Showing posts from May, 2018

War Leaves 17 Women for Every Man

This report of a "Y-chromosone Bottleneck" that occurred seven thousand years ago raises some interesting questions.

In it, the author theorizes that war may have the effect of simplifying the male genome to the point that it's like having but one man for every 17 women.  Sounds like a male fantasy, but is it good for humanity and the potential for our survival on our planet?

Research shows that healthy populations depend on genetic diversity such as in this report from 2015, Genetic Diversity Linked to Today's Taller, Smarter People.  So if war has the effect of creating a male genome bottleneck, does the bottleneck limit the diversity needed to maintain a healthy population?  Could genetic bottlenecks be the reason that some militarily aggressive cultures such as the ancient Romans and Greeks are very peaceful today?  i.e., have they had the aggression breed out of them by years of wars in which the most warlike men died in battle or the epidemics that spread thro…

Men take shortcuts; women follow well-known routes. As they fight.

We really don't need research to know that -
men prefer to take spontaneous shortcuts, while women tend to use routes they know. Or thatto the undying annoyance of women, research shows clearly that men navigate more efficiently than women.  (Yes, research shows this to be true.)However, this efficiency is tempered by the fact that men frequently get lost on a short cutwhich men consider an adventure whilegetting lost when you could have stopped to ask directions really pisses her off.  We also instinctively know that  men and women tend to fight bitterly about how to get from point a to point b. ( I once traveled across country with my parents.  I'm still in therapy some sixty years on.)Finally, male female navigational differences are the basis of much enjoyable comedy. I would love to see a reality television show, Travel Court, in which a cameraman and presenter sit in the back seat while a normally stable, loving couple make their way across country for a well-deserved va…

We're All Racist.

How humans repress prejudices Even people who would describe themselves as liberal and open-minded might not be free of unconscious racism
A philosopher has used psychoanalysis to investigate why people are often not aware of their prejudices.  Bochum-based philosopher Dr Beate Krickel has used psychoanalysis to investigate why people are often not aware of their prejudices. In her accounts, she has been elaborating how prejudices can become unconscious. 
Tolerant and yet full of bias
A hypothetical example: a white professor describes himself as having a liberal, tolerant worldview. He confirms that it is nonsense and scientifically insupportable to assume that people with different ethnic background have different levels of intelligence. However, the convictions he professes are ostensibly contradicted by his behaviour: he acts, for example, surprised, when a person of colour asks an intelligent question in his seminar. Moreover, his intuitive impression is that his white students look …

We Unconsciously Pronounce, uhm, Nouns, More Slowly.

Living during the Scientific Revolution is often staggering.  As in, I'm staggered by the incredible breadth of the types of research currently underway.

Spending money and intellectual effort to time how long it takes for people to say different elements of speech in a variety of languages seems pretty damn obscure.  Yet, the result is surprising.  Humans speaking often unrelated languages take longer to say a noun that other types of words.


It is the way our brains process certain types of words.

Why is this important to writers?

Because people tend to pause or use filler words before using nouns, therefore the speech we write should show this human tendency.  It makes your dialog more believable and real.

And isn't the idea?
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Nouns slow down our speech
Speakers hesitate or make brief pauses filled with sounds like "uh" or "uhm" mostly before nouns. Such slow-down effects are far less frequent before verbs, as UZH researchers working toget…

What Comes First? Fact or Belief?

The myth of the objective observer takes another hit.

As much as anyone wants to believe they are objectively seeking facts before expressing an opinion, the human brain doesn't work that way.  Genetically speaking even the best of us are more receptive to "facts" that bolster our preconceived opinions.

This is why the scientific method is so important.  It doesn't rely on my opinion or your opinion.  It depends on the results of like experiments generating like results - whether we accept the results or not.

And this explains why presenting facts, no matter how scrupulously developed and supported, go right over the heads of so many people.  It's not fact or truth that matters to our brain, it's what we believe.

There must be a survival advantage to being, quite frankly, pig-headed.

Makes things a bit clearer but still frustrating.
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If you believe it, it's truer People reflexively accept information as accurate if it aligns with their worldview

Research Shows Women See Through Men's Nonsense. . . Every Time.

Gee, do you think so?

Let's face it guys, women have us figured out.  Like, completely figured out.  Like, why try?  Like, we're so shallow and so obvious that it's not even a contest.

Men want one thing and one thing only, and are willing to do anything to get it.  It's our genetic wiring.  We can try our hardest to be fair and non-sexist.  And even achieve some success in not being too obvious.

But girls know.

As Spanky once said, "You can fool some of the people, some of the time. . . but you can't fool mom."

Women are in complete control.

Every time.

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Women see through flashy cars and bling Women perceive men who extrovertly display their wealth as unsuitable partners for long-term relationships
When a man throws money around on flashy cars, people intuitively interpret this behavior as a sign that he is more interested in short-term sexual relationships than in romantic commitment. This is according to Daniel Kruger of the University…

M.I.T. Research Explains How Will Rogers Observation Works

Finally it appears that MIT has gotten involved in proving Will's syllogism, "There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."
Read his statement carefully.   ONE learns by reading.  A FEW who learn by observation.
Then there's the rest of us.
The reason for this, it turns out, is a special circuit in the brain that you or I need to have a functioning version of to actually learn by observing others.  Based on how we all behave, it is a circuit most of us must be missing.   Or perhaps it shorted out the first time we peed on an electric fence and it has yet to grow back.  
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Brain circuit helps us learn by watching others
Scientists pinpoint neural interactions that are necessary for observational learning
Researchers have identified a brain circuit required to learn by watching others. This circuit, which is distinct from the brain network used…

Using Artificial Intelligence to Predict Violence. . . or to Control It?

A staple of science fiction is a future where artificial intelligence (AI) is used to control people's behavior, or, in which AI supplants the human element.

I have mixed feelings about AI, its uses, and our future. 

For one thing, it's questionable that the human brain can increase in size or complexity without causing the system to slow down.  The brain of a "genius" isn't larger than yours or mine, its simply organized differently.  The difference between early versions of humans and modern humans is in large part, size.  Yes, brain organization plays a role, but until the latest iteration of us, brain size was the critical factor.

If we as a species have survived based on brain size, and brain size has maxed out, how do we continue to evolve intellectually?  Better organization?  Yes, but can we ever hope to create and control this type of evolutionary activity?

One solution to maxed human brain size is creating an interface between AI and the human brain, s…

The Downside of Being 'Class Clown'

Down side of being dubbed 'class clown'
Class clowns' off-task antics amuse and delight their classmates during first and second grades, making them the most sought-after playmates on the playground in early elementary school.  But by the time these mischievous boys are promoted to third grade, they plummet to the bottom of the social circle as classmates' disapproval of their behavior grows, a new study found.
Perhaps most worrisome is that by third grade, playful boys may be internalizing others' negative assessments and begin viewing themselves as social failures, possibly setting them on a course for a host of poor academic and developmental outcomes, said researcher Lynn A. Barnett, an educational psychologist and professor of recreation, sport and tourism at the University of Illinois.

These sudden reversals in playful boys' social fortunes from first to third grade may be classmates' mirroring of teachers' responses to behavior that they find disr…