Since late 2016 we have entered the age of disclosures! Fasten your mental safety belt and enjoy the ride! Heretic

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Scientists Find Liberal Gene?

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UCSD Paper:
Friendships Moderate an Association Between the DRD4 Gene and Political Ideology
by Jaime E. Settle [jsettle at ucsd.edu], Christopher T. Dawes, Nicholas A. Christakis, James H. Fowler


Quotations:


"It is the crucial interaction of two factors - the genetic
predisposition and the environmental condition of having many friends
in adolescence - that is associated with being more liberal,”
according to the study.
...

Here, we link our understanding of the genetic basis of political ideology with
environmental factors known to influence political attitudes. We suggest that individuals with the 7R allele of the DRD4 gene, given certain environmental stimuli, are more likely to have a liberal ideology.

...
The 7R allele of the DRD4 gene is known to be associated with several haracteristics, such as increased extraversion, novelty-seeking, and sensation-seeking (Eichhammer et al. 2005).
...

In a landmark piece synthesizing five decades of research on conservatism and social-cognitive motives, Jost et al. (2003) assert a motivational basis for the stable, definitional core of conservative ideology, claiming that conservative ideologies are adopted in part to satisfy a variety of social, cognitive, and psychological needs. The authors write that people’s response to threatening environmental stimuli, such as fear and uncertainty, affects the development and expression of political beliefs concerning the core components of conservative ideology, such as resistance to change and acceptance of inequality (p. 366).

We would expect to find a negative correlation between traits associated with DRD4-7R and a conservative ideology if conservatives perceive new experiences as a threat and thus, to satisfy their psychological needs, they avoid novelty and sensation seeking. This has been demonstrated in the literature with sensation seeking (Kish and Donnenwerth 1972, Kish 1973), a taste for broad-mindedness (Feather 1979, Feather 1984), and openness to experience (Pratto et al. 1994, Jost and Thompson 2000, Peterson et al. 1997, Peterson and Lane 2001).
...

Novelty-seeking should not necessarily lead one to make more friends - those high in the 7R allele often exhibit certain asocial behaviors. Rather, the influence of a large number of friends could serve to develop social cognition (Staub 1995), create a better understanding of other’s needs (Niebrzydowski 1995) and greater consideration in regard to the society in which they live (Selman 1990, White et al. 1987), as well as increase expression of prosocial behaviors (Hartup 1993).
...
It is the combination of the desire for new experience and many different pathways to these experiences that we hypothesize has an impact on political ideology.

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(See also this article.)

I find it fascinating that a dychotomy between different types of characters comes out even through genetics!  It makes me think that a difference between the two classes of population goes deeper than just "liberal" and "conservative" views in the political sense. The authors identify the liberal view as the one associated with openess, curiosity and a willingness to embrace new experience, where as the conservative is described as perceiving new experiences as threats, thus, to satisfy their psychological needs, they avoid novelty and sensation-seeking, and tend to "accept inequality" - meaning acceptance of the class hierarchy and the authority I presume.

This is not quite the way I see it, based on my experience. Since I grew up in a communist state before moving to the West, I have noticed an awful lot of Western "Liberals" (in the American sense of this word) exhibiting anything but curiosity and openess, while some of the poster "boys" and "girls" of  Conservatism ("Neocons" as they are being fondly nicknamed), seem to have been more open to new ideas or willing to "rock the boat".


I think a more accurate way of political labelling is to use the European meaning for "Liberalism" = pro individual freedom. In the US language it would be called "Libertarianism". European Liberals have always been unafraid and willing to entertain new ideas while the European "Conservatives" were those interested in preserving the power of the oligarchies and their institutions thus any new ideas were generally regarded as harmful.  On the other hand, in the North America, the Conervatives seem to consist of an unworkable - "unholy" mixture of the European style Conservatives and Libertarians.

I see a much more fundamental split in the present society, along the lines of "open and individualistic" versus "closed and hierarchical" that fits the above described model better than the political divide. I wrote about that in the following posts:

Human regression, anthropology

Baby boomers' monkey business 

It is not just as much about socializing and having many friends versus being a recluse - it all probably depends whom you have to deal with! If one is mostly surrounded by the members of a not-ones-own types then obviously, that person isn't going to spent as much time socializing, as he/she would have liked. Each type is as sociable as the other one but on their own terms!  They probably perceive (mutually) any social or societal/civic/business activities of the other kind as boring, unnatural, fake or criminal.  I know I do!

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Insulin, Glucose, Grim Reaper and Sweet Sixteen gene

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Important new reasearch published just recently by Cynthia Kenyon, University of California, described in the following Oct-26,2010 Daily Mail article (Jerome Burne):

Can cutting carbohydrates from your diet make you live longer?

