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

Open Thread – 9/12/2021 – Gene Expression

Adrian Wooldridge has a new book out, The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World. The juxtaposition between the terms aristocracy and meritocracy is amusing.

Obviously, I’ve had less time for this weblog due to other things, like my Substack. Please check out Among Afghans: jewel of the dragon if you haven’t. I post correspondence from a reader here there at the end, so it will be familiar.

Also, my mid-month link round-up is up over at Substack. Please check that out!

I don’t know if I mentioned this elsewhere, but I’m a paying subscriber of FdB. Mostly because I want him to be paid to write stuff like this and this. Most Left-liberals outside of genetics aren’t aware of the decreasing cost of sequencing plot from the NIH, or the existence of companies like Genomic Prediction and Orchid. Freddie is woke to all that. He’s an irascible character; I had my run-ins with him when he decided to send me unsolicited emails telling me what he thinks about me (mixed reviews). But I’ve come to the conclusion only the irascible can really speak the truth at this point. So here we are.

Unless you’ve been asleep, you’ve seen Can Progressives Be Convinced That Genetics Matters?, which is a pretty hagiographic profile of Dr. Kathryn Paige Harden in The New Yorker. This is from the same writer who wrote a hit-piece against David Reich. Is it something in journalism that they can only write hit-pieces or hagiographies? Is this demand side?

Two observations:

– The warm-glow of The New Yorker seems to be allowing the left/mainstream press to approach Harden’s ideas fairly instead of dismissing or demonizing

– A lot of scientists really dislike the profile and there’s been a lot of blowback. This, in contrast to the “circle the wagons” reaction around David Reich more or less. I think this is due to the fact that scientists would prefer more neutrality and a mixed portrait. They thought the profile of Reich was one-sided, and they think the profile of Harden is also one-sided. To be frank, I support both Reich and Harden’s projects.

There are some digs at Reich in Harden’s book, The Genetic Lottery. I actually sent the chapter in question to some human population geneticists to make sure my reaction wasn’t too biased (yes, I’m biased, I admire Reich a lot as a scientist and a human), and they told me I wasn’t crazy. So I have some defense of Reich in my full review of the Harden book (this didn’t make the final cut at UnHerd).

As for Harden’s project, I’m on the more pessimistic side because on social media scientists are connecting it to racism. Whether she’s correct or not if that sticks the project is obviously over. It’s a word of power, and will sink the project before it launches.

The Other Afghan Women. This is basically a story that explains how the rural Afghans viewed the American occupation and intervention, and all the horror we generated. This was published in 2021, but really it could have been published as early as 2001. From what I’ve heard American forces caused a lot of “collateral damage.” In the early years, the press was sympathetic, so they never reported on that. And, the US military has clamped down on leaking too much about the atrocities. When I was in grad school I randomly had beers with some construction workers at UC Davis. One of the guys went into a mental fugue and told us that he shot a dozen Iraqi prisoners in the head after one of his buddies got blown up by an IED. He kind of apologized for freaking us out, and explained: “you all don’t know anything about what’s going on, they cover it up when they can.” Others have told me the same, though they haven’t copped to war crimes.

40 thoughts on “Open Thread – 9/12/2021 – Gene Expression

  1. “‘The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality’—A Review” by Robert VerBruggen

    Also VerBruggen gave a shout out tho FdB:

    “Last year, the socialist writer Fredrik deBoer floated this sort of argument in The Cult of Smart, a book that was long on provocative ideas, but lacking in scientific explanation.”

    Razib: Quillette ran 2 pictures of the author. I am a bit surprised that you didn’t, given your history. Not that I don’t appreciate it. I do.

    BTW: The New Yorker ran a pic that was even more so. You gotta catch up.

    If only I were 40 years younger.

  2. I finally watched Metropolitan; a fair amount of funny parts in it [I don’t read novels. I prefer good literary criticism.]. I enjoyed it. In a way it reminded me of the Neil LaBute movies I’ve seen, In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors, but definitely not so cynical. I’ve been meaning to watch Before Midnight to complete the trilogy, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.

  3. Were adults on the center left scarec by last summer’s FloydFest and defund the police? It is the police that keep fancy urban neighborhoods and suburbs around big cities livable, after all. The police are the tip of spear of white suorenacy, so it’s no wonder that blacks dislike them. The mid-tier elite have a lot of wealth tied up in real estate that would lose value rather quickly were the police defunded

    It makes mevthink that smart progs, like, to pick some at random, the edittors of The New Yorker, realize they need to get a handle on BLM before young, idealistic progressives and leftists try to walknthe walkbon equality. Hence, Harden gets treated with kid gloves. While she says none of this applies to race, we all know that if any of heritability and recent human evolution is true, then it all applies to race.

    There’s also the matter of who Harden says the well-educated are smarter than. Hardeb says the elitish and hangers-on are smarter than the deplorables. Well, that’s very convienient, is it not?

    I find it hard to believe that Harden getting positive press is unrelated to the establishment being scared of what they unleashed during the Summer of George.

  4. the argument has the merit of presenting the mainstream case that drawing straight lines between within-group heritability to between-group trait values is wrong scientifically.

    Is this her prime (only) charge against Murray that has validity? Was the “junk science” charge mostly political rhetoric, or am I missing something else in her argument?

  5. Currently reading Adrian Wooldridge, “The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World.” Nothing insightful to say about it yet.

  6. For a long time in American culture, smart women were assumed to be unattractive “bookworms”. Attractive women, on the other hand, weren’t so concerned about being educated; many were even “dumb blonds.”

    Legendary Fortune editor Daniel Seligman thought that was backwards. If you want to find concentrations of attractive young women, he wrote, go to a selective college campus. His reasoning was evolutionary. Successful men are generally intelligent, and successful men tend to marry attractive women. After a few generations, you have intelligent, attractive women.

    Kathryn Paige Harden is one data point in support of Seligman’s assertion.

  7. I saw on Metafilter a thread about Harden. Thinking it might be an opportunity to go against the grain a little, relative to that community’s norms, and educate people, I had intended to comment. Unfortunately one of the site’s more prominent members, and a token “science person” for them, as well as a moderator, laid out a long series of paragraphs attacking the very idea of a GWAS as a valid study structure. This set the tone of further discussion.

    What annoys me about this is that in my early 20s, I definitely believed in some of the silly ideas associated with wokeness. I was impressionable, occasionally bullied into conforming, and really, I’m not that bright. Over time, not through any intelligence, but a voluntary permeability to new information, a lack of fear of being contradicted, and a bit of critical thinking allowed for me to escape the bubble. These people could be changed. They choose not to be.

    This also prevents them from considering policy that may be more effective at closing the gaps they refuse to see, like subtle eugenics programs through tax breaks for educated parents, subsidized and means-tested genotyping and iterative fertility services, or whatever someone much more clever than me might come up with. Putting their fingers in their ears is more likely to preserve the status quo, albeit with a lot of noise and strife, or worse, plays into the hands of a wannabe hereditary nobility attempting to undermine meritocratic norms. I can also see patterns where some of the wider, associated rainbow boot is undoing the social fabric to make us more malleable as subjects.

    I’m not sure how to evangelize to these people. I think it’s necessary, though. My sorry and confused autistic self is already too uncharismatic for the task.

  8. @Roger, taking that entirely too seriously, I think there are some correlational things between facial attractiveness IQ that find very weak or non-existent effects…

    Generally it seems like there’s the problem with model in that wealth is fairly weakly correlated with IQ, and even within that correlation, higher IQ men take until they’re about 50 to get really rich, and most men marry in mid-20s and reproduce by age 30, at which point many things loom larger than wealth, possibly even some personality things that are uncorrelated with or negatively correlated with intelligence or educational outcomes. Maybe some older rich men also tend to reproduce with less attractive than average women, as a tradeoff for attracting a younger woman who can reproduce who don’t have as many options among younger and more attractive men? I would expect once you stack all possible effects, it may not be so simple.

    If you had some ultra-“meritocratic” gerontocracy where it’s like, if a man does well on your imperial exams, he gets rich and then has a dozen beautiful concubines at 50, and that was the dominant mode of reproductive skew, we might get something. But it seems like in society as it is, these things are going to get washed out.

  9. So many dilemmas – sol mayor or re mayor, samba or rumba, flamenco or lambada, overseas morons or overoceans idiots? So as meritocracy and/or aristocracy. What about meritocracy and democracy? When was this dilemma created? In ‘ancient’ Greece (though, it is an oxymoron, Greece as a state did not exist before 1829 AC). In ancient times, Serbian speaking tribes had ranking social organisation which persisted until the medieval times when was defined in one of the oldest Tsar Dusan’s Law Codex. It is worth mentioning that Serbs never had slavery during their several thousands of years of history. This Codex was also against slavery. The first Article of the modern Constitution in 1850 was – ‘The slave who enters the Serbian land becomes a free man’. It is supposed (but still insufficiently researched) that this ranking system was brought by Aryans to SAsia where was implemented as a caste system. It is worth mentioning that the famous Roman Law, introduced by Serbian Emperor Justinian, is still a basis for national legislations in Europe except England.

    So, back to ‘ancient Greece’. Serbian dominated Sparta had a meritocracy system. Athens changed such system and introduced the tribal system, now better known as – democracy. What were characteristics of such system? Athens had 135K free citizens, 100K slaves, 5000 paid ministers, 6000 judges. Other parts also had enormous numbers of slaves – Evia 20K, Beotia 28K, Argolis/Corinth 175K slaves. There was widely spread system of corruption where you could buy everything for your money. Demosthenes, for example, had 52 slaves who manufactured weapons and swords and bought the position of Athens’ mayor. Such system had to collapse, and it did after the war with Phillip, the ruler of Macedonia. For easier control, he created the League of Corinth of defeated semi-vasal cities but did not include in this Sparta (btw, some who still say that Macedonia was Greek, cannot explain how few separate cities without economy, without any fertile land, without horses, with enormous number of unemployed and tramps could control one Empire which conquered everything till India). Now, it seems that it is the time to rethink today’s democracy and to find the way how to introduce meritocracy.

  10. “The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World” – the sort of impression I get of this is that it’s actually “Why using tested achievement has some benefits in selecting people for jobs, and why standardized tests might have some benefits over content tests”. I think if the book were just that, it might be no problem.

    But it has this subtitle with a large claim. “Created the modern world”. Created economic modernity. That what caused modern economic growth was a move to regime that could be called “meritocracy” – one where individuals are denied the ability to work and cooperate with friends, family, co-religionists etc as they wish (the various flavours of liberal “freedom of association”), and instead compelled by law to give power and authority to people with “merit”, as determined and selected by standardized tests.

    That doesn’t seem historically obviously the case… In some respects it seems opposite the case (modern society is more the chaos of a free “Let a thousand flowers bloom!” as takes whatever the fancy of a thousand gardeners, than “Let one flower bloom, and let it be that which is preselected by a hierarchy of tests!”).

    I guess that seems to me that a frame of “meritocracy vs free association” might open up a contrast between “meritocracy” and “anti-nepotism” with regard to WEIRDness. Banning nepotism and probably racial discrimination, is fairly WEIRD, reflecting looser kin bonds. People are still free to associate and make whatever recruitment choices they wish, but with a limited constraint on ability to favour kin. On the other hand, if you’re a WEIRDo you probably don’t see much further need for an authority to enforce meritocracy – just, like, let people get on with freely associating and forming groups (businesses, civil groups) in their society without having any central authority that determines merit. Just ban people from keeping everything in the family and allow them to freely choose all else and decide merit as they deem most fit (and in a capitalist system, they should be disciplined by the market if they fail this test).

    That seems to me square the circle of why advocates in meritocracy in society tend to be more conservative or socialist and less liberal – the liberals tend to just think that we can just get rid of nepotism but otherwise let people sort it out themselves, while the (less individualistic?) conservatives and socialists (for right or wrong) don’t trust individuals to do so and talk more about meritocracy. The idea of centralized meritocracy fundamentally presents a lack of faith in civil society’s ability to self organize. (Dovetails nicely too with how proto-meritocracy arose to solve collective governance in China with its relatively strong kin groups, that unWEIRDest of advanced civilizations – a meritocratic examination procedure by a central authority solves the problem of nepotism, without requiring a general culture of non-kin cooperation?)

  11. I like Freddie’s point about “lawyering”. Ties in with the problem that if your ideas are not mainstream then you have the burden of proof while proponents of mainstream thought do not and this also tilts the intellectual battlefield against you.

    Jared Taylor argues that there is a good reason the left is trying to suppress behavioral genetic research, saying it is simply much harder politically to defend redistribution in favor of the genetically inferior, at least not without explicitly eugenic policies like sterilization as condition of welfare.

    The problem with the left is general hatred of excellence disguised as hatred of unearned privilege. Thing is if people are genetically predisposed to being more economically productive, as far as I’m concerned they still deserve every penny they earn, because their activity is socially beneficial. There is huge difference between a feudal lord living off rents and contributing nothing of value and Jeff Bezos raking in billions from satisfied consumers. In short, I’m happy with a stratified society as long as those in top are benefiting the rest of us.

  12. Off topic, some random sci links evidence from dental calculus shows first systematic milk drinking on the steppe with Yamnaya.
    apparently horses milk, so this confirms that horses were domesticated under Yamnaya. (however another apparently soon to be released paper indicates that Sintashta culture horses replaced all other horses 1000 years later at 2000 BCE, which indicates that these cultures, putatively Indo-Aryan had probably developed some special breed that was faster moving and more useful for chariots, maybe not as focused on being a milk animal).

    this study does have the slight wrinkle, in my eyes though in that although they talk about eneolithic samples, the latest dates are separated from the Yamnaya by about 1000 years, so it’s possible that the pre-Yamnaya cultures 500 years earlier or something like Steppe Maykop or Sredny Stog or Repin or late Khvalynsk may have started drinking milk.

    add, though Yamnaya may have been first milk drinkers on the steppes, its established that Neolithic EEF were already drinking milk, e.g. British Neolithic at 4000 BCE – (Pot residues suggest same for at least Globular Amphora).

    – the paper by Ringbauer et al about identifying Runs of Homozygosity in low coverage pseudo-haploid ancient dna is released

    I don’t think there are any changes, but there is a big supplementary table which gives the RoH estimates for *all* of the samples in the Human Origins v42.4. This would be useful if interested in looking at the sum RoH to estimate population size of any particular ancient population.

    Comparing to this table, there should be at least 1214 samples of the required coverage for the method (0.5x) on the latest Human Origins 1240k panel (v44.3) that could be run. Some of these might have been rejected for quality reasons, but restricting to those from 2020 leaves still 993 samples. Lots of Chinese / Viking / Bronze Age Anatolia adna that hasn’t been checked.

  13. It seems that Yamnaya spread the lactose persistence in the same package with their ‘Indo-Germanishe’ language and with their ‘whiteness’ and ‘blondness’. The oldest cheese (older than in Egypt) was found in Vinca but maybe they did not drink the milk and all processed into dairy products.

  14. Earliest known evidence of cheese making is in Poland, 8kya. (I have lost the cite, but not the memory.)

    Lactase persistence “was rare in steppe populations of the Early Bronze Age.” (From the reference given by Matt.) They were probably consuming cheese, yoghurt, kumis or kefir.

  15. one note about the above abstract I mentioned (because it seems like it might be interesting) – – although it does say “in Asia where Indo-Iranian languages, chariots and horses spread together, following the early second millennium BCE Sintashta culture”, this is not necessarily strictly the case in Asia Minor, or the Oxus Region (where Bactria-Margiana Complex was).

    In those regions, horseriding chariots probably spread faster certainly than ancestry, and probably linguistic change. We’ve got evidence for horseriding on a Mesopotamian seal at 2100-1800 BCE and chariots on Syrian seals at 1800 BCE – cite – while ancestry doesn’t show any evidence of turnover or impact in BMAC region until >1500 BCE (and in the Turkey/Syria region, there is only really that relatively late female outlier around 1500 BCE so far).

    There’s also evidence some evidence of horse ritual burial and riding at Gonur, where there’s no impact of steppe ancestry other than these sporadic outliers in the region (who are outside the urban, no particular high status) until after the Bronze Age. Cite “The World of the Oxus Civilization” –“In southern Central Asia, some evidence of horses comes from Gonur Depe. A horse skeleton was said to have been found in the “Royal Necropolis” grave 3200 located on the northern edge of Gonur North and associated with period I dated to ca 2200 BCE … The excavation of this brick-lined burial put also brought to light a four-wheeled wagon with wheels made of wooden boards bound with bronze rims … The so-called “Tomb of the Warrior” comes from the Gonur Large Necropolis; it yielded a bronze mace head depicting a horse protome … Not far from the “warrior’s” tomb a stallion burial contained only parts of its body.” (ritual butchering). There are some more mentions there of other finds at the “Large Necropolis” (dated “to the turn of the 3rd millennium”), but they also mention in particular some evidence of riding from here “A stone statuette from burial no 3210 seems to depict a horse with a saddle“.. They note a “simultaneous appearance across Iran and Mesopotamia (of domestic horses”.

    (On a note, the “Warrior” of Gonur was successfully genetically sampled by Narasimhan’s 2018 paper –“Gonur Tomb 2380 sample 17 (I1784): Date of 2201-2031 cal BCE. Genetically male. Nicknamed the ‘Tomb of the Warrior,’ this was skeletally a male, 40 to 50 years old at the time of his death, flexed supine and oriented NNW. The neck of the man was broken, and this was the probable cause of his death. He was buried in a shaft grave on the SE edge of the large cemetery. The very rich grave was accompanied by one bronze knife, one silver plate, one bronze vessel (diameter 16 cm and height 12 cm), one bronze mace head in the form of a horse head, one bronze mace head with four spikes, 2148 one bronze semi-cylindrical artifact near the head, one bronze leaf-shaped arrowhead near the pelvis, and one bronze plate with perforations wrapped in linen cloth near the right shin.”.

    The “Warrior” has y haplogroup J1a2 and has not one lick of steppe ancestry as it happens, either of EMBA or MLBA flavour, in contradiction to some previous ideas of Asko Parpola that would have expected him to be part of an Indo-Aryan elite of steppe derivation. Projection onto Davidski’s PCA data shows this fairly clearly –

    So although not true in the BMAC region or Asia Minor, it’s still to be determined if it is or isn’t true in South Asia proper (the sphere of today’s India-Pakistan)… There’s definitely a steppe_MLBA related ancestry impact there by around 1000BCE, but with or after the spread of “horse culture”…?

    It might be the case that the “horse and chariot” culture spread a little faster than the actual steppe ancestry wave and language, and very speculatively maybe that could have created cultural connections that helped with the later spread. (Perhaps some local peoples, elites or geographic peripheries, in West Asia may have seen themselves as having more in common with the horse focused steppe people than local farming peoples? Enabling assimilation.).

  16. “Lord Hayagriva the horse-faced Avatar of Lord Vishnu is considered to be the protector of the Vedas.”

    >>> To Whom It May Concern – Griva, Hors, Vishnu, Veda, Kabila (kobila-mare) are Serbian words.

  17. @Matt: That’s an interesting theory. I had thought the previous popular consensus was that steppe populations with the new technology of horse husbandry overran the settled peoples, who were unable to resist. If the BMAC and others already had horses, what made steppe invaders so successful in spreading both their language and ancestry? Was it all top down, like later Turks? How were they able to conquer people who were also fielding cavalry and using mounted tactics? I find it strange to imagine large organized groups with fortified settlements, familiar with horse combat, unable to resist pastoralists, particularly in the absence of something like siege engines.

    I hope I’m not asking stupid questions here, or polluting the comments.

  18. @Otanes, to give a very long response: Off the top of my head, hmm… Well, re the 2200 BCE horse in Gonur, the horses of Sintashta could have been better than horses that had already diffused after the Yamnaya-Afanasievo expansions (around 3000 BCE) and were adopted somewhat in BMAC, and it’s possible that this mattered and was a big advantage. Also its possible that wild horses or Botai horses could’ve gone as far as BMAC somehow (since the ancestry of these quite pure North Eurasians is found far and wide) so its still possible I guess that these could be those.

    I do think that the genetic displacement by steppe ancestry, and presumably linguistic displacement, from the samples we have seems later in time to me than the findings I mention indicating spread of chariots and horse-riding in the Near East and Oxus region (a few hundred years, not big on the grand scale, but noteworthy). They must have gone with some people, but perhaps not necessarily enough to change the population very much overall (on either the autosomal or y-dna side). That’s just my impression really though – I could be wrong, and I do hope that the proper archaeologists (with a bit more understanding of the dating) will have a proper think about this and check it out and test it. There’s no inherent reason the two things can’t become decoupled though – horses are just a useful technology and Bronze Age city states and early empires were always on the look out for an advantage in battle and were plugged into trade networks connected to the steppes.

    Bear in mind that just because they might had a certain amount of the thing, I guess it doesn’t mean they have as much of it and that might matter. For example, the Chinese dynasties had always had horses and knew of them (although depended a bit on trade with the steppe to get the best horses) but weren’t able to field as many cavalry per head as cultures of their Northern Steppe as successfully over time. Even if the peak ability of the best trained Chinese horsemen might have been comparable, they couldn’t necessarily field as many and mobilize as many people without big economic problems (there isn’t enough food left over to support the armies if you divert people from other duties that keep the economy going, even if you could command them to). So where we find archaeology and they knew about something, the steppe cultures could have still had more of it and been able to apply more on it.

    Thanks on the idea I pulled out of nowhere! I do really think that though, while the process in Northern and Western Europe looks very demic, Indo-European expansion may have been different elsewhere. In N and W Europe, it looks to me like slowly adding females gradually and relatively constantly over time to the culture while the cultures probably avoided each other a fair bit (which makes the Basque language hard to explain actually), and that’s why the local Neolithic y-chromosome becomes rare. But in other regions with more dense settlement of people (SE Europe, maybe Iran, maybe South Asia), maybe the innovations of the steppe cultures like chariotry, horses, spread quite quickly, and then at the same time there is instead more of what David Anthony talked about and what was his original model in terms of the guest-host relationships. Where these form between Indo-European chiefs and local client chiefs that teach them the language and bring them into the culture and into marriage networks.

    On that note, another crackpot theory of mine is that the Indo-Europeans, a people who had expanded recently and very quickly, had a relative advantage of being relatively homogenous in their speech and myths. That might have been an advantage in “assabiyah” and might have made it easy for lots of people to be absorbed into the common culture. If it was an expanding culture that had a lot in common with each other, I can imagine them having an easier dealing with an absorbing lots of smaller, more diverged cultures that didn’t have much common culture or common linguistic basis for communication. There’s maybe a strong incentive for people to join the culture and learn the language so they can be part of a wider network, particularly if Indo-Europeans started to dominate some aspects of long distance trade in prestige goods and there are real material benefits to your prestige in adopting their cultural habits. If you’re a powerful local chief and you can adopt parts of the Indo-European culture by becoming bilingual in their language, marrying your sons to their daughters, getting into their alliance network, maybe you do so, and then a hundred years later your original language has withered away and stopped being used by your people (because it gave them access to fewer and fewer marriage partners) and you’re remembered faintly as the ultimate progenitor of some Persian tribe’s rulers. Basically “Elite emulation” but compared to what is usually implied by it with possibly a bit more of a horizontal aspect to it, and bit more social mobility once people join the culture.

    Also bear in mind on the military side of the problem, a lot of early civilization could have been quite fragile – maybe somewhere like Gonur could have handily resisted steppe groups from a position of strength, while times were good… But then during times of drought and plague, they’re like the vultures circling the corpse, and if you can’t beat ’em, join em. Again, in Chinese history, from what little I know, steppe invasions did come in bad times, when the empire was weak, not really only be driven by an overwhelming period of strength on the steppe side of things. (Although there was good fortune on the steppe side that might have mattered – – just at the time of the Mongols expansion, the grasslands expanded massively, leading to a huge boon of horses and livestock).

    These are all just speculations though, of course.

  19. Just randomly from some comments…We simply cannot make a comprehensive and logical framework for spreading Yamnaya ‘Indo-Germanishe’ (I prefer this original name instead of the later, posh IE) language in Europe. To explain, we don’t have only sc. IG and proto-IG, we (and DA) had to introduce the Proto-Proto-IG (i.e. Proto squared IG). It is also interesting the mechanism of IG language diffusion. We have ‘patron-client’ so as ‘host-guest’ concepts where (I guess) the ‘guest’ was teaching his ‘host’ the IG language and subsequently the ‘host’ is transferring his knowledge to his household. I wander how many ‘guests’ and how many ‘hosts’ were involved in this language teaching. And, what were typical language discussion topics – agriculture, metallurgy, buildings, cities, cosmetics, pottery, gold processing, astronomy, mythology, cheese production? Also, how ‘hosts’ in Balkan learnt the IG language if Yamnaya just quickly passed through the river valleys not having time to give them any language lesson (not mentioning their nostalgic wing which returned to steppe in a form of IG reflux)?

    In spite of so many patches of IG theory, it still cannot be explained the Basque language and its discrepancy with genetics. What about this – the Basque language are actually remnants of the sc. Yamnaya language mixed with their indigenous language while the rest of Europe preserved their original language(s) which was also adopted by newly arrived nomads (i.e. hosts and guests swapped their teaching roles). The assertion that Yamnaya, who were isolated nomadic families who followed their herds btw. Mongolia and Slovakia, had more homogenous language than their Euro ‘hosts’ is probably a joke. By analysing just one previously mentioned word – ‘guest’, could give sufficiently good and comprehensive picture of IG language(s). Or, randomly, the word ‘druid(s)’ – is it a Yamnaya IG or indigenous word? Or ‘ghost’? Or, ‘land’? Or ‘med’? Or…What about Sanskrit and Rg Veda? They really need a huuuuge patch.

  20. While I was just skimming (very rarely) found two excellent points at the next door:

    1. “Wouldn’t it be more correct to say, Mittani elite used to speak Indo-European language – than just restricted to horse stuff, while common people use their native language of Hurrian?”
    2. “The PIEs were sedentary pastoralists and farmers. Nomadic vocabulary (associated with seasonal migrations) in PIE language is absent.”

  21. 1) Read this when saw via twitter, and found it striking how much people who identify themselves as “Progressive” or “Progress oriented” have this completely newfound faith in “trickle-down economics” (after years of ridicule of “trickle-down economics”.

    That is: “Deregulate housing and build more market rate housing for young urban professionals – the benefits will trickle down via greater consumption, and less competition for cheap housing in urban areas, and greater productivty and innovation by young urban professionals!”

    Are we all Reaganites and Thatcherites now…? Of course the economic questions of “trickle down” remain – just as it was implausible that tax cuts would “pay for themselves” or deliver so much growth that they’d ultimately benefit the working class more than middle class professionals, so in this case there are big questions as to whether the benefits would really trickle-down…

    (Not an exception either. The other common argument is – “Relieve college debt for young urban professionals – the benefits will be seen for the working class via greater consumption by young urban professionals”. Pure “trickle down”.).

    2) Thinking about the semaglutide therapy for weight loss and medium term evolutionary effects.

    I’d guess that this will be a “eugenic” therapy – it would blunt the degree to which there is assortative mating favour people with skinny genetics and people with higher education, who tend to be less fertile. Accordingly, this therapy that would seem to release people from their biological destiny when it comes to weight, would probably be expected to blunt the effective of selection for overweight.

    Same things probably true for education, plastic surgery, etc. Increasing the degree of environmental influence reduces the degree to which the traits under genetic control, that reduces negative selection.

  22. Japan, in three acts? –“Ancient genomics reveals tripartite origins of Japanese populations”

    We report 12 ancient Japanese genomes from pre- and postfarming periods. Our analysis finds that the Jomon maintained a small effective population size of ~1000 over several millennia, with a deep divergence from continental populations dated to 20,000 to 15,000 years ago, a period that saw the insularization of Japan through rising sea levels. Rice cultivation was introduced by people with Northeast Asian ancestry. Unexpectedly, we identify a later influx of East Asian ancestry during the imperial Kofun period. These three ancestral components continue to characterize present-day populations, supporting a tripartite model of Japanese genomic origins.

    Yayoi are distinct from present day people and more closely related to Jomon. Their two samples actually have approximately 50% Jomon component!

    New Jomon are more D1b1. Kofun person is O3a. (“Mitochondrial haplogroups for all Jomon individuals belong to the N9b or M7a clades, which are strongly associated with this population and rare outside of Japan today. The three Jomon males (table S3) belong to the Y chromosome haplogroup D1b1, which is present in modern Japanese populations but almost absent in other East Asians. In contrast, the Kofun individuals all belong to mitochondrial haplogroups that are common in present-day East Asians, while the single Kofun male has the O3a2c Y chromosome haplogroup, which is also found throughout East Asia, particularly in mainland China.”)

    It’s noteworthy that a Jomon is identified who is even more bottlenecked than the Irish HG the Cassidy Group / Trinity College group previously identified who was previously the most bottlenecked person they’d found. This seems similar to what I say when running the Reich Lab HO capture data with Fst / F2, just huge bottlenecks in Jomon. (Like with the WHG, I think in a way if we “grade on a curve” of how harshly these populations were hit by the LGM compared to the Anatolians, maybe people from the Southern Steppe etc, their numbers today are actually fairly impressive, more so for WHG).

    I don’t think this is necessarily anything totally new compared to the genomes from –“Triangulation supports agricultural spread of the Transeurasian languages” – from earlier this year, which also suggested higher Jomon related ancestry in 2/3 of their Yayoi that must have been diluted subsequently.

    However the level of Jomon ancestry seems *much* higher in these samples – these guys look 50% Jomon while the 3 from the other paper had diverse proportions but were only from 40% down to 10%. It might be questioned if they’ve sampled some atypical Yayoi, but it does seem like Yayoi were diverse in their Jomon inheritence and its plausible that Kofun period diluted or homogenized it without changing language or displacing the y-dna and mtdna completely. It seems a shame that the two papers aren’t working together here tho. They note themselves “First, we are limited to only two Late Yayoi individuals from a region where skeletal remains associated with Yayoi culture are morphologically similar to Jomon. Yayoi individuals from other regions or other time points may have different ancestral profiles, e.g., continental-like or Kofun-like ancestry.”, well you wouldn’t be so limited if you spoke to Max Planck….? I hope that this one got submitted for review before the Planck’s paper got out there, or it is a bit misleading.

    I can’t quite remember but I think previously there was some suggestion of papers which suggested from modern dna that the Japanese had received ancestry that split from the Han more recently than the early Neolithic, and most of us who commented thought this was clearly wrong (because of the linguistic splits etc). This may evidence that this was actually the case to some extent tho, but its rather amazing if so that these Han or Han-like immigrants (if that did happen) seem to have adopted local language.

    The Kofun period is kind of contemporary with the Anglo-Saxon migrations in a way… Strange parallels. But in this case it connects with the introduction of features of more advanced civilization, that I think we had normally thought the Japanese had just learned – however, perhaps it seems like technology came with people.

    (No Milan, I see you getting ready to put your hand up at the back of the class, the incomers weren’t Serbs who left a legacy of clear Serbian vocabulary in Japanese…).

  23. Looking some more at these Yayoi samples, in the above paper from yesterday, their Yayoi samples are reused 2019 paper by Shinoda, but the sample quality of them is bad. The sample quality of the Japanese Yayoi from “Triangulation supports agricultural spread of the Transeurasian languages”, who also reused these samples and added three more (1 published, 2 unpublished) is also bad though. (Most of the samples in “Triangulation…” have low SNPs, with the best covered being oddly the samples from tropical Ryukyus!). So it may not be possible with these data to really talk a lot with too much high confidence about how much turnover there was in the Yayoi period and in the succeeding Kofun period. Further study is needed and this may be overturned…. Together with that is the low sample size – these Yayoi from the rockshelter may be inadvertently finding something like the Blatterhohle population was for Europe, not representative.

  24. John Milton: Elegy I (verses dedicated to the city of London):

    “Oh city, founded by Dardanian hands…”


    ‘Great Jupiter, truly, it was because I knew it was your wish
    that I parted reluctantly from Turnus and the Earth:
    or you would not see me alone now, on my celestial perch,
    enduring the just and the unjust, but I’d be standing, wreathed in flame,
    in the battle line itself, and drawing the Trojans into deadly combat.
    I counselled Juturna (I confess) to help her unfortunate brother
    and approved greater acts of daring for the sake of his life,
    yet not for her to contend with the arrow or the bow:
    I swear it by the implacable fountainhead of Styx,
    that alone is held in awe by the gods above.
    And now I yield, yes, and leave the fighting I loathe.
    Yet I beg this of you, for Latium’s sake, for the majesty
    of your own kin: since it is not prohibited by any law of fate:
    when they soon make peace with happy nuptials (so be it)
    when they join together soon in laws and treaties,
    don’t order the native Latins to change their ancient name,
    to become Trojans or be called Teucrians,
    or change their language, or alter their clothing.
    Let Latium still exist, let there be Alban kings through the ages,
    let there be Roman offspring strong in Italian virtue:
    Troy has fallen, let her stay fallen, along with her name.’
    Smiling at her, the creator of men and things replied:
    ‘You are a true sister of Jove, another child of Saturn,
    such waves of anger surge within your heart.
    Come, truly, calm this passion that was needlessly roused:
    I grant what you wish, and I relent, willingly defeated.
    Ausonia’s sons will keep their father’s speech and manners,
    as their name is, so it will be: the Trojans shall sink, merged
    into the mass, only. I will add sacred laws and rites,
    and make them all Latins of one tongue.
    From them a race will rise, merged with Ausonian blood,
    that you will see surpass men and gods in virtue,
    no nation will celebrate your rites with as much devotion.’
    Juno agreed it, and joyfully altered her purpose:
    then left her cloud, and departed from the sky.

  26. >>> Oh, there are some interesting parts and a novel methodology, but the taxonomy is distorted so as some falsified premises which may lead to wrong conclusions (though, the logic says that false premises (p) can give a correct result (q), i.e. p=>q, while Gio, having a gap of 11 K years in his ‘framework’, said that I cannot make scientific conclusions). What the author says in his abstract:

    ” “Barbarism” is perhaps best understood as a recurring syndrome among peripheral societies in response to the threats and opportunities presented by more developed neighbors. This article develops a mathematical model of barbarigenesis—the formation of “barbarian” societies adjacent to more complex societies—and its consequences, and applies the model to the case of Europe in the first millennium CE…”

    >>> So, if the author beforehand found the original meaning of the term ‘barbarian’, this paper could be more significant. If he asked himself – why (future) Greeks (who still did not have this name) upon their arrival to today’s Greece called indigenous people ‘barbarians’, before all this wealth creation and distribution, he would make better conclusions. I may explain this term as soon as I get some free time.

    >>> Btw, there are a couple remarks in the text which indirectly point on history falsifications:

    “[M]ost legionaries across the empire were of Italian origin until the reign of Claudius (AD 41–54). Through the reigns of Claudius and Nero, about half were Italian and half of provincial origin. By Trajan’s reign (AD 98–117), legionnaires from the provinces outnumbered Italians by four or five to one.”

    >>> So, who were these ‘mysterious’ legionnaires who consisted 83% of the Roman Empire army? Also:

    “In the third century, military units on the frontiers vied with Rome, putting up a bewildering succession of barracks emperors. Eventually a more settled situation developed as one frontier region, Illyria, came to monopolize the imperial succession.”

    >>> So, previously mentioned legionaries gave ‘bewildering (?) succession of barrack emperors’. Who were these ‘non-Italian’ emperors? It was mentioned Illyria (which ‘monopolised the imperial succession’) without mentioning that the capital of the Empire was in Sirmium, 50 km from Belgrade, which had bigger Colosseum than that one in Rome, where money was minted since Alexander, where many Emperors were born and some never seen the city of Rome. Many writers who wrote about the ‘fall of Rome’ (and ‘the end of civilisation’, etc) do not say that the fall of the Roman Empire happened in Illyria not in the city of Rome. In addition, there are also some marginal references on falsifications such as alleged migration of Slavs and ‘Germanic’ Goths.

  27. It is known that Latin as a fairly young language, borrowed a lot from much older Serbian language which directly succeeded the ancient Vinca pra-language. We will illustrate this with a couple typical words when the appropriate thread comes. So, there is one old book which documented about 700 such words. It was written in an archaic version of the Serbian language and published in 1818. I guess, that Gio, as a big fun of old books would be interested as he was with a book published 35 years ago, which I recommended before, where Etruscan alphabet and texts were deciphered. The book is digitized and can be found on the following link:

  28. Interesting new thing – – 23kya footprints in New Mexico.

    How does this square with our model for NE Asia from adna? At the moment we’ve got data that suggests

    – At 33kya, there are people who still continue the Tianyuan (40kya) genetic profile around in the Amur Region, and no East Asians “proper”, but the first East Asian “proper” ancestry is around by 19kya –

    – Then we have a) North of Amur at 31kya, the Yana samples, who have some ancestry related to and also contribute ancestry to b) Salkhit, at 34kya, at a site in Mongolia, who was admixed in this complex two-way between the Amur River 33kya people and Yana.

    – Finally, at Mal’ta in Siberia near Lake Baikal, at 24kya, there are still people who are much more related to the Yana “North Eurasians” than to East Asians, and they persist slightly to the west at Afontova-Gora until at least 16kya.

    – The earliest confirmed adna in the Americas is Anzick at 12.7kya.

    So does this data suggest that the proto-Native American population had formed (from ANE and East Asians) well before 23kya, or more likely that these footprints are left by a group which were replaced? The former seems more likely, but samples dating from between 33-20 kya are needed to solve this question.

  29. This thread is a bit stale, but the news is really hot, so I will post it here anyway, hoping that Razib will pick it up:

    “Ancient Footprints Yield Surprising New Clues About the First Americans: Unearthed in New Mexico along what was once a lakefront, the tracks show generations living in the area thousands of years before many scientists believed” By Robert Lee Holtz | Sept. 23, 2021

    “Early footsteps in the Americas: Despite a plethora of archaeological research over the past century, the timing of human migration into the Americas is still far from resolved. In a study of exposed outcrops of Lake Otero in White Sands National Park in New Mexico, Bennett et al. reveal numerous human footprints dating to about 23,000 to 21,000 years ago. These finds indicate the presence of humans in North America for approximately two millennia during the Last Glacial Maximum south of the migratory barrier created by the ice sheets to the north. This timing coincided with a Northern Hemispheric abrupt warming event, Dansgaard-Oeschger event 2, which drew down lake levels and allowed humans and megafauna to walk on newly exposed surfaces, creating tracks that became preserved in the geologic record. —AMS”

    “Abstract: Archaeologists and researchers in allied fields have long sought to understand human colonization of North America. Questions remain about when and how people migrated, where they originated, and how their arrival affected the established fauna and landscape. Here, we present evidence from excavated surfaces in White Sands National Park (New Mexico, United States), where multiple in situ human footprints are stratigraphically constrained and bracketed by seed layers that yield calibrated radiocarbon ages between ~23 and 21 thousand years ago. These findings confirm the presence of humans in North America during the Last Glacial Maximum, adding evidence to the antiquity of human colonization of the Americas and providing a temporal range extension for the coexistence of early inhabitants and Pleistocene megafauna.”

  30. This seems potentially important:“Protein-coding repeat polymorphisms strongly shape diverse human phenotypes”

    Science comment:“Missing heritability may be hiding in repeats”

    Standard press release aggregator link:“The team expected to see some associations between VNTRs and traits, but were surprised by how strong those links were. “The VNTRs we studied wound up being the top or second biggest genomic contributor to a trait,” said Po-Ru Loh … The team also found that a VNTR in the ACAN gene, which encodes a component of cartilage, was associated with height. VNTR length differences in this gene appeared to modify height by as much as 3.2 cm. “Our findings show that there can be really potent effects from these VNTRs,” said Bob Handsaker, a research scientist in the McCarroll lab and co-first author of the study. “It’s more evidence that these complex regions of the genome can be really important and need more study.” “

    Maybe VNTRs are a fairly big deal to explain heritability that is missing from SNP analyses…? Might be a problem for adna estimation of phenotypes…?

  31. – Etruscans.

    R1b at 75% in Etruscans before the Imperial Era. Other 2x are G2a men. (Interestingly enough, of the samples with excess steppe ancestry – proportions of steppe ancestry overlapping present day South English or North French – the one male sample is also G2a). This seems to match with what we know where R1b rich groups probably entered Italy earlier but autosomal sex bias was not obvious – (along with no clear differences in pigmentation etc).

    The Imperial period “Etruscans” consist of 2x R1b, a I1 (which starts getting common in Iron Age in Western Europe as far as we can tell – evidently not all I1 came with Germanic migrations later?) and 2x J2as. R1b was only 2/24 from Imperial Rome, so that suggests a difference, although needs validation.

    It’s noteworthy that the Imperial Era Tuscan samples *are* shifted towards the Near East by quite a lot (and noticeably compared to present day), but also noteworthy that these 4 samples are also at the more “European” end of the Imperial Era Rome set… Also noteworthy that these sample look to skew a little later than the average for the Rome set, being from an equal split of 0 AD to 500 AD, while the Roman samples skew a bit to 2nd and 3rd century AD. But they seem fairly homogenous, so I don’t think they’re just “Europe” shifted due to being later.

    That seems to suggest that there may have been a similar gradient *within* Italy as today in terms of Near Eastern ancestry, and Rome and Southern Italy were probably more Near Eastern than was typical for the entire peninsula. That might evidence the Razib “Re-emergence of local Italians, with less Near Eastern ancestry” thesis, wherein some of them spread south from the north in response to late imperial pressures. (It might also be slight evidence against the idea that Imperial Rome was the result of huge imports of agricultural slaves – if the change is more pronounced in the city than in the countryside, while it may still be influenced by slavery, that seems to persuade a bit against an agricultural slavery led hypothesis).

  32. One real question here is: WHY IS THERE SILENCE ABOUT VINCA CULTURE?

    Why is the greatness and importance of Vinca culture so undermined and hushed up? Why leading world researchers and universities avoided researching Vinca and focussed on much later and less developed societies such as Yamnaya and CW making some simply unsustainable hypotheses about them? It is indicative a pretty hostile reception even here at this blog where everyone, so far, could say whatever they wanted or simply ignore topics in which they are not interested in and simply be happy because of this? Why people got frustrated and some agitated or just were losing their larrikinism when Vinca is mentioned.

    One possible answer can be found in the substance and character of contemporary Western civilisation. The ideological root of Western civilisation is found in ancient Greece and Rome. Ancient Greece and Rome are depicted in our educational systems as civilised societies, far more progressive than prehistoric societies. Prehistory was depicted as time of savages who mumble, roar and wear cudgels in arms.

    Vinca culture more than 7000 years ago and Lepenski Vir about 11500 years old testify about completely different truth and history of humankind.
    We can ask here: How come Vinca did not have government, court, police and army? And yet, it achieved fantastic scientific progress and what may be even more important for two thousand years, it knew of no wars and conflicts!

    How was it possible for Vincan civilisation, without state apparatus and apparatus of coercion to manage and organize communion of people of different genetics, origins and customs? How was it possible that Vinca was three times burned to the ground then three times rebuilt? And today, we struggle to maintain country roads because our system of state administration is ineffective, corrupt and useless.

    Science confirmed that in Lepenski Vir lived genetic groups related to our contemporary population. But, later in Vinca settled people of G2A genetic haplogroup. This anthropologically different population traces its origins to Caucasus. They came directly from Asia Minor. In spite anthropological, genetic, and linguistic differences there were no conflicts among hosts and immigrants. In Lepenski Vir 4000 years before Vinca culture there was also mixing and peaceful coexistence of people from various parts of Europe. Something like contemporary New York City. Vinca culture, in spite of intensive mixing of people, managed its society without violence far more effective than contemporary societies!

    Because civilisations are run today by one percent of rulers opposed to 99% of suppressed ones. Slave owner societies of ancient Greece and Rome are portrayed in our schools as improvements in social relations in comparison to tribal, family centred societies such as those we found in Lepenski Vir and Vinca cultures.

    Slavery in later systems of feudalism and capitalism has only changes its form. And that maybe the answer we were looking for. Enslavement of humankind to a small group of privileged people nicely packed in forms of ‘democracy’ could be the only logical explanation why ancient Greece and Rome are considered by official historiography as foundations of modern civilisation. While everything that preceded is discredited as being ‘savage and barbarian’.

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