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December 28, 2002

Blondes do have more fun

While looking up some data for this post, I found a great site chock full of fun-facts: Neoteny.org. The site has a scientific theory to sell you, but his data is what really caught my attention.

Check this out:

Of the 50 subjects with learning disabilities, 10 (20%) were blond. In contrast, 121 of 1067 subjects without learning disabilities were blond (11%)... subjects with learning disabilities were nearly twice as likely to be blond compared with non-LD subjects.... These results raise the possibility that melanin may be involved both in the development of motor dominance and independently in the devilment of neural systems which, when maldeveloped, result in learning disabilities. (Schachter, Ransel & Geschwind (1987) Associations of Handedness with hair color and learning disabilities Neuropsychologia 25: pp. 275)

Not conclusive (the sample with learning disabilities is hell-of-small), but some more information which indicated that blondes had higher rates learning disabilities and were more likely to be left-handed was very interesting. I don't really know what to make of this. But food for thought (the idea that "blondes are dumb" might come from learning disabilities perhaps?).

Diane of Letter From Gotham (soon to be in new digs) took up the baton that I received from Cut on the Bias on the whole black-women-angry-at-white-women-for-stealing-their-men-schtick. Diane brought up the issue of "blondeism," the lower bar that fair-haired women have to jump in attractiveness (thanks for the correction Diane). The data is light on the ground and speculation rife in the air. So I'll pile on.

Blonde hair dye outsells other colors by five to one. Only a small minority of American women are natural blondes as adults, but look at Playboy or watch television and blondes are far more prominent. A roommate of mine back in college, who had a marketing minor, told me that blondes sell 5% more on a magazine cover, so they are more of a safe bet. Ancient Roman women wore blonde wigs. It seems that there is a natural preference for blondes. If it was cultural, one would find at least one European culture where there is a preference for dark hair among women, but I know of none (readers can correct me here). I think it is clear that there is sexual selection for blondism because it is a childish trait that accentuates a woman's youth (the one other region of the world where blondism is common, among the central Australian tribes, the trait is associated with women and children).

On the other hand, is the blonde preference cross-racial? Is it part of a "peacock" effect where humans have no natural speed limit but gorge their eyes on golden hair if possible? I am not so sure about this. I would like to see data on whether isolated tribal people prefer blondes to non-blondes. I read in
Journal of Ethnic Studies years ago that though Asian people admired the light skin of Europeans, they were less impressed by blonde hair and blue eyes [1]. In fact, the people of east Asia often portrayed people with red hair and green eyes as witches and trolls (European hair is as red as Chinese skin is
yellow remember). The Chinese did have some knowledge of people with European features, the barbarians of Eastern Turkestan were often portrayed as having Western features and red hair (some of them still do even after centuries of intermarriage with Mongoloid people from the north and east). My
own personal experience from my cultural background (South Asian Muslim) is similar in that though the light skin of Europeans is admired, the blonde hair and blue eyes are considered less interesting. It seems to me that not having black hair is associated more with sickliness than anything else [2]. This implies that the peacock effect is not at play, that people tend to prefer those who are lighter than the mean of their population, but not as light as can be (makes sense, otherwise albinos would all be supermodels).

In the context of American culture this preference for blondes favors white women. Blacks and Asians who bleach their hair blonde look ridiculous. I know, I've done it twice (I did it for the ridiculousness of it, but don't plan on it anytime in the future). On the other hand, most whites can become bottle blondes and if it is done well can pass as one of the fair-haired elite (ever take a look at pictures of mouse-brown haired Norma Jean?).

When I was in 8th grade one of the classes I took was about social interaction and public issues. We split up into groups. I happened to have the token black girl at our school (her father was black, her mother white) in my group. There were about six groups, and only our group did not include "blonde" as a physical feature of the "perfect girl." I don't suspect this was a coincidence, because it is not a large leap in logic to conclude that because non-white women can never look naturally blonde they can never aspire toward physical perfection. And let's be honest, for young men physical perfection is the only type there is for women.

What can I say? Life sucks.