Quotes:


She made her remarkable breakthrough after studying roundworms, specifically the C.elegans, a worm just a millimetre in size that lives in soil in temperate climates all over the world. By tweaking some of their genes she has been able to help these worms live up to six times longer than normal. 'Not only that, but we also know how to make them stay healthy all that time as well,' she told an audience at the Wellcome Collection in London earlier this month.
...
Scientists already knew how to make laboratory animals live longer and healthier lives - you just cut back their calories to about three-quarters of their normal amount.  ... But what Professor Kenyon found out was why ­drastically reducing calories has such a remarkable effect. She discovered that it changed the way two crucial genes behaved. It turned down the gene that controls insulin, which in turn switched on another gene, which acted like an elixir of life.  'We jokingly called the first gene the Grim Reaper because when it’s switched on, the lifespan is fairly short,' she explains.  The ­second 'elixir' gene seems to bring all the anti-ageing benefits - its proper name is DAF 16, but it was quickly nicknamed 'Sweet Sixteen' because it turned the worms into teenagers.
...
Discovering the Grim Reaper gene has prompted the professor to ­dramatically alter her own diet, ­cutting right back on carbohydrates. That’s because carbs make your body produce more insulin (to mop up the extra blood sugar carbs ­produce); and more insulin means a more active Grim Reaper.  So the vital second gene, the 'elixir' one, won't get turned on.

To test this, last year she added a tiny amount of ­sugary glucose to the normal diet of some of her worms that had had their genes engineered so they were living much longer, healthier lives.  'The effect was remarkable,' she says. 'The sugary glucose blocked the ''youthful'' genes and they lost most of the health gains.'
...
Following Kenyon’s lead, other researchers started looking for the Grim Reaper/ Sweet Sixteen combination in other animals — and of course in humans.

They found it.

One clue came from a small remote community of dwarves living in northern Ecuador who are cancer-free. They are missing the part of the Grim Reaper gene that controls a hormone called insulin-like growth factor. The downside is they only grow to 4ft tall because the hormone is needed for growth.  But this missing bit of the Grim Reaper gene also means they don’t develop cancer and are less likely to suffer from heart disease or obesity.

Professor Jeff Holly, who specialises in insulin-like growth factor, confirms that it is linked to cancer of the prostate, breast and colon.  In fact raised insulin levels, triggered by high carbohydrate ­consumption, could be what ­connects many of our big killers. Research is at its early stage, but raised insulin triggers an increase in cholesterol production in the liver, makes the walls of blood vessels ­contract so blood pressure goes up and stimulates the release of fats called triglycerides (linked to heart disease).
...
'Carbo­hydrates, and especially refined ones like sugar, make you produce lots of extra insulin. I’ve been keeping my intake really low ever since I discovered this. I've cut out all starch such as potatoes, noodles, rice, bread and pasta. Instead I have salads, but no sweet dressing, lots of olive oil and nuts, tons of green vegetables along with cheese, chicken and eggs. I'll have a hamburger without a bun and fish without batter or chips. I eat some fruit every day, but not too much and almost no processed food. I stay away from sweets, except 80 per cent chocolate.'

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Refs (older, not this one):

http://kenyonlab.ucsf.edu/html/history.html

http://kenyonlab.ucsf.edu/Kenyon_et_al_Nature.pdf




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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Can Ireland exit EU and join US?

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Something is happening, see the articles:

Soden: Let's quit EU and join US

Frederick Forsyth: Rise up, reclaim your country

Leaving the euro might well be our 'least bad' option

Mike Soden's [Irish Central Bank advisor] announcement is probably not accidental because of it's timing. This issue was simmering since 2008. Ireland jeopardised its sovereignty by assuming their private banking debt on call from Brussels, in return for some guarantees, as revealed through some leaks on David McWilliams forum, recently.

The fact that Soden chose now to speak out plus the rumors of a feud between Lenihan [fin.min.] and Cowen [prime min.], indicate that something bad is happening. My guess is that they are finding out to their surprize that those German and French "guarantees" are probably not as solid as they seemed 2 years ago (if it comes to foreign "guarantees" they should ask Poles - they may know something about that...).

Also, Lenihan has probably realized (by adding up all figures) that Irish economy will not recover on cutbacks alone. The reason is obvious to me or McWilliams - the lack of indigenous industry. A service based economy (with a notable exception of the Swiss banking phenomenon) cannot cut-back its way to prosperity, as Greeks are now finding out too.

