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Hunter-gatherers are different

March 30, 2015

Anthropologist Cecil Lewis, from the University of Oklahoma in exotic Norman, gathered stool samples from both hunter-gatherers and farmers in Peru. Both had a wider range of gut flora than the people in Norman. The hunter-gatherers in addition had species of non-pathogenic Treponemes. An interesting question, not answered by this research, is what happens to the guts of anthropologists who reside with hunter-gatherers for long periods.

Now, go back to your doughnut.

Nones, Dones, and the Bible

March 29, 2015

Last week, it was the GSS that showed the rise of the Nones. This week, it is Barna. The good news from their survey is that the Nones are becoming more diverse: more women, less white, and more widely distributed. And younger. “And their numbers are growing more quickly than anyone expected 20 years ago.”

Neil Carter distinguishes the Dones — those who once were religious and now are not — from the broad category of Nones. With many social shifts, there is an interesting sociological distinction between those who were caught up in the furor, and those who fortunately lived largely in the space created by the change.

Barna is a Christian outfit, and I can’t help but chuckle at some of the editorial comments they make regarding their data. Such as this one:

Given their antipathy or indifference toward the Bible, it is remarkable that six out of 10 skeptics own at least one copy.

I own at least two. And despite having little regard for Zeus, I likely also have a copy of Hesiod somewhere. Nonbelievers don’t reject the historical and literary importance of myth, just because we don’t worship the gods depicted!

Sexual selection and porn in schools

March 26, 2015

Birders find it easy to distinguish male from female grackles. They have a harder time with great blue herons. But without knowing more heron biology, I wouldn’t swear that the latter had less sexual dimorphism than, say, people. We may just not look with the heron’s eye. Sexual selection can lead to dimorphism, and typically and wrongly is used to explain all such in humans. Reading a paper on sexual selection and genomics, Razib Khan expresses doubt that sexual selection played much role in human evolution.

A Danish professor thinks porn should be included in sex education classes. The Brits would never go for it, but calmly discuss the idea. It’s pretty easy to predict the reaction when social conservatives here the US catch that news.


March 25, 2015

The next time someone tells me not to use a singular they, they will be directed here.


March 24, 2015

The English are a strange lot. A strange lot of lots. Unsurprisingly, there is no trace of Trojan Brutus.

Money and sex

March 23, 2015

Amanda Marcotte does her usual digging into interesting studies, when she argues that money has more influence on how children are raised than marital status, and in explaining why poor women have more abortions. Related, the New York Times has beautifully graphed the effectiveness of different forms of birth control. It highlights the large difference between long-term methods such as the IUD and hormonal implant, and all other methods.

More Nones

March 22, 2015

GSS-Nones-807x5141Unlike some atheists, I think it highly unlikely that religion ever will disappear. If Mormonism could be conjured out of thin air in 19th century America, and if the nonsense of Scientology could gain a foothold more than a century later, it seems likely there always will be prophets who craft their gods and garner adherents to follow them.

More, I think it is difficult to predict the cultural effects of the changes now occurring in American religious make-up. It’s easy and mistaken to think that all of the consequences will please the group whose numbers are growing.

All qualifications given, I still take some cheer from the graph shown above, and related data.


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