How Human Evolution May Work

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About 30,000 years ago, a tiny mutation arose in a gene known as EDAR and began to spread rapidly in central China, eventually becoming common in the region.

The small change, substituting one chemical letter of DNA for another, may have helped humans in Asia survive crippling heat and humidity by endowing them with extra sweat glands, the scientists reported Thursday in the journal Cell. It may also have made people with the mutation more attractive to the opposite sex by allowing them to grow thicker hair or fuller breasts. Continue reading

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How “Decisions” Really Get Made – Instantly

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The research this picture is based on debunks pretty much all of our ideas about how humans, and other animals behavior.

This is a great simple illustration of how behavior is triggered in between 50 – 150 millieseconds, copletely unconsciously and likely without any influence of consciousness, thinking, emotions, evaluation, higher level process or most of the things we believe make a difference. There simply is no time. Neurons picking up stimulation compete to “win” and direct the body and behavior.

Biology is Just Physics

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Because there are still naysayers who question whether simple physical laws operate in living systems, we want to emphasize the existence of numerous examples in which the laws of physics have been used to provide mechanistic insights on complex behaviors of living organisms.

With further integration of the latest experimental innovations, such as in vivo tracking of individual molecules in single cells, with computational models applying physical laws at different scales (quantum or classical), the future looks optimistic for a leap in understanding the origins of biological decisions.

Misc on Violence – Yikes!

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Here are some items from a research paper on violence.

A former Lt. Commander in the Navy, Michael Blagg, later became a company executive in Colorado. He and his wife were both devout Evangelical Christians, although Blagg was addicted to pornography and was jealous, con- trolling and physically abusive toward his wife, Jennifer. After 10 years of unhappy marriage, Jennifer finally decided to divorce. A few days after she announced her decision, Blagg shot her and their 6-year-old daughter to death, hiding their bodies in the town dump (Scott, 2007).

 

Grudge-holding; persecutory ideation
Gang Lu, born in 1963 to a middle-class family from the Chinese mainland, came to Iowa University to get his PhD in physics. He was a friendless loner, morose, suspicious, but bril- liant, and did outstanding work while at the university. There was another Chinese student in the program who did just slightly better than Lu, and who was also outgoing and well- liked. This man won the physics prize that Lu felt he himself deserved. Lu became progres- sively paranoid about the heads of the depart- ment, as though they had conspired to humiliate him and award the prize to his rival. In 1991 the 28-year-old Lu, having obtained pistol permits, calmly killed the chairman of the physics department, his mentor, another professor, his rival, Lin-Hua Shan and a female dean whom Lu felt was unresponsive to his letters of appeal. Lu then committed suicide. As to his array of personality traits, Lu was experienced by those who knew him as argu- mentative, envious, bitter, brooding, difficult to live with, resentful, arrogant, rigid, aloof and hypercritical. He showed, that is, an admixture of paranoid, schizoid and narcissis- tic traits (Chen, 1995).