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October 02, 2004



Just so you know

There was a massive server outage for a day, if you wondered why this site was down. They did a 'rollback,' so a few entries were lost. HALOSCAN is a bit messed up because of lack of sync between entries and comments, posters with privs should feel free to clean that up if they want, I have to get on the road for a friend's wedding so I don't have time to fix it to my satisfaction just yet. There seem to be some problems still, and sometimes the site works by the MySQL database has problems, so don't be surprised if you are a poster and you can view the sight but are having problems adding entries.

Posted by razib at 09:53 AM | | TrackBack

September 29, 2004



Japanese Ghosts

Lately, I've been delving into different cultures mythologies (see my earlier post on Icelandic elves) and have become fixated on Japanese ghost stories. Two things I have noticed about these stories is there is a large lower/upper class pathos expressed within them and, in comparison to western ghosts that are just "going through the motions of the life they do not know they have lost", Japanese ghosts are down-right malevolent (with a capital 'M').

These are more 'creatures' than 'apparitions' more like the vampires or werewolves of European mythology. Witness the 'girl with the long dark hair' mythology used in two modern movies; Ringu and The Grudge (warning, if you're not into scary stories do not go to the grudge site, it features a 'game' that is probably the scariest things I have ever seen) In these movies the subtle social commentary about upper/lower classes has been morphed into modern pathos' about; the modern vs. the traditional (ringu) and the parent vs. the child (The grudge)

UPDATE Thrasymachus

I'll recommend tales from Konjaku monogatarishu and Uji shui monogatari for some good Japanese mythology.

I highly recommend the works of Lafcadio Hearn, who collected numerous Japanese Ghost Stories and Fairly Tales around 1900. They are all out of copyright and available online. The Atlantic Monthly recently had a presentation of his old non-fiction articles online as well, though I'm not sure if there is still a link available.

Posted by scottm at 07:08 PM | | TrackBack


Celebrities for Bush!

All those who say that all celebrities are all a bunch of left-wing nutballs, check out this list that I've compiled over the past few months.

Trace Adkins
Kirstie Alley
Stephen Baldwin
Clint Black
Pat Boone
Lara Flynn Boyle
Kix Brooks
Ben Browder
Jerry Bruckheimer
Chris Cagle
Kirk Cameron
Drew Carey
Emma Caulfield
Lionel Chetwynd
Alice Cooper
Kevin Costner
Robert Davi
John Rhys Davies
Bo Derek
Shannon Doherty
Jerry Doyle
Ronnie Dunn
Robert Duvall
Sara Evans
Vincent Gallo
Andy Garcia
Jennifer Garner
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Mel Gibson
Kelsey Grammar
Lee Greenwood
Angie Harmon
Elisabeth Hasselbeck
Patricia Heaton
Charlton Heston
Dennis Hopper
Rachel Hunter
Dwayne Johnson
LL Cool J
Particia Keaton
Toby Keith
Heather Locklear
Reba MacEntire
Steve Marmel
John Milius
Dennis Miller
John Michael Montgomery
Chuck Norris
Ted Nugent
Gary Oldman
Laura Prepon
Jason Priestley
Freddie Prinze, Jr.
Ivan Reitman
Kid Rock
Pat Sajak
Adam Sandler
Ricky Schroder
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Tom Selleck
Ron Silver
Jessica Simpson
Michael W. Smith
Gary Sinise
Britney Spears
Sylvester Stallone
Ben Stein
Connie Stevens
George Strait
Fred Thompson
Aaron Tippin
John Travolta
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Bruce Willis
James Woods
Tiger Woods

Care to add any? Also, if I'm wrong on a few, I apologize. Let me know.

Update:

A few mistakes to correct (thanks commenters!). I have removed Gary Cooper (he's dead and I have no idea how he got on there), Rob Lowe (he's only a Democrat who supported the Iraq invasion, although not necessarily Bush), Brad Pitt (same as Lowe), and Trey Parker and Matt Stone (since they have not come out officially for Bush and are hardcore libertarians, saying "We hate conservatives, but we really f*cking hate liberals.")

I have also added Ben Browder, Adam Sandler, Stephen Baldwin, and Freddie Prinze, Jr.

To clarify, John Travolta is an air and space fanatic (hooah!), and did state that if Bush realigns NASA to go back to the moon and to Mars, it would count as a vote. That is why he is on this list.

As for the various female celebrities, particularly the models, they are on the list either because they have made pro-Bush statements or have appeared doing pro-Bush activities.

Also, issues have been raised concerning the musicians on this list. I should not have added them since they are not traditional celebrities, but I will keep them on the list anyways for future reference.

And, of course, this list is by no means conclusive and probably a few up there should not still be on the list. If you find any, please let us know by posting a comment in the Open Thread on the top right corner of the Gene Expression homepage.

Update 2:
I have added Reba MacEntire and Robert Davi.

Update 3:
I have added Richard Petty, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ricky Schroder, Connie Stevens, Kirk Cameron, Pat Boone, and Andy Garcia. I will cease updating this at this point, considering that a much longer and extensive list is located at Wikipedia.

Posted by Arcane at 05:46 PM | | TrackBack


Dissin' Dawkins

Richard Dawkins' latest column on race makes some decent points regarding racial classification, makes a few, perhaps surprisingly "conservative", political suggestions, is ambiguous on the topic of racial differences, and makes a few irrelevant and probably wrong points (the average "man on the street" could probably not, contra Dawkins, tell apart random samples of sub-Saharan Africans and Papuans, although this is meaningless). One thing this column did not mention, however, and I'm not sure why it should have, was the meaning of racial prejudice in modern human societies. If it's a sin of omission to not talk about possible race differences or the origin of racism in every possible public discussion of race then I imagine Dawkins is a sinner. This is certainly the feeling I got reading Steve Sailer's Vdare comments on Dawkins' article, in which Dawkins is accused of political bias, political correctness, and apparently even scientific betrayal!

Dawkins' essay shows that even being Numero Uno doesn't make you a clear thinker about a scientific topic-if you allow your political prejudices to murk things up.

. . .

