Open thread, 9-26-2012

By Razib Khan | September 26, 2012 11:00 pm

Be heard!

  • Andrew Selvarasa

    What’s the readership’s general consensus on marijuana and IQ? Is it harmful? Beneficial? Completely benign? I’m finding conflicting information wherever I look. 😐

  • Darkseid

    Weed lowers IQ if you start young. That was just in the news.
    Why can’t i buy a gnxp shirt? It should have a big pic of razibs head on the front and the back should say “value added, bitches.” the double helix on the shoulders…

  • Karl Zimmerman

    Although I know some posters will scoff at the source, I wonder what people think about this article on the growth in elderly prisoners.

    It sort of edges around something discussed in the “psychopath” thread the other day. Why do we jail people – is it for retribution, or public safety? Elderly (even most late middle age) prisoners aren’t really a danger to the general public, and they’re far more expensive to house and care for within the prison system than they would be on the outside.

    The article came up on another forum with politically mixed posters, and there were some interesting responses. Some fell back on social conservative rhetoric (life in prison is life in prison, and you shouldn’t get time off, even if you’re in advanced dementia), while others said that although it’s clear it’s not in the interest of society in terms of finances, it’s a worse abrogation of the social contract if you throw elderly prisoners with no skills regarding the outside world (and presumably, no ability to collect Social Security) out to fend for themselves.

    I don’t know if I have strong feelings either way regarding if there should be an “age cutoff” for prison, but I do think in general that a large proportion of those jailed (non-psychopaths) are possible to rehabilitate, and it seems senseless to lock them up forever due to one dumb decision when they were in young adulthood.

  • AMac

    Here is a link to a MedPage Today recap of the just-published Lancet paper, “Range of genetic mutations associated with severe non-syndromic sporadic intellectual disability: an exome sequencing study”.

    The authors describe de novo mutations in the genomes of these severely affected individuals. It would be reasonable to suppose that the same mechanisms could contribute to “low-normal” IQ phenotypes in the general population.

  • Icepick

    What’s the readership’s general consensus on marijuana and IQ?

    Back in high school one of my friends became a big-time pot-head. We started calling him Swatty. I ran into him a few years later. “Hey, Swatty! How you doing? Long time no see!”

    “Aw, duuuuuude! Don’t call me that. I quit.”

    “Really, Scott? Why’d you quit?”

    “‘Cause POT makes you STOOOOOpid.”

    So that was one vote of experience! Completely anecdotal evidence, though, YMMV and all that.

  • US

    “Why can’t i buy a gnxp shirt?”

    What an awesome idea …why didn’t I think of that?

    I’d buy one.

  • Sandgroper

    I vote for just a plain white T-shirt (excellent quality pure cotton, naturally) with GNXP in black on it. If people don’t know what that means, they are too dumb to be allowed to buy one.

    Then on the back should be THE WRATH OF KHAN – same deal.

  • Isabel

    “Weed lowers IQ if you start young. That was just in the news.”

    Only in the heaviest users. Experimenting before age 18 wasn’t found to affect IQ, nor regular or even heavy use after eighteen. And even though it appeared to be a large study, the amount of people affected, those who started young and were the heaviest users, was pretty small. And of course those results were averages; I can assure you that early, regular use can appear to have the opposite effect (or correlation) in some individuals :)

  • Spike Gomes

    I’m a former user who used it pretty heavily (about every other day eight to six years ago). I wouldn’t say it directly affects IQ so much as the ability to focus. I was able to do pretty good on quick puzzles and Jeopardy, not much off my baseline, but couldn’t do things that required organizing and executing multiple mental steps. I’d get distracted by something else or bored. The lack of focus and drive would persist for a day or two after getting high, something I came to call a “weed hangover”.

    Between that, the cost, and the fact it made my introversion far far worse, I quit doing it. Now, I pretty much stick with cheap cigars and breakfast teas for my psychoactive aides.

  • T

    Karl Zimmerman,

    Prison is cruel. I think that there are only three punishments that can be applied in a humane way: minor fine, banishment, death. Prison breaks up families and is economically disastrous for everyone involved. That’s not even factoring in the rape. In the US most rapes happen to men. That’s right, for every time a woman is raped at least one man is raped. This is total rapes, not just prison rapes. Prison should be abolished. It would mean more criminals roaming the streets but people would learn to arm themselves. I’m not some sort of softie who thinks that we can or should try to rehabilitate people. In fact I find the idea of reeducating people abhorrent.

    As for elderly… the real problem is that the government undermines the family at every turn. An elderly person should be living with his family, whether or not he was just released from prison.

    Here is a very compelling article on the topic:

  • Spike Gomes

    I vote for a plain black T, and under “The Wrath of Khan”, a stylized version of the blog portrait.

    At, a three color T shouldn’t cost too much. I remember than when my grad department got hoodies, it was only like 50 bucks each for a small batch of two-color hoodies, and that was over six years ago.

  • Andrew Selvarasa

    Thanks for the replies on weed and IQ so far, guys. :) It’s merely something I’m interested in, nothing more. :)

  • Ed

    Why are the ‘Australoid’ and ‘Southeast Asian’ (in this case a Negrito/Australoid reference) frequencies so high compared to other admixture runs I’ve seen featuring Southeast Asian populations?

    If the admixture was this high wouldn’t it show up on FST measurements? Or am I missing something?

  • Sandgroper

    I’d go for that, Spike.

  • Solis

    Can’t say anything about weed since I haven’t taken any stuff beyond alcohol and tobacco.

    But the mental disorder I’ve had for over a year (derealization) can be triggered by the use of cannabis and marijuana.

    So be careful when taking drugs, kids.

  • Isabel

    What is the difference, specifically, between a “fully conscious human being” and a not-quite-fully conscious human?

  • Isabel

    “But the mental disorder I’ve had for over a year (derealization) can be triggered by the use of cannabis and marijuana.”

    Cannabis and marijuana are the same thing. Also, if you are going to bring up other effects besides IQ, the drug czar himself even finally admitted that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol; in fact it’s much less harmful than both cigarettes and alcohol. Emotionally and mentally fragile people should be very cautious with all drugs (and according to wikipedia your condition can be triggered by a long list of things including caffeine, nicotine, alcohol withdrawal and sleep deprivation).

  • Spike Gomes


    You kidding? I consider my use of cheap cigars to be medical tobacco. Seriously, it keeps me sane. No, it’s not addiction, I mean I need it to do what I want to do. The tradeoff in life years is enough for me. The way I see it, I’m maximizing cognitive and creative production now at the cost of life time that would be spent in slow mental, creative and physical decline.

    Frankly, I call bullshit on the harmlessness of marijuana. Less harmful than alcohol? Yeah, probably. Tobacco? Have you seen how 95% of people consume marijuana? Yeah, you can consume it other ways than smoking, but lets be realistic. Illegal or legal, that’s how most of it is going to be consumed and the stuff is harder on the pulmonary system than tobacco is. Toss in the fact that it’s a serious mental disturbance trigger for 3-10% of the population (depending on study and definition) and you got something that’s up there with cigs and booze, way above Starbucks or kava in the danger category.

    I’m not saying that it should be illegal. I’m for legalizing it. But let’s be honest with ourselves.

  • Isabel

    *Please* don’t put words in my mouth. I didn’t say it was harmless! However you are greatly exagerating the harms in your last comment. And “Izzie”??? I don’t want to go too off topic with this discussion and I think it is pointless anyway. I’ve also been involved in an epic battle with DrugMonkey on the topic and have expressed my views at length enough over there. The anti-cannabis bias is so overwhelming, even from people who say they are pro-legalization, that it really is hard to have a conversation on the subject.

    Since this is an open thread though I will mention that Oct 1 marks **75 years** of prohibition. The illogical prohibition itself is a much more interesting topic to me.

