- Apr 13, 2019
The admin has just had to add two new hard drives to the server rack
Polynesians are tall, robust and have good cardio. They grow to golden ratio as opposed to acromegalic,diseased,uneven growth therefore their height is not a detriment.I think Haidut is definitely illuminating something, but also a good deal of height potential is passed through DNA
Samoans clean up in contact sports
Wow *slow clap*What follows is a detailed criticism of everything that @haidut has stated in this thread, along with a few stray comments.
Why do this? @haidut has made a number of strong claims in this forum, with supporting arguments/narratives. In investigating another such thread recently I found the quality of research and argument to be poor. Again I am finding the quality of the case Haidut makes to be poor in this thread. I think there is value in refuting poor arguments, especially when it comes to someone who makes big claims with a lot of conviction. I think it's especially important for members of an alternative health community not to accept things simply because they are not mainstream.
As a result, I decided to do another point by point response. It takes a lot of words, because in general it takes more time to refute bad arguments than to make them. I still agree the role of genetics is "overplayed" as @ShotTrue described it, in general. But attacking the role of genetics in height was a mistake, as I think many readers will agree, by the end of this, should they dare to venture through it.
Okay first up we have a claim that the mainstream view on genes and height is "vehement dogma". In the strictest sense, "dogma" refers to axioms held as uncontestably true, i.e. not subject to debate, evidentiary reasoning, etc. "Vehement" according to Google means "strong feeling; forceful, passionate, or intense." So -- is the mainstream consensus on the role of genes in fact a kind of scientism, enforced through the forceful passion of... statisticians and geneticists? I am going to argue, no... it's more of a calmly held view, held by dispassionate nerds on the basis of strong evidence.
@haidut's chosen title presents a dichotomy (binary) -- "Height Is Dependent On Diet Quality, Not Genes". Because of this I do not understand why @haidut is confused later that someone would take it at face value.
I think the charitable thing to do here is credit @haidut with the position that these things are not -- at least not entirely -- mutually exclusive. Early on, he refines his position to "gene (sic) are likely not the main driver of height," which to me affirms that with the chosen title @haidut is speaking "in the main"... rather than in black and white.
Is his implication that the mainstream position is that genes are the main driver of height accurate, then? Largely yes... but also no. Allow me to explain.
The abstract of "Heritability of Adult Body Height: A Comparative Study of Twin Cohorts in Eight Countries," -- https://www.cambridge.org/core/jour...-countries/3EF884AEA534C90F46F95C9FA3944C84-- one paper I'll use as representative of the mainstream view, begins as follows:
"A major component of variation in body height is due to genetic differences, but environmental factors have a substantial contributory effect."
This is not quite as strong a statement as the implied mainstream view ("main driver" vs. "major component"), but the paper goes on to claim that heritable traits explain "from 0.68 to 0.84 [of height] when an additive genes/shared environment/unique environment (ACE) model was used" for women. (Interestingly, for men, heritability estimates were higher. This is easily explained in a genetic model by males having a greater ancestral imperative to reach a certain height. Whereas it seems to pose a problem for the view that things are more environmental -- why would environment affect measurably and markedly less for this specific trait?)
In any case, @haidut's fundamental characterization of the mainstream view basically holds, as long as it's not stated too strongly.
But I think it's also good to acknowledge some subtleties. Any time we assign a "percentage" of explanation to genes vs environment, or quantify that, we're relying on specific statistical techniques. On a more realistic level I think everyone acknowledges the interactions are complex.
For example, there is AFAIK nothing much one can do about height later in life, in most cases. To this extent is sees blindingly obvious that the genetic program controls the situation 100%. I am guessing that even @haidut would admit this.
@haidut will go on to imply that examples of environment having a large influence over population or individual heights, in and of themselves, contradict the genetic account. That somehow past and current scientists have not known such things and factored them into the theories. But that isn't at all true. For example, American Colonial soldiers (mostly Englishmen) were known to be about 3" taller than the Royal Marines during the time of the American Revolution. That environmental impacts can have a huge impact on height, a trait thought to be strongly heritable (even before modern genetics, in this case) is not new information, and all theories have developed to take this kind of thing into account.
The main part of the debate is about what is more influential in the distribution of traits within a population. The Scientific American article, How much of human height is genetic and how much is due to nutrition? opens by clarifying this: 'This question can be rephrased as: "How much variation (difference between individuals) in height is attributable to genetic effects and how much to nutritional effects?" The short answer to this question is that about 60 to 80 percent of the difference in height between individuals is determined by genetic factors, whereas 20 to 40 percent can be attributed to environmental effects, mainly nutrition. This answer is based on estimates of the "heritability" of human height: the proportion of the total variation in height due to genetic factors.'
