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Middle East Religious Composition Map - Dareshgaft-e Olyamp257 Iran • mappery
Sunnis and Shiites: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/sunnisshiites.html
two-hue map
Shia Geopolitics And The Fortress State: http://www.socialmatter.net/2016/09/06/shia-geopolitics-fortress-state/
Iranian Religious Distinctiveness Is Not Primal: https://gnxp.nofe.me/2012/07/19/iranian-religious-distinctiveness-is-not-primal/
In other words, it seems likely that Shia identity became a necessary part of Iranian, and Persian, identity only after ~1700, when the Safavid project of religious transformation entered its terminal phase of completion. The Tajiks of Central Asia, who speak a variant of Persian, remain overwhelmingly Sunni. Not surprisingly they were not under the same Safavid domination as their western cousins.

Why does it matter? Because modern thinkers seem to conflate Shia history with Persian history, and assume that the two have some inextricable connection. The lack of knowledge that the Persians were mostly Sunni before the early modern era is widespread. Two of the authors on the above paper are ethnic Iranians, so unless they did not read the paper’s final text they simply let that through out of ignorance. I’ve seen other Iranians, adjudged experts on their nation, propagate this falsehood. Then again, how much American history do most Americans know? Very little. So I don’t judge that too harshly.
org:data  data  maps  visualization  MENA  religion  islam  theos  tribalism  multi  org:edu  population  demographics  geopolitics  let-me-see  chart  org:junk  foreign-policy  essay  gnon  world  len:long  iran  org:popup  right-wing  gnxp  scitariat  error  gotchas  regularizer  history  early-modern  roots  homo-hetero  medieval 
april 2017 by nhaliday
INFECTIOUS CAUSATION OF DISEASE: AN EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE
A New Germ Theory: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1999/02/a-new-germ-theory/377430/
The dictates of evolution virtually demand that the causes of some of humanity's chronic and most baffling "noninfectious" illnesses will turn out to be pathogens -- that is the radical view of a prominent evolutionary biologist

A LATE-SEPTEMBER heat wave enveloped Amherst College, and young people milled about in shorts or sleeveless summer frocks, or read books on the grass. Inside the red-brick buildings framing the leafy quadrangle students listened to lectures on Ellison and Emerson, on Paul Verlaine and the Holy Roman Empire. Few suspected that strains of the organism that causes cholera were growing nearby, in the Life Sciences Building. If they had known, they would probably not have grasped the implications. But these particular strains of cholera make Paul Ewald smile; they are strong evidence that he is on the right track. Knowing the rules of evolutionary biology, he believes, can change the course of infectious disease.

https://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/99feb/germ2.htm
I HAVE a motto," Gregory Cochran told me recently. "'Big old diseases are infectious.' If it's common, higher than one in a thousand, I get suspicious. And if it's old, if it has been around for a while, I get suspicious."

https://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/99feb/germ3.htm
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february 2017 by nhaliday
The infinitesimal model | bioRxiv
Our focus here is on the infinitesimal model. In this model, one or several quantitative traits are described as the sum of a genetic and a non-genetic component, the first being distributed as a normal random variable centred at the average of the parental genetic components, and with a variance independent of the parental traits. We first review the long history of the infinitesimal model in quantitative genetics. Then we provide a definition of the model at the phenotypic level in terms of individual trait values and relationships between individuals, but including different evolutionary processes: genetic drift, recombination, selection, mutation, population structure, ... We give a range of examples of its application to evolutionary questions related to stabilising selection, assortative mating, effective population size and response to selection, habitat preference and speciation. We provide a mathematical justification of the model as the limit as the number M of underlying loci tends to infinity of a model with Mendelian inheritance, mutation and environmental noise, when the genetic component of the trait is purely additive. We also show how the model generalises to include epistatic effects. In each case, by conditioning on the pedigree relating individuals in the population, we incorporate arbitrary selection and population structure. We suppose that we can observe the pedigree up to the present generation, together with all the ancestral traits, and we show, in particular, that the genetic components of the individual trait values in the current generation are indeed normally distributed with a variance independent of ancestral traits, up to an error of order M^{-1/2}. Simulations suggest that in particular cases the convergence may be as fast as 1/M.

