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February 22, 2003
Goin' to India and I'm gonna get maaaarried
The Sunday Post Magazine has an article about arranged marriages for American South Asians. For the non-South Asians at Gene Expression (there are must be at least 2 or 3 of us) it will be educational. My thoughts:
1. Says a meddling aunt "Character is something we can see a little better than youngsters do". I don't know if this justifies arranged marriages, but you must admit that most young people can be overly taken with superficial characteristics (beauty, charm) that mean little in the long run.
2. "Traditional Indians don't expect a partner to be that improbable combination of soul mate/confidante/red-hot lover/best friend." I'm starting to believe that the concept of a soul mate was a ploy designed to enrich divorce lawyers and self-help book authors. Seriously, finding your "soul mate" is like winning the lottery: It will be great if it happens, but don't plan your retirement expecting a check from Ed MacMahon.
3. Vibha discusses frustration with trying to meet quality men in bars and clubs. That there is no general social structure to ease people into serious courtship and marriage is a serious social problem. The Internet might mitigate this problem somewhat, but this issue must be addressed. It's appalling that an American woman would have to agree to an arranged marriage to get help from older, more experienced adults in meeting marriage-minded men.
4. This seems to be a happy ending for Vibha, but forgive me if I am a bit cynical about declarations of bliss from honeymooning newly weds. I wish them all the best, but I'll believe it when they are still happy together in ten years.
Nonetheless, I shall leave it to the brown folks to comment more.
Sex ratio at birth by country
Check out this page that clumps countries according to the ratio of male:female births.
Japan has a ratio of 1.05, China 1.15, which seems to be the East Asian spread. The Japanese prefer girls and unlike other East Asians seem to have successfully discouraged gender selective abortions.
The South Asian nations have sex ratios of 1.05/1.06, the same as the United States, despite the stereotype that sons are preferred. Why could this be? It might be that sex selective abortion is not accessible to most of the population because of monetary concerns. Additionally, South Asians may be more prone to carry more girls to term compared to East Asians , so sex selective abortions do not skew the ratio as much (I assume Japan at 1.05 is close to the natural rate of many East Asian populations, perhaps even shifted toward girls a bit because of couples that manage to find out gender in a country where 75% perfer girls) .
Finally, take a look at the countries with the most balanced sex ratios. Very interesting, do you see any pattern?
 There are many possibilites, more male fetuses might be spontaneously aborted, or, there might be more genetic males who did not develop the sex characteristics and so are recorded as female. Please note that abortion is illegal in Pakistan and Bangladesh, but legal in India. Nevertheless, the three countries have about the same sex ratio....
Know thine enemy....
Just read Native American scholar Vine Deloria's Evolution, Creationism and other Modern Myths. This is what I read on the jacket: "Deloria takes Western science and religion to task...." The knives were already sparking on the stone before the first page was cracked, but I was surprised by the book, I have many criticisms to make, but it was thought-provoking. I'll put up a longer review later in the week, but here is one problem I have, Deloria attacks modern evolutionary theory, "Darwinism," and tends to look to Behe & Dembski's Intelligent Design movement for help. One thing I noticed, and confirmed, the scientists used to caricature "Darwinists" are kind of weird (Deloria even admits it at one point). Here are the number of references to evolutionary theorists according to the index:
Stephen Jay Gould, 16
Vine Deloria makes paleontology & SJ Gould's ideas look a bit like mumbo jumbo. Well, that's fine, but let us be honest, after the First Book of Dinosaurs phase in your life, if you want to pursue evolutionary theory on the collegiate level, you move past butterfly collection and familiarize yourself with the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis. 'nuf said. Dr. Deloria does a good job showing that butterfly collection is a house of cards. Retitle the book, Butterfly Collection, Creationism and other Modern Myths.
February 21, 2003
Critique of IQ & Wealth of Nations
Nigerian diplomat killed over scam
Nigerian diplomat was shot by someone who was scammed. Now, this is definately some incentive for the Nigerian government to crack down on this. The reason I post on this is that in the past 3 days I've been swamped at ALL my various e-mail addresses (@ different domains) with requests for money, which is strange, as I normally receieved 1 request a month....
Also, check out this article on the Nature vs. Nurture issue in Wired.
