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What Are the Evolutionary Roots of West African Sprinting and East African Distance Running Dominance?
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Jon Entine argues:

Usain Bolt’s Olympic gold shows again why no Asian, white–or East African–will ever be crowned world’s fastest human

Razib at the Unz Review responds:

Actually, I think Jon is wrong on this. Better drugs and biological engineering mean that I suspect at some point in the near future the fastest “human” alive is going to be non-African, and, if I had to bet, Chinese. But you know what Jon meant.

Khan goes on to argue:

One peculiar thing population genetics teaches us that non-adaptive traits are more heritable. This is due to the fact that selection tends to remove variation, selecting for fitter individuals. Humans are good runners, there are entire evolutionary theories based around our biomechanical modifications and adaptations. But there’s really no benefit in running in bursts of 10.5 in the 100 meter dash vs. 9.5. We’re not that sort of ambush predator. There’s probably some heritable variation in burst ability, but it’s small, and not visible in any normal set of tasks among large groups of humans.

But modern competitive sports at the Olympic level is not selecting for normality, it’s selecting from outliers. It isn’t that West Africans were guaranteed to be the best sprinters, it’s just that a priori it shouldn’t be surprising that in such a non-adaptively beneficial trait as running a few seconds faster in the 100 meter dash some populations had the genetic die loaded in their direction.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the ability to outrun those who are after you and mean to do you harm were an important life skill that is highly adaptive in Darwinian terms.

For example, in 1982, when I had just moved to Chicago, I was headed into the Century Mall on N. Clark St., when a black teen rushed out, followed by two twenty-something Hispanic security guards in close pursuit. I watched them head up Clark Street with the teen in sneakers pulling away from the guards in shiny black leather shoes.

But whether sprinting ability or distance running ability is best for survival depends upon how long pursuers’ sightlines extend in your home terrain.

The shoplifter then turned left at the first corner. It occurred to me that was an important life decision he had just made: if it was a dead end he was in big trouble. But if it were a thru street then he just needed to make a series of seemingly random turns until he had lost his pursuers.

In contrast, if the pursued had headed into open grassland, his pursuers could keep him in sight for a long time, so his better sprinting ability might prove nugatory if they had more endurance.

Perhaps in forested or brush covered terrain, as in West Africa, sprinting is selected for because the pursued individual can get lost faster, while in open grassland, as in East Africa, endurance running is the surest way to get away.

 
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  1. Metaphorically speaking: This Sailer-man is moving swiftly through the ages, crossing continents and arguing about evolution at the same time.

    Impressive!

  2. I think endurance running is more of a predator skill, only useful to the prey if he can outsprint predators, too. The predator has a choice (provided he can keep track of the prey, i.e. rather East African than West African terrain), whether he wants to catch the prey early (in a sprint), or after a drawn out pursuit. The prey has no such choice: he has to outrun the predator in the first 100m in order to stay in the game, then has to stay ahead at 200m, too, at 400, 800, etc. If at any point the prey proves to be slower than the predator, he’ll get killed.

    So endurance without sprinting ability is useless to a prey. It’s still useful if you are a predator.

    Keep in mind that for much of their history humans tended to be predators, often apex predators.

    • Replies: @Gato de la Biblioteca
    @reiner Tor

    Yes, but often the prey animal doesn't have to outrun the predator over a long stretch, but only has to out run other prey animals for a short to medium stretch.

    Replies: @reiner Tor

    , @Buffalo Joe
    @reiner Tor

    Reiner, Before the Plains Indian mastered equestrian skills, they hunted buffalo on foot. They didn't actually chase down the buffalo but camouflaged themselves with animal skins to get close to the bisons and then shoot them with arrows or spear them. They also set fire to the plains grass to drive the buffalo into canyons or over cliffs. After they mastered horsemanship they chased down buffaloes and shot them with arrows or speared them. Some American Indians actually chased small game and killed them with throwing sticks. African natives, on the other hand, had to flee, and still do, many predatory animals. So maybe that explains their foot speed. Eskimos used dogs to help them hunt and to pull them through the snow, but I don't think Eskimos were fleet of foot, even though they lived in the land of the Polar bear, the only land mammal known to actively hunt humans as prey. Eskimos survived by using stealth and cunning, not speed

    Replies: @Ivy

  3. There was an instance in the 1760’s of a “Long Hunter” outrunning a party of Cherokee warriors over a distance of several miles. He reloaded as he ran and stopped briefly to down a pursuer more than once. Eventually the Cherokees figured out that they had the short end of the stick in this confrontation and ended the chase. Northern European longshanks, plus coolness under fire.

