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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
At a readers' suggestion I got Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault. Unlike The Dialectical Imagination this is not necessarily a detached academic book. Rather, the author has a definite perspective. About 20 years ago I read George H. Smith's Atheism: The Case Against God, and there are a lot of similarities... Read More
Airports are in interesting window into architecture and perceptions of the future. When I landed at Vienna International in 2010 it was as if I landed back in the 1970s. In contrast, Frankfurt Airport was the closest I've felt to really be pushed into the "gleaming future" you sometimes see in science-fiction films. With that... Read More
There was a time, five years ago or so, when we knew all the humans who had been sequenced. Or at least most of them. But now we're coming into the period when the first sequenced animals of any given species are starting to die. Above is Cinnamon, the first sequenced cat is no longer... Read More
The Estonian Biocentre has been one of the best resources in human population genomics, because their policy under Mait Metspalu seems to be to release the data once it's published. Today I went and checked the site, and noticed a vlog accompanying their Nature paper, Genomic analyses inform on migration events during the peopling of... Read More
I don't mean to be an Ewen Callaway clipping service (though there are worse things to be), but today he has a piece up on ancient feline DNA and what it might imply for the distribution and spread of cats, How cats conquered the world (and a few Viking ships). My dissertation project is no... Read More
The map to the right shows GDP per capita in the European Union in 2014 broken down by regions. I've long observed that the wealthiest regions of Europe are disproportionately those which were long under Habsburg rule. This fact transcends ethnicity and religion. Catholic northern Italy, Catholic southern Germany, as well as Protestant Netherlands, are... Read More
The above results are from Ancestry. You can see here 4% Melanesian. This is common in South Asians. And it's not an error in the method. Rather, it is a natural outcome of the methods uses to generate admixture profiles. Basically what's going on is this: 1) You have data. In this case, the data... Read More
A new paper in PNAS, Palaeoproteomic evidence identifies archaic hominins associated with the Châtelperronian at the Grotte du Renne, weighs in the question of whether the Châtelperronian culture were Neandertals, with an answer in the affirmative in this case: The displacement of Neandertals by anatomically modern humans (AMHs) 50,000–40,000 y ago in Europe has considerable... Read More
What's going on? Very busy, so haven't gotten much further in The Dialectical Imagination, but I do have to say that the distinction between "positive freedom" and "negative freedom" is a useful one to highlight at this point. The comments below make me unsure about the influence of the Frankfurt School on modern socio-political movements,... Read More
We live in an age when we have a lot of SNP data on a lot of populations. This allows for a very fine level of granularity in terms of analysis. To illustrate, Genetics recently published Nationwide Genomic Study in Denmark Reveals Remarkable Population Homogeneity, which analyzes hundreds of Danes with hundreds of thousands of... Read More
Ewen Callaway reports from a conference in England, Elephant history rewritten by ancient genomes: Modern elephants are classified into three species: the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and two African elephants — the forest-dwellers (Loxodonta cyclotis) and those that live in the savannah (Loxodonta africana). The division of the African elephants, originally considered a single species,... Read More
A new paper in Quaternary International, Western Eurasian genetic influences in the Indonesian archipelago, confirms what has long been suspected by smaller batch data: ...To locate the primary areas of Western Eurasian genetic influence in Indonesia, we have assembled published uniparental genetic data from ∼2900 Indonesian individuals. Frequency distributions show that Western Eurasian paternal lineages... Read More
Reading The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950. A good book. Dense. But it is clear (the author so admits) that it's only a superficial exploration of the ideas of the Frankfurt School. That being said, a lot of the abstruse and in my opinion wrong-headed... Read More
For whatever reason I missed this paper which came out in July in AJHG, Human Y Chromosome Haplogroup N: A Non-trivial Time-Resolved Phylogeography that Cuts across Language Families. Basically it blows up sample size and utilizes NGS techniques (whole-genome) to resolve some questions around haplogroup N, and in particular the M46/TAT subclade which exhibits a... Read More
Jonathan Novembre and Benjamin Peter have posted a preprint of a review, Recent advances in the study of fine-scale population structure in humans, which readers will find useful. In particular, the citations are a gold-mine for anyone attempting to navigate this literature. The figure above from their preprint illustrates the number of markers needed to... Read More
The correlation between medical school GPA and career outcomes is low. The correlation between height and number of all-star appearances in the NBA is low. The correlation between SAT score and performance as a Google engineer is low. Actually, I don't know if all of these are strictly true. But I think you've seen the... Read More
Several people have asked me about this article in Foreign Policy, Does Chinese Civilization Come From Ancient Egypt? It's interesting in terms of cultural commentary, and what it say about open-mindedness among the Chinese public and academy. In many ways the Chinese are much less open-minded than Westerners after decades of Marxism...but in other ways,... Read More
Giant panda no longer 'endangered' but iconic species still at risk: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced the positive change to the giant panda’s official status in the Red List of Threatened Species, pointing to the 17 per cent rise in the population in the decade up to 2014, when a nationwide... Read More
Parents Didn’t Just Dislike Super Nintendo 25 Years Ago—They Thought It Was a Scam. Fun fact: I stopped playing video games when I was 16. Mostly because it was taking up too much of my time. This means that I'm excluded from a lot of conversation and pop culture. So be it. Excited to be... Read More
It is too much to assert to say that the Indian ocean is "our sea," writ large as a species. But it does certainly seem to be the case that this body of water does punch above its weight. It is likely that anatomically modern humans emerged not too far from its shores, while the... Read More
In the late 2000s there was a lot of talk about how the Tasmanian devil was going to go extinct because of devil facial tumor disease. I expressed the thought that we need to be really cautious thinking that disease could drive the devils to extinction. This was not based on detailed knowledge of the... Read More
Year Google Scholar hits 2000 64 2005 271 2010 1670 2011 2210 2012 3200 2013 4020 2014 4380 2015 4820
The above talk is from Alice Dreger, author of Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar's Search for Justice. I don't know Dreger personally, but she seems like a brave and courageous person. In the broadest strokes there's very little where we disagree. Yes, our politics, and many of our specific beliefs, diverge, but... Read More
Since there was some discussion about East Asian genetic structure below...I pulled about 20 South Koreans I have in my data. Merged them Han and Japanese from the HGDP. I then ran a PCA and plotted it, and also unsupervised ADMIXTURE, and plotted it. The results are below.
About thirteen years ago I expressed the opinion that an understanding of population structure will become a matter of intellectual curiosity once we have a better understanding of the genetic basis of characteristics. A friend, who was a statistical geneticist, told me that this was unlikely. We were unlikely to capture the ability to predict... Read More
About 2/3 of the way through The Ocean of Churn: How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History by Sanjeev Sanyal. It's a wide-ranging book which synthesizes diverse disciplinary threads. The big over-arching thesis seems to be that movement of peoples and ideas was far less unidirectional than we often tend to think and are told.... Read More
Update: In light of further comments I may have been wrong about Hong's recent admixture! See the comments below (also, further discussion with Spencer Wells offline). I don't have total clarity on what's going on, because I'm sure my friends weren't lying...but they were also early adopters, and the methods may have changed. And, I... Read More
No matter the Yelp reviews, if it doesn't have dry pot or whole boiled fish on the menu, not worth it. Also, should feature something where the peppercorn is salient.
I got this hot sauce at Whole Foods. The original Whole Foods. What a disappointment. Salty. Without much other flavor besides the spice. It was like a watery spin on Louisiana hot sauce. I couldn't taste the "aromatic spices" and "fresh herbs." And don't tell me it is because it's too spicy, I didn't find... Read More
In 2011 I was having dinner with an old friend who was an engineer at Intel. He also has a Ph.D. from MIT. Smart guy. But when I mentioned casually offhand that we were all a few percent Neanderthal (outside of Africa), he was surprised. I was a bit shocked, as I explained that this... Read More
I don't really have strong opinions on the whole controversy over women's sports at the elite level...mostly because I have a really hard time following all the logic. For me the biggest problem seems to be that we have two categories, men's and women's, and there are those who are arguing that they're actually nearly... Read More
Guy Gavriel Kay's Children of Earth and Sky is set in the same world as the Sarantine Mosaic duology, and the Lions of Al-Rassan, The Last Light of the Sun, and A Song for Arbonne. I've enjoyed Kay's work for more than half my life at this point, so no surprise that I enjoy Children... Read More
Taking a break in my work of the day I stumbled upon the fact that Bernard Cornwell's series based on King Alfred's period, which began with The Last Kingdom, is a Netflix series. To be honest I much preferred the three volume Warlord Chronicles, set more than three centuries earlier, in post-Roman and pre-Saxon Britain.... Read More
Joe Pickrell and Yaniv Erlich did an AMA on Reddit yesterday. I recommend you check it out. They promote their new project, seeq. It looks pretty slick, and I'm excited to be part of the batch of beta testers.
