Evolution, not ecology

By Razib Khan | July 3, 2012 10:59 pm

One of my major gripes with my friends in ecology is that there is a tendency to look at every problem through the lens of ecological models. Garrett Hardin, who popularized the term “tragedy of the commons” is an exemplar of this. People in ecology often get irritated by the public confusion between it, a positive scientific discipline, and environmentalism, a normative set of beliefs (it doesn’t help when some environmentalist groups have names like “ecology movement”). But the fact is there are deep commonalities in terms of prior assumptions by both ecologists and environmentalists. Despite evolutionary ecology, the reality is that ecologists seem to be characterized by a mindset which posits limits to growth and a finite set of responses to the challenges of scarce resources. That is, the Malthusian paradigm.

I bring this up because despite the similarities between ecology and economics it strikes me that ecologists often have a difficult time admitting that the parameters of the model which they think they have a good grasp of may not always be fixed. Incentives and innovation can shift the dynamics radically. Consider George Monbiot’s about face on “peak oil,” We were wrong on peak oil. There’s enough to fry us all:

A report by the oil executive Leonardo Maugeri, published by Harvard University, provides compelling evidence that a new oil boom has begun. The constraints on oil supply over the past 10 years appear to have had more to do with money than geology. The low prices before 2003 had discouraged investors from developing difficult fields. The high prices of the past few years have changed that.

Maugeri’s analysis of projects in 23 countries suggests that global oil supplies are likely to rise by a net 17m barrels per day (to 110m) by 2020. This, he says, is “the largest potential addition to the world’s oil supply capacity since the 1980s”. The investments required to make this boom happen depend on a long-term price of $70 a barrel – the current cost of Brent crude is $95. Money is now flooding into new oil: a trillion dollars has been spent in the past two years; a record $600bn is lined up for 2012.

Let’s take Monbiot’s assertion as a given, that we are not entering an era of hydrocarbon scarcity. Why? As he outlines increasing demand, flat supply, and higher profits, stimulated exploration and innovation, generating more supply. This isn’t rocket science, critics of peak oil were pointing out this likelihood back in the mid-2000s. What this reminds me of is evolution. A eternal and circuitous race across a fluctuating ‘adaptive landscape,’ with fitness target constantly shifting.

Of course evolutionary process is not such that anything is possible. This is still science, and science has limits. But evolutionary process is often surprising in its ingenuity. Similarly, over the past 250 years or so human ingenuity has been surprising. This doesn’t mean we should bet on this lasting forever, the Malthusian condition has been the norm for almost all of human history. But, we should never forget the power of innovation and incentives when we consider policies at the intersection of the environment and economics. I don’t get irritated when the general public operates with Malthusian assumptions. But I do get irritated when biologists, and especially ecologists, seem to act as if human economic history since 1800 simply hadn’t happened.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment
  • Darkseid

    OilDrum seems to think the report is wrong:
    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9292?nocomments
    not sure who to believe…

  • X

    Monbiot is an environmentalist alright, but he’s no ecologist, and not much of a journalist. If he were, he would be making some effort to tell us what proportion of this increased production will be swallowed up by the much higher per barrel energy costs of extraction. As far as being wrong goes, he might also have noticed that the more credible peak oil forecasts made specific reference to conventional oil, and that the very same 2010 IEA report that was hailed as confirming peak (conventional) oil had already predicted a net hydrocarbon increase through unconventional oil and gas. Human ingenuity is very relevant to the question of energy production as a whole – and energy efficiency, which is another very important variable we have to play with – but for hydrocarbon-sourced energy specifically, the best it can do is delay the inevitable.

  • Bull Shirt

    “People in ecology often get irritated by the public confusion between it, a positive scientific discipline, and environmentalism”.

    So environmentalism is not a positive discipline. Dumping waste in the water is positive? Conservatives, like pigeons, crap in their own nests.

  • Emma

    I do not find the comparison totally fair because the time scales are so different. Yes, over the last 250 years human ingenuity has been impressive but we got nice Lamarckian cultural transmission. Natural selection is much slower, and when faced with rapidly changing environemental conditions, species usually do not adapt, they manage to move or they go exctinct.

  • Isabel

    “ecologists seem to be characterized by a mindset which posits limits to growth and a finite set of responses to the challenges of scarce resources”

    The report you cite changes the “scarce resources” part of the equation, not the “limits to growth and finite set of responses to the challenges of scarce resources” mindset. All you seem to be saying is that there are more resources than was previously thought. This challenges the idea of scarcity of this particular resource, and supports your assertion that “parameters of the model which they think they have a good grasp of may not always be fixed” but I don’t see how this has gone beyond ecological models.

  • John Roth

    As Darkseid already said, there’s a post up on The Oil Drum that’s highly critical of several aspects of the report. I don’t know enough about the situation to tell whether it’s hit central issues or is picking at nits.

    I think the piece of the report you quoted states the situation fairly, but that your conclusion (the bolded piece) is off base. As far as I can tell, all of the exploration and innovation had already been done, what was missing was the price that would make investment economical.

    Another point is that the money that’s flooding into the oil sector is money that’s not being invested elsewhere. At a very rough, order-of-magnitude guess, this could be as much as 5 to 15% of the total money available for investment, compared to approximately 2 to 5% with less expensive technologies. I’ve seen suggestions that this may be sufficient to explain the current economic malaise, but again I don’t have the data to either confirm or deny it.

  • Thomas Hobbes

    Hubbert never said we wouldn’t be spending more to extract the second half of the oil left in the ground after the peak. What he did say was that we wouldn’t be finding any fields the size of Ghawar or Teapot Dome. And we haven’t.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    So environmentalism is not a positive discipline. Dumping waste in the water is positive? Conservatives, like pigeons, crap in their own nests.

    i’m talking about the positive/normative distinction you fucking retard:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_economics

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    and when faced with rapidly changing environemental conditions, species usually do not adapt

    how rapid? what’s your time scale? (this is an empirical question, so i need to figure out what you’re talking about here)

  • Jerry McManus

    If I had to bet between “human ingenuity” and the laws of thermodynamics, I’ll take thermodynamics every time.

    Most ecological models account for thermodynamics, whereas economic models generally do not.

  • http://sidudoexisto.blogspot.com Jorge Laris

    Have you heard about the implementation of Chaos theory in the study of ecology? It´s very interesting. Check it at James Gleick “Chaos. Making a new science”

  • Emma

    “how rapid? what’s your time scale? (this is an empirical question, so i need to figure out what you’re talking about here)”

    I was thinking about warming after a glacial maximum. If I remember correctly, the process last a few thousands of years, and the records indicate that very few species adapt to the change.

  • Ezequiel

    Well, I would say that we are in an era of oil scarcity. We have to pay 20 times more for the fraking thing than we used to pay!

  • Cliff Clark

    I agree that at least some of the assumptions of the “ecological view”, such as artificial limits to growth and a lack of flexibility to account for new technological fixes, need to be revisited – often. The unexpected development of inexpensive fusion power generation could provide new life to economic and human growth, for instance. However, there are real limits to growth which are difficult to sweep under the rug, especially when the planet we live on is a relatively closed system for most resources (excepting solar energy) and waste. Again, this could change with relatively common, inexpensive space flight and exploration. What seems to be missed is that “the ecology” contains most of the agents of natural selection. We would be remiss to forget the lesson of the bacterial culture, which grows exponentially until it reaches a certain point when food becomes limiting, grows a bit more when more food is added, and so on – until it reaches a point at which all cells in the culture begin to die off as the result of accumulating waste. This is the true limit to growth, and while I don’t think we will even come close to that for some time, the wastes in the global environment likely provide current and increasing selection against human survival. The chemical industry is about 60 years old, and chemical toxins produced by that industry are ubiquitous in environments all over the world. Ecosystems necessary for providing food are already crashing or in imminent danger of collapsing for a great many reasons, of which anthropogenic global climate change, overfishing, overextraction of groundwater, and degradation of farmland are only a few. Meanwhile the absolute number of humans on the planet continues to grow, albeit at a slightly slower rate than was the case in the 20th century. While technology appears to have reduced the selection pressures on the human population somewhat, there remains the possibility that it could be imposed – big time – again in the near future. sos ecology and evolution would seem to be inextricably intertwined. However, describing human systems – like economics – with terms like “ecological” and “evolutionary” is dangerously misleading. These systems have been set up by common agreement and are maintained by common agreement coupled with increasingly sophisticated communication and -though it is unlikely to happen, whether it should or not – could theoretically be modified or discarded at any moment by agreement among all parties. Describing these human economic, political, and social systems with terms derived from and given meaning by the biological sciences does nobody any good.

  • http://0pines.mythusmage.org Alan Kellogg

    When a resource is discovered it will be exploited, with or without protective measures. The best thing to do is to learn how to exploit it without the harmful consequences.

    Where the higher cost of exploiting a hard to get resource is concerned, people will adapt, and will find it easier to adapt as societal and personal wealth grows.

  • http://www.sailready.com SailDog

    There seems to be a concerted push (conspiracy?) to try and debunk Peak Oil at the moment. Monbiot is wrong about being previously wrong. Mind you he has said some stupid things. There is no endless source of oil – it seems amazing that I had to actually say that but seemingly I must, despite what Maugeri says. Nothing new from him, he has been saying more or less the same thing for several years. Nothing has changed really – crude oil production hasn’t increased since 2004. By that I mean C+C. Apart from NGL’s and processing gains all the rest is snake oil. Tar sands, biofuels, extra deep, sub salt Brazilian, shale – they are all snake oil. Yet they have an enormous capacity to deceive not only a gullible public but authors of articles such as this.

  • Ed

    “But I do get irritated when biologists, and especially ecologists, seem to act as if human economic history since 1800 simply hadn’t happened.”

    I’m more interested in economic present and/or future.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BRIC

  • Charles Nydorf

    Geologists are right that fossil fuel reserves are finite and will be increasingly expensive to exploit. Technological optimists are also right in pointing out alternatives that will obviate mankind’s running out of energy. The people who worry me are those economists who claim that physical reality is determined by the market. These people truly do seem to believe that “anything is possible.”

  • Karl Zimmerman

    Although it’s a different example, the focus on loss of biodiversity and extinction by ecologists rankles me. Not that I think those are good things mind you. It’s just I have enough of a background in paleontology to know that:

    1. Mass extinctions happened throughout Earth’s history, which lowers biodiversity in the medium term.
    2. No matter how badly we screw up the biosphere, it would likely recover from us in 20-40 million years.

    Since we can’t do irreparable harm to the biosphere, arguments in favor of conservation have to spring from one of two sources.

    One is something akin to animal rights. Essentially, our actions are causing tremendous suffering to individuals of other species. Even though they may not be fully (or at all in many cases) self-aware, minor alterations in our behavior could reduce the net suffering that our exploitation of nature provides.

    The other is self-interest. As humans, we have both practical and emotional reasons to want to live in a world with a diversity of life. A human world with nature ever-more denuded will mean many discoveries (botanical compounds for use as medicine, for example), may never be made. It may also cause significant impacts on our own economy (as with overfishing). Finally, one could argue it eliminates some of the wonder that the current natural world can instill in us, and that is a bad thing for the species as a whole. For example, no other species, besides our own, would care if polar bears went extinct. Even the polar bears themselves probably can’t comprehend anything beyond their own personal survival, and that of their young. Eventually, some species will fill its niche, or not, and the world will go on. Polar bears only matter to us, because we’re a species that ascribes meaning to things.

  • dcwarrior

    Re Peak Oil, the more thoughtful approaches to it realize that oil will never really run out, but that’s NOT good news because what will happen is that it will get more and more expensive to extract such that we want to use it less and less.

  • Chris_T_T

    Ecologists themselves frequently toe the positive/normative line when discussing their field.

    Observing that something is finite doesn’t tell you much in and of itself, after all the sun will run out of fuel one day. The relevant question is whether supplies will last long enough for us to find or develop new sources.

    2 – Unconventional oil is indeed more expensive to extract compared to conventional, but our ability to use them has also improved markedly over the last century and a half. The real comparison is between how much energy is spent obtaining a barrel versus how much energy we actually use from that barrel.

    5 – There aren’t ‘more resources than previously thought’ because the new sources in question were not resources until the last decade or so. The material existed, but the means to economically extract them did not exist and thus they couldn’t be used or counted as part of our resource base. The definition of a resource is not fixed, but is contingent on whether or not we find a use for it.

    20 – Higher prices are only a problem if there are no alternatives or we cannot adapt to it.

  • Pincher Martin

    dcwarrior,

    “Re Peak Oil, the more thoughtful approaches to it realize that oil will never really run out, but that’s NOT good news because what will happen is that it will get more and more expensive to extract such that we want to use it less and less.”

    Which is not really bad news either, because as other energy sources become cheaper in the marketplace relative to the price of oil, more companies will compete to make these alternative energy sources even more efficient for consumers to use. This is much preferable to the situation of a few hand-selected companies relying on government subsidizes to make an uneconomical product.

    You might counter that energy will still grow more expensive. But that assumes more knowledge about how innovation will interact with energy scarcity than you should assume.

  • X

    Pincher Martin: As other energy sources become cheaper in the marketplace relative to the price of oil, more capital may well be diverted from other purposes into alternative energy research. That’s not quite such good news as you seem to think, because: a) as oil becomes more expensive, more capital has to be diverted to it, leaving less available for such research – and for eventually shifting over the infrastructure that runs on oil – than if we had done it earlier; and b) you know, there’s no automatic reason to assume that anyone will find an equally cheap way to produce power, though that would be nice.

  • Pincher Martin

    X,

    Energy is too important, too basic a need for the economy, for it not to have adequate investment capital. If we assume the cost of oil will rise inexorably, then the cost of alternative sources of energy will get relatively cheaper and investment in them will rise to take advantage of the increasing ROI.

    There isn’t just one small global pool of capital for energy. There is a global capital market for everything. And it’s huge. It can easily divert more capital to the oil industry at the same time it diverts more capital to alternative energy sources. There’s no contradiction in that.

    Yes, the investment capital going into energy has to come from somewhere, but that somewhere could be everything from less investment in fast food restaurants to fewer people taking out mortgages to cuts in government spending. That might sound dramatic, but it shouldn’t. With more money going into energy, there’s slightly less money for everything else. This shift probably won’t even be noticeable to the average man on the street.

    “… you know, there’s no automatic reason to assume that anyone will find an equally cheap way to produce power…”

    You’re right, there’s no “automatic reason” to assume it. But you shouldn’t reflexively assume it won’t, either. Some of us are very clever monkeys are seeking out profits in a capitalist system through innovation and increased efficiency. Modern society doesn’t need big macs, apple computers, the new Lexus RX, or Facebook, but it does need energy provided as cheaply as possible for us to enjoy everything else in anything resembling the manner we have become accustomed to.

  • Ray Sawhill

    Y’all may be ahead of me on this, but if not … If you’re interested in how economics might take ecology into account (and vice versa), the man to look into is Herman Daly. Wikipedia has a good entry, and there are good interviews with him on YouTube. Anything but a flake, and one of the better critics around of mainstream econ. Here’s his outfit’s site:

    http://steadystate.org/

  • vic

    ecologists/ environmentalist proceed from a set of incorrect a-priory assumptions. These incorrect assumptions are never stated outright and are more implicit than anything, if anything if directly confronted the tree hugger gang will deny that these assumptions are part of their baggage.

    the fundamental contradiction , to my mind is that the environmental left implicitly ( but not always explicitly) assumes a static model of the world/ universe. Evolutio, however is everchanging – ever evolving if you will.

    Leads to some measure of absurdity! no !

  • Justin Smith

    In reply to Jerry McManus re the laws of thermodynamics: “Most ecological models account for thermodynamics, whereas economic models generally do not.”

    This is the same fallacious argument used by creationists to try to criticize evolution. The laws of thermodynamics–all those bits about conservation of energy and increasing entropy–apply only to closed systems. Life on earth including human economies are open systems, with solar and geothermal energy making the evolution of complex organisms and ecosystems possible, while increasing human populations bring increased human ingenuity that can support perpetual positive-sum economic growth.

    The fact that so few ecologists seem to understand this casts a shadow on the entire field. Maybe they should retake those basic physics classes.

  • Justin Smith

    In reply to Ray Sawhill, re Herman Daly and the so-called “steady-state” economy.

    This is what happens when ignorance of basic physics spreads from ecology to economics. That stuff is absolutely deranged, rejecting hundreds of years of economic science in the name of a basic logical error.

  • Bohemond

    “So environmentalism is not a positive discipline. Dumping waste in the water is positive? Conservatives, like pigeons, crap in their own nests.”

    Could there be a better exemplar of the clueless lefty utterly failing to get the point, but running his yap about some unconnected prejudice anyway?

  • Robert

    Although evolution may proceed in jumps, these don’t have to be large, and the process is akin to compound interest, if you measure change as divergence from some starting state. And for reasons a cognition scientist could probably explain (but I can’t), people seem to have problems in gauging the scope of compound-interest type changes.

    Arthur Clarke wrote once about how when it comes to guessing the pace of technological progress, people commonly overestimate the change possible during short timescales, but underestimate long-term changes.

    These cognitive shortfalls lead to all sorts of problems when well-intentioned people try to force political action based on assuming linear changes, when the actual change will be exponential and probably in a direction they never anticipated.

  • Bart

    Pincher Martin:

    “Yes, the investment capital going into energy has to come from somewhere, but that somewhere could be everything from less investment in fast food restaurants to fewer people taking out mortgages to cuts in government spending.”

    There’s a lot of this going around on this board so I’m not picking on you, but all the talk about “money” is senseless blather. We’ve got an infinite supply of money – we can print more up any time we please, or even create it as abstract numerical representation in the Fed’s computer banks. What we don’t have an infinite supply of is people to do the jobs. But, we do have more or less infinite means of increasing their productivity so that each may produce more.

    So, we start getting crimps in the labor supply as people are diverted into producing more energy. So what? We’re not exactly experiencing a shortage of available labor right now, if nobody noticed. And, times of labor shortage are generally boom times with rapid gains in wages and productivity. This will all be taken care of by the people in the energy business who are best qualified to work it out, if lay people will just stop trying to assuage their irrational fears by egging on their politicians to enact misguided attempts by those least qualified to do so to control the marketplace.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I completely agree that Darwin has superseded Malthus and ecologists should take this into account.
    However this post overrates economics. The way I see it, neoclassical economics is stuck into a “Malthusian” framework: the best you can do is reach an optimum, after which there is no room for growth. That is not very realistic, so economists have developed theories for growth — but these are add-ons, not the core of standard economic theory.
    A truly Darwinian economic theory is needed, and I suspect that it will be based on Austrian economics.

  • Mike H

    “Natural selection is much slower, and when faced with rapidly changing environemental conditions, species usually do not adapt, they manage to move or they go exctinct.”

    Humans have not just survived but have thrived in nearly every climatic region on earth and have survived every climactic event in the history of our species. You don’t give us enough credit.

  • Louis Wheeler

    The Environmentalists I have read seem to have no appreciation for markets or technology. This is reasonable since Environmentalists are a political group, not a scientific one.

    Classical economics says that all goods, with minor exceptions such as air on earth and salt water by the sea shore, are scarce. That is, they require knowledge, human labor and technology to become useful. If all goods are scarce, then some price is necessary to entice their sale.

    Taxes and regulatory roadblocks can prevent any sale at all. For example, the North American continent has sufficient fossil fuels for its self for a millennia. But, much of that energy is locked away from exploitation. The Green River Valley in Western Colorado has enough energy in tar sands to supply the US for two hundred years, but it is locked away by the Interior Department. It was opened during the Bush Presidency but Obama’s bureaucracy closed it down again.

    The same condition holds true of nuclear power, which was opened during Bush and being closed by Obama. The question is why the Environmentalists are so opposed to cheap energy. The answer is simple: they are a Leftist political group. They have no interest in market solutions. So, the US is placed off limits to oil and gas exploration. We don’t even know how much energy is here.

    The shale oil and gas boom is on private lands. Exploration leases on public lands are way down.

    There are two figures cited about oil and gas: reserves and resources. The reserves are the oil and gas we can pump at today’s price. Resources are known oil and gas which is too expensive to tap. Resources are about twenty times larger than Reserves. Technology is always finding cheaper ways to get at energy. The pattern is that reserves grow despite what is pumped out. We are always increasing resources, because the government won’t allow us to exploit it.

    Peak Oil was misnamed; it was not about scarcity. It was the idea that the cheap oil was already exploited. But cheap doesn’t matter. Technology takes care of cheap.