Why do people care so much about who is related to whom? Because, as Hamilton's logic showed, that's toward whom they are more nepotistic (i.e., altruistic). In turn, ethnocentrism, nationalism, and racism are essentially the inevitable flip side of nepotism. If people discriminate in favor of their relatives, they are going to discriminate against their non-relatives. By refusing to think about this because it's politically incorrect, Dawkins is betraying the great Hamilton's legacy.


If by "refusing to think about" Steve literally means Dawkins has ignored this subject in his writings then he is, without doubt, incorrect (as will be demonstrated below) and should probably retract these harsh words. But if by "refusing to think about" Steve simply means that Dawkins just doesn't agree with/promote the exact same evolutionary theories of racism that Steve Sailer does, then he is being utterly over-zealous. Dawkins has rejected some ideas about kin selection that Sailer seems to support, but if smears such as “political correctness” and “political prejudice” mean anything at all, I think Steve has an obligation to respond to the precise criticisms made by Dawkins rather then pretending that they don’t exist (or even worse, not knowing that they do).

I will expand on this but first of all has Dawkins really - literally - "refused to think about" how kin selection may help explain racism? Consider these words straight from The Selfish Gene:

"Blood-feuds and inter-clan warfare are easily interpretable in terms of Hamilton's genetic theory"

. . .

"If animals had a tendency to behave altruistically towards individuals who physically resembled them, they might indirectly be doing their kin a bit of good. Much would depend on details of the species concerned. Such a rule would, in any case, only lead to `right' decisions in a statistical sense. If conditions changed, for example if a species started living in much larger groups, it could lead to wrong decisions. Conceivably, racial prejudice could be interpreted as an irrational generalization of a kin-selected tendency to identify with individuals physically resembling oneself, and to be nasty to individuals different in appearance".

pgs. 99-100


So Dawkins clearly does think about these topics and they haven’t really been ignored because of ‘political correctness’ or any other reason. This leaves only the second option, that Steve thinks Dawkins is being unscientific by not adequately promoting something, something allegedly proven by William Hamilton, but what is it? From Sailer’s same article:

Unfortunately, Dawkins still doesn't want to understand the human implications of what Hamilton was driving at with his theory of kin selection: that humans naturally tend to discriminate in favor of relatives, and a racial group is simply a partly inbred extended family. (See my essay "It's All Relative" for a full explanation.)

Ah, so human racism is modeled by Hamilton’s theory of kin selection, and Dawkins is denying (we’ve already debunked ignoring) this fact because he is a coward? But does Hamilton’s theory of kin selection really tell us about how an Asian and an African should react to eachother? Dawkins, as well as many other names you have probably heard of, has commented on this interpretation of Hamilton, and I’ll present their comments later, first though a quick summary of “Ethnic Nepotism” the first major application of kin selection to human race relations.

Sociologist Pierre L. van den Berghe’s book The Ethnic Phenomenon was an early and note-worthy attempt to describe ethnicity through a biological paradigm, mainly by putting it in the context of an extended family. While ‘ethnicity’ is usually defined by the property of “metaphoric or fictive kinship” between people of a shared cultural group, van den Berghe noted that the endogamy of shared cultural groups would to some extent create real genetic patterns of kinship overlapping and correlating with the fictive sentiments. Steve Sailer’s later description of a racial group as “an extended family that is inbred to some degree” owes much to this earlier description by van den Berghe of an ethnic group as a sort of greatly extended family. Van den Berghe’s next idea was the application of Hamilton’s kin selection - the selection pressure for altruistic behavior in animals towards close relatives – to this idea of ethnic groups as families to form a biological theory of ethnocentrism. Van den Berghe argued that the strength of evolved altruism in man and animals depended on the coefficient of relatedness, with altruistic behavior more likely directed towards kin than towards non-kin and towards close kin than towards distant kin. Since ethnic group members are, on average, more genetically related to co-ethnics than they are to members of other ethnic groups, and since the strength of altruistic behavior is determined by the coefficient of relatedness, ethnocentrism is a predictable outcome of kin selection. Ethnic group members should be expected to exhibit more altruism to fellow ethnics than to members of other ethnic groups because they share more genes with co-ethnics than with out-ethnics. Van den Berghe called this behavioral impulse “ethnic nepotism”. It can also be called “extended kin selection”.

The largest problem with Pierre van den Berghe’s theory of ethnic nepotism is that it is fundamentally in contradiction with kin selection, and I would consider it a mistaken argument for group selection. For this reason you can be sure that Richard Dawkins has challenged this idea. Not only that, but we can also be sure that he has not challenged this idea because it is “politically incorrect”. How? Because the context in which these ideas were challenged by Dawkins were made before race was ever associated with them. The major fallacy of van den Berghe’s theory was first made by anthropologist Simon Washburn, not a supporter of sociobiology but a critic of kin selection, and not in the context of race or ethnocentrism, but of species-wide/inter-species altruism. Washburn argued in 1978 that kin selection didn’t make sense because “Individuals whom Sociobiologists consider unrelated in fact share more than 99% of their genes” therefore if shared genes were really the reason for altruism then all humans would be altruistic to each other, and probably to the great apes as well . . . and for that matter – as Margo Wilson and Martin Daly have wryly commented – selection would have also favored altruism towards monkeys over dogs and mosquitoes over marigolds. In Richard Dawkins 1979 paper Twelve Misunderstandings of Kin Selection this earns the illustrious position of number 5 and is named as follows: “an animal is expected to dole out to each relative an amount of altruism proportional to the coefficient of relatedness”, precisely van den Berghe’s mistake, and lives on under the title of “Washburn’s Fallacy”. Washburn’s Fallacy is when the r variable in William Hamilton’s theoretical equation is misunderstood as ”the probability or proportion of genes shared in common between two individuals.” As J. Maynard Smith clarified in his original definition of the term though, kin selection can only account for altruism toward close kin, that is kin selection operates not by an absolute percentage of shared genes but as a probability of sharing the same genes from the same recent ancestor. We’re entering the domain of the same problems faced by Wynne-Edwards – genes in animals that spread their nepotistic altruism thin down to the ninth and twelfth cousin would be over-run by genes that just had animals give all their favors to immediate off-spring. Dawkins clarifies in The Selfish Gene how the driving force in kin selection is not overall genetic similarity but evolutionary stability:

"Kin selection is emphatically not a special case of group selection . . . If an altruistic animal has a cake to give to relatives, there is no reason at all for it to give every relative a slice, the size of the slices being determined by the closeness of relatedness. Indeed this would lead to absurdity since all members of the species, not to mention other species, are at least distant relatives who could therefore each claim a carefully measured crumb! To the contrary, if there is a close relative in the vicinity, there is no reason to give a distant relative any cake at all Subject to other complications like laws of diminishing returns, the whole cake should be given to the closest relative available."

