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Excellent review of the latest findings on sex influences and brain anatomy/functioning by Larry Cahill over at Nature Reviews – Neuroscience [open access]. One comment from Cahill:

A third, also related, misconception holds that the differences within a sex are much more substantial than those between the sexes, the implication being that sex influences can therefore be dismissed as trivial.

Now, where have I heard this (sort of) argument before…?

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Science 
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The Roman Catholic Church’s official policy on the ‘regulation of birth’ is, of course, that artificial birth control should not be used since the practice transgresses God’s ‘natural moral law’ to go forth and multiply (and, of course, with congregation numbers already being as low as they are, well…). Therefore, “direct interruption of the generative process already begun…[is] absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children.”

The one loop-hole, however, is the rhythm method — refraining from sex during a woman’s fertile period — one of those handy laws of nature which “God has wisely ordered.” If you and your wife/husband just make sure to have sex only at those times when she’s/you’re less likely to get pregnant, then you can have your cake and eat it, too — avoid unwanted prenancies, while not interfering with conception or having to opt for a selective abortion. (The rhythm method, by the way, is estimated to be anywhere from 75-90% effective in avoiding unwanted pregnancies.)

However, in a forthcoming article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Luc Bovens suggests that the rhythm method may work not (only) because it prevents conception from happening in the first place, but rather because those embryos conceived during a woman’s less fertile period are actually less viable. Both the sperm and the egg may be old and the uterine lining may not be optimal.

In the article [not yet available], Bovens offers some estimates of how many naturally aborted embryos we might be talking about — the upshot is that he reckons that for every one unplanned pregnancy in rhythm method users in ten woman-years, there would also be two to three embryonic deaths. Even though the actual numbers can be disputed, the logic of the argument seems pretty sound (Bovens, via email):

“If there is reduced viability for embryos conceived outside the abstinence period for rhythm method users, then the method is likely to be effective, not only because it reduces the chance of conception, but also because embryos so conceived have a lower viability. And hence for every failure of the rhythm method (i.e. for every pregnancy) there is a higher rate of embryonic death.”

If Bovens is right — and if (to paraphrase) every embryo is indeed sacred — rhythm method users may need to re-evaluate their ‘moral choice’.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Science 
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Lordi wins Eurovision song contest…

Update from Razib: Finland vs. Sweden re: educational performance. Take home message: Finns are nerds!

I know Razib was rooting for them.

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Well, 2005 certainly proved to be a compelling year here at GNXP. From the Larry Summers “scandal” to Ashkenazi intelligence “overclocking” and on to Bruce Lahn’s research — the year was definitely not a dull one!

Below the fold are some highlights from ‘GNXP 2005′ — this collection is by no means comprehensive — and, no doubt, I’ve left out some really great posts. But, we were spoiled for choice this year and it was difficult to narrow this list down as much as I did. Enjoy! — and see you in 2006.


Anti-Racist Multicultural Math
On getting rid of “old, stodgy racist math” in Newton, Massachusetts.

Drive your kin before you….
Kin-slaughter and increasing individual reproductive capacity (a la Genghis Khan).

A different sort of r strategy in Europeans? -and- The “fertility inversion”
A gene inversion which seems to confer greater fertility most common in Europe (21%), followed by Africa (6%), then Asia (1%).

Much ado about women & Larry Summers
Summation of GNXP’s take on the Larry Summers ‘scandal’.

Ethnic Genetic Interests
On Frank Salter’s idea that every individual has a genetic interest in copies of his own ‘distinctive genes’ found in close relatives AS WELL AS in the wider population.


Ladies’ Choice
Jinn’s readers’ poll: Which Intellectual Superstar of Gene Expression Would You Rather Sleep With?

Race is obsolete…?
The battle over race in biomedical research.

Genetic variation is a fact of life
On “Heritibility and genetic constraints of life-history trait evolution in preindustrial humans.”

“Gene expression” might matter
For those who haven’t heard, biology is complex — the genome is not an exact blueprint for how the organism will develop.

Gene + environment interactions….
Nature and nurture and social constraints.

Crime and Punishment
A look at UK prison stats on women from ‘ethnic minorities’.

Taste and behavior genetics
Capsaicin (!) tasters and non-tasters.


An explication of assumptions
Blank slate vs. Evolutionary Psychology vs. Human Biodiversity (and so on…).

Love, lust and attachment
On human pair-bonding.

Male brain ~ more sons vs. female brain ~ more daughters?
“Engineers have more sons, nurses have more daughters.”

Colon Cancer is a Socially Constructed Disease
An example of genetic medicine revealing how internal traits can vary from group to group.


Dissolving the dominance of dominance
Good reasons for focusing on the idea that in diploid organisms two copies of a given gene are expressed on any locus (rather than the dominant-recessive concept).

Evidence for natural selection between populations
Evidence of selection between three populations — European Americans, African Americans, and Han Chinese from Los Angeles.

More on Social Mobility
LSE study on 8 countries shows highest social mobility in Scandinavia, lowest in the US.

Slow and diverse food
Diet and human biodiversity — Razib on Gary Nabhan’s “Why Some Like it Hot.”


What’s your s?
The basic paradigm which population geneticists arguing for Out-of-Africa vs. !Out-of-Africa are working with is faulty.

Measuring Genetic Diversity: Lewontin’s Other Fallacy -and- Measuring Genetic Diversity: Part 2
How genetic diversity ‘between populations’ is measured.

Out of Africa by coast…once…maybe???
mtDNA variation in isolated “relict” populations (?) in southeast Asia supports the view that there was only a single dispersal from Africa, most likely via a southern coastal route.

IQ Irrelevancies
Alex’s list of his favorite “arguments against using IQ instruments.”

The Middle Model
Genomics refutes an exclusively African origin of humans.

Altruistic punishment
What is altruistic punishment and why is it important?


Group Selection (oh no, not again!)
Why ‘group selection should be regarded as an explanatory last resort.’

On Cochran, Hardy and Harpending’s Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence. Don’t miss the discussion.

The Urban Sink
Civilization, urbanization and selection.

Bad science?
On criticisms of Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence.

The history of the Jews…a very special people…sort of
On Howard Metzenberg’s Unnatural History of Jewish Population Genetics (a review of Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence).

Breakin’ free of biology?
On the reality of the Biological Species Concept.


Through the rugged roads of gene land
Razib delves into Epistasis and the Evolutionary Process.

