The Sciences

Daily Data Dump - Thursday

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanJun 17, 2010 7:44 PM

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Eye Color Predicts and Doesn't Predict Perceived Dominance. First, the study replicates the common finding of some differences in perceived dominance between blue vs. brown-eyed males. But, they observed that when the eye colors were digitally manipulated the dominance ranking did not change. In other words the eye colors seem to have correlated with other traits of masculinity, rather than been a causal signal. The authors offer up a model whereby socialization of blue eyed individuals for longer periods as children (because the trait is neotenous) produces less facial masculinization. But I don't buy the idea that this couldn't be genetically mediated by variation on the HERC2/OCA2 locus (where most blue vs. non-blue eye color variation is controlled). In particular, I believe there's a body of literature that melanin and testosterone production pathways affect each other so that there is a positive correlation, though the exact causal connections are still to be worked out. Note that all this only applies within populations; between population complexion differences don't necessarily predict dominance differences because the genetic variates are not controlled as they are within populations. Were The Americas Settled Twice? In the USA this scientific question has social-political implications, as Native American/Amerindian political rights have become excessively (to my mind) connected to self-identity as primal autochthons. Doing a reductio ad absurdum on this is too easy. Population size predicts technological complexity in Oceania. This sort of result has obvious general implications (see McNeill and McNeill's The Human Web). I assume Garett Jones would not be surprised. Google Scholar Blog. How to always have interesting conversations. Interesting is obviously a relative term. Additionally, probably best to apply a two-tier strategy. Tier-1 involves avoiding expending time/energy talking to boring people outside of cognitive autopilot, and tier-2 involves seeking out those with common interests among the non-boring set.

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