Monthly Archives: November 2013

Effective population size for advantageous mutations

For neutral genetic diversity, the effective population size is the harmonic mean of the population over time. That is, you take the inverse of the population size, average that over the population history, and then invert it.  This harmonic mean … Continue reading

Posted in Genetics | 34 Comments


I’ve mentioned the unusually high incidence of  certain kinds of weirdness among prominent mathematicians and physicists.  I wondered if there may be a few deleterious mutations that increase intelligence but make you squirrelly – and there may be, but  there … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 97 Comments


Sometimes we touch upon the question of what people know or don’t know.  Probably this has something to do with what they study, assuming that they remember any of what they are exposed to in school. So what do college … Continue reading

Posted in Education | 76 Comments


In every population, some people have serious problems with alcohol, but this happens more in some populations than others.  In particular, populations with low or nonexistent historical exposure to  alcohol have higher rates of alcoholism.  Hunter-gatherers  all seem to have … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 151 Comments

True Names

Now that Willerslev’s article is out in Nature,  there are a number of pieces discussing about it.  The gist is that there was a population that ranged from France deep into Siberia, one that accounts for part of the ancestry … Continue reading

Posted in Amerindians, European Prehistory | 38 Comments

Krazy Kats

The way things are going, the cats with the greatest reproductive success will be feral, and the cats best adapted to living with people will have low fitness. Razib Khan has talked about this.  There are a number of other … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 39 Comments

Truncation selection?

In some cases, fitness depends on an absolute standard, but in others it depends on a relative standard.  Suppose someone throws you out of a fourth-story window: what matters is not whether you suffer less damage than others, but whether … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 25 Comments

Modern Eugenics

  Recent work in genetics has made it clear that Tibetans, Andean Indians, and Ethiopians  adapted independently to high-altitude living.  It’s also clear that the Tibetan adaptations are more effective those in Andean Indians. Infant survival is better in Tibet, … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 60 Comments

Shaker Heights

People talking about education often blame poor funding, or crummy unionized teachers, or low standards/expectations for low achievement among black and Hispanic students.  That happens not to be the case. Some of the most interesting examples involve schools that are … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 88 Comments

Book Reviews

  We’re considering doing the occasional book review.  Thoughts? Suggestions?     Vociferous objections?  

Posted in Uncategorized | 77 Comments