Pg. 290

To quote myself from a debate with a White Nationalist on another forum who claimed using this same model that “The theory of kin selection . . .demonstrates that ethnocentrism is obviously an adaptive trait”:

Kin selection is the mechanism through which altruism towards close relatives evolves. As Dawkins points out, kin selection is not a mechanism for some infinite behavior of expanding genetic favoritism, (which would actually contradict the possible benefit of close relatives and therefore nullify any kin selection!) for the reasons addressed in the cake problem, and thus [this model] couldn't be adaptive. Ethnocentrism may be adaptive, but the theory used to describe how can't be kin selection. Feel free to explain a new process, even one with similarities to kin selection, by which conflict with relatives of an arbitrary distance could have been selected for. Please keep in mind while doing so the conditions of the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness

Although Dawkins presented these arguments divorced from any reference to the ethnocentrism theories, later he did apply them to this subject after Stephen Rose and some neo-nazis claimed kin selection supported racist ideas (Dawkins, R. “Selfish genes in race and politics.” Nature 289: 528). But you’ll note that both interpretations of Sailer’s statement - that Dawkins refuses to think of the race related implications of kin selection because he’s too politically correct - are wrong. First, I have shown at least two different places where Dawkins has demonstrably thought about how kin selection might apply to human race relations (and I by no means have dug very deep), so this statement must be retracted. But if the point of the statement was that Dawkins hasn’t really thought about the implications (i.e. accepted “Washburn’s Fallacy”), than this is ludicrous. Why is a scientist obligated to accept/promote a theory which he has presented satisfactory arguments against? Further, the idea that Dawkins rejects these theories of ethnocentrism simply because they are too ‘politically incorrect’ seems to be contradicted by the fact that he rejected their theoretical foundation (a bastardized version of kin selection) before it was ever clearly linked to race, or touchy social subjects, in any way.

“Political Correctness” is of course the obvious accusation because the camps of people who represent the two sides of this idea split almost cleanly down the line of those, well, politically correct* evolutionary psychologists who have dedicated themselves to human similarities and who are mostly politically liberal and those stridently politically incorrect psychologists who dedicate their research to racial differences and are right-wing in their political dedications. The most clear example of this is well-known evo psych author Robert Wright’s Slate article, where he re-christens Washburn’s Fallacy as “the National Review Fallacy” after Richard Lynn’s negative National Review review of The Moral Animal (Lynn, like Sailer, criticizes Wright for omitting discussion of this theory).

Other familiar evolutionary psychologists such as Margo Wilson and Martin Daly and John Tooby have commented on this theory squaring off with familiar (infamous?) names from the racial differences camp such as Lynn’s IQ and the Wealth of Nations co-author Tatu Vanhanen, the above mentioned Kevin Macdonald, Phillipe Rushton, and ethno-state advocate Frank K. Salter **.

“Political correctness” is the easy reason to give for Dawkins position because it precludes the need for argument and refutation, simply by associating it with a perceived camp that has allegedly fudged the numbers more times in the past (as I admit some evolutionary psychologists have done on the unpopular subject of race). But, as usual, you will not find the correct answer simply by knowing the color of the other team’s shirt.

I plan on making a follow-up post or two on this. If not with further comment on ethnocentrism then on further comments which have been made about atheism.

Update: Interested readers should check-out Ingo Brigandt's The Homeopathy of Kin Selection for a fuller critique of Ethnic Nepotism.

For Steve Sailer's response, complete with Hamilton quotations, look in the comment box below, or read his new column: Where Dawkins Fears To Tread: Ethnic Nepotism And The Reality Of Race.

*Surely this isn’t purely invective, after all it is widely accepted that the shift from Sociobiology to the more family-friendly Evolutionary Psychology was a make-over of sorts for the beleaguered discipline. Defenders of the Truth documents how even E.O. Wilson seemed to become a persona non grata around those parts (see page 363): offending an entire HBES conference by committing the (evo psych over-promoted) “naturalistic fallacy” by suggesting that empirical discoveries about human nature might (Gasp. Faint.) have applicable uses in human political arrangements! Similarly, John Tooby’s Slate suggestion that Kevin MacDonald wasn’t really an evolutionary psychologist after his Trilogy on Judaism (despite the fact he was the HBES secretary!), and his less-racist-than-thou comment that Stephen Jay Gould’s views on group selection were "alarming", shows that image management truly is a priority to the mandarins of the repackaged discipline.

**Of course the names don’t always fall into predictable camps: famous sociobiologist David Barash, who emotionally called Rushton’s Race, Evolution, and Behavior a “piece of shit” in his Animal Behavior review of the book, seemed to support this theory of ethnocentrism in an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Van den Berghe, I should also note, is a vanilla academic liberal, as is E.O. Wilson who also appears warm to van den Berghe’s ideas. I can find no convincing statements from Hamilton showing he supported this idea.

Related:
Ethnic Genetic Interests: Part 2
Ethnic Genetic Interests
Interracial Marriage: Salter's fallacy
Limits to Hamiltons Rule
On Genetic Interests
Green Beard and Ethnic Nepotism

Posted by Jason Malloy at 12:09 PM | | TrackBack


A Modest Proposal: Y not?

Razib is the muse that inspired this, with his "Islam should be gelded" remark. Blame him. :)

David B has a discussion of Sykes' book, Adam's Curse here, from a year ago. Sykes projects the end of the Y-chromosome in 50,000 generations or approx 120,000 years. David and the gnxpers disagree with him in the comments, and so do I, for different reasons. What about Otzi, the Iceman?

I visited Otzi once in his personal museum in Bolzano, Italy. He lies in state, in a great cryogenic coffin, with a small slab of thick glass for viewing stuck into the side. He is very short. The most interesting thingto me about him was his genotype, though. Otzi had 1/3 more active loci on his Y-chromosome than modern man! In four thousand years, the Y has lost one third of its active loci. How has that happened so fast?

