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aries1988 : gene   8

Stretch Genes

the genomes of various human beings fall into several reasonably well-defined clusters when analyzed statistically, and these clusters generally correspond to continent of origin. In this statistical sense, races are real.

To Wade, the implications are big. While behavioral differences among races would surely be subtle, they can, he insists, become amplified at the level of entire societies. Slight differences in behavioral predisposition—to cooperation, aggression, trust, propensity to follow rules, and so on—probably pushed different races in directions that led to different social institutions. Indeed the seeds of difference between the world’s great civilizations were perhaps present from the first settlements.

the evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker. (Evolutionary psychologists, while acknowledging that human behavior has a partly genetic basis, generally assume that all people share the same predispositions. They then try to explain these human universals.)

This sends Wade into paroxysms of righteous indignation and he declares that whether or not a thesis might be politically incendiary should have no bearing on the estimate of its scientific validity. What Wade doesn’t tell you is that this is what Pinker himself says in his very next sentence: The fact that a hypothesis is politically uncomfortable does not mean that it is false, but it does mean that we should consider the evidence very carefully before concluding that it is true.
book  critic  gene  human  race  biology  political  opinion  debate  society  evolution  racism 
october 2018 by aries1988
Hidden Stories of Chinese Migration and Culture Found in Giant Genetic Study
Comb through the DNA of Chinese people and you’ll find a trace of this culinary story, according to the largest-scale genetic study of Chinese people to date, published Thursday in Cell. The authors reported that a mutation of FADS2, a gene involved in metabolizing fatty acids, is more common in northern than southern populations, indicating a diet richer in animal content. It is one of an assortment of findings resulting from a sweeping analysis of genetic information from 141,431 participants.

Minority ethnic groups showed more genetic divergence than the Han, particularly Uyghurs and Kazakhs in Xinjiang and Mongols in Inner Mongolia.
gene  genetics  chinese  region  comparison  research 
october 2018 by aries1988
The evidence is in: there is no language instinct – Vyvyan Evans | Aeon Essays
Our brains really are ‘language-ready’ in the following limited sense: they have the right sort of working memory to process sentence-level syntax, and an unusually large prefrontal cortex that gives us the associative learning capacity to use symbols in the first place. Then again, our bodies are language-ready too: our larynx is set low relative to that of other hominid species, letting us expel and control the passage of air. And the position of the tiny hyoid bone in our jaws gives us fine muscular control over our mouths and tongues, enabling us to make as many as the 144 distinct speech sounds heard in some languages.
brain  language  baby  biology  research  linguist  debate  theory  gene 
september 2018 by aries1988
The False Allure of Group Selection | Edge.org

I want to point out a potentially important example of group selection that Pinker overlooks: human languages. The function of language is to build communities and groups, as I have argued in many places. If an individual lacks the ability to talk, he or she will still survive. But a group of Homo sapiens that cannot talk will not be competitive with another group that can.

Dawkins, for instance, opines in the opening pages of The Selfish Gene, "We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.... a predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness. This gene selfishness will usually give rise to selfishness in individual behavior.... Anything that has evolved by natural selection should be selfish."
gene  debate  evolution  concept  groupe  biology  human  society  to:marginnote 
april 2018 by aries1988
A Brand-New Version of Our Origin Story - The New York Times
It turns out that those herders contributed about half the genes of Northern European and British skeletons beginning around 5,000 years ago. Evidently, the herders somehow outbred or exterminated most of Europe’s original farmers. How on earth could small numbers of herders have overwhelmed dense farmer populations?

Archaeological and linguistic evidence had already shown that Polynesians can be traced back to the island of Taiwan.
book  human  origin  research  today  gene 
april 2018 by aries1988
Wolf Puppies Are Adorable. Then Comes the Call of the Wild.

As close as wolf and dog are — some scientists classify them as the same species — there are differences. Physically, wolves’ jaws are more powerful. They breed only once a year, not twice, as dogs do. And behaviorally, wolf handlers say, their predatory instincts are easily triggered compared to those of dogs. They are more independent and possessive of food or other items. Much research suggests they take more care of their young. And they never get close to that Labrador retriever I-love-all-humans level of friendliness. As much as popular dog trainers and pet food makers promote the inner wolf in our dogs, they are not the same.

Dog puppies will quickly attach to any human within reach. Even street dogs that have had some contact with people at the right time may still be friendly.

Some recent research has suggested that dog friendliness may be the result of something similar to Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder in humans that causes hyper-sociability, among other symptoms. People with the syndrome seem friendly to everyone, without the usual limits.

As I was emphatically told in a training session before going into an enclosure with adult wolves, the one thing you definitely do not do is look them in the eye.

whether a delay in social development in a dog’s early life could explain the difference between wolves and dogs

That’s very important, because both wolves and dogs go through a critical period as puppies when they explore the world and learn who their friends and family are.

With wolves, that time is thought to start at about two weeks, when the wolves are deaf and blind. Scent is everything.

In dogs, it starts at about four weeks, when they can see, smell and hear. Dr. Lord thinks this shift in development, allowing dogs to use all their senses, might be key to their greater ability to connect with human beings.

Perhaps with more senses in action, they are more able to generalize from tolerating individual humans with a specific scent to tolerating humans in general with a scent, sight and sound profile.

When the critical period ends, wolves, and to a lesser extent dogs, experience something like the onset of stranger anxiety in human babies, when people outside of the family suddenly become scary.
quebec  wolf  zoo  dog  biology  gene  animal  evolution  human  comparison  research  scientist  experiment  development  baby 
october 2017 by aries1988

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