published version:
The infinitesimal model: Definition, derivation, and implications: https://sci-hub.tw/10.1016/j.tpb.2017.06.001

Commentary: Fisher’s infinitesimal model: A story for the ages: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040580917301508?via%3Dihub
This commentary distinguishes three nested approximations, referred to as “infinitesimal genetics,” “Gaussian descendants” and “Gaussian population,” each plausibly called “the infinitesimal model.” The first and most basic is Fisher’s “infinitesimal” approximation of the underlying genetics – namely, many loci, each making a small contribution to the total variance. As Barton et al. (2017) show, in the limit as the number of loci increases (with enough additivity), the distribution of genotypic values for descendants approaches a multivariate Gaussian, whose variance–covariance structure depends only on the relatedness, not the phenotypes, of the parents (or whether their population experiences selection or other processes such as mutation and migration). Barton et al. (2017) call this rigorously defensible “Gaussian descendants” approximation “the infinitesimal model.” However, it is widely assumed that Fisher’s genetic assumptions yield another Gaussian approximation, in which the distribution of breeding values in a population follows a Gaussian — even if the population is subject to non-Gaussian selection. This third “Gaussian population” approximation, is also described as the “infinitesimal model.” Unlike the “Gaussian descendants” approximation, this third approximation cannot be rigorously justified, except in a weak-selection limit, even for a purely additive model. Nevertheless, it underlies the two most widely used descriptions of selection-induced changes in trait means and genetic variances, the “breeder’s equation” and the “Bulmer effect.” Future generations may understand why the “infinitesimal model” provides such useful approximations in the face of epistasis, linkage, linkage disequilibrium and strong selection.
study  exposition  bio  evolution  population-genetics  genetics  methodology  QTL  preprint  models  unit  len:long  nibble  linearity  nonlinearity  concentration-of-measure  limits  applications  🌞  biodet  oscillation  fisher  perturbation  stylized-facts  chart  ideas  article  pop-structure  multi  pdf  piracy  intricacy  map-territory  kinship  distribution  simulation  ground-up  linear-models  applicability-prereqs  bioinformatics 
january 2017 by nhaliday
The Evolutionary Genetics of Personality Revisited
While mutations clearly affect the very low end of the intelligence continuum, individual differences in the normal intelligence range seem to be surprisingly robust against mutations, suggesting that they might have been canalized to withstand such perturbations. Most personality traits, by contrast, seem to be neither neutral to selection nor under consistent directional or stabilizing selection. Instead evidence is in line with balancing selection acting on personality traits, likely supported by human tendencies to seek out, construct and adapt to fitting environments.

shorter copy: http://www.larspenke.eu/pdfs/Penke_&_Jokela_2016_-_Evolutionary_Genetics_of_Personality_Revisited.pdf

