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Carl Zimmer reports in the NYT:

DNA Deciphers Roots of Modern Europeans
JUNE 10, 2015

… On Wednesday in the journal Nature, two teams of scientists — one based at the University of Copenhagen and one based at Harvard University — presented the largest studies to date of ancient European DNA, extracted from 170 skeletons found in countries from Spain to Russia. Both studies indicate that today’s Europeans descend from three groups who moved into Europe at different stages of history.

The first were hunter-gatherers who arrived some 45,000 years ago in Europe.

Then came farmers who arrived from the Near East about 8,000 years ago.

Finally, a group of nomadic sheepherders from western Russia called the Yamnaya arrived about 4,500 years ago. The authors of the new studies also suggest that the Yamnaya language may have given rise to many of the languages spoken in Europe today.

In other words, with “the Yamnaya” we’re likely talking about more or less the people also known as the Proto-Indo-Europeans, who used to be called the Aryans.

… Until about 9,000 years ago, Europe was home to a genetically distinct population of hunter-gatherers, the researchers found. Then, between 9,000 and 7,000 years ago, the genetic profiles of the inhabitants in some parts of Europe abruptly changed, acquiring DNA from Near Eastern populations.

Archaeologists have long known that farming practices spread into Europe at the time from Turkey. But the new evidence shows that it wasn’t just the ideas that spread — the farmers did, too.

The hunter-gatherers didn’t disappear, however. They managed to survive in pockets across Europe between the farming communities.

“It’s an amazing cultural process,” said David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School who led the university’s team. “You have groups which are as genetically distinct as Europeans and East Asians. And they’re living side by side for thousands of years.”

Between 7,000 and 5,000 years ago, however, hunter-gatherer DNA began turning up in the genes of European farmers. “There’s a breakdown of these cultural barriers, and they mix,” said Dr. Reich.

Poussin, 1634

Perhaps like the breakdown of the cultural barriers between the Roman men and the Sabine women?

About 4,500 years ago, the final piece of Europe’s genetic puzzle fell into place. A new infusion of DNA arrived — one that is still very common in living Europeans, especially in central and northern Europe.

The closest match to this new DNA, both teams of scientists found, comes from skeletons found in Yamnaya graves in western Russia and Ukraine.

Archaeologists have long been fascinated by the Yamnaya, who left behind artifacts on the steppes of western Russia and Ukraine dating from 5,300 to 4,600 years ago. The Yamnaya used horses to manage huge herds of sheep, and followed their livestock across the steppes with wagons full of food and water.

It was an immensely successful way of life, allowing the Yamnaya to build huge funeral mounds for their dead, which they filled with jewelry, weapons and even entire chariots.

David W. Anthony, an archaeologist at Hartwick College and a co-author on the Harvard study, said it was likely that the expansion of Yamnaya into Europe was relatively peaceful. “It wasn’t Attila the Hun coming in and killing everybody,” he said.

It’s a stereotype that the Eurasian Steppe tends to be violent, so therefore it can’t be true. The real reason Eastern Europe is called The Bloodlands is because of the beautiful red sunsets. Everybody knows that.

Instead, Dr. Anthony thought the most likely scenario was that the Yamnaya “entered into some kind of stable opposition” with the resident Europeans that lasted for a few centuries. But then gradually the barriers between the cultures eroded.

For a dissenting view of the values and predilections of Eurasian steppe peoples:

On the other hand, Dr. Anthony cogently rebutted:

The Copenhagen team’s study suggests that the Yamnaya didn’t just expand west into Europe, however. The scientists examined DNA from 4,700-year-old skeletons from a Siberian culture called the Afanasievo. It turns out that they inherited Yamnaya DNA, too.

Dr. Anthony was surprised by the possibility that Yamnaya pushed out over a range of about 4,000 miles.

What with them being so peaceful and all.

“I myself have a hard time wrapping my head around explanations for that,” he said.

I bet you do.

The two studies also add new fuel to a debate about how languages spread across Europe and Asia. Most European tongues belong to the Indo-European family, which also incudes languages in southern and Central Asia.

For decades, linguists have debated how Indo-European got to Europe. Some favor the idea that the original farmers brought Indo-European into Europe from Turkey. Others think the language came from the Russian steppes thousands of years later.

The new genetic results won’t settle the debate, said Eske Willerslev, an evolutionary biologist at Copenhagen University who led the Danish team. But he did think the results were consistent with the idea that the Yamnaya brought Indo-European from the steppes to Europe. …

“We can just say that the expansion fits very well with the geographical spread of the Indo-European language,” said Dr. Willerslev.

