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Carl Zimmer: "Far from the Tree: The Illusions of Genealogy"
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From the Toronto Globe & Mail:

Far from the tree: The illusions of genealogy
CARL ZIMMER

UPDATED JULY 13, 2018
Carl Zimmer writes the Matter column for The New York Times and teaches science writing at Yale University. His latest book is She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity, from which this essay is adapted.

… We inherit one copy of each chromosome from our mothers and the other copy from our fathers. They inherited their chromosomes in turn from our grandparents. Which copy of a given chromosome gets passed down from a parent to a child is mainly a matter of chance. That flip of the genetic coins has a remarkable consequence: As you work your way back through your ancestry, you’ll encounter an ancestor from whom you inherited no DNA at all. And the further back you go, the more of those ancestors you’ll meet. Graham Coop, a geneticist at the University of California, Davis, has estimated that if you look at your ancestors from 10 generations back, almost half of them will have no genetic connection to you.

Think of your genetic inheritance as two huge decks of playing cards from two different solitaire games being shuffled ineptly by a child with clumps of cards remaining unshuffled. Because the shuffling is imperfect, you might get sequences of cards that showed up in a previous game. But after, say, ten shuffles, even maladroit shuffles, the odds are below 50% that you’ll get any sequences that were played ten games ago.

Same with inheritance. Winston Churchill wrote an enormous biography of his distant ancestor John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, to remind voters that the blood of a hero flowed in his veins. And perhaps Winston did inherit some alleles directly from John. Or perhaps not. It’s more likely that Churchill got more of his crucial genes from his mother’s and paternal grandmother’s lines.

On the other hand, being Dukes, there weren’t a large number of high-enough ranking people for Churchills to marry, so they might well be somewhat inbred, which would increase the likelihood of Winston inheriting some genetic combination unchanged from John.

On the other other hand, John Churchill being such a dynamic general and politician is how he got the hereditary title of Duke of Marlborough and enough money (barely) to build 300,000 square foot Blenheim Palace, where Winston was born. And being an English Duke is not a bad thing in the mating market, which meant that Churchill’s ancestors tended to marry fairly well, such as the first Duke’s daughter marrying a Spencer (which is why Winston was Spencer-Churchill until his dad decided just Churchill would be better politically), and Winston’s dad marrying Jennie Jerome, whose dad was known as the Lion of Wall Street.

Discovering that we are descended from someone famous makes us feel special, but that feeling is another genealogical illusion, based on a faulty picture we have of family trees. We picture them as forever branching in two – two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents and so on. If that were forever true, your family tree over the past few thousand years would contain more people than have ever lived.

In fact, our family trees don’t branch outward forever. Our ancestors are related to each other, either as close cousins or distant ones. The diverging branches of our ancestry eventually fold back in on themselves.

But of course that’s exactly where race, which Zimmer claims not to believe in, comes from. Winston Churchill may or may not have shared much genetically with John Churchill relative to other whites, but he shared a lot genetically with white people in general. (By the way, Winston liked to believe he was 1/16th American Indian through his American side of his ancestors, but I haven’t found much evidence for that.)

Why was Winston Churchill so instantly identifiable as white? Well, because of “pedigree collapse:” if you go back ten generations, there are 1024 slots in Churchill’s family tree. Did he have 1024 unique ancestors ten generations back? Maybe, maybe not. In a mostly outbreeding Christian culture, he probably wouldn’t have vastly less than 1024, but the odds are he would have some individual ancestors doing double duty (or more) in his family tree.

If you go back 20 generations, he’d have ~one million slots and probably a lot fewer unique ancestors. 30 generations would be a billion slots and 40 generations would be a trillion slots. Obviously, 40 generations ago, there weren’t a trillion individuals alive, so Winston had far fewer individual ancestors. He’d be relative to many individual ancestors via multiple pathways.

The merged geometry of our family trees has its own astonishing consequence: If you could pick two strangers and follow their ancestry back through time, it wouldn’t take all that long to find a common ancestor. In Europe, some of the people who lived a thousand years ago are the ancestor of every living European. Charlemagne is likely one of those common ancestors.

Genghis Khan is likely another.

On other hand, there are a lot of people who are much more related to Genghis Khan than they are to Charlemagne and vice-versa. In fact, you can probably make a pretty good guess whether an individual is more closely related to Genghis Khan or to Charlemagne just by looking at him.

If you go back a few thousand more years, you’d find people who are ancestors of all living people on Earth.

I suspect this isn’t technically true, that there are, say, Andaman Islanders and Bushmen who have no common ancestors for more than a few thousand years. On the other hand, it’s not unlikely that, say, a majority of on earth today might be descended from a single individual, perhaps some chariot warlord from the early bronze age steppe.

But the more important lesson is that wondering about individual flukes of family trees is, while interesting, a distraction from the more important genealogical lesson that most people aren’t Tiger Woods and thus are more related to some people than they are to other people, which is where we come up with the idea of races.

Zimmer’s problem as an intellectual is that he has a hard time keeping in mind two seemingly opposed ideas simultaneously.

 
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  1. Orangeman says:

    Whatever traits Churchill inherited from the Duke it wasn’t a genius for military strategy.

    • Agree: julius caesar
    • LOL: BB753, AndrewR
  2. The Y chromosome doesn’t have a lot of genes on it, but it’s passed down intact from father to son in perpetuity. Except for mutations, your Y is the same as the one in your direct paternal line when Christ was alive.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  3. syonredux says:

    (By the way, Winston liked to believe he was 1/16th American Indian through his American side of his ancestors, but I haven’t found much evidence for that.)

