Open Thread, 3/19/2018

Some people have asked me what I think about Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. I haven’t finished it, but now I understand why it is one of the most assigned books for undergraduates: it’s concise yet facile superficiality would appeal to a know-it-all twenty year old. What’s more disturbing, though I guess not surprising, is that Imagined Communities communities is a book that I’ve seen name-checked for years by various public intellectuals. Did they read the book?

It’s not that the book is incredibly wrong. It’s just that there’s not that much there in my opinion.

Been enjoying sampling the Philosophize This! podcast.

Pleistocene North African genomes link Near Eastern and sub-Saharan African human populations. Haven’t blogged it because I haven’t read the supplements.

Relationship between Deleterious Variation, Genomic Autozygosity, and Disease Risk: Insights from The 1000 Genomes Project.

Whole-Genome-Sequence-Based Haplotypes Reveal Single Origin of the Sickle Allele during the Holocene Wet Phase. This is big.

‘Serial Bomber’ Is Suspected in Explosions That Have Put Austin on Edge. Twitter was useless yesterday as most of the people seemed more enraged at the media for not laying the blame on white supremacists or Muslim radicals, as opposed to those getting killed or injured.

Cohort-wide deep whole genome sequencing and the allelic architecture of complex traits.

Feeling like I should reread The End of History and the Last Man. Feels like history has started again….

Some people ask me about how I read fast. Part of the answer is that I read a lot in a specific area at the same time. Also, you can read fast if you know a lot about a topic. For example, a substantial portion of Who We Are and How We Got Here involves going over four and three population tests. I know what those are, so I read those sections quickly.

Finally going to hunker down and figure out which plugin is causing the 500 error on this website.

Just a reminder, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Sticher and review it (positively). I’ll stop with the flogging when people no longer tell me “Oh, I didn’t know you had a podcast!”

This week we’ll I’m interviewing Milford Wolpoff (that is, what’s going live).


19 thoughts on “Open Thread, 3/19/2018

  1. I haven’t read Anderson either. And I doubt that it will make my reading list. I think that what propels it in the US is the persistent inability of Americans to to know or understand the difference between nations and states.

  2. Your recent tweets about Indian and other Asian Americans has given me an idea. I propose a Soul Man remake. However, instead of a white guy pretending to be black, it should be an Indian pretending to be black, or a (non-whte) Hispanic Asian (100%) trying to get into the Ivy League. American cinema needs to update its race-relations. Get Out is soooo old. America is not merely a black and white nation!

  3. re: the reich book

    1) wrote the preview review

    2) 1st draft of review for civilians to NRO

    3) after a week or so and the book is out i’ll write a review for those who are ‘in the weeds’

  4. Re your tweet: “kids live in the real world not a bubble. u need to tell them other ppl have different views than what they’re exposed to at home (#atheistParent)”

    A big lesson. My kids are pretty socially mature so they didn’t have this issue much as they largely figured it out for themselves, but a child of a relative of mine who was secular took it upon herself to firmly explain to a classmate in elementary school who had a deceased mom that mom was not in heaven because it didn’t exist. Needless to say, this was not well received by said motherless child on a scale that makes Santa Claus denialism seem like a gentle rainstorm compared to a hurricane.

  5. should i reinvent myself as a black conservative? i hear it’s remunerative….

    23andme says I am 0.1% Native American.* Wohoo! Let’s see some of them casino money!

    *I bet I am more “Native American” than a certain senator. I can certainly blend in better among NAs than she can (except for the really white-looking tribes).

    **Yes, I know I am not descended from Native Americans and the 0.1% is likely just noise (or a very distantly shared ancestor from eons back).

  6. Needless to say, this was not well received by said motherless child on a scale that makes Santa Claus denialism seem like a gentle rainstorm compared to a hurricane.

    St. Nicholas was real, unlike, say, Tooth fairies.

    As for heaven, well, we shall all find out one day, won’t we?

  7. Alfred Crosby passed away on March 14th.

    Interestingly, according his obituary, he had a history of left-wing activism. I say this because, at least in what I can remember about Ecological Imperialism (the only book of his I have read), Crosby seemed more willing to just ‘let the facts speak for themselves’ and not constantly remind the reader that the Europeans were awful and such. Compare that to either 1491/1493 or Guns, Germs and Steel (which I’ve never completed), books which cover similar ground.

    Maybe that’s just Crosby being a professional historian (versus a journalist like Mann) or it a reflection of the passing of time and trends within academia, but I do wish more books of that nature were more like that.

  8. Twitter was useless yesterday as most of the people seemed more enraged at the media for not laying the blame on white supremacists or Muslim radicals, as opposed to those getting killed or injured.

    Reading it straight suggests you think Twitter should blame the victims (or that you believe they are the ones setting the bombs). Common sense, even more Occam’s razor, suggest a typo, but I cannot figure out what it would be: perhaps … as opposed to [sympathy/concern for] those getting killed or injured. Anyway, FWIW.

  9. Christopher, I read both 1491 and 1493. Neither struck me as “constantly remind[ing] the reader that the Europeans were awful and such.” Rather the opposite. All the people were treated as people, not as characters in some ideological morality play. The latter, alas, is something that too many professional historians do. If all our journalists were like Mann, we’d be much much better off.

  10. Razib,

    As an interested outsider to the Ancient DNA Revolution, what would you say are the main factors/developments that allowed the revolution to bloom fully in c.2017 compared to its nascent state just a decade earlier c.2007?

  11. hat would you say are the main factors/developments that allowed the revolution to bloom fully in c.2017 compared to its nascent state just a decade earlier c.2007?

    two factors, highlighted by reich

    1) chip and sequencing tech were still very expensive in 2007. probably an order of magnitude or more expensive

    2) as reich observes the enrichment and capture technique which amplifies particular SNPs as opposed to looking for the whole genome really increased the efficiency of getting material out of the samples

    i think the factory style ‘clean room’ that is typical of ancient DNA could have been done in 2007. it’s typical in some other contexts.

  12. I find your description of Imagined Communities amusing due to personal history.

    My junior year abroad at the University of Warwick, I took a history class on colonial India. My term paper for the year was investigating the degree to which the “imagined community” thesis helped to explain the eventual partition of India – basically, did the British Raj, however unintentionally, create the conditions which would cause the pan-Indian identity to become wrapped up in Hinduism, which then had the counter-reaction of a Muslim Indian (and eventual Pakistani) identity? Certainly by 1909, when the British agreed to allow Muslims to have a separate electorate, the die was largely cast. From what I remember of the paper (which I wrote nearly 18 years ago) most of it dealt with the period preceding this decision in the late 19th and very early 20th century.

    I don’t have a copy of the paper any longer, thus I have no idea if it was any good. I did get highest honors in the class however, and my understanding was always that Warwick is – while not Oxbridge of course – a top 10 university in Britain. You’d never know it by how little the students seemed to work though – they made Americans at my mid-tier state university seem positively studious.

  13. @Razib
    From the NYT article:
    “This is why it is important, even urgent, that we develop a candid and scientifically up-to-date way of discussing any such differences”

    Controlling language is one of the things the Left is best at, and by the article’s context, the quoted phrase here is just calling for the Left to jump on this Ancient DNA bandwagon and start creating their Official Narrative of the facts to be then distributed to the masses. This is specifically called to be done because, as said next:

    “instead of sticking our heads in the sand and being caught unprepared when they are found.”

    Their current narrative is vanishing, and they’re being swamped by genetic data disproving their sociology theories.
    David Reich himself said some pretty ideologue things in the past, such as the Migrations and Mixing of Anatolians with WHG, and the same thing with Indo-European and the EEF, somehow justify and legitimize the same process happening today again (he then brushes under the carpet the replacement and extermination of these events).
    Pontus is another brilliant guy who holds idiotic political positions, when he seldom tweets them.
    And now this article.

    “While most people will agree that finding a genetic explanation for an elevated rate of disease is important, they often draw the line there. Finding genetic influences on a propensity for disease is one thing, they argue, but looking for such influences on behavior and cognition is another.”

    “But whether we like it or not, that line has already been crossed.”

    “To understand why it is so dangerous for geneticists and anthropologists to simply repeat the old consensus about human population differences, consider what kinds of voices are filling the void that our silence is creating.”

    “But he goes on to make the unfounded and irresponsible claim that this research is suggesting that genetic factors explain traditional stereotypes.”

    Look at the apologetic tone, the fear mongering, the call for the voices of the Left to fill the void.

    The field will be politicized in the mainstream, that’s what this article announced.

  14. As a 20 year old I was more impressed with Ernest Gellner’s “Nations and Nationalism”, a similarly short, modernist explanation of nationalism. Possibly because it could be applied better to countries that I was interested at the time, also because of the story of Megalomania and Ruritania.

  15. An update on my above rant:
    Razib, are you reading the reactions to the Reich NYT peice? He even bothered to call for the left (implicitly) to abandon social crap and to jump on the genetics bandwagoon while it’s early in the game for them to manage to create a narrative, but instead, what happened was a big wave of denialism and calls for burning Reich.
    There are apologists everywhere trying to save their carrers and their beliefs by spinning the words and trying to debunk what has been said.

    To me, this shows that the vast majority of the left started believing its own lies and must protect them now to sustain their worldview narrative, and that no conciliation is in sight with genetics.
    What Reich predicted will happen, these people will be swamped to irrelevancy as their refusal to accept reality will finally crumble as unprecedented data trumps against wishful thinking.

    Now, who will apropriate the narrative? It really created a vacuum, and although this has not reached the hard right, they would be more than glad to embrace it to their views.

    Kudos to Reich.


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