Archive for October, 2008

An Updated Database of Genome-Wide Association Studies

While reading through a Nature Genetics Review article, I came cross a link to this catalog of published genome-wide association studies. Pretty cool stuff. Labels: Genetics

Statistics and religious trends

I have a piece up for The Guardian’s new Comment is Free Belief site, The use and abuse of statistics – Prophecies of the extinction of religion, or its triumph, fall prey to the weaknesses of linear prediction. Implicit in my argument are these sorts of dynamics: Bearman and Bruckner have also identified a peculiar […]

Portfolio rollback

Condé Nast Cuts Focus on 2 Magazines: Through the first nine months of the year, ad pages in all United States magazines were down 9.5 percent from the same period in 2007. Most magazines produced by Condé Nast – including Vogue, GQ, Architectural Digest and Wired – have had much smaller declines, but they are […]

Evolution and trustworthiness

Evolution of trust and trustworthiness: social awareness favours personality differences (Open Access): Interest in the evolution and maintenance of personality is burgeoning. Individuals of diverse animal species differ in their aggressiveness, fearfulness, sociability and activity. Strong trade-offs, mutation-selection balance, spatio-temporal fluctuations in selection, frequency dependence and good-genes mate choice are invoked to explain heritable personality […]


I’ll yank this up from the comments: …Would it really be worse to have a future civilization full of ultra-intelligent robotic minds pushing science forward tirelessly than the Jerry Springer-esque Idiocracy that we are careening towards? So did anyone root for the AIs in The Galactic Center Saga? In the Dune universe there was an […]

Disease driven human evolution?

Gene Expression Profiles during In Vivo Human Rhinovirus Infection (also, ScienceDaily summary): Rhinovirus infection significantly alters the expression of many genes associated with the immune response, including chemokines and antivirals. The data obtained provide insights into the host response to rhinovirus infection and identify potential novel targets for further evaluation. . About those viruses: Epidemiologists […]

Which countries does the NYT cover most and least?

Greg Cochran left the following comment in a Matt Yglesias blog entry: What you need is a map of the world in which the sizes of the countries are adjusted to the number of column-inches they get in the New York Times and the Washington Post. I think it would be illuminating. Well, I’ve done […]

Some people better language learners?

Well, I assume most people probably accept that some people are better than average at learning languages, while others are not as good. But the reasons for this aren’t quite clear. PNAS has a paper out on this topic, Brain potentials to native phoneme discrimination reveal the origin of individual differences in learning the sounds […]

The post-human robot future

I recently attended a talk by Marshall Brain. He made the argument that the shift toward intelligent robots in the labor force will result in a much higher degree of structural unemployment in our economy. Brain presented some economic data which showed that gains in productivity over the past 10 years have not yield median […]

Increasing partisanship since the 1990s: more evidence

In the book Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State (see Razib’s review here and the book’s blog here), the authors note that the two major political parties have become more polarized in various ways since the 1990s, even though the average voter hasn’t changed much. Also, the key message of the book is […]

Islam in China

It’s a big blogosphere. Aziz points me Islam in China. They have an interesting post up which reiterates much of what I said about the diversity of Chinese Muslims, along with obscure facts such as that the second ranking Vice Premier of China is Hui. Not that there’s anything wrong it…. Labels: China

Father Absence theory in hip-hop

I’ve been somewhat out of the loop of hip hop music, though I’m catching up. A club that I go to regularly has been playing a song whose lyrics argue for the Father Absence theory of why some people grow up to be wilder than others. (See the video here.) It used to be that […]

Polls Are Smarter Than You

Andrew Sullivan points to a post by DJ Drummond which makes the claim that the polls are significantly biased towards the Democrats. This is a perfect example of partisanship taking precedence over facts, and it thus deserves a thorough fisking. Drummond begins:it needs noting that all of the major polling organizations are based in locations […]

John Hawks on Peter Turchin

A post commenting on Peter Turchin’s philosophy in regard to the utility of formal models, The utility of theoretical models. As I’ve been wont to say recently, error in the cause of clarity is no vice.

Culture & cognition

There is a new blog some readers might find of interest, Culture and Cognition. Dan Sperber, who did a 10 questions nearly 3 years ago, is a contributor. Imagine, what if cultural anthropology was dominated by people who didn’t behave like literary critics or aspire to be political revolutionaries?

Do you like the sound of your own voice?

Daniel Larison is surprised by the sound of his own voice (he did a Does anyone like the way their own voice sounds when recorded? Please leave comments if you do.

Dark Age giants?

From Barbarians to Angels: The Dark Ages Reconsidered: Measurements taken on skeletal remains in cemeteries in southwestern Germany indicate that the average height for men was about five feet eight inches, for women about five feet four inches, statures well above those of late medieval and early modern times. Measurements taken on skeletons in other […]

Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do

I have a review of Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do up at my other weblog. A quick, enjoyable, and valuable read. Labels: politics

Human evolution & height?

In the posts below I wanted to make clear my assumption that morbidity was likely more prevalent during the Neolithic than the Paleolithic. This does not mean of course that the Neolithic people were necessarily poorer than the Paleolithic peoples; Greg Cochran recently told me that people got healthier for obvious reasons during the Great […]

Hunter-gatherers and farmers, the continuing saga

Sandy made another response to my assertions about HG’s vs. farmers and quality of life, Agriculture Reduced The Periodicity & Amplitude Of Nutritional Stress. He’s done a lot of research to support his specific contentions, and certainly everything he reports is generally true. But, I don’t think it’s necessarily relevant or representative of the issues […]