    Long before the age of political correctness, some Churchills delighted in extolling the legend of their Native American blood, believed to have been introduced through Jennie Jerome’s maternal grandmother, Clarissa Willcox. Despite the much-mooted Indian features of some of Clarissa’s descendants, there is no genealogical evidence to support Indian ancestry in the Jerome lineage.</blockquote>

    https://winstonchurchill.org/resources/genealogy/he-had-iroquois-ancestors/

  4. BB753 says:

    I might be wrong, but Churchill seemed to have a character and temperament more similar to an American than to an Englishman. His über-Englishness felt contrived, as if he was really an American adventurer trying to impersonate an English duke. That’s maybe why he was so unpopular among the British population.

    • Replies: @Harry Baldwin
  5. “Graham Coop, a geneticist at the University of California, Davis, has estimated that if you look at your ancestors from 10 generations back, almost half of them will have no genetic connection to you.”

    Carl Zimmer makes a lot of money and can’t even get a basic sentence like this correct? Embarrassing. I have to assume Graham Coop didn’t say that exactly. Anyone with high school math ability and knowledge of the estimated number of human protein-coding genes would realize that is not correct. The answer would be about 14 generations. That, of course, ignores loads of other inherited genetic material.

  6. In Europe, some of the people who lived a thousand years ago are the ancestor of every living European. Charlemagne is likely one of those common ancestors.

    So is Mohammed. A bit less so, though.

    One professional genealogist pointed out decades ago that not only is everybody of European descent descended from Charlemagne, but from each one of the twelve or so wives and concubines who bore him children.

  7. t says:

    OT: Hate crime charges filed against man caught on video confronting woman over Puerto Rico shirt

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-viral-video-hate-crime-charge-forest-preserve-20180712-story.html

    Remember being told that hate crime laws didn’t restrict freedom of speech.

  8. The Z Blog says: • Website

    If you go back a few thousand more years, you’d find people who are ancestors of all living people on Earth.

    FFS, go back far enough and all of us have a reptile ancestor. That does not mean we are lizards. Anyone who makes the “if you go back far enough” argument is either a liar or retarded. Let’s not kid ourselves. We all know the deal here with Zimmer.

    • Agree: AndrewR
  9. @Morris Applebaum IV

    Bob Jenkins’ simulations at http://burtleburtle.net/bob/future/ancestors.html are in line with what’s claimed in Carl Zimmer’s article. Jenkins suggests we have genetic inheritance from a maximum of 50.78 percent of our genealogical ancestors (520 out of 1024) who lived 10 generations back.

    At https://gcbias.org/2018/06/29/woodland-genetic-genealogy-talk/ Graham Coop includes Zimmer’s newest book among four “great books on the topic” of genetic genealogy, and over at Twitter, Coop has retweeted and replied to a number of messages by Zimmer, including a reference to his article that’s discussed here. See https://mobile.twitter.com/carlzimmer/status/1017895973006299138?p=v

  10. On the other hand, it’s not unlikely that, say, a majority of on earth today might be descended from a single individual, perhaps some chariot warlord from the early bronze age steppe.

    Forget where, but I once heard that it was some sailor living in Taiwan approximately five thousand years ago.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  11. Alice says:

    It’s not hard, but even smart people like Mr. Black Swan mess this up–Taleb just tweeted about a curse of dimensionality in genetic selection that doesn’t exist if you stop assuming our genes are drawn from large uniformly random distributions . Believing you have no genetic connection to those 8 generations back, assumes those 8 generations were *unrelated* to each other!

    You don’t even need to appeal to race. Genealogists explain that if you want to find your ancestors, use a Dixie cup–not for genetic tests, but as the circle on a map center on your relative’s home. That is, if great grandma came from Konisgburg, great grandma’s spouse and parents most likely came from within a Dixie cup circle of the town, too. And so did theirs . And so did theirs. So that 8th generation back X chromosome that wasn’t selected? Shared nearly all of its genetic material with the X chromosome that was. Not just the 99% trope..

    What’s unique is the “melting pot” of the US post WW. The war’s totality in geography, incredible number of refugees re-homed thousands of miles created astonishing and til then, unique genetic redistribution. Never before had immigrants moved so much in such few generations, or had so many opportunities to marry new genetic populations.

    But go back before WWII, and the same few families had lived in the same town for hundreds or more years.

    • Replies: @res
  12. Sean says:

    If the common ancester thing is true it is a testament to the dying out of the unfit

    We inherit one copy of each chromosome from our mothers and the other copy from our fathers.

    Not a straight copy they are shufled (are’t they?) except that daughters get an unshuffled X chromosome from their father, the X has many cognitive genes on it. My dad says he never has to say anything twice to my sister. I have noticed when they talk it’s like they are on the same wavelength. My mother is quite a bit clever than my father. I think Churchill’s was too. Churchill was throughout his life a very heavy drinker and his daughter Sarah was an alcoholic who once got sent to jail for being drunk and disorderly.

    I read some eminent political figure saying that the only time he saw Churchill lose his temper (stalked off with his tiny hands balled into fists) was when someone in the House of Commons debating with him mockingly alluded to his daughter’s marriage to a Jewish comedian .

