A week of links

Links this week:

  1. Plenty of press and interesting articles sparked by Peter Thiel’s new book. First, he has a swipe at business schools. And some great one-liners. But is he wrong about the future?
  2. Another tech-billionaire – Elon Musk wants to put people of Mars. But he doesn’t need one million people to get enough genetic diversity.
  3. Eric Crampton has some great posts this week on public health. First, where should the money be going?  Some thoughts on soda taxes and fat taxes. And drinking when pregnant.
  4. Cameron Murray risks walking onto Steven Landsburg’s lawn.
  5. Rajiv Sethi defends agent based models from Chris House. House tends to overreach when he strolls into the unfamiliar and attacks the heterodox rather than his standard (and also not overly convincing) defense of the orthodox.
  6. Put your laptops away kids.
  7. The missing heritability puzzle is slowing being chipped away. But the genetic post-modernists continue their losing battle.
  8. The heritability of educational attainment reflects many genetically influenced traits, not just intelligence. A Science Daily summary. Plus, emotional intelligence is overrated (HT: Stuart Ritchie). Intelligence is important, and to the extent other traits matter, they are heritable too.
  9. Does evolutionary theory need a rethink? No.
  10. Doctor decision fatigue – more unnecessary antibiotics in the afternoon.

3 comments

  1. I think an important point that sometimes gets lost in the “heritability” debate is that just because something is heritable (a statistical relationship in a trait between parents of offspring) does not imply that that genetic transmission is the mechanism of inheritance (one of many mechanisms that might explain heritability). Those who tend to assume that it does, might need to give evolutionary theory a rethink.

    1. It is more than an assumption. For humans, decades of twin and adoption studies layered over by more recent genetic studies all point in the same direction. In other species, basic evolutionary theory and genetic processes have consistently been found to have a predictive power and empirical foundation unmatched by other non-genetic processes. Wray and friends’ point is those other mechanisms are well worth looking at and complement a gene-centred view, but they are a long way from requiring any of the central concepts of evolutionary theory to be rebuilt.

      1. I think my comment was more to your earlier post on heritability of wealth than on human height. My intuition is that a gene-centered view of the heritability of wealth would fall far short of explaining persistent inequality. In general, since much of human behavior (relative to other species) is culturally transmitted and/or constrained by persistent social institutions, I think that that an extended evolutionary synthesis has much to offer an evolutionary theory of humans.

        An empirical difficulty for humans (again, compared to other species) is the lack of being able to conduct controlled (common garden) experiments to tease apart multicollinearities in different inheritance systems (as your next post on SAT scores alludes to).

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