So, here's my Modest Proposal:

I always thought parthenogenesis was just so kewl. There had to be a better use for it than making clone turkeys and self-starting frog egg cleavage stages. Why not use it to build a race of amazons? I mean, since we're headed there anyways?

At work one of my [guy] colleagues went on a rant about tv-violence, and how it would make rapists and robbers show up at his door. I said, the problem is more basic than that-- why not just get rid of the aggression in the form of the Y-chromosome? He was not amused. Neither were my brothers, but my dad, a surgeon, agreed that the only things carried on the Y-chromosome are the delivery vehicle and aggression. Well we can do the delivery vehicle (in vitro), and we can ensure the genetic variabilty of the species by ovum recombination, and the mammalian dna imprinting problem has been solved, so, Y-not?

Think of the benefits! Instant population control, birth control, no unwanted pregnancies. Huge reduction in violent crime, global warfare and conflicts, oppression of women, and sex crimes! Islamic fundamentalism would quickly run out of steam! No more sexual harassment training! Toilet seats can be made in one piece!

It's not like anyone would have to be killed, XY beings would just be "fixed". In a couple of generations all the world would be equal, reduced to XX. So, what do you gnxpers think of my modest proposal? Would Jonathan Swift be amused?

Posted by jinnderella at 10:52 AM | | TrackBack


The Land of the Elves

I'm astounded by this small article about the beliefs of Icelanders;

Surveys show that despite their obsession with modern technology, as many as 80% of Icelanders believe in the existence of elves. Even today, roads have been rerouted and building plans redesigned or abandoned to avoid disturbing rocks where elves are said to live.

Longer article

“During the building of this network of high roads the roads administration called in a medium to negotiate with irate elves who had objected to the plans,” says our four wheel drive fountain-of-all-Icelandic-knowledge guide, who has lived in Iceland all his life largely thanks to his love of nature.

Apparently the perturbed pixies threatened to sabotage the project. The medium convened two séances, which led to a compromise: bureaucrats eschewed explosives and the elves withdrew their opposition.

And here people thought Fundamentalist Christians Faith prayer was wacky.

Update
Ok, this might help explain things

The nightlife doesn’t kick off till 11pm and nobody goes home before 5am. For an idyllic, historic fishing town Reykjavik rocks. We had frequented a clutch of mobbed bars and pubs, which pass for the pre-club scene warm up. Through one door we sampled the cockle-warming 40% proof Icelandic schnapps. But thankfully passed on the spicy vodka shots before heading off to Nelly’s Bar to see if Icelandic hospitality was as good as they say. We weren’t disappointed.
Posted by scottm at 04:47 AM | | TrackBack


Pitcairn follies

I was intrigued by reports in the Press on the start of a trial of several Pitcairn islanders on charges relating to underage sex. The islanders themselves insist that sex with girls from the age of 12 upwards (with their consent) has traditionally been accepted on the island. So I was curious to know what laws they are being charged under.

I found the following learned legal article (pdf) which discusses the subject at length, but doesn't give a clear answer. What is clear is that there is a culture clash between modern political correctness and a much older set of values. At the time when Pitcairn became a British colony (after its occupation by Fletcher Christian and his companions), under English Common Law the age of consent was 12, and the Pitcairners have been proceeding on that basis ever since. In Britain the age of consent was raised by statute in stages to its present level of 16, but was this ever applied to Pitcairn, and if so did anyone ever tell the Pitcairners? And what if the Pitcairners were now to declare independence and open up a hotel for international sex tourists? A moral conundrum for Saint Tony Blair!

Posted by David B at 04:06 AM | | TrackBack


Rawls on global justice

In my recent post on Rawls I mentioned in passing that his famous book A Theory of Justice didn't say much about territory and boundaries, and it wasn't clear whether he intended the redistribution of wealth and income required by his principles of 'justice' to be carried out on a global scale.

In writing this I had forgotten that Rawls dealt with this subject in a subsequent book, The Law of Peoples. In this book Rawls takes a rather traditional view of states as self-contained and independent moral agents. He makes it clear that he does not expect the duty of economic redistribution to extend across international borders.

I haven't read the book, but I'm sure Rawls had some typically ingenious arguments for rejecting redistribution across borders while insisting on redistribution within them! And how very convenient this is for an 'egalitarian' in a wealthy country!

Posted by David B at 03:51 AM | | TrackBack


Nice quote

From Steve Jones's column in today's Daily Telegraph:


Men are bigger than women. That imbalance is widespread in nature, but has plenty of exceptions. I often quote the male angler-fish, which is reduced to a mere sack of guts and genitals stuck to the backside of his partner. And, I add, to annoy the men's movement (it always works), what more could any man want?

Posted by David B at 03:19 AM | | TrackBack

September 28, 2004



Genetic irony

Rereading Defenders of the Truth: The Sociobiology Debate, I stumbled upon this fact: Bob Trivers, author of Natural Selection and Social Theory, has had bouts of schizophrenia. As has been noted, William Hamilton, pioneer of 'inclusive fitness,' and so a key figure in theories about the evolution of animal societies, was likely autistic. Ironic that two individuals who had profound difficulties in interacting with their fellow man had such an enormous impact on how we model relations between animals, including humans. Also, George Price, who prodded JM Smith toward the crucial ESS, eventually killed himself after giving away all his money to the homeless.

Posted by razib at 06:13 PM | | TrackBack


Who is Spengler?

No, I'm not talking about Oswald Spengler, the great declinist, cyclical history theorist, and, most famously, the author of The Decline of the West. He's a pretty neat read, if you're into that sort of thing, and I absolutely love his concept of Western Civilization as a "Faustian" culture. Other than that, he's sort of a crank, and not much of what he says should be taken too seriously.

Who I'm talking about the author of a great many articles and Q&As over at the Asia Times website who writes under the pseudonym "Spengler." He's very interesting and I have read everything that he has written and posted on the Asia Times website. He isn't exactly "Spenglerian" in his outlook, although he has obviously read him and been influenced by him.

Some have said that they believe he is Henry Kissinger (an absurd idea, especially if one compares Kissinger's writings and ideas to those of "Spengler"). Nobody really knows who he is, though.

Care to take a guess?

Posted by Arcane at 06:10 PM | | TrackBack


She's gotta have it, on tape

A new Paris Hilton sextape emerges, with two exes. Now I can kinda understand the desire to see a celeb having sex, though I don't really have that desire, but Paris has always seemed too skinny, too waifish, too blonde, and too idiotic to spark my interest.

Too each their own.

Posted by scottm at 05:03 PM | | TrackBack


Show those kickin' curves!

It can be hard for girls to find jeans sometimes. Is this because female bodies are particularly difficult because of their morphology? I would submit not. I would submit that it is because women's jeans have to form fit, while male jeans do not. Why? I think it is because women need to "show off" their bodies to men more than the reverse. So I predict that:


  • Gay men will wear tight clothes.
  • Gay women will wear baggy clothes.

Posted by razib at 04:13 PM | | TrackBack


Against beekeeping

Recently I was flipping around channels and saw Bill Maher refer to Arabs keeping "half their population dressed like beekeepers." I found that hilarious. Now, as Stanely Kurtz has noted Westerners should be really cautious about fiddling with Muslim modes of dress. I'm taking that off the table, rather, I want to focus on the importation of Muslim attire into the West.

Frankly, recently I've been moving toward a Kemalist position on this of late. It is basically driven by realism and a rejection of my basic liberal individualist inclinations on these sort of issues. My position is basically undergirded by my study of history and evolutionary psychology, it seems that complex societies tend to treat their women anywhere from moderate levels of patronizing freedom to isolated beekeepers. The exceptions prove the rule: ancient Sparta was a bizarre social experiment that Adolf Hitler took a shine too. Even societies where women had some amount of power, the republican Romans or the Mongols, it was mostly through their relationship to men and it was in a very restricted fashion. By analogy: Bangladesh, Pakistan and India are not feminist nations in any substantive fashion even though they have had female heads of state because those women derived their power through their familial relationships to men.

Not all societies are so blatantly sexist, but those that aren't tend to be simpler, and closer to our EEA. The modern West is I think in many ways a peculiar, and unstable, throwback to the EEA (see here). It preserves values of cross-gender equality and cross-class egalitarianism that are not typical for large complex rule-based societies that restrict freedom of choice in the interests of social stability. Perhaps patriarchy is inevitable, but, I suspect with some elbow-grease we can maintain this sexual equalitarianism until the end of our species or its transformation into another form (I am skeptical that man-as-we-know it has much of a future beyond 100-200 years).

Does this mean that I espouse legalistic Kemalist positions on the expression of non-normative dress in public? No! Rather, what I think is sane is non-accommodationism on the issue of gender-mixing. There are news reports recently that Muslims in the West want local institutions to "respect" their need for gender segregation in physical education, swimming or would prefer non-male doctors. This is natural as an expression of many traditionalist cultures. Nevertheless, Westerners should not accommodate. I believe that most Muslims will eventually switch over to Western norms on this issue (frankly, most already have, if against their will). There is a precedent for this: the millions of traditionalist Jews who migrated to the United States in the early 20th century. The smaller community of established Reform German Jews were ashamed by the ways of the Eastern European Jews when they first came to American shores, but today, only 10% of Jews are Orthodox, and a smaller percentage are Hasidic. The American society simply did not accommodate Jewish needs when it came to perpetuating their shtetl life, and so you have 4 generations later acclimated Americans. Now, there are differences between Jews and Muslims, but in the United States immigrant Muslims tend to be rather educated, so the model is not wholly rhetoric.

Related: Zack Ajmal has a entry where the issue of Islamic separatism comes up. In The Nurture Assumption Judith Rich Harris uses the example of students getting the label of "overestimators" and "underestimators" in a totally arbitrary fashion but still favoring "their own kind" (who they did not know and had no incentive to favor) when disbursing rewards. This is highly illustrative of a tendency toward "groupishness." The problem with "Islamic dress," just like "Jewish dress," is that it perpetuates groupishness. Now, Western society can withstand some amount of intrasocial groupishness, but a People Apart can cause long term problems, and even though some Muslims will reformulate the wearing of Islamic dress as an individual prerogative, the donning of certain attire automatically sends signals to everyone around you about who you are (or might be) and how you view them (or how they think you view them). As a point of law one might circumscribe the individual from the society in which they reside, but as a operational reality it is simply naive.

Additionally, one of the commentors makes a point about Catholic nuns "dressing differently," and how no one objects to this. This betrays a lack of understanding of the history of anti-Catholicism, and in Roman Catholic nations anti-clericalism. The clerical class is obviously a sanctified People Apart, and so when the Reformation (and later the French Revolution) broke out they were objects of public fury and rage because of their perceived privileges and superiority.

Posted by razib at 03:56 PM | | TrackBack


Aphorism of the day

"Race" is not a social construction...but "ethnicity" is.

Clarification: Obviously if you are comparing the Japanese and Swedish ethnic groups you would not think they are social constructions, but, the key here is that the ethnic groups correlate to racial differences. My point is that though broad racial clusters seem to exist, ethnic differences are far less clear cut. While the predictive power of race as a level of classification is quite often rather high, that of ethnicity is far less clear cut when the racial component is extracted. There are haplotype discontinuities between neighboring groups (Lithuanians vs. Poles on the TAT-C), but they are far less substantial than the differences between races, and often individuals within each group have a difficult time telling one from another by inspection alone.

The implication is that many ethnic rivalries are, as many people would assume, constructs of culture and history rather than literal blood feuds. Since most wars have been between neighbors, they have been intraracial rather than interracial, and the putative "Race War" to come is a future imagining, not a reflection of past Darwinian history.

Addendum: Leo the Syrian was the emperor who defended Constantinople against the Arabs in the early 8th century, just to show you how cultural-religious divides were much more salient on the ground than racial differences because conflict is more likely between neighbors. The modern age of transcontinental migration has resulted in a terminology of racial conflict & tension that often gets confounded with the more ancient one of ethnic conflict, resulting in confusions. A classic example is the pattern of some Leftists of trying to depict the Palestinians as "people of color" and Israeli Jews as white, when only 50% of Israeli Jews are of European origin, and a substantial portion of the remainder are Yemeni or Ethiopian, ergo, no less "people of color" than Palestinian Arabs.

