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220px-Honeybee_landing_on_milkthistle02Two quick links that I think readers might find useful. First, a fascinating interview on NPR with a bee biologist. There’s a lot of interesting colorful detail (e.g., bees feeding on mammal tears), but the big thing which I appreciate is the balance between being sanguine and being overly alarmed by the phenomenon of “colony collapse.” Second, a Planet Money podcast, the case against patents. The point isn’t that one has to agree with the case against patents, but that patents are not part of our inalienable natural rights. It behooves us to examine now and then the utility in our world of the granting of patents, as well as the concept of intellectual property more broadly. Yes, it strikes many people as a crazy idea, but it’s surprisingly a common idea floated by economists.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Links 
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I highly recommend Åse Fixes Science, in light of our recent conversations about psychology. It’s a fascinating and important discipline, but it is hard to make heads or tails of it all.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Links 
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Thoughts on the BGI IQ study.

Language Evolves in R, not Python: An apology. Open science is good.

Are Twin Studies “Pretty Much Useless”? One interesting, but unsurprising, aspect of the response to execrable Brian Palmer piece is that several of us in the blogosphere pointed out pretty much the same set of well known findings to refute his weird charges. This isn’t rocket science.

Romney vs. Perry: It’s personal. ‘“I think he had a few exasperating experiences with Perry, and he’s not alone in that,” said one source close to Romney. “I think Mitt thinks Perry is not that bright.”’


Genome-wide association study in individuals of South Asian ancestry identifies six new type 2 diabetes susceptibility loci. Probably a good idea to study diabetes in the most numerous hper-diabetic population in the world.

North Korea: The Long Coma. I have said many a time that North Korea is the best modern representation of a pre-modern divine monarchy.

Men Are From Mars, Women Like Kindles. I think we need vouchers for males to close the “Kindle gap.”

Working for GiveWell. Holden is a very cool guy, for what it’s worth.

Phylogenetic rate shifts in feeding time during the evolution of Homo. Bigger brains and smaller teeth?

The Boundaries of Science.

Sex Ratio at Birth and Mortality Rates Are Negatively Related in Humans.

Will a Jurassic placental mammal make the molecular clock make sense? Looks like another win for some geneticists (Richard Dawkins alludes to this debate in The Ancestor’s Tale and basically predicted that fossils would probably show up at some point).

Circumcise or Don’t? Quandary for Parents. Be a Bayesian. Your own behavior pattern is a predictor for your son’s behavior patterns.

As Farmers’ Markets Go Mainstream, Some Fear a Glut. A “glut” is good for consumers. Were that there was an oil glut!

There’s Room for More G.O.P. Candidates. I’d normally call bullshit, but Nate Silver warrants consideration.

Mother’s BMI Linked to Fatter Babies.

Diverse microbes in Pygmy saliva.

Whole-genome sequencing of multiple Arabidopsis thaliana populations.

The Righteous Mind. I like Jonathan Haidt’s models, but they often strike as too superficially plausible.

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. Halfway through this book. Buy it! It is excellent.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Links 
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Culture of Science. The peripatetic Sheril Kirshenbaum’s new weblog. Though I think she’s going to stay put for a while now.

The Life-Spans of Empires. I’ll be talking about this paper soon.

Academics ‘Guest Authoring’ Ghostwritten Medical Journal Articles Should Be Charged With Fraud, Legal Experts Argue. Crankery in the area of medicine flourishes in part due to natural cognitive biases, but also because there are many cases of crookedness and manufactured science.

First Large Study to Find HIV Epidemic Among Gays in the Middle East. Seems to be following the Western model.


Are Pet Owners Healthier and Happier? Maybe Not… Would that it were true.

Is Our Universe Inside a Bubble? First Observational Test of the ‘Multiverse’. I’m too ignorant to comment.

Copy Number Variation in Familial Parkinson Disease. More than SNPs.

