Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dogs and humans as symbionts -- and the inestimable Razib Khan

I will say something about dogs in a moment but I want to start out saying something about the excellent Razib.  I have been reading his writings off and on for around a decade.  He seems to know all that there is to know about genetics in general and evolutionary genetics in particular.  And if you are as interested in onomastics as I am, you may have been able to infer from his name that Razib is a brown man, a non-Muslim Bangladeshi -- though he comes from a Muslim family.

And that is important.  There are lots of minefields and "no-go" areas in genetics which most researchers sedulously avoid for the sake of a quiet life.  And those roadblocks are entirely the work of Leftists.  Leftists are much more concerned with the political implications of a statement than they are with its truth  They have to be.  Their theories are so shallow and silly that they can all be blown away in short order by the truth.

But Leftists are racists.  They think any non-white race is better than "dead white men" and their living successors.  So non-whites are indulged and allowed to say things which would be forbidden to a white.  The most glaring example of that is the way blacks can use the word "nigger" with impunity but it is a firing offence if a white uses it.  Could there be anything more racist than that?

So Razib is a very valuable person both because of his knowledge and because of his skin color.  Being a "minority" means that he can, with some safety, venture into "sensitive" areas of discussion.  And all that lies behind why I find his writings so interesting.  I think I am getting an account of Razib's field from a largely uncensored source, though I do note that Razib is a bit cautious when writing about IQ.  So you see that I have to be a racist in order to counter racism.  I have to look at race in  order to get behind racist censorship.  So that is why I trust Razib's judgement in areas where he knows a lot more than I do.

Mind you, "minorities" can sometimes get into trouble if they challenge Leftism too frontally.  The work of Bruce Lahn is a prize example.  Lahn is not actually a minority at all.  He is Chinese.  He is really therefore a member of the world's biggest majority.  But he does come from a different culture so would normally be granted some leeway.

But what he discovered was ideologically thermonuclear.  He discovered that there was a brain mutation in central Eurasia about 5,000 years ago which seems to have increased brain efficiency.  It most probably led to an upwards spurt in average IQ.  Evidence in support of that interpretation is that civilization also first arose at around that time and that the genetic feature concerned is very rare in a notoriously low intelligence population: Sub-Saharan Africans, possibly being found in most of Africa at all only as a result of incidental  contacts between Eurasia and Africa.

So the bomb went off.  The evidence for the strikingly low average IQ of Africans has been abundant for decades so Lahn's confirmation of that was really no news at all. But it was UNSPEAKABLE to Leftists.  You can mention it in academic circles among colleagues -- and indeed the American Psychological Association has done just that  -- confirming the big gap between black/white averages.

But such facts must not LEAK OUT to the general public! Leftist myths must be maintained.  And, sadly for Lahn, his work DID attract a lot of interest from a wider public. So Lahn got such a hard time over it all that he has now abandoned that area of research.  Appalling --  but that is what happens in a Left-dominated culture

But on to the topic of dogs:  I will first re-run something I wrote in 2009:

I am rather bemused about how accounts of human evolution leave out dogs. We hear lots about cranial size etc. but such discussions normally leave out our symbionts: dogs.

The relationship between dogs and humans is both ancient and amazingly powerful. How many human households to this day do not include a dog? Not many.

And yet there is a perfectly clear evolutionary reason why that is so. Dogs and humans complement one another. Dogs have the big and sensitive nose, big and sensitive ears and weaponized jaws that we lack. And we have the big brain that can give dogs good direction in the hunting life that comprises most of our evolutionary past. Without dogs we would probably still be tree-dwelling vegetarians. I wonder if modern-day vegetarians are averse to dogs? I wouldn't be surprised. There's a research paper in that.

These days we are long past the stage where we need dogs -- but we still love them. They are our "other half". They made us possible. I believe stories I have heard about a man being upset when his wife left him but being REALLY upset when his dog died. I have shed tears over a dog myself.

So what is wrong with that theory?  Razib told me that it had to be wrong because the fossil record showed the domestication of dogs to be relatively recent.  But when people tell me I am wrong, I don't burst into an infantile rage the way Leftists do.  I regard the disagreement as interesting and a warrant for further study. But in this case, my unspoken answer to Razib was that the fossil record is notoriously incomplete so was probably not to be much relied on in this instance. So I simply decided to wait and see what further developments there might be.

And it seems that I was at least partly right.  Six years later we find Razib giving an account of the most recent find of a fossilized canid. And he includes the sentence: "the true story is one of co-evolution between dogs and humans".

So am I crowing?  Not at all.  I suspect that my theory is still more sweeping than Razib would allow.  What I think IS confirmed is that the fossil record is a weak reed to lean on.  We have to look at other evidence as well.  And that is what I think my theory does -- JR.


V.D. Hanson

Many readers here will know the ruthlessly honest and incisive political commentaries by historian Victor Davis Hanson.  He has undergone the trials of Job in the last 12 months but his faith sustains him.  Read it here


Too Many Laws Means Too Many Criminals

three missing fish can land someone in jail on felony charges, reform is needed. ‘There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime,” retired Louisiana State University law professor John Baker told the Wall Street Journal in July 2011. “That is not an exaggeration.”

That may sound unbelievable, but this is a lesson some Americans have, sadly, learned the hard way, through no real fault of their own. John Yates, for example, built his career as a commercial fisherman. In August 2007, Yates and his crew were fishing in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast when a state conservation officer, who was also a deputized federal agent, boarded his vessel to inspect their catch of red grouper.

After inspecting some 3,000 fish, the official identified 72 red grouper that did not meet the minimum 20-inch conservation standard and issued a citation from the state. He ordered Yates to bring the undersized catch when he returned to port. When Yates returned to port the next day, armed federal agents stood by while inspectors reexamined his catch, finding only 69 fish under the minimum standard.

Federal officials accused Yates of destroying evidence — the missing three red grouper — related to a federal investigation.

“Nearly three years later, the federal government charged me with the destruction of evidence — yes, fish – to impede a federal investigation. I was subsequently arrested at my home. I have been blacklisted by boat owners, who fear federal investigations similar to mine,” Yates wrote last year. “I am now unable to make a living doing what I love to do.”

In August 2011, Yates was convicted and sentenced to a 30-day jail term and three years of supervised release under a provision in the 2002 Sarbanes–Oxley law, passed in the wake of the Enron scandal.

The law’s “anti-shredding” provision, meant to apply to the destruction of documents or files related to a federal financial-fraud investigation, has nothing to do with fish.

Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed. In February, it threw out the conviction. And although she strangely voted to uphold the conviction, Justice Elena Kagan surmised that Yates’s unusual case “is unfortunately, not an outlier, but an emblem of a deeper pathology in the federal criminal code.”

That “deeper pathology” is overcriminalization. In Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, Doctor Floyd Ferris, one of the book’s main antagonists, told Hank Reardon, a proud producer who had earned the ire of crony special interests and government officials, that “there’s no way to rule innocent men.” “The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals.

Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them,” said Ferris. “One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”

Fiction has become reality. The United States now has some 300,000 federal regulations, and this long spool of burdensome and complex red tape grows every year. What’s more, there are about 4,500 federal criminal statutes on the books carrying fines or prison terms for offenders. There are so many regulations and criminal statutes on the books that a civil-liberties expert and lawyer, Harvey Silverglate, thinks that the average American commits three felonies a day, and they often are not even aware they are breaking the law. That is, not until a federal agency begins an investigation and they are indicted.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) is taking a hard look at federal overcriminalization. At a recent criminal-justice event supported by the Coalition for Public Safety, Representative Goodlatte, in a video message, told attendees, “There is a growing consensus across the political spectrum that our criminal-justice system is in need of reform.” “The issue of overcriminalization is an issue of liberty,” Goodlatte said. “We must work together to improve our criminal-justice system so that it works fairly and efficiently and reduces crime across the United States.”

