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The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection

A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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 Razib Khan Archive
My Netflix account is going up in price from $7.99 to $9.99. They had warned this was going to happen. I don't use Netflix much, so I've wondered if I should cancel (I have Amazon video options through Amazon Prime too). I probably won't do so now, as it's really cheap. But I don't have... Read More
I have been very busy obviously. This is not a complaint, though I wish I could spend more time with my family. I do things professionally that I love. And, I'm well compensated for it. Many people are not in a similar situation. I don't have a major comment on the recent British vote aside... Read More
The chart is from an article in Nature. But the source is NHGRI. It illustrates that between 2008 and 2012 genomics as a field crushed Moore's law. Then there was a leveling off between 2012 and the middle of 2015. Illumina had a quasi-monopoly for that period and sequencing costs did not decrease too much.... Read More
There has been extensive discussion online about the fact that the character of Ramsay Bolton on the HBO television show Game of Thrones was irredeemably psychopathic, cruel, and so ghoulishly sadistic as to be a cartoon of evil. But as a reader of the books I've generally shrugged off these complaints, because the character is... Read More
The show runners of Game of Thrones (the HBO television which will actually complete its run under its original creators) admitted that they patterned part of the battle in yesterday's episode on the Battle of Cannae. This was obvious to me, as I was actually thinking that the Boltons were exhibiting something similar to the... Read More
The genetics of an early Neolithic pastoralist from the Zagros, Iran. The genetic structure of the world's first farmers. Busy at the Evolution Meeting.
Pregnancy has been socially gendered as feminine — New Real Peer Review (@RealPeerReview) June 14, 2016 If you aren't following the New Real Peer Review, you should. Endless enjoyment. What happened to the "old" Twitter account? The Daily Caller has an article about it, Social Justice Warriors Declare Battle On Colleague For Exposing Their... Read More
Vox has a post up, This comprehensive Targaryen family tree explains Game of Thrones' most complicated dynasty. I don't really know if the family tree explains much, but it's interesting. It does highlight two important dynamics which are probably important. The Targaryen's are notoriously inbred. The rationale for this is that their affinity with dragons... Read More
Just been notified that there's an update to Admixtools GitHub. Also, of interest to some: "This contains a public domain version of qpGraph, using the GNU subroutine library (gsl)." You can find example data the Reich lab website. (related note, also might check out Alicia Martin's GitHub, it has a lot of local ancestry stuff)
Pretty happy about the quality of comments on my post There Is No Exception in Islam. Compare to the quality of comments on the Reddit thread for the same post. Thanks to Shadi Hamid for pointing to the post on Twitter. One thing on comments. The space of things that someone knows about is finite.... Read More
The Wall Street Journal has a piece up, The Greek Hero at the Gym, which is adapted from a new book, Lift: Fitness Culture, from Naked Greeks and Acrobats to Jazzercise and Ninja Warriors. A lot of the argument seems straight out of the kind of things I've heard from friends involved in CrossFit. Much... Read More
years ago there was a famous exchange between Ben Affleck and Bill Maher & Sam Harris on the nature of Islam. In response I published a post titled "ISIS' Willing Executioners". The overall point was that Affleck's comments were not informed by the nature of Islam or Muslims, but broader political currents. As for his... Read More
Years ago I had a long phone conversation with a journalist about the origins and natural history of the red wolf. The reason was that I had casually mentioned that there was genetic evidence suggesting that the red wolf is a stabilized hybrid between gray wolfs and coyotes. That was 2007, if I recall correctly.... Read More
Reading Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road. It's a quick read. Not because it is not scholarly, it is scholarly. But unlike The Shape of Ancient Thought is relatively economical in its prose (to be fair, The Shape of Ancient Thought covers more ground). Also you probably benefit from reading Beckwith's Warriors of the... Read More
This isn't a good time to be into charismatic megafauna. Mostly due to habitation destruction the numbers are not going in the right direction. There has been a precipitous decline in the number of lions over the past 20 years. This is probably a good thing for rural Africans, but ideally I envisage a future... Read More
It all began in the hillocks to the north of the plains of modern Syria and Iraq. Agriculture that is. Or more precisely, the West Eurasian package which would wash all the way to the Atlantic, and deep into Eurasia, and in innumerable ways influence most human societies. The standard model until recently was that... Read More
The Monkey's Voyage is a book I've spotlighted before. Probably the main reason is that it highlights the importance of migration/dispersion on an evolutionary timescale. That is, change is the norm, and turnover is ubiquitous. The Tuatara is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to the biogeographic diversity of New Zealand. As I'm... Read More
