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Genetics

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Your blood group cannot reliably identify your ethnicity, your race ... or even your species. Credit:  Wikipedia Commons, Etan Tal
What sort of ideas will guide our elites twenty years from now? You can find out by observing university students, especially those in the humanities and social sciences. One popular idea is that race doesn't exist, except as a social construct. Its proponents include Eula Biss, a contributor to the New York Times Magazine: The... Read More
Who's making more babies? "Good boys" or "bad boys"? Originally, the good boys were, thanks to parental monitoring of relations between single men and single women. The pendulum then swung toward the bad boys in the 1940s, only to swing back after the 1960s. A recent Swedish study has found that "bad boys" are outbreeding... Read More
My weekly posts are now appearing on The Unz Review(http://www.unz.com/). By accepting Ron's invitation, I hope to reach a bigger audience and bring myself closer to other writers in the area of human biodiversity. When people work together, or simply alongside each other, minor differences can be ironed out and major differences narrowed or at... Read More
My second ebook has been published in the online journal Open Behavioral Genetics. PDF version Epub version The following is a copy of the Foreword: ****************************************************** Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza is a complex figure. On the one hand, he has publicly backed those who assert that human races do not exist. On the other hand, by... Read More
Inheritance of eye color doesn’t follow a simple Mendelian model. Although the blue-eye allele (C) is less dominant than the brown-eye allele (T), CT heterozygotes aren’t necessarily brown-eyed and CC homozygotes aren’t necessarily blue-eyed. Even TT homozygotes are sometimes blue-eyed. There is also a sex difference, with women having a more diverse palette of eye... Read More
Robert Plomin on the genetics of various mental traits (source) A Chinese research team is looking for genes that explain why IQ is higher in some people and lower in others: The head of the team, Zhao Bowen, believes this question has not be
Was the scientific revolution (1540-1700) due to an increase in trade and the discovery of the New World? Or were there just more people around who could understand and appreciate new ideas? (source) The past year has seen the deaths of two scholars who tackled the thorny issue of IQ and race, first Philippe Rushton... Read More
Ainu men and Ainu woman, 18th century painting by Kodama Sadayoshi (source) The Ainu of northern Japan have long been a puzzle. With their bushy beards, profuse body hair, large sunken eyes, and robust facial features, they look more European than East Asian. Yet genetic studies have shown no particular link to Europeans, at least... Read More
Publicly funded misinformation. Source: PBS website In human genetics, a ‘population’ is a group of individuals who share ancestry and hence genes. This sharing is not absolute. There is always some gene flow from outside, and sometimes “outside” means another species. We humans, for example, have received genes not only from Neanderthals and Denisovans but... Read More
A new article of mine has just appeared in the journal Futures. All comments are welcome. Abstract Most evolutionary psychologists share a belief in one key concept: the environment of evolutionary adaptedness (EEA), i.e., the ancestral environment that shaped the heritable mental and behavioral traits of present-day humans. It is usually placed in the African... Read More
French Canadian habitants playing at cards (Cornelius Krieghoff). With fewer British merchants than elsewhere, eastern Quebec was a land of opportunity for business-minded French Canadians. Did this selection affect the local gene pool? When discussion turns to Tay Sach’s, people automatically think of the Jewish community. Yet this inherited illness reaches high levels in other... Read More
Averaged face of blue-eyed male subjects (left). Averaged face of brown-eyed male subjects (right). Czech population. (Kleisner et al., 2010) If sexual selection of women diversified the eye color of early Europeans, the new colors should tend to be sex-linked, since the selection targeted women more than men. There is now evidence that blue eyes... Read More
“A chimpanzee’s ability to learn is drastically reduced upon reaching maturity. But baby chimps will eagerly mimic a human caretaker – sticking out their tongues, opening their mouth wide, or making their best effort at a kissy face.” (Geoff, 2009) A newborn creature will spend much time exploring its environment. As it comes to know... Read More
In the deer family, genetic variability is greater within some species than between some genera. Does Fst tell us what we think it tells us? At almost any genetic marker (blood types, serum proteins, enzymes, mtDNA, etc.), a typical gene varies much more within than between human populations. And this is true not only for... Read More
Tay-Sachs child. In the 1980s, there was concern that Tay-Sachs heterozygotes might be mentally handicapped to a lesser degree. What is the evidence that Tay-Sachs heterozygotes have higher-than-normal intelligence? To date, it is inferential. Ashkenazi Jews have unusually high incidences of several genetic diseases that have similar effects on neural tissue. Such “diseases” may have... Read More
Drinking from the wrong chalice? By his mid-40s, Michael Jackson had skin like parchment. The end of 2010 is drawing nigh, and the time has come to review my predictions from last year. Brain growth genes Back in 2005, it was found that human populations vary considerably at two genes, ASPM and microcephalin, that control... Read More
Spread of farming in Europe. Der Spiegel This recent Der Spiegel article has stirred up comment in the blogosphere (Hawks 2010, Khan 2010, Sailer 2010). It argues that Europeans do not descend from the reindeer hunters who once roamed the continent during the last ice age. Nor do they descend from the more recent hunter-fisher-gatherers... Read More
