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 TeasersThrasymachus@GNXP Blogview

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I have tried to come up with a short list of wikipedia articles of interest to the debate here. There may be some participants on GNXP who have some expertise in a few of these topics and are interested in contributing. I’m not going to take the time to hotlink:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_intelligence
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_bell_curve
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Murray_%28author%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mismeasure_of_Man
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blank_Slate
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Pinker
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Gould
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iq
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence_%28trait%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_sailer
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_psychology
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_realism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_Cochran
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathogenic_theory_of_homosexuality
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi#Natural_history_of_Ashkenazi_intelligence
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Jensen

There are many others, I’m sure. Feel free to make suggestions.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 03:37 PM

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Geep

This might actually be more interesting than the article points out. According to this web site, previous ‘geeps’ were artificial chimeras. There are some pictures there.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 01:02 PM

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This has been around for a few months, but I didn’t catch it until now. Big-brained people are smarter: A meta-analysis of the relationship between in vivo brain volume and intelligence

Abstract

The relationship between brain volume and intelligence has been a topic of a scientific debate since at least the 1830s. To address the debate, a meta-analysis of the relationship between in vivo brain volume and intelligence was conducted. Based on 37 samples across 1530 people, the population correlation was estimated at 0.33. The correlation is higher for females than males. It is also higher for adults than children. For all age and sex groups, it is clear that brain volume is positively correlated with intelligence.

The mean correlation for females appears to be .40. It’s .41 for female adults. The other numbers are .38 for male adults, .37 for female children and .22 for male children.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 09:52 AM

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After the recent post, I notice that there still seems to be considerable debate on the Flynn effect, and I don’t see any particular prevailing view among the participants here on GNXP.

So I’ll ask this question flat out:

What makes you so sure (if you are sure) that IQ measurements of intelligence can be highly inaccurate across time but not across culture?

In the extended entry, I’m including a nicely succinct defense of IQ that appeared on Jerry Pournelle’s site.

I’d appeal to data rather than analogies. Several kinds come to mind. The supporting data can be found in my articles and conference presentations with titles mentioning “life,” “everyday life,” “death,” “practical,” “why g matters,” “health,” and such. See also Herrnstein and Murray for number 1 below.

http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/

1. IQ (as long as it’s a good measure of g) predicts a broad range of life outcomes better than does SES, from GPA to longevity. Corollary: You can wash out IQ’s apparent predictive superiority only if you load your SES battery with additional surrogates for parents’ or own g.

2. The phenotypic correlations between IQ and measures of social class (education, occupational prestige, income) are from a half to two-thirds genetic in origin.

3. SES cannot explain the big IQ differences among siblings growing up in the same household: They differ two-thirds as much in IQ, on the average (11-12 points), as do any two random strangers (~17 points). This is a glaring fact that SES enthusiasts have studiously ignored.

4. Adult functional literacy (e.g., see the fed’s NALS survey) predicts life outcomes in exactly the same pattern as does IQ, though they won’t tell you that. Functional literacy is measured by having subjects carry out everyday life tasks, such as using a menu to figure out the price for something. Persons scoring at levels 1-2 (out of 5) have been described as not having the ability to use their rights or meet their responsibilities in the modern world (40% of whites, 80% of blacks). Pick out a few NALS tasks at various levels and ask your critic what % of adults s/he thinks can perform them. They will be shocked and so will you when you see the data–go to my 1997 “Why g matters” article for NALS, or my 2002 “highly general and highly practical” chapter for health literacy items–e.g., on diabetes.

5. IQ predicts on-the-job performance better overall than any other single predictor (SES isn’t even in the running), it predicts better when performance is objectively rather than subjectively measured, and when the tasks/occupations are more complex in what they require workers to do. At the same cognitive complexity level, IQ predicts job performance equally well in manual and non-manual jobs (e.g., trades vs. clerical. The exact same complexity pattern is found with functional literacy–the hardest items are the most complex (require more inference, are abstract rather than concrete, contain more distracting irrelevant information, etc.)

6. A large followup of Australian veterans found that IQ was the best predictor of death by age 40 (had 50+ predictors). Vehicle fatalities were the biggest cause (as is typical), and, compared to men with IQs of 100+, men of IQ85-100 had twice the rate and men IQ 80-85 had three times the rate. (Remember, SES could not explain this.) The US (and apparently Australia) forbid induction of persons below IQ 80 because they are not sufficiently trainable–found out the hard way.

