Archive for February, 2009

GNXP Survey Results

There are nearly 500 complete responses to the survey from last week. Here’s a CSV file of the results. Below the fold are the frequencies as well as N’s. I might report some trends in the data, but a lot of it is predictable. People who only read ScienceBlogs GNXP are way more liberal than those who […]

Interview of Greg Cochran on

OK, it’s more just Greg talking. Here. The density of brown dudes on is rather high this week.

Guess which surnames died out in pre-industrial England?

The surnames of the criminal and the poor, of course. Greg Clark provides new evidence for the “survival of the richest” here (and he thanks Nick Wade for the idea). From the abstract: [E]vidence from…surnames…again shows the takeover of English society by the economically successful between 1600 and 1851, and the disappearance of the criminal […]

Haloscan going through transition

Haloscan is upgrading to JS-Kit. Until I update this post, you might want to not comment (I can’t approve comments right now, and don’t know whether it will be saved in the database).Update: Looks like comments are back.

Epigenetics and gene structures

Following up on this previous post on epigentics, I thought I’d point to a couple nice examples of using epigenetic information to obtain insight into basic biology. The first is, I think it’s fair to say, a landmark paper identifying a set of over a thousand likely functional non-coding RNAs in mouse cell lines. The […]

Epigenetics in the NY Times

Not news to many readers, I’m sure, but Nicholas Wade has a nice article on epigenetics and gene regulation. Some people in the article complain about the lack of a focused investment by the government in this area. I found this a little odd–isn’t quite a bit of large-scale work being done by the ENCODE […]

Male superiority at chess and science cannot be explained by statistical sampling arguments

A new paper by Bilalic et al. (2009) (read the PDF here), tries to account for male superiority in chess by appealing to a statistical sampling argument: men make up a much larger fraction of chess players, and that the n highest extreme values — say, the top ranked 100 players — are expected to […]

The Porn Belt

Tyler Cowen points me to an interesting paper, Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment?. Here’s an interesting map which shows states with high and low porn subscription rates (dark = high, light = low). Here’s a table with the data, controlled for some variables. This part is amusing: The fourth column reports that […]

Preliminary responses to reader survey

Are here. Just the frequency data. Past experience tells me that the proportions won’t change much…. (N is well over 300)

The Deep Web

Exploring a ‘Deep Web’ That Google Can’t Grasp. I remember when I first encountered Google, right after reading this article in Salon. Not to put a fine point on it, I was tired of search engines that returned a list of porn stars when I was trying to look up the black conservative “Shelby Steele.” […]

From human genetics to biological insight

In 2007, SNPs in an intron of the gene FTO were reported to be associated with obesity. At the time, essentially nothing was known about the gene. A few months later, a group of biochemists proposed a role for the gene in demethylation of nucleic acids (RNA or DNA). This week, a group of mouse […]

Reader Survey

It’s been a while since I did a reader survey, so I posted 15 questions here. I’ll put up a csv file with the results in a week.

Convergent evolution in pigmentation

Short article in Conservation and Convergence of Colour Genetics: MC1R Mutations in brown Cavefish: One of the most striking observations in nature is when similar phenotypes appear independently, such as wings in birds and bats, or melanism in moths and mice. These examples of so-called convergent evolution naturally lead us to ponder the question of […]

A test for the pathogenic theory of homosexuality?

Compare monochorionic to dichorionic twins. If there’s a teratogen causing homosexuality then it should show up as a statistical difference in concordance for homosexuality. Of course this would only tell us whether there is a prenatal pathogen. It wouldn’t rule out the possibility that there is a pathogen that only strikes later on. Labels: Behavior […]

Mandatory genetic screening?

Parents probably already know this, but this is a surprise to me, Screening for Rare Genetic Disorders Now Routine in Newborns: A March of Dimes report released today says all 50 states and the District of Columbia now require newborn screening for 21 or more so-called core disorders recommended for testing. These core disorders, 29 […]

The New York Times article skimmer

A web 2.0 app that allows you to explore The New York Times. Via Felix Salmon.


Dead End in Detroit for White-Collar Workers: Frustrated by the tight job market, Mr. Badhorn works off his stress by hitting the gym every day. He’s lost 15 pounds since November, but it hasn’t made him feel any better about his circumstances. “I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I’m going to have to […]

Younger people accept evolution

The Inductivist has already reported that younger people are more likely to accept evolution. But it is also true that younger people are less Christian than older people. But does the trend hold within religious groups? That is, are younger people more open to evolution, or is that more secular people are more open to […]

Creationism among doctors and the general public

A few years ago there was a survey of Creationism among medical doctors. The short of is that though medical doctors are not as Creationist as the general public, a large minority are Creationists. The N’s for some of the groups are rather small, but I thought it might be illustrative to compare the proportion […]

Right & wrong is not about religion

At least according to most Americans. The full report of the Pew Religious Landscape Survey has some data not available on the website. There is a question of the form: When it comes to questions of right and wrong, which of the following do you look to most for guidance? I think the results will […]