The Evolutionary Genetics of Personality: http://www.larspenke.eu/pdfs/Penke_et_al_2007_-_Evolutionary_genetics_of_personality_target.pdf
Based on evolutionary genetic theory and empirical results from behaviour genetics and personality psychology, we conclude that selective neutrality is largely irrelevant, that mutation-selection balance seems best at explaining genetic variance in intelligence, and that balancing selection by environmental heterogeneity seems best at explaining genetic variance in personality traits. We propose a general model of heritable personality differences that conceptualises intelligence as fitness components and personality traits as individual reaction norms of genotypes across environments, with different fitness consequences in different environmental niches. We also discuss the place of mental health in the model.
study  spearhead  models  genetics  iq  personality  🌞  evopsych  evolution  sapiens  eden  pdf  explanation  survey  population-genetics  red-queen  metabuch  multi  EEA  essay  equilibrium  robust  big-picture  biodet  unit  QTL  len:long  sensitivity  perturbation  roots  EGT  deep-materialism  s:*  behavioral-gen  chart  intelligence  article  speculation  psychology  cog-psych  state-of-art 
december 2016 by nhaliday
Fiction: Missile Gap by Charles Stross — Subterranean Press
- flat-earth scifi
- little tidbit from fictional Carl Sagan: behavior of gravity on very large (near-infinite) disk
in limit, no inverse square law, constant downward force: ∫ G/(a^2+r^2) a/sqrt(a^2+r^2) σ rdr dθ = 2πGσ independent of a
for large but finite radius R, asymptotically inverse square but near-constant for a << R (check via Maclaurin expansion around a and x=1/a)
- interesting depiction of war between eusocial species and humans (humans lose)
fiction  space  len:long  physics  mechanics  magnitude  limits  gravity  🔬  individualism-collectivism  xenobio  scifi-fantasy 
october 2016 by nhaliday
The 10,000 Year Explosion - Parting of the Ways
There are plenty of other challenges that humans of that era (~100,000 years ago) never met: for example they never colonized the high Arctic, the Americas, or Australia/New Guinea. Even though Neanderthals and Africans had brains that were as large as or larger than those of modern humans, even though humans in Africa were reasonably modern-looking, modern behavioral capacities did not yet exist. They didn't yet have the spark. Come to think of it, most people today still don't. We'll have more to say on that in a moment.

...

The Neanderthals had big brains (averaging about 1500 cubic centimeters, noticeably larger than those of modern people) and a technology like that of their anatomically modern contemporaries in Africa, but were quite different in a number of ways: different physically, but also socially and ecologically. Neanderthals were cold-adapted, with relatively short arms and legs in order to reduce heat loss - something like Arctic peoples today, only much more so. Considering that the climate the Neanderthals experienced was considerably milder than the high Arctic (more like Wisconsin), their pronounced cold adaptation suggest that they may have relied more on physical than cultural changes. Of course they spent at least six times as many generations in the cold as any modern human population has, and that may have had something to do with it as well.

...

Like other early humans, Neanderthals were relatively uncreative; their tools changed very slowly and they show no signs of art, symbolism, or trade. Their brains were large and had grown larger over time, in parallel with humans in Africa, but we really have no idea what they did with them. Since brains are metabolically expensive, natural selection wouldn't have favored an increase in brain size unless it increased fitness, but we don't know what function that those big brains served. Usually people explain that those big brains are not as impressive as they seem, since the brain-to-body weight ratio is what’s really important, and Neanderthals were heavier than modern humans of the same height.

You may wonder why we normalize brain size by body weight. We wonder as well.

Among less intelligent creatures, such as amphibians and reptiles, most of the brain is busy dealing with a flood of sensory data. You’d expect that brain size would have to increase with body size in some way in order to keep up. If you assume that the key is how much surface the animal has, in order to monitor what’s causing that nagging itch and control all the muscles needed for movement, brain size should scale as the 2/3rds power of weight. If an animal has a brain that’s bigger than predicted by that 2/3rds power scaling law, then maybe it’s smarter than average. That argument works reasonable well for a wide range of species, but it can’t make sense for animals with big brains. In particular it can’t make sense for primates, since in that case we know that most of the brain is used for purposes other than muscle control and immediate reaction to sensation. Look at this way - if dividing brain volume by weight is a valid approach, Nero Wolfe must be really, really stupid.

We think that Neanderthal brains really were large, definitely larger than those of people today. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they were smarter, at least not as a culture. The archaeological record certainly indicates that they were not, since their material culture was definitely simpler than that of their successors. In fact, they may have been relatively unintelligent, even with their big brains. Although brain size certainly is correlated with intelligence in modern humans, it is not the only factor that affects intelligence. By the way, you may have read somewhere (The Mismeasure of Man) that brain volume has no relationship to intelligence, but that’s just a lie.

