Daily Data Dump – Wednesday

By Razib Khan | July 7, 2010 1:12 pm

Case-Control Analysis of SNPs in GLUT4, RBP4 and STRA6: Association of SNPs in STRA6 with Type 2 Diabetes in a South Indian Population. Nice to see this sort of stuff. If Reich et al. are correct that there are many population-specific disease patterns in South Asia then this level of granularity is necessary.

Huffington Post Is Afraid of Criticism From Their Own Writers. A little creative re-editing to soften the tip of the spear.

Many English Speakers Cannot Understand Basic Grammar. More so those who left school early. Is this because they left school early, or because those who left school early had problems in school (including grammar)?

Gender Gap Persists at Highest Levels of Math and Science Testing, 30-Year Study Finds. Twice as many males as females obtain a perfect 800 on the mathematics SAT.

Genetic structure of cattle in Eurasia. It’s fascinating to see how our domesticates seem to track and correlate with population movements. It’s like humans and their domesticates are a movable ecology.

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  • Chris T

    3: Regardless of which explanation is correct; I can predict which conclusion will be jumped to by most social scientists and the education community.

  • http://haquelebac.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/my-fossil-railroad/ John Emerson

    The supposition that everyone in a linguistic community shares the same grammar is a central tenet of Noam Chomsky’s theory of universal grammar.

    As far as I know this is just not true at the level at which this study is done. Univrsal grammar is innate and everyone has it, but the passive is a particular form (surface structure I think they call it). “Linguistic community” is too vague. I think that most linguists would say here that English was dividing by class, the way elite Latin and vulgar Latin divided. (The subjunctive is a form which has almost disappeared, starting with the less educated and now reaching almost everyone.

    The Huffington Post is extraordinary erratic on every topic whatsoever, including politics. It seems to be the expression of one person and her buddies, and Arriana is pretty flaky.

  • Tom

    English speakers that don’t understand basic grammar.

    That’s not really a surprise for anyone who browses the Internet. I just got off a two-day tech support e-mail exchange with someone who didn’t have the faintest grasp of capitalization, punctuation, or syntax. His query would go something like this:

    okay so im having this problem i dont understand how to make the thing work i now im doing it rite cuz it workd be4 but i cant make it work now do u think the cable is dead or do u think the software is mebe not working ill get anew cable on ebay and see if that fixes it what do u think?

    It seems like this shouldn’t happen in a country where education is free. Is this just a classic case of “we’ll always have people at both ends of the bell curve”, or is there a way to prevent this in today’s society?

  • http://lyingeyes.blogspot.com ziel

    ” In 2009, male [high school students] scoring a perfect 800 on the SAT-math outnumbered females about 2 to 1.”

    Only 2-to-1? I find this hard to believe. In 2008, the male-female ratio for 750+ was 1.92 to 1, while it was 1.6 to 1 for 700-750. It had to have been a lot higher at 800. (FYI: Starting 2009 only 700+ numbers are published, but the m-f ratio for 700+ actually increased slightly from what it was in 2008 – 1.7 to 1.)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    ziel, i don’t know, i thought after recentering the % of 800’s went up some even in math, so that the top half of the 700s is really noisy.

  • http://haquelebac.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/my-fossil-railroad/ John Emerson

    The example Tom gives have nothing to do with anything. Whoever wrote it was was just choosing to present his text in a nonstandard way, and most likely he was writing for people who also write that way. He may or may not know the standard way. Most of the misspellings are abviously deliberate (b4, cuz, u). It also looks like unedited speech transferred to text, which happens a lot on the internet.

  • Katharine

    I’m somewhat skeptical about the results of the SAT study. What did they control for?

    Even though anecdotes aren’t data, I’m compelled to offer my example: I’m female and in college and when I was in high school, I scored a 700 on the math SAT and an 800 on the molecular biology SATII. I consistently get As, frequently 100% or above, in all my biology classes.

    There also seems to be a disparity between the proportion of women among different sciences, and among different subdisciplines.

