Archive for January, 2010

Jersey Shore coming back

They’ve been signed for $10,000 per episode the next go around. Years ago Joel floated the idea of using Reality TV to test theories in social science. Paying the cast of Jersey Shore this much is going to mean that they’ll be under serious pressure to produce high quality “product.” I assume that means they’re […]

Proud to be red

A friend pointed me to this YouTube clip of a young red-haired man objecting to the term “ginger,” and the opprobrium he’s been subjected to since the South Park episode “Ginger Kids” popularized ideas such as the possibility that redheads have no soul. I assume the kid is joking. On the other hand, I have […]

Darwin wuz wrong, part n

A review of a new book, What Darwin Got Wrong. Co-authored by Jerry Fodor, who has been continuing his war against natural selection. I’ve already read Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity, and Other Fables of Evolution (at the suggestion of a reader who found the arguments within incredibly persuasive, convincing me to simply […]

Peer groups & bourgeois virtues

Self-Control and Peer Groups: However, according to a new study by Michelle vanDellen, a psychologist at the University of Georgia, self-control contains a large social component; the ability to resist temptation is contagious. The paper consists of five clever studies, each of which demonstrates the influence of our peer group on our self-control decisions. For […]

Race: A Social Destruction of a Biological Concept

What is the single best reference for refuting the notion that “race is only a social construct” for a non-scientist? I don’t know. (Suggestions welcome in the comments.) But Neven Sesardic (previously praised here) does a marvelous job in “Race: A Social Destruction of a Biological Concept,” (pdf) Biology and Philosophy (2010, forthcoming). It is […]

Maps of white teen birthrate and abortion rates by state

A supplement to the previous two posts. Below are maps which are shaded proportionally. Note how New York seems to be the abortion capital of the USA. Total surprise to me. Remember that these data are for white females from the ages of 15-19. Labels: Teen Pregnancy

Red State, Blue State, Teen Birthrate, Teen Abortion rate

A reader pointed to this post in Free Exchange: Here are the 15 states with the biggest percentage drop from 1988-2005 in the ratio of teen abortions—the percentage of teen pregnancies that ended in abortion, not counting miscarriages. Crudely put, these are the states where pregnant white teens stopped having abortions between 1988-2005. 1. Kentucky2. […]

Teen birthrates and abortion rates

The New York Times has a new article, After Long Decline, Teenage Pregnancy Rate Rises. The graphic is OK, but it focuses on aggregate teen pregnancy rates (age group 15-19) instead of splitting it out so as to show births and abortions. The original report is chock full of tables, but not the charts I […]

A bold prediction: “synthetic associations” are not a panacea

There’s a bit of press surrounding the interesting result from David Goldstein’s group that, in certain situations, a number of “rare” (defined as an allele frequency less than 5% [1]) variants influencing a trait can lead to an association signal at “common” SNPs. This phenomenon they authors call a “synthetic association”. The authors claim this […]

Confucius biopic

I noticed that a new biopic of Confucius just opened in China. It’s pretty obvious that they “sexed up” his life, as you can see in the trailer. In terms of a big-budget biopic it seems to me that the life of Confucius is a very thin source of blockbuster material in relation to other […]

How much is “The Situation” worth?

‘Jersey Shore’ — MTV Tries to Divide and Conquer: Sources tell TMZ the network has told the cast if they don’t accept MTV’s deal by the end of business Monday, they will be replaced. And, MTV has told them it does not have to be a package deal — the cast members who accept the […]

Lactase persistance in India

Frequency of lactose malabsorption among healthy southern and northern Indian populations by genetic analysis and lactose hydrogen breath and tolerance tests: Volunteers from southern and northern India were comparable in age and sex. The LTT result was abnormal in 88.2% of southern Indians and in 66.2% of northern Indians…The lactose HBT result was abnormal in […]

What era are our intuitions about elites and business adapted to?

Well, just the way I asked it, our gut feelings about the economically powerful are obviously not a product of hunter-gatherer life, given that such societies have minimal hierarchy, and so minimal disparities in power, material wealth, privileges of all kinds, etc. Hunter-gatherers don’t even tolerate would-be elite-strivers, so beyond a blanket condemnation of trying […]

How much faster

Athlete Atypicity on the Edge of Human Achievement: Performances Stagnate after the Last Peak, in 1988: The growth law for the development of top athletes performances remains unknown in quantifiable sport events. Here we present a growth model for 41351 best performers from 70 track and field (T&F) and swimming events and detail their characteristics […]

Not as the crow flies

A comment below: This thought has probably occurred to others as well, but isn’t it interesting that if this theory of Baltics being the “true” Europeans is correct, that history repeated itself several thousand years later when the Baltic peoples became the last Europeans…to adopt Christianity, a Middle Eastern Religion? There must be something repelling […]

Controlling the means of reproduction

The title says it all, Should Obese, Smoking and Alcohol Consuming Women Receive Assisted Reproduction Treatment? The press release is based on a position statement from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. The link is here (not live yet). Labels: Ethics

Where are the “Paleolithic Europeans”?

Over at my other blog I have a review up of a new paper in PLoS Biology. The authors argue that a particular Y haplogroup lineage, R1b1b2, which has often been assumed to be a marker of indigenous Paleolithic Europeans (i.e., those who were extant before the rise of agriculture and the spread of farmers), […]

The few and the many

John Hawks has some commentary on a Nicholas Wade article which previews a new paper on long term effective population size in humans, soon to be out in PNAS (Wade’s piece states that it’ll be out tomorrow, but it’s PNAS). Wade states: They put the number at 18,500 people, but this refers only to breeding […]

Ant fiction

Steve points me to an except from E. O. Wilson’s new ant novel in The New Yorker. In the late 1990s I read Empire of the Ants, which had a significant ant-centric aspect. A friend who later went on to do graduate work in entemology borrowed it from me, and she must have liked it […]

A model of the history of human misery

In the comments below I was outlining a simple model which really is easiest to communicate with a chart. I removed the labels on the Y and X axes because the details don’t matter, the X axis is simply “time,” and the Y axis simply reflects the magnitudes of the three trendlines. The key is […]

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