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

Open Thread – 05/16/2021 – Gene Expression

I’m reviewing Peace, Poverty and Betrayal: A New History of British India for UnHerd. Also, Marie Favereau, author of The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World, will be on my Substack this week. A break from Indo-Europeans.

I periodically guest on The Study of Antiquity YouTube channel. The episodes are not that long. YouTube channels are not my jam, but the view numbers are incredible, and it’s another way to get the “good news” out.

Dissecting polygenic signals from genome-wide association studies on human behaviour.

Molecular evolution and the decline of purifying selection with age.

Continuity of Pagan Religious Traditions in Tenth-Century Iraq. So here’s what going on: some of the customs and rites of ancient Mesopotamian religion persisted down to the 900s A.D. The ethnographic reports of the Muslims who observed this indicate that the peasants were forgetting the purpose and intent of the rites, but it is rather clear that what they’re writing about consists of veneration of the Babylonian God Tammuz. Modern scholars have access to cuneiform and so understand the Babylonian religion well enough to validate the Muslim informants’ veracity.

I’m Angry About Palestine. Should You Be? I said this on Twitter: Shadi is a believer in traditional liberal norms of fair play and engagement. This buys him something: my attention.

Update: Since Clubhouse is opening to Android, I should put up a few notices. First, join my club, Razib Khan’s Unsupervised Learning. Second, follow me, @razibkhan. Finally, my “rooms” are usually on Friday evening (PDT). If you join the club you’ll see the event days ahead of time.  I also do impromptu rooms now and then, and if you follow me or join my club you will see notifications when you are online.


41 thoughts on “Open Thread – 05/16/2021 – Gene Expression

  1. Well, they finally made the clubhouse app available on Android devices. So I down loaded it. When are your meetings?

  2. Eppur si muove. The BP ‘Lakshmi’ text is on good track. This is also a result of recent sc. ‘Indo-European’ podcasts, which, in spite of my expectations, pushed the envelope of our knowledge. At least, they confirmed something what was known before, but it was suppressed. I believe we are on the same page that Yamnaya nomads came from Russian steppes, conducted genocide on Vinca men, abducted their women what qualified them as the most murderous ancient group. From this text, we can conclude that Corded Ware is a Vinca civilisation derivation. It is symptomatic that all ancient history overviews start from the ‘middle’ i.e. from Yamnaya and CW.

    The next step would be to acknowledge that Yamnaya nomads adopted many other things from more advanced civilisation (metallurgy, calendar, astronomy, building, architecture, maths, farming, food, etc, basically everything except maybe horse related things). The next logical conclusion is that Yamnaya language was deprived from the entire vocabulary related to previously mentioned disciplines. Considering also that IE podcasts indirectly confirmed the absence of Yamnaya sc. Proto-IE phase, all this is crashing the linguistic portion of sc Steppe hypothesis.

    Another logical conclusion is that Vinca language is this pra-language which influenced all Euro, Sanskrit and many Indic languages. Very good observation which has a global significance by Da Thang (the laureate of ‘the origin of the name – Asia’ competition) is – “the farmer ancestors of Corded Ware was almost entirely I2”, what actually confirms the CW as Vinca derivation.

    I already wrote about Caucasian G2 which were welcomed in Vinca as some kind of ancient ‘guest workers’ (for RK – this is one ancient example where was not a ‘zero sum game’), who were also subjected to Yamnaya genocide, escaped with I2, west to Spain (giving the name to the river Iber i.e. Ebro) and east, back to their old homeland (Osetins?). There are no anymore their genetic traces, neither in Balkan nor in Spain.

  3. I am growing more and more obsessed with the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. I excerpted the Wade articles last week in the 5/10 open thread, and I won’t repeat it. The excerpt is here:

    This weeks gem is from Richard Ebright, a professor at Rutgers and a long time opponent of biological weapons proliferation and labratory creation of potential pandemic pathogens. An interview with him was published in March at:

    Ebright said:

    “The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have systematically thwarted efforts by the White House, the Congress, scientists, and science policy specialists to regulate GoF research of concern and even to require risk-benefit review for projects involving GoF research of concern.

    “In 2014, the Obama White House implemented a “Pause” in federal funding for GoF research of concern. However, the document announcing the Pause stated in a footnote that: “An exception from pause may be obtained if head of funding agency determines research is urgently necessary to protect public health or national security”. Unfortunately, the NIAID Director and the NIH Director exploited this loophole to issue exemptions to projects subject to the Pause –preposterously asserting the exempted research was “urgently necessary to protect public health or national security”– thereby nullifying the Pause.

    “In 2017, the Trump Administration announced a Potential Pandemic Pathogens Control and Oversight (P3CO) Framework that implemented a requirement for risk-benefit review of GoF research of concern. However, the P3CO Framework relies on the funding agency to flag and forward proposals for risk-benefit review. Unfortunately, the NIAID Director and the NIH Director have declined to flag and forward proposals for risk-benefit review, thereby nullifying the P3CO Framework.”

    I will let the quote stand by itself for now.

  4. The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is Saint Anthony Fauci, M.D.

    Last week Fauci testified in front of a Senate committee. He denied funding the research at Wuhan Institute of Virology.

    The only defense he would have against charge of perjury would be that they did not fund WIV, they funded Ecohealth Alliance. Left out is that Ecohealth funded WIV. Personally I would vote convict.

    We should also note that Pter Daszak, President of Ecohealth Alliance, is a real bit of work.

    In February 2020 he organized a letter published in Lancet that condemned “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin”. Daszak did not disclose his intrest as a funder of WIV.

    When WHO organized a party of visiting firemen to white wash the Chinese role in the origin of the Pandemic, there was Daszak front and center.

    You should read the full Wade article and his discussion of an interview of Daszak in December 2019.

    More to follow.

  5. Here is what I think:

    1. The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 was created by gain of function research conducted at the Wuhan institute of Virology. One or more people at that laboratory became infected with the virus because of inadequate or negligent procedures. The infected people spread the virus through the city of Wuhan, and they and others spread it across the world.

    2. The research at WIV was funded by “Ecohealth Alliance” of New York which is run by Peter Daszak. Ecohealth was funded by grants from NIH/NIAID run by Dr. Fauci. Funding this research seems questionable in light of a pause in GoF research requested by the President Obama in 2014, to which the Director of NIH acceded.

    3. Fauci lied to the Senate Committee about the NIAID role in funding research at WIV. Far worse than that, not legally, but ethically and morally, Fauci failed to disclose what he knew and failed to investigate the connection of NIAID to WIV in January 2020 when the Pandemic was first noticed in China.

    4. Drasak also failed to disclose his involvement with WIV and GoF research. And, what is worse, he actively worked to distract public attention from the possibility that the virus was created at WIV.

    5. I am not at all convinced that any set of public polices would have materially altered the course of the pandemic, save one. That one is the crash effort by the US government to create and distribute vaccines. Knowing that the virus was created in a lab would not have changed the course of the Pandemic.

    6. That said, for the prevention of future pandemics, for the ability of the American people to trust anything that their Federal Government does, and for our collective sanity, a high level, objective, non-partisan inquiry needs to be made into the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 pandemic.

  6. Palestine hmm… Angry? Well, at what? Lack of US intervention to press for a ceasefire?

    Hamid is not an anti-interventionist, so he has a consistency if he believes in some form of an American intervention here on the side of pressing for a negotiated ceasefire. But I honestly couldn’t in conscience take that stance – it would be hypocrisy for me. Internalised too much post Iraq that the will for interventionism without a strong national interest to keep policy rationally constrained is bad and has unintended consequences (avoid liberal interventionism). Would seem to me hypocritical for anyone out there who styles themselves as a strident critic of “American Empire”, too.

    Other than that I find it sad how much it seems to have become a political litmus in the US this latest crisis – tells me how much Britain’s “Loony Left” has contaminated the US body politic (perhaps more than the oft-claimed reverse).

  7. Doubling down on Sweeny:

    Yes, scientists (including physicists, and engineers) were saying it really very early in 2020, but the WHO (and numerous others) would not listen, because the ‘established science’ (which was wrong) told them not to. Plus who among them would listen to physicists and engineers? What do they know about disease transmission? Lots, as it happens.

    During the 2003 SARS epidemic in HK, it was the building services engineers who solved the mystery of how the disease was spreading *upwards* in a residential housing block. That lesson was learned, and then forgotten, and had to be learned again.

  8. “just sent an invite to the cell # that’s in your signature”

    Do I need to give you my number? Or do you need to give me an address to send it to?

  9. Cancel the last comment. I think I have connected. Thank you for your help. Looking forward to joining you LHIW.

  10. Mr. Khan,

    What are your thoughts on the Pfizer vaccine for 12-15 year olds and for those younger still?

  11. I just finished reading Krause’s Short History of Humanity.

    It was interesting and connected some dots for me. For example, I had not known that a large chunk of Yamnaya DNA originated in the Fertile Crescent, thus providing a synthesis of the 2 main hypotheses about the origin of the Indo-European languages: Anatolia vs. Yamnaya/Pontic Steppe (pp. 121-34). There are what I believe are some minor errors that might have been caught with better copy-editing or perhaps copy-editing by those with field knowledge. The most significant is the statement that the sickle cell trait has its origins in East Africa (p. 193) rather than West Africa.

    Finally, there is an assertion that conflicts with something that I believe I learned on this blog. IIRC, RK has stated that the genetic evidence indicates that “the” ancestors of the Amerindians lived, isolated from the rest of the world for 10K years in Beringia. If the Amerindians arrived in the western hemisphere c. 15K years ago, that would mean their ancestors began their isolation about 25K years ago. On p. 101, in a section on DNA common to both Europeans and Amerindians, i.e, from the North Eurasian, the following appears:

    The North Eurasians’ territory spanned 7K km, from Easter Europe into the Baikal region, encompassing the enormous Kazakh steppe, which extends as far as the flatlands by the Caspian and Black Seas. To the east, the ancient North Eurasians began to spread, probably around 20K years ago, mixing with the East Asians. The resulting population made its way to the Americas 15K years ago, and today the indigenous peoples there carry an almost equal balance of East Asian and ancient North Asian genes. This North Eurasian component didn’t arrive in Europe until approcimately 4.8K year ago, …

    This passage skips right over any stopover in Beringia, so I am puzzled.

    Other minor points of interest:
    * there is a cline from north to south in the relative frequency of the lactose tolerance mutation – low in the south where the warmer climate led to the dietary use of dairy products as cheese and yogurt, higher in the north where the cooler climate allowed for keeping milk fresh longer.

    – the Yamnaya apparently learned about horse domestication from an older culture, the Botai (I had not heard of this previously; and this very recent publication questions that hypothesis.)

    – The Basques:
    1) They “have more hunter-gather [WHG?] DNA than do Central Europeans but it is vastly overshadowed by steppe [Yamnaya?] and farmer [EEF?] ancestry.” (p. 128)
    2) “For the most part, ethnic minorities are no exception [to the inverse relationship between geographic distance and genetic relationship]… while the Basques are no different from some adjacent Spanish and French groups.” (pp. 221-2)

    Semi-related question: Language trees I have seen indicate that the Italic languages are most closely related to the Celtic languages. Does anyone know whether this predates the arrival of the (ancestors of the) Italic people in Italy, or is it due to centuries of separation between the two language families after the Etruscans came to dominate central Italy?

  12. Re: Israel and Hamas

    Razib, I know you to be an honest broker and I myself am very biased on the topic (Soviet born Ashkenazi), but am having a hard time seeing “traditional liberal norms of fair play and engagement” are.

    I’m not trying to stir up trouble and honestly want to understand what are the ethical priors here. Say, hypothetically, Hamas fires 100 rockets which kill one person. Should Israel return in kind — 100 unguided rockets? Or, is there some sort of one for one accounting that they can only kill a randomly selected individual as reprisal?

    Again, I know that this is a touchy subject, but I honestly dont get what illiberal or untraditional Other than the snarky retort) about what Israel is doing.

  13. @ Eric K

    Maybe Razib will weigh in. IMO the ethical consensus will be that the response should be measured, an eye for an eye, if you will. That said, punitive action that is intended to discourage future actions likely has some support. Weighted responses as took place in the recent past, say at the ratio of 100 to 1, will not have good optics, and not much support.

  14. Sea People? Another I2 group? “Serdans, who have heroic hearts”. I look forward threads about SP and Philistines.

  15. @iffen

    Appreciate your response. I would retort however, that what your are describing “eye for an eye plus” is not traditional liberal approach to war.

    Under this framework, the US participation in WWII aka the Good War would be limited to a large bombing raid on an outlying Japanese Naval base and tit for tat raids against German shipping. “Unconditional surrender” would be right out. It certainly would not cover any of our (US) drone strikes against potential terrorists.

    The point of “traditional liberal” was to deprive your opponent of ability to harm you in any way.

    Perhaps, where our priors are orthogonal is that you don’t consider that this fits the definition of a “war”?

  16. @MarcelProust

    “a large chunk of Yamnaya DNA originated in the Fertile Crescent”

    Interesting. This might make the book worth reading for that alone. Is the book footnoted or annotated?

    Re the New World founding.

    There are a lot of developments that are quite hot off the presses. For example, see Jerome E. Dobson, et al., “The Bering Transitory Archipelago: stepping stones for the first Americans” 353(1) Comptes Rendus. Géoscience 55-65 (April 28, 2021), discussing details of the Beringian passage in a stepping stones hypothesis which provides a more elegant take on the Beringian standstill hypothesis, improved data of the Paleo-Asian genetics of South America that I think points to a fairly recent origin of Paleo-Asian genetics in the Americas, e.g. ca. 1200 CE in Marcos Araújo Castro e Silva, et al., “Deep genetic affinity between coastal Pacific and Amazonian natives evidenced by Australasian ancestry” 118 (14) PNAS e2025739118 (April 6, 2021), and a more refined ancient DNA driven understanding the the Asian origins of the two main sub-components of the Founding population of the Americas (which were followed much later by Paleo-Eskimos and then by the Thule as major pre-Columbian waves). Chao Ning,, et al., “The genomic formation of First American ancestors in East and Northeast Asia” (October 12, 2020) (don’t miss the mini-linguistics treatise in the supplemental materials).

    “there is a cline from north to south in the relative frequency of the lactose tolerance mutation”

    There is no doubt that this mutation is strongly selective fitness driven, indeed, it is arguably the strongest selective fitness signal in the Holocene era anywhere in the world. One plausible part of that mechanism is the Vitamin D that lactose consumption makes available to adults (especially pregnant and nursing women in whom Vitamin D deficiencies are associated with lower fertility and worse neonatal and infant morality outcomes, see Mumford, SL, et al. “Association of preconception serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations with livebirth and pregnancy loss: a prospective cohort study.” The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 2018 DOI: 10.1016/S2213-8587). Lots of people think of the Vitamin D/Calcium of milk as primarily a bone health thing (and that isn’t wrong), but Vitamin D is also an immune system enhancer on a par with Vitamin C. Moreover, in addition to consuming food, your Vitamin D levels are impacted by sun exposure and Vitamin D levels are the main driver of the relationship between latitude and skin color. In equatorial areas, intense sunlight is in excess so the dark skin found in sub-Saharan Africans, Southeast Asian Negritos, Southern South Asians, and South American indigenous populations is naturally dark so they still get enough Vitamin D, while gaining better protection from sunburn, skin cancer, and heat stroke. In very high and very low latitudes, pale skin maximizes Vitamin D levels and the sun is weak enough that sunburn, skin cancer, and heat stroke aren’t major concerns. Lactose tolerance provides another way for high latitude people to amp their Vitamin D levels which are at constant risk of being deficient, especially in adults – although the difficulties of keeping milk fresh in warm temperatures no doubt plays some part in the olive oil-butter line geography. One complicated fact of that latitude cline, however, is that lactose tolerance (involving, in part, different lactose tolerance genes) is also found in herder populations in Africa, especially Nilo-Saharans and Chadic peoples (who have lots of cows but also lots of sun), at greater levels than in Southern Europe or Central Asia. See Segurel and Bon, “On the Evolution of Lactase Persistence in Humans.” 18 Annual Rev Genomics Hum Genet. (April 19, 2017 [Epub ahead of print which is anticipated on August 31, 2017]). Vitamin D is also implicated in yet another of the iconic mutations by which we perceive racial distinctions phenotypically in addition to skin color, which is the EDAR mutation (whose selective sweep was probably pre-Holocene), stereotypically associated with East Asians, not for its characteristic skin, hair, teeth and sweat gland features that are more visible, but because it impacts ducting in women’s breasts in a way that provides more Vitamin D to nursing infants. See Leslea J. Hlusko, et al, “Environmental selection during the last ice age on the mother-to-infant transmission of vitamin D and fatty acids through breast milk.” 115(19) PNAS E4426-E4432 (May 8, 2018; published ahead of print April 23, 2018).

    Another possible connection to the latitude cline has to do with the extent of cattle herding and cow farming, which was much more developed in steppe migrants than it was in the first farmer Neolithic wave of Anatolian derived farmers, and may have had more impact in Northern Europe than in Southern Europe, in part, because Fertile Crescent Neolithic package crops do better in a Mediterranean climate than the Northern European climate, making the benefit of cattle as part of the mix more important in the North than further South. Lactose tolerance, of course, only provides a benefit to the extent that you have lots of cows to make milk.

    Re Basque genetics.

    The main genetic differences between the Basque and their neighbors are very high levels of RH negative blood types (which I think assisted in maintaining endogamy on the margins), and reduced (although still significant) levels of steppe ancestry, apparently due mostly to reduced steppe introgression in Antiquity with little distinctiveness genetically pre-Bronze Age collapse. Greater hunter-gatherer ancestry is probably almost entirely due to reduced dilution of it by steppe ancestry. See most recently Frederic Bauduer, et al., “Genetic origins, singularity, and heterogeneity of Basques” 31 Current Biology 1-11 (May 24 2021) (online ahead of publication). 10.1016/j.cub.2021.03.010

    “Language trees I have seen indicate that the Italic languages are most closely related to the Celtic languages.”

    The hypothesis is contested and is not as widely held in linguistic circles as it used to be, but still seems plausible to me. The alleged shared Italo-Celtic proto-language is sometimes associated with the Urnfield culture, which doesn’t directly answer your question but does provide a pretty well defined foundation for it in time and space. See, e.g., Peter Schrijver (2016), “Sound Change, the Italo-Celtic Linguistic Unity, and the Italian Homeland of Celtic”, in John T. Koch & Barry Cunniffe, Celtic From the West 3: Atlantic Europe in the Metal Ages: questions of shared language. Oxford, England; Oxbow Books, pp. 9, 489–502. See also the sources cited in the Wikipedia article on Italo-Celtic.

  17. @Walter

    “I am growing more and more obsessed with the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    Not trying to pick a fight, but doesn’t this matter less now than ever given that COVID-19 has gone global and that the most important variants going forward have emerged outside of China where COVID-19 was first detected?

  18. @ohwilleke

    Allow me to repeat points 5 and 6 of my 7:34 pm of 16-May

    5. I am not at all convinced that any set of public polices would have materially altered the course of the pandemic, save one. That one is the crash effort by the US government to create and distribute vaccines. Knowing that the virus was created in a lab would not have changed the course of the Pandemic.

    6. That said, for the prevention of future pandemics, for the ability of the American people to trust anything that their Federal Government does, and for our collective sanity, a high level, objective, non-partisan inquiry needs to be made into the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 pandemic.

  19. @Eric K.


    Maybe I got a bit above my pay grade in propounding on traditional liberal thought. I was really thinking of contemporary liberal thought. For example, I think that contemporary liberal thought is re-evaluating the propriety of the bombing of cities and civilians in WWII.

    you don’t consider that this fits the definition of a “war”?

    I think that one aspect fits the definition of war. The State of Israel against the incipient/failed/wannabe state of Palestine, an entity which has been mostly defined as an agent/pawn/client of actual states that are enemies of Israel. The other aspect is the action against a repressed and dispossessed people within the State and geograpical areas under Israeli control. I think that many do not separate the two.

  20. eric, i don’t have much value to add. i’m not paying attention because i’m not sure what can be done about the conflict…it seems to exist like a force of nature, flaring up, dying down.

  21. ohwilleke: “Is the book footnoted or annotated?”

    Not much at all. 6 pages of endnotes that elaborate or explain points in the text. No or at most very few citations to original research. It is pitched at a level that is only slightly below what is appropriate for someone like me, someone who has at most passing familiarity with techniques etc.

  22. Razib – I dont blame you, I wish I could… 🙂

    @iffen — please see below, I think your dichotomy is key.

    I was listening to Megyn Kelly’s podcast today with Alan Dershowitz and Shadi Hamid around the Gaza issue:

    It was a really good discussion. I think that Dersh won becasue I’m biased, Dersh is a trial attorney and I think Megyn was slightly on Dersh’s side. But it was pretty cordial.

    But I think it answered my question about priors above. I think that this is the difference. Israel critics believe that Israel owes some sort of “fiduciary” duty to the Palestinians , while IL supporters do not (this does not include Israeli Arabs to whom the state owes such a duty).

    This can be seen in their discussion on the starting point for a deal. Dersh says that there should be a penalty for refusing prior offers, but Shadi disagrees.

    I think that the “fiduciary” duty can stem from a number of views:

    1. Religious — The land belongs to Muslims by divine right (cf. Zionism)
    2. Anti-Semitic — Jews are bad, nuff said
    3. Cold War remnant — Israel was with the US while most of the Arab world was under Soviet sway.
    4. Neo-Liberal / Socialist — Strong / wealthy countries owe a duty to poor / weak countries.

    I’m going to guess that Shadi in strongly in 4. Definitely not 1 or 2.

    Whatever the merits of this view, I would propose that we do not have an intermediate status in our world between a Westphalian state and a subdivision of a state. This is to your point @iffen. Israel has to be held to one or the other standard. Either Gaza is a state — in which case Israel can do what it wants or its a subdivision and Israel can go it with tanks and martial law.

    I think Sharon and most Israelis viewed the pull back as an attempt at a free state — a transition between the two exitances. With 20/20 hindsight that experiment failed.

    If you have read up to here — thank you. 🙂

  23. The Indo-Europeans go east, introduce pastoralism. The pastoralist Mongols return the favor, by conquest.

    Zoroaster’s creed goes west, introduces apocalyptic religion to West Asia. The Arabs return the favor to Persia.

  24. Covid-19 Excess Deaths Analysis, Economist –

    While finding higher death totals, throws some doubt on recent claims by IMHE of much larger Covid-19 death totals:

    The Economist’s global excess-death-toll estimates are, as far as we know, the first of their kind. They are not the only way to infer the total number of deaths due to covid-19. On May 6th the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington published the results of a simpler model which applies fixed multipliers, mostly based on test-positivity rates, to official covid-19 death tolls in different countries and territories. This methodology often provides numbers which fail to match reported excess deaths. For example, IHME estimates that there have been 100,000 covid-19 deaths in Japan, far more than have been reported, but the excess-death figure for the year to March 2021 was -11,000.

    They note that their excess death estimation leaves low death rates in SE Asia (while removing it in South Asia and Africa): “There is an exception to this story. In some countries in South-East Asia, deaths seem remarkably low, at least so far. This is not an artefact of the model: excess-death data for Malaysia and Thailand have hardly risen at all.”

    Still think it more parsimonious that East Asian general preservation from Covid-19 has a single unified cause, rather than “It’s good government in Japan and Korea, super strict measures in China, climate in Thailand and Malaysia, etc”.

  25. @Eric K.

    I thought that you were referencing current “liberal” politicians and media personalities who are not fully onboard the Israel bandwagon and whether a traditional liberalism would lead one to that position. I would point out that most of them no longer support many traditional liberal values, such as free speech, freedom of thought and scholarly inquiry. Therefore, I do not believe that it is productive to try and surmise how their position might spring from traditional liberal thought, but rather one should look to traditional opportunism as the main source.

