Open Thread, 6/25/2017

I’m beyond the “keto flu.” That was tough.

A few months ago I asked a Hindu nationalist friend of mine the best persons who promote the “Out of India Theory.” One name he forwarded to me was Koenraad Elst. Though Elst and I disagree on facts in relation to the issue at hand, a reader has pointed out that he’s taken a very strident and clear stand against the ad hominem attacks against me from those who would consider him a fellow traveler. This honorable stance frankly has shocked me to my core, as I’m just not used to it after engaging with SJWs and various ideologues for so long. The ad hominem is so easy that it takes some fiber and integrity to resist it.

One consequence of Elst’s clear stand is that I think I do need to revisit some of his work.

Read some of The Enigma of Reason yesterday. I would recommend it. I’ve read some of Dan Sperber’s previous stuff, like Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach, and it’s familiar. Also, Sperber was a major influence on Scott Atran, so even though this book is new many of its ideas and orientation are prefigured in In Gods We Trust.

SMBE 2017 in about a week at the JW Marriott in Austin. I’m not going to be there the whole time, but when I’m there I’ll be tweeting.

Waking Up With Sam Harris #83 – The Politics of Emergency (with Fareed Zakaria). I agree with Fareed Zakaria more on Islam.

A left-wing journalist is attacking Richard Dawkins on the basis of his family having had African servants when they lived in Kenya. This person is some sort of Max Blumenthal clone from what I can see. A fringe element of far Left basically has a modus operandi: pick someone to destroy, and extract elements of their life to flog them as evil (call them racist, sexist, something -ist).

This is great on Twitter, but not optimal for movement building. I understand that there is a reasonable, moderate, liberal, Left. But this radical Left wants many of us out there on the street, our families dispossessed. When the lines are drawn, this is why some of us will keep voting Republican despite all our issues with the party: we don’t want to be personally destroyed.

Related to the chilling impact of this behavior, Liberals and Immigration, Kevin Drum says:

I have no idea what, if anything, we can do about this. But I will say this. I lurk on a number of message boards populated by liberals, and what they say privately is very often more nuanced than what they say publicly.¹ On immigration, there are probably lots of liberals willing to concede that there needs to be a limit to the flow of undocumented workers. There are cultural, economic, and nationalistic reasons for this. But there’s little benefit to saying so in public. It just invites massive, social media swarms insisting that you’re a closet racist.

White Cheese is white Supremacy

This is in response to Peter Beinart’s piece How the Democrats Lost Their Way on Immigration. I think Michael Brendan Dougherty has a pretty good response to this in National Review. Before he wrote this piece he observed on Twitter that Beinart wasn’t confronting something that had changed on the Left. I responded: “white supremacy.”

White supremacy has gone from being the KKK or Neo-Nazis, to basically all of American society. The term is used liberally and without much care. Just like the term racist or sexist. It’s both a cudgel in tactical debates, and, for many it’s a sincere belief. A Sister Souljah moment could never happen today for a white male Democratic politician because he would be accused of being a white supremacist for attacking a black woman (Obama himself was attacked for pandering to ‘respectability politics’).

On immigration, note that in the mid-2000s Republicans could have probably been able to muster the courage to ignore the base if the Democrats had agreed to a bill to flood this country with high skilled immigration (a proposal by some Republicans). But for political and policy reasons the Democrats wanted something comprehensive, which includes lower skilled workers who are both the Democrats’ future vote bank, and people who are important (often relatives) to Democratic voters.

Above Drum asks about conservatives and which views they keep quiet about in relation to policy. I think there is more variation on responses to climate change, foreign policy, and tax policy than you might think. The fear comes not from the social media mobs, but from the wealth people and interest groups funding fellowships.

About ten years ago Reiham Salam and Ross Douthat wrote Grand New Party in part to stake out a fiscally more moderate and socially conservat(ish) framework. There are obviously a lot of voters in that position, but the donor class was never a big fan. Trump seems to have taken that plank in a more populist direction and run with it, but there doesn’t seem to be the policy and personnel infrastructure to execute on this, so you see a more donor class friendly presidency (at least so far).

The Evolution meeting is happening right now in Portland. Check out the hashtag, #evol2017.

California just added four more ‘discriminatory’ states to its travel ban. This is going to impact academics in the UC system who may want to visit UT or UNC or Duke. As a friend pointed out the state of California is really punishing the blue areas of red states, since these are the places which interact the most with California. I think this is just BDS thinking spreading. It may trigger counter proposals, but as I said the people most impacted in red states are Democrats. Perhaps there won’t be any reaction? Like economic sanctions on authoritarian states this is going to hurt people you don’t want to hurt, without impacting the people you are targeting. But it makes you feel good.

