Open Thread, 08/14/2018

Weekly book recommendation, Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium.

V. S. Naipaul has died. I never read his fiction. Perhaps I should. Suggestions? People always talk about A House for Mr. Biswas.

Genome-wide polygenic scores for common diseases identify individuals with risk equivalent to monogenic mutations. ” We propose that it is time to contemplate the inclusion of polygenic risk prediction in clinical care, and discuss relevant issues.” Totally honestly, this is happening way faster than I had assumed it would.

Relatedness disequilibrium regression estimates heritability without environmental bias. A blog post on the topic: Relatedness disequilibrium regression explained.

Large-scale whole-genome sequencing of three diverse Asian populations in Singapore. Han (Southern) Chinese, Malays, and Indians (mostly Tamil).

Can Amazon Maintain the Spirit of ‘The Lord of the Rings’? I doubt it. One thing to remember is that George R. R. Martin was a screenwriter in Hollywood for a period. His writing is a more natural translation to modern visual media.

Only the Truth Will Prevent Harm. Sarah Haider. Enough said.

Deep Reads: How I learnt to love population genetics.

Important preprint. Expected patterns of local ancestry in a hybrid zone.

Salt and heart disease: a second round of “bad science”?

Last year, The Witchwood Crown was published. Haven’t read it. Any good?

Open thread, 08/06/2018

In light of the recommendation of F. W. Motte’s Imperial China: 900-1800, I thought it would be useful to reiterate a minimal set of other books that are important in my intellectual development in relation to the history of China.

The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han. You need to start at the beginning, and this is that. To be fair, the Spring and Autumn period were a pretty big deal too, but I think a lot of their insights were distilled into what we see in the Qin-Han era. The Zhou and Shang are so distant that I’m not sure a real history could be written, as opposed to analysis of myth and archaeology (especially for the Shang).

China between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties. The period between the fall of the (Later/Eastern) Han and the rise of the Sui-Tang lasted many centuries. There wasn’t a precedent yet truly for the revival of a unitary Chinese state during this period. So a lot of cultural and political issues got hashed out over these 300+ years. Buddhism became a major cultural force, and the social and political fabric of Tang dynasty was stitched together (the Tang were a Han-Xianbei cultural mix, for example).

There are many histories of the Tang, which has a particular appeal in the modern era, but I like China’s Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty. For the more ambitious, I think S. A. M. Adshead’s T’ang China: The Rise of the East in World History is worth a read (this is expensive, so find a good library!).

The Age of Confucian Rule: The Song Transformation of China. Compared to the Tang the Song seem a bit dull, but a lot that defines modern China has its roots in this period, and not the Tang (which was somewhat atypical). For example, the meritocratic bureaucracy really got ingrained during the Song (though it has roots in the Han).

The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties. The title says it all. We’re coming into early modernity here.

And finally, China’s Last Empire: The Great Qing. These are the Manchus.

If you are wary of diving in headfirst, then I suggest John Keay’s book on China, but do not stop there. Keay is more conversant in the history and peoples of South Asia, so it’s not just best work in terms of thoroughness.

Why does any of this matter? First, because China matters to non-Sinologists in the 21st century, like the United States mattered to non-Americans in the 20th. That’s just a plain fact. It matters for the future. Second, if you take an interest in the human past China is a large proportion of that past. If you don’t know Chinese history, don’t talk to me about knowing history (similarly, you should know the history of the Near East and the Classical West, at a minimum, to really express an opinion to me about history in a broad sense and be taken seriously by me).

I would be interested in a recommendation on modern Chinese history, perhaps dating to after 1800. Someone besides Spence. And then also something on the Spring-Autumn period.

For a while I’ve been saying the new Rakhigarhi paper is going to be over-hyped in relation to what the science will tell us. The reason I say this is that The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia really hit the major points in broad-strokes already. But in India Rakhigarhi is going to be a huge deal because:

1) it is a site in the Republic of India
2) it is from the mature Harappan phase

The results will confirm some beliefs, but it’s not a game-changer. A game-changer would be if we found someone who was half Corded-Ware in genetic ancestry from India in 2250 BC. Ultimately a lot of ancient DNA will probably come online in India over the next few years (hopefully?), and then the real action of mapping the details will begin. That’s exciting.

The Genomic Basis of Arthropod Diversity. This is a big preprint and a big deal.

