Posts with Comments by razib

10 years of Gene Expression

  • guys, he's doing quite fine indeed. he's not retired in any way, though from the blog he is.
  • Notes on the future

  • #4, i know. i don't care about traffic for this site really.
  • Romans & gods, Athens & Jerusalem

  • i think it is fair to say it has replaced overpopulation for many people. that does not speak to its scientific validity, but it does suggest that for many non-scientific people it slips into that sort of slot.
  • Too clever by a half

  • Perhaps I’m being too clever by half i wouldn't say your comment is too clever really. no offense.
  • I’ve never seen a good definition of the word “Religion”, most attempts manage to leave out some major world religion or another. don't think top-down, think bottom-up. that's easier. Sorry if you think this is stupid – just throwing out ideas and if you tear them to shreds, so be it! not stupid, but not clever. working back: "I made up what I said above on the spot so I thought it would likely be flawed." making things up on the spot are easy if you're intelligent and knowledgeable. they also impress the stupid easily. but your arguments are too loaded on your inferences and not enough on facts. for example: Islam, because it developed to pacify warring nomads, offers little to high IQ urban individuals. islam was not started by nomads, it was started by urbanites. muhammed was a merchant, and the first muslims were based out of the entrepots of medina and mecca. a revisionist theory moves the early muslims to the margins of the levant. the bedouin were probably relative late comers to islam, and islam is a notably city-focused religion from the beginning. you can dispute this urban-narrative reasonably, but your comment doesn't even indicate that you're conscious of it. it's like you took the propaganda of ferdowsi at face value! you lack sufficient grounding in the basics here to speculate interestingly to me. or at least your inferential ambition outruns the robusticity of your database. of course you know more than 99% of humans, so you'll probably impress them with your erudition.
  • first, the creation narratives of these religions are often self-serving, and may not be accurate, but: The problem was, from the beginning, that the existing communities didn’t like Islam. Islam had to attract those mostly less well-off who didn’t have a religion. Thus to attract these assumed lower IQ groups, Islam had to be similar in structure to a political ideology, of the sort that would become popular hundreds of years later in the large urban cities. the same could be said of hinduism, and the same has been said of judaism. obviously islam had to have a political ideology, it was a political religion from its inception. the orthodox would argue that the politics came right after the religion, while the revisionists would argue that the religion came after the politics. but i don't see how this makes islam particularly strange. the relationship between politics and religion is cross-cultural. cakravartin and "vice-reagent of god" aren't muslim terms. the roman state religion, as well as the chinese state religion, were clearly ideological. though supernatural and metaphysical elements existed in chinese state religion, its raison d'etre was an ideology of political organization on the broad scale (and personal self-cultivation on the individual). your observations about islam are in some sense true. but they're trivial, because they're true of all religions. even "apolitical" religions like primitive christianity were highly political. christians organized themselves in a cell structure and created a parallel system of self-governance in the roman empire. also, i believe you too close connect the original form of the religion to later forms. these phenomena are relatively plastic in my opinion.
  • Didn’t Judaism and Hinduism both emerge in a polytheistic environment? To a monotheistic religion, polytheism should be no competition because in such an environment monotheism can attract smarter adherents by being a much more simple, and better, reflection of reality, and a clearer moral code. In the same way, science will always attract smarter individuals than post-modernists, it’s less complicated and has results. So I suspect Judaism and Hinduism did not begin with the poor but with the more educated. Once the first monotheistic religions got established, however, the next ones along had to first appeal to the lower classes. 1) the orthodox legend is that islam grew up in a polytheistic environment too. so again, true, but trivial (though the revisionists would dispute that islam grew up in a polytheistic environment). 2) i don't think that a american/protestant model whereby religious choice is driven through individual rational choice works very well for pre-modern religions. both hinduism and judaism almost certainly evolved out of their cultural environments slowly and over time. the hindu evolution is more widely known, but anyone who reads the hebrew bible closely can discern the layers of cultural accretion underneath the narrative which was fleshed out by the time of first exile. 3) there's a good argument that there's really no much cognitive difference between 'polytheistic' and 'monotheistic' religions. Perhaps Islam is more political and less happy with secular government (and thus a role as a religious authority enforced voluntarily or through peer-pressure) because it finds it harder to enforce its rule without the help of the state. This might be less true of Christianity and Judaism. The adherents of these religions might be more happy to stay with it. Islam has explicit punishments to prevent believers leaving the religion – this would be what you’d expect of a religion that emerged among great world-view competition. christianity and judaism when in power had the same rules. because of the rarity of jewish temporal power after the classical period it isn't manifested very often, but the terrorism of the maccabees and igal amir more recently were predicated on ideals of national-religious apostasy. as for christianity, the rules in pre-modern christian states were strict enough. judaizing christians are known to have fled to muslim spain, while judaizing muslims fled to christian areas. traditionally the dominant religion did not brook defection. the main issue is that when viewed on a whiggish sense islam is just at a more primitive state.
  • …Those Germans

