Daily Data Dump – Thursday

By Razib Khan | August 5, 2010 2:24 pm

Why Do Foreigners Like Fanta So Much? I arrived in the USA as a pre-schooler, but the disappearance of Fanta from my life is actually something I wondered about back then. I had no idea that it was a Nazi-origin drink.

Chew on This: Six Dental Myths Debunked. You probably know some of these. But did you know that teens get 40 percent of their carb calories from soft drinks? Apparently one reason that sugary drinks and candies are much worse for you isn’t the amount of sugar, but the long period of exposure of your teeth to dissolving sugar.


Social Ecology: Lost and Found in Psychological Science. The impact of an exogenous parameter such as climate has not been fully integrated into the science of psychology, but it’s well known and understood intuitively. That’s kind of a major issue, since psychology presumably should extent and transcend our intuitions, not fall short of them.

A Genome-Wide Association Study of the Metabolic Syndrome in Indian Asian Men. South Asians have a higher frequency of metabolic pathologies (e.g., type 2 diabetes) all things controlled (i.e., for the same weight South Asians have a rate of risk for type 2 diabetes than Europeans). This study suggests that it isn’t due to different risk alleles from Europeans which South Asians have in common. Since our world is going to go through a type 2 epidemic in the near future, I’m sure more research will be done in this area.

We Are All Talk Radio Hosts. Jonah Lehrer reports on research which shows that over-thinking preferences warps our decision-making process (and not in a good way), and, on the Mercier and Sperber paper which argues that reasoning is simply a tool for rhetoric. That is, we’re sophists, not socratics. Sounds plausible enough to me. This is relevant for comments and interactions on this weblog. Let me make something clear: I don’t care too much if you agree with me on X, Y and Z. I’m mostly interesting in figuring stuff out to my satisfaction, not persuading you people of the truth of my claims. This is why I often react irritably when people attempt the line, “so what you’re trying to say is….” I say what I want to say. Sometimes I have beliefs which I don’t express on the blog because it isn’t useful for me to express it. Often I present data or results with only cursory interpretation, even if I do have a strong view on the data and results, because I doubt anyone would find my interpretation persuasive anyway, and it would just waste all of our time as commenters start trying to convince me. I also think being clearly wrong is awesome. Because that narrows the range of possibilities of the models which map well onto reality.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Data Analysis
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  • http://opines.mythusmage.org Alan Kellogg

    Fanta gone? Au contraire, it can be found at stores in San Diego. Didn’t know about the Nazi connection though, I thought it was a Coca Cola drink.

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

    alan, the article explains that it’s not gone, and is found especially in cities with lots of immigrants.

  • http://ecophysio.fieldofscience.com/ EcoPhysioMichelle

    Fanta is heavily pushed in my area, probably because I live in a university city where immigrants are likely to gather. There used to be an orange Fanta slot in every soda machine on campus, although I haven’t noticed it as much recently. I drank it all the time when I lived in the dorms back in ~2003.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Daily Data Dump – Thursday | Gene Expression | Discover Magazine -- Topsy.com()

  • dan

    yeah, Johan’s argument is an old one and also one i’m getting kind of tired of hearing. he and they really have absolutely no idea what our neurons are doing when we say we “like” something any more than we do and yet they’re inferring they know something we don’t. it’s i think they’re “over thinking” that paper a little too much;)

  • deadpost

    “I’m mostly interesting in figuring stuff out to my satisfaction, not persuading you people of the truth of my claims.”

    Even if rationality evolved for social games, the fact that individuals like yourself (and readers of the blog) seek it for its own sake is worth something, right? If it’s a spandrel, it’s one of the noblest ones we have, and a saving grace of our kind.

    The man on the street may watch Shark Week on discovery channel or the occasional popular science article in the news for it’s own sake, even when there is no one around to show off to and the knowledge isn’t that practical in itself, because it just “feels cool to know”. You have extremes like those who choose the route of academia and become “starving” scientists uninterested in personal wealth or glory, but also those who have zero interest in knowledge that doesn’t benefit them practically, such as health advice. On that note, perhaps knowledge seeking for its “own sake” follows a power law distribution in our species.

  • http://occludedsun.wordpress.com Caledonian

    In such a highly social species as Homo sapiens, the dominant aspect of the environment which it is absolutely necessary to cope with is other human beings.

    I have a crazy hypothesis that most human beings are geniuses of a specific type – they’re brilliant at social interaction – but the ubiquity of this sort of genius makes it effectively invisible. It’s presumed to be the normal baseline, when in actuality a great deal of processing power and behavioral resources are committed to it.

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

    cal, you’re joking right? about the ‘crazy’ part? i’m sure you know it’s one of the major plausible hypotheses for the secular rise in human cranial capacity that encephalization was driven by a social intelligence arms race. i get the sense that the reality for baseline social competency at genius level is more salient to you and the types who read *less wrong*

    On that note, perhaps knowledge seeking for its “own sake” follows a power law distribution in our species.

    how many more people who be attracted to intellectual stimulation if the median level of human intelligence wasn’t so low? from what i can gather normals have a difficult time assembling, recollecting, and reconfiguring, facts and theoretical models. if you don’t have good taste buds you won’t be a connoisseur of sweets. or, to use a personal example, i’m tone deaf, and am just not into music.

  • deadpost

    “how many more people who be attracted to intellectual stimulation if the median level of human intelligence wasn’t so low?”

    Yeah, but as you mentioned earlier, many high IQ folks lack curiosity (although I don’t know if there was data showing this). I’d wonder if those attracted (or addicted) to intellectual stimulation for it’s own sake, constitute a minority even among those smarties. From personal experience, many (pre)-med or law students that are higher IQ than myself busy chanelling their smarts to practical ends, appear uninterested in some of the topics that would feature on your blog, and would still rather discuss, say popular culture or sports on their spare time.

    Perhaps, addiction to intellectual stimulation, to the point of ignoring more tangible benefits one’s smarts (“If you’re so smart, why ain’t ya rich”?) bring is just another “pathology” on the extremes — noble or foolish, however one could frame it.

    Also, re: Fanta. I’ve actually just noticed it in Toronto these couple years: a quick googling shows that it is a recent introduction. Since every “big” city in Canada pretty much has a large % of immigrants, that would agree with the observed trend.

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

    deadpost, agree re: pre-med and pre-law ppl generally. re: “practical ends.” that’s an interesting point, as law and medicine are lucrative professions, but i am not sure about the marginal returns on more lawyers and doctors, as opposed to more engineers. but it would be nice to see some studies on this.

  • bioIgnoramus

    Americans have a lower life expectancy than citizens of many other advanced nations, and spend more on dentistry. Now, is that causative – the dentistry causing the premature deaths? Or is it correlative – the ingestion of fizzy brown gloop causing both? I feels a research grant application coming on.

  • http://occludedsun.wordpress.com Caledonian

    cal, you’re joking right? about the ‘crazy’ part? i’m sure you know it’s one of the major plausible hypotheses for the secular rise in human cranial capacity that encephalization was driven by a social intelligence arms race.

    Yes, I’m aware of that, but my crazy ideas go a bit farther. I think that, most of the time, other skills or aspects of cognition cannot be raised to the level of interpersonality without impairing it, and that impairing social ability makes more resources available for other aspects to develop.

    Humanity would then be currently dominated by a single mental morph, with other morphs being possible but selected against because the dominance of social skills reinforces itself.

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Gene Expression

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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