  4. In East Africa they actually pursue deer until the deer become too tired to move and just stand there to be killed.

  5. This may also explain why humans had an inclination to ride horses!

    More running and hunting by Africans

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Anonymous

    The hunting boars with monkeys thing is wild. Is that for real?

  6. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    One argument in favor of the theory that West-African sprinting ability is not selected for is that West-Africans apparently have no specific biochemical pathways instead deriving their sprinting dominance from purely biomechanical means, i.e. longer limbs more muscle (and fast twitch) thinner pelvis.

    This could evolve in any number of ways but does not necessitate any strong selection for sprinting ability. It’s a weak argument and I’m on the fence on the whole situation.

  7. I tend to be a “no extra parts” sort of guy so Khan’s argument seems unlikely to me. West African “burst” does not just show up in sprinting. It also shows up in other areas. Jumping and tackling are two other areas where we see blacks excel. West Africa is a place where quick twitch muscles are more important than other places. Sprinting is just one example of it.

    As far as the genetically engineers super dude from China, I’m getting the same feeling I used to get as a kid when futurist would talk about flying cars and jetpacks. Yeah, the theory is probably right, but the application is always going to be just over the next hill.

    • Replies: @anon
    @The Z Blog


    As far as the genetically engineers super dude from China, I’m getting the same feeling I used to get as a kid when futurist would talk about flying cars and jetpacks. Yeah, the theory is probably right, but the application is always going to be just over the next hill.
     
    We could have had all of that if we hadn't taken a wrong turn.
  8. Steve,
    I was wondering whether you’ve noticed the following sports/HBD development. In some sports with very few black athletes at the highest level, one of them has reached all time great status. So far, three examples: Tiger Woods (golf), Serena Williams (tennis) and Simone Biles (artistic gymnastics). Any thoughts?

    • Replies: @anon
    @Anonymous

    People have been specifically looking for Black outliers for PC reasons.

    If people specifically looked for Chinese outliers they'd probably find them.

    , @Triumph104
    @Anonymous

    They all have highly involved parents. When Earl Wood's first three children were young he was an Army officer, served two tours of duty in Vietnam, and divorced their mother after 14 years of marriage, so he obviously wasn't highly involved in their lives. When Tiger came along Earl was retired and could devote all of his energy to his son. With Earl's pension and his wife working, finances were not much of a problem.

    Before Venus and Serena were even born Richard Williams had decided his daughters were going to play tennis. Both parents taught them the game on public courts and Serena benefitted by having a older and stronger sister as a training partner. When Serena was 9 the family moved to Florida for professional coaching and both Venus and Richard were being paid by Reebok.

    Simone Biles was adopted into a professional family and luckily at age 6 visited a gymnastics gym on a field trip where her current coach spotted her. Simone's parents are affluent so training expenses were never an issue. When Simone's coach was unhappy at her gym the Biles built a new gym that Simone's brother now manages.

    , @Triumph104
    @Anonymous


    some sports with very few black athletes at the highest level
     
    Blacks (or mixed blacks) are well represented at the highest level of gymnastics. The US has sent a black female to every Olympics since 1992 with the exception of 2008, all have a medal and most have two or more. Even in 2008 one of alternates was black, Elizabeth Price who now competes for Stanford. Incidentally, former baseball player Joe Morgan's daughter was on Stanford's gymnastic team.

