Daily Data Dump (Friday)

By Razib Khan | April 23, 2010 2:57 pm

What is the impact of strict population control? Unintended consequences. Note the convergence in fertility between South Korea and the People’s Republic of China. Coercion or no, some things are inevitable.

Beating Obesity. Marc Ambinder went from 235 to 150 in a year after surgery.

For ancient hominids, thumbs up on precision grip. Many things which we perceive to be derived may be more ancestral than we’d thought.

New Genetic Framework Could Help Explain Drug Side Effects. Medicine is a crap shoot, so you want to load the die in your favor as much as you can.

Chimpanzees Prefer Fair Play To Reaping An Unjust Reward. Not too surprising, but there’s a lot of “complex behavior” whose building blocks are probably pretty ancient. The fact that humans can “socialize” with dogs and cats are somewhat suggestive to me of common mammalian cognitive furniture.

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Comments (12)

  1. Sandgroper

    Singapore and China. Interestingly, while China was implementing the one child policy, the Singaporean government was trying to encourage people to have more children.

  2. miko

    ” …the Singaporean government was trying to encourage [Chinese Singaporeans with university degrees] … to have more children…”

  3. Dionigi

    Chinese Singaporean women with degrees are looking for western husbands according to newspapers not so long ago.
    Maybe the colours on the graph showing male to female ratio was wrong but it appeared to me that the rural people, who had the chance of three children still had more sons than daughters. This does not match what the story says and also where is the data that shows that lack of wives leads to civil unrest and antisocila behaviour?

  4. Sandgroper

    @ Miko: Yeah, true. But I think it’s kind of interesting that the Singaporean government went from controlling population growth to trying to encourage it, and are now trying to manage the problem of ageing population by encouraging immigration. Which is really ironic, given the population density of Singapore. I’m not picking on them, the government in Hong Kong is now doing a variation on that, trying to encourage local birth rate and welcoming temporary foreign workers while also trying to stem the flow of immigrants from Mainland China. Eveyone wants more university graduates and fewer geriatrics and lower educational level people, and they get the reverse.

    Meanwhile, the Chinese realize they have handed themselves two big problems – sex imbalance, and an ageing population.

    It seems ultimately that social engineering is doomed to failure.

  5. Katharine

    Who wants to go to Singapore? Their freedom of speech is crap.

  6. Katharine

    I personally like the idea of, say, a tax credit of sorts if you’re educated.

    Instead of getting all eugenics on people, it makes more incentive for people to get educated.

  7. nn

    He had an (unsupported by any data) claim that unattached males are more likely to be criminal.

    Would that mean that western countries with a higher rate of singles have more serious crime problems?

    Seems like a very dubious claim to me.

  8. Market and class forces had already led to very low fertility in Singapore among the educated. In quite a bit of the world, raising children is a big money-loser and not rational for an individual unless their intrinsic rewards they get are enormous. it’s also the kind of thing that you get into without quite knowing the consequences, and once kids are born they become large social and legal obligations.

    On the “fairness” issue, a friend of mine has seen the envious sort of demand for fairness in his mules, but he hasn’t reported the altruistic kind.

    Most pre capitalist societies were organized around fairness conventions (sharing the wealth) which were pretty strictly enforced. These conventions were not egalitarian, but if expectations were not met there were consequences. (In stratified societies the fairness expectations are highly inegalitarian, but what expectations there are still have to be either met or else the distribution has to be enforced with violence.

    Actually all highly inegalitarian societies require violent enforcement of stratification; “Defensive costs” is one of the reasons keeping slavery from being an efficient economic system.

  9. bioIgnoramus

    “Who wants to go to Singapore? Their freedom of speech is crap.” What, like Harvard’s?

  10. MW

    Chimpanzees and fairness:

    I wonder how many times the chimp’s response was ‘beat the crap out of the unfair experimenter.’

  11. Sandgroper

    I made a fairly innocent joke to a prof. from Harvard once, and he looked kind of shocked and said “You would never get away with saying that in America.”

    It’s always interesting to compare perceptions with reality on the ground – I’ve been to Singapore lots of times, and have never felt that any of my personal freedoms were being compromised. But then I’m not a drug smuggler or political agitator, and I don’t use chewing gum, read Playboy Magazine or get an overwhelming urge to piss in elevators.

    What I do feel there is safe – very low crime rates compared to most major cities anywhere, comparable to Hong Kong and Tokyo, and much better than any Australian city. Clean air, good food, nice people. I guess it depends on what your priorities are. I can think of worse places to raise a family. Lousy bookshops though.

    I have a Singaporean friend who always felt outraged by the antiquated law there that made oral sex illegal – she said “The government sucks, why can’t we?”

    But evidently that is not enough to deter people from going there, if the stat that more than a third of the population are foreigners is correct. OK, foreign workers doing the jobs that Singaporeans don’t want, maybe, but they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t want the money.

  12. “I’ve been to Singapore lots of times, and have never felt that any of my personal freedoms were being compromised.”

    People have said that about every repressive regime there ever was, because repressive regimes normally target specific groups and individuals, not every single person. A regime needs a core group of supporters, and they treat them as well as possible.

    Singapore may be the model for the future, though — the Chinese government has looked closely on the Singapore model. (The Russian economic an political liberalization was such a disaster that it discredited democracy and liberalism for many).

    There always have been people willing to give up civil liberties and political participation for the sake of efficiency, low crime, and prosperity. Disgruntled Westerners sometimes are tempted to make that exchange, but I really think that they’re making a mistake.

    Comparing a university and academic community (Harvard) to a state betrays a very deep misunderstanding of what freedom is.


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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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