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Evolution and IQ Linkfest IV

1050 words

A decorated raven bone discovered in Crimea may provide insight into Neanderthal cognition (A raven bone discovered in Crimea shows two extra notches, which the researchers say they did intentionally to create a consistent—perhaps symbolic—pattern.)

Just like humans, artificial intelligence can be sexist and racist (Just like Tay. RIP in peace, Tay. Princeton University academics have shown, using a database of over 840 billion words from the Internet, that AI mimics humans and, they too, can apparently become ‘racist and sexist’, just like their creators. A “bundle of names” being associated with European Americans were more likely to be associated with pleasant terms, compared to African Americans who were associated with unpleasant terms. Male names were associated with careers while female names were associated with family. Seems like the AI just gets information and makes a conclusion based on the information, learning as it goes along. I don’t think putting human buzzwords onto AI is practical.)

Childhood lead exposure linked to lower adult IQ (This has been known for, literally, decades. In the new study, every 5 micrograms/dl increase in blood lead levels early in life was shown to decrease IQ by 1.61 points by the time the subjects reached 38 years of age along with reductions in working memory and perceptual reasoning. More shockingly, children who had blood lead levels over 10 micrograms/dl had IQs 4.25 points lower than their peers with low blood lead levels. Some research has shown that for each decrease in 1 point decrease in IQ annual salary decreases by about 200 to 600 dollars. This also shows that high blood-lead levels during childhood cannot be recovered from. There is currently an epidemic of lead poisoning in the Detroit Metropolitan area affecting Arab and African American children (Nriagu et al, 2014), as well as in low-income blacks in Saginaw, Michigan (Smith and Nriagu, 2010) and immigrant children in NYC (Tehranifar et al, 2008). However, see Koller et al (2004) for a different view, showing that blood-lead levels during childhood only account for 4 percent of the variation in cognition whereas parental and social factors account for more than 40 percent. High blood lead levels also lead to an increase in detrimental behavior (Sciarillo, Alexander, and Farrell, 1992). Clearly, measures need to be taken to reduce lead in water around the country as quality of life will improve for everyone.)

Molecular clocks track human evolution (Scientists estimate that we emerged around 200kya in Africa and spread throughout the world 50-100 kya through looking at the ‘molecular clock’—mutation and recombination. Some geneticists estimate that there are between 1.5 and 2 million mutational changes between humans and Neanderthals—estimating a splitting date at 550-750kya.)

How Ants Figured Out Farming Millions of Years Before Humans (Ants have probably been farming since the Chicxulub meteor impact that killed the dinosaurs in one South American rainforest. The researchers found that all fungus-farming ants came from the same ancestor around 60mya. Thirty million years later, another farming species emerged. One of the species was a “more complex agriculturalist” which probably transported its fungus to different locations while the other species were “lower, less complex agriculturalists” which grew fungus capable of “escaping its garden and living independently”. The dry climate allowed the more complex agriculturalists to domesticate the fungus and control the temperature by digging holes for storage.

Mimicking an impact on Earth’s early atmosphere yields all 4 RNA bases (Researchers showed that mimicking an asteroid crash resulted in the formation of the production of all four bases of RNA, the molecules essential for life. Take that, Creationists.)

Study finds some significant differences in brains of men and women (Adjusting for age, researchers found that women had significantly thicker cortices than men while men had higher brain volumes in every area they looked at, including the hippocampus (which plays a part in memory and spatial awareness), the amygdala (plays a role in memory, emotions, and decision-making), striatum (learning, inhibition, and reward-processing), and the thalamus (processing and relaying sensory information to other parts of the body). Men also varied more in cortical thickness and volume much more than women, which supports other studies showing that men only have higher IQ distributions than women, not higher average intelligence. There are, of course, differences between the male and female brain, but I’m now rethinking my position on male/female IQ differences (leaning towards no). Read the preprint here: Sex Differences In The Adult Human Brain: Evidence From 5,216 UK Biobank Participants

