Daily Data Dump – Friday

By Razib Khan | July 2, 2010 3:26 pm

Have a good 4th for those who live in the States.

Fast selection in high altitude, but how fast? I’m not surprised that John Hawks has serious reservations about the population history of the model in the paper I reviewed below.

Epigenetics and the Importance of a Nurturing Society. I don’t mind the normatively directed focus on this area of research so long as there’s some science squeezed out of it. I say normatively because people would really prefer a world where there was more elasticity in outcome, all things equal.

What Cost for Irrationality? The standard stuff with people messing up probabilities, though some people end up in jail because of that! Though if someone at Less Wrong posted on the beauty of irrationality in some cases, now that would be a comment thread.

A Nation of Neurotics? Blame the Puppet Masters? Pathogens and how they might affect culture, again.

Ethnic Distinctions, No Longer So Distinctive. Belying headline I think the power of black African ancestry in American society is reinforced by the piece; no one would say that there’s any ambiguity in Barack Obama being non-white in the United States despite his 50% European ancestry. This includes Obama himself, who is generally low-key about his multiracial identity.

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  • dan

    very nice links. Raz, do you think this “toxo craze” is being over hyped as far as its effects on personality? This one kinda feels as vacuous as the whole mirror neuron thing. I know people really like sapolski but it seems over blown. In the same vein – what odds do you put on the obesity epidemic being virus related? I just looked at the map again and the sheer speed at which it comes on is astonishing. Is our diet *that* much worse than it was 20-30 years ago? Would our genes even allow us to be effected that profoundly in such a short time?

  • orthonormal

    > Though if someone at Less Wrong posted on the beauty of irrationality in some cases, now that would be a comment thread.

    Well, I think you know how the mainline response would go: the standard LW definition of (instrumental) rationality is basically “do what predictably/systematically wins”, so an apparently ‘irrational’ response that is predictably successful is actually a rational response after all.

    See for an example the following article on Schelling’s “Strategy of Conflict”:
    http://lesswrong.com/lw/14a/thomas_c_schellings_strategy_of_conflict/

    Conversely, a genuinely irrational action only succeeds if the agent is lucky in some sense unpredictable to them in advance. Anyhow, that’s what the main response would be, unless I’m misunderstanding what sort of ‘beauty of irrationality’ you mean.

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This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

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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