30 thoughts on “Unlurking thread

  1. I have been reading you for a few years now because the information content is very high. I don’t comment because I have no value to add – I am not knowledgable about the fields you write about and read you to learn more. I generally can’t follow your technical discussions re genomics but like to read your conclusions. I like your posts on history (especially human migration, South Asia, Islam) and new scientific results. Personal background – Based in US (30 years) from Delhi (family from Rajasthan a few generations ago), Hindu bania family (atheist personally), Ph.D in Earth Sciences, work in business world. Politically, I usually roll my eyes at the antics of SJWs but in the end I am on that team.
    Thank you for your writings and for your commitment to objectivity.

  2. Not really a lurker. I used to comment under my real name but quit. Seeing what happened to you, Brendan Eich, James Damore, and Eric Weinstein makes it clear what happens to blasphemers.

  3. If this is an unlurking thread, I suppose I should say something about myself 🙂

    I am Charles.

    I’ve been in the tech industry for almost 20 years.

    My formal background is in computer science & mathematics.

    In addition to being interested in genetics, I am also interested in evolutionary anthropology, evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, behavioral ecology, moral psychology, psychometrics, social learning, cultural evolution.


    I’ve read the various incarnations of the Gene Expression (gnxp) blog since (I think) 2006.

    I used to comment more often.

    I tend to mostly read now. Although I sometimes comment from Twitter.

    On the content on this blog….

    I’ve enjoyed how latent history has been revealed through the study of ancient DNA (aDNA).

    I’ve enjoyed the exploration of genetic genealogy.

    And I’ve enjoyed how human genetics is often put into context through the usage of history to create a narrative.

    I’ve also enjoyed the book recommendations and the interesting URLs that have been shared (regardless of whether they had anything to do with genetics or not).

    There is usually something interesting to read here 🙂

  4. Sorry if this is too off-topic — curious about your thoughts on this book:


    The question becomes: how did a magical, spiritualist, mesmerized Europe ever convince itself that it was disenchanted? The answer becomes even more interesting once you realize that the notion of a disenchanted modernity formed in the very period in which Britain, France, and Germany were in the midst of occult and spiritualist revivals. Furthermore, as I discovered through archival research and reading letters and diaries, an engagement with spirits and magic can be found in the lives of the least likely people: the very theorists of modernity as disenchantment themselves.

    Accordingly, in the remaining nine chapters of the book (See the table of contents), I trace the genealogy of the notion of modernity as disenchantment alongside the birth of the academic disciplines (philosophy, anthropology, sociology, folklore, psychoanalysis, and religious studies). The book shows that a number of influential figures—including Theodor Adorno, Francis Bacon, Walter Benjamin, Rudolf Carnap, Marie Curie, Denis Diderot, Sigmund Freud, G. W. F. Hegel, Max Müller, Friedrich Schiller, Arthur Schopenhauer, E. B. Tylor, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Max Weber, and others—were not only aware of, but profoundly enmeshed in the occult milieu, such that the very objects of inquiry, methods, and even the self-definition of many disciplines still bear the marks of this important early encounter with esotericism.

  5. Erik here. I’ve been reading your blog for a six months or so, per the theZman’s blogroll. I struggle to follow your more technical posts, but I’m casually learning.

    Based in Texas, I negotiate oil and gas interest acquisitions, contracts etc.

    Politically, I’m an anarcho-capitalist libertarian, in the Rothbardian tradition.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Long time reader. I can’t remember how long or if I have commented before. Civil engineer from Alberta.

    You are doing good work. Keep it up!

  7. Some time ago you made a comment that science should not be considered pure “instrumentality” (I believe was your word) and that the development of real engineering and technology should not be considered the only legitimate reality test of science.

    I disagree with your assertion 100%.

    Consider the following:


    Here are some responses to a blog posting of the above:

    “And it’s worse in the medical sciences….A study several years ago found that 85% of NIH papers were not reproducible…your tax dollars at work.”

    “My father was a research scientist with the DOD back in the 60’s. Back then they were OBSESSED with accuracy, both in the process and in the results.
    Now science is politicized, and they produce the results that the people who pay them want.”

    “At some point in the early 90’s, universities stop turning out students that had a firm grasp of what a “fact” was. By the late 90’s, it had gotten unbearable.

    ^ My Dad on why he retired early as President of Research from… a medical technology company.

    True story.”

    I would say at this stage of the game that the development of real engineering and technology is the ONLY legitimate reality test of “science”.

  8. I’ve unlurked before, 28, aerospace engineer at NASA with a background in astronomy and physics.

    I started reading your blog in 2012 with my first job out of college. During lunch I would read the Discover blogs and got hooked on GNXP. Your genetics posts often go over my head, and I haven’t yet found the time to educate myself on the fundamentals but I keep coming back.

