Open Thread, 11/19/2018

I figure I should post the “Open Thread” sooner than later since people are using last week’s “Open Thread” to post stuff.

So I’m getting a copy of Fire & Blood: 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones tomorrow according to Amazon. But I have a legitimate reason to get this book: we’ll be talking about the “genetics of Game of Thrones” soon on The Insight, my podcast with Spencer Wells.

Finally recorded a second episode of the Brown Pundits podcast, where we talk about the woman imprisoned for blasphemy in Pakistan and colorism. Mostly it’s Zach talking to be honest since he has a lot more passion about these topics, especially the former one.

This guy is a legitimate University of Chicago biologist. What have you done with your life?

Demographic histories and genetic diversity acrosspinnipeds are shaped by human exploitation,ecology and life-history. Pinnipeds.

Genomic analysis of dingoes identifies genomic regions under reversible selection during domestication and feralization. An interesting thing is that dogs almost certainly descend from a wolf/wolf-like population, but when they go feral they don’t quite become wolves. Perhaps it would be different if they went feral in northern Eurasia. But the ones in tropical/mid-latitude zones that “de-domesticate” don’t become Eurasian wolves. Perhaps something to do with genetic variation lost, but I think some of it is different selection pressures.

Sigrid Johnson Was Black. A DNA Test Said She Wasn’t. The title comes from an early forensic test that probably used hundreds of ancestrally informative markers. If you read the whole thing you see that the results kept getting closer and closer to reality.

Psychology’s Replication Crisis Is Running Out of Excuses.

Middle Palaeolithic occupations in central Saudi Arabia during MIS 5 and MIS 7: new insights on the origins of the peopling of Arabia and Late Middle Pleistocene Levallois stone-tool technology in southwest China. The spread of non-Africans around ~60,000 was responsible for most of the non-African ancestry. But there were probably some “false dawns.”

In relation to Robert Plomin’s Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are probably worth it if you haven’t ever read behavior genetics. But really a lot of it is reemphasizing/reintroducing results from the field over the past generation. Hopefully will write review soon.

Super-smart designer babies could be on offer soon. But is that ethical? I suspect that the vast majority of the customers for many years will be focused on diseases. The best way to have tall and smart children is to select a tall and smart spouse. We might be talking about something different in the 2030s. I’m struck by how little discussion there is from bioethicists and geneticists about NIPT tests for stuff like Down Syndrome. They’re ubiquitous, but talk is limited generally to pro-life circles.

A friend told me that Conquerors: How Portugal Forged The First Global Empire is pretty good. I might quibble with the subtitle, but he confirms that the Portuguese were indeed huge dicks. The Iberians as a whole were brutal and nasty. Though not as nasty as the Anglo-Protestant “Black Legend” would imply. Mostly they didn’t follow the norms and rules which were present in parts of Asia and the New World between states and peoples.

Is anyone still getting 500 errors very often?

Happy Thanksgiving to Americans.

12 thoughts on “Open Thread, 11/19/2018

  1. Patrick Wyman, who has been interviewed on Razib’s podcast, has a regular podcast called “Tides of History” that history nerds like Razib and me love.

    In a podcast dated June 17, 2018 Patrick interviews Roger Crowley the author of the book on Portugal. Episode 21 dated April 12, 2018 is based on Crowley’s book.

  2. Responding here to Robert Ford, November 19, 2018 at 8:31 am, on the previous Open Thread

    The article fudges the head line. A lot:

    “Chinese authorities are not assigning a single score that will determine every aspect of every citizen’s life—at least not yet.

    “It’s true that, building on earlier initiatives, China’s State Council published a road map in 2014 to establish a far-reaching “social credit” system by 2020.”

  3. I’m not sure that NIPT is “ubiquitous”. I’m 40, but many of my friends are in their early 30’s, and scientists (mostly post-docs). As far as I know, nobody gets genetic testing standard with insurance until after 35. One of my colleagues diagnosed herself from her first ultrasound (thought docs also recognized abnormality) due to her expertise in neural crest, and after many demands to do NIPT tests proved she had trisomy 18.
    I was educated in Catholic schools, including Notre Dame (though never a believer) and they have always had this discussion even when the technology was far in the future (or price range/insurance policies in our current scheme). And in college it was always a debate/discussion rather than a prescription. But none of that is my point.
    With everyone in my sphere having babies later and later in age I have not met one couple who have deviated from the preferences: conceive “naturally”, IUI many many tries before IVF. So I think we are pretty far off from a GATTACA universe psychologically, though not technologically. Also, NIPT should be available to more automatically.

  4. So I think we are pretty far off from a GATTACA universe psychologically

    It’s pretty far off until it isn’t. Cultural norms can be stable for a very long time and then can change suddenly within a short period of time, especially if aggressively pushed by elites, e.g. homosexual marriage, transgender rights, etc.

  5. @EmmaZunz “That Portugal book is fairly interesting but entirely narrative.”
    Well, you read Roger Crowley for narration, not ground breaking historiography. Although, of all of his books this is the one I, for some reason, enjoy the least (still have to finish it).

  6. I can’t see your Twitter anymore – looks like you’ve protected it? Is this temporary or permanent, I don’t really want to sign up if I don’t have to..

  7. One of the main problems with IVF for naturally fertile and largely healthy couples is the procedure itself and the risks of Implantation, plus the financial costs.
    Technically so much about the genetic fundaments for most important traits is still unknown and even whats known still cant be changed, also for legal reasons. So there is no real incentive.

    I think the best thing which can happen to mankind is that its offspring being genetically improved in future generations, but there are risks in doing it.

    GATTACA was a horrible propaganda movie which showed only negative aspects in a dreary and cold world. Idiocracy showed the other path, funnily in a more colorful and technicalky advanced setting.

    The problem is manifold, because without action, things will deteriorate as they are already.
    But if the government allows too much in this field, you will create monstrosities and bad fashion trends which will do harm not just on the individual level.

    The best solution is, in my opinion, that people are free to choose for their children, but the government defines what is allowed and what should be promoted. But then you should have a good government, which is always recommended.

    Currently Americans are very normative and define normal variation as pathological or detrimental on a regular bases, using very strict norms of what is considered “fully normal”. Its interesting to observe this pathologizing of variation considered normal in the past and still in large parts of the world.
    But the ideal of a person perfectly adapted to the modern capitalist American society shines through in a lot of health studies and is a strong contrast to the new America accepting everything socially.

    That will become a battlefield in the future, because good variation might be targeted for breeding easy to handle subjects for the system. Parents might agree because they wish “easier lifes” for their children under the given circumstances.
    But thats a systemic issue, with genetics being just a tool for its master, whoever that will be.

  8. Here’s a link to Dante Labs’ Black Friday sale of 30x coverage WGS, at a price of $199, down from the sticker price of $699 advertised in March 2018.

    According to this post at Anthrogenica, Dante is running their samples on a BGISEQ-500.

    Separately, thanks to Walter Sobchak for his remarks (comment #3, supra) on Patrick Wyman’s podcast and interview of Roger Crowley. I enjoyed both.

  9. How big a problem is cremation for ancient dna for South Asians and Europeans? I’ve been wondering this for a long time, but have never run across anyone talking about it on a podcast or in a book. Reich didn’t address it. At least I don’t remember him doing it, and could find nothing doing a word search on my kindle.

  10. Re: your twitter query, note NY Times reporter “Ms. Conger using Dataminr, which monitors social media for signs of breaking news.”

    I mention to you here b/c i can’t be bothered to open a twitter account. Although I enjoy your twitter, and sometimes follow one of your RT’s, I am not going to subscribe to listen to the roar of the full vortex.

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