  • re: homosexuality. looked in WVS. there's only a very small bias to being anti-homosex in the eastern lander. in fact, the outliers are berlin and bavaria, which are very pro and anti homosexual tolerance respectively.
  • French muslims are mostly of north african origin and probably have a tendency to be more easy going about a lot of things(including religion) than many pakistani, indian etc muslims you might find in the UK. yes. i pointed to that on my other blog. and it's not the indian muslims. they're pretty liberal and disproportionately ismaili east africans. it's pakistani and bangladeshi.
  • please note that over 50% of pakistanis in the UK were born in the UK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Britishpakistanispob.jpg this would overestimate the immigrant portion since those who arrive under the age of 5 are operationally british raised.
  • The older generation in the eastern Laender was raised in a more conservative way. This could explain some of the differences with France and the UK it's more complicated than that. gdr was more more conserv. on homosexuality, but much more liberal on abortion.
  • Are there significant differences between UK muslims and French muslims? dude, that's so general as to be a useless question. UK muslims speak english. french muslims speak french. :-)
  • How Worrysome is Habitat Loss?

  • preserving the amazon is essential, as it will prevent brazil from continuing along its "ascension graph"! though seriously, from what i recall it isn't the amazon which is threatened. it's only been singed on the margins. OTOH, the atlantic rainforests of brazil are almost gone, and southeast asian forest is rapidly being denuded.
  • Mice with fully functioning human brains

  • What evidence is there that the common ancestor from which humans and modern Old World monkeys evolved was anything other than a monkey? well, you do have an internet connection. why don't you engage the post by actually posting links to the scholarship instead of just posing an interrogative question? anyway, this might be of interest.... http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100714/full/news.2010.354.html
  • well, if we want to be cladistic nerds, 'monkey' is a term we should avoid in scientific discussion. it's paraphyletic. monkey = primates which aren't apes or prosimians. but the first commenter was probably talking in phenetic terms, in which case it would have been polite of him to actually sate his curiosity and look up the morphology of the last common ancestor. it's what i would have done. a minor aspect of natural history not often discussed is that old world monkeys have only recently marginalized the apes. until recently apes were much more speciose than they are today, and filled many of the niches which monkeys did. but monkeys are better are being monkeys than apes obviously.
  • fanatic opposition to all GM foods i don't think this is true. in the USA yeah, it is leftist-anti-science types who are freaked out and get a lot of press in the states, but opposition to GMO hasn't gotten very far here. it's in europe that the main source of opposition has been effective in getting it curtailed or banned, and there's broad societal support for the bans, including from right-traditionalist groups. i think there's a case to be made that the left has been more destructive to applied science than the right, but i think your maximalist position makes you less credible. (i poked around the survey data on this issue, and there's a reflexive aversion to GMO across the political spectrum)
  • The rest is twaddle, and doesn’t really belong in a science blog. hey, thanks for your editorial input! appreciated since we value your subscription! though seriously, it was just an intro as an excuse to discuss the post. common form on science blogs. it went a little longer than the usual, but i skipped over it pretty easily myself. if you can't do so, that's your business, doesn't give you an opening to be unpleasant and demanding as to the nature of the content of the biases (the factual assertion as to "which side" is more anti- or pro-science is fine, as it doesn't necessarily have to be presented in a hectoring fashion). this line of conversation is OVER.
  • Should you go to an Ivy League School?

  • 1) i predict this post will get MANY COMMENTS. extrapolating from the current rate you may be the record holder for comments-per-post for a contributor to this weblog. i think to top this you need to talk about how we need to reimpose jew quotas at elite universities to foster diversity. 2) re: inequality, this discussion only matters for the very top quality students. i don't think admission decisions are a big effect on society as a whole, 80% of american undergraduate students go to public universities, and of the remaining 20% most do not go to private universities with signalling name recognition such as harvard or stanford. i once knew a wesleyan grad who joked that it was nice to meet someone on the west coast who wasn't curious as to how he graduated from a women's college (wellesley). and that's not even addressing the huge network of conservative protestant schools which are private, but only marginally above "bible college" status. 3) this issue was mooted in the early years of this weblog, fwiw. 2002-2003. ancient history now.
  • - The whole point is crass; as far as I can tell the interesting discussion is whether the Ivies provide a better education than other quality schools. the aim of many smart people is not to become smarter but seem smarter, alas. it's cheaper in time and effort.
  • Wild-type humans

  • re: bob sykes, w. d. hamilton kind of makes a similar reference in relation to his late life skepticism of the efficacy of eugenics.
  • why you are asking me? you do know i'm not the author of this post, right?
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