Related posts: [X], [X], [X]

Evolved Disease-Avoidance Mechanisms and Contemporary Xenophobic Attitudes:

From evolutionary psychological reasoning, we derived the hypothesis that chronic and contextually aroused feelings of vulnerability to disease motivate negative reactions to foreign peoples. The hypothesis was tested and supported across four correlational studies: chronic disease worries predicted implicit cognitions associating foreign outgroups with danger, and also predicted less positive attitudes toward foreign (but not familiar) immigrant groups. The hypothesis also received support in two experiments in which the salience of contagious disease was manipulated: participants under high disease-salience conditions expressed less positive attitudes toward foreign (but not familiar) immigrants and were more likely to endorse policies that would favor the immigration of familiar rather than foreign peoples. These results reveal a previously under explored influence on xenophobic attitudes, and suggest interesting linkages between evolved disease-avoidance mechanisms and contemporary social cognition.http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~schaller/Faulkneretal2004.pdf

The researchers conducted a series of studies showing that individuals who were chronically more concerned about their vulnerability to disease also tended to have stronger anti-immigrant attitudes—but only toward immigrants from subjectively foreign locations. There was no such effect on attitudes toward culturally familiar immigrant populations. A conceptually identical conclusion emerged from the experiments, in which participants were randomly assigned to see a slide show that made salient either the threat of parasite transmission or, in a control condition, the threat of disease-irrelevant dangers (e.g., electrocution) 

Results revealed more strongly xenophobic attitudes after parasites were made salient. For instance, in one of these experiments, Canadian participants were told about a government program designed to recruit new immigrants to Canada, and then indicated how much of the budget should be spent to recruit immigrants from various nations that had been prerated as either culturally familiar by white and Asian Americans (e.g., Taiwan, Poland) or unfamiliar (e.g., Mongolia, Brazil). Participants who had seen the control slide show allocated roughly equal amounts of money to recruit immigrants from both familiar and unfamiliar places; but those for whom parasite transmission had been made salient were much more likely to allocate money to recruit immigrants from familiar rather than unfamiliar places. I.e., people who feel especially vulnerable to parasite transmission are especially likely to favour contact with familiar rather than foreign peoples:

Figure 1. (above): Xenophobic behaviour was positively correlated with scores on the Perceived Vulnerability to Disease (PVD) scale, which was developed and tested to measure how susceptible a person felt they were to infection. The majority of participants were of East Asian or European heritage:


[…] Studies 1 and 2 focused on attitudes toward African outgroups. Africans were expected to be perceived as culturally foreign to participants (all participants were students at the University of British Columbia, which is a campus populated predominantly by peoples of East Asian and European heritage, but with very few students of African heritage). Studies 3 and 4 examined attitudes toward several other outgroups that a separate sample of UBC students rated as either subjectively foreign or familiar. […]

Moreover, people chronically concerned with disease are less likely to have friends with disabilities [X], tend to dislike obese individuals more [X], and women in the first term of pregnancy – whose bodies are naturally immunosuppressed – show especially high levels of xenophobia and ethnocentrism [X].

Because most parasites are virtually invisible, people must rely on superficial cues (e.g. anomalous physical features) to detect their presence

To the extent that individuals are more vulnerable (or perceive themselves to be more vulnerable) to the hazards posed by infectious diseases, those individuals show stronger evidence of cognitions and attitudes that serve an antipathogen defence function.

The set of responses that comprise the line of defence against exposure to disease is collectively referred to as the behavioural immune system. There is growing evidence that individual differences in the strength of this behavioural immune system are related to sociopolitical attitudes in a manner very similar to that of disgust sensitivity. Related posts: [X], [X], [X]

Evolved Disease-Avoidance Mechanisms and Contemporary Xenophobic Attitudes:

From evolutionary psychological reasoning, we derived the hypothesis that chronic and contextually aroused feelings of vulnerability to disease motivate negative reactions to foreign peoples. The hypothesis was tested and supported across four correlational studies: chronic disease worries predicted implicit cognitions associating foreign outgroups with danger, and also predicted less positive attitudes toward foreign (but not familiar) immigrant groups. The hypothesis also received support in two experiments in which the salience of contagious disease was manipulated: participants under high disease-salience conditions expressed less positive attitudes toward foreign (but not familiar) immigrants and were more likely to endorse policies that would favor the immigration of familiar rather than foreign peoples. These results reveal a previously under explored influence on xenophobic attitudes, and suggest interesting linkages between evolved disease-avoidance mechanisms and contemporary social cognition.http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~schaller/Faulkneretal2004.pdf

The researchers conducted a series of studies showing that individuals who were chronically more concerned about their vulnerability to disease also tended to have stronger anti-immigrant attitudes—but only toward immigrants from subjectively foreign locations. There was no such effect on attitudes toward culturally familiar immigrant populations. A conceptually identical conclusion emerged from the experiments, in which participants were randomly assigned to see a slide show that made salient either the threat of parasite transmission or, in a control condition, the threat of disease-irrelevant dangers (e.g., electrocution) 

Results revealed more strongly xenophobic attitudes after parasites were made salient. For instance, in one of these experiments, Canadian participants were told about a government program designed to recruit new immigrants to Canada, and then indicated how much of the budget should be spent to recruit immigrants from various nations that had been prerated as either culturally familiar by white and Asian Americans (e.g., Taiwan, Poland) or unfamiliar (e.g., Mongolia, Brazil). Participants who had seen the control slide show allocated roughly equal amounts of money to recruit immigrants from both familiar and unfamiliar places; but those for whom parasite transmission had been made salient were much more likely to allocate money to recruit immigrants from familiar rather than unfamiliar places. I.e., people who feel especially vulnerable to parasite transmission are especially likely to favour contact with familiar rather than foreign peoples:

Figure 1. (above): Xenophobic behaviour was positively correlated with scores on the Perceived Vulnerability to Disease (PVD) scale, which was developed and tested to measure how susceptible a person felt they were to infection. The majority of participants were of East Asian or European heritage:


[…] Studies 1 and 2 focused on attitudes toward African outgroups. Africans were expected to be perceived as culturally foreign to participants (all participants were students at the University of British Columbia, which is a campus populated predominantly by peoples of East Asian and European heritage, but with very few students of African heritage). Studies 3 and 4 examined attitudes toward several other outgroups that a separate sample of UBC students rated as either subjectively foreign or familiar. […]

Moreover, people chronically concerned with disease are less likely to have friends with disabilities [X], tend to dislike obese individuals more [X], and women in the first term of pregnancy – whose bodies are naturally immunosuppressed – show especially high levels of xenophobia and ethnocentrism [X].

Because most parasites are virtually invisible, people must rely on superficial cues (e.g. anomalous physical features) to detect their presence

To the extent that individuals are more vulnerable (or perceive themselves to be more vulnerable) to the hazards posed by infectious diseases, those individuals show stronger evidence of cognitions and attitudes that serve an antipathogen defence function.

The set of responses that comprise the line of defence against exposure to disease is collectively referred to as the behavioural immune system. There is growing evidence that individual differences in the strength of this behavioural immune system are related to sociopolitical attitudes in a manner very similar to that of disgust sensitivity.
Related posts: [X], [X], [X]
From evolutionary psychological reasoning, we derived the hypothesis that chronic and contextually aroused feelings of vulnerability to disease motivate negative reactions to foreign peoples. The hypothesis was tested and supported across four correlational studies: chronic disease worries predicted implicit cognitions associating foreign outgroups with danger, and also predicted less positive attitudes toward foreign (but not familiar) immigrant groups. The hypothesis also received support in two experiments in which the salience of contagious disease was manipulated: participants under high disease-salience conditions expressed less positive attitudes toward foreign (but not familiar) immigrants and were more likely to endorse policies that would favor the immigration of familiar rather than foreign peoples. These results reveal a previously under explored influence on xenophobic attitudes, and suggest interesting linkages between evolved disease-avoidance mechanisms and contemporary social cognition.
http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~schaller/Faulkneretal2004.pdf
The researchers conducted a series of studies showing that individuals who were chronically more concerned about their vulnerability to disease also tended to have stronger anti-immigrant attitudes—but only toward immigrants from subjectively foreign locations. There was no such effect on attitudes toward culturally familiar immigrant populations. A conceptually identical conclusion emerged from the experiments, in which participants were randomly assigned to see a slide show that made salient either the threat of parasite transmission or, in a control condition, the threat of disease-irrelevant dangers (e.g., electrocution)
Results revealed more strongly xenophobic attitudes after parasites were made salient. For instance, in one of these experiments, Canadian participants were told about a government program designed to recruit new immigrants to Canada, and then indicated how much of the budget should be spent to recruit immigrants from various nations that had been prerated as either culturally familiar by white and Asian Americans (e.g., Taiwan, Poland) or unfamiliar (e.g., Mongolia, Brazil). Participants who had seen the control slide show allocated roughly equal amounts of money to recruit immigrants from both familiar and unfamiliar places; but those for whom parasite transmission had been made salient were much more likely to allocate money to recruit immigrants from familiar rather than unfamiliar places. I.e., people who feel especially vulnerable to parasite transmission are especially likely to favour contact with familiar rather than foreign peoples:
  • Figure 1. (above): Xenophobic behaviour was positively correlated with scores on the Perceived Vulnerability to Disease (PVD) scale, which was developed and tested to measure how susceptible a person felt they were to infection. The majority of participants were of East Asian or European heritage:
[…] Studies 1 and 2 focused on attitudes toward African outgroups. Africans were expected to be perceived as culturally foreign to participants (all participants were students at the University of British Columbia, which is a campus populated predominantly by peoples of East Asian and European heritage, but with very few students of African heritage). Studies 3 and 4 examined attitudes toward several other outgroups that a separate sample of UBC students rated as either subjectively foreign or familiar. […]
Moreover, people chronically concerned with disease are less likely to have friends with disabilities [X], tend to dislike obese individuals more [X], and women in the first term of pregnancy – whose bodies are naturally immunosuppressed – show especially high levels of xenophobia and ethnocentrism [X].
Because most parasites are virtually invisible, people must rely on superficial cues (e.g. anomalous physical features) to detect their presence
To the extent that individuals are more vulnerable (or perceive themselves to be more vulnerable) to the hazards posed by infectious diseases, those individuals show stronger evidence of cognitions and attitudes that serve an antipathogen defence function.
The set of responses that comprise the line of defence against exposure to disease is collectively referred to as the behavioural immune system. There is growing evidence that individual differences in the strength of this behavioural immune system are related to sociopolitical attitudes in a manner very similar to that of disgust sensitivity.
Related posts: [X], [X].
Human Threat Management Systems: Self-Protection and Disease Avoidance:

