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Genetics

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Over at West Hunter, Greg Cochran has been introducing a a fairly new and potentially important theory of the genetic origins of race differences in IQ.  It's less a theory of evolution than of devolution. The mechanism causing effective differences, he argues, is less selection for higher IQ due to differences in the environment (e.g., winter... Read More
From the New York Times:The Na-Dene speakers include the Navajo and Apache of the American Southwest, although no U.S. tribes were included in the study because of political opposition to genetic research. It's my vague impression that Na-Dene speaking Indians tend to look more Siberian than other American Indians, which wouldn't be surprising since they... Read More
At West Hunter, Gregory Cochran writes about the distinction between extremely deleterious genetic mutations that frequently kill people before they pass on their bad gene (e.g., Huntington's Disease) and mildly detrimental mutations that reduce Darwinian fitness in the range of 1 percent. Not surprisingly, the latter are more common because they can build up over... Read More
Gina Kolata writes in the NYT: My old articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer
Today's conventional wisdom that Science has proved that race does not exist (and all the more or less comic variants on that) seems to my recollection to have reached a crescendo in the single year, 2000, when there was a vast amount of hype over the Human Genome Project. For leaders of the vastly well-funded... Read More
I have to say that I've never quite gotten the excitement over epigenetics as a revolutionizing nature-nurture debates. This is not to say that the study of epigenetics isn't valuable in and of itself, it just seems to have less implication for the kind of arguments that people really care about than its publicists assume. If... Read More
For the last couple of decades, there has been a popular theological concept that every living human being was 100% descended from modern humans who came Out of Africa about 50,000 years ago, so therefore there hasn't been enough time for evolution to cause any changes among people, so, therefore, Science Proves the complete genetic... Read More
Nicholas Wade writes in the NYT:
Keep an eye out on Tuesday for a new study of IQ genetics from Ian Deary and others.My old articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer
This Washington Post article illustrates that the widespread conceptual confusion over what race is can be bad for health care:Presumably, Patent Office staffers got a memo encouraging them to make sure that genetic tests work on minorities and aren't just being optimized for whites. But this upsets the Race Does Not Exist crowd.
hbd chick has made an interesting response to my review in The American Conservative of Francis Fukuyama's The Origins of Political Order. First, another excerpt from my review:Indeed, it is “not obvious,” but Fukuyama’s challenge is hardly unanswerable. In arranged-marr
Race can't exist because the boundaries are too vague. The existence of species, however, is assumed in the name of the Endangered Species Act. Yet, when we stop and think about dogs, wolves, and coyotes, it's not immediately obvious whether these familiar beasts should be classified as three species or three races within one species.A... Read More
From FOXNews:Me, Peter Brimelow, Norman Podhoretz, Mrs. Paul Krugman, and Jorge Ramos of Univision should schedule a family reunion!My old articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer
Here's that big new science story I teased a couple of days ago. By Carl Zimmer in the New York Times:An international team of scientists has identified a previously shadowy human group known as the Denisovans as cousins to Neanderthals who lived in Asia from roughly 400,000 to 50,000 years ago and interbred with the... Read More
For quite a number of decades, it has been apparent that agriculture was first invented in the "Fertile Crescent" of the Middle East, then spread into Europe. But that raised the question of how agriculture spread: did Middle Easterners colonize Europe or did existing European hunter-gatherers pick up Middle Eastern techniques? A couple of decades... Read More
Robert Plomin of King's College London has been plugging away at the genetics of IQ for decades. It's been frustrating, but now he thinks he's getting somewhere. The London Sunday Times reports:Scientists have identified more than 200 genes potentially associated with academic performance in schoolchildren. Those schoolchildren possessing the "right" combinations achieved significantly better results... Read More
From the NYT:Scientists Square Off on Evolutionary Value of Helping RelativesBy CARL ZIMMERWhy are worker ants sterile? Why do birds sometimes help their parents raise more chicks, instead of having chicks of their own? Why do bacteria explode with toxins to kill rival colonies? In 1964, the British biologist William Hamilton published a landmark paper... Read More
Some of the most prevalent Dumb Ideas about Race that crystallized as conventional wisdom around the time of Bill Clinton's celebration ceremony for the Human Genome Project revolve around the idea that genetic differences couldn't possibly cause differing behavioral tendencies among the races because we're all 99.999% (insert as many "9s" as you feel necessary... Read More
Sometimes I get discouraged when I realize that I've been debunking dumb ideas for many years now, yet dumb ideas remains wildly popular. But think how Nicholas Wade, the genetics correspondent of the New York Times, must feel. He has the top soapbox in the world for educating the public, the New York Times, and he... Read More
From the Washington Post last week:China pushing the envelope on science, and sometimes ethicsBy John PomfretSHENZHEN, CHINA -- Last year, Zhao Bowen was part of a team that cracked the genetic code of the cucumber. These days, he's probing the genetic basis for human IQ.Zhao is 17.Centuries after it led the world in technological prowess... Read More
Nick Wade writes in the NY Times: Tibetans live at altitudes of 13,000 feet, breathing air that has 40 percent less oxygen than is available at sea level, yet suffer very little mountain sickness. The reason, according to a team of biologists in China, is human evolution, in what may be the most recent and... Read More
From The Guardian: The controversial idea might help explain why national IQ scores differ around the world, and are lower in some warmer countries where debilitating parasites such as malaria are widespread, they say.Researchers behind the theory claim the impact of disease on IQ scores has been under-appreciated, and believe it ranks alongside education and... Read More
Nicholas Wade of the NYT lucidly describes some of the results from the two new Jewish genetics study (one of which you can read here):Race is all about who your relatives are, and, not coincidentally, answers to the question of who you are related to turn out to be unavoidably relativistic.Unfortunately, human beings don't deal... Read More
Carl Zimmer writes in the NYT in "The Search for Genes Leads to Unexpected Places:"I pointed out that in terms of genetic similarity, humanity and yeast weren't really all that different in a National Review article in 1999, "Chimps and Chumps," one of the earlier expressions of my constant theme of "genetic relativism:"Ms. [Natalie] Angier... Read More
The idea has been kicking around for a number of years that modern humans may have picked up some valuable genes by mating with Neanderthals (kind of like Clan of the Cave Bear, that really odd series of romance novels set in caveman days that were huge bestsellers a generation ago).A new study supports that... Read More
Should Bryan Caplan clone himself?Julian Simon acolyte Bryan Caplan, an economist at George Mason U., wonders whether to include this paragraph in his upcoming book:Unfortunately, Professor Caplan doesn't inform us what his wife thinks about his desire to create a child untainted by her genes. Does Professor Caplan intend to have Mrs. Caplan bear his... Read More
Here's the beginning of my new Taki's Magazine column:What does it take to be a genius? Europeans of the Romantic Era tended to ascribe the accomplishments of the great to an inborn spark. In contrast, in this age in which voracious competitiveness must rationalize itself in politically correct terms, American self-help books, such as Malcolm... Read More
On a per capita basis, I seem to have more Finnish readers than American ones. From a press release by the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland:The Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) together with its collaborators has compiled the Finnish Gene Atlas, which contains genome-wide gene marker data for more than 40,000 Finns. The first... Read More
NYT genetics reporter Nicholas Wade has a new article with the self-explanatory title "Human Culture, an Evolutionary Force," using good old lactose tolerance as an example. It features a picture of a beautiful Kenyan highland meadow that might make even me want to take up long distance running. (Kenyan herdsmen are sort of "horseless cowboys"... Read More
Physicists are not particularly well known for never forgetting a face, while some politicians are. Physicists tend to have higher IQs than politicians, but politicians have probably been evolving longer. So, is facial recognition just the general factor of intelligence in action once again, or is there a specifically evolved cognitive mechanism for it?One of... Read More
Over the weekend, I started thinking about a 2002 article I wrote called "How White Are Blacks? How Black Are Whites?" about Penn State geneticist Mark D. Shriver's research that came up with an estimate of self-identified African Americans having 17% to 18% European admixture. I wondered: What's the latest on that number? The technology... Read More
From The Economist:The looming crisis in human genetics:Some awkward news aheadby Geoffrey MillerAuthor of SpentHuman geneticists have reached a private crisis of conscience, and it will become public knowledge in 2010. The crisis has depressing health implications and alarming political ones. In a nutshell: the new genetics will reveal much less than hoped about how... Read More
Genetic reporter Nicholas Wade, who has been on book break, is back with an NY Times front page story "Genes Show Limited Value in Predicting Diseases:As Matt Ridley has said, no matter what you might think from reading the Health & Science section of your newspaper, your genes didn't evolve in order to kill you.... Read More
From Dienekes's blog, here's the table of contents of the Special Symposium Issue: Race Reconciled of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Unfortunately, much of the issue consists of semantic quibbling because academic anthropologists still don't have a workable definition of race (although I do). Several of the abstracts are devoted to beating a dead... Read More
James Q. Wilson writes in City Journal on The DNA of Politics: Genes shape our beliefs, our values, and even our votes (the picture is of Polish president Lech Kaczy?ski, right, and former prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczy?ski, who are identical twins): Identical twins tend to get more dissimilar looking as they age due to random... Read More
... and discovers he has the Bald Gene.In a long article in the New York Times Magazine, "My Genome, My Self," the author of The Blank Slate recounts all that he has learned about himself from having his genome sampled, which turns out to be unsurprisingly modest.The most prominent finding of behavioral genetics has been... Read More
The federal government runs a number of gigantic multi-decade human sciences studies of Americans, with the best known being the 1979 National Longitudinal Study of Youth, which was featured prominently in The Bell Curve in 1994, but is still going on, with IQ scores now available on thousands of the children of the original sample.Newer... Read More
From the New York Times:If you want to
Nicholas Wade of the NYT has an article on the genetics of mental diseases and intelligence that focuses on a geneticist named David B. Goldstein. (I don't like using initials in names because I can't really remember them, so I have to laboriously look them up, but the "B." in his name is necessary because... Read More
As I've been pointing out, the hero in this investigation is the advance in genome sequencing technology over the last seven years. The Washington Post reports:Much of what the FBI seeks to explain involves the scientific trail, which included 19 outside laboratories at a cost of $10 million, that led investigators to Ivins. The Justice... Read More
From Science Blogs: 99% Genetic? Individual Differences in Executive Function Are Almost Perfectly Heritable [
William Saletan's ongoing Maoist-style self-criticism for the crimethink of pointing out that James Watson knows more about the genetics of IQ than Watson's critics continues in Slate: Not Black and White: Rethinking race and genes.By William Saletan Five months ago, I wrote a series on race, genes, and intelligence. Everything about it hurt: the research,... Read More
In response to readers' questions about how Ashkenazi Jewish genes compare to other groups', Utah anthropologist Henry Harpending sends along a 3d graph he and Greg Cochran created for (but didn't use in) their famous paper on the evolution of high IQs among Ashkenazi Jews.You can click on the graph to see it in a... Read More
On GNXP.com, Greg Cochran points to an interesting graph of the genetic distribution of individuals of European descent along two "principle component" axes:The violet dots that cluster in the upper right amidst purple dots are Ashkenazi [Northern European] Jews with four Ashkenazi grandparents. The more scattered purple dots are self-identified Ashkenazi Jews with more mixed... Read More
In VDARE.com, John Derbyshire reviews Abraham's Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People by Jon Entine, author of Taboo.My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer
The widely-repeated assertion by the Icelandic firm deCODE genetics that James Watson is 16% sub-Saharan black and 9% Asian (see, for instance, the new NY Times article "DNA Pioneer's Genome Blurs Race Lines") reminds me of one of the least understood contradictions in the conventional wisdom that Race Doesn't Exist:- The existence of the One-Drop... Read More
Coauthor John Hawks is a blogging his list of infrequently asked questions about his new paper on the speeding up of human evolution, including his answer to P-ter's criticism on GNXP.My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer
From the Times of London: JAMES WATSON, the DNA pioneer who claimed Africans are less intelligent than whites, has been found to have 16 times more genes of black origin than the average white European. An analysis of his genome shows that 16% of his genes are likely to have come from a black ancestor... Read More
Just as "Steve" is a notoriously common first name among people who write about evolution and genetics, "Wilson" is big in the human sciences.For decades, David Sloan Wilson has been fighting against the "selfish gene" orthodoxy in the "levels of selection" debate in evolutionary theory, arguing that "group selection" also frequently occurs. That never struck... Read More
As I mention in my new VDARE.com article, the climactic last two pages of James Watson's new memoir are devoted to how fast the price of genome sequencing is falling, which, as Watson emphasizes, will make inevitable major breakthroughs in understanding the genetic underpinnings of political hot potatoes like IQ. At FuturePundit, Randall Parker provides... Read More
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Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.


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