What is the possibility of my heritage being Scottish, if my DNA is 48% Welsh?


Assuming it’s actually possible to separate Welsh DNA from Scottish or English DNA – not to mention Irish DNA – then … it’s hard to be sure.

The difficulty lies largely in determining the number of other nations – sovereign, non-sovereign, dependency, federation, territory (disputed or not). The usual figure of 193 regards the UK as one country, not 4. There’s a second figure of 250, which includes dependencies, but that still considers the UK as a single country, not 4.

So I’ll go with 300, which I freely agree is an under-estimate. Wales being one of the 300, if we subtract that we’re left with 299 other countries. Scotland is one option amongst that 299. The probability that the remaining 52% of your heritage is Scottish is therefore

p(Scottish)=1/(300–1), or 0.003.

You’re welcome!


If green pigments are so difficult to produce in mammals, why are green eyes so relatively common?

Colour-mixing. And also other people’s perceptions.

Eye colour fundamentally depends on the amount of melanin in the iris. Melanin is like gravy browning:

it looks black in concentration, but is brown or yellow in small amounts.

If someone has little to no melanin in the iris, their eye colour is blue or grey. This means that the basic iris colour is blue/grey.

If a person has a medium-ish amount of melanin in their eyes, the melanin added to the base iris colour of blue results in green eyes.


That’s the colour-mixing aspect (NB: the genetic story is more complicated)

The other part is the perception of others. This is not so much an issue of perception as it is of laziness. Most people, in my experience, haven’t a clue what colour their eyes are, because they were told a colour and just ran with it. So people with light-coloured eyes are told they have blue eyes, when in fact they’re green or grey, and people with darker eyes are told they’re brown, when they might be hazel.

What is the difference between MA in psychology and MA in applied psychology? What should I do if I want to get into the clinical psychology field?

MA psych is general, MA applied psych is the practical, useful bits of psych – so no farting about with the psychology of dreaming, or Freud/Jung.

The “MA” bit is worrying. Typically, BA and MA psych contain no statistical or methodological content, and they are a poor entry into the science of psychology.

If you want to get into clinical psych, don’t waste your time on either MA. You need to get onto a PhD-level degree in clinical psych.

My mom has dark brown/black hair, olive skin tone, with crystal blue eyes, and she’s mainly of Scottish descent. I feel like that is relatively rare. Is it?

You must not get out much.

Black hair and light-coloured eyes are extremely common in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. It’s the so-called “Celtic” phenotype, or Pierce Brosnan gene[1][2]. Skin is usually very pale, but freckles or darker skin are also common – think Pierce Brosnan (Irish), Sean Connery (Scottish), or Tom Jones (Welsh).

Oh, I just noticed you said “mainly of Scottish descent”, rather than “is Scottish”. And “mom”. That means she’s American, right? So basically, her genes could come from anywhere – even England…

Cheddar Man. Only a hop, skip and a jump from Wales, Cheddar is – but it’s definitely England.


[1] Researchers identify genomic variant associated with sun sensitivity, freckles

[2] Scientists discover the ‘Pierce Brosnan gene’

What are endorphins? How does one increase her levels inside the body without drugs?

Endorphins are your internal painkillers.

They don’t have a “level” as such – they’re released when you are in pain. They are natural analogues of morphine (the name comes from “endo” (internal) + “morphine”), and are the reason that morphine and other opiates are so addictive: they slot in where endorphins do, to do the same job of pain-killing.

The easiest and least damaging way of increasing your endorphins is to go for a run. You should run until you hurt. Then the endorphins kick in. You’ll still hurt, but the endorphins take the edge off. If you keep up the habit of running, the hurting will stop as you get fitter, and you’ll eventually experience the “jogger’s high”, a sensation of extreme well-being and euphoria caused by your endorphin release in response to the stress and strain on your muscles.

I’ve had bad side effects to vaccines in the past. Can I get a medical exemption somehow?

Your doctor, who undoubtedly has:

  • all the details of these bad side effects, written up in your medical records,
  • all the details of all the medical treatment you received as a result of the bad side effects recorded in your medical records, and
  • all the results of investigations into the precise cause of all these bad side effects attached to your medical records,

should be able to advise you on whether you qualify for an exemption, and will be able to give you an official certificate of your exemption from vaccination.

Does superiority exist in the realm of the sciences? If so, I’d imagine psychology damn near the top of that hierarchy, if not at the top among mathematics, philosophy, and cosmology to name a few.

Amongst BSc grads and non-graduates? Yes, there can be. Mathematics and physics vie for the top spot – maths is actually the top science, but they’re often off in their own wee multiverse, leaving the physicists to do most of the vying, with engineers trying to shout over the top of them while everybody ignores them. The chemist would come next, but they’re usually off LARPing with the computer scientists and philosophers. Then biologists, who are often regarded as “soft” scientists by the physicists and chemists, which really infuriates them. After that come the actual “soft” sciences – psychology, sociology, geography and so on. Economics tries to elbow in as a “hard” science because of its use of mathematics, but you could say the same about astrology.

At postgraduate level, especially if you stay in the research world – either academic or commercial – there’s a lot less of this one-upmanship. You do find the occasional snotbag, but many postgrads and post-docs have at least some knowledge or experience of interdisciplinary research, and thereby of scientists in other disciplines, which tends to break down a lot of the snobbery. One starts to realise that there’s “hard” and “soft” in most sciences, and that “soft” can be just as valuable as “hard”. I have a PhD in psychology, which I earned in a team in a psychology department including graduates in mathematics, medicine, physiology, philosophy, physics, computer science, and electrical engineering, where I was the only psychology grad. I was probably the go-to for research methodology and statistics, the computer scientist was the go-to for computational modelling, the electrical engineer and mathematician for mathematical modelling, the physician and physiologist for neuroanatomy, and the philosopher – not even a scientist! – was the best all-rounder: he could see the larger theoretical structure of what we were all doing, and had the most amazing ability to pick up a better-than-working knowledge of all other areas on the fly.