• Category: History, Science • Tags: Anthropology, Aryans, Indo-Europeans, Yamnaya 
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In the New York Times, Frank Jacobs offers a map of Europe based on traditional family structures that fans of HBD Chick will find familiar from the work of French anthropologist Emmanuel Todd.

The “absolute nuclear family” around the North Sea, where parents look forward to being empty-nesters, appears to map pretty closely to the lands of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. 

On the other hand, the development of this family structure appears to be post-Beowulf, but pre-Chaucer. British cabinet minister David Willetts wrote in his fine book The Pinch (as I summarized in my review in VDARE):

“Instead, think of England as being like this for at least 750 years. We live in small families. We buy and sell houses. … Our parents expect us to leave home for paid work …You try to save up some money from your wages so that you can afford to get married. … You can choose your spouse … It takes a long time to build up some savings from your work and find the right person with whom to settle down, so marriage comes quite lately, possibly in your late twenties. … A small, simple family structure not driven by the need to pass on an inheritance or to sustain ties with brothers and cousins in a clan can be more personal, intense, and emotional—a clue to England’s Romantic tradition.”

This Anglo-Saxon absolute nuclear family structure is conducive to the highest levels of personal freedom and individualism. But, it requires a lot of land and wealth to expect your sons to be able to afford houses of their own when they find their brides. The Anglo-Saxon nuclear family model where young adults are not under the thumbs of their parents or grandparents or aunt’s husband thrives, as Benjamin Franklin pointed out, in underpopulated places with cheap land and high wages, but, as Franklin also noted in the 1750s, it gets undermined by high rates of immigration, which drive up land costs and lower wages. Those who follow the liberty-loving Anglo-Saxon model tend to get outcompeted by groups willing to pile an extended family into one house, as is happening across many of the metropolises of America today.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Anthropology 
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I’m reading Francis Fukuyama’s upcoming book The Origins of Political Order, and I got interested in the differences between family tree-based tribes and territory-based states. For example, in Libya, Gaddafi, normally a modernizing statist, has, in extremis, armed the tribes that are on his side. 
How’s that work, anyway? How do you have lineage-based and territory-based polities co-existing? 
I made some notes for a blog post (“Work in Ishi, the last wild California Indian, somehow”), then went to look up the famous Arab saying about “I against my brother …” And I found this excellent 2008 article by anthropologist Stanley Kurtz in the Weekly Standard, “I and My Brother Against My Cousin.” It’s great to find something exactly on your wavelength, but by a guy who actually knows what he’s talking about. Kurtz’s article even begins:

On the morning of August 29, 1911, a half-starved Indian stumbled down from a remote canyon near California’s Mount Lassen and surrendered at the corral of a nearby slaughterhouse. Reluctant, in accordance with tribal custom, to divulge his personal name, he called himself simply “Ishi,” or “Man.”

Kurtz writes:

I thought of Ishi while reading Philip Carl Salzman’s new book, Culture and Conflict in the Middle East (Humanity Books, 224 pages, $34.95). … Salzman specializes in the study of Middle Eastern nomads. He, too, is something of a last survivor of a once proud band. What Salzman has managed is to have preserved, nurtured, deepened, and applied to our current challenge a once-dominant anthropological perspective on tribal societies: the study of tribes organized into “segmentary lineages.” It was one of the great achievements of modern anthropology. Yet, over the past 40 years, scholars have largely rejected and forgotten the study of segmentary lineage systems. …

The anthropological understanding of tribal social structures–especially in Africa and the Middle East–has been shunned for 40 years as exaggerating the violence and “primitivism” of non-Western cultures, discouraging efforts at modernization and democratization, and covertly justifying Western intervention abroad. Decades of postmodern and postcolonial studies have conspired against the appearance of books like Salzman’s.  … 

In the Islamic Near East, however, the term “tribe” has a fairly specific meaning. Middle Eastern tribes think of themselves as giant lineages, traced through the male line, from some eponymous ancestor. Each giant lineage divides into tribal segments, which subdivide into clans, which in turn divide into sub-clans, and so on, down to families, in which cousins may be pitted against cousins or, ultimately, brother against brother. Traditionally existing outside the police powers of the state, Middle Eastern tribes keep order through a complex balance of power between these ever fusing and segmenting ancestral groups.  

The central institution of segmentary tribes is the feud. Security depends on the willingness of every adult male in a given tribal segment to take up arms in its defense. An attack on a lineage-mate must be avenged by the entire group. Likewise, any lineage member is liable to be attacked in revenge for an offense committed by one of his relatives. One result of this system of collective responsibility is that members of Middle Eastern kin groups have a strong interest in policing the behavior of their lineage-mates, since the actions of any one person directly affect the reputation and safety of the entire group. 

