Spencer Wells interview

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PLoS Genetics has published an interview with Spencer Wells of the Genographic project. A very good read.

13 Comments

  1. for hungary: 
     
    We now through this project have over 350 people who are of Hungarian descent and we see these [Siberian] lineages at four to five percent on both male and female sides. 
     
    this sounds about right from the other stuff i’ve looked up. there have been other attempts to explore the question of the % of ugric ancestry in the present day magyar population and that seems to be what you get. also, there were very rough censuses of the horde sizes, and that’s what you would get making assumptions about the non-magyar substrate.

  2. What about Afrikaner ancestry, Razib?  
     
    I think you know what I’m getting at….

  3. What about Afrikaner ancestry, Razib?  
     
    prolly around 5% too….

  4. Should it be surprising to me that Lewontin told wells to go study with Cavalli-Sforza?  
     
    Does this mean that Lewontin wanted the best-known, most public-accessible young geneticist in America to be personally exposed to one of the great non-race deniers of the 20th century, C-S? I don’t get it.

  5. Oxygen, 
     
    You do get it, please, drop the act.  
     
    More generally, this sneering at CS’s integrity is becoming tedious. What does it matter what Wells’ or Cavalli-Sforza’s attitudes are, as long as the evidence they compile is scientifically valid?  
     
    Also, I think this race/non-race argument is ludicrous. “Race is a social construct.” It *can* be true, depending on what you mean by race.  
     
    In a world where Sophie Okonedo is black, that’s true. The (to her and to the world) *meaningful* ancestry is her Nigerian paternal ancestry, which has produced a woman phenotypically African enough to be considered black. The life she lives is the life of a black woman. I don’t, even though we spring form the same maternal tribe.  
     
    That ain’t real? It’s real alright. OTOH, medically her maternal ancestry is also real & determines susceptibility to disease. They are both real — I don’t think this is a situation where one notion automatically trumps the other.

  6. When people remember more than about 4 generations of ancestors, there’s always a real chance that one of the early ancestors is fictitious, as part of a claim to nobility or a political affiliation with some other kinship group. 
     
    I’m also not sure how long Siberia has been settled. I suspect that tens of thousands of years is an exaggeration.

  7. Does this mean that Lewontin wanted the best-known, most public-accessible young geneticist in America to be personally exposed to one of the great non-race deniers of the 20th century, C-S? 
     
    no, it meant he thought his student with an interest in human population genetics should be personally exposed to the top human population geneticist of the time.

  8. best-known, most public-accessible young geneticist in America to be personally exposed 
     
    fyi, wells was a nobody back then.

  9. When people remember more than about 4 generations of ancestors, there’s always a real chance that one of the early ancestors is fictitious 
     
    a lot of the long lineages, made up or not, are also only paternal ones. re: siberia, i think it has been populated and de-populated a few times. the ancestors of the magyars came from the volga region from what i recall, so technically that wouldn’t even be siberia…the key is that they might have enabled the long distance dispersal of some local central eurasian lineages. e.g., the hazara in afghanistan are another example, though far more extreme (i.e., they still look very mongol).

  10. There is NO DOUBT what Spencer Wells’ lineage is. I don’t think I ever saw a more Nordic looking guy in my life. He’s blonder than a Mexican soap star! 
     
    Also, FYI (not to make this all-Ayaan-All-the-time but), Somali kids are made to memorize their male lineages up to 800 years back. Notable females included. It would be interesting to see if these lineages square with the evidence. I would not be surprised if there was remarkable congruence.

  11. I would not be surprised if there was remarkable congruence. 
     
    bryan sykes did a survey of those with his surname. half of them were descended from some guy who lived around 1100 or something (he was one of those half). half were descended from a lot of different dudes. what model explains that? about a 1% per generation paternity “mis-assignment” rate. that seems an average number in some parts of the world, and especially among middle to high status lineages.

  12. Let’s not forget that not just Magyars contribute Central or East Asian genes to Hungarians, but also the group after which they are named – the Huns. Many consider the Huns the ancestors of the Mongols, whatever the case, they were a grouping of tribes, living East of the Volga, and nearer to Mongolia, and East Asian genes.

  13. Diana, I think you misunderstood me. I know that Lewontin is a race-obfuscator, so I was wondering why he would send his prize student to C-S, a non-race obfuscator (well, he does what he has to politically-correctly, but beyind that no).

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