Articles to 2014-07-12

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Apologies for tardiness and skipping a week.

First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.

For Gillespie et al.’s hypothesis to make sense, menopause would have to be an exceedingly young phenomenon, only appearing after the establishment of sedentism and agriculture. This means we’d have to expect at least some residual hunter-gatherer societies not to possess it. Of course what they claim is only that widowhood helped maintain the menopause in recent societies, but I don’t see how something that has been stable for hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of years would need any extra maintenance to remain so.

Now things would be different if similar age differences also pertained in mobile hunter-gatherers. There are indications that hunters only reach their real prowess, enabling them to feed a wife and children and not only themselves, only at about age 25, ten years after women reach reproductive age (Kaplan 2000, Evol. Anthropol. 9, 156–185). Unfortunately I know of no study listing typical age differences in parents for mobile hunter-gatherers, Gillespie et al.’s own data, giving a much smaller difference in non-land-owning pairs argue against it.

I’m not totally sure, but Wang et al. looks like a load of meaningless mumbo-jumbo to me. First there are four possible answers to two binary questions, correct, but in no universe I’m familiar with do they span a four-dimensional space, as they’re not linearly independent. Second the order effect for questions is neither new nor surprising. I fail to see any meaningful value in their claimed result.

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