Infants show racial bias toward members of own ethnicity, against those of others (Now the study I’ve seen a buzz about the past few days. In one of the studies, researchers found that babies associated other races’ faces with sad music while associating their own races’ face with upbeat, happy music. The second study showed that infants were more likely to learn from their own race than another, which relied on gaze cues. Both studies tested infants between the ages of 6 to 9 months with both studies finding no racial bias in infants less than 6 months of age. The researchers, of course, conclude that this occurs because of lack of contact with other race babies/people. In study one, infants aged 3 to 10 months watched videos with a female adult with a neutral facial expression. The babies heard music before viewing each clip; happy music and same race face; happy music and opposite race face; sad music and same race face; and sad music and opposite race face. They found that babies looked longer at same-race faces with happy music while looking longer at other-race faces with sad music. The second study looked at whether or not babies would be willing to learn from their own race or a different race. Babies aged 6 to 9 months were shown a video in which a female adult appeared and looked at one of the four corners of the screen. In some of the videos, an animal appeared where the person on the screen looked while in other videos, an animal appeared at a non-looked at location. They showed that babies followed the gaze of their own race more often than the other race, showing that infants are “biased” towards learning from their own race. This is clearly evidence for Genetic Similarity Theory. Expect a research article on this soon. Read the abstracts here: Infants Rely More on Gaze Cues From Own-Race Than Other-Race Adults for Learning Under Uncertainty and Older but not younger infants associate own-race faces with happy music and other-race faces with sad music)

Evolution and IQ Linkfest III

1050 words

What the octopus tells us about human intelligence (Mammals are ‘brain heavy’, the cephalopod nervous system is more distributed across its limbs. Some people believe they have minds with consciousness. Interesting read.)

A brewing debate on evolution theory picks up in India (Great look at the niche construction theory—which states that an organism modifies its environment which in turn decreases or increases fitness. Two great examples of NC are lactase consumption 6500 ya that led to most European populations having the ability to digest lactase and an African farmer digging some irrigation holes could cause mosquitoes to live in the still water. Over time, the people would get malaria. They then would evolve sickle cell anemia to battle the malaria virus. For more information on niche construction, read this paper: Conceptual Barriers to Progress Within Evolutionary Biology and Niche Construction Theory and Archaeology.)

Human evolution: why we’re more than great apes (Culture and our brains set us apart from the animal kingdom, and thus, some researchers argue, that humans shouldn’t be called Great Apes. Both humans and Great Apes are a part of the Hominidae family. Sure we’re ‘more than Great Apes’. However, due to the chromosomal fusion some 6mya, this is why we speciated.)

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Dramatic evolution within human genome may have been caused by malaria parasite (The most recent common ancestor that possessed the DARC gene, which shuts off a protein receptor on the surface of the red blood cells that the parasite needs to gain entry, lived around 42 kya. By 8000 ya, 99 percent of the population had the DARC gene. The author estimates that for every 100 people that were born without the DARC gene, 105 would have been born with it. The gene has pretty much has hit fixation in this population. Of course, since humans evolved to fight the parasite, the parasite itself evolved adaptations to continue living. See the Red Queen Hypothesis.)

Climate may have shaped the evolution of the human nose: Nature’s nose job (Nose shape is linked to climate, which is then shaped by natural selection. Africans and their descendants have wider, shorter, flatter noses due to living in more moist, drier environments. A larger mucous area is needed to moisten dry air. Peoples who evolved in cooler climes, however, evolved longer, thinner noses due to living in colder climes. Read the paper here: Investigating the case of human nose shape and climate adaptation.)

Human skull evolved along with two-legged walking, study confirms (No surprise here. This is some good evidence for my “Man the Athlete” hypothesis. Our athleticism was paramount in our evolutionary history, which released important hormones to aid in our brain growth over time. The foramen magnum is forward-shifter in many bipedal species. That is the hole in which the spinal column goes into.)

Stone tools not always deliberate, research finds (Capuchin monkeys of South America can flake tools similar to that of early hominins. Pretty much, if we find tools that are similar to this, we cannot assume that a human ancestor made them. Flaking alone is not enough, it may have been by a non-hominin so other measures are needed.)

MD Debunks Myth that Humans Evolved to Eat Meat (This deserves a full-length article. The MD says that humans eating meat are like dogs eating chocolate since we are closely related to chimpanzees who eat a plant-based diet. This reasoning…. makes no sense! There are genetic changes from cooking that appeared between 265 to 800kya and the ONLY explanation is the introduction of cooked foods! I will cover this article in the future.)

Tooth be told: Millions of years of evolutionary history mark those molars (Anthropologists can see what type of diet an animal ate, to how long their childhood was due to the layers of tooth enamel. Looking at the teeth of hominins/chimps also show that humans have a longer childhood, which is important for motor development at a young age.)

