Open Thread, 09/02/2018

John Hawks’ write-up, The man who tried to catalog humanity: Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza chased Darwin’s dream of a tree of humankind, is worth reading in full. With some hindsight, it’s pretty clear that L. L. Cavalli-Sforza was way ahead of his time in terms of ambition and vision.

But he was also someone who paid attention to details. I have heard it said that Cavalli-Sforza could be very knowledgeable about where and from whom he obtained samples. The “Sardinians” in the HGDP dataset, for example, are not arbitrary, but “more Sardinian” than the random sample of Sardinians that you might find else.

Second, his multidisciplinary perspective allowed him to have deep and powerful insights, even if they in the details there was a lot he got wrong. In 2007 a friend of mine whose lab was collaborating with Cavalli-Sforza’s group told me how amusing and peculiar the younger researchers thought his fixation on agriculture was. But, it’s quite clear to me that the last decade has vindicated his intuition that shifts in “mode of production” have been critical to the arc of human evolution and diversification.

The Asian-American Age: At the movies and in court, a rising minority claims the spotlight. One of the problems with the idea of “Asian-American leaders” is that these leaders are very non-representative of Asian-Americans more generally. For example, Indian Americans who write and do journalism with an ethnic (but American) focus are very liberal. But the average Indian American, even if Democrat, generally don’t know what “Critical Race Theory” is and are not worked up over “intersectionalism.”

A Generation Grows Up in China Without Google, Facebook or Twitter.

New paper ignites storm over whether teens experience ‘rapid onset’ of transgender identity.

Adaptive evolution of sperm proteins depends on sperm competition in a pair of Lepidoptera.

4500-year-old DNA from Rakhigarhi reveals evidence that will unsettle Hindutva nationalists. I do wish that the Indian reaction wasn’t so ideologically polarized. There are the standard dumb Hindu nationalist responses…but a lot of the ‘secularists’ (that’s the term I see in their Twitter bios) barely understand the science either, and are selectively trumpeting the results as buttressing some ideological point.

And from me in India Today3 strands of ancestry

Pornocracy.

I don’t read many blogs. Honestly, there aren’t many blogs. The Scholar’s Stage is one I do read.

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11 thoughts on “Open Thread, 09/02/2018

  1. “New paper ignites storm over whether teens experience ‘rapid onset’ of transgender identity.”

    Teenagers often manifest signs of mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar very quickly. Why should transgenderism be any different.

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  2. Such is the power of the genome:

    Wisconsin co-workers learn they’re father and son, say it’s ‘kind of a shock’
    By Travis Fedschun | Fox News
    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/09/02/wisconsin-co-workers-learn-theyre-father-and-son-say-its-kind-shock.html

    A friendship between two co-workers in Wisconsin turned into an unexpected family reunion after a man discovered his friend on the job was actually his biological father.

    Nathan Boos told WLAX-TV he was adopted at birth and never knew who his biological parents were.

    “Growing up I always knew that I was adopted, it just never crossed my mind that I would ever find my parents,” he said Wednesday.

    While Boos didn’t know who his parents were, his adoptive parents did and just happened to notice recently that Nathan was friends on Facebook with his biological father. Boos said his adoptive mother pointed out that his biological father is a truck driver, just like him.

    “She just went on my Facebook and went through my friends list and brought up his picture and I said get out of here,” Boos told WLAX.

    That man was Bob Degaro, who has worked with Nathan at Rock Solid Transport in Chippewa Falls, Wis., for the past two years.

    “It’s still kind of a shock and there’s days I’m not sure exactly what to say or how to act,” Degaro said. “I mean, he is my son but we didn’t have that father son relationship growing up and then we became working partners before we knew who we really were.”

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  3. I must be really out of touch with current Hindutva thought; I would think — like Hungarians — that it is positive to be descendants of a feared warrior tribe than enslaved the dark skinned people of the whatever you call India before it was Bharat, and it proves both caste and regional superiority.

    Likewise Dravidian parties now how genetic “evidence” (not questioning the science, just the causality) that those North Indians are a bunch of foriegners.

    Little known “fact” — Labor party supporters are decadents of the anglo-saxons, Conservatives are just a bunch of Norman interlopers.

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  4. @Walter: Why should transgenderism be any different.

    .. because it would invalidate the “born this way” narrative.

    The paper says that ROGD may be socially driven and temporary like anorexia, as opposed to a permanent neurological condition (like, say, left-handedness). Trans people often have a hard time convincing family, doctors and insurance companies that they are genuine, so anything suggesting their condition might psychological or treated without transitioning is considered phobic.

    Interestingly enough, there is an often heated “truscum” vs “transtrender” divide with the trans community that is roughly along these same lines. This paper seems to be looking at something at the heart of it – so something for both sides to hate on I guess.

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  5. 2 personal questions:

    1) Do you have a favorite archaic homonym? If not, some from this set are pretty good (about some of the others, I have doubts that they are properly classified: “are”??? but it is not archaic, so…)

    2) Do you have a favorite hominin? If so, is it an RK-ic hominin?

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  6. What are the likely conclusions from genomic analysis of the Cape Coloured population of South Africa (as per Razib’s latest podcast)? Will it reveal the dates and extent of the admixture that made up that group, or are those details already known?

    I once had a classmate who was born in the US to Cape Coloured immigrants from South Africa. Her parents spoke Afrikaans at home. She herself was almost “implaceable” as people assumed, based on her appearance, that she was South Asian (from somewhere in India), or that she was Malaysian, or from Brazil, or that she was Native American. A very exotic look.

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  7. “One of the problems with the idea of “Asian-American leaders” is that these leaders are very non-representative of Asian-Americans more generally. For example, Indian Americans who write and do journalism with an ethnic (but American) focus are very liberal. But the average Indian American, even if Democrat, generally don’t know what “Critical Race Theory” is and are not worked up over “intersectionalism.””

    This is spot on. Most young, US-born Asian Americans- even those of us who are #woke- don’t have very strong opinions on Critical Race Theory, intersectionalism, and the like.

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  8. But the average Indian American, even if Democrat, generally don’t know what “Critical Race Theory” is and are not worked up over “intersectionalism.”

    In practice, though, does it matter that they are not “worked up” about such nonsensical things, so long as they politically support and continue to vote for those who do (or at least pay lip service to them) at high rates?

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