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  • October 13, 2011
  • 10:48 AM

Robustness, Evolvability, Degeneracy and stuff like that…

by Wintz in A Replicated Typo 2.0


Much of the work I plan to do for this year involves integrating traditional and contemporary theories of language change within an evolutionary framework. In my previous post I introduced the concept of degeneracy, which, to briefly recap, refers to components that have a structure-to-function ratio of many-to-one, with a single degenerate structure being . . . → Read More: Robustness, Evolvability, Degeneracy and stuff like that…... Read more »

  • October 13, 2011
  • 10:48 AM

Kill Popular Science

by nooffensebut in The Unsilenced Science

This is a preliminary review of Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker’s new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature. I reveal serious errors and distortions from his peer-reviewed sources.... Read more »

Kevin Beaver, Ashley Sak, Jamie Vaske, & Jessica Nilsson. (2010) Genetic risk, parent–child relations, and antisocial phenotypes in a sample of African-American males. Psychiatry Research, 175(1-2), 160-164. info:/

Lu RB, Lee JF, Ko HC, Lin WW, Chen K, & Shih JC. (2002) No association of the MAOA gene with alcoholism among Han Chinese males in Taiwan. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology , 26(3), 457-61. PMID: 11999895  

Philibert RA, Gunter TD, Beach SR, Brody GH, & Madan A. (2008) MAOA methylation is associated with nicotine and alcohol dependence in women. American journal of medical genetics. Part B, Neuropsychiatric genetics : the official publication of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics, 147B(5), 565-70. PMID: 18454435  

  • October 12, 2011
  • 03:20 PM

Göbekli Tepe: Series Introduction

by Cris Campbell in Genealogy of Religion

The 11,000 year old archaeological site of Göbekli Tepe in southern Turkey is undoubtedly one of the most important in the world.  German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt began the ongoing excavations at Göbekli in 1994. Besides being a huge undertaking (less than 5% of the site has been uncovered), the finds — and claims associated with [...]... Read more »

  • October 12, 2011
  • 07:02 AM

What happens when a juror agrees [or disagrees] with your expert witness?

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Mock jurors love to hate dueling experts who give them conflicting information regarding causation, liability, reasonableness, damages, etc. They also don’t appreciate expert witnesses who use jargon or speak so simply that jurors feel ‘talked down to’—but you already know that. What jurors want is to learn what is reliable and useful to resolve the dispute. [...]

Related posts:Hot hazy weather, violent behavior and the expert witness
When cross-examination [of the expert witness] off........ Read more »

  • October 11, 2011
  • 02:54 AM

Mental Illness And Creativity Revisited

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A new study offers support for the theory that mental illness is associated with "creative" achievement.The idea that madness is close to creative genius is a popular one. From the nutty professor to the tortured genius, there's no end of sterotypes, and pop culture seemingly offers plenty of examples, from Van Gogh and his ear to Charlie Sheen and his bi-winning.But is it true?A new study says yes. Kyaga et al looked at everyone in Sweden who had been treated as an inpatient for either schizoph........ Read more »

Kyaga, S., Lichtenstein, P., Boman, M., Hultman, C., Langstrom, N., & Landen, M. (2011) Creativity and mental disorder: family study of 300 000 people with severe mental disorder. The British Journal of Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.110.085316  

  • October 10, 2011
  • 06:43 PM

Birth control and HIV risk: What women AND men should know

by NerdyOne in Try Nerdy

Until now, complaints about hormonal birth control – mood swings, nausea, breast tenderness – have almost exclusively come from the woman taking the hormones. However, recent findings about one popular type of birth control should have women and their intimate partners equally concerned. The issue is with a potentially considerable increased risk of HIV infection for both the woman and her partner, and the new research even has some HIV/AIDS scientists saying “I told you so.&rd........ Read more »

Heffron R, Donnell D, Rees H, Celum C, Mugo N, Were E, de Bruyn G, Nakku-Joloba E, Ngure K, Kiarie J.... (2011) Use of hormonal contraceptives and risk of HIV-1 transmission: a prospective cohort study. The Lancet infectious diseases. PMID: 21975269  