7. Finally, if you succeed in describing g as a general learning and reasoning ability (one that gives high g people an increasing edge when tasks are more complex), then it is easy to show g’s life and death relevance when you describe how health self-care and accident prevention are highly dependent on learning and reasoning. Consider what it takes to be an effective diabetic–lots and lots of judgment on a daily basis, or you’re likely to lose your sight, your limbs, etc.

The more usual claim is that IQ is just an “academic ability,” but it clearly is far more practical than that. It is far more practical than Sternberg’s so-called “practical intelligence,” whose existence rests solely on the chimerical evidence he conjures up.

You’ll need a separate set of facts if the complaint is that IQ differences result mostly from nurture, not nature.

Linda S. Gottfredson
Professor, School of Education
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716 USA
http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson

Posted by Thrasymachus at 02:00 PM

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I’ve heard of this before. Pathogens, specifically pesticides, may help explain the fall of male fertillity over the past 50 years.

The mechanism seems interesting, however. It is multigenerational, but does not involve mutation. I’d like to read the paper.

The study was carried out on laboratory rats that received high levels of vinclozolin, a fungicide widely used in vineyards, and methoxychlor, a pesticide used to replace DDT when it was banned more than 30 years ago. Scientists found that the male offspring of the exposed rats suffered a sharp decline in the quality and quantity of their sperm and that these traits continued to be passed on down the male line.

Yet the researchers believe that the chemicals did not mutate the genes of the rats – a proven way of passing on damaging traits – but instead may have altered the way the genes work.

Michael Skinner of Washington State University, who led the research team, said nearly all the male rats born in each generation were affected by sperm damage or low sperm counts. He said that the findings, published today in the journal Science, suggest that toxins may play a role in heritable diseases that were previously thought to be caused solely by genetic mutations.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 07:25 AM

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The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence has found a journal. It will be published by The Journal of Biosocial Science. Here is an article in The Economist. The New York Times may be publishing something before long.

Update from Razib: Now in The New York Times. Pinker responds mildly positively, though he seems slotted in more as a color commentator. Andrew Clark (of Hartl & Clark) does not seem happy. Interestingly, the non-scientist interviewed (a historian) isn’t screaming (yet).

Update from Arcane: Now UPI has picked it up, via the Washington Times… Hat tip: Drudge Report

Update from Razib: You can follow the blog commentary with this technorati query. Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan both noted it today…so the information is out there. GNXP readers who have absorbed the full paper might want to correct some misimpressions of those who don’t seem to have read the hypothesis in the original, Greg & Henry can’t be everywhere.

Update again from Razib: One thing I noticed, almost all the weblogs reference the summaries in the popular press of the journal article, could GNXP readers please put a link in the comments box of weblog entries that don’t have it to the original piece? (I’ve noticed a few GNXP regulars have done that on some blogs already) It would answer many of the questions and objections people are bringing up….

Update from Jason M: Lots of great reactions from across the Net. Razib, who writes for David Horowitz’s Moonbat Central, samples some reactions from Right-of-Center. Meanwhile, the gracious honcho at Metafilter did me a solid and put up my post, because the system won’t let a newby post until a week after membership. Metafilter is a Left-of-Center community site that I’ve read for some time which tends towards mannered and intelligent discussion, and this entry provides no exception. Perhaps surprisingly there appears no predictable political reaction with equal parts uneasiness and general HBD positivity across the spectrum.

Technorati has more. Sullivan, Reynolds, and all the rest.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 10:37 AM

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I got an email from Greg Cochran last night, with the full text of this article: There’s Something Curious About Paternal Age Effects

There seems to be a good connection between paternal age and short-limbed dwarfism. A simillar pattern can be seen in Apert’s syndrome. Both these disorders seem to be present in the population at higher levels than the mutation rate would indicate. The explanation? Selection for mutant spermatogonia.

It now seems likely that there are three main classes of gene mutations causing genetic disorders: (i) nucleotide substitutions scattered along the gene, usually with substantial sex and age effects; (ii) small insertions and deletions, mainly deletions, with no age effect and a slight maternal excess; and (iii) hot-spots occurring almost exclusively in males and rising steeply with age. Three genes–fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3, mutated in achondroplasia), FGFR2 (mutated in Apert’s syndrome), and RET (mutated in multiple endocrine neoplasia)–are examples of the hot-spot class. In this class, genes carry mutations that are clustered at just one or two nucleotide sites.

Update from Razib: I have addressed ziel’s #2 complaint (don’t know about the first ;). See text below….

As early as 1912, Wilhelm Weinberg (1) reported that children with dominant achondroplasia (short-limbed dwarfism) born to normal parents were usually among the last-born children in the family. With astonishing insight, he suggested that this finding argued for a genetic mutation as the cause of sporadic achondroplasia. A deeper understanding had to await the work of Penrose, who in 1955 showed that the effect observed by Weinberg was due to paternal age, not maternal age or birth order (2). This, of course, implied a much greater mutation rate among males than females. Haldane demonstrated just such a disparity in mutation rates between male and female gametes in the X-linked disorder hemophilia (3). Since then, the sex-difference and paternal-age effect have been confirmed for several X-linked recessive and autosomal-dominant diseases (4, 5). Missing to date has been an analysis of mutations in spermatozoa, but new techniques have finally made this possible. The results are shocking. First, a recently published analysis of sperm from men of different ages reported only a slight increase in mutant sperm with paternal age, much less than would be predicted by the clinical data (6). Now, on page 643 of this issue, Goriely, Wilkie, and colleagues (7) report their analysis in men of different ages of sperm carrying the mutation that causes Apert’s syndrome, another classic disease where the clinical data predict a large sex and paternal-age effect. They argue that the mutation rate for this disorder is low, and that the apparent high rate is because mutant spermatogonia are positively selected before the start of meiosis (the two cell divisions that give rise to sperm). Very unorthodox.

It now seems likely that there are three main classes of gene mutations causing genetic disorders: (i) nucleotide substitutions scattered along the gene, usually with substantial sex and age effects; (ii) small insertions and deletions, mainly deletions, with no age effect and a slight maternal excess; and (iii) hot-spots occurring almost exclusively in males and rising steeply with age. Three genes–fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3, mutated in achondroplasia), FGFR2 (mutated in Apert’s syndrome), and RET (mutated in multiple endocrine neoplasia)–are examples of the hot-spot class. In this class, genes carry mutations that are clustered at just one or two nucleotide sites.

So far, only hot-spot mutations have been amenable to direct analysis in sperm. In contrast to the analysis of FGFR3 mutations in achondroplasia (6), the data for FGFR2 mutations obtained by Goriely et al. (7) agree with clinical observations on the paternal-age effect. These authors used a sensitive technique called pyrosequencing to examine the FGFR2 mutation rate in sperm. They used a restriction enzyme that cuts near the site of the mutation in FGFR2 (nucleotide 755, normally a cytosine) and that recognizes only the normal, not the mutant, sequence. They also cleverly exploited a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), dimorphic for bases A and G, about 100 nucleotides upstream of the mutation. Mutant sperm from men heterozygous for this SNP showed the expected 1:1 ratio of A and G, but the variance among men was enormous. This is consistent with premeiotic selection, because a selected mutant will carry along whichever SNP marker it happens to be linked to, thus broadening the distribution of SNP ratios. This finding, together with the enormous number of mutations at two hot-spots in FGFR2, and the fact that these are gain-of-function mutations, argues for premeiotic selection of mutant spermatogonia (7). As long ago as 1996, Wilkie suggested that mutations in sperm might be selected premeiotically (8).

Traditionalists, such as myself, are reluctant to postulate strong selection of mutant spermatogonia. Are there alternative explanations? In a 30-year-old man, some 90% of the spermatogonial divisions occur during the stem-cell phase of division, where the pattern is linear. This is followed by four exponential divisions before meiosis begins (9). By producing 16 exact copies of a mutation that occurred during the stem-cell period, this would introduce a correlation between the SNP markers, and thereby an enhancement of the variance in SNP ratio among sperm donors. With a number of exponential divisions, one would expect a Luria-Delbrück jackpot effect, that is, a tremendous difference in the mutant frequency in different men (10). A full analysis, taking mutant sperm number into account, would be complicated, yet four divisions hardly seem sufficient to explain the observations of Goriely and co-workers.

The authors offer additional evidence for selection of mutant spermatogonia. In the FGFR2 gene, the transversion, CrarrowG, is unexpectedly more common than the transition, CrarrowT. They argue that the CrarrowG mutations are rarer, but are more strongly selected. Another argument for selection is that the variance in SNP ratios is greater for the mutation with the higher frequency, an unexpected result in the absence of selection. Surprising hypotheses call for unusually strong evidence. The evidence that Goriely et al. present for the positive selection of a deleterious mutation in the testis, though indirect, is indeed strong.