[1] The modern vogue in Japan for brown hair and eye surgery to mimic the Western look is very much going against historical norms. It is a classic case of cultural emulation. On the other hand, light skin has always been associated with beauty and class.

[2] My sister has very dark reddish-brown hair (obviously more brown than red). In a crowd of white people her hair looks basically black, but when set next to the blue-black hair of my brothers & I, the difference is instantly noticeable. My mother hoped it was a childhood related condition, but her hair
color remains stubbornly "abnormal," despite all my mothers attempts to mitigate it with ointments (both my parents dye their grey hair black-I have mild premature greying and might have more showing now than my father).

Posted by razib at 03:44 AM | | TrackBack


In the early part of the 20th century many Finns were dismayed when anthropologists labeled them
"Mongoloids" because of the peculiarity of their language. Finnish is not Indo-European, but Finno-Ugric
(a branch of the Ural-Altaic family of languages [1]). Similarly the Hungarians were also thought to be
Mongoloids, despite their European physical appearance (Zsa Zsa Gabor's inhuman countenance not
withstanding). Most of the other Finno-Ugric languages aside from Estonian are to be found in Siberia
among Mongoloid peoples.

How to explain this conundrum? The most obvious solution was to posit that the Finno-Ugric peoples
entered Europe from the east and mixed with the Scandinavian population already extent in the region,
because there is one record historically of such an occurrence, the Magyars in the 7th and 8th centuries,
later to become the "Hungarians." The intrusion into Europe by nomadic peoples, often of Ural-Altaic
origin, was common right up until the Mongols [2]. While the southern Finno-Ugric peoples took up
nomadism, it was assumed that the northern branch, later to become the Finnish peoples, continued the
ancient sub-Arctic hunting and fishing tradition that dominated the northern fringe of Eurasia in the
boreal forest zone. These people were assumed to have entered Scandinavia and the Baltic through the
northern forests of what would become Russia, beyond the limit of conventional agriculture.

So this href="http://www26.brinkster.com/archived/viewnews.asp?newsID=685863673687">article,
translated and posted on the Human Races Archive
(run by a brown guy from what I know) is very interesting because it pops that neat little narrative that
passes as "conventional wisdom" about the Finno-Ugrics.

The gist: A Y-chromosome polymorph, Tat C, is found among the Finno-Ugric and Baltic (Latvians and
Lithuanians) peoples of Europe as well as the affiliated peoples in Siberia, and even among the Inuit that
eventually reached Greenland! But the story becomes even more peculiar on closer observation, for the
Tat C lineages of Europe are more diverse than those of the eastern peoples. The implication is
obvious, it is the Tat C lineages of Europe that have a greater time depth, allowing them to change and
diversify [3].

But it does not end there-these lineages are found at lower levels among the Norwegians and Swedes. But
the polymorph becomes negligible among the Slavic peoples! The article makes clear that there is a sharp
demarcation between the Lithuanians and Poles, peoples that are historically associated. Tat C is almost
nonexistent among other European peoples. What to make of all this?

First, let us remind ourselves of what else we know about European "archaeogenetics". Europeans are a
mixture of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers, and Neolithic "newcomers," that is agreed. But the quotient of
each is debated, whether that be href="http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/medicalscience/story/0,9837,505080,00.html">20%
Neolithic or href="http://www26.brinkster.com/archived/viewnews.asp?newsID=492046535015">50%. But an
aproximate SE => NW gradient or cline seems to appear in both models. The Basques are
generally used to represent the pristine Paleolithic stock of Europe, and most studies that I have seen tend
to confirm that they lack the markers that are associated with Neolithic migrants. So add to this a third
component, the Finno-Ugrics. It seems plausible that the ice sheet over Scandinavia separated two
Paleolithic populations in what was to become "Europe." Along the western edge, there were the people
that represent what early 20th century anthropologists would term the "Nordic" type, and on the eastern
edge there were the "East Baltics." The aforementioned studies seem to indicate that despite linguistic
affinities between Swedes and Greeks as compared to the Finns, the Scandinavian groups are mixtures
between the "Nordic" and "Finno-Ugric" populations, while the Greeks share more with the peoples of
Anatolia (to their chagrin) and the Levant [4].

