Tag Archive for 'Science'

My Friends have More Friends Than I Do

I’ve long thought this was the case. I usually strike it up to my morose nature. That and the fact that I’m kind of an asshole to people. But it turns out it’s not me, it’s scienece:

Researchers have since observed the so-called friendship paradox in a wide variety of situations. On Facebook, your friends will have more friends than you have. On Twitter, your followers will have more followers than you do. And in real life, your sexual partners will have had more partners than you’ve had. At least, on average.

I’ll have to talk to SWMBO about that last one. There is that “At least, on average.” out for her…

The article: How the Friendship Paradox Makes Your Friends Better Than You Are | MIT Technology Review.

The Animals are Getting Fat Too!

This article is well worth the read:

Consider, for example, this troublesome fact, reported in 2010 by the biostatistician David B Allison and his co-authors at the University of Alabama in Birmingham: over the past 20 years or more, as the American people were getting fatter, so were America’s marmosets. As were laboratory macaques, chimpanzees, vervet monkeys and mice, as well as domestic dogs, domestic cats, and domestic and feral rats from both rural and urban areas. In fact, the researchers examined records on those eight species and found that average weight for every one had increased. The marmosets gained an average of nine per cent per decade. Lab mice gained about 11 per cent per decade. Chimps, for some reason, are doing especially badly: their average body weight had risen 35 per cent per decade. Allison, who had been hearing about an unexplained rise in the average weight of lab animals, was nonetheless surprised by the consistency across so many species. ‘Virtually in every population of animals we looked at, that met our criteria, there was the same upward trend,’ he told me.

Amazing, huh? The rest of the article is interesting too. Really it is worth your time.


I think I need to address this part of the article too:

…Its root cause, he proposed last year in the American Journal of Human Biology, is nothing less than the history of capitalism.

I will paraphrase Wells’s intricate argument (the only one I’ve ever read that references both receptor pathways for leptin and data on the size of the Indian economy in the 18th century). It is a saga spanning many generations. Let’s start with a poor farmer growing food crops in a poor country in Africa or Asia. In a capitalistic quest for new markets and cheap materials and labour, Europeans take control of the economy in the late 18th or early 19th century. With taxes, fees and sometimes violent repression, their new system strongly ‘encourages’ the farmer and his neighbours to stop growing their own food and start cultivating some more marketable commodity instead – coffee for export, perhaps.

Taxes, fees and sometimes violent repression are not capitalism. That is government activity. Violent repression and colonialism in general could not have happened without the heavy hand of government.