  • Konkvistador

    @Katharine: The data so far has been mostly supportive of a wider bell curve for men when it comes to IQ. SATs correlated with IQ.

    “A 2005 study by Ian Deary, Paul Irwing, Geoff Der, and Timothy Bates,[18] focusing on the ASVAB scores of 1,292 pairs of opposite sex siblings, showed twice as many males as females in the top and bottom 2% of scores, demonstrating a significantly higher variance in male scores. The study also found a very small (d’ ≈ 0.07, or about 7% of a standard deviation) average male advantage in G (factor).”

    Also males have been shown to have several cognitive and psychological peculiarities that may assist them in doing well in math.


    I thought at least the second point was common knowledge by now. I’m surprised to see people *that* surprised at these new results.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    katherine, what would you control for? (men and women are found in roughly equal proportions across races and SES in terms of home environment)

    re: disciplines/subdisciplines, men are in more mathematical fields. the physical sciences are now their redoubt in grad school. but even in psychology i am told that male grad students are thickest in cog pscy and psychometrics. the NSF has some stats i’ve looked up before.

  • Katharine

    Re: controls, I’m not sure how to put this very clearly, but what kind of factors in specific which proved women and men, when social constraints/biases/pressures were eliminated as much as possible, did about equally? Don’t forget that all women, not just the average-performing ones, experience a lot of bizarre sexist crud.

    The sex-related differences in spatial cognition I certainly understand.

    I found this paragraph in the discussion notable:

    “Although the ACT-S is described as measuring science
    reasoning,we could find no recent construct validation support.
    It is not uncommon for a test to measure something different
    than its name (or the testing company) implies (Kelley, 1927;
    Koenig et al., 2008; Lubinski, 2004). Regardless, it is remarkable
    that we find a male advantage in the extreme right tail on this
    measure and that among all perfect scorers, 18 have been males
    and only one has been a female. Given the either sex equivalence
    or female advantage in reading comprehension, it is unlikely
    that the ACT-S measures solely reading comprehension (although
    that is clearly a component). The male advantage may
    result in part from early sex differences in familiarity with and
    interest in scientific content. This is particularly relevant because
    the test was given to students before they had been formally
    introduced to the relevant scientific content. It is possible that
    visits to science museums and extracurricular science classes are
    more common among boys and this may partly explain these
    results (Linn & Pulos, 1983), although, as the ability ratio change
    in our data illustrate, it is important to test whether this is still
    the case today. Additionally, a new genetic analysis by Haworth,
    Dale, and Plomin (2008) of 9 year olds’ science ratings by
    teachers indicates a fairly strong genetic component and a
    modest non-shared environmental component,with somewhat
    greater variance for boys, despite little overall mean differences
    between the sexes, suggesting, among other things, that there
    are male–female science ability, achievement, interest, and/or
    familiarity differences well before the 7th grade.
    ” (bolding and included italicization added by me, although I’m not sure what they’re referring to when they talk about ‘non-shared’ – I may be overthinking about that).

  • Katharine

    but even in psychology i am told that male grad students are thickest in cog pscy and psychometrics. the NSF has some stats i’ve looked up before.

    Huh. I wonder why.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    in behavior genetics you have

    1) shared environment (basically the family)
    2) genetic component (the proportion explained by genes that individuals share)
    3) “non-shared environment.” this is stuff not attributable to genes or the family environment. kind of an unaccounted for residual. judith rich harris thinks that #3 is peer group. basically social environment outside of the family

  • Katharine

    I must admit some emotional attachment to these sorts of studies – I was identified as profoundly gifted as a kid (with particular spatial and logico-mathematical gifts, above 99th percentile in each according to the handful of IQ tests I took as a kid), have tended to get perfect grades in biology and do exceedingly well in math and chemistry too (one ought to note that interestingly enough women tend to populate biology and medicine and men tend to populate physics and math – and it gets even more interesting when you consider all the interdisciplinary stuff going on. My particular interest, for what it’s worth, is neuroscience, specifically evolutionary neurogenetics with a primary focus on cognition and intelligence, and I do have a certain amount of curiosity for computational and mathematical aspects of biology – I’d like to squish in a diff eq class and maybe intro comp sci before I start grad school, at least, though that is unlikely, although maybe I ought to make use of a relative’s connection with the NIH’s FAES school during next summer…), got the scores on the SATs described above, am… well, it’s hard for me to find a lot of studies that tell me a lot about people like me. It’s interesting to run across stuff like this and delve further into what it says.

