Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

November 30, 2013

Endings & beginnings

Filed under: Administration,Farewell post — Razib Khan @ 8:32 pm

Update: Comments enabled now!

Until further notice this is my last post as a blogger at Discover Magazine. This shouldn’t impact regular readers. As always you can follow me by going to:

My feed, http://feeds.feedburner.com/RazibKhansTotalFeed

My Twitter, https://twitter.com/razibkhan

And of course, my website, http://www.razib.com

From December 1st, 2013, I will be blogging at Ron Unz’s new website, The Unz Review, at a familar subdomain http://www.unz.com/gnxp (feed, http://www.unz.com/gnxp/feed/).

I’m excited to explore this new opportunity. Ron is still nailing down the details of look, style, and functionality, so expect some changes on my Gene Expression sub-site. To make a long story short Ron wanted to beef up his science coverage, and I was amenable. At least when it comes to my particular bailiwick. Ron has merged my archives from the old Gene Expression website with the content generated at ScienceBlogs and Discover, so no matter where I go, or if I stop blogging due to other obligations, those archives will remain as a coherent whole.

I want to emphasize that my time at Discover was incredible. I want to give special thanks to Tasha Eichenseher, Amos Zeeberg, and Sheril Kirshenbaum. As it happens none of these individuals are associated with Discover at this point (Tasha is leaving as well), but they were instrumental in allowing me to either be here (in Sheril’s case) or focus on writing (in Tasha and Amos’ case). I assume you’ll be somewhat surprised that I mention Sheril, but I feel like I have to give special thanks to her because I’m 99% sure that it was her “good word” which allowed me to catch the eye of an outfit as respectable as Discover. Unlike a blogger as writerly as Ed Yong, or Sheril herself, I’ve always been more data nerd-cum-verbal pugilist. So this leads me to praise the great management skills of the two web editors I’ve had while being a blogger at Discover. They’ve let “Razib be Razib,” by and large letting me do my thing (though yes, in the interests of professionalism I’ve moved most of the more “direct” verbal volleys to Twitter). I really can’t thank anyone else at Discover because I barely knew they existed, which, in light of recent events, seems like a good thing. Overall I give Discover a good grade in terms of understanding how blogging should be run, with a light hand. This, despite the fact that I often put up posts which rubbed many “right-thinking-people” the wrong way, and scoured the comment threads acidly.

There’s really not much else to say. Aside from a new domain, don’t expect many changes.

The post Endings & beginnings appeared first on Gene Expression.

November 17, 2013

Open Thread, 11/17/2013

Filed under: Administration,Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 5:22 pm

Finished J. P. Mallory’s The Origins of the Irish. Good book, but it was as illuminating as to the origins of the Irish as Danel Dennett’s Consciousness Explained was in explaining consciousness.

The post Open Thread, 11/17/2013 appeared first on Gene Expression.

November 10, 2013

Open Thread, 11/10/2013

Filed under: Administration,Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 11:35 am

Change is the only constant.

The post Open Thread, 11/10/2013 appeared first on Gene Expression.

January 2, 2013

Bring on 2013!

Filed under: Administration — Razib Khan @ 12:00 am

I didn’t post for the last week for two reasons. Christmas is a lot different when you have a child. The opportunity cost was just too high for me to really blog with gusto, so I didn’t. And in any case I suspect many of my readers were also busy with family or Caribbean vacations (the latter an inference I’m making by extrapolating the somewhat skewed sample of Facebook photos today). Second, the new comment system has to a great extent broken the connection between myself and the readers of this weblog. Frankly, it strikes me as very 2002 in terms of technical implementation, and as someone with finite marginal time I can’t be bothered to keep track of incoming opinion. The old system was simple and elegant. Without the back & forth I honestly feel a lot less motivated. It’s like I’m shouting into an empty room. The good news is that this is going to change soon. I know some of you have gripes about the design, and I’m not too excited about some aspects myself. But my first priority is to get discussion/comment features back to a semblance of genuine utility.

Second, I want to welcome Keith Kloor to the Discover Blogs network. While I’ve gone into somnolence he’s has been quite active. Additionally, I can’t ignore the fact that there have been other changes here. Sean Carroll left the network, going ‘independent’ again. And two of my colleges moved to Phenomena, National Geographic’s writerly collection of blogs. Most readers of this weblog will be familiar with Carl, Ed, and Brian, but I want to give a special shout out to Virginia Hughes’s of Only Human. I know Ginny from ScienceBlogs, where she was ‘community manager’ 2007-2008, and I’m excited to see her voice being amplified. I do have to observe that though National Geographic states that their network is “A science salon,” it seems quite clearly a life science salon. I’m not complaining, just observing.