Humans likely evolved precautionary systems designed to minimize the threats to reproductive fitness posed by highly interdependent ultrasociality. A review of research on the self-protection and disease avoidance systems reveals that each system is functionally distinct and domain-specific: Each is attuned to different cues; engages different emotions, inferences, and behavioral inclinations; and is rooted in somewhat different neurobiological substrates. These systems share important features, however. Each system is functionally coherent, in that perceptual, affective, cognitive, and behavioral processes work in concert to reduce fitness costs of potential threats. Each system is biased in a risk-averse manner, erring toward precautionary responses even when available cues only heuristically imply threat. And each system is functionally flexible, being highly sensitive to specific ecological and dispositional cues that signal greater vulnerability to the relevant threat. These features characterize a general template useful for understanding not only the self-protection and disease avoidance systems, but also a broader set of evolved, domain-specific precautionary systems.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3024471/

Throughout history, attacks from other humans have been one of the major threats to human survival, and violent intergroup conflict appears to have been common in ancestral populations of humans and other primates. Beyond the in-group/out-group moderation, the influence of social crowding on downstream behaviours might also vary across different crowd types and contexts. Specifically, there appear to be two functionally discrete and specialized psychological systems. The human behavioural immune system is well developed and characterized by the acute emotions of fear and disgust, although both threat relevant, they are posited to represent independent biological systems: one committed to self-protection and the other dedicated to disease avoidance [previous post].Our ancestors were the ones that survived because they relied on these well-developed self-protection systems that persist in modern humans:

[…] Thus, just as ancestral humans evolved sensory, affective, cognitive, and behavioral mechanisms that respond in adaptive ways to fitness-relevant features in the physical ecology (e.g., visual and olfactory cues that distinguish between edible and poisonous fruits), ancestral humans also evolved sensory, affective, cognitive, and behavioral mechanisms that respond functionally to fitness-relevant features in the social ecology. Some of these mechanisms are designed to promote affiliative and/or nurturant behaviors toward specific categories of individuals, such as potential mates or apparent offspring. […]

The self-protection system is activated by cues indicating physical danger, such as angry expressions, snakes and spiders, scary movies or news reports, strange men, or simply being in the dark:

[…] Not all men are equally likely to pose a threat. Given the long history of intergroup conflict in ancestral populations, members of coalitional outgroups are especially likely to be viewed as potential threats to physical safety. One implication of this is that, just as it is especially easy acquire and maintain a fearful response to non-social objects that posed significant threats throughout humans’ evolutionary history (e.g., snakes; Öhman & Mineka, 2001), it is also especially easy to acquire and maintain a fearful response to people who belong to an ecologically meaningful outgroup. […]

Simply being on a dark street in a strange city triggers a self-protective motivational system, and increases attention to, and memory for, angry male strangers, and leads one to perceive out-group members as especially dangerous:

[…] This subjective sense of vulnerability may also be elicited by specific features in the local ecological context. For example, because of humans’ relatively poor night vision and ancestral susceptibility to nocturnal predators, ambient darkness is a potent cue connoting enhanced vulnerability to physical harm. Therefore, the self-protection system is likely to be activated especially strongly under conditions of ambient darkness. Consistent with this logic, sudden noises produce especially exaggerated fear responses in people when they are in the dark (Grillon, Pellowski, Merikangas, & Davis, 1997). […]

Because diseases are imperceptible to the naked eye, the behavioural immune processes are not sensitive to diseases per se but are elicited by morphological and olfactory cues that heuristically connote the presence of diseases. [x] [x]
Consistent with the hypothesis that it is especially easy to acquire and maintain a fearful response to people who belong to an ecologically meaningful outgroup, non-Black individuals in the United States are especially slow to unlearn fearful responses to the faces of Black strangers:
The role of social groups in the persistence of learned fear [the figure of this post is taken from this study]:

We examined how the mechanisms of fear conditioning apply when humans learn to associate social ingroup and outgroup members with a fearful event, with the goal of advancing our understanding of basic learning theory and social group interaction. Primates more readily associate stimuli from certain fear-relevant natural categories, such as snakes, with a negative outcome relative to stimuli from fear-irrelevant categories, such as birds. We assessed whether this bias in fear conditioning extends to social groups defined by race. Our results indicate that individuals from a racial group other than one’s own are more readily associated with an aversive stimulus than individuals of one’s own race, among both white and black Americans.http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~mrbworks/articles/manuscripts/1113551Revisedtext2.pdf

This study used classic techniques of fear conditioning and extinction. In fear conditioning, a subject is trained to fear an otherwise-neutral stimulus—for example, by repeatedly pairing an electric shock with a picture of a blue square. Before too long the subject will show a physical, preconscious, anticipatory fear reaction when shown a blue square.
In the figure: After enough instances in which a blue square is shown and no shock delivered, the subject will “unlearn” the fear reaction. This is known as “extinction.”
Importantly, there exists one category of stimuli that humans associate more readily with aversive stimuli, to which such fear extinction is less complete. Known as “prepared” or “fear-relevant” stimuli, this category includes spiders and snakes. A subject will learn to fear both a butterfly and a snake if both images are paired with electric shock, but the aversive association with the snake will kick in more strongly and die more slowly—and incompletely. These all this by studying the lack of a return to baseline skin conductance after faces are shown in association with electrical shocks.
Mirroring the pattern observed for snakes and spiders, in the study both white and African American subjects acquired a stronger anticipatory fear response to out-group than to in-group faces, and both showed a resistance to fear extinction only for out-group faces.
Using this approach to study race differences is sceptical, but the fact that subjects do not show the same results for different races does show that something is going on. Since individuals ought to vary greatly, for interaction with racial attitudes and reported interracial contact lowering levels of fear-conditioning bias, only correlation, not causation, could be shown. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. Evidently, this is indicative of differences on the individual level.
The authors point out the importance of cultural patterns in impacting individual fear-conditioning, but people nevertheless seem adapted to recognize "the other" and fear it:

"Our discovery underscores the strong bond between person and social group," said Mahzarin Banaji from Harvard University. "It shows how strong is the ‘pull’ that the groups we belong to exert on us. We can’t shake off the group easily. http://www.livescience.com/347-race-fears-linger-dread-snakes.html

Moreover, this particular effect appears to be specific to male faces in that conditioned fear towards faces of outgroup exemplars resists extinction solely when the outgroup targets are male and not female, which is consistent with the male warrior hypothesis:

The male warrior hypothesis argues that the ultimate purpose of intergroup conflict is to gain access to fitness-enhancing resources, such as food, territories and mates. From this perspective, women are a reproductive resource to be competed for (rather than against). This implies that males should not only be the agents of intergroup conflict as we have suggested above, but also the direct targets of intergroup conflict in terms of prejudice, hostility and aggression (the outgroup male target hypothesis). 

Fear Extinction to an Out-Group Face:As above. Results indicated that participants’ fear response resisted extinction when the targets were outgroup males, but not when the targets were ingroup males, ingroup females or outgroup females. The results held for both White and Black American research participants toward White and Black out-group targets and were unrelated to participants’ measured level of negative attitudes against the racial out-group.
Related:
The “Pull” of Genetic Similarity
Related posts: [X], [X].
Human Threat Management Systems: Self-Protection and Disease Avoidance:

Humans likely evolved precautionary systems designed to minimize the threats to reproductive fitness posed by highly interdependent ultrasociality. A review of research on the self-protection and disease avoidance systems reveals that each system is functionally distinct and domain-specific: Each is attuned to different cues; engages different emotions, inferences, and behavioral inclinations; and is rooted in somewhat different neurobiological substrates. These systems share important features, however. Each system is functionally coherent, in that perceptual, affective, cognitive, and behavioral processes work in concert to reduce fitness costs of potential threats. Each system is biased in a risk-averse manner, erring toward precautionary responses even when available cues only heuristically imply threat. And each system is functionally flexible, being highly sensitive to specific ecological and dispositional cues that signal greater vulnerability to the relevant threat. These features characterize a general template useful for understanding not only the self-protection and disease avoidance systems, but also a broader set of evolved, domain-specific precautionary systems.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3024471/

Throughout history, attacks from other humans have been one of the major threats to human survival, and violent intergroup conflict appears to have been common in ancestral populations of humans and other primates. Beyond the in-group/out-group moderation, the influence of social crowding on downstream behaviours might also vary across different crowd types and contexts. Specifically, there appear to be two functionally discrete and specialized psychological systems. The human behavioural immune system is well developed and characterized by the acute emotions of fear and disgust, although both threat relevant, they are posited to represent independent biological systems: one committed to self-protection and the other dedicated to disease avoidance [previous post].Our ancestors were the ones that survived because they relied on these well-developed self-protection systems that persist in modern humans:

[…] Thus, just as ancestral humans evolved sensory, affective, cognitive, and behavioral mechanisms that respond in adaptive ways to fitness-relevant features in the physical ecology (e.g., visual and olfactory cues that distinguish between edible and poisonous fruits), ancestral humans also evolved sensory, affective, cognitive, and behavioral mechanisms that respond functionally to fitness-relevant features in the social ecology. Some of these mechanisms are designed to promote affiliative and/or nurturant behaviors toward specific categories of individuals, such as potential mates or apparent offspring. […]

The self-protection system is activated by cues indicating physical danger, such as angry expressions, snakes and spiders, scary movies or news reports, strange men, or simply being in the dark:

[…] Not all men are equally likely to pose a threat. Given the long history of intergroup conflict in ancestral populations, members of coalitional outgroups are especially likely to be viewed as potential threats to physical safety. One implication of this is that, just as it is especially easy acquire and maintain a fearful response to non-social objects that posed significant threats throughout humans’ evolutionary history (e.g., snakes; Öhman & Mineka, 2001), it is also especially easy to acquire and maintain a fearful response to people who belong to an ecologically meaningful outgroup. […]

Simply being on a dark street in a strange city triggers a self-protective motivational system, and increases attention to, and memory for, angry male strangers, and leads one to perceive out-group members as especially dangerous:

[…] This subjective sense of vulnerability may also be elicited by specific features in the local ecological context. For example, because of humans’ relatively poor night vision and ancestral susceptibility to nocturnal predators, ambient darkness is a potent cue connoting enhanced vulnerability to physical harm. Therefore, the self-protection system is likely to be activated especially strongly under conditions of ambient darkness. Consistent with this logic, sudden noises produce especially exaggerated fear responses in people when they are in the dark (Grillon, Pellowski, Merikangas, & Davis, 1997). […]

Because diseases are imperceptible to the naked eye, the behavioural immune processes are not sensitive to diseases per se but are elicited by morphological and olfactory cues that heuristically connote the presence of diseases. [x] [x]
Consistent with the hypothesis that it is especially easy to acquire and maintain a fearful response to people who belong to an ecologically meaningful outgroup, non-Black individuals in the United States are especially slow to unlearn fearful responses to the faces of Black strangers:
The role of social groups in the persistence of learned fear [the figure of this post is taken from this study]:

We examined how the mechanisms of fear conditioning apply when humans learn to associate social ingroup and outgroup members with a fearful event, with the goal of advancing our understanding of basic learning theory and social group interaction. Primates more readily associate stimuli from certain fear-relevant natural categories, such as snakes, with a negative outcome relative to stimuli from fear-irrelevant categories, such as birds. We assessed whether this bias in fear conditioning extends to social groups defined by race. Our results indicate that individuals from a racial group other than one’s own are more readily associated with an aversive stimulus than individuals of one’s own race, among both white and black Americans.http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~mrbworks/articles/manuscripts/1113551Revisedtext2.pdf

This study used classic techniques of fear conditioning and extinction. In fear conditioning, a subject is trained to fear an otherwise-neutral stimulus—for example, by repeatedly pairing an electric shock with a picture of a blue square. Before too long the subject will show a physical, preconscious, anticipatory fear reaction when shown a blue square.
In the figure: After enough instances in which a blue square is shown and no shock delivered, the subject will “unlearn” the fear reaction. This is known as “extinction.”
Importantly, there exists one category of stimuli that humans associate more readily with aversive stimuli, to which such fear extinction is less complete. Known as “prepared” or “fear-relevant” stimuli, this category includes spiders and snakes. A subject will learn to fear both a butterfly and a snake if both images are paired with electric shock, but the aversive association with the snake will kick in more strongly and die more slowly—and incompletely. These all this by studying the lack of a return to baseline skin conductance after faces are shown in association with electrical shocks.
Mirroring the pattern observed for snakes and spiders, in the study both white and African American subjects acquired a stronger anticipatory fear response to out-group than to in-group faces, and both showed a resistance to fear extinction only for out-group faces.
Using this approach to study race differences is sceptical, but the fact that subjects do not show the same results for different races does show that something is going on. Since individuals ought to vary greatly, for interaction with racial attitudes and reported interracial contact lowering levels of fear-conditioning bias, only correlation, not causation, could be shown. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. Evidently, this is indicative of differences on the individual level.
The authors point out the importance of cultural patterns in impacting individual fear-conditioning, but people nevertheless seem adapted to recognize "the other" and fear it:

"Our discovery underscores the strong bond between person and social group," said Mahzarin Banaji from Harvard University. "It shows how strong is the ‘pull’ that the groups we belong to exert on us. We can’t shake off the group easily. http://www.livescience.com/347-race-fears-linger-dread-snakes.html

Moreover, this particular effect appears to be specific to male faces in that conditioned fear towards faces of outgroup exemplars resists extinction solely when the outgroup targets are male and not female, which is consistent with the male warrior hypothesis:

The male warrior hypothesis argues that the ultimate purpose of intergroup conflict is to gain access to fitness-enhancing resources, such as food, territories and mates. From this perspective, women are a reproductive resource to be competed for (rather than against). This implies that males should not only be the agents of intergroup conflict as we have suggested above, but also the direct targets of intergroup conflict in terms of prejudice, hostility and aggression (the outgroup male target hypothesis). 

Fear Extinction to an Out-Group Face:As above. Results indicated that participants’ fear response resisted extinction when the targets were outgroup males, but not when the targets were ingroup males, ingroup females or outgroup females. The results held for both White and Black American research participants toward White and Black out-group targets and were unrelated to participants’ measured level of negative attitudes against the racial out-group.
Related:
The “Pull” of Genetic Similarity

Related posts: [X], [X].

Human Threat Management Systems: Self-Protection and Disease Avoidance:

Humans likely evolved precautionary systems designed to minimize the threats to reproductive fitness posed by highly interdependent ultrasociality. A review of research on the self-protection and disease avoidance systems reveals that each system is functionally distinct and domain-specific: Each is attuned to different cues; engages different emotions, inferences, and behavioral inclinations; and is rooted in somewhat different neurobiological substrates. These systems share important features, however. Each system is functionally coherent, in that perceptual, affective, cognitive, and behavioral processes work in concert to reduce fitness costs of potential threats. Each system is biased in a risk-averse manner, erring toward precautionary responses even when available cues only heuristically imply threat. And each system is functionally flexible, being highly sensitive to specific ecological and dispositional cues that signal greater vulnerability to the relevant threat. These features characterize a general template useful for understanding not only the self-protection and disease avoidance systems, but also a broader set of evolved, domain-specific precautionary systems.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3024471/

Throughout history, attacks from other humans have been one of the major threats to human survival, and violent intergroup conflict appears to have been common in ancestral populations of humans and other primates. Beyond the in-group/out-group moderation, the influence of social crowding on downstream behaviours might also vary across different crowd types and contexts. Specifically, there appear to be two functionally discrete and specialized psychological systems. The human behavioural immune system is well developed and characterized by the acute emotions of fear and disgust, although both threat relevant, they are posited to represent independent biological systems: one committed to self-protection and the other dedicated to disease avoidance [previous post].

Our ancestors were the ones that survived because they relied on these well-developed self-protection systems that persist in modern humans:

[…] Thus, just as ancestral humans evolved sensory, affective, cognitive, and behavioral mechanisms that respond in adaptive ways to fitness-relevant features in the physical ecology (e.g., visual and olfactory cues that distinguish between edible and poisonous fruits), ancestral humans also evolved sensory, affective, cognitive, and behavioral mechanisms that respond functionally to fitness-relevant features in the social ecology. Some of these mechanisms are designed to promote affiliative and/or nurturant behaviors toward specific categories of individuals, such as potential mates or apparent offspring. […]

The self-protection system is activated by cues indicating physical danger, such as angry expressions, snakes and spiders, scary movies or news reports, strange men, or simply being in the dark:

[…] Not all men are equally likely to pose a threat. Given the long history of intergroup conflict in ancestral populations, members of coalitional outgroups are especially likely to be viewed as potential threats to physical safety. One implication of this is that, just as it is especially easy acquire and maintain a fearful response to non-social objects that posed significant threats throughout humans’ evolutionary history (e.g., snakes; Öhman & Mineka, 2001), it is also especially easy to acquire and maintain a fearful response to people who belong to an ecologically meaningful outgroup. […]

Simply being on a dark street in a strange city triggers a self-protective motivational system, and increases attention to, and memory for, angry male strangers, and leads one to perceive out-group members as especially dangerous:

[…] This subjective sense of vulnerability may also be elicited by specific features in the local ecological context. For example, because of humans’ relatively poor night vision and ancestral susceptibility to nocturnal predators, ambient darkness is a potent cue connoting enhanced vulnerability to physical harm. Therefore, the self-protection system is likely to be activated especially strongly under conditions of ambient darkness. Consistent with this logic, sudden noises produce especially exaggerated fear responses in people when they are in the dark (Grillon, Pellowski, Merikangas, & Davis, 1997). […]

Because diseases are imperceptible to the naked eye, the behavioural immune processes are not sensitive to diseases per se but are elicited by morphological and olfactory cues that heuristically connote the presence of diseases. [x] [x]

Consistent with the hypothesis that it is especially easy to acquire and maintain a fearful response to people who belong to an ecologically meaningful outgroup, non-Black individuals in the United States are especially slow to unlearn fearful responses to the faces of Black strangers:

The role of social groups in the persistence of learned fear [the figure of this post is taken from this study]:

We examined how the mechanisms of fear conditioning apply when humans learn to associate social ingroup and outgroup members with a fearful event, with the goal of advancing our understanding of basic learning theory and social group interaction. Primates more readily associate stimuli from certain fear-relevant natural categories, such as snakes, with a negative outcome relative to stimuli from fear-irrelevant categories, such as birds. We assessed whether this bias in fear conditioning extends to social groups defined by race. Our results indicate that individuals from a racial group other than one’s own are more readily associated with an aversive stimulus than individuals of one’s own race, among both white and black Americans.
http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~mrbworks/articles/manuscripts/1113551Revisedtext2.pdf

This study used classic techniques of fear conditioning and extinction. In fear conditioning, a subject is trained to fear an otherwise-neutral stimulus—for example, by repeatedly pairing an electric shock with a picture of a blue square. Before too long the subject will show a physical, preconscious, anticipatory fear reaction when shown a blue square.

