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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
A friend of mine introduced me to Mr. Robot a month ago. The show was difficult for me to follow, and I don't watch much TV in the first place ("watching TV" is like making a "mix tape"; there's not television involved anymore). But, the star, Rami Malek, had an intriguing look. It was only... Read More
I finally "broke" last year, and began watching Game of Thrones, the HBO show. As a longtime reader of the series I had held out hope that The Winds of Winter would come out early enough not to be spoiled by the series, but it was not to be. In fact, it is probably likely... Read More
Bought Marie Sharpe's green habanero sauce at Granville Market. The spice level is nothing to sneeze at, and it's got a nice flavor. But the salt is out of control. There is a lot of good Asian food in Vancouver. A pretty good meal at the downtown Kirin, but I want to highlight Ramen Danbo.... Read More
Since we're on the topic of religion, I thought I would make a book recommendation. If there is one book I would read on the Reformation if there was one book, it is Diarmaid MacCulloch's The Reformation. I read this magisterial work in 2004 over a week and it has stuck with me in a... Read More
There are some topics which I have some interest in, such as prehistory illuminated by genetics, in which there is constant change and new discoveries every few months. If a new paper doesn't drop in a six month interval, I think something is wrong. There are other topics where I don't perceive much change, and... Read More
I reread Colin Woodward's American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America on the plane recently. It's a less scholarly work than Albion's Seed or The Cousins' Wars: Religion, Politics, Civil Warfare, And The Triumph Of Anglo-America, but arguably more straightforwardly relevant to modern conditions and events. I'm rather sure... Read More
The new Alice Roberts documentary is going viral. Or at least its spin is. E.g., Western contact with China began long before Marco Polo, experts say: However, Chinese historians recorded much earlier visits by people thought by some to have been emissaries from the Roman Empire during the Second and Third Centuries AD. "We now... Read More
For various ideological reasons there is an idea in some parts of the academy that Asian Americans are not a "model minority." That that "model minority" designation is a myth. The mainstream media often repeats the idea that this is a myth which has been "debunked." Actually, it hasn't been debunked. Rather, through a set... Read More
There has been lots of comment on Mormons and politics recently. I think the key aspect which is underemphasized in these pieces are the deep differences within Anglo-American cultural streams (as opposed to the short-term reasons for Mormon disaffection from the conservative coalition, such as their internationalism). If you haven't read Albion's Seed, you should.... Read More
Episode 728: The Wells Fargo Hustle. Elizabeth Warren is right, there won't be any accountability at the top. Hope I'm wrong. Started reading A New History of Western Philosophy last summer, but got bogged down in the medieval section. I started reading it last week and it's going much faster now that I'm in the... Read More
Many people have skin problems. Though luckily I've never had an issue with acne, most people who know me personally are aware that I suffered from extreme eczema as a child. Most of the major issues occurred when I was under five years of age, and in my first few years, so I have only... Read More
One of the most incredible journeys that the human species has undergone is the Austronesian expansion of the past 4,000 years. These maritime peoples seem to have emerged from the islands of Taiwan, and pushed forward south, west, and east, so that their expansion pushed to East Africa, and the fringes of South America. There... Read More
A friend asked me about population structure, and methods to ferret it out and classify it. So here is a quick survey on the major methods I'm familiar with/utilize now and then. I'll go roughly in chronological order. First, you have trees. These are pretty popular from macroevolutionary relationships, but on the population genetic scale... Read More
Online Life Is Real Life, Aleph-Nought in a Series: I thought of this while I was reading John Scalzi’s epic post about self-presentation, prompted by someone who complained that he behaved differently in person than that person had expected from Scalzi’s online persona. (Personally, having met John in person several times, I don’t see it,... Read More
A few days ago I joked on Facebook that life isn't about the score up on the board, but standing with your team. By this, I have come to the position that when it comes to arguments and debates the details of the models and facts, and who even wins in each round, is irrelevant... Read More
In The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World the archaeologist David Anthony outlines the thesis that migrations from the west Eurasian steppe during the Bronze Age reshaped the culture of Northern Europe. When Anthony published the book, which you should really read if you are... Read More
As you may know in Britain there is a new direct to consumer genetic testing service, Living DNA. Debbie Kennett has a post up where she talks about how it works and why it's different. For now it is British focused, and leverages haplotype-based methods with the PoBI database to give really fine-grained analysis to... Read More
be back soon.
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
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"