The poverty of inheritance

By Razib Khan | August 3, 2012 9:02 am

Virginia Hughes has an important post up at The Last Word on Nothing, What Americans Don’t Get About the Brain’s Critical Period. In it she reiterates just how stupid the “Baby Einstein” culture is. The post is important to me specifically because I have a baby who I would like nudge in the direction of Einstein, but not by spending money on toys which exist mostly to salve the vanity and conscience of adults around her. With all that said, Hughes emphasizes that the key is to focus on children at the other end of the environment spectrum from my awesome one.

So I was prompted by her post to check out the links, as I’ve not explored this literature in a while. First, Variation in neural development as a result of exposure to institutionalization early in childhood compares Romanian orphans who were kept in that nation’s notoriously atrocious orphanages and those who were fostered. The authors assert that the placements of the latter were randomized, and the neurological differences were significant. I doubt this is that surprising to most. Romanian orphanages have rightly become a byword for childhood deprivation.


I have more qualms about the second paper. White Matter Disruptions in Adolescents Exposed to Childhood Maltreatment and Vulnerability to Psychopathology. Here the authors show that maltreated youth tended to have different neurological outcomes from non-maltreated youth. But the authors themselves are very cautious about their results in the discussion. Here is my own suggestion though (if I were the research-god): compare a large cohort of siblings from families where the parent(s) went in and out of alcoholism. We all know that many families go through phases, and different siblings experience different quantities of abuse. My argument is that we need to keep in mind the genetic confound. To speak plainly people who have been through messed up experiences and are messed up may not be messed up because of their experiences, but because they come from stock with a heritable predisposition to various behavioral problems. Here is one passage of the paper which is of particular interest to me: “The controls were excluded if any first-degree relative had a history of major psychiatric disorder.” You may be contrasting very genetically different samples here.

Ultimately this leads us down a fraught path to subjects such as the relationship between intelligence and wealth. I can accept that Romanian orphanages damage the cognitive capacities of children on a biological level through their negative environmental impact. But fortunately the quality of life present in Romanian orphanages is not a major issue in the United States. Going back to Virginia Hughes’ post:

When a developing brain isn’t adequately stimulated, as often happens to children living in poverty, for example, or in the foster care system, this deprivation can lead to problems in cognition, attention and social behaviors.


Too poor for color; feel the fury

This is where I’m genuinely skeptical. What does poverty mean here? Is it the US poverty line? As a personal disclosure, though my father was a college professor in Bangladesh, I strongly suspect that in my first 4.5 years of life I lived well below the American poverty line in terms of many quality of life metrics.* If you measure poverty in material and money I grew up in poverty in my infancy and during my toddler years. In fact I almost died of a chronic disease which wouldn’t have been chronic if I’d had access to American healthcare. But, it is somewhat deceptive to say that I was exposed to deprivation. I had a nanny. Additionally, my extended family were generally college educated or more in a nation where a substantial number of people were (and are) illiterate.

My point: we know what deprivation means consequentially to the function of the brain on the extreme margin. Beating a child over the head incessantly or tying them up for weeks at a time to a crib is going to cause damage. We don’t know what deprivation means when we talk about Western “poverty.” To many social engineers I have to suggest that poverty “Ain’t Nothing but a Number.” A number correlated with various aspects of human capital deprivation more generally. I’d rather place an orphaned child in the home of a “poor” graduate student than someone who is “well off,” but pulled in >$100,000 working in the oil fields of Alaska. A short-term windfall can’t totally erase a predisposition toward behaviors which echo down the generations. Money comes and money goes, but human capital is priceless.

* I did not move into the lap of American middle class security at the age of 5, my father was in graduate school during my elementary school years. But enough with my sob story which deprived me of my rightful brilliance!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Behavior Genetics
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  • marcel

    I’d rather place an orphaned child in the home of a “poor” graduate student than someone who is “well off,” but pulled in >$100,000 working in the oil fields of Alaska.

    This comment begins to get at what I suspect is the issue.

    Hypothesis: Taking poverty as relative to the local norm, adults in poverty will more often be alienated from their society, and have behavioral and health issues. These things will affect their children in a variety of ways, few of them good.

