Open Thread, 2/11/2018


The podcast that Spencer Wells and I are doing, The Insight, now has got eight episodes up. It’s nice that people are stumbling upon it now. Additionally, we’re pretty satisfied with the uptake. So far. To break out of our “core” audience we need more people to know about us.

First, please subscribe via iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play. Second, mention the podcast on social media. Tell your friends. Third, we have the next two or three podcasts planned, we’re still taking suggestions for ideas and possible guests (so far we’ve had John Hawks and Joe Pickrell on).

I now have Amazon Associates for Canada and the UK. The links to US Amazon items I post on this page should now change depending on your IP.

Cheddar Man changes the way we think about our ancestors. This is a pretty good article. But a few points. First, anyone who followed the literature would have predicted that Cheddar Man would contribute ~10% of the genomes to modern Britons and that he would lack alleles for light skin, but have them for blue eyes. I can’t believe any of the researchers were shocked in light of the La Brana etc. results. Second, we’re not extremely confident that he had very dark skin after the past few years when it’s clear pigmentation genetics involves more than just a few major loci. Seeing as how selection methods have detected lots of sweeps for skin lightening alleles over the last 5,000 years in Northern Europe, it seems implausible that they were as light as modern Northern Europeans, but not necessarily dark.

Spencer and I will probably an episode of The Insight on Cheddar Man after the documentary is out on the 18th (and the paper, probably in Nature).

I’ve blogged on female circumcision/FGM before. There are variations of opinion within Islam on this practice. It is mandatory, meritorious, or there is no comment. Muslims from areas where this is not practiced, such as South Asia or the Maghreb, naturally assume that this is a “cultural practice” that has nothing to do with Islam.

This is simply false. The Shafi school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence considers female circumcision obligatory, for example. The complicated issue is that a) not all women subject to female circumcision/FGM are Muslim, for instance, in Africa, including Egyptian Copts b) not all Muslims are subject to the practice, obviously. These facts allow all sorts of confusions and obfuscations to emerge.

But the bigger issue is that if you are not Muslim it is not really coherent to say that something is a “cultural” practice as opposed to a “religious” one. Religion is part of the culture, and to a great extent on the reflective conscious scale the defining element of culture. Muslims disagree as to the religious acceptability of many practices. Those disagreements are cultural because Islam is cultural.

Land of Promise is a book I’ve mentioned many times. It’s one whose premises rub me the wrong way: the vigorous mixing of state fiat with the market. I’m not a fan of “industrial policy.” And yet I read the book because Michael Lind, the author, knows his history, and he’s honest about it.

I do think on some level I’m rethinking my commitment to the free market as opposed to institutions, and the short-term benefits of market efficiency set against the long-term advantages of social stability. That’s probably part of a general trend toward conservatism away from libertarianism.

Let’s Ban Porn. Don’t laugh. It took some boldness for The New York Times to publish something as laugh-out-loud implausible. But in the end, I think porn is the symptom. Really we as a culture don’t agree on what sex is supposed to be about. Without that agreement, porn is a sideshow.

Also, the proliferation of porn in the last 20 years hasn’t led to the explosion of sex crimes that critics on the Left and Right would have predicted.

Some of you may wonder about DNA Geeks. What’s the deal? Well, I can tell you that we are building a nice brand, and periodically there are traffic spikes. And the microscope is killing it.

The main sadness for me is that the ratio of R1b to R1a t-shirts sold is like 20:1. But I guess it’s quality over quantity?

While I was taking a Twitter break I got a few DMs about the latest controversy about hours worked by academics:

The stupidest thing on science twitter is how crazy and nasty people get over the idea that you have to work hard in science to succeed. Everybody knows you have to work hard and long to succeed, and yet everyone is willing to outright lie about the truth, lest you be publicly destroyed.

It’s pretty clear some people work fewer hours than other people and do fine. It’s also clear that other people have higher sweet spots in terms of return-on-time-worked. The problem is when people presume there’s a one-size-fits-all formula. I think it would be best if people reacted with a little more charity to those who extrapolate from what’s worked for them.

15 thoughts on “Open Thread, 2/11/2018

  1. I think it would be best if people reacted with a little more charity to those who extrapolate from what’s worked for them.

    Eh… It would probably lead to much more civility if people were generally wary of extrapolating from what works for them, instead merely stating something along the lines of “YMMV, but this has worked well for me.” When disagreement arises, a discussion about why an approach has worked well for one person and not for another could be quite useful. OTOH, it is more generally true that it would be best if people reacted with a little more charity… (but less faith and more hope). Especially online!

  2. (1) Do subscriptions through PocketCasts help you at all? (It’s my podcast app of choice)

    (2) Is the smartphone microscope any good?

  3. “I do think on some level I’m rethinking my commitment to the free market as opposed to institutions, and the short-term benefits of market efficiency set against the long-term advantages of social stability. That’s probably part of a general trend toward conservatism away from libertarianism.”

    I have this feeling too, and yet I have a hard time applying it to the real world. Meaning I still don’t have any great points against the free market types in their myriad observations on why state institutions often perform worse and waste more than their private sector counterparts. I can’t simply unlearn all of that. It’s like, my enthusiasm for markets has dampened because I don’t think they determine as much in society as I once did, but yea, soft vs. hard budget constraints, calculation problem, principal-agent concerns, yadda yadda.

  4. Comments/ideas on the podcast:

    1. Y’all talked about how consumers like things to be simple and digestible in terms of genetic ancestry. Specifically, you mentioned that Germany may make more sense if broken down into several subgroups. At least for me, I would much prefer specificity. For example, finding out I am 10% Bavarian (or whatever) and 15% French/German is much more interesting than 25% French/German. I say break down into as much detail as possible! Maybe too much for some consumers, but I can’t be the only one like this…

    2. My fiancée’s sister did the 23andMe test. They are Croatian/Serbian immigrants from Bosnia that came in the ’90s. 85% Balkan (big surprise), ~12% Eastern European, ~1% Italian, 0.2% Yakut, and 0.1% Native American. *Not* 0.1% “Native American and East Asian”, which is a 23andMe category. The test claims they have distant Native American ancestry. Bullshit, right?

    3. In terms of podcast ideas, maybe an episode for each region of the world worth talking about. I mean, maybe 1 episode on the Adaman Islanders (I think you two said this was already in the works), 1 episode on the Bantu migrations, 1 on North Africa/Mideast, etc.

    4. Podcast on drug addiction and ancestry (Asian flush, rice wine, Native American alcoholism rates explained, etc.).

    5. Podcast on recent human evolution above-the-neck. Lol jk

  5. A free market is nothing more than information – what do people value, how do they invest or spend their discretionary income, where do they chose to live, how do they chose to live, what do they chose to purchase and at what price, how do they prefer to spend their leisure time?

    A marketplace that is forced or commanded does not tell you anything. In fact, you have to completely ignore information in order to have a command marketplace. If a market is limited in it’s offerings and participation is compulsory, it cannot tell you much about human preferences and human behaviors. It does tell you about the lengths people will go to in order to avoid punishment, or if they are willing to risk the punishment to avoid the burden of paying for something they don’t want.

    Speaking of a free marketplace (and free association), I spend way too much time reading your blog entries. 🙂

    You have an interesting way of looking at things.

    That’s information too. I don’t know how many people read your blog, but it does tell you that there’s a voluntary audience. Obviously, people are willing to trade time for the info you provide. A voluntary transaction, it’s not forced and lets you know that people are willing to spend at least one of their resources (time) to consume your product.

  6. re: markets. i was reading a piece recently that pointed out that the rise of china doesn’t really jibe with the “communism is a failed system” mentality. i have to admit it made me think for a while.

    I read “How Democracies Die,” here’s a nice summary of it:
    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/2/16929764/how-democracies-die-trump-book-levitsky-ziblatt

    “The simple fact of the matter is that the world has never built a multiethnic democracy in which no particular ethnic group is in the majority and where political equality, social equality and economies that empower all have been achieved.”

    oops!

  7. Hey Razib,

    Long time pedestrian reader here. You frequently reference the “hit piece” on undark. I’ve read it more than once and other than the bonobo reference, I can’t understand what you find offensive to you. Can you spell it out exactly?

  8. there are plenty of small inaccuaries. eg taki’s as a ‘white supremacist’ magazine. as michael brendan dougherty pointed out a long time alt-right bete noire elspeth reeve contributed to taki’s years after i stopped (i stopped because richard had started commissioning white nationalists and i told him so). the connection to spencer obviously is a way to tachyon-smear. i knew richard originally through his asian american ex (who is a friend).

    and you don’t think the visual depiction made me look evil?

    i just talked to a friend who told me that that hit piece concerned someone at a semi-prominent venue who wanted me as a contributor. basically very few people read that piece. it’s too long and rambling. they just get from it that i’m a ‘scientific racist’ and it’s used to attack me all the time. i think that was the editor’s aim. i’m not going to forget her name that’s for sure.

    anyway, the good thing is that it kind of awakened me to the realization that journalism is about slime and most journalists are scum. that’s probably never going to change now. never will i ever talk on the record to a journalist again. my hatred is literally incandescent. they’re fundamentally propagandists. i have journalist friends, but on the ‘last day’ we’re enemies. there are no ambiguities in my mind. truth is a delusion and it’s all about power. we need it to win. that is all.

  9. Along the same lines, I am still trying to work through the implications of something you wrote.

    … their private choices are more in alignment with being in sympathy with a white ethnostate…

    You are not saying that endogamy equates to support for an ethnostate. You are not saying that endogamy is expressing sympathy for an ethnostate. You are saying that endogamy “aligns” with being in sympathy.

    And yes, now that you mention it, the dark shadows around the eyes do give you a sinister look.

  10. they pulled an OJ. they darked the image. several journalist friends immediately thought this is what they did.

    look at all the people associated with undark. it’s lejit. so you know what the media is and who runs it. they’re fucking propogandists.

    the ethnostate is irrelevant for upper-middle-class whites. they live it. look at matt yglesias. he grew up in a city filled with non-white millennials, but he married a white woman from texas. this is not atyical. check how many kennedy descendents married non-whites. very few. they don’t need to talk about keeping the blood pure when they’ve already achieved it.

    the best white supremacy is one that dare not say its name 🙂 when everything is white supremacy, nothing is white supremacy.

  11. As per your request, the follow up from the Neanderthal thread:

    1. Genetiker’s data is straight up from the papers. I don’t see any problem with it. His Data and Conclusions are two different things.
    2. Native Americans lack both Caucasoid Light Skin genes and the Mongoloid Light Skin gene. Also, there’s the Veddoid skin gene, which was present in WHG, making them Brownish/Reddish like a Native American, Eskimo and such (even some South Asians), not Blackish.
    3. That guy is a big name in the European New Right movement (from which the Identitarian groups spawned from), since decades ago, much before the frog-nazis. He’s also an academic, a professor, and he teaches historical sociology at the University of New Brunswick.

    Thanks.

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