In the early 2000s I recall Joel Grus telling me how reality television would become a pretty powerful exploratory tool for social science. I’m not quite sure of that now (there here’s a game-theoretic analysis of Survivor!). For example, consider The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. If you watched this series you might think that we’re still living in the same country where a episode of Star Trek was not shown in the South because of an interracial kiss. In some ways “appointment television” has become a lagging indicator.
Rather, it looks like firms whose bread & butter is “the social web” are where the gold in social science is. Consider the OkTrends blog, which is affiliated with and has access to OkCupid. These companies have sample sizes not in the thousands, but in the millions! The Financial Times has a fascinating piece on the “secret sauce” of Match.com, Inside Match.com: It’s all about the algorithm:
With the number of paying subscribers using Match approaching 1.8 million, the company has had to develop ever more sophisticated programs to manage, sort and pair the world’s singles. Central to this effort has been the development, over the ...
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Apparently Nikki Haley checked her race as “white” in some form in 2001. The horror! First, Nikki Haley kind of looks on the white side. Second, though I check “Asian” I do so because of its cultural valence, and that valence is socially constructed. The “Asian American” category as encompassing South Asians is an artifact of the 1970s, and even today there is some discussion about the role of South Asians in the broader Asian American movement, where being East Asian, in particular Chinese, Japanese and Korean, is normative.
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I just finished reading My Fertility Crisis, which is excerpted from a longer piece you can get on Kindle for $1.99. The author is a single woman in her early 40s who is going through IVF treatments, without success so far. She outlines the choices she made over her life which may have influenced her current situation.
After reading the piece I came back to an issue I’ve wrestled with before: it’s often really hard to find information on probability of pregnancy online in the form of charts. The reason is that there’s so much information, and much of it is skewed toward people who are undergoing treatment for infertility. But why look when you can generate your own visualization? I found a pregnancy probability calculator online which I cross-validated with some of the literature. Here is the best case scenario for probability of pregnancy if you are trying in the natural fashion (the probabilities exclude women who are clinically infertile, which is a rather slippery category strongly dependent on age, so the older cohorts are probably much larger overestimates than the younger ones):
The main focus is really the ...
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What SlutWalk Looks Like in New Delhi. I don’t want to minimize the problem of sexual assault in a general sense anywhere, but considering the specific issue of how rape in addressed and confronted in much of South Asia this seems to be a worthwhile campaign. More broadly there needs to be the emphasis that women (and men) are not simply components of a family or cultural unit, but individuals. Societies which reject the market liberal project, such as Bhutan or North Korea, or those which have the luxury of sidestepping genuine modernity due to resource wealth, such as Saudi Arabia, can coherently challenge and rebut the individualism inherent in modern economy geared toward personal consumption. Nations which are tending toward globalization, such as Turkey and India, can not avoid confronting the contradictions of their static “traditional” units of social organization with the flexibility necessitated by the fluid operation of the free market. The nature of the compromise may differ from nation to nation (e.g., Japan is not Sweden is not the United States). But the discussion needs to start at some point everywhere that globalism is the hegemonic meta-ideology.
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The figure to the left is from a new paper in Science, When the World’s Population Took Off: The Springboard of the Neolithic Demographic Transition. It reports the findings from 133 cemeteries in the northern hemisphere in regards to the proportion of 5-19 year old individuals. When calibrated to period when agriculture was introduced into a specific region there seems to be a clear alignment in terms of a demographic transition toward a “youth bulge.” Why? A standard model of land surplus explains part of it surely. When farmers settle “virgin land” there is often a rapid “catch up” phase toward the Malthusian limit, the carrying capacity. Another possibility though is that sedentary populations did not need to space their offspring nearly as much as mobile hunter-gatherers. Whatever the details, the facts remain that the data do point to a shift in the age pyramid during this period. The author wonders as to the possible cultural implications of this. There is an a priori assumption that a young vs. old age profile in a society constrains its choices and channels its energies (e.g., think the “baby boom” generation in ...
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1) Post from the past: Why does race matter for women?
2) Weird search query of the week: “hustler buyuk memeli.”
3) Comment of the week, in response to “Smart educated men less likely to think cheating always wrong”:
BTW – the most interesting bit in that chart is the difference between atheists and agnostics. It makes sense when I think about it. To say one is an atheist rather than an agnostic requires a level of certainty towards ones beliefs. If there was a way to tease out relativism I’d lay good odds more agnostics are relativists than atheists are.
4) And finally, your weekly fluff fix:
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Chris Mooney pointed me to a report on a study which finds that white males are the most sanguine in relation to climate change. Unfortunately there wasn’t a link to the full report that I could see. But no worries, the GSS added a variable, TEMPGEN1, which asks: “In general, do you think that a rise in the world’s temperature caused by climate change is….”
1 – Extremely dangerous for the environment
2 – Very dangerous
3 – Somewhat dangerous
4 – Not very dangerous, or
5 – Not dangerous at all for the environment?
