Archive for May, 2003

Math is boring-not hard?

U-M study helps define why fewer women choose math-based careers, the reason? Women have different priorities than men. This sort of data has been floating out there-I remember reading about a study where they tracked very mathematically precocious early teens and found that the boys were far more likely to enter Ph.D. programs that emphasized […]

One state under liberty?

I’m a big fan of liberty, my personal political orientation is pretty much libertarian, but I have resigned myself to the fact that libertarianism, along with atheism, rationalism, etc. are oddball norms & views that will never really convince the majority [1]. So I’m glad to see that someone is trying to get libertarians to […]

Gnostic Esoterica

Props to US NEWS & WORLD REPORT for reporting on the plight of the Mandaeans, also known as the “Christians of John the Baptist,” who practice a gnostic flavored faith in southern Iraq. But, shame on them for not using fact checkers, divorce is not forbidden in Islam. Posted by razib at 03:23 PM

Spelling Bee Kids

Hey, this brown kid won the National Spelling Bee. Another brown kid won last year, so I did a quick survey of the ethnicities of the contestants to look for patterns. This is what I found (I clicked to see every image and read up a bit to get clues for the ambiguous): White, 167 […]

Real life Mer-men & water-babies?

In the entry under “weird,” the Moken “Sea-Nomads” that inhabit the inter-tidal region along the Burma-Thailand coast seem to have better underwater vision. Please note that the Moken might be among the earliest inhabitants of southeast Asia, so they’ve had a long time to get used to the ocean (perhaps they are the remnants of […]

Gaming makes you smarter?

This research press release from the University of Rochester is very interesting. Titled “Action-Based Video Games Enhance Visual Attention,” here is the introduction: Research in the upcoming issue of Nature demonstrates that action video games can give a person the ability to monitor more objects in their visual field and do so faster than a […]


After recent discussion of cultural evolution I realised that I didn’t know much about memes, so I set myself the penance of reading Susan Blackmore’s The Meme Machine. It turned out to be a painless penance, as the book is well written and full of interesting ideas. Blackmore doesn’t overstrain the analogy between memes and […]


There is an interesting study in a recent issue of Science: Science, March 7, 2003, vol. 299, pp.1582-85: Daniel Falush et. al.: Traces of Human Migration in Helicobacter pylori Populations (and commentary by Brian Spratt at pp. 1528-9). Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that lives in the human gut. It is transmitted mainly by prolonged […]

Converting the Mahometan?

This NY TIMES article about Evangelicals contemplating the conversion of Muslims is interesting. As an atheist from a Muslim background I think that a collision between these two fundamentalisms is all for the good if it damages both. Additionally my personal experience with many Evangelicals is that they are intellectually not sophisticated and their understanding […]

Black gene bank

Large DNA File to Help Track Illness in Blacks. Saying black people are in danger of being left behind at the newest frontier of medical research, Howard University plans to create the nation’s largest repository of DNA from African-Americans. The samples would be used to find genes involved in diseases with particularly high rates among […]

British genes

The BBC sponsored a study on British genetics. Here is the BBC site, an NY TIMES article on the topic, and the abstract from Current Biology (Wade in the NY TIMES seems to buy Renfrew’s “demic diffusion” of Indo-Europeans with agriculture 8,000 years ago-the article seems a bit more garbled than usual for him). Update: […]

Ridley’s Riddles

Matt Ridley’s new book Nature via Nurture has an interesting title-but the central thesis is rather prosaic, that the “nature vs. nurture” controversy is simply much ado about nothing, the line between the two is fuzzier than one might suppose because of gene/environment interaction. A more accurate title might be “Genome: 2003.” Ridley’s 1999 book, […]

Ethno-Math, again…

He Brings a Little Culture to Math (login: GNXP, password: evilgenes). Ron Eglash looks at the careful weaves in cornrow hair and sees mathematical patterns. He sees evidence of Cartesian geometry in Indian beadwork and hears a way to teach kids about ratios in syncopated Latin beats. He is a sort of mathematical detective — […]

Intellectual equilibrium

I’ve often asked and wondered out loud on this blog about a question that gets at me-the nations that have the highest IQs today, those of northern Europe and eastern Asia, were not the first to be “civilized,” and in fact, lagged for a reasonable amount of time after the first flowering of higher culture […]

And she begat daughters….

This article in the Economist reports the preferential skewing toward females among malnourished Ethiopian women at birth. The two reasons given are that male fetuses drain more resources than female ones and so might be aborted at greater rates while additionally daughters are a more likely a possibility to pass on genes in hard times […]

McKibben vs. Bailey on the line of your germs

Bill McKibben & Ron Bailey are getting into it over germline alterations over @ Reason. I am reading McKibben’s Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age & Greg Stock’s Redesigning Humans (the new paperback version that just came out and has some extra material). But I just finished Ridley’s new book & need to digest […]

The IQ debate

The Spectator has a nice little article detailing the recent history of acrimony between Jensen & co. and their opponents under the leadership of S. J. Gould. Race figures prominently of course…. (thanks to Steve Sailer for the link)

Man bites dog

One of the weirdest stories I’ve ever read about – half black man becomes neo-Nazi activist. What a sick puppy: In October 2002, I drove to the Plymouth County Jail to see Leo Felton. It was a bright fall Saturday, and the drive was long, so it gave me a chance to ponder what I […]

Hayek on neural networks and free will

A while ago, a commentator on one of my posts asked me to elaborate on my view on free will which I claimed was a useless concept. I suppose the next question would have been how my agnosticism about the existence of free will is reconcilable with classical liberalism. Well on this issue I get […]

Journey of Men

Just read Spencer Wells’ book Journey of Man, a brief but thorough survey of human population genetics in the vein of Cavalli-Sforza’s The Great Human Diasporas and Bryan Sykes’ Seven Daughters of Eve. While Sykes focused on Europe and mitochondrial DNA lineages (the mother line) Wells puts the spotlight on Y chromosomal lineage (the father […]