In the figure: After enough instances in which a blue square is shown and no shock delivered, the subject will “unlearn” the fear reaction. This is known as “extinction.”

Importantly, there exists one category of stimuli that humans associate more readily with aversive stimuli, to which such fear extinction is less complete. Known as “prepared” or “fear-relevant” stimuli, this category includes spiders and snakes. A subject will learn to fear both a butterfly and a snake if both images are paired with electric shock, but the aversive association with the snake will kick in more strongly and die more slowly—and incompletely. These all this by studying the lack of a return to baseline skin conductance after faces are shown in association with electrical shocks.

Mirroring the pattern observed for snakes and spiders, in the study both white and African American subjects acquired a stronger anticipatory fear response to out-group than to in-group faces, and both showed a resistance to fear extinction only for out-group faces.

Using this approach to study race differences is sceptical, but the fact that subjects do not show the same results for different races does show that something is going on. Since individuals ought to vary greatly, for interaction with racial attitudes and reported interracial contact lowering levels of fear-conditioning bias, only correlation, not causation, could be shown. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. Evidently, this is indicative of differences on the individual level.

The authors point out the importance of cultural patterns in impacting individual fear-conditioning, but people nevertheless seem adapted to recognize "the other" and fear it:

"Our discovery underscores the strong bond between person and social group," said Mahzarin Banaji from Harvard University. "It shows how strong is the ‘pull’ that the groups we belong to exert on us. We can’t shake off the group easily.
http://www.livescience.com/347-race-fears-linger-dread-snakes.html

Moreover, this particular effect appears to be specific to male faces in that conditioned fear towards faces of outgroup exemplars resists extinction solely when the outgroup targets are male and not female, which is consistent with the male warrior hypothesis:

The male warrior hypothesis argues that the ultimate purpose of intergroup conflict is to gain access to fitness-enhancing resources, such as food, territories and mates. From this perspective, women are a reproductive resource to be competed for (rather than against). This implies that males should not only be the agents of intergroup conflict as we have suggested above, but also the direct targets of intergroup conflict in terms of prejudice, hostility and aggression (the outgroup male target hypothesis).

Fear Extinction to an Out-Group Face:As above. Results indicated that participants’ fear response resisted extinction when the targets were outgroup males, but not when the targets were ingroup males, ingroup females or outgroup females. The results held for both White and Black American research participants toward White and Black out-group targets and were unrelated to participants’ measured level of negative attitudes against the racial out-group.

Related:

  • Ethnocentrism and Individualistic-Collectivistic Attitudes

Related posts: [X], [X]
Pathogenic diseases impose selection pressures on the social behaviour of host populations. In humans many psychological phenomena appear to serve an antipathogen defence function. One broad implication is the existence of cross-cultural differences in human cognition and behaviour contingent upon the relative presence of pathogens in the local ecology. We focus specifically on one fundamental cultural variable: differences in individualistic versus collectivist values. We suggest that specific behavioural manifestations of collectivism (e.g. ethnocentrism, conformity) can inhibit the transmission of pathogens; and so we hypothesize that collectivism (compared with individualism) will more often characterize cultures in regions that have historically had higher prevalence of pathogens. Drawing on epidemiological data and the findings of worldwide cross-national surveys of individualism/collectivism, our results support this hypothesis: the regional prevalence of pathogens has a strong positive correlation with cultural indicators of collectivism and a strong negative correlation with individualism. The correlations remain significant even when controlling for potential confounding variables. These results help to explain the origin of a paradigmatic cross-cultural difference, and reveal previously undocumented consequences of pathogenic diseases on the variable nature of human societies.
http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/275/1640/1279.full.pdf
In order to study the relationship between biological factors and collectivism, this study compiled a comprehensive database of four different measures of individualism–collectivism for each nation in the world. These measures were drawn from global surveys (Hofstede, Gelfand), expert opinion (Suh), or language (e.g. pronoun) usage (Kashima). The results find geographical variability in historical and contemporary pathogen prevalence and show that geographical variability can predict cultural variability in individualism-collectivism, i.e., pathogen prevalence is associated with collectivist values, such that collectivism may have been initially adaptive for persons living in environments with historically high parasitism rates (e.g., the tropics). The correlation between independent measures of individualism and collectivism were strong (r = 0.80):
[…] Within our dataset, the two ‘individualism’ scores (Hofstede, Suh) were highly positively correlated ( r Z 0.91), as were the two ‘collectivism’ scores (Gelfand, Kashima; r Z 0.80). Correlations between the individualism and collectivism scores were highly negatively related ( r ’s ranged from K 0.72 to K 0.85). […]
Additionally, the collectivist insistence on childhood obedience is positively correlated with parasite prevalence, as observed in a cross-national study.
  • Collectivism is a cultural pattern that includes inclinations toward conformity, adherence to tradition, and sharper ingroup–outgroup boundaries.
Gene-asscoiation studies find evidence that the association between pathogen prevalence and individualism-collectivism is mediated by short (S) allele distributions of the serotonin transporter polymorphism (5-HTTLPR), such that collectivistic nations show higher prevalence of S allele carriers:The aforementioned study (Suh) too finds a strong correlation (r = 0.65) between the proportion of the population with the G allele of the A118G polymorphism and individualism-collectivism. In the figure below, higher scores represent greater individualism and lower collectivism:Notice the general trend of European (particularly Northern Europe and the Anglosphere) countries featuring on the individualistic end of the distribution.
Compare also with a map shakily entitled “the world’s most and least racially tolerant countries,” [the image of this post]. It displays the percentage of respondents who chose "people of a different race" when asked identify kinds of people they would not want as neighbours. The map uses data from the comprehensive World Values Survey: other choices to the question included; drug addicts, people who have AIDS, immigrants/foreign workers, homosexuals, people of a different religion, heavy drinkers, unmarried couples living together, and people who speak a different language.Finally, the figure above displays data drawn from the Gallup World Poll. It finds that tolerance of minorities (collectively assessed as ethnic minorities, migrants and gay and lesbian people) is highest in individualistic Anglophone and Northern European countries - lowest in the collectivistic nations of China, Indonesia, India.
Not only are geopolitical regions reliable proxies of societal cultures, but it appears that societal collectivism/individualism is associated with pathogen avoidance behaviour, such that more collectivist societies tend to have higher levels of xenophobia than more individualistic Anglophone and Northern European societies. Xenophobic behaviour is also positively correlated with scores on the Perceived Vulnerability to Disease (PVD) scale, which was developed and tested to measure how susceptible a person felt he was to infection. In other uses the PVD scale was found to be positively correlated with prejudicial attitudes resulting from xenophobia.

revtomdildomolar:

"Women are more likely to be attracted to personality and men are more likely to be attracted to physical appearance"

woah maybe that’s because we teach women to see men as people and we teach men to see women as objects

The male preference for youth and physical attractiveness spans the globe; 52 nations, 6 continents, and 13 islands in a cross-cultural survey, in fact. The same sex differences are evident regardless of whether mean, median, distributional, or categorical indexes of sexual differentiation are evaluated. The same findings are replicated every time they’re comprehensively studied. There’s something innate going on. In our past. There are global sex differences in mate preferences and long-term relationship requirements, but can evolutionary-evolved mechanisms influence human behaviour today? Surely not.

  • Ethnocentrism and Pathogen-Avoidance

Related posts: [X], [X]

There is a genetic basis to group identification and preferences, in that humans give preferential treatment to others in whom they detect genetic resemblance as such behaviour enhances genetic fitness.

Although a sizeable literature addresses the dehumanization of outgroup members, only recently have investigators assessed the evolutionary mechanisms involved by exploring the connection between disease and intergroup attitudes. Here is some of that research:

Disease avoidance and ethnocentrism: the effects of disease vulnerability and disgust sensitivity on intergroup attitudes:

Extending a model relating xenophobia to disease avoidance. We argue that both inter- and intragroup attitudes can be understood in terms of the costs and benefits of interacting with the in-group versus out-groups. In ancestral environments, interaction with members of the in group will generally have posed less risk of disease transmission than interaction with members of an out-group, as individuals will have possessed antibodies to many of the pathogens present in the former, in contrast to those prevalent among the latter. Moreover, because coalitions are more likely among in group members, the in-group would have been a potential source of aid in the event of debilitating illness.

  • Study 1 found that ethnocentric attitudes increase as a function of perceived disease vulnerability.
  • Study 2 found that in-group attraction increases as a function of disgust sensitivity, both when measured as an individual difference variable and when experimentally primed. We discuss these results with attention to the relationships among disease salience, out-group negativity, and in group attraction.

This found that Americans’ preference for Americans over foreigners increased as a function of perceived vulnerability to disease and disgust toward potential avenues for contamination, effects due neither to the negative valence of the stimuli nor to mortality concerns.

