Sex and Statistics or Heteroscedasticity is Hot. Heteroscedasticity just means differences in variances. So it turns out that two women who have the same expected attractiveness rating from different males can still exhibit a difference in variance of evaluations. So a woman who is average, and everyone perceives her as average, gets less attention than a woman who some perceive as beautiful and some perceive as ugly. Seems common sense. Interestingly one of my roommates in college, who is now an economist, expressed this theory. I would forward him the article on Facebook, but I’m not sure if his wife would be excited if she saw it….
Hotheads by nature. Even more interesting is the intersection of nature and nurture. There are differences across the USA among “Anglo” subcultures in propensity toward aggression and violence. One of the reasons that John Brown became such a hero in the North before the Civil War was that his violent behavior was seem as appropriate retaliation for the ubiquitous aggression and intimidation which Yankee settlers experienced on the frontier when they encountered Southerners. It would be interesting to see how genes expression in different American subcultures.
By This Time in the Last Presidential Cycle, 14 Candidates Had Jumped In. A guess a sitting president makes a big difference. I recall in 1992 many of the “big names” in the Democratic party passed, allowing Bill Clinton to rise to the top of the dwarfish pack.
Mystery solved: The evolution of diagnostic abilities in genetic testing. Also see this post at Genomes Unzipped on a related issue.
A true cultural topography. I argue that Brown Pundits on the complex nature of cultural variation. A major problem is that most people are ignorant of cross-cultural ethnography and history, so they rely on cartoonish theories and models which are based on their normative preferences.
Evolution of an antifreeze protein by neofunctionalization under escape from adaptive conflict. “This study reveals how minor functionalities in an old gene can be transformed into a distinct survival protein and provides insights into how gene duplicates facing presumed identical selection and mutation pressures at birth could take divergent evolutionary paths.”
Medieval mtDNA from Byzantine Sagalassos. Historians now root around archives. I wonder if by 2020 rooting around online genome repositories will be a new skill necessary. It seems that many demographic and economic historical hypotheses could be answered by old DNA.
Ancient Denisovans and the human family tree. “Stringer concludes, ‘Personally I think that the distinctiveness and separate evolutionary histories of groups like Neanderthals and modern humans warrant their continuing recognition at the species level, provided we remember that this may not preclude some hybridisation.” I think we spend too much time obsessing over the term ‘species’ myself.
The Real Problem With China. Everything is pirated in China. Is that a bad thing?
Hot Social Networking Site Cools as Facebook Grows. The end of MySpace for all practical purposes. I think MySpace’s failure is a learning opportunity for other firms though.
A rant on the evolution of religion. I agree with a lot of it, though I think Tom a touch understates the “naturalness” of religion. I’ll probably be reviewing Michael Blume’s paper mentioned (Dr. Blume contacted me directly. I get these inquiries now and then, but if you’re a scholar and you think I’d be interested in reviewing your paper, do email. It will increase the probability greatly. I’m not omniscient, I miss a lot of great stuff).
Reconstructing the Indian Origin and Dispersal of the European Roma: A Maternal Genetic Perspective. The big picture inference is massive bottlenecking and rapid population growth. The I think the term “Roma” by the way is a slight misnomer; Roma refers to a specific subset of Gypsies. Groups in Spain, Finland, or the United Kingdom have different terms for themselves.
The not-so-great Islamist menace. The numbers suggest that most European terror is due to nationalist or politically motivated groups, not Islamists. Islamic terrorism is naturally much more of a problem for majority Muslim nations.
Some scientists also embrace creationism. Good for a laugh.
“Band of Brothers” Commander Dies. Someone who was 18 in 1945 is now 83.