February 20, 2003
Mixing it up-again
Follow-up dialogue on Joan Walsh's piece on interracial relation(ships). The black woman who wrote the article about her son needing to marry black responds. Joan then breaks-down her double-standards, while Edwards just hurls back a reality check. I sympathize with the plight of both women. In the end, Edwards is a realist-there is a large surplus of eligible single black women. Walsh might want the world to adhere to her idealistic beliefs about racial harmony, but race matters, race exists, and for black Americans who live under the continued shadow of racial hostility, platitudes about our Kumbaya future have less appeal than to someone like Joan Walsh....
Personally, I believe that "race-mixing" will be practiced by certain slices of the human race often jet-setting & transnational, united by abstractions, intellectualism and international capitalism, while the vast middle classes of decent folk will be rooted in faith, family and folk as they always have been....
Update: I guess I need to clarify, when I used the term "decent folk," I didn't mean to imply that I thought "race-mixing" (you can use whatever term) was a bad or good thing, but that the bulk of any given racial or ethnic group will want to "marry their own." You can see this among Jews (an ethnic-religious group) and blacks (a racial group) or even evangelical Christians (see singles adds that specify that the person is looking for a fellow "Christian" [this generally means evangelical, though obviously Catholics and mainliners are Christian too]).
The upper castes, that prioritize high-powered careers and status often mix based more on money, education & material well-being. The race and religion of the partner (and very importantly, devotional religion is less powerful among the upper castes in most cultures) are less important relative to particulars of personal history-college, career and political values. The underclass that does not have a stake in the community on the other hand are tied together often by less savory civil institutions and life experiences.
Can someone find a survey on attitudes toward interracial marriage, etc. broken down by education? I couldn't find any googling....
Brown & out
February 19, 2003
Dirty needles cause AIDS in Africa?
Dirty needles 'spread Africa Aids' blares the headline. I hope this isn't the public health version of 'Cold Fusion.' If true, it would make the epidemic far more soluble in my judgement, rather than complex cultural tendencies and grinding poverty, the problem could be rectified by targeting public health budgets. But I am skeptical, unfortunately.
1) How did Uganda control its epidemic with condoms and education if needles are spreading the disease?
2) Why are prosperous regions like Botswana, South Africa and until recently Zimbabwe (once prosperous before the blossoming of kleptocracy) the new heart of the epidemic (you can't be telling me that chaotic western Africa has better public health services!).
3) Why does circumcision seem to prevent the spread of AIDS? (this is a contested claim, but I am pretty convinced by the fact that uncircumcised Zulus have far higher rates that circumcised Xhosas in South Africa).
Granted, the new research does not claim all the spread is due to needles, but 60% is non-trivial. I'm all for overturning conventional wisdom, but one study does not a paradigm shift make....
Pop vs. Soda
This map might interest those curious about American English dialects and cultural zones....
Paleoanthropology in the outback
Mungo Man has been re-dated. 42,000 years B.P. instead of 62,000-that matters a bit....
February 18, 2003
La Griffe is back
How to Optimize Productivity with a Multiracial Workforce: The Theory of Differential Cutoff . Very un-PC, but I think worth the read to make us consider the implications of utilitarianism-I can see that it might be plausible to fashion a Rawlsian justification for DCT if "productivity" can be shown to be beneficial to the least among us. Consider a profession like medicine where the numbers are small [perceived injustice on the individual scale is not widespread] and the upside of maximized "productivity" accrues to everyone.
Jason Soon scores a hit
Check out this post over @ Jason's main blog. Pretty funny.
Environment & Genes & IQ
Here is an 2 year old article titled "Heritability Estimates vs. Large Environmental Effects: The IQ Paradox Resolved". I find the title a little bit peculiar, as the article brings up possibilities and avenues of investigation to resolve the paradox (read the article and it seems clear they are concerned with the race discrepancy in IQs rather than the straightforward question of gene-environment feeback loops) , but doesn't seem to indicate a clear resolution....
Reminds me of Godless' post titled "Modern Day Epicyclists". Yes, Flynn might be right, Jensen himself has stated unlike most of his detractors Flynn is a serious thinker who gives him a fair shake, but what seems like the most parsimonious explanation to you? Good people will disagree me thinks....
