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Since readers of this weblog tend toward nerdishness I’m assuming they’re following the buzz around Avatar: The Movie. I only got interested in it last night trying to figure out the references in yesterday’s South Park episode, Dances with Smurfs. Che…

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To the left is a map which shows the 1856 election results for president by county. In the blue are counties where John C. Fremont, the Republican, received a majority of the votes. The more intense the blue, the higher the proportion. You can see here the rough outlines of “Greater New England.” Most of […]

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Human-specific transcriptional regulation of CNS development genes by FOXP2:…It has been proposed that the amino acid composition in the human variant of FOXP2 has undergone accelerated evolution, and this two-amino-acid change occurred around the ti…

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When it comes to multiple loyalties we know about the issues which cropped up with Germans, Italians and Japanese during World War II, and the vociferous anti-German activism of World War I, the ambivalence which the Irish viewed intervention on the side of Britain during the World Wars. But of course there is one overarching […]

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Rod Dreher & Daniel Larison discuss the intersection of religion and patriotism. The issue of course isn’t adherence to a higher law vs. the nation-state; even those without explicitly religious motivations can reject loyalty to a state whose actions they feel to be illegitimate. Rather, the bigger issue are multiple loyalties. Religion is an […]

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Some red meat for readers, Malcolm Gladwell, Memes and Intellectual Honesty:Gladwell comes across as a child trying to explain why his hand was in the cookie jar. He advances a series of unconvincing, somewhat contradictory explanations, hoping that we…

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Just Spengler (David Goldman) being Spengler, From “Zionism is Racism” to “Judaism is Racism”:Judaism has nothing to do with race-there are Jews of every race-but it does have to do with family. Jews are members of Abraham’s family. Not only tradition,…

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Common Variants in the Trichohyalin Gene Are Associated with Straight Hair in Europeans:Hair morphology is highly differentiated between populations and among people of European ancestry. Whereas hair morphology in East Asian populations has been studi…

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A genome-wide study of common SNPs and CNVs in cognitive performance in the CANTAB:Psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia are commonly accompanied by cognitive impairments that are treatment resistant and crucial to functional outcome. There has b…

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Over at Secular Right I report again that there is no sex difference in attitudes toward abortion in the general population (if anything, women are a bit more pro-life than men). But, to my surprise in the American Congress women do support abortion ri…

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Just a reminder, Andrew Gelman is now blogging at ScienceBlogs under “Applied Statistics”.

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Real vs Placebo Coffee. There’s a real effect. Though interestingly those who secretly were given decaf didn’t notice it in their self-reports.

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Unlike Singer, Confucius recognised the natural impulse to impose a heirarchy on the value of human life – and his ideas endured

No one will deny that Peter Singer can provoke. Most recently, in The Life You Can Save, Singer lays out a utilitarian argument for attacking world poverty, extending ideas from his 1971 essay, Famine, Affluence and Morality. Certainly the facts are indisputable, and the logic crisp.

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Darwinism provides a deductive tool, but many of the inferences leave much to be desired in explaining the world as it is

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” So asserted Theodosius Dobzhansky, to which one might respond that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of physics. But what has quantum mechanics to do with behavioral ecology? The enthusiasm of many social scientists for the Darwinian paradigm resembles this ontological leap. An evolutionary psychologist may contend that a preference for blondes is the outcome powerful adaptations, how powerful can it be if only a small minority of humans are blonde? Darwinism provides a deductive tool, but many of the inferences leave much to be desired in explaining the world as it is.

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Some religions accept polygamy; others abhor it. But in nature, it’s often a case of winner-takes-all-the-wivesAmong mammals a larger proportion of females than males reproduce, the extent of the imbalance signalled by gender differences in size. Eleph…

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Prophecies of the extinction of religion, or its triumph, fall prey to the weaknesses of linear predictionConservative commentator Mark Steyn declares that Europe will soon be dominated by Muslims. The polemicist Sam Harris observes that half of Swedes…

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Razib Khan