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August 14, 2004



Outbreeding and beauty

Zero sum world, my post about HLA locii and biracial children resulted in many comments. A lot of them have to do with beauty, which is often a gestalt assessment that is difficult to reduce. Scientists have come up with many vectors that sum into a general ascertainment of the hotness of any given individual, symmetry, paedomorphism and exaggerated secondary sexual characteristics are just a few of the primary variables. Here is a quote from Survival of the Prettiest:


If it seems improbable that an attractive face would be one that would blend into a crowd, think about the average model-not a supermodel, but the person who advertiseses products in the daily papers...Similarly, beauty pageant winners often appear generic looking-extremely attractive but not distinctive. The face seems familiar, a better-looking, less irregular version of other faces we have seen...An innate preference for the average may be a way that evolution ensures that human faces rather than other similar-appearing things grab attention....

...Some distinctive faces are beautiful. The features of supermodels aren't the norm anywhere but on the runway or the movie screen. Naomi Campbell's and Christy Turlington's lips do not fit population means...As we might suspect, average faces do not score off-the-scale beauties...Average faces are attractive, but they are usually not the most beautiful.


For brevity, I'm not going to quote everything, you can look up the text yourself with Amazon's search feature. The gist is that the author is contrasting two types of beauty: the conventional "girl next door" cuteness/attractiveness, and the "sex-bomb" supermodel/super-secondary-sexual-characteristic-woman. The latter type is often tall, large-breasted, with extremely childish features and a curvy figure. The author terms these women "genetic freaks," and they basically inundate the male sexual image processing centers (the fact that they are airbrushed and done up perfectly helps).

How does this relate to my previous post? Well, it doesn't relate directly. As godless noted, mixing two populations ought to increase variance assuming additivity on traits. Additionally, with many different alleles on various locii you will see novel combinations of phenotypes expressed (more "distinctive" looks). But, to some extent, the mean of a mixed population will usually fall between the means of the parent populations (prior assumptions held).

So what is our stereotype of a "supermodel?" Generally, tall, large-breasted, thin and curvy. As racial justice activists always complain, they also are almost always white (with a minority of nonwhites like Tyra Banks who are also tall and large-breasted). I have read that models in Asia are often mixed-race, or European imports. Why is this? I recall some assertions that Europeans have "better figures" (from Asians of course). What does this mean? There is a lot of subjectivity in terms like "better," but, I think many would agree on the following points:


  • European (origin) women are taller.
  • European women have larger breasts than Asian women correcting for size.
  • Europeans tend to exhibit more "sexual dimorphism" between the sexes, that is, European women are often "curvier."

Now, I haven't done deep research on these topics, they have been gleaned from past readings (I read an anthropology text that placed "Mongoloids" as the least sexually dimorphic and "Caucasoids" as the most sexually dimorphic when I was in elementary school) or anecdotes from friends ("Rice Kings" always talk about how "thin" and "narrow hipped" their girlfriends are). But, assuming the validity of these assertions, one might suppose that if supermodels have to be tall, curvy "genetic freaks," there will be more white supermodels proportionally than Asian supermodels. If Eurasian women on average lay equidistant in height and curviness in comparison to Asian and European women, there will be fewer Eurasian supermodels (though if dominance and heterosis are a factor this might not be true).

But...what about the other type of attractiveness? The idea that Eurasians (or mixed-race children in general) are beautiful is common in some segments of society (I recall a Brazilian saying that you have a "white woman as a wife and a morena as a mistress," morena being a term for someone of ~1/4 African heritage). But, this has always not been so, especially in the 19th and early 20th century, when mixed-race individuals were denigrated as defective freaks. Some today would still make this assertion, so I won't assume this to be true. On the other hand, if mixed-race individuals tend to display more "developmental stability" and express fewer deleterious recessives, their features might be "more average" than those of their parents. If mixed-race people are "more attractive," it might be the "generic beauty" affect (elaboration: if symmetry is a cue toward "health," and mixed-race individuals are healthier because deleterious alleles are more likely to be masked by a "good copy" of a given gene, then they might be more symmetrical).