Microbes evolved to colonize different parts of the human body (The microbiota in our body evolved especially for the place it found itself it. Each species of bacteria serves a pertinent function in the body. These bacteria also drive part of our metabolism, so having them was extremely beneficial in our evolution.)

‘No Valid Conclusions’: Omega-3 trade body fires back over prenatal DHA supplementation findings (A new RCT (Randomized Controlled Trial) just came out stating that DHA supplements that mothers take while pregnant doesn’t increase IQ. Women were randomized to receive a placebo or 800 mg of DHA. They found no difference in cognitive, language or motor development by 18 months. At four years of age, they reported no effect of DHA on the children’s cognitive, language or motor development, noting possibly that DHA consumption had a negative effect on parent-rated behavior. Of the eligible children, 85 percent (543 children) took part in the follow-up. IQ did not differ in the DHA group (98.31) or for the placebo group (97.32). Perceptual reasoning was slightly higher in the DHA group, but the parent-rated behavior was worse. There are some problems with the study design, however. The experimental design didn’t test blood levels of omega-3s in the mothers or the offspring. It’s also unknown if they were receiving the correct amount of DHA since they weren’t tested. Of course, post-pregnancy diets of the mothers while breastfeeding AND that of the children would skew levels of DHA in the blood. Omega-3s are paramount for brain health at all ages—most importantly in the womb and the first few years of a child’s life. In fact, telling women and children NOT to consume fish oil/omega-3s is the WORST thing you can do!)

How a Western diet leads to overeating and obesity (Chronic overconsumption of Western diets high in sugar and fat is a major cause of the obesity epidemic. However, researchers have found that a chronic overconsumption of the Western diet leads to obesity “due to elevations in ‘peripheral endocannabinoid signaling.'” The endocannabinoid system regulates energy balance, reward, and food intake. Elevations of endocannabinoids in the body lead to hyperphagia (an abnormal appetite for food). I await future looks into this research. We may be able to curb the epidemic by identifying certain pathways that lead to hyperphagia and other eating disorders and prevent them.)

Evolution and IQ Linkfest II

1000 words

Why Grit Is More Important Than IQ When You’re Trying To Become Successful (Psychologist Angela Duckworth states that what matter for future life success isn’t IQ, SAT scores, or even graduating from a top college. What matters most for life success is a blend of perseverance and passion that she calls ‘grit’, in her book Grit: The Power of Passion and PerseveranceAccording to Duckworth, grittiness is passion, and being passionate about something will make you successful is persevering in the face of adversity; i.e., something not working out in your favor and you continue to go at it. She thought of two equations: talent x effort=skill, skill x effort=achievement. Talent is how quickly skills improve when effort is invested, whereas achievement occurs when you take the skills you acquired and put them to use. I’ll buy the book and read it and see what else she says.)

How Skill Expertise Shapes the Brain Functional Architecture: An fMRI Study of Visuo-Spatial and Motor Processing in Professional Racing-Car and Naïve Drivers (Brain functional architecture sustaining visuo-motor processing in racecar drivers “undergoes both ‘quantitative’ and ‘qualitative’ modifications that are evident even when the brain is engaged in relatively simple, non-demanding tasks.” Pretty much, get good at something, like really good, and your brain will change in size and mass.)

Acquiring ‘‘the Knowledge’’ of London’s Layout Drives Structural Brain Changes (Specific and enduring structural brain changes in adults “can be induced by biologically relevant behaviors engaging higher cognitive functions such as spatial memory.” Yet more evidence that becoming an ‘expert’ in something leads to substantial brain changes—which are permanent.)

Autism genes conserved during human evolution to make us smarter, say scientists (We were selected to be autistes since it was beneficial in our ancestral past. Autism is also associated with intellectual achievement.)

A model for brain life history evolution (As adult brain mass increases, so does skill, assumming the costs of maintaining brain mass and memories stay constant. This could be a cause for our larger brains. We know that our brains consume 20 ro 25 percent of our daily kcal, so in our evolutionary past, those who couldn’t amass the kcal to power the ever-growing brain would have died. González-Forero says that as we became proficient with tools, then our brain size began to increase. I have cited a few studies saying that over the past month.)