Clearly, something is peculiar. If it isn’t spermatogonial selection that causes these curious effects, then what does? What causes the discrepancy in results between the FGFR2 and FGFR3 studies? Measuring the mutation frequency in sperm requires very sensitive techniques, so there may be technical reasons for the discrepancy. The third hot-spot locus, RET (5), contains genes that are important for spermatogonial function (11), which may offer insights into how selection operates. Is it possible that spermatogonial stem cells do not follow the strict linear kinetics that are usually assumed for all stem cells, permitting them more stochastic variation? Stem cells in some somatic tissues have the strange and wonderful skill of directing mutant genes into cells destined to die, while maintaining normal genes in the stem-cell lineage (12). Could spermatogonial stem cells indulge in such unorthodox behavior? Happily, hot-spots such as those in FGFR2, FGFR3, and RET are amenable to further research, including linked SNPs, so we should see some answers soon. Further data on Apert’s syndrome (13) are forthcoming and may help to resolve some of the conflicting data regarding the paternal age effect and premeiotic selection of mutations in achondroplasia and Apert’s syndrome.

In previous examples of premeiotic selection, germinal and somatic selection act in the same direction (14). That Goriely and colleague
s find favorable selection of FGFR2 mutations in the germ line, despite the fact that they cause a devastating disease, is indeed surprising. But that’s how the data look.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 09:36 AM

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Sniffing out the gay gene by Steven Pinker.

According to Pinker, there is a reason that the recent discovery of differing reactions to odor by gay and straight men was made in Europe.

In America, the biology of homosexuality is a politicized minefield that scares away scientists (and the universities and agencies that pay for their research).

Pinker also looks at the origins to ‘homophobia.’

Why didn’t evolution shape straight men to react to their gay fellows by thinking: “Great! More women for me!” Probably the answer lies in a cross-wiring between our senses of morality and disgust. People often confuse their own revulsion with objective sinfulness, as when they dehumanize people living in squalor or, in the other direction, engage in religious rituals of cleanliness and purification. An impulse to avoid homosexual contact may blur into an impulse to condemn homosexuality.

What is refreshing is that there is no mention of homophobia as a socially induced characteristic.

Unfortunately he ends with a fairly good essay with a whopper.

Regardless of where homosexuality resides in the brain, the ethics of homosexuality is a no-brainer: what consenting adults do in private is nobody’s business but their own.

Not true. What we do in our bedrooms, even when it does not have the obvious consequence, shapes us as individuals. Now, Pinker could have said, “we should aim to construct a society that makes it nobody’s business what consenting adults do in private.” Not that it’s completely possible, of course. Pinker should know better than anyone that parents will always invest time in training children to behave in a certain manner. It’s in our genes. People who behave differently threaten that training activity. Which in turn provokes reaction.

People threatening the social order, even if it’s no fault of their own, is something that functioning societies don’t tend to ignore.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 05:20 AM

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All right, it’s time for local school boards to start mandating the teaching of all that Intelligent Design garbage alongside Evolution.

Enough people believe it — enough people in important positions no less — that ignorance of the main tenants of ID is akin to ignorance of the Bible.

And the place where ID should be taught is biology class. Sure, it could be shunted off into comparative religion courses, but its subject matter is more technical than religious. Besides, it is biology teachers who have the expertise to deal with the subject, so they should be the ones teaching it.

And don’t worry, it’s not like the kids are getting anything out of grade/middle/high school science courses anyway. (Link courtesy of Greg Cochran. I recommend his “What Education Crisis?” article from the May American Conservative.)

Addendum

On the subject of Creationism, I do have one recent story to tell. I had a conversation with my boss the other day about Darwin on Trial. My boss had just read it. He believed in Evolution he said, but he thought that Johnson had made a lot of good points.

Now a few years ago, Johnson came to my college to give a talk. I was there in order to write an editorial about the event afterwards. (A discussion over the editorial got me called “crazy or a liar” by Johanthan Wells, so I’m happy I wrote it. Wouldn’t do it now though.)