In addition to attending to group membership as an index of disease risk, psychological mechanisms that address this threat may focus on group membership due to the importance of alliances during times of hardship. In societies structured similarly to those in which humans lived during most of human history, allies provision the sick and their dependents, provide care, and protect them from predators and enemies. This is nicely demonstrated by data on injuries and illnesses (that were likely to have been lethal without provisioning) suffered by Shiwiar forager-horticulturalists in Ecuador.

Because alliances are more common within than across group boundaries, questions of group membership and cultural similarity can be expected to be salient when illness threatens, as individuals benefit from attitudes that enhance and extend existing coalitions when they are most vulnerable.

Thus, people are expected not only to be motivated to avoid outgroups in response to disease threats but also to find the ingroup more attractive. This appears to be the case:

Although a considerable body of research explores alterations in women’s mating-relevant preferences across the menstrual cycle, investigators have yet to examine the potential for the menstrual cycle to influence intergroup attitudes. We examined the effects of changes in conception risk across the menstrual cycle on intergroup bias and found that increased conception risk was positively associated with several measures of race bias. This association was particularly strong when perceived vulnerability to sexual coercion was high.
http://www.cdnresearch.net/pubs/private/racebias.pdf

Fig. 1 (of this post) shows that the white women in the study evaluated black men more negatively as a function of their increased risk of conception across the menstrual cycle.

The association between conception risk and evaluations of black men was moderated by women’s self-appraised vulnerability to sexual coercion, such that white women who reported feeling more vulnerable to sexual coercion evaluated black men more negatively as a function of increased conception risk.

This suggests that women may be equipped with mechanisms for avoiding sexual threats, from outgroup males specifically. In periods of high fertility, women appear to demonstrate increased race bias in implicit evaluation, implicit stereotyping, mate attraction, and fear of male targets.

Others findings also reported that women in their first trimester exhibit increased negativity towards out-group members:

[…] While the naturally occurring immune changes of pregnancy offer a ready avenue for investigating such hypotheses, additional and, perhaps, even more illuminating avenues also exist; in the future, we hope to explore intergroup attitudes among people who are episodically or chronically pharmacologically immunosuppressed, such as recipients of organ transplants or individuals undergoing treatment for autoimmune disorders.

As above, pathogen avoidance would be particularly important during the first trimester when the foetus is most susceptible to developmental perturbations and the woman is immunosuppressed (suppression of the body’s immune system and its ability to fight infections or disease). This is particularly poignant when considering the complications in finding matching bone marrow donors for mixed-race patients: Different races have developed certain proteins, or markers, that are part of the body’s natural defences and these markers help the immune system determine which cells are foreign and should be rejected. Since a transplant essentially introduces a new immune system to a person, patients require genetically similar cells to avoid developing graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). Acting as an invading virus, if the newly transplanted cells are too genetically distant they regard the recipient’s body as foreign and begin to attack it:

Q

thegreatgadfly asked:

Your blog is a model of organization, and the material you put up has affinities with a lot of scientific material I've been reading lately. Forgive the vulgarity of the question, but can I ask what your politics are? It's the one thing I cannot discern to my own satisfaction from reading your blog. Other than a somewhat undefined antipathy to liberalism, that is.

A

Thanks. Arranging the posts in the manner I do is about the only thing I take credit for, more or less.

I like being pseudo-anonymous and more recently I intended to keep the politics vague, at least upon first viewing. Mostly this has been to attract more varied followers; essentially anyone that has an informed opinion, or those who are less informed but are open to listening.

I’ll post about what I’m acquainted with enough to justify (that’s important). Most recent posts are simply compiled from what I’ve been reading recently myself, although I’m far from an expert (it’s easy to standout amongst the conventional here on tumblr), there’s not much consideration of genetics in people’s politics, if at all. Maybe there’s a niche for blogs like this on tumblr.

Admittedly, the posts aren’t completely independent from my politics. As I understand it, the findings in human genetics (a large portion of the content on my blog) go against the enlightened opinion and brings attention to those facts that simply cannot exist. So I’m dogmatism incarnate to liberals, but often also inconvenient for the typical conservative. I did used to align myself with conservatives, before noticing that the kind of conservatism that shows up politically doesn’t have any predictive value - liars and fools, really.

Libertarians are to my liking though. They have these ideas that the social patterns they favour actually work – you know, if you let a guy make his own decisions, like choosing whether to wear a seat belt, he’d pick the right answer – the answer that worked in practice. On any given question. I particularly enjoy true-blue libertarian types who spend a lot of effort arguing that there must be good reasons for individual choice, even if the end result is a broken neck. Libertarian policies, economics and all, by default assume independence from genes. Which is why libertarians tend to be wrong, about everything.

Evident is the predicament that no popular ideology is based on any understanding of heritable abilities. It’s all parental investment and upbringing. Once upon a time people of many persuasions accepted accepted life as biological, evolutionary, and governed by absolute laws of nature - that’s my worldview. Now only the right kind of genetics is permissible, if that. Most dismiss anything that suggests selective pressures could result in innate human differences. Since everything suggests that, they keep busy.

Principally then, I’m mostly interested in genetics, race, and sustainability. Most of my posts reflect that, all three tend to go hand in hand, and all three aren’t independent of politics. For instance, below-replacement fertility and contending with mass-immigration are concerns, but they’re only half the battle. The current demographic pattern selects against intelligence, which is largely a product of deciding that our brightest young women should waste their reproductive years on careers. Of course, even if people at every level of intelligence had the same number of children, so that there was no selection against IQ, there’s still not enough selection going on to counter current mutation rates. The latter few points only require a smidgen of insight to comprehend, but there’s none of that going on. Again, many people dismiss genetics outright, or just don’t care about the long-term consequences. Those on the "right" are just as guilty of this.

"After all, I believe one of the great truths to emerge from this triumphant expedition inside the human genome is that in genetic terms, all human beings, regardless of race, are more than 99.9 percent the same."
Bill Clinton, White House, June 26, 2000, when the rough draft of the human genome was released.

During the period in which humans spread out of Africa, findings indicate that human evolution greatly accelerated, with at least 7% of the human genome changing over the last 40,000 years:

We refer to these as ascertained selected variants (ASVs). This number encompasses some 7% of human genes, and is consistent with the proportion found in another survey using a related approach. […] Many human genes are now known to have strongly selected alleles in recent historical times, such as lactase, CCR5, and FY. These surveys show that such genes are very common. This observation is surprising: in theory, such strongly selected variants should be rare. The observed distribution seems to reflect an exceptionally rapid rate of adaptive evolution.
Recent acceleration of human adaptive evolution

  • How then, can we be becoming more different if we’re all 99.9% the same?

The 99.9% figure is not the number of genes that are the same. It’s the number of nucleotide sequences that are the same. A single gene is a long chain of nucleotides, and a single nucleotide mutation can significantly alter how an entire gene works. Therefore, a mutation of large effect, which differs by only 0.1 from one population to another, can make a big difference.

Moreover, the 99.9% estimate doesn’t capture higher-level nucleotide variation:

[…] We have constructed a first-generation CNV map of the human genome through the study of 270 individuals from four populations with ancestry in Europe, Africa or Asia (the HapMap collection). […] A total of 1,447 copy number variable regions (CNVRs), which can encompass overlapping or adjacent gains or losses, covering 360 megabases (12% of the genome) were identified in these populations. These CNVRs contained hundreds of genes, disease loci, functional elements and segmental duplications. Notably, the CNVRs encompassed more nucleotide content per genome than SNPs, underscoring the importance of CNV in genetic diversity and evolution.
Global variation in copy number in the human genome

Genes usually occur in two copies, one inherited from each parent. This study found that ~12% of the genes in the human genome had variations in the number of copies of specific DNA segments. The old technique couldn’t detect repetitions (copy number variants) of some parts of the DNA code, which also occur. It is these differences in copy number that influence gene activity and ultimately the variation in a species’ function.

Discovery of this higher-level variation caused Craig Venter (of the Human Genome Project) to revise the much quoted 99.9% figure downward, to about 99.5%:

However, the results also reveal that lesser-studied genomic variants, insertions and deletions, while comprising a minority (22%) of genomic variation events, actually account for almost 74% of variant nucleotides. Inclusion of insertion and deletion genetic variation into our estimates of interchromosomal difference reveals that only 99.5% similarity exists between the two chromosomal copies of an individual and that genetic variation between two individuals is as much as five times higher than previously estimated.
The Diploid Genome Sequence of an Individual Human

As above, even if one populations’ nucleotide sequences are as little as 0.1% or as much as 1% different, this is still big in absolute terms. For instance, out of three billion base pairs in the human genome, one-tenth of 1% is still equivalent to 3 million nucleotide differences between two random genomes.

Most notable is that when the 99.9% figure first arose in the 1970s, using the same technique geneticists had also discovered that nucleotide sequences were 98.9% the same between humans and chimpanzees, a figure which too had to eventually be lowered down to about 95%.

Of course, these measures of genetic distance are not comparable because the nature of genetic change can vary dramatically. For instance, humans and chimps seem to differ the most in ‘regulatory genes’ whose effects are many times greater than those of ‘structural genes.’ Likewise, human races are not identical populations, any more than humans and chimpanzees are sibling species. Human measures of genetic distance are not comparable because the nature of genetic change can vary dramatically [previous post].

None of this has to matter though, as long as the "we are all the same" mantra has a stamp of scientific approval, it doesn’t seem to matter that from the 70s to now, researchers have gone to great lengths to explain why the way in which it was presented to the academic community was always misleading.

Even so, more recent papers have shown that the second reassessment of human population differences was too an underestimate. Now the estimated difference between the genomes of two human populations is ~98.4% - but who cares at this point?

Related:

Equally misleading and fallacious, is the dogmatic 1972 statistic which became a staple in every graduate’s anthropology textbook; that 85% percent of all human genetic variation occurs within groups and only 15% between groups.

neurosismanifesto:

neurosismanifesto:

neurosismanifesto:

itsquitealrighttobewhite:

Cultural appropriation is just a symptom of White guilt. The guilt-ridden White still seeks to be a part of something, and appropriating another race’s culture hasn’t the same stigma as being proud of one’s European culture.

If the…

Spare me the Eugenics & the Scientific Racism. truth.*

There is nothing true about there being an inherent difference between the way our heads are shaped. It’s almost like you have literally never seen piles of bodies before. I’d like to see you tell me the exact race of a human skeleton by looking at the shape of its head.

Human cranial capacity varies, and there’s a general trend with latitude.

Despite what Gould said, there is nothing especially hard about measuring skulls, certainly not now with MRI scans. A healthy brain is best, but before they decided that race doesn’t exist, in the past multivariate analysis was used by anthropologists to determine race from skull shape, it was standard practice.

70 different human populations were found to have 20 distinct cranial traits. Moreover, this study used 65 cranial measurements which were broken up into four subsets for statistical analysis, but only 15 of the 65 measurements were required to determine the ancestry of unknown human crania:The shape of skulls differs between closely-related populations (Portuguese) too.

intestinalfortitude:

nativenews:

Natives decolonize diet to fight diabetes, reconnect to land
[PHOTO: Rebecca Yoshino, director of the Shakopee Mdewakanton’s gardens, holds Dakota Corn in her hands Aug. 19, 2014 in Shakopee, Minn. American Indians are tackling obesity and diabetes by embracing ancient foods. Kyndell Harkness/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT.]
Bit by bit, the farm at Little Earth of United Tribes is growing. So, too, is a movement among Native Americans across the nation to improve their health by rediscovering ancestral foods and connections to lands once lost.
“It’s growing in the last 10 years within the Native communities in the United States,” said Susen Fagrelius, coordinator of Little Earth’s community health initiatives. As more people realize they can grow a significant amount of vegetables on a small parcel of land, they discover that “they have the ability to take back their food system.”
Lakota sage appears where once ordinary grass grew. Rows of Oneida cornstalks tower 6 feet in the air. Raspberries cover a small patch of the farm.
When Indians were forced onto reservations, government commodities replaced the unprocessed, nutrient-rich foods they were used to eating, said Mihesuah, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma who runs the American Indian Health and Diet Project at the University of Kansas.
“Type 2 diabetes didn’t start showing up until after the Civil War,” she said. Through food, she wanted to “help our community and other native communities address acute and chronic conditions.”
The decolonized diet movement is spreading seeds nationwide. In New Mexico, indigenous food programs are working to preserve seeds from hundreds of years ago. Tribes in North Carolina are restoring native fruit and vegetable plants in newly established gardens.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is at the forefront of these efforts. Lori Watso, a former public health nurse and Shakopee Tribe member, was the inspiration for the expansive garden and natural health store established on tribal land in Prior Lake, Minnesota.
Since starting in 2010, the garden has more than doubled in size.
Now in its fifth growing season, the 12-acre Wozupi has an orchard with trees bearing indigenous fruits – June berries, elderberries and wild plums. Goats and chickens roam the newly added Children’s Garden. There’s also a Heritage Garden, where ancient seeds given to them from other tribes grow.

Indians

Everyone should be looking at what they’re adapted to eating. If your ancestors were dining on a certain food for thousands of years, you will deal with it better than someone with no such ancestry; you’ll be better at resisting its toxins and be less likely to overindulge in such food. E.g., the genomes of Europeans selected for lactase persistence and are better than average at making use of the novel and unusual mix of nutrients from dairy. Any such beneficial genes are picked up easily. For instance, thanks to the Indo-Europeans, the European lactase-persistence allele that is predominant among Europeans is present in India today.
Moreover, if your ancestors never encountered a particular food you won’t have any specific adaptations to it - we’ve seen what alcohol does to Amerindians. The perils of GMO are one thing, but there’s much more of that out in the world. Amerindians tolerate American crops, but they’ve had thousands of years to adapt - have old worlders? Whether they’re natural or not is not the point - poison ivy is "natural."

intestinalfortitude:

nativenews:

Natives decolonize diet to fight diabetes, reconnect to land

[PHOTO: Rebecca Yoshino, director of the Shakopee Mdewakanton’s gardens, holds Dakota Corn in her hands Aug. 19, 2014 in Shakopee, Minn. American Indians are tackling obesity and diabetes by embracing ancient foods. Kyndell Harkness/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT.]

Bit by bit, the farm at Little Earth of United Tribes is growing. So, too, is a movement among Native Americans across the nation to improve their health by rediscovering ancestral foods and connections to lands once lost.

“It’s growing in the last 10 years within the Native communities in the United States,” said Susen Fagrelius, coordinator of Little Earth’s community health initiatives. As more people realize they can grow a significant amount of vegetables on a small parcel of land, they discover that “they have the ability to take back their food system.”

Lakota sage appears where once ordinary grass grew. Rows of Oneida cornstalks tower 6 feet in the air. Raspberries cover a small patch of the farm.

When Indians were forced onto reservations, government commodities replaced the unprocessed, nutrient-rich foods they were used to eating, said Mihesuah, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma who runs the American Indian Health and Diet Project at the University of Kansas.

“Type 2 diabetes didn’t start showing up until after the Civil War,” she said. Through food, she wanted to “help our community and other native communities address acute and chronic conditions.”

The decolonized diet movement is spreading seeds nationwide. In New Mexico, indigenous food programs are working to preserve seeds from hundreds of years ago. Tribes in North Carolina are restoring native fruit and vegetable plants in newly established gardens.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is at the forefront of these efforts. Lori Watso, a former public health nurse and Shakopee Tribe member, was the inspiration for the expansive garden and natural health store established on tribal land in Prior Lake, Minnesota.

Since starting in 2010, the garden has more than doubled in size.

Now in its fifth growing season, the 12-acre Wozupi has an orchard with trees bearing indigenous fruits – June berries, elderberries and wild plums. Goats and chickens roam the newly added Children’s Garden. There’s also a Heritage Garden, where ancient seeds given to them from other tribes grow.

Indians

Everyone should be looking at what they’re adapted to eating. If your ancestors were dining on a certain food for thousands of years, you will deal with it better than someone with no such ancestry; you’ll be better at resisting its toxins and be less likely to overindulge in such food. E.g., the genomes of Europeans selected for lactase persistence and are better than average at making use of the novel and unusual mix of nutrients from dairy. Any such beneficial genes are picked up easily. For instance, thanks to the Indo-Europeans, the European lactase-persistence allele that is predominant among Europeans is present in India today.

Moreover, if your ancestors never encountered a particular food you won’t have any specific adaptations to it - we’ve seen what alcohol does to Amerindians. The perils of GMO are one thing, but there’s much more of that out in the world. Amerindians tolerate American crops, but they’ve had thousands of years to adapt - have old worlders? Whether they’re natural or not is not the point - poison ivy is "natural."

  • Intelligence: Heritable and Pleiotropic - Continued

DNA Evidence for Strong Genome-Wide Pleiotropy of Cognitive and Learning Abilities:

Very different neurocognitive processes appear to be involved in cognitive abilities such as verbal and non-verbal ability as compared to learning abilities taught in schools such as reading and mathematics. However, twin studies that compare similarity for monozygotic and dizygotic twins suggest that the same genes are largely responsible for genetic influence on these diverse aspects of cognitive function. It is now possible to test this evidence for strong pleiotropy using DNA alone from samples of unrelated individuals. Here we used this new method with 1.7 million DNA markers for a sample of 2,500 unrelated children at age 12 to investigate for the first time the extent of pleiotropy between general cognitive ability (aka intelligence) and learning abilities (reading, mathematics and language skills). We also compared these DNA results to results from twin analyses using the same sample and measures. The DNA-based method revealed strong genome-wide pleiotropy: Genetic correlations were greater than 0.70 between general cognitive ability and language, reading, and mathematics, results that were highly similar to twin study estimates of genetic correlations. These results indicate that genes related to diverse neurocognitive processes have general rather than specific effects.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3690183/

This finds that the genetic correlations between the general (g) factor of intelligence and language, mathematics, reading, height, weight, reveal a great similarity between previous GCTA and twin estimates, which estimate the heritability of general cognitive ability (g) to be in the region of >70% heritable. The former [univariate GCTA] method allows estimation of heritability due to common SNPs using relatively small sample sizes. It examines pairs of unrelated individuals and computes the correlation between pairwise phenotype similarity and genotype similarity (relatedness). I.e., examine many pairs of individuals and find to what extent similarity in genotype is related to similarity in phenotype (g score, specific ability score, height, weight, etc).

From such an analysis they can estimate the extent to which genes influence phenotype (heritability), and to what extent the same genes are influencing two different traits (e.g., height and weight, or reading ability and general cognitive ability g). The bivariate method used in the study of this post is described here in more detail. The method analyses the genetic correlation between genetic influences on different traits, called pleiotropy.

Table 1 shows GCTA-estimated genetic correlations (and standard errors, SE) between ‘g’ and learning abilities for more than 2,238 12-year-old UK twins (randomly selecting only one member of each twin pair to control for potential confounds, such as birth order) based on 1.7 million SNPs measured from the Affymetrix 6.0 GeneChip or imputed from HapMap 2,3 and WTCCC controls (Trzaskowski et al. 2013). Genetic correlations are significant and substantial for all three comparisons—between ‘g’ and language (0.81), mathematics (0.74), and reading (0.89). The GCTA-estimated genetic correlations between ‘g’ and learning abilities are similar in magnitude to the GCTA-estimated genetic correlation between height and weight (0.76). In addition, Table 1 includes bivariate results for ‘g’ versus height and ‘g’ versus weight as ‘negative controls’; their phenotypic correlations are both 0.07. As expected, these comparisons yielded negligible and nonsignificant genetic correlations (−0.03 and −0.06, respectively).

The genetic architecture of common complex disorders is much more broad-based, with most disorders and complex traits (intelligence, for one) possessing many variants of small effect:

[…] Are generalist genes all in the mind (cognition) or are they in the brain as well? That is, genetic correlations between cognitive and learning abilities might be epiphenomenal in the sense that multiple genetically independent brain mechanisms could affect each ability, creating genetic correlations among abilities. However, the genetic principles of pleiotropy (each gene affects many traits) and polygenicity (many genes affect each trait) lead us to predict that generalist genes have their effects further upstream, creating genetic correlations among brain structures and functions, a prediction that supports a network view of brain structure and function.

In what is likely the greatest stake in the heart of the multiple intelligences theory, is not just that, surprise, g is correlated with mathematical ability, it’s that the SNPs which are correlated with g have a lot of overlap with those that are correlated with mathematical ability, which says something about whether there is a real “general factor” of intelligence as opposed to a bundle of separate abilities that just happen to be correlated. This is contra to the multiple intelligence theory, whose basic tenant is that there are *several kinds of intelligence* that are not measured well by IQ tests, but allow people with low IQs to accomplish remarkable things – "picture smart;" "music smart."

[…] These results indicate that genes related to diverse neurocognitive processes have general rather than specific effects

In mentally retarded samples, the g factor often explains pretty much all the reliable IQ variance, while in smart samples non-g variance is very prominent. Stupidity is general, while high intelligence is specialized.

sa-to-ri:

The Course of Empire is a five-part series of paintings created by Thomas Cole in the years 1833-36. It is notable in part for reflecting popular American sentiments of the times, when many saw pastoralism as the ideal phase of human civilization, fearing that empire would lead to gluttony and inevitable decay.
The series of paintings depicts the growth and fall of an imaginary city, situated on the lower end of a river valley, near its meeting with a bay of the sea. The valley is distinctly identifiable in each of the paintings, in part because of an unusual landmark: a large boulder is precariously situated atop a crag overlooking the valley. Some critics believe this is meant to contrast the immutability of the earth with the transience of man.
sa-to-ri:

The Course of Empire is a five-part series of paintings created by Thomas Cole in the years 1833-36. It is notable in part for reflecting popular American sentiments of the times, when many saw pastoralism as the ideal phase of human civilization, fearing that empire would lead to gluttony and inevitable decay.
The series of paintings depicts the growth and fall of an imaginary city, situated on the lower end of a river valley, near its meeting with a bay of the sea. The valley is distinctly identifiable in each of the paintings, in part because of an unusual landmark: a large boulder is precariously situated atop a crag overlooking the valley. Some critics believe this is meant to contrast the immutability of the earth with the transience of man.
sa-to-ri:

The Course of Empire is a five-part series of paintings created by Thomas Cole in the years 1833-36. It is notable in part for reflecting popular American sentiments of the times, when many saw pastoralism as the ideal phase of human civilization, fearing that empire would lead to gluttony and inevitable decay.
The series of paintings depicts the growth and fall of an imaginary city, situated on the lower end of a river valley, near its meeting with a bay of the sea. The valley is distinctly identifiable in each of the paintings, in part because of an unusual landmark: a large boulder is precariously situated atop a crag overlooking the valley. Some critics believe this is meant to contrast the immutability of the earth with the transience of man.
sa-to-ri:

The Course of Empire is a five-part series of paintings created by Thomas Cole in the years 1833-36. It is notable in part for reflecting popular American sentiments of the times, when many saw pastoralism as the ideal phase of human civilization, fearing that empire would lead to gluttony and inevitable decay.
The series of paintings depicts the growth and fall of an imaginary city, situated on the lower end of a river valley, near its meeting with a bay of the sea. The valley is distinctly identifiable in each of the paintings, in part because of an unusual landmark: a large boulder is precariously situated atop a crag overlooking the valley. Some critics believe this is meant to contrast the immutability of the earth with the transience of man.
sa-to-ri:

The Course of Empire is a five-part series of paintings created by Thomas Cole in the years 1833-36. It is notable in part for reflecting popular American sentiments of the times, when many saw pastoralism as the ideal phase of human civilization, fearing that empire would lead to gluttony and inevitable decay.
The series of paintings depicts the growth and fall of an imaginary city, situated on the lower end of a river valley, near its meeting with a bay of the sea. The valley is distinctly identifiable in each of the paintings, in part because of an unusual landmark: a large boulder is precariously situated atop a crag overlooking the valley. Some critics believe this is meant to contrast the immutability of the earth with the transience of man.

sa-to-ri:

The Course of Empire is a five-part series of paintings created by Thomas Cole in the years 1833-36. It is notable in part for reflecting popular American sentiments of the times, when many saw pastoralism as the ideal phase of human civilization, fearing that empire would lead to gluttony and inevitable decay.

The series of paintings depicts the growth and fall of an imaginary city, situated on the lower end of a river valley, near its meeting with a bay of the sea. The valley is distinctly identifiable in each of the paintings, in part because of an unusual landmark: a large boulder is precariously situated atop a crag overlooking the valley. Some critics believe this is meant to contrast the immutability of the earth with the transience of man.

(via hyperborean-hierophant)


Every Study Finds Variable Response to Exercise

Using molecular classification to predict gains in maximal aerobic capacity following endurance exercise training in humans:

[…] The HERITAGE Family Study (n=473) was used for genotyping. […] Notably, RNA abundance for the predictor genes was unchanged by exercise training, supporting the idea that expression was preset by genetic variation. […] Regression analysis yielded a model where 11 single-nucleotide polymorphisms explained 23% of the variance in gains in VO2max, corresponding to approximately 50% of the estimated genetic variance for VO2max. VO2max responses to endurance training can be predicted by measuring a approximately 30-gene RNA expression signature in muscle prior to training. […]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2886694/

There’s a simplified lecture on youtube (also the source of the figures above) dealing with some of this research:

The Truth About Exercise and Public Health (start at 40:07)

The findings are that not everyone responds favourably to exercise, some have little to no response to exercise, and actually a fraction (about ~10%) can have a negative health or fitness response to training.
See; bold text in the condensed abstract above: They studied the genetics of why some people respond to endurance exercise so robustly, while others do not. In a fully supervised training program (the HERITAGE study) (6-20 weeks) some men and women quickly became much more aerobically fit, whilst others completed the same program and developed little if any additional endurance. This was measured by increases in their VO2 max, i.e., their body’s ability to consume and distribute oxygen to labouring muscles:Noteworthy is that they are able to predict VO2max exercise response (just one measure of response to exercise, not an overall measure) by looking at just 30 gene variants. The gene profile they uncovered (encompassing just 11 SNPs) accounted for at least 23% of the genetic variation in how people responded to endurance training, which, in genetic terms, is a hefty contribution.
Both figures of this post are taken from the lecture. The top figure shows a chart (left) displaying data from the HERITAGE Family Study database, which found adverse responses (high blood pressure; will contribute to higher risk of strokes, etc) to exercise. The bar chart (right) shows that the same occurrence has been observed in other studies. The bottom figure shows graphs of low responders to aerobic fitness; people that can’t grow muscle; and people that become more insulin-resistant, and thus at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

Lifestyle vs. Genes: Cardiovascular Health

Most public health guidelines, about the beneficiaries and power of lifestyle in resisting disease, rely on anecdotes, poor samples and simple observational studies; the kind that aren’t rigorous experimental tests and just look at associations, in classic confusion of correlation with causation. Randomised controlled trials lay out a different story. For instance, can exercise be "prescribed" as treatment for disease? No. Genes are the arbitrator. When diabetics were tested in a controlled clinical trial, exercise didn’t work in warding off cardiovascular events:
Diabetes Study Ends Early With a Surprising Result:

[…] The study randomly assigned 5,145 overweight or obese people with Type 2 diabetes to either a rigorous diet and exercise regimen or to sessions in which they got general health information. The diet involved 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day for those weighing less than 250 pounds and 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day for those weighing more. The exercise program was at least 175 minutes a week of moderate exercise. But 11 years after the study began, researchers concluded it was futile to continue — the two groups had nearly identical rates of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths. […] But the outcome is clear, said Dr. David Nathan, a principal investigator and director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We have to have an adult conversation about this,” he said. “This was a negative result.”
The full paper: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1212914

To further demonstrate, Spaniards have poor markers of "ideal cardiovascular health" as described by the American Heart Association:

Cardiovascular health in a southern Mediterranean European country: a nationwide population-based study.