One paradoxical possibility is that Neanderthals lacked complex language and so had to be smart as individuals in order to learn their culture and technology, while that same lack severely limited their societal achievements. Complex language of the type we see in modern humans makes learning a lot easier: without it, learning to create even Mousterian tools may have been difficult. In that case, individuals would have to repeatedly re-invent the wheel (so to speak) while there would have been little societal progress.

It could also be that Neanderthal brains were less powerful than you’d expect because there just weren’t enough Neanderthals. That may sound obscure, but bear with us. The problem is that evolution is less efficient in small populations, in the same way that any statistical survey – polls, for example -becomes less accurate with fewer samples.

...

Our favorite hypothesis is that Neanderthals and other archaic humans had a fundamentally different kind of learning than moderns. One of the enduring puzzles is the near-stasis of tool kits in early humans - as we have said before, the Acheulean hand-axe tradition last for almost a million years and extended from the Cape of Good Hope to Germany, while the Mousterian lasted for a quarter of a million years. Somehow these early humans were capable of transmitting a simple material culture for hundreds of thousands of years with little change. More information was transmitted to the next generation than in chimpanzees, but not as much as in modern humans. At the same time, that information was transmitted with surprisingly high accuracy. This must be the case, since random errors in transmission would have caused changes in those tool traditions, resulting in noticeable variation over space and time – which we do not see.

It looks to us as if toolmaking in those populations was, to some extent, innate: genetically determined. Just as song birds are born with a rough genetic template that constrains what songs are learned, early humans may have been born with genetically determined behavioral tendencies that resulted in certain kinds of tools. Genetic transmission of that information has the characteristics required to explain this pattern of simple, near-static technology, since only a limited amount of information can be acquired through natural selection, while the information that is acquired is transmitted with very high accuracy.

...

Starting 70,000 or 80,000 years ago, we begin to see some signs of increased cultural complexity in Africa. There is evidence of long-distance transport of tool materials (obsidian) in Ethiopia, which could be the first signs of trade. A set of pierced snail shells (~75,000 years old) in Blombos Cave in South Africa seem, judging from wear, to be the remains of a necklace, although there is no evidence that tools were used to pierce the shells. In that same site, researchers found pieces of ochre with a crosshatched pattern inscribed. We have found manufactured ostrich-egg beads in Kenya that are about 50,000 years old, the first clear examples of artificial decorative or symbolic (that is to say, useless) objects. We see a new kind of small stone points that must have been used on darts that were considerably smaller than previous spears. Although it would seem likely that such darts would have been propelled by atlatls, no atlatls have yet been found that date anywhere near that far back. There are reports of 90,000 year-old bone fish spears from central Africa which, if correct, would be evidence of a significant advance in tool complexity. However, since no other similar tools found in Africa are older than 30,000 years, those fish spears are roughly as anomalous as a Neanderthal-era thumb drive, and we have our doubts about that date. On the whole, the African archeological data of this period furnishes examples of new technology and simple symbolic objects, but the evidence is patchy, and it seems that some innovations appeared and then faded away for reasons that we don’t understand.

A note on behavioral modernity: the consensus seems to be that any clear evidence of a population making symbolic or decorative objects establishes their behavioral modernity, defined as cultural creativity and reliance on abstract thought. For some reason, anthropologists treat behavioral modernity as a qualitative character: an ancient population either had it or not, just as women are pregnant or not, never a ‘little bit pregnant’. It’s treated as a Boolean variable. Like so many basic notions in anthropology, this makes no sense. The components of ‘behavioral modernity’ had to be evolved traits with heritable variation, subject to natural selection – how else would they have come into existence at all? Surely ancient individuals and populations varied in their capacity for abstract thought and cultural innovation – behavioral modernity must be more like height than pregnancy.

...

The fact the ability to learn complex new ideas and transmit them to the next generation is universal in modern humans suggests that natural selection favored that kind of receptivity. On the other hand, the rarity of individual creativity suggests that the trait itself was not favored by selection in the past, but is instead a rare side effect.