  • Darkseid

    Isabel – r u one of these people? it seems like you might be:

  • Spike Gomes


    Touchy much? Look, you can call me Spike, Spikey or Late for dinner, I don’t care. I won’t call you a nickname because you don’t like it, apparently. Settled?

    Suffice to say I don’t read DrugMonkey and haven’t gotten the full length of your views. Me being a former heavy user of cannabis and deep into the smoker culture is part of the reason *why* I’m so hard against it. For every Carl Sagan there are ten 35 year old grad school dropouts huffing their own intellectual farts between passing the bong around after work and 100 McDonald’s employees sharing a bowl behind the dumpster. You gotta do what you gotta do to make it through the day, but lets be honest, the life of a chronic user is about as pathetic as the guy with a flask of whiskey in his office drawer, minus the elevated chances of him hitting someone on the way home or beating his wife. In that at least, it’s less harmful than alcohol.

    Also, if you noticed, this thread is all about being “off-topic” on anything, and if my opinion of being pro-legalization but dubious about how many people paint it as less harmful than legal substances, is pointless, then why bear arguing against it? Let silence reign, or have an honest go at it. Don’t be passive aggressive, it’s annoying.

    The illogical prohibition makes perfect sense in the light that the majority of humans aren’t logical, and even the logical ones will engage in pragmatic illogic quite a bit. The prohibition ain’t the first, nor the last funky sausage coming out of the sausage factory.

  • Isabel

    “Touchy much? Look, you can call me Spike, Spikey or Late for dinner, I don’t care. I won’t call you a nickname because you don’t like it, apparently. Settled?”

    You insult me again and want to call it settled? Insults are off limits on this blog, sorry. Anyway I was quoting the Czar- go argue with him if you are such an expert.

    Like I said, this topic brings out the trolls. :(

    I would rather discuss the meaning of “full” human consciousness. On a recent thread everybody seemed to agree on what this meant, however googling around didn’t really clear up my confusion-seems to be many definitions.

  • Spike Gomes


    Jesus H. Christ, I didn’t know Razib had appointed you a moderator. If you want an insult, I can give you one as an example for when I’m not playing nice:

    “Whatever you’re full of, it ain’t human consciousness, that’s for sure.”

    Addressing someone casually isn’t an insult, unless of course, they’ve got an unwarranted sense of self importance or they’re touchy. QED.

    As for calling me a troll, I’ve been reading Razib since the Usenet days. I don’t respond much, sure, but I’m hardly an anonymous feces-flinging tard. Anyways I got a feeling Razib is gonna lock this one down for low signal to noise at this point, which sucks because the t-shirts are a good idea, well next open thread anyways.

  • Spike Gomes

    Crap, I apologize for the above post. I got a bit heated and ran my mouth. Henceforth I’m going to ignore Isabel. One of things that makes this one of the best places on the net is that it’s free of the usual internet stupidity and I succumbed to it for a bit.


  • Razib Khan

    just got home from chillin’ with friends after a long week. i don’t have the energy or time to figure out what’s going on here (i have a super cute baby!). i’ll leave the thread open i guess. if it doesn’t look like a prudent choice tomorrow i’ll close it 😉

  • Andrew Selvarasa

    I KNEW you were getting soft after becoming Big Poppa! (Been coming here since 2003 at age 16/17!)

  • M. Möhling

    Just checking if I’m banned, as I can’t comment over there.

  • Karl Zimmerman

    I’ve been having a hard time getting my replies to show up in some recent threads as well.

  • Razib Khan

    sent a bunch of things through.

  • Razib Khan

    #26, more like time pressure 😉

  • omar

    Razib, Hobsbawm’s death is being widely commemorated and i was wondering, did you ever read any of his books? If so, what do you think of him as a historian (not his political views or his support for Stalin, but his history books….and can those two things be separated?)?

  • Razib Khan

    #31 best read when you already know stuff. that’s most historians 😉


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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


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