Archive for November, 2006

Post-Christian Europe, part II

My post about Post-Christian Europe attracted several responses. Below I took the data from the chart rank ordering by belief in God. You note that as belief in God decreases, lack of belief in God or a Spirit increases as well, but belief in Spirit increases to a greater extent than lack of any belief […]

Beyond Belief 2006 – a highlight

Been watching Beyond Belief 2006. Funniest moment so far, V.S. Ramachandran recounts the % of people in a survey who considered themselves “above average” in intelligence. Take a guess. Answer below the fold.98% of people surveyed (representative survey mind you!) considered themselves above average in intelligence.

Snatch culture

Yesterday there was an interview with an author of a book about the rise of “raunch culture” among today’s youth on NPR. By coincidence yesterday was also the day that Britney Spears flashed her beaver to the world. Now, you might think that Spears isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, that she couldn’t anticipate […]

The Black-White IQ Gap: Is It Closing? Will It Ever Go Away?

Update: video, audio and PDFs available Charles Murray emailed me a notice for this today, so for those in the D.C. area: Start: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 10:00 AMEnd: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 12:00 PMLocation: Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI 1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 For decades, the difference in the test […]

Spore: The Video Game That Creationists Will Hate

Will Wright of The Sims and SimCity fame has been developing his new game Spore for over 6 years and the canvas he’s painting on is large indeed for the game begins with the player controlling the evolution of cells within a tidal pool and it progresses up the evolutionary ladder, with intermediate stops at […]

Schizophrenia and IQ

Low IQ is a risk factor for developing schizophrenia, though the mechanism behind this association is somewhat unclear. A new study sheds a little light on this subject, and suggests the link might be genetic. The gene in questions is neuregulin 1, about which little is known. They find, first, that a regulatory SNP is […]

Post-Christian, but not secular, Europe

From page 11 of a European Commission survey….

“Wrong door” raids

The Agitator is doing a fine job on the play-by-play following the Kathryn Johnston shooting. These are your drug war tax dollars at work. For a weak-willed waffler like myself it is nice to come across a policy area where the side of reason and justice is so obvious. Rapidly approaching single issue voter status. […]

Genomics vs Insurance

Free Exchange has a comment on a comment on an article about the ability of genomics-informed medicine to break the game of chance at the very core of the insurance industry. The analogy to learning not to build houses in natural disaster areas is made, but with certain diseases no prevention (post-natally) is possible. An […]


Are bloggers more like sharks in a feeding frenzy or vultures on deadmeat? See the populist rally the mob: Ah… the Perfumed Class. Our Lords and Masters, the Principle Investigator Princes wandering over their incandescent domains, bestowing upon their peasant postdocs, their servile grad students, their precious beneficence… Don’t you love them?…In summary, I am […]

Addling the Brain

A few days ago, I came across a very interesting article on lexical-gustatory synaesthesia (via Language Hat): Lexical-gustatories involuntarily “taste” words when they hear them, or even try to recall them, she wrote in a study, “Words on the Tip of the Tongue,” published in the issue of Nature dated Thursday. She has found only […]

Genetics and engineering

Wanted: Biologists who can speak ‘math,’ engineers fluent in genetics Biologists, computer scientists and engineers speak different languages: Mention “vector” to a molecular biologist and a plasmid (a circular piece of bacterial DNA used in gene cloning) comes to mind. Say “vector” to an engineer, and she thinks of a mathematical concept. Similarly with “expression”: […]

Beyond Belief 2006

Chris of Mixing Memory points me to Beyond Belief 2006, which is about “Science, Religion, Reason and Survival” (videos viewable online!) As Chris notes the list is heavily weighted toward scientists who don’t study religion and seem to be offering their own personal opinions. Ann Dryan seems to be aging gracefully.

From Today’s Papers

A few items of interest from today’s British newspapers: The lead story in the Sunday Telegraph reports that a majority of people in both England and Scotland want independence from each other. But I don’t think it will happen, because it is against the vested interests of politicians and bureaucrats. Also in the Telegraph, an […]

I’d be fired if that were my job

I’ve been trying to come up with some clever way of framing the latest RNAi work in a mythological context, but I’m afraid it isn’t lending itself all that well. You see, the family of final effector proteins for RNA-induced silencing are called Argonautes. Why did they name them Argonautes and then fall off on […]

Breaking the fast

Not a genetic story, but amusing (well, I thought so), this report from today’s London Times: A Muslim who killed a swan [a protected species] during Ramadan has been given a two-month prison sentence. Shamsu Miah, 52, killed the mute swan at a boating pond in Llandudno, North Wales, on September 25. When challenged by […]

Dawkins on In Our Time

Richard Dawkins will be on In Our Time to discuss the evolutionary origins of altruism. They are pretty good about getting the archive up in a day or so. Interesting that they illustrate the idea with Mr. a priori Kant, or am I being pretentious and misunderstanding Kant? I simply suspect that Dawkins will argue […]

Happy Thanksgiving!

Drunk thugz? Apparently Asians have the market on violin playing in Europe too….

Tangled Bank & Four Stone Hearth

Biology and anthropology carnivals. Have a good Thanksgiving!

Neurotransmitters and vesicles

You know the names of some neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine. Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter and GABA is the major inhibitory one, right?. All neurotransmitters function in a similar way to communicate between two neurons. The pre-synaptic neuron sends messages in the form of neurotransmitter for the post-synaptic neuron to receive at neurotransmitter receptors. […]