Goodlatte, in the previous Congress, put together a bipartisan overcriminalization task force, led by Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.) and ranking member Bobby Scott (D., Va.), to examine federal criminal laws and make recommendations for reform. The task force held ten hearings.

Although similar efforts have failed in the past, this is a cause around which both parties should come together. Our prisons are overcrowded, with far too many nonviolent offenders who have little or no criminal history taking up space that should be reserved for more serious and violent criminals.

Tackling overcriminalization could help reduce skyrocketing prison costs, restrain the out-of-control regulatory state, and end families’ being needlessly ripped apart by unnecessary, out-of-date, or excessive federal statutes.

Most importantly, Goodlatte is right: This is an issue of liberty. Not only would rolling back this brand of big government send a positive message to the country; addressing overcriminalization in a meaningful and substantive way is simply the right thing to do.



Alabama Senate Passes Bill to Effectively Nullify All Sides on Marriage

This is what libertarians have long been advocating

This week, the Alabama state Senate passed a bill that would end the practice of licensing marriages in the state, effectively nullifying both major sides of the contentious national debate over government-sanctioned marriage.

Introduced by Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Bay Minette), Senate Bill 377 (SB377) would end state issued marriage licenses, while providing marriage contracts as an alternative. It passed through the Alabama state Senate by a 22-3 margin on May 19.

“When you invite the state into those matters of personal or religious import, it creates difficulties,” Sen. Albritton said about his bill in April. “Go back long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Early twentieth century, if you go back and look and try to find marriage licenses for your grandparents or great grandparents, you won’t find it. What you will find instead is where people have come in and recorded when a marriage has occurred.”

The bill would replace all references to marriages “licenses” in state law with “contracts.” The legislation would not invalidate any marriage licenses issued prior to the bill being passed.

The contract shall be filed in the office of the judge of probate in each county and shall constitute a legal record of the marriage. A copy of the contract shall be transmitted to the Office of Vital Statistics of the Department of Public Health and made a part of its record…

Effective July 1, 2015, any requirement to obtain a marriage license issued by the judge of probate is abolished and repealed.


SB377 would accomplish two things.

First, it would render void the edicts of federal judges that have overturned state laws defining marriage. The founding generation never envisioned unelected judges issuing ex cathedra pronouncements regarding the definition of social institutions like marriage and the Constitution delegates the federal judiciary no authority to meddle in the issue. Marriage is a realm clearly left to the state and the people..

Second, the bill would get the state government out of defining marriage entirely as well, ending the squabble between factions that seek to harness the power of the state, thereby taking the burden off government officials who may be torn between what is legally required of them and their religious convictions.

The intent or motives behind this bill are a moot point. By removing the state from the equation, no one can force another to accept their marriage, nor can they force another to reject that person’s own beliefs regarding an institution older than government.

“Licenses are used as a way to stop people from doing things,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center. “My personal relationship should not be subject to government permission.”

As a 2007 New York Times op/ed points out, for centuries marriage was a private affair.

“For most of Western history, they didn’t, because marriage was a private contract between two families. The parents’ agreement to the match, not the approval of church or state, was what confirmed its validity. For 16 centuries, Christianity also defined the validity of a marriage on the basis of a couple’s wishes. If two people claimed they had exchanged marital vows — even out alone by the haystack — the Catholic Church accepted that they were validly married.



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1 comment:

Karl said...

Jerry Pournelle has mentioned having a "cocktail theory" (1) that dogs and humans did co-evolve. The olfactory lobe and the frontal lobe compete for space in the skull, so it's hard to have both develop to a high degree in the same head. The co-evolutionary agreement seems to have been "we'll think for you, you sniff things out for us, and we'll watch out for each other's children".

(1) A "cocktail theory" is one not validated to publishable standards, but plausible enough to make for good conversation at cocktail parties.