Stuff online, untrammeled woodrat guts edition

2006.07.10 - St. Mary's Lake

Still worth it.

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Stuff online, feet of clay edition

the mighty have fallen

And pretty much everything else of clay, too.

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Stuff online, vampire barnacles edition

Seawall along Burrard Inlet

Every recommended route through Vancouver will go through Stanley Park. Photo by Christopher Porter.

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Chris Smith takes on that Troublesome book

Cain and Abel

Cain and Abel, in medieval stained glass. Photo by Fr Lawrence Lew.

Over at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense, Chris Smith has been writing a series of posts digging deep into the evolutionary claims made in Nicholas Wade’s book A Troublesome Inheritance. Last week, Chris debunked the claim that human population genetics naturally sorts into “races”—this week, he’s taking on Wade’s claim that variation at a particular gene has made some human populations more prone to violence than others:

Although some studies have found genetic variants in the MAO-A promoter region that are more common in some ethnic groups than in others (Sabol et al. 1998; Widom & Brzustowicz 2006; Reti et al. 2011) it is likely that these genetic variants are not –on their own– associated with violent or impulsive behavior (Caspi et al. 2002; Widom & Brzustowicz 2006). Instead, genetic variation in the MAO-A promoter seems to make some children less able to recover from abuse and childhood trauma, and therefore more likely to act out later in life (Caspi et al. 2002; Widom & Brzustowicz 2006). Simply carrying the ‘low expression’ allele in the MAO-A promoter does not have any effect at all on impulsivity or aggression.

Chris co-teaches a class on exactly the topics covered in A Troublesome Inheritance, so I highly recommend you read the whole thing, and follow the series to its conclusion.

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Stuff online, what’s in your library? edition

Little Big City

Photo by Brian Koprowski.

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My #Evol2014 talk on population genomic “scans” for local adaptation

This year at the Evolution meetings, for the very first time, the conference organizers offered presenters the option of having our talks filmed by graduate student volunteers. Naturally, I had to try this out—and the result isn’t half bad!

If only I’d pointed myself at the microphone more consistently. And said “umm” about three times less frequently. And maybe worn a nicer shirt …

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