Unrelated to all that, 10/4 edition

The curse of committees and clubs

First, the average scientist today is not of the quality of our predecessors; it’s a bit analogous to the so-called “greatest generation” of men and women of the United States who fought off fascism in World War II compared with their baby boomer children. Biomedical research is a huge enterprise now; it attracts riff-raff who never would have survived as scientists in the 1960s and 1970s. There is no doubt that highly capable scientists currently participate in the grant-review process. Likewise, unfortunately, study sections are undoubtedly contaminated by riff-raff.

Hilarious troll is hilarious. Don’t think it was intentional, though. Via drugmonkey

Frog TV

How much better are we, really?

Hamilton’s Rule and Its Discontents

In an incendiary 2010 Nature article, M. A. Nowak, C. E. Tarnita, and E. O. Wilson present a savage critique of the best-known and most widely used framework for the study of social evolution, W. D. Hamilton’s theory of kin selection. More than a hundred biologists have since rallied to the theory’s defence, but Nowak et al. maintain that their arguments ‘stand unrefuted’. Here I consider the most contentious claim Nowak et al. defend: that Hamilton’s rule, the core explanatory principle of kin selection theory, ‘almost never holds’. I first distinguish two versions of Hamilton’s rule in contemporary theory: a special version (HRS) that requires restrictive assumptions, and a general ver- sion (HRG) that does not. I then show that Nowak et al. are most charitably construed as arguing that HRS almost never holds, while HRG buys its generality at the expense of explanatory power. While their arguments against HRS are fairly uncontroversial, their arguments against HRG are more contentious, yet these have been largely overlooked in the ensuing furore. I consider the arguments for and against the explanatory value of HRG, with a view to assessing what exactly is at stake in the debate. I suggest that the debate hinges on issues concerning the causal interpretability of regression coefficients, and concerning the explanatory function Hamilton’s rule is intended to serve.

We truly live in a golden age for toddlers and bored Red Robin diners


Crayola colors

There’s apparently a research article in the Russian Journal of Genetic Genealogy on my ancestral clan

The clans are one of the Scottish national traditions – large groups of families, bearing usually one surname and origin from a hypothetical common ancestor. One of these Clans is the western highland Clan Colquhoun; many members of this clan now live in UK, USA,Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

tl;dr There are two main lineages; one reaching back to ~1200 AD from the initial Colquhoun, Humphrey de Kilpatrick, and one ~1700 AD to James Grant (who took over as when his father-in-law had no more natural male heirs). Incidentally, I am in the de Kilpatrick lineage. Genetics! They work.

Do old folks love coffee more than youngsters?

coffee consumption

Note: they don’t correct for weight

Beautiful city-slices



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