Archive for March, 2006

Jane Galt: Modern Day Paul Erlich?

Jane Galt comments on the immigration debate and is convinced by the argument put forth by Bryan Caplan: Suppose we have an isolated society in which everyone is a genius. Let’s call them the Brains. Who takes out the garbage? A Brain, obviously. Who does the farming? Again, Brains. Now what happens if the geniuses […]


I just found the useful Freethought Multimedia website, which collects and archives the Internet audio/visual leavings of Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Daniel Dennett, Michael Shermer, and a few related intellectuals. Courtesy of their Pinker section we get the video of Pinker’s January talk at the Institute for Jewish Research on the Cochran-Hardy-Harpending paper.

April fools early isn’t that funny

OK…so my notice earlier was an early April fools “joke.” Anyway, I apologize to Ron Edgar of the Gene Expression Omnibus, as a concerned reader emailed him. I’ll try to think of something more innocuous next time. I should have just made up a fake organization.

Naked Apes?

My recent post on Sexual Selection mentioned the theory that the ‘hairless’ skin of humans is due to sexual selection. After writing this I thought I would check out what is known about the evolution of human body hair. One interesting result is this Royal Society paper by Pagel and Bodmer. Their theory is that […]

Social taxonomies

Economist Evelyn L. Lehrer states in The New York Times: During the first five years of marriage, the divorce rate for a couple of the same religion hovers around 24 percent, no matter what that religion is. But it jumps to 38 percent for a marriage between a mainline Protestant and a Catholic and 42 […]

French birthrate

We’ve talked about the French birthrate before, so here is a story out on that topic. Note that France has Europe’s second highest birthrate. Ireland: 1.99France: 1.90Norway: 1.81Sweden 1.75UK: 1.74Netherlands: 1.73Germany: 1.37Italy: 1.33Spain: 1.32Greece: 1.29 To obviate the questions of algebraically challenged readers (lovers of the qualitative query that some of you are), 1.9 = […]

A Bright Spotlight On An OverDemanding UnderAchiever

Moebius Stripper responds to a comment left on her blog by a student (not her student though) who wants to set Moebius straight about the grand purpose of education. Some highlights: – From my experience, the real learning does not take place in school anyways. – Then, what’s the real point of going to university […]

IQ by Eurostate

In a flashback to the IQ by state hoax, the Times has published a list of IQs by country for most, but not all, European countries. The ranking is attributed to Richard Lynn, without references. The IQ range of 107 (Germany) to 89 (Serbia) resembles real IQ by US state data. Razib whispers: Beware of […]

John Hawks on the radio

You want to know what John Hawks sounds like? He’ll be on Radio Open Source tomorrow (there should be a web feed). I talked to David Miller about getting John on the show before he became famous in Slate, so I am going to take a little credit for this. John and Spencer Wells will […]

Delayed Brain Development Associated with Greater Intelligence

See here for details. Update Rikurzhen: Nature News and Nature Podcast [MP3] have more

Correct me?

A few days ago I received an email from a reader asking me about the possibility for differentiation of populations because of the postgenomic era, eg., the use of multiple markers to achieve separability. They brought up the near disjoint character of the Duffy antigens between Europeans and Africans (ergo, its historical utility in calculating […]

Republican War on Science – Seminar

Crooked Timber has done a web seminar on Chris Mooney’s Republican War on Science I was especially happy to see John Holbo’s piece, “Mooney Minus the Polemic?”, which points out the exception of science friendly libertarians and their own disdain for the liberal abuses of science: [hypothetical libertarian soliloquy:] Liberals are the ones who are […]

If BusinessWeek is doing it, why aren’t you?

Check it, got this note from Adam Bly of Seed: So I’m flipping through the new issue of BusinessWeek (April 3, 2006; Cover: TheTop Performers) and on page 14 in the BLOGSPOTTING section, I happen upon this article: — BLOGSPOTTINGLIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND ALL THAT WHY READ IT A sister project of Seed magazine, this […]

Distribution of a religious meme

This whole conversion story in Afghanistan has been in the news recently. The Christian Science Monitor attempts to put the issue of conversion from Islam to another religion in an international perspective. Most readers of this weblog know that I am cautious about making large generalizations without qualifications, but I will offer that as a […]

How much is coding?

I need an estimate of the fraction of selected variants that involve an amino acid change, as opposed to noncoding changes in promoters and enhancers and such. Something for mammals would do. Can anyone find one?

No cheat left behind

Seems like a Jersey principal was instructed to cheat on state tests. Principal Joseph Carruth was riding down the slow, paneled elevator at Camden’s district office, ready to cave in to pressure from a superior who he says had just given him a tutorial on how to cheat on state tests. “My head is spinning,” […]

Amusing stuff

Nothing big enough for its own post, just a bunch of things that caught my attention: PLoS Genetics: AVPR1a and SLC6A4 Gene Polymorphisms Are Associated with Creative Dance Performance We therefore hypothesize that the association between AVPR1a and SLC6A4 reflects the social communication, courtship, and spiritual facets of the dancing phenotype rather than other aspects […]

Calculating heritabilty using only full siblngs by genotyping

A paper in PLoS Genetics, Assumption-Free Estimation of Heritability from Genome-Wide Identity-by-Descent Sharing between Full Siblings, describes a way to determine heritability using actual genotypes in leiu of estimated kinship coefficients. From the synopsis: Quantitative geneticists attempt to understand variation between individuals within a population for traits such as height in humans and the number […]

The thirst for speed….

Some horses are fast, and some horses are Secretariat. After the great horse’s death an autopsy revealed that his heart was about three times as big as it should have been, certainly a prescription for early mortality. The greatest racer of them all seems likely to have been a biological freak, where some developmental or […]

“Muslim Madonna”

CNN has a short feature on the “Muslim Madonna,” Deeyah, you can see the video here. Addendum: There is a controversy about the veracity of this young woman’s claims. Prior facts are important here in judging the likelihood of various scenarios. My own view is that this is self-promotion leveraging upon some real background issues.