    I can't think of the name, but I saw a recent competition for US senior men on YouTube where about 25 percent of the gymnasts were black. They are just not making world and Olympic teams. It may be because Title IX has pretty much destroyed men's gymnastics on the college level, but I haven't really looked into it. Even so, the US had two black men on its 1996 Olympic team with Jair Lynch winning a silver and John Orozco made the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams but had to drop out of Rio due to an injury.

    In Rio there were blacks representing Brazil, Cuba, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and France plus countries like Trinidad and Jamaica that didn't make it out of qualifying. Louis Smith of Great Britain won two medals.

    Most countries with a world-level gymnastics program have next to no black people. Yet, last year Spain granted citizenship to a 15-year old boy from Guinea that they hope will compete on their senior national gymnastics team.

    (The retired Cuban high jumper, Javier Sotomayor, is now a citizen of Spain.)
    , @Buffalo Joe
    @Anonymous

    Borut, Simple answer, athletically gifted child with highly involved parents. Same reason almost every other star in the sports you mention is successful.

  9. How far shall we carry do-it-yourself biology? Maybe Africans are lousy swimmers because anyone foolish enough to swim would have been killed by crocs or hippos. Or water-snakes!

    Such a large return of “results” for such a small investment in facts. (As someone or other approximately said.)

  10. I think endurance running is more of a predator skill

    Counter example pronghorn antelope.

    Endurance running as a technique for hunting is called ‘persistence hunting’. Mammals adapted for it include African wild dogs, wolves and humans.

    I suspect use of this technique is selected for in East Africans, who live on open savanna. They’d use the heat of the day to track, chase and wear down antelope, such as kudu until it overheated and can be approached and killed with a spear.

    Interestingly in the 1879 Anglo Zulu war the British were taught to treat Zulu Impis (battle formations) as cavalry because they moved so fast across the open, lush Natal veldt grass.

    West Africa is closer country, so persistence hunting was likely less of a thing. The sprinting capability of West Africans may have been selected for not so much through hunting, rather through inter tribal warfare. In raids on neighbouring villages faster guys could chase down and kill slower human opponents and get the gal.

    Urban conurbations and the resulting selection based on co-operation based society was confronted with the problems of tropical pathogen loads, including malaria. So villages were spread out and small and civic society just didn’t happen. They didn’t even develop the wheel.

  11. The high school near my house hosts a big track meet each year that includes a “Devil Takes the Hindmost” race of undetermined length. It’s a lot of fun to watch:

    “According to the website made for the Cougar Relays, the rules for this unique race are as follows. All contestants start together and after completing two laps, the devil removes the last three runners. This process repeats each lap until there are fewer than 20 runners, at which point, the devil will only remove the last two runners. When there are fewer than 8 running, the devil takes only one runner. The event ends as the final two runners race it out to the finish. If a runner is lapped, they are removed from the field automatically and the judge may still remove two runners depending on where the runner was lapped. If the third last runner has crossed the start line before the judge is aware of the lapped runner, that runner remains in the race…though not for long!

    “Madness! Who would host such an event? Ron McGaw is an assistant track coach at Sherwood High School, but is also the former track coach for Magruder High School and the former meet director of the old Magruder Relays. Says, McGaw, ‘I saw this race run when I was running track in college. When I started the Magruder Relays, I wanted something unique to have in the meet so I put this in. It took a couple of years to catch on, but as you saw Saturday, it has become quite an exciting race.’ McGaw also explained that the race has evolved over time. He added the rule about eliminating lapped runners to reduce confusion. He also adjusted the number of runners removed after each lap to allow for more runners to run without the race getting too long.

    “Over the weekend, I had a conversation with the devil himself. Cougar Relays meet director and Quince Orchard High School head coach Seann Pelkey explained that he took the idea from the old Magruder Relays when he began the Cougar Relays four years ago. ‘I love the Devil Takes the Hindmost. It’s fun for me to be the devil, although, I think I’m too nice to be a devil. It’s something I look forward to all year.’ Pelkey could be seen for the first part of the day with red devil horns on his head and his devil tail hanging out of the back of his pants, putting on a show for the athletes and spectators. ‘The best part, though, is seeing how excited the athletes and spectators get watching this race. Only in this sport do people get excited for a race in which the winner runs the furthest!’

