Articles to 2018-06-30

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At all times in all places public servants value peace, quiet, and an easy life above all else. University administrators are just one example as demonstrated by Allen. That's one reason why their growing dominance must be curbed. The old and traditional Ordinarienuniversität would have stood firm at all cost when scientific integrity was at stake. Current leadership is motivated by other goals.


It is hard to fully evaluate Bratsberg & Rogeberg's claim from their article alone. What they say may well be true. That said I notice several caveats. The raw data in figure 2 clearly show the very opposite of their conclusion and it is only after many corrections that they can make the unwanted effect disappear. It's not that those corrections look unjustified or unreasonable, but as Feynman has said in his inimitable Caltech address, a highly educated and intelligent person will often find plausible arguments for applying adjustments only in that direction, where he feels the outcome ought to move. Necessary corrections demanded by the experimental conditions should be applied blindly before seeing the raw data and how they deviate from expectations.

With that in mind, let's take a look at their table 1. They claim that both, education levels of parents and a negative correlation between intelligence and the number of children, would yield no within-family effect. Not even the most hardcore of genetics-alone supporters within the nature vs. nurture spectrum claim anything more than a between-families effect. The variance inside even core families is nearly always greater than the mean difference between them. So all these effects will work inside an extended family just as strongly as between them. Corrections based on that false premise must contaminate the result.


If a gene variant is very strongly selected for in East-Asians that is harmful in other populations, there must be other, less visible, underlying differences at work. The politically correct belief statement, that human populations may differ in skin colour but nothing else, is being undermined yet again. Translating individual difference between people into ranks of value is morally wrong, but to deny any difference altogether is not the solution.

As a second point their result must be incomplete. If a variant is both deleterious and derived from Neanderthals, as Li et al. claim, then a prevalence of 18 % in Europeans demands an explanation.


At the beginning of all religion stands the cult of ancestors. This statement of faith proves astonishingly long-lived and unquestioned. That the deposited and often modelled skulls at Jericho predominantly derive from children and young women, does not contradict that interpretation according to Nigro. I beg to differ. This question has far-reaching consequences for the question of ancient beliefs in an afterlife. Do ancestors live on and somehow interfere with current events? Might I also live on in a similar vein? The question of when and where the belief in an afterlife began and where it came from is far from settled and simple-minded generalizations will not help us in doing so.

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