Addendum: My conjecture that mixed-race individuals might produce less who are "supermodel" worthy is premised on an idea of what a supermodel looks like obviously. If you assert that blondes are the best looking, obviously a mixed white/non-white population would have a lower frequency of the best looking people. I would like to ask readers if they have any recent literature citations of Europeans (or Caucasoids in general) being more "sexually dimorphic."

Addendum II: On second thought, I recall that Northeast Africa is a potentional future "supermodel" hotspot, as many of these populations tend to be thin and tall.

Posted by razib at 05:24 PM | | TrackBack


Nordic Ammunition

As most right-leaning Americans know, Sweden is the nanny state to end all nanny states. Not surprisingly, Liberals take a different view, preferring to see in Sweden an example to be followed.

Now, somewhat surprisingly, this state of affairs opens up opportunities for enterprising right-wingers to score a few easy political points.

This is because Sweden has in several areas taken pro-market measures that are today considered ‘controversial' in the US. By simply pointing out that “even Sweden” has adopted the measure, a lot of the ideological tension surrounding it is likely to be dispelled.

Examples of Sweden leading the US in liberalization:

Pension Reform: A partially funded system using personal savings accounts invested according to personal preference is now in place. (This is what Democrats refer to as “Privatizing Social Security”)

Deregulated Electricity Market: No price controls, open trading-based market, etc. While I believe electricity is one of the areas where privatization brings the smallest benefits, it’s certainly worth bringing up when someone tries bashing you with the Californian energy crisis. No rolling blackouts here so far, at least.

Deregulated Railways: As above. Railroad deregulation is usually a messy business, as railroads today exist largely because of generous subsidies. Privatization can thus become a way for the government to push the ‘red-headed stepchild of transportation’ into the lap of the private sector. Still, this example can serve as a useful tool when making the case for getting rid of Amtrak.

School Choice: Privately run schools are eligible for funding on roughly the same terms as state-run schools, given that they are open to all. This includes religious schools. While funding is still largely governmental, the resulting competition has in my view been a big boon to the Swedish school system. Sweden even ran a fully implemented school voucher system, but it was deemed too radical and shut down when the Social Democrats retook power in 1994. Most of the liberalized system remains in place, however.


A few references:

Railroad deregulation
Pension reform
Electricity deregulation
School choice

Posted by dobeln at 04:40 PM | | TrackBack


The passion for ideas

"You can't generalize." How many times have you heard that? And yet, interesting how saying this broadly, without qualification, that "you can't generalize," is in and of itself a generalization! This kind of internal self-refutation abounds. For example:


  • One of the general assumptions of much of "Post Modern" thinking is that viewpoint is paramount, that "objective" "knowledge" is an illusion, that you can't really ever be definitive. Of course, this assertion is in and of itself magically immune to this general truism for the proponents of this paradigm. An outsider might ask whether or not the assertion itself might be a subjective "truth" that might not hold universally across time & space? Certainly this seems to open up a clean wedge in favor of some sort of operational objectivity.
  • The logical positivists, who still color much of the thinking of scientists though their philosophical system has long gone into decline often held to the "verification principle," that for a sentence to have meaning it must be empirically verifiable (read scientifically: for a hypothesis to have meaning it must be testable). But how exactly do you verify the verification principle?
  • A common argument for the existence of God asserts that God is the "Uncaused cause." The term "uncaused cause" is rather bizarre, and no doubt wrapped up in a transcendent truth (to god-believers), but the problem is that one is solving the conundrum of causational regression by violating the assumption itself (all effects need a cause). Certainly a divine mystery of logic if ever there was one....