    “The general strategy for this race is to stay in the front half of the competitors, pace one’s self, and sprint the last 50 meters of each lap to prevent being eliminated. This idea seemed to be lost on many of the girls, as not many put up much of a fight to stay alive. It was especially unusual that Quince Orchard’s Anya Oleynik burst out 50 meters in front of everyone else on the first lap. This strategy is risky considering the race could be as long as six or seven miles with so many competitors, but the payoff for going out hard would be great if she could lap the other competitors to make her race shorter. Coach Pelkey explains her strategy, ‘Anya wanted to run and win the Devils race. She wanted to take it out hard from the start and see who would go with her…all the while knowing that the longer the race, the more to her advantage it would be. When no one went out with her, it made her job even easier.’ Oleynik began lapping athletes not long after her first mile and it soon became obvious that she was locked into a pace and would not be caught. She ran for a total of 24:46.

    “The boys understood the concept. They were running for their lives and it showed. In almost every lap after the first two, there were sprints to the finish so as not to be claimed by the devil. The race featured many of the young, developing county distance runners and one standout distance runner in Chris Bowie from B-CC. If this were a 3200m race, Bowie would be the heavy favorite, but in the ‘666 meter’ race, he needed to play his cards right or he would soon be playing cards with the devil. Says B-CC Coach Chad Young, ‘The only thing I told him was to let some others do the work and to run his own race. Tactically he ran a perfect race by not working too hard in the beginning and allowing some of the other runners to get carried away.’ He did not lead the race until around the 8th lap when he broke open a huge lead. According to Coach Young, he came through five miles in 27:45. Bowie ran for a total of six miles with a time of 34:51.32. It was the longest race in meet history.”

  12. What do you think it means that Bolt is the only 6’5 guy running in all these races?

    http://investing.calsci.com/statistics.html

    back of the envelope from that, if sprinters were randomly distributed, there should be something on the order of 1 6’4-6’5 guy for every 7-12 5’11-6’0

    http://www.alltime-athletics.com/m_100ok.htm

    looking at that list, there doesn’t appear to be anywhere near 1 6’4 for every 7-12 6’0 guy (without looking up every name on the list, the next tallest guy appears to be Linford Christie who always seemed imposingly tall for a sprinter, and Wikipedia tells me was 6’2)

    the easy conclusion is that being tall isn’t actually an advantage for sprinting, so that gives you more confidence something unnatural is going on, and that Bolt is probably on something

    ——————

    fair enough, but if they’re all on stuff, shouldn’t that advantage disappear and the fastest guy still be 6’0?

    or do the drug take away the advantage of being 6’0, and everyone’s missing out on a bunch of potential (great? winning?) doped up 6’5 sprinters

    ie, if everyone’s doped up, its a big advantage to be 6’5?

    except track coaches are still working on the clean paradigm that 6’0 guys are the best sprinters and funneling 6’5 guys to something else, and missing the moneyball opportunity

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Phil

    Tall, fast wide receivers in the football -- Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson, Plaxico Burress (sp) -- are rare and valuable.

    Replies: @ScarletNumber

  13. Humans are the fastest distance runners on earth.

  14. Steve Sailer provides many insightful ideas in his column, some of them obviously well-founded in evidence, but this proposal seems shaky. It might be true, but on the other hand there are other explanations, some of which could have a firm foundation in evolutionary genetics. West African males and females have high testosterone levels, and both genders are strong relative to their peers in other ethnic groups such as Europeans and East Asians. Fast top-end sprinting speeds by West Africans might just reflect higher muscularity?

  15. One theory is that humans evolved with a hunting strategy of chasing down game until the game dropped from heat exhaustion. This explains both humans extremely long endurance (there are very few animals that can run 26 miles non-stop in African weather) and hairless body for better cooling (sled dogs CAN run those kind of distances and more but only in the Arctic where overheating is not an issue). This was probably an ability that evolved early and so is present (as is hairlessness, more or less) in all human populations, but maybe has decayed in some and was better retained in others closer to the original source (E. Africans). Now to me, I can think of a better way to make a living than chasing a gazelle for 26 miles, but early man was not really noted for his intellect.

    I don’t know where sprinting fits into this – it’s unlikely that is was to get away from predators as humans are pretty pathetic in this regard – most people cannot outrun their own house pets, let alone lions and hyenas. Even Bolt would not stand a chance against a cheetah. So the idea that it evolved to get away from other (slower) humans is not far-fetched. Or maybe it evolved from the old joke scenario – when you and your friend are being chased by a bear, you don’t have to outrun the bear, just your friend.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    @Jack D


    One theory is that humans evolved with a hunting strategy of chasing down game until the game dropped from heat exhaustion.
     
    Yes, that's what I had in mind. But from a theoretical viewpoint, sprinting is a must for prey, whereas it's an option for a predator.

    I don’t know where sprinting fits into this – it’s unlikely that is was to get away from predators as humans are pretty pathetic in this regard – most people cannot outrun their own house pets, let alone lions and hyenas.
     
    I guess humans have been apex predators or close to it for a long time even in Africa. Sprinting might be useful in hunting, when you are hunting in groups. The way I imagine it is that you don't need to run to outright chase down the prey running in the same direction, but the prey might be chased in your direction, and you - with a spear or some other weapon in your hand - need to sprint to get close enough to kill it, or else it'd run past you.

    Even if we are pathetically slow, being at least fast by human standards is probably needed in a hunt, as long as you only have primitive weapons.

    Replies: @candid_observer

  16. But there’s really no benefit in running in bursts of 10.5 in the 100 meter dash vs. 9.5. We’re not that sort of ambush predator.

    If you’re a world class sprinter, your athletic prowess is not typically just limited to sprinting (as Khan seems to suggest). World class sprinters tend to excel at almost any activity that relies on fast-twitch muscles. There are plenty of evolutionary advantages that can be had from excelling at fast, explosive movements–which is what fast-twitch muscles bring to the table.

    As far as the ‘ambush predator’ part…Predator of what? A deer or antelope? OK, fine. Other humans? Again, I get Khan’s point.

    But what about human to human combat within the tribe (ie jockeying for the position of being the alpha)? Fast twitch confers real advantage in this type of closed environment.

    Maybe the differences in sprinting prowess has little to do with the typical notions that its because Africans were roaming the Serengeti, while Europeans were closeted up North. And while I am no Social Constructionist, maybe the difference here does result from a cultural difference as Africans never really organized beyond The Tribe. In a closed environment, fast-twitch is truly advantageous. Maintain this state of affairs for a few thousand years…while Europe and parts of Asia moved beyond The Tribe, and meaningful genetic differences will emerge.

  17. @Jack D
    One theory is that humans evolved with a hunting strategy of chasing down game until the game dropped from heat exhaustion. This explains both humans extremely long endurance (there are very few animals that can run 26 miles non-stop in African weather) and hairless body for better cooling (sled dogs CAN run those kind of distances and more but only in the Arctic where overheating is not an issue). This was probably an ability that evolved early and so is present (as is hairlessness, more or less) in all human populations, but maybe has decayed in some and was better retained in others closer to the original source (E. Africans). Now to me, I can think of a better way to make a living than chasing a gazelle for 26 miles, but early man was not really noted for his intellect.

    I don't know where sprinting fits into this - it's unlikely that is was to get away from predators as humans are pretty pathetic in this regard - most people cannot outrun their own house pets, let alone lions and hyenas. Even Bolt would not stand a chance against a cheetah. So the idea that it evolved to get away from other (slower) humans is not far-fetched. Or maybe it evolved from the old joke scenario - when you and your friend are being chased by a bear, you don't have to outrun the bear, just your friend.

    Replies: @reiner Tor

    One theory is that humans evolved with a hunting strategy of chasing down game until the game dropped from heat exhaustion.

    Yes, that’s what I had in mind. But from a theoretical viewpoint, sprinting is a must for prey, whereas it’s an option for a predator.