Like you, I am waiting on the Rakhigarhi DNA results. Whatever they come back with is going to definitely impact the textbooks. But until then, I thought this paper in Scientific Reports was interesting (sort of), Oxygen isotope in archaeological bioapatites from India: Implications to climate change and decline of Bronze Age Harappan civilization. I... Read More
Years ago when I was noticing specific population genomic estimates I asked a friend about the confidence intervals, and how much to trust the values therein. One thing he mentioned offhand is that linkage disequilibrium based estimates of time since admixture often seem to give a relatively low figure in terms of generations. When it... Read More
One of the most surprising things that I encountered when reading The World of Ice & Fires is how many noble houses outside of the North still claim paternal descent from the First Men. Reading the books I had no idea the extent of it. For example, the Blackwood house of the Riverlands worship the... Read More
call the guy above "the rabbi of the geeks." The depth and nuance of his analyses are incredible. (I don't watch the non-GoT commentaries from him because I have no idea what he's talking about) I recently read Shadi Hamid's Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World. It's a quick read,... Read More
At the Eurogenes blog there has been a lot of analysis of South Asian genetic history in light of ancient DNA recently. Part of this is probably due to the fact that "Euro" genes (that is, the genetic history of European peoples) are now understood to be inextricably tied to demographic pulses and shifts which... Read More
In the comment thread below there was a lot of discussion about fantasy literature. This is a topic which I have some opinions, because when I consumed fiction regularly, it was mostly fantasy and science fiction (yes, I'm a nerd). The eruption of Game of Thrones into the popular culture space has brought this classic... Read More
The title is my response to this article in The Washington Post, Inequality might start before we're even born. The screenshot to the left is from Twitter, and shows an alternate title. The article is written by a journalist whose work I normally am appreciate of, but when I saw that I started swearing. There's... Read More
Interesting piece in The Wall Street Journal, which could have been cribbed from David Epstein's The Sports Gene (a very good book I might add), NBA Basketball Runs in the Family (if you go to Google News and search for the title it should come up and you can get a free copy): According to... Read More
The origin of the white walkers (GoT). Don't click the above unless you want a major book spoiler. But the television show Game of Thrones is pushing deep into uncharted territory. And by book spoiler, I don't mean the reveal about Hodor. Rather, the scene above reveals the origins of the Others, also known as... Read More
When I wrote the Pleistocene was humanity's Hyborian age, I meant humanity. For contingent reasons the new genetic sciences of ancient DNA have elucidated the history of northwest Eurasia first. But prior to the Great Divergence Europe was not quite so exceptional. In fact the historian Victor Lieberman wrote Strange Parallels, his macrohistory of Eurasia,... Read More
In the comments below it seems that most people don't know about the existence of Eurostat, and the NUTS2 and NUTS3 maps which they generate. They're really great, insofar as they give you a fine-grained picture of variation within Europe. Sometimes you see how national boundaries matter a great deal...and in other ways how they... Read More
Life has been busy. Very busy. The company I'm working for is ramping up on releasing in on the order of weeks, not months. We've already released results to a few early beta testers, and are taking reservations for orders (basically you are in the front of the line for notification when the orders... Read More
One of the most curious things to people is that siblings can vary a great deal in their traits. Sometimes, this is not simply due to environment. Height is a predominantly genetic characteristic in terms of its heritability within the population, but the correlation between siblings is only 0.50 in terms of the trait value.... Read More
The origins of Islam are fascinating, because the religion is critically important in the modern world, but its genesis within history is surprisingly vague for its first decades. Muslims have their own historiagraphy, and some Western historians, such as Hugh Kennedy transmit this narrative with high fidelity, albeit shorn of sectarian presuppositions and strongly leavened... Read More
Facts are important. But they can be inconvenient. Despite the stream of "think" pieces about "hookup culture" over the past decade there is no evidence that young people today are more promiscuous than in the past. In fact, on the contrary. Young people today are by most measures less promiscuous than past post-WW2 generations, in... Read More
I've joked on Twitter that one aim of conservatives should be to defund disciplines whose avowed goals are to espouse a particular ideological viewpoint. Of course "scholars" in those disciplines might dispute the characterization of their chosen fields in such a manner, but the reality is that that's how they roll. Conservative or moderate viewpoints... Read More
