Sunday, February 06, 2011

Why have our brains shrunk?

A reasonable summary below of something that has been a puzzle for the last few years. I offer my solution to the puzzle at the foot of the article

Human brains have shrunk over the past 30,000 years, puzzling scientists who argue it is not a sign we are growing dumber but that evolution is making the key motor leaner and more efficient.

The average size of modern humans -- Homo sapiens -- has decreased about 10 percent during that period -- from 1,500 to 1,359 cubic centimeters, the size of a tennis ball. Women's brains, which are smaller on average than those of men, have experienced an equivalent drop in size.

These measurements were taken using skulls found in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. "I'd called that a major downsizing in an evolutionary eye blink," John Hawks of the University of Michigan told Discover magazine.

But other anthropologists note that brain shrinkage is not very surprising since the stronger and larger we are, the more gray matter we need to control this larger mass. The Neanderthal, a cousin of the modern human who disappeared about 30 millennia ago for still unknown reasons, was far more massive and had a larger brain.

The Cro-Magnons who left cave paintings of large animals in the monumental Lascaux cave over 17,000 years ago were the Homo sapiens with the biggest brain. They were also stronger than their modern descendants.

Psychology professor David Geary of the University of Missouri said these traits were necessary to survive in a hostile environment. He has studied the evolution of skull sizes 1.9 million to 10,000 years old as our ancestors and cousins lived in an increasingly complex social environment.

Geary and his colleagues used population density as a measure of social complexity, with the hypothesis that the more humans are living closer together, the greater the exchanges between group, the division of labor and the rich and varied interactions between people. They found that brain size decreased as population density increased. "As complex societies emerged, the brain became smaller because people did not have to be as smart to stay alive," Geary told AFP.

But the downsizing does not mean modern humans are dumber than their ancestors -- rather, they simply developed different, more sophisticated forms of intelligence, said Brian Hare, an assistant professor of anthropology at Duke University. He noted that the same phenomenon can be observed in domestic animals compared to their wild counterparts.

So while huskies may have smaller brains than wolves, they are smarter and more sophisticated because they can understand human communicative gestures, behaving similarly to human children.

"Even though the chimps have a larger brain (than the bonobo, the closest extant relative to humans), and even though a wolf has a much larger brain than dogs, dogs are far more sophisticated, intelligent and flexible, so intelligence is not very well linked to brain size," Hare explained.

He said humans have characteristics from both the bonobo and chimpanzee, which is more aggressive and domineering. "The chimpanzees are violent because they want power, they try to have control and power over others while bonobos are using violence to prevent one for dominating them," Hare continued. "Humans are both chimps and bobos in their nature and the question is how can we release more bonobo and less chimp. "I hope bonobos win... it will be better for everyone," he added. [Since bonobos are an endangered species that is a bizarre wish. He must be a Greenie]


There was a poorly understood brain mutation occurring just before the rise of civilization -- a mutation that is now widespread except in Africa. It seems likely that the mutation led to increased brain COMPLEXITY, which obviated the need for a large brain and led to the higher average IQ that underpins civilization. It also of course explains the lower African average IQ


British Leftist leader shows true Leftist character

Ed Miliband has dishonestly tried to portray himself as a man of the people, coming from a struggling background. But his father was for most of his life a prominent Marxist academic of Jewish origin

A man who was at school with Ed Miliband has revealed how he hit the now Labour Leader in the playground for allegedly calling him a ‘Turkish b*****d’.

Kevin Mustafa decided to speak out after Mr Miliband described his schooldays at his ‘tough’ comprehensive in an interview last week. The politician said he had been on the receiving end of blows at Haverstock School in Chalk Farm, North London, yet refused to name his tormentors.

But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Mr Mustafa was one of them and he recalls he struck out after the alleged racist abuse. He said: ‘We had a bit of a ruck in 1984 in the playground. I just lost my rag that day. He was a very opinionated person back then. I am not proud.’

Mr Mustafa, 40, who is now a gardener, was one of Mr Miliband’s classmates from 1981 to 1986. He said: ‘We did not agree on something and I belittled him and dismissed him as if what he said was a stupid comment. In retaliation, he lashed out with verbal abuse. ‘He called me a Turkish b*****d so I hit him. I gave my reasons as to why I did it but was dismissed and I was suspended for three days.’

Recalling their school days, Mr Mustafa, from Barnet, North London, claimed the young Ed Miliband ‘was a very stuck-up person looking down his nose at everybody’. He added: ‘He was not a friend of mine but we sat in the same class. Although he was no better than us he had quite a high opinion of himself. He tried to come across as if he was more intelligent. Most of the time we let it pass but I lost my rag that day.’

In his interview with Piers Morgan for GQ magazine, Mr Miliband, who described himself as a ‘square’ who had loved playing with his Rubik’s Cube, was keen to draw a distinction between his state school upbringing and that of Old Etonian David Cameron. Asked whether he considers himself posh, he replied: ‘I was brought up in a middle-class home but my parents were refugees and I went to a comprehensive school, so not that posh, no.’

His family home in Primrose Hill was one of the foremost Left-wing salons of the Seventies and Eighties, where politicians and academics attended dinner parties given by his father Ralph, a leading intellectual and professor of politics.



More charming behaviour from "sensitive" British Leftists

Labour party MPs who mocked disabled Tory were like 'hyenas going for the kill'

Cruel Labour MPs have been accused of behaving like ‘hyenas going for the kill’ when they mocked a disabled Tory MP speaking in a Commons debate. They pulled faces, made gestures and laughed in an attempt to humiliate Conservative MP Paul Maynard, who has cerebral palsy.

