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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
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 product...as 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
California Surfers Look to Courts for Relief Against ‘Bay Boys’: ...intimidation that has kept outsiders like Mr. Taloa away for generations, a group of surfers is fighting to open up the beach to all comers. A class-action lawsuit filed last month by the Coastal Protection Rangers and two surfers seeks to bar the Bay Boys... Read More
A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our work and break all bonds of employment. But it is not this day. And yet it shall come to pass that I'll make room for finishing The Shape of Ancient Thought. Say what you will about e-books, but that you can... Read More
I notice that R. Scott Bakker is finally coming out with a sort-of conclusion to his second trilogy, with The Great Ordeal. I say sort-of because it seems that his final book in the second trilogy of this planned three trilogy series is going to be one of two, as Bakker submitted a manuscript that... Read More
DNA.Land has a new ancestry report. Above is my own. I'm pretty aware that designing these consumer-oriented services/applications isn't easy. But I want to express a little skepticism that two of the three South Asian populations which they used for their "Dravidian" reference are not Dravidian speaking. In fact, geography and ethno-linguistic affinity in South... Read More
time readers will be aware that I'm a fan of Blake's 7. Or, more precisely, as a child of the 1980s this BBC science fiction show set in a dark dystopian future loomed large in my childhood because it presented a different vision of the future than I was used to. Sadly, the actor who... Read More
There's a new paper in AJHG (open access), The Divergence of Neandertal and Modern Human Y Chromosomes. From the discussion: The fact that the Neandertal Y-chromosome lineage we describe has never been observed in modern humans suggests that the lineage is most likely extinct. Although the Neandertal Y chromosome (and mtDNA) might have simply drifted... Read More
The Washington Post posted an op-ed about a week ago with the title Is porn immoral? That doesn’t matter: It’s a public health crisis. The author is listed as follows: Gail Dines is a professor of sociology at Wheelock College in Boston and author of "Pornland: How Porn has Hijacked our Sexuality." To not put... Read More
Still settling in....
I am travelling much of this week with the family. So expect me to be "off the grid" a bit. But I will check this thread every day or so.
The above model of the settlement of the Americas is from a new paper which utilized ancient mtDNA, Ancient mitochondrial DNA provides high-resolution time scale of the peopling of the Americas (open access): The exact timing, route, and process of the initial peopling of the Americas remains uncertain despite much research. Archaeological evidence indicates the... Read More
About one week ago I wrote about bilingual education, and I admitted my mild skepticism about the research about the benefits of bilingualism. A friend emailed me and wondered why I was only "mildly skeptical." Partly I didn't want the comments to get sidetracked, but recently friends on Facebook have started to get exercised that... Read More
One of the major distinctions pundits made between Al Qaeda and ISIS until recently is that the latter was not as fixated on the "far enemy" (the West) as the former. That seems born out by the evidence of their behavior, focusing on conquests in the Levant and Iraq, as well as ideological arguments (e.g.,... Read More
It has recently come to my attention that David Reich has two post-doctoral positions open which might interest readers of this weblog. Since I really enjoy writing about the research that his lab produces it is in my interest that he find the right people to work on the projects that he has. If you... Read More
The Combined Landscape of Denisovan and Neanderthal Ancestry in Present-Day Humans: Some present-day humans derive up to ∼5% ...of their ancestry from archaic Denisovans, an even larger proportion than the ∼2% from Neanderthals...We developed methods that can disambiguate the locations of segments of Denisovan and Neanderthal ancestry in present-day humans and applied them to 257... Read More
Several years ago a paper was published, The History of African Gene Flow into Southern Europeans, Levantines, and Jews: Previous genetic studies have suggested a history of sub-Saharan African gene flow into some West Eurasian populations after the initial dispersal out of Africa that occurred at least 45,000 years ago. However, there has been no... Read More
To me 1984 is really insightful not for its depiction of totalitarianism, but the way in which modern American democratic politics cynically re-imagine the past. I have always been intrigued by George H. W. Bush (and more broadly the politicians within the family) shifting from a pro-choice supporter of planned parenthood sympathetic to population control,... Read More
Over then years ago The Genetic Legacy of the Mongols was published. This paper illustrated the surprising genetic effects that historical demographic events might have; the authors found that one particular Y chromosomal lineage was extremely common in Central Eurasia, and, that lineage exhibited an explosive growth over the past 1,000 years. Combined with the... Read More
friend invited me to watch the new Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie with him on a spur of the moment. I won't say much about the film (it was OK, but way, way, too much prologue, and too little Wonder Woman). A bunch of us waited during the credits for teasers afterward. At... Read More
Reading The Shape of Ancient Thought. Not a light read, but worthwhile so far. I'm not a big fan of metaphysics in general, but the empirical patterns are interesting. Surprised at the likely Mesopotamian influence on both India and Greece, though in hindsight it makes sense. More to say on this later.... Some people are... Read More
A new paper on which has some results on life satisfaction, intelligence and the number of social interactions one has has generated some mainstream buzz. For example, at The Washington Post, Why smart people are better off with fewer friends. I looked at the original paper: Country roads, take me home… to my friends: How... Read More
Ron Unz is running for the United States Senate. One of the major reasons is that bilingual education might be restored in California via the California Multilingual Education Act. Here is state Senator Ricardo Lara in Senator Lara Announces Bill Supporting Multilingual Education: Multiple studies have shown that supporting children’s home language in early years... Read More
Science just published another paper on archaic admixture, Excavating Neandertal and Denisovan DNA from the genomes of Melanesian individuals. It's open access, so you should read it. And really, you should read the supplements. The paper is fine enough, but the space limitations are a real bummer here. But what I want to talk about... Read More
I've been rather bearish on candidate gene studies of human behavior (e.g., "hug gene" or "violence gene") since 2007. The reason being the influence of friends who warned me that a lot of false positive results were being published because they could be published. Basically you might have one group publish on a plausible candidate... Read More
Bryan Caplan, author of The Myth of the Rational Voter, and Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, long ago expressed a desire to clone himself. To some extent I can understand the desire. There are many ways that my toddler son resembles me in terms of his behavior patterns that are uncanny. This allows me... Read More
A man’s discovery of bones under his pub could forever change what we know about the Irish: But over the last decade, a growing number of scholars have argued that the first Celtic languages were spoken not by the Celts in the middle of Europe but by ancient people on Europe’s westernmost extremities, possibly in... 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"