Model rising….(?)
Early modern humans (Out of Africa) and admixture with regional archaic humans.

The paths of polygyny….
Musings on polygyny and the Naturalistic Fallacy.

Inducing disgust

Expertise, knowledge….
Biology is a big field. How to keep up with the latest?!

Some musings on patent law
TangoMan on patents, genes and the Common Heritage of Mankind.

Not genes and not environment
Monozygotic twins are not really identical and neither are C. elegans individuals — even when genes and environment are held constant.

Reader survey….
Everything you ever wanted to know about GNXP regular readers!


Drum’s swipe at the Right’s faux outrage
Evolution and politics makes for strange bedfellows….

People classify differently -and- “Asian” and “Western” thinking….
If it looks like a freshwater fish…and swims like a freshwater fish….

Pinker: A lie can’t be left unchallenged
“Summers…never suggested that every man surpassed every woman in mathematical ability….”

Cousin be perty, part n
On being more than kissin’ cousins….

Blonde Australian Aboriginals -and- Black and strawberry -and- Beyond MC1R
All about melanin and the expression of pigment in humans.

A tale of one ratchet
Razib on Tomasello’s The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition.

Cultured chimps
Chimps, humans and ‘cultural conformity.’

What Copernican revolution?
The sun revolves around the Earth…right?


Non-adaptive immune adaptation?
Our innate immune system and admixture between proto-moderns and archaics.

Groups, price and culture -and- The importance of li and social conformity
On group selection and evolutionary cultural anthropology.

Canine theory-of-mind?
Do dogs have a ‘human-biased’ theory-of-mind?

Them and Us
Are we better equipped to deal with external threats rather than internal ones?

This is Bruce Lahn’s brain on ASPM and MCPH1 -and- Bruce Lahn (Scientist interview)
Researchers say human brain is still evolving.

Know thy enemy – “Newton’s rape manual”
TangoMan tortures himself with feminist ideas on science.

Dawkins on kin selection: a correction
DavidB rethinks the evolutionary advantages of incestuous matings.


Demon primate -and- Orangutans gone wild
Marmosets are chimeras! And, developmentally arrested orangutan males that rape.

A prayer for the Emperor -and- The Sacral State (from Nov)
On state and religion and a pluralistic society. Razib looks at Sullivan’s The Impossibility of Religious Freedom.

Marriage, history, evolution and the unidirectional process….
“Why do people enter into love marriages in the first place?”

Trolley problem
Is the life of one American worth the life of several foreigners?

Genetics in the movies -and- Beyond the Punnett square, part n -and- Skin color loci – older work (from Dec)
DavidB on the “general disregard for genetics in films and TV” … and Razib’s addendum.

Small gains
Jason looks at the efforts of some parents to increase the height (via Human Growth Hormone) of their “vertically-challenged” sons.

Extremism in defense of precision is no vice -and- The True Believer revisited…. -and- I am a believer (from Sept)
Razib on his belief in science.

Chromosomes and evolution
David Boxenhorn muses on the evolutionary implications of chromosomes.

Quantitating the Cult
What, exactly, is diversity?


A wrinkled landscape -and- 8th grade math for the rest of us -and- Response, heritability and selection (R = h2 * S), little bits and reiterations
On correlated response, basic maths (don’t be afraid of the math!), and R = h2 * S.

ID vs. creationism, what’s in a name -and- The new center
On some differences between ID and creationism — and why that matters.

10 questions for Derb
Interview with John Derbyshire.

Never be so stupid -and- The bounds of discourse
Razib wastes 30 minutes of his time on someone who hasn’t done their homework.

Is Natural Selection a tautology?
DavidB answers – no.

Religion & evolution
Are religion and evolution at eternal enmity?

Genes and civilisation
Some reasons for being sceptical about any close links between genes and cultural achievement.

Unnatural groups
On the reflexive “groupishness” of humans.

Covering up your face and smothering liberalism
On Muslim women in Europe veiling themselves.


10 questions for Armand M. Leroi -and- 10 questions for Warren Treadgold -and- 10 questions for Dan Sperber
That’s 30 questions, altogether!

Theological incorrectness – when people behave how they shouldn’t…sort-of -and- Intercultural variance
On our models of other groups & how individuals within those groups behave. And, on evoked and epidemiological aspects of culture.

We are born Manichaeans -and- The gods of the cognitive scientists
“Just how banal and conventional many of the cognitive processes are which result in normal theism.”

Nordic beauty wins again! -and- Gotta luv those Irish genes…
A little eye-candy.

Race is skin deep
On SLC24A5 and pigmentation in zebrafish and humans.

Endless forms most continuous
“Species are problems.”

The Anglican origins of neo-Darwinianism?
The relationship between religion and “neo-Darwinianism” — and why people do, or do not, accept evolutionary theory.

Evoking the season
“Culture is a bugger.”

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Science 
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Sandra Witelson (who examined Albert Einstein’s brain), et al., have a paper in Brain which reports on their study on intelligence and brain size in 100 postmortem brains. They conclude that bigger is indeed better; however, they found differences between men and women.

From EurekaAlert:

In women, verbal intelligence was clearly correlated with brain size, accounting for 36 percent of the verbal IQ score. In men, this was true for right-handers only, indicating that brain asymmetry is a factor in men.

Spatial intelligence was also correlated with brain size in women, but less strongly. In men, spatial ability was not related to overall brain size. These results suggest that women may use verbal strategies in spatial thinking, but that in men, verbal and spatial thinking are more distinct….

Furthermore, from the journal abstract:

We report the results of such a study on 100 cases (58 women and 42 men) having prospectively obtained Full Scale Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale scores. Ability correlated with cerebral volume, but the relationship depended on the realm of intelligence studied, as well as the sex and hemispheric functional lateralization of the subject. General verbal ability was positively correlated with cerebral volume and each hemisphere’s volume in women and in right-handed men accounting for 36% of the variation in verbal intelligence. There was no evidence of such a relationship in non-right-handed men, indicating that at least for verbal intelligence, functional asymmetry may be a relevant factor in structure-function relationships in men, but not in women. In women, general visuospatial ability was also positively correlated with cerebral volume, but less strongly, accounting for 10% of the variance. In men, there was a non-significant trend of a negative correlation between visuospatial ability and cerebral volume, suggesting that the neural substrate of visuospatial ability may differ between the sexes. Analyses of additional research subjects used as test cases provided support for our regression models. In men, visuospatial ability and cerebral volume were strongly linked via the factor of chronological age, suggesting that the well-documented decline in visuospatial intelligence with age is related, at least in right-handed men, to the decrease in cerebral volume with age. We found that cerebral volume decreased only minimally with age in women. This leaves unknown the neural substrate underlying the visuospatial decline with age in women. Body height was found to account for 1-4% of the variation in cerebral volume within each sex, leaving the basis of the well-documented sex difference in cerebral volume unaccounted for.

