Open thread, 10-17-2012

By Razib Khan | October 17, 2012 5:29 pm


MORE ABOUT: Open Thread
  • Darkseid

    I’d like to start by stating that there is no *real* evidence that jesus or mohammed ever existed. i’m gonna go to hockey and this better be a solid flame war by the time i get back.

  • I_Affe

    I have a question for anyone. I believe that the quality of harassment is different for male vs. female troll-victims (e.g. more dickish comments on rape and appearance for women), but I’m not certain about frequency. So, is the rate of harassment greater for women than men? Particularly in the atheist blog community? I don’t think I’ve ever seen numbers on that.

  • Jason Malloy

    Important new Gregory Clark work discussed on NPR.

    His personal page has a PDF for England and one for Sweden, but a Google search also reveals this unfinished paper with data from a number of other nations.

  • aq

    How sensitive are human behavioural traits to evolutionary pressures? Is it possible to predict potential for change in behavioral traits in a population by some x number of generations?

    If the question is too broad or stoopid to answer here, anyone reccomend some reading material?

  • AG

    Status is quite stubborn against social mobility. Assortative mating is the culprit (I believe). Without dealing root cause, any political idea about helping poor seems futile.

  • Matt

    Recently, I read about how a hypothesis suggests the Flynn effect is due to the increasing complexity of modern life. Since that’s always increasing, so to do various cognitive abilities. It creates a positive feedback loop. Smarter people create a more complex culture and vice versa. It occured to me, that the Amish would be a good group to test, as they’re really the only American sub-culture whose cultural complexity hasn’t been continually increasing. If the complexity of culture hypothesis is correct, one would assume an average IQ for the Amish would be as low or lower than the average IQ of those first tested back in the early 1900’s. Not that it would be easy to get the Amish to acquiesce to, and there would probably be confounding variables (possibly higher levels of inbreeding, unfamiarity with testing procedures, poor language skills).

  • FredR

    Jason Malloy’s link is cut off for me, but I think this is the complete link:

    It doesn’t look like he’s added that much over the past year (, but there is now some chinese data, and I think it reads a little better although as a humanities person I’m still out of my depth.

  • Jason Malloy

    If the complexity of culture hypothesis is correct, one would assume an average IQ for the Amish would be as low or lower than the average IQ of those first tested back in the early 1900′s

    It isn’t. The Amish do fairly well on IQ tests. Roughly the same as the white American average. (e.g. several studies by Doris Entwisle in the 60s). However all I can gather is from eight or so small-scale studies between the late 50s to late 70s, so it’s hard to draw more specific conclusions.

    Here’s a Wayback Machine link to an extinct HBD blog post.

  • FredR

    I wonder how differential reproduction interacts with Clark’s model. If we’re assuming that a person’s status is determined by their genetic qualities as compared to the general population, shouldn’t the rate of regression to the mean in, for instance, an elite family be dependent to some extent on whether it’s other upper class families or lower class families that are providing the comparison population average of the next generation? Or does the effect of this differential reproduction on opportunities for assortative mating cancel out that influence? Or am I totally confused?

  • Sandgroper

    Please tell me you don’t play hockey.

  • Superfast Jellyfish

    Has anybody here read “In the Shadow of the Sword” by Tom Holland? It’s a very interesting history of the earliest years of Islam (plus a history of the century or two before that). I thought it was convincing, but I’m not knowledgable enough to have a strong opinion on it and I’m curious what the informed folks here would think.

    (#1, in case you’re interested, the thesis is that Mohammed existed, but not as portrayed in the Koran.)

  • JK

    This comment from another post caught my eye, and wanted to see if anyone could contribute some insight.
    Bascially geneticists who tossed in “hot political topics” in their papers to get attention and even funding? As well as indian geneticists and “ethno/nationalist and casteist pov”?

    {Don’t trust an archaeologist about genetics, don’t trust a geneticist about archaeology}

    {20. Nathan Says:
    October 17th, 2012 at 2:49 am
    As I read this blog entry headline and read Razib’s bolded comment , I immediately thought about what Steve Farmer said very recently about the inaccuracy of mutation rates (in past papers) and how some well known geneticists have not been vociferous in cautioning the jump to conclusions, rather it seems they partly welcomed it because it drew attention to their papers.
    ” Despite our arguments, the papers were cranked out regularly for over a decade
    by well-known population geneticists. When we pointed out the problem to them
    they privately admitted we were right but argued that tossing in discussions of
    “hot” political topics in their abstracts drew needed attention (and funding!)
    to their work.
    We’re talking about the best-known population geneticists, at Stanford and
    elsewhere. ”

    S.Farmer mentions the California Textbook controversy; fudging mutation rate data takes a sinister turn when well known Indian geneticists from well known institutions misrepresent and or fudge data to promote an ethno-nationalist / casteist pov.}

  • AG

    Assortative mating seems even most significant at upper class. Upper class young women most likely are so sensitive about mate’s status that they even go after married high status males. Example: Cindy McCain vs John McCain(18 year senior), Chinese presidents Chiang Kai-shek vs Soong May-ling , Sun Yat-sen vs Soong Ching-ling.

    My own grandmother was also 15 years younger than my grandfather, both were USA ivy league graduates. She also caused him divorcing his first wife. Nothing proud here. Just some inconvenient family history. More than half of descendants in upper middle class now.

    Such behavior restricts trickling down any genetic advantage from upper class. This pattern maintains status quo in descendants.

  • Ed
  • Razib Khan

    Is it possible to predict potential for change in behavioral traits in a population by some x number of generations?

  • Razib Khan

    Someone told me that FST isn’t an accurate way to measure differentiation between populations citing these studies:

    to my knowledge ALL genetic distance measures are abstractions. so accuracy is judged by instrumental utility. there isn’t some idealized platonic ‘genetic distance’ that we’re measuring. it’s a construct which represents reality in human digesteable form.


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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


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