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

Why my Substack posts are better and worse than ancestry calculators

Of all my Substack posts, Ashkenazi Jewish genetics: a match made in the Mediterranean has been the most popular of the paid posts. It prompted this response from a reader:

The issue here is that my Substack is doing something different than what personal genomics companies are trying to do. My Substsack post is giving a survey of a whole population and its history, a personal genomics test is trying to give an individual estimate that is intelligible. When 23andMe or the other companies tell you are are 99% “Ashkenazi Jewish” it is simply giving you confirmation that you’re within the range of variation typical for Ashkenazi Jews (there is some suspicions from genealogy enthusiasts that 23andMe smooths out differences between Galicianers and Litvaks, for example).

Imagine that 23andMe told its Jewish customers that they were 45.3% Northern Levantine, 40% Southwest European, and 9.7% Northern European. How would they interpret it? Sophisticated users would understand this points to a deep history of admixture, but most users are not sophisticated. They want to know that they’re Ashkenazi Jewish, and how Jewish they are (most will be nearly 100%, but some people may have non-Ashkenazi cryptic ancestry).

When I worked for Embark Vet. one of the issues that the canine DNA test was having is that we were looking for wolf ancestry in dogs, as some customers with F1’s or backcrosses wanted to test their pooch. But, it turned out that you had to be careful because some northern Arctic dog breeds kept coming back with “wolf” ancestry at low fractions because they did have ancient wolf ancestry. But that’s not what the wolf test was designed to pick up.

13 thoughts on “Why my Substack posts are better and worse than ancestry calculators

  1. Some time ago, in a podcast, you briefly told us about dog ancestry issues, e.g. how it can be correlated with ancient (and even modern) human dispersal and how it is very distinct the ways dog and wolves mix even today. I think you weren’t the host on that occasion, but interviewed.

    It would be really nice if you write some essays about dog genetics and ancestry on your Substack. Having dogs seems to be an advantage over ancient cultures that didn’t have them or that lose them.

  2. But what you call Levantine Jews in Roman Empire (above all Italy and Iberia) how much were of Old Jewish extraction? That could be said above all only from the uniparental markers and the most part of what was thought to be “Jewish” wasn’t, because we don’t know even if a migration from Judea happened (Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish people, denies that), and anyway also Jews from Judea were mixed not only from the Sea Peoples time but also from the Ellenistic period. I falsified all the presumed Jewish lines I examined, not only of the “European” lines but also of the presumed Levantine hg J.

  3. Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish people, denies that), and anyway also Jews from Judea were mixed not only from the Sea Peoples time but also from the Ellenistic period.

    this is false. that is all.

  4. What is “false”, please? Already hg J probably entered the Levant with the 4200 YBP event, no hg J has been found there before 3600 years ago, probably a charioteer from Sintashta linked to Mitanni.That the Sea Peoples and the Philishtim carried hgs from the Aegean sea (but of course I think that many peoples were linked to Italy) is demonstrated. During the Ashmoneans many Ellenistic people were converted etc etc. If you are referring to the book of Shlomo Sand, Matai ve-ech humza ha-‘am ha-Yehudi, that I read and reviewd in 2009, you should know that he is a Jew against the Zionists and for two peoples two states solution, and for what I know he left Israel. Are you sure that your position isn’t linked to the Zionist America?

  5. What Substack and your other posts add, more than anything is the courage to look at the data and to embed it into a plausible narrative that generally isn’t available in the published scientific journal articles even though the authors clearly are working from unstated narratives of this kind that they don’t really put out there in plain form to critique.

    Book length educated layman treatments do make these kinds of efforts but are inevitably starting to overlook the latest data when they are published and are often further out of date with the state of the art data by the time one actually gets around to reading it.

    This is a valuable contribution that is appreciated.

  6. OT but “Confucius and the Whistleblower” attributes to Confucius a very similar approach to the one dictate by the Model Rules of Professional Conduct 1.13 for lawyers (adopted exactly or with minor variation in every U.S. jurisdiction) in cases where a lawyer working for an entity client discovers impropriety in the organization. See

  7. Are you sure that your position isn’t linked to the Zionist America?

    Cripes! Everything you need to know about this guy in one sentence.

  8. I wrote also more than one line:
    La mia lotta
    What has been understood of what is happening by the numerous commentators? I think very little, only the surface. Only those who have spent their lives wondering about these problems, and in the last 15 years of population genetics, perhaps have understood something. Here we are dealing with an “identity” problem. For Russia, Ukraine is essential, because it means the denial of a common origin, the loss of a part of oneself that cannot be renounced under penalty of the very loss of oneself. And this already in a multi-ethnic and multilingual empire (someone boasted a few days ago of the presence in Russia of 130 ethnic groups), but this is already a difficult balance, which China promises not to run through the struggle (assimilation or extermination) of more distant ethnic groups (Uighurs and Tibetans), hoping that the closest ones do not come to a “betrayal” as between Ukrainians and Russians. On the other hand, even the imperialist America, after the extermination of entire indigenous peoples and the attempted, and partly successful, assimilation of waves of immigrants from all over the world, begins to doubt that it can still exist under centrifugal forces and maintain dominance of the “whites”. The Jew in this sense is the greatest danger, because he has never assimilated himself, so much not only that he seeks his genetic origin from Abraham which is denied by the facts (and by me, but not by them) and has always been an element of disintegration in all societies. Even the Communists of the USSR tried to assign them a territory, but they wanted Israel, because their identity was there, not Uganda or any other territory nor the Autonomous Republic of Jews in Siberia itself, and for this they did not hesitate with the control of finance and seigniorage to unleash all the wars of recent centuries, including this one.
    This is why I say: Delenda Carthago. The Roman Empire dissolved and its continuity in the neo-Latin languages and genetics remains present in these peoples in a less bloody way. The Romans suffered from the lack of Putin’s Satan 2, they could not do anything else, but Putin has them and I have no doubt that, if necessary, he will use them.
    I have experienced firsthand all the research, passion and suffering of Barbara Ann Lewis in seeking her true origin as an “adopted”, and the fact that she is genetically 100% Italian like me after a century of emigration and mixing does not change the fact that she is now “American”, to all intents and purposes. Her presence, and millions of others like her, does not make me wish that Putin will raze that country, which, if it were not for her and those like her, I would hope and with great satisfaction, because that country is precisely the emblem of the melting pot under the control of finance, largely Zionist, and I have already declared that for me this is not the best of all possible worlds, as I think we must do everything, even up to the nuclear holocaust, in order not to reserve the Europe that Afro-Islamic hell that Jews willingly wish for, because for them it means keeping “their” identity, but not ours.

  9. Both my parents were tested by 23andMe. My father is Ashkenazi. He was born in Slovakia and his ancestors were from western Slovakia and Moravia. His ancestry report says that he is 99.1% Ashkenazi Jewish (and strangely 0.7% Egyptian(!)). His haplogroups are J-L70 (paternal) and J1c1 (maternal).
    My mother was born in Greece. The majority of Greek Jewry was Sephardi, who came to Greece after being expelled from Spain and Portugal in the late 15th century. However, her family claimed to be Marionetes (Jewish community that supposedly arrived in Greece from Italy earlier after the fall of the western Roman empire). Their birth places and the fact that they did not speak Ladino (a Jewish Spanish dialect) corroborate their claim. Her ancestry report:
    28.7%: South Italian.
    21.2%: broadly Western Asian & North African.
    17.6%: Ashkenazi.
    13.5%: Arab, Egyptian & Levantine.
    9.5%: Northern West Asian.
    4.8%: broadly European.
    2.4%: broadly Southern European.
    0.8%: Greek & Balkan.
    Her maternal haplogroup is N1b2, which is common among Ashkenazi.
    The fact that there is no specific Iberian component supports the Marionete ancestry theory.
    In my genealogical research of both sides of my family, I couldn’t find any sign of non-Jewish ancestry in the previous 4-5 generations.
    I was not expecting 23andMe to have a model of Marionete Jews. I even doubt that they have a Sephardi Jewish category. (Furthermore, there is a confusion about what is Sephardi.)
    I was always wondering whether my father’s Ashkenazi ancestry would have had a similar breakdown (with some other components obviously) if 23andMe did not put him under the umbrella of Ashkenazi Jewish.

  10. [english may be your second language but the way you are speaking is going to sound antisemitic. please be more cautious in the future -razib]

  11. During the Middle ages, tolerance for Jewish groups in south Italy had come to an end. Catholic hostility facilitated the dispersal of Jews to northern areas, ultimately towards Germany and Poland.


    “Toleration of the Jews in Apulia came to end when Apulia, as well as other parts of southern Italy, fell to the Kingdom of Naples. King Charles II of Anjou ordered the forced baptism of all Jews in his realm. Many Apulian Jews fled to neighboring central Italy and northern Italy. Many also moved to the Germanic areas of central Europe…
    By 1540, the last expulsion finally ended Jewish life in Apulia. Most remaining Crypto-Jews were driven so deep underground that their presence finally came to an end as well. Some of the Apulian Jewish refugees fled north. However, most of them settled in Greece or the Aegean islands. The Apulian Jews set up new congregations in Corfu, Arta and Salonika. Sadly, the last remnants of the Apulian Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.[3][4]”

  12. @giolello “Imperial roman” ancestry is a non-qualifier. If you read Antonio et. al 2019, they breakdown the various groups by haplotype-sharing, C1 thru C7. Read Raveane et al. 2022 and Sarno et al 2021. You will see that it is likely C6 may have developed locally in the south and south-east prior to the Imperial era. With a main component being similar to Minoans. No doubt re-enforced and maintained by Greek colonies later on in history.

  13. ״Imagine that 23andMe told its Jewish customers that they were 45.3% Northern Levantine, 40% Southwest European, and 9.7% Northern European״

    Well since I am Sefaradi that’s exactly what I got (not the same numbers of course) from them.

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