After I posted The Myth Of Arabian Paganism, And The Jewish-Christian Origins Of The Umayyads, several people suggested I read Muhammad and the Empires of Faith: The Making of the Prophet of Islam as somewhat of a corrective toward my views. I am now over halfway through Muhammad and the Empires of Faith. I went and re-read my post after being 60% through…and I would hardly change anything I wrote. Perhaps the last 40% will have some revelation, I don’t know.
To review: I think Islam as a distinct post-Christian/Jewish religion really has two phases. First, the one after 690, when the Umayyads recovering from an intense civil war seem to intensified adherence and specificity of the royal cult. The inchoate and unformed nature is evident even in Muhammad and the Empires of Faith, as there was an initial coinage which depicted the physical form of the Caliph, in sharp contravention of the later Sunni Muslim norm against depictions of humans. Second, the period after 750, when the Abbassids shifted the focus of Islamic culture and politics to the east resulted in a massive expansion of the religion from one for the Arabs to a universal faith.
Some people seemed to have thought I rejected that the Prophet Muhammad existed. I did not. Rather, I think he was a different figure than the one depicted in the form of Islam that firmed into coherency after 800 AD ( Muhammad and the Empires of Faith confirm this).
Jerry Coyne has the best round-up of the attempted defenestration of Steven Pinker. As Matthew Yglesias observed on Twitter: this isn’t about Pinker, he will stay rich and prominent. It’s about younger academics. It seems clear that this battle is going to be lost for the anti-Pinker camp, but I think they will win the war. Academia will transform itself in the next few years and purify itself. It’s up to the American public whether they want to fund the sinecures of people who believe their job is to engage in an eternal struggle session (or, more accurately, look the other way as a minority of their colleagues go hunting for heretics).
Elk Return to Kentucky. Kind of a feel good story. Nature healing?
As Coronavirus Slams Houston Hospitals, It’s Like New York ‘All Over Again’. I’m hearing bad things from a friend who is an E.R. doc in Texas.
The 17-member family that lived together, ate together and got coronavirus together. Indian “joint-families”.
A North Korean Defector’s Tale Shows Rotting Military. It’s interesting (sad) that this regime can survive, because it’s internal policing is so good, even though the society is literally starving to death.
Fine-scale Population Structure and Demographic History of Han Chinese Inferred from Haplotype Network of 111,000 Genomes. Hard to follow this paper. No great surprises.
Genetic ancestry changes in Stone to Bronze Age transition in the East European plain. I blogged this at Brown Pundits, The Arctic home of the Aryans.
Peopling of Tibet Plateau and multiple waves of admixture of Tibetans inferred from both modern and ancient genome-wide data. Pretty unsurprising. Note the ancient “Onge-related” layer. This is probably where the Denisovan haplotype comes from.
Family Analysis with Mendelian Imputations. This is a good preprint! King Kong!
Checked out Amazon Kindle deals for July. Here are some I thought looked good:
– The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street. Read this 10 years ago. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
– The Four Chinese Classics: Tao Te Ching, Analects, Chuang Tzu, Mencius. I can never get through the first and third. Everyone should read Analects. It’s very short.
– Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness. I don’t read science books often anymore. Mostly I read papers in fields that are professionally interesting/of note to me. Perhaps should change (I do read a fair amount of cognitive neuroscience still).
– Has China Won?: The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy. The author is of Indian background, so I suppose somewhat neutral?