Sunday, December 16, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Interventions at every age from infancy to college can reduce racial gaps in both I.Q. and academic achievement
Whites showed better comprehension of sayings, better ability to recognize similarities and better facility with analogies — when solutions required knowledge of words and concepts that were more likely to be known to whites than to blacks. But when these kinds of reasoning were tested with words and concepts known equally well to blacks and whites, there were no differences. Within each race, prior knowledge predicted learning and reasoning, but between the races it was prior knowledge only that differed. What do we know about the effects of environment?
That environment can markedly influence I.Q. is demonstrated by the so-called Flynn Effect. James Flynn, a philosopher and I.Q. researcher in New Zealand, has established that in the Western world as a whole, I.Q. increased markedly from 1947 to 2002. In the United States alone, it went up by 18 points. Our genes could not have changed enough over such a brief period to account for the shift; it must have been the result of powerful social factors. And if such factors could produce changes over time for the population as a whole, they could also produce big differences between subpopulations at any given time.
In fact, we know that the I.Q. difference between black and white 12-year-olds has dropped to 9.5 points from 15 points in the last 30 years — a period that was more favorable for blacks in many ways than the preceding era. Black progress on the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows equivalent gains. Reading and math improvement has been modest for whites but substantial for blacks. Most important, we know that interventions at every age from infancy to college can reduce racial gaps in both I.Q. and academic achievement, sometimes by substantial amounts in surprisingly little time. This mutability is further evidence that the I.Q. difference has environmental, not genetic, causes. And it should encourage us, as a society, to see that all children receive ample opportunity to develop their minds. « Previous Page Richard E. Nisbett, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, is the author of “The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently and Why.”
Saturday, December 08, 2007
- Why did the mapmaker name the territory America and then change his mind later?
- How was he able to draw South America so accurately?
- Why did he put a huge ocean west of America years before European explorers discovered the Pacific?
"That's the kind of conundrum, the question, that is still out there," said John Hebert, chief of the geography and map division of the Library of Congress.
The 12 sheets that make up the map, purchased from German Prince Johannes Waldburg-Wolfegg for $10 million in 2003, were mounted on Monday in a huge 6-foot by 9.5-foot (1.85 meter by 2.95 meter) display case machined from a single block of aluminum...
"From the writings of Vespucci you couldn't have prepared the map," Hebert said. "There had to be something cartographic with it."
MISGIVINGS ABOUT AMERICA
Waldseemuller made it clear he was naming the new land after Vespucci, describing how he came up with the name America based on the navigator's first name.
But he soon had misgivings about what he had done. An atlas Waldseemuller produced six years later shows only part of the east coast of the Americas, and refers to it as Terra Incognita -- unknown land.
"America has gone out of his lexicon," Hebert said. "(No) place in the atlas -- in the text or in the maps -- does the name America appear."...
Although the map conceals many mysteries, one thing is clear: it represents a revolutionary shift in the way Europe viewed the world.
"This is ... essentially the beginning or first map of the modern age, and it's one that everything builds on from that point forward," Hebert said. "It becomes a keystone map." (Editing by Eddie Evans) © Reuters2007 All rights reserved
The presence of certain bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract influences behavior and brain function. For example, challenge with live Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni), a common food-born pathogen, reduces exploration of open arms of the plus maze, consistent with anxiety-like behavior, and activates brain regions associated with autonomic function, likely via a vagal pathway.
Solar distance and Earth gravity
The existence of liquid water, and to a lesser extent its gaseous and solid forms, on Earth is vital to the existence of life on Earth as we know it. The Earth is located in the habitable zone of the solar system; if it were slightly closer to or further from the Sun (about 5%, or 8 million kilometers or so), the conditions which allow the three forms to be present simultaneously would be far less likely to exist.
Earth's mass allows gravity to hold an atmosphere. Water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere provide a greenhouse effect which helps maintain a relatively steady surface temperature. If Earth were smaller, a thinner atmosphere would cause temperature extremes preventing the accumulation of water except in polar ice caps (as on Mars).
It has been proposed that life itself may maintain the conditions that have allowed its continued existence. The surface temperature of Earth has been relatively constant through geologic time despite varying levels of incoming solar radiation (insolation), indicating that a dynamic process governs Earth's temperature via a combination of greenhouse gases and surface or atmospheric albedo. This proposal is known as the Gaia hypothesis.