Lessons from Making Brain Soup (Learn about Herculano-Houzel and Lent’s 2005 Isotropic Fractionator—a machine that allows single cells in ‘brain soup’ to be counted as to get an accurate estimate of neurons.)

Numbers of neurons as biological correlates of cognitive capability (Body mass is a poor predictor of neurons, number of brain stem neurons estimates the capacity for processing bodily signals, mass of the cortex is a poor predictor of neuronal amount, the bird pallium packs more neurons than primate cortices of similar mass and finally the number of neurons in the cortex or pallium correlate directly with intelligence. Herculano-Houzel is blazing a new path in the field of neuroscience, with a novel way of looking at the brain showing that our brains are only scaled-up primate brains in terms of its neuronal composition.)

Creative People Have Better-Connected Brains, Scans Reveal (Highly creative people have more connections on the right and left sides of their brains, suggesting that creativity is biological in nature.)

Genetics Play a Role in Social Anxiety Disorder, Study Finds (Like most disorders, genetics plays a role. Whether it’s small or large, more often than not, genetics will always have at least a bit to say.)

Peer-review activists push psychology journals towards open data (An APA editor will not step down for stating that he won’t publish papers in which the authors don’t let their dataset become public. This is a great move. Why publish something that may possibly be garbage?)

We Look Like Our Names: The Manifestation of Name Stereotypes in Facial Appearance. (This is an interesting one, and one I’ve wondered my whole life since people have told me that ‘I don’t physically look’ how my name is. The researchers state that “facial appearance represents social expectations of how a person with a specific name should look.” Social tags influence one’s facial appearance.)

Greater insight into basic biology of pain will reveal non-addictive remedies (We need to better understand pain physiology, drug development and the individual response to pain in order to develop non-addictive drugs.)

Researchers Discover How Animals Measure Annual Time to Reproduce (The pituitary gland mediates when some mammals start reproducing. The length of the day is noticed in most animals by the pineal gland in the brain.

Does Cannabis Use Lower Your IQ? (No it does not. Recent longitudinal studies show that smoking marijuana does not lead to cognitive decline.

Reader’s Corner: Do we really understand animal intelligence? “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” (We do not understand animal intelligence and we are not smart enough to know how smart animals are. We have an anthropocentric view of evolution, and thusly, we attempt to put our cognitive traits onto other animals when they are adapted for other areas. Herculano-Houzel’s research will begin to detangle this.)

Can Animals Acquire Language? (Evidence says no. However, I’m sure a few readers have heard of Koko the gorilla. She’s able to do sign language and has an estimated IQ of 75 to 95 on the Cattell Infant Intelligence Scale (pg. 99))

Dogs, toddlers show similarities in social intelligence (There is a g factor for dogs. The authors state that the similarities between child and dog intelligence could come down to ‘survival of the friendliest’. I’ll write about this soon.)

How Humans Became Intelligent (Cognitive neuroscientist and philosopher Daniel Dennet sees human consciousness as memetics and genetics. That is, we learn from others and what we are able to learn from others comes down to our genes. I will buy this book as well.)

Heritability, the Grandeur of Life, and My First Linkfest on Human Evolution and IQ

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Benjamin Steele finally replied to my critique of his ‘strong evidence and argument’ on race, IQ and adoption. He goes on to throw baseless ad hominem attacks as well as appealing to motive (assuming my motivation for being a race realist; assuming that I’m a ‘racist’, whatever that means). When I do address his ‘criticisms’ of my response to him, I will not address his idiotic attacks as they are a waste of time. He does, however, say that I do not understand heritability. I understand that the term ‘heritable’ doesn’t mean ‘genetic’. I understand that heritability is the proportion of phenotypic variance attributed to genetic variance. do not believe that heritability means a trait is X percent genetic. 80 percent of the variation in the B-W IQ gap is genetic, with 20 percent explained by environmental effects. Note that I’m not claiming that heritable means genetic. All that aside, half of his reply to me is full of idiotic, baseless and untrue accusations which I will not respond to. So, Mr. Steele, if you do decide to reply to my response to you this weekend, please leave the idiocy at the door. Anyway, I will tackle that this weekend. Quick note for Mr. Steele (in case he reads this): if you don’t believe me about the National Crime and Victimization Survey showing that police arrest FEWER blacks than are reported by the NCVS, you can look it up yourself, ya know.