Drunken Ben Bernanke Tells Everyone At Neighborhood Bar How Screwed U.S. Economy Really Is.

Germany Investigating Facebook Tagging Feature. Unless there’s a “Bulterian Jihad” the transparent society is inevitable.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Animal Enhancement as a Tool of Liberation. Remember the Uplift Universe?

Are Smart People Getting Smarter?. Alas, I don’t see it in the comments of this weblog enough :-)

CpG Islands Undermethylation in Human Genomic Regions under Selective Pressure. Wheels within wheels.

On the wealth gap. Difference between mean and median between blacks and Hispanics changes the rank order. Interesting.

Dating Across Ideological Lines. I recall that Tyler Cowen once mentioned how libertarians tend to date liberals and not conventional conservatives.

Genetic Differences Distinguish Stomach Cancers, Treatment Response. Not the differences you’d expect.

Private companies own your DNA – again. I’m not going to make a crack about lawyers. But I want to…..

Some Exercise Is Better Than None: More Is Better to Reduce Heart Disease Risk. Duh.

Monkey See, Monkey Do? The Role of Mirror Neurons in Human Behavior. So are mirror neurons all that?

Race and Personalized Medicine. First, kill all the sociologists.

Decline and fall of the American empire. You don’t need to be an imperial citizen to flourish.

The End of the Kemalist Affair. You can’t drag a whole nation into another civilization against its will.

A 33,000-Year-Old Incipient Dog from the Altai Mountains of Siberia: Evidence of the Earliest Domestication Disrupted by the Last Glacial Maximum. I find multiple domestication events plausible. Wolves are ideally suited to co-adapting with humans.

Free sterilisation. The main issue is that lots of young people who think they don’t want kids at 25 do at 35. So make sure it’s reversible.

Can Microsoft Make You ‘Bing’? Large corporations can squeeze efficiencies on the margin, but Bing is still copying Google’s suggestions. Kind of pathetic.

Hideki Irabu, Briefly a Yankee Sensation, Dies at 42.

Should Religion Play a Role in Politics? This is like asking “should men have sex with women?” It’s always going to happen. The question isn’t is, but the specific nature of how it plays out.

The impact of Converso Jews on the genomes of modern Latin Americans. I was going to blog this, but I didn’t understand one of the figures at all.

Real wealth. History is returning to type in some ways. How about others?

Ancient Arab Medicine Goes Online. Yes, but how about modern Arab medicine?

Hitting The Wall At 114 Years Old. Proof that the Bible is not literally true?

Population-genetic comparison of the Sorbian isolate population in Germany with the German KORA population using genome-wide SNP arrays.

Zinc Lozenges May Shorten Common Cold Duration, Finnish Research Suggests. The positive and negative results in the area of mitigating cold symptoms is kind of lame, and tells us how much a lot of medicine is pushing on the margin of diminishing returns.

GOP Making Strong Party ID Gains Among Whites.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Links 
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I assume you’re hot?

Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S.. I’ve read Gates of Vienna before. Despite my anti-multiculturalist attitudes I generally departed with them over their sloppy marshaling of history. Two wrongs doesn’t make a right. Ironically I was introduced to the blog mostly by someone who is now a moderately scary Muslim (they converted, at the time they were very not Muslim. Now they engage in quasi-apologia for reactionary Muslim behavior like death threats against blasphemers).

What should evolutionary psychology comprise? Also see John Hawks.

Epigenetic ‘Memory’ Key to Nature Versus Nurture. Epigenetics is trending.

Rival Debt Plans Being Assembled by Party Leaders. No comment.


Social Media Study: Conservatives Were Top Tweeters in 2010 U.S. Elections. Interesting in that I recall a lot of talk about political blogging being counter-cyclical (when your party is out of power there’s more of a need and impulse to get online to organize and communicate).