Finally, what does 2013 have in store for this weblog? Some of more of the same. And also new developments, personally, professionally, and stylistically. I’ve been blogging for nearly 11 years now, and my interests gave shifted and meandered, and it will continue to do so. But I have been toying with the idea of being more ‘experimental’ in the nature of my exposition. We’ll see.

December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Filed under: Administration — Razib Khan @ 1:52 am

Because of the nature of modern American ‘work-life balance’ the next week or so is going to be my longest period of being the ‘primary caregiver’ for my daughter in her short life. Needless to say I’m quite excited! Especially because this will be her first Christmas.

I spent most of my childhood in a region on the margins of lake-effect, so I am familiar with a white Christmas in a classical fashion. More recently I’ve been resident on the maritime fringes of the western United States, and snow is rare in the lower elevations of this region. But I persevere!

Over the next week I will likely be blogging a great deal from my daughter’s playroom, where I’ll have a makeshift encampment. But rest assured this will be a great leisure for me. I hope readers of this weblog can find time to relax as well. Hopefully the comments will come back to a civilized state after the New Year….

December 3, 2012

On getting gated papers

Filed under: Administration,Papers — Razib Khan @ 10:43 am

I get a fair number of emails (often press release blasts) to my public address, contactgnxp -at- gmail -dot- com. Of these a non-trivial are requests for papers. If I have access to a paper I always send that paper. That being said I’ve confused some of these emails for publicist-junk mail and what not. So if you want a paper please do this:

1) Put the paper name in the title, perhaps with the preamble “paper request:”

2) Put the link to the paper in the body. You don’t need to put anything else besides the link, I always will send the paper if I have access to it. If I don’t respond to you immediately, there are two reasons. I’m busy and am not checking my public email, or, I don’t have access.

Though projects like Haldane’s Sieve is making this less of an issue, it does seem like high profile empirically oriented publications of interest are still moving toward Nature and Science.

November 29, 2012

Open Thread, 11-29-2012

Filed under: Administration,Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 1:37 am

Update: You can leave comments now. But, you are forced to register with no third party login option. I know many of you don’t like the last, because you are emailing me about it. If the quantity of responses (<5, vs. the usually of ~50 for an “open thread”) on this thread is a measure I suspect that I’ll have to switch web-discussion mostly to Twitter or Facebook. I balk at registering to comment personally, so I totally understand.

As you may have noticed there are some issues with Discover Blog‘s transition to a new system. But once comments work again, feel free to post here. I’m busy with some other things right now besides the blog, so I’m going to take the current technical issues as an excuse to not post for a few days.

November 8, 2012

Open Thread, 11-08-2012

Filed under: Administration,Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 1:57 am

I’m at ASHG 2012, so tell me what’s going on in the world.

November 5, 2012

The oldies

Filed under: Administration,Music — Razib Khan @ 11:32 pm

One day my daughter will lament my antiquated taste in music. “Dad, how can you listen to that stuff?” Hey, we kept it real. Dial-up modems, no holo-touchscreens.

October 21, 2012

All original GSS analyses in charts are Creative Commons

Filed under: Administration,Creative Commons — Razib Khan @ 8:29 pm

Every now and then I get emails/inquiries about using my simple “quick & dirty” charts. I always give permission, and in fact I never complain when other (usually more popular!) weblogs use them. Even on the very rare occasions where attribution is not given (I suspect this is usually an oversight in haste). This is fair enough, as I regularly use figures and tables from scientific papers in my blog posts. I believe this is all reasonably under “fair use.” But I’ve decided to explicitly assert that the charts I produce are under the Creatives Commons license. This is not to force people to attribute. Even if someone uses my chart and does not attribute I won’t really sue or anything like that (unless they’re somehow miraculously making millions off them). Rather, it’s a nudge to those who would use the charts, and should also make it so that people don’t have to contact me directly via email or Twitter. If you want to use the chart or data, permissions is given implicitly.

October 17, 2012

Open thread, 10-17-2012

Filed under: Administration,Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 4:29 pm


September 24, 2012

Singularity Summit 2012 – be there!