I’m beginning to understand why people become environmentalists. I’ve recently become obsessed with evolution. Not only of Man, but of all of the species in the world. Really thinking about the grandeur of life and evolution and what leads to the grand diversity of life really had me thinking one day. It took billions of years for us to get to the point we did today. So, why should we continue to destroy environments, displacing species and eventually leading them to extinction? I’m not saying that I fully hold this view yet, it’s just been on my mind lately. Once a species is extinct, that’s it, it’s gone forever. So shouldn’t we do all we possibly can to preserve the wonder of life that took so long to get to the point that we did today?

Some interesting articles to read:

Study: IQ of firstborns differ from siblings (This is some nice evidence for Lassek and Gaulin’s theory stating why first-born children have higher IQs than their siblings: they get first dibs on the gluteofemoral fat deposits that are loaded with n-3 fatty acids, aiding in brain size and IQ.)

Why attitude is more important than IQ (Psychologist Carol Dweck states that attitude is more important than IQ and that attitudes come in one of two types: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe ‘you are who you are’ and nothing can change it while those with a growth mindset believe they can improve with effort. Interesting article, I will find the paper and comment on it when I read it.)

Positively Arguing IQ Determinism And Effect Of Education (Intelligent people search for intellectually stimulating things whereas less intelligent people do not. This, eventually, will lead to the construction of environments based on that genotype.)

A scientist’s new theory: Religion was key to humans’ social evolution (Nicholas Wade pretty much argues the same in his book The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It EnduresIt is interesting to note that archaeologists have discovered what looks to be the beginnings of religiousity around 10kya, coinciding with the agrigultural revolution. I will look into this in the future.)

Galápagos giant tortoises show that in evolution, slow and steady gets you places (Interesting read, on tortoise migration)

Will Mars Colonists Evolve Into This New Kind of Human? (Very interesting and I hope to see more articles like this in the future. Of course, due to being a smaller population, evolution will occur faster due to differing selection pressures. Smaller populations incur more mutations at a faster rate than larger populatons. Will our skin turn a reddish tint? Bone density will decline leading to heavier bones. The need for C-sections due to heavier bones will lead to futher brain size increases. This is also going on on Earth at the moment, as I have previously discussed. Of course differences in culture and technology will lead the colonizers down different paths. I hope I am alive to see the first colonies on Mars and the types of long-term effects of the evolution of Man on the Red Planet.)

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Evolution debate: Are humans continuing to evolve? (Of course we are)

Did seaweed make us who we are today? (Seaweed has many important vitamins and minerals that are imperative for brain development and growth—most importantly, it has poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and B12. We are only able to acquire these fatty acids through our diet—our body cannot synthesize the fatty acid on its own. This is just growing evidence for how important it is to have a good ratio of n-3 to n-6.)

Desert people evolve to drink water poisoned with deadly arsenic (More evidence for rapid evolution in human populations. AS3MT is known to improve arsonic metabolism in Chile and Argentina. Clearly, those who can handle the water breed/don’t die while those who cannot succumb to the effects of arsenic poisoning. Obviously, over time, this SNP will be selected for more and more while those who cannot metabolize the arsonic do not pass on their genes. This is a great article to show to anti-human-evolution deniers.)

Here Are the Weird Ways Humans Are Evolving Right Now (CRISPR and gene editing, promotion of obesity through environmental factors (our animals have also gotten fatter, probably due to the feed we give them…), autism as an adaptation (though our definition for autism has relaxed in the past decade). Human evolution is ongoing and never stops, even for Africans. I’ve seen some people claim that since they never left the continent that they are ‘behind in evolution’, yet evolution is an ongoing process and never stops, cultural ‘evolution’ (change) leading to more differences.)

‘Goldilocks’ genes that tell the tale of human evolution hold clues to variety of diseases (We really need to start looking at modern-day diseases through an evolutionary perspective, such as obesity, to better understand why these ailments inflict us and how to better treat our diseases of civilization.)

Understanding Human Evolution: Common Misconceptions About The Scientific Theory (Don’t make these misconceptions about evolution. Always keep up to date on the newest findings.)

Restore Western Civilization ( Enough said. As usual, gold from Brett Stevens. Amerika.org should be one of the first sites you check every day.)

I guess this was my first linkfest (ala hbd chick). I will post one a week.