Open Thread, 05/12/2019

A History of Korea: From “Land of the Morning Calm” to States in Conflict is very cheap on Kindle right now. Seems less propagandistic (unwittingly to be fair) than some other Korean histories I’ve read. Basically, Korean histories seem less interesting in detaching from nationalism as they’re writing, and it can get grating (everyone has opinions, but you don’t want them leaking through all the time).

If you haven’t, you might want to check out my podcast interview with an epigeneticists who takes a dim view of some of the hype in the field. If you are a geneticist you’ll have all this before of course, whether you agree with it or not.

Harvard Drops Harvey Weinstein Lawyer as a Faculty Dean. A contrary take from Harvard students: ‘With Us or Against Us’: Current, Former Winthrop Affiliates Say Faculty Deans Created a Toxic Environment Stretching Back Years. Basically, some people who I know who were at Winthrop house are telling me that the administration took the move because the protests gave them the opportunity. It’s an interesting epistemological question here for all these ‘culture war’ conflicts. A lot of the time the underlying dynamics are more prosaic and personal than what you might read in the media, but it’s not in anyone’s interest to surface that.

Here’s reader survey as a .csv. No big surprises. Though some of you don’t want me to post about Game of Thrones. Well, that will a “done” thing soon anyhow. I doubt I’ll be blogging ten years from now when Martin comes out with the next book… (if…)

Evolution unleashed: Is evolutionary science due for a major overhaul – or is talk of ‘revolution’ misguided?. Kevin Laland. The usual response is “niche construction isn’t new.”

Evaluation of the Diagnostic Stability of the Early Autism Spectrum Disorder Phenotype in the General Population Starting at 12 Months.

Shadi Hamid is getting dragged on Twitter for working with a “Christian Zionist” organization (Shadi disputes the characterization). The weird thing is a lot of the critics are journalists who work for AJ+, which is a subsidiary of Al Jazeera Media Network, which is run by a royal family that rules a Salafi state, Qatar. There are good things and bad things about Qatar. But journalists who work for a techno-reactionary absolute monarchy should perhaps be careful about pointing fingers from their glass houses.

Asia Bibi: Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy case. The utilization of these laws to target minorities by people with personal disputes is really familiar, though the consequences are more extreme than what you would see in the West. A lot of the time the public is even tacitly aware of the personal nature of the original dispute, but they back the idea of blasphemy laws so much that innocence is no defense.

New podcast on anthropology and archaeology, The Arch and Anth Podcast.

Why falsificationism is false. Since I know a little philosophy of science I have known that Popper is passe within philosophy of science for a long time. But it is surprising to many scientists.

Is species a social construct? Some people have argued that rejecting the species concept by biologists is a deepity. The issue that biologists have is that the public has a different perception of what species are than what biologists have. The public perception derives from folk biology, augmented by stuff like the Bible (species = “kinds”). This drives biologists crazy.

5-HTTLPR: A POINTED REVIEW. Been hearing this from friends since 2007 or so.

Variable prediction accuracy of polygenic scores within an ancestry group. Important.

Pakistani Christian girls trafficked to China as brides. China’s demographic problems are going to leave a huge shadow over Asia.

Noah Carl’s response.

Comparing signals of natural selection between three Indigenous North American populations.

Don’t Let Students Run the University and Academe’s Extinction Event Failure, Whiskey, and Professional Collapse at the MLA.

Unraveling ancestry, kinship, and violence in a Late Neolithic mass grave. This week’s episode of The Insight will be with two of the corresponding authors of this paper.

Discovery of ongoing selective sweeps within Anopheles mosquito populations using deep learning. A podcast of The Insight in a few weeks will drop with the last author, Andy Kern. Though we talked about pop-gen and machine learning a lot, the last 15 minutes ended up about the issue of how pop-gen needs to reform itself in terms of large collaborations instead of small competing labs.

24 thoughts on “Open Thread, 05/12/2019

  1. the hurried execution of the last season of GoT the show makes me more interested in the books. even if the ending is similar the characterization won’t seem so off and accelerated.

  2. ‘Harvard Drops Harvey Weinstein Lawyer as a Faculty Dean.” Whatever the truth, it is a very bad look. A fundamental principal of the Anglo-American legal system is that the State must prove the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A corollary is that even the vilest criminal deserves the best legal representation he can find to put the state to its proof. If these premises fail, the system will fail. It is not Harvey Weinstien who is being protected by his lawyer, it is justice itself.

    For Harvard to join the SJWs in persecuting a lawyer over who his clients is to join them in attacking the law. Since Harvard is a creature of the law, that is a dangerous move. Harvard has $40 billion in property. It is a tempting target. Harvard needs to protect itself, and for that purpose it must protect the law.