    In addition in our society (I don’t enough to generalize), parents in poverty are often more stressed and stretched in every way, and consequently less able to attend to their children. Some children will thrive in this environment, many will not.

    Your graduate students have chosen poverty, likely temporary, and probably have more human capital appropriate for dealing with the problems associated with (relative) poverty, so their children will have a typical poverty experience.

    Ths issue is not so much being poor but with things associated or correlated with poverty.

  • John Emerson

    Somewhat on topic, I’ve read some things recently about French parenting and over the years have read a lot of scattered stories about the parenting of the educated European elite. All of them seem to involve a mix of high expectations, parental and other family involvement, free space for the kid, and availability of resources. Very little is programmed educational activity and not very much is specially bought kiddy education stuff. And the parental involvement only works to the extent that the parent has something to give.

    When Vladamir Nabokov (novelist, also lepidopterist) was about 8 or 10 he developed an interest in butterflies for esthetic reasons. By the time he was 12 or 13 he’d read most of the leading adult books on the topic. This sounds likes like an impossible standard, but there’s a guy in my home town whose farmer parents took him to the city to buy college biology books while he was still in middle school. He’s now a self-taught botanist and horticulturist and a resource for the universities in the area,

    I think that shortening the kid phase of life as much as possible would be in every way good. A high proportion of kids are miserable in HS anyway. If I had another kid, unless he went to one of the few absolutely best schools I’d encourage him to get a GED at the earliest age and go to Junior College.

    I don’t mean forbidding playing and having fun. I mean the lame organized activities and kiddy educational products. When I was young the formula was 4 yrs. of HS foreign language was worth one year of college, and the college language wasn’t that wonderful itself. Science tends to be the same, I’m told.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    HS foreign language was worth one year of college, and the college language wasn’t that wonderful itself. Science tends to be the same, I’m told.

    that’s my experience.

  • Karl Zimmerman

    Its interesting you chose to post this now, as I’m just reading the second addition of The Nurture Assumption and finished the chapter which deals with what sort of trauma actually effects childhood outcomes.

    One of the anecdotes she shares, which you may remember, is two twins in Austria who were put in an orphanage for a year when their mother died. Their father remarried and reclaimed them the following year, but they were locked them in an unheated closet, barely fed them, and beat them periodically until they were seven. When they were discovered they had language skills akin to two-year olds, but they became well-adjusted adults.

    Harris uses this example to hypothesize that the social connection of the twins was enough to ensure they developed a full range of normal emotional responses as an adult. But what I wondered is if the abusive behavior was all at the hands of their stepmother, with their father essentially passive. Thus they didn’t end up with major emotional issues as adults, because the abuse was due to genetically-caused emotional issues with their stepmother, and they did not share these genes.

    It suggests an interesting study. Follow life outcomes of those who are abused by their biological parents versus their stepparents. Stepparents are actually more likely to abuse children by far than biological parents, so a significant sample size could be found. It could be complicated because the spouses which would pick abusive partners themselves probably have some mental issues, but if the “damage” caused by abuse in adulthood is less if a parent isn’t a blood relation, it would suggest a minimum level of outcome which cannot be attributed to the abuse itself.

    As to the rest, I think it’s pretty clear that all children need is access to 1-3 (more is better) caregivers they can form a loving attachment to, and a socially stable cohort of peers. Orphanages don’t work properly because the other kids are always coming and going, so a child never forms close attachments. I can think of no reason why poverty alone would harm brain development, unless you’re talking about things like exposure to lead dust in U.S. inner cities, or parasites in remote rural areas.

  • Richard Harper

    Helen Keller’s story — blind deaf dumb until (8?) when suddenly “got” what all the squiggling in her palms was about. (BTW, Steven Pinker discusses in The National Book Award of 1902 in C-Span event November 2nd 2002, http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/167584-1 )

  • Karl Zimmerman

    2 -

    As an unathletic, friendless, and nerdy child, I often had a lot of free time. I remember in middle school I realized over the summer they had community college classes on television, and I decided learning about how cells worked was infinitely more interesting than watching Geraldo.

