Archive for July, 2007

Eugenics, schmgenics

Ezra & Ross as still arguing about the definitions for eugenics and what not. Clearly there is a lot of baggage associated with the “e-word.” In any case, in an email exchange with Armand Leroi about the use of the term “eugenics” to refer to selective abortions of individuals whose fitness verges upon zero (and […]

Malthusian me?

In the comments below in regards to eugenics I made an argument that rationing is going to be inevitable in national health care systems as the information we have about the propensity (or inevitability) of diseases outruns the ability to treat those diseases. In particular, I believe that it may come to the point where […]

Living Neandertals?

On my other weblog I posted about research which suggests Neandertal-human cohabitation in France. A reader pointed me to the visual proof of the hybridization event. Labels: Evolution

GWA for multiple sclerosis

The latest phenotype to get the scrutiny of a genome-wide association study is multiple sclerosis: three separate reports (ok, only one of them is genome-wide) point to variation in various immune system genes as predisposing to the disease. The effects of one of the variants seems to be non-additive– one group reports that the heterozygotes […]

Eugenics, what’s in a term?

Ross Douthat is concerned with the “New Eugenics.” He linked to my summation of some of the data which Armand Leroi has collected on the rise of selective abortions & genetic screening. Ezra Klein isn’t buying Ross’ characterization of course; actually, like Ezra I think there are serious differences between the old eugenics which emerged […]

Religion promotes cooperation?

Religious concepts promote cooperation: Participants primed with religious concepts gave their partner an average of $4.22, compared with only $1.84 in the control group. But those who declared themselves religious before the study were no more generous than non-believers. “The effect of the religious prime was both large and surprising, especially considering that during exit […]

Pedo amygdala

I did a poor job asking pubmed for the paper Razib mentioned earlier, but this surely does look interesting: Brain pathology in pedophilic offenders: evidence of volume reduction in the right amygdala and related diencephalic structures.Kolja Schiltz, Joachim Witzel, Georg Northoff, Kathrin Zierhut, Udo Gubka, Hermann Fellmann, Jörn Kaufmann, Claus Tempelmann, Christine Wiebking, Bernhard Bogerts […]

Selection on memory?

Razib recently mentioned a paper on a polymorphism regulating memory in Drosophila. As I often do when studies like these are published, I determined the human homologue of the gene in question (PRKG1, in this case), and checked out the plots of summary statistics available online. Sure enough, there are peaks in the significance of […]

Neuroscience, cancer/biology, math videos

Recently purchased a video iPod. I am the nerd sitting outside the coffeeshop groking brain network dynamics on my tiny screen. At least my case is stylish. Here is a trove on that subject:Conference on Brain Network Dynamics, 1/26/2007 That conference was in part a tribute to Walter Freeman. Here is more from him:Poetry of […]


Who’s a Nerd, Anyway?: But the nerds she has interviewed, mostly white kids, punctiliously adhere to Standard English. They often favor Greco-Latinate words over Germanic ones (“it’s my observation” instead of “I think:), a preference that lends an air of scientific detachment. They’re aware they speak distinctively, and they use language as a badge of […]

Social networking, does it work?

Just a quick question for readers: does social networking software help out in your professional life? I’m a very tepid user of the various sites, I accept invites and so on, but it isn’t something I invest a lot of time on in building a large of number of friends/contacts or fleshing out my profile. […]

True porn clerk stories

Most of you have probably already seen/heard about this, but check out true porn clerk stories. Labels: Blog

Homo amygdala?

A Mind for Sociability: The amygdala, a small, almond-shaped area deep within our brains, appears to be essential in helping us read the emotions of others. Research shows that the structure is crucial for detecting fear, but scientists have also found evidence that it can help spot a wide variety of mental states…scientists noted that […]

The typical GNXP reader

When you’ve blogged for a while, and with some frequency, you wonder what this is all about. I don’t generally get too caught up in that, there’s more interesting stuff to contemplate. But, check out this from Google Analytics for the past 30 days of traffic for this website: I’ve long known that most GNXP […]

Sex & epistasis

Since we’re talking about sex & evolution I thought I would pass on this PNAS paper, Coevolution of robustness, epistasis, and recombination favors asexual reproduction (my emphasis). I covered statistical epistasis a few years ago, and at that point I was being told that synergistic epistasis was the critical cog that kept the species a […]

unSexy crayfish

The Economist has a story about a mutant asexual crayfish lineage. It points out how this is a good test of the sex-is-good-against-disease thesis. The basic logic is that an allele which causes asexuality has a greater short term natural increase (because it has a 100% as opposed to 50% chance of being passed to […]

Open thread….

People have bugged me about the “open thread” for a while, so by popular demand, it’s back. It will be to the right indefinitely, though I’ll purge it of old/tardish comments regularly. Please place interesting links/sites, etc. (this includes items of interest to young straight males, *hint*, *hint*). Labels: Blog

Individualism & collectivism

Self-centered cultures narrow your viewpoint: Chinese students would immediately understand which wooden block to move – the one visible to both them and the director. Their US counterparts, however, did not always catch on. “They would ask ‘Which block?’ or ‘You mean the one on the right?”, explains Keysar. “For me it was really stunning […]

Small teeth & sexual dimorphism?

A Hunk’s Dental Downfall: When males and females were about the same size, so were their teeth. But in species in which larger males evolved, tooth size increased relatively little. Thus, females ended up with larger chewing surfaces for their size than did males, the researchers report in the September issue of American Naturalist. The […]

Somatodendritic microRNAs

Kosik and colleagues used laser capture microdissection to get RNA populations from dendrites or cell bodies of cultured rat neurons. They optimized their technique so that mRNAs known to be enriched in dendrites, such as CaMKII and MAP2, showed about equal levels from soma and dendrite. They then performed multiplex PCR for several mRNAs and […]