Archive for March, 2008

Religion: biology ↔ psychology ↔ sociology ↔ history

On the most recent you can watch Paul Bloom explaining why he thinks the propensity for theism is an innate bias of our species. Several years back Bloom wrote a piece for The Atlantic, Is God an Accident?, where he makes a similar case. But the general outline of Bloom’s line of thinking is […]

More on Path Analysis

As a supplement to my post on Sewall Wright’s method of Path Analysis, here is an article on the subject which I just found. I don’t agree with all the authors’ comments, but the historical background and references are useful.

Religion is good (broadly speaking)

Via Over Coming Bias, The science of religion – Where angels no longer fear to tread: It is an ambitious shopping list. Fortunately, other researchers have blazed a trail. Patrick McNamara, for example, is the head of the Evolutionary Neurobehaviour Laboratory at Boston University’s School of Medicine. He works with people who suffer from Parkinson’s […]

Facts matter

Over at my other blog I flogged Jamie Kirchick somewhat for what seemed to me a pretty obvious misrepresentation of basic facts. You might think these “gotchas” are picayune, but I don’t think they are at all. Do you remember back in 2002 when Colin Powell misspoke about the “Sunni majority” of Iraq? These are […]

Patterns of admixture in Latin American mestizos

New PLOS paper, Geographic Patterns of Genome Admixture in Latin American Mestizos. Nothing new, but pushing the ball forward…. A = autosomalX = X chromosomal

Is your mother a slut?

If you are a male, and someone says your mother is a slut, how do you respond? I think most non-autistic individuals, even if they are reflexive pussies as many civilized American men raised in urban areas and suburbs tend to be, will feel an urge to react violently. I think we can agree that […]

Backwards in Time

It’s hard to have a recessive lethal hang around for a long time without some kind of heterozygote advantage: selection reduces its frequency. If the population is even moderately large, more than a few thousand, changes in allele frequency over time are very predictable: deterministic. That also means that one can calculate past frequencies, as […]

It’s all relative

I was talking the other day with a friend about why economists think they’re so smart to the point of ignoring easily accessible data from other fields. Will points me to this Greg Clark review of a new book from the field of economic sociology, Adam Smith in Beijing. Clark doesn’t think much of the […]

Traits of men who prefer breasts, booty, or legs

Pursuing a hunch inspired by a post on breast size and getting married by Irina, I managed to hunt down a study that shows the characteristics of the Boobman, Assman, and Legman. First though, I could not find any studies that investigated what non-obvious correlates there may be of breast size, rump size, or leg […]

Finns encouraging hittin’ it?

Finnish Parliament debates proposal for “love vacations”: A proposal by MP Tommy Tabermann (SDP) to grant all employees a paid 7-day “love vacation” once a year led to an exceptionally colourful debate in Parliament on Thursday evening. According to Tabermann, the purpose of such vacations would be to prevent relations from disintegrating and the spouses […]

Meat & trade & per capita income of the Roman Empire

During the height of the Roman Empire there was a NW-SE (of course mostly west to east) gradient in per capita income. This is well known. One of the reasons given for the collapse of the Western Empire in the 5h century in contrast to the persistence of the Eastern Empire is that the provinces […]

Notes on Sewall Wright: Path Analysis

A long time ago I said I was planning a series of posts on the work of Sewall Wright. I am finally getting round to it. I originally planned to write notes on the following topics: 1. The measurement of kinship. 2. Inbreeding and the decline of genetic variance. 3. Population size and migration. 4. […]

Nepotism in the Anthill

Among ants, wasps and bees, any female larva may in principle become a queen, depending on the way in which it is fed (royal jelly, etc). It is usually assumed that all larvae have an equal chance of receiving this treatment. But I noticed this article in the UK Times this week, which suggests otherwise. […]

Promising new genetics blog

Over at Genetic Future a nice selection of regular commentary on new findings in genomics (A nice compliment to our old friend Hsien-Hsien Lei’s Eye on DNA).

Measuring the rate of cultural and social change

Below I discussed the issue of whether the Roman Empire’s decline & fall was consequential. These sorts of discussions are loaded with presuppositions and impressions. Any one metric is not necessarily representative of other variables, and one must ask whether metrics are relevant in the first case. I think one important question to ask far […]

Statistical Methods in Molecular Evolution

Just noticed that Carlos Bustamante’s chapter from Statistical Methods in Molecular Evolution, Population Genetics of Molecular Evolution, is online (PDF). Enjoy.

Important announcement!

New episode of South Park, March 12th. You can watch online 1-2 hours after it premiers.

The material consequence of the Pax Romana

A few days ago I posted on the effect of a unitary (at least notionally) Islamic state in the early 8th century which stretched from the Atlantic to the Indus. Though prior to the rise of the Umayyad Caliphate the whole region had been ruled by civilized states (defined by the accoutrements of high society […]

The de-brownification of brown people?

About a year ago a paper came out, Low Levels of Genetic Divergence across Geographically and Linguistically Diverse Populations from India. The authors used Asian Indian groups from the United States, ergo, the caste/class representativeness is not is very typical. Additionally, there is a strong skew to Gujaratis since this group represents 1/2 of American […]

Starving because of plague

Born to Die: Disease and New World Conquest, 1492-1650 is a short and dense little book which summarizes the latest research on the litany of plagues which reduced the population of the New World by 1-2 orders of magnitude within the century after Columbus. 1491 is writerly enough so that the depressing aspect of the […]