Happy Eid.

In case you haven’t noticed I’ve been posting on Brown Pundits a fair amount.

The assumption of pulse admixtures is easy, but it’s often wrong. I really hope this gets more wide circulation because it might be leading us astray in many ways. Though this varies by taxa. Plants probably have less pulse admixture going on that social organisms.

In Turkey, No Teaching Of Evolution, But Banning Gays Is Fine. It’s hard to gauge Erdogan sometimes, because he made some liberal(ish) noises as late as the Arab Spring in 2011. No longer.

Translating Genesis. Alter’s translation and commentary is my favorite so far, but it’s been many years since I read Genesis. Any good recommendations? (please don’t say NIV)

New job.

Enrichment of low-frequency functional variants revealed by whole-genome sequencing of multiple isolated European populations.

Draft genome of the Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus). Huge on Sami Twitter.

Savarkar’s book Hindutva needs a new cover.

A former executive is accusing Infosys of racism that favours Indians #whiteSupremacy.

Genetic loci associated with coronary artery disease harbor evidence of selection and antagonistic pleiotropy. Not a huge surprise.

Did I mention SciReader is back?

Estimates of Introgression as a Function of Pairwise Distances.

Leaderless Uber Scrambles to Prevent Employee Exodus. I think if Netflix ever stumbles they’ll have enormous issues immediately, since their hiring and firing policy puts zero emphasis on loyalty.

US court grants Elsevier millions in damages from Sci-Hub. If you don’t know about Sci-Hub, read the article.

Robots That Make 400 Burgers an Hour May Soon Take over Fast Food Restaurants. Burger meat is usually the low quality stuff. I suspect a combination of lab grown meat and/or vegan meat-substitute is going to come to dominate the market in a generation. Combined with automated burger making a whole sector will be transformed (in contrast, steaks require a lot more work to imitate, so people will probably eat real meat steaks for a while).

Natural selection shaped the rise and fall of passenger pigeon genomic diversity.

Revenge of the scaly Tyrannosaurus.

31 thoughts on “Open Thread, 6/25/2017

  1. “Alter’s translation and commentary is my favorite so far, but it’s been many years since I read Genesis. Any good recommendations? (please don’t say NIV)”

    I’ve only read a tiny bit of Alter’s stuff, but from what I gather he takes more of a literary than historical approach. If you want the latter, then I’d recommend John Day’s writings, which include a commentary of Gen. 1-11 (“From Creation to Babel”) and a comparative study of the Hebrew pantheon (“Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan”).

  2. Try Everett Fox for a translation of the Hebrew Bible. He captures a lot of the word-play and alliterative language very nicely (these tend to be absent from more “elevated” translations)

  3. RE: Genesis

    No, you’ve got it right: Alter’s is by far the best modern translator of the OT. Everett Fox, mentioned above, is woodenly literal. I would not recommend his translation for its literary merits. There have been a few attempts by literary translators at stand-alone translations of various books of the OT. I would not recommend any of them. None of the modern church or synagogue sponsored translations are anything to write home about.

    My main caveat with Alter is that he is much better at translating prose than poetry. So, while his commentaries on Song of Songs and the Psalms, for example, are worthy, the actual translations themselves aren’t that great. For poetry, there is still nothing better than the KJV. But, in his various translations/commentaries, he has covered the all the prose narrative in the OT, with the exception of Chronicles/Ezra/Nehemiah.


    Slightly off topic, I’ll recommend a couple Great Courses lecture series: Cynthia Chapman’s The World of Biblical Israel is a good review of Ancient Israel from a sociological and historical perspective, while Amy Jill Levine’s course on the Old Testament is the best intro to that work I’ve come across.


    For specific versions of the KJV, I’ll recommend the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible with Apocrypha. Good scholarship and notes all around, along with the reader friendly formatting.

  4. Congratulations on the new job Razib, and you didn’t have to move.

    I was a lot of work to read this post carefully enough to suss out the new job.

  5. +1 for Alter and John Day. Obvious point but it’s interesting to read a commentator’s own translation with the commentary to bring out certain points they see as worthy of emphasis. Nahum Sarna (JPS), John Goldingay (Old Testament for Everyone), Robert Sacks (Interpretation i.e. St. John’s / Leo Strauss).

    And also I would mention the commentaries of Gerhard von Rad, Leon Kass and John Walton, though not including complete translations like those above, are also of interest.

    John Updike on Alter (and Fox):

  6. What’s the point of talking with Hindu Nationalists? They’re no better than Creationists, Afrocentrics, and Pan-Arabists.

  7. seems like a category error. it’s a political project. there is diversity within it on a range of stuff (e.g., plenty of hindu nationalists are atheist, while some are hindu fundamentalists).