Now what about the sharp difference between the Slavic peoples and the Finno-Ugric & Baltic peoples?
This is the most tantalizing mystery in the article. It is noted that the Lithuanians and Poles have
traditionally been closely associated, but it must be clarified that this did not imply intermarriage between
ethnic groups. The first two centuries of Polish-Lithuanian union were royal and personal,
in other words, though ruled by the same royal house, created by the marriage of a Lithuanian Grand
Duke and a Polish princess, the two nations kept their own institutions . Late in the 16th century the
Polish and Lithuanian states merged more thoroughly, and this resulted in the total absorption of the
Lithuanian aristocracy into Polish culture. By the 19th century Lithuanian culture was village centered
and functionally illiterate and pre-modern. The backward and isolated nature of rural Lithuania preserved
it from being assimilated into the relatively sophisticated Polish ethnos, and the dissolution of
Poland-Lithuania and the rise of nationalism resulted in the creation of an indigenous Lithuanian
intelligentsia. Prior to the Counter-Reformation the Lithuanians of the country were de facto
pagan. Until the latter portion of the 18th century Catholic priests were still seeking out "snake groves"
and burning the reptiles venerated by the ignorant pagan peasants. The Lithuanians were a people set
apart, their dense forests saved them from the genocide that awaited the Prussian tribes at the hands of the
crusading Germans and rebuffed the expansion of the Russian principalities of Novgorod and Moscow
after the fall of Kievan Rus. Poland by its nature is rich agricultural land and is today the most populous
of the east-central European nations. Lithuania in sharp contrast is still a small and sparsely populated
state, and there is no doubt that it was so in ancient times. But it did produce fierce warriors, explaining
why the Poles sought an alliance with them. The Mongols did not touch them in their deep forests,
though they did destroy Kievan Rus and Piast Poland, allowing the pagan Balts to fill that power vacuum
in the next century.

And yet if the dark forests of the Baltic were such a barrier to Slavic demographic penetration, it is
peculiar that the Lithuanians (and Latvians) speak what some consider to be the most archaic of modern
Indo-European languages. Some have even postulated that the original Indo-European homeland was the
Baltic shore. Indo-Europeanologists have sometimes classed Baltic and Slavic together as the "Balto-
Slavic" group. Other linguists have objected to this, and assert that any similarities between the two
groups is the result of intimate contact over thousands of years. And yet I have just argued in the prior
paragraph that the two groups did not in fact interact much despite their geographic proximity. In
addition, the Tat C polymorph is nearly as prominent among the Baltic people as among the Finns! This
does not fit well with the idea that the Lithuanians represent a hybrid median between two populations,
rather it seems that either the Finns or the Balts were acculturated at some point in the past.

The genetic footprint of the "Indo-Europeans" on Europe is indeterminate. Cavalli-Sforza indicated that
he saw a possible cline from the east to the west that indicated a "Kurgan" expansion from the steppes. Of
course, he later seemed to side with Colin Renfrew's theory that the Indo-Europeans were the farmers that
brought agriculture to Europe 10,000 years ago. It seems likely to me that the Indo-Europeans did not
leave much of a genetic footprint throughout much of the region that they linguistically assimilated.
Though the Basques are a genetic isolate, they are not different enough from other western European
populations to give credence to a theory that postulates a demographic change concomitant with the
expansion of Indo-European languages.

Indo-European exists above a non-Indo-European substrate in much of its range. In India the "Dravidian"
substrate has been gleaned in languages such as Marathi. The common Greek nth seems to be
non-Indo-European (and 40% of the vocabulary of Greek as well as most of the ancient gods are non-
Indo-European). Before Romanization it seems plausible that the "Iberians" who were neither Basque nor
Celtiberian spoke a non-Indo-European language in what is today Andalusia and Valencia with some
relationship to Basque. The non-Indo-European substrate of Germanic is also known. To me this argues
compellingly for a model of elite cultural diffusion [5].

So why was it that the Scandinavian peoples of the west but not the east became "Indo-Europeans," while
the Baltic peoples of the south but not the north did as well? We might ask also why the Indo-Europeans
did not penetrate into Iberia or southern India. The most obvious answer is geography. Spain was farther
from the central point of radiation of Indo-European culture than Italy or Greece. Both the latter
peninsulas seem to have had non-Indo-European populations. The Minoans and the later "Pelasgians"
seemed to have spoken non-Indo-European languages (some Greek city-states asserted Pelasgian origins,
claiming to be "autochthonous," Athens being the most prominent). The Etruscans were certainly non-
Indo-European, though there are indications that their origin was in Asia Minor. A minority of the non-
Latin tribes of Italy seem to have been non-Indo-European (generally the more isolated ones). In Spain, it
seems only the Celtiberians of Galicia and its environs, almost certainly settlers from the north, were
Indo-European speakers prior to the arrival of the Greeks and Romans. Along the northwest edge of
Europe there are still debates as to whether the Picts are Indo-European or not. In any case, it is clear that
a flood of Indo-Europeans did not overwhelm any given region of Europe, but that the spread of that
family of languages was piece-meal and haphazard.

Likely the Lithuanians and Latvians were "Indo-Europeanized" at a very early point in their history. The
presence of Estonian could indicate a "reconquest" of territory by Finno-Ugric tribes that moved south
from Finland during a period of colder conditions in northern Europe. The lack of genetic similarity
between Slavs and Baltics might be simply because both groups become "Indo-European" via cultural
diffusion, possibly from the same tribe of Indo-Europeans (they are both of the satem sub-group,
along with Indo-Iranian, Armenian and Greek). Until historic times, most of northern Sweden and
Norway was the domain of the Finno-Ugric Sami, reindeer herders, so it seems that the Indo-Europeans
succeeded in imposing their language only on areas with some level of agriculture, and so possibly greater
division of labor between classes and a more complex tribal system.

In sharp contrast it seems that a plausible scenario of elite cultural diffusion going from the western sub-
Arctic zone into Siberia seems to have left a genetic footprint. This might be because the population bases
of cultures that practiced agriculture was far greater than the hunting and fishing societies that the Finno-
Ugrics penetrated, explaining why the latter show a clear Finno-Ugric connection while the Indo-
European peoples seem rather unrelated to each other [6].

The west-east progression of the Finno-Ugrics actually is reminiscent of ideas about Indo-European
expansion east. The Tocharian people of what is today Xinjiang (East Turkestan) were Indo-Europeans
who seemed to the superficially have a "Celtic" flavor (they spoke a centum language, grouped
with Romance, Celtic and Germanic, were European in appearance and even wore kilts!). The original
horse-people of the Altai region of western Mongolia were quite possibly of the same phenotype. While
the Indo-Europeans probably left a light genetic footprint on the settled and dense populations of western
and southern Eurasia, they almost certainly made their impact felt among the people of Inner Asia. In
fact, the revelation that the people of Xinjiang have affinities with Europeans is probably the echo of the
ancient Indo-European expansion into the east, south of the Finno-Ugrics in the grasslands between the
deserts and the ice [7].

Finally, I would like to add that I believe this sort of cultural and genetic change has occurred many times
throughout human history, only the later ones of the Indo-Europeans, Semitic peoples and Finno-Ugrics
were crystallized and preserved by the creation of literacy, statecraft and national units that imposed stasis
on what was previously a multi-tribal world where ties of blood, language and religions were fluid and
ever changing. I suspect that the megalith builders that left their marks from the eastern Mediterranean to
Cornwall brought their language, only to have been superseded by later cultural innovators.

[1] Finno-Ugric is the most prominent Uralic group of languages. The Altaic group is represented by the
Turkish and Mongolian tongues.

[2] Huns, Avars, Pechenegs, Magyars and Bulgars to name a few.

[3] This is the standard logic behind "Out-of-Africa."

[4] Please note that a few studies, in addition to the primary one cited here on the Finno-Ugrics, indicates
that the maternal lineages of both Finns and Swedes are rather more similar than their paternal ones.
This I believe in partially a result of patrilocal marriage patterns that seem the human norm. The transfer
of women from village to village along a great chain seems to shuffle mt-DNA rather more than the more
prominent volkswanderung that is the stuff of legend and would move diverse paternal lineages
across the globe.