Filed under: Administration,Singularity Summit — Razib Khan @ 11:48 pm

As regular readers know I have been to two previous Singularity Summits (2008 and 2010), and will be at the 2012 event. The speakers look particularly interesting to me this year. I may finally be stupid enough to blurt out to Vernor Vinge how awesome the adolescent me thought Fire Upon the Deep was (I downed a beer with Vinge in 2008, but didn’t say a word to him). Carl will be there again, and we’ll definitely catch up in the “meat-space.” More importantly I have a lot of socializing to do, since I haven’t seen any of my friends from the Berkeley LW community since I left the Bay Area in the summer of 2011. But I hope to meet new & interesting people, as I always have at these events (the social circle overlaps a great deal with BIL). So if you read this weblog and are going to the Singularity Summit and think I’m worth talking to in person just come on up, I’m not very shy. With the prior that you’re actually at the Summit my assumption is that you’re interesting, unless ...

September 23, 2012

Reader survey results, biologists vs. non-scientists

Filed under: Administration,Reader Survey — Razib Khan @ 2:54 pm

There are now over 400 responses to the survey. Here is a link to the responses in CSV format. If you import this into R, an extra parameter in regards to encoding may be necessary:

responses=read.csv("responses.csv",sep="\t",header=TRUE,fileEncoding = "UCS-2LE")

I decided to separate the respondents into two categories, biologists and non-scientists (therefore, excluding other types of scientists from further analysis). You can see the filtered responses for biologists and non-scientists yourself. Below are some comments on interesting differences.

Non-scientists Biologists Completed Doctorate 57 19 Completed University 23 38 Feminist 36 46 Important to prenatala screen? 83 75 Abort if 90% chance Down syndrome? 79 83 Abort if 90% chance 80 IQ? 58 54 GMO should be labeled 45 39 Drink every day 16 30 Never drink 13 3 Non-environmental race differences in personality 64 54 Non-environmental race differences in intelligence 69 57 Non-environmental sex differences in personality 85 77 Non-environmental sex differences in intelligence 58 39 Overpopulation is a major problem we are neglecting 28 44 Believe in policy responses to fertility differences across groups 33 13 Gattaca is unrealistic 28 41 Blogs read regularly Bad Astronomy 26 24 Cosmic Variance 19 15 Loom 22 32 Ed Yong 24 47 Pharyngula 16 24 Why Evolution is True 15 28 Marginal Revolution 36 18 Kevin Drum 11 3 Instapundit 14 6 Steve Sailer 48 26 Matt Yglesias 17 10 DailyKos 7 7 RedState 2 3 Sandwalk 4 15 John Hawks 43 43 Dienekes 47 40 Panda’s Thumb 8 3

It makes sense that people who say they’re biologists tend to be very well educated. One thing not evident explicitly in the table is that the biologists who read this weblog tend to be more conventionally Left-liberal in their views, and I think that explains some of the differences in response to questions such as ...

September 21, 2012

Further survey results

Filed under: Administration,Survey — Razib Khan @ 12:36 am

I have now reformatted the responses into a csv file. So you can do something boring like create a scatterplot with Excel, as above. Or, you can import into R and dig for more interesting patterns. Here is an updated to the PDF which shows you the simple non-crossed results.

Also, out of curiosity I separated respondents into geneticists vs. non-biologists (so I exclude biologists who are not geneticists from this analysis). First, here are the non-biologists on race:

And now the geneticists:


For what it’s worth, I agree with the 66% of geneticists. The sample size is small and biased, but still interesting nonetheless.


September 19, 2012

Reader survey results

Filed under: Administration,Reader Survey — Razib Khan @ 10:51 pm

I can’t send you to a direct link, so here are the results. Some of the results need to be crunched by me unfortunately. But here’s a sample (yes, I didn’t do much more than the basic R density plot).

September 17, 2012

Minor administrative notes

Filed under: Administration — Razib Khan @ 9:34 pm

I’m a bad man, cluttering this weblog with administrative notices. But sometimes it needs to be done.

1) In case you don’t know, comment threads close after one week. As occurred this week, if you want to continue a thread, the weekly “open thread” is the place to go. That option has the benefit of being less subject to my supervision!

2) Speaking of which, probably every day or so I get a long, passionate, and coherent comment, which I never publish and which results in the banning of the commenter. I suspect most of these are newbies, who surf in via links, tweets, etc. But just in case you are tempted to go off on a rude rant, understand that you might as well just email/Facebook message me. No one’s going to see what you say.

3) I’ve scheduled open threads to go live once a week. Please use these. I regularly get off-topic questions/comments…but it’s not really feasible for me to track everything. The open thread is useful for odds & ends, and I do respond to a fair number of the queries.

4) I occasionally publish material on other weblogs or sometimes even in regular webzines. If you want to ...

August 16, 2012

A survey on genes, behavior, etc.

Filed under: Admin,Administration — Razib Khan @ 10:39 pm

First, a minor note. People have repeatedly mentioned my Pinboard in the comments. This surprised me, as the kind of things I bookmark for later are very diverse and…interesting I suppose. Out of curiosity I checked to see how many people had used Google Reader to subscribe, and it was 27! Anyway, if you want to see what I’m bookmarking every day, then here’s the RSS (and if you like that, subscribe to Jason Malloy’s Delicious feed).

Second, I want some reader feedback on a survey design. I normally ask questions on reader surveys about attitudes toward things like sex differences. I want to do something similar, but in more in-depth. I’d also like to ask readers about genetically modified organisms and other such things. The reason I’m putting this post up is that I always get complaints about the wording of questions no matter how precise I try to be. So enter in questions, and demographic variables, that you think might be interesting. I’m not a patient person, so I’ll probably put up the survey next week.

June 28, 2012

The end of blog & comments

Filed under: Admin,Administration — Razib Khan @ 10:39 pm

Chad Orzel may be giving up blogging. And no, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke. He’s been at it for 10 years, so no big surprise. I may be where he is at some point in the near future. For me, I always have something to say (or at least I think it’s worth saying!). But writing takes a little time out of my day, and many days I’m not gifted with a surplus of time. So we’ll see. I’ve been telling people I might give up blogging since 2004, and it just never seems to happen. But I never had a small person with whom I enjoyed wrestling with before.

Second, Sean Carroll has a funny post up on comment policy. Over the 10 years of running my own blog(s) I’ve shifted in my own perspective and outlook. In the beginning I was rather laissez faire. But it became rather obvious that most people were either stupid or ignorant, or, they took advantage of the anonymity of the internet to waste other peoples’ time. The biggest issue which I think some readers don’t seem to internalize well is that not only am I engaging comments, I’m ...

May 25, 2012

A quick note on comments policy

Filed under: Administration,Comments,Comments Policy — Razib Khan @ 4:43 pm

Happy Memorial Day weekend to Americans. In light of my various time pressures which are going to be operationally indefinite in their temporal scope for me I need to consider various options about optimizing the comments. I generally do rather well on reading comprehension tests, so I’ve decided that if your comment strikes me as incoherent or irrelevant on first inspection I’m likely to simply remove it without warning. This means that there will be false positives, and those of you who have unfortunately been caught in the spam filter may worry, but I think in the interests of useful comments which address the substance of the posts and time management this is probably for the best. Those of you who are caught in the spam filter can email me as is the usual case; this seems to be a sporadic issue. There are of course a whole host of comments/comment styles which will result in banning, but these transgressions are usually one-off affairs by “newbies.” But again in the interests of optimal use of time I’m probably going to not bother warning people anymore, aside from directly engaging with individuals as I usually do to clarify any points made.

July 25, 2011

Another unsatisfied non-reader (Glenn Davey)

“Interesting” email from Glenn Davey objecting to the way in which I closed the thread on evolutionary psychology:

Why bother with a blog if you’re so bad with people?


I read PZ’s blog, amongst many others. I was going to add your blog to my feed reader. Then I realised you’re a fascist cunt.

I don’t have a blog, and neither should you.

“The End”

I’ll do the Christian thing and turn the other cheek, and wish his family business well. I wonder what Ian Davey thinks of this sort of behavior?

In more edifying news, Alon Keinan, an author on the X chromosome genetic diversity paper sent me a nice email in relation to my post. I take a lot of gratification from this sort of thing. Some of the research I cover is not so easy to wrap my own mind around, and I understand that my prose can be somewhat abstruse for the lay audience. But, I think this stuff is important and very fun. All that being said I make errors, and I also appreciate clarifications and corrections from the authors. I’ll be happy to update posts with any emails/comments which an author ...

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