    Y chromosome is in all your male (and only male) offspring and I suppose it has some effect on testosterone-related qualities . The early Bronze Age (or Axe age) innovation of primogeniture must be the most underrated as to effect on history and even biology. Consider, one male gets all the resources so women are in competition for him, their children survive and the oldest son goes on the same way, and so on. the second sons become solders The plot of Pride and Prejudice, and who marries who in it, is almost entirely explained by such things.

  13. @Saint Louis

    some sailor living in Taiwan approximately five thousand years ago.

    Huge area of expansion all the way to Hawaii, Easter Island, and New Zealand: Polynesians pulled off the closest thing to successful space colonization in human prehistory. Probably not the most descendants, though, just because there isn’t much land east of Taiwan.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  14. Winston Churchill didn’t inherit John Churchill’s Y-chromosome because John only had daughters (IIRC) and his daughter married a Spencer (as in Lady Di) and their heirs became the Spencer-Churchills.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Hail
  15. Hail says: • Website

    And perhaps Winston did inherit some alleles directly from John. Or perhaps not

    If Winston was a direct male descendant of John Churchill (1650-1722, father also named Winston; preceding the Winston Churchill who organized the disastrous Gallipoli campaign by eight generations), Winston definitely inherited genetic material from John, i.e., the Y-chromosome.

    To the extent this genetics lottery is true as described in the OP, and that hundreds of the 1,024 ancestor-slots 10 generations ago bequeath one ‘nothing’ in genetic terms, the one that is absolutely certain to pass down a genetic link for men is the direct patrlineal line.

    Almost all successful cultures I have heard of adopted naming conventions in which names are in some way attached to (“so-and-so’s son”) or inherited from the father, despite no knowledge of the Y chromosome and its staying power.

    With the World Cup in the news, we are reminded of nonwhite-majority Brazil and its players’ naming conventions. They seem to just make up new names for their soccer careers that often have nothing to do with their actual names, and they drop surnames all together , which disassociates themselves from their own patrilineal line. A small kind of cultural regression to Africa?

    • Replies: @Hail
    , @BB753
  16. The flaw with this line of thinking is that it looks backwards instead of looking forward.

    The question shouldn’t be how much of you was present in some distant anscestor, but how much of you will be present in your descendents.

    Having a bunch of children gives you a good chance to live on.

  17. res says:
    @Morris Applebaum IV

    It looks like that was in fact what Coop has said: https://gcbias.org/2013/11/04/how-much-of-your-genome-do-you-inherit-from-a-particular-ancestor/

    Notice that the statement is for “large blocks” though.

    Perhaps you could expand on how you arrived at your 14 generation figure? I think the key issue is the way the transmitted genome is broken up by recombination events as Coop discusses.

    • Replies: @candid_observer
    , @utu
  18. @Morris Applebaum IV

    If I understand correctly, and perhaps I don’t, but most of one’s forbears have pretty much the same genes anyway. Sure, I have a 50% chance of getting dad’s gene for something, but it is more likely than not that mom has the exact same gene anyway, so it is a pretty moot point. The amount of possible variation is extremely small.

  19. res says:
    @Alice

    Believing you have no genetic connection to those 8 generations back, assumes those 8 generations were *unrelated* to each other!

    They (Zimmer and Coop) are talking about identical by descent. Your objection applies to identical by state.

  20. Anonymous[303] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Nor was Churchill a member of the peerage, although he was offered a dukedom (Duke of London, I think) towards the end of his life. He was from a junior branch of the Spencer family.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  21. Hail says: • Website
    @Steve Sailer

    It seems this is correct, though John Churchill [1650-1722] had two sons, one died at age two and one died at age 17. The Winston Churchill [1874-1965] line is through one of John’s daughters, Anne [1683-1716]. She married a Spencer and her descendants seem to have gone by Spencer-Churchill when not using their Marlborough title — a rare early use of a hyphenated name. Spencer-Churchill also seems to be the full legal name of Winston Churchill [1874-1965] himself.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  22. Luke Lea says:

    Let’s see, according the Ancestry.com I am a direct descendant of Shakespeare’s sister. Does that make me a poet? Or a glover maybe?

  23. trelane says:

    … We inherit one copy of each chromosome from our mothers and the other copy from our fathers.

    The first sentence is wrong. Nobody inherits an intact replica chromosome from either parent (except the Y from the father). Your maternal chromosomes are recombined versions of her parents (your grandparents) and likewise your paternal autosomes. Long regions of intact replication from the grandparents are in fact transmitted before “crossing over” but nobody gets a copy of mom’s chromosome or dad’s chromosome, they’re sort of “recombined” first

    • Replies: @Eagle Eye
  24. @Anonymous

    Winston’s grandfather was the Duke of Marlborough. Winston’s father Lord Randolph Churchill was the second son of the Duke. Winston was the first son of Lord Randolph, but that made him a commoner, Mr. Winston Churchill, and therefore he served in the House of Commons rather than the less powerful House of Lords, unlike his rival to become Prime Minister on May 10, 1940, Lord Halifax.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  25. The longer you live, the more often you see people who look pretty much like people you’ve known in the past. Even moving and living in different regions over the years, this becomes obvious. It starts to seem like there is a limited number of sets of what you call phenotypes that manifest themselves.

    Wherever you go, when you arrive at Winston’s house, you know you’ve arrived:

    • Replies: @Romanian
  26. @Hail

    Churchill tells an anecdote about being at Harrow and falling alphabetically toward the tailend of his class — he has to explain that he was Spencer-Churchill back then.

