Saturday, November 18, 2017

Being a Jew under the Mamluks: Some Coping Strategies

Being a Jew under the Mamluks: Some Coping Strategies. Dotan Arad. In Stephan Conermann (ed.): Muslim-Jewish Relations in the Middle Islamic Period.

The Mamluk rulers imposed a number of restrictions on all their non-Muslim subjects. Some of these are known from the earlier Muslim period, such as the well-known “Pact of ĘżUmar.” Others were new restrictions imposed during the Mamluk period. In addition to the laws of Dhimmihood, Jews also frequently had to cope with interreligious hostility, acts of fanaticism, and various forms of harassment. What methods did Jews employ to improve their lot? In this article I want to discuss some of the strategies which the Jews adopted under these circumstances.

And these, the Jewish people of that era, were the dhimmis with better treatment... Other groups, like the Christians, were treated more unfavorably.

You may ask for the PDF.

Association of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder With Objective Indicators of Educational Attainment- A Nationwide Register-Based Sibling Control Study

Association of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder With Objective Indicators of Educational Attainment - A Nationwide Register-Based Sibling Control Study. Ana Perez-Vigil et al. JAMA Psychiatry, doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.3523

Key Points

Question  How is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) associated with objective indicators of educational attainment?

Findings  This population-based cohort study included 2 115 554 individuals, of whom 15 120 were diagnosed with OCD, and found that people with OCD were significantly more likely to fail all courses in compulsory school and less likely to achieve each level of education from primary to postgraduate education. The association was greatest when OCD was first diagnosed before age 18 years.

Meaning  Obsessive-compulsive disorder, particularly when it has an early age at onset, has a pervasive and profound association with decreased achievement across all educational levels.


Importance  To our knowledge, the association of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and academic performance has not been objectively quantified.

Objective  To investigate the association of OCD with objectively measured educational outcomes in a nationwide cohort, adjusting for covariates and unmeasured factors shared between siblings.

Design, Setting, And Participants  This population-based birth cohort study included 2 115 554 individuals who were born in Sweden between January 1, 1976, and December 31, 1998, and followed up through December 31, 2013. Using the Swedish National Patient Register and previously validated International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes, we identified persons with OCD; within the cohort, we identified 726 198 families with 2 or more full siblings, and identified 11 482 families with full siblings discordant for OCD. Data analyses were conducted from October 1, 2016, to September 25, 2017.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The study evaluates the following educational milestones: eligibility to access upper secondary school after compulsory education, finishing upper secondary school, starting a university degree, finishing a university degree, and finishing postgraduate education.

Results  Of the 2 115 554 individuals in the cohort, 15 120 were diagnosed with OCD (59% females). Compared with unexposed individuals, those with OCD were significantly less likely to pass all core and additional courses at the end of compulsory school (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] range, 0.35-0.60) and to access a vocational or academic program in upper secondary education (aOR, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.45-0.50 and aOR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.58-0.63, for vocational and academic programs, respectively). People with OCD were also less likely to finish upper secondary education (aOR, 0.43; 95% CI, 0.41-0.44), start a university degree (aOR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.69-0.75), finish a university degree (aOR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.56-0.62), and finish postgraduate education (aOR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.36-0.77). The results were similar in the sibling comparison models. Individuals diagnosed with OCD before age 18 years showed worse educational attainment across all educational levels compared with those diagnosed at or after age 18 years. Exclusion of patients with comorbid neuropsychiatric disorders, psychotic, anxiety, mood, substance use, and other psychiatric disorders resulted in attenuated estimates, but patients with OCD were still impaired across all educational outcomes.

Conclusions and Relevance  Obsessive-compulsive disorder, particularly when it has an early onset, is associated with a pervasive and profound decrease in educational attainment, spanning from compulsory school to postgraduate education.

The Evolutionary Psychology of Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Are There Universal Adaptations in Search, Aversion, and Signaling?

The Evolutionary Psychology of Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Are There Universal Adaptations in Search, Aversion, and Signaling? Peter M. Todd and Geoffrey F. Miller. Biological Theory,

Abstract: To understand the possible forms of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), we need not only astrobiology theories about how life evolves given habitable planets, but also evolutionary psychology theories about how intelligence emerges given life. Wherever intelligent organisms evolve, they are likely to face similar behavioral challenges in their physical and social worlds. The cognitive mechanisms that arise to meet these challenges may then be copied, repurposed, and shaped by further evolutionary selection to deal with more abstract, higher-level cognitive tasks such as conceptual reasoning, symbolic communication, and technological innovation, while retaining traces of the earlier adaptations for solving physical and social problems. These traces of evolutionary pathways may be leveraged to gain insight into the likely cognitive processes of ETIs. We demonstrate such analysis in the domain of search strategies and show its application in the domains of emotional aversions and social/sexual signaling. Knowing the likely evolutionary pathways to intelligence will help us to better search for and process any alien signals from the search for ETIs (SETI) and to assess the likely benefits, costs, and risks of humans actively messaging ETIs (METI).