Hat tip to Fly.

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Aftenposten, one of the leading newspapers in Norway, ran a story on Saturday about a study on birth weight and IQ conducted by Martha Gunn Eide, a researcher at the University of Bergen. (Eide is a medical doctor and this research represents her work toward a Doctorate of Medicine degree. Her thesis is entitled “Associations of Perinatal Conditions with Adult Body Size and Intelligence: A Register-based Cohort Study in Norway 1967-1999.”)

Below the fold are some highlights from the article (apologies for the rough quality of my translation!) >>

“Store babyer faar hoeyest IQ” ["Big babies get highest IQ"]

The birth weight of a newborn baby boy has significance for intelligence, course [success] and income….

[Martha Gunn] Eide defends in a few days her Dr. Med. degree at the University of Bergen. She has completed a very comprehensive study based on the combined data of nearly 400,000 male children.

“Are there grounds to believe there is a correlation between birth weight and IQ also in girls?”

“There is no call to believe that this would be appreciably different for girls,” says Eide, who is affiliated with The Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Bergen.

Her study is based on information from the Medical Birth Register, Vernepliktsverket [compulsory military service department], the Statistics Central Bureau and the Rikstrygdeverket [Social Insurance department]. With this Eide has followed ca. 317,000 baby boys that were born in Norway between 1967-1979 through 18 years, as they met the [military] recruitment in period 1984-1999.

“The data are comprehensive facts analyzed for all boys in Norway over a 13 year period,” says the Bergen researcher, who has worked four years on the project.

5200 gram

“What we find is that birth weight is important for IQ. Higher birth weight, higher IQ,” says Kjell G. Salvanes[1], professor in Social Economics at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen….

Professor Salvanes has, together with two other international researchers, Sandra E. Black in Los Angeles and Paul J. Devereux in Dublin, investigated which factors are responsible for who takes higher degrees and get jobs with the highest pay….

godless discussed birth weight and IQ here while musing on C-sections as artificial selection.

[1] From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes – Sandra E. Black, Paul J. Devereux, Kjell Salvanes

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Science • Tags: IQ 
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I feel terribly remiss at not having posted on this earlier (!) — but last month People magazine named Matthew McConaughey ‘2005′s Sexiest Man Alive.’ Can’t say that I see it myself — although the Southern charm is quite — charming. (Of course, if you can pull Penelope Cruz, you probably got a lot more going for you than just charm.)

Maybe there is something about those Irish genes after all…. ;-)

Update from Razib: Via Sitemeter I find out we are #1 for the Matthew McConaughey query on technorati (his name is hard to spell!).

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Short but interesting interview with Carel van Schaik (orangutan researcher) in the NYT:

Q. So your discovery that the orangutans learned tool use from one another explains “the rise of human culture” part of your book’s subtitle?

A. Well, yes. Orangutans split off from the African lineage some 14 million years ago. If both chimps and orangutans make tools, our common great ape ancestor probably had the capacity for culture.

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Giant ape lived alongside humans

A gigantic ape, measuring about 10 feet tall and weighing up to 1,200 pounds, co-existed alongside humans, a geochronologist at McMaster University has discovered.

Using a high-precision absolute-dating method (techniques involving electron spin resonance and uranium series), Jack Rink, associate professor of geography and earth sciences at McMaster, has determined that Gigantopithecus blackii, the largest primate that ever lived, roamed southeast Asia for nearly a million years before the species died out 100,000 years ago. This was known as the Pleistocene period, by which time humans had already existed for a million years.

“A missing piece of the puzzle has always focused on pin-pointing when Gigantopithecus existed,” explains Rink. “This is a primate that co-existed with humans at a time when humans were undergoing a major evolutionary change. Guangxi province in southern China, where the Gigantopithecus fossils were found, is the same region where some believe the modern human race originated.”

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Dr. Manuel Casanova has done some interesting research on neuronal minicolumns and autism. From the summary of Abnormalities of Brain Circuitry (Minicolumns) in Autism:

[The] neocortex is formed early on during gestation by the supernumerary aggregation of modules. The smallest module capable of processing information is called minicolumns. These modules or minicolumns are composed of both cells (neurons) and their projections which together form standardized circuits. Recent studies suggest that minicolumns may be abnormal in autism. More specifically, the brains of autistic patients have minicolumns that are smaller and more numerous than normal. Furthermore, the cells (neurons) within each minicolumn are reduced in size.

Since the metabolic efficiency of neuronal connectivity is a function of cell size, the presence of smaller neurons in the brains of autistic patients has a dramatic effect on the way that different parts of the brain interact with each other. Functions that require longer projections (e.g., language) may be impaired while shorter ones (e.g., mathematical manipulations) may be preserved or reinforced.


In autism, smaller minicolumns in brains that are, on average, larger than normal suggests their total increase in numbers….

What is the meaning of smaller minicolumns? First, this question has been approached from the standpoint of computer modeling by a group in Switzerland (Dr. Gustafson’s). Results suggest that smaller minicolumns tweak information processing in favor of the signal. By comparison other conditions characterized by larger minicolumns (e.g., dyslexia) tweak information processing in favor of noise. This means that autistic individuals usually do well in processing stimuli that requires discrimination while dyslexics are better at generalizing the salience of a particular stimulus.

Second, minicolumns are compartmentalized. Information is transmitted through the core of the minicolumn and is prevented from suffusing into neighboring units by surrounding inhibitory fibers. The inhibitory fibers act in analogous fashion to a shower curtain. When working properly and fully draping the bathtub the shower curtain prevents water from spilling to the floor. In autism minicolumnar size reduction involves primarily the peripheral compartment that provides the inhibitory surround.

This means that stimuli are no longer contained within specific minicolumns. Stimuli overflow to adjacent minicolumns thus providing an amplifier effect. This may explain the hypersensitivity of some autistic patients as well as their seizures….