This found that only 0.2% of the 11,408 Spanish subjects attained had ideal values for  all seven CVD health metrics; nonsmoker, body-mass index (BMI) <25 kg/m2, physical activity at goal, diet consistent with recommendations, untreated cholesterol <200 mg/dL, untreated BP <120/80 mm Hg, and untreated fasting glucose <100 mg/dL in the absence of clinical CVD and diabetes.
These are shocking statistics that are on par with those observed in the U.S., and as such you should expect to see a similar amount of Spaniards dropping dead as a result of heart attacks. Yet, Spain has much lower heart disease mortality rates, among the lowest in Europe in fact, as poignantly exemplified in the map from this paper:The same trend is observed in the American Heart Associations’ own statistics report (table on pg. 33).
For the simple-minded — this just not say that exercise regimes are pointless; benefits are unambiguous for most people, some more than others, excepting resisting disease, of course. The latter is not much of a paradox, as the history of a population affects its genome, and its genome effects the nature of its traits and diseases: genes, not lifestyle, predominate. The progress in genomics has come to confront much of the conventional wisdom, with the discovery of genetically driven group differences in disease resistance. E.g., diabetes risk is higher in American blacks with more African ancestry.  
Every Study Finds Variable Response to Exercise

Using molecular classification to predict gains in maximal aerobic capacity following endurance exercise training in humans:

[…] The HERITAGE Family Study (n=473) was used for genotyping. […] Notably, RNA abundance for the predictor genes was unchanged by exercise training, supporting the idea that expression was preset by genetic variation. […] Regression analysis yielded a model where 11 single-nucleotide polymorphisms explained 23% of the variance in gains in VO2max, corresponding to approximately 50% of the estimated genetic variance for VO2max. VO2max responses to endurance training can be predicted by measuring a approximately 30-gene RNA expression signature in muscle prior to training. […]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2886694/

There’s a simplified lecture on youtube (also the source of the figures above) dealing with some of this research:

The Truth About Exercise and Public Health (start at 40:07)

The findings are that not everyone responds favourably to exercise, some have little to no response to exercise, and actually a fraction (about ~10%) can have a negative health or fitness response to training.
See; bold text in the condensed abstract above: They studied the genetics of why some people respond to endurance exercise so robustly, while others do not. In a fully supervised training program (the HERITAGE study) (6-20 weeks) some men and women quickly became much more aerobically fit, whilst others completed the same program and developed little if any additional endurance. This was measured by increases in their VO2 max, i.e., their body’s ability to consume and distribute oxygen to labouring muscles:Noteworthy is that they are able to predict VO2max exercise response (just one measure of response to exercise, not an overall measure) by looking at just 30 gene variants. The gene profile they uncovered (encompassing just 11 SNPs) accounted for at least 23% of the genetic variation in how people responded to endurance training, which, in genetic terms, is a hefty contribution.
Both figures of this post are taken from the lecture. The top figure shows a chart (left) displaying data from the HERITAGE Family Study database, which found adverse responses (high blood pressure; will contribute to higher risk of strokes, etc) to exercise. The bar chart (right) shows that the same occurrence has been observed in other studies. The bottom figure shows graphs of low responders to aerobic fitness; people that can’t grow muscle; and people that become more insulin-resistant, and thus at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

Lifestyle vs. Genes: Cardiovascular Health

Most public health guidelines, about the beneficiaries and power of lifestyle in resisting disease, rely on anecdotes, poor samples and simple observational studies; the kind that aren’t rigorous experimental tests and just look at associations, in classic confusion of correlation with causation. Randomised controlled trials lay out a different story. For instance, can exercise be "prescribed" as treatment for disease? No. Genes are the arbitrator. When diabetics were tested in a controlled clinical trial, exercise didn’t work in warding off cardiovascular events:
Diabetes Study Ends Early With a Surprising Result:

[…] The study randomly assigned 5,145 overweight or obese people with Type 2 diabetes to either a rigorous diet and exercise regimen or to sessions in which they got general health information. The diet involved 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day for those weighing less than 250 pounds and 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day for those weighing more. The exercise program was at least 175 minutes a week of moderate exercise. But 11 years after the study began, researchers concluded it was futile to continue — the two groups had nearly identical rates of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths. […] But the outcome is clear, said Dr. David Nathan, a principal investigator and director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We have to have an adult conversation about this,” he said. “This was a negative result.”
The full paper: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1212914

To further demonstrate, Spaniards have poor markers of "ideal cardiovascular health" as described by the American Heart Association:

Cardiovascular health in a southern Mediterranean European country: a nationwide population-based study.

This found that only 0.2% of the 11,408 Spanish subjects attained had ideal values for  all seven CVD health metrics; nonsmoker, body-mass index (BMI) <25 kg/m2, physical activity at goal, diet consistent with recommendations, untreated cholesterol <200 mg/dL, untreated BP <120/80 mm Hg, and untreated fasting glucose <100 mg/dL in the absence of clinical CVD and diabetes.
These are shocking statistics that are on par with those observed in the U.S., and as such you should expect to see a similar amount of Spaniards dropping dead as a result of heart attacks. Yet, Spain has much lower heart disease mortality rates, among the lowest in Europe in fact, as poignantly exemplified in the map from this paper:The same trend is observed in the American Heart Associations’ own statistics report (table on pg. 33).
For the simple-minded — this just not say that exercise regimes are pointless; benefits are unambiguous for most people, some more than others, excepting resisting disease, of course. The latter is not much of a paradox, as the history of a population affects its genome, and its genome effects the nature of its traits and diseases: genes, not lifestyle, predominate. The progress in genomics has come to confront much of the conventional wisdom, with the discovery of genetically driven group differences in disease resistance. E.g., diabetes risk is higher in American blacks with more African ancestry. 
  • Every Study Finds Variable Response to Exercise

Using molecular classification to predict gains in maximal aerobic capacity following endurance exercise training in humans:

[…] The HERITAGE Family Study (n=473) was used for genotyping. […] Notably, RNA abundance for the predictor genes was unchanged by exercise training, supporting the idea that expression was preset by genetic variation. […] Regression analysis yielded a model where 11 single-nucleotide polymorphisms explained 23% of the variance in gains in VO2max, corresponding to approximately 50% of the estimated genetic variance for VO2max. VO2max responses to endurance training can be predicted by measuring a approximately 30-gene RNA expression signature in muscle prior to training. […]
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2886694/

There’s a simplified lecture on youtube (also the source of the figures above) dealing with some of this research:

The Truth About Exercise and Public Health (start at 40:07)

The findings are that not everyone responds favourably to exercise, some have little to no response to exercise, and actually a fraction (about ~10%) can have a negative health or fitness response to training.

See; bold text in the condensed abstract above: They studied the genetics of why some people respond to endurance exercise so robustly, while others do not. In a fully supervised training program (the HERITAGE study) (6-20 weeks) some men and women quickly became much more aerobically fit, whilst others completed the same program and developed little if any additional endurance. This was measured by increases in their VO2 max, i.e., their body’s ability to consume and distribute oxygen to labouring muscles:Noteworthy is that they are able to predict VO2max exercise response (just one measure of response to exercise, not an overall measure) by looking at just 30 gene variants. The gene profile they uncovered (encompassing just 11 SNPs) accounted for at least 23% of the genetic variation in how people responded to endurance training, which, in genetic terms, is a hefty contribution.

  • Both figures of this post are taken from the lecture. The top figure shows a chart (left) displaying data from the HERITAGE Family Study database, which found adverse responses (high blood pressure; will contribute to higher risk of strokes, etc) to exercise. The bar chart (right) shows that the same occurrence has been observed in other studies. The bottom figure shows graphs of low responders to aerobic fitness; people that can’t grow muscle; and people that become more insulin-resistant, and thus at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Lifestyle vs. Genes: Cardiovascular Health

Most public health guidelines, about the beneficiaries and power of lifestyle in resisting disease, rely on anecdotes, poor samples and simple observational studies; the kind that aren’t rigorous experimental tests and just look at associations, in classic confusion of correlation with causation. Randomised controlled trials lay out a different story. For instance, can exercise be "prescribed" as treatment for disease? No. Genes are the arbitrator. When diabetics were tested in a controlled clinical trial, exercise didn’t work in warding off cardiovascular events:

Diabetes Study Ends Early With a Surprising Result:

[…] The study randomly assigned 5,145 overweight or obese people with Type 2 diabetes to either a rigorous diet and exercise regimen or to sessions in which they got general health information. The diet involved 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day for those weighing less than 250 pounds and 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day for those weighing more. The exercise program was at least 175 minutes a week of moderate exercise. But 11 years after the study began, researchers concluded it was futile to continue — the two groups had nearly identical rates of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths. […] But the outcome is clear, said Dr. David Nathan, a principal investigator and director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We have to have an adult conversation about this,” he said. “This was a negative result.”

To further demonstrate, Spaniards have poor markers of "ideal cardiovascular health" as described by the American Heart Association:

Cardiovascular health in a southern Mediterranean European country: a nationwide population-based study.

This found that only 0.2% of the 11,408 Spanish subjects attained had ideal values for all seven CVD health metrics; nonsmoker, body-mass index (BMI) <25 kg/m2, physical activity at goal, diet consistent with recommendations, untreated cholesterol <200 mg/dL, untreated BP <120/80 mm Hg, and untreated fasting glucose <100 mg/dL in the absence of clinical CVD and diabetes.

These are shocking statistics that are on par with those observed in the U.S., and as such you should expect to see a similar amount of Spaniards dropping dead as a result of heart attacks. Yet, Spain has much lower heart disease mortality rates, among the lowest in Europe in fact, as poignantly exemplified in the map from this paper:The same trend is observed in the American Heart Associations’ own statistics report (table on pg. 33).

For the simple-minded — this just not say that exercise regimes are pointless; benefits are unambiguous for most people, some more than others, excepting resisting disease, of course. The latter is not much of a paradox, as the history of a population affects its genome, and its genome effects the nature of its traits and diseases: genes, not lifestyle, predominate. The progress in genomics has come to confront much of the conventional wisdom, with the discovery of genetically driven group differences in disease resistance. E.g., diabetes risk is higher in American blacks with more African ancestry