Open Thread, 08/11/2013

By Razib Khan | August 11, 2013 12:14 am

Summer is racing….

MORE ABOUT: Open Thread
  • Robert Ford

    re: Matt Damon’s school choice.

    Seems like asking people’s opinion is pointless these days. I’m gonna try to start phrasing questions to get at what people (that I’m speaking with) are *actually doing.* “Oh, yes, diversity….right. Say, what neighborhood do you live in??” Prod them with follow up questions instead of being so polite at my own expense all of the time.

  • TheBrett

    Thank goodness that summer is racing. August is such a dismal month – it has bad weather, many of the worst movies, no major American holidays, and the return to school when you’re a kid.

    We need to find a federal holiday for August. Maybe Education Day or Women’s Day, since the first land grant for public schooling and 19th Amendment were both respectively done in August.

    • Susara

      Well, here in South Africa 9 August is indeed a public holiday – Woman’s Day. :-)

  • Sandgroper

    Tonight, tonight the strip’s just right,

    I wanna blow ’em off in my first heat,

    Summer’s here and the time is right…

  • Biologist

    Steven Pinker on the two cultures debate:

    “Science Is Not Your Enemy”

  • Karl Zimmerman

    This is two years old, but I was recently linked to it. Noam Chomsky talking about what issues he has with the anti-science obfuscation of postmodernism.

    I realize that some people on here probably stridently disagree with Chomsky in the particulars of both his career as a linguist and his side-job critiquing (or attacking, if you prefer) U.S. foreign policy. But it’s important to remember he’s actually been consistently, in his own way, an ally of those actually seeking to better understand reality.

    • razibkhan

      i’ve become more skeptical of chomsky’s science over the years. but no one would doubt he’s made great contributions in that area. re: sociobiology, ppl should check out chomsky’s stance in the sociobiology wars. he comes off as relatively naive and far less political than lewontin or gould. when it comes to science he focuses on science, and when it comes to politics he focuses on politics.

      • China_Rising

        Mr Khan,

        Off-topic question (and I will understand if you don’t find the time to answer), do you think that differences in intelligence (as assessed by IQ) are best at predicting not just the future performance, income, educational attainment, etc. of an individual, but indeed a nation?

        I have noticed that countries with low-IQ are almost without exception very poor and undeveloped (the exception being oil-exporting Gulf states), while high-IQ countries tend to be the polar opposite (with the exception of North Korea, China, and *maybe* Vietnam).

        My additional question would be, do you think that, if IQ is the greatest predictor of the long-term success of nations, and that it explains most of the variance in economic development (independently), that China will indeed become the world’s superpower sometime in the near future?

        Being over 4x the US population, and containing more people than all of Western civilization combined (if Western civilization is defined as people of European ancestry), China, if matching the per capita income, innovation, etc. of European nations, would become a superpower far more powerful than the USA could have ever dreamed of.

        It would be hegemony on a scale not seen since the British Empire.

        • razibkhan

          china has always been the super power. the 19th and 20th centuries have been aberrations since the fall of rome. but, they face major demographic head-winds. their dependency ratio is now going in the “wrong” direction.

      • Karl Zimmerman

        I think his impact on linguistics was more than anything to place a foot of it firmly in the sciences. Early linguistics basically sought only to identify and classify language – it was glorified beetle-collecting. Some theoretical underpinnings began with structuralism, but it was fundamentally no more scientific than psychiatry. Chomsky is largely responsible for linguistics deciding that how humans acquire language was an important part of the discipline. If not for him more modern forms, like cognitive linguistics, would probably have been undertaken by psychologists.

        Indeed, given what happened to anthropology and comparative literature, it’s quite possible it would have malformed into a pile of sophistry crap, with linguist “activists” using language analyses to show there are no underlying human universals, and to “fight for” vanishing linguistic minorities.

        • razibkhan

          he turned linguistics into a branch of logic and psychology.