Below is a bar plot which illustrates the result by demographic:
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I would like to throw out the word that I am looking for a person with Malagasy ancestry for the African Ancestry Project. To my knowledge there are no thick marker autosomal analyses of the Malagasy people. After my recent exploration of Southeast Asian genetics I think even one individual would be highly informative.
As usual I would guarantee that these data are entirely private, and I do not share it with anyone. But in this case I would like to make an exception and stipulate that Joseph K. Pickrell, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, would also be very interested in access to a Malagasy genotype for the purposes of research. Since this is an undersampled population the marginal returns to a Malagasy genotype would be enormous for science, a public good rather than just a private gain.
Also, I am still looking for a Tutsi genotype so that I can ascertain the origin of this population.
Please contact me at africanancestryproject -at- gmail -dot- com.
Je recherche une personne d’origine malgache dans le cadre du projet “l’African Ancestry Project”.
A ma connaissance, il n’existe à ce jour aucune analyse des marqueurs autosomiques du peuple malgache. ...
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Lots of commentary below on my post about extramarital sex. I guess that’s fine, but I’m really not too interested your theories, I can do basic logic after introspection too. In fact, I can go down the street and ask a random person and I’m sure they could offer up after the fact rationales for the results I reported (people are always interested in sex and sharp about models to explain it). Instead, here’s the variable you need to use in the GSS: XMARSEX. I assume forms and graphical user interfaces worthy of 1997 are not too intimidating to readers of this weblog even if they perplex Matt Yglesias?
In any case, here’s some more results. First, I wanted to double check that there was in fact decreased tolerance of extramarital sex over the years. Let’s break it down by sex:
Some of you were curious about the demographic correlates of this behavior. Please note that all the following charts are limited to the year 2000 and later. The sample sizes for XMARSEX were rather large, so I saw no ...
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Representatives of Szechuan and Shangdong cuisine
The Pith: The Han Chinese are genetically diverse, due to geographic scale of range, hybridization with other populations, and possibly local adaptation.
In the USA we often speak of “Chinese food.” This is rather peculiar because there isn’t any generic “Chinese cuisine.” Rather, there are regional cuisines, which share a broad family similarity. Similarly, American “Mexican food” and “Indian food” also have no true equivalent in Mexico or India (naturally the novel American culinary concoctions often exhibit biases in the regions from which they sample due to our preferences and connections; non-vegetarian Punjabi elements dominate over Udupi, while much authentic Mexican American food has a bias toward the northern states of that nation). But to a first approximation there is some sense in speaking of a general class of cuisine which exhibits a lot of internal structure and variation, so long as one understands that there is an important finer grain of categorization.
Some of the same applies to genetic categorizations. Consider two of the populations in the original HapMap, the Yoruba from Nigeria, and the Chinese from Beijing. There are ~30 million ...
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Are Empowered Women Driving Reduced Tolerance Of Extramarital Affairs?:
My girlfriend’s theory about this, which makes sense to me, is that as women’s labor market opportunities have improved their dependency on husbands for economic security has declined and, in turn, their willingness to put up with misbehavior has gone down. Looking at a gender breakdown of responses might shed some light on this, but I can’t figure out how to work the General Social Survey website.
He’s talking about a chart which shows decline in tolerance of extramarital sex by education:
I just replicated but broke it down by male and female:
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Dienekes Pontikos has just released DIY Dodecad, a DIY admixture analysis program. You can download the files yourself. It runs on both Linux and Windows. Since I already have tools in Linux I decided to try out the Windows version, and it seems to work fine. It is somewhat limited in that you start out with the parameters which Dienekes has set for you, but if you don’t want to write your own scripts and get familiar with all the scientific programs out there, I think this is a very good option. Additionally, it seems to run rather fast, so you won’t spend days experimenting with different parameters.
Dienekes has already run me, but I put my parents’ genotype files through the system. Here are the results:
The main thing to notice is that my mother has more total East Asian ancestry than my father, and, that she has a Southwest Asian component which is at a few percent. These are always consistent findings in the dozens of ADMIXTURE runs I’ve done with various parameter settings and reference population mixes, so it’s nice that DIY Dodecad replicates those findings. Though the population sets seem a bit Eurocentric to ...
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In my post below where I focused on patent law it was noted that even more obviously blatant abuses of the spirit of intellectual property occur in copyright. So I was interested to see that George Lucas has lost a law suit in the United Kingdom in relation to the idea of “storm troopers”:
Nevertheless, the High Court rejected the multi-billionaire director’s claim and the focus switched to design rights, specifically whether the helmets sold were works of art or merely industrial props.
If Lucasfilm could convince the courts the 3D works were sculptures, they would be protected by copyright for the life of the author plus 70 years.
If not, the copyright protection would be reduced to 15 years from the date they were marketed, meaning it would have expired and Mr Ainsworth would be free to sell them.
The High Court and Court of Appeal found in Mr Ainsworth’s favour, and despite Lucas being backed by directors Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Peter Jackson, the Supreme Court has now followed suit.
Someone on twitter quipped that Lucas should be paying royalties to the Germans for the idea of stormtroopers. But I immediately recalled that many of the ideas which set ...
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In Dr. Daniel MacArthur’s post on Roots into the Future Blaine Bettinger left an interesting comment:
It will be interesting to see how 23andMe deals with the pool of people that respond to the 10,000 free kits. Doesn’t seem like they can pre-screen applicants, since African American heritage is sometimes more sociological than genetic (based on previous genetic studies, anyway). In other words, who’s to say who is an African American and who isn’t?
And how will they deal with the unscrupulous people who apply with the full knowledge that they have no recent African ancestry? Certainly they won’t be screen those people out, even with surveys or other methods.
My concerns probably won’t apply to the genetic association studies, since they can look for test-takers that have, for example, a certain % of African American ancestry, or can look for African American ancestry in the region of the genome where the association is believed to reside (after it’s predicted to exist).
However, my concerns will certainly apply to any conclusions they might make about African American genetic ancestry. For example, a conclusion such as “XX% of African Americans have less than XX% of African American DNA,” or “XX% ...
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Andrew Oh-Willeke, Esq., observes:
One example of cyclicality that continues to today is the practice of law. The basic principles of Roman private law and the complaints that people made about lawyers and litigation were remarkably similar in the 300s to what they are today.
In the 6th century Justinian the Great sponsored a compilation of the body of law which was being widely practiced in the Roman Empire at the time, what is now known as the Corpus Juris Civilis. This is not an abstract or obscure point in the history of modern law:
The present name of Justinian’s codification was only adopted in the 16th century, when it was printed in 1583 by Dionysius Gothofredus under the title “Corpus Juris Civilis”. The legal thinking behind the Corpus Juris Civilis served as the backbone of the single largest law reform of the modern age, the Napoleonic Code, which marked the abolition of feudalism.
Imagine that the astronomical models of Ptolemy served as a basis for modern astrophysics! There’s only a vague family resemblance in this case. The difference is that law is fundamentally a regulation of human interaction, and the broad outlines of human nature remain the same as they ...
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See his announcement: Genome in the Wild. If you don’t know, Zack is the driving force behind the Harappa Ancestry Project. Seeing how the Indian scientific-bureaucratic complex still seems to be retarding rapid progress in human genomics (how many people have heard of the Indian Genome Variation Consortium? Their blog, which is hosted on blogspot, was last updated 1 year ago!), I think it can be argued that Zack has done more for the understanding of the population relationships of the Indian populations in the last 6 months than the Indian government has in 60 years! I’m hoping I’ll be proven wrong with a list of awesome and result rich publications in the comments.
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23andMe is announcing a new research initiative into African American genetics today. Dr. Daniel MacArthur has blogged it so well that I recommend you just read him: Personal genomics: not just for rich white folks. This looks like it will focus more on diseases associations than ancestry inference for individuals. Very necessary and useful.
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For most of my life I have had an implicit directional view of Holocene human culture. And that direction was toward more social complexity and cultural proteanism. Ancient Egypt traversed ~2,000 years between the Old Kingdom and the fall of the New Kingdom. But it s rather clear that the cultural distance which separated the Egypt of Ramesses and that of Khufu was smaller than the cultural distance which separates that of the Italy of Berlusconi and the Italy of Augustus. Not only is the pace of change more rapid, but the change seems to tend toward complexity and scale. For most of history most humans were primary producers (or consumers as hunter-gatherers). Today primary producers are only a proportion of the labor force (less than 2% in the USA), and there are whole specialized sectors of secondary producers, service workers, as well as professionals whose duty is to “intermediate” between other sectors and smooth the functioning of society. The machine is more complex than it was, and it has gotten more complex faster and faster.
This is a accurate model as far as it goes, but of late I have ...
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“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.
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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A story in The Los Angeles Times seems to point medical implications of being a sickle cell carrier, Sickle cell trait: The silent killer:
At least 17 high school and college athletes’ deaths have been tied to sickle cell trait during the past 11 years. The group includes Olivier Louis, a player at Wekiva High School near Orlando, who died on Sept. 7, 2010, following his first football practice.
You have surely heard about sickle cell anemia. It is a recessive disease which expresses in those who carry two sickle cell alleles. T-boz of TLC has the disease for example due to her homozygosity. But the allele also famously confers some resistance against malaria, which explains its concentration in regions which have historically been malarial. Sickle cell is arguable the classic case of heterozygote advantage driving the emergence of a recessive disease. The frequency of the allele is balanced at the equipoise between the proportion of people who are more susceptible to malaria if its proportion is too low and those who express sickle cell anemia if its proportion is too high. This advantage is obviously context sensitive. The ...
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