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Hope the weather is good enough where you are that you’ll enjoy the weekend.

Tories Still Short of a Majority: Hix-Vivyan Prediction up to 26 April. Trendlines + 95% confidence intervals as shading. What’s not to like?

Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 1900 there were 50% fewer Christians than Muslims in Africa. In 1950 there were as many Christians as Muslims in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today there are twice as many Christians as Muslims. Christ was a black man, while Muhammad had white thighs.

Listening to (and Saving) the World’s Languages. I don’t get why there are always “languages of the world are dying” articles popping up regularly in the mainstream and scientific media. I mean there’s a great benefit to having one language unify diverse groups. It’s just like how Europeans gained efficiencies by ditching their local currencies and going with the Euro. Eh, well, perhaps not the best example right now….

What can you learn from a whole genome sequence? Dr. Daniel MacArthur seems to suggest that there isn’t a whole lot more you can learn that you couldn’t learn from a chip with hundreds of thousands of SNPs instead of all 3 billion base pairs. Seems about right. And remember the baseline, many people are highly skeptical of the marginal value of the SNP chips beyond what you’d know from your family history.

Absence of Evidence for MHC–Dependent Mate Selection within HapMap Populations. I’m starting to lean away from thinking that the MHC studies in humans are finding any real robust correlations. The studies are literally all over the place, with reverse signs of statistically significant correlations in some cases.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Daily Data Dump 
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  1. dan says:

    Razib, I always agreed with your viewpoint on the extinction of languages (after I saw a movie a couple of years ago) but then someone on Reddit mentioned that it helps researchers try to figure out how the brain works with respect to grammar and various forms of language. do you think this argument holds water or are the linguists just romanticizing random manifestations of communication like we suspect?

  2. diminishing returns? how many languages do you need?

  3. btw dan, whenever i see your handle, i can’t but help think “ass dan” from the SNL sketches 🙂

  4. oh, and also, i tend to prioritize human short-term flourishing over longer term scholarly finds i guess. especially when the practical applications are unclear. people who are monolingual in an obscure language are at handicap. while maintaining an obscure language as a bilingual imposes all the costs on the bilinguals.

  5. dan says:

    ok, fair enough. i just thought Pinker or somebody might use monkey language or sign language as a helper to discuss universal grammar or the evolution of language but i couldn’t think if anything specific.

    ass dan?? the sketch doesn’t ring a bell…from which era/who’s in it? i’m curious.

    one more random question: what’s the spread on the Jensen/Rushton paper these days? good prognosis? is it basically a fact but needs the “missing heritability” to solidify it?

  6. dan, i stopped following psychometrics years ago, so i can’t offer an informed eval. seems like the data is what it is, and we don’t have much more analytical clarity than we did 10 or 20 years ago. but that’s me being uninformed.

    click the video:

  7. ah! Jason’s face did come to mind even though i hadn’t seen that yet. It sounded like a character he’d do:)

  8. Each language is itself a beautiful work of art. It’s desirable that they not disappear for the same reason that it’s desirable for a classic painting not to be destroyed. However, I agree that individuals shouldn’t have to suffer for the sake of art preservation. I think there’s a happy medium for many languages, since a significant minority of people like their native languages and consider them a consumption good worth spending some time or money on.

    Ideally, everyone in the world would speak one language (in practice, that will be English) and then some other people, based on the choices of their parents and peers, will have one or more additional languages. There would never be an issue of two people not being able to communicate, because they could always make resort to English.

    How much are the costs of bilingualism, really? Anybody can learn two languages if they start young enough. The use of Welsh in Wales is no longer declining, I believe, and might be increasing. The Welsh seem no worse for wear. Perhaps we can achieve the same result with, for example, American Indian languages in the U.S.

  9. I was surprised when Arnold Kling started talking about Robert Mundell recently, I looked him up and found he was famous for writing about optimal currency areas before the Euro was adopted, but Kling only connected him to recent domestic policy.

  10. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    > catholic bavaria is very wealthy
    Minor: B was piss poor til the 50ies (3. col, from red to green=donor), even though much less impacted by WWII. It profited from post-war federal equalization payments spreading the wealth around länderwise, a new feature in German politics–they put it to good use, though. Almost the same goes for equally (mostly) catholic Baden-Württemberg (2. col); from dismal to supersized donor. Else, mixed North Rhine-Westphalia (cath/prot 40/30, Nordrhein-Westfalen, 10. col) has erratic results, dunno why. Tiny Saarland, mostly cath., sucks (off of the others), 45/31 cath/prot Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz) doesn’t do very well whereas elsewhere cath. & prot. Dutch do–about equally, IIRC. So yes, seems inconclusive, but southern cheese wasn’t always big, FWIW.

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