Open Thread, 08/27/2018

DNAGeeks is dropping prices and offering free shipping on the phone microscopes for the rest of August. We’ll be putting the scopes on sale until the stock is cleared.

As I’m reading Imperial China 900–1800, I’m still thinking most of the readers of this weblog would benefit from doing so as well. There’s just so much within the book that is food for thought. Though you should read A History of the Byzantine State and Society as well!

Quillette has been producing some good material recently. I find it curious since a lot of scientists and Left-liberals more generally have been attacking it really vociferously recently. To be honest I think it’s kind of a sign that whatever Claire Lehmann is doing, she’s probably doing it well.

The critique some of the writing at Quilette is uneven is surely correct, but that’s true of lots of publications. In those cases, the authors take a hit, but the publications aren’t totally written off. In fact, I see a fair amount of undergraduate college-level material being shared around when they agree with someone’s politics; people only get intellectual snobby when they disagree with the conclusion (this is a big move by Protagoras on the Prairie).

First, Progress and Polytheism: Could an Ethical West Exist Without Christianity? Well, since ancient China was predicated on ethics, obviously Christianity is not necessary, though it may be sufficient. I think more predictable is going to be the critique that Christianity is necessary for liberalism, as implicit in the argument in Inventing the Individuals: The Origins of Western Liberalism.

Second, The Dangers of Ignoring Cognitive Inequality. This is related to the piece in The American Conservative, The Recruitment Problem the Military Doesn’t Want to Talk About.

If you haven’t, please check out Consumer genomics will change your life, whether you get tested or not.

Genetics Society Medal 2019 – Deborah Charlesworth. Very deserved. One of the authors of Elements of Evolutionary Genetics.

Enrichment of genetic markers of recent human evolution in educational and cognitive traits.

Brian Resnick at Vox has been writing some decent stuff on genetics.

My WaPo review of David Quammen’s new book on evolutionary trees (and a comparison with other reviews). Like Jerry, I am confused as to why The New York Times assigned a literary reviewer with no science background to offer opinions on David Quammen’s The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life.

Sometimes good conversations still occur on Twitter. Click for the whole thread. It’s worth it.

A CRISPR cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy is closer after a trial in dogs.

Ancient encounters: How we came across the daughter of a Neandertal and a Denisovan.

Analysis of Polygenic Score Usage and Performance across Diverse Human Populations.

Why Elon Musk Reversed Course on Taking Tesla Private.

Apple Gives Series Order to Sci-Fi Drama Based on Isaac Asimov’s ‘Foundation’.

In ‘Small Fry,’ Steve Jobs Comes Across as a Jerk. His Daughter Forgives Him. Should We? Something was seriously wrong with Steve Jobs.

Genomic and Strontium Isotope Variation Reveal Immigration Patterns in a Viking Age Town.

Immune genes are hotspots of shared positive selection across birds and mammals.

The Desperate Quest for Genomic Compression Algorithms.

Environmental factors drive language density more in food-producing than in hunter–gatherer populations.

After 32 episodes we have a general sense of what people like to hear about on our podcast. So far the top 5 in downloads have been:

The Golden State Killer and the Genetic Panopticon
The Neolithic Revolution
Lee Berger and the Dawn of “Big Data” in Paleoanthropology
The Genetics of Human Behavior
Barbarian Genetics

(not necessarily in that order!)

A random question: what politically liberal podcasts do you listen to? I started listening to Pod Save America and it’s just people talking Tumblr and hating Trump. That’s fine, but you can get that elsewhere….

Has anyone been getting page-load errors? I’ve been getting a lot fewer (once a month, rather than once every few days). I think the memory issues may have cleared….

21 thoughts on “Open Thread, 08/27/2018

  1. Is the Imperial China book more of a narrative history, or a “systems” history focusing on causes and factors? I’m really into systems and structures in history right now, not so much into narrative story-telling.

    The author Charles Mann (of 1491 and 1493 fame) made an interesting point about meat consumption on Twitter. A lot of animals consumed are grazed on land that’s not fit for agriculture anyways, so it’s not necessarily less efficient to eat them versus a vegetarian diet. I also vaguely recall him mentioning – either in his dialogue with Tyler Cowen or his most recent book – that livestock often get fed grain that has already been used for other purposes, like making alcohol (and is no longer edible for human consumption).

    Musk is still likely going to have to pay fines to the SEC and probably settle lawsuits with the short-sellers. It still really does not sound like he actually had the funding lined up, although he insists he did.

  2. “what politically liberal podcasts do you listen to?”

