Genetic Relatedness

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John Hawks on what it means to be human. RPM objects to an assertion John makes about the relationship of distant cousins; worth reading. It’s an interesting exploration of a subtle topic; we’ve covered these issues when discussing ethnic nepotism. In Narrow Roads of Gene Land W. D. Hamilton alludes to the fact that molecular and evolution biologists tend to view the central questions and answers differently for instrumental reasons.

One Comments

  1. Surely ’20th cousin’ is actually a very distant relationship (assuming it means a someone with one common ancestor 20 generations back). 
     
    In a population not composed of recent migrants, most people will be related by numerous moderately distant ancestors, sufficient to give an aggregate relatedness equivalent to about second-cousins. 
     
    But as I pointed out in one of my notes on Sewall Wright, if relatedness between two individuals is only ‘average’ for the population they belong to, there is no correlation or regression between them relative to that population, therefore r for the purposes of Hamilton’s Rule is zero.

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