[5] Note that in ancient times Indo-Europeans ruled large portions of the Levant. The Mitanni of Syria
were Indo-Aryans, while some have indicated that the Kassite ruling dynasty of post-Amorite Babylonia
were also Indo-Europeans. In neither case did the Indo-European language or culture survive the fall of
their dynasties. The difference is that Indo-Europeans could impose their culture on marginal and less
advanced areas of the ancient Middle East, Anatolia, Armenia and Iran, but the model of elite cultural
transfer breaks down when the conquered people come bearing the gifts of literacy and sophisticated

[6] If the Finno-Ugrics are indigenous European people that date to the last Ice Age, and the Sami are at
least as authentic as the Finns in their Finno-Ugric character (it could be that the Sami have more
"Mongoloid" in their maternal lineage than the Finns), it would seem to lend some credence to the idea
that blondism has no direct adaptive value, but is rather sexually selected. The Sami are a relatively
swarthy people, and many would assert that the Finns are a degree darker than the Swedes (southern
Sweden is the only region of the world where a majority of the population has both blonde hair
and blue eyes). If the Finno-Ugric presence in northern Europe is as ancient the pre-Indo-European
Nordic peoples, it is curious to consider why blondism is traditionally more prevelant in one group than
the other if adaptive considerations are paramount.

[7] All that I have said is unoriginal and highly tendentious. For obvious reasons the Mongolian and
Turkic peoples of Inner Asia bristle at the notion of "culture bearers" from the west bringing with them
the accoutrements of their lifestyle. In addition, I think it is plausible that there was not one particular
racial type (as in "Nordic" for instance) that was dominant among Indo-Europeans. Rather they were a
coalition of tribes that spanned several areas of the west-central Eurasian steppe that by happenstance
were bestowed pasturelands that made them predisposed to domesticating and using the horse to its
greatest extent. Perhaps the settled tribes of eastern Europe viewed the horse riding Indo-European bands
as the Aztecs viewed the Spaniards-almost god-like beings who sat upon great noble beasts beyond legend.
The eastern people of Eurasia would in this scenario be more like the plains Indians, taking the horse and
making it their own, and in the end reversing the conveyer belt of migration and invasion from west-to-
east to east-to-west. And so history goes round and round.

Posted by razib at 02:35 AM | | TrackBack

December 27, 2002

Death walks the streets

This href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/28/international/africa/28AIDS.html?pagewanted=all&position=t
tells of a hospice in South Africa where women die of AIDS. 25%-that is the
percentage of South Africans who have HIV. Of course, very few whites have AIDS. It seems that it is
doing what the Afrikaner governments could not, slow down the growth of the black population. Of
course, if the percentage of blacks begins to drop because of AIDS, I have no doubt that the semi-literate
masses incubated in the townships will erupt in genocidal violence against the white middle & upper class
that seems to be immune from the scourge.

The strangeness of it all is that black Africa's most sophisticated political elite is turning a deaf ear to the
problem. If authoritarians like Musveni in Uganda can affect behavioral change and mitigate the spread
of the epidemic, what prevents a Democratic elected government from doing so? (Senegal has been able to
combat the spread of HIV and it is a democratic state, so that can not be the problem)

Posted by razib at 09:09 PM | | TrackBack

A Brave New World? Bah!

Imagine a thought experiment. Population A and population B are defined as two groups with 100
individuals. They live in a village together. Population A has an average IQ of 115 while population B
has an average IQ of 100. Both have a normal distribution.

Would it be reasonable to assert that if one was restricted to having to pick a leader at random from one of
the two groups one would pick the individual from A? But would it not also be reasonable to wonder if it
might not be more rational to look at each individual from both populations and note who might be the
best leader and allow the village vote?

Not too controversial, no? But over at Unmedia that is what
Ikram Saeed seems to believe when he says:

If you (and Sailer, and the _Bell Curve_ acolytes, etc) are right, oughtn't you argue for a _Brave New World_ type societal hierarchy? I havenít seen your blog answer the really interesting questions it raises.