In other words, the mainstream claim that genetics drive height variability isn't incompatible with the claim that environment/nutrition drives the mean. The latter is accepted as assumed. The whole idea is that we're measuring genes response to the environment (and that means it makes sense to separate common/shared environment from unique environment, which is what the aforementioned ACE model does). So the basic approach of saying "see? these starving people are tiny while these well-fed people are huge?" and claiming it's evidence for the "nurture" side argues against a straw man. This idea of variability is a necessary subtlety.
This is underscored in the following interview So is it nature not nurture after all?
'Another problem that Plomin encounters with explaining his findings is that people often confuse group and individual differences – or, to put it another way, the distinction between means and variances. Thus, the average height of northern European males has increased by more than 15cm in the past two centuries. That is obviously due to changes in environment. However, the variation in height between northern European males is down to genetics. The same applies to psychological traits.
'“The causes of average differences,” he says, “aren’t necessarily related to causes of individual differences. So that’s why you can say heritability can be very high for a trait, but the average differences between groups – ethnic groups, gender – could be entirely environmental; for example, as a result of discrimination. The confusion between means and variances is a fundamental misunderstanding.”'
Now @haidut has produced what he pretty clearly means to be a counterxample to the mainstream theory, without directly stating that. But is it much of a counterexample? Beause let's be clear, if less than polite, than Plomin... who is one of the most hardcore genetics guys out there. Plomin just cited an even *bigger* example of a population height change than @haidut. As an example of a common misconception among people who just aren't familiar with the basics of what geneticists like him claim.
Such examples are utterly non problematic for the mainstream theory of how genes drive height.
Note also that all the population examples discussed so far, while impressive in their own right, still involve deltas of a small percentage of the overall mean height. Is this problematic for a theory that assigns a substantial minority role to environment? Not at all.
At this point @outtherebrother made the following counter-claim:
This is quite close to the mainstream view, and incorporates a well-known fact I didn't talk about yet (i.e. that not getting enough is quite problematic and "stunts growth"). But I think it's also slightly misleading to absolutely say that genetics determine the maximum. That's only roughly true, I think. According to the models I've cited and will cite below, environment does have some role on the high end. But it's still a much more accurate statement than any of @haidut's. @haidut responds to it thusly:
There are a lot of things wrong with this, rapidly packed into succession, so let me try to break it down. First, is it valid to suggest, as this does, that it's necessary to name the genes in order to conclude that heritable factors, rather than environmental ones, predominate height? Not in the slightest! Even folk knowledge has historically recognized height as one of the more heritable traits, e.g. in villages where people commonly ate the same food and lived the same way, heights often went with families. Modern twin studies provide much more compelling evidence.
You may recall that @haidut used the Dutch height increase as a supposed counterexample of the mainstream view. As luck would have it, the Wikipedia article on Twin studies -- Twin study - Wikipedia -- presents a mathematical model that includes data on this very Dutch height-boom, and accounts for it. Thus, you can see why @haidut's apparent notion that mere the *existence* of the Dutch height boom somehow poses a problem for mainstream theory is a complete non sequitur. This page explains some about the ACE (Additive Genes / Common Environment / Shared Environment) mode and how it's derived from twin studies, and may be worth a look.
Why 'additive' by the way? We'll get to that. But let's look at the study.
"Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Weight, Height, and BMI from Birth to 19 Years of Age: An International Study of Over 12,000 Twin Pairs"
Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Weight, Height, and BMI from Birth to 19 Years of Age: An International Study of Over 12,000 Twin Pairs
The results are summarized in Tables 1 and 2, on pages 6 and 7 of the PDF. For 19 year old males, 71.8% of height was statistically explained by A (Additive Genes in the model). For 19 year old females, it's "just" 60.4%. That is some pretty compelling evidence that fits the mainstream view, and thus poses problems for @haidut's view.
To put this into clearer focus, just look at the identical twins themselves. Identical twins are almost always very close in height. If the idea that diet matters more than genes were true, wouldn't we have lots of examples of identical twins with wildly different heights?
A striking thing in favor of the heritability argument, that emerges in this study is that heritable factors play an *increasing* role over time. That is, their data show that environmental factors matter more right at birth and soon after, then over time they matter less and less.