  8. Can you go over the options for ancestry testing when all you’ve got are VCF and BAM files? I had my whole genome sequenced as part of the Personal Genome Project (which hardly anybody discusses for some reason) and I’m looking for options. Lots of websites provide options for 23andme and Ancestry and other companies’ customers, but what about those who had the whole genome sequenced?

    I did manage to do it in Admixture with the 1000genomes data. It shows me as being about 87% European (my family has generally identified as white), with mostly East African and South Asian ancestry for the remainder. There is also a small amount of East Asian and North Asian/Native American ancestry that shows persistently, even as I upped the k’s. When I went up to k=8, it appears that most of the East Asian ancestry is Southeast Asian. But still, the percentage is really small.

    But I’d like to try other tests. I can convert my VCF to 23andme, but all the websites I checked that accept 23andme data want you to link to your 23andme account, which I don’t have. So is there anything else I can do?

    I appreciate it. 🙂

  9. Razib, I fear that you are making a category error about Hindu nationalists yourself. You are right that they share an enemy – the academic left and the mainstream media- but really these are culturally perverse people who are today condoning lynchings of people eating beef. Any criticism will be dismissed as “Muslims did it first”. All history is simply about “glorious Hindu culture”. Caste is just a Marxist slander which British colonial rulers exploited. Etc.

    I would keep my distance.

  10. Pessimist, i’m aware. i don’t live in india so thank god i am not subject to their attacks! that being said, when my piece is published i am sure to be attacked as a muslim (this happens already as you might know).

  11. I was thinking that I spoke too much here and on brown pundits and should keep quiet, but really, it is difficult when I see “Pessimist” above writing pure nonsense and (somewhat surprisingly to me) Razib agreeing.

    Most Hindutvavadis (for whom you use the misleading term “Hindu nationalists”, as if we seek to establish Hindu theocracy), including those of them who would like beef outlawed, are not only horrified by the beef lynchings but unequivocally condemn them; and this is not like “no one I know voted for Nixon” because the blogosphere/social media are there for all to peruse.

    However, we do feel deeply hurt and humiliated when “fake beef stories” are cooked up – inventing a beef angle to a certainly gruesome but non-beef murder involving beef when none existed – and these lies are uncritically accepted by even people of such media-awareness and integrity as Razib – see (a) here, and (b) the combination of this Razib-retweet and this leftist magazine article. Well, may be just “I accepted that line because I didn’t know any better, and trusted the media to not lie”

    What does happen is that Hindutva folks outrage against such fake stories, and this is magically interpreted as proof that they condone lynchings; just like anyone who calls out that Rolling Stone’s UVa accusation had to be somehow a rape-apologist.

    Yes, beef lynchings like Dadri exist and are horrifying, but one can be both horrified at it, explicitly condemn it, and yet viscerally defend their society against analogous but patently false cases. Similarly, the Ballabhgarh lynching is gruesome and horrific; doesn’t mean that those who protest against the fake beef angle condone it.

    I realize I may get banned for this tirade; but don’t care at this point. And who knows, may be Sanjeev Sanyal might have seen some tweets like this at some point in the past and got incensed, and that manifested only recently.

  12. i don’t live in india so thank god i am not subject to their attacks!

    Until I started to read your blog, I was ignorant about how frothy Indian nationalists were about the so-called Aryan Invasion Theory. It reminds me of the way Japanese ultra-nationalists go crazy when the subject of Korean ancestry (of the Japanese in general and the imperial household and high nobility in particular) is raised in public.

  13. I’ll quote Wikipedia on the Renaissance Douay-Rheims translation:

    “Much of the text of the 1582/1610 bible employed a densely Latinate vocabulary, to the extent of being in places unreadable.”

    Later readable versions from the 1700s were rip-offs of the KJV.

  14. “Much of the text of the 1582/1610 bible employed a densely Latinate vocabulary, to the extent of being in places unreadable.”

    Educated Europeans (or Americans, for that matter) used to understand quite a bit of Latin. I have brought up my children with Latin Mass (novus ordo) and Douay-Rheims Bible. And don’t believe everything in Wikipedia.

  15. froginthewell,

    when “fake beef stories” are cooked up

    I hope you intended the pun. For some reason, reading your comment (“beef-murder,” “beef-lynching,” “beef stories,” etc.) made me very hungry. I am going to go out and have some beef rendang later in the day.

  16. I have only started reading your work in detail lately (I am rather new to this HBD stuff, though I have had a vague idea for a long time, ever since I read The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker.) Anyway, a question and an unrelated comment.

