Archive for March, 2009

Virginity & heritability

Genes may time loss of virginity: As genetic determinism goes, the new findings are modest. Segal’s team found that genes explain a third of the differences in participants’ age at first intercourse – which was, on average, a little over 19 years old. By comparison, roughly 80% of variations in height across a population can […]

Evolving to become more miserable?

In A Farewell to Alms, Gregory Clark provides data on interest rates to show that Europeans gradually developed lower time preferences. In other words, they were more likely to delay gratification and plan for the future — paying back loans, for example. He also interprets data on wills as showing that most people of English […]

Jerry Coyne is blogging

A quick link to Jerry Coyne‘s blog in support of his new book, Why Evolution is True. There are some nice posts–see for example this one on the evolution of pygmies.

Connections between Mendelian diseases and natural variation

I’ve written before about a pattern emerging from genome-wide association studies–genes in which mutations cause rare extreme forms of a phenotype often harbor common variation that influence natural, non-disease variation in that same phenotype. A pair of new studies on variation in cardiac repolarization (summarized here) provide an additional example of this pattern. It’s worth […]

Perhaps people like to memorize stuff?

Steve brings up the fact that there is a trend in Indian culture toward memorizing stuff as a way of showing off one’s intellect. This seems plausible. But, I think a bigger point might be that rote learning and feats of memory have traditionally been more important in human history than they are now, and […]

Cortical thickness & intelligence

Follow up to the post below, Jake Young at Pure Pedantry has a thorough review. Labels: IQ, Neuroscience

Finnish Type A personalities have more offspring

Adolescent Leadership and Adulthood Fertility: Revisiting the “Central Theoretical Problem of Human Sociobiology”: Human motivation for social status may reflect an evolved psychological adaptation that increased individual reproductive success in the evolutionary past. However, the association between status striving and reproduction in contemporary humans is unclear. It may be hypothesized that personality traits related to […]

IQ & neuroscience

Positive association between cognitive ability and cortical thickness in a representative US sample of healthy 6 to 18 year-olds: Neuroimaging studies, using various modalities, have evidenced a link between the general intelligence factor (g) and regional brain function and structure in several multimodal association areas. While in the last few years, developments in computational neuroanatomy […]

South Park, it’s back!

Excellent episode.

Of rats & men

You probably know that lions were native to Greece 2,000 years ago (ergo, the Lion Gate). But more importantly I just realized today how important it might be that the rats we know of as rats are relative newcomers to Western Eurasia (above & beyond their specific relevance to plague). The black rat for example […]

They knew they were right?

I’m going to leave this without comment, The Crash-Test Solution. Subhead: “we now know that few people saw the downturn coming. Scientists are working to make sure that never happens again.” Labels: Finance

Signals of recent positive selection in a worldwide sample of human populations…again, sort of

New paper in Genome Research, Signals of recent positive selection in a worldwide sample of human populations: Genome-wide scans for recent positive selection in humans have yielded insight into the mechanisms underlying the extensive phenotypic diversity in our species, but have focused on a limited number of populations. Here, we present an analysis of recent […]

Brain gene expression differences as a function of time

Transcriptional neoteny in the human brain: In development, timing is of the utmost importance, and the timing of developmental processes often changes as organisms evolve. In human evolution, developmental retardation, or neoteny, has been proposed as a possible mechanism that contributed to the rise of many human-specific features, including an increase in brain size and […]

What the frack was that?

Comments openNote from Razib: I haven’t watched BSG since the first few episodes. Please be careful about your first few words in your comments as I have to moderate and will also see them on the right side under recent comments. I plan to watch the whole series on DVD over a weekend at some […]

Tracking economists’ consensus on money illusion, as a proxy for Keynesianism

I’m probably not the only person playing catch-up on economics in order to get a better sense of what the hell is going on. Just two economists clearly called the housing bubble and predicted the financial crisis, and only one of them has several books out on the topic — Robert Shiller, the other being […]

Pigmentation variation in humans

It was only six short years ago that Greg Barsh wrote an “unsolved mystery” review in PLoS Biology asking, “What Controls Variation in Human Skin Color?” A recent review provides a nice summary of the developments since then–in short, pigmentation is now probably one of the best understood (at a genetic level) phenotypes in humans. […]

Brain & intelligence

Readers of this weblog from back in 2002 know that we used to point to Paul Thompson’s research. So see this, Genetics of Brain Fiber Architecture and Intellectual Performance: The study is the first to analyze genetic and environmental factors that affect brain fiber architecture and its genetic linkage with cognitive function. We assessed white […]

Inbreeding over time

A number of people have commented on a recent paper showing an increase in heterozygosity in human populations over time, presumably due to increased outbreeding (though Dienekes suggests some of this effect may be due to more homozygous individuals living longer, my feeling is that the results associating homozygosity and lifespan are more likely to […]

Ethnic America, 1830

One of the most frustrating things about modern American models of ethnicity is that they are so focused on the racial aspect, and to a lesser extent on the white ethnics who arrived after 1840. Albion’s Seed is great because it elucidates in such detail the different British strains which settled the Americas, but unfortunately […]

Will the recession bring anti-globalization protests back?

When I was a clueless sophomore and junior in college, 2000 – 2001, the cool thing that was sweeping through campuses was anti-globalization. It was more than just that, but this was the core. (There was also the Nader campaign, the Florida vote fiasco, Enron, and 9/11.) At the time I was incredibly far left […]