Daily Data Dump

By Razib Khan | April 7, 2010 12:52 pm

The Apple Two: The iPad is Steve Jobs’ final victory over the company’s co-founder Steve Wozniak. Sounds totally plausible to me, though you can probably come to that inference just by observing 5 minutes of Woz vs. Jobs’ personal affect.

Upbeat Signs Revive Consumers’ Mood for Spending. I remember reading as a kid in the early 90s about how the recession of the time was going to result in a major shift in American habits and values. That didn’t pan out, the latter half the decade saw the emergence of irrational exuberance which surpassed the 1980s. But this recession/depression has been quantitatively much deeper, so perhaps something will stick. For one, it seems that we’ve lost a lot of wealth and some of the current upsurge in spending is pent up demand for goods & services which we can put off only for so long.

A Study of the Influence of Sex on Genome Wide Methylation. Digesting.

Did world religions help bring about complex societies? I lean toward Peter Turchin’s thesis that world religions were essential in generating “meta-ethnic” identities. In other words, perhaps not complex societies per se, but civilizations which span localities.

Have the hunting habits of leopards shaped primate evolution. When we were prey….

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  • http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/ Brian Switek

    Thanks for the link, Razib. I don’t know how it happened, but I am on a “predation on primates” kick this week. In fact, I’ll soon have something else up about the way leopards consume primates.

  • John Emerson

    “Did world religions help bring about complex societies?”

    In a weak sense, yes. But complex societies also helped bring about world religion. For example, the Christianity of (say) 200 AD (when there was just beginning to be a settled doctrine) was formed within the Roman empire, by Roman subjects and citizens, and had Jewish and probably Persian roots (the Magi, Simon Magus). Judaism was formed under Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, Roman, and possibly Egyptian imperial rule and has been influenced by all of those. (The Egyptian question is pretty dodgy).

    The transformational event in Greece, and derivatively in Rome, was the replacement of rule by clan elders and by the most powerful clans to rule by the state (originally the polis) and by law. This neither caused nor was caused by a universal religion EXCEPT that in Greece and Rome, as in China, philosophy played a lot of the role that religion did in Abrahamic societies. In all three private or personal religion was free and plural, except that the state had a religious basis which did not serve as a personal religion but which coud not be challenged by the personal religions. (The pagan Lithuanian empire and the Mongol empire also were tolerant, but before converting to Christianity and Islam respectively suppressed any attempt to challenge the traditional pagan beliefs.)

    Pluralist, tolerant pagan empires seem almost secular, but they all had their own religious practices and foundations. I had always thought of Marcus Aurelius as an atheist or almost, but the Stoics had a theology. Their God / gods are very distant and mostly express themselves in the cosmic order, but the Stoics (or at least M.A.) believed in something like Providence.

    My guess is that Romans, Greeks, and ancient Chinese would score poorly on altruism. My guess is that they would respond in terms of ingroups, outgroups, and potential allies or clients.

    The universal religions theoretically make at least the whole congregation an ingroup worthy of receiving help. But, for example, most altruist Christians would be much less altruistic if the potential beneficiary were described as a Commuist atheist pornographer, or some other outgroup to Christianity.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com


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