Is this evidence for or against anything? In short, no. Individual cases don't invalidate statistical methods. Suggesting so is, however, a red flag.
To expand a bit on this... children share 50% of genes with each parent. Which is the same percentage that siblings share. While it's rare for one sibling to be quite tall while another is average height, it's not that rare. This might be worth thinking about later when I talk about the evidence for 'additive' genetics.
Literally none of the evidence presented so far favors the environmental influence over genes -- except in a trivial sense that no one really argues. The mainstream view for example, has no problem with the concept that environmental factors limit height. Take it to the extreme -- feed a child almost nothing and they will be extremely short. Saying that's evidence against the genetic view is, frankly and simply, a misunderstanding or misconstruction of the mainstream view. It's just as irrelevant as my point earlier about how height can't really be changed after a certain age demonstrating 100% genetic control. Anyone with an understanding of the debate understands that nurture "wins" in the former and genes "win" in the latter case, and that these define extremes in a certain sense. That's taken as a given; it's not the nature of the debate.
I argued above that it's not necessary to provide direct genetic evidence in order to conclude with confidence that height is largely a heritable trait -- meaning, as the mainstream view actually holds, that much of the *variability* in height is explained by heritable factors, primarily genetics. And it really isn't, but @haidut's suggestion that there is no clear evidence linking specific human genes to height is also dead wrong.
A 2010 study found human genetic data at 180 different genetic loci statistically explained 10 of height in subjects. While height is the product of many separate genes (see below), this is strong evidence that some genes matter more than others. 'Giant' step toward explaining differences in height among people
Fast forward to recently and we have identified genetic variations at over 700 loci collectively accounting for 20% of the overall genetic role. Does the fact that we have "only" got 20% of it so far pose a problem for the genetic argument? No. Does the existence of this invalidate everything @haidut just said in the previous quote? Yes.
Okay, let's wrap it up. Does the fact that many genes affect many traits and vice versa pose a problem for the genetic theory? Nope. Does it pose a problem for the *usefulness* of genetic analysis. That depends -- from the point of view of the popular misconception that there is a single gene for many traits, yes. In reality, it's a mixed bag. The math is harder. That doesn't undermine the genetic theory. And it has already been usefully demonstrated with height that specific genes can contribute disproportionately and that we can find them. So the premise that nothing has come of genetic investigations is flat wrong.
I promised to talk about genetics being 'additive'. Personally I find this very interesting... the very distribution of heights that we find in human populations is itself good evidence that the factors influencing height are (a)many and (b)independent of each other, i.e. additive rather than multiplicative/compounding. And the evidence is that the distribution of the heights is normal. If you think this sounds shifty or weird, look up the Central Limit Theorem in statistics. There's a reason it's commonly cited as one of the fundamental theorems. The idea that many different genes, each contributing to height in it's own little way, mostly independently of the rest, collectively explain much of height is highly compatible with the distribution of observed heights.
By contrast, for example, if you look at obesity -- a well known phenomenon that is generally thought to be predominately nutritional (environment!) -- you find a log-normal distribution. This is what you get when the factors interact and reinforce one another, as so many dietary factors do. (Like using 'times' instead of 'plus' with the Central Limit Theorem). Thus there is good reason to believe that obesity is related to many interacting and compounding factors... unlike height, where the factors are additive (non-interacting). Of course, that's what genes *are*. Unlike computer programs, which will probably crash or yield errors if you change one bit, the human genome is remarkably resilient to random genetic mutations. They are literally designed to be composed linearly (additively) at the gene level, so it should not be surprising that some phenotypes involve additive composition (resulting in a normal distributio) too.
I would also like to address the comment of @sugarbabe:
I think that's true in dog breeds for example. Across species, bigger animal live longer, according to a power law. Body size, energy metabolism and lifespan. - PubMed - NCBI IIRC that effect doesn't play out at the level of individuals within a species though. A good reminder that it's ultimately neither food nor genetic influence that limits the size of creatures, but the laws of physics that they are both interacting with. There are some interesting books on this.
Acromegaly is typically a tumor that presses the pituitary gland or makes growth hormone itself, and occurs after the bones have stopped lengthening (or perhaps if it is for above normal HGH values while they are open). I played rugby with an Olympic American Samoan, he was 6'3 but a massive 270 lbs and proportionate all over. He didn't use steroids, he didn't look bodybuilder stage ready but just big, without fat.Polynesians are tall, robust and have good cardio. They grow to golden ratio as opposed to acromegalic,diseased,uneven growth therefore their height is not a detriment.
