Daily Data Dump – Tuesday

By Razib Khan | July 13, 2010 2:03 pm

Old Males Rule the Roost Even as Sex Drive Fades. Seems like older roosters, whose sperm are more likely to carry deleterious mutations, can still be more reproductively fit because they can expend capital earned through their life history of social dominance. This is the revenge of the vehicle against the replicator.

Personal genomics: the importance of sequencing. Why whole genome sequencing yields returns over SNP chips which focus on a subset of hundreds of thousands of polymorphisms: “If you get sequenced now, about 200,000 single-base variants in your genome will never have been seen before, ever.”

Testing for traces of Neanderthal in your own genome. From what I know some people are looking to see if they’re Neandertal at particular variants, for example where the Neandertal allele is at high frequency in Eurasians.

For Speediest Athletes, It’s All in the Center of Gravity. Average differences in body form to explain why West Africans seem to dominate some running competitions. It’s trivially obvious to note that most of the variation in differences in body form are between populations. But, when it comes to extreme traits (e.g., the combination of body form, physiology and psychology, to make for a world class athlete) the disproportionate representation at the tails of the distribution because of small average differences are going to make a big difference.

How to Retard Scientific Progress. Great institutions eventually die. It’s a law of nature. The Confucian bureaucratic system managed to persist for 2,000 years before it met reality.

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  • Chris T

    The publish or perish mentality is probably the worst weight on science right now. Far too much emphasis is put on the number of papers published rather than the quality of your research. So we end up with a vast literature filled with trivial, fragmented, or flawed results. Figuring out what is actually useful or interesting becomes nigh impossible. Risk taking is discouraged because it won’t result in a result that can be published in a few pages or may not result in anything publishable at all.

  • Don

    Chris: How do you measure quality? Don

  • Chris T

    How rigorous your methods are and how well your results hold up over time. Part of the problem right now is that there are so many papers and so little time for reviewers that it’s impossible to really examine how well someone constructed their experiments. Most of peer review is looking for obvious experimental or theoretical errors. Quantity winds up reinforcing itself.

    The popular conception that peer review means a paper has been thoroughly checked and confirmed is false.

  • Chris T

    This article summarizes the problems well:

    http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=407838

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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 http://www.razib.com

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