Posted by razib at 03:19 PM | | TrackBack


Heterosis revised

I'm about 1/3 of the way through Narrow Roads of Gene Land and I must report that I misled (inadvertently) when I suggested that suggested that William Hamilton believed that interpopulation marriage would perpetuate heterozygote advantage immunologically, something I've discussed before. Well, from what I gather, Hamilton didn't buy heterozygote advantage. Partially this is because it is rather rare to detect it empirically (this I knew) in relation to how much polymorphism exists within populations (allelic diversity at a locus), and, because he worries that a overdominant line could mutate toward asexuality and so make sexual individuals less fit over the long run.

So what did Hamilton believe? Well, I'm only 1/3 through, but it seems he thought that variance in fitness as a function of time of any given homozygote genotype (this is a model that restricts the number of locii for simplicity's sake) resulted in prevention of fixation (that is, one type becoming universal). Where do the heterozygotes come in? Well, in a random mating population you will have the production of heterozygote individuals when two differing homozygotes mate. In short, where before I was asserting that homozygotes are byproducts of the maximization of heterozygosity in a random mating population, Hamilton seems to be suggesting that heterozygotes are transitionary forms that are byproducts of fact that the fitness of various homozygote types oscillates as a function of time within a population (they are repositories of genetic diversity that sexual reproduction utilizes to stay ahead of parasitic infection).

I think this can be related to my post on the personality types of "Great Men." I noted that the Mongols tended to decimate local elites, so that the nobility of the Tatar people was gutted and its male lineages exterminated, but they often treated the common people with magnanimity. Where 10 years previous a humble smith or other artisan would be part of the servile class, and perhaps have few children if any in comparison to the Tatar nobility, with the coming of the Mongols their fitness in comparison with the Tatar leadership would have increased greatly. I also recall reading once that the Spartans often killed Helot males who seemed to display evidence of future leadership capacities. The implication is that the fitness of dominant personalities is a function of time, the perpetuation of less dominant lineages might be the result of the constant churn and elite turnover which this personality type can persevere through. In a period of peace the elite of a given population reproduces as a higher rate, but during times of chaos and war it might be better to keep a low profile and be beneath notice.

Addendum: The variation in fitness of homozygotes as a function of time might explain why in many species there is so little evidence of a reproductive barrier between variant forms: limiting the range of one's potentional mates is diminishing the recombinant power of sex. Imagine a "ideal" form A, with a variance within the population of the capacity to be fecund witn non-A forms. If at some point in the future A's fitness drops in relation to non-A forms, A individuals who became reproductively isolated would be at a sharp disadvantage.

Posted by razib at 02:59 PM | | TrackBack

September 27, 2004



You down wit' OPP?
"A history of sex", The Economist, 2004 September 23.

By examining the DNA of living people, [Dr Michael Hammer at the University of Arizona in Tucson] and his colleagues have found....a lot of variability in the mitochondrial DNA (a type of DNA which follows the female line), and much less in the Y-chromosome DNA (which follows the male line). The most plausible explanation for this is that a few men in each generation contribute the bulk of the Y-chromosomes to the next.
....
This news will not surprise biologists. Although a moment's thought shows the old canard that males are actually, on average, more promiscuous than females cannot be true (since every reproductive act involves one of each) biologists have known for a long time that in most species males want to be more promiscuous than females.

God, why are you so cruel?
One result which did surprise the researchers was that men's genes tend to travel farther than women's. Some 70% of the world's modern cultures practice patrilocality—in which a woman moves from her native village to her husband's village when she marries. Until now, it has widely been assumed that this practice would result in women's genes migrating farther afield than men's. So, not only are fewer men than women procreating, but they are travelling farther to sow their oats. Clearly, the tall, dark stranger from another place has been an attractive proposition to women for quite some time.
Dark? Check. Tall? Dammit!

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Provocation inside!
Joanna Moorhead, "'For decades we've been told Sweden is a great place to be a working parent. But we've been duped'", The Guardian, 2004 September 22.

(hat tip: Stambord)

["T]he glass ceiling problem is larger in family-friendly Sweden than it is in the hire-and-fire-at-will US, and it has also grown as family-friendly policies have expanded. In Sweden 1.5% of senior management are women, compared with 11% in the US[," says Dr Catherine Hakim, a sociologist at the London School of Economics who specialises in women's employment and women's issues.]

The corollary is, of course, that believers in the heritability of intelligence who want to see educated women have more children should champion generous Scandinavian-style child subsidies to tempt women away from the boardroom.

As should conservatives who want to see women at home rather than in the office.

And feminists of a revolutionary bent should take note of how successfully laissez-faire economic policies erode traditional gender roles.

Posted by jeet at 12:33 AM | | TrackBack


They may not mean to, but they do

Parents exist for the care of their children, rather than children existing for the "self-fulfillment" of their parents, a concept that has difficulty penetrating the narcissistic, self-absorbed "therapeutic" ethos of the boomer generation.

- me, here

Tim Guest, "Bringing Up Me", The New York Times, 2004 September 26.

When I was 4, my mother became a disciple of the notorious Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. She took a Sanskrit name, dyed her clothes orange and began to do loud meditations in our living room. Soon she left me with my father -- they already lived apart -- and flew off to the guru's ashram in India. She replied to my shaky letters with variations on the same answer: ''I'll be home soon.'' When she claimed me back from my dad, she dyed my clothes orange too. For the next seven years, I bounced around the world behind her, living in Bhagwan's communes in India, England, Germany and Imbler. Bhagwan invented radically new ''dynamic'' meditations and therapies; he took nitrous oxide and spoke from a dentist's chair; he encouraged his disciples to surrender totally to him and to live their lives to the extreme. For my mother, on a rocket-ship rebellion from her strict Catholic girlhood, Bhagwan offered everything she had long hoped for: the path to enlightenment but with free love, drugs and rock 'n' roll thrown in.

