Archive for July, 2010

Remote control neurons

Mirrored from Clever, elegant and extremely powerful – techniques to activate specific sets of neurons with light have the potential to revolutionise cellular and systems neuroscience. Optogenetics has already been used to address a number of questions which have been resistant to answer by other techniques, and also holds great promise for neurotherapeutics and […]

A Replicated Typo empire

Just want to note that GNXP contributor bayes has transformed A Replicated Typo into a fascinating group weblog. Feed here.

Cultural Diversity, Economic Development and Societal Instability

Most of you in the science blogosphere have probably come across Razib’s recent post on linguistic diversity and poverty. The basic argument being that linguistic homogeneity is good for economic development and general prosperity. I was quite happy to let the debate unfold and limit my stance on the subject to the following few sentences […]

The Price of Altruism

A week ago I reviewed The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness. As I noted in the review, many individuals who are of interest to the core readership of this weblog make significant appearances in The Price of Altruism, John Maynard Smith and W. D. Hamilton most prominently. […]

Social and individual behavior genetics

I believe it was Bryan Caplan who introduced me to the analogy of a child’s personality being like a rubber band; parents, in particular adoptive parents, can twist and pull a child in particular directions so long as the child is under their direction, but once the child leaves the home the rubber band “snaps […]

The Media Noose: Copycat Suicides and Social Learning

I always remember 2008 as the year when the entire UK media descended upon the former mining town of Bridgend. The reason: over the course of two years, 24 young people, most of whom were between the ages of 13 and 17, decided to commit suicide. At the time I was working in Bridgend, so […]

Genomes Unzipped

If you haven’t, checked out the new weblog Genomes Unzipped. Familiar names & faces. The first posts are already must-reads, Testing for traces of Neanderthal in your own genome, and Personal genomics: the importance of sequencing.

The inevitable intelligence

I think about Luke Jostin’s analysis of the growth in cranial capacity in the hominin lineage from last spring a fair amount. In particular, in the comments he notes: The data above includes all known Homo skulls, but none of the results change if you exclude the 24 Neandertals. In fact, you see the same […]

Sexual orientation – wired that way

In a recent post, I presented the evidence that sexual preference is strongly influenced by genetic variation (–-in-the-genes). Here, I discuss the neurobiological evidence that shows that the brains of homosexual men and women are wired differently from those of their heterosexual counterparts. First, we must consider the differences between the brains of heterosexual males […]

Birth Months of World Cup Players

Four years ago I (and others) got in a dispute with Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt (DL) about their claim that birth month had a meaningful impact on later success in professional sports because kids born in January were “old” for their age group and were, therefore, more likely to make elite travel, national teams […]

Words as alleles: A null-model for language evolution?

For me, recent computational accounts of language evolution provide a compelling rationale that cultural, as opposed to biological, evolution is fundamental in understanding the design features of language. The basis for this rests on the simple notion of language being not only a conveyor of cultural information, but also a socially learned and culturally transmitted […]

Authenticity and the Fermi paradox

I know that the simplest explanation for the Fermi paradox is that we’re the first intelligent technological life form in the universe. But thinking about Paul Bloom’s thesis that a sense of “authenticity” is necessary for pleasure made me wonder a bit more about the possibility that once intelligent life forms get to the point […]