    Over at HBDchick, I read an old blog post discussing “The Explanation of Ideology: Family Structures and Social Systems” by Emmanuel Todd. Have you read the book, and if so, what is your evaluation of the thesis? In the same vein, it is often remarked upon that communism in India was only (visibly) successful in West Bengal and Kerala. Do you have any insights or guesses as to how the unusual family structure in Kerala might have affected it? At an even more general level, there is lots of “caste politics” in India; could this framework be useful to try to disentagle some of this stuff?

    A comment about the Ben Norton piece: I find the piece a fairly ordinary hatchet job. I confess that I rather enjoy reading hatchet jobs, as long as I don’t like the target (I do like Dawkins, btw). But do you really think that Ben Norton has any power to get Dawkins fired or something?

    Also, I wonder why you think the “far-left” is particularly prone to this kind of stuff. To take a very simple example, consider the recent hatchet job on Linda Sarsour by James Kirchick, who is definitely not a far-leftist. The piece is doing the same kind of thing as you say Norton is doing: pick a few incidents from her life and painting her as racist or indulging in a “politics of hate”. This is what hatchet jobs do: it’s a well-worn journalistic trope. As I said, this kind of stuff is fun to read, as long as the target is someone you don’t particularly like.


  17. Razib, both this blog and your new company have a .me domain name. Which is Montenegro, formerly a part of Yugoslavia. Am I right in assuming that neither has anything to do with the Balkan country but have everything to do with the English first person pronoun?

  18. Am I right in assuming that neither has anything to do with the Balkan country but have everything to do with the English first person pronoun?

    the second. yes.

  19. Also, I wonder why you think the “far-left” is particularly prone to this kind of stuff.

    i didn’t say that. i said it was a trend on the far left. in particular, is a tendency of those friendly to intersectional stuff. there’s a long trend of right-wing people of accusing others of being communist and neocons of accusing others of being islamist or anti-semitic.

    if you are going to leave comments don’t read between the lines in what i’m saying. i say what i mean.

    as for the rest, i have no deep insight. also, i am not part of the “HBD community.” most of them are kind of dumb. i suggest you read books on population genetics.

  20. Thanks for the reply. I assure you that I was not trying to read between the lines; I simply misread what you wrote. I agree that there such a tendency on the far-left exists.

    As for books on population genetics, do you have some suggestions (or some FAQ I can read?) I am currently reading “The 10,000 year explosion” by Cochran and Harpending. If required, I do not have any problems with books with a decent amount of mathematical detail.

  21. @Erika,

    I have also been sequenced through the Personal Genome Project (by Veritas Genetics). A few other possibilities I can suggest for where to go from here —

    1) For $75, Full Genomes Corp offers 3rd party analysis of whole genome sequence results from various sources. I found their breakdown of SNP effect prediction from my data very interesting, particularly the gene-by-gene list showing counts of missense mutations, stops-lost, starts-lost, etc. I was mostly interested in their Y-DNA capabilities though which probably doesn’t apply for you.

    2) The new algorithm at GEDMatch (Genesis) now supports upload of full-sequence VCF files. As of now I think this only allows searching for others with matching IBD segments, but in the future the various admixture tools that GEDMatch offers should accept the full VCF data. I ended up using the version of my VCF that FGC provided, since it limited results to only those SNPs listed in dbSNP.

    3) If you link your PGP WGS data to OpenHumans, you can get access to their new Genevieve variant reporting/annotation tool (example using my PGP VCF:

    4) If you install GATK, Picard, and a few other tools, I’ve written a script using them to unmap, re-align, and convert my PGP BAM data to build hg38 ( – I don’t have anything useful to do with my data as hg38, but someday I will.

    5) OpenSNP has been trying to accept VCF data, but it hasn’t worked for me yet. Maybe it would for you.

  22. It seems quite perverse to learn a whole other language just so one can read an English translation. If one is going to learn Latin, it would seem better to go all the way and read the Vulgate, which, unlike the original DR, is widely considered to be quite excellent reading.

    But that’s all irrelevant for English speakers with no Latin. They should stick with Alter and the KJV.

    Anyway, to each their own.

  23. When it’s 2017, and you’re reading, on a South-Asian atheist’s genetics blog, a spririted debate on the merits of the KJV vs Douay-Rheims translation…well done, gentlemen.

  24. It seems quite perverse to learn a whole other language just so one can read an English translation.

    You got it backwards.

    read the Vulgate

    By all means! But reading the Vulgate is MUCH more difficult unless your Latin is quite advanced. Douay-Rheims is NOT “unreadable in parts” – it’s beautiful and faithful, and the “Latinate vocabulary” is not at all that burdensome to those who speak English (with its large stock of Latin-origin vocabulary) and have some understanding of a Romance language.

    They should stick with Alter and the KJV

    Of course, then there is the issue of heretical mistranslation.

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