Social Transmission and the Spread of Modern Contraception in Rural Ethiopia. I think there’s too much emphasis on individual scale variables like female education, and not enough on broader cultural shifts. Both need to be focused upon. Some of the fertility drops across the world can’t just be explained by development. Rather, shifts in the Zeitgest result in smaller families, which then enable development, and so further reductions in fertility.

Cereal Domestication and Evolution of Branching: Evidence for Soft Selection in the Tb1 Orthologue of Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum [L.] R. Br.) The same argument has been made for other crops. Parallel instances of parallel evolution.

GOP Making Strong Party ID Gains Among Whites. I think there’s a lot of truth to the idea that Republicans have issues in terms of long term demographics. But, Freddie Prinze Jr. is a Republican, and, of part-Latino origin. But does he, or anyone else, identify him as non-white? I doubt it.

Linguistic diversity and traffic accidents. The witch-doctors will scream!

Fugitives, and Others, in Pursuit of Vice Find Thailand’s Liberties to Be a Virtue. Unbelievable.

A Goodbye To Borders. Not a libertarian polemic. It’s about the book store. I think we’re looking at bimodality in terms of book purchase. It will be local and independent, or, it will be cyber-commoditized and faceless. No room for corporate bricks & mortar in between.

Is India Too Corrupt to Become Powerful? Italy is the 10th largest economy in the world. Then again, Greece whipped its ass in World War 2 despite having 1/5th the population.

Male Genital Morphology and Its Influence on Female Mating Preferences and Paternity Success in Guppies. Sexy.

Amid Unemployment, Spain Aims to Limit Romanian Influx. Hm. -nian? Or not?

The Demoiselle of X-Inactivation: 50 Years Old and As Trendy and Mesmerising As Ever. I had to look up “Demoiselle”.

Disputes Over Content of Wikipedia Articles Reflect a Country’s Geopolitical Instability, Study Finds. They needed to do a study on that?

How accurate is the new Ion Torrent genome, really? Must read from Dr. Daniel MacArthur.

Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies HLA-DP as a Susceptibility Gene for Pediatric Asthma in Asian Populations. Every living Japanese medical geneticist contributed to this paper.

Nonlinear Fitness Landscape of a Molecular Pathway. This brings a smile to Sewall Wright’s face.

Rare and Common Regulatory Variation in Population-Scale Sequenced Human Genomes. “Finally, we show the impact of rare regulatory variants that cannot be detected by the conventional methodologies of association and require the interrogation of full genome sequencing and full transcriptome sequencing.”

Replication and Explorations of High-Order Epistasis Using a Large Advanced Intercross Line Pedigree. Sewall Wright smiles once more.

Do Social Networks Really Compete? Google+ Vs. LinkedIn, Round One. Supports my contention that we’re in the age of genuine competition between social networks.

Goldman Sachs Disappoints With Earnings of $1.05 Billion. Barely 1 billion! Oh my. I’m still going on long on the proposition that GS will make money by screwing us over and then slapping us with a bill for the privilege of being their bitches in the near future. I really hope I’m being inordinately cynical and pessimistic. But then I suspect that g and decency are only mildly correlated.

Vegetarian Diet May Protect Against Common Bowel Disorder. Is it worth it if you are miserable?

2011 GNXP Reader Survey. Final N for completed surveys is 624. Though many questions have more.

Race Matters When Recruiting, Retaining Undergraduate Women Engineers. We need for female Native American engineers!

Adaptive Group Coordination and Role Differentiation. The sum can be greater than the parts.

Climate-related variation of the human nasal cavity. Yes, this was published in 2011, not 1911!

Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. Hustler.

Significantly More Genetic Mutations Lead to Colon Cancer. The low hanging fruit is gone. We live in the age of polygenic discoveries.