    IMO the “Palestinian people” never rejected a Palestinian State; it was rejected by outside powers on their behalf. That said, I don’t believe that they are up to the task of statehood. Also, I approach “original sins” bases with caution.

    I found it interesting that the two conditions Hamas put forth for joining a ceasefire were contained wholly within Israel and had nothing to do with Gaza proper.

  26. finished david eagleman’s “livewired.” Very nice book! i really liked it. a concise summary of the State of Neuroscience with some really fascinating new hypotheses he’s testing.
    also finished “reopening muslim minds”

  27. This Pestera Muierri paper – – has some pretty interesting claims; not only a ho-hum another really ancient genome.

    New technique of extraction that can boost coverage by 33x(!) by less damage to endogenous DNA. That is quite exciting if replicable for general application, even just for resampling any key individuals for high-coverage shotgun.

    And no increases in deleterious variant load despite drastic decreases in heterozygosity between Early Upper Paleolithic, post-LGM and modern people.

    I still don’t understand from the paper whether, although post-LGM hunters should apparently not have higher genetic load, they would still have more genetic disease due to higher runs of homozygosity? It seems not though as they specifically looked at homozygous substitutions (“We focused on substitution variants that were homozygous, with known dbSNP entries (rs IDs) in the coding regions, in order to avoid the potential false-positive variants in ancient genomes due to effects of post mortem DNA damage and slightly greater sequencing error rates in these genomes.”).

    In any case maybe interesting for discussions where we tend to think that loads of random stuff can happen in small populations that apparently there is no great sign of this (to deleterious effect) in genomes of people who were in these low population sizes for a very long time (a contrast to some recent groups founded by small numbers of people?). If there ever was to be a WHG clone (or a Jomon clone from a similar LGM bottleneck), they would not necessarily be drastically more at risk from genetic disease (but maybe more vulnerable to pathogens that more recent people have evolved to resist, dietary adaptations etc)…

  28. RK: Any comments on Jerome Kagan on the occasion of his death? I don’t recall ever hearing about him before seeing his obit in the NYT today. A quick search shows that you have written about him frequently in the distant past; I first heard about both Plomin and Harris here, have since read books by both and have, as a consequence, changed my mind substantially about the relative importance of nature and nurture (or environment more generally) in the shaping of temperament & personality. Somehow, I overlooked “Kagan” in these discussions. Just requested several of his books from my library.

  29. So I am reading some of the links I mentioned in the preceding comment, and one is a review of 2 books, the first mentioning Kagan, the second about Ramanujan. The latter includes this statement: The real Ramanujan was a notoriously corpulent man, if not obese because of his strict vegetarian diet.

    Please elaborate, or provide a link or 2. I have never heard about this connection.

  30. Looks Like Fauci is going for cover on the coronavirus origin question

    “Fauci no longer confident COVID-19 emerged naturally” by Jerry Dunleavy, Justice Department Reporter | | May 22, 2021

    “Dr. Anthony Fauci is now calling for further investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in a departure from his dismissal of the Wuhan lab leak hypothesis last year.

    “President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, who has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, said he was unsure when asked by Politifact’s Katie Sanders about whether he was still confident that COVID-19 emerged naturally.

    “No, actually. … No, I’m not convinced about that. I think that we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we find out to the best of our ability exactly what happened,” Fauci said during the May 11 interview. “Certainly, the people who’ve investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could’ve been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus.”

    “Over a year ago, during a May 4, 2020, National Geographic interview, Fauci laughed off the possibility that COVID-19 escaped from a lab when science editor Nsikan Akpan asked, “Do you believe or is there evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was made in the lab in China or accidentally released from a lab in China?”

  31. sheds light on population history of northern east Asia

    More ancient dna from Northeast Asia, Amur Region. A 33kya sample (AR33K) is like Tianyuan from 40kya, while 19kya and 14kya like East Asians more like present day people. (Older than Houtaomuga sample from 12kya – Model fits previously published Salkhit person from 34kya as mix of Tianyuan/AR33K like and 32kya Yana like.

    19k sample already has East Asian EDAR variant (early pre-neolithic high frequency somewhat expected given contribution to Native American) and authors suggest confirm a story of Last Glacial Maximum era selection.

  32. @marcel proust

    Bought the book. Disagree with lots of the conclusions reached, and it indeed, isn’t too scholarly, but it is still interesting.

  33. Couple more links on press coverage of new NE Asian paper (in absence of any more commentary due to “paywall”)-

    ScienceMag – – comments by D Reich.

    Physorh – – lead author Mao suggests this about EDAR – “This genetic variant was likely to be elevated to high frequency after the LGM. Our direct observations using ancient DNA likely support the hypothesis that selection on EDAR V370A increased vitamin D in breast milk in a low UV environment”

    PCA projection and qpGraph and f3 statistics block from paper (URL – ) suggests drift characteristic of present day Amur continued over time; is apparent in 19k samples but not fully and the more apparent by 14k. The 19k sample has slightly lower shared drift with later samples from across East Asia so looks like he’s a bit of a Basal East Asian (not as much as Jomon are, but more than other samples) despite EDAR variant. May represent an early “off branch” which was turned over (or simply being early?).

    Most/almost all male samples apparently y haplogroup C (C2b), including the somewhat basal chap from 19kya above. Only outlier probably with 1x haplogroup Q at 7200 BCE, doesn’t seem to have too much difference in terms of “Ancient North Eurasian” ancestry on PCA / f stats, but no specific analysis I can see

  34. Immediate LGM northeast Asia looks like a Q and C2 land. Then everything changed when the K2a pottery nations made a move.

  35. @DaThang, I think you may be right there about how it looks (although I don’t know that pottery was associated with change in y-dna in Amur region?). Quick excerpt of published ancient Y-dna from the Human Origins 1240k anno file:

    It looks like C2a is very common in NE Asia around Amur region in early samples in HO1240k anno, and the evidence for that is pushed back much further by this new paper.

    In terms of Q, there isn’t too much evidence of it actually in Asia after the very early 14kya Ust’Khaykhta sample, and otherwise we don’t have any early samples of it in Eurasia until samples from 6000-3000 BCE in West Eurasia. But I think it’s safe to say that Q must have been in wide-distribution wherever a significant “Ancient North Eurasian” component still persisted.

    (Haplogroup C1a looks like a West Eurasian Upper Paleolithic haplogroup, perhaps the most common one, that has been reduced to low frequency by ice ages, expansions? C1b generally looked Southeast Eurasian – India and Oceania – except that Kostenki14 has an early member of the lineage.)

    Tianyuan himself is K2b derived, but other than him, the next haplogroup N1b shows up in China Early Neolithic (around 8000 BCE), then about 2000 years we see the N1a group show up in Mongolia around 6000 BCE. Haplogroup O is only attested relatively late in samples we have at 6000 BCE in South China. Lots of the male samples within China do not seem to be called in the 1240k (if they have the data) so I wonder if this would clear up at all where the O dominant haplogroups in China and East Asia today come from, and whether the sampling of N1b only in North China neolithic is just bad luck or something else.

  36. @Matt
    When C1a is discussed we normally only talk about C1a2, but C1a1 itself is also a kind of an enigma. According to yfull it is about 45,000 years old and has a TMRCA of 4800 years only. Some 2006 source on wikipedia gives a number of 11650 years ago (holocene) but that is likely outdated in comparison to more recent stuff. Either way the gap between formation and TMRCA is tens of thousands of years. At the end of the gap it appears in east Asian populations. But it could have been anywhere during the gap. I don’t know where it was during the time, I have seen some ideas thrown around here and there by others. So far it hasn’t popped up in ancient DNA either as far as I know. What do you think about it?

  37. @DaThang, no thoughts really, actually, thanks for informing me about that one. From a quick look, guess would be that C1a1 is a haplogroup from Jomon culture, or otherwise from a Coastal North East Asian group that swept up to higher frequency with agriculture into Japan? If Jomon then between D-M55 and C1a1 that’s quite a lot of y-dna.

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