    Perhaps his father shortened the name as part of Tory Democracy? The Churchill name is pretty down home — there’s a village next to Blenheim named Churchill, and sure enough there is a church on a hill, where Winston is buried in the churchyard.

    The Spencer-Churchills were legally the main line from John Churchill — e.g., they inherited Blenheim Palace, which was quite expensive to keep up. Winston’s cousin the Duke contracted a loveless marriage with the lovely Consuela Vanderbilt in return for a big check from her American railroad tycoon dad to put a new roof on Blenheim’s 300,000 square feet.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  27. Hail says: • Website
    @Hail

    John Churchill…preceding the Winston Churchill…by eight generations

    Of note:

    John Churchill, born 1650.
    Winston Churchill, born 1874.
    Eight generations removed; 224 years elapsed. 224/8 = 28.

    28: The average father’s* age at birth of son in the Winston Churchill line, covering the latter period of Gregory Clark’s proposed period of British eugenic breeding and just into the beginning of the dysgenic period (Industrial Revolution).

    * : This calculation is imperfect because one link is through John Churchill’s daughter Anne (b.1683). John Churchill (1650-1722) turned 33 the year Anne (1683-1716) was born; Anne was 23 the year her son Charles Spencer (1706-1758) was born. Redoing the calculation to remove the one woman in the chain, we have 1706 to 1874 and six generations elapsed, plus 33 for John Churchill’s age when his daughter Anne was born. New figure for average age at father’s birth: 29.

    ________________

    The same calculation for Richard Nixon:

    Richard Nixon, born 1913 (Yorba Linda, CA).
    George Nixon I, born 1752 (Delaware); President Nixon’s direct paternal ancestor.
    Five generations removed; 161 years elapsed. 161/5 = 32.

    32: The average father’s age at birth of son in Richard Nixon’s paternal ancestral line since the time of the American Revolution.

  28. Eagle Eye says:

    ZIMMER: “Which copy of a given chromosome gets passed down from a parent to a child is mainly a matter of chance.”

    Zimmer, like many French-style “intellectuals,” has not bothered to figure out the process, or has chosen to ignore a major but inconvenient step: MEIOSIS.

    Sperm and eggs are produced by breaking up pairs of chromosomes (i.e. one chromosome inherited from the father and one copy inherited from the mother) into snippets, and assembling ONE new “haploid” (unpaired) chromosomes by mixing and matching snippets from the two parent copies. This mix-and-match process is repeated every generation.

    Since chromosome pairs are repeatedly shattered and reassembled, the chance of inheriting some small snippet intact from a distant ancestor is MUCH HIGHER than it would be if chromosomes were passed down or ditched WHOLE.

    Since snippet fragmentation occurs randomly each generation, the degree of fragmentation can be used as a proxy to estimate how long ago certain population events (e.g. admixture) could have occurred.

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

  29. @res

    The basic idea here is pretty simple, and is explained in David Reich’s book, pp. 11-13 (with a graph).

    The number of chunks of DNA that we can inherit from a generation of ancestors goes up by a roughly fixed amount (approximately 71) each generation back. But the number of ancestors in each generation going back increases, of course, by a factor of 2. Eventually, the number of ancestors in a generation exceeds the number of chunks. The point where half are in and half are out is about 10 generations back.

    In other words, we get no DNA at all from half of our ancestors just 10 generations ago.

    • Replies: @candid_observer
  30. utu says:
    @res

    broken up by recombination events

    How random is recombination process? How many segments? How long segments? Do you know any paper/book that gets into it?

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @res
  31. @Steve Sailer

    Winston’s cousin the Duke contracted a loveless marriage with the lovely Consuela Vanderbilt in return for a big check from her American railroad tycoon dad to put a new roof on Blenheim’s 300,000 square feet.

    Isn’t “love” wonderful? It can even put a roof over your head.

    What’s hard to understand is, why wasn’t the Duke into her, if she was so lovely? Or was she just not into him, but only his dukeness and his big house?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @anon
  32. @candid_observer

    The idea would be a lot easier to grasp if we didn’t have recombination events. In that case, we’d have only 47 separate chunks — 23 each from mom and dad for each chromosome, plus mitochondria — and this would be constant back through the generations. It would take very little time indeed for the number of ancestors of a given generation to exceed 47.

  33. Iberiano says:

    I read somewhere recently–something apolitical–talking about Eurogenes and noting that every single white person alive today, is related in some way to every single white person living on Jan. 1, 1000 A.D. Given intermarriage and the mixing of European genes over time, even if you are from Spain, you are likely related to someone from Russia that lived 1000 AD. I don’t know where the drop off point is (is Bashir Assad White? I think so), but it makes sense.

    • Replies: @Hail
  34. @Buzz Mohawk

    I forget the full story but it’s easy to look up. Consuela’s mother was a leading suffragette, but she was crazy about getting a title for her daughter. Presumably, it was a Prince Charles – Lady Di thing: he just liked somebody else more. Everybody else other than her husband thought Consuela was great, including her cousin-in-law Winston.

    There were hundreds of these kinds of marriages in the last quarter of the 19th Century after the repeal of the Corn Laws made agricultural land less profitable, so England’s insanely huge grand houses started to fall apart without the cash flow to keep them repaired. But the British Empire was at its height so British titles were in great demand all over the world.

  35. @Steve Sailer

    “Consuela’s mother was a leading suffragette, but she was crazy about getting a title for her daughter.”

    Whoa, wait wut? A radical democratizer wants a noble title to dynastize her own offspring?!?

