Sunday, June 22, 2008

Interesting Essays

So, some posts to look out for:

Different environments favor different genes in this slate article on ADHD and the differences between nomads and pastoral peoples.

DRD4 7R+ genotypes were associated with indices of better nutritional status among nomads, particularly higher fat free mass, but worse indices in the settled individuals. This suggests that the 7R allele confers additional adaptive benefits in the nomadic compared to sedentary context.

Increased impulsivity, ADHD-like traits, novelty-seeking like traits, aggression, violence and/or activity levels may help nomads obtain food resources, or exhibit a degree of behavioral unpredictability that is protective against interpersonal violence or robberies.

So this makes sense, right? An ADD kid would probably thrive in a dynamic environment more than a stable one. So different environments select for different genes. Basic evolutionary biology, but something most try to ignore.

And another article, again from slate on genes and homosexuality.

In overall symmetry and amygdala activity, the brains of gay men resembled the brains of straight women, whereas the brains of lesbians resembled the brains of straight men. Previous work has connected such differences to fear, anxiety, aggression, and verbal, spatial, and navigational ability. It's not just a matter of preferring men or women. The broader implication, one expert argues, is that "in gay men, the brain is feminized."

Are the differences genetic? Not likely. "As to the genetic factors, the current view is that they may play a role in male homosexuality, but they seem to be insignificant for female homosexuality," the authors conclude. "Genetic factors, therefore, appear less probable as the major common denominator for all group differences observed here."

So, what's the common factor? If the study's design rules out learned influences, and if the results in women rule out genetics, that leaves what the authors call "hormonal influences" or noncognitive differences in the infant environment.

This is standard stuff, but important to get on paper. Chemicals cause homosexuality. So, it is not a sin. It's a sexual preferences. But at the same time, there is nothing wrong with changing something that someone doesn't like. If parents don't want gay kids, there is nothing wrong with altering the chemical balance in prenatal conditions to achieve that. I see gays advocating for marriage and parading during pride weekend. Good for them, but it seems strange. After all, the marriage is simply their desire to get societies' approval. The march is simply to shove it in our faces.

Ice on Mars.

Enough said. But, either way, we're getting closer and closer to alien contact. It's going to upend everything that we've ever assumed about ourselves. The question is merely whether it happens before or after the singularity. Nation states, religion, relationships, philosophy, animal rights, everything changes.

No comments: