Substack cometh, and lo it is good. (Pricing)

Open Thread – 4/3/2021 – Gene Expression

I’ve been lax about the open threads because I’m busy. Remember you can see what I’m up to at What’s going on? What are you reading? I’m really behind on a lot of things. But, I can say I’ve read Byzantine State and Society three times front to back.

Ten Months After George Floyd’s Death, Minneapolis Residents Are at War Over Policing. I’m feeling more people will make sure to stay in the suburbs or small towns. The re-urbanization wave was overplayed but it was real. But it’s a clown show now in these big cities.

Welcome to the Decade of Concern.

A Synthesis of Game Theory and Quantitative Genetic Models of Social Evolution.

Nick Patterson interview ungated. I should have asked him about human-chimpanzee “complex-speciation”.

Still gated, but Chris Stringer: 1,000,000 years of human evolution. I tried hard to have Chris lay out the basics for us.


43 thoughts on “Open Thread – 4/3/2021 – Gene Expression

  1. The only time NYT talks somewhat positively about Christianity is when talking about Black churches.

  2. reading Karen Armstrong’s “The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism.” Good, so far

  3. Re: ‘A History of the Byzantine State and Society’ book

    I haven’t read the book yet, but I have the Amazon intro text. In this intro we can see a big hole which is maybe filled in the book (I doubt it) and where some answers are given. Few thoughts based on this intro only:

    First is mentioned Diocletian. Who was he? So as Constantine, Licinius, Justin, Justinian? What was their mother tongue? Even wiki started writing that they were Illyrian/Thracians? How it is possible that their languages were exterminated in a such short time period? What has happened with these people who covered the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, northern Greece, Asia Minor? How Byzantine Empire survived for 1000 years after the West Roman Empire? Which arms, and troops protected the Empire? Whom they fought on Adriatic Cost? Who was Justinian’s general Belisarius and who were Vandals?

    Is there a description in the book of so-called ‘Slavic migration’ in the 7th.c.AC? This significant logistic undertaking, calculated to assume the 1500 km long procession of people, which came from somewhere, skipped the most fertile land in Ukraine, Pannonia and Serbia, came to Thessaloniki, returned 700 km back to Belgrade and went back again via Bosnian unhospitable mountains to reach the rugged Adriatic coast with a moon landscape and without any fertile land to settle there. This is a real historical joke which no one noticed and there was not one account (by military, border patrols, state administrators, historians, poets, philosophers) of this movement invented in the 17th c.AC.

    Intro says – ‘Much attention is paid to the complex life of the court and bureaucracy that has given us the adjective “byzantine.”’ The term ‘byzantine’ was invented by H.Wolf in the 16th c.AC . It is used to disguise the name of the East Roman Empire and to invalidate the historical succession of the Roman Empire. It was actually the name of the village next to the Constantinople. The modern pejorative descriptions of the ‘court and bureaucracy’ in the East Roman Empire are reverse engineered and linked with the term invented after the fall of ERE.

    Any history or overview of ERE which ignores the previous facts is at least incomplete and the most likely – distorted so as the official history of the first millennia.

  4.“Facing pressure at home, Chinese tech giants expand in Singapore” – “Regulators have launched a blitz on the sector, hitting several firms with heavy fines, and threatening to slice up massive companies whose reach now extends deep into the daily lives of ordinary Chinese.

    Meanwhile, festering tensions between Washington and Beijing after an assault on Chinese tech titans during Donald Trump’s presidency make the United States an unattractive prospect, and problems abound elsewhere.

    “Chinese tech companies are facing regulatory pressures and sanctions from governments in other countries, notably the US but also other nations such as India,” Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific chief economist at IHS Markit, told AFP.

    India has banned a swathe of Chinese apps since a border clash last year, while the European Union and other Western powers recently imposed sanctions over China’s treatment of the Muslim Uyghur minority, prompting retaliatory sanctions.

    But Singapore, a prosperous financial hub, maintains good ties with Beijing and the West, and tech firms have come to view it as a safe bet to expand their operations without upsetting either side.”

    Can somewhere like Singapore really become a neutrally situated “non-aligned Silicon Valley”? Is Singapore really “defendable” enough to be a plausible independent non-PRC branch for mainland entrepreneurs?

    (“Chen of INSEAD said Chinese companies needed a “plan B” in case they had to separate their global and Chinese operations, in which case Singapore could become their international hub”. “Singapore is trying to attract overseas talent, although that may cause unease in a country where there are already concerns about the large foreign population”.)

  5. Covid; reviewing APM Research Lab’s ethnic deaths tracking project (haven’t looked at it since 2020):

    White and Asian age-adjusted death rates still locked at 1:1 (or actually 100:96.5 but its close enough). Some speculation at the start of the pandemic that urbanization rates of ethnic group temporarily disrupted dynamics in terms of age-adjusted deaths, and that would reverse over pandemic to reflect education dynamics and obesity levels more. It looked like things have evened out, but there is no reverse between the most and least urbanized group about the same (White and Asian Ams), despite different education levels, obesity rates for age.

    It looks like overall, urbanization links to death have mostly evened out, as a % of the frontier death rate –

  6. Razib,

    Was browsing through Twitter recently and came across this epic/monstrous 5 part essay series by one Philip Lemoine arguing China was not only unfairly maligned in early 2020 over the COVID pandemic, but that the Wuhan lab leak scenario was “not particularly likely”:

    Assuming you’ve read the above essay before, how credible would you weigh Lemoine’s arguments compared to those from Alina Chan (especially the arguments she laid out in the podcast with you earlier this year)?

  7. I have a backlog of books on Roman history to plow through but plan to get into Byzantine history right afterward.

    I will probably start with Lord Norwich’s Byzantium trilogy. I know many Byzantinists hate it, but I greatly enjoyed Norwich’s books on the Norman kingdom of Sicily and for me broad narrative history is a gateway drug to more rigorous fare.

    Afterward I’m looking into purchasing “Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire” by Judith Herrin and three books by Jonathan Harris: “The Lost World of Byzantium,” “The End of Byzantium,” and “Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium.” Suggestions and comments welcome.

  8. An ambitious non-U.S. study supporting the enduring impact of culture in a manner similar to the Albion’s Seed hypothesis, using European folklore content as an independent variable and various socio-economic indicators as dependent variables.

    “Folklore is the collection of traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community passed through the generations by word of mouth. We introduce to economics a unique catalogue of oral traditions spanning approximately 1,000 societies.

    After validating the catalogue’s content by showing that the groups’ motifs reflect known geographic and social attributes, we present two sets of applications.

    First, we illustrate how to fill in the gaps and expand upon a group’s ethnographic record, focusing on political complexity, high gods, and trade.

    Second, we discuss how machine learning and human-classification methods can help shed light on cultural traits, using gender roles, attitudes towards risk, and trust as examples. Societies with tales portraying men as dominant and women as submissive tend to relegate their women to subordinate positions in their communities, both historically and today. More risk-averse and less entrepreneurial people grew up listening to stories where competitions and challenges are more likely to be harmful than beneficial. Communities with low tolerance towards antisocial behavior, captured by the prevalence of tricksters getting punished, are more trusting and prosperous today.

    These patterns hold across groups, countries, and second-generation immigrants. Overall, the results highlight the significance of folklore in cultural economics, calling for additional applications.”

    Stelios Michalopoulos & Melanie Meng Xue, “Folklore” Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming.

  9. Here is the least surprising news ever about college admissions:

    “Inconvenient Facts for the War on Testing: College admission based on personal essays helps affluent students.” By The Editorial Board | April 4, 2021

    Among the “emergency” progressive policy changes likely to persist after the Covid-19 pandemic is the abandonment of standardized testing in college admissions. Anti-testing activists had been winning the argument for years by claiming the tests favor privileged students. …

    But college admissions based on “soft” rather than numerical criteria won’t be more equitable or progressive.

    … the same resources and academic preparation that enable students to score well on the SAT also enable them to get better grades, pad their resumes, and write polished admissions essays.

    The Stanford researchers ran nearly 60,000 student essays submitted to the University of California in 2016 through a computer program. The computer identified the essay topics and “linguistic, affective, perceptual, and other quantifiable components of essay content.” The essays predicted the student’s family income better than SAT scores. …

  10. Only a lottery system for college admissions can be both fair to everyone and not biased by any external factors.

  11. Between 1:04:00 and 1:05:00 Tom Booth talks about another post LGM but pre-WHG population of the region. It sounds like he is referring to Magdalenians and there might be a little bit of residue Magdalenian ancestry left in Cheddar man, but not on the same level as contemporaneous Iberians.

  12. I think a good SAT version would be one where either you can’t get better (ideally) or you can only improve a little bit with practice. One way to compare the effectiveness of such SAT versions would be to see how well they select for a given trait (like IQ or G) in comparison to a random lottery.

    How common/standard is this kind of view in the general public? I say a good version because I recall reading Charles Murray saying that the Math section has been ruined over the years.

  13. It seems like there’s a question of whether SAT is meant to measure; 1) completely untapped potential or 2) current achieved ability, but without cultural biases in format. The latter seems a sensible to me but the former seems a pretty dumb goal – I think if you recruited people with sky high IQs but mediocre or poor achieved results (“raw potential”), they wouldn’t add very much to universities. I absolutely do not think they’d rule the roost; IQs correlated with the thing we want, but direct measurements are better (if we wanted to a “maximally correlated with IQ” measure we’d just use IQ, for which the correlation is 1, but we don’t do this for good reason).

    But I think “untapped potential” for 18 year olds in developed countries with universal education is basically a myth. In general, every child has had the opportunity to turn “raw potential” into GPA by their 18th birthday, and if they haven’t, they probably a sort who systematically won’t.

    To the degree there’s untapped potential, it’s things like kids without these focused striver parents from academic backgrounds, who have no university educated role models and stuff like that. Not really “Oh they should be in university, but you wouldn’t know it from their GPA”. It’s not something you solve with a “If you build it, they will come!” approach (where “It” is some method of “fairer” evaluation system.)

    But SATs or GPA both seem broadly OK to me (or effectively a mix of GPA and achievement in specific courses as we do in England). This idea of almost reinventing Neoconfucian “Eight Legged Essays” however (possibly with a “Successor Ideology” spin) seems like a very bad idea. Probably barely better for mobility than simple inheritance, and that’s offset against training ppl to think and be evaluated on essentially useless and artificial forms of heavily ideological and culturally bound knowledge, and training them to believe success is about scamming evaluators with their charm, moxie and salesmanship.

  14. Regarding GPAs- if they are to be used as one of the main determining factors then someone has to do something about grade inflation. I guess the same goes for SATs. If one isn’t going to compare it to IQ, since college is more then that, then why not test out different types of SATs with college performance outcome (college grades). Some of this data already exists. If college grades aren’t enough then add in more measurables of college performance outside of it for comparison.

  15. IA – Wasn’t directed at you. The comment referring one of your books was not published. Ch.

  16. @Matt – “Is Singapore really “defendable” enough to be a plausible independent non-PRC branch for mainland entrepreneurs?” – Yeah. But it is getting awfully crowded – last time I was there it was standing room only (unless you escape to one of the unfavoured parts of town like Arab Street, where you can find delicious Turkish/Sufi food – strongly recommended if you are not in a hurry). Plus the locals are getting ever so resentful of non-locals moving in, which the Mainlanders could alleviate I guess by providing lots of well paid jobs for locals.

    Changing topic, Tom Booth is a genius.

  17.“In a new study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, an international team of researchers reports what is likely the oldest reconstructed modern human genome to date. First discovered in Czechia, the woman known to researchers as Zlatý kůň (golden horse in Czech) displayed longer stretches of Neanderthal DNA than the 45,000-year-old Ust’-Ishim individual from Siberia, the so-far oldest modern human genome. Analysis suggests that she was part of a population that formed before the populations that gave rise to present-day Europeans and Asians split apart.

    However, it was the Neanderthal DNA that led the team to their major conclusions about the age of the fossil. Zlatý kůň carried about the same amount Neanderthal DNA in her genome, as Ust Ishim or other modern humans outside Africa, but the segments with Neanderthal ancestry were on average much longer.”

    Also new adna from Bacho Kiro site –

  18. Paper on Bacho Kiro – – is really interesting because it suggests that the early Initial Upper Paleolithic individuals had Neanderthal gene deserts despite being <10 generations from a secondary Neanderthal admixture event.

    That suggests that, like we found with DenNy girl, admixture between very long diverged humans was common when interacting (which may or may not indicate something about order of psychological differentiation), enough that we quickly find examples of recent admixture within tiny samples sizes, but there are also some quite serious genomic differences which are quickly removed (e.g. perhaps they lead to frequent spontaneous miscarriage in early stages of pregnancy or male infertility?).

    Also Bacho Kiro Initial Upper Palaeolithic samples, unlike Ust Ishim and Oase1, closer to Tianyuan than Kostenki. Seems like this IUP population from the same root as Tianyuan, or at least the partially share ancestry, and possibly explains GoyetQ116 to East Asians (inc Tianyuan) link.

  19. @DaThang, paper’s actually up now –

    Looks basal to Ust Ishim, post-“Basal Eurasian”, pre-East+West Eurasian split.

    They do say, re; Neanderthal deserts: One of the Neanderthal segments falls within a large region on chromosome 1 that shows little to no evidence of Neanderthal ancestry in present-day humans29 (Extended Data Fig. 8). This suggests that this desert of Neanderthal ancestry had not been fully formed at the time Zlatý kůň lived.

  20. Radiocarbon dating from the site gave a date of less than 20,000 years, but the cranial affinity and lithics were indicative of pre-LGM origin. This further adds to and confirms a pre-LGM origin of the specimen.

  21. 18 yo and potential

    I think, Matt, you are lacking some imagination here.

    While it is true I’ve lived a somewhat dissolute life, I can do so by being carried by my IQ. Something as simple as sleeping enough during high school, and I would be a finance millionaire. (Or if schools believed I had African ancestry, for that matter)

    It’s not the case that we can escape indoctrination simply by not instituting an explicit test.

    Finally, I would have an immediate impact in school. If nothing else, on the girls

  22. @Difference Maker, I think you’re losing that I did admit there’s still some potential for people to have more university potential than others with higher realized academic achievement… (I just don’t think there’s very much of it!)

    But I don’t think unlocking “potential, academically unrealized by age 18” such would really be a matter of “Actually give people an IQ test and put people with higher IQs in university in place of people with better actual realized grades”. If someone has a high IQ, but low grades because they slept through high school, they’re probably gonna sleep through university. The grounds of a university are not “magic dirt” that’s gonna unlock achievement in high IQ folks who were underachievers through their teenage years (“Once those high IQ lazy as a toad/unmotivated folk get through those blessed gates to the Ivory Tower…!” lol).

    Some other schemes might work. For instance, class background based affirmative action is often proposed to get help get people into universities from working class backgrounds without relatives with academic achievement, since it’s plausible that there is some family “academic achievement” bonus (if very small). But it does seem that people who like to propose using IQ tests for university entrance often seem to dislike these proposals for some peculiar reasons (which seem inconsistent to me)…

  23. @DaThang, re BK, I think we’ve discussed before a qpGraph where GoyetQ116 was descriptively modelled as descending from a Yana related node (or a node that diverged from Yana later than K14 did; can’t remember the exact model?).

    Now in this paper we have a model where the qpGraph shows Tianyuan as a composite of 39% of this Initial Upper Paleolithic Bacho Kiro group that is basal to Kostenki (K14), and then 61% part that splits with Kostenki… while GQ116 is 19:81 from BK_related and a node closer to K14 than the one which contributes to East Asians.

    In a sense you could describe this as a model where IUP Bacho Kiro is “Basal East Eurasian”, while Tianyuan and all extant East Eurasians are admixed (in similar proportions) by this Upper Paleolithic “West Eurasian” population. (The BK are in one sense “More East Eurasian than East Eurasians”, phylogenetically, under the presented qpGraph, although they have accumulated very little drift, so this is not true in the sense of accumulated divergence).

    Question then: Where would Yana and Salkhit sit on these graphs? One possibility is that Yana would descend from the same nodes as Tianyuan, but in different ratios. Same for Salkhit (but with a Yana shifted ratio compared to Tianyuan). And some small enrichment of Denisovan ancestry for both T and S.

  24. Prelude (not answer to the question, look below for the answer): Are you talking about the screenshot you posted from the Denisovan paper where the west Eurasian ancestors of ANS/ANE were the same clade as the west Eurasian ancestors of Goyet Q116-1?

    In this paper- the 39% IUP is not only basal to Kostenki, it is also basal to Ust’ishim as well. Ust’Ishim is normally labelled a crown Eurasian so noting this is important. Like its not basal Eurasian, but it is an outer crown Eurasian* (extra note at end of post). The other 61% is basically the east Eurasian proper ancestry I think. The proper “east Eurasian” and proper “west Eurasian” can be seen as an inner crown Eurasian group, with Ust’ishim being middle. And yeah the Goyet node (81%) is closer to Kostenki because it is west Eurasian. Honestly, I might as well call them something else along the way. Anyway, that 81% and something else are shown to be in the ‘west Eurasian’ clade but there are two branches in the clade- one leading to goyet and another to Sunghir-Kostenki like the Denisovan paper models.

    I wouldn’t call the IUP BK basal East Eurasian, even though they contribute more to what we call later east Eurasians than to later west Eurasians, I just call them outer crowns. Here is a guide:

    Answer to the question: I think Salkhit or at least it’s east Eurasian ancestors would make a clade closer with Tianyuan than Kostenki (very mild statement). Whether the pre-Salkhit will be 39% outer crown + 61% inner crown is unknown. The Denisovan paper gave Salkhit and Tianyuan in the clade within east Eurasians to the exclusion of unknown east Eurasian in Goyet. As it turns out in the recent paper, the supposed divergent east Eurasian in Goyet is actually an outer crown which also contributed to an early east Eurasian. So my hunch would be that pre-Salkhit will be similar to Tianyuan in proportions of outer crown vs east eurasian proper, maybe a little bit more or less on either but not very different. The really interesting thing is that the ANE east Eurasian was not from pre-Salkhit or even Tianyuan but from something else which formed a group with the former two to the exclusion of the “east Eurasian” in Goyet. But as I said, the “east Eurasian” in Goyet is really outer crown. So is the ANE “east Eurasian” another outer crown or actually east Eurasian (like the 61% of Tianyuan) is an interesting question. I don’t have an answer to it, maybe it is even more skewed to the outer eurasian side like 50:50 as opposed to 39:61 for example.

    * Speaking of basals, BK1653 is shown to have 3% from something more basal than any of the IUP Bachokiro, so it might be basal Eurasian.

  25. Here is my new schema:
    Basal = Basal (probably multiple of them but not the point of discussion now)
    More divergent than Ust’Ishim but not Basal = Outer crown
    Ust’Ishim = Middle crown
    East-West Eurasian ancestor = Inner crown
    East Eurasian proper = Clade B
    West Eurasian proper = Clade A
    Clades within proper east Eurasian (not entirely known yet) = Clades B1,B2,B3…..
    Clades within proper west Eurasian = Clade A1 (Pre-Sunghir, Kostenki .etc), Clade A2 (pre-Goyet, pre-ANS, pre-ANE)

  26. Addendum: Ignore the comments about basal Eurasian in BK 1653 and the basal (???) label in the image, I didn’t notice that the divergent 3% groups is coming after the 4% Neanderthal input. It is simply a very outer crown-eurasian trace.

  27. @DaThang, interesting choices of names; I think it’s a bit impressionistic what we choose to call things, e.g. is the IUP BK related ancestry in East Eurasia best labelled “East Eurasian”, or should we use that name for the more K14 related ancestry layer (if either of them, rather than the later composite!)? But the name choices you’ve put forward are interesting and might help people to put a framework on it.

    However we choose to label the nodes, the ‘big picture’, at least by the qpGraph in this paper, seems to me to be be that the Eurasian Upper Paleolithic populations and their descendents (prior to “Basal Eurasian”) from East to West are admixed composites of a more basal or earlier IUP layer (which we can call something or other), and then a slightly later K14 related layer, and the more basal IUP layer survives better in East Eurasia, while the K14 layer replaces it more in West Eurasia. (Then later the early splitting “BEu” makes its impacts). This seems the ‘big picture’ of course, barring these offshoots like Oase1 and Ust Ishim, who seem like they may have received ancestry from the IUP layer but didn’t really make a big impact the way that the K14 related wave did?

    How closely the K14 related layer in East Eurasians like Tianyuan and Salkhit is to the K14 related layer in Yana_UP is totally up for modelling; I do still think the K14 related layer in both of these could be the same thing, just in different proportions (Yana and Tianyuan and Salkhit are just variable mixes of two layers without much further substructure)… or it could be a slightly separated branches within the K14 related layer (which I think is more like you’d guess?).

    Bonus question, does this “Two Layer Early Upper Paleolithic” model help explain any patterns in perennial question of the distribution of early splitting mtdna and y-dna patterns in the prime clades in Eurasia? Does East Eurasia harbour a lot of early splitting diversity because of the greater persistence of the Initial Upper Paleolithic lineages?

  28. By K14 related layer you are talking about what I refer to east Eurasians (clade B) correct? What I mean is this: I think that Salkhit and it’s proportion of east Eurasian proper + outer crown Eurasian is probably going to be similar to Tianyuan’s. But the east Eurasian in MA1 was outgroup to be and intermediate between them and the so-called “east Eurasian” in Goyet (which is actually outer crown Eurasian). So maybe the MA1 will be a more different proportion of these two main groups- that is what I meant.

    East Eurasia has demonstrated greater recent diversity and I have heard that the upper paleolithic populations were higher in the region (idk if that is really true) so it may explain why the IUP persisted more over there- stronger initial population base, while in west Eurasia, the IUP didn’t have enough time to build a large enough population because the region allowed for lower populations in the first place, thus making replacement easier. Of course, all of this is true only and only if there were more people in east than the west.

  29. As I said many times over the years. East-West split is a statistical construct from modern populations. It is naïve to think that each early ancient branch neatly falls into East or West Eurasian branch.

    Even if the early Eurasians had web-like intermixtures, statistically, based on modern populations, the East-West split still may seem to predate these populations prompting many amateur racist bloggers diligently trying to find which is East and which is West Eurasians.

    East and West split is an accident of LATER demographic history. At the time near the supposed split, each population probably had no idea to which side they would be grouped into by their significantly distant descendants many tens of thousand years later.

  30. A statistical construct (not always an illusion) which is descriptive and doesn’t pop up over night so a gradual and overlapping details are to be expected. By 40,000 years ago there were samples which cannot be mistaken as another group and there are some that were on the edge and some were possibly their own thing.

    Most populations throughout prehistory or even history didn’t know where their line of descendants would end up in terms of changed relations with the descendants of other contemporaneous groups tens of thousands of years later. This is pretty much a given/obvious thing. Things don’t have to be sudden to be meaningful.

    I am sure that there are all kinds of nefarious people, but not doing something out of a possibility of someone else acting on it will end up like a paralysis of sorts.

  31. Matt’s theory may actually signal the demise of East and West Eurasians as the principal components in the genetic history of Eurasia. It also relegates ANE as just one of the many admixed populations that arose along his theme rather than it is one of the principal branches that shaped the genetic history of the continent.
    I also question whether there was any specific event where East Asians mixed with ANE to create NA ancestry. According to Matt’s theory, NA may have been another one of admixture of the two layers in a different proportion(with probably an added component from further south not necessarily shared with East Asians ie. not derived from East Asians).
    I am not completely sold on his idea but there is an interesting possibility.

  32. In the above I did not mean to negate the extra shared ancestry between East Asians and the ancestors of NA.

    In academia there is an annoying tendency to apply European models to other parts of the world. In Europe the population turnovers were often and decisive. What else do you expect? With the ice sheet covering much of the subcontinent for most of the past 50000 years there is not that much real estate left for human habitation(though it is the more habitable area at the same latitude due to warmer climate created by the gulf stream). If Europeans did not prosper and come to dominate the world, it would have been regarded as just a remote corner of the continent and a refuge area of Near Easterners and Siberians.

    Outside of Europe there may have been several population centers that were continually admixing with each other, some expanding and some receding depending on the success of their subsistence economy. So the flowchart model indicating discrete admixture events may be less valid while not completely irrelevant.(not completely irrelevant because even in continual admixture such flowcharts may be statistically valid in a limited sense)

  33. In “I really don’t understand what Chinese communications officials think they’re doing right now” news (or maybe not newsworthy but here I go), it seems like Chinese government making, and then ordering cinemas to show, a big-budget blockbuster propaganda movie about how Chinese helped establish North Korea by fighting a decisive battle against a UN taskforce –

    US military propaganda is often weirdly counter-productive (you get two flavours; how the US helped in WWII or smaller conflicts on the side of good, or how the US got into bad and disasterous wars, like Iraq and Vietnam… but still positive on the power of the US army and on veterans – and the response to that overseas is not always positive). On levels of counter-productivity though “Now everyone screen this film about how we should be proud of a) our role in establishing a dictatorship which threatens to potentially unleash a nuclear conflict on our own country, while starving and killing its people and b) saving many Koreans from the imperialism that would have been being part of the world’s most successful large developmental economy and perhaps the most powerful cultural exporter of its size” is a new one by me. Not quite the same thing as doing movies about how you saved the country from the Japanese…

  34. @Matt – Your post made me think of one of Tanner Greer’s. He quotes with approval John Garnaut:

    “Crucially, Mao split with Kruschev because Kruschev split with Stalin and everything he stood for. The Sino-Soviet split was ideological – it was Mao’s claim to ideological leadership over the communist world. Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao. It was Mao’s claim to being Stalin’s true successor.

    “We hear a lot about how Xi and his peers blame Gorbachev for the collapse of the Soviet state but actually their grievances go much further back. They blame Kruschev. They blame Kruschev for breaking with Stalin. And they vow that they will never do to Mao what Kruschev did to Stalin.”

    Greer elaborates:

    “Stalin and Mao conceived of their projects in cultural terms—they were not just attempting to stamp out dangerous people, but dangerous ideas. To that end both Stalin and Mao cut their countries off from the world they had no control over. If your end goal is socialist revolution this might be tenable. But if your end goal is national rejuvenation—that is, a future where China sits at the top of a global order, more wealthy and powerful than any other—then engagement with the outside world must be had. It means foreigners coming to China in great numbers, and Chinese going abroad in numbers no smaller. It means a much more accurate conception of the way the rest of the world works among the minds of the Chinese people. It means contemplating paths for China that do not involve being ruled by a dictatorial party-state.

    “This tension lies at the root of the Party’s problems with the West. Countries like America threaten the Party with their mere existence. Consider what these countries do: they allow dissidents from authoritarian powers shelter. Their societies spawn (even when official government policy is neutral on the question) movement after movement devoted to spreading Western ideals and ideas to other lands and peoples. They are living proof that a country does not need a one-party state to become powerful and wealthy. These things pose a threat to the Communist Party of China. The Party itself is the first to admit it. [7]

    “But what can they do about it? In essence, they have two main options. The first is retreat and retrenchment. If enough walls can be thrown between China and the world, then the cultural threat posed by the West may be managed. We already see this, to an extent. We shall likely see more of it. While I doubt we will see the sort of economic retrenchment that marked Stalin’s reign, I would not be surprised if we see a more limited quest for autarky, the type that led Japan on its own path to totalitarian rule.[8]

    “The second option is to face the threat head on. This is the impetus behind China’s “influence” and “interference” campaigns. The Party will do what it can to keep PRC citizens abroad from being influenced by the ideological enemies of its regime. It will also do what it can to destabilize and subvert the societies whose existence threatens their rule and whose threat legitimizes their regime.”

    South Korea is one of those societies.

  35. @Roger, so kind of a deliberate choice and message in a sense?
    I chalked it up to being more towards a domestic audience. It seems like the PRC at the moment has sort of dual messaging going on, where there is a bit of tension.

    On the one hand what party officials think domestic messaging should be about because of Xi’s shift towards revival / “national rejuvenation” of revolutionary spirits and party loyalty (“(China) is on a new Long March” and such), for maintaining “socialist revolution”. So about glorifying Maoist struggle with international revolutionary socialist brothers in arms against Western imperialism and the role of the Party in that.

    Then on the other, that collides into the international messaging that seems to be working for them (for “engagement”). That’s the message where China is supposed to be this post-ideological, post-aggression technocratic state that’s focused on managerial excellence and promotion by merit, and just wants to be left alone to get rich and will leave others alone (including neighbours like South Korea). (And this is all connected often to the idea of being heir to a long tradition of merit driven government). So which certainly won’t be exporting any sort of revolutionary socialism or advocating for places like North Korea which has this very autarchic, state-directed regime that’s all about the nuclear weapons program (that is perhaps the society on earth most at odds with this ideal of a globalised, business oriented, anti-military society).

  36. @Matt – Perhaps Xi thinks of Kim what FDR reportedly said of Somoza, “He may be an s.o.b but he’s our s.o.b.”

  37. Couple education related things:“School closures in the last year have led to serious learning losses, with primary-age school pupils making virtually no progress studying at home, according to a new study by researchers at Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, published in Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Learning losses were particularly pronounced in families with low levels of education. “. Netherlands based data.

    There was a study by, I think, Stuart Ritchie suggesting years of education has permanent effects on lifetime IQ, where one time interventions that were linked to years change were later linked to IQ. At risk of repeating myself, these interventions should provide a new set of data for further examination of this. If you have something like an effective 1 or 0.5 IQ point loss for a whole generation, maybe that will be important in future. – US based. Performance related pay at a subset of “high need” schools improved White students more relative to Black, Hispanic, with White-Asian gap unchanged. Increased W+B gap by about 64-85%. Authors seem to theorize this is because performance motivated teachers profile pupils for improvement in a biased way. The more controversial idea would be that “high need” W+A pupils tend to be more “low hanging fruit” in terms of how improvable their performance is.

    @Razib, amused me to see on your twitter timeline, David Shor almost seeming to advocate to change the elite selection process to upweight the SAT verbal to get more creative personalities in and get rid of the grind, uncreative and “overly conventional and risk-averse elite” ‘bad personalities’ associated with high GPA and high SAT Math! ( Of course, without laying it out exactly like that! 😉

  38. The researcher(Lazaridis?) who coined the term “West Eurasians’ was quite ambivalent about the usage in the beginning. He seriously considered, as one option, to split East-West in a way Basal Eurasians are the true West Eurasians.
    The reason it was split the way it is now is due to the accidental facts
    1. Europeans became very populous especially after the age of discovery.
    2. Most audiences of these papers are Europeans or their descendants.
    3. Ancient remains are mostly from Europe due to climate and proximity to archaeological resources.
    4. Partially due to 3, pure or near pure Basal Eurasians have not been found.

    If heavily Basal populations like ancient Iranians became dominant demographically and culturally, those Basal Eurasian scientists would have split modern Eurasians in a different way. If Bacho-Kiro people survived and prospered, Bacho Kiro scientists would have split Eurasians in the opposite way – Bacho Kiro as the true East Eurasians and East Asians and Ust Ishim as hybrid populations with differing proportions.

    Many amateurs think of “West Eurasians” having some kind of metaphysical reality instead of being just a convention. I have seen one dude at an amateur forum arguing that k2b2-P lineage might have started in the East but it was pre-ordained and destined to be West Eurasians from the outset.
    He was pretty serious and almost crying. It was really hilarious but he got many “thanks” from fellow posters.

    Plato, while he was a great philosopher for his time, has such a negative influence in the West. If the West is defeated finally by the East, Plato shares the blame at least partially. … though the East cannot take too much credit as while they were never hampered by Plato or Spanish Inquisition, there was no Wittgenstein to undo it. Not that I necessarily regard Wittgenstein that highly.

  39. The notion that verbal SAT reflects creativity better is seriously absurd, even in the pre 1994 versions.
    The verbal portion was simply more difficult and it takes longer to improve or someone should be well-read already.
    There are MAA type math problems(High School Mathematics Examinations in our time) that are seriously difficult, immune to coaching after a while, and requires very high levels of creativity.
    But this type is good for identifying mathematical talent but way beyond what is required to be a good scientist. For that the test needs to be watered down a little bit but still be more difficult than SATs.


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