    Why, I haven’t heard of that kind of hypocrisy since … since … since the last HuffPo tweet.

  36. eah says:

    race, which Zimmer claims not to believe in

    ‘so brave’

    Since he’s an “intellectual”, as a matter of best professional practices and general ‘not noticing’, when it comes to proof of race he probably ignores everyday news stories — but you can find it there.

    Authorities identified the four women as Demetrius Boyd, Keterah Boyd, Lakisha Boyd and Lashondra Boyd.

    • Replies: @eah
    , @anonymous
    , @julius caesar
  37. sb says:

    I recall seeing in some high society magazine in Thailand – a particularly snobby society – an article on some British woman arriviste who stated that on her father’s side that she was descended from William the Conqueror and on her mother’s descended from Charlemagne .

    Gave me a chuckle

    • Replies: @dearieme
  38. eah says:
    @eah

    “but you can find it there”

    Along with pure genius.

  39. res says:
    @utu

    I don’t have a good reference at hand. The Coop Lab post I linked states “average 33 recombination events per transmitted genome.” So we are looking at order one or two crossovers per chromosome (probably varies by chromosome length). So long segments.

    My understanding is recombination events are less common near the centromeres and more common within repeated sequences.

    Does anyone have a good reference for this?

    • Replies: @utu
  40. anonymous[890] • Disclaimer says:
    @eah

    Meanwhile, in old Éire:

    A STUDENT allegedly caught masturbating on Dublin’s Synge Street is facing trial.

    Camal Elhaj, 22, from Sudan but who has an address at Harrington Street, Dublin 8 was accused of engaging in an act of masturbation in a public place on July 29 last year.

    He appeared today at Dublin District Court on the charge which was contrary to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017.

    The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) directed that he could be tried in the district court where the offence carries a maximum six-month sentence.

    In an outline of the allegations to decide if he would accept jurisdiction, Judge Conal Gibbons heard that the accused was allegedly caught by gardai at 1am on the date of the offence.

    However, no members of the public were present.

    Defence solicitor Michael French pleaded for the case to remain in the district court and asked the judge to note that members of the public had not been present at the time of the alleged incident.

    He also submitted that the DPP had directed summary disposal meaning the district court was a suitable trial venue.

    However, Judge Gibbons held that the case was too serious and should go before the circuit court, which can impose a sentence of up to two years for the offence.

    He refused jurisdiction and remanded the accused to appear again in September for further directions from the DPP.

    The accused did not address the court or indicate how he will plead.

    Legal aid was granted at an earlier stage. There was no objection to bail.

    Online Editors

    • Replies: @eah
    , @eah
  41. Graham says:
    @Steve Sailer

    I’m not sure the repeal of the Corn Laws caused the UK agricultural depression. That happened in 1846, a generation before the last quarter of the 19th century.

    More likely causes are the completion of railways from the grain-growing areas of North America to the coast (1860s to 1880s), and the development of refrigerated ships.

    See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression_of_British_Agriculture and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reefer_ship.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  42. @BB753

    I have seen Admiral Horatio Nelson described as “least English of Englishmen” for his personal behavior. Churchill is similar. He was his own press agent: the books he wrote during his rise to fame are full of accounts of his own actions and heroism, not the thing to do among English gentlemen.

    • Replies: @BB753
    , @Anonymous
  43. @Graham

    And without the Corn Laws those would not have mattered.

  44. Sinceyou mentioned inbreeding, I recall reading Anthony M. Ludovici’s praise of it in ancient Egypt. He said that it served the pharaohs well for thousands of years. The point was, I think, that if you eliminate the people born with the defects, the rest can be remarkably fit. I wonder if this makes sense to anyone familiar with modern genetics.

  45. Jan Banan says:
    @Steve Sailer

    My impression (which mostly comes from PG Wodehouse books) is that income tax was the death of the landed classes and their palatial country estates. ‘Ring for Jeeves’ addresses this specifically:

    The novel is set in the early 1950s, when much of the English aristocracy has lost its wealth. Bertie has gone to a school that teaches the aristocracy to fend for itself, in case he meets the same fate. He is not allowed to bring Jeeves, so Jeeves goes to work temporarily for one of Bertie’s friends from the Drones Club, the young gentleman Lord William “Bill” Rowcester (or Towcester), a now impoverished aristocrat who lives at Rowcester Abbey, a large house in poor repair.

    This Wikipedia article gives several other reasons, including inheritance taxes, loss of political power and increased suffrage, etc.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destruction_of_country_houses_in_20th-century_Britain#Direct_causes

  46. dearieme says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Lord Randolph Churchill, Winston’s father, was a commoner too. He sat in the Commons; his “lord” was only a courtesy title.

  47. dearieme says:
    @sb

    Auberon Waugh, the writer and son of Evelyn, offered a prize of ten thousand pounds (or the like) to any man who could demonstrate direct male descent from anyone who “came over with the Conqueror”. The prize was never claimed.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  48. bjondo says:

    This subject and Quantum Physics pretty much confuse me.

    Does the article mean Bernard Henri Levy, The Chest Hairs of France, is or is not a descendant of Zadok?

  49. Romanian says: • Website
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Are those in the back called groomsmen? Why is one a woman? Aren’t they supposed to be both male?

  50. … We inherit one copy of each chromosome from our mothers and the other copy from our fathers. They inherited their chromosomes in turn from our grandparents. Which copy of a given chromosome gets passed down from a parent to a child is mainly a matter of chance.

    Zimmer hasn’t heard of meiosis?

    • Replies: @Intelligent Dasein
  51. Hail says: • Website
    @Iberiano

    very single white person alive today, is related in some way to every single white person living on Jan. 1, 1000 A.D.

    But not by the same proportions, of course.

    This is exactly why the concept of ‘racial stock’ is valuable, and indeed more valuable than the tracing of specific ancestors back multiple generations, which is often a parlor-game of limited real value. Parents: Useful information. Grandparents: Useful information. A single great(x7)grandparent: Not useful.

    The most useful racial analysis for an individual would, maybe, evaluate the racial stock of each of the person’s eight biological great-grandparents; too much beyond that and any over-focus on single ancestor lines often will do more to obfuscate than illuminate.

    • Replies: @Crawfurdmuir
  52. @Morris Applebaum IV

    Anyone with high school math ability and knowledge of the estimated number of human protein-coding genes would realize that is not correct.

    The problem with your math is that is not the way genes are transmitted. It’s far more “chunky”. First it is chunky at the chromosome level, but then that is slowly broken up by paired chromosomes swapping blocks of DNA crossover and recombination during meiosis.

    The chromosome issue you can calculate with standard stats. You’re guaranteed 26–a copy of each–from each parents–but after that is random. The chromosome “expected value” from any ancestor is dropping binarily–13, 6.5, 3.25, 1.625, 0.8125 …–each generation and quickly (great**4 grandparent) is less than one, but since random can be zero even soomer. Prob-Stats problem.

    But figuring in how much crossover/recombination occurs and how likely you are to have a piece of some ancestor’s block–with these widely varying chromsome and block sizes–you need some sort of reasonable simulation of the biology.

  53. Why do I get the feeling that the whole purpose of this article is to prove that blacks are inferior?

    Because that IS the whole purpose of this article. As with most “articles” on here.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  54. BB753 says:
    @Harry Baldwin

    Nelson rose from the ranks of the merchant marine. He wasn’t born a gentleman like Churchill.
    BTW, Churchill is the most overrated political figure in history. His only talent was self-promotion.

  55. BB753 says:
    @Hail

    Perhaps you’re referring to the Portuguese naming conventions.
    You see, all Portuguese bear two surnames, each one from one of the two sides of the family. But, unlike in Spanish naming conventions, the mother’s paternal surname comes first, and then the father’s surname.

    For example : a “Pedro Pinto Carvalho ”
    would be the son of ” Maria Coelho Pinto” and ” Carlos Branco Carvalho”.
    Carvalho and Pinto being the patrilinear lines from the father and mother, respectively.

  56. @Morris Applebaum IV

    Whoops, looks like I was the one who goofed here as others explained so well. Thanks to Another Dad, Kevin Brook, and res. After seeing some of the links, I realized that while at about the 14th generation the ratio of genes to descendants would approach .5, apparently the genes would be expected to be distinctly concentrated in a minority of descendants.

    My quick reaction was partly because of frustration with the liberal agenda, the foundation of which can be summarized as follows: Ignore your ancestors, disregard your future descendants.

  57. utu says:
    @res

    I would think that more is known about it. I wonder what do they assume when they do simulations through generation to arrive at genome after say 20-40 generations as they did in this paper we were discussing here earlier:

    The time and place of European admixture in Ashkenazi Jewish history
    James Xue, Todd Lencz, Ariel Darvasi, Itsik Pe’er, Shai Carmi

  58. @Hail

    The most useful racial analysis for an individual would, maybe, evaluate the racial stock of each of the person’s eight biological great-grandparents; too much beyond that and any over-focus on single ancestor lines often will do more to obfuscate than illuminate.

    This is somewhat similar to the old standard of seize-quartiers (sixteen armigerous great-great grandparents) that used to be required of courtiers in some European monarchies, and which is still, if I recall correctly, the criterion of eligibility as a Knight of Justice in the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
  59. This may be interesting topic for IQers, race realists, white advocates, but…. I don’t care & consider all this stuff to be marginal. Take it as you like, too much snooping on genealogy inevitably leads to genetic determinism, denial of human freedom, innovation & individualism (whichever the original purposes may be). The fact that lunatic anti-white fake multiculturalists constantly promote blankslateism & oneworldism does not change this an iota. Hence, I agree with Karl Marx: The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.

  60. @obwandiyag

    Perhaps you should take your suspicions up with Carl Zimmer’s employer?

  61. @ben tillman

    Zimmer hasn’t heard of meiosis?

    It is rather mystifying that a so-called teacher of science writing (at Yale, no less) could not explain the process more clearly. However, I suppose there is a possible interpretation on which Zimmer is technically correct. We do indeed “inherit one copy” of each pair of homologous chromosomes from each parent. The confusion results from the assumption (which Zimmer’s ambiguity is guilty of fostering) that that chromosome is identical to one of the two that the parent carries in his or her own somatic cells. It is not, due to chromosomal crossover having taken place during meiosis.

    Perhaps Zimmer simply wanted to brush this aside as a technicality which did not hinder his larger point. If so, he is being lazy and is not doing his discipline of science writing any credit. But alas, he is not writing deceptively or erroneously. While such incompetence in high places is frustrating if not infuriating, it must eventually be overlooked in favor of considering the ideas themselves.