  3. “Is species a social construct?”

    Perhaps not to biologists. But, the Endangered Species Act defines species to include as separate species populations of organisms that live in different places, even though they are identical tin every other respect with related organisms whose only difference is location. Thus, salmon coming from different rivers along the Pacific coast are deemed to be separate species, even though their ancestors in came from the same hatcheries in recent times.

  4. Harvard Drops Harvey Weinstein Lawyer as a Faculty Dean — I have a thought on this from another angle. This will involve reminiscing about an article the details of which I don’t really remember.

    So, Matt Levine wrote an article about an internal political dispute at some company between the owner/majority shareholder and the board. The owner wanted to execute a certain policy (I forget what). The board objected, and took action to issue everyone but the owner new shares until she no longer controlled the company. She, as the controlling shareholder, vetoed this, and there were some timing/procedure issues that led to a lawsuit.

    She ended up maintaining control. And Matt Levine made a comment that I find relevant here: the board had acted under the theory that the owner’s desired policy would be bad for the company, which obligated them to block it. The comment was to the effect that the fight probably made it impossible for the owner to recover, fire the board en masse, and then execute the original policy. But it didn’t stop the owner from firing the board and then not executing the policy. Firing the board is her right as the controlling shareholder. (And, the comment continued, therefore the board should be worried about their jobs.)

    So, stipulate that there was a dean everyone wanted to fire, but whose firing couldn’t really be adequately justified owing to whatever political considerations. The students protest, demanding he be fired.

    There’s one mode where the administration cravenly gives in to the students.

    There’s another mode where the administration doesn’t care what the students think, but they go ahead and take the opportunity to fire the guy, because that’s what they wanted to do anyway.

    And there’s another mode where the students’ ridiculous demands serve to immunize the guy from being fired, even though his superiors wanted to fire him anyway.

    Mode 3 would generally obtain when it is unacceptable for the school to give the appearance of mode 1. And given the current state of affairs, since mode 2 is an implicit endorsement of mode 1, I think mode 3 might be preferable. We can say that giving in to the demands to fire the dean is bad, even if firing the dean in the absence of those demands would have been good.

  5. I’m not bothered by whether something is passé or au courant in philosophy, because I have so little respect for so many things that are au courant in philosophy. If a philosopher tells me my philosophy of science is out of date, I shrug, wish them good luck with whatever they’re pushing this week, and hope their time is not being paid for by me.

  6. Somewhat technical questions from a non-geneticist re: episode of Insight on the $1000 Genome. I had WGS done in 2015 as part of a crazy deal with a startup. It was 10x — realistically I think that’s good enough, or do you think there will be a point in the future when it would be worth it to “upgrade”? Also, I only have the data in .vcf and don’t have access to the .bam files anymore. It’s preventing me from using some services already… is that generally going to be a problem? Is there a way to convert back to .bam? (Haven’t been able to figure it out.)

    Also, please don’t stop writing about ASOIAF / GoT! I really hope the books redeem the rushed/crappy ending of the show…

  7. I don’t think “Dany gone mad” will be the end of her story in the books. Rather, she’ll be coming off a streak where “fire and blood” has won her victory after victory – crushing the forces around Mereen when she returns, uniting the Dothraki behind her, destroying the lords of Volantis and freeing its slaves – and that means she will be in no mood to hold back in taking King’s Landing. She won’t try to deliberately burn the city, but will burn a lot of it in battle and trigger those volatile wildfire caches that came up in Tyrion’s chapters in the 2nd book. Then she’ll have a “what have I done?” moment by the end of Book 6, before rallying in Book 7 for sacrifice and heroism in stopping the Long Night and the Others.

    Whereas the show . . . seems mostly interested in setting her up as the Mad Queen, so that Arya can kill her and Jon Snow can complete his three-season-long trajectory of failing upwards. Maybe he’ll die accidentally somehow, and it will instead end on “WTF do we do now?”.

    Pakistani Christian girls trafficked to China as brides. China’s demographic problems are going to leave a huge shadow over Asia.

    I thought they preferred to import brides from places like Vietnam and Laos. Maybe the former is getting too rich for that, and the latter is just too low in population.

  8. Yeah, I read it after I posted that comment. *Sigh*

    Your National Review piece on evolution is good. I think that last part is the key – a lot more conservatives need to realize that religion and evolution are not an “either-or” situation, and there are evolutionary biologists who were and are conservatives and religious.

  9. The last sentence was beautiful. But I wish you had left out “we think.” I’m sure you know that the phrase is a dead giveaway of an atheist/nonbeliever.

  10. honestly, a christian evolutionary biologist should have written this piece. but the ones i know are more circumspect than i am for professional reasons.