Are Women Sexually Fluid? The Nature of Female Same-Sex Attraction and Its Evolutionary Origins

Are Women Sexually Fluid? The Nature of Female Same-Sex Attraction and Its Evolutionary Origins. Menelaos Apostolou. Evolutionary Psychological Science,

Abstract: The notion that female sexuality is fluid, meaning that women can experience attractions for either men or women depending on the circumstances, has been widely accepted by the academic community. Accordingly, scholars have attempted to develop evolutionary models that could explain why selection forces have favored sexual fluidity in women. The present paper reviews longitudinal studies on sexual attraction which indicate that the great majority of women do not have a fluid sexuality, but have instead stable attractions over time. Moreover, the current paper reviews studies on arousal, in order to demonstrate that they indicate a weak correlation between sexual arousal and sexual attraction in women, and not that women are attracted to both sexes. The evolutionary implications of the findings on female sexuality are further explored.

Check also The evolution of female same-sex attraction: The male choice hypothesis. Menelaos Apostolou et al. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 116, 1 October 2017, Pages 372-378,

Suicide in Happy Places: Is There Really a Paradox?

Suicide in Happy Places: Is There Really a Paradox? Philip M. Pendergast, Tim Wadsworth and Charis E. Kubrin. Journal of Happiness Studies,

Abstract: In 2011 researchers published a paper that exposed a puzzling paradox: the happiest states in the U.S. also tend to have the highest suicide rates. In the current study, we re-examine this relationship by combining data from the Multiple Mortality Cause-of-Death Records, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and the American Communities Survey to determine how subjective well-being and suicide are related across 1563 U.S. counties. We extend the original study in important ways: by incorporating both absolute and relative measures of subjective well-being; by examining the happiness-suicide association at a more suitable level of analysis; and by including a more robust set of control variables in the model. Contrary to the previous study, we do not observe any significant relationship, negative or positive, between the absolute and relative well-being of places and suicide rates at the county-level. Implications for the study of suicide rates and relative deprivation are discussed.

It seems wrong to believe that the role of bitter taste is to signal toxicity and alert animals against consuming harmful compounds

Nissim, I., Dagan-Wiener, A. and Niv, M. Y. (2017), The taste of toxicity: A quantitative analysis of bitter and toxic molecules. IUBMB Life. doi:10.1002/iub.1694

Abstract: The role of bitter taste—one of the few basic taste modalities—is commonly assumed to signal toxicity and alert animals against consuming harmful compounds. However, it is known that some toxic compounds are not bitter and that many bitter compounds have negligible toxicity while having important health benefits. Here we apply a quantitative analysis of the chemical space to shed light on the bitterness-toxicity relationship. Using the BitterDB dataset of bitter molecules, The BitterPredict prediction tool, and datasets of toxic compounds, we quantify the identity and similarity between bitter and toxic compounds. About 60% of the bitter compounds have documented toxicity and only 56% of the toxic compounds are known or predicted to be bitter. The LD50 value distributions suggest that most of the bitter compounds are not very toxic, but there is a somewhat higher chance of toxicity for known bitter compounds compared to known nonbitter ones. Flavonoids and alpha acids are more common in the bitter dataset compared with the toxic dataset. In contrast, alkaloids are more common in the toxic datasets compared to the bitter dataset. Interestingly, no trend linking LD50 values with the number of activated bitter taste receptors (TAS2Rs) subtypes is apparent in the currently available data. This is in accord with the newly discovered expression of TAS2Rs in several extra-oral tissues, in which they might be activated by yet unknown endogenous ligands and play non-gustatory physiological roles. These results suggest that bitter taste is not a very reliable marker for toxicity, and is likely to have other physiological roles.

Violent video games: Poorer quality studies, which tended to highlight negative findings, received more citations in scholarly sources, get more news media coverage

Copenhaver Allen, Mitrofan Oana, and Ferguson Christopher J.. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. November 2017, ahead of print.

Abstract: News coverage of video game violence studies has been critiqued for focusing mainly on studies supporting negative effects and failing to report studies that did not find evidence for such effects. These concerns were tested in a sample of 68 published studies using child and adolescent samples. Contrary to our hypotheses, study effect size was not a predictor of either newspaper coverage or publication in journals with a high-impact factor. However, a relationship between poorer study quality and newspaper coverage approached significance. High-impact journals were not found to publish studies with higher quality. Poorer quality studies, which tended to highlight negative findings, also received more citations in scholarly sources. Our findings suggest that negative effects of violent video games exposure in children and adolescents, rather than large effect size or high methodological quality, increase the likelihood of a study being cited in other academic publications and subsequently receiving news media coverage.

While realizing our own faults, we minimize the extent to which bad characteristics reflected what kind of people we are, predict more improvement than would others with the same faults, claim that others do worse things, and indicate that others are more likely to repeat the same bad behaviors in the future than ourselves

My worst faults and misdeeds: Self-criticism and self-enhancement can co-exist. Gregory S. Preuss & Mark D. Alicke.  Self and Identity, Volume 16, 2017 - Issue 6.

Abstract: Three studies explored whether self-enhancement is precluded when people recognize or even exaggerate their worst faults and behaviors. Even when acknowledging their faults, participants minimized the extent to which their bad characteristics reflected what kind of people they were, predicted that they would improve more in the future than would others with the same faults, claimed that others have done worse things to them than they have to others, and indicated that others are more likely to repeat the same bad behaviors in the future than themselves. Observers who read actors’ descriptions of their own misdeeds and those of others also saw the things that were done to actors as worse than the things actors had done.

Keywords: Self-enhancement, self-protection, future self, actor–observer, social comparison