My point is not to throw cold water on all these assertions and drown them in their own internal inconsistency. There is something to the idea that one should qualify and not overgeneralize in all circumstances. Subjective viewpoint is one reason that scientists demand reproducibility. Sentences often are very fertile when one can examine their meaning in the light of evidence "out there" as opposed to the inner world of cognition. As for God, well, the idea obviously appeals to the common-sense intuition of many people. My overall point is that one can have too much of a good thing, and taking a common sense assertion narrowly and judiciously applied and using it as the brick upon which your inverted pyramid of a paradigm rests is intellectually seductive, but in the finality futile. All these "systems" tend to come crashing down because human logical systems always seem to beg questions and assert unprovable axioms (pity Russell & Whitehead for toiling on Principia Mathematica before Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem). In the realm of practical reality people know how to apply these general guidelines in their own lives, scientists understand the importance of verification (or falsification), scholars the dangers of overgeneralization, religious people the importance of some element of reason to give firmness to their faith and everyone the reality of subjectivity. But when these tools, these means toward a fully-fleshed out mental universe become the ends, "idols" so to speak, they birth monsters of the mind. We should be wary of the beasts that come out of the dark depths of our logical mind, because in many ways we are but fish at the bottom of the pond philosophizing about the reflections of flotsom careening above us. The tools listed above are the midwives that aid in the birthing of ideas and handmaids in their maturation, they should never occupy the full expanse of our mindspace.

Posted by razib at 04:03 PM | | TrackBack


The tools on hand

Had dinner with a friend yesterday. We talked a little bit about the McGreevy fiasco, and noted that it seemed that the good old governor was now wrapping himself in the flag of being a "gay American." The fact is, the guy was a hypocrite, a creep and a liar. It makes sense that such an amoral egoist would now try and align himself (or leverage) a political movement and play the "victim card."

I bring this up because this sort of behavior can be generalized: any political movement or organization designed to expand freedom(s) or redress injustice for any given group is at a certain point hijacked by the self-interested and selfish subset within that group. Moving past the McGreevy case, it seems that many modern day feminists, groups like the NAACP and even more egregiously the SPLC exist to extract funds in the service of the individuals who head them. All Chinese dynasties went through a cycle, as do, unfortunately, many republics, as the public spirit declines in the face of ennui and decadence, and the same can be seen in political "movements." At some point the quest for justice becames the quest for righteousness, and that righteousness can quickly tanslate into money, status and the capacity for intellectual terrorism. The examples are myriad, from Michael Jackson's claim that he was persecuted because he was "black," to a girl I knew in college who quietly threatened the possibility of sexual harrasment or sex discrimination unless her A in physical chemistry was upgraded to an A+, the quest for universal equality and justice seems to drown in the squalor of petty concerns and narrow interests.

Posted by razib at 09:54 AM | | TrackBack


IQ and the Teaching of Music

New article in Psychological Science on how to raise your kid's IQ:

The idea that music makes you smarter has received considerable attention from scholars and the media. The present report is the first to test this hypothesis directly with random assignment of a large sample of children (N=144) to two different types of music lessons (keyboard or voice) or to control groups that received drama lessons or no lessons. IQ was measured before and after the lessons. Compared with children in the control groups, children in the music groups exhibited greater increases in full-scale IQ. The effect was relatively small, but it generalized across IQ subtests, index scores, and a standardized measure of academic achievement.

I found a few things fishy with the article; number one: being oblivious to individual differences. Schellenberg is concerned so much about main (mean) effects that he totally bypasses looking at the variances. 1 There were other things (quite major) I found wrong, but won't go into them here. 2

A lot of time and $ could be saved if Education and Psychology realized the convergence of research on raising IQ (excluding biochemical studies) --most of it in spite of the researcher(s) design/expectations/hopes--shows:

1. "IQ" and its derivatives, or, more accurately, their scores, can be raised if the treatment is intensive, continual, multisystemic (i.e., at home, school, after-school), and occurs early in the children's lives. BUT, this effect doesn't last much beyond when the treatment ends, and eventually the treatment and control groups grow rather indistinguishable. (assuming they were randomly selected) 3

2. No matter how effective the treatment is, it will not entirely get rid of individual differences. In fact, the better the intervention, the more genetic differences can express themselves, as the variance due to environmental effects will diminish.

3 (and most important): Whatever treatments are found to be effective, are not uniformly effective: There are individual differences in how people will respond to treatments. Thus, it is not enough to just look at changes in means, you have to examine the change in variances as well.


1. This is not uncommon in psychology, and represents the (unfortunate) bifurcation in science-oriented psychological inquiry that has been around since Wundt and Galton: Main Effects vs. Individual Differences.

2. I submitted a commentary to PS, so we'll see if it shows up in print before too long.

3. One of my favorite articles that showed this was:
Kreisman, M. B. (2003). Evaluating academic outcomes of Head Start: An application of general growth mixture modeling. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 18, 238-254.
I don't have online access to this, otherwise I would provide a link. If you have university access though, I suggest reading it. It is short and, even if you don't understand the stat. methods, you can get all you need from the graphs. The article's main point: There are three types of growth trajectories: (a) "Normal", (b) Delayed, and (c) Deficit, and this was the same for both treatment (Head Start) and No treatment groups.

Posted by A. Beaujean at 04:51 AM | | TrackBack

August 11, 2004



Behavior Genetic Engineering

via news@nature.com: A new PNAS paper describes a successful attempt to engineer behavior with gene therapy in primates. (GNXP mirrored full PDF). The temporary effect:

Like many humans, monkeys tend to slack off when their goal is distant, then work harder as a deadline looms. But when a key gene is turned off, the primates work hard from the word go, researchers report in PNAS Online1.

"The gene knockdown triggered a remarkable transformation in the simian work ethic," says Barry Richmond of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, who studied the animals.

With the gene turned off, the monkeys were unable to anticipate how many trials were left before the reward was given. They stopped procrastinating and worked hard throughout the task, making consistently fewer errors at every stage. The monkeys became extreme workaholics ... This was conspicuously out-of-character for these animals.

Beyond the cool factor, this technique could be applied widely to associate genes with cognitive functions.

Godless comments:

First, I think this paper should have gone to Science/Nature/Cell. It's that good. Some of the more interesting aspects:

  1. Their use of antisense DNA (not RNAi) means that this method is generalizable - any neural genes whose expression you wish to reduce can be potentially affected even if all you have is the base pair sequence. While this has been worked on for some time (as far back as 1998), this is probably the most spectacular example to date. (I'm open to corrections from someone more familiar with the neuropharmacology literature.)

    What's so cool about this? Well, classical pharmacological techniques rely on the difficult, time consuming, and imprecise approach of finding compounds that will bind to a desired gene product (often by trying out chemical analogs of known interacting proteins). This requires lots of experiments; though guys like Stuart Schreiber at Harvard are working on high-throughput screening methods for chemical genomics, rapidly finding specific and consistent small molecular agonists of particular gene products is still an open problem.

    Antisense-based pharmacology is a major advance as it throws open the doors to immediate, precise, "digital" gene knockdown. All you need is the base-pair sequence of the gene to get a potentially surgical, targeted antigene agent.

  2. This may have implications for the momentum towards more use of RNAi and antisense based drugs - something I've heard about but haven't done much reading on. But see here.
  3. On a less technical note, it's clear that this sort of thing could be done with humans. The obstacles to studying human cognition in this fashion are ethical - not technical.

Here's the full PDF, from lead author Zheng Liu. Most interesting clips:

When schedules of several operant trials must be successfully completed to obtain a reward, monkeys quickly learn to adjust their behavioral performance by using visual cues that signal how many trials have been completed and how many remain in the current schedule. Bilateral rhinal (perirhinal and entorhinal) cortex ablations irreversibly prevent this learning. Here, we apply a recombinant DNA technique to investigate the role of dopamine D2 receptor in rhinal cortex for this type of learning...

These results suggest that the D2 receptor in primate rhinal cortex is essential for learning to relate the visual cues to the schedules. The specificity of the receptor manipulation reported here suggests that this approach could be generalized in this or other brain pathways to relate molecular mechanisms to cognitive functions...