The state of water also depends on a planet's gravity. If a planet is sufficiently massive, the water on it may be solid even at high temperatures, because of the high pressure caused by gravity.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Things are different in the case of the cool and deliberate serial killer, who knows the criminality of his deeds yet continues to commit them. For neuroscientists, the iciness of the acts calls to mind the case of Phineas Gage, the Vermont railway worker who in 1848 was injured when an explosion caused a tamping iron to be driven through his prefrontal cortex. Improbably, he survived, but he exhibited stark behavioral changes—becoming detached and irreverent, though never criminal. Ever since, scientists have looked for the roots of serial murder in the brain's physical state.
A study published last year in the journal NeuroImage may have helped provide some answers. Researchers working through the National Institute of Mental Health scanned the brains of 20 healthy volunteers, watching their reactions as they were presented with various legal and illegal scenarios. The brain activity that most closely tracked the hypothetical crimes—rising and falling with the severity of the scenarios—occurred in the amygdala, a deep structure that helps us make the connection between bad acts and punishments. As in the trolley studies, there was also activity in the frontal cortex. The fact that the subjects themselves had no sociopathic tendencies limits the value of the findings. But knowing how the brain functions when things work well is one good way of knowing where to look when things break down.
Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of us never run off the moral rails in remotely as awful a way as serial killers do, but we do come untracked in smaller ways. We face our biggest challenges not when we're called on to behave ourselves within our family, community or workplace but when we have to apply the same moral care to people outside our tribe. The notion of the "other" is a tough one for Homo sapiens. Sociobiology has been criticized as one of the most reductive of sciences, ascribing the behavior of all living things—humans included—as nothing more than an effort to get as many genes as possible into the next generation. The idea makes sense, and all creatures can be forgiven for favoring their troop over others. But such bias turns dark fast.
Schulman, the psychologist and author, works with delinquent adolescents at a residential treatment center in Yonkers, New York, and was struck one day by the outrage that swept through the place when the residents learned that three of the boys had mugged an elderly woman. "I wouldn't mug an old lady. That could be my grandmother," one said. Schulman asked whom it would be O.K. to mug. The boy answered, "A Chinese delivery guy." Explains Schulman: "The old lady is someone they could empathize with. The Chinese delivery guy is alien, literally and figuratively, to them."
This kind of brutal line between insiders and outsiders is evident everywhere—mobsters, say, who kill promiscuously yet go on rhapsodically about "family." But it has its most terrible expression in wars, in which the dehumanization of the outsider is essential for wholesale slaughter to occur. Volumes have been written about what goes on in the collective mind of a place like Nazi Germany or the collapsing Yugoslavia. While killers like Adolf Hitler or Slobodan Milosevic can never be put on the couch, it's possible to understand the xenophobic strings they play in their people.
"Yugoslavia is the great modern example of manipulating tribal sentiments to create mass murder," says Jonathan Haidt, associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. "You saw it in Rwanda and Nazi Germany too. In most cases of genocide, you have a moral entrepreneur who exploits tribalism for evil purposes."
That, of course, does not take the stain of responsibility off the people who follow those leaders—a case that war-crimes prosecutors famously argued at the Nuremberg trials and a point courageous people have made throughout history as they sheltered Jews during World War II or refuse to murder their Sunni neighbor even if a militia leader tells them to.
For grossly imperfect creatures like us, morality may be the steepest of all developmental mountains. Our opposable thumbs and big brains gave us the tools to dominate the planet, but wisdom comes more slowly than physical hardware. We surely have a lot of killing and savagery ahead of us before we fully civilize ourselves. The hope—a realistic one, perhaps—is that the struggles still to come are fewer than those left behind. —With reporting by Tiffany Sharples and Alexandra Silver / New York Page 4 of 4 Previous 1 2 3 4 12:16 PM 12:27 PM 12:35 PM
Monday, November 19, 2007
We are still missing something big, and natural selection does not explain the full complexity of evolution
Like individuals in a population, species also struggle amongst themselves to survive, and most become extinct over time. Species can also die out in mass extinctions, such as the one that caused the demise of the dinosaurs. Today we may be in the throes of another mass extinction, caused by human overexploitation of habitats... Secret code
Darwin was able to establish natural selection, without any understanding of the genetic mechanisms of inheritance, or the source of novel variation in a population. His own theory on the transmission of traits, called pangenesis, was completely wrong.
It was not until Gregor Mendel and the start of the 20th century that the genetic mechanism of inheritance began to be revealed. We now know that most traits, such as skin colour, eye colour and blood group are determined by our DNA and genes. During the 20th century, evolutionary biologists such as Ernst Mayr, J.B.S. Haldane, Julian Huxley, and Theodosius Dobzhansky combined Darwinian evolution with our emerging knowledge of genetics to produce the "modern synthesis" that we call evolutionary biology today.
Most genes come in a variety of forms, one inherited from each parent. The varieties are known as alleles, and encode slightly different traits. The incidence of different traits, or alleles, in a population is driven by natural selection and genetic drift, which can randomly reduce genetic variation. Today, evolution is defined as the change in the frequency of alleles in populations over time.
New traits are introduced into populations by gene flow from other populations or by mutation. Mutation is a change in the structure of a gene and can be caused by errors in copying DNA, carcinogenic chemicals, viruses, UV-light and radiation. Most mutations are neutral, having no effect on gene function; others are harmful, such as the ones that cause inherited diseases like cystic fibrosis. Rarely mutations can lead to beneficial new traits, such as increased resistance to malaria.
Today evolutionary biologists are largely divided into two camps. The pro-selectionists such as Richard Dawkins, Stephen Pinker, Edward O Wilson, Matt Ridley, Mark Ridley and Jared Diamond believe in the primacy of natural selection as the principle guiding evolution. Others such as Niles Eldredge, Stephen J. Gould, Brian Goodwin, Stuart Kauffman and Steven Rose argue that we are still missing something big, and that natural selection does not explain the full complexity of evolution. Instant Expert: Evolution 11:41 04 September 2006 NewScientist.com news service John Pickrell
Created Equal from: William Saletan Liberal creationism Posted Sunday, Nov. 18, 2007, at 7:57 AM ET
Positive suggestions, detachment from the illness, a state of cheerfulness and trust and even guided imageries are helpful
When the writer is fully conscious, when he inscribes some deep truth and has a sense of beauty and harmony in his calligraphy, when he is deliberate in his writing and knows the rules of the game of life, then he remains free of afflictions. But if he is casual, full of error and jumble, confused within and ignorant outside, then his language of life shares this defect and reveals this imperfection. Even if we correct a letter or a word here and there, he continues to mis-spell and his sentences become a jumble. There are two ways to avoid these errors which translate as an illness.
- One is not to write much and to keep it all simple, perhaps very simple. Those who have a rudimentarily developed consciousness, whose life is full of a natural ease and a spontaneous simplicity with few wants and needs, avoid the errors of life that come by sheer excesses. They have few characters in their play, some small hopes and very few anxieties and fear.
- The second way is to go to the other pole of a complex and developed consciousness with many characters in the play and a rather complicated script. For these, the only way is to discover the harmony of a higher divine Perfection. For while a short and simple script can be managed by a novice, a large and complex script needs a Master Artist.
This Master Artist is within us as the Lord of Life. Either we must live with the sense of a carefree albeit unconscious surrender to His delegate Nature, or else, do consciously and in detail what the simple creatures of Nature do spontaneously and unconsciously through her. That is to say, place our entire being consciously and willfully in the Hands of the Divine Master of Life through a detailed and integral yoga so that He takes up our pen and ink and erasing our errors rewrites the script and the drama of our life afresh.