    I don’t know where sprinting fits into this – it’s unlikely that is was to get away from predators as humans are pretty pathetic in this regard – most people cannot outrun their own house pets, let alone lions and hyenas.

    I guess humans have been apex predators or close to it for a long time even in Africa. Sprinting might be useful in hunting, when you are hunting in groups. The way I imagine it is that you don’t need to run to outright chase down the prey running in the same direction, but the prey might be chased in your direction, and you – with a spear or some other weapon in your hand – need to sprint to get close enough to kill it, or else it’d run past you.

    Even if we are pathetically slow, being at least fast by human standards is probably needed in a hunt, as long as you only have primitive weapons.

    • Replies: @candid_observer
    @reiner Tor

    But human beings are both predators and prey, when they engage, as they certainly did in primitive eras, in regular warfare amongst themselves.

    Replies: @reiner Tor

  18. Outrunning pursuers is definitely an adaptive trait, even today. When I was about 12 years old, my older brother, two of his friends and me were coming home from the Arnold Arboretum in the Roslindale section of Boston. We had spent the whole day there. We lived on Washington Street near Grove Hall which was quite a distance from the Arboretum. So we cut through Franklin Park to shave off a few minutes from the trip. We had our family dog with us.

    It was getting dark, but we hardly noticed as we were joking an fooling around as kids do. Suddenly, we heard someone say, in a not too friendly manner, “What you white boys doing with a black dog?”

    “Uh-Oh” A group of black kids emerged from seemingly nowhere. If I remember correctly, they were about my brother’s age 15-16 and they definitely out numbered us. This was a situation for the “flight” reflex.

    My brother says quietly, “When I say run; run.”

    “RUUUUNNNNNN!!!!!”

    And off we went with the gang of black kids in close pursuit. As I was much smaller and not as fast as my brother and his friends I started to fall behind. I could hear the black kids closing in shouting, “Get that little white motherfucker!” I knew I couldn’t outrun them, so I headed for the fence that surrounded the park. If I could get there, maybe I could get over the fence before they caught me.

    The fence was a standard 6 foot chain link fence with three strands of barbed wire on the top. Somehow, instinctively perhaps, reaching the fence I leaped up onto the fence using it as a spring then reached up to grasp a nearby tree branch and vaulted over the top. I landed on my ass but at least I had a fence between me and my pursuers.

    When the black kids reached the fence they where howling mad, shaking the fence. Screaming at me, “You little white bastard!” “Were gonna kick your white ass!”

    So I picked myself up, grabbed a handful of rocks and pelted them through the fence. …

  19. If sports are a proxy for warfare, how about a take on sprinting within the framework of ancient warfare (no firearms) — In formation fighting, some units would be designed to move quickly at various stages of a battle.

    Speed could be important, but I can’t see the huge superiority that one side with mobiles units who would cover 100m (a considerable distance on that kind of battlefield) in 10-12 seconds (=the fastest in the world) would have over the other army’s, whose fastest units move the same distance at a full 15 seconds*. Is this really significant?

    * — (15-20 seconds on the 100m is “the average man’s sprinting speed” according to the Internet. A forty-yard dash (=36.576 meters) in 5.0 seconds, a relatively fast speed, would translate to a 100m sprint in 13.7 seconds, though because the 100m is nearly three times as long as the U.S. forty-yard dash and peak speed can’t be maintained, the same runner making a “5.0 second forty” might get about 15.0 seconds on the 100m).

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    @Hail

    I think in an ambush it could've meant the difference between life and death.

  20. Sprinting ability is related to a host of traits including testosterone levels, musculature, body fat percentage and fast twitch muscle fiber content. I will speculate that these things are more beneficial to evolutionary competition and genetic fitness than sprinting alone.

    The building blocks that make sprinting possible were genetically favored, not sprinting itself. Dashing ability is a manifestation of a host of other advantages that, for whatever reason, were selected in west African populations in greater propensity than others.

  21. In David Epstein’s “The Sports Gene,” which Steve has reviewed in the past, the theory