No time to comment. Yes, the hits with SNPs are cool. But look at all the functional associations and analysis in this paper! Some serious biology in this. The figure from the paper to the left which shows how the genes associated with this SNP hits are expressed in different tissue/types and organs. These are... Read More
Behold, Summer Institute in Social Science Genomics: The purpose of this two-week workshop is to introduce graduate students and beginning faculty in economics, sociology, psychology, statistics, genetics, and other disciplines to the methods of social-science genomics—the analysis of genomic data in social science research. The program will include interpretation and estimation of different concepts of... Read More
Went to see Captain America: Civil War yesterday at the Alamo Drafthouse. I don't watch many movies, and I'm not into comic books, but the Marvel films series is one I watch partly for cultural literacy (years ago I got tired of references to The Dark Knight, so I watched them just to get caught... Read More
Selection is one of the major parameters which population geneticists investigate. The easiest way to investigate selection is to have omniscience as to the change in allele frequencies over time. If you are a Drosophila geneticist this is feasible, as you control the reproduction of your model organism in the lab. It is obviously much... Read More
In my last post I drilled down on just a few of the results in the paper The genetic history of Ice Age Europe (ungated). There are many results which I didn't really explore, in particular, the finding that there seems to be a gradual decline in Neanderthal ancestry within European populations over time. That's... Read More
The map and chart above is from The genetic history of Ice Age Europe, a new paper in Nature from the Reich lab (the new data has been posted). It illustrates probably the major finding of the paper, using a ~40,000 year paleogenetic transect of 51 ancient DNA samples the authors conclude that there have... Read More
I've been very busy the past month. That being said, I made time to read The Monkey's Voyage. My main interest was driven by the fact that macroevolution and biogeography aren't scientific questions which I've focused much on lately. But, ultimately the book totally convinced me that vicariance doesn't explain much in terms of geographic... Read More
The New Yorker has a piece up, Same but Different: How epigenetics can blur the line between nature and nurture, which I think on the balance is pretty good. It introduces epigenetics to a broader audience in a manner that's more than just a catch-phrase, and, cautions that people shouldn't over-hype what is a legitimately... Read More
One of the strangest things I've read in a while in The Monkey's Voyage: What Nelson and Platnick were saying was that, if the evolutionary and tectonic patterns matched, one could infer that the human lineage-meaning people as people, not as porto-humans or tree-living apes or any more distant ancestor-extended back to 66 million years... Read More
My main gripe with Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism, is that I don't think individualism is a sui generis invention of Western civilization (the author, Larry Siedentop, gives particular pride of place to Western Christianity as the mother and midwife of liberal individualism). It's hard to generalize about human nature and history... Read More
I don't know where this recommendation occurred (on this blog, Twitter?), but The Monkey's Voyage: How Improbable Journeys Shaped the History of Life, is a very interesting book. Haven't had time to read much of it, but what I have read is fascinating. It seems to be one of those works which is taking a... Read More
When I was 13 years old I had a deep interest in America's national parks, so I have long been familiar with the ecology and conservation genetics work associated with Isle Royale. In particular, there has been a long-term study of the predator-prey dynamics on the island dating back decades. Before the recent resurgence of... Read More
I loaded my children's pedigree into DNA.LAND to get some better imputation (so taking hundreds of thousands of markers and "filling" with millions based on known associations). Below are the new ancestry inferences for: -My son -My daughter -Me -My wife -Son/daughter's paternal grandfather -Son/daughter's paternal grandmother -Son/daughter's maternal grandfather -Son/daughter's maternal grandmother    ... Read More
In the 1960s W. D. Hamilton attempted to solve the "problem of altruism," in the process developing a formalism that allowed for the elaboration of the concept of inclusive fitness. In concert with this Robert Trivers pushed forward the ideas which led to reciprocal altruism. Finally, John Maynard Smith developed evolutionary game theory. These are... Read More
The map to the left is derived from 2005 census data from South Korea. You see religious affiliation by region. The blue bar represent Buddhists. The purple bar Protestants. And the orange bar are Catholics. The figures do not add up to 100% because a large number of South Koreans do not have a religious... Read More
Interesting piece in Nautilus, Why Revolutionaries Love Spicy Food: How the chili pepper got to China. As you may know there isn't any specific thing which is "Chinese food", anymore there is "Indian food", or "European food."* The article focuses on the emergence of Sichuan cuisine, which unlike Cantonese food, took to the arrival of... Read More
Razib Khan
About Razib Khan

"I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. If you want to know more, see the links at"