    If oil and gas get expensive enough then the marketplace has solutions. We can make methanol, dimethlyether and gasoline out of the CO2 in the air, if we are allowed cheap nuclear. We won’t run out of that fast. There is enough Thorium in one place in Wyoming to supply all our energy needs for two millennia. China, not the US, is building the first Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. Of course, LFTR was invented at Oakridge labs, Tenn. But, politics got in the way of exploiting it.

  • Pincher Martin

    Bart,

    “We’ve got an infinite supply of money – we can print more up any time we please, or even create it as abstract numerical representation in the Fed’s computer banks. What we don’t have an infinite supply of is people to do the jobs. But, we do have more or less infinite means of increasing their productivity so that each may produce more.”

    I agree there’s a lot of useless blather here about this topic. So why add to it with your own gaseous effusions?

    That money is largely an abstraction now, mostly existing as ones and zeros in the banking system, doesn’t make its supply infinite — as any businessman who has tried to get a loan will tell you.

    Yes, the Fed can create money ex nihilo, but it does not do so for good economic reasons. So businesses and people must compete for available capital. Economic theory says this must be the case, and economic practice shows it to be the case.

    The commentator X’s assumption about limited capital is sound. Businesses must compete for available capital, which is finite. But X’s fear that the increasing capital needs for oil will dry up the investment resources required for alternative energy is specious. There’s no necessary corollary between the two.

  • Bart

    Pincher Martin:

    In case you hadn’t noticed, I was agreeing with you that X’s fear is irrational. But, you’re not getting my point, which is that “capital” itself is a very elastic concept. At the most fundamental level, the only truly finite resource is the people who do the mental and physical labor. But, that resource can be leveraged with gains in productivity.

    This “peak oil” crap is a bunch of hooey. I’ve been hearing we were going to run out in a decade or so my whole life, because some yokel, Texas sharpshooter-style (there are lots of yokels to choose from) happened to predict X years ago a production curve which looks vaguely like recent levels, independently of a host of ancillary influences, and his curve says its going down. It’s like those supermarket tabloids hailing the latest confirmation of Nostradamus’ “predictions”, and the same people get their knickers in a bind over it. If those people weren’t causing actual harm with their antics, it would be outrageously hilarious.

  • Pincher Martin

    Bart,

    “In case you hadn’t noticed, I was agreeing with you that X’s fear is irrational. But, you’re not getting my point, which is that “capital” itself is a very elastic concept.”

    I did notice you were in agreement with some of my points. But I wasn’t comforted by what consensus we did have, when it was built on the shaky foundation of your belief that the money supply was infinite.

    Yes, capital is elastic. Yes, the money supply can be safely increased with gains in productivity and growth. But that’s a very different thing from saying we have an infinite supply of money.

    Like you, I’m not concerned about the finiteness of oil. Everything material in this world is finite. But we can continue to grow through efficiency and cleverness.

  • punditius

    Do we know what makes oil yet? My understanding is that we have some theories, but no actual agreement about the answer to this question. That being the case, how can we be sure that we’ll run out of the stuff?

    Not that it really matters. If governments will stop messing with the economics of the situation (mileage standards, for instance), we’ll either find ways to keep getting the oil we need, or we’ll run the price up to the point where we’ll find economically viable alternatives. With governments in the way, the same thing will happen, but it will just take longer.

    The best way to go green would be to stop propping up the oil cartels by economizing.

  • http://hertzlinger.blogspot.com Joseph Hertzlinger

    If economics is based on a violation of the laws of thermodynamics (presumably the 2nd), how much is that violation in terms of Joule/Kelvin?

    In any case, overpopulation predictions assume that humans are animals. Animal populations often show a boom-and-bust pattern caused by overshoot. If humans are animals we must beware of overshoot, which means we must be concerned about overpopulation long before there is any real evidence of it.

    On the other hand, ecologically speaking humans are plants. (Plants are less likely to have overshoot problems.) When there are more of a species of animal there is less of what that animal eats. When there are more of a species of plant, the resources the plant needs either increase (soil) or stay the same (sunlight).

    The only resources that humans treat the way animals do are fossil fuels and wild fish. Both of those should be obsolete soon.

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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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