Knowing Johnson’s style, I suggested to my boss that we look at a couple of the claims he makes in detail. With a little help from the Talk Origins Transitional Vertebrae FAQ, my boss was significantly less impressed by Johnson after just a few minutes.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 02:09 PM

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The mental effects of bariatric surgery:

“If the woman married when she was thin, had kids, became obese, and then had the surgery, the marriage almost always got a lot better,” he explains. (An estimated 75 percent of all bariatric patients are female.) “But if the woman married someone while she was obese and then became pretty . . . well, then she found a job. Got her colors done. Felt better about herself. And almost every one of those marriages ended in divorce.” Posted by Thrasymachus at 05:15 PM

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Mothers pregnant with boys may be less forgetful than those carrying girls, Canadian researchers said on Tuesday.

The researchers said they found evidence that women who gave birth to boys consistently outperformed moms of girls in tests that specifically taxed memory in areas of listening, computational and visualization skills.

Interesting. But more importantly, this is the perfect excuse for pregnancy anecdotes. Tell your stories.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 03:08 PM

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The rich are getting fat.

Further complicating attempts to compare income and obesity are cultural factors. Certain racial and ethnic groups positively equate a man’s girth with wealth — it’s a sign of success, Drewnowski said.

“I would caution against any attempts to interpret these data to say social differences have disappeared,” he said. “It just shows that obesity is a general problem and it’s now affecting pretty much everybody. … But it would be very shortsighted to stop paying attention to the people who are most vulnerable.”

Yet today, the obesity remedies most often recommended for Americans in general — eat fresh salads, go ride a bike — are impossible for many low-income families, Drewnowski said

Exercise can be hard in inner cities, where the streets may be too dangerous after working hours. Many grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods don’t stock expensive fresh produce. And people who work two or three jobs have little time to make home-cooked meals.

Robinson agreed: “I don’t want to take focus away from the serious racial and ethnic disparities in health.”

But, she said, it’s likely that different factors play a role in spurring obesity among the middle class than the poor. “We need to have a lot more research … to tailor our interventions to specific populations.”

1) I’d be interested in how the genetic makeup of the rich has changed in the past 30 years. Not just ethnic changes, but more general changes as well. For instance, are they as smart as they once were?

2) Who’s doing the cooking? Sure, an Italian, heaps-of-pasta-on-the-table mother might make you fat. But I’d guess that a career-minded, busy, let-the-kids-scrounge, junk-food-in-the-fridge mother is worse.

3) How many people, as a percentage of the population, are fit because of conscious effort? I’d guess that the numbers must be pretty low. It’s hard work. Hell, I ran 80 miles in April and gained 14 pounds because I wasn’t watching my diet. It takes a great deal of conscious effort to overcome your environment. The vast majority of people just go with the flow.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 02:16 PM

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This is a joke page, right?

Beginning last November, the city of San Francisco began a program whereupon clinically obese men between the ages of 18 and 55 could undergo a procedure whereupon approximately 1/2 an inch is removed from each vas and the ends are sealed – commonly referred to as a vasectomy – completely free of charge. The overwhelming turnout led the State of California to follow suit, and now California is the first state in the Union to offer state-funded vasectomies to men who have been diagnosed as obese.

Well this makes sense. Eugenics won’t be pushed to make us smarter. Or stronger. But we will have eugenics to make us beautiful.

This has got to be the plot of a Philip K. Dick novel or something.

UPDATE This IS a joke page. And joke journal in fact. There’s got to be some potential in that, I think.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 07:18 AM

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There is a tremendous amount of impressive information in the Gene Expression archives. And because it’s only organized by date, it’s underutilized.

How to organize it?

The Gene Expression Textbook Project, maybe? Organize it around giving people an introduction into human biodiversity?

Maybe some sort of greatest hits list?

If we get serious about something like this, the best place on the net to look for guidance is Talk Origins. Gene Expression is similar in that it partakes in a similar sort of debate, and could probably benefit from copying some parts of the Talk Origins organizational style.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 01:26 PM

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Every now and then someone capable of reasonable thought writes out a long attack on evolution, and I feel like responding with a persuasive essay explaining why he is wrong. In fact, I have been known to do that in the past. But I don’t anymore because I have found that the only people whose opinions I am likely to change are the easily persuaded. An intelligent argument from the other side would persuade them the other way.

Nowadays I usually just point to the Talk Origins Archive. It gives intelligent people a chance to change their own opinion — and that is something that may be more likely than my changing it for them.