For the children -- at least, for me -- Bhagwan's communes were a different proposition. As each adult struggled to prove himself or herself the most egoless, we competed to show who had the best break-dance moves. As they abandoned the consumerist dream, we fought over Legos and ''E.T.'' toys. Intent on building spiritual togetherness as a model for the world, my mother and her friends ignored some of the more practical needs of the children under their feet -- forgetting, for example, to take us to the dentist or to clip our fingernails.
....
When I was born, my mother swore she would never let her child suffer the way she had: she felt that her Catholic childhood had crushed her. She gave me what she had longed for.

Posted by jeet at 12:31 AM | | TrackBack


Machiavelli & the Great Men

In Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World the author tells of the decision to kill all the adult males of the Tatar tribe and adopt their children and women into the Mongol nation after the former had been defeated by the latter in war. When reading this sort of thing, I could not help but think that this was the sort of decision that resulted in the fact that today 0.5% of men are direct male-line descendents of a Mongol who lived about ~1000 years ago. Additionally, the author emphasizes the fact that the Mongols had little sympathy for local elites, the implication being that "The Golden Family" (that is, Genghis Khan and his descendents) engaged in elite takeover across a vast swath of Asia.

Obviously this particular Y lineage was socially selected for. Both the Manchus and the Timurids, who were the ancestors of the Moghuls, consciously intermarried with the descendents of Genghis Khan to bolster their pretensions toward imperium (though this would have involved the marriage of non-Genghiside males with Genghiside females, so this would not be part of the spread of the haplotype in question). But after reading Game Theory and Animal Behavior, and in particular the chapter by David Sloan Wilson on machiavellianism, I wonder if more directly functional genes related to personality could have spread via selective sweeps through societies. Wilson considers whether "High Mach" and "Low Mach" individuals could exist in an ESS within a population. He tries to relate this to group selection, which I am skeptical of, but the range in personalities within human populations (a non-trivial minority are "introverted") seems to beg the question whether the fitness of any given type varies a great deal as a function of time, so that the frequencies of the various alleles on any particular locus can never move toward fixation through selection or drift (that is, polymorphism is maintained).

So, cutting to the chase, what kind of personality makes one a World Conqueror? Here is a common definition for a High Mach: charming, confident and glib, but also arrogant, calculating and cynical, prone to manipulate and exploit. Does this describe what we know of Genghis Khan? I am not so sure, the book I refer to above takes a positive view of the Mongols, nevertheless, one common feature of Genghis Khan's personality that I have seen noted was the value he placed on personal fidelity and honoring contracts. That is, Genghis Khan seems to have emphasized Tit-for-Tat values, when cities surrendered or his ambassadors were respected, he treated everyone involved fairly or with respect, but when faith was broken and cities rebelled or delegations sent under truce were injured or killed he would unleash the wrath of god upon his opponents (he would accept turncoats to his cause, but would sometimes reject them if they betrayed their oathbound leaders in a particularly disloyal fashion).

Variation of personality types through all populations of modern humans makes one wonder if the various traits might have fitnesses that differ depending on environment. Perhaps intergroup differences in the frequency of say High Machs and Low Machs might exist because of long term ecological & social differences. It is the long term part that is difficult, because most human populations have had to deal with dynamic and changing conditions, as evidenced by the mix of individual personalities within any group (though perhaps Wilson's group selection theories or introversion and extreme extroversion being perpetuated by balancing selection for the modal type could explain the mix).

But, to those who emphasize the Great Man theory of history, I must ask, why is it that the Huns, Turks, Arabs, Mongols and Manchus produced the Great Men, while other "barbarian" groups like the Yakuts, Hmong, Toda and Berbers did not? Clearly, the circumstances of geography and social environment are important variables that determine the likelihood that a Great Man will express world changing capacities and be the focal point for social & political changes of historical import. But, seeing as how the steppe peoples of Central Asia tended to produce Great Men regularly between 400 CE and 1700 CE, one might look to these people to see if their psychological profiles tend to be characterized by a different distribution than the more settled peoples of the Eurasian periphery.

Posted by razib at 12:10 AM | | TrackBack

September 26, 2004



Having it all

For a woman to "have it all" (i.e. an ambitious career, a loving marriage, well-adjusted children), it helps if her husband gives up his own chance to do so.

Betsy Morris, "Trophy husbands", Fortune, 2002 October 14.

Behind a great woman at work, there is often a great man at home....The men we're talking about carpool the kids, coach the soccer team, pay the bills, pick up the dry cleaning, and fix dinner.
....
Nobody has measured how widespread this phenomenon is among well-educated, high-salaried couples....[S]ays Doreen Toben, CFO at Verizon, "almost all the senior women [here] have husbands at home." So do many women at Sun Microsystems. Of the 187 participants at FORTUNE's Most Powerful Women in Business Summit last spring, 30% had househusbands. And of the 50 women on this year's list, more than one-third have a husband at home either full- or part-time....Anne Stevens says she knows of at least 20 women in her division at Ford whose husbands are home.
....
So maybe it's not only[?] a glass ceiling that has kept so few women from reaching the upper tier of corporate America; only 6% of the FORTUNE 500's very top jobs--senior vice president and above--are held by women, according to Catalyst. Maybe it's that not enough of them have the luxury most of their male counterparts have had forever [Perhaps "until recently" would be more accurate]: a spouse at home. A year ago, when Catalyst asked 3,000 women in their mid-20s to mid-30s to name the biggest barriers to women's advancement, 68% cited personal and family responsibilities. That compares with 50% who blamed lack of mentoring, 46% who said lack of experience, and just 45% who cited stereotyping of women's roles and abilities. "A precondition to having more women in positions of power is to have more sharing in [Read: transfer] the burdens of parenthood," says Dublon. "It is crucial."

Because the onus usually falls on the female half of a marriage, feminists have tried to deny the obvious benefit of having a parent devoted full-time to child-rearing and other duties associated with homemaking.
The dividends for these working wives--peace of mind, no distractions, the ability to focus single-mindedly on work--are precisely the ones their male counterparts have always had....That theme echoes all through the corps of executive women..."I'm more balanced and productive because I know [my daughters] are with [my husband]," [Lauri Shanahan, general counsel at Gap,] says. "It makes a huge difference"...."I don't know how people with two full-time, unforgiving careers manage the small stuff," says [Sarah Fitts, a lawyer with the firm Debevoise & Plimpton].

