Archive for September, 2007

The importance of analogies in math and science

“Good mathematicians see analogies. Great mathematicians see analogies between analogies.”–Stefan Banach A recent Cognitive Daily post called “Why aren’t more women in science” (part 1) reviews some of the lit on sex differences in cognitive abilities. Dave Munger notes: In the verbal portion of the [SAT] test, the male advantage is eliminated if the analogy […]

UV & skin color

Update: I’ve added some geographic and ethnic notations to the ones that are relevant. For example, the Indian groups which are the darkest for their latitude turn out to be a Dalit and Tribal sample. In contrast, the other groups are more socially diverse. In South Afica the Capetown sample consists of mixed-race Coloureds. I’ve […]

Neandertal mtDNA in Siberia & Central Asia?

I don’t know if we should believe Svante Paabo anymore, but his lab has some new findings re: Neandertal mtDNA: Neanderthals in central Asia and Siberia Nature advance online publication 30 September 2007. doi:10.1038/nature06193 Authors: Johannes Krause, Ludovic Orlando, David Serre, Bence Viola, Kay Prufer, Michael P. Richards, Jean-Jacques Hublin, Catherine Hanni, Anatoly P. Derevianko […]

Lap dancing for science

The role of biology in constraining/enabling human culture is largely underappreciated outside of, well, the small group of people who study biology and culture. But that role is clearly enormous. Consider, for example, what is sometimes referred to as “cryptic ovulation”– the fact that human females do not conspicuously display the fact that they are […]

D. S. Falconer Obit

Anyone trying to understand heritability, or other aspects of quantitative genetics, is likely to rely heavily on D. S. Falconer’s Introduction to Quantitative Genetics. I find that Falconer died a few years ago, and there is a fine Obituary by W. G. Hill available here. I love this anecdote from Falconer about D’Arcy Thompson: I […]

The rate of cultural evolution, jerky or smooth?

There has long been a tiresome debate in evolutionary biology (or at least in pop science books about evolutionary biology) whether evolution generally proceeds gradually or in bursts alternating with stasis. But I wonder: what about cultural evolution? With evolutionary biology we can look at fossils and the molecular substrate to determine the nature of […]

The worst hangover ever?

The Lancet has the case report.

Fear not the future

What is contingent across the arc of human cultural development? What is inevitable? Interesting, if difficult to answer, questions. Last year I posted No fear of Patrick Henry College – the Borg shall assimilate. My argument was simple: an explicitly Christian institution which attempts to take over “secular” culture will be assimilated. There are long, […]

Myanmar/Burma links

I don’t follow the non-science news very closely. I’m curious about what’s going on in Myanmar/Burma, if you have an interesting link, drop it in the comment box. Thanks. Labels: politics

Cosma on IQ & heritability

Cosma Shalizi has put up a gigantic post on IQ & heritability; he originally titled it “Duet for Leo and Razib,” implying that I, and the audience here @ Gene Expression, are the targets of his eloquence (at least in part). Now, I have to admit something, I’m not really interested in psychometrics that much […]

Blonde Berbers

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the little blonde girl photographed in Morocco turns out not to be missing British girl Madeleine McCann, but the daughter of a Berber farming family, who are said to have three other blonde children. Most of us will have been vaguely aware that blonde hair and fair skin are not uncommon among […]

The biodiversity of human feet

Native Americans get custom sneaker: Nike researchers and developers spent two years designing the shoe, traveling to seven locations to look at the feet of 224 Native Americans from 70 different tribes. They created a shoe to fit the average Native American foot, which is wider than the foot the Nike Air Pegasus running shoe […]

Retrotransposons, ncDNA, and Adaptive Evolution

RPM’s slamming of some silly coverage of the C-value enigma got me thinking about the problem of why we see the sorts of variation we do in the amount of non-coding DNA between species. People are right to heckle the questionable assumption that these differences in ncDNA have anything to do with the evolution of […]

Infectious disease, how bad does it do a body?

In my post below I respond to Bryan Caplan’s critique of Greg Clark’s claim that disease can increase per capita income because it reduces population (i.e., same population has a bigger resource base to work with).1 I go the route of the two handed economist by suggesting that whether Clark or Caplan is right depends […]

Race and medicine

Apropos of a previous post on race, PLoS Medicine has just published two (opinion) articles on the use of racial categories in medicine. There’s only a cursory treatment of genetics (and the treatment that’s there is pretty bad), but it’s sometimes useful to see another take on the issue. The message I get is that, […]

Justinian’s Fleas

A note for readers, there’s a new book aimed at the popular audience, Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe. You can find reviews here and here. I’m going to pass on it probably because it is a general interest book which doesn’t introduce any original material, but it looks like some readers […]

More than mobiles

Labels: Finn baby

Here we go again…

I’m not going to spend too much time on this, but Larry Moran has responded to my post. He, of course, makes it sound as if he’s being perfectly reasonable. But consider what he wrote in July: [E]volutionary biologists like Dawkins and the other adaptationists should have known about random genetic drift. Isn’t it amazing […]

Bryan Caplan critiques Greg Clark

Bryan Caplan has initiated a series of posts where he will critique some aspects of Greg Clark’s book A Farewell to Alms. Caplan starts by disputing Clark’s implication that the Four Horsemen can increase per capita income simply by reducing population. I would say he makes some good points, but he does leave an opening: […]

Resources, resources

A comment below asked about a notation in a particular passage in a book I referenced. As it turns out the book is fully searchable on Amazon. Myself, I do searches on google books, and if there isn’t a “view” of the book I’m looking for (or that page isn’t viewable), I will check for […]