Archive for September, 2006

Evolution and God

GSS SCITEST4 asks In your opinion, how true is this? … D. Human beings developed from earlier species of animals. Frequency Distribution Cells contain:-Column percent-N of cases HUMANS EVOLVED FROM ANIMALS 1DEFINITELY TRUE 2PROBABLY TRUE 3PROBABLY NOT TRUE 4DEFINITELY NOT TRUE ROWTOTAL GOD 1: DONT BELIEVE 9.351 2.326 2.012 1.012 2.9101 2: NO WAY TO […]

God and British Scientists

From The God Delusion: 1) 1,074 Fellows of the Royal Society were emailed 2) 23 percent responded 3) They were asked various propositions, such as, “I believe in a personal God, that is one who takes an interest in individuals, hears and answers prayers, is concerned with sin and transgressions, and passes judgement.” 4) They […]

The rise of welfare?

Over the past few months I’ve read Winning the Race by John McWhorter and The Burden of Bad Ideas by Heather Mac Donald. One thing that both books assert is that in the late 1960s and early 1970s there was a proactive campaign by the National Welfare Rights Organization to get as many people on […]

Skin color and IQ in the GSS

A question from Jason Malloy prompted a quick search of the GSS for data on the cause of the Black-White IQ gap. In 1982, the GSS characterized the skin color of Black participants on a 5-point scale (1:very dark brown to 5:very light brown). The very dark/light categories consist of only 50 and 14 individuals, […]

Moral sentiments and Material Interests

Not by Genes Alone, Peter Richerson and Robert Boyd, eds., Chicago, 2005.Moral sentiments and Material Interests, Herbert Gintis, Samuel Bowles, Robert Boyd, and Ernst Fehr, eds., MIT, 2005. Moral sentiments and Material Interests is, from my point of view, an enormous advance on all the orthodox economics I’ve ever read. My primary complaint is “What […]

Far Left sociobiology

The frogs at AlphaPsy point me to this article, Anarchism and Social Nature, in a Left-anarchist publication. The focus of the piece is a review of The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker, and here is the punchline: We, along with most other ideologies on the Left, have based our theory on a mistaken concept of […]

Digit ratio predicts sport performance in female twins

From the BBC: A King’s College London team found women whose ring finger is longer than their index finger are more likely to achieve higher levels in sport. The ratio between the fingers has already been linked to traits in men like cognitive ability and sperm count. The study appears online in the British Journal […]


I was doing a “literature survey” and I stumbled upon Daniella Alonso, the product of a marriage between a Japanese Peruvian father as a Puerto Rican mother (European + African + Amerindian). I am haunted by dreams of synergistic epistasis and Übermensch….

Married to the sea

In case you’re not enjoying it already, allow me to bring your attention to Married to the Sea. I find the more juvenile stuff the funniest, but here’s some science/evolution related to justify the post. Personal favorite.

The god of death

One of the common ideas for why religion appeared is that it is a way of assauging fear of death. Chris of Mixing Memory reports on research which tests this hypothesis. Here is Chris’ summary: In summary, then, when fundamentalists had their beliefs in Biblical inerrancy successfully challenged (i.e., they were presented with Biblical contradictions, […]

Brown gaucho & Tangled Bank #63

Our old friend Brown Gaucho is hosting Tangled Bank #63. I enjoyed his post, The importance of evolution in medicine. BG is a primatologist-turned-med student, so he knows of what he speaks. But, I do have to take some issue with this contention: Anatomically and genetically, humans haven’t changed all that much in the past […]

Stabilized, not activated

The Daily Transcript reports on a PNAS study showing that transcription occurs in bursts. Transcription factors (regulators of when a gene is “on” or “off”) are often characterized as ‘activators’ or repressors. The paper suggests activators may instead be stabilizers. Genes are always flipping back and forth between different levels of on and off states […]

Epistasis correlates with genomic complexity

From PNAS: Simpler genomes, such as those of RNA viruses, display antagonistic epistasis (mutations have smaller effects together than expected); bacterial microorganisms do not apparently deviate from independent effects, whereas in multicellular eukaryotes, a transition toward synergistic epistasis occurs (mutations have larger effects together than expected). We propose that antagonistic epistasis might be a property […]


Just a heads up, a new blog which addresses culture via a naturalistic lens is now up and running, AlphaPsy. In the Cavalli-Sforza 10 Q’s he stated that cultural anthropology just isn’t scientific, and is positively hostile to science. This is a different direction, and very much a minority take, but good things start small.


From the GSS, POLIDEOFULL combines two markers (political affiation and self-description along a liberal-moderate-conservative axis) to form 21 categories. Here are the average WORDSUM scores for each group. The liberal-conservative axis has been color-coded from dark blue to dark red for each of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. Restricted to whites only. Here’s the data: Obviously […]

Data access to the GSS

Half Sigma made a series of interesting posts about the General Social Survey. I recently noticed that GSS data are available thru a very useful web application. Click that link to a go at it. Below the fold is a brief primer on what I’ve learned from playing around with it. If you want to […]

How the other half of differential psychology lives, Part 1

When we talk about individual differences in psychology here at GNXP, they are almost always differences in some form of intelligence — the real-world consequences of these differences, what inter-group variation there is in the trait, the lower-level biological correlates of such differences, and so on. This is all well and good, but we shouldn’t […]

“The Student”

The release of Richard Dawkins’ new book The God Delusion (of which I have only read the first few pages) has returned my thoughts to the issue of what stance atheistic futurists such as myself should take toward the religious beliefs of our family members, friends, and fellow citizens between now and whatever singularities lie […]

Speaking of…

…epigenetics[1] and non-coding RNAs. I encourage everyone to check out the new Cell and find “the first genome-wide high-resolution mapping of DNA methylation and the first systematic analysis of the role of DNA methylation in regulating gene expression for any organism” and a new microRNA target prediction method (rna22) that makes big (perhaps too radical?) […]

Epigenetics is the new genetics

A couple new papers review the factors that play a role in determining an individual’s epigenotype and the role of said epigenotype in the aetiology of autism spectrum disorders. We still do not understand the rules governing the establishment and maintenance of the epigenotype at any particular locus. The underlying DNA sequence itself and the […]