    • Robert Ford

      i’ve given him numerous chances but i always come away with a shrug. what insight has he given that we couldn’t have deduced on our own? I’m genuinely asking – not knocking it. For me, it doesn’t help that he’s typically presented as some guru we should await for directives.

  • David Jamieson

    Off topic – but I was reading some of your very intriguing posts about IQ and race – an extremely sensitive issue which you explain eloquently. Apologise if this a naive question from a lay reader, but are you able to point me in the direction of any research that is examining any neuro anatomical differences that may go some way to explaining variation in IQ between people. Culture, nutrition, education obviously all play a role, but in terms of the raw hardware we each have, I have read that varying expressions of proteins like CREB may play a role in explaining IQ differences between individuals – physical brain size is sometimes correlated, as is ratio of glial cells. Or is there simply not enough known yet about what – at a gross anatomical level – constitutes IQ?

    • razibkhan

      the brain map has shown differences between east asian and european shapes. i don’t follow this area much anymore though. you can google it.

    • botti

      @ David Jamieson,

      Here’s a reasonable overview: ‘The neuroscience of human intelligence differences’ Nature Reviews Neuroscience 11, 201-211 (March 2010)

  • Karl Zimmerman

    Oh, and does anyone know if Reich Labs has anything in the works for East/Southeast Asia? It seems like they’ve been dropping bombshells virtually everywhere else these days.

    • razibkhan

      yes. this scholarly saturation bombing. expect it to continue :-)

  • Robert Ford
    Pretty sad summary of republicanism by Krugman here. Rand Paul didn’t know Milton Friedman is dead??

  • Jacob M

    I have a question about my personal genetics.

    I am a white/Jewish American. I found out, unbeknownst to me, that I am about 3.6% “African”, after using 23andMe and using DIYDodecad.

    My mother got her test done, and is about 6-7% “African” depending on the calculator used. Surprisingly, she is over 2% “Paeleo African” which I take to mean basically something similar to Khoe-San.

    Is “Paeleo African ancestry” common amongst African Americans? Basically it seems that she must have had a Great Great grandparent who was about 100% African, and at that time her family was all in the United States.

    • Karl Zimmerman

      Did she by any chance have any ancestors who spent time in South Africa? South Africa had a Jewish community going back to the 19th century. That’s the most plausible way I could think of getting a mix of Jewish and Khoisan ancestry.

      • Jacob M

        Well my Jewish heritage doesn’t come from my mother. She is about 6% SSA and about 6% Mid-East/”West Asian”.

        Talking w Dr. Douglas McDonald he noticed that her “West Asian” and SSA segments were adjacent on her chromosomes, suggesting that they both came from the same individual, someone Ethiopian-like.

        So if she’s 12% mid-east/african, that would mean basically that her great-grandparent was an Ethiopian, or someone of mixed SSA/West Asian ancestry. All her ancestors at that point are accounted for living in the United States, in the mid 1800s. Which seems strange to me that at that time there would be African/Mid Eastern hybrids who then married into a white family and passed off themselves as “Mohawk”.

        Karl if you’re interested I would love to have you look at her 23andMe data and see if your knowledge of history/genetics can help clarify what’s going on cause it’s pretty confusing really.

        • dxie48

          This is pure speculation.

          Historically, the Jewish group that had close link to South Africa was the Yemani Jew, e.g.

          “significant similarities between the markers of the Lemba and men of the Hadraumaut in Yemen”

          “…possible genetic similarity between 11 Ethiopian Jews and four Yemenite Jews”

          Under the Ottoman rule, there was large migration of Yemeni Jew to the Palestine during the 1800s,

          At the same time there was significant migration of Ottoman to the America,

          “Significant waves of Turkish immigration to the United States began during the period between 1820 and 1920.
          …were mainly Arabs, Azeri, Armenians, Greeks, Jews and other Muslim groups under the Ottoman rule.”

  • Sandgroper

    Don’t feel too pagan, Paul – in Hong Kong we celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival in August, which is right in the middle of summer.

  • andrew oh-willeke
  • de Broglie

    Razib, great blog. I thought you might be interested in this article:


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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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