Monkeys, as do humans, quickly learn to use visual cues to adjust their behavior based on how much work has been completed and how much remains (the relative workload) before reaching a goal or obtaining a reward (1–4). Because of its strong inputs from the ventral visual pathway and projections to the hippocampal formation (5–13), the rhinal (perirhinal and entorhinal) cortex has been heavily investigated for its role in visual recognition memory (14) and acquisition of stimulus–stimulus associations (15–18). In addition, we became interested in its role in reward-related learning because of its dense innervation by dopamine-rich fibers (19–22), which presumably arise in the substantia nigra pars compactaventral tegmental area complex (23). Using a behavioral task, visually cued reward schedules, in which the monkeys are required to perform multiple operant trials to obtain a reward at the end of a schedule, we previously demonstrated that bilateral rhinal cortex ablations prevent monkeys from learning to use visual cues to make the behavioral adjustments in the schedule task (2) and that responses of single neurons in monkey perirhinal cortex reflect a visual cue’s relation to the progress through a schedule, i.e., relative workload (3). These latter two studies led us to conclude that monkey rhinal cortex has a critical role in establishing the associations between visual cues and this form of reward contingency...

After regaining the ability to use the cues, the behavior was stable; the relationships between theaverage error rates and schedule states were the same from the first to the third week after cues were learned...Thus, although the effect of this treatment lasts for several weeks, it is nonetheless temporary. This finding, that the ability to learn new cues recovered after treatment and proceeded at the same rate as before DNA treatment, strongly suggests that the D2 receptor targeted DNA treatment had a time-limited, reversible effect on cognitive behavior.

We have shown that direct injection of a DNA construct interfering with the function of the D2 receptor in the rhinal cortex temporarily leads to a complete inability to learn associations between visual cues and the workload remaining before reward. Thus, it appears that dopamine D2-mediated mechanisms underlie the functional role that monkey rhinal cortex plays in learning this type of association. Future studies can determine whether other types of cognitive behavior dependent on the rhinal cortex likewise depend on D2-mediated mechanisms and also clarify the precise molecular mechanism(s) by which DNA constructs interfere with behavior and receptor ligand binding. Our findings offer a strong incentive for pursuing this recombinant DNA approach as a means to interrogate and modulate the roles of specific components of the molecular pathways underlying behavior.

There are of course also possibilities for agricultural engineering: stud bulls who never get tired, horses who run till their last breath, greyhounds who "run through the line" rather than slowing down as the finish approaches.

Update:

Also see Randall Parker's comments.

Posted by rikurzhen at 01:22 PM | | TrackBack


We can clone Fluffy but not Grandma?

News today of the UK giving the go ahead on therapeutic human cloning. Another success in the slow gradual attempt to get full cloning technology (both therapeutic and reproductive) operating in Western countries.

Here's another success story. Now you never have to give up Fluffy (or in my case Tigger)

Posted by scottm at 12:32 PM | | TrackBack


HBD does Sweden

In an interesting turn of events, HBD hit the Swedish media last week, with the publication of an Op-Ed column by Maria Abrahamsson in Sweden’s largest right-wing* daily. The column consists of an interview with neurologist Annica Dahlström. Here are a few excerpts in translation:

“Abrahamsson (MA): Is it true that the brains of men and women are built differently?

Dahlström: Yes, the differences have been known to the research community since the 1980s. But this knowledge has been largely ignored, as it has been deemed politically incorrect.”

“Dahlström (AD): Many women, even very “feminine” women, have typically “male” intelligence and behavioral patterns (of which roughly 80 percent are genetically determined), for instance a disposition for abstract mathematics.”

(Read on in the extended entry)

“ AD: The elite feminists, are in my view, the small group of women who are on the very tail of the normal distribution, whose brains are very masculine. They are hungry for power (like men), loud (like men), and are determined to impose their vision on the whole of society. As they are also politically active and aggressive (like men), no one dares to speak up against them.”**

“MA: Finally, a perhaps somewhat odd question, but while studying in Lund, I noticed that the women studying mathematics as a rule had flatter chests compared to those who studied, say, modern languages. Coincidence?
AD: No, I don’t think so. Mathematical talent is associated with certain testosterone exposure during pregnancy. Another effect of this graded masculinization is decreased “fertility”.”


