Friday Fluff – October 8th, 2010

By Razib Khan | October 8, 2010 7:25 pm


1. First, a post from the past: Through the rugged roads of gene land

2. Weird search query of the week: “do estonians like finns”. Answer: no one likes Finns! (especially Swedes)

3. Comment of the week, in response to Things are looking up for the world’s poor!:

These are all percentages, and the rates of increases are generally lower than the population increases in poor parts of the world. So while the percentage of malnutrition, for example, may be increasing by 3% per decade, the total number of malnurished people is still increasing due to the increase in population.

A perfect illustration of the dynamic noted earlier (as a factual matter the comment above may, or may not, be correct by the way; depends on the statistics you look at. Though a true pessimistic can point out that there are hundreds of millions of more malnourished people alive today than in 1700).

4) From last week, 62% of you are not New Atheists, 22% are, and 15% don’t know.

View Survey

5) And finally, your weekly fluff fix:

MORE ABOUT: Friday Fluff
  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Friday Fluff – October 8th, 2010 | Gene Expression | Discover Magazine --

  • Sandgroper

    Damn, I forgot to vote again.

    But no, I’m a Moderate Atheist.

    And I’m not getting into any arguments about it, either. Obviously!

  • Konkvistador

    Assessing the implicit moral argument made by the individual 3. really depends on what rationalization for one’s sentiments one picks.

  • Sandgroper

    I would have thought the point is simple enough – the total quantum of human suffering is increasing, as alluded to in Razib’s comment. Which may or may not be true (probably not) and may or may not be relevant (probably not – the relevant thing is that, whole population, things are getting better – so when the demographic trends play out and the world population begins decreasing, the quantum of human suffering will also decrease in absolute terms). (Assuming that happens before the Apocalypse/mass extinction event that includes us, which also may or may not happen erm whenever.)

    The point on which I would agree, if Lab Lemming had made it (which he(?) (generic) didn’t), is that it is unbearably painful when even one child anywhere dies of starvation, disease, accident, natural disaster, or abuse. Multiples of that don’t change the fact that every individual who suffers is a tragedy. 2 x tragedy = tragedy, ad infinitum. Which is kind of soft-headed of me, but I can’t help it, it’s just the way I’m wired, plus a product of my experience.

    That’s the opposite to most human psych, btw, for most people, numbers matter. It’s a species survival thing, I think, but that’s just a personal conclusion I arrived at after studying risk aversion for a long time. I’m weird; to me , every premature death is as tragic as every other – 100 accidents that kill 1 person are as bad to me as 1 accident that kills 100 people, but most folks don’t react that way – they don’t react much to single fatality events, but get very upset about much rarer multiple fatality events. The press play into this, but then journalists are Homo saps too (believe it or not).

  • Sandgroper

    And Emmy is a goddess, but I don’t expect any of you heathens to recognise that.

  • Åse

    Aww, I think the Finns are alright by the swedes by now, now that this odd pale nation has been run over with people with visible eyebrows! I usually illustrate the changing nature of prejudice in my class by saying that ‘when I grew up in the middle of nowhere, we used to be prejudiced against FINNS. I mean, the only way you can tell a finn apart from a swede is really the name” (Well, inspection wise that is) THat always gets a laugh. As of 10 years ago, though, the Finns met prefered that I spoke to them in english, despite swedish being an obligatory subject . And, they sure disliked the Russians.

  • outeast

    Re. the survey, I predict that in 25 years there will be a widefelt sentiment that people have got poorer, not least as a result of things like climate change mitigation costs, and that this will be firmly held even in the face of stats that will show that in fact people are objectively better off.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

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


See More


RSS Razib’s Pinboard

Edifying books

Collapse bottom bar