Open thread, 4/14/2013

By Razib Khan | April 14, 2013 3:22 am


  • Charles


    Regarding EDAR and (possible) sexual selection. Do you know (one way or the other) if EDAR has any role in the skin looking younger into older ages?

    • Karch_Buttreau

      That’s probably not due to EDAR, but relatively higher levels of body fat in East Asians.

      • Sandgroper

        No, it isn’t that. It has been shown that East Asian skin is more elastic, it has more collagen. Because it’s stronger/more elastic, and because they are a lot less susceptible to getting sunburn. Plus they have the cultural habit of avoiding sun exposure, rather than taking off their clothes and lying in it.

  • Robert Ford
    • TheBrett

      That doesn’t surprise me. Out in the field, there’s not as much potential for outside scrutiny if someone is being sexually abusive – unless people start reporting them, as this will hopefully lead to more of. And it sounds like the supervisors for grad students are particularly exploiting their power position for sexual harassment (the “younger women being harassed by older men” factor that made up a majority of the cases).

      There may be a generational component involved as well. An older generation of supervisors may be more prone to this stuff, coming from an era when reporting sexual harassment was much less common (and more possible to do with impunity). You see some of the same stuff from senior managers in some established firms.

    • Patrick Wyman

      It fits pretty neatly into the larger picture of the abuse and exploitation of graduate students by tenured faculty who are basically protected from the consequences of their behavior, within certain limits. I’m not in anthro, but I’ve witnessed plenty of sexual harassment and theft of students’ research, among other problems.

  • TheBrett

    I wonder if we could create some type of weird synthetic plant that would draw up particular kinds of metals and deposit them into concentrated “buds” that we could then clip and use/dispose. Might be good for environmental clean-up.

    • Cheryl Buswell

      For quite a few years, Indian mustard and other plants have been used to clean up soils contaminated with heavy metals. Google phytoremediation and phytoextraction.

    • JonFrum

      They were working on this at the University of Georgia (USA) when I was there in the late 1990. They were working with Arabadopsis, but they were looking at fast-growing trees for practical use. i think they were focusing on mercury.

  • T. Greer

    Few links that may interest you:

    “The Mesh of Civilizations and International Email Flows” Technology Review.
    Bogdan State, Patrick Park, Ingmar Weber, Yelena Mejova, Michael Macy
    (Submitted on 28 Feb 2013 (v1), last revised 10 Mar 2013 (this version, v2))

    pg. 7 has the info graphic worth pondering. (“Figure 3”)

    “Abnormal is the New Normal: Why Half the U.S. Will Have A Diagnosable Mental Disorder.” Slate. Robin Rosenberg. 12 April 2013.

    “How Social Darwinism Made Modern China” The American Conservative. Ron Unz. 11 March 2013.

    Radical Centralism: Uniting the Radical Left and Radical Right. Macroeconomic Resilience. Ashwin Parameswaran. 8 April 2013.

  • Sandgroper
    • Sandgroper

      Has now been retired from racing.

  • Robert Ford

    West Hunter did a small series on this idea:

    then if you combine this post with that it’s good food for thought:

    I think it’s an interesting idea but i put more weight in the positive selection for IQ theory. (The smarter you are the more kids you can afford to pass on.) Steve Hsu mentioned this in one of his talks recently.

  • Anthony_A

    Greg Cochrane hypothesizes that homosexuality is a pathogen, because the math doesn’t work if it’s genetic. He’s convincingly demolished the “gay uncle” idea, and I think he’s right that it’s not a gene which enhances reproductive fitness in women (the “attraction to men” gene). However, is it possible that there’s a gene where the benefit of being heterozygous is completely unrelated to sexual behavior, perhaps some sort of disease resistance?

    As I write this, I seem to remember that the frequency of homosexuality among mz-twins and among brothers isn’t high enough to allow for a purely genetic explanation, but could it be that there’s a gene which is a necessary but not sufficient condition?

    • Sandgroper

      Why couldn’t it be a common(ish) recurring mutation?

      • Anthony_A

        Homosexuality is way too frequent to be the same mutation happening over and over. There would have to be *lots* of ways which something could break to cause homosexuality for it to be recurring mutations.

        • Sandgroper

          Yes, I had the same thought, even though it’s a lot less frequent than, say, mental illness. I was wondering if that is the case – that there are lots of ways such mutations could occur.

    • ohwilleke

      In utero testosterone exposure is likely to be at least part of the story. Also, it isn’t at all obvious that male homosexuality and female homosexuality are the same thing in terms of causation or phenomena, or that homosexuality in general has a single cause.

  • Shannon Christmas

    Unlike the other autosomal DNA genealogy products on the market (23andMe and Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder), AncestryDNA provides no matching segment data nor a chromosome browser. Without these essential components, the AncestryDNA product leaves customers without the tools to triangulate the origin of identical-by-descent DNA segments. Customers cannot specify the exact genealogical relationships represented by the DNA shared with each match. AncestryDNA leaves customers to blindly accept the product’s Shared Ancestor Hints, a family tree comparison that identifies a single ancestor or a single ancestral couple found in one’s tree and that of one’s genetic relative and implies that those shared ancestors are the source of the shared DNA. But the Shared Ancestor Hints are routinely incorrect and misleading.

    Please sign this petition requesting Ancestry supply AncestryDNA customers with matching DNA segment data and a chromosome browser. Without such critical features, AncestryDNA offers little utility and even less transparency for beginning and advanced genetic genealogists alike.


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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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