In short, this is pretty hardcore stuff. I wouldn’t have presented the issue of gender differences in this rather brash fashion, being a fan of the Pinkeresque soft-sell.

Still, the reaction to the column has been rather surprising. I’m not talking about the reaction of the feminists - that’s been entirely predictable. Linda Norman Skugge, for instance, in the tabloid “Expressen”, wrote a column mostly dedicated to Maria Abrahamsson’s breasts in response. Ironically, the column demonstrated a certain lack of knowledge regarding mathematics, statistics, correlation-causation, etc.

No, rather it’s the middle-of-the road response that fascinates me. In Sweden’s largest broadsheet, “Dagens Nyheter”***, Jenny Jewert tries to plot a path in-between the “extremes”. This is her worldview on the issue of HBD:

”JJ: There are biological differences between the sexes, and more will be found. In the same fashion, certain small biological differences between different races have been discovered.”


She then goes on to make the case for biology-blind individualistic policy making, goes over the “large variance” boilerplate, etc. Still, I find it absolutely amazing how well triangulation worked in this case. All of a sudden, it is considered “safe” to mention biological racial differences on what is probably the most mainstream and politically correct Op-Ed page in Sweden.

Now, if only Sam Francis could get a regular Op-Ed column in the Wall Street Journal, we’ll have Steve Sailer in the New York Times the week after, plotting a course in between the “Extremes”…


Finally, I want to give out a big Thank You to Godless, Razib and the gang for giving me the opportunity to join the GNXP crew. Ever since I discovered Godless’ original blog through an Instapundit link, I have been stopping by on a regular basis, and it feels great to be able to join what I consider to be the premier ‘Biologistic’ blog on the net. (Ok, it’s not a very competitive field, but it still sounds good, no?)

As I am stationed in Sweden, I will focus on providing a European and Scandinavian angle on current events, HBD and social policy.


Notes:

* The Op-Ed page is right-wing. The rest of the paper is not. Editorial and journalistic independence is generally strong in Swedish newspapers. Read: The journalists are leftists even in the “right-wing” rags.

** If you ever thought US feminism was bad, it was but a breeze compared to Swedish feminism. Remember: We never had a Clinton affair.

*** Largest morning paper in Sweden, slightly right-leaning, but politically correct.

Posted by dobeln at 04:24 AM | | TrackBack

August 09, 2004



The zero sum world

A few posts ago I waxed on about how diverse HLA configurations can result more versatile immune systems. High degrees of polymorphism (multiple alleles extent at non-trivial frequencies within a population) persists across higher primates, and the coalescence points (when various alleles converge upon a common ancestral type) indicate that most of them predate the emergence of humanity. All for the good. But, I realized that there is more to this sunny story than I presented....

As many of you know, cheetahs can accept skin grafts from each other without an adverse immune response as they are genetically very uniform due to bottlenecks in their evolutionary history. Not so with humans, as our immune signatures are variegated as I noted above. But, a "tissue match" is far more likely to be found within one's family, and further outward, within one's own ethnic group. I have brought up this fact many a time, because for ethnic minorities in the United States, and especially small Asian American groups, this might be a matter of life and death in the event of the need for a replacement organ (whites tend to be more conscious of the need to donate organs in the event of a tragedy and so get the appropriate paperwork done).

Keeping this mind, I often mention that mixed-race individuals sometimes have difficulty finding organs, as their immune signatures are often very atypical (ie; alleles that exist at high frequencies in Europeans might not be paired very often with alleles that exist at high frequencies in Asians). About five years ago I even recall that the parents of a child of Thai-European ancestry were trying to find a tissue match in Thailand, where Eurasians of that combination are far more common than in the United States. In the event of a contagion which tends to be lethal for Europeans, a child of Eurasian heritage might be more fit and less likely to be susceptible because of their Asian HLA alleles, while in the reverse situation the European HLA alleles might be advantageous. But this uniqueness is what may cause problems when searching for a tissue match!