Population size history from short genomic scaffolds: how short is too short?

I’ve started using my Facebook Page (as opposed to Profile). Mostly I’m going to use it push my content.

Workplace Wellness Programs Don’t Work Well. Why Some Studies Show Otherwise. Randomized controlled trials, despite their flaws, remain a powerful tool.

On Sarah Jeong. People need to never forget that NYC-DC elite journalists are a class. Their defense of her is a defense of their class interests. She’s a friend or acquaintance, and her social and political views, and writing style align with their own (or the writing they’d like to do more in public). Of course they are going to have her back and interpret everything she says charitably. She’s “their kind of people.” Someone like Protagoras, eh, I mean Jeet Heer, is inevitably going to tweet-storm about “contextualizing” her offensive statements.

Once you view elite national journalism as the voice of a self-interested class, as opposed to disinterested reportage, then it all makes sense.

Here’s Why It’s So Impossible to Get Reliable Diet Advice From the News. You should know all this. If you don’t, read it closely. It’s pretty obvious.

Mitochondrial genomes reveal an east to west cline of steppe ancestry in Corded Ware populations. No surprise. Men on the move.

The fitness consequences of genetic variation in wild populations of mice. The Hoekstra lab is producing work in evolutionary biology that is always worth keeping track of.

Genetic draft and valley crossing. You had me at draft, but I want to marry you at “valley crossing.”

How Sexually Dimorphic Are Human Mate Preferences? The blogger and twitter named “Yeyo” (the new one is a fake) raised my consciousness to the fact that in terms of upper body muscle mass human males and females are extremely dimorphic.

On Twitter, I joked that people should send me money via Paypal as recompense for my “emotional labor” as a PoC who has to educated people. No one sent me money. #whitePeopleAreRacistForReal! If you are an anti-racist white person who reads my blog, you should send me money, or you are a racist! How do you feel when you read about Cameron Whitten’s shakedowns of white liberals? I think they’re hilarious, and more power to him. He’s a total con artist, but I would appreciate these people going broke.

Open Thread, 07/29/2018

Reading Imperial China 900–1800 it is interesting how the Khitan seem to have chosen to develop a written script that was not based on that of the Chinese, to resist the cultural assimilation that would have inevitably occurred. Through that choice they reduced their short-term efficiency, but probably enabled their long-term persistence as a people. Certainly the Khitan seem to have remained less Sinicized on the eve of Jurchen conquest than the Jurchen were on the eve of the Mongol conquest (though the Jurchen conquered North China, so they had a bigger demographic imbalance). That the Khitan continued their nomadic ways is clear as they managed to reassemble to the west and found the Qara-Khitai. The Manchu descendants of the Jurchen who conquered China seem to have been thoroughly Sinicized after a few centuries as well.

GET20 still gets your 20% off

DNAGeeks going “full nerd”. If you don’t know why UGA is funny, learn some genetics! Trust me, it’s good for you. Look how I turned out. (also, shout out to the Poles who bought an R1a t-shirt!)

Last Friday for whatever reason I watched Mission Impossible: Fallout. I don’t really watch films except for Marvel and DCEU stuff (I need to keep up with the culture). But I was in the mood, and I hadn’t watched a Mission Impossible since the 1996 one. Apparently Tom Cruise is really into parkour. And though Cruise has aged really well, so has Michelle Monaghan. At least Ving Rhames is still around.

I used to listen to Chapo Trap House now and then. Still do now and then. There is some stuff I agree with, some stuff I don’t agree with that I think needs to be said, and, they are often kind of funny. But unless you are on the same political wavelength I think they do get a little stale, because they’ve got an agenda, and they need to keep revisiting the same themes. It’s a feature, not a bug.

But listen below where they contextualize the “supposed crimes” of Communism:

The issue isn’t that avowed socialists are engaging in whataboutism in relation to Communism. That’s kind of what I expect. It’s that Chapo Trap House is still part of the respectable broader Left to center-Left cultural Zeitgeist. And they’re contextualizing literal Communism.

This is the sort of stuff that pisses conservatives off whenever we point out double-standards of respectability of radical Left politics as opposed to the radical Right. If someone contextualized Nazism as a reaction to Versailles and hyper-inflation they’d be de-platformed in a second. Meanwhile, Chapo pulls in $100,000 per month on Patreon.

