After reading Jared Rubin’s Rulers, Religion, and Riches: Why the West Got Rich and the Middle East Did Not I can say I highly recommend it. Not necessarily because I’m entirely convinced by the thesis, which is quite subtle, but can be reduced to the proposition that religious elites in the Islamic world were never marginalized to the same extent that religious elites in the Christian world were, and so there did not emerge and economic elite which dictated changes in cultural and state amenable to their interests (and therefore, economic growth).
I don’t know if I’m going to fully review Rulers, Religion, and Riches, because I’m still thinking about all the arguments. But, I can recommend it because there are so many interesting subsections. Early on figure 1.1 and 1.2 show the most populous cities in Europe and the Islamic world in 800 and 1300. These data confirm that Europe lagged the Islamic world in 800, but had caught up by 1300. You should have already known this, but Rubin’s focus on data clarifies and solidifies much.
Though I was already sympathetic to the assertion that the timing of the Protestant Reformation was causally connected to the expansion of printing, again Rubin’s quantitative analyses convince me further. As a skeptical of Max Webber’s model, I find Rubin’s argument for why Protestantism was correlated with early modern economic growth much more persuasive (read the book!).
This week on The Insight I’ll be talking to Steve Stewart-Williams, author of The Ape that Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve. Most of the conversation revolves around evolutionary psychology, a topic I haven’t thought about much recently to be honest. The Ape that Understood the Universe is an irreverent, and broad-church, take on the discipline (there is not much mention of “cognitive modules” in the book).
On my other podcast, I dropped two recently that readers of this weblog might be interested in. First, one with Phillipe Lemoine, everyone’s favorite French philosophical “edgelord.” He has a blog post which I recommend to you, Polarization and misrepresentation of the outgroup.
Second, I talked to Zaid Jilani. Along with Leighton Woodhouse, he is behind the Extremely Offline podcast. Zaid is clearly a man of the Left, but he seems to have a traditionally liberal perspective on intellectual discourse. The most recent episode of their podcast featured a discussion between Mike Cernovich and Katie Herzog.
Was Thomas Kuhn Evil? Definitely overrated and not totally coherent, no?
Silicon Valley Housing Crisis Ensnares Stanford. More “cost-of-living porn.” Now I’m reading stories of hairdressers buying houses in Arizona and flying back on Southwest to San Francisco periodically.
Loss-of-function tolerance of enhancers in the human genome.
Genomic selection for lentil breeding: empirical evidence.
John Snow Emails 23andMe About His DNA Results. Genealogically he’s 12.5%. DNA is not magic!
Iran’s Revolution Reconsidered. I always thought it was known that the Iranian Revolution had an element of Platonism? Shia Islam did not turn as definitively against Hellenic thought as the Sunnis did after al-Ghazali.
Origin of elevational replacements in a clade of nearly flightless birds – most diversity in tropical mountains accumulates via secondary contact following allopatric speciation.
Macroevolutionary integration of phenotypes within and across ant worker castes.
Defining the genetic and evolutionary architecture of alternative splicing in response to infection.
By the I, I mentioned this on Twitter. 23andMe says I’m 97% “Broadly South Asian” and my parents are 99% “Broadly South Asian.” That broadly part clearly includes people with substantial East Asian ancestry, as is the norm among most Bengalis, especially those of us from the east. That’s fine, but the method they’re using is masking this from customers. I can see why they do this, but the PCA don’t lie, and we’re off-cline…. The admixture is just “old” (~1,500 years old).
Bayesian Estimation of Population Size Changes by Sampling Tajima’s Trees.
Multiple Deeply Divergent Denisovan Ancestries in Papuans. Many seem skeptical about the recent time estimate for late admixture. But the overall finding of structure is probably right on some level.
New Tides of History on Queen Isabella and the Reconquista.
Last week we dropped a podcast about the “missing heritability” with Alexander Young. He wrote a blog post exploring the issue. I also heard that PLOS has now invited him to write a comment on the topic! In a few weeks, I’ll be talking to John Greally about epigenetics.
Interview with Paul Coates, the father of Ta-Nehisi Coates. In the battle of ideas between the “ancients” and the “moderns”, sometimes the ancients were wiser.
New species of ancient human unearthed in the Philippines.
Coupled MCMC in BEAST 2.