Universal male militarization, surprise attacks on apparent innocents based on a principle of collective guilt, and the careful group monitoring and control of personal behavior are just a few implications of a system that accounts for many aspects of Middle Eastern society without requiring any explanatory recourse to Islam. The religion itself is an overlay in partial tension with, and deeply stamped by, the dynamics of tribal life. In other words–and this is Salz-man’s central argument–the template of tribal life, with its violent and shifting balance of power between fusing and fissioning lineage segments, is the dominant theme of cultural life in the Arab Middle East (and shapes even many non-Arab Muslim populations). At its cultural core, says Salzman, even where tribal structures are attenuated, Middle Eastern society is tribal society. … 

If Peters found important exceptions to the classic pattern of alliance and feud along lines of male descent, Salzman showed there was a systematic explanation. He found that when erstwhile nomadic tribes settle down, a given clan’s location and its immediate neighbors begin to trump the call of traditional kinship loyalties. Yet even settled tribes preserve the classic kin-based ideology of feuding and alliance, precisely because they might someday be forced by economic necessity–or by war with the state–to pick up and move. The further nomads are from the settled life of a state, the more they rely on kin-based, segmentary, balance-of-power principles to keep order. So even after settlement, Bedouin preserve classic segmentary kinship ideology as a kind of “social structure in reserve” for times of movement, crisis, and conflict.

And that sounds like Libya these days. You have a bunch of former nomads who have settled down with TVs and Fiats, but they stand ready to organize along their ancestors’ tribal lines when crisis breaks out. 
President Obama’s mom was an anthropologist (she got her Ph.D. in 1992), so he might actually know a little of this stuff. It would be interesting to find out what side his mother took in the ultra-politicized Anthropology Wars and what Obama’s views of his mother’s views are. Of course, that would involve somebody in the press asking the politician specific questions, and, of course, such things are just not done.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Anthropology 
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Nicholas Wade reports in the New York Times:

‘Science’ Is Cut from Anthropology Group’s Guiding Plan, Deepening a Rift

Anthropologists have been thrown into turmoil about the nature and future of their profession after a decision by the American Anthropological Association at its recent annual meeting to strip the word “science” from a statement of its long-range plan.

The decision has reopened a long-simmering tension between researchers in science-based anthropological disciplines — including archaeologists, physical anthropologists and some cultural anthropologists — and members of the profession who study race, ethnicity and gender and see themselves as advocates for native peoples or human rights.

… Until now, the association’s long-range plan was “to advance anthropology as the science that studies humankind in all its aspects.” The executive board revised this last month to say, “The purposes of the association shall be to advance public understanding of humankind in all its aspects.” This is followed by a list of anthropological subdisciplines that includes political research.

… Dr. Peregrine, who is at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, said in an interview that the dropping of the references to science “just blows the top off” the tensions between the two factions. “Even if the board goes back to the old wording, the cat’s out of the bag and is running around clawing up the furniture,” he said.

He attributed what he viewed as an attack on science to two influences within anthropology. One is that of so-called critical anthropologists, who see anthropology as an arm of colonialism and therefore something that should be done away with. The other is the postmodernist critique of the authority of science. “Much of this is like creationism in that it is based on the rejection of rational argument and thought,” he said.

The flames have been fueled by blogs, like one in Psychology Today by Alice Dreger, a historian and medical ethicist. Reporting on an American Anthropological Association meeting in New Orleans, she wrote, “Non-fluff-head cultural anthropologists are feeling utterly beleaguered in this environment that denigrates science and consistently promotes activism over data collection and scientific theorizing.”

This implied dichotomy between anti-science anthropologists who write about race, ethnicity, or gender and scientific anthropologists who don’t study those topics is a bit misleading. The are also anthropologists who study race, ethnicity or gender scientifically (several of whom are on my blogroll). The work of Darwinian anthropologists of sex differences like John Tooby and of ancestral differences like Henry Harpending are the hidden key to this controversy. The anti-science anthropologists fear that if anthropology is allowed to be a science, then all sorts of politically incorrect scientific knowledge about humanity will emerge. The pro-science leaders try, publicily, to pooh-pooh those fears.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Anthropology 
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Boasian cultural anthropology was a glamor field in academia in the 1950s, yet it is now among the least publicized. What went wrong?

For example, sci-fi great Robert Heinlein wrote Boas’s student Margaret Mead into his 1957 sci-fi “juvenile” novel Citizen of the Galaxy. Young Thorby flees Sargon and is adopted into the extended family of Free Traders, a people who buy and sell anywhere in the galaxy. The rules of the spaceship crew / family are baffling to Thorby.

