Daily Data Dump – Monday | Gene Expression

Good morning WWW.

Richard Dawkins publicized the [“We Are All Africans”][1] t-shirt on Bill Maher’s show, which resulted in a major backlog of orders. The shirt is factually true. But the “Out of Africa” model is not as clean or simple as it would have been 10 years ago. Ironically Dawkins himself tipped his hand as to the complexity of his own thinking in [The Ancestor’s Tale][2] by promoting Alan Templeton’s [“Out of Africa again and again”][3] hypothesis. Dawkins in the past has shown a keen skepticism of deriving _ought_ from _is_, so I’m a touch confused by this current tack, though the maxim on the t-shirt is quite fashionable in our age.

[Deep ancestors of human DNA compatible with structured African population][4]. Dienekes reviews a paper which came out this summer. This is going to make me sound stupid, but did I review the paper? I’ll have to look. There have been models like this around for years, but the discovery that there’s non-trivial [Neandertal admixture][5] in non-African populations using the retrieved Neandertal genome should shift our priors a bit in terms of evaluating these papers.

[Number of Competitive House Races Doubles from Recent Years][6]. “When I noted this on Twitter on Friday, I got a few sarcastic replies: what good is a forecast if it tells you that essentially anything can happen?” This is the same attitude that conservatives had in 2008. Denial ain’t pretty, but it’s inevitable. Humans are natural born skeptics…when it suits them.

[Honour killings: Saved from India’s caste system by the Love Commandos][7]. “A spate of brutal killings in northern India has spurred a group of volunteers to set up a helpline to rescue couples whose lives are in danger because they want to marry across caste lines.” I would be curious to see if fine-grained analysis of genetic data could show past rates of intermarriage across castes in local regions. My bet is that intercaste marriage rates were higher in the past, and that “traditional” norms are enforced much more efficiently in the modern age where communication is more efficient and information flows more freely.

[Association analyses of 249,796 individuals reveal 18 new loci associated with body mass index][8]. More than 400 authors. It takes a village. Seriously.


[1]: http://store.richarddawkins.net/products/we-are-all-africans [2]: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/061861916X/geneexpressio-20/ [3]: http://cogweb.ucla.edu/ep/Templeton_02.html [4]: http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2010/10/deep-ancestors-of-human-dna-compatible.html [5]: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2010/05/the-three-layers-of-the-neandertal-cake/ [6]: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/10/number-of-competitive-house-races-doubles-from-recent-years/ [7]: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/10/honour-killings-caste-love-commandos [8]: http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ng.686.html [9]: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/DiscoverBlogs/~4/Wp8M5puiFtE

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