back up, without the drawings…)The party had been holding a “Draw Mohammed” contest, which in turn created bad blood in the middle east. (The usual suspects: Hezbollah et. al.)

The foreign minister justified the action with the party creating a danger to Swedish interests abroad.

All the links are in Swedish so far, but hopefully some english-language information should be available soon-ish.

UPDATE: The Stockholm Spectator has a post in english up – not much additional info, but I suspect they will keep on this case. Worth a look.

UPDATE II: It appears the Security Police merely placed a friendly phonecall to the ISP of Sverigedemokraterna “informing them of the situation”. Oh well then, never mind.


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For those of you who have ever wondered about what tangible effects “structural discrimination” might have on disadvantaged groups, here is an excellent example.

This racist (according to the US justice department, and the justice department doesn’t lie, no?) police academy admittance test is a major factor in ensuring that “about 85 percent of white applicants passed the math test, while 66 percent of Hispanic applicants and 59 percent of blacks passed”.

However, there are several potential remedies available for these kinds of situations. I have no doubt that they will be implemented without delay.

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I was a bit taken aback by seeing Yahayist Mustafa Akyol published at National Review Online. While NRO is frequently predictable and hackish, they are rarely outright nutty. Akyol even holds up the infamous “Wedge Document” as a great achievement of the Intelligent Design movement:

That’s why something called the Wedge Document, although horrifying to America’s secularist intelligentsia, offers a message of hope for Muslims. The Wedge Document is a 1999 memorandum of the Discovery Institute (DI), the Seattle-based think tank that acts as the main proponent of ID. In this document, the Institute explains that its long-term goal is “to defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies.”

Is this merely a case of throwing some red meat to the Evangelicals, lest they feel forgotten by the metrocons at NRO? If so, someone has decided that one batch of meat wasn’t enough. Today, National Review serves up a real whooper by one Tom Bethell. Here is a sample:

We are expected to believe – and I do mean believe – that evolution answers the important question: How did life, in all its abundance, appear on Earth? By the slow, successive modification of pre-existing forms, Darwin said. Go back far enough, to one of those warm little ponds Darwinians assume must have existed, and we would find that life started of its own accord from nothing in particular.

This man has written a book – on science, no less. No, really.

Update: John Derbyshire responds.

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Steve Sailer has posted a reader summary of the Pinker lecture on the Cochran, Hardy and Harpending paper. You can find it here.

Your Lying Eyes has an even more extensive report on the lecture, which you can find here. Excerpt:

“Though the moderator thanked him for a very ‘even-handed’ presentation on a controversial topic, to my ear what Pinker presented was a spirited endorsement of the Cochran-Hardy-Harpending (CHH) paper. The presentation generally seemed to fill the need to present these controversial ideas to a very interested audience by a trusted authoritative source. It didn’t seem to me that Pinker added anything that Cochran or Harpending could not have provided themselves except proximity to NYC and comfortably strong Ashkenazik credentials. Overall Pinker emphasized the reasonableness of the authors’ hypotheses, the generally better quality of the genetic evidence over the environmental, the non-rational basis of much of the opposition, and the paper’s strong foundation in the current state of knowledge.”

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“Are there large numbers of covertly “fascistic” people in the U.S.?” asks PolSci professor Alan Wolfe over at the Chronicle of Higher Education. Or, put in a more academic fashion, should the old Frankfurterian study “The Authoritarian Personality” be rehabilitated? Wolfe proceeds to answer in the affirmative. And how could one come to any other conclusion, considering the facts presented by Alan?

– Carl Ford Jr., a former head of intelligence within the U.S. State Department, once called John Bolton “a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy.”

– Sen. John Cornyn stated: “There are some activities so flagrantly un-American that, when responsible officials won’t take the proper steps, the wide-awake citizen should take the law into his own hands.”

– House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is in difficulty for his close ties to lobbyists like Jack Abramoff.

Clearly, only a pathological authoritarian could remain unconvinced of the rise of American Fascism after being presented with such an overwhelming body of empirical evidence!

More background here.

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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