Marx PA, Spira AI, Gettie A, Dailey PJ, Veazey RS, Lackner AA, Mahoney CJ, Miller CJ, Claypool LE, Ho DD.... (1996) Progesterone implants enhance SIV vaginal transmission and early virus load. Nature medicine, 2(10), 1084-9. PMID: 8837605  

  • October 10, 2011
  • 12:26 PM

What do population density, lightning, and the phone company have in common?

by Tim De Chant in Per Square Mile

File this one under “applications of population density”. Researchers working for Nippon Telephone and Telegraph—better known as NTT—discovered they could use an area’s population density to predict telecommunications equipment failure due to lighting strikes. Telecommunications is an expensive business. Like other infrastructure, it requires a lot of manpower and capital to expand and maintain. But [...]... Read more »

X. Zhang, A. Sugiyama, & H. Kitabayashi. (2011) Estimating telecommunication equipment failures due to lightning surges by using population density. 2011 IEEE International Conference on Quality and Reliability (ICQR) , 182-185. info:/10.1109/ICQR.2011.6031705

  • October 10, 2011
  • 08:00 AM

Cooperation Is Child’s Play

by Krystal D'Costa in Anthropology in Practice

Cooperation confounds us: Humans are the only members of the animal kingdom to display this tendency to the extent that we do, and it’s an expensive endeavor with no guarantee of reciprocal rewards. While we continue to look for answers about how and why cooperation may have emerged in human social and cultural evolution, we [...]

... Read more »

  • October 10, 2011
  • 07:02 AM

Does familiarity improve our skill at identifying liars?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

We want so much to believe we are able to detect deception, yet we simply aren’t good at it. Mock jurors often express the belief that they have a higher than average ability to detect deception citing nonverbal ‘tells’ and other indicators of lying. From behind the one-way observation windows, we know they are in error—but they remain [...]

Related posts:Outsmarting liars (five decades of research)
We know liars when we see ‘em
Deception Detection: The latest on what we know
... Read more »

Reinhard MA, Sporer SL, Scharmach M, & Marksteiner T. (2011) Listening, not watching: Situational familiarity and the ability to detect deception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(3), 467-84. PMID: 21707196  

  • October 9, 2011
  • 08:06 PM

Friday Fun: Breaking News! Correlation Does Not Equal Causation

by Psych Your Mind in Psych Your Mind

Man and IPhone pictured in loving embrace (source)

Right now I am teaching a personality psychology class and we are talking about research methods. Invariably, anytime I teach psychological methods I always end up talking about correlations--specifically, that a correlation is an association between two variables and nothing more. The important point is that correlations--even those that come from fancy associations between behavior and brain images--do not mean causation. Students are typic........ Read more »

Veerman JL, Healy GN, Cobiac LJ, Vos T, Winkler EA, Owen N, & Dunstan DW. (2011) Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis. British journal of sports medicine. PMID: 21844603  

  • October 9, 2011
  • 08:01 PM

Class Warfare

by Psych Your Mind in Psych Your Mind

"I think it's dangerous, this class warfare." -- Mitt Romney (2012 presidential candidate)

In the last week or so, everyday Americans have taken to the street, Wall Street to be exact, to express their discontent with the current economic climate. In short, the bottom 99% of Americans are upset about economic inequality, and rightly so. After all, American economic inequality is worse than every other developed country (we've discussed this inequality here and here). In partic........ Read more »

Kraus MW, Piff PK, & Keltner D. (2009) Social class, sense of control, and social explanation. Journal of personality and social psychology, 97(6), 992-1004. PMID: 19968415  

  • October 9, 2011
  • 04:53 PM

From Paleolithic Diviners to Axial Prophets

by Cris Campbell in Genealogy of Religion

A person of many astute observations, one of Robert Bellah’s most astute is his refrain (when talking about the history of religions) that “nothing is ever lost.” By this I take Bellah to mean that at any given point in time, an existing religion will contain elements from earlier religions. There is continuity in religious [...]... Read more »

Freeman, L.G., & Echegaray, J.G. (2005) Coping with Chance: Animal Bones and the Aleatory. Munibe (Antropologia-Arkeologia), 159-176. info:/

