The Sciences

Daily Data Dump (Tuesday)

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanMay 11, 2010 7:12 PM

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Templeton disproves gene analysis that appeared to support out-of-Africa replacement model. This is from a Washington U. press release, but the title is still obnoxious. The term "prove" and "disprove" should be used sparingly in science (though perhaps there are others out there who disagree, I'd like some reasons laid out for why they shouldn't be used only in exceptional circumstances). Remember that I pointed to a controversy between Alan Templeton and computational biologists who used a Bayesian phylogenetic framework a few weeks ago. Templeton is claiming that the Neandertal admixture findings vindicate him. Certainly one does need to revisit models which assume that admixture may have occurred, but only below a threshold of 1%, when the current research indicates 1% to be the low bound. But I don't think we need to fall into the trap of separating the world into the light and the dark; people may be right for the wrong reasons, and methods may be wrong because of faulty axioms. And who knows, Paabo & company may be in error. It happens. Koch Industries distances itself from tea parties. I wonder if the renewed focus on immigration is prompting this (the Koch's are conventional libertarians on the issue, most Tea Party activists are not). Obesity Linked to Lowest Earnings. Animals Talk, Sing and Act Like Humans? Young Children's Reasoning About Biological World Is Influenced by Cultural Beliefs. Psychologists get criticized for characterizing the minds of Western university students as universal, but in this case, they over-extrapolated from urban children. The Psychological Diversity of Mankind. Like the rational actor model of economics there is some utility in focusing on the interindividual invariant aspects of cognition. But at some point you've squeezed all the juice out, and need to move on. Those of us who tend toward the neuroatypical side have intuitively understood that humans exhibit psychological diversity, because we've been looking in from outside the circus tent, whether we know it or not.

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