EthnicMuse's race and testosterone "meta-analysis"

A commenter asks:

What do you think of this website and his analysis of testosterone levels in different racial groups?

"EthnicMuse" is attempting to aggregate numbers that can't be aggregated, and the results lack face validity. T levels as measured by different techniques and/or at different laboratories are not in general directly intercomparable.
Clinicians are being presented with normal male reference ranges for serum T from these automated platforms that have low end clinical limits down to 170–200 ng/dl (5.9–6.9 nmol/liter) and upper range limits of 700–800 ng/dl (24.3– 27.7 nmol/liter). These stated reference ranges provided by the manufacturer are significantly lower than the 300-1000 ng/dl (10.4–34.7 nmol/liter) reference range referred to in numerous publications over the past 30 yr based on tradi- tional RIA methods with or without the chromatography step as well as some research techniques employed by in- ternal recovery standards to correct for procedural losses (5).

External quality control programs such as that provided by the College of American Pathologists allow laboratories to compare results with other laboratories using the same method or kit reagents. As shown in Table 1, the median value of a quality control sample (Y-04,2002) varied between 215 and 348 ng/dl (7.5 and 12.0 nmol/liter) among methods with coefficients of variation among laboratories using the same method or instrument ranging between 5.1% and 22.7%. The median average for this sample from all methods was 297 ng/dl (10.3 nmol/liter) and results were as low as 160 or as high as 508 ng/dl (5.5 to 17.6 nmol/liter). These results span the hypogonadal to eugonadal range.

[Measurement of Total Serum Testosterone in Adult Men: Comparison of Current Laboratory Methods Versus Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry]

Differences that are to be expected between different assays and different laboratories, apart from any other factors, would likely swamp any anticipated racial differences in circulating testosterone levels. Between-study differences in collection times, sample handling, age and health condition of subjects, and so on, add further noise.

I see that EM is at least vaguely aware of these issues, but he rationalizes publishing his "meta-analysis" as follows:

One cannot and should not compare different testosterone studies with different measurement methods. However, for the race-realist purpose of aggregating data, there is nothing inherently wrong with what the PDF file lists. If JP Rushton can use a few studies and make wild claims which are then used by the Internet-o-sphere, using 150 independent peer-reviewed sources with large samples is much more scientific than anything similar from the race realist community. [. . .]

Age differences will affect the results but healthy males should have negligible decreases. Assuming a 0.4% annual decline from 5000 pg/ml after age 40, a man at 80 should have 4275 pg/mL, less than a 15% difference if my spreadsheet math is correct. It would have been better to normalize for age. So while the tabled rankings is flawed, the point is that the entire issue is flawed as there is no standard measuring method in the first place. That race realists routinely use flawed data should be the issue but …

That blindly aggregating data from disparate studies (which in this realm I've never seen anyone other than EM attempt) is nonsensical does not mean all attempts at comparing circulating testosterone levels between races are "flawed". It means that if one wants to attempt such comparisons, one should focus on studies in which a single set of researchers, using standardized methods, publish results for multiple ethnic groups.

EM is aware, for example, of a study (pdf) in which blood samples from Swedes and Koreans "were analyzed in the same laboratory using the same assay". The result (in EM's words): "the Swedes had 25% more T than the Koreans in this study". I've seen other studies showing lower or similar levels of testosterone in East Asians compared to whites (and none showing anything like the 10% higher testosterone in East Asians asserted by EM). But EM apparently did not like where the data pointed (thus his version of "meta-analysis", in which valid data is swamped with garbage).

Investigating Population History Using Temporal Genetic Differentiation

Investigating Population History Using Temporal Genetic Differentiation
The rapid advance of sequencing technology, coupled with improvements in molecular methods for obtaining genetic data from ancient sources, holds the promise of producing a wealth of genomic data from time-separated individuals. However, the population-genetic properties of time-structured samples have not been extensively explored. Here, we consider the implications of temporal sampling for analyses of genetic differentiation and use a temporal coalescent framework to show that complex historical events such as size reductions, population replacements, and transient genetic barriers between populations leave a footprint of genetic differentiation that can be traced through history using temporal samples. Our results emphasize explicit consideration of the temporal structure when making inferences and indicate that genomic data from ancient individuals will greatly increase our ability to reconstruct population history.

Demography and the Age of Rare Variants

Demography and the Age of Rare Variants
In this paper we describe a method for estimating the age of rare genetic variants. These ages are highly informative about the extent and dates of connections between populations. Variants in closely related populations generally arose more recently than variants of the same frequency in more diverged populations. Therefore, comparing the ages of variants shared across different populations allows us to infer the dates of demographic events like population splits and bottlenecks. We also see that rare functional variants shared within populations tend to have more recent origins than nonfunctional variants, which is consistent with the effects of natural selection.

"25% of the variance in gene expression is due to population differences"

Transcriptome Sequencing from Diverse Human Populations Reveals Differentiated Regulatory Architecture
To better understand the spectrum of gene expression variation, alternative splicing, and the population genetics of regulatory variation in humans, we have sequenced the genomes, exomes, and transcriptomes of EBV transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from 45 individuals in the Human Genome Diversity Panel (HGDP). The populations sampled span the geographic breadth of human migration history and include Namibian San, Mbuti Pygmies of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Algerian Mozabites, Pathan of Pakistan, Cambodians of East Asia, Yakut of Siberia, and Mayans of Mexico. We discover that approximately 25.0% of the variation in gene expression found amongst individuals can be attributed to population differences. However, we find few genes that are systematically differentially expressed among populations. Of this population-specific variation, 75.5% is due to expression rather than splicing variability, and we find few genes with strong evidence for differential splicing across populations. Allelic expression analyses indicate that previously mapped common regulatory variants identified in eight populations from the International Haplotype Map Phase 3 project have similar effects in our seven sampled HGDP populations, suggesting that the cellular effects of common variants are shared across diverse populations.

Testosterone and intergroup competition

Does Competition Really Bring Out the Worst? Testosterone, Social Distance and Inter-Male Competition Shape Parochial Altruism in Human Males
Parochial altruism, defined as increased ingroup favoritism and heightened outgroup hostility, is a widespread feature of human societies that affects altruistic cooperation and punishment behavior, particularly in intergroup conflicts. Humans tend to protect fellow group members and fight against outsiders, even at substantial costs for themselves. Testosterone modulates responses to competition and social threat, but its exact role in the context of parochial altruism remains controversial. Here, we investigated how testosterone influences altruistic punishment tendencies in the presence of an intergroup competition. Fifty male soccer fans played an ultimatum game (UG), in which they faced anonymous proposers that could either be a fan of the same soccer team (ingroup) or were fans of other teams (outgroups) that differed in the degree of social distance and enmity to the ingroup. The UG was played in two contexts with varying degrees of intergroup rivalry. Our data show that unfair offers were rejected more frequently than fair proposals and the frequency of altruistic punishment increased with increasing social distance to the outgroups. Adding an intergroup competition led to a further escalation of outgroup hostility and reduced punishment of unfair ingroup members. High testosterone levels were associated with a relatively increased ingroup favoritism and also a change towards enhanced outgroup hostility in the intergroup competition. High testosterone concentrations further predicted increased proposer generosity in interactions with the ingroup. Altogether, a significant relation between testosterone and parochial altruism could be demonstrated, but only in the presence of an intergroup competition. In human males, testosterone may promote group coherence in the face of external threat, even against the urge to selfishly maximize personal reward. In that way, our observation refutes the view that testosterone generally promotes antisocial behaviors and aggressive responses, but underlines its rather specific role in the fine-tuning of male social cognition.