We think that the archaeological record in Africa before the expansion of modern humans shows a gradual but slow increase in such abilities, which is the usual pattern for a trait favored by selection. On the other hand, the rate of change in the European Upper Paleolithic seems faster, almost discontinuous – but there is a well-understood biological pattern that may explain that as well.

The most dramatic evidence of some kind of significant change is the fact that anatomically modern humans expanded out of Africa about 50,000 years ago.
antiquity  sapiens  len:long  essay  west-hunter  spearhead  archaics  migration  gene-flow  scitariat  eden  intelligence  neuro  neuro-nitgrit  brain-scan  🌞  article  speculation  ideas  flux-stasis  pop-structure  population  population-genetics  technology  innovation  time  history  creative  discovery  cjones-like  shift  speed  gene-drift  archaeology  measure  explanans 
september 2016 by nhaliday
weaponizing smallpox | West Hunter
As I have said before, it seems likely to me that the Soviet Union put so much effort into treaty-violating biological warfare because the guys at the top believed in it – because they had seen it work, the same reason that they were such tank enthusiasts. One more point on the likely use of tularemia at Stalingrad: in the summer of ’42 the Germans had occupied regions holding 40% of the Soviet Union’s population. The Soviets had a tularemia program: if not then [“Not One Step Back!”], when would they have used it? When would Stalin have used it? Imagine that someone intent on the destruction of the American republic and the extermination of its people [remember the Hunger Plan?] had taken over everything west of the Mississippi: would be that too early to pull out all the stops? Reminds me of of an old Mr Boffo cartoon: you see a monster, taller than skyscrapers, stomping his way through the city. That’s trouble. But then you notice that he’s a hand puppet: that’s serious trouble. Perhaps Stalin was waiting for serious trouble, for example if the Norse Gods had come in on the side of the Nazis.

Anyhow, the Soviets had a big smallpox program. In some ways smallpox is almost the ultimate biological weapon – very contagious, while some strains are highly lethal. And it’s controllable – you can easily shield your own guys via vaccination. Of course back in the 1970s, almost everyone was vaccinated, so it was also completely useless.

We kept vaccinating people as long as smallpox was still running around in the Third World. But when it was eradicated in 1978, people stopped. There seemed to be no reason – and so, as new unvaccinated generations arose, the military efficacy of smallpox has gone up and up and up. It got to the point where the World Health organization threw away its stockpile of vaccine, a couple hundred million units, just to save on the electric bill for the refrigerators.

Consider that the Soviet Union was always the strongest proponent of worldwide eradication of smallpox, dating back to the 1950s. Successful eradication would eventually make smallpox a superweapon: does it seem possible that the people running the Soviet Union had this in mind as a long term-goal ? Potentiation through ‘eradication’? Did the left hand know what the strangling hand had in mind, and shape policies accordingly? Of course.

D.A. Henderson, the man that led the eradication campaign, died just a few days ago. He was aware of this possibility.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/da-henderson-disease-detective-who-eradicated-smallpox-dies-at-87/2016/08/20/b270406e-63dd-11e6-96c0-37533479f3f5_story.html
Dr. Henderson strenuously argued that the samples should be destroyed because, in his view, any amount of smallpox was too dangerous to tolerate. A side effect of the eradication program — and one of the “horrendous ironies of history,” said “Hot Zone” author Preston — is that since no one in generations has been exposed to the virus, most of the world’s population would be vulnerable to it in the event of an outbreak.

“I feel very — what should we say? — dispirited,” Dr. Henderson told the Times in 2002. “Here we are, regressing to defend against something we thought was permanently defeated. We shouldn’t have to be doing this.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/coldwar/pox_weapon_01.shtml#four
Ken Alibek believes that, following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, unemployed or badly-paid scientists are likely to have sold samples of smallpox clandestinely and gone to work in rogue states engaged in illicit biological weapons development. DA Henderson agrees that this is a plausible scenario and is upset by the legacy it leaves. 'If the [Russian bio-weapons] programme had not taken place we would not I think be worrying about smallpox in the same way. One can feel extremely bitter and extremely angry about this because I think they've subjected the entire world to a risk which was totally unnecessary.'

also:
War in the East: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/war-in-the-east/
The books generally say that biological warfare is ineffective, but then they would say that, wouldn’t they? There is reason to think it has worked, and it may have made a difference.