I have answered
questions more rudely put in this vein on my old blog. Let me reiterate, Suman is not the only
libertarian on this blog!
I have been a long-term reader of href="http://www.lewrockwell.com">Lew Rockwell and href="http://www.reason.com">Reason. I am a broad-church libertarian. Where freedom is
an option, let that be I always say. Over the years I have pulled back from my flirtation with anarcho-
capitalism and my longer affiliation with minarchism. My adherence to Natural Rights has given way to
a more utilitarian, even Rawlsian, view of society (informed in large part by evolutionary psychology and

Is does not = ought. Both the Left and the Right seem to forget this when their conservative strain
comes to the fore. Knowledge is dangerous to the established order. Perhaps. But knowledge always
finds a way to see the light and expose frauds for what they are. I favor genetic engineering and
information technology because I believe the arrow of civilization points in that direction-we must
ride the tiger, lest humanity's dance with progress falter.

Whether race realism, evolutionary psychology, behavioral genetics, etc. have any validity as empirically
verifiable theories, my personal politics remain libertarian. I call myself conservative for two reasons: 1)
the American Left tends to see the world as here or there, with us or against us, 2) I abhor
multiculturalism and the debasement of the hard-won freedoms of the West in homage to the
communitarianism of the post-Modern Left. Guilt is no basis for justice and history is no excuse for

A "Brave New World" is not contingent on race realism (the controversial "science" that Mr. Saeed seems
to be pointing to). It is contingent on some hard-wiring of human facilities via biology, whether it be
through genetic or developmental modes. Psychologists generally do accept that some portion of
intelligence (g) is genetically inherited, some portion developmentally influenced and some
portion environmentally modified. If the state, ne the Leviathan, so wills it, the stratification of castes,
alphas to zetas, is possible today even if all races are equal in aptitudes.

Conversely, let us wander the fields of Rawlsianism, the realm of what Thomas Sowell would term
"Cosmic Justice." Humans are not responsible for what endowments they are born with. So goes the
theory, behind the veil of ignorance, they would choose a particular (moderately liberal redistributionist
with a respect for basic rights) political order. Behind the "veil of ignorance" we are all without race,
without caste, class or creed. Like Christianity, Rawlsianism implies that those endowed with greater
aptitudes and abilities use them to advance the good of the community as well as their individual

My espousal of race realism leaves me open to the possibility that East Asians have higher IQs than other
human populations. Does that imply I believe that the former have a right to rule the latter? Of
course not. High g is no guarantee of liberty, and low g is no block on decency. I might
generalize what behaviors a person of high or low g might be prone to, but
individuals are individuals [1]. Newtonian mechanics is good science on human scales, but on the level of
an individual atom or molecule it collapses. Likewise, we must never forget that individuals do matter-
and that the great foundational triumph of liberalism was to halt history in its tracks and turn toward the
future and declare that the individual matters as an end in and of itself. History teaches lessons,
but not always ones that we must emulate. Similarly, if there is one thing that the 20th century has
taught, let us be careful before we declare what the obvious implications of any scientific finding

My personal understanding of Human Biodiversity gives me a different perspective on specific issues,
because those issues are undergirded by assumptions, most often the axiom of equality. As a
libertarian I have a skepticism of social engineering, and Human Biodiversity is a tool in my kit to attack
that particular tendency. I do believe human beings are different essentially, that races on average are
different essentially. I speak of these things because only a few others will.

But in the end, I will admit, that essentially we are all equal under the eyes of the Law (and God(s) if you
so believe). To give ground to realism does not mean abondaning your idealism.

[1] Individuals of low g are more criminally prone. But I don't believe it is because they are
essentially without empathy or moral sense. I think that is more of an issue of an inability to judge
rationally the consequences of decisions and impulse control. In addition, these individuals are more
likely to be put in a situation where the cost vs. benefit of crime seems more rational because of low socio-
economic status.

Update: The old blog software was messed up by the server transfer. Most of the posts can be
found here.

Posted by razib at 01:54 AM | | TrackBack