Archive for April, 2009

The Secular Case Against Gay Marriage?

John Derbyshire is making it over at Secular Right. Since Andrew Sullivan linked you can imagine the way comments are going…. (Comments closed here)

Mike Lynch elected to NAS

See the press release. Genetics and Analysis of Quantitative Traits and The Origins of Genome Architecture are excellent books (though set aside some time if you want to tackle the first).

Secular Cycles of the human animal

Quantitative ecologist Peter Turchin’s Secular Cycles is not available for purchase, but you can get a final draft copy online. His previous books, War and Peace and War: The Life Cycles of Imperial Nations & Historical Dynamics: Why States Rise and Fall, prefigure many of the arguments that are fleshed out in Secular Cycles. Turchin’s […]

Western names in China

The Name’s Du Xiao Hua, But Call Me Steve: Given the nationalism I’ve witnessed in China, I was a bit surprised at how readily Chinese adopted Western names. (Even my Americanized parents were uncomfortable with the idea of me changing my name. They said I could do as I wished when I turned 18, though […]

Bone mutants and recent selection

The New York Times has an interesting little piece on bones, including a description of the unsettling genetic disorder fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva: When Harry Eastlack was 5 years old, he broke his left leg while out playing with his sister. The fracture failed to set properly, and soon his hip and knee had stiffened up […]

Homo floresiensis as an outgroup?

That’s what this piece in The New York Times seems to be implying. In other words, the various classes of H. erectus might be a sister clade to H. floresiensis, instead of the latter being derived from a branch of the erectine lineages (as Neandertals and our own species are). The reference to “primitive” features […]

The Green Beard of Sex

One morning recently I woke up and suddenly thought I had solved the evolutionary problem of sex. About ten minutes later, I realised I hadn’t, and went back to sleep. But it may still be worth outlining the ‘solution’, first because understanding the fallacy in the solution helps clarify the problem itself, and secondly because […] again

Chatting with my friend Jake Young.

Communism setting the stage for capitalism

Over at ScienceBlogs I have a post which highlights the bizarre likelihood that in China atheists are actually some more hostile to the precepts of godless Communism than the religious. I talked to Michael Vassar about this and he thought it was curious that Chinese atheists are probably among the segments of the world population […]

Smart people act more rationally in economics

Cognitive skills affect economic preferences, strategic behavior, and job attachment: Economic analysis has so far said little about how an individual’s cognitive skills (CS) are related to the individual’s economic preferences in different choice domains, such as risk taking or saving, and how preferences in different domains are related to each other. Using a sample […]

Horse coat color variation and domestication

Coat Color Variation at the Beginning of Horse Domestication: The transformation of wild animals into domestic ones available for human nutrition was a key prerequisite for modern human societies. However, no other domestic species has had such a substantial impact on the warfare, transportation, and communication capabilities of human societies as the horse. Here, we […]

Sex & choice

Steve points out that Geoffrey Miller has a new book that’s going to come out soon, Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior. More directly related to the topic of sex and decision-making, The Heat of the Moment: The Effect of Sexual Arousal on Sexual Decision Making. Read the whole paper, but I have a figure […]

Steve Sailer makes Talking Points Memo

See here.

Political unification leads to the spread of languages

Political complexity predicts the spread of ethnolinguistic groups: Human languages show a remarkable degree of variation in the area they cover. However, the factors governing the distribution of human cultural groups such as languages are not well understood. While previous studies have examined the role of a number of environmental variables the importance of cultural […]

Measuring whether a painter is under or over-valued

As a follow-up to the previous post on measuring the price-to-earnings ratio of composers, I’ve done the same thing for painters. The motivation is the same, and I’m still using the painter’s score in Charles Murray’s Human Accomplishment to measure earnings (the more objective valuation). Here, instead of measuring price (the more fashion-driven valuation) with […]

An argument for searching for rare variants in human disease

Based on the comments on my previous post, I’m going to lay out an argument which I find reasonable for sequencing studies in human disease: Let’s follow Goldstein’s back-of-the-envelope calculations: assume there are ~100K polymorphisms (assuming Goldstein isn’t making the mistake I attribute to him, this includes polymorphisms both common and rare) that contribute to […]

Reverting to cultural type

Who I Am Depends on How I Feel: The Role of Affect in the Expression of Culture: We present a novel role of affect in the expression of culture. Four experiments tested whether individuals’ affective states moderate the expression of culturally normative cognitions and behaviors. We consistently found that value expressions, self-construals, and behaviors were […]

Profile of Greg Cochran in The Los Angeles Times

Steve points me to a profile of Greg & Henry, with a focus on Jewish genetics & smarts. Labels: IQ, Jews

Those Antarctic bacteria

Check out Ed Yong’s post on A Contemporary Microbially Maintained Subglacial Ferrous “Ocean”.

Notes on the Common Disease-Common Variant debate: two years later

Just over two years ago, I wrote a brief post explaining why I find the “debate” about common variants versus rare variants in human medical genetics to be largely unhelpful. I concluded thusly, after explaining some of the rationale for looking for common variants that affect disease susceptibility: So am I then arguing in favor […]