Jews and genetics

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Over at Discover Blogs I have a very long post up on Jews & Genetics. In particular the recent paper in AJHG. One observation I have to make about Jewish genetics: when it comes to PCA plots which illustrate the relationship of Jews, in particular Ashkenazi Jews, to other populations I’ve noticed that two different individuals can look at the same plot and reach diametrically opposite conclusions. For example, “this plot shows that Jews are European” vs. “this plot shows that Jews are not European,” where “this plot” refers to the same plot. An interesting illustration of the importance of interpretative frames when it comes to distilling the valid inferences from results.


  1. Yes, it’s interesting to see a few of the WN’s in Sailer’s comment section declare that the article says that Ashkenazim are basically pure unadulaterated Middle Easterners. Some also posit that the genetic similarity with Italians reflects that Itlians have a whopping dose of Middle Eastern ancestry. Anything to cr#p on the Jews.

  2. Has anyone come up with a good explanation as to why Ashkenazim exhibit higher rates of blondism than their putative source populations (southern Europeans and Middle Easterners)? I know this has been discussed on this blog before, but I can’t seem to find the discussion, other than a mention of a study excerpted by Dienekes suggesting that blond Jews had higher rates of survival at concentration camps. Is it possible that living in a central/northern European climate for as long as they did also selected for fairness?

  3. Epic posts attract epic trolls.

    PCA is difficult to interpret in quantitative terms. IBD seems more appropriate (though I’m not familiar with the method and the assumptions).

    A graph like Figure 3C (IBD distances projected upon a 2D plot), but including many non-Jewish populations from both Europe and the Middle East, could settle a lot of arguments.

  4. Dienekes has a post up about a new article from Nature by Behar et al. covering Jewish population genetics.

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