This is the secret art we are here to learn. Till we learn that, till we hang between the animal simplicity and the divine spontaneity, we shall only exchange one error for another, correct the deformed letter but leave the word mis-spelt and lose thereby the meaning of life and our manifold existence because we knew only the form of letters but not the language, the structural aspects of the hieroglyph but not its meaning and sense.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
According to popular belief as women menstruate, which is a sing of fertility, so also Mother Earth menstruates. So all three days of the festival are considered to be the menstruating period of Mother Earth. During the festival all agricultural operations remain suspended. As in Hindu homes menstruating women remain secluded because of impurity and do not even touch anything and are given full rest, so also the Mother Earth is given full rest for three days for which all agricultural operations are stopped. Significantly, it is a festival of the unmarried girls, the potential mothers. They all observe the restrictions prescribed for a menstruating woman. The very first day, they rise before dawn, do their coiffeur, annoint their bodies with turmeric paste and oil and then take the purificatory bath in a river or tank. Peculiarly, bathing for the rest two days is prohibited. They don't walk bare-foot do not scratch the earth, do not grind, do not tear anything apart, do not cut and do not cook. During all the three consecutive days they are seen in the best of dresses and decorations, eating cakes and rich food at the houses of friends and relatives, spending long cheery hours, moving up and down on improvised swings, rending the village sky with their merry impromptu songs. The swings are of different varieties, such as Ram Doli, Charki Doli, Pata Doli, Dandi Doli etc. Songs specially meant for the festival speak of love, affection, respect, social behaviour and everything of social order that comes to the minds of the singers. Through anonymous and composed extempore, much of these songs, through shere beauty of diction and sentiment, have earned permanence and have gone to make the very substratum of Orissa's folk-poetry.
While girls thus scatter beauty, grace and music all around, moving up and down on the swings during the festival, young men give themselves to strenuous games and good food, on the eve of the onset of the monsoons which will not give them even a minute's respite for practically four months making them one with mud, slush and relentless showers, their spirits keep high with only the hopes of a good harvest. As all agricultural activities remain suspended and a joyous atmosphere pervades, the young men of the village keep themselves busy in various types of country games, the most favourite being kabadi. Competitions are also held between different groups of villages. All nights 'Yatra' performances or 'Gotipua' dances are arranged in prosperous villages where they can afford the professional groups. Plays and other kinds of entertainment are also arranged by enthusiastic amateurs.
The special variety of cake prepared out of recipes like rice-powder, molasses, coconut, camphor, ghee etc. goes in the name of Poda Pitha (burnt cake). The size of the cake varies according to the number of family members. Cakes are also exchanged among relatives and friends. Young girls do not take rice during the three-day festival and sustain only with this type of cake, fried-rice(mudi) and vegetable curry. HOME :: SEARCH :: CONTACT US COMING TO ORISSA :: HOTELS
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Well, he’s right about evolution being intrinsically atheistic. It is also anti-Christian.
The chance encounters of various chemicals in a long ago warm pool could never have created even the simplest of life forms. Those who might think it possible, know nothing about how living things are assembled. Or, they love the evolution lie. The complexity of living things are beyond comprehension. Scientists all over the world are still studying desperately to understand it all.
But: If evolutionists want to end the arguments all they have to do is, get their brilliant heads together and assemble a ’simple’ living cell. ‘Surely they have a very great amount of knowledge about what is inside the ’simple’ cell.
And after all, shouldn’t all the combined Intelligence of all the worlds scientist be able the do what chance encounters with random chemical collisions, without an instruction manual, accomplished about 4 billion years ago,according to the evolutionists estimation. Without any intelligence at all available to help them these ’simple ‘ cells miraculously created themselves into a living entity. Surely then today’s evolutionists scientists should be able to make us a ’simple’ cell.
If it weren’t so pitiful it would be humorous, that intelligent people have swallowed the evolution mythology.
Beyond doubt, the main reason people believe in evolution is that sources they admire, say it is so. It would pay for these people to do a thorough examination of the flood of evidence CONTRARY to evolution which is readily available: Try answersingenesis.org. The evolutionists should honestly examine the SUPPOSED evidence ‘FOR’ evolution for THEMSELVES.
Build us a cell, from scratch, with the required raw material, that is with NO cell material, just the ‘raw’ stuff, and the argument is over. But if the scientists are unsuccessful, perhaps they should try Mother Earth’s recipe, you know, the one they claim worked the first time about 4 billion years ago, so they say. All they need to do is to gather all the chemicals that we know are essential for life, pour them into a large clay pot and stir vigorously for a few billion years, and EUREKA, LIFE!
Oh, you don’t believe the ‘original’ Mother Earth recipe will work? You are NOT alone, Neither do I, and MILLIONS of others!Please don’t swallow the lies they tell about the ‘first life’ problem, scientists are falling all over themselves to make a living cell. Many have admitted publicly that it is a monumental problem. And, is many years away from happening, if ever. Logical people understand this problem and have rightly concluded that an Intelligent Designer was absolutely necessary. Think of it this way, if all the brilliant scientists on earth can’t do it, how on earth can anyone believe that it happened by accident????? By: Jim on October 8th, 2007 at 9:02 pm
Hi, Jim. There are many evolutionists who believe in God. There are some examples at wiki. So evolution cannot be intrinsically atheistic.