Obviously I'm doing more development right now than I would have expected. But in the long term I want to move beyond hacking to survive for the present, and write some code that's sustainable. So I think I want to read a design patterns book. The last one I read was 15 years ago and... Read More
Over at The Genetic Literacy Project Jon Entine has a post up, Usain Bolt’s Olympic gold proves again why no Asian, white–or East African–will ever be crowned world’s fastest human. Fifteen years ago Jon wrote Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports And Why We're Afraid To Talk About It, so he knows something about this... Read More
Sabine Hossenfelder on her side gig as a physics consult, What I learned as a hired consultant to autodidact physicists: Sociologists have long tried and failed to draw a line between science and pseudoscience. In physics, though, that ‘demarcation problem’ is a non-problem, solved by the pragmatic observation that we can reliably tell an outsider... Read More
Spencer Wells, along with many others, such as Jared Diamond, argued that agriculture was a disaster in terms of what it wrought for the quality of life for the average human in his book Pandora's Seed. This is broadly plausible to me. On the other hand, I also think it is highly likely that agriculture... Read More
I just bought my friend Sanjeev Sanyal's book, The Ocean of Churn: How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History. Sanjeev is a polymath with varied interests, some of which intersect with my own. A few years back I had the pleasure of having dinner with him and Reihan Salam, and the server kept unapologetically offering... Read More
A friend recently emailed to ask about the best way to pick a proper "K" value when inferring structure. K just being the parameter which defines how many putative ancestral populations you have in your model to explain some data on genetic variation. Obviously some value of K are more informative than others of population... Read More
Evolutionary theory famously predated the emergence of genetics by decades. Initially there was some conflict between the heirs of Charles Darwin and the first geneticists in terms of their mechanistic understanding of how evolutionary process occurs. Within a few decades though genetics and evolutionary biology were synthesized so that the former came to be integral... Read More
Recently Daniel Falush's group came out with a preprint, A tutorial on how (not) to over-interpret STRUCTURE/ADMIXTURE bar plots. If you read the science posts on this weblog (basically, if you read this weblog), and you haven't read it, read it now. At his weblog, Paint My Chromosomes, Falush has talked about both the production... Read More
Probably the most incredible science story of the week, Eye lens radiocarbon reveals centuries of longevity in the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus): The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus), an iconic species of the Arctic Seas, grows slowly and reaches >500 centimeters (cm) in total length, suggesting a life span well beyond those of other vertebrates. Radiocarbon... Read More
A follow up on the Ancient Archaic Admixture Into the Andamanese story, No evidence for unknown archaic ancestry in South Asia: Genomic studies have documented a contribution of archaic Neanderthals and Denisovans to non-Africans. Recently, Mondal et al. 2016 (Nature Genetics, doi:10.1038/ng.3621) published a major dataset--the largest whole genome sequencing study of diverse South Asians... Read More
Sorry about the light posting. I'll get back into gear in a few days. Very busy professionally and personally the past week or so. I've been getting into writing Python code, as opposed to reading it. It's a different beast altogether, obviously. I'm a lot slower than I would be in Perl, but I'm getting... Read More
An excellent open access review of population genetics history from 1966 to the present in Heredity, Population genetics from 1966 to 2016. From the abstract: We describe the astonishing changes and progress that have occurred in the field of population genetics over the past 50 years, slightly longer than the time since the first Population... Read More
For the past few days I've been using the Python data analysis library, or "pandas." Most of the time I work with Perl, R, and shell scripting. But the Perl/R combination has gotten to be pretty unwieldy recently, and some of my coworkers swear by pandas. So in the interest of firm cohesion I converted... Read More
I don't follow cycling closely, but I once praised Lance Armstrong, who I had read about in the media, to a friend who had been a journeymen professional in the sport in the late 1990s. My friend expressed some irritation, shrugged, and told me that everyone in the sport knew that Armstrong doped. He didn't... Read More
The employment data above are from Randall Parker (seasonally adjusted for what it's worth), and originally the Labor Department. Randall had it as a tabular display, but I think a simple bar plot is more illustrative. The percentage of unmarried births is from the Census. It looks like Americans with university degrees or higher are... 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 http://www.razib.com"