    On the face of it, it is fascinating that a certain individual’s entire genetic complement can be erased from his line of descendants despite the fact that he was reproductively successful and that his descendants were all reproductively successful. His genes were never “bred out,” but were diluted to the point of nonexistence. Nevertheless, this person is still an ancestor to people who no longer carry his DNA. I wish to draw attention to this in order to reiterate my warning that one should not reify the concept of ancestry into the mechanical process of DNA transmission. They are by no means the same thing, and it is this elliptical reasoning which creates endless errors in the field of biology.

    To take one striking example, the better to illustrate the general point, there are certain cases of amphibian parthenogenesis in which the “father” contributes no DNA whatsoever to his offspring. In these cases, a male frog will mate with a female frog; but rather than fertilizing her in the ordinary sense, it is some factor present in his serum which stimulates her ova to begin developing into embryos. Here the male is still necessary; the act of mating is still necessary; but the transmission of DNA does not occur. This is the extreme example of complete pedigree collapse within one generation.

    Rather than seeing this as an unusual exception to the general rule, I would venture that this actually is the basis of all sexual reproduction, and that the more involved process in which the male does contribute his DNA to the offspring is a super-added complement—a connotative development of the fundamental sexual act—but not integral to it.

    Reproduction is the multiplication of bodies. DNA is only relevant to this process insofar as it is also “bodily”—i.e. it is a component of the body and must needs be multiplied as bodies are multiplied. But it is as categorical a mistake to fix one’s concept of ancestry on the replication of DNA as it would be to fix it on the replication of cell membranes, lysosomes, and golgi apparatuses. This mistake arises, first, from the Darwinistic insistence on the heritability of traits (made necessary by its survivor selection model); and then by the completely unmotivated ambition to physicalize the trait-producing mechanism. This second step results in the highly flawed concept of “information” bound up in a substrate. But information is only a shadow of the mind. If it were a real thing, it would entail the existence of a most unnatural haecceity that imposed itself on matter by means of violence in a sort of Manichean scarification. DNA molecules have a discernible pattern which allows this haecceity to be illusioned with greater conviction. Other than that, there is no difference between DNA and any other cellular component. If cell membranes could be adequately marked, we would find them to be just as informational as we now take DNA to be. The information we abstract from DNA is something we’ve mentally tattooed on the molecule, not something we’ve read out of it.

    In a certain sense, the transmission of fatherly DNA is a decline from the pinnacle of pure and unadulterated maleness, in which the father condescends to contribute no longer only his spirit and essence, but a portion of his body as well. It is a partial involution of the male into the female, made necessary by the desirability of maintaining balanced sex ratios in the offspring, which is itself a direct consequence of the greater unity and directionality brought to expression in these forms. Thus, in all higher animals the males are never entirely free, but always have the female as their heart’s god and ineffable yearning, while the females have the males as their ideal and the target of all their tactical shyness. While Darwinian theory as a theory does not and cannot explicitly mention any of this, it is forever cropping up there in cryptic forms because it is real and inescapable. The fitness principle itself is nothing but the male yearning for the female, stripped of any meaning and rendered into a mechanical principle of causality. Its explicit recognition would cause Darwinism to fall apart, but in its hidden form it is only this which gives the theory its credibility and power.

  62. @Crawfurdmuir

    Knights of Justice in the Order of Malta are no longer required to be of noble birth, which may be one reason why the nobility conscious Central Europeans have such an animus against them.
    Nobility is required for the so-called knights of honour & devotion, but the rules vary from one country to another. In Great Britain male line nobility for three-hundred and fifty years is the rule, while in Germany and Austria the seize quartiers rule is strictly enforced.

    It is a little understood facet of the present troubles within that Order that the Germans are at least as animated by a contempt for the lesser nobility of their British foes than by a perceived desire to modernise the way the Order functions. Baron Boeselager, Count Esterhazy and the two Princes Lobkowicz (all with 64 quarterings at least) stand arrayed against Mr Festing, Mr Galley, and Mr Critien, not to mention the uncouth, if rich, Americans.
    They think they are using Pope Francis for their own ends, but may well discover that it is, and was from the beginning, the other way ’round.

    A different point is this: the seize quartiers rule and its equivalents are not to be understood as being about “blood” (much less genes) – they are about status. Prove sixteen noble great-great -grandparents and you prove, not that their blood was pure, but that there status was high.
    “Class, not race”, is their motto, and thus you will find nobles like Boeselager at the forefront of the suicidal push to welcome into Germany a million warriors for Mohammed. The Baron is said to be rather stupid, and so he must be if he thinks his thick castle walls will save him, or rather his children, in thirty or fifty years time.

    • Replies: @Crawfurdmuir
  63. anon[245] • Disclaimer says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Winston was a left footer, his old man was good with colours, it’s likely most males in the Spencer Churchill line weren’t into women all that much.
    Churchill’s role in planning the Gallipoli Campaign needs more scrutiny.
    The Turks had foreknowledge, their troops were waiting on the peninsula, and the evening before Australian troops landed, the Armenian Genocide kicked off all over Turkey.

  64. Anonymous[294] • Disclaimer says:
    @Faraday's Bobcat

    “The Y chromosome doesn’t have a lot of genes on it, but it’s passed down intact from father to son in perpetuity. Except for mutations, your Y is the same as the one in your direct paternal line when Christ was alive.”

    -That’s largely true, though there are some regions of the Y chromosome that undergo recombination with the X chromosome.

  65. @Old Palo Altan

    Knights of Justice in the Order of Malta are no longer required to be of noble birth, which may be one reason why the nobility conscious Central Europeans have such an animus against them.