    (I guess part of what I need to consider is the whole ‘don’t generalize from the average to the individual’, et cetera.)

    And this post sounds very disorganized, probably.

  • Katharine

    ‘Non-shared environment’ – could that be further classifiable into things such as peer group, wider cultural influences, et cetera – I recall seeing a Wikipedia article about a sort of hierarchy of groups, where one had the family and then the peer group and then one’s most immediate environs (for example, the room one was in) and then town/region/country all the way up to the world.

    Re: mathematical fields – is there further variation of gender ratios across different subfields of mathematics and, well, other ‘mathematical fields’ (e.g. physics)?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    well, it’s hard for me to find a lot of studies that tell me a lot about people like me.

    cty has followed really bright kids. fwiw, i recall that even controlling for mathematical scores very high quant aptitude females are much more likely to go into law and medicine than the physical sciences.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    ‘Non-shared environment’ – could that be further classifiable into things such as peer group, wider cultural influences, et cetera –

    yes. non-shared environment is squishy. basically you know what shared enviro and genetic component is. the residual is thrown into this pot. i believe it could even be gene-gene interaction and what not.

    Re: mathematical fields – is there further variation of gender ratios across different subfields of mathematics and, well, other ‘mathematical fields’ (e.g. physics)?

    yes. mechanical engineering is the most male field. boys like toys :-)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    here are some data tables

    i’ve found easier to inspect stuff on the nsf site before. % women, i think it is

    chem > math > physics > engineering

    (in biology there’s parity or slight majority of women now i think)

  • Katharine

    non-shared environment is squishy.

    Damn squishy factors. They muddle everything.

    I wonder if there have been any studies, too, about motivation for pursuing certain fields, with respect to gender.

  • Katharine

    But engineering has lots of wonky subfields too, such as biological and chemical and mechanical and computer engineering. Do they go further into that?

  • Katharine

    Ah. Here’s an interesting article on distribution in engineering subfields:


    Total 30,472
    Aerospace engineering 700
    Agricultural engineering 366
    Architectural engineering 1,974
    Biomedical engineering 2,621
    Chemical engineering 2,266
    Civil engineering 4,736
    Electrical engineering 7,439
    Engineering science 409
    Industrial engineering 3,544
    Mechanical engineering 2,614
    Metallurgical/materials engineering 1,473
    Mining engineering 37
    Nuclear engineering 221
    Petroleum engineering 183
    Engineering (other) 1,889

    So the largest amount of women in engineering seems to be in electrical engineering, with civil engineering second, and industrial engineering third.

    Contrast this with the numbers of women in similar scientific fields:

    Total 196,801
    Agricultural sciences 6,627
    Biological sciences 40,754
    Communication 4,647
    Computer sciences 12,017
    Earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences 6,650
    Family and consumer science/human science 2,327
    Mathematical sciences 7,678
    Multidisciplinary/ interdisciplinary studies 2,560
    Neuroscience 863
    Physical sciences 12,109
    Psychology 45,116
    Social sciences 55,453

    Within natural sciences (social science doesn’t really count, in my opinion), the largest amount is in biological sciences, then in physical sciences, then in computer sciences. Which reflects what you said earlier.

    Odd contrasts, really.

  • Katharine

    (I tried to submit another post with some data, but it ended up as spam.)

  • http://www.parhasard.net/ Aidan Kehoe

    “So the largest amount of women in engineering seems to be in electrical engineering, with civil engineering second, and industrial engineering third.”

    Right, but that’s pure numbers; for those fields, I’m reasonably sure the proportion is much more interesting.


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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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