Minicolumnar size is not the only abnormality observed in the neocortex of autistic patients. It appears that cells (neurons) within individual minicolumns are also reduced in size. This has important consequences in terms of connectivity. Long connections require the metabolic sustenance of large cell bodies. A neuron in the brain that connects all the way to the lower spinal chord requires a fairly large cell body. By way of contrast, a neuron whose projection remains within the cortex, contacting a closely adjacent cell, can manage its metabolic demands with a small cell body.

The small cell bodies in the brains of autistic patients favor information processing through short intra regional pathways, e.g., mathematical calculations, visual processing. Similarly, cognitive functions that require long inter regional connections would prove metabolically inefficient, e.g., language, face recognition, joint attention.

More on autistic brains: The essential difference and Male brain ~ more sons vs. female brain ~ more daughters?

More on minicolumns: The minicolumn hypothesis in neuroscience

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Apparently Genghis, et. al., had a few stowaways:

A report in the October issue of Genome Research suggests that Genghis Khan’s invasions spanning the continent of Asia during the 13th century may have been a primary vehicle for the dissemination of one of the world’s most deadly diseases: tuberculosis….

Mokrousov’s team hypothesized that, given the strong gender bias of TB infectivity and the likely family-based mode of TB transmission during pre-industrialized times, M. tuberculosis dissemination has reflected the unidirectional inheritance of the paternally transmitted human Y chromosome. To test this hypothesis, the authors compared the genetic profiles of a common form of M. tuberculosis, called the Beijing genotype, with known patterns of prehistoric and recent human migrations, as well as with global patterns of Y-chromosome variation.

Strikingly, they observed that over the past 60,000-100,000 years, the dispersal and evolution of M. tuberculosis appears to have precisely ebbed and flowed according to human migration patterns.


The authors describe how the Beijing genotype of M. tuberculosis originated in a specific human population called the K-M9 in central Asia approximately 30,000-40,000 years ago following a second “out of Africa” migration event. The bacteria and its human host then disseminated northeast into Siberia between 20,000-30,000 years ago and throughout eastern Asia between 4,000-10,000 years ago. More recently, the Beijing genotype of M. tuberculosis was introduced into northern Eurasia, perhaps by Genghis Khan himself during the 1200′s, and into South Africa, possibly through sea trade contacts with Indonesia or China during the last 300 years.

Tuberculosis and migration patterns

Origin and primary dispersal of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Beijing genotype: Clues from human phylogeography

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For those of you in the UK, check out BBC’s Horizon tonight for more on the Flores “microcephaly or not” question. (More here: Hobbit hhhmm….)

Professor Bob Martin, one of the team that is set to publish new evidence challenging the discovery team’s original interpretation, says the Hobbit’s brain is “worryingly” small and contradicts a fundamental law of biology.

“What this law says in simple terms is that if you halve body size, brain size is only reduced by 15%,” he told the BBC’s Horizon programme.

“So if you halve body size you don’t halve brain size, the brain is reduced far less than that.”

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A short article in the Guardian asks Are women as funny as men? (Purposefully funny, that is….)

Well, judging by Robert Provine’s (Laughter: A Scientific Investigation) research, women certainly seem to laugh more at men’s jokes than vice versa — in 1200 cases, “females laughed 126% more than their male counterparts, meaning that women tend to do the most laughing while males tend to do the most laugh-getting.”

Men seem to be the main instigators of humor across cultures, which begins in early childhood. Think back to your high school class clown — most likely he was a male….

Given the differences in male and female laugh patterns, is laughter a factor in meeting, matching and mating? I sought an answer in the human marketplace of newspaper personal ads. In 3,745 ads placed on April 28, 1996 in eight papers from the Baltimore Sun to the San Diego Union-Tribune, females were 62% more likely to mention laughter in their ads, and women were more likely to seek out a “sense of humor” while men were more likely to offer it. Clearly, women seek men who make them laugh, and men are eager to comply with this request.

Sounds like sexual selection for an indicator of intelligence to me. I mean, you have to be smart to tell clever jokes, right? (Of course, you have to be smart enough to get the jokes, too….)

The good folks at the LaughLab took a look at “joke complexity” and the brain:

We also asked people who took part in LaughLab to answer questions that involve making various estimates, such as: How many words are there on one page of a typical paperback novel?

A) Under 500
B) 500 – 600
C) 600 – 700
D) 700 – 800
E) Over 800

Research suggests that people who are good at this type of question (the correct answer is under 500) tend to have good frontal lobe activation, whilst people who make incorrect estimates do not. Interestingly, people who tended to answer this question correctly tended to prefer relatively complex jokes, such as…

A scientist and a philosopher were being chased by a hungry lion. The scientist made some quick calculations, he said “its no good trying to outrun it, its catching up”. The philosopher kept a little ahead and replied ” I am not trying to outrun the lion, I am trying to out run you”!

Whereas people who answered incorrectly, tended to like more straightforward jokes, such as…

Which day of the week do fish hate?…….

In other words, the more intelligent you are — or, at least, the more active your frontal lobe — the more complex jokes you’re likely (and able) to enjoy. And, it seems that women are looking for men who are funny (not surprising as this probably indicates intelligence) — and men are looking for women who think they (the men) are funny:

When Karl Grammar and Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt studied spontaneous conversations between mixed-sex pairs of young German adults meeting for the first time, they noted that the more a woman laughed aloud during these encounters, the greater her self-reported interest in the man she was talking to. In the same vein, men were more interested in women who laughed heartily in their presence. The personal ads and the German study complement an observation from my field studies: The laughter of the female, not the male, is the critical index of a healthy relationship.

By the way, the LaughLab folks also found differences between nations in the types of jokes that they found funny:

People from The Republic of Ireland, the UK, Australia and New Zealand expressed a strong preference for jokes involving word plays, such as:

Patient: “Doctor, I’ve got a strawberry stuck up my bum.”
Doctor: “I’ve got some cream for that.

Americans and Canadians much preferred gags where there was a sense of superiority – either because a person looked stupid, or was made to look stupid by another person, such as:

Texan: “Where are you from?”
Harvard grad: “I come from a place where we do not end our sentences with prepositions.”
Texan: “Okay – where are you from, jackass?”

Finally, many European countries, such as France, Denmark and Belgium, liked jokes that were somewhat surreal, such as:

An Alsatian went to a telegram office, took out a blank form and wrote: “Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof.”
The clerk examined the paper and politely told the dog: “There are only nine words here. You could send another ‘Woof’ for the same price.”
“But,” the dog replied, “that would make no sense at all.”