    None, if I can help it. I have a limited podcast bandwidth, I can barely keep up with the many excellent non-liberal podcasts. (I get them from and

    I won’t apologize. Most media channels are saturated with liberal views. They are impossible to avoid. at this point in my life, I know what they will say about anything, long before they say it. I see no reason to waste my podcast time on listening to more of the same.

  3. “Liberal” podcasts I sometimes listen (and sometimes hate-listen) to include:

    * Amicus, First Mondays, Oral Argument (all of which are left-leaning SCOTUS commentary)
    * Slate Money
    * Slate Political Gabfest (still in my feed but I haven’t been listening much lately). Same for the Vox podcasts (Recode/Decode, Ezra Klein Show, The Weeds, Worldly). I think only Ezra Klein is really recommendable, insofar as he sometimes gets interesting guests and he is a pretty good interviewer, despite being at times insufferable.
    * Rational Security / Lawfare Podcast / National Security Law Podcast — these have varying degrees of actual left-wing politics (sometimes varying among the hosts), but they are all more or less “institutionalist #Resistance” in orientation.

  4. more narrative.

    re: animals and efficiency, i worked in an animal science dept. for a while. this is widely known within the community. don’t know why it’s not more widely circulated….

  5. to be more clear, it alternatives narrative (diplomatic history) with social, cultural, and economic stuff. but it’s not an ‘economic history’ or ‘systems history’.

  6. Liberal podcasts

    My liberal friends like Secular Talk and the Dave Packman show both I think on YouTube.

    I haven’t really given them a shot so no idea if they’re any good. I know Packman gets a lot of shit from the alt right so he’s probs doing something right.

  7. @Brett: Ethanol from maize (and presumably other grains) produces distilled grains, which are high in protein and other nutrients, and are used as livestock feed. Yellow maize has historically mostly been used for livestock feed anyway.

  8. Not a podcast per se but Zero Books on YouTube has been grappling in a fairly serious way (as in more serious than vapid Twitter takes and snark-laden clickbait) with Jordan Peterson, the IDW, and neoliberalism.

  9. Helix got my sample but the DNA Passport app was pretty general on my ancestry. What’s the best app to get more specific? Thx

  10. Random fun thought.

    Would it be possible to “test” songs and get their “genre ancestry” similar to how people get their ancestry? If you sample major music genres like “country” or “rock” can you report how much of each category a given song is?

    Not sure if this is more of a Bayesian network problem or if genomics can shed light on it.

  11. ppl in science talk about “outreach” and “science communication.”

    i estimate that my blogs have a total of 30 million or so pageviews in the last 15 years. i think i’ve done my part. i figure should put this somewhere in case i die of a heart attack tomorrow 😉 [i’m the only one who has seen/can see all the analytics]

  12. Razib, why do you pal around with people (Sailer, Derb, Cochran, the readership and writers of Quillette) who think that you and your people are biologically inferior?

  13. who think that you and your people are biologically inferior?

    my people? what does that even mean?

    also, the characterization of quilette is ridiculous. they are on average center-right, but publish a lot of ppl to the left.

  14. According to the race science that Sailer, Derb, Cochran and the Quillette community subscribe to, South Asians have an average IQ in the low 80s. As such, they will never be anything more than a race of street sh*tters.

    You’re OK with this?

  15. Razib, these are the facts that the science shows. South Asians, living in a warm climate and being dark-skinned, have small skulls, therefore small brains, therefore low intelligence, therefore South Asia remains an eternal shithole.

    Believe it or not, Razib, I’m not trying to troll. This is genuinely what the racialist community (the community to which Sailer et. al subscribe) believe.

    Where am I wrong?

  16. i think you are a troll when you talk about the ‘quilette community.’ i’m well aware of steve’s comment boards. the accusations i see about quilette are bullshit.

    though to satisfy you, i will tell you i’ll be canceling future tête-à-tête’s with steve….

    also, literally no one talks about ‘race science’ except genuine frog-nazis and SJWs. it’s like creationists talking about ‘evolution science.’ the use of the world gives away where you’re coming from.

    and since you are not a troll, what’s your real name? you keep changing the email you are filling in….

  17. You’ve probably surmised this by now, but RW95 spends a LOT of time trolling genetics and HBD blogs/feeds. I’d ban, if I were you.

  18. >>i estimate that my blogs have a total of 30 million or so pageviews in the last 15 years. i think i’ve done my part.<<

    Recognized and duly lauded! (Salutes).

    Especially admire your fortitude when wrasslin' with the likes of ol' RW95, here.

    Now if you'd just let loose and tell us how you *really* feel about that accursed race, the Norwegians…

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