For better or worse, it is possible for these executives to be on call 24/7--which is still what it takes to get to the top at most companies...."Would I have reached the same position if I had gone home [from meetings that were supposed to end at 7 p.m. but lasted until ten]? That's a question I can't answer," says Dina [Dublon, CFO of J.P. Morgan Chase]. "But one of the criteria was your willingness to stay and do whatever needed to get done, irrespective of anything else in your life."
....
The higher you go in corporate America, the harder it is to keep two high-octane careers on track, especially when you have children.

The person who subordinates her family life to her work life will always professionally outcompete someone who won't. That's just the way things are and no amount of legislation can ever change that.
[A]mong the most powerful women--and many other high-level women--[househusbands are] a red-hot topic. They gossip about it. They marvel at it. They compare notes. They know which colleagues have husbands at home and which do not. They know which are married to doctors: Shelly Lazarus and Meg Whitman. (Doctors travel infrequently and can often set their own hours.) They are envious of women whose husbands have retired....Carly Fiorina, chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard [says of her husband] "Frank has been a huge source of support. He had a very successful career and has lots of interests outside of me and my career. He has been a rock for me; I am tremendously lucky. To describe him as a stay-at-home husband is not fair to him." Frank Fiorina took early retirement in 1998 as a vice president of AT&T's corporate business unit.
....
When [the family of Pat and Steve Sueltz, both VPs at IBM] moved to California [so Pat could take a job offer at Sun Microsystems], Steve had no trouble finding a finance job at Siebel Systems. "New company. New job. Everything's booming," he says. But Pat was never home during the week, and Steve was rarely home on weekends. "We were losing Kathleen [now in seventh grade]," says Pat. "She was miserable." The Sueltzes spent several months debating what to do. Could one or the other get home earlier? Should one or the other switch jobs? Should Steve become a consultant to give him more flexibility? Ultimately, Steve made the decision to stay home--despite his pedigrees (Phi Beta Kappa at Occidental, Stanford MBA), despite his career success.
I don't know whether the author is oblivious or playing dumb, but the examples she cites establish a consistent pattern: alpha females marry - surprise, surprise - alpha males.

Feminism here has degenerated into an insistence that not only do women have a right to cake, but also an inalienable right to eat it. Feminists are contorting themselves to avoid acknowledging that a situation they lament (the dearth of women with corner offices) is best addressed by correcting the sexist attitudes of women.

The retired alpha males of this article are the exception, not the rule, and the typical career woman is not looking for a nice boy who'll stay home with the kids.

If a feminist sincerely wants to see more women in the echelons of power, then should she find herself giving Wellesley's commencement speech, she should enjoin her audience to, in the words of Jon Lovitz, "lower your standards".*

* Mr. Lovitz has apparently convinced former model and current plastic surgery abuser Janice Dickinson, who has described him as "one hot stud muffin". I offer my most profuse apologies for the mental image.

Posted by jeet at 11:12 PM | | TrackBack


IQ and the Non-Integrating Gap

Thomas Barnett, author of The Pentagon's New Map (an excellent book), developed a new grand strategy loosely based on economic interdependence theory, as I'm sure many of you are aware of. I won't go into much detail here, but I'll give a brief, very generalized, overview of his idea. You can read more about it at his site or by reading this essay, which inspired the book.

He separated the world into two zones, the Functioning Core and the Non-Integrating Gap. The Functioning Core was defined by "connectness," in that all the different countries that composed it traded with each other and generally accepted what he called a "rules set," a set of practices that maintained a good amount of order and minimized warfare, while promoting economic growth. Those who did not accept the "rules set" and acted outside of the Functioning Core were members of the Non-Integrating Gap. In the Non-Integrating Gap, human rights abuses are common, wars abound, the economy is in the dumps, and poverty is high, among other things. From the Non-Integrating Gap is where most of the trouble in the world was coming from and in order for the Core to be safe, they must work to eventually eliminate the Gap entirely.

Here is an image of the Non-Integrating Gap (I had a better world map version, but I lost it and the US News & World Report site doesn't have a copy):

As you can see, the Non-Integrating Gap is composed of a host of trouble-making and failed states. To get a more detailed view of the globe on the left, click here, and for the globe on the right, click here (warning, both of these are very large JPG files).

As far as I'm concerned, this is absolutely fascinating, and I encourage everybody to read his book and all the stuff on his website, and maybe we can even put a link up to his blog on here.

Anyways, I remember looking at another map a while back from the London Times that was based on Lynn's and Vanhanen's IQ and the Wealth of Nations showing the IQs of the world and their respective GDPs. Here it is:

So, as I was looking at this map, I immediately thought of Barnett's book and I had a friend of mine, Aaron, draw me the Non-Integrating Gap on the IQ map, and this is what we got:

iqgap.JPG

Stunning, isn't it? Aaron did a pretty good job of it, although he put Pakistan in the N-IG. I know probably most everyone who reads this blog already had a mental image of this, but to see it on a map just makes Barnett's and Lynn's books more relevant.

How many correlations can you think of?

Posted by Arcane at 06:58 PM | | TrackBack


Doves for Bush

One of the most vocal opponents of the Vietnam war, Mark O. Hatfield, a man labeled the "conscience of the Senate" has thrown his support behind both President Bush and the Iraq war.

Strange days

Posted by scottm at 01:01 AM | | TrackBack


Jewish union promotes genetic screening

In an interesting article from Vanderbilt Hustler, a speaker from Genzyme Corporation urges students, especially ethnically Jewish students, to have themselves genetically screened for hereditary diseases.

"For people in general to get screened for genetic problems in advance before having children is important," Baer said. He urged Jewish students to get tested since they are susceptible to several diseases, including Tay-Sachs and Gaucher.

"There are certain genetic diseases that Jews from particular regions are more susceptible to. Non- Jews can suffer, but there's a greater chance for Jews to get these. A rabbi would probably expect a Jewish couple to have been tested before getting married so they know they're not carriers," Baer said.

The idea that a group of speakers, especially Jewish speakers (being that Jews are generally left-leaning in their political worldviews, although that is slowly changing), are admitting to the fact that certain ethnic groups and races are more likely to inherit certain genetic problems and are more susceptible to certain diseases is fantastic!

This is progress!

Posted by Arcane at 12:12 AM | | TrackBack