    I enjoy your non-genetics posts the most (since I can follow more easily), and I often recommend your blog to friends. I identify on the left politically (although I strive to not be caught up in the ‘identity politics’ and focus on renewable energy, college for all, ending citizens united, bail and other prison reform efforts, etc.) I find a lot of value in your blog as it gives me an intelligent view point that does not simply agree with my own. On that note however, I would be interested to understand what policies you subscribe to or think would be beneficial to the U.S. You talk about being conservative, and I’m not sure if I missed a post that more thoroughly describes what that means to you since that along with right, left and others have become catch-all terms.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this blog which never ceases to teach me something new or make me think about something in a new way. Also, based on your recommendation I picked up Way of Kings and am now almost finished Words of Radiance. These books are SO good!

  9. I read this blog frequently from 2007-09 and found you on twitter recently. It is a lot different now.

    I work for a technology firm in the deep south. I am on the left politically.

  10. Long time reader. BA History, minor in math, software engineer. I had to code up some simulations to understand Hardy-Weinberg — it’s always been that way; math is hard, but code makes sense. I rely on your book recommendations.

  11. I’m not really a lurker, but I’ll chime in regardless. I’ve been reading you since you and Godless Capitalist had the original GNXP.com. You were partly the reason why I decided to go to grad school for genetics. I was previously a chemist.

    I’m based in TX and currently writing my dissertation in genetics/developmental biology after too long of a period in grad school. Looking for a job currently as well.

    @Abelard Lindsey

    I agree that the replication crisis is bad in biology, maybe some sub-fields (cancer research) are similar to psychology. But I don’t think that engineering and applied science are the ONLY legitimate reality tests of science. Simple reproduction of experiments and concepts is sufficient. However, there is often little incentive to just reproduce others’ works. The reward system, grants/tenure/awards are set up for it.

    For example, I work on knocking out certain genes, genes that probably will never be involved in a commercial applications, and let me tell you that these genes have a very large effect. Many groups have also shown the affects of these genes.

    Things can be true that aren’t useful to humans. Basic science won’t always lead to commercial applications, but it’s still interesting and worthwhile to learn how nature works.

  12. I’m following this blog (or a similar version) since the late 2000s, but I’m not used to comment very much on blogs. You have a very broad “horizon” of interests, like my own broad horizon, and I like to compare our opinions. Your knowledge outside genetics is pretty well — you know a lot of interesting things.

    Here is a great place to see good science, opinions based on some knowledge (even when I disagree with you) and to know various new books.

    I’m a Brazilian Meteorologist who loves science in general and facts-based history (these days it is found almost only in Archeology and Physical Anthropology), then your content fits very well to my interests.

  13. I’m a troll. Never in this site, never a vicious one. If Flying Spaghetti Monster is not a true religion (some people say it) but a way of trolling religion, then I have been trolling in similar ways for decades, since the days of Usenet. Some of my initiatives acquired some degree of fame in my country, many years ago, before twitter and facebook.

    I don’t remember exactly when I started following Razib. I think when he was in Discover. I was interested in their writings on genetics, but as another lurker has said, almost all of them are far beyond my capacity and I only catch the conclusions. But I was especially interested in their comments on history and culture (and fantasy literature). In this globalized world, is very difficult to find useful information about the current USA. All mass media look like Soviet trash, left and right.

    My interest has increased when, recently, Razib has become something like an inner exilee condemned by the New Cultural Revolution of Oh My God My Very Important Feelings. I don’t have his same vision of things, but we blasphemers have to be together.

    Oh, yes, my personal presentation: former writer and graphic humorist, with no scientific background but well informed, now I feel more free and less constrained and politized as a civil servant than when I was as a creative.

    From Spain, agnosticist, politically in the right. Well, not sure about this. In Spain, the political left is getting increasingly similar to “Stalin + Angela Davies + welcome refugees + twitter” and the political right to “Mr. Burns + Torquemada + welcome refugees + twitter”. Not sure where I fit.

  14. Lurker, because I have nothing intelligent to add to the scientific discussion. However, I did make one prior comment about politics, inspired by another political comment. I am on the political right.

    Anyway, thanks for the site and all your writings. I’ve bought a couple books based on your recommendations, and I see a couple more of my favorites on your recommended list.

    I have great respect for your willingness to express your doubleplusungood thoughts where I can read and learn from them.

  15. I’m socialist but not liberal, and most of my friends are liberal. I enjoy this blog for:

    – the exciting advances in genetics, and trying to understand the baffling jargon of a1b1c1 and so on.
    – readings of, and book recommendations for, Big History.
    – science, sci-fi/fantasy, and space, but really there are a huge number of other places to go to for those, it doesn’t constitute a unique selling point for this blog in particular. (this is not a demand you stop, it’s your space, your choice what you want to write about)
    – as an aside, some reassurance that it’s not just me who thinks my liberal friends are kinda going out of their minds (I can’t ask them about it obviously)

  16. Started reading you in Gene Expression days about ten years ago or so. Your vast knowledge and quick wits are so very impressive. You keep coming up with fascinating topics and insights, whether from genetics, history, or politics, or whatever. Following you on Twitter too. Me, I’m in my late sixties, retired from a national lab where my tools were usually lasers and fiberoptics which we used to measure things. Have a PhD in Engineering Physics.