Last night, Labour’s Tom Blenkinsop said he was among a group of Labour MPs told to ‘calm down’ by the party’s whip David Hamilton during Blackpool MP Mr Maynard’s speech. Middlesbrough MP Mr Blenkinsop, 30, a former trade union official, insisted he was not one of those who taunted Mr Maynard.

The incident occurred in October during a debate on the abolition of the Child Trust Fund, a scheme set up by Gordon Brown and widely considered to have failed. The Coalition was attacked by Labour, and in particular by women Labour MPs, for abandoning it.

The jeering of Mr Maynard, who said the scheme had not worked, went unnoticed at the time, but surfaced yesterday in an interview with the Blackpool MP.

He refused to identify any of the Labour culprits. However, using eyewitness accounts, the official Parliamentary report Hansard and televised footage of the Commons, The Mail on Sunday has identified the MPs who took part in the debate.

Mr Maynard said: ‘They were constantly intervening, trying to put me off my stride, which may be normal parliamentary tactics. ‘But some were pulling faces at me, really exaggerated gesticulations and faces. ‘Only they know for certain whether they were taking the mick out of my disability. But it certainly felt like it. That is why politics is held in such low esteem.’

A senior Labour MP told The Mail on Sunday: ‘What they did was disgusting. It was obvious that Paul was upset but they sensed a weakness and went for the kill like a pack of hyenas.’

Outraged Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle, the Deputy Speaker, tried to protect Mr Maynard from the jibes and told Mr Hamilton to order Labour MPs to stop tormenting him.

Mr Maynard, 35, who entered the Commons at the last Election, had barely started his speech when Labour’s Kate Green, MP for Stretford, tried to intervene. When Mr Maynard carried on speaking, Scottish Labour MP Gregg McClymont shouted: ‘Give way!’ Mr Maynard told him: ‘If you calm down and let me finish I will happily give way. Learn some manners.’ Mr Maynard subsequently gave way to Labour MP Catherine McKinnell.

But it was when he refused to do so for Stella Creasy, another Labour MP, that some male Opposition MPs started mocking Mr Maynard openly by pulling faces and imitating his speech and mannerisms.



Made in the U.S.A.

by Jeff Jacoby

IN ECONOMICS AS IN APPAREL, most fashions come and go. But like the navy blazer or the little black dress, bewailing the decline of American manufacturing never seems to go out of style.

They're closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks. Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain't coming back

So sang Bruce Springsteen in "My Hometown," a hit song from his 1984 album, "Born in the U.S.A.". More than a quarter-century later, that sentiment (if not the song) is as popular as ever.

"You know, we don't manufacture anything anymore in this country," says Donald Trump in an interview with CNNMoney. "We do health care; we do lots of different services. But . . . everything is made in China, for the most part." The Donald has his idiosyncracies, but on this issue, he is squarely in mainstream.

A recent Heartland Monitor survey finds "clear anxiety about the decades-long employment shift away from manufacturing to service jobs," National Journal's Ron Brownstein reported in December. The "decline of US manufacturing" is giving Americans a "sense of economic precariousness" -- only one in five believe that the United States has the world's strongest economy, versus nearly half who think China is in the lead. "Near the root of the unease for many of those polled is the worry that the United States no longer makes enough stuff." When asked why US manufacturing jobs have declined, fully 58 percent cite offshoring by American companies to take advantage of lower labor costs.

There's just one problem with all the gloom and doom about American manufacturing. It's wrong. Americans make more "stuff" than any other nation on earth, and by a wide margin. According to the UN's comprehensive database of international economic data, America's manufacturing output in 2009 (expressed in constant 2005 dollars) was $2.15 trillion. That surpassed China's output of $1.48 trillion by nearly 46 percent. China's industries may be booming, but the United States still accounted for 20 percent of the world's manufacturing output in 2009 -- only a hair below its 1990 share of 21 percent.

"The decline, demise, and death of America's manufacturing sector has been greatly exaggerated," says economist Mark J. Perry, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "America still makes a ton of stuff, and we make more of it now than ever before in history." In fact, Americans manufactured more goods in 2009 than the Japanese, Germans, British, and Italians -- combined.

American manufacturing output hits a new high almost every year. US industries are powerhouses of production: Measured in constant dollars, America's manufacturing output today is more than double what it was in the early 1970s. So why do so many Americans fear that the Chinese are eating our lunch?

Part of the reason is that fewer Americans work in factories. Millions of industrial jobs have vanished in recent decades, and there is no getting around the hardship that has meant for many families. But factory employment has declined because factory productivity has so dramatically skyrocketed: Revolutions in technology enable an American worker today to produce far more than his counterpart did a generation ago. Consequently, even as America's manufacturing sector outproduces every other country on earth, millions of young Americans can aspire to become not factory hands or assembly workers, but doctors and lawyers, architects and engineers.

Perceptions also feed the gloom and doom. In its story on Americans' economic anxiety, National Journal quotes a Florida teacher who says, "It seems like everything I pick up says 'Made in China' on it." To someone shopping for toys, shoes, or sporting equipment, it often can seem that way. But that's because Chinese factories tend to specialize in low-tech, labor-intensive goods -- items that typically don't require the more advanced and sophisticated manufacturing capabilities of modern American plants.

A vast amount of "stuff" is still made in the USA, albeit not the inexpensive consumer goods that fill the shelves in Target or Walgreen's. American factories make fighter jets and air conditioners, automobiles and pharmaceuticals, industrial lathes and semiconductors. Not the sort of things on your weekly shopping list? Maybe not. But that doesn't change economic reality. They may have "closed down the textile mill across the railroad tracks." But America's manufacturing glory is far from a thing of the past.



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


No comments: