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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One social science finding which I've wondered about over the past few years is the result that women care much more about the race of a potential mate than men do. The fact that individuals tend to want to mate assortatively with those who share their characteristics is no surprise. Rather, what does surprise are... Read More
Carl Zimmer pointed me to a new paper, A genome-wide genetic signature of Jewish ancestry perfectly separates individuals with and without full Jewish ancestry in a large random sample of European Americans. The title is so informative that pasting the abstract is almost unnecessary, but here is the conclusion which gets to the point: There... Read More
The Hapsburgs are one of those royal families who are relatively well known, and in the minds of the public are to a great extent the emblems of the downsides of inbreeding. To painting to the left is of Charles II, king of Spain, the last of the Spanish Hapsburgs, and an imbecile whose premature... Read More
The language families of Europe fall into a few broad categories. There are the Indo-European languages, which include the Romance, Germanic, Slavic and Celtic subgroups, along with Greek and Albanian. The Iranian languages and most of the languages of India are also Indo-European. Then there are the languages of Finland and Hungary, which are hypothesized... Read More
On his twitter feed one Conor Friedersdorf made a comment about how beer unites people across the ideological spectrum. I raised my eyebrows at this, because I know that a substantial number of Southern white Protestants do not drink alcohol. With a name like Friedersdorf I suspect that Conor probably didn't consider this because of... Read More
An urban myth, often asserted with a wink & a nod in some circles, is that a very high proportion of children in Western countries are not raised by their biological father, and in fact are not aware that their putative biological father is not their real biological father. The numbers I see and hear... Read More
In 2003 a groundbreaking historical genetics paper reported results which indicated that a substantial proportion of men in the world are direct line descendants of Genghis Khan. By direct line, I mean that they carry Y chromosomes which seem to have come down from an individual who lived approximately 1,000 years ago. As Y chromosomes... Read More
"...the occupation of Australia/New Guinea is momentous in that it demanded watercraft and provides by far the earliest evidence of their use in history. Not until about 30,000 years later (13,000 years ago) is there strong evidence of watercraft anyway else in the world, from the Mediterranean. Initially, archaeologists considered the possibility that the colonization... Read More
In the early 20th century there was a rather strange (in hindsight) debate between two groups of biological scientists attempting to understand the basis of inheritance and its relationship to evolutionary processes. The two factions were the biometricians and Mendelians. As indicated by their appellation the Mendelians were partisans of the model of inheritance formulated... Read More
John Hawks illustrates what can be gained at the intersection of old data and analysis and new knowledge, Quote: Boyd on New World pigmentation clines: Looking at what was said about pigmentation generations ago is of interest because it's a trait which in many ways we have pegged. See Molecular genetics of human pigmentation diversity.... Read More
In my post below I quoted my interview L. L. Cavalli-Sforza because I think it gets to the heart of some confusions which have emerged since the finding that most variation on any given locus is found within populations, rather than between them. The standard figure is that 85% of genetic variance is within continental... Read More
2 Kings, 17: Most Americans are aware of the term "Assyria," if they are, through the Bible. The above quotation is of some interest because it alludes to the scattering of the ten northern tribes of Israel during their conquest and assimilation into the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Neo because the Assyrian polity, based around a cluster... Read More
In light of my previous posts on GRE scores and educational interests (by the way, Education Realist points out that the low GRE verbal scores are only marginally affected by international students) I was amused to see this write-up at LiveScience, Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice. Naturally over at Jezebel there is... Read More
Well, the paper is finally out, New insights into the Tyrolean Iceman’s origin and phenotype as inferred by whole-genome sequencing. In case you don't know, Ötzi the Iceman died 5,300 years ago in the alpine region bordering Austria and Italy. His seems to have been killed. And due to various coincidences his body was also... Read More
A few years ago I put up a post, WORDSUM & IQ & the correlation, as a "reference" post. Basically if anyone objected to using WORDSUM, a variable in the General Social Survey, then I would point to that post and observe that the correlation between WORDSUM and general intelligence is 0.71. That makes sense,... Read More
As a small child perusing old physical anthropology books I would occasionally stumble upon images of people of Oceanian stock with light hair color. I would wonder: is this a biological or cultural feature? In other words, were people bleaching their hair? If it was biological, was it heritable, or was it simply malnutrition? Another... Read More
Update: First, people coming to this weblog for the first time should know that I moderate comments. So if you leave an obnoxious one it's basically like an email to me (no one will see it). Second, the correlation between height and intelligence is not that high. This association is probably not going to be... Read More
Credit: Characterizing the admixed African ancestry of African Americans
My own inclination has been to not get bogged down in the latest race and IQ controversy because I don't have that much time, and the core readership here is probably not going to get any new information from me, since this is not an area of hot novel research. But that doesn't mean the... Read More
Citation:  Moreno-Estrada A, Gravel S, Zakharia F, McCauley JL, Byrnes JK, et al. (2013) Reconstructing the Population Genetic History of the Caribbean. PLoS Genet 9(11): e1003925. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003925
More often than not the discipline of history seems to swing between the true and trivial (or perhaps more precisely, picayune), and grand narratives which emphasize a nearly fictionalized story. In some ways this is not entirely a problem. When teaching young children the history of the United States a punctilious adherence to fact is... Read More
A new paper in Nature fleshes out some details about the relationships between Denisovans, Neanderthals, and modern humans, as well as possible others. I believe the figure above gives the flavor of the general findings in terms of phylogenetics, though if you want more I recommend Carl Zimmer in The New York Times. It has... Read More
Citation: Human paternal and maternal demographic histories: insights from high-resolution Y chromosome and mtDNA sequences
Sebastian Lippold, Hongyang Xu, Albert Ko, Mingkun Li, Gabriel Renaud, Anne Butthof, Roland Schroeder, Mark Stoneking
bioRxivdoi: 10.1101/001792
A new paper posted on bioArxiv surveys Y chromosomal and mtDNA diversity using over 600 males from the HGDP data set. Their goal is to compare differences in variation and long term demography between the two sexes. This is not an unimportant topic, sex specific demographics are relevant to mating patterns, and effective population size... Read More
Nature 506, 225–229 (13 February 2014) doi:10.1038/nature13025
Sometimes science turns out as you'd expect. It's not revolutionary, but it solidifies what should already be a solid foundation basis for extending knowledge into new territories. The latest ancient genome paper, The genome of a Late Pleistocene human from a Clovis burial site in western Montana, does just that. As the media has correctly... Read More
DOI: 10.1126/science.1243518
There have been many popular press treatments of Hellenthal et al.'s A Genetic Atlas of Human Admixture History already. If you have not seen their interactive map, which imparts many of their results, I highly recommend it. To understand the scientific results it does help to read some of this group's earlier papers, such as... Read More
Obama Campaign Headquarters, 2012
Conservatives sometimes like to recycle this picture from the 2012 Obama headquarters as the victory results were coming in. What one can see is the surfeit of pallor, not that there's anything wrong with that as such. Except that many Left-liberals make the Right's lack of diversity ipso facto evidence of racial animus. But many... Read More
Moscow Kremlin, credit
Discussion about foreign policy reminds me a lot of the sports pages: lots of opinion, little resolution or depth. That's one reason I'm more respectful of normative frameworks for decision making in international relations than I used to be. Almost no one seems to know anything, so what's the point in being pragmatic and informed?... Read More
The Austronesian expansion over the past 4,000 years, Credit
Over the past week or so the perpetual argument about whether we were "superior" to Neandertals or not has cropped up again, thanks to a new paper in PLoS ONE, Neandertal Demise: An Archaeological Analysis of the Modern Human Superiority Complex. In it the authors utilize material remains to infer that no, in fact Neandertals... Read More
Distribution of alleles which generate polymorphism in wet/dry earwax
When I was in college a Korean American friend confided to me that his roommate had an issue. He had seen a q-tip in the waste-bin, and what was at the end of it was shocking to him. What my friend was describing was wet earwax (Google it yourself if you want to see it).... Read More
Over at Violent Metaphors Jennifer Raff has another review of A Troublesome Inheritance, this time focusing Nicholas Wades' interpretation of population genomics. I don't want to be cliche, but if there's one thing to like about Wade's book it's that lots of people are talking about human population genetics. Then again, if there's one thing... Read More
About ten years ago Fareed Zakaria wrote The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad. Zakaria has been dismissed as many things, in particular being a sort of middlebrow establishmentarian voice who can be relied upon to package the latest safest conventional wisdom in stylish erudition, and still remain palatable to a non-scholarly... Read More
Citation: Fernald, Anne, Virginia A. Marchman, and Adriana Weisleder. \"SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months.\" Developmental Science 16.2 (2013): 234-248.
Like clockwork every few months I feel prompted to write about The Nurture Assumption. In this case it is due to The New York Times reporting that the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending that parents start reading to their newborns. As noted in the piece in The New York Times a major reason... Read More
Citation: Altitude adaptation in Tibetans caused by introgression of Denisovan-like DNA,
The finding which caused such a stir at SMBE 2014 has made it to publication, Altitude adaptation in Tibetans caused by introgression of Denisovan-like DNA. The main result is pretty clear from the figure I've placed at the top of this post: it seems that a gene which has been implicated in adaption to high... Read More
I've expressed a little disappointment in a book I recently read, Azar Gat's Nations: The Long History and Deep Roots of Political Ethnicity and Nationalism. There are two primary reasons for this. Nations simply does not measure up to his previous work, War and Human Civilization. But that is perhaps not a fair assessment, since... Read More
I've talked about the Yezidis many times over the years. The main reason is that I find the obscure marginal sects of the Middle East interesting. This is a part of the world where religious pluralism existed under very precise and strict conditions, and these groups deviated from those conditions and lived to tell the... Read More
I had a long discussion yesterday with an individual who has been reading me since 2003. We talked about lots of things. One issue which perhaps I need to reiterate because it's implicit is that I dissent to a great extent from the premises which underlay both American conservatism and liberalism. Like American liberals I... Read More
Much of the mythology of the pre-Islamic Persia involves the tension and conflict between Iran and Turan. In modern parlance "Turan" has become synonymous with Central Asia and the Turk, but in its original meaning it involved two groups of Iranian peoples who were distinctly geographically situated. The eruption of the Turkic tribes can be... Read More
The Ben Affleck vs. Bill Maher and Sam Harris debate about Islam is all over the interwebs, and seems like something of a Rorschach test. On my Twitter some people seem awfully impressed by Ben, while others (including me) think that it's a pretty good illustration of the shallowness of contemporary Left liberalism when it... Read More
The above is a map which illustrates life expectancy for white males and females by county in the United States from the paper Eight Americas: Investigating Mortality Disparities across Races, Counties, and Race-Counties in the United States. I'm reproducing it because it shows the wide variation in life expectancy for white Americans. Second, the results... Read More
The above figure is from a preprint, Recent evolution of the mutation rate and spectrum in Europeans, which reports very peculiar results from the 1000 Genomes data. I actually got a preview of the topline finding about a year and a half ago at a Bay Area Population Genomics meeting, but many of the details... Read More
Were Scandinavians the original people of Europe? Such a headline is very suggestive of a press release gone wrong. But no, you just need to see what Eske Willerslev actually said to see the source of the headline. It was his lab which published the recent paper in Science, Genomic structure in Europeans dating back... Read More
There are two pet peeves which I allude to on this weblog often. First, comparing geographic entities which are not in any way analogous just because both are nation-states. Lines on a map does not an equivalency make. For example, comparing the social statistics of Finland, a relatively homogeneous nation of 5.5 million to the... Read More
Ten years ago the story of how modern humans expanded across the face of the world would have been a relatively simple one. The story generally recounted for popular consumption was most forcefully articulated in Richard Klein's The Dawn of Human Culture. Around ~50 thousand years ago a small group of Africans resident in the... Read More
The Khoisan are not the oldest people on the face of this earth, they simply have been the lest impinged by population crashes over the past ~200,000 years. This is not a shocking assertion, but it is supported with greater robustness by a new paper in Nature Communications, Khoisan hunter-gatherers have been the largest population... Read More
Geneticists are people of their time. I'm rather sure that if Charles Davenport had written a book with the title Race Crossing in Jamaica today it would end with a far different moral, because the dominant Zeitgeist in regards to racial admixture in the United States is far different nearly 100 years on. In my... Read More
In relation to what happened in Paris today, Ezra Klein ends a passionate post with this: Much of the above is so wrong that it is jaw-dropping. Does Klein really believe this? Is it copy rushed out in the moment? If you read history and observe patterns in human culture it is clear that most... Read More
Update: The preprint is out. End update Genesis, 6:4 An emanation from the one most high...uh, I mean, David Reich, has given his talk at Oxford. Thanks to Jean Manco we have a pretty good report of what he said. The core element seems to be that a paper will soon be published using ancient... Read More
Every now and then there is a debate on who is more "anti-science", the Left or the Right. I'm not too interested in the details of that, but, a few years ago I expressed my skepticism to Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science, that liberals were somehow reflexively more "pro-science." I suggested... Read More
I do like to suggest that the genetic and archaeological record support the conjecture of Conan the Barbarian in terms of what our male ancestors thought was "good in life." Basically, to conquer your enemies and seize their women, which is a distillation of a disputed quote from Genghis Khan. Conan may be fiction, but... Read More
One thousand and five hundred years ago innumerable Germans, Saxons, Angles and Jutes, came to the shores of Britain, and transformed it into England. One thousand and five hundred years ago the trunk of the English language was grafted upon a fundamentally British ethnic root. Post-Roman Britain was subject to a massive migration of Germans... Read More
I am often asked by people online to give an "elevator pitch" as to the genetic history of the Indian subcontinent. At this point we've got ~90 percent of the story I think. Modern humans arrived in the Indian subcontinent ~50,000 years ago, and pushed onward to East Asia, but over the past ~10,000 years... Read More
What sort of a #secular country allows bloggers to be murdered in broad daylight. With such impunity #Bangladesh follows #Pakistan. — Raza Rumi (@Razarumi) May 12, 2015 By now you are aware that another blogger who happened to be an atheist was killed. The modus operandi is pretty familiar. It looks like there are now... 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"