Risk averse Taiwanese are also more religious. No great surprise. Though I think religion in some contexts can increase risky behavior in terms of giving people the psychological support to be less cautious.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Links 
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There have been some good posts at Gene Expression Classic you might want to check out. In particular:

Synaesthesia and savantism and Where do morals come from?. The second is a review of Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality by Kevin Mitchell

Natural selection and the collapse of economic growth and Natural selection and economic growth by Jason Collins.

Earliest Art in the Americas: Ice Age Image of Mammoth or Mastodon Found in Florida. Claims that the a rendering of a elephant-like creature in Florida is at least ~13,000 years old because “this is the date for the last appearance of these animals in eastern North America.” If this is based on fossils probably you can fudge that a little lower, since first and last fossils tend to be a subset of the real interval of time.


The Michael Hecht-Rationally Speaking affair. Jennifer Michael Hecht is making accusations of plagiarism against Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef. One can’t render final judgment on this sort of thinking without digging deeper, but my personal experience is that most perceptions of plagiarism and copying have to do with the fact that the web is very, very, big. And, you tend to anchor upon and self-select segments of the web which are intersecting with your own interests and biases. People who produce similar material and share a similar world view are likely to also generate ideas and concepts very similar in structure and even style to yours. In other words, I think there can be sincere perceptions of plagiarism which are mistaken.

Do Kids Prefer Playmates of Same Ethnicity? Since the study is based out of Montreal I conclude that French culture is just racist.

Wild Cuban Crocodiles Hybridize With American Crocs. Some of you care, I don’t too much.

Psychologists Find Link Between Ovulation and Women’s Ability to Identify Heterosexual Men. Really this is kind of boring. I want really weird correlations. I’m sure they can find them.

Post-Hoc Supernatural Punishers. Some good skepticism of ahistorical tendencies which crop up in explanations for religion. For example I’m tired of people explaining to me that an awesome afterlife is the reason for religion, when Sheol and Hades kind of bit. A nice afterlife is a relatively recent cultural innovation.

Koi Assisted Birth. This is happening.

As Greece Ponders Default, Lessons From Argentina. I like how the reporters emphasized the fact that the commodity boom has been a boon to Argentina. That condition doesn’t hold for all nations.

Why Do We Like the Taste Of Protein? Jonah Lehrer, delicious prose as always!

What is g?

Phylogeography of a Land Snail Suggests Trans-Mediterranean Neolithic Transport. I think this sort of thing is going to be more common. With the confidence interval this seems more a “first pass.”

Sexting and Infidelity in Cyberspace: Humans Are Still Social Creatures Who Need Face-To-Face Contact, Study Finds. In other words: study finds earthlings are not Solarians.

InTrade And Jon Huntsman: Why the Media’s Faith in the Internet Betting Ring Is Foolish. There’s a tendency to allocate too much precision to quantities.

Women Freezing Their Eggs To Make Babies Later. This seems like a rational investment for many couples.

Ancient links between Siberians and Native Americans revealed by subtyping the Y chromosome haplogroup Q1a. “…this lineage appears to be closest to the extinct Palaeo-Eskimo individuals belonging to the Saqqaq culture arisen in the New World Arctic about 5.5 Ka. This finding suggests that Q1a*-MEH2 likely traces a population migration originating in Northeast Siberia across the Bering Strait.”

Low Fertility in Europe Reversed. Still below replacement though.

Newcomers’ Arrival Scares Up Tales of the Mayan Apocalypse. Very amusing confusions. We’ll see more….

On Funny men, Intelligence and ‘Mating Success’… Many of you will be able to guess one of the paper’s authors.

Dutch Court Acquits Geert Wilders of Hate Speech. Good.

Ten Percent of Middle-Aged Europeans Are On Antidepressants, Study Suggests.

Dogs Discriminate Identical Twins. Cool, but not surprising.

The evolution of conscientiousness. As important as intelligence. Smart people can be evil more effectively.

Mechanisms for the Evolution of a Derived Function in the Ancestral Glucocorticoid Receptor. Great paper where Sean M. Carroll is the lead author.