These European countries also enjoyed jokes that involved making light of topics that often make us feel anxious, such as death, illness, and marriage. For example:

A patient says: “Doctor, last night I made a Freudian slip, I was having dinner with my mother-in-law and wanted to say: “Could you please pass the butter.” But instead I said: “You silly cow, you have completely ruined my life”.

Interestingly, Germany was the exception. Germans did not express a strong preference for any type of joke – this may well explain why they came first in our league table of funniness – they do not have any strong preferences and so tend to find a wide spectrum of jokes funny.

Dr Richard Wiseman commented “These results are really interesting – it suggests that people from different parts of the world have fundamentally different senses of humour.

Here are the top jokes in different countries according to the Laugh Lab.

And, for the record, my favorite (repeatable) joke:

A philosopher, a physicist and a mathematician were travelling through Scotland when they saw a black sheep through the window of the train.
“Aha,” says the philosopher, “I see that Scottish sheep are black.”
“Hmm,” says the physicist, “You mean that some Scottish sheep are black.”
“No,” says the mathematician, “All we know is that there is at least one sheep in Scotland, and that at least one side of that one sheep is black.”


(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
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I read with interest (and, admittedly, a hell of a lot of ignorance) both the Teasdale & Owen and Sundet, Barlaug & Torjussen articles which purport to show an end to the Flynn Effect in Denmark and Norway respectively (see A. Beaujean’s previous post for more on the topic).

Now, I am far from an expert on the ins and outs of IQ and the Flynn Effect — and I will leave it up to others to discuss the likelihood of the Flynn Effect coming to an end in industrial countries. However, what I do want to do is to call in to question the methodology behind both of these investigations. Specifically, the validity of the researchers’ data sets.

In both cases, the researchers examined data from intelligence tests given to military conscripts over several decades (Denmark and Norway have mandatory military service). In the Danish study, the data ranges from 1959 through 2004; in the Norwegian, from 1957 through 2002. Again in both cases, test scores increased from the 1950s onwards (at varying rates) through the 1980s until they reached a peak in the 1990s at which point they appear to decline. Thus, the researchers conclude an end to (or at least a slowing of) the Flynn Effect.

Each of the articles goes on to discuss various possible alternate causes for the differences between the cohorts from the various years — they examine differences in nutrition, education, etc., etc. But in neither case do they question the obvious — i.e. that their data sets may have changed.

Anyone who knows anything about Europe should know that the populations of both Denmark and Norway were very different in the 1950s as compared to today. Due to fairly steady immigration since at least the 1970s, neither of these nations have homogeneous populations any longer. (1) (2) Furthermore, not only are the populations of today very different from those of several decades ago, perhaps it is not coincidental that the dip in the intelligence scores in both countries happened in the 1990s — presumably just as the children of the immigrant groups of the ’70s and ’80s came of age and entered military service. (3)

Of course, the next question would be, could immigration have affected these test scores? — and by how much? I don’t know for sure — but, if I were to try to work out some answers, I would certainly consider the following:

  1. What populations are we talking about here? The largest immigrant population group in Norway is Pakistani; in Denmark, it appears to be Turkish, although there are also large groups from Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq and Africa. (4) (5)
  2. What are the median IQ scores for these groups? Lynn & Vanhanen in “IQ and The Wealth of Nations” estimated the median IQs for Pakistan to be 81, Turkey 90, and Sri Lanka 81. (6) What happens when we factor in such median scores with the median score of 98 for both Norwegians and Danish?
  3. How many young men from immigrant backgrounds are entering the military service at any given time? Perhaps the armed forces of each country (the agencies who gave the tests in the first place) have some numbers. A very rough estimate of mine for Denmark in 2004 suggests that approx. 10% of Danish conscripts may have come from a non-Western immigrant background. (7) What sort of implication does that sort of number have for the overall test scores?

All but one of the five researchers involved in these two studies are (or at least were) based in Norway and Denmark. I find it hard to believe that they are ignorant of the changes in the populations of the countries in which they work/live. I find it even more unfathomable that they didn’t take such facts into consideration when they undertook their research.


(1) “At the beginning of 1970, the immigrant population in Norway totalled 59,200 persons, which was about 1.5 per cent of the total population. By the beginning of 2004, this figure had increased to 348,900, 7.6 per cent of the Norwegian population…. In 1970, people with non-western origins accounted for 16 per cent of the immigrant population, while in 2004 the figure was 72 per cent.”

Immigration and Immigrants 2004

(2) “In 1980, there were about 135,000 immigrants in Denmark out of a population of about 5 million. This figure has increased rapidly since the mid 1980s and in 1998 there were 277,000 immigrants in Denmark, corresponding to 5.2 percent of the Danish population. These figures include 1st and 2nd generation of immigrants, where the latter group has been steadily increasing from 18,000 in 1980 to 70,000 in 1998.”

Employment and Wage Assimilation of Male First Generation Immigrants in Denmark

(3) “Almost half of the persons in the immigrant population [in Norway] were aged 20-44 years, whereas the corresponding figure for the total population was 35%.

Immigration and Immigrants 2004

(4) At the beginning of 2004, the immigrant population in Norway totalled 349,000 persons, almost 8% of the total population; first generation immigrants totalled 289,000 persons, or 6% of the total population. Almost 3 out of 4 persons in the immigrant population had non-Western backgrounds. Two out of 3 first generation immigrants also come from a non-Western country. The non-western immigration population makes up almost 6% of the Norwegian population. The largest groups in the immigrant population were persons with backgrounds from Pakistan, Sweden, Denmark and Vietnam; the largest groups of first generation immigrants – Swedes, Danes, Pakistanis and Iraqis.

Immigration and Immigrants 2004

(5) Employment and Wage Assimilation of Male First Generation Immigrants in Denmark


(7) There were an estimated 2600 18 year-old men from a non-Western background in Denmark totally in 2004. In the Teasdale & Owen article, they give 23,505 as the number of conscripts tested by the military in 2004. They suggest that up to 10% of 18 year-old men are exempted from military service annually; so, using this estimation, only 2340 of the 2600 non-Western men would actually be in the service in 2004 — or approximately 10% of the total.

Statistics Denmark

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Regarding an article, Law and Behavioral Biology, in the March issue of the Columbia Law Review >>

Laws and public policy will often miss their mark until they incorporate an understanding of why, biologically, humans behave as they do, scholars from Vanderbilt and Yale universities argue in the March issue of Columbia Law Review.