  17. Hardly unlurking; I decided quite a while back to stop commenting anonymously, in solidarity.

    Found GNXP in 2002 when doing online search for stuff on human genetics, to try to help daughter understand her place among humans; back then I desperately wanted to believe Lewontin, but quickly learnt the truth.

    Got hooked on GNXP, patience/kindness of bloggers in explaining things to me, and read all of the previous posts that I had missed, enthralled by Razib’s palpable dislike of opinionating, dense prose and insistence on facts and evidence – this was a revelation to me and I became an instant convert. Addicted to his writing ever since.

    Civil Engineer/Geotechnical and Marine/Coastal Specialist on coast of southern China (Pearl Delta/Greater Bay Area). I have no political/ideological team affiliation.

  18. Following you since you were on Discover. Enjoy your writing and I’ve always been interested in genetics. Like your history and culture posts as well. I have commented once or twice at most because the genetics is way above my competency so can’t add anything useful. My background is Electrical Engineering. Canadian citizen and resident but my ancestry is South African Afrikaner on my fathers side and English/Scottish from my mother. Keep up the good work you’re always interesting!

  19. Long time reader and lurker, and want to say hello. I took one genetics course for my biology minor back in 1978. I think the field has changed a bit. Majored in chemistry and am now a retired bench chemist. I am a history nerd from childhood, however I knew history would never pay well. Also axe to grind social science professors were already a feature of college back in the seventies, even in the South. Enjoy Austin, have not been there in years, but it is a great food town.

  20. Long-time reader. I’ve been following your work since early GNXP days, certainly more than 15 years. I’m an MIT trained engineer, with multiple successful careers that resulted from following my passions. For a few years I worked primarily as a specialized journalist, and still write professionally for national publications.

    I enjoy the high-information content and the broad prospective of your writing. I try not to join political teams, but if compelled to pick, would choose the one that favored less rather than more government. That comes from a lot of reading in Public Choice theory.

  21. Been reading you on a daily basis since I was 16 and in high school. I’m turning 32 this year.

    I’ve been reading you for half my life.

    Your blog along with Spencer Wells’ Journey of Man’s first 2003 airing really solidified my obsession with genetics as a kid.

    My degree is in microbiology & molecular genetics, but I work in the tech. field right now. I’m saving for my master’s and maybe a Ph.D after that. I have no idea what I will specialize in. There aren’t many undergrad. genetics-related jobs in the GTA (Southern Ontario), and I am too afraid to move to America, lol.

    Please keep writing, never stop. I’ve been telling people throughout the last half of my life about your blog, and now I get to do the same with the Insitome podcast. 🙂

  22. From The Netherlands. Long time follower. Not good at math at all. Came here for the genetics, which I can’t reproduce, but can broadly follow. And stayed for the views on history, which I often disagree with, especially the fall of Rome stuff, but which never bore me. And the atheism, which we share. And the plain speaking on all kinds of forbidden subjects, the courage of which I applaud.
    Lurking because I’ve completely stopped commenting (anywhere) a few years ago. Didn’t do me any good, and I’ve never been able to convince anyone of anything. Even on plain points of fact. Only got into more silly arguments than I could handle. This is completely at odds with my real life, where I never evade a debate, and frequently am able to influence people’s opinions. So comments may just not be my platform.

  23. Hi,
    SW Developer based in Dc, been reading gnxp for about 10 years , commented a few times. I think once was about republican voting in New England or something .. Enjoying the Insitome podcasts..

  24. I am descendants of people from South India: Moodibadri; Salem and Guntur; have finally identify now as a classical liberal/conservative. I have been following your stuff for about 4 years; while much of your stuff goes over my head,I still try to pay attention to your posts on the genetic variances in India, West Asia, and North Africa, I am especially interested in the genetics of South Indian Brahmins. I was surprised by the manner in which the NYT cast you aside, but it now all makes sense, their intolerance that is .

  25. I can’t improve upon what Niraj said at the top (less the interest in South Asia or Islam, though I appreciate your comments/observations there as well).

    Appreciate your intellectual insights and expertise. Here to learn. Came to you via Steve Sailer years ago (I forget when, at least since 2009 from your old blog, I think).

    Wish you weren’t so acerbic with some commenters (not that some of them don’t deserve it), but at least you’re not Greg Cochran! But that’s just the genteel Southern Scots-Irish side of my family coming through; I can appreciate giving Hellfire and Brimstone at the appropriate time and place. I try to disarm through charm as much as I can… :-).

    And thanks for all the learning and what you do.

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