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Kalash women in traditional clothing

Kalash women in traditional clothing

Ayub Khan with a German general

Ayub Khan with a German general

If you read Nell Irvin Painter’s The History of White People you will learn that the white race is a social construction of relatively recent vintage. When I read her work in 2011 I was a touch annoyed by it, because a lot of interesting empirical data was shoehorned into her thesis and preferences. In relation to her putative topic, she wasn’t a big fan (I don’t doubt that Painter likes white people as humans, but she obviously thinks that the invention of the white race was not a good thing). I have serious reservations and objections to these sorts of Manichaean frameworks. And yet over the last few years I have come to a very different but new perspective: I believe white people emerged biologically only in the past 5,000 years, on the edge of history and prehistory. I think a plain reading of the race concept in biology is entirely defensible so long as you integrate population thinking. But, human races are not primordial. They aren’t even Pleistocene.

Book-cover-UK This brings us to the Kalash of Pakistan. They are pagans who live in the fastness of the Chitral. Their cousins on the other side of the border, in Afghanistan, are the Nuristanis, who were foricbly converted to Islam in the last decade of the 19th century. The Man Who Would be King takes place among the Nuristanis, who were then termed Kafirs. It was written in 1888, before the conversion to Islam. The Kalash were in British India, so spared from conversion. It seems unlikely that they will persist beyond this generation due to the social-political milieu of modern Pakistan, where religious toleration only exists for economic elites who can withdraw into their own private world. It was this context which drove Gerard Russsell to include the Kalash in his book Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East. The Kalash are not Middle Eastern, and are very different from various heterodox groups of the Middle East (who often have connections to the astral religion of Late Antiquity), but there is an urgency in recording their culture before it disappears.

Another major salient aspect of the Kalash is that they are mostly white. That is, if you took a Kalash man and dressed him in jeans and a baseball cape wouldn’t think twice if you saw him in a country music video. Let me quote from Man Who Would be King:

“‘In another six months,’ says Dravot, ‘we’ll hold another Communication and see how you are working.’ Then he asks them about their villages, and learns that they was fighting one against the other and were fair sick and tired of it. And when they wasn’t doing that they was fighting with the Mohammedans. ‘You can fight those when they come into our country,’ says Dravot. ‘Tell off every tenth man of your tribes for a Frontier guard, and send two hundred at a time to this valley to be drilled. Nobody is going to be shot or speared any more so long as he does well, and I know that you won’t cheat me because you’re white people — sons of Alexander — and not like common, black Mohammedans. You are my people and by God,’ says he, running off into English at the end — ‘I’ll make a damned fine Nation of you, or I’ll die in the making!’

And later:

… Dravot gives out that him and me were gods and sons of Alexander, and Past Grand-Masters in the Craft, and was come to make Kafiristan a country where every man should eat in peace and drink in quiet, and specially obey us. Then the Chiefs come round to shake hands, and they was so hairy and white and fair it was just shaking hands with old friends. We gave them names according as they was like men we had known in India — Billy Fish, Holly Dilworth, Pikky Kergan that was Bazar-master when I was at Mhow, and so on, and so on.

The genetics on the pigmentation loci make it clear why the Kalash are so fair. They are fixed at SLC24A5 for the derived variant. In fact their pigmentation genes are rather similar in allele frequency distribution to Sardinians (check SLC45A2 and OCA2/HERC2). In a European context the Kalash are not notably fair skinned, but a substantial number can clearly pass as white without difficulty because for all practical purposes they are white physically. The observations of Kipling’s narrator in Man Who Would be King holds true today, white Western journalists who need to pretend to be native in Afghanistan take on a Nuristani identity. Even if most Nuristanis and Kalash are not blue eyed and blonde haired, enough are that it is not totally implausible that a fair Northern European could pass as one of them.

Though the Nuristanis and Kalash are at one end of the distribution in South Asia, they’re not total aberrations. Many Pathans, for example, basically look white. Above I posted the photo of Ayub Khan, military dictator of Pakistan in the 1960s. He was an ethnic Pathan. Khan loomed large in my father’s recollection of this period. When he arrived in Pakistan to complete his master’s degree he was surprised that most people were not white like Ayub Khan!

Which brings me to the question, if a subset of people on the Northwest fringes of the Indian subcontinent are physically white, are they then related to the peoples of Europe to an inordinate level? In the 19th century the presumption was they were, insofar as these were “Lost White Races,” with some theorists positing connections between high caste Indians and Europeans as Aryans. These sorts of mental frameworks are not particularly unique to Europeans. I’m mostly finished with The Making of Modern Japan, and the Japanese immediately made an analogy in appearance between the Europeans entering their waters and the Ainu people to their North. And then there is the legend of Alexander. In particular, that the Kalash are descended from the Macedonians and Greeks who marched with Alexander. That in truth they are a lost European tribe. I get questions about this pretty much every three to four months. I always answer in the negative. There is no strong evidence of a specific connection. I’ve even made it into the Wikipedia entry for the Kalash:

Discover Magazine genetics blogger Razib Khan has repeatedly cited information indicating that the Kalash are an Indo-Iranian people with no Macedonian ethnic admixture.[47][48][49] A study by Hellenthal et al. (2014) on the DNA of the Kalash peopl evidence of input from Europe or the Middle East (the researchers could not pin down a precise geographic location) between 990 and 210 BC, a period that overlaps with that of Alexander the Great.[50][51]

Screenshot from 2015-08-08 17:24:22 The paper cited to offer up an opening to the possibility of Kalash connections to the Macedonians comes up frequently. It’s known to me, and though the group associated with it is top notch, and the results are certainly impressive, their interpretations are not bullet proof (and the authors are reasonably tentative). I went back and re-read the Hellenthal et al. paper, and checked out their awesome website where you can repeat their analyses. The screenshot to the left shows the Kalash admixture event. They have Greeks and Bulgarians in their data, but the gene flow is from Northern Europe.

Enough talk though. I have data, and will do some more analyses myself. The preliminaries. I took the Reich lab Haak et al. data set (it’s a subset of this), and yanked out a bunch of populations. Additionally, I took the four Yamnaya samples with the best quality genotypes, and created a data set where all their genotypes are included and those that they are missing are excluded (the –mind option in Plink). What I’m saying here is that the variation in the data set is skewed toward the good SNP calls in the ancient Yamnaya samples. After some more quality control I got down to 85,000 SNPs.

First, here is some PCA….



Rplot10 You can’t see it on the thumbnail, and the colors are confusing if you click it, but the Kalash sit square on the northwest edge of South Asian populations. Exactly where you’d expect them to be if they were indigenous to South Asia, and not European transplants. The earlier genetic markers I talked about were a narrow set related to pigmentation. This is genome-wide, sampled out of the 30 million polymorphisms. If you took the pigmentation related loci, Kalash would probably cluster on the edge of Europe. What this shows is that not all genes are representative of genome-wide patterns. SLC24A5 seems to have been subject to selection within South Asia, in situ.

Next I want to zoom in a bit to make a point. You probably want to click to enlarge, but from the top right to bottom left: Greeks, Lithuanians, Yamnaya, Pathan/Kalash.

Rplot11

You notice in this plot that the Kalash are closer to Lithuanians than Greeks. I think a fair minded person would say that the Kalash look more like Greeks than Lithuanians, that is, they’re brunette whites. But genome-wide data show that they are closer to Lithuanians! This is in line with the results you saw above from the Globetrotter genetic admixture methodology. Kalash affinities in Europe are not with Southern Europeans, but Northern Europeans.

Next, we’ll look at PC 3.

Rplot17 Click the image to see it bigger, what PC 3 in these data map onto is a Papuan (up top) and South Asia (bottom) axis. The Kalash are one of the most South Asian populations on this axis! Don’t make too much of this, as there aren’t any South Indian groups. But, it shows that there is something distinctive about the Kalash which is like many other South Asians, and not like Europeans. Not surprisingly the Iranian samples are somewhat shifted toward the South Asians.

The above plots are a bit cluttered. So let’s look at a subsample. Below is a zoom in. PC 1 separates East Asians (off to the left of the plot, not visible) from Europeans. PC 2 separates Yamnaya from everyone else (they are below the bottom edge). I’ve highlighted a few populations.

Rplot18

You can see that the Lithuanians are the most Yamnaya-shifted population. But the Kalash and other Northwest South Asian groups are Yamnaya shifted as well. Not surprisingly, the Druze and Sardinians are the least Yamnaya shifted. The Greeks are not notably Yamnaya shifted, though they are in comparison to the Sardinians.

Now we’ll run Treemix. The parameters -m = 5 and -k = 500. I ran a bunch of iterations. The plots are below.

KalashOut.10 KalashOut.9 KalashOut.7 KalashOut.8 KalashOut.6 KalashOut.4 KalashOut.5 KalashOut.2 KalashOut.3 KalashOut.1

The Kalash are drifted a lot. So they are a long branch often. But you see that most often they are near the other Northwest South Asians. There is no gene flow parameter from Europe. Though that’s probably a function of the other gene flow events being more much significant. So let’s cut down the data set to the same extent as with the PCA.

KalashNarrowOut10 KalashNarrowOut5 KalashNarrowOut6 KalashNarrowOut7 KalashNarrowOut8 KalashNarrowOut9 KalashNarrowOut1 KalashNarrowOut2 KalashNarrowOut3 KalashNarrowOut4

The Kalash are much closer to Europeans in these plots than some South Asians. But why? Clearly it is partly a function of the positioning and affinities of the Yamnaya. Additionally, the Kalash cluser with the Pathans, and to some extent other Northwest South Asians. Geography is stamped genome-wide.

Let me quote from the supplements of Hellenthal et al.:

The Kalash are a geographically and genetically (39) isolated population that have lived in a remote valley within present-day Pakistan for many centuries (40; 66). In the original (Full) analysis, the Kalash possess our oldest estimated date of most recent admixture, of 600BCE (990-210BCE), between sources best represented today by Germany-Austria (though within a range of potential European-related sources, e.g. represented by Turkey in the CentralAsia analysis; 35%) and the nearby Pathan (65%). Intriguingly, this period overlaps that of Alexander the Great (356-323BCE) whose army, local tradition holds, the Kalash are descended from (40). The history of this group is not known: our analysis suggests a major admixture event from a source related to present-day Western Eurasians, but we cannot identify the geographic origin of this ancient source precisely.

In the “Central Asia” analysis of Note S7.4 (but not in the “full” analysis), a very similar ancient admixture signal (always dated older than 90BCE) is seen in five nearby Pakistan populations: the Makrani, Balochi, and Brahui, and more weakly in the Pathan and Sindhi, but not identified in the most northerly groups. Ancient admixture involving sources related to East Asia is inferred in the easterly Burusho and tentatively (within a second signal) the Kalash. These older events are similar in date to that seen in the Kalash but involve less strongly European-like, and more West Asian like, sources (Figure 4; Figure S18), and pre-date recorded history for the region.

The power to detect the events seems a bit weak. Probably better phasing (they had 425,000 markers and used population-based methods) and sample coverage would help. But I think what they’re seeing here are two migration events. First, one with affinities to northern West Asia, which is the majority of the “Ancestral North Indian” (ANI) signal. It is overwhelming in the south and northeast of the subcontinent. A secondary wave probably relates to the Indo-Aryans. It is substantial in the northwestern regions, and less so as you proceed into the Gangetic plain, and present only among Brahmins and other migrants in southern India. It probably correlates well with lactase persistence. I suspect that the Jatts may actually have substantial ancestry from post-Aryan waves based on genetic results I’ve seen.

Where does this leave us in relation to the Kalash? Why is it that they look so much like European whites when phylogenetically they aren’t much more like European whites than many people around them. A few years ago I discussed Indian genetics with John Hawks, and one objection I had to the idea of a European-affiliated Indo-Aryan migration of any substantial demographic heft is that European pigmentation alleles are so rare in South Asians. I’m particularly thinking of European variations of SLC45A2 and OCA2/HERC2. I now understand that my assumptions were wrong. 4,000 years ago Europeans did not look like Europeans!

First, as outlined in Population genomics of Bronze Age Eurasia, Massive migration from the steppe was a source for Indo-European languages in Europe, and Eight thousand years of natural selection in Europe, the genetic character of Europeans as we understand it is a recent phenomenon. Second, as outlined in Genetic Evidence for Recent Population Mixture in India, the genetic character of South Asians is also a recent phenomenon. In fact, both are of the same period, with the finishing touches probably around ~3,000 to 4,000 years ago.

What does this mean? Well, it could be that the “white” phenotype emerged several times in variously related people. In other words, the similarities between the Kalash and Southern Europeans is due to convergence, not common descent. This is reasonable, since all the best evidence now suggests that in many ways the most ancient Southern European populations, such as Sardinians, are among the most distant from South Asians of the European groups. Of course some of the alleles for pigmentation are common. For example, SLC24A5 has a very explosive haplotype structure with little variation. It’s new across its whole range. There are some suggestions though that it is most diverse in the Middle East. It may have swept across all of Western Eurasia recently. Part of the expansion was demographic no doubt, but, part of it was also selection. So being part of the common network of demes, Southern Europeans and Northwest South Asians drew upon some of the same variation as part of their adaptive response to selection pressures.

200px-DarwinsRadio(1stEd) For skin color the standard explanations are out there. The sun, sexual selection, and changes wrought by agriculture. But can they really explain all these concurrent shifts across Eurasia? In Darwin’s Radio the science fiction author Greg Bear posits a genetic time-bomb within us all introduced by a virus that produces species wide saltation. So Neanderthals turned into modern humans almost immediately. It’s a science fiction story. But what about the idea of a disease which selects strongly for the derived variant of SLC24A5? The change in skin color is just a side effect. In fact in South Asia it’s not optimal, though with clothing and avoiding direct sun during the midday, people can deal with it. Instead of a great white race sweeping across Eurasia, I’m positing a great white plague. And not just for white people. What about the sweep around EDAR, which results in many of the characteristics so distinctive about East Asians. It’s a major development gene, but perhaps it too is a reaction to a disease?

linear-300x300 All these things lead me at a strange place. I think human population structure is a big deal. It’s real, it matters. Genetics, and genetic variation matters. But, I also think that a lot of it isn’t very deep in terms of time. That is, a lot of the genetic variation is mixed and matched of recent vintage. Rather than phylogenetic trees, there are reticulated graphs. But not only is the history of our species’ phylogeny radically conditional on the last 10,000 years, many of the salient physical characteristics are also recent, and seem to be popping up everywhere at the same time. And yet, remember Luke Jostins’ plot which showed parallel increase in encephalization across hominin lineages for millions of years? This may not be the first time that inevitable processes were driving many lineages toward the same end points.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity, Science • Tags: Genomics, Kalash 
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  1. Sunbeam says:

    I was going to be all smarty pants, so I idly googled up what cave paintings had to tell us. And lo and behold:

    “Not surprisingly, given the fact that humans are almost never depicted in Stone Age paintings,”

    I looked at a few human representations they have found. Very stylized, so you can’t find anything there.

    It’s like those cavemen were playing with us.

    Then I thought I might look at early writings. You know “Those people from up north look funny,” that kind of thing.

    But:

    “The earliest writing systems evolved independently and at roughly the same time in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but current scholarship suggests that Mesopotamia’s writing appeared first. That writing system, invented by the Sumerians, emerged in Mesopotamia around 3500 BCE. At first, this writing was representational: a bull might be represented by a picture of a bull, and a pictograph of barley signified the word barley. Though writing began as pictures, this system was inconvenient for conveying anything other than simple nouns, and it became increasingly abstract as it evolved to encompass more abstract concepts, eventually taking form in the world’s earliest writing: cuneiform. An increasingly complex civilization encouraged the development of an increasingly sophisticated form of writing. Cuneiform came to function both phonetically (representing a sound) and semantically (representing a meaning such as an object or concept) rather than only representing objects directly as a picture.”

    Okay maybe written language wasn’t advanced enough yet to record such notions. But lots of people had art.

    If something like “white people” is only 4000 years old, well shouldn’t we see some signs in art somewhere that some mutants were running around? We know that trade routes could cover a surprising amount of ground even in stone age cultures. Horse riding appears to have arisen by 3500 BC or so. These people just weren’t that immobile. Heck in America you would find seashells distributed very far inland, a long time before Columbus.

    Then too, if you put this event at 4000 years ago, what about Orientals (to mean the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mongol, etc). Do they predate whites? Arise totally independently? While they are darker skinned than whites in general, they still are melanin challenged compared to Indians and Africans.

    I dunno about your theory. It just seems to me you would find some kind of evidence somewhere, perhaps even written thought I’m not sure that is feasible. But painted on a vase or something? I don’t see how that wouldn’t have been recorded. I’m pretty sure that if everyone has a nice mocha shade of skin, some albino barbarian mutants would have been worth someone’s time to paint.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    your comment is kind of incoherent and unfocused. don't comment like that again or i'll ban you.
    , @Anonymous
    Your criticism is based on two misconceptions:

    1) That East Asians are uniformly darker-skinned, which a trip to any East Asia, particularily Japan or Northern China would disprove.

    2) That brown or olive-skinned societies invariably find pale people alien, which a visit to most Asian or Middle Eastern countries would disprove.
    , @Rdm
    --> "Do they predate whites? Arise totally independently? While they are darker skinned than whites in general, they still are melanin challenged compared to Indians and Africans."

    Some of the East Asians population, especially from northeastern side (Northern Chinese and Koreans) are even whiter than so-called "White" people in terms of skin complexion. The only difference that separates Europeans and East Asians eventually becomes facial structure.

    The term "White" appears no longer applicable to skin complexion these days. A guy from the UK, bronze-colored skin, is automatically regarded as "White" guy whereas a guy from Korea with pale skin is "Asian" guy.
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  2. @Sunbeam
    I was going to be all smarty pants, so I idly googled up what cave paintings had to tell us. And lo and behold:

    "Not surprisingly, given the fact that humans are almost never depicted in Stone Age paintings,"

    I looked at a few human representations they have found. Very stylized, so you can't find anything there.

    It's like those cavemen were playing with us.

    Then I thought I might look at early writings. You know "Those people from up north look funny," that kind of thing.

    But:

    "The earliest writing systems evolved independently and at roughly the same time in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but current scholarship suggests that Mesopotamia’s writing appeared first. That writing system, invented by the Sumerians, emerged in Mesopotamia around 3500 BCE. At first, this writing was representational: a bull might be represented by a picture of a bull, and a pictograph of barley signified the word barley. Though writing began as pictures, this system was inconvenient for conveying anything other than simple nouns, and it became increasingly abstract as it evolved to encompass more abstract concepts, eventually taking form in the world’s earliest writing: cuneiform. An increasingly complex civilization encouraged the development of an increasingly sophisticated form of writing. Cuneiform came to function both phonetically (representing a sound) and semantically (representing a meaning such as an object or concept) rather than only representing objects directly as a picture."

    Okay maybe written language wasn't advanced enough yet to record such notions. But lots of people had art.

    If something like "white people" is only 4000 years old, well shouldn't we see some signs in art somewhere that some mutants were running around? We know that trade routes could cover a surprising amount of ground even in stone age cultures. Horse riding appears to have arisen by 3500 BC or so. These people just weren't that immobile. Heck in America you would find seashells distributed very far inland, a long time before Columbus.

    Then too, if you put this event at 4000 years ago, what about Orientals (to mean the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mongol, etc). Do they predate whites? Arise totally independently? While they are darker skinned than whites in general, they still are melanin challenged compared to Indians and Africans.

    I dunno about your theory. It just seems to me you would find some kind of evidence somewhere, perhaps even written thought I'm not sure that is feasible. But painted on a vase or something? I don't see how that wouldn't have been recorded. I'm pretty sure that if everyone has a nice mocha shade of skin, some albino barbarian mutants would have been worth someone's time to paint.

    your comment is kind of incoherent and unfocused. don’t comment like that again or i’ll ban you.

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    • Disagree: Wizard of Oz
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  3. Charlotte says:

    You might not like this comment any better, but here goes — I have wondered for some time if the fitness advantage depigmentation confers, once it emerges, might be related to — well, to put it as delicately as possible, the fitness advantage it continues to confer on its possessors in the American Deep South, where I live. That is, depigmentation operates to stably distinguish and set a boundary between an in-group and an out-group, in circumstances where membership in the in-group carries with it serious social advantages, and the reverse is true of membership in the out-group.

    I’ve noted that many human societies have done irreversible things to their children to mark them as members of the group – tattooing, circumcision, skull-flattening by use of a cradleboard, and so on. Others use equally hard to remove behavioral markers like accents, possession of skills that have to be acquired early, and so on. But depigmented skin and light eyes may work even better, because these markers are present at birth as well as irreversible. (Despite the popularity of “fairness creams” in the Indian subcontinent, it is much easier to darken light skin than to lighten dark skin.) So, the possession of depigmented skin and light eyes itself would not have conferred any particular fitness advantage on their possessors, but membership in the in-group would, and membership in the in-group would have been signalled by having fair skin and light eyes.

    Someone who knows more about all this than I do ought to be able to come up with a way of making this into a testable hypothesis, if it seems worthwhile to do so.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    you were concise. that's good for most commenters.

    (Despite the popularity of “fairness creams” in the Indian subcontinent, it is much easier to darken light skin than to lighten dark skin.)

    well, genetically it's the other way around. but yes, facultatively.

    the issue isn't whether markers can exist, it's their nature. as it is btw humans have a very good markers which isn't biologically encoded: accent. it's a hard-to-fake group marker after age early adolescence.

    if i wanted to make your argument less naive and more interesting i'd suggest: the reason that skin color variation became much more relevant over the last 10,000 years is that inter-group competition became more intense.

    the major problem with your thesis is if it is a marker, like tatoos or accent, it's a little weird that it varies clinally and there's not much variation across huge regions. pre-modern groups did not scale very far.
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  4. @Charlotte
    You might not like this comment any better, but here goes -- I have wondered for some time if the fitness advantage depigmentation confers, once it emerges, might be related to -- well, to put it as delicately as possible, the fitness advantage it continues to confer on its possessors in the American Deep South, where I live. That is, depigmentation operates to stably distinguish and set a boundary between an in-group and an out-group, in circumstances where membership in the in-group carries with it serious social advantages, and the reverse is true of membership in the out-group.

    I've noted that many human societies have done irreversible things to their children to mark them as members of the group - tattooing, circumcision, skull-flattening by use of a cradleboard, and so on. Others use equally hard to remove behavioral markers like accents, possession of skills that have to be acquired early, and so on. But depigmented skin and light eyes may work even better, because these markers are present at birth as well as irreversible. (Despite the popularity of "fairness creams" in the Indian subcontinent, it is much easier to darken light skin than to lighten dark skin.) So, the possession of depigmented skin and light eyes itself would not have conferred any particular fitness advantage on their possessors, but membership in the in-group would, and membership in the in-group would have been signalled by having fair skin and light eyes.

    Someone who knows more about all this than I do ought to be able to come up with a way of making this into a testable hypothesis, if it seems worthwhile to do so.

    you were concise. that’s good for most commenters.

    (Despite the popularity of “fairness creams” in the Indian subcontinent, it is much easier to darken light skin than to lighten dark skin.)

    well, genetically it’s the other way around. but yes, facultatively.

    the issue isn’t whether markers can exist, it’s their nature. as it is btw humans have a very good markers which isn’t biologically encoded: accent. it’s a hard-to-fake group marker after age early adolescence.

    if i wanted to make your argument less naive and more interesting i’d suggest: the reason that skin color variation became much more relevant over the last 10,000 years is that inter-group competition became more intense.

    the major problem with your thesis is if it is a marker, like tatoos or accent, it’s a little weird that it varies clinally and there’s not much variation across huge regions. pre-modern groups did not scale very far.

    Read More
    • Replies: @iffen

    the major problem with your thesis is if it is a marker
     
    Has it not been a marker for the last thousand years or so?
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  5. SD says:

    I have a very basic question.
    Kalash people have around 20-25% ASI. So how much of this contributes to them not looking like (not as white as) North Europeans though they have SLC24A5 ?

    Also, the admixture percentage of Kalash and Pathan is same as per Harappadna. So, did you still expect Kalash to cluster differently and why?

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    So how much of this contributes to them not looking like (not as white as) North Europeans though they have SLC24A5 ?

    we don't now. remember, modern europeans have huge swaths of their ancestry which we now know weren't fixed at all for SLC24A5, but now if you look in the 1000 genomes you only find a few copies of the ancestral variant out of THOUSANDS. even stuff like facial structure seems to evolve a fair amount on a 10,000 year scale.

    of course overall i assume their non-european look is more likely to be ASI derived than not. but perhaps a lot less than we might think, since the ancestral state of europeans was a lot different.

    Also, the admixture percentage of Kalash and Pathan is same as per Harappadna. So, did you still expect Kalash to cluster differently and why?


    if you don't do outlier pruning the kalash are more "pure." kind of like how assyrian christians are less cosmopolitan genomically than their arab neighbors. second, they are very drifted. those are the major differences.
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  6. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Sunbeam
    I was going to be all smarty pants, so I idly googled up what cave paintings had to tell us. And lo and behold:

    "Not surprisingly, given the fact that humans are almost never depicted in Stone Age paintings,"

    I looked at a few human representations they have found. Very stylized, so you can't find anything there.

    It's like those cavemen were playing with us.

    Then I thought I might look at early writings. You know "Those people from up north look funny," that kind of thing.

    But:

    "The earliest writing systems evolved independently and at roughly the same time in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but current scholarship suggests that Mesopotamia’s writing appeared first. That writing system, invented by the Sumerians, emerged in Mesopotamia around 3500 BCE. At first, this writing was representational: a bull might be represented by a picture of a bull, and a pictograph of barley signified the word barley. Though writing began as pictures, this system was inconvenient for conveying anything other than simple nouns, and it became increasingly abstract as it evolved to encompass more abstract concepts, eventually taking form in the world’s earliest writing: cuneiform. An increasingly complex civilization encouraged the development of an increasingly sophisticated form of writing. Cuneiform came to function both phonetically (representing a sound) and semantically (representing a meaning such as an object or concept) rather than only representing objects directly as a picture."

    Okay maybe written language wasn't advanced enough yet to record such notions. But lots of people had art.

    If something like "white people" is only 4000 years old, well shouldn't we see some signs in art somewhere that some mutants were running around? We know that trade routes could cover a surprising amount of ground even in stone age cultures. Horse riding appears to have arisen by 3500 BC or so. These people just weren't that immobile. Heck in America you would find seashells distributed very far inland, a long time before Columbus.

    Then too, if you put this event at 4000 years ago, what about Orientals (to mean the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mongol, etc). Do they predate whites? Arise totally independently? While they are darker skinned than whites in general, they still are melanin challenged compared to Indians and Africans.

    I dunno about your theory. It just seems to me you would find some kind of evidence somewhere, perhaps even written thought I'm not sure that is feasible. But painted on a vase or something? I don't see how that wouldn't have been recorded. I'm pretty sure that if everyone has a nice mocha shade of skin, some albino barbarian mutants would have been worth someone's time to paint.

    Your criticism is based on two misconceptions:

    1) That East Asians are uniformly darker-skinned, which a trip to any East Asia, particularily Japan or Northern China would disprove.

    2) That brown or olive-skinned societies invariably find pale people alien, which a visit to most Asian or Middle Eastern countries would disprove.

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    don't respond to low signal comments.
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  7. @SD
    @Razib Khan

    I have a very basic question.
    Kalash people have around 20-25% ASI. So how much of this contributes to them not looking like (not as white as) North Europeans though they have SLC24A5 ?

    Also, the admixture percentage of Kalash and Pathan is same as per Harappadna. So, did you still expect Kalash to cluster differently and why?

    So how much of this contributes to them not looking like (not as white as) North Europeans though they have SLC24A5 ?

    we don’t now. remember, modern europeans have huge swaths of their ancestry which we now know weren’t fixed at all for SLC24A5, but now if you look in the 1000 genomes you only find a few copies of the ancestral variant out of THOUSANDS. even stuff like facial structure seems to evolve a fair amount on a 10,000 year scale.

    of course overall i assume their non-european look is more likely to be ASI derived than not. but perhaps a lot less than we might think, since the ancestral state of europeans was a lot different.

    Also, the admixture percentage of Kalash and Pathan is same as per Harappadna. So, did you still expect Kalash to cluster differently and why?

    if you don’t do outlier pruning the kalash are more “pure.” kind of like how assyrian christians are less cosmopolitan genomically than their arab neighbors. second, they are very drifted. those are the major differences.

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  8. @Anonymous
    Your criticism is based on two misconceptions:

    1) That East Asians are uniformly darker-skinned, which a trip to any East Asia, particularily Japan or Northern China would disprove.

    2) That brown or olive-skinned societies invariably find pale people alien, which a visit to most Asian or Middle Eastern countries would disprove.

    don’t respond to low signal comments.

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  9. I’m curious what you might have to say about the other prominent feature (in my mind) of white people — what I’d describe as a “pyramidal nose”, in contrast to the flatter, wider noses of africans and asians. I’ve met one or two Han Chinese with very prominent, pointed noses, but such a nose is very rare for them. I thought Indians (um, speaking in general… I don’t have any grasp of details here) were an interesting case of a population exhibiting dark skin in combination with white facial features.

    For the spread of “white people”, I’d be interested in what statues from egypt and the middle east look like over time. I know there are statues of egyptian (native egyptian) pharaohs that look white. But I just checked wikipedia for Senusret III (19th century BC) and his statues exhibit what I’d think of as a nonwhite nose. (Here’s one:) So that’s some meager support for white people spreading within the last 4000 years.

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    i'm focusing on pigmentation. i think you need to decouple features. many nordic people look vaguely asiatic (e.g., bjork though she's extreme). the high relief face you are talking about is more common mediterraneans, and probably before they were depigmented. in other words, the archetypical coloring for 'white people' peaks in northern europe, but the archetypical facial form might be in southwest europe. e.g..

    tibetans and amerindians two populations who are known to have longer noses of the sort you are talking about.
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  10. Rider says:

    Tidbits to add to your article for the readers: from my discussions with her, I can say that Nell does not hate white people; she is also married to one. It is true she doesn’t favor the construct, but it is mostly because the construct became associated with class. As people moved within wealth (Irish, Italians, etc.), they became part of the construct… and obviously, one can recognize the limitations of the construct from this perspective.

    On the Kalash:

    There are three sub-groups to the Indo-Iranian language family:

    - Indo-Aryan languages
    - Iranian languages
    - Nuristani (and other related Kalash, Kafir, etc.) languages

    In other words, the Nuristani/Kafir/Kalash languages are a very old group of the original Indo-Iranian (Aryan) languages. And from your genetic data above, the genetic descendents of these speakers.

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    i think it's defensible to say that they are basal to pathan and other groups. these also have more interaction with other populations.
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  11. @Michael Watts
    I'm curious what you might have to say about the other prominent feature (in my mind) of white people -- what I'd describe as a "pyramidal nose", in contrast to the flatter, wider noses of africans and asians. I've met one or two Han Chinese with very prominent, pointed noses, but such a nose is very rare for them. I thought Indians (um, speaking in general... I don't have any grasp of details here) were an interesting case of a population exhibiting dark skin in combination with white facial features.

    For the spread of "white people", I'd be interested in what statues from egypt and the middle east look like over time. I know there are statues of egyptian (native egyptian) pharaohs that look white. But I just checked wikipedia for Senusret III (19th century BC) and his statues exhibit what I'd think of as a nonwhite nose. (Here's one: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Senwosret_III%2C_ca._1836-1818_B.C.E._Granite.jpg ) So that's some meager support for white people spreading within the last 4000 years.

    i’m focusing on pigmentation. i think you need to decouple features. many nordic people look vaguely asiatic (e.g., bjork though she’s extreme). the high relief face you are talking about is more common mediterraneans, and probably before they were depigmented. in other words, the archetypical coloring for ‘white people’ peaks in northern europe, but the archetypical facial form might be in southwest europe. e.g..

    tibetans and amerindians two populations who are known to have longer noses of the sort you are talking about.

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  12. btw, just so people are clear and don’t take me too seriously, the ‘white plague’ idea is only half serious. i don’t really have a good explanation, and none of the ones out there work. so disease is as good as any other explanation…

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  13. @Rider
    Tidbits to add to your article for the readers: from my discussions with her, I can say that Nell does not hate white people; she is also married to one. It is true she doesn't favor the construct, but it is mostly because the construct became associated with class. As people moved within wealth (Irish, Italians, etc.), they became part of the construct... and obviously, one can recognize the limitations of the construct from this perspective.

    On the Kalash:

    There are three sub-groups to the Indo-Iranian language family:

    - Indo-Aryan languages
    - Iranian languages
    - Nuristani (and other related Kalash, Kafir, etc.) languages

    In other words, the Nuristani/Kafir/Kalash languages are a very old group of the original Indo-Iranian (Aryan) languages. And from your genetic data above, the genetic descendents of these speakers.

    i think it’s defensible to say that they are basal to pathan and other groups. these also have more interaction with other populations.

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  14. jamesjw says:

    Interesting, but why should such a “white plague” tend to correspond with areas where sunlight is relatively weak?

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    slc24a5 iss at 50% in south india, and has been under selection in north india and ethiopia.
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  15. jamesjw says:

    And, regarding my prior comment, did southern Europeans get a higher dose of plague than northern Europeans, etc?

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  16. @jamesjw
    Interesting, but why should such a "white plague" tend to correspond with areas where sunlight is relatively weak?

    slc24a5 iss at 50% in south india, and has been under selection in north india and ethiopia.

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  17. SD says:

    I have Rs1426654 which is one of the 3 SNPS of SLC24a5 and the value I have for Rs1426654 is ‘AA’. AA is associated with lighter skin. I have ancestry from both North and South India.
    According to the below paper:

    http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1003912

    this SNP Rs1426654 influences skin pigmentation in India.

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    like it said, it's common in south asia. i'm AA as well (as are both my parents).
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  18. Matt_ says:

    For skeletal phenotype, its quite complex to characterise (with pigment mostly just one major dimension of variance right?). But we have physical anthropology and this often bins paleolithic Europeans, modern west Eurasians and farmers in the same cluster. Always hard to say how much this relates to measurement variable choice though. Dienekes pontikos blog is a decent place to look for this.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004724841400178X is an interesting paper comparing facial shape between Uyghur, Tibet, han and Europeans inc nose . There is some distinction in uyghur-han shape dimensions vs european-han (and Uyghur closer to han) which will probably relate to european-indo Iranian difference.

    Morphologically edges of the range of west Eurasians (e.g. far north, south) may not be more similar to outgroups so much as less archetypal (i.e. archetypal = simultaneously highly typical for group and differentiated from outgroup, neither alone makes archetypal).

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  19. Leftist conservative [AKA "lcon"] says:

    I completely agree–environmental pressures shape the race and cause certain genes to be expressed, resulting in different appearances.

    Australia is the perfect example–4 subraces: 1) the gracile and typical aborigine; 2) the now extinct robust proto-caucasoid Murrayians of the temperate southeast; 3) the tasmanians; and 4) the negrito of the northern jungles.

    All share the same genetic code, but they have different physical appearances.

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  20. panjoomby says:

    “…it could be that the “white” phenotype emerged several times in variously related people…due to convergence, not common descent.”

    bingo!

    driven by the evolutionary arms race/escape from disease, & in only the last 4 or 5000 years.
    excellent insights — there’s your book!

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  21. @SD
    I have Rs1426654 which is one of the 3 SNPS of SLC24a5 and the value I have for Rs1426654 is 'AA'. AA is associated with lighter skin. I have ancestry from both North and South India.
    According to the below paper:
    http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1003912
    this SNP Rs1426654 influences skin pigmentation in India.

    like it said, it’s common in south asia. i’m AA as well (as are both my parents).

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  22. These TreeMix graphs are quite congruent with what David found, northwest South Asian populations and Yamnaya/Afanasievo consistently cluster together. I think this is why a migration edge between Yamnaya and northwest South Asians never takes place on these graphs, since these trees have them as already being quite similar. The PCA plots also show the closeness.

    A side note, but I’d modify one aspect of SD’s question. It’s a very minor point, but I’d still like to note it. The Kalash and Pashtuns don’t seem to be 20%-25% ENA. Rather, they are probably around 10%-15% ENA. This is what qpAdm consistently shows, and whenever TreeMix has a migration edge from a purely ENA reference to these populations, that is the range we’ve seen (David’s trees had the Kalash at 12% ENA).

    In terms of phenotype, if one visits the region, one finds that anywhere from 10%-20% of Pashtun males can pass in northern Europe. But, if one expands “white” to mean passing in any part of Europe, I’d say around 40% of Pashtun males can do so (although certain tribal groups among Pashtuns show much higher frequencies of such phenotypes than 40%, and some much lower than 40%). With other northern Pakistani ethnic groups, perhaps a range of 50%-60% (but again, that’s with an expansive definition of “white” which includes the Balkans, Greece, Italy, and the Iberian peninsula). I think what you write here, “… being part of the common network of demes, Southern Europeans and Northwest South Asians drew upon some of the same variation as part of their adaptive response to selection pressures…” is the best explanation I’ve ever seen for this.

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  23. Balaji says:

    Peter Frost believes that Europeans evolved their distinctive eye, hair and skin color about 10,000 to 25,000 years ago due to sexual selection. His arguments sound persuasive to me.

    http://www.unz.com/pfrost/the-puzzle-of-european-hair-eye-and-skin-color-2/

    I know that the La Brana hunter gatherer might have been darker skinned. But then he was from sunny Spain.

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    skeptical. not impossible. i've known of peter's ideas for years.

    the luxembourg HG was dark too. also, you should look up where la brana is. it's not "sunny spain" :-)

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4f/SolarGIS-Solar-map-Spain-en.png
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  24. @Balaji
    Peter Frost believes that Europeans evolved their distinctive eye, hair and skin color about 10,000 to 25,000 years ago due to sexual selection. His arguments sound persuasive to me.

    http://www.unz.com/pfrost/the-puzzle-of-european-hair-eye-and-skin-color-2/

    I know that the La Brana hunter gatherer might have been darker skinned. But then he was from sunny Spain.

    skeptical. not impossible. i’ve known of peter’s ideas for years.

    the luxembourg HG was dark too. also, you should look up where la brana is. it’s not “sunny spain” :-)

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  25. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that while archeogenetics showed that West European Hunters were brown skinned and blue eyed, that Early European Farmers, while dark of hair and eye, tended to have light skin? I presumed they looked rather similar to contemporary southern Europeans – or perhaps Near Easterners who did not have later Sub-Saharan African admixture (e.g., Assyrians, Cypriots, Christian Lebanese).

    If we were talking about the concept of “whiteness” in say an Australian context (where even Greeks are seen as nonwhite), I think it would be fair to say that white people didn’t exist 4,000 years ago. But no one within the U.S. context say denies the whiteness of someone like Ralph Nader or Tony Shalhoub.

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    defensible. but slc45a2 derived freq below modern levantines. probably below 0.5. (mathieson says 0.2 and the willerslev data say says 0.45). but yeah, you make a good point

    http://www.unzcloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/slc45a2.jpg

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  26. @Karl Zimmerman
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that while archeogenetics showed that West European Hunters were brown skinned and blue eyed, that Early European Farmers, while dark of hair and eye, tended to have light skin? I presumed they looked rather similar to contemporary southern Europeans - or perhaps Near Easterners who did not have later Sub-Saharan African admixture (e.g., Assyrians, Cypriots, Christian Lebanese).

    If we were talking about the concept of "whiteness" in say an Australian context (where even Greeks are seen as nonwhite), I think it would be fair to say that white people didn't exist 4,000 years ago. But no one within the U.S. context say denies the whiteness of someone like Ralph Nader or Tony Shalhoub.

    defensible. but slc45a2 derived freq below modern levantines. probably below 0.5. (mathieson says 0.2 and the willerslev data say says 0.45). but yeah, you make a good point

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  27. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    If we’re on the topic of skeletal phenotypes/shape variation, here are another two studies on comparative craniometrics (I think I’ve posted them earlier on gnxp IIRC), these two mainly focus on Indians (and other south Asians) wrt global variation:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3886603/ (This one also compares different Indian sub-populations to each other.)

    http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jay_Stock/publication/227092233_Cranial_diversity_in_South_Asia_relative_to_modern_human_dispersals_and_global_patterns_of_human_variation/links/09e4150641bd1c8558000000.pdf (While this has a greater variety of other non-Indian south Asian samples, and also compares ancient S Asian crania to modern populations.)

    Doesn’t exactly reveal anything new, just that Indians/S Asians are a gracile, small-bodied, small-featured population with sharper/protrusive mid-facial features in comparison to Europeans and Middle-Easterners (and ofc by that, the East Asian, Aboriginal Australian and African populations too). And that those from the Northwest of the subcontinent (Pakistanis in general and Punjabis) are more robust than the Southerners. Andamanese are the odd ones out.

    Interestingly, the archaic cranial series cluster with modern-day Sri Lankan populations who were found to be rather distinct from the mainlanders (didn’t expect that).

    This study compares Han populations from East, South, Central and Southwest regions of China. http://goo.gl/zrMbXr

    Hans from the southwest seem differentiated from the rest. Narrower longer faces, longer noses, etc. Why such a difference between them and the Southern Han? Seems odd.

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  28. I wonder if selection to specific cultural and ecological conditions can explain similar physical appearances in in genetical distant populations.

    Old anthropology texts include Melanasians as part of the negroid race, genetically this obviously false but I wonder if there actually a relevant taxonomic information there. Negroidlike physiological in both cases maybe an adaption to tropical environments with high polygyny and tuber based horticulture. Peter Frost as pointed out the similarity in sexual selection in both groups.

    Similarly we see pygmy types pop up repeatedly in tropical forest with no special genetic similarity.

    White physiology could be seen as morphotype that is one likely solution to specific set of ecological and economic factors found repeatedly in eurasia, Disease may be part of this but I think you can posit a more general set of factors.

    I don’t know anything about the Kalash really so I don’t know if there is anything specific to their cultural or ecological environment which would make them more likely to end up like southern europeans then other south asians, in the same way their is analogous evolution in melanasians and west africans.

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  29. ohwilleke says: • Website

    Re the Great White Plague hypothesis.

    1. The other thing that happened as the same time that light skin emerged in these populations, perhaps due to selective fitness effects is that lactase persistance went from zero to near fixation in one of the most remarkable known instances of fitness based selection in modern humans of all time.

    2. Both light skin and LP help people get Vitamin D in their systems.

    3. Vitamin D has immunity related effects which rival its calcium processing effects that help bones to develop.

    4. The 4.2 ky climate event also coincides. These was a period of intense aridity that effected a region spanning at least from the Indus River Valley to Mesopotamia and probably further, in the geographic region where the light skinned phenotype gained prominence. Intense aridity was accompanied by illness in the Middle East, at least, where we have written records, and there is a widely shared hypothesis that the Middle Eastern pork taboo that is now a part of Judaism and Islam originated during the 4.2 ky climate event.

    5. If a 4.2 ky climate event induced disease were particularly responsive to Vitamin D in particular, and relatively insensitive to other kinds of immune function, then this could be a common cause for intense selection for light skin and LP.

    6. Such a disease could also provide a real historical foundation for the events accounted in the legendary historical material of the Book of Exodus. If there were Semitic people in Egypt at the time, the pastoralist Jewish people may have had more LP and lighter skin (due to Semitic origins to the further North) than the Egyptians and hence been spared relative to Egyptians by your hypothetical plague, which they interpreted as divine intervention.

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  30. ohwilleke says: • Website

    One disease which is responsive to Vitamin D http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855046/ and was resurgent in many parts of the world in the early Bronze Age was Tubercullosis (TB) (Southeast Asia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze_Age ; Jordan http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/391058 ; Egypt http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12376865 ; Hungary possibly http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17308812)

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  31. Matt_ says:

    Another Vijay: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3886603/ (This one also compares different Indian sub-populations to each other.)

    Reading through this one out of curiosity, interesting differences that seem to line up with what observations would suggest:

    “For instance, Caucasoids resemble Indians in their moderately wide biasterionic breadth and narrow faces, but differ in their lower transverse craniofacial index and narrower bimaxillary breadth and nasal aperture.”

    Europeans have narrower palate and nose (pretty expected climatic correlation) and a higher “transverse craniofacial index” (e.g. face is narrower at cheekbones relative to the width of the braincase).

    The midfacial protrusion is an interesting one as the South Asians are really different from everyone else on the frontal flatness index (how far forward the nasion, the furthest forward nasal bone, is relative to the maximum facial breadth). And even more so the orbital flatness (depth of the orbit measured by the dacryon subtense divided by the breadth of the orbit). That’s explicit in their table 8 where the comparisons find no populations similar to them on these variables. While the flatness of the nasal bones in isolation comparable for Europeans as measured by simotic index and nasodacryl index, (and high for world)and the flatness of the zygomaxilla is also comparable to Europeans.

    So it seems like a really distinctive facial cranial trait of the Indians is on average a uniquely relatively deep orbit in front of which is a more similar and pretty “sharp” boned nasal complex to Europeans (just with a relatively broader aperture, so probably wider nasal wings / ala). The European sample by contrast has an an orbital depth / index that’s more comparable to other world populations and Egypt is intermediate with Europe and South Asia. Probably gives a pretty strong profile in relief that is distinct from the European one.

    I wonder if this has any advantages in terms of vision problems, as some vision problems relate to having an orbit that fits imperfectly with the eyeball, compressing it. Although this is more shape than volume, so perhaps not. Might also suggest that the nasal bone shape is more of a unifying trait of the Indian-European etc. West Eurasian populations while the orbital depth is more of an internally variable thing.

    These cranial shape papers are always really complicated to visualize so I may have got the above wrong).

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  32. Truth says:

    In Scarsdale, Beverly Hills, and Miami Beach, they’re a rhinoplasty.

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  33. Neanderthals are always presented as fair skinned (though I guess you’ve posited they could have been more diverse than that http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2012/03/neanderthals-came-in-all-colors/#.VcrmBPlVhBc ). Considering the 4,000 year time frame you give, that means fair-skinned neanderthals had to be convergent evolution right? From what we know, where their skin pigments anything like Europeans/Kalash with SLC24A5 or was it caused by a separate set of genes?

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  34. In fact in South Asia it’s not optimal, though with clothing and avoiding direct sun during the midday, people can deal with it.

    Isn’t that somewhat backwards? IIRC from my university days, the best strategy to stay cool in a hot and not too humid climate is to wear a thin layer of clothes that keeps the sun of your skin while allowing perspiration to wick through and evaporate. In very humid climates the perspiration doesn’t evaporate from the clothing fast enough, so wearing fewer clothes is the better strategy. So whether your skin is light or dark, in a lot of case you’ll want to use clothing to protect yourself from the sun as a simple matter of heat regulation.

    Obviously a lot of South Asia is really fricken humid though… but I wouldn’t think it would be an issue for the Kalash at least, no?

    I’d be curious though… how maladaptive to you find SLC24a5 for yourself? Do you have to protect yourself from sunburns? (I’m so pale that I find it somewhat mystifying that some people can tolerate the sun lol… so I have how much this varies with skin colour exactly).

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  35. Bill P says:

    If you read Nell Irvin Painter’s The History of White People you will learn that the white race is a social construction of relatively recent vintage

    Cool, so me and my kids can get in line for affirmative action now, right?

    But seriously, maybe lighter pigmentation isn’t the result of a disease, but rather what it is usually associated with: less solar radiation.

    So maybe there was a giant eruption or an impact event like the proposed the Burckle crater that drastically reduced sunlight for some time.

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  36. Whatever says:

    in the Levant you can also find people with light skin and hair, I’v seen ginger Syrians before. Do you think that these sorts of features developed independently in the Levant or are they the results of past European blood?.

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    The current patriarch of the Syrian Jacobite church is ginger.
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  37. Jefferson says:

    “If you read Nell Irvin Painter’s The History of White People you will learn that the white race is a social construction of relatively recent vintage.”.

    Some Americans believe White is a social construct because of the history of race and Whiteness in the U.S. Most Ellis Island Jews, Irish, Slavs, and Italians were the racial Other when they first landed in an America dominated by British Mayflower descendents. They only lost their Other status and became White later on. And than there is the whole one drop rule passing phenomenon where some people in the U.S can be born Black but later be listed as White on their death certificate if they were Caucasian looking enough and wanted to pass as a White person. Hispanics are all classified as White when they commit crimes, but are all classified as Nonwhite for affirmative action purposes. Indians in the U.S were at one time legally White but now they are no longer legally White and are racially lumped in with Filipinos, Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, etc into a broad category called Asian.

    The history of Whiteness in the U.S has had a lot of shades of gray, it wasn’t always so clear cut dry black and white. So I can see why some American historians believe Whiteness is a social construct that either can be broadened or narrowed depending on who you ask. Puerto Rico for example is listed as being a 75 percent White island despite the fact that the vast majority of Puerto Ricans are Mixed Race. People can look at that say that is an example of why Whiteness is a social construct. All North Africans are lumped into the White category in the U.S census even though traces of Sub Saharan admixture are found in groups like Egyptians, Yemenis and Moroccans for example.

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  38. iffen says:
    @Razib Khan
    you were concise. that's good for most commenters.

    (Despite the popularity of “fairness creams” in the Indian subcontinent, it is much easier to darken light skin than to lighten dark skin.)

    well, genetically it's the other way around. but yes, facultatively.

    the issue isn't whether markers can exist, it's their nature. as it is btw humans have a very good markers which isn't biologically encoded: accent. it's a hard-to-fake group marker after age early adolescence.

    if i wanted to make your argument less naive and more interesting i'd suggest: the reason that skin color variation became much more relevant over the last 10,000 years is that inter-group competition became more intense.

    the major problem with your thesis is if it is a marker, like tatoos or accent, it's a little weird that it varies clinally and there's not much variation across huge regions. pre-modern groups did not scale very far.

    the major problem with your thesis is if it is a marker

    Has it not been a marker for the last thousand years or so?

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  39. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    ,

    I have seen many Afghan refugees in UK & Germany who are even less “Indian” genetically then Pak pashtuns, 10% of passing them as Europeans is exaggeration. And 40-50% passing in southern is again not true at all, middle eastern like Levant, Turks etc better passes in South Europe then Afghans.

    Kalash and Kafirs indeed on average are more fairer/white,


    “I know that you won’t cheat me because you’re white people — sons of Alexander — and not like common, black Mohammedans.”

    We have to remember black Mohammedans here are not Indians east of indus but Afghans like pashtuns looking at where they are located, far away from any indic. For them pashtuns were “Indians” like.

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    • Replies: @SeinundZeit
    Doogee,

    I guess one must actually travel in the region to truly know how people vary in terms of physical appearance. Based on what I saw there, those percentages are accurate/reflective. Although, at the end of the day, we are dealing with subjective impressions.

    For whatever it's worth, Carleton Stevens Coon claimed the existence of a "very persistent Nordic strain" among "Pathans". Sir Auriel Stein claimed the same thing, but he was more specific, restricting the "Nordic strain" to Afridi Pashtuns (not sure why).

    Also, I haven't read "Man Who Would be King", but there is a vast amount of colonial British literature filled with supposedly "factual" information on Pashtuns. These people spilled a lot of ink on the topic of "unruly Pathans", which makes sense if one takes into consideration British political policy in the "borderlands". Regardless, their "racial descriptions" of "Pathans" are consistently very different from anything like "black Mohammedans", rather the exact opposite. Again, there is a lot of stuff to examine, but I'll only quote a few things.

    Mountstuart Elphinstone visited Afghanistan when "Afghanistan" also included FATA and KPK in Pakistan. He refers to modern Afghanistan + FATA + KPK as the "Kingdom of Kabul". He uses the term "Afghan" only to refer to Pashtuns. Other ethic groups in that nation are referred to by their actual ethnic designation (Uzbek, Tajik, etc). Here is what he notes about Pashtuns:

    "But an English traveller (sic)... would be pleased with the cold climate, elevated by the wild and novel scenery, and delighted by meeting many of the productions of his native land. He would first be struck... with the appearance of the people... He would admire their strong and active forms, their fair complexions and European features, their industry and enterprise, the hospitality, sobriety, and contempt of pleasure which appear in all their habits..."

    Describing the Yusufzai Pashtuns of Pakistan:

    "They are generally stout men, but their form and complexion admits of much variety. In those whose appearance is most characteristic of their tribe, one is struck with their fair complexions, grey eyes, and red beards, by the military affection of their carriage, and by their haughty and insolent demeanour (sic)."

    Describing the Pakistani Pashtun tribes of the southern Karlani belt:

    "They are tall, fair men..."

    "... being large bony men, often fair, and always wearing long hair and beards..."

    "... tall and muscular, of fair complexions and high features... their appearance may be conceived to be wild and terrible."

    Then there is Sir George Campbell:

    "In truth, the Pathans are of all people in this world the most democratic, the least subject to authority, the most independent. Physically they are one of the finest races created by God (my response: lol) ..."

    Finally (as not to get annoying with the quotes), there is the "People of India" series:

    "Many of the Pathans in general, are as fair and ruddy as Europeans, with light brown hair and beards, and blue, grey, or hazel eyes; and they are a strikingly handsome, athletic race, capable of immense endurance of fatigue..."

    "They are, for the most part, fine, powerful men, with a strong Jewish physiognomy... In complexion, the Momunds are frequently fair, and all are handsome..."

    "The Jadoons are a fair complexioned tribe, many of them having brown hair and beards, and ruddy color, with grey or hazel eyes ..."

    And ad infinitum. There is far more of this stuff (again, they spelled a lot of ink concerning "Pathans"), but this is enough to demonstrate the point.
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  40. Biff says:

    White or brown makes little difference to me.
    Humans, or more precisely homo sapiens sapiens are a very closely knit species sub-divided into races that can easily breed with one another. Studying the genetic migration and make up is a worthy institution, but some like paying more attention to the evolution of the species itself(where’s that damn missing link!?).
    The Toba catastrophe is very interesting and I wonder how many different kinds of humanoids were running around before the episode?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toba_catastrophe_theory

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_bottleneck

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  41. Jtgw says:
    @Whatever
    in the Levant you can also find people with light skin and hair, I'v seen ginger Syrians before. Do you think that these sorts of features developed independently in the Levant or are they the results of past European blood?.

    The current patriarch of the Syrian Jacobite church is ginger.

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  42. Sean says:

    “I believe white people emerged biologically only in the past 5,000 years, on the edge of history and prehistory”

    Seven individuals from the Motala archaeological site of southern Sweden dated 2700 years older than your date for the biological emergence of palefaces had fully white skin SLC24A5 and SLC45A2, plus blue eyes HERC2/OCA2 (which makes skin a little lighter)

    Motala had people as white as can be 8000 years ago, while dark skinned Luxembourg man at same time had blue eyes. If I recall correctly, a few years ago you were pointing to the effect of blue eyes alleles HERC2/OCA2 in lightening skin as showing that blued eyes were a side effect of selection for alleles that lightening skin.

    It seems there were dark skinned and eyed farmers in Europe

    http://dienekes.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/prehistoric-farmers-from-northern.html

    Late Glacial Maximum Europe has Magdalenian woman, the first recorded impacted wisdom tooth (a possible index of reduced-feminine jaws). Moreover, delicate features are linked to light eye colour in European men.

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  43. Seven individuals from the Motala archaeological site of southern Sweden dated 2700 years older than your date for the biological emergence of palefaces had fully white skin SLC24A5 and SLC45A2, plus blue eyes HERC2/OCA2 (which makes skin a little lighter)

    don’t ever assert things like this without checking again on the original data. you don’t have enough of a command of this material and i hate having to reiterate things to correct the record as it wastes my time. look at at figure 2b

    http://biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2015/03/13/016477.full.pdf

    motala is about 65 percent for slc24a5 and slc45a2 derived. vs. 100 percent and 95 percent in modern europeans. some motala individuals probably were light as modern north europeans at this frequency. but the vast majority would not be. 95% of northern europeans are derived on slc24a5 and slc45a2. 20 percent of motala individuals would be assuming these numbers are representative.

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  44. Sean says:

    http://www.ancient-origins.net/unexplained-phenomena/tomb-sunken-skulls-sweden-sheds-light-prehistoric-inhabitants-002361

    11 skulls , “65 percent for slc24a5 and slc45a2 derived. vs. 100 percent and 95 percent in modern europeans. “

    OK, there were some who were not white, but “Some motala individuals probably were light as modern north europeans”. As far as I can see, and according to what I have read, seven of them were pale, very probably what we would call white.

    You may have a point about slc24a5 , I don’t know enough about genetics.

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  45. I don’t know enough about genetics.

    uh, why exactly are you telling me about genetics then?

    As far as I can see, and according to what I have read, seven of them were pale, very probably what we would call white.

    i don’t care what you’ve read. i’m actually giving you links to a paper which posted the allele frequencies from the individuals that they managed to get those positions from. the allele frequencies are computed from the 7. they couldn’t get DNA from the other 4 presumably (also, the positions come back at different quality levels; check effective sample size). look at the table and stop giving me your opinions. i don’t care about your opinions, i have plenty myself.

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    • Replies: @Sean
    OK Razib I got it wrong. I was relying on http://news.sciencemag.org/archaeology/2015/04/how-europeans-evolved-white-skin

    Seven people from the 7700-year-old Motala archaeological site in southern Sweden had both light skin gene variants, SLC24A5 and SLC45A2. They also had a third gene, HERC2/OCA2, which causes blue eyes and may also contribute to light skin and blond hair
     
    I assumed that the writer for Scientific American had got in touch with the author and said they were composing an article, whereupon the top banana explained things rather more intelligibly than in the paper. They don't seem to have said how many of the Motala seven they did test came up as being white skinned individuals

    My reading of what you say is there were seven they got DNA from and not all seven had the full suit of alleles for white skin. But surely they know enough to say how many of the seven individuals tested had the full suite and had been what we would call white (and probably blue eyed blondes). Why did they not do that? Why all the mystery.

    Speculative questions: Is it perhaps because it was not one or two white individuals but more than the “65 percent for slc24a5 and slc45a2 derived" suggests (ie your calculation of 20%). I wonder if that estimate assumes that the presence of slc24a5 and slc45a2 derived alleles in an individual was independent , and those with one were no more likely to have had the other as well . The figure of 65 % for both is not odd?
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  46. Father O'Hara [AKA "rihanna"] says:

    You try calling me a homoplasy to my face!

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  47. Tony says:

    Stop calling white people homos.

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  48. Avery says:

    Mr. Khan:

    When you say “white”, what exactly do you mean ?
    Do you mean European peoples ?
    Or Caucasian/Caucasoid ?

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  49. The present social constructs are so messed up that I am shocked so many people fall for the US derived definition that is often wound up in US racial and social priviledge having nothing to do with culture or nationality.

    In my recent travels as a private contractor, many of the Pushtun and Northern Punjab I came across, are clearly fair skinned but they are not Caucasian or European. The Caucasian peoples were thrown out of their homeland by Russian imperialists, further aided by Stalin (Georgian and Caucasian, as he was born in the area) but over time the area became inhabited by various Soviet and other groups (Ukranian and others). The Tsarnaev brothers (Boston) were part of the group that were exiled outside of their homeland and rightly or wrongly, initiated a jihad against imperialists, albeit in their adopted homeland! I also came across many red headed Nuristanis, and if they dressed in normal Western clothes, they would be considered Welsh or Irish! But culture is not and never was about colour unless it is USA or some parts of Europe.

    Pulling the white card only works in USA or Europe. Elsewhere, one may lose his head because of intrusion into a group that one is not a part of, or shared values, or disrespect towards said group is dangerous to one’s health.

    Culture is about the collective habits and mores of shared group ‘ideology’ so people like Kalash, Yazidi, etc being isolated for millenia, get a chance to maintain group identity (less outsiders and their influences, etc) so they can survive. Being isloated creates its own environment (MtDNA or Y) as the Europeans of today invariably are the products of successive migration and mixing while Kalash and others did not go through that extent of heterogenous affiliation but they do show perhaps part of an expansion where they got stuck in their present environemt and this is where they have remained.

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  50. @Anonymous
    @SeinundZeit,

    I have seen many Afghan refugees in UK & Germany who are even less "Indian" genetically then Pak pashtuns, 10% of passing them as Europeans is exaggeration. And 40-50% passing in southern is again not true at all, middle eastern like Levant, Turks etc better passes in South Europe then Afghans.

    Kalash and Kafirs indeed on average are more fairer/white,


    "I know that you won’t cheat me because you’re white people — sons of Alexander — and not like common, black Mohammedans."

    We have to remember black Mohammedans here are not Indians east of indus but Afghans like pashtuns looking at where they are located, far away from any indic. For them pashtuns were "Indians" like.

    Doogee,

    I guess one must actually travel in the region to truly know how people vary in terms of physical appearance. Based on what I saw there, those percentages are accurate/reflective. Although, at the end of the day, we are dealing with subjective impressions.

    For whatever it’s worth, Carleton Stevens Coon claimed the existence of a “very persistent Nordic strain” among “Pathans”. Sir Auriel Stein claimed the same thing, but he was more specific, restricting the “Nordic strain” to Afridi Pashtuns (not sure why).

    Also, I haven’t read “Man Who Would be King”, but there is a vast amount of colonial British literature filled with supposedly “factual” information on Pashtuns. These people spilled a lot of ink on the topic of “unruly Pathans”, which makes sense if one takes into consideration British political policy in the “borderlands”. Regardless, their “racial descriptions” of “Pathans” are consistently very different from anything like “black Mohammedans”, rather the exact opposite. Again, there is a lot of stuff to examine, but I’ll only quote a few things.

    Mountstuart Elphinstone visited Afghanistan when “Afghanistan” also included FATA and KPK in Pakistan. He refers to modern Afghanistan + FATA + KPK as the “Kingdom of Kabul”. He uses the term “Afghan” only to refer to Pashtuns. Other ethic groups in that nation are referred to by their actual ethnic designation (Uzbek, Tajik, etc). Here is what he notes about Pashtuns:

    “But an English traveller (sic)… would be pleased with the cold climate, elevated by the wild and novel scenery, and delighted by meeting many of the productions of his native land. He would first be struck… with the appearance of the people… He would admire their strong and active forms, their fair complexions and European features, their industry and enterprise, the hospitality, sobriety, and contempt of pleasure which appear in all their habits…”

    Describing the Yusufzai Pashtuns of Pakistan:

    “They are generally stout men, but their form and complexion admits of much variety. In those whose appearance is most characteristic of their tribe, one is struck with their fair complexions, grey eyes, and red beards, by the military affection of their carriage, and by their haughty and insolent demeanour (sic).”

    Describing the Pakistani Pashtun tribes of the southern Karlani belt:

    “They are tall, fair men…”

    “… being large bony men, often fair, and always wearing long hair and beards…”

    “… tall and muscular, of fair complexions and high features… their appearance may be conceived to be wild and terrible.”

    Then there is Sir George Campbell:

    “In truth, the Pathans are of all people in this world the most democratic, the least subject to authority, the most independent. Physically they are one of the finest races created by God (my response: lol) …”

    Finally (as not to get annoying with the quotes), there is the “People of India” series:

    “Many of the Pathans in general, are as fair and ruddy as Europeans, with light brown hair and beards, and blue, grey, or hazel eyes; and they are a strikingly handsome, athletic race, capable of immense endurance of fatigue…”

    “They are, for the most part, fine, powerful men, with a strong Jewish physiognomy… In complexion, the Momunds are frequently fair, and all are handsome…”

    “The Jadoons are a fair complexioned tribe, many of them having brown hair and beards, and ruddy color, with grey or hazel eyes …”

    And ad infinitum. There is far more of this stuff (again, they spelled a lot of ink concerning “Pathans”), but this is enough to demonstrate the point.

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  51. Sean says:
    @Razib Khan
    I don’t know enough about genetics.

    uh, why exactly are you telling me about genetics then?

    As far as I can see, and according to what I have read, seven of them were pale, very probably what we would call white.

    i don't care what you've read. i'm actually giving you links to a paper which posted the allele frequencies from the individuals that they managed to get those positions from. the allele frequencies are computed from the 7. they couldn't get DNA from the other 4 presumably (also, the positions come back at different quality levels; check effective sample size). look at the table and stop giving me your opinions. i don't care about your opinions, i have plenty myself.

    OK Razib I got it wrong. I was relying on http://news.sciencemag.org/archaeology/2015/04/how-europeans-evolved-white-skin

    Seven people from the 7700-year-old Motala archaeological site in southern Sweden had both light skin gene variants, SLC24A5 and SLC45A2. They also had a third gene, HERC2/OCA2, which causes blue eyes and may also contribute to light skin and blond hair

    I assumed that the writer for Scientific American had got in touch with the author and said they were composing an article, whereupon the top banana explained things rather more intelligibly than in the paper. They don’t seem to have said how many of the Motala seven they did test came up as being white skinned individuals

    My reading of what you say is there were seven they got DNA from and not all seven had the full suit of alleles for white skin. But surely they know enough to say how many of the seven individuals tested had the full suite and had been what we would call white (and probably blue eyed blondes). Why did they not do that? Why all the mystery.

    Speculative questions: Is it perhaps because it was not one or two white individuals but more than the “65 percent for slc24a5 and slc45a2 derived” suggests (ie your calculation of 20%). I wonder if that estimate assumes that the presence of slc24a5 and slc45a2 derived alleles in an individual was independent , and those with one were no more likely to have had the other as well . The figure of 65 % for both is not odd?

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    The figure of 65 % for both is not odd?

    the sweeps in europeans are happening at different times (24a5 is thousands of years earlier). but really there's not much clarity. i tried to look, and some of the literature says motala12 is homozy for 24a5, others say het. also, mathieson et al. use different snps than allentoft et al., though they are in high LD. will have a follow up post. very little is clear to me after digging deeper. i asked martin sikora for at least individual genotypes on twitter, will update if he gives me them.

    one thing though: the haplotype for slc24a5 across eurasia is highly conserved. that's either selection, or rapid demographic expansion from a small group, or both. if slc24a5 in derived form emerged several times, only one came down to us today from europe to south india.

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  52. @Sean
    OK Razib I got it wrong. I was relying on http://news.sciencemag.org/archaeology/2015/04/how-europeans-evolved-white-skin

    Seven people from the 7700-year-old Motala archaeological site in southern Sweden had both light skin gene variants, SLC24A5 and SLC45A2. They also had a third gene, HERC2/OCA2, which causes blue eyes and may also contribute to light skin and blond hair
     
    I assumed that the writer for Scientific American had got in touch with the author and said they were composing an article, whereupon the top banana explained things rather more intelligibly than in the paper. They don't seem to have said how many of the Motala seven they did test came up as being white skinned individuals

    My reading of what you say is there were seven they got DNA from and not all seven had the full suit of alleles for white skin. But surely they know enough to say how many of the seven individuals tested had the full suite and had been what we would call white (and probably blue eyed blondes). Why did they not do that? Why all the mystery.

    Speculative questions: Is it perhaps because it was not one or two white individuals but more than the “65 percent for slc24a5 and slc45a2 derived" suggests (ie your calculation of 20%). I wonder if that estimate assumes that the presence of slc24a5 and slc45a2 derived alleles in an individual was independent , and those with one were no more likely to have had the other as well . The figure of 65 % for both is not odd?

    The figure of 65 % for both is not odd?

    the sweeps in europeans are happening at different times (24a5 is thousands of years earlier). but really there’s not much clarity. i tried to look, and some of the literature says motala12 is homozy for 24a5, others say het. also, mathieson et al. use different snps than allentoft et al., though they are in high LD. will have a follow up post. very little is clear to me after digging deeper. i asked martin sikora for at least individual genotypes on twitter, will update if he gives me them.

    one thing though: the haplotype for slc24a5 across eurasia is highly conserved. that’s either selection, or rapid demographic expansion from a small group, or both. if slc24a5 in derived form emerged several times, only one came down to us today from europe to south india.

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  53. so the *science* article has an illustration of a little girl. the complexion (skin, eye, hair) is very similar to my daughter fwiw. so i guess she’s white? :-)

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  54. I think it is safe to say that the origins of what we call white people’, began in the Levant and as they crossed into Europe proper, they developed (through drift) and further proliferation as we see today.

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  55. If an individual has the phenotype of a ‘white person’ (whitish skin is a pre-requisite) then that person is basically white at the level of 1st observation. Then you look at Rashida Jones or Troiana! Belisario and then you realize that in proportion of biethnic or triethnic pairings, the dominnat genetic traits will show themselves.

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    what are dominant genetic traits?
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  56. @jack shindo
    If an individual has the phenotype of a 'white person' (whitish skin is a pre-requisite) then that person is basically white at the level of 1st observation. Then you look at Rashida Jones or Troiana! Belisario and then you realize that in proportion of biethnic or triethnic pairings, the dominnat genetic traits will show themselves.

    what are dominant genetic traits?

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  57. Sean says:

    I would say that the Science photo is well within the normal range of skin colour for a north European female child with sun exposure from playing outside. Girls don’t tan so easily once they get near puberty though.

    “What about the sweep around EDAR, which results in many of the characteristics so distinctive about East Asians. It’s a major development gene, but perhaps it too is a reaction to a disease?”
    The Motola hunter gatherers had 4/7 derived for the Asian EDAR mutations, which seems to be implicated as a defence against parasitic worms . A Scientific American article on article on Caleb Finch’s works says says that ‘AS human ancestors ate more meat, they evolved defenses against its attendant pathogens. These defenses contribute to longevity but foster disease later in life.’‘. Anyway EDAR seems to have effects on appearance, and sweat glands so maybe no Motala people really looked or smelled exactly like modern Europeans added to which skin colour would be very variable. That might have marked them out in large scale conflict with people who did not have Asian type EDAR and were darker (or lighter) skinned than the Motala people.

    Re. “But what about the idea of a disease which selects strongly for the derived variant of SLC24A5?”
    The Motala people had that SLC24A5 variant (and EDAR) despite any disease resistance they died out, which may be because they were killed off by enemy hordes. The Motala population are only known from an unfortunate group that ended up with their heads mounted on stakes. If it was an invading people who put paid to the Motala Swedes, the time frame suggest Doggerlanders.

    THERE would have been huge population shifts,” says Clive Waddington of Derbyshire-based Archaeological Research Services Ltd. “People who were living out in what is now the North Sea would have been displaced very quickly.” Some headed for Britain. At Howick in Northumberland, on the cliffs that run along Britain’s northeast coast and would therefore have been the first hills they saw, his team has found the remains of a dwelling that had been rebuilt three times in a span of 150 years. Among the earliest evidence of a settled lifestyle in Britain, the hut dates from around 7900 B.C. Waddington interprets its repeated habitation as a sign of increasing territoriality: the resident people defending their patch against waves of displaced Doggerlanders.

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  58. […] “White people are a homoplasy.” Data-rich, thought-provoking look at human populations, by Razib Khan. Read of the week. […]

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  59. WhatEvvs [AKA "aamirkhanfan"] says:

    “but a substantial number can clearly pass as white without difficulty because for all practical purposes they are white physically.”

    In other words, they are passing for what they really are.

    Whiteness may be recent and some whites may be a little bit less than they think they are, but it’s as real a category as Brahmin is.

    This is an interesting book about the subject. I learned a lot from it.

    http://www.danieljsharfstein.com/

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  60. Rdm says:
    @Sunbeam
    I was going to be all smarty pants, so I idly googled up what cave paintings had to tell us. And lo and behold:

    "Not surprisingly, given the fact that humans are almost never depicted in Stone Age paintings,"

    I looked at a few human representations they have found. Very stylized, so you can't find anything there.

    It's like those cavemen were playing with us.

    Then I thought I might look at early writings. You know "Those people from up north look funny," that kind of thing.

    But:

    "The earliest writing systems evolved independently and at roughly the same time in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but current scholarship suggests that Mesopotamia’s writing appeared first. That writing system, invented by the Sumerians, emerged in Mesopotamia around 3500 BCE. At first, this writing was representational: a bull might be represented by a picture of a bull, and a pictograph of barley signified the word barley. Though writing began as pictures, this system was inconvenient for conveying anything other than simple nouns, and it became increasingly abstract as it evolved to encompass more abstract concepts, eventually taking form in the world’s earliest writing: cuneiform. An increasingly complex civilization encouraged the development of an increasingly sophisticated form of writing. Cuneiform came to function both phonetically (representing a sound) and semantically (representing a meaning such as an object or concept) rather than only representing objects directly as a picture."

    Okay maybe written language wasn't advanced enough yet to record such notions. But lots of people had art.

    If something like "white people" is only 4000 years old, well shouldn't we see some signs in art somewhere that some mutants were running around? We know that trade routes could cover a surprising amount of ground even in stone age cultures. Horse riding appears to have arisen by 3500 BC or so. These people just weren't that immobile. Heck in America you would find seashells distributed very far inland, a long time before Columbus.

    Then too, if you put this event at 4000 years ago, what about Orientals (to mean the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mongol, etc). Do they predate whites? Arise totally independently? While they are darker skinned than whites in general, they still are melanin challenged compared to Indians and Africans.

    I dunno about your theory. It just seems to me you would find some kind of evidence somewhere, perhaps even written thought I'm not sure that is feasible. But painted on a vase or something? I don't see how that wouldn't have been recorded. I'm pretty sure that if everyone has a nice mocha shade of skin, some albino barbarian mutants would have been worth someone's time to paint.

    –> “Do they predate whites? Arise totally independently? While they are darker skinned than whites in general, they still are melanin challenged compared to Indians and Africans.”

    Some of the East Asians population, especially from northeastern side (Northern Chinese and Koreans) are even whiter than so-called “White” people in terms of skin complexion. The only difference that separates Europeans and East Asians eventually becomes facial structure.

    The term “White” appears no longer applicable to skin complexion these days. A guy from the UK, bronze-colored skin, is automatically regarded as “White” guy whereas a guy from Korea with pale skin is “Asian” guy.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    i've never seen a melanin index result to justify this assertion, at least when compared to northern europeans.
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  61. @Rdm
    --> "Do they predate whites? Arise totally independently? While they are darker skinned than whites in general, they still are melanin challenged compared to Indians and Africans."

    Some of the East Asians population, especially from northeastern side (Northern Chinese and Koreans) are even whiter than so-called "White" people in terms of skin complexion. The only difference that separates Europeans and East Asians eventually becomes facial structure.

    The term "White" appears no longer applicable to skin complexion these days. A guy from the UK, bronze-colored skin, is automatically regarded as "White" guy whereas a guy from Korea with pale skin is "Asian" guy.

    i’ve never seen a melanin index result to justify this assertion, at least when compared to northern europeans.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Rdm
    Yes, what I'm saying is the terminology "White" becomes social construct, depending on the period and the social circumstances one is referring to. As "Sunbeam" is saying East Asians are darker skinned, which implies that the commentator has never been to East Asia, I'm pointing out the terminology "White" is not as what he thinks it is. It is not always "skin complexion".

    When it comes to comparing Northern Europeans and Northern East Asians, the terminology "White" is not skin color that one likes to draw from the context.
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  62. Rdm says:
    @Razib Khan
    i've never seen a melanin index result to justify this assertion, at least when compared to northern europeans.

    Yes, what I’m saying is the terminology “White” becomes social construct, depending on the period and the social circumstances one is referring to. As “Sunbeam” is saying East Asians are darker skinned, which implies that the commentator has never been to East Asia, I’m pointing out the terminology “White” is not as what he thinks it is. It is not always “skin complexion”.

    When it comes to comparing Northern Europeans and Northern East Asians, the terminology “White” is not skin color that one likes to draw from the context.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    my understanding is that NE asians do conceive of themselves as white, though depends on context since they know that europeans "own" that term today.
    , @Anonymous
    Yes. White refers to Caucasians. Maybe NE Asians think they of themselves as white-skinned (big maybe). But all US govt docs, all earlier racial classifications consider "White" to mean Caucasian.

    Of course, early definitions included Middle East, India, etc. Nowadays, these groups still fall under "White" in Govt docs, but in social circles - not so much, regardless of whether it is "scientific" or not.

    At no point did "White" in the West refer to NE Asians. NE Asians are Mongoloids. Skull shapes and all.
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  63. @Rdm
    Yes, what I'm saying is the terminology "White" becomes social construct, depending on the period and the social circumstances one is referring to. As "Sunbeam" is saying East Asians are darker skinned, which implies that the commentator has never been to East Asia, I'm pointing out the terminology "White" is not as what he thinks it is. It is not always "skin complexion".

    When it comes to comparing Northern Europeans and Northern East Asians, the terminology "White" is not skin color that one likes to draw from the context.

    my understanding is that NE asians do conceive of themselves as white, though depends on context since they know that europeans “own” that term today.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Rdm
    There's nothing wrong with your assumption. The potential problem that tend to arise when dealing with "White" terminology is whether the terminology represents "social construct" or intrinsic meaning of "White complexion".

    For e.g., lots of mixed race Brazilians consider themselves as "White". Their assumption is fine within the social constructs of Brazilian demographics. But the problem arise when they themselves ticked "White" in whatever application in the US. Taking a census from that phenomenon can deviate one's analysis and observation on racial issue. The same applies to Caribbean people with fair skin.

    Taking a quick look at Puerto Rico racial composition shows that 200 years ago in 1800, there's an equal composition of "White" and "Non-White" population. In 2010, their census shows that "White" population went up to "76%". Unless there's a constant migration of Europeans to the tiny island (sidetrack, for what? job prospects?), the increase in "White" population percentage does not make sense at all. The only plausible explanation of such increase is social constructs of "White" in Puerto Rico. There's no "Latino" in their consensus.

    Whatever percentage concerned with "White" terminology has to be dealt with demographics and social constructs. Mixed heritage of Colombian identifies himself as "White" and increase the % of white population. But throw NE Asians into the same population and see if the White % goes up. The answer is "No". The distinction is too obvious. NE Asians do not identify themselves as "White" in the first place. The racial context of "White" terminology is considered as European origin whereas NE Asians consider "White" as having fair skin, nothing more, nothing less. The context is fundamentally different.

    The way I see is, some Latino identifies themselves as "White" if they have sufficient facial structure, and melanin index to pass as "White" whereas in Asia, some SE Asians with fair skin do not identify themselves as "White" or "NE Asians" by no means. It's just having fair skin.

    If "White" racial context, as it's arguably misused in Latin America, is used in Asia, the entire population of Thailand will identify themselves as "Chinese". But they don't.
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  64. Rdm says:
    @Razib Khan
    my understanding is that NE asians do conceive of themselves as white, though depends on context since they know that europeans "own" that term today.

    There’s nothing wrong with your assumption. The potential problem that tend to arise when dealing with “White” terminology is whether the terminology represents “social construct” or intrinsic meaning of “White complexion”.

    For e.g., lots of mixed race Brazilians consider themselves as “White”. Their assumption is fine within the social constructs of Brazilian demographics. But the problem arise when they themselves ticked “White” in whatever application in the US. Taking a census from that phenomenon can deviate one’s analysis and observation on racial issue. The same applies to Caribbean people with fair skin.

    Taking a quick look at Puerto Rico racial composition shows that 200 years ago in 1800, there’s an equal composition of “White” and “Non-White” population. In 2010, their census shows that “White” population went up to “76%”. Unless there’s a constant migration of Europeans to the tiny island (sidetrack, for what? job prospects?), the increase in “White” population percentage does not make sense at all. The only plausible explanation of such increase is social constructs of “White” in Puerto Rico. There’s no “Latino” in their consensus.

    Whatever percentage concerned with “White” terminology has to be dealt with demographics and social constructs. Mixed heritage of Colombian identifies himself as “White” and increase the % of white population. But throw NE Asians into the same population and see if the White % goes up. The answer is “No”. The distinction is too obvious. NE Asians do not identify themselves as “White” in the first place. The racial context of “White” terminology is considered as European origin whereas NE Asians consider “White” as having fair skin, nothing more, nothing less. The context is fundamentally different.

    The way I see is, some Latino identifies themselves as “White” if they have sufficient facial structure, and melanin index to pass as “White” whereas in Asia, some SE Asians with fair skin do not identify themselves as “White” or “NE Asians” by no means. It’s just having fair skin.

    If “White” racial context, as it’s arguably misused in Latin America, is used in Asia, the entire population of Thailand will identify themselves as “Chinese”. But they don’t.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Unless there’s a constant migration of Europeans to the tiny island (sidetrack, for what? job prospects?),

    yes. more precisely, much of europe was at malthusian capacity. i don't know the history of PR, but a substantial proportion of cuba's white population derives from migrations in the 19th to early 20th century. some of the whitening is a social construct. but a lot of it did have to do with large migration waves after 1800.
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  65. @Rdm
    There's nothing wrong with your assumption. The potential problem that tend to arise when dealing with "White" terminology is whether the terminology represents "social construct" or intrinsic meaning of "White complexion".

    For e.g., lots of mixed race Brazilians consider themselves as "White". Their assumption is fine within the social constructs of Brazilian demographics. But the problem arise when they themselves ticked "White" in whatever application in the US. Taking a census from that phenomenon can deviate one's analysis and observation on racial issue. The same applies to Caribbean people with fair skin.

    Taking a quick look at Puerto Rico racial composition shows that 200 years ago in 1800, there's an equal composition of "White" and "Non-White" population. In 2010, their census shows that "White" population went up to "76%". Unless there's a constant migration of Europeans to the tiny island (sidetrack, for what? job prospects?), the increase in "White" population percentage does not make sense at all. The only plausible explanation of such increase is social constructs of "White" in Puerto Rico. There's no "Latino" in their consensus.

    Whatever percentage concerned with "White" terminology has to be dealt with demographics and social constructs. Mixed heritage of Colombian identifies himself as "White" and increase the % of white population. But throw NE Asians into the same population and see if the White % goes up. The answer is "No". The distinction is too obvious. NE Asians do not identify themselves as "White" in the first place. The racial context of "White" terminology is considered as European origin whereas NE Asians consider "White" as having fair skin, nothing more, nothing less. The context is fundamentally different.

    The way I see is, some Latino identifies themselves as "White" if they have sufficient facial structure, and melanin index to pass as "White" whereas in Asia, some SE Asians with fair skin do not identify themselves as "White" or "NE Asians" by no means. It's just having fair skin.

    If "White" racial context, as it's arguably misused in Latin America, is used in Asia, the entire population of Thailand will identify themselves as "Chinese". But they don't.

    Unless there’s a constant migration of Europeans to the tiny island (sidetrack, for what? job prospects?),

    yes. more precisely, much of europe was at malthusian capacity. i don’t know the history of PR, but a substantial proportion of cuba’s white population derives from migrations in the 19th to early 20th century. some of the whitening is a social construct. but a lot of it did have to do with large migration waves after 1800.

    Read More
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  66. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Rdm
    Yes, what I'm saying is the terminology "White" becomes social construct, depending on the period and the social circumstances one is referring to. As "Sunbeam" is saying East Asians are darker skinned, which implies that the commentator has never been to East Asia, I'm pointing out the terminology "White" is not as what he thinks it is. It is not always "skin complexion".

    When it comes to comparing Northern Europeans and Northern East Asians, the terminology "White" is not skin color that one likes to draw from the context.

    Yes. White refers to Caucasians. Maybe NE Asians think they of themselves as white-skinned (big maybe). But all US govt docs, all earlier racial classifications consider “White” to mean Caucasian.

    Of course, early definitions included Middle East, India, etc. Nowadays, these groups still fall under “White” in Govt docs, but in social circles – not so much, regardless of whether it is “scientific” or not.

    At no point did “White” in the West refer to NE Asians. NE Asians are Mongoloids. Skull shapes and all.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    At no point did “White” in the West refer to NE Asians. NE Asians are Mongoloids. Skull shapes and all.

    that's wrong. don't talk out of your ass with confidence again. before racial science and taxonomy europeans did notice that NE asians were white, if not like them white. one of the positive aspects of the japanese observed by europeans when they encountered them is that they were white skinned by and large, unlike some of the other heathen and muslim people further south. the NE asians themselves returned this level of admiration to some extent, though in this case it was back-loaded (all of a sudden they started noticing similarities with the big nosed red haired barbarians when they started becoming dominant).

    your general point is spot on. too bad you mar it with lack of historical knowledge.

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  67. @Anonymous
    Yes. White refers to Caucasians. Maybe NE Asians think they of themselves as white-skinned (big maybe). But all US govt docs, all earlier racial classifications consider "White" to mean Caucasian.

    Of course, early definitions included Middle East, India, etc. Nowadays, these groups still fall under "White" in Govt docs, but in social circles - not so much, regardless of whether it is "scientific" or not.

    At no point did "White" in the West refer to NE Asians. NE Asians are Mongoloids. Skull shapes and all.

    At no point did “White” in the West refer to NE Asians. NE Asians are Mongoloids. Skull shapes and all.

    that’s wrong. don’t talk out of your ass with confidence again. before racial science and taxonomy europeans did notice that NE asians were white, if not like them white. one of the positive aspects of the japanese observed by europeans when they encountered them is that they were white skinned by and large, unlike some of the other heathen and muslim people further south. the NE asians themselves returned this level of admiration to some extent, though in this case it was back-loaded (all of a sudden they started noticing similarities with the big nosed red haired barbarians when they started becoming dominant).

    your general point is spot on. too bad you mar it with lack of historical knowledge.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Actually, you are cherry-picking, Razib. You want books, I'll list you a bunch. You are well-read, so I won't bother unless you ask.

    NE Asians were higher on the ladder - but they were never White (Caucasians). Maybe you are referring to the Honorary Aryan category of the National Socialists. And your last posts are fantastic but selling this idea that White only in reference to actual pigmentation. That's new semantics.

    In the West, White is Caucasian. Full stop. Blumenbach and all. It's your blog, you can be rude all you want (at least you have the brains to back most of your points), but you are cherry-picking.
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  68. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Razib Khan
    At no point did “White” in the West refer to NE Asians. NE Asians are Mongoloids. Skull shapes and all.

    that's wrong. don't talk out of your ass with confidence again. before racial science and taxonomy europeans did notice that NE asians were white, if not like them white. one of the positive aspects of the japanese observed by europeans when they encountered them is that they were white skinned by and large, unlike some of the other heathen and muslim people further south. the NE asians themselves returned this level of admiration to some extent, though in this case it was back-loaded (all of a sudden they started noticing similarities with the big nosed red haired barbarians when they started becoming dominant).

    your general point is spot on. too bad you mar it with lack of historical knowledge.

    Actually, you are cherry-picking, Razib. You want books, I’ll list you a bunch. You are well-read, so I won’t bother unless you ask.

    NE Asians were higher on the ladder – but they were never White (Caucasians). Maybe you are referring to the Honorary Aryan category of the National Socialists. And your last posts are fantastic but selling this idea that White only in reference to actual pigmentation. That’s new semantics.

    In the West, White is Caucasian. Full stop. Blumenbach and all. It’s your blog, you can be rude all you want (at least you have the brains to back most of your points), but you are cherry-picking.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    Blumenbach and all

    hundreds of years before blumebach white europeans were much more inchoate about their views of whiteness. that's why i said racial taxonomy. until the emergence of modern science it didn't get much further than the greeks and arabs, as well as a strong emphasis on christianity. this is well known. e.g.,

    https://books.google.com/books?id=DgudBQAAQBAJ&lpg=PT581&ots=wCNOp92dqb&dq=europeans%20view%20japanese%20as%20white&pg=PT581#v=onepage&q&f=false

    (i think the author goes a little too far in the constructionism, but the point is valid, that a narrow european sense of whiteness in a strict sense is a product of modern taxonomy and the "great divergence" of the 18th century)

    if you people actually read something about the european encounter with india and northeast asia before 1800 you'd know this. but since you don't read that stuff, you're ignorant of it. so shut your mouth and read some books. ignorant dumbasses.

    also, the word "caucasians" in this context is dumb as fuck. please stop using it. especially since it's not even that common outside of the USA and just confuses many people.

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  69. @Anonymous
    Actually, you are cherry-picking, Razib. You want books, I'll list you a bunch. You are well-read, so I won't bother unless you ask.

    NE Asians were higher on the ladder - but they were never White (Caucasians). Maybe you are referring to the Honorary Aryan category of the National Socialists. And your last posts are fantastic but selling this idea that White only in reference to actual pigmentation. That's new semantics.

    In the West, White is Caucasian. Full stop. Blumenbach and all. It's your blog, you can be rude all you want (at least you have the brains to back most of your points), but you are cherry-picking.

    Blumenbach and all

    hundreds of years before blumebach white europeans were much more inchoate about their views of whiteness. that’s why i said racial taxonomy. until the emergence of modern science it didn’t get much further than the greeks and arabs, as well as a strong emphasis on christianity. this is well known. e.g.,

    https://books.google.com/books?id=DgudBQAAQBAJ&lpg=PT581&ots=wCNOp92dqb&dq=europeans%20view%20japanese%20as%20white&pg=PT581#v=onepage&q&f=false

    (i think the author goes a little too far in the constructionism, but the point is valid, that a narrow european sense of whiteness in a strict sense is a product of modern taxonomy and the “great divergence” of the 18th century)

    if you people actually read something about the european encounter with india and northeast asia before 1800 you'd know this. but since you don't read that stuff, you're ignorant of it. so shut your mouth and read some books. ignorant dumbasses.

    also, the word “caucasians” in this context is dumb as fuck. please stop using it. especially since it’s not even that common outside of the USA and just confuses many people.

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  70. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    It’s true. In Europe, we do not use this word “caucasians.” But we use white. And everybody makes there meaning with this word “white”.

    But I do not understand your meaning in comments. People feel they are country, language first.

    Maybe this is an America thing. In Europe, we are European. And others are not European. But of course, we feel like American that look like us and from Europe closer to us.

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  71. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    This is a really good article. You should write a book. Ignore those people who don’t get it. They’ve locked their worldview and don’t know how to adapt to newer ideas.

    This is especially important as 2 generations from now, we will be dealing with completely new admixtures within our country. This helps advance these future conversations.

    Good on ya.

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  72. i will make this short and succinct so that people can understand where i’m coming from. there will be no responses on this topic, and no more argument about whether NE asians are white or not (a dumb thread anyhow)

    1) in ancient times people had folk taxonomies. they mapped onto modern taxonomies, though only roughly. e.g., the greeks believed there was an affinity between egyptians and north indians due to skin color, and distinguished between straight haired southern indians and curly haired ethiopians, as different races of black people. iranians conceived of themselves as red. etc.

    2) in medieval times there were mild extensions of these ideas, but religious confession dominated most discourse. in europe the contact with very different races was minimal. there was a racial inflection in the iberian peninsula, with christian northerners understanding themselves as “blue blooded” (they could see their veins), but, ultimately religious identity was primary up until the great expulsions (the moriscos were expelled in large part on racial grounds because their catholic conversion was false and they maintained their separateness, though do note that most muslims had converted outside of andalusia and valencia centuries ago).

    3) in the ‘age of discovery’ the beginnings of modern racial taxonomy began. but it was more inchoate, and when europeans arrived in india they distinguished between ‘white’ west asian muslim elites, and the ‘black’ natives (‘hindus’). kant did a fair amount of scientific work/commentary before philosophy, and i have specifically pointed to sections where he notes differences within india that point to heritability of racial character, as he observes that the parsis are ‘white’ despite having lived in india for a long time.

    4) similarly, though europeans understood NE asians were fundamentally different, they noticed their were high advanced and civilized (sinophilia in particular was common between 1650 and 1750). like elite muslims in south asia they were also light skinned, so there were discussions as to whether they should be classed as white or not despite their different mien.

    5) around 1800 the modern system began developing. there were two primary streams of thought that went into this

    a) the reality of the emergence of white european military superiority and cultural vigor in comparison non-european peoples, so that east asians or middle eastern people with light skin were colorized

    b) the emergence of natural history and taxonomy which systematized incoherent and inchoate models. on the one hand this narrowed whiteness to europe with finality. but, it also tended to push back against non-scientific attempts to delimit whiteness too narrowly (e.g., benjamin franklin’s weird idea that only english and saxons were white, arthur gobineau’s thesis of varying degrees of whiteness and superiority among europeans).

    6) though white racial superiority as dominant ideology is gone, the basic systematic framework of classification persists from 1900. e.g., the idea of regression to the lower type gave rise to hypodescent, which is still around. but no one talks about where it came from.

    that is all.

    (much of the above has a somewhat faster schedule in the USA because of race slavery, and institution that demanded an ideology)

    Read More
    • Replies: @Rdm
    The best comment in this thread.
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  73. Rdm says:
    @Razib Khan
    i will make this short and succinct so that people can understand where i'm coming from. there will be no responses on this topic, and no more argument about whether NE asians are white or not (a dumb thread anyhow)

    1) in ancient times people had folk taxonomies. they mapped onto modern taxonomies, though only roughly. e.g., the greeks believed there was an affinity between egyptians and north indians due to skin color, and distinguished between straight haired southern indians and curly haired ethiopians, as different races of black people. iranians conceived of themselves as red. etc.

    2) in medieval times there were mild extensions of these ideas, but religious confession dominated most discourse. in europe the contact with very different races was minimal. there was a racial inflection in the iberian peninsula, with christian northerners understanding themselves as "blue blooded" (they could see their veins), but, ultimately religious identity was primary up until the great expulsions (the moriscos were expelled in large part on racial grounds because their catholic conversion was false and they maintained their separateness, though do note that most muslims had converted outside of andalusia and valencia centuries ago).

    3) in the 'age of discovery' the beginnings of modern racial taxonomy began. but it was more inchoate, and when europeans arrived in india they distinguished between 'white' west asian muslim elites, and the 'black' natives ('hindus'). kant did a fair amount of scientific work/commentary before philosophy, and i have specifically pointed to sections where he notes differences within india that point to heritability of racial character, as he observes that the parsis are 'white' despite having lived in india for a long time.

    4) similarly, though europeans understood NE asians were fundamentally different, they noticed their were high advanced and civilized (sinophilia in particular was common between 1650 and 1750). like elite muslims in south asia they were also light skinned, so there were discussions as to whether they should be classed as white or not despite their different mien.

    5) around 1800 the modern system began developing. there were two primary streams of thought that went into this

    a) the reality of the emergence of white european military superiority and cultural vigor in comparison non-european peoples, so that east asians or middle eastern people with light skin were colorized

    b) the emergence of natural history and taxonomy which systematized incoherent and inchoate models. on the one hand this narrowed whiteness to europe with finality. but, it also tended to push back against non-scientific attempts to delimit whiteness too narrowly (e.g., benjamin franklin's weird idea that only english and saxons were white, arthur gobineau's thesis of varying degrees of whiteness and superiority among europeans).

    6) though white racial superiority as dominant ideology is gone, the basic systematic framework of classification persists from 1900. e.g., the idea of regression to the lower type gave rise to hypodescent, which is still around. but no one talks about where it came from.

    that is all.

    (much of the above has a somewhat faster schedule in the USA because of race slavery, and institution that demanded an ideology)

    The best comment in this thread.

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  74. Rdm says:

    Some commenters didn’t read the comments, just spew out their ideology, making this thread hard to follow which direction we’re going.

    I’d like the title of “White People are a homoplasy” which is indeed what is happening in our life time.

    French consider themselves as “French”, they’re not British.
    German consider themselves as “German”, not Netherlands.
    The same as Chinese think of themselves as “Chinese”, not Koreans or Japanese and vice versa.
    Indian consider themselves as “Indian”, not “Pakistani”.

    Now look at the very idea that “White” racial category represents from the then World Power “England”, do they look “White” to me in American racial context these days?

    “White” racial context has been slowly changing in the US media nowadays. You have to be Blonde, squared jaw bones, to be considered as “White”, otherwise, you’d be labeled as “Mixed”. They are slowly changing the perception of “White” or if you will it’s after all “White Homoplasy”.

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