...

We know of course that this offensive eventually turned into a disaster in which the German Sixth Army was lost. But nobody knew that then. The Germans were moving forward with little to stop them: they were scary SOBs. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The Soviet leadership was frightened, enough so that they sent out a general backs-to-the-wall, no-retreat order that told the real scale of losses. That was the Soviet mood in the summer of 42.

That’s the historical background. Now for the clues. First, Ken Alibek was a bioweapons scientist back in the USSR. In his book, Biohazard, he tells how, as a student, he was given the assignment of explaining a mysterious pattern of tularemia epidemics back in the war. To him, it looked artificial, whereupon his instructor said something to the effect of “you never thought that, you never said that. Do you want a job?” Second, Antony Beevor mentions the mysteriously poor health of German troops at Stalingrad – well before being surrounded (p210-211). Third, the fact that there were large tularemia epidemics in the Soviet Union during the war – particularly in the ‘oblasts temporarily occupied by the Fascist invaders’, described in History and Incidence of Tularemia in the Soviet Union, by Robert Pollitzer.

Fourth, personal communications from a friend who once worked at Los Alamos. Back in the 90’s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, there was a time when you could hire a whole team of decent ex-Soviet physicists for the price of a single American. My friend was having a drink with one of his Russian contractors, son of a famous ace, who started talking about how his dad had dropped tularemia here, here, and here near Leningrad (sketching it out on a napkin) during the Great Patriotic War. Not that many people spontaneously bring up stories like that in dinner conversation…

Fifth, the huge Soviet investment in biowarfare throughout the Cold War is a hint: they really, truly, believed in it, and what better reason could there be than decisive past successes? In much the same way, our lavish funding of the NSA strongly suggested that cryptanalysis and sigint must have paid off handsomely for the Allies in WWII – far more so than publicly acknowledged, until the revelations about Enigma in the 1970s and later.

We know that tularemia is an effective biological agent: many countries have worked with it, including the Soviet Union. If the Russians had had this capability in the summer of ’42 (and they had sufficient technology: basically just fermentation) , it is hard to imagine them not using it. I mean, we’re talking about Stalin. You think he had moral qualms? But we too would have used germ warfare if our situation had been desperate.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/war-in-the-east/#comment-1330
Sean, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Anybody exposed to an aerosol form of tularemia is likely to get it: 10-50 bacteria are enough to give a 50% probability of infection. You do not need to be sickly, starved, or immunosuppressed in order to contract it, although those factors probably influence its lethality. The same is true of anthrax: if it starts growing in your lungs, you get sick. You’re not born immune. There are in fact some diseases that you _are_ born immune to (most strains of sleeping sickness, for example), or at least have built-in defenses against (Epstein-Barr, cf TLRs).

A few other facts I’ve just found: First, the Soviets had a tularemia vaccine, which was used to an unclear extent at Stalingrad. At the time nobody else did.

Next, as far as I can tell, the Stalingrad epidemic is the only large-scale pneumonic tularemia epidemic that has ever occurred.

Next cool fact: during the Cold War, the Soviets were somewhat more interested in tularemia than other powers. At the height of the US biowarfare program, we produced less than two tons per year. The Soviets produced over one thousand tons of F. tularensis per year in that period.

Next question, one which deserves a serious, extended treatment. Why are so many people so very very good at coming up with wrong answers? Why do they apply Occam’s razor backwards? This is particularly common in biology. I’m not talking about Croddy in Military Medicine: he probably had orders to lie, and you can see hints of that if you read carefully.

https://twitter.com/gcochran99/status/952248214576443393
https://archive.is/tEcgK
Joining the Army might work. In general not available to private individuals, for reasons that are largely bullshit.
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september 2016 by nhaliday

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