Addendum from Razib: Here is Panda’s Thumb weighing in….

Posted by Thrasymachus at 10:17 PM

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I saw razib’s note on Zimmer’s article, and it gave me a couple ideas which I posted at my site. GNXPers might be interested, so I’m reposting here. The advantage of discussing written language instead of spoken language is that it by definition moves us up into historical time periods instead of prehistoric.

If you took a monkey’s brain, and without any structural changes, blew it up to three times its size, would it have the capacity for language? Carl Zimmer discusses whether language is a product of natural selection or whether it sprung up spontaneously once the capacity came into existence. Zimmer’s article is open-ended, but he claims that a part II is in the works which will deliver some conclusions.

I’ll just note two points:

Proving that certain recent genes are necessary for spoken language doesn’t help much in this argument because there is a good chance that early language was gesture based.Proving that rudimentary languages are advantageous to survival does not disprove the ‘almost everything for language was already there’ hypothesis, it only contradicts a certain piece of supporting evidence for it.

How much language, gesture based or verbal, would a monkey be capable of if its brain were three times larger? I have the feeling that we’re a long way from answering that, although I’m interested in Zimmer’s part II.

There is a related question, however, and this one may be a bit easier to approach.

Could our ancestors of 100,000 years ago have learned written language if it was in existence at that time? In other words, are evolutionary adaptations necessary for a brain that is capable of spoken language to comprehend visual symbols? Why didn’t written language spring up as soon as spoken language did? Did the written word have to wain on an inventor, or did it have to wait on natural selection?

I would judge the evidence to be in favor of an ‘almost everything’ theory of written language. Our ancestors would probably have been capable of learning to write if they had been given a chance. The fact that written language is nearly cotemporaneous (evolutionarily speaking) with the arrival of cities and agriculture, suggests that the conditions were ripe for invention. And, more tellingly, there seem to be no groups of humans today incapable of written language.

On the other hand, there may well be a cut-off IQ for the capacity of literacy, and it would be interesting to ask at what point in our evolutionary history a reasonable fraction of the population reached that IQ.

This leads to other interesting questions. Were the first modern humans capable of cities and agriculture? Did that wait on invention of technique or upon natural selection? Presumably it is a specific social type that can live in close proximity with lots of other people, after all. Did the first alphabetic scripts wait upon invention or natural selection? The Japanese, for example, had one for a short time, but gave it up for an ideographic script. Native Japanese dislike having to read texts written completely in their alphabetic versions (hiragana or katakana), and prefer the ideographic style instead. On the other hand Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, and so forth seem to have no trouble learning and using the alphabetic scripts of other languages.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 09:02 AM

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Okay, this story has got everything. Eugenics, homosexuality, abortion, Republicans versus Democrats, even Rush Limbaugh.

A Republican lawmaker in Maine has introduced a bill to prohibit abortions based on the sexual orientation of the unborn baby.

State Rep. Brian Duprey wants the Legislature to forbid a woman from ending a pregnancy because the fetus is homosexual.

He said the bill looks into the future in case scientists find what he described as a “homosexual gene.”

Posted by Thrasymachus at 02:02 PM

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Gay gene or gay virus? An interview with Greg Cochran (by me).

Posted by Thrasymachus at 04:43 PM

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Possibilities:

1) The Flynn Effect is based on bad data.
2) The Flynn Effect tracks non-g rises in IQ.
3) The Flynn Effect measures a rise in g. Therefore better environments improve g a lot.
4) The entire concept of g is somehow faulty
5) The entire concept of IQ is somehow faulty.

I think that we can rule out 1 and 5 easily enough. I don’t think that ‘g’ is sacred. I can certainly imagine a new theory supplanting it, but on the balance, I think that we can say that 4 is improbable.

I have heard both 2 and 3. Rushton, for example, claims 2, while Flynn claims 3. I’m willing to believe Flynn because he’s more mainstream.

So that leaves 3. So now for the million-dollar question, what about the environment is improving IQ so much?

Posted by Thrasymachus at 09:00 PM

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I read this article in the New England Journal of Medicine the other week. Researchers have been able to synthesize something close to Spanish Influenza and use it to infect mice.

Hopefully nobody working on this sort of thing has a grudge against society. Or is going through a bad breakup.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 04:38 PM

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PastClassics
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
The evidence is clear — but often ignored
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
A simple remedy for income stagnation