    As a result, I went into high school knowing virtually everything in taught in science class already. The only period I had any difficulty was in chemistry when we were working with equations like moles and gas density. I was really frustrated I was forced to take classes I knew everything in already. However, they wouldn’t put me into honors science, as I wasn’t particularly good at math and they believed the two had to go together.

    More generally your post reminds me of the classic web essay why nerds are unpopular. Specifically the segment which discusses how the modern western extended childhood is unnatural, and how in most societies teenagers are accepted as “junior adults,” not children. Indeed, up until around a century ago, we did the same thing in the U.S. through apprenticeship. While I’m not sure that Paul Graham has the professional background to accept his hypotheses unquestioningly, I do think part of the reason high school is such a horrible experience for many is the obvious uselessness of it to its denizens.

  • http://neuroecology.wordpress.com/ neuroecology

    There’s a good bit of evidence that social status affects tons of behavioral traits; I don’t know about intelligence per se, but certainly motivation via dopamine receptor expression. All sorts of genes are up or down regulated depending on position in a social hierarchy, especially related to immune system etc. So I’d expect that there is some small effect of absolute level of wealth (ie, nutrition) and relative level of wealth.

    But as an anecdote, I know someone who just started working in OBGYN and will not stop complaining about how many people are just stupid about their pregnancies; they don’t do even the simplest and most basic things to make sure that their baby will be born properly, and it tends to be the less well-off who are the worst. I’d guess that it’s this lack of attention (in all its senses) that is driving most of the deficits in cognition.

  • http://www.virginiahughes.com Virginia Hughes

    Hi Razib,

    Thanks for delving into this point a bit further. I totally agree with you that poverty is just a number….however, it just so happens that, here in the U.S., children living in poverty tend to be more neglected/receive less social interaction and cognitive stimulation than children who aren’t living in poverty. Obviously a big generalization, but on average…

  • Emma

    If I remember correctly, the heritability of IQ is much lower in children from low socioeconomic status than in children from well off families, suggesting that ordinary western poverty does decrease children’s intelligence. I do not remember if it remains true in adluts though.

    Cute kid picture!

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    There’s a good bit of evidence that social status affects tons of behavioral traits; I don’t know about intelligence per se, but certainly motivation via dopamine receptor expression. All sorts of genes are up or down regulated depending on position in a social hierarchy, especially related to immune system etc. So I’d expect that there is some small effect of absolute level of wealth (ie, nutrition) and relative level of wealth.

    1) as per my logistic curve, nutrition can have a HUGE effect, not a small one. only a small to zero beyond the limit though (being fat does not make you more awesome)

    2) the evidence is under or overweighted based on your preconceptions. e.g., the one study on dutch famine in world war 2 and epigenetics gets a lot of play, i think because now people wonder if epigenetics is the key to closing various gaps which seem heritable

    Thanks for delving into this point a bit further. I totally agree with you that poverty is just a number….however, it just so happens that, here in the U.S., children living in poverty tend to be more neglected/receive less social interaction and cognitive stimulation than children who aren’t living in poverty. Obviously a big generalization, but on average…

    the correlations are correct. the issue is that some people think that giving people a guaranteed minimum income may change this. perhaps. but perhaps not. the ‘statistic’ is that the vast majority of NBA players are bankrupt within 5 years after leaving the league. that goes to the fact that human capital matters, and money doesn’t necessarily change that (i’m not going to quote the exact number because i think people are making these up).

    If I remember correctly, the heritability of IQ is much lower in children from low socioeconomic status than in children from well off families, suggesting that ordinary western poverty does decrease children’s intelligence. I do not remember if it remains true in adluts though.

    unfortunately not too many people are looking at this….

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/01/when-genes-matter-for-intelligence/

  • Karl Zimmerman

    Razib,

    A counterexample I thought of to poverty negatively affecting children could be the Hasidic/Haredi Jews. Many in the U.S. (Israel too for that matter) are poor by choice, as the male ideal is to not work and study the Torah, and the female ideal is to be a stay-at-home parent and have many, many children. That said, I’m unaware of any studies which show these ultra-orthodox Jewish groups to have particular issues with cognition or major psychological disorders. Admittedly, in a community so insular they don’t want to have pedophiles reported to the police, it would probably be difficult to get significant interest in undertaking such a study.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #11, you bring up an interesting point. family size might be a variate to look at. parents with more kids presumably have to divide income/attention.

  • Mark

    “A counterexample I thought of to poverty negatively affecting children could be the Hasidic/Haredi Jews. Many in the U.S. (Israel too for that matter) are poor by choice, as the male ideal is to not work and study the Torah, and the female ideal is to be a stay-at-home parent and have many, many children.”

    The Amish might be another example, and they often give standardized tests to the children in their schools to keep the state off their back. I used to have a book (Training Up A Child?) that reported the results of their standardized tests but I sold it long ago. IIRC, they either did as well as the white average or as well as the rural white average, can’t remember which. (Sorry.)

  • Darkseid

    You look like you were already sick of people’s b.s.!
    http://www.nature.com/news/neurodevelopment-unlocking-the-brain-1.10925
    here’s a fantastic article on critical periods of development if anyone’s interested. it’s probably the best article i’ve read this year (not from GNXP, of course;) in short, the brain starts wiring itself once it starts receiving input and then stops at a certain point so as not to interfere with the wiring. obviously, there are different “windows” for each system.

  • Isabel

    “I strongly suspect that in my first 4.5 years of life I lived well below the American poverty line in terms of many quality of life metrics.*”

    Could you be more specific as far as quality of life metrics? I think these cross-cultural comparisons can often be misleading.

    Also, kids in large families are not necessarily suffering for attention as they have each other. They have a lot of fun, and bond with each other as well as their parents. Older kids contribute a lot to the family as well through babysitting and chores.

    Intense expression on your young face!

  • Karl Zimmerman

    13 -

    Although materially deprived in the modern sense, I’m not sure it’s right to say the Amish are poor. Indeed, the popular depiction of them in Pennsylvania is they are wealthy, not poor.

  • labellaflora

    Several issues touched me in your article and the comments, but Razib has such high standards for posting I am a bit nervous about sending this out, but here it goes…

    I grew up in a middle-class family. I had access to educational resources and am of above average intelligence, though not a genius. I lived with an alcoholic mother and a verbally abusive father. A lifetime has gone by, I”m 60 now.

    My personal experience is that mental illness, or predisposition to it, definitely runs in my family.
    In the extended family, there were mental issues which led to the self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.

    I suffer from severe depression and it has plagued me all my life. I believe the suseptablility to mental issues in my family are inherited. Any advantages I may of had because of improved standard of living has been offset by the mental issues in my life. I never went the drug or alcohol route, but have lost enormouse amounts of time and opportunities because of the depression. (There were no SSRI’s back then.)

    Verbal abuse is as devastating as physical abuse.
    The verbal abuse left me full of self-doubt and not believing I could be good enough.

    When I was a teenager, my mother went to AA and stopped drinking. But the damage was done as far as my brother and myself. I would also note that the lack of alcohol did not solve the problems because it was a symptom of other underlying issues that continued. And she replaced the alcohol with food.

    Despite my issues, I became a teacher and taught for 20 years at the same middle school. It was located in an area of poverty. I observed that the children were often unsupervised, or supervised by siblings too young to be doing that. Their environments were sorely lacking. A result was that far more children were in need of special services, and far too many did not receive them.

    I found many children did not think they were intelligent. They thought being intelligent meant learning should come easy. If I nurtured them along slowly, they would get what I was trying to teach them. They would be so pleased with themselves! And they would take off! That is why I was a teacher. But teachers are not given enough time to do this as much as they need to for these children.

    I believe it is very important that children learn how to seek resources for themselves. They need to know how to find information and knowledge on their own. I empowers them.

    K. Zimmerman’s comment about treating teens as “junior adults”, I totally agree, with the caveat that it depends on the child. But this was an issue for middle school teachers at my school as principals and vice principals were recruited from elementary school. They would inevitably want to see them as young children. Pretty much at the beginning of 7th grade they were still children. By the end of 7th grade and into 8th grade they were definitely “junior adults” and would play you in a minute, given the chance.

    Emma: IQ means very little, as a measure. Children aren’t tested for all aspects of intelligence, some things have no tests. Then there’s the issue of children of poverty don’t know how to read and take tests the way more advantaged children have learned to do. Heap on top of that the fact many children are from immigrant families, or are second generation, and the idea of IQ fizzles.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    Could you be more specific as far as quality of life metrics? I think these cross-cultural comparisons can often be misleading.

    less varied food, no fridge, and living in a dusty overcrowded city that smelled like ass (open sewers, the shit of homeless people to avoid, etc.). also, the medical care was substandard. i almost died of eczema and didn’t lift my head until i was over 6 months old (my grandfather was a doctor too).

  • Eurologist

    “parents with more kids presumably have to divide income/attention.”

    But at least there is attention and social interaction. I grew up in relative poverty, too (no kindergarten, no TV or household car until I was ~9 years old, few vegetables and little protein, no fruit outside of self-grown during local season, no money for books or artsy stuff or sports gear until I was ~14 — but we did have a fridge and the first gas stove when I turned 7). Due to the lack of healthcare, I also was extremely sick with whooping cough, diphtheria, and pretty much any typical childhood/ general infectious disease you can imagine (save polio or TB).

    But, I had older siblings, from which I could learn even just through observation, early on. For example, there were 3-4 slightly involved card games my family played (Rummy, Canasta, 66, etc. – all of which involved counting, among other things). Once I turned 5, I of course said “I want to play, too!” – and after a few weeks, they finally relented, just to embarrass me enough so I would stop asking. Needless to say, from then on I was allowed to play with them.

    I also taught myself how to read by observing, listening, and looking at the newspaper while content was discussed, and looking at street signs and advertizement while outside and asking endless questions about all of it. That relentless questioning certainly was more easily distributed among a decent-sized family rather than just two busy and working parents.

    At any rate, the standard of living in most western countries is so high these days that malnutrition or inadequate access to healthcare or schooling only affects an extremely small fraction of children. And if it does, it is more due to general parental neglect, with much wider compounding issues.

  • Isabel

    “is so high these days that malnutrition or inadequate access to healthcare or schooling only affects an extremely small fraction of children. And if it does, it is more due to general parental neglect, with much wider compounding issues.”

    This is simply not true. For example, most poor children and all children without insurance in the US have NO access to dental care. Children in the poor counties of West Virginia have no clean water thanks to mountaintop removal. If you don’t consider straight calories, many lower class American children have poor diets. Finally, millions go to inner city and rural schools that have *major* problems. I would hesitate to blame these problems on parental neglect.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #20, eurologist is european. so probably “most western nations” covers your rebuttal, though it is a technicality (i.e., USA has 3/4 EUs population).

  • http://www.facebook.com/doclonglegs Andrew Selvarasa

    Razib, you had such a limited early childhood in Bangladesh, yet you are incredibly intelligent. According to the knowledge you possess, do you think you would have had a higher IQ had you been born and raised in America?

  • Isabel

    Ok, fair enough. We *were* comparing to the US, and I don’t even know what “most Western nations” refers to. (we are also taking about 30 years ago, right?)

    Yes Razib, do you think you would have had a higher IQ if you had grown up in Appalachia? :)

    Anyway, glad you survived!

  • Eurologist

    If you don’t consider straight calories, many lower class American children have poor diets.

    Isabel – no argument, here. However, even those lucky Europeans in the 50s and early 60s who managed to receive high-calorie diets were often malnourished, too, judging on what is now considered to be a proper diet. Yet, they did reasonably well, in the end.

    But, certainly, inner-city school children have problems because of their parents (lack of breakfast, lack of daily structure, lack of home intellectual challenge and support, lack of successful role models, etc.).

    As to dental care, sometimes less is more. I literally almost died when I was 10 after a dentist decided that it was more convenient for him to put me down with Nitrous oxide, and overdosed me to the extent that it took medical personnel to just barely so bring me back.