As far as creating life is concerned, that is abiogenesis. Evolution is a phenomenon observed in populations. I recognise the importance of your argument (what evolves if there is no life?) but I just want to get the terminology right. By the way, I made an earlier post: explaining evolution.
You might also be interested in: First synthetic virus (2002)
The team from the University of New York at Stony Brook constructed the virus from scratch using the genetic blueprint of the polio agent. They followed a “recipe” they downloaded from the internet and used gene sequences from a mail-order supplier.
And Craig Venter may be close to a larger breakthrough — making the DNA of a bacterium, though not the cell itself.
These are milestones on the road to making artificial life. I see no reason why it should be easy. Just the sheer bulk of infomation makes it a daunting task.
And A Genetic Alogorithms Demo — evolution in action in a simulated world. Mathematically, the theory is sound. By: misterlister on October 9th, 2007 at 7:15 pm Sir, it is not from scratch unless the builder starts with the Amino Acids and go on from there. Also, they needed to assemble the DNA too.
Yes they are making strides, but just knowing how long and hard these scientists have been exploring cell life and yet there is much more to learn.
I’m flabbergasted that anyone that could get a doctorate in biology can believe that life came about by chance. It’s impossible, why can’t they see that?
Here’s my guess: They have been mesmerized by THEIR professor, who ‘certainly’ wouldn’t teach them anything false. Who himself was taught, and was mesmerized by the same mythology.
Yes there are evolutionists who believe in God, but mostly because the have taken the words of the scientists. And have not studied it themselves.
I graduated from NC State Univ. nearly 50 years ago. I know something of science. My professors had me convinced that evolution was a scientific fact. I stuck to the idea for another decade, plus. I then decided to learn more biology and what I found convinced that I had believed a lie for a very long time, too long.
And, no-one has ever observed macro-evolution. We ARE observing micro-evolution. But it (micro) can never change one kind into another kind. God provided micro-evolution so that you and I and ever other living male doesn’t look EXACTLY alike. Imagine the confusion if God hadn’t taken this important step. By: Jim on October 10th, 2007 at 3:49 pm
Hi Jim, Scientists haven’t worked out abiogenesis. I admit that. But they are making progress.
The reason biologists believe in evolution is because very little makes sense without it. How do you explain the route of the recurrent laryngeal nerve? Why does it take such a round-about route? — even in Giraffes. And here’s an article on the retina in human eyes being wired backwards. Such things are difficult to explain in terms of design. But such results are to be expected from evolution, which modifies what is available.
I’m willing to consider, in principle, that our current theory of evolution is incorrect. But what is the alternative theory? I can see none that comes close. Evolution itself is an observed phenomenon — as beyond doubt as gravity.
Can you please explain to me why you think the theory of evolution rules out any kind of God?
And as for speciation: Two new species of goatsbeard, observed about 50 years after 3 species of the plant were introduced into North America. By: misterlister on October 10th, 2007 at 8:34 pm Hi Misterlister:
About the goatsbeard, a goatsbeaard is a goatsbeard and will remain a goatsbeard forever. These are minor changes within the various kinds of all life forms, including humans. Without this ability, all humans would be carbon copies. Chaos would reign. So, in all actuality evolution is NOT an observed phenomenon.
There are many good reasons to reject evolution as the means of creating life. One of them is that it requires extremely long time periods. Much longer than the 6000 years of earth.
Also, evolution relies on life and death, over and over trillions upon trillions of times. God is a God of love and the Bible says that DEATH is the last enemy He will expunge from His universe.
Also, I have studied the prophecies and they definitely prove that a supreme being inspired them.
The last great prophecy is rushing toward us and increasing in speed. Many elements that set the stage for the end times are already in place.
And there is a very good scientific reason to reject the theory of evolution. It is totally illogical. Life is nearly infinitely complex, even in the ’simplest’ cells.
IF you would study the intricacies of biology, apart from the influence of prejudiced professors you will find that the complexity is beyond, far beyond what is ‘apparent’ to most people.
For example: To make a protein the 20 amino acids must be linked together into a long chain, a very long chain of the various acids. The ‘easiest’ one for a cell to make has about 1000 amino acids linked together exactly according to the instructions of the DNA. Just one mistake will usually kill the cell. A so called simple cell has hundreds of proteins made this way. But we are not finished the complexity part, just barely started.The protein is useless if it is not folded into a precise complex pattern. This act too is orchestrated by another machine within the cell.
I should be able to stop right here and you would be convinced that evolution is a farce. But because it is believed by people with doctorates in science and presented to the public as a known fact. You will most likely still believe in evolution.
People have presented the following scenario: How likely is it for a tornado in a junk yard to construct a jumbo jet? In very fact it would be thousands of times (perhaps millions) more likely to produce the airplane than for nature to produce life by chance.
Study carefully the whys and wherefores of cellular life and their complexity, then call in Mr. Common logic. By: Jim on October 18th, 2007 at 7:49 pm
Hi, Jim. Why do you move the goalposts? I gave you an example of speciation. It was what you asked for. Helen Curtis: “Evolution can be precisely defined as any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next.”
As goatsbeard spread in the USA, change occured generation after generation. Some traits became more common, some less common. That is evolution. Mutations brought about new traits — some of them beneficial, some of them not.
Some populations got seperated. The changes in one could not spread to another. Enough change occured to make one group of descendents unable to breed with another group of descendents.
And all that in about 50 years. Imagine the changes that could now build up over the next million years. Then 100 million years.
There are many good reasons to reject evolution as the means of creating life.
I agree. Evolution requires a population. By definition.
The creation of life is abiogenesis — a different phenomenon.
Much longer than the 6000 years of earth.
Now I know you’re joking. The evidence for the age of the Earth is over-whelming. If you believe that God created the Earth 6000 years ago, then you believe that God is a liar. By: misterlister on October 20th, 2007 at 10:21 am
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Posted by samzenpus on Wednesday October 10, @10:54PM from the everything-can-be-measured dept.
Like genes, words can be compared to one another and scrutinized with phylogenetic analysis to understand their origins
“We have generated a data set of verbs whose conjugations have been evolving for more than a millennium, tracking inflectional changes to 177 Old-English irregular verbs. Of these irregular verbs, 145 remained irregular in Middle English and 98 are still irregular today. We study how the rate of regularization depends on the frequency of word usage. The half-life of an irregular verb scales as the square root of its usage frequency: a verb that is 100 times less frequent regularizes 10 times as fast. Our study provides a quantitative analysis of the regularization process by which ancestral forms gradually yield to an emerging linguistic rule.” I’ve bolded what I consider important because this conclusion has some tangents to protein evolution as well. Often proteins that are less vital are mutated much more frequently than vital proteins. It is remarkable to see the authors quantified a similar phenomenon in language evolution.
On that note, PNAS ran this paper about a week ago, “Coevolution of languages and genes on the island of Sumba, eastern Indonesia.” Here’s the abstract, “Numerous studies indicate strong associations between languages and genes among human populations at the global scale, but all broader scale genetic and linguistic patterns must arise from processes originating at the community level. We examine linguistic and genetic variation in a contact zone on the eastern Indonesian island of Sumba, where Neolithic Austronesian farming communities settled and began interacting with aboriginal foraging societies ~3,500 years ago. Phylogenetic reconstruction based on a 200-word Swadesh list sampled from 29 localities supports the hypothesis that Sumbanese languages derive from a single ancestral Austronesian language. However, the proportion of cognates (words with a common origin) traceable to Proto-Austronesian (PAn) varies among language subgroups distributed across the island. Interestingly, a positive correlation was found between the percentage of Y chromosome lineages that derive from Austronesian (as opposed to aboriginal) ancestors and the retention of PAn cognates. We also find a striking correlation between the percentage of PAn cognates and geographic distance from the site where many Sumbanese believe their ancestors arrived on the island. These language–gene–geography correlations, unprecedented at such a fine scale, imply that historical patterns of social interaction between expanding farmers and resident hunter-gatherers largely explain community-level language evolution on Sumba. We propose a model to explain linguistic and demographic coevolution at fine spatial and temporal scales.” Like genes, words can be compared to one another and scrutinized with phylogenetic analysis to understand their origins. In this situation the authors found a correlation within individuals with similar Y chromosome lineages and cognates, words so similar from one language to the next that they suggest both are variants of a single ancestral prototype.
Patience, fairness and the human condition
Apes are patient, but only people are fair. That may help explain why people came out on top
One way of looking at these questions is to compare people with their closest relatives, great apes such as chimpanzees. Another is to compare them with each other. Three studies published this week, which take one or other of these approaches, have cast light on the evolution of both patience and fairness. It turns out that patience is older than fairness. It also turns out that although the propensity to be fair varies a good deal from one person to the next, that variation is rooted in genetics rather than culture.
The essence of patience is the ability to delay the gratification of an appetite in favour of a greater ultimate reward. Past tests of the degree to which animals other than people can delay their gratification have focused on birds and monkeys. Both groups can delay gratification if a bigger reward is on offer, but only for a few seconds.
Birds, however, are remotely related to humans, and even monkeys are not as close as apes. In Current Biology, Marc Hauser of Harvard University and his colleagues compare chimpanzees and humans directly. Both, it turns out, can be patient to a high degree. In fact chimps are more patient than people.
The human participants in Dr Hauser's experiment were allowed to choose a preferred food, such as raisins or chocolate. The chimpanzees were simply offered grapes—which they usually like. Otherwise the experimental conditions were identical. The choice was between one unit of goodies immediately and three after two minutes. Chimpanzees were nearly four times more likely to wait for the big reward than humans were. This suggests not only that the trait of patience predates the split between humans and chimpanzees, some 4m years ago, but that the trait seems more characteristic of chimps than people.
When it comes to fairness, though, it is a different story. Economic theory has contrived a species it calls Homo economicus—a “rational maximiser” who grabs what he can for himself. But, curiously, he makes no appearance in the ultimatum game, a classic economics experiment.
In this game, two players, a proposer and a responder, divide a reward. It could be a cake. It could be cash. It could even be a bunch of grapes. The game is so named because the proposition is an ultimatum. The responder can either accept the division or reject it. If he rejects it, both players receive nothing.
Homo economicus would accept any division in which his share was not zero. But that is not what happens. Scores of studies have run the ultimatum game across cultures and ages. Universally, people reject any share lower than 20%—apparently to punish the greed of the proposer. People do not act like Homo economicus. Instead, they are the arbiters of fairness.
To find out if chimpanzees share this sense of fairness, Keith Jensen and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Leipzig, designed a way for chimps to play the ultimatum game. Their version started with a pair of trays far from the players' cages. Each tray had ten raisins divided in different ways between two pots—say eight and two, or five and five. One chimp was allotted the role of proposer. He could choose one of the trays, pulling it by way of a rope just halfway to the cage. The other, the responder, could then choose to pull on a rod, bringing the tray close enough for both to get the raisins, one pot for each. If the responder chose not to pull the tray closer within a minute, the offer was considered rejected, and the game concluded.
The result, which Dr Jensen reports in Science, is that chimps are simply rational maximisers—Pan economicus, if you like. Though proposers consistently chose the highest possible number of raisins for themselves, responders rarely rejected even the stingiest offers.
This is a telling outcome. A number of researchers in the field of human evolution think that a sense of fairness—and a willingness to punish the unfair even at some cost to oneself—is humanity's “killer app”. It is what allows large social groups to form. Without it, free-riders would ruin such groups, because playing fair would cease to have any value. Dr Jensen's previous experiments have shown that chimpanzees are willing to punish actual thieves. But his new data add weight to the theory that the more sophisticated idea of fair shares, which underpins collaborative behaviour, appeared in the hominid line only after the ancestors of the two species split from one another.
Nor, according to the third of this convenient trilogy of papers, is a sense of fairness rooted in culture. Rather, it is genetic—as it would have to be in order to evolve. Paradoxically, discovering this relies on the fact that not everyone possesses it to the same degree.
As they write in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bjorn Wallace of the Stockholm School of Economics and his colleagues have shown this by playing the ultimatum game with twins. They used the classic trick of neutralising the effect of upbringing and exposing that of genetics by comparing identical twins (who share all their genes) with fraternal twins (who share half).
Each twin of a pair played the ultimatum game, both as proposer and as responder. Dr Wallace found, in the case of identical twins, a striking correlation between the average division that each member of a pair proposed and also between what they were willing to accept. In other words, their senses of what was fair were similar. No such correlations were seen in the behaviour of fraternal twins.
Besides showing that a sense of fairness has a genetic basis, this result also raises a question: why should the sense of what is fair be so variable? It may be that in a population of the fair, the unfair prosper while amongst the unfair, the fair are better off. The result would be an equilibrium in which various attitudes to fairness do just as well as each other. But why, exactly, that should be the case is a subject for another day's research project.
Monday, October 15, 2007
The present membership of the P.E.D. is 1087, 589 men & boys and 498 women & girls. The members are divided into twelve Groups according to age and capacity. And a programme of physical education is provided to suit each Group. Those not in regular Groups can practice their activities of choice, this Group is called Non-Group. There are people who are closely connected with the Ashram but are not Ashramites, these people are allowed by the department to practice their individual activity of choice and they are classified as casual members. Programme
The same programme of Physical Education is prescribed for both boys and girls. The year in our Physical Education is divided into eight sessions: In the four competition seasons each Group has different activities. The programme for the competition season is as follows: (Corresponding respectively to the age groups listed)... During the normal programme the weekly schedule for the age group between twelve to twenty five includes two days of games, two days of gymnastics, one day of athletics, one day of swimming and one day of combative sports. There are three main grounds where the most of the activities are carried out. They are: the Play Ground, the Tennis Ground and the Sports Ground; the oldest being the Play Ground. Location: Home > The Ashram > Departments > Ped > Organisation The Ayurvedic Section
The Ayurvedic Section was opened on 22nd February 1957. This Section has a three fold activity:
Phone : +91-413-233-4498 Location: Home > The Ashram > Departments > The Ayurvedic Section
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
This might be because the crops that people raise tend to be the most convenient ones, rather than the most nutritious. Wheat, rice and corn – the foods that "provide the bulk of the calories consumed today" – are "high in simple carbohydrates which promote weight gain", but each lacks essential nutrients.
So you can see what's happening – to put it simply, human beings are evolving much more slowly than the food we eat. And the food is tricking us. We think it's what we need, but it's just what we want. What can we do? Eat sensibly and exercise, of course. One thing we have to do, though, is "not to listen to your body" – because it craves food that, in abundance, is bad for it.
Barrett is big on exercise. We evolved to enjoy sitting around because, in hunter-gatherer times, we had to walk and jog and climb so much that sitting around was the right thing to do. Now we have to earn it. The good news, she says, is that, if you make exercise a habit, it stays with you.
This is a clear, well-written and thoughtful guide to the fat crisis. The advice is simple. Eat healthy food. Then do a lot of exercise. Then you'll be fine. telegraph.co.uk 27/09/2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I have two sets of beliefs about global warming...
I try to keep these beliefs from affecting my policy conclusions, but I am not altogether able to stop holding them. And even if my belief turns out to be true (which I expect someone to suggest in the comments), I am quite sure my procedural reason for holding it is an irrational one. Posted by Tyler Cowen on September 25, 2007 at 08:44 AM in Science Permalink Comments
There are two types of trust. One is trust based upon authority. This is how ideologies function. These can be religious, political or economic. The data is ambiguous, so great weight is given to those who guide the movement. Some people are more predisposed to follow this type of model.
The other type of trust is based upon scientific evidence. The trust comes in when one has to evaluate the trustworthiness of those providing the evidence (and drawing the conclusions). There is little debate over the fact that the moon causes the tides although I'm not aware of individuals doing experiments on their own to validate this.
There is more difficulty when the evidence is still being developed or when it is based upon epidemiological studies. Should one lower one's cholesterol? Well there are plenty of fat old people around who don't have heart attacks.
It appears that those who are doubtful about human caused climate change also fall into this class. Most of the strongest deniers have a belief in the benefits of the capitalist system. This is based upon growth and climate change implies that there may be a need to change this goal. In a finite world permanent growth is impossible. Then something else will have to replace capitalism. Rather than give up the economic ideology, question the science.
Unfortunately for the human race, mother nature doesn't read partisan screeds. Posted by: robertdfeinman at Sep 25, 2007 11:57:12 AM
Saturday, September 22, 2007
New study reveals why restricting calories may lead to longevity By Nikhil Swaminathan Scientific American, September 20, 2007