Science fiction/fantasy relating to paleoanthropology & the transition to modern humanity
Discussion on intelligence
Over @ Matthew Yglesias' blog they are talking about IQ & the new brain scan results. I'm going to be a bit busy with a coding project, so I invite (on Matthew's behalf) all the heathens at Gene Expression to jump into the fray and enlighten those baptised by the True Faith of NoGeneralIntelligenseism....
(thanks to Charlie Murtaugh for mentioning GNXP so that I saw this commentary in my logs-normally I don't venture into those corners of the blogosphere where Yglesias & Co. reside)
Sanitizing the Gene Pool
Eugenics. Such a naughty word. But read this article on Jews targeting 10 diseases that afflict them proactively, and you see its shadows at the edges (thanks to Steve Sailer for the link). But, this is all voluntary and decentralized. Good stuff from what I can see.
But the line between Tay Sachs and other diseases that cripple, but don't kill, is a fine one. Groups that are part of the disability rights movement like Not Dead Yet should keep a close eye on these trends toward purging the gene pool of predispositions towards crippling ailments that lead to the "alternative quality of life" championed as having equal value by them. Many of the more crippled memebers of Not Dead Yet obviously can't have children, and are in no position to adopt-they in fact depend on deleterious genes to sustain their subculture. More benign ailments like deafness might be able to cling on in the Promethean Age because they can procreate and economically self-support themselves .
Of course, those worried that excising what to our ignorant human minds seem to be deleterious genes might rid the human race of crucial parts of our inheritance, god or nature given, need not worry. Traditionalist religious groups such as Catholics will almost certainly remain a reservoir of genetic diversity in a world of cheap & easy genetic testing and screening....
 Ah, could we dream of new races born afresh from the mind of man? WASP women that can cook spicey food, JAPs that break out of their Quantum-enforced self-absorption, Chinese that are picky eaters (will eat snake tongue, but not the fried skin) and blacks that are proud nerds who speak softly in the hallways? I have a dream, of boys & girls of all colors who can manipulate the content of their character like they do their parents' emotions....
The many-headed hydra
Brother Poe chides those of us who become a bit too seduced by the serpent. Richard's problem is that evolutionary conservatives-ergo Steve Sailer-have become a bit too enamoured of biology, nature and "instinct" and neglect other factors that shape human events. Biology is not always destiny. And yet, neither is culture. To prove that, note that Poe disagrees with Sailer, but both are men of half-Jewish extraction (biology) of Catholic faith (culture).
I know that here at Gene Expression we focus on, well, genes. But the main reason we do this is that others do not, social & cultural explanations rule the roost (among both liberals and cultural conservatives). Additionally, evolutionary psychologists study human universals, while ignoring possible group & individual differences . But that doesn't mean that I ignore culture and history, a quick perusal of the content here will show that I am very cognizant of non-biological forces that are determinants of the human condition.
Richard in particular seems to object to Steve's contrast of the family patterns in west Africa with Scandinavia, and the different products that have resulted from the same reagents . Reading Steve's original article, I had some of the same thoughts as Richard. Some of the ancient pre-Christian European peoples had strong fosterage traditions, as Richard notes, the Celts for instance. The Romans themselves had peculiar familial institutions where adoption was given great weight. But just because the two groups practice/practiced fosterage does not mean the anology holds (to my knowledge, I recall that many tribal peoples practiced fosterage to strengthen ties between families and tribes, while Steve indicates that west African fosterage is more of a practical way to discard the children of a dead father).
I began to think of these topics a few weeks ago when considering that west Africa is often considered matrifocal in orientation. And yet the men live basically polygamous lives. Parts of southern India (among the Nairs of Kerala) also exhibit matrifocal tendencies, but it seems that there are important differences. In Kerala there was a matrilineal tradition that focused on the relationship between maternal uncles and their nieces and nephews, as well as the primacy of the female lineage . To my knowledge Nairs and their kin do not practice anything close to the family structure that characterizes west Africa (weak relationships between parents, primacy of females in farm work, etc.), and yet both can be characterized as "matrifocal." Similarly, yes, the Celts practiced fosterage, but they did not tend toward the commonplace loosely structured polygany that characterises modern west Africa (the pre-Christian Indo-European tribes did practice polygany to a limited extent among high status males, similar to the depictions found in Indo-Aryan oral tradition, but never to the extent that seems the norm in African and Semitic lore).