    Thank you for the clarification.

    “Class, not race”, is their motto, and thus you will find nobles like Boeselager at the forefront of the suicidal push to welcome into Germany a million warriors for Mohammed. The Baron is said to be rather stupid, and so he must be if he thinks his thick castle walls will save him, or rather his children, in thirty or fifty years time.

    Is this a preponderant viewpoint among the old German nobility? I note that Beatrix von Storch of the AfD is by birth Duchess of Oldenburg.

  66. eah says:
    @anonymous

    However, no members of the public were present.

    This is actually quite common in Europe — at least in Germany — many trials against ‘refugees’ and ‘asylum seekers’, including those charged with violent crimes, even murder, are closed to the public — also, even though it is clear many of them are adults, ie they lied about their age so as to be considered ‘unaccompanied minors’ (who re asylum are treated more generously), they are despite that charged and tried as juveniles, where sentences are generally milder (eg a ‘life’ sentence is not possible).

    Current example: the murder of the young German girl Mia Valentin in Kandel last December by an Afghan MUFL.

    Kandel-Mörder-Prozess soll nun doch nach Jugendstrafrecht geführt werdenWährend der Angeklagte selbst angibt, zum Zeitpunkt der Tat erst 15 Jahre alt gewesen zu sein, geht die Staatsanwaltschaft aufgrund eines medizinischen Gutachtens davon aus, dass er etwa 20 Jahre alt war — he is being tried as a juvenile, even though a medical examination showed he was probably at least 20 when he arrived in 2015 (he lied and said he was 15).

    Mordfall Mia in Kandel: Prozess unter Ausschluss der Öffentlichkeit — the trial is closed to the public — the common reason given for this: concerns about ‘Resozialisierung’, ie the later re-introduction of the accused/convicted into society — the thinking being too much negative publicity makes that more difficult — note he is not German, is allegedly here temporarily as a ‘refugee’, and brutally stabbed to death a 15 y/o German girl in a drug store in front of her friends — still I think the chances are significantly better than 50/50 that he will never be deported.

  67. eah says:
    @anonymous

    …members of the public had not been present at the time of the alleged incident.

    Sorry, I misinterpreted that part of your story — still my earlier comment is valid: it is illustrative of what goes on throughout Europe, ie adult liars tried as kids, and these trials closed to the public due to concerns about ‘Resozialisierung’.

  68. My guess is that it is a viewpoint more likely to be found among the Catholics than the Protestants.

    Even the nobility in Germany have that fatal herd instinct, and the Catholic Church since Vatican II has been ever more clearly on the Left. When plotting aginst then Grand Master Festing, Boeselager and his allies met in Munich under the auspices of the arch-heretic Cardinal Marx, who distinguished himself recenlty by opining that crucifixes should not hang in every public building in Bavaria, as the Prime Minister there had just decreed that they would.
    The Protestants are in general more able to think for themselves, and the Catholics do have numerous exceptions who, if they are in the Order of Malta, tend to keep quiet these days.
    A glorious exception is the irrepressible Gloria Thurn und Taxis. But she did grow up in Mozambique, so knows of whom she speaks.

  69. Paul says:

    I have ancestors going back to the Puritans who came to New England and have quite a few famous (by now distant) relatives. I think the reason is that the Puritans were a small group of ambitious people who married other Puritans and thought by working very hard you were doing what God wanted of you. They tended to get ahead. I too am a small fraction American Indian because one of my ancesters married an Algonquin Indian chief’s (Terramuggus was his name) daughter. Her family was converted to Christianity, and she was named Rebecca. I had heard this oral history from my family and was not sure what to make of it. However, it is now possible to look up (my aunt did) quite a bit of this kind of thing (generation by generation) using the computer databases at some libaries. I think the Mormons (given their baptism by proxy belief) have compiled quite a bit of material.

  70. Eagle Eye says:
    @trelane

    Nobody inherits an intact replica chromosome from either parent (except the Y from the father)

    Not well phrased. There are two phases of the process one needs to distinguish.

    (1) EGG TO EMBRYO – CHROMOSOMES INHERITED FROM EACH PARENT REMAIN UNCHANGED. The inseminated ovum consists of one set of chromosomes directly derived from the father, and one set from the mother. They remain distinct in the embryo, although there seems to be some mechanism whereby one of the pair of chromosomes prevails over the other. (E.g. one X chromosome is effectively switched off for many purposes.)

    (2) PARENT CHROMOSOMES TO SPERM/OVUM. To create the sperm or ova, the paired sets of chromosomes in each parent’s genome are chopped up and recombined. So the resulting sperm or ovum consists of one chromosome that is NOT a direct copy of either of the parent’s paired chromosomes. The exceptions are the father’s X and Y chromosomes which are passed down unchanged because there is no paired chromosome for them to meiose with.

    RESULT: A paternal granddaughter has one X chromosome that was formed exclusively from her paternal grandmother’s two X chromosomes. A paternal grandson instead has all of the paternal grandfather’s Y chromosome (and the grandfather’s grandfather’s, etc.), except for mutations.

  71. Anonymous[274] • Disclaimer says:
    @Harry Baldwin

    Churchill was the younger son of a younger son, so because of primogeniture he wasn’t going to inherit anything. He had to make his own way in the world.

  72. Anonymous[274] • Disclaimer says:
    @dearieme

    His money was safe regardless. A wealthy descendant of the conqueror wouldn’t bother about £10,000. One that needed the money wouldn’t dare admit it.

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