“The legal system tends to assume that either people are purely rational actors or that their brains are blank slates on which culture and only culture is written. The reality is much more complicated and can only be appreciated with a deeper understanding of behavioral biology,” said Vanderbilt law professor and biologist Owen Jones. He co-authored the article with Timothy Goldsmith, Yale professor emeritus of molecular, cellular and developmental biology….

All laws at their foundation are designed to influence human behavior, from how we interact with one another, to how we relate to our own property and that of others, to how government agencies interact with each other and with citizens, Jones said.

When developing laws, legislators and legal scholars have traditionally relied heavily on the social sciences, such as economics, psychology and political science, often responding to the popular or political trends of their time. They have rarely looked to incorporate the latest findings from fields such as biology, neuroscience and cognitive psychology, which have grown exponentially in recent years and have shed brand new light on how the human brain is structured and how it influences behavior….

Jones argues that integrating law with behavioral biology, which examines the biological underpinnings of human behavior, could strengthen legal measures in a variety of areas. Such an approach might enhance understanding of why some penalties are more effective than others, how people make choices in areas such as environmental protection and retirement savings, and what the underlying causes of aggression are and how they help explain why young men are sometimes willing – even in the face of the severest penalties – to kill in reaction to threats to their status.

Posted by theresa at 08:26 AM

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Someone’s managed to damage the Homo floresiensis remains.

Recall that there was a dispute over the bones when Indonesian paleoanthropologist, Teuku Jacob, ‘borrowed’ them apparently without the permission of the Australian discoverers. Well, Dr. Jacob returned the bones and now the Autralian team have claimed that he damaged them whilst making casts of the bones. Dr. Jacob denies having damaged the remains — or even having made casts of them. He suggests the bones were damaged when being transported back to the Australian team.

In any case, they do appear to be pretty badly damaged — John Hawks has posted some before-and-after photographs. Appalling.

Posted by theresa at 12:18 PM

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From an article in press in the Journal of Human Evolution >>

Increasing skeletal evidence from the U.S.A., Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil strongly suggests that the first settlers in the Americas had a cranial morphology distinct from that displayed by most late and modern Native Americans…. The Paleoamerican morphological pattern is more generalized and can be seen today among Africans, Australians, and Melanesians. Here, we present the results of a comparative morphological assessment of a late Paleoindian/early archaic specimen from Capelinha Burial II, southern Brazil. The Capelinha skull was compared with samples of four Paleoindian groups from South and Central America and worldwide modern groups from W.W. Howells’ studies. In both analyses performed (classical morphometrics and geometric morphometrics), the results show a clear association between Capelinha Burial II and the Paleoindians, as well as Australians, Melanesians, and Africans, confirming its Paleoamerican status.

The researchers conclude with >>

The increasing evidence that all late Pleistocene/early Holocene human groups from South America are characteristically non-Mongoloid has major implications for the colonization of the Americas…. Even if few studies with large samples from single sites have been carried out so far with Paleoindians…it is evident by now that South America, Central America and possibly North America were populated by human groups with a more generalized cranial morphology before the arrival of the Mongoloids. Since this more generalized morphology (”Australo-Melanesian- like”) was also present inEast Asia at the end of the Pleistocene, transoceanic migrations are not necessary to explain our findings.

As presented in detail elsewhere (Neves et al., 2003) the arrival of an ”Australo-Melanesian-like” population in the Americas is easily accommodated under what is presently known about the place of origin and the routes taken by modern humans in their first long-distance dispersions (Lahr and Foley, 1998). Acordingly, a population that began to expand from Africa around 70 ka reached southeast Asia by the middle of the late Pleistocene, carrying with it a cranial morphology characterized by long, narrow neurocrania and narrow, projecting faces. We postulate that after reaching southeast Asia, this stem population gave rise to at least two different dispersions. One took a southward direction and arrived at Australia around 50 Ka. Sometime between 50 and 20 Ka a second branch dispersed towards the north, and arrived in the Americas by the end of the Pleistocene, bringing with it the same cranial morphology that characterized the first modern humans. When the classical Mongoloid cranial morphology appeared in northeastern Asia, either as a local response to extreme environmental conditions, or as the product of a migration from northern Europe, a new expansion of northern Asians reached the New World, bringing with it a cranial morphology characterized by short, wide neurocrania and broad, retracted faces.

Although local microevolutionary processes in the Americas can not be precluded to explain the transition from a generalized to a very specialized cranial morphology (Powell and Neves, 1999), a model based on the entrance of two different morphological patterns from the Old World is much more parsimonious. As recently demonstrated by Roseman (2004), significant changes in cranial morphology are much less frequent than previously expected. As such, cranial morphology has much to say about human evolutionary history.

Skeletal remains from another excavation in Brazil — the Santana do Riacho 1 skulls — also displayed “Australo-Melanesian- like” traits including “a long, narrow brain case and eye sockets set relatively low on the face.”

You all remember Kennewick Man — the authors of the Report on the Osteological Assessment of the “Kennewick Man” Skeleton suggested he had a Polynesian (64%) or Ainu (24%) ancestry.

Posted by theresa at 07:11 PM

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I had intended to post this amusing take on the origins of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, but unfortunately I didn’t get the chance. So now, for those of you with an historical turn of mind, here is (a day late) a short essay “clarifying” the background to the whole NI thing…

A brief history of the Irish question – a study of ethnicity in action

In the first century BC the British (or Pretanoi) lived quite happily on their islands all fighting one another, and probably not even aware that they were Pretanoi. This pleasant state of affairs was disrupted by the invasion of the Romans (actually not Romans, but Gauls, Germans, Spaniards, Numidians, Thracians, and lots of others with a few Italians pretending to be Romans for appearance’s sake). After nearly four hundred years of occupation the Britons thought of themselves as Romans (and under this guise had themselves helped invade a few unsuspecting countries such as Dacia).

According to history, in the early fifth century these ‘Romans’ ‘left’. What actually happened was that, first under Magnus Maximus, and later, under Constantine III, the British (or Romans) went over to the continent to conquer the Roman Empire. Unfortunately they were too early, both were defeated and killed, and we had to wait another 1,500 years for the British Empire. This, however, left something of a military vacuum, which various Germans (Saxons, Angles and Jutes) were called in to fill by the Romans (or Britons) who were left.