That being said, time will tell if Richard is correct, if Scandinavia will succumb to the "underclass disease." It is good to look at the same problem from every angle-it hints that solutions may be possible if not obvious....
Brother Poe strikes again! Response pending completion of my day job....
 The exception to this is gender, which is one reason that Gene Expression does not focus so much attention on a topic that is often covered in Time and Newsweek.
 Scandinavia + welfare = nanny state, black America + welfare = heart of darkness (both groups are characterized by high rates out-of-wedlock births, but the former situation is noted for cohabitation and male involvement in progeny according to Fukuyama's Great Disruption).
 For comparison, note that northern India and the Middle East both share intense patriarchal traditions and are highly patrilineal. Women are commodities, suttee is a north Indian sin, while honor killings are most prevelant in the Middle East. And yet the Indo-Aryan cultures of northern India enforce intra-village exogamy and male monogamy, while those of the Middle East and Muslim influenced northern India favor familial endogamy (cousin marriages) and polygamy (a sign of high status).
February 17, 2003
Liberalism & Terrorism
Randall Parker on the liberal national question.
There is a reasonably good article in Time magazine on Child prodigies (Update from Razib: another intelligence related article). My only complaint is that it lumps together intellectual/academic prodigies, chess prodigies, musical prodigies, sports prodigies and 'creative' children. I'd suspect the first three groups probably do have a lot in common physiologically and psychologically (take for instance Bobby Fischer's reputed 180 IQ). It does cite some interesting research on commonalities which presumably apply most to the first three groups:
On one of the threads we've been talking about Jews and their contributions to science. I decided to check out the 40 finalists for the Intel Science Competition. Among these budding geeks, I counted 6 clear Jewish names-with another possible 3 or 4. On the order of 10-20% Jewish. I also counted 6 Indians, with 3 that are South Indian, likely Tamil. 11 East Asians-mostly Chinese, though one of the surnames (Kim) is obviously Korean (4 with the surname "Li," the nerd version of Jones or Smith?). I also noted 2 "Muslim" seeming names. One seems Iranian, and the first name being "Raphael" indicates either a very assimilated family, or a Bahai or Zoroastrian one (Raphael Farzan-Kashani). The other name looks Arab to me, though I'm not an expert I am pretty sure he isn't a South Asian Muslim as the combination of first and last name just isn't too common (Tahir Ahmed) . A large portion of the "non-ethnic" white finalists have names that can almost certainly be traced to the last pre-World War I immigration wave.
Perhaps this is what MIT is looking for when it means diversity? Uhh...never mind.
PS-I hope no one is taking this as a cue to assume I think WASPs are "inferior" (some of my best friends are WASPs)-just pointing out there is plenty of diversity in the sciences, just not the right kind...also, check out the finalists for the National Geography Bee, much more ethnically balanced, only 4 Asians (3 East Asians, and what looks to me like a Muslim Bengali).
 Assume Jews are 3% of the population (though a smaller portion of the youth segment), and Asians + Muslims (overlapped, but not identical) are about 7% of the population (probably about right if age group is taken into account). With 6+11+6 (I'm discounting the possible Jewish names, only the totally certain ones), that's nearly 60% of the finalists coming from 10% of the population. In the interests of equity and fairness, we should perhaps look into doing something about this injustice so that other boys and girls who don't have the same opportunities, with names like Smith, Jones and Johnson, black & white, can also have a chance to reach for geek glory....
February 16, 2003
New news about old news + Sailer Sunday
Sometime in the past 100,000 years man became man-the modern panoply of traits that we associate with "culture" seem to have developed. This article posits a possible genetic reason for man's cultural explosion (nothing new if you've followed the travails of the fox2p gene):
Please note that some anthropologists dispute the simplistic Out-of-Africa thesis (one expansion from one population that scattered across non-Africa), and Dr. Henry Harpending brings a up very interesting point: the technology associated with "modern humans" in their expansion out of Africa into Eurasia ("mode 4") is not found amongst the first settlers of Australia, and we know Australians have languages that no doubt fit the Chomskyian paradigm (a linguist can correct me here).
Also, on a slightly different tack on the "Out of Africa" question, check out Steve Sailer's column up over at VDARE that starts off with Randall Kennedy's new book Interracial Intimacies. OK, more than slightly different....
More red meat
Article on intelligence & IQ over at Science, here is the text below: