Open thread, 3/10/2013

By Razib Khan | March 10, 2013 12:44 am

What’s going on?

MORE ABOUT: Open Thread

Comments (23)

  1. TheBrett

    The Mars Curiosity rover may have found something interesting, although I’m going to reserve judgment until we actually find out what it is. NASA has a history of way, way over-hyping announcements.

    Then there’s the supposedly weird life that the Vostok Lake crew found.

    Considering that they’ve printed tissue, I wonder if we’ll ever get to the point where you could print someone a replacement arm, then attach it as if it were a severed arm instead of having to use artificial limbs.


    The second installment of the Charlie Rose Brain Series is up. I watched the first episode and was disappointed to see that they’re taking an extremely PC stance in regards to intelligence. The first series was really good tho.

    Also, I decided to continue arguing with Tony and Michael Scroggins in the comments of his rebuttal and I feel like I’m debating Ghost Hunters or something. It doesn’t matter what I say they spin it to reinforce their beliefs. I started thinking about how bizarre that is…it’s like talking to people who have been brainwashed.

  3. Sandgroper

    Time for me to say thank you again for 11 wonderful years of writing/discussion and a good deal of patience, tolerance and forbearance. The day after tomorrow my baby girl will receive her BSc in Genetics and Biochemistry.

  4. Florida_resident

    Can somebody kindly advise on the
    (better short) recent source of info
    on the question of “Malleability of IQ”.
    I have certain work-related need of this info.

    From what I read, it is malleable in this sense:
    one takes blacksmith’s hammer and hits a person with high IQ,
    thus changing IQ in the direction of making it lower.

    Standard blessings to Mr. Khan’s family.

    • Jason Malloy

      Yes. There was a meta-analysis (PDF) just last month in Perspectives on Psychological Science:

      All 4 meta-analyses yielded significant results: Supplementing infants with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, enrolling children in early educational interventions, reading to children in an interactive manner, and sending children to preschool all raise the intelligence of young children

      Unfortunately, they don’t deal with the well known “fade out” found in the stimulative interventions that bother to look for it. I’m less skeptical of the first one though. I would definitely experiment with LC-PUFA supplementation if I was starting a family.

      • Florida_resident

        Thank you. I was able to download PDF file via my organization. Still have to read it.

      • Florida_resident

        Now, after I read the paper (but not the references therein),
        my main concern is the same as yours, dear Jason Malloy.

        1) On the influence of LC-PUFA Supplementation on IQ, there are a lot of studies in this meta-analyses, which date as early as 2001, several on 2003,some 2008 and 2009. Most of them show positive influence. But none of them (repeat, _NONE_ ) have a 2013 (i.e. about a decade later), or any other date, follow-up study.

        2)The studies of “early interventions” have dates 1968, 1971, 1972, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1990, 2001, etc. Those studies
        2a) did not show very definite effect,
        2b) in all those years passed none (repeat, _NONE_ ) of them have follow-up study of “fade effect”.
        Thank you again for the reference. It was more or less what I was looking for.
        Your F.r.

  5. tonywaters

    Hi Razib:

    I posted a thread at so the “discussion” of anthropology vs human genetics can continue. What is it that you guys read that makes you think so differently? I listed some of the books we read that help us think the way we do. What is it that you and your readers are reading? The thread is here:

  6. S.J. Esposito

    Interesting piece at The Atlantic:

    Before defending Mead’s work against the apparently false criticisms of Freeman, the author admits that most agree that Mead’s depiction of sexuality in Samoa was motivated by a political agenda. Shouldn’t this alone be enough to discredit her work?

    • Sandgroper

      I think so. But I’m a bit of an idealistic hard-liner on wanting ideology to be excluded scrupulously (and probably unrealistically) from science and engineering. I’m also certainly no anthropologist or anything close.
      But I read Mead’s work when I was in my 20s, and it was very evident to me then that she was pushing certain ideological lines hard through her writing, some of which were self-evidently false or distorted to me. I’m not completely ignorant of Oceania. It is easy to misread what you see in those communities, partularly if the misreading can be made to align with the ideology you want to push.

      Woodlark Island is another community alleged to have very relaxed attitudes to adolescent sexual relations, but again I can’t escape the feeling that it is through the lens of people who wish it to be so

  7. ohwilleke

    I recently blogged on an interesting comparison of a 700 year data of Jewish expulsions in Europe with climate trends in Europe in the region (inconclusive)

    and on the fact that people are still being executed for witchcraft in the 21st century, in Saudi Arabia even under color of law

    In the course of a post mostly on sexual orientation, while exploring a tangent, I was also surprised how hard it is to find solid numbers of natural hair color, which one would think would have fairly wide interest and be easy to study.

  8. M. Möhling

    razib, you once speculated about a colder climate possibly soon to come (cf commentisfree).

    Given that we’re in an interglacial (warm period during an ice age) anyway, that’s to be followed by the return of that ice age, or even an earlier return of a stadial (cold period during a interglacial, as from ~1350 to ~1850, the little ice age), all of this in short terms, geologically speaking, is it advisable to make us dependent on solar and wind energy, as the greens advocate?

    Wouldn’t we in the north need a huge energy surplus independent of the weather to cope with these eventualities about to occur sooner or later? Sandgroper, what do you think as an engineer? With unconventional fuels getting traction just now the green position might be moot soon, anyway, yet I wonder if it’s unsound by itself.

    • razibkhan

      the sahara got bigger in the ice age. if someone we could transport the electricity??? in any case, coal and nuclear are always there for back ups.

    • Sandgroper

      Sorry MM, I was traveling. In short, yes, I think so. There are big problems with transporting energy over long distances.

      Tibet has more hydro-electric power potential than the rest of the world combined, but the Chinese haven’t figured out a way to transport the electricity economically over the long distances required. Neither has anyone else.

      In the shorter term, I think Australia is going to be in huge trouble – per capita, Australians have the biggest carbon footprints in the world, the biggest most energy-inefficient houses in the worst suburban sprawl, and we’re going around preaching to the world about carbon reduction. Meanwhile, we can’t make solar pay, in conditions that are about as ideal as you can get. Greens block wind and hydro (and fracking) and demand massive reduction in energy use as the answer, in conditions where that is going to make life extremely difficult and uncomfortable. I could just about see myself living on Saipan, Guam, Kauai or Maui without heating and air-conditioning. But in southern Australia? No way. And southern Oz is positively balmy compared to northern Europe.

      Shorter term, I see gas having big potential. Longer term, what Zeeb said.

  9. Holy crap, Google Reader is ending.

    I’ve used it as a blog aggregator since its founding. What the hell other options are out there? I’d hate to go back to bookmarking every damn blog in existence.


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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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