Fortunately, anthropologist Margaret Mader (i.e., Margaret Mead) is on board to explain why Thorby can’t fall in love with any girls in his Starboard Moiety, but must find his bride on the Portside Moiety, along with the other complications of Free Trader family structure.

Family structure is interesting stuff, and obviously has real world applications for, say, all those countries where America has soldiers wandering around, such as Afghanistan and the borders of Somalia. But nobody is interested these days.

So, what went wrong? First, anthropologists became obsessed with what Robin Fox, the author of the 1967 textbook Kinship and Marriage calls “ethnographic dazzle.” The exception became the rule. A few decades ago, you’d always hear arguments beginning, “Well, there’s this one tribe where …” which I parodied in The American Spectator in 1992 in “Report Cites Bias Against Women in Drug Rackets: ‘Aspiring Female Traffickers Lack Role Models,’ Notes Expert.

“All the experts indignantly dismiss biological conjectures purporting to explain why males seem more violent than females. “Then why are the Nuzwangdees of Guyana — or is it the Wangduzees of New Guinea? Well, anyway, I heard there’s some tribe somewhere where more women than men are into GrecoRoman wrestling, or is it Australian football?” retorts Dr. Charles Womyndaughter.”

The point of all this is to deny that there is a basic human nature, in order to facilitate intellectuals being funded to carry out improbably social engineering projects.

Fox wrote in 1991:

“But find me a society without a kinship system, and one without one that operates on the six basic parameters I outlined … Such societies do not exist. … This being so the question becomes not whether or not we “socially construct” the kinship systems we have, but why we construct the limited number of types we do out of all the possible types.”

The flip side of this is that there tend to be general patterns in family structure that follow regional and racial structures, suggesting that within the basic human nature, some variation has evolved.

Cultural anthropologists didn’t want to hear that at all, so they intellectually emasculated their subject rather than follow the facts to their conclusions.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Anthropology 
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Attempts to come up with a Darwinian explanation for the high average IQ of European Jews go back at least to Norbert Weiner’s 1953 autobiography, in which he argued that arranged marriages between the shetl’s brightest young rabbi and the richest merchant’s daughter would lead to large numbers of smart children having enough money to survive. In 2005, Greg Cochran, Henry Harpending, and Jason Hardy put forward a sophisticated theory pointing to selection for the mental demands of traditional Ashkenazi occupations such as moneylender. In Commentary, Charles Murray recently suggested the Babylonian Captivity could have played a role.

For a number of years, anthropologist Peter Frost has been privately advocating a fourth theory. Frost is the author of the 2005 book Fair Women, Dark Men: The Forgotten Roots of Color Prejudice, which I reviewed in On Wednesday, Frost posted in the comments to Mahalanobis’ item on economist Greg Clark’s new book showing that the prosperous had many more surviving children than the poor in medieval and early modern England. The comment summarizes Frost’s theory of the evolution of Ashkenazi intelligence:

The same process was going on in other European nations, but to varying extents. I commented on this point in the following letter to Commentary (which was never published):

In “Jewish Genius” [April] Charles Murray states that selection for intelligence has historically been stronger in some occupations than in others, being notably stronger in sales, finance, and trade than in farming. Insofar as he is right, the reason lies not in the occupation itself but in its relations of production.

In the Middle Ages and earlier, farmers had little scope for economic achievement—and just as little for the intelligence that contributes to achievement. Most farmers were peasants who produced enough for themselves, plus a surplus for the landowner. A peasant could produce a larger surplus, but what then? Sell it on the local market? The possibilities there were slim because most people grew their own food. Sell it on several markets both near and far? That would mean dealing with a lot of surly highwaymen. And what would stop the landowner from seizing the entire surplus? After all, it was his land and his peasant.

The situation changes with farmers who own their land and sell their produce over a wide geographical area. Consider the “Yankee” farmers who spread westward out of New England in the 18th and 19th centuries. They contributed very disproportionately to American inventiveness, literature, education, and philanthropy. Although they lived primarily from farming, they did not at all have the characteristics we associate with the word “peasant.”

Conversely, trade and finance have not always been synonymous with high achievement. In the Middle Ages, the slow growth economy allowed little room for expanding a business within one’s immediate locality, and expansion further afield was hindered by brigandage and bad roads. Furthermore, the static economic environment created few novel situations that required true intelligence. How strong is selection for intelligence among people who deal with the same clients, perform the same transactions, and charge the same prices year in and year out?

This point has a bearing on the reported IQ differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews. Charles Murray, like others, believes that the Ashkenazim were more strongly selected for intelligence because they were more concentrated than the Sephardim in sales, finance, and trade, especially during the Middle Ages. Now, we have no good data on the occupations of medieval Ashkenazim and Sephardim. But the earliest censuses (18th century for Polish Jews and 19th century for Algerian Jews) show little difference, with the bulk of both groups working in crafts.

There was, however, one major demographic difference. While the Sephardim grew slowly in numbers up to the 20th century, the Ashkenazim increased from about 500,000 in 1650 to 10 million in 1900. The same period saw strong population growth among Europeans in general. This boom used to be attributed to falling death rates alone, but demographers now recognize that rising birth rates were also responsible, in some countries more so. In England, the rise in fertility contributed two and a half times as much to the increase in growth rates as did the fall in mortality, largely through a decline in the age of first marriage.

This trend toward early marriage coincided with growing use of roads, canals and, later, railways to distribute goods over a much larger geographical area. The baby boom was particularly concentrated among semi-rural artisans who produced on contract for urban merchants and who could ably exploit these larger, more elastic markets. “They were not specialized craftsmen in life-trades with skills developed through long years of apprenticeship; they were semi-skilled family labour teams which set up in a line of business very quickly, adapting to shifts in market demand” (Seccombe 1992. A Millennium of Family Change. p. 182). Their workforce was their household. In more successful households, the workers would marry earlier and have as many children as possible. In less successful ones, they would postpone marriage, or never marry.

In Western Europe, these cottage industries were concentrated in areas like Ulster, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Brittany, Flanders, Alsace, Westphalia, Saxony, the Zurich uplands, the Piedmont, and Lombardy. In Eastern Europe, they were concentrated among Ashkenazi Jews. Selection for intelligence among the Ashkenazim may thus have been part of a larger European-wide selection for intelligence among cottage industry workers. These entrepreneurial artisans had optimal conditions for selection: 1) a tight linkage between success on an intelligence-demanding task and economic achievement; 2) considerable scope for economic achievement; 3) a tight linkage between economic achievement and reproductive success; and 4) considerable scope for reproductive success. Such artisans were a minority in Western Europe. Among the Ashkenazim, they appear to have been the majority.

In the late 19th century, cottage industries gave way to factories and the tight linkage between economic achievement and reproductive success came undone. Entrepreneurs could now expand production by hiring more workers. Henry Ford, for instance, produced millions of his famous Model T but had only one child.

In conclusion, Charles Murray errs in thinking that selection for intelligence is driven by the type of occupation. The relations of production seem to be more important, in particular whether the worker owns the means of production, whether there is scope for economic achievement, and whether increases in production are driven by increases in family size.

By the way, it’s quite sad how anthropologists have gone from glamour boys and girls in the 1950s to being almost ignored in the 2000s. Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, for example, was the Steve Levitt of the post-war era, an omniscient seer consulted on every topic imaginable. (For example, a fictionalized version of her named “Margaret Mader” has a sizable role as a space-traveling anthropologist in Robert A. Heinlein’s 1957 sci-fi classic Citizen of the Galaxy. She explains to the young hero the complex family structure of the Free Traders’ spaceship.)

But the rival school of physical anthropologists led by the two-fisted Carleton Coon could also generate celebrities. Coon, for instance, was a regular panelist on a high-brow TV gameshow called “What in the World?” that ran from 1951-1964. On it, Coon and a couple of other anthropologists would be shown some random object from a museum collection and then try to guess whether it was a Neanderthal’s sternum or whatever.

Coon’s specialty was “The Wilder Whites:” Berbers, Albanians, and other tough mountain peoples who found the macho Coon to be their kind of man. During WWII, Coon served in the OSS and his chief assignment was to prepare to be “Lawrence of Morocco” — if Franco ever let Hitler’s armies have right of passage through Spain, they could land on the North African coast behind the Anglo-American forces fighting Rommel’s army in Libya and roll them up. If that happened, Coon would disappear into the Rif Mountains and rally the wild Berber tribes to fight a guerilla war against the German occupiers.

My guess is that what went wrong was that the Franz Boas / Margaret Mead school of cultural anthropology succeeded in demonizing their enemies like Coon. Without rivals anymore to keep them on their game, the cultural anthropologists got complacent and politically correct, and thus boring. The subject is still fascinating, but you’d only find that out these days from a handful of anthropologists, such as Frost, Harpending, Stanley Kurtz, and Peter Wood.

That’s too bad because anthropology ought to be the foundational social science, what physics is to the hard sciences.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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