Under Constantine I the Roman Empire became nominally Christian (a Jewish religion, not to be mixed up with Judaism), so all the eastern parts of the British Isles were Christian. The Scots (who lived in Ireland) had never been conquered by Romans or by anyone pretending to be Romans, so they were not Christians, but Pagans, until they were converted to Christianity by Patrick (or Palladius). Meanwhile, behind their backs, the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, who were Pagans, had taken over the east of England, so that now the western part of Britain was Christian and the eastern part was Pagan (the reverse of what it was before, but perhaps the same as it is today).

Never having been conquered, the Scots in Ireland had continued their bad old ways of fighting one another, and when one group of them, the kingdom of Dal Riada, lost, they decided to take it out on people outside of Ireland. So they attacked the Britons (or Welsh) who lived in Scotland (which wasn’t called Scotland, because the Scots lived in Ireland). But when the Scots from Dal Riada invaded Scotland, it became Scotland, except the bits occupied by the Picts and Angles. Much later the Picts and Angles became Scots, which would have made things easier if the Norse hadn’t invaded part of Pictland (and remained Norse, until they too became Scots, and the last ones to speak Gaelic).

So by around AD 600 (except it wasn’t because Bede hadn’t invented the AD system yet) the Irish Scots were in Ireland, the Picts and Scottish Scots in Scotland, the Britons (or Welsh) mainly in Wales, but also in England and parts of Scotland, and everyone was fighting everyone else including themselves. So the Irish became Irish, the Scots and Picts became Scots, the Britons became Welsh, and everyone else became English, unlike nowadays when everyone on the continent calls the Scots and Welsh English as well, which understandably annoys them intensely — the Irish are either Irish or British, except when they too are called English. This goes to show that you can trust no external source, ancient or modern, to tell you what people call themselves.

In AD 597 St. Augustine turned up in Canterbury and introduced the Roman Church (which became the Roman Catholic Church when it was no longer catholic in the Greek sense of ‘universal’). So in the east there were Roman Christians while in the west the Celtic Church held sway, except, as there were never any Celts in Britain, it could not have been the Celtic Church. Unfortunately no-one has come up with a better term — the Irish Church is not adequate, as the Irish weren’t Irish, and it included Welsh, Scots, and some Anglians in Northumbria. According to Bede it should be the Scottish Church, but that confuses modern people who still naively believe that Scots come from Scotland.

At this point in history comes the turning point, from whence all the Irish problems stem, the Synod of Whitby in AD 664. In it the Irishman (or Scotsman) Colman was defeated and went home to Scotland (or Ireland), and the English decided to follow Roman practice. This is why nowadays we have no idea when Easter falls following the Roman system of calculation, rather than having no idea when it falls following the Scottish calendar. Thus the Irish, Scots, Britons and Picts were on one side, and the English on the other. Except that somehow by the time of the next major event, the Irish had changed their minds, so that everyone in Britain followed the Roman Church and were on the same side, and trying to keep the terrible Vikings and Danes at bay.

This might have been fairly successful, except for the fact that some Vikings went to France and became Normans (or Northmen), so that disguised as Frenchmen (the Franks were Germans who spoke French, whereas the French are Gauls who speak French), they were able to confuse Harold Godwinson by failing to live up to their name and attacking from the south, while Harold was in the north dealing with genuine Northmen. The Norman kings spoke French, so were unable to converse with their English (and Danish) subjects, but this did not matter, as they also controlled large parts of France. However, when they lost control of their French possessions, they had no-one to talk to so they learnt English too. Thus it is thanks to Joan of Arc throwing the Normans (or English) out of France that English rather than French is now the major world language (otherwise the English might have ended up speaking French like the Normans). The other problem with the Normans was that they tried to take over everyone else (Welsh, Irish and Scots), but it is always the English who are blamed for this.

Henry VIII, having lost the final bit of France, founded the Anglican Church to oppose Catholics. The Scots too became Protestants (not to be confused with the Scottish Church, which, as we saw, was Celtic). In 1601 the Scots took over England under their king, James VI, who became James I of England, and so took over Scotland, so that England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland were all finally united and could start fighting one another in peace without too much outside interference (except from the Dutch William of Orange, and various Georges of German origin). As part of this process, James sent some Scotsmen back to Ireland to keep the Irish under control. So now the Scots (who had been Irish before the Irish became Irish) now went back to Ireland where the Irish (who had been Scots) were now Irish. Add to this the religious dimension that the Irish (who had not been Catholic) were now Catholic, and the Scot and English (who had been Catholic) were now Protestant, then confusion was bound to reign.

In the eighteenth century the Irish, Welsh and Scots suddenly found they were all Celtic. This fortunately came at an opportune moment, as all over Europe people were discovering the ‘nation-state’, and with it their national history. Thus the Germans had Germania, the Italians Italia, and the Greeks Graecia (or Hellas), and so they united or freed their countries. The English were too superior for such games, and in any case Britannia was Welsh, not English, so, illogically, they became British. The French too had a problem as the Franks were German, so they invented the Gauls. This coincided with the moment in time when the Irish discovered they could speak and write English much better than the English (Joyce, Yeats, Wilde, Shaw, etc.), and had largely changed their language, and they might have stopped speaking Irish but for the foundation of Eir

The problem still lies with Northern Ireland, where just under half of the population are Scots who stayed at home to become Irish and Catholic, and are in conflict with just over half of the population who were Scots who went away to become Scottish and Protestant, but then came back again to become British and Protestant. These latter want to remain British and Protestant Christians, when an increasing number of the English are becoming Muslim, Hindu, atheist, druids, witches, or incorrigible agnostics like myself, and are also wondering whether they really want to be British any longer. However the Ulster Freedom Fighters are now drawing on Irish literature in evoking the spirit of the hero of the great Irish epic the Tain Bo Culainge, Cuchulainn, as a defender of Ulster against the southern Irish, and are even beginning to learn Irish, turning the Irish language into a weapon of the north versus the south rather than vice versa. Unfortunately, Cuchulainn came from the south.

To a non-Christian outsider such as myself it seems that Northern Ireland continues to be two communities divided by a common religion.

by John Collis, excerpt from “Celts and Politics” in Cultural Identity and Archaeology (eds. Paul Graves-Brown, Sian Jones, Clive Gamble), London 1996: 167-70.

Posted by theresa at 08:26 AM

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Der Spiegel reports >>

In the past four months, six Muslim women living in Berlin have been brutally murdered by family members. Their crime? Trying to break free and live Western lifestyles. Within their communities, the killers are revered as heroes for preserving their family dignity. How can such a horrific and shockingly archaic practice be flourishing in the heart of Europe?