[shocking economic heresy=on] You have to actually _produce_ something that other people would buy and charge competitive prices for that. [shocking economic heresy=off]

In my humble opinion, Ireland will not be able to solve it by exiting EU and joining US, going alone or with other alliances - the moment this happens, European banks will probably immediately pull out resources and loans from the Irish banks collapsing them and sinking the state. It is worse than Iceland - Iceland is small enough to survive being cut off, on cod fishing alone. Ireland is too big to do that and too small to do what the British are doing now.

Also, you can see here a classical example of "monkey" regressors' culture in action, among the Irish/EU ruling caste: when everything is well they cooperate, when "bananas" are lacking, they kick out the weakest members out of their herd.

------------------
Update 8-Nov-2010

Interesting articles:

THE BIG PICTURE: Ireland is effectively insolvent – the next crisis will be mass home mortgage default, writes MORGAN KELLY

Eoghan Harris: Public-sector wealth can only lead to private decay

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Update 11-Dec-2010

Interesting article:

Iceland safe, Ireland sorry?


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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Alzheimer's, B12 and homocysteine - vegans beware!

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This is based on the newly published Scandinavian study:
Homocysteine and holotranscobalamin and the risk of Alzheimer disease

Quote:

Results: The odds ratios (ORs) (95% confidence interval [CI]) for AD were 1.16 (1.04–1.31) per increase of 1 µmol/L of tHcy at baseline and 0.980 (0.965–0.995) for each increase of 1 pmol/L baseline holoTC.

Notice how did the authors skillfully manage to conceal the impact (really huge!) - by not putting the risk ratio over the full range in the abstract. Instead they mitigated their grant-loosing risk by showing only an incremental change per 1umol/L or per 1pmol/L of the intependent varaibles. (Note: tHcy=homocysteine, holoTC=B12, AD=Alzheimer's Disease).

The impact seems to be huge indeed, based on some quick-and-dirty calculations of the typical tHcy and B12 variability among some populations. Taking two other studies (see [1] and [2] below) giving the average difference between vegetarians and non-vegetarians for tHcy and B12 ( 2.6 to 12.3 umol/L and -94 to -195 pmol/L respectively),   applying the above incremental ratios of (1.16 and 0.980 respectively) one obtains the estimated ralative risk ratio for AD for vegetarians versus non-vegetarians of: 1.5 to 6.2 based on the homocysteine, and 6.7 to 51 based on the B12 data.

(Disclaimer: risk ratio estimates that are based on statistical data do not prove nor disprove causuation.)

My conclusion: the study indicates that the B12 defficiency as well as (independently) high homocysteine seem to be very strong predictors of Alzheimer's disease risk. The overal risk estimate is also much stronger than the washed-out figures presented in the paper's abstract. This should be of utmost importance for vegans and vegetarians!

See also:


1. Effect of Vegetarian Diet on Homocysteine Levels

2. Plasma Homocysteine Levels in Taiwanese Vegetarians Are Higher than Those of Omnivores

3. BBC Health News: Vitamin B12 link to Alzheimer's backed by study

4. BBC Health News: Vitamin B 'puts off Alzheimer's'

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Friday, October 15, 2010

red meat fights back

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New meta study:

Red meat consumption: an overview of the risks and benefits.

Abstract:

Red meat is long established as an important dietary source of protein and essential nutrients including iron, zinc and vitamin B12, yet recent reports that its consumption may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and colon cancer have led to a negative perception of the role of red meat in health. The aim of this paper is to review existing literature for both the risks and benefits of red meat consumption, focusing on case-control and prospective studies. Despite many studies reporting an association between red meat and the risk of CVD and colon cancer, several methodological limitations and inconsistencies were identified which may impact on the validity of their findings. Overall, there is no strong evidence to support the recent conclusion from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) report that red meat has a convincing role to play in colon cancer. A substantial amount of evidence supports the role of lean red meat as a positive moderator of lipid profiles with recent studies identifying it as a dietary source of the anti-inflammatory long chain (LC) n-3 PUFAs and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). In conclusion, moderate consumption of lean red meat as part of a balanced diet is unlikely to increase risk for CVD or colon cancer, but may positively influence nutrient intakes and fatty acid profiles, thereby impacting positively on long-term health.

This blog article contains a long list of studies (with abstracts) on this topic.


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Friday, October 8, 2010

U.S. Air Force Officers Recount Experiences With UFOs

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ABC News article by KI MAE HEUSSNER, Sept.27,2010

Quote:
During a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., seven former Air Force officers once stationed at nuclear bases around the country said that not only have UFOs visited Air Force bases, some have succeeded in disabling nuclear missiles stationed there.  ...

Why am I quoting this?  I don't know, though I am getting an impression that something is changing about the tone of the media outlets, regarding this particular topic.  Perhaps this fact is important!
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