A composite map of human genetic variation appeared on the cover of Cavalli-Sforza’s tome The History and Geography of Human Genes (1994). With the sudden end to his work on gene-culture co-evolution, Cavalli-Sforza returned to population genetics. Actually, he had never left it. He had always been looking for new population data and adding it... Read More
Inuit man making a soapstone carving. The 1970s saw L.L. Cavalli-Sforza become a renowned human geneticist. His meteoric rise was made possible by two textbooks co-authored with Walter Bodmer: The Genetics of Human Populations (1971) and Genetics, Evolution, and Man (1976), as well as several joint articles in leading journals. Nonetheless, his collaboration with Bodmer... Read More
Walter Bodmer and Richard Lewontin at a conference, December 1965. American Philosophical Society collection The early 1970s saw two papers move the goalposts on race, first in academia and then throughout society. One was by Walter Bodmer and L.L. Cavalli-Sforza. The other was by a third geneticist, Richard Lewontin. Bodmer and Cavalli-Sforza (1970) conceded that... Read More
Sir Walter Bodmer in 1977. He wanted to shut down research on race and IQ but had no academic credibility in human genetics. Cavalli-Sforza supplied the missing credibility. The mid-1950s saw Cavalli-Sforza shift from bacteria to human subjects, with his studies of genetic drift in the villages of Italy’s Parma valley. In the mid-1960s, his... Read More
Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni) explaining Italian race science to a class of schoolchildren. La vita è bella What were Cavalli-Sforza’s initial views on race? The question does not come up in his publications before the 1960s, so we can only presume that his beliefs were like those of his peers, particularly Italian anthropologists. But just... Read More
Germ warfare was a priority for both Allied and Axis scientists. Was one of them a young L.L. Cavalli-Sforza? With an academic life spanning almost half a century, L.L. Cavalli-Sforza has become perhaps the foremost authority on human population genetics. He first entered this field in the early 1940s. As a medical student at the... Read More
Cavalli-Sforza with Kistler Prize (2002). The paths of Glory lead … Human Biology has interviewed Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, probably the best-known human geneticist (Manni, 2010). His worry? The growing rift between anthropology and biology: Why this retreat from biology? Ask almost any anthropologist. You’ll be told that there is much more genetic variation within human... Read More
How long have Europeans been in Europe? Clearly, their ancestors were not Neanderthals, except for an admixture of 1 to 4%. What about the modern humans who came about 35,000 years ago as hunter-gatherers? Or did they too die out? Were they replaced by Middle-Eastern farmers some 9,000 to 3,000 years ago? This is an... Read More
The online journal Evolutionary Psychology has published my article “The Roman State and genetic pacification.” The following is the abstract: Please feel free to offer your comments. Reference Frost, P. (2010). The Roman State and genetic pacification, Evolutionary Psychology, 8(3), 376-389, http://www.epjournal.n
Expansion of modern humans out of Africa and within Africa. Mellars (2006). When we discuss the origins of modern humans, the term ‘Out of Africa’ is a bit misleading. Our common ancestors came not from Africa as a whole but from a relatively small area somewhere in East Africa. Beginning around 80,000 years ago, this... Read More
Did the Neanderthal gene pool overlap with the modern human gene pool? In other words, are some modern humans genetically closer to some Neanderthals than they are to other modern humans? The answer is ‘yes’ if we look at individual DNA sequences, as shown in the first graph (above): Thus, the largest difference observed between... Read More
This year, look for advances in the following areas: Brain growth genes Back in 2005, it was found that human populations vary considerably at two genes, ASPM and microcephalin, that control the growth of brain tissue. The finding seemed to be ‘huge’ in its implications. Then, it all fizzled out. No correlation could be found... Read More
On December 6, 1989, a 25-year-old man walked into Montreal’s École polytechnique and murdered fourteen women. The event is still being debated … twenty years later. We know the immediate cause. The murderer, Marc Lépine, felt that places like the École polytechnique were training women to take jobs that had been mainly held by men... Read More
I once knew an African student who told me that his language had no words for “good” or “evil”. When the missionaries translated their materials into his language, they had to write “Jesus is beautiful” instead of “Jesus is good.” This sort of semantic evolution has occurred in all human languages. People have expressed new... Read More
Dienekes is arguing that Middle Eastern farmers demographically replaced Europe’s original population between 8,000 and 3,000 years ago. This argument seems to be proven by two recent papers that show no genetic continuity between Europe’s late hunter-gatherers and early farmers. The continent’s current gene pool seems to owe very little to the original Upper Paleolithic... Read More
Natural selection has altered at least 7% of our genome over the last 40 thousand years. And it has been doing so at an accelerating rate, particularly after agriculture replaced hunting and gathering less than ten thousand years ago. At that time, the rate of genetic change may have risen over a hundred-fold (Hawks et... Read More
One of the mysteries of anthropology is the reported presence of ‘blond’ Inuit in the western Canadian Arctic, specifically on and around Victoria Island. They were first noticed by the explorer Sir John Franklin and by Alaskan whalers. These impressions were confirmed by the anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson for Victoria Island and by the anthropologist Knud... Read More
Human genomics The Neanderthal genome will be fully sequenced. There will be no evidence of interbreeding with modern humans (although proponents of the multiregional model will remain unconvinced). By comparing this genome with ours, we may reconstruct the genome of archaic humans who lived almost a million years ago and who were ancestral to Neanderthals... Read More
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