[T]he first extensive data the German government collected about the lives of Turkish women was published last summer, as part of a study done by the Ministry for Family Affairs. The study showed that 49 percent of Turkish women said they had experienced physical or sexual violence in their marriage.

Since I am a Western woman, it won’t surprise anybody when I say that I find “honor killings” to be abhorrent and completely unacceptable. I find it hard to resist putting myself into the place of these women and, as an individual, feel I can relate to the fact that they want to take control of their own lives and (what it ultimately boils down to) their own reproductive futures.

I found that I gasped out loud at the figure of 49% of Turkish women in Germany reporting to have experienced physical/sexual violence in their marriage — but, then I wondered what the figure in the United States might be. There’s always certainly a lot of talk about domestic violence in the States — I didn’t want to judge German Turks too harshly before I found out some facts.

What I found was (also unacceptable) >>

22.1% of surveyed women [National Violence Against Women Survey, U.S. Dept. of Justice], compared with 7.4% of surveyed men, reported they were physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date in their lifetime…. Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.

And >>

In 1998, intimate partner homicides accounted for about 11% of all murders nationwide. They constituted about 33% of murder of women but only 4% of murders of men. Female murder victims were substantially more likely than male murder victims to have been killed by an intimate partner; of the 1,830 persons murdered by intimates in 1998, 72% (1,320) were women.

So, from those figures, it appears that while American men (1) are no saints, “only” one-in-five (roughly) American women report having been physically assaulted by their spouses, nearly one out of every two Turkish women in Germany have experienced abuse. Sobering figures all around, but particularly shocking behavior on the part of the Turks.

Still, despite the differing figures, there does seem to be something universal going on here — many men appear to be violent toward women — and, to a large degree, toward the women with whom they are intimate. What is going on?

Wilson and Daly convincingly discuss male violence towards partners in terms of “sexual proprietariness” >>

The ostensible motivating circumstances in most uxoricides [killing of wife by husband] reflect what we have called male sexual proprietariness: Husband who kill usually appear to have been moved by an aggrieved intolerance of the alienation of their wives, either through (suspected or actual) adultery or through the woman’s termination of the marriage. Daly and Wilson reviewed several studies of well-described spousal homicide cases, and in each sample, such sexual proprietariness was apparently the primary motivational factor in over 80% of the cases…. Studies of nonlethal violence against wives indicate a more diverse set of motives, but the predominant one is apparently the same: When asked what are the primary issues around which violent incidents occurred, both beaten wives and their assailants nominate “jealousy” above all else.

Our findings [data from Canada and elsewhere] include the following: (a) much higher rates of uxoricide after estrangement than in coresiding couples, (b) highest rates of uxoricide and nonlethal assaults for the youngest wives and a steady decline with age (2), (c) higher rates of uxoricide and nonlethal assaults in common-law marital unions than in registered marital unions, and (d) higher rates of violence when the woman has coresident minor children sired by a previous partner.

So, all of this violence toward spouses/partners “makes sense” when we view it from the perspective of males attempting to maximize their reproductive success by trying to exercise “property” rights over (especially young, i.e. fertile) women while at the same time reducing the chances of themselves winding up as providers for other males’ offspring (i.e. being cuckolded). I’d even suggest that the women’s families (fathers, mothers, brothers) also sometimes get into the act (as in the German Turkish cases) because the future of THEIR genes is on the line, too — they all want to ensure that the genes they share with the female in question get the best (in their eyes) reproductive chance possible (3).

Of course, all evolutionary psychology does is offer possible explanations for what is going on — it does not offer ethical solutions or planning guidelines for the future of humanity. We have to decide whether we want it to be permissible in our society for individuals, or families, to use violence and murder to coerce others into doing their (reproductive) bidding. My personal choice is no — I do not want to live in such a society. I would wish to eliminate such behavior as much as possible since I value my own, individual freedom to choose.

In light of this, I say that Germany and the Netherlands and other European countries ought to demand that immigrants, whatever part of the world they hail from, must adhere to Western ideals. I have nothing against people CHOOSING to follow whatever religion or other custom(s) they wish to — but there must be FREE choice involved. Otherwise, we are simply giving away our Western heritage of freedom and individualism.

As one Dutch politician said: “We have been tolerant to the nontolerant, and we got intolerance back.”


(1) “Among women, being black, young, divorced or separate, earning a lower income, living in rental housing, or living in an urban area were all associated with higher rates of intimate partner victimization between 1993 and 1998….

“Overall, blacks were victimized by intimate partners at significantly higher rates than persons of any other race between 1993 and 1998. Black women experienced intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than whit women, and about 2.5 times the rate of women of other races. Black men experienced intimate partner violence at a rate about 62% higher than that of white men and about 2.5 times the rate of men of other races.”

(2) “Women ages 20 to 24 were victimized by an intimate partner at the highest rate (21 victimizations per 1,000 women). This rate was about eight times the peak rate for men (3 victimizations per 1,000 men ages 25 to 34).”

(3) What I personally found to be one of the most cynical aspects of the Der Spiegel story was that “in many cases, fathers — and sometimes even mothers — single out their youngest son to do the killing, Boehmecke said, ‘because they know minors will get lighter sentences from German judges.’” What cowards, to make a decision to kill one’s daughter and not have the guts to follow through on that decision oneself.

Posted by theresa at 11:12 AM

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Brain activity of men and women can differ greatly during hostile or impulsive acts, but less so on nicotine

UC Irvine researchers…found during behavioral and brain-imaging tests on hostility and impulsive reaction that brain-metabolism activity – which indicates when neurons are working – was much higher in many brain areas of women than men. But when the test subjects were given nicotine, metabolic activity significantly declined in the women and slightly increased in men – the original differences all but disappeared.

According to Dr. Steven Potkin, who along with neuroanatomist James Fallon led the study, these results shed light on two issues. First, brain activity areas involved in choice, attention, short-term memory, planning, mood, emotion and language are different in men and women – differences exaggerated during moments of hostility or impulsiveness. In addition, the study provides new evidence that men’s and women’s brains respond differently to the same stimuli – a result sure to fuel the ongoing debate over fundamental variations in brain function based on gender. Since these differences are present even in non-smokers, they appear to be inherent differences in brain metabolism and function between men and women.

Quote from the UCI press release.

Addendum: Just noticed that one of GNXP’s regular readers, Fly, had mentioned this in the Open Threads back on 02.17.

Posted by theresa at 11:42 AM

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