  • omar

    This is strictly anecdotal, but I am convinced that middle class people in America have a terrible misconception about how “deprived of stimulation” the average poor infant and toddler actually is. I see many poor families and actively try to find out what their life is like and while there are still gaps in my knowledge I believe with a great deal of confidence that:
    1. The average Mexican poor family provides MORE stimulation and care to very young kids than the average White middle class family. MUCH more. Including sleeping in the same room (and usually, in the same bed) while White kids are being put to sleep in isolation chambers (and sometimes cry themselves to sleep), and with multiple caring care-givers and other kids around during the day (instead of being in day-care or with a solitary baby-sitter).
    2. The average African-American poor family tends to be a bit more broken up, but still, lack of stimulation is usually NOT an issue. Babies and toddlers have tons of company (mostly matrilineal) and more human contact than the average middle class family can provide with its tw0-working parent lifestyle and suburban social isolation. ..
    3. By age 3-4, there may finally be a stage where the White suburban child has a narrowly-focused (but academically important) advantage. i.e. reading and (as they get older) exposure to books and scientific information and career-models (I somehow hate the word “role-model” but it may apply here).
    BY THAT AGE the biological “critical period” that people are worrying about has likely passed.

  • pconroy

    @18 Razib,

    … and didn’t lift my head until i was over 6 months old …

    Wow, that’s pretty bad! My son could lift his head on day 2?!

    I myself grew up in relative affluence, but in a backward area of rural Ireland. So likewise the medical care was sub-standard and knowledge of proper nutrition lacking. I was born with Ricketts and Iron deficiency, almost died of pneumonia at 2 yo and 10 yo. I suffered very bad health till about 13 yo.

    Though I had uncles and aunts who were PhD’s, and grand-uncles who were mathematicians, inventors etc., my parents were not academically inclined in the slightest. We only had few books in the house too.

    Yet as a very curious child, certain boot-strapping kicks in and you make the most of whatever books or literature are at hand. I remember that we got a free manual from an AI station – like a facebook for bulls – and I read it so often I memorized the whole thing. My father put me in charge of our breeding program for 200 cows, and I would choose an appropriate bull and call the AI station myself – at about 9 yo. I could keep the full breeding program for 200 cows over 5 to 7 generations in memory. Even today I can recall detailed images of bulls – such as Terling Topaz – and recall their pedigrees and lineages.

    So, my guess is that a minimum sufficiency of nourishment and environment is needed – to avoid retardation etc. – but beyond that it’s largely innate forces propel a kid to seek out knowledge…

  • Peter Lund

    “USA has 3/4 EUs population”

    3/5.

  • Miguel Madeira

    25 – Perhaps the problems of the “deprived” children is TOO MUCH stimulation, making them to spend much time focused in the external world and don´t develop habits of reflection and deep thinking?

    But probably a theory saying that kids need LOW stimulation to develop their intelectual potential will never be much popular… (much of these child-rearing theories have the bonus of giving a way for parents to show to the world how “good and dedicated” parents they are; then a theory that requires much effort – in time and money – from parents will allways be more popular than a theory that requires low effort).

  • http://dispatchesfromturtleisland.blogspot.com ohwilleke

    “This comment begins to get at what I suspect is the issue.”

    Many of the downside environmental effects of poverty on IQ have over the years been isolated to very specific, biochemically driven deprivations or exposures: e.g., lack of prenatal folic acid or iodine, early childhood exposure to lead, fetal alcohol exposure, non-deadly levels of shaken baby syndrome, formula feeding v. breast feeding, short gestation/low birthweight effects. Many are unexplained, but a scenario in which most of the remaining link between poverty and IQ is driven by a large number of low impact specific causes is probably more likely than one in which generalized alienation is an important factor.

    One of the somewhat less biochemical environment driven but biggest part of the puzzle in terms of IQ development in early childhood is richness and quality of verbal communication between parents and children. There is a stark social class difference in this that has been painstaking measured in the field. This difference is coroborated by the documentation of long lasting benefits (until college at least) from participation in quality early childhood education programs for poor preschoolers (although quality ECE programs almost never fully overcome the downside of weak parent-child verbal interaction).

    This particular environmental factor, and it is one of the biggest likely non-biochemical factors out there, maybe even the predominant “social environment” factor, helps explain why a child who has early childhood years in great material poverty with a professor parent might fair quite well anyway, compared to children who had a less materially deprived early childhood but less rich parent-child verbal interactions at that age.

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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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