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.”
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 Today, 3 strands of ancestry
I don’t read many blogs. Honestly, there aren’t many blogs. The Scholar’s Stage is one I do read.