  • October 9, 2011
  • 02:18 PM

New paper estimates costs of air pollution from US industry

by Paul in Energy and the Future

Just saw this paper (citation below) with fresh estimates of costs of air pollution based on real data across the entire US, divided by sectors of the economy.  Not unsurprisingly, coal generated electricity comes out as the worst – accounting for … Continue reading →... Read more »

Muller, N., Mendelsohn, R., & Nordhaus, W. (2011) Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy. American Economic Review, 101(5), 1649-1675. DOI: 10.1257/aer.101.5.1649  

  • October 9, 2011
  • 12:00 AM

Girls Versus Boys: The Final Battle

by nooffensebut in The Unsilenced Science

Here I review SAT score gender gaps by race, with special attention to the progress of Asian women. Plus, I detail the allele frequencies by race of body fat genes identified in a recent meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies.... Read more »

Kilpeläinen TO, Zillikens MC, Stančákova A, Finucane FM, Ried JS, Langenberg C, Zhang W, Beckmann JS, Luan J, Vandenput L.... (2011) Genetic variation near IRS1 associates with reduced adiposity and an impaired metabolic profile. Nature genetics, 43(8), 753-60. PMID: 21706003  

  • October 7, 2011
  • 05:17 PM

“I love you this many dollars worth.”

by eHarmony Labs in eHarmony Labs Blog

“Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is like this tangible thing that you can point to and say, ‘Hey man, I love you this many dollars-worth.’” – Michael Scott

How true is this quote? Is it really the thought that counts, or deep down are you placing a dollar amount on your relationship?
... Read more »

  • October 7, 2011
  • 07:02 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: The foot-in-the-face technique

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

What a great name for a persuasion technique! You’ve likely heard of foot-in-the-door or the door-in-the-face techniques and perhaps even the foot-in-the-mouth technique! The foot-in-the-door technique is the idea that if someone agrees to a small request, they are then more likely to agree with a larger request. This technique originated in 1966 following some research [...]

Related posts:Simple Jury Persuasion: If they say ‘No’, ask ‘why not’?
Simple Jury Persuasion: Keep them fro........ Read more »

Dolinski, D. (2011) A rock or a hard place: The foot-in-the-face technique for inducing compliance without pressure. . Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41(6). info:/

  • October 6, 2011
  • 11:45 AM

Charles Darwin and the Vivisection Outrage

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

Author’s Note: The following originally appeared at The Dispersal of Darwin. According to the British Medical Journal the alleged crime resembled a crucifixion. The victims had been strapped to boards, backs down, and with their legs cinched outwards. In the stifling August heat their heavy breathing was made only more intense by a suffocating fear. [...]

... Read more »

Feller, D. (2009) Dog fight: Darwin as animal advocate in the antivivisection controversy of 1875. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 40(4), 265-271. DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2009.09.004  

  • October 6, 2011
  • 12:34 AM

Toiletological English

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

Can you guess what kind of product the following text is promoting? Your well-being is close to our heart rail&fresh [product] areas are bright and friendly and leave nothing to be desired. The [product] facilities are kept perfectly clean round … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • October 5, 2011
  • 10:39 PM

A Moral Gene?

by Christie Wilcox in Science Sushi

If our moral psychology is a Darwinian adaptation, what does that say about human nature? About social policy, which always presupposes something about human nature? About morality itself? - Steven Pinker Morality is often considered to be the domain of philosophers, not biologists. But scientists have often wondered what role our genomes play in directing [...]

... Read more »

  • October 5, 2011
  • 07:02 AM

The GASP scale: A new measure of guilt and shame proneness

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

A little over a year ago, we wrote about the Depravity Scale so it’s probably time for a new measurement tool. While the Depravity Scale allows a ranking of just how depraved/horrific/egregious specific behaviors are—the GASP scale allows us to assess the level to which others (or ourselves) are prone to guilt and shame reactions. There [...]

Related posts:When facial disfiguration disgusts
New research on men: What do we know now?
Deliberations: Jurors think and feel as they make decisio........ Read more »

Cohen TR, Wolf ST, Panter AT, & Insko CA. (2011) Introducing the GASP scale: a new measure of guilt and shame proneness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(5), 947-66. PMID: 21517196  

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