Also has anyone noticed tall people are a lot more hungry? This is why I kept an open mind to what haidut was saying. Ghrelin is a chemical/hormone that increases hunger and growth hormone. Do they inherit much more ghrelin activity than others? Or do they eat a lot more because of family habits? This is why I would hesitate to close the issue
Wow *slow clap*
I guess additive is the term to look for. Diet can increase or decrease your height, but there is a genetic threshold/framework that is passed by DNA. In fact, it is the stem cells that produce the growth plates and lengthening of bones that is converted from DNA (this is what I hear about DNA methylation being good for height - look up SAM-E growth plates).
Saying genetics means nothing doesn't make sense. IF two dark skin endigenous Africans had a child in Graet Britian and raised them there, the child would still have dark skin. Environment is an influence that builds over time, and some factors are more genetic vs more environmental. Weight is much more nurture and dynamic than melanin expression or eye color.
Look up Ipamorelin for height. A peptide used to increase height by Novo Nordisk. Just injecting this compound for a few months would permanently increase your end height. L arginine supplements have been known to rapidly increase height.
There are people that eat more than their siblings or friends and don't reach a significantly greater height, as far as I know now.
It would work for someone whose stem cells in the bones are active, if you're younger than 25 it is worth trying and noting if you are getting taller, that would be your proofFor the last part of your post. Do you think it works for adults also?
Only genes could explain that...
Hereditary != genes with 100% certainty.
Again, there is no gene, group or genes, or even GWA that has been shown to be responsible for height.
A 2010 study found human genetic data at 180 different genetic loci statistically explained 10% of height in subjects. While height is the product of many separate genes (see below), this is strong evidence that some genes matter more than others. 'Giant' step toward explaining differences in height among people
Fast forward to recently and we have identified genetic variations at over 700 loci collectively accounting for 20% of the overall genetic role.
But which is it? High GH levels can be from stress AND also from improved conditions?? And I thought Peat said GH was the hormone of darkness? So if someone is tall that means they had to have been exposed to higher level of GH than someone shorter right?Hereditary != genes with 100% certainty. As we now know acquired features can be pass down to other generations. Again, there is no gene, group or genes, or even GWA that has been shown to be responsible for height. Stress can cause paradoxical effects and increased height due to high GH levels. It would be interesting to see if the tall blacks come from tall ancestors. I would bet that their ancestors living in slavery were much shorter and the improved living conditions of modern times (compared to slavery) is what led to increased height.
Except you've been arguing that environmental, not hereditary, factors cause height. Just look at the title of the thread.
Heredity is not an environmental factor. Before genes were discovered, heredity (nature) was the only concept that could be distinguished from environmental (nurture) factors. Genes are a subset of heredity.
Led by Associate Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology Terence D. Capellini, a team of researchers discovered hundreds of genetic "switches" that have an influence on height and performed functional tests that demonstrated precisely how one such switch alters the function of a key gene involved in height differences. The study is described in a December 5 paper published in eLife.
"Large genome-wide association studies on upwards of 250,000 people found about 700 genetic regions associated with height," Capellini said. "But within each region there could be many single DNA variants linked together, so there are potentially tens of thousands of variants spanning those regions. The question is how do you whittle that number down to those specific variants that influence height?"
As part of that work, Capellini said, researchers also performed a number of "quality control" tests to ensure the unique switches they identified were actually involved in bone and cartilage development as well as height.
After performing those tests and filters, Michael Guo, an author on the study, was next able to determine how many of the 60,000 variants associated with height actually reside in on/off switches for bone. This resulted in a list of about 900 genetic variants.
The team then chose one on/off switch, associated with a gene known as Chondroitin Sulfate Synthase 1, or CHSY1, which plays a key role in how cartilage cells create the extra-cellular matrix that hardens into bone. In turn, the gene influences femur length in mice and humans.
"We did some tests to find out how this switch effects CHSY1 activity, and found that both versions -- for taller height and shorter height -- act as repressors on the gene," Capellini said. "But surprisingly the height-increasing variant isn't as strong."
To verify that the switch indeed acts in a repressive manner, using CRISPR tools, researchers removed the switch or the variant altogether from human cartilage cells, and saw a very strong increase in the expression of the gene.
In addition to providing a new understanding of a complex human trait, the study may ultimately demonstrate how genetic tools might be used to understand other conditions -- like macular degeneration, diabetes or even heart disease -- that are tied to both environmental and genetic factors.
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