  11. Oops. The smiley face/wink I inserted never appeared. I meant that last part in humor.

    When I read that sentence “what we think is…” (as opposed to “what is…”), it reminded me of a segment in a PBS program about Buddha I saw years ago. It went something like this:

    The local guide: So this is where Buddha sat down to…

    The British narrator: This is the spot where Buddha is thought to have sat down…

    The local guide: No, this is where Buddha sat down.

    The narrator: Right, as I said, this is where the locals believe Buddha sat down to contemplate…

    The local guide: No. Not believe. This IS where Buddha sat down.

    The narrator: Right (awkward silence).

  12. honestly, a christian evolutionary biologist should have written this piece. but the ones i know are more circumspect than i am for professional reasons.

    Yes, indeed.

    I believe in theistic evolution and I’m pretty annoyed by the continuing resistance to evolution among Christians. I’d like to blame it on Protestants, but the fact is that it’s also found among Catholics. Fo example, I use a Catholic homeschooling curriculum for my children that bears the imprimatur of the local bishop. I am generally happy with it, except science, which leans a little too anti-evolution/young earth-ish for my taste.* I have to deviate from it when I instruct the children and explain why.

    *To be clear, “the official” Catholic position endorses neither (broadly-speaking) evolution nor anti-evolution – that is to say, you can be a good Catholic subscribing to either.

  13. well, the rxn from conservatives was what you would expect. but some SJW academics are calling for my head and DMing ppl who follow me to unfollow me since i’m a racist, sexist, and transphobe. smh. don’t know the lesson to take from this.

  14. The comments to your NR piece were eye-opening. The rejoinders are like a broken record.

  15. some SJW academics are calling for my head and DMing ppl who follow me to unfollow me since i’m a racist, sexist, and transphobe.

    What? Why? I’d expect criticism from some (Bible) literalist, not the ostensibly science-loving Left. By what part of that piece are they offended?

    don’t know the lesson to take from this.

    I suspect you already know this, but you picked a side, and publicly too, so the other side is now gunning for you. This is why some conservatives treat their anti-evolution allies with kid gloves, I suspect – they have enough enemies on the other side and don’t want to alienate those who are on their side (on most other issues). But of course you already knew this too.

    For what it’s worth, I thought it was a very nicely written piece – accessible, pithy, and convincing. I hope it does some good on the right.

  16. Do you not think your blog will last another decade?

    i could die of a heart attack? honestly who knows? in another 10 years i’ll have a teenager ready to go to college.

    the blog will be archived somewhere. i don’t know if i’ll be writing on it.

    but i’ve said this every year since 2005 probably?

  17. some SJW academics are calling for my head and DMing ppl who follow me to unfollow me since i’m a racist, sexist, and transphobe. smh. don’t know the lesson to take from this.

    This was entirely predictable. I pretty much said so last month: “the right … has to worry about being called racist Nazis and punished.” Of course I also predicted incorrectly that no conservative publication would publish you. So, good for you and good for NR. I have improved my opinion of that publication three notches.

  18. Why falsificationism is false. Since I know a little philosophy of science I have known that Popper is passe within philosophy of science for a long time. But it is surprising to many scientists.

    That piece might be more accurately titled “Why super-simple ‘naive falsificationism’ that no actual scientist believes in is false”. His argument works as far as it goes; it’s just not very far. I think that falsifiability is alive and well in science.

  19. @Razib: on your tweet –, re: matriolocality and maternal grandmother effects on child survival, I’d try and comment about a few poss factors :

    1. Maternal grandmother present doesn’t necessarily require matrilineality / matrilocality, as most marriages even under patrilineality / patrilocality are “endogamous” at the village level (as far as I know). That is, occur within the same village and no one actually moves, even if in theory the culture’s norms are that should someone should move it is wife / husband. That would dampen a benefit to matrilocal organisation less than if village moves were the norm?

    2. Maternal grandmother present tests variable for maternal v paternal grandmother, or simply maternal grandmother v no maternal grandmother, not presence of maternal vs paternal grandfather? If paternal grandfather absence has negative effect on survival, then this would dampen effect also, if these are in a tradeoff (as when opting for matrilocality over patrilocality).

    3. Even when moving, males under matrilocality / matrilineality apparently frequently have tendency to practice “visiting marriage”, and to remain more committed and embedded in natal societies as authoritative uncles, less so to integrate with inferior status into villages they marry into, so it’s less than clear if maternal grandmother presence>paternal presence if there tends to be another tradeoff.

    Different rates of intercommunity violence also seem to loom large when thinking about these questions, esp. if presence of paternal male / male kin networks offers greater protection?


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