Archive for August, 2008

The wealth of communities

Variation is interesting. Why are there species, for example? Why do identical twins vary in life outcomes at all? How, and why, do the two antipodal maritime temperate regions of Eurasia, China and Europe, differ? The answers one comes up with vary by discipline and scope. In Farewell to Alms the economic historian Gregory Clark […]

Genetic map of Europe again

On the heels of the previous paper describing the “genetic map of europe” comes a new paper that makes the same general observation that genetic data contain information about geography. These authors also develop a model that does reasonably well at predicting the country of origin of an individual based on genetics alone. It’s worth […]

DNA forensics goes genome-wide

During the recent glut of genome-wide association studies, many researchers were compelled (or chose) not to make all their data public after publication due to vague privacy concerns. Instead, they often made available only genotype frequencies in sets of cases and controls, the idea being that individual-level information is lost when pooled together. A new […]

Virtue, sin and normalcy

Update: Overcoming Bias responds. Reading excerpts of the memoirs of the Mughal warlord Babur, founder of the dynasty in India, I note that his father was an alcoholic. This is not exceptional in the lineage, the Emperor Jahangir’s reign was marred by problems due to his alcoholism. Nevertheless, these individuals were faithful Muslims by all […]

Why are Finns anxious?

An Association Analysis of Murine Anxiety Genes in Humans Implicates Novel Candidate Genes for Anxiety Disorders: Specific alleles and haplotypes of six of the examined genes revealed some evidence for association (p ≤ .01). The most significant evidence for association with different anxiety disorder subtypes were: p = .0009 with ALAD (δ-aminolevulinate dehydratase) in social […]

Earthquakes → progress?

Tectonic environments of ancient civilizations in the eastern hemisphere: The map distribution of ancient civilizations shows a remarkable correspondence with tectonic boundaries related to the southern margin of the Eurasian plate. Quantification of this observation shows that the association is indeed significant, and both historical records and archaeoseismological work show that these civilizations commonly suffered […]

Aziz at Beliefnet

City of Brass is now at Beliefnet. I enjoy Crunchy Con, so it will have company on that domain in my RSS….

Blogging and science

Medical Hypotheses, Figureheads, ghost-writers and quant bloggers: The term ‘quant blogger’ (i.e. quantitative analysis blogger) was invented by Steve Sailer [8] who is the practicing ‘blogfather’ of an interconnected group of mostly pseudonymous bloggers that have been in some way inspired by Sailer’s example and his (often distinctly ‘non-PC’) interests in issues such as IQ; […]

Male vs. female religiosity difference

A few years ago Bryan Caplan argued that the cross-cultural male-female sex difference was due some innate differences. And specifically the differences he postulated explained why the less religious a society was the greater the sex difference. I took data from Rodney Stark’s original paper (N = 54 nations), log-transformed the proportions of males and […]

Bias toward the beautiful

One thing I have wondered about: why do people want to give people the benefit of the doubt in terms of looks if they get a “Myspace angle” photo or only hear someone’s voice? I have talked to many friends who are really biased in the direction of giving people the benefit of the doubt […]

Female mate preference as a tool, not the hand?

Frequency-Dependent Selection and the Evolution of Assortative Mating: A long-standing goal in evolutionary biology is to identify the conditions that promote the evolution of reproductive isolation and speciation…Here, we analyze the conditions under which selection favors the evolution of assortative mating…using a general model of selection, which allows fitness to be frequency dependent. Our analytical […]

Large minority of atheists are religious

Just noticed something weird. Seems like around 20% of atheists in the United States self-identify as a member of a religion. By atheist, I mean someone who states that they “Do not believe in God.” 19% of Buddhists are atheists. 10% of Jews. 5% of Muslims and Hindus. 9% of “Other Faiths.” And of course, […]

Pigment type-switching in dogs

Reading up on the MC1R, I came across this nice summary of work I mentioned before on the genetics of coat color in the dog. The summary includes the figure below, which is a pretty intuitive illustration of a few of the genes involved in pigment type-switching (ie. production of eumelanin versus pheomelanin). The caption: […]

Olympic fever

In the spirit of the games, Daniel MacArthur has an extensive post up on ACTN3 and the genetic endowments of elite sprinters. Well worth a read. Labels: Genetics

The impact of national culture on economic outcomes

The first correct daily temperature forecast was not broadcast [in China] until July 1999. Previously, temperature predictions were never permitted to fall outside the range for efficient factory work. That’s from Cultures Merging: A Historical and Economic Critique of Culture, by Eric Jones. Jones is best known for his book The European Miracle, an anti-Pomeranz […]

Debin Ma v. Kenneth Pomeranz: East Asia v. Europe

Debin Ma of the London School of Economics has spent time in the archives and has come to conclusions quite different from Pomeranz’s. Ma’s recent papers (especially this one and this one) make archive-driven comparisons of European and East Asian living standards around the start of the industrial revolution. Both papers have coauthors, but I […]

Asia finally getting in on the genome-wide association game?

Nature Genetics has reports from two Japanese groups on an association between variants in KCNQ1 and susceptibility to Type II diabetes. The study itself falls into the now-standard genome-wide association study mold (except perhaps for the choice of SNPs in one of the studies–”only” 100,000, mostly genic–and the decision to not type them using a […]

Melanocortins and behavior

In many vertebrates, there is an association between pigmentation and behavior. One potential reason for this is that genes influencing pigmentation also have pleiotropic effects on other traits, including behavior. A recent paper in Trends in Ecology and Evolution lays out this hypothesis: In vertebrates, melanin-based coloration is often associated with variation in physiological and […]

Built on Facts

Excellent new physics blog, Built on Facts. Highly recommended, though the author of the weblog seems to be a big believer in the omnipresence of porn (perhaps building upon personal facts?).

Humans and monkeys: Recent convergent evolution on COX2?

Svante Paabo’s group just finished sequencing the complete mitochondrial DNA of a Neanderthal. The article is in the newest Cell. John Hawks has a summary. One of the big findings: In one tiny way, we’ve become more like monkeys recently, since Neanderthals, chimps, and other sequenced apes have the same non-homo-sapiens variants on COX2, but […]