A special treat this week on The Insight (Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Google Play). We talked with James Lee, lead author of Gene discovery and polygenic prediction from a genome-wide association study of educational attainment in 1.1 million individuals. In the next few months, we have at least one more interview relating to behavior genomics work. This is a field where stuff is happening.

Though I hope ancient DNA will start popping back up in the fall. The rest of the world needs to be explored.

Big Pharma Would Like Your DNA: 23andMe’s $300 million deal with GlaxoSmithKline is just the tip of the iceberg. This was always the plan.

Out of Africa by spontaneous migration waves. Not sure if I buy this model, but we’re at more model-building stage.

A Large Body of Water on Mars Is Detected, Raising the Potential for Alien Life. This is cool.

Episode 856: Yes In My Backyard. I relate to the NIMBY activist. It’s a generational and local vs. migrant issue. Not a typical class one.

I’ve been asked to submit a chapter on a book on Indian genetics, primarily relating to the “Aryan question.” I’ve gotten most of it written, but it’s really annoying to have to wait until the Rakhigarhi preprint/paper is out. The general finding will be no surprise to a reader of this weblog. Don’t think it will be published in the USA. Perhaps I’ll post the draft at some point if the copyright allows.

Replicability of introgression under linked, polygenic selection. “Our work suggests that even highly replicable substitutions may be associated with a range of selective effects, which makes it challenging to fine map the causal loci that underlie polygenic adaptation.”

Open Thread, 07/23/2018

Sale Code: GET20

Doing a Summer Sale at DNAGeeks, 20% off with the GET20 code. I believe GNXP-helix themed stuff is still the most consistent/popular item.

Reading T. N. Ninian’s Turn of the Tortoise: The Challenge and Promise of India’s Future. It’s a relatively dry book with an academic orientation. No complaint from me. So far the most interesting, and unfortunate, thing I’ve learned is that Indian men will take a 50% pay cut to work in a white-collar as opposed to blue-collar manufacturing job. Ninan contends that this may be due to caste aversion to manual labor. Men who have lower-paying white-collar jobs have better marriage prospects than those who have higher-paying blue-collar jobs.

James Gunn Fired From ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Franchise Over Offensive Tweets. I’ve seen some people suggesting that you need to evaluate the “whole person” and that “people grow.” These are almost always the same people who gleefully crucify anyone to the Right of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for anything they’ve ever said in any context. I see no end to this cyber-Maoism until cultural “mutually assured destruction” becomes reality. To maintain civilization we must be barbarians!

Someone on Twitter suggested replacing libraries with bookstores and Amazon. This elicited outrage. I have opinions on this because I’m confident that among the population I’ve been a top 1% utilizer of libraries over my lifetime. I’ve seen slowly as libraries transform from book repositories to internet access portals and community centers. But, a minority of the population using the library is still using it for books.

And of that minority, many are nerdy kids for whom the library is a window upon the whole world. True, the internet is great, but the internet is broad and shallow. The minority of overutilizers of the book lending function of the library probably make a big impact in other ways later on in their life.

Before the age of 12, I probably had my parents buy me about a half a dozen books, ever. I bought more as a teen, and as an adult, I probably buy/purchased half the books I’ve read. This is a “think of the children” issue. Libraries are distribution centers for essential free “gateway drugs” of cognition. Not for most. But for those who care.

Last week on Secular Right I wrote On the semiotics of secularism and nakedness of village atheism in the culture war. As I told a friend of mine, people were tweeting almost word-for-word the exact same Islamophilic sentiments in the Left-progressive Twittersphere (he was one of them). Reactions to Richard Dawkins have become tribal measuring sticks. It’s tiresome for many apostates from the Islamic religion. Most Left-progressives don’t care about Islam or Muslims that much. They just care that they’re “tolerant” and follow their crowd as to who is, and isn’t, marginalized (1.8 billion Muslims, marginalized!).

Sexual Dichromatism Drives Diversification Within a Major Radiation of African Amphibians.

If you liked the Stuart Ritchie podcast from a few months back, you need to listen this week. If you subscribed I don’t need to remind you. Also, if you are subscribed to my total content RSS or follow my “gnxp posts” Twitter, you know I’ve been pushing my work-blog content into those feeds now (since people keep complaining that they’re missing them). Initially, I kept my work-blogs more “lay-friendly,” and they are still more soft-touch than the stuff I put here, but I’ve noticed that the more technical one still get shared a lot. I’ll have a write-up of a paper that’s going to be quite big (mega-sample size) out on the work-blog this week.

Looks like a justification for the two-fold cost of sex (the male part):

Inferring Continuous and Discrete Population Genetic Structure Across Space. This was out as a preprint a while back. These issues require more thought than people in pop-genomics have been doing.

Here’s What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Super Hot Peppers.

Neandertal fire-making technology inferred from microwear analysis.

Black American Culture and the Racial Wealth Gap:

… Consistent with the Nielsen data, they found that blacks with comparable incomes to whites spent 17 percent less on education, and 32 percent more (an extra $2300 per year in 2005 dollars) on ‘visible goods’—defined as cars, jewelry, and clothes….

Next, they asked if education accounted for the differences in financial habits by limiting the comparison to middle-aged families with advanced degrees. Surprisingly, they found that the racial gap in financial health-scores didn’t shrink; it widened. Highly-educated Asian families scored 3.49, comparable whites scored 3.38, comparable Hispanics scored 2.94, and comparable blacks remained far behind at 2.66. Thus, the study authors concluded, neither “periodic shortages of time or money” nor “lower educational attainment” were the driving forces behind the differences in financial decision-making.

Elizabeth Holmes’ Downfall Has Been Explained Deeply-By Men. The author of this Wired piece is Virginia Heffernan, who I know for having an impeccable pedigree, but whose writings are substantively often total tripe. Heffernan, who has a Ph.D. in English from Harvard, once wrote a weird piece titled Why I’m a creationist, which begins “As a child I fell in love with technology, but I have to admit I never fell in love with science.”

In any case, Holmes’ case is clearly one where a person from a upper-class WASP background with Stanford connections leveraged all that into a lot of money. Heffernan’s attempt to transform it into a gendered issue is totally predictable, but also incredibly reductive.

New criteria for sympatric speciation in the genomic era.

Gene expression drives the evolution of dominance. Old debates made new.

Nathan Lents’ new book, Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes, looks interesting. Here’s a write-up by Lents’ in Skeptic.

Though I do wonder if Creationism as a cultural force has lost some steam. After all, conservative Protestants are probably more worried about their catastrophic losses in the culture wars right now than somewhat abstruse meta-scientific questions. I mean, I have more Twitter followers than The Discovery Institute!

If you want to analyze Tibetan genotypes, I converted some files I found in the Jorde lab website to plink. It has an OK overlap with HGDP.

What podcasts do you listen to?

Also, the India ancient DNA story should get a major breakthrough within the next week or so. “Watch this space” and all that.

Open Thread, 07/17/2018

History of Japan: Revised Edition. As I said, a pretty good and short history. Recommended.

CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing scissors are less accurate than we thought, but there are fixes. I know the focus is on human genetics. And rightly so. But this isn’t going to be as much of an issue in animal and plant breeding.

Patterns of speciation and parallel genetic evolution under adaptation from standing variation.

Genome-wide analysis in UK Biobank identifies over 100 QTLs associated with muscle mass variability in middle age individuals.

Amazon told me R for Everyone: Advanced Analytics and Graphics was on sale. Great. But I already own it. That being said, I can tell you it’s a pretty good book.

Genome doubling shapes the evolution and prognosis of advanced cancers.

Against Moral Equivalence. “The talking heads trafficking in examples of U.S. interference neglect to mention that the goal of American policy has always been to prop up anti-totalitarian, pro-market leaders.” I dislike the tendency of American conservatism to conflate anti-authoritarian and pro-market. The two are distinct (I’m pro-market for what it’s worth, but capitalism is amoral, even though it leads to greater human well-being).

Large randomized controlled trial finds state pre-k program has adverse effects on academic achievement.

Archaeobotanical evidence reveals the origins of bread 14,400 years ago in northeastern Jordan.

Confronting Implicit Bias in the New York Police Department. Implicit bias stuff is sketchy science. But people want solutions for social problems.

How Social Science Might Be Misunderstanding Conservatives. I got introduced to the “authoritarian personality” in college. I didn’t think much about it, but over the years it seemed pretty clearly a bit rigged. But whatever. Then I read The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950. That’s where it comes from. Enough said, right?

Tides of History is a great podcast. Now Patrick Wyman is talking about the “Hundred Years War.”

Should I post “open threads” anymore? It seems that the number of comments keeps dropping. Really “everything” is moving to Twitter nowadays though Twitter is a wasteland.

A “carvaka” perspective historicity of myth and religion. A long post on Brown Pundits by me. Was asked once why I post there and not here, and why here and not there. 45% of the readers of that weblog are from Indian IPs. 5% here. About twice as much traffic here, but much more engagement there (bounce rate 70% vs. 40%).

Open Thread, 07/09/2018

My review of The University We Need: Reforming American Higher Education is up at National Review Online (it’s already posted to my total content feed). The book’s publication date is tomorrow.

A  review can only pack in so many things. So if there is something missing that seems obvious, it’s probably something that I cut in the interest of space (e.g., the author is not a fan of the emphasis on football and such at many universities, but I didn’t touch on that in the review). The University We Need is a short book, but it’s very dense in ideas and suggestions. Unfortunately, comments on NRO and Twitter indicate many people haven’t really read the review, so they won’t read the book.

Surely one reason I enjoyed the book is that the author is someone with whom I’m coincidently on the same wavelength. I first encountered his work nearly twenty years ago, when I read A History of the Byzantine State and Society, a ~1,000-page survey of the topic. In many ways a scholarly “core dump”, it has stood me in good stead all these years. But at the time I was totally unaware that the author, Warren Treadgold, and I shared broadly similar politics in the grand scheme of things. That is, we were intellectually oriented people who were also not on the Left.

I don’t consider myself a conservative intellectual. I’m just an intellectual who happens to be conservative because the Left terrifies me (I have real personal reasons!). Treadgold’s work similarly is not informed by him being a conservative intellectual. Rather, he’s a scholar whose views default to the Right as opposed to the center or Left because of where the dominant tendency in academia today is.

I’m currently reading A History of Japan. I think I’m getting stale and predictable. I read John Keay’s Midnight’s Descendants: A History of South Asia since Partition really quickly a few weeks ago. Need to move out beyond my tendency of reading long histories and lots of genetics papers.

I have a stack of books on cognitive psychology and cultural evolution I need to get through, though I think papers are probably more useful in the latter area, since I’ve read a fair number of books already on this topic (e.g., Cultural Evolution: How Darwinian Theory Can Explain Human Culture and Synthesize the Social Sciences).

Speaking of psychology, there are some really good podcasts in that field out. Part of it is there is so much to talk about with the replication crisis. I really enjoyed Two Psychologists Four Beers, for example. Though not surprisingly they sort of still mischaracterize the views and issues of conservatives or non-liberals in academia…there are so few who are “out” and vocal with their politically normal colleagues that people just don’t know what’s going on in their heads and it’s easy to mischaracterize.

This is the week when you follow the #SMBE2018 hashtag on Twitter. I assume a lot of papers are going to come out in the next few weeks after people present at SMBE.

Estimating recent migration and population size surfaces. This seems important. Definitely going to read.

How eliminating the ‘kill box’ turned Mosul into a meat-grinder.

Genetic analysis of social-class mobility in five longitudinal studies.

Male homosexuality and maternal immune responsivity to the Y-linked protein NLGN4Y.

Hung out with Stuart Ritchie this week. Still recommend his book, Intelligence: All That Matters.

There was some discussion on ancient DNA and archaeology on Twitter. Has ancient DNA changed everything? Or not?

First, I think it’s important to acknowledge that many of the models which have emerged out of ancient DNA are resurrections of older anthropological, archaeological, and historical frameworks, which emphasize migration. But these were long dismissed within many of these fields. Like David Reich in Who We Are and How We Got Here I believe that there was a political rationale for this. As someone who has read deeply in paleoanthropology and history for twenty years, I reject the idea that ancient DNA is actually not that revolutionary because I remember what passed as conventional wisdom 10-20 years ago.

Open Thread, 07/01/2018

Thanks to everyone for getting us above 100+ reviews. Would be nice to have more than 10 reviews on Stitcher.

War! What Is It Good For? is a good book. Though it’s really more about social complexity than inter-group conflict. In this way, there are obvious resemblances to Ultrasociety. If you really want to read about war, War in Human Civilization is the way to go.

The decline in South Asian poverty.

The World Bank. Lots of interesting research on that website.

Happy birthday America!

Open Thread, 6/24/2018

I recently read John Keay’s Midnight’s Descendants: A History of South Asia since Partition. No particular reason. But I’ve read earlier books on the history of India and China and I sort of wanted to fill a hole in my knowledge. I would recommend it if you don’t know much about this period and place. It’s probably somewhat important in the future.

Thanks to all the readers of this weblog who have given iTunes ratings to my podcast. We’re almost to 100 ratings, so you won’t be hearing me go on and on about it.

Though speaking of the podcast, we’re going to talk to Ian Morris, author of War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots, soon. So subscribe now.

Erdogan’s Election Win Gives Him Vastly Expanded Powers in Turkey.

The Trailer for The Man Who Unlocked the Universe Is a Gorgeous Mixture of Science and Action. This looks like a good complement to Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane.

It’s curious how many Central Asian warlords were patrons of culture. Mahmud of Ghazni, for example, supported Ferdowsi.

Just found out that Reihan has a new book out this fall, Melting Pot or Civil War?: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders.

Demographic inference in a spatially-explicit ecological model from genomic data: a proof of concept for the Mojave Desert Tortoise.

Bangladesh’s Secular Bloggers: Risking Their Lives for Freedom. A lot of atheist podcasts aren’t really “edgy” anymore. The Secular Jihadists is an exception.

Evolution of correlated complexity in the radically different courtship signals of birds-of-paradise.

The citizen scientist who finds killers from her couch.

Human demographic history has amplified the effects of background selection across the genome.

Open Thread, 6/20/2018

I try to limit the shilling, but since readers of this weblog know what this means: Helix has a sale on kits until the end of the month. The three Insitome products can be purchased for app-only cost ($29.99) as an entrance into the ecosystem. In other words, for $29.99 you can get millions of markers in your exome sequenced, as well as some positions in the rest of your genome. Helix keeps the data, but there will be no kit cost if you see a future app that you want to purchase.

* Regional Ancestry
* Metabolism
* Neanderthal

If you are not subscribed to my total feed, you might not know that my review of She Has Her Mother’s Laugh went up at National Review Online. One thing that I’ve reiterated: it’s a very big book. A single review can’t really cover many aspects of what Carl touches on, and unfortunately even during the podcast I didn’t get to chimeras.

We’re almost at 100 reviews on iTunes on 10 on Sticher. I’ll stop bugging when we reach those milestones.

It’s been obvious to me that more and more people are protecting their Twitter accounts. Instead of a conversation the platform is about snooping on blow-ups and controversies.

In rapidly adapting asexuals, the orientation of G can reflect selection rather than functional constraints. Evolutionary, population, and quantitative genetics have been long-term interests of mine, so I love stuff like this. Adding a little genomics would be even better.

The most important study of the Mediterranean diet has been retracted and The collapse of a $40 million nutrition science crusade. Basically, it seems you should just eat what you want. Probably avoid processed food and trans-fats.

Diverse haplotypes span human centromeres and include archaic lineages within and out of Africa. Centromeres are crazy.

Harvard Office of Institutional Research on Discrimination Against Asian-American Applicants. I will blog about this at some point…and I’ve been making semi-serious/jokey tweets. But people are probably not clear on my “position.” My main irritation about Harvard is the extent of the doublethink that they get away with. Drew Gilpin Faust’s pablum about inclusion and diversity being central values at Harvard is a classic “Shaggy defense”. Faust helms a finishing school for the overclass, and as such accepts the necessity of discrimination when it comes to anointing future overlords. Some hypocrisy is necessary for the ruling caste, but the juxtaposition between “neoliberal” reality of what Harvard is, and the “progressive” rhetoric of it presents to the gullible and ignorant public, is starting to become indecent.

Speaking of overclass, Tim Draper is a third generation member of the capital class, and still defends Elizabeth Holmes.

With tantalizing early results, Sarepta’s gene therapy for Duchenne raises hopes for ‘real change’.

Close inbreeding and low genetic diversity in Inner Asian human populations despite geographical exogamy.

Genetic ancestry and population differences in levels of inflammatory cytokines in women: Role for evolutionary selection and environmental factors.

Population Genomics blog. The author is Chad Rohlfsen.

Re-identification of genomic data using long range familial searches.

Inference of species histories in the presence of gene flow.

How Much Does Education Improve Intelligence? A Meta-Analysis. It’s probably time to start reviewing stuff on psychometrics. The Ian Deary book is pretty good.

Open Thread, 06/11/2018

A few years ago a reader sent me a copy of Edward Feser’s Five Proofs of the Existence of God. Though I haven’t read that book, I did read a substantial proportion of Feser’s Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide on a plane trip recently. I’m not a big believer in whole-hog Thomism, but I’ve read some Aquinas before and always admired his incredible intellect. Feser’s treatment seems to be a good introduction to that.

So a friend emailed me and wondered why I’m so hard on R.A. Fisher. To be honest the number one reason is that his own daughter seems to have written a rather unflattering biography when it comes to his personal temperament. That being said, let me pass on E. B. Ford’s R. A. Fisher: An Appreciation.

When it comes to any individual it’s easy to be at some remove from a situation and pass on lies because you don’t know any better. It has certainly happened to me.

Which brings me to what’s happened to someone named Wajahat Ali. He’s a Muslim American (Pakistani) public intellectual who has gotten in trouble with some Muslims because he violated some of the norms of BDS (though he never joined on with BDS as such, it’s become normative in many Muslim circles). To me, there are two curious aspects.

First, the general one that in some cultural milieus lies are very powerful, and became truth. If some people generate enough smoke, other people will assume there’s fire. It’s pretty obvious that the people accusing Ali of being an Islamophobe and Zionist-stooge are either liars or enthusiastic witch-burners. But there’s no huge penalty for making this stuff up, so only “upside” for the accusers.

It is also interesting that Ali contends that some people are finally standing up and admitting they know him, and all the accusations are lies, and they can’t listen to the lies any longer. The implication though is that these people were silent for a long while because they were afraid to stand by him when he was maligned unjustly.

A pretty honest commentary about our society today.

Second, Ali exposes the tacit racial hierarchy which is taken for granted in the Muslim American community. A few months ago a friend of mine who is a liberal (white) academic was saying some negative things about Hindu nationalism in relation to Islamophobia and wondered what Muslim students on campus would think about the tolerance that Hindu nationalist speakers are shown in the United States. My first thought: the only Muslims who care about Hindu nationalists are South Asians. Arabs probably don’t even know anything about Hindu nationalists.

The reality is there is one overwhelming concern of Muslim Americans, and that’s Palestine. To be entirely frank many Arab Muslims don’t give a shit what happens to South Asian Muslims. They’re not as callous to proactively not care. It’s just that it never really comes onto their radar. What matters to them is what is happening in the Middle East.

The converse is not true. South Asian Muslims care a great deal about Palestine. As they should: Arabs and Middle Eastern people, in general, are the center of Islam’s mental hierarchy. Not explicitly so. But implicitly, obviously. In general, Arabs will not listen to South or Southeast Asians, or black Africans tell them anything about Islam. In contrast, non-Arabs will listen to Arabs about Islam (Turks and Persians are a special case, and may not defer as much to Arabs).

Ali’s transgressions led to pretty straightforward observations he was being an uppity Pakistani who should leave Israel-Palestine to Arabs. He doesn’t seem to have been traumatized by this, but that’s because I assume he expected that that would happen. South Asians who don’t defer on these sorts of religious issues will be put back in their place. The mosque in New York I went to as a small child had an ethnic division of labor. The South Asians, mostly Pakistani and Indian doctors, provided funds when needed, and the Arabs ran the mosque and took on adult and childhood religious education.

What Really Happens in China’s ‘Re-education’ Camps. You probably know about the ethnic and religious targeting of Uighurs, and the fact that hundreds of thousands have been placed in re-education camps.

Back in the day, I used to read Tariq Ramadan’s books to get a sense of what intellectual Muslims think from a moderately conservative viewpoint. Today he stands accused of multiple rapes and admits that he had many affairs. The thing for me to reflect on is that I have no doubt that Ramadan believes in an all-powerful God. And yet he knowingly commits what he believes to be sin (extra-marital sex). And he may have raped women.

High-resolution comparative analysis of great ape genomes.

In to Asia. Lots of human evolution and paleoanthropology happened in Asia.

The Lifespan of a Lie: The most famous psychology study of all time was a sham. Why can’t we escape the Stanford Prison Experiment?

The expected time to cross extended fitness plateaus.

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