How Serious Is Son Preference in China? A minor note: it is important to remember that son preference tends to shift to daughter preference in developed societies with small families. This happened in Japan ~1990, and it is happening in Korea now.

Saudi women threaten to breastfeed drivers. People have different values.

Female extrapair mating behavior can evolve via indirect selection on males. Blame the men when women stray! Pretty funny.

All brown everything. An article which profiles Brown Pundits. Since Secular Right has also been profiled by the media, it would be interesting to see if anyone ever takes an interest in this little weblog I’ve been running on genetics for over 9 years in various forms….

Instapaper accuses FBI of stealing data in raid. Pinboard also got caught up in this. Basically the server where these sites were stored also hosted a scamware site. it happens.

Goolu. Don’t know if I buy this argument, but interesting.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Around the Web, Blog, Daily Data Dump, Links 
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Monuments to Clan Life Are Losing Their Appeal. A rule of thumb is that the Chinese tend to emphasize permanent architecture less than other societies, probably due to the tendency not to use durable materials.

The Next Bubble: Farmland. Did not know: “And large-scale farmland bubbles are quite rare: There was only one in the United States in the entire 20th century, during the great population scare of the 1970s.”

Tortoise and Hare, in a Laboratory Flask. Carl on the new paper out of the Lenski lab.

Unknown Animals Nearly Invisible Yet There. There aren’t enough labor hours to catalog the tree of life.

A Proud ‘Lobbyist’ and ‘Southerner’ Weighs ‘President’. We haven’t had a fat president in nearly 100 years.


Europe’s Rift Over Energy Is Widened by France. Go France!

Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter. Brass tacks: what’s the rate of drop of proportion of virgins over the course of the past year?

Law of Averages. Finally, people are responding to the disincentives of low-tier law school attendance!

Vaccine to Cure Asthma Brought on by House Dust Mite Allergies?

Canine Genetic Wrinkle Has Human Potential. Dog genetics yields important insights for humans. Not too surprising. Dogs and humans exhibit a lot of convergences from different sections of the mammalian bush.

The skull that proves those New Stone Age farmers weren’t so peaceful after all… My null model is that intra-specific competition results in violence once at the Malthusian limit.

Economics and Evolution Help Scientists Identify New Strategy to Control Antibiotic Resistance. This is the sort of thing that’s potentially the most potent antidote to Creationism.

Sizing Up Kinship: Larger Groups Win. Review of the Kim Hill paper.

Hunter-gatherer kinship and band composition. John Hawks on the Kim Hill paper.

Population-Based Resequencing of Experimentally Evolved Populations Reveals the Genetic Basis of Body Size Variation in Drosophila melanogaster.

A Molecular Phylogeny of Living Primates.

A Faded Industrial Town Is Feeling Britain’s Cuts. Half the workers in the public sector? This is not a sustainable ecosystem.

Public Jobs as the Ticket to Middle Class Status. Reihan Salam offers some skepticism.

Molecular Evolution, Mutation Size and Gene Pleiotropy: A Geometric Reexamination.

Return of the Sailer Strategy. I’m feelin’ more and more right-wing of late. But no pinker.

Wildlife defies Chernobyl radiation. Similar to the phenomenon of wildlife refuges created by land mines.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Daily Data Dump, Links 
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Yes, The Singularity is the Biggest Threat to Humanity.

Imitation and Social Cognition in Humans and Chimpanzees (I): Imitation, Overimitation, and Conformity. Doesn’t fall into the trap of either/or, where chimpanzees are qualitatively different from humans in too stark of a manner, or simply quantitatively different in an implausible fashion.

Emulation, Simulation, and the Human Brain. Tim B Lee is skeptical of whole brain emulation.

Borderless Economy, Jobless Prosperity. The real issue is whether the nation-state matters in any deep way as anything more than an organizational convenience and semantic convention. I would say it does. Many globalists would disagree.