This is not an argument against mixed-race children. Rather, in the past decades, social commentators would often assert that mixed-race children would be culturally confused, and often even physically inferior to their "purebred" parents. The circumstances sketched out above indicate how subtle the true ramifications of genetic diversity can be, beyond the more prosaic and straightforward environmental and biology implications (which I believe are either fallacious or overplayed).

Godless gratuitously adds:

If this is the antithesis of purebred, count me in:

From a purely anecdotal/speculative standpoint: while mixed-race kids may lose in cultural confusedness, they seem to gain in physical attractiveness.

Razib adds: Well, beauty is hard to reduce, but I do believe that heterozygotes often display greater "developmental stability" than homozygotes in genetic (rather than heritable) traits. That accounts for the fact that sometimes you see homozygotes display more variation on a trait than heterozygotes. One could posit that mixed-race individuals are the least likely to have deleterious recessive homozygous locii that could impinge on the full expression of their phenotype. Though one might also counter that greater possibility for mother-offspring immune discordance should balance that out developmentally.

Update on hybrid vigor from Razib: "jaime" made an assertion that "hybrid vigor" persists for only one generation. This is the common opinion, and there is some truth to this, and the fact is important in agriculture where you want to maximize hybrid vigor in productive strains. But, all the 'hybrid vigor' does not dissipate in subsequent generations in a randomly mating population. Rather, assume a population, AA, where everyone has gentoype AA, mating in parallel with population aa, where everyone has gentoype aa. All offspring will have genotype Aa, and one might assert that Aa is characterized by hybrid vigor. When generation 2 produces offspring from pairings within its cohort, AA and aa will reappear, ergo, the dimishment of hybrid vigor, but, half the population will still be Aa. In other words, the frequency of homozygosity has decreased with the amalgamation of the sudivided populations (all follows from basic Hardy-Weinberg). Because of the Mendellian grounding of most of genetics (even "continuous traits" emerge out of Mendellian building blocks), this sort of process also refutes the perception that racial mixing will result in a uniform melange, rather, various human traits will be expressed in novel combinations.

See Walhund Effect.

On a related note, I have often heard from people that Israeli women are more physically attractive than Jewish women of the Diaspora. One might chalk this up to the sunny climate and healthy diet, but, perhaps part of it is that the mixing of various Jewish lineages have resulted in a more genetically robust population?

Posted by razib at 11:41 PM | | TrackBack

August 08, 2004



Territorial Rights - a clarification

This is a clarification (I hope!) of my earlier post.

Some commentators interpreted it as proposing to break up existing successful, contented states along ethnic lines, for example (I quote one comment) “to advocate a general principle of smashing up currently functioning states in pursuit of ethnic self-determination”.

Well, I didn’t say that. I advocate self-determination as a principle for resolving disputes about territory. I naively thought this would be clear from my reference to ‘general principles by which disputes over territory can be resolved', but I suppose there’s no harm in emphasising it. If there’s no dispute, there’s no problem. If there is…well, there is, and it won’t go away just by invoking the 'sanctity of borders’, whatever that may be.

However, as a matter for debate, it is difficult to think of any successful, contented, democracy which does contain large, sharply differentiated ethnic groups in different regions of its territory without causing problems of some kind. One way of 'solving’ the problems is to give discontented minorities so many bribes and privileges (e.g. the Scots in Britain, or Quebec in Canada) that it clearly isn’t in their interest to break away. You stuff their mouths with money to keep them quiet. But this is hardly an ideal solution, and it doesn’t even entirely succeed in keeping them quiet!

An alternative is to have a very loose federal state in which different groups have a large measure of autonomy and protection for their cultural identity. A neutral foreign policy may also be necessary, otherwise there would be tension arising from different external sympathies of the different groups. The classic example is Switzerland, but Switzerland is so peculiar for both historical and geographical reasons that it cannot safely be taken as a model for anywhere else.

So I offer this challenge: can anyone think of a successful, contented democracy which does contain large, sharply differentiated ethnic groups in different regions of its territory, without giving some groups unfair preferential treatment over others? Maybe Finland, with its Swedish minority? Any other candidates?

Posted by David B at 07:54 AM | | TrackBack