Thursday, July 28, 2011

People from the higher latitudes of the world have bigger brains

I reproduce below the results of a small study of an old skull collection. Given the limits of the basic data, the generalizability of the findings is uncertain but they are interesting nonetheless -- in that they confirm other findings about the effect of latitude on IQ.

The authors were apparently rather embarrassed by their findings so they have presented their findings in a very politically correct way. A lot of the presentation is blatantly speculative and certainly over-interpreted. They talk, for instance, about Arctic brains in blithe indifference to the fact that they had zero data on Arctic brains! So I reproduce below only the more factual bits.

The finding that eyes are bigger in Northern latitudes is a genuine contribution to knowledge but saying that bigger eyes lie behind larger brain size is tendentious. The larger brain of the North is much more likely to be a result of the generally greater survival challenge in Northern latitudes.

In support of that it may be noted that the spectacular visual acuity of Australian Aborigines is found among a people who tend to have somewhat smaller brains than Europeans.

It should be noted that the present "native" population of the British Isles is of peri-Baltic origin (North German and Scandinavian) so should be at the high end of brain size. The authors below deny that greater brain size indicates greater intelligence but ignore most of the literature on the subject in doing so. Most research indicates a positive correlation of .30+

Students of ancient history will also be aware that Northerners have been invading the South for a very long time -- and usually leaving some genes behind. Germans have been invading Italy since the days of the Roman Republic (i.e. before the Roman empire) so Teutonic genes are undoubtedly widely spread throughout Europe today. So Northern brains too are undoubtably to be found throughout Europe these days.
People who live in high latitude regions have bigger eyeballs and brains than other individuals, according to new research.

The increase in brain and eye size allows people to see better in places that receive less light than areas closer to the equator, according to the new study, published in the latest issue of the journal Royal Society Biology Letters.

"People living at high latitudes have greater visual acuity than those who live at the equator," added Dunbar, who is head of the Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford.

"The whole point is that they need to have better vision to compensate for the lower light levels at high latitudes, as indicated by the evidence we provide that visual acuity under ambient/natural light conditions remains constant with latitude."

For the study, Dunbar and colleague Eiluned Pearce measured the skulls of 55 individuals from 12 different populations, focusing on the dimensions for orbital volume and cranial capacity. The people lived about 200 years ago. Their skulls are now part of collections housed at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the University of Cambridge's Duckworth Collection.

The researchers found significant positive relationships between absolute latitude, orbital volume and brain size. Eyeballs varied in size from around a quarter to a third of an ounce in volume.

The brains, in turn, ranged from about 40.6 ounces for Micronesians, on the low end of the size spectrum, and 50.2 ounces for Scandinavians on the high end.

As for the larger eyeballs, they permit smaller proportions of images to fall upon each photoreceptor field so that more details can be distinguished. The amount of light hitting Earth's surface as well as minimum day length decrease with increasing absolute latitude, so people living in such areas need the visual boost.



Norway could learn from Israel

Norway is in the top rank of nations in the number of books printed per capita and it is dedicated to encouraging democracy, responding to climate change and protecting human rights.

Oslo’s quality of life is so high that it has been recognised repeatedly by the United Nations as the best place to live in the world. The United Nations placed Norway at the top of women’s rights and the Norwegians like to exercise their influence through international activism predicated on a collective vision of the global good society.

This ultra-secularized and anti-nationalistic beacon has always been proud of its “lack of prejudice” and for decades it sponsored sex education, health care and freedom of expression. It’s a country that liked to call herself a “moral superpower”, that not only ranked among the world’s handful of richest countries, but also provided the world’s most generous welfare state.

With all this solidarity, why did nobody try to stop the killer, despite the island being crowded with 600 boys and girls in the same age category of the average Israeli who starts military service in the IDF? Is it possible that the Norwegian pacifist and tolerant utopia devitalized its population from the ability to fight back darkness and terrorism?

Only when the police finally got to the island (over 40 minutes after they were called) did the killer surrender.

The answer is deep and hard to measure. Have a look at Norway, many Europeans used to say, listen to their words: we have eradicated wars, nationalism and religion; we do not wage war (in Norway the policemen don’t carry guns); we negotiate; we are the moral country; we all want to make the world a better place.

A comparison can be made with Israel, a country so despised by Oslo’s governments and Norwegian elites and so similar to Oslo. Not by chance, the only two places in Oslo where the security measures stand out are the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish community buildings.

Yet the Jewish State was recently ranked the 7th-most happy country in the world, just a few positions after Norway. The Israeli citizens live an average of 80 years, just like in placid and wealthy Norway.

Like Norway, Israel has a history of scintillating enlightenment.

Like Norway, Israel has one of the highest production of scientific publications per capita in the world.

Like Norway, Israel is the second in the world for publication of new books.

Like Norway, Israel is the source of medical and scientific discoveries that are helping to change the course of history.

Like Norway, Israel has the highest proportion of university graduates and Ph.D.s in the world, per capita.

Like Norway, Israel is home to about ten Nobel laureates.

But in Israel, a mass terror spree like in Utoeya would have never happened the way it did. At the doors of supermarkets and department stores, theaters and cinemas, schools and synagogues, during the Second Intifada, an Israeli guard always looked through the bags of any suspect person who wanted to enter. Dozens of Israeli bodyguards have been killed or wounded while trying to protect other human beings, an Israeli brand of valor that has nothing to do with the myth-soaked heroism familiar to us from the propaganda of European fascism and communism.

It is not about gargantuan deeds by superhuman champions; it is family- and home-oriented, and rather intimate in tone. It has the face of Haim Smadar, a Tunisian Jew with a kindly smile and a big salt-and-pepper mustache who could have been an ordinary guard in Utoeya. He was adored by the parents of the autistic children at the school where he had been a guard for years. He was good with children, and had five of his own at home, two of them hearing-impaired. It wasn’t easy to make ends meet, so Haim took side jobs to supplement his income, like the one at the supermarket in Jerusalem.

Haim was a humble and quiet man. Life didn’t smile on him; it was hard to raise a deaf son and a daughter with hearing problems. But he was happy. He was killed by a suicide bomber who had the same dark smile of the Norwegian killer.

But Haim Smadar, with his own body, also saved the life of the two hundred Israelis in the supermarket.

So did young Natan Sendaka, an Ethiopian born immigrant, one of seven children. A graduate of Kfar Hanoar Hadati religious youth village near Haifa and a Border Patrol soldier, he jumped on a suicide bomber on a busy Jerusalem street as the terrorist put his hand to his belt. Natan absorbed the shock of the detonation in his lungs. His youth enabled the tissue to regenerate and although limping and scarred, he is full of hope and joy.

David Shapira, young father and army officer on leave, shot the terrorist who was machine gunning the unarmed Merkaz HaRav yeshiva students studying in the library. He ran across the street to the yeshiva when he heard shots, so did another citizen who shot at the murderer from the roof. Eight were killed, but it could have been eighty if not for their valor, had they hid or run away.

That’s the saddest question that separates Europe and Israel: are we today, we Europeans, really ready to consider our citizens more important than ourselves or our families?

The Jewish State created a new kind of citizen-defender as last line of defense. In the tiny island of Utoeya, that symbol of European weakness, nobody tried to save the innocent youngsters.

The world has a lot to learn from the tiny, besieged and boycotted Jewish State.

The Israeli children in wheelchairs, the disfigured victims of every age, the legions of mourners for family members and friends lost in a moment’s horror, the babies who have had their faces burned or their hands rendered useless, the trembling people who go insane and don’t want to live anymore because they are haunted by the sound of the explosion, are a living reminder of what is evil and why a modern democracy must stop it.



Doubling Down on Class Warfare

In the course of negotiations over the debt limit, President Barack Obama’s rejection of his own bipartisan White House debt commission’s recommendations has become complete. But of greater concern is his decision to double down on class warfare instead of pursuing the policy paths that lead to growth that benefits all.

The consensus position of the president’s fiscal commission was support for tax reforms that would create a broader base of payers paired with lower rates. The recipe makes sense--a broader base corrects the problem of too few Americans having skin in the game, while lower rates encourage the economic and job growth the nation so desperately needs.

In 1997, less than 20 percent of U.S. households owed no taxes to the federal government--today, 47 percent have no tax liability. This is a problem, and unless it’s corrected, the nation’s future is a picture of continued conflict between those who receive entitlements and those who fund them--between workers and those who do not work.

The left has no interest in ending this deadly cycle. That’s readily evident when you examine the deficit plan from the Center for American Progress, George Soros’s think tank in name only (it spends its days working to support whatever the White House wants it to). It is based on incredible expectations for the amount of blood one can drain from a stone.

CAP’s plan assumes tax revenue of 23.8 percent of GDP, achieved almost entirely through a swathe of new and higher taxes on high earners and corporations. Serious economists and historians laugh at these growth, tax, and revenue expectations as simply unprecedented in American history. As one economist pointed out to me, CAP is basing its solution for America’s fiscal future on the assumption that something will happen that has never happened before.

When something that farfetched is proposed, it usually indicates ideological social engineering, not analysis about what the nation truly needs. Republicans should know--they made the same mistake in the previous decade, and they are the most to blame for the current shortage of taxpayers.

One of the largest reasons for the growth in the percentage of Americans who pay no taxes is the increase in the child tax credit under George W. Bush. The initial $400 credit, created in 1998 under Speaker Newt Gingrich, was meant to be a small measure to lighten the tax load on working families. The credit accelerated dramatically in the next decade, with Bush more than doubling it at the prodding of social conservatives--a perfect example of social engineering.

The upshot? The number of taxpaying households has decreased steadily. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation reports in 2000–2004 alone the expanded child credit increased total nonpayers by 10.5 million, a 32 percent jump. The credit is the primary reason for the problem of too few people paying into the system.

Both parties use the tax code to remold society to their preference. Where Republicans erred in unintentionally increasing the number of nonpayers, Democrats are now making the same mistake on an ideologically opposite and much grander scale.

The left knows increasing taxes on job creators suppresses hiring and economic growth. Even President Obama admitted that back in 2009 in explaining why he would not propose new taxes during a recession.

Now the president has gone back on his word. There are no practical reasons to do so. Thus his decision must be based on an ideological conviction that class warfare and permanently larger government are good for the nation. The dismal economic numbers month after month are the direct result of this conviction, and Obama’s current gambit will make things even worse.




PayPal boycott chops $1 billion off eBay stock: "Following the announcement of a boycott by hacktivist groups 'Anonymous' and 'LulzSec,' shares in PayPal parent company eBay plunged by over $1 billion in value before perking back up as opportunistic investors bought into the company in hopes of a deal. ... It was launched in response to the company's refusal to send donations to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. PayPal suspended all transactions headed toward WikiLeaks last year, in the weeks following their groundbreaking publication of secret U.S. diplomatic cables."

What we don’t know about history can hurt us: "What liberates oppressed people? I was taught it's often American power. Just the threat of our military buildup defeated the Soviet Union, and our troops in the Middle East will create islands of freedom. Unlikely, says historian Thaddeus Russell, author of A Renegade History of the United States"

All talk, no walk: "President Obama portrays himself as the nonpartisan adult in the room in the struggle over raising the debt limit. In his nationally televised speech Monday, he placed himself above Washington’s 'three-ring circus,' as someone who has 'put politics aside' and is desperate for a bipartisan “compromise” between Democrats and Republicans. But is this the role Obama has actually played over the past few weeks, as the August 2 deadline imposed by his administration nears? Let’s look at the record."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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