The Chicken, The Egg, The Media and Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin is magnetic.

Buying Blind: Steve Jobs isn’t saying why he’s taking a medical leave. Is that fair to Apple investors? Looks like there’s a lot of squishiness about what does, and doesn’t, need to be disclosed. But if Apple is so dependent on its CEO’s vision, is it really a good long term hold?

Politically Confident, Iran Cuts Subsidies on Prices. Incentives matter: “I used to be the kind of person to have all the lights on because I liked the house to be very bright,” says Fariba, 28, an office worker. “But now I’ve changed my ways. I think it’s because they have been talking about it so much on the radio and television.”

New Influx of Haitians, but Not Who Was Expected. Naturally rich Haitians take advantage of generosity intended for the poor dispossessed.

Museum Is Symbol of Waste in Georgia. Tragic and funny story.

The Vehicle of Street Food Is Getting an Overhaul. Creative destruction. Chefs out of work are on the street, in a good way.

For Lebanese, Crisis Has Become a Way of Life. Demography is destiny. Shia have gone from the third largest group, to arguably the largest segment of the Lebanese religious marketplace.

Towards threaded publications: helping to set the scientific record straight.

Have women evolved to protect themselves from sexual assault?

More Intensive Methods Needed to Identify TB in HIV-Prone Populations.

Accuracy of CNV Detection from GWAS Data. More than SNPs.

Is breast not best for babies?

Deep Genomics: In the Case of DNA, the Package Can Be as Important as Its Contents, New Work With Fruit Flies Reveals.

The Deadly Logic of Anti-Blasphemy Laws. “In recent weeks, a coalition of Muslim nations has demanded (again) that the United Nations criminalize blasphemy. A considerable number of Christians might, at least at first hearing, think this as a reasonable demand. After all, we do not disagree that slander against the honor of God is a very, very dangerous sin. But anti-blasphemy laws place the power of theological coercion into the hands of the state, and this is deadly dangerous.” Christianity itself is in some ways blasphemous. To other religions. So is Islam.

New Evidence for Climate Impacts on Ancient Societies. Keep in mind that humans were much more impacted by exogenous factors in the recent past.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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High Rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Older Swingers. This goes into the “they had to do research!?!?!” category. Older swingers are a “high risk” group, like gay men and prostitutes.

Golly, Beav, We’re Historic. I really loved Leave It To Beaver when I was a kid.

Religious Extremists Will Inherit the Earth. John Derbyshire reviews the new book Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century. I’m looking forward to this book, though I’m generally skeptical of the error bars on any social prediction beyond the 20 year time horizon.

Born to be a slave in Niger. This a story from 2005, but from what I gather nothing has really changed in much of the Sahel since then. Slavery is particularly pernicious in Mauritania, where the racialized aspect is pretty straightforward.

New Clues Suggest Wet Era on Early Mars Was Global. This story caught my attention because I just found out that Edgar Rice Burrough’s first Barsoon novel is going to be turned into a film.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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This Doctor Does What to 6-Year-Old Girls’ Clitorises? This reminds me of the possibly apocryphal story of a pediatrician being attacked in England because a really stupid outraged person was opposed to pedophilia. Here’s a sentence for the ages: ” Because much as Savage might like it to be, the world is not yet a place where most little girls can have a clitoris that looks like a penis and feel entirely at ease.” I think the intersex have been subject to such misrepresentation historically that advocates for this group should really focus on being true to the facts and not appealing to emotions.

Caring About Strangers. I recall years ago that the Christian Rock group Jars of Clay collaborated on a concert with liberal Hollywood-based organizations to raise consciousness about religious intolerance and persecution in China. Jars of Clay naturally was focused on the Protestant “House Churches,” while Hollywood was focused on Tibetan Buddhists. Both instances of persecution were, and are, real, but which one you focus on is obviously determined by your own world-view and sympathies.

Consumer Genetics Needs More Transparency, Not Excessive Regulation. In general I agree. I suppose my null or default position is not to regulate this sort of thing. Those who wish to regulate need to make their case, as opposed to fear-mongering.

Gore Was Accused of Sexual Advances. Excelsior!

Are High Glycemic Index Carbs Worse Than Saturated Fat? “…swapping saturated fat for carbs with a high glycemic index (e.g. 5% lower calories from saturated fat, and 5% increased calories from high GI carbs) was associated with a 33% increased heart attack risk.”

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Sexual urges overcome cultural taboo. So it turns out that the female children of immigrants from conservative societies (South Asian and Islamic) are paying for hymen restoration surgeries. The more interesting question would be if these children become sexually conservative themselves, perpetuating the life history trajectory so that their own children have to go through these sorts of reconstructions.

Vitamin D Deficiency Due To Genetic Variants. Vitamin D supplementation is all the rage right now. What if its efficacy and necessity is conditional on genetic background?

Is the “missing heritability” right under our noses? The issue may have to do with the exigencies of research programs, not a deep scientific mystery.

A Singular Kind of Eugenics. It seems “privilege” is the new hot-button for Lefties who are skeptical of assisted reproductive technologies and genetic modifications. I suspect it’s a Left-wing buzzword which is equivalent to Righties who bring up “dignity” or the “wisdom of repugnance.” Much easier than having to generate clear prose and understand the complex motives which underpin an issue. Buying really expensive smartphones and pure entertainment machines like iPads also are manifestations of privilege. So what distinguishes X from Y? Not the commonality, privilege, but perhaps the same gut intuitions which Right bioconservatives are willing to man up to, repugnance. Some privileges are repugnant (biological interventions) and some frivolous (iPad). Also, when did discourse replace discussion and privilege replace class?

Saltie Makes a Sandwich Almost Entirely Out of Lettuce. There is nothing magical about meat; it’s all about the flavor.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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I won the 3 Quarks Daily Science Prize. ‘Top quark’. Heh. “I” = Ed Yong. ‘nuf said.

Brown-eyed men perceived to be more dominant. Dienekes offers up a more banal explanation, that the disjunction between blue vs. brown-eyed males in dominance perception has to do with a correlation that’s a holdover from past population differences which are being eliminated through admixture. Plausible enough to me, excepting that I do wonder at models which presume that continental populations were ever so isolated.

Chimpanzees murder for land. In biology Malthus was right. Intrapspecific competition is the norm quite often because of reproduction up to the carrying capacity. This is why I think Brian Ferguson’s idea that war is a product of agriculture is highly naive; hunter-gatherers were up at their carrying capacity as well.

Bernie Madoff, Free at Last. Celebrity sociopath.

If it’s OK to reject blood from gay men, what about blacks? Will Saletan takes things to their logical conclusion to undermine the premise.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Subprime for Students – Why does so much federal money go to for-profit schools—and what happens when the system crashes? Steve Eisman, a Cassandra of the subprime meltdown in real estate, is now focused on the student loan & grant racket in the for-profit education industry. I have nothing against competition forcing the relatively static higher education complex to evolve. In fact I favor it. But with massive government subsidies with minimal oversight being directed toward higher education the market is producing entities which emerge not to provide a genuine service to potential students, but to capture as much of the cash flow from the feds as possible. Barring elimination of government subsidies more aggressive oversight seems the only avenue of correcting the problems in this sector.

Is Google Docs Destined To Be a Revolutionary or Footnote?. First, Google Docs lacks some of the power for presentations which desktop office packages have. Second, the flakiness of internet connections means that many people won’t use it for ‘mission critical’ tasks yet. But I assume that over the next ten years you will start to see a shift from desktop applications to web applications even in office productivity software.

Do Not Log-Transform Count Data, Bitches! R gives you no excuse.

The Essence of Pleasure. Human flourishing is more than “doing the sums.”

Anthropology, Primatology, and the Definition of Culture: Reply to Sperber. Eric Michael Johnson presents a powerful case. Though do note that in general Dan Sperber, the target of Johnson’s critique, views the overall research program he’s criticizing positively.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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Didn’t spend enough time on the internet today for a Daily Data Dump. But,

1) ResearchBlogCast #6, sans Kevin Zelnio.

2) Noah Millman is on Bloggingheads.tv.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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The Closing of the Conservative Mind. Noah Millman doesn’t post often, but when he does it’s always worth reading.

Close to Homo? – The announcement of Australopithecus sediba. The tendency to trump everything as the most awesome ancestor or link is perhaps analogous to the demand from the public that cosmologists know the mind of God or something.

Yet Another “Missing Link”. More from Carl Zimmer.

And Down the Stretch She Comes. Horses have far less sexual dimorphism than humans. Did not know that, but makes sense.

Rumor of Sarkozy Infidelities Sets Off a Modern French Farce. The French are different. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
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The Apple Two: The iPad is Steve Jobs’ final victory over the company’s co-founder Steve Wozniak. Sounds totally plausible to me, though you can probably come to that inference just by observing 5 minutes of Woz vs. Jobs’ personal affect.

Upbeat Signs Revive Consumers’ Mood for Spending. I remember reading as a kid in the early 90s about how the recession of the time was going to result in a major shift in American habits and values. That didn’t pan out, the latter half the decade saw the emergence of irrational exuberance which surpassed the 1980s. But this recession/depression has been quantitatively much deeper, so perhaps something will stick. For one, it seems that we’ve lost a lot of wealth and some of the current upsurge in spending is pent up demand for goods & services which we can put off only for so long.

A Study of the Influence of Sex on Genome Wide Methylation. Digesting.

Did world religions help bring about complex societies? I lean toward Peter Turchin’s thesis that world religions were essential in generating “meta-ethnic” identities. In other words, perhaps not complex societies per se, but civilizations which span localities.

Have the hunting habits of leopards shaped primate evolution. When we were prey….

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Daily Data Dump, Links 
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Dave Weigel is up & running at The Washington Post, covering conservative politics.

Archaeologists Uncover Land Before Wheel; Site Untouched for 6,000 Years. Of course the New World civilizations ~1492 were also pre-wheel.

Realty Check: ‘Extreme Makeover’ Downsizes Its Dream Homes. Mo money = mo problems (remember, home equal = $).

The Science of Kissing COVER! Sheril has a cover. Nice.

Today’s Social Liberal Is Tomorrow’s Social Conservative. Looking at the GSS I’ve found that conservatives of all ages tend to agree when it comes to issues like homosexuality, while liberals exhibit a split between old & young. Don’t know whether this is transitory, or a general feature of social change in the United States.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Links 
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In light of the previous post, Climate and civilization follow-up, I have to post a link to this article, Inner-city smarts honed in Rockies.

(Republished from GNXP.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Links 
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This page has a bunch of language maps and phylogenies. Nothing you couldn’t find in Wikipedia, but, all in one spot.

(Republished from GNXP.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Links 
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RPM has a long post about the importance of lab courses (in response to a philosopher with some background in physics who suggests doing away with undergraduate lab courses) and Aziz points out that the father of magnetic resonance imaging has died.

Update: From the author of the original post (in the comments):

Actually, I don’t advocate doing away with undergraduate labs. Undergraduate labs, done well, can be valuable and are essential in training undergraduate majors in the sciences. What I argue is that the attitude prevailing at many institutions that every or most theory classes needs a corresponding lab keeps science departments from being able to teach classes that would be of great value to students, especially non-majors.

Update II: Also, I’d be remiss in not pointing to RPM’s excellent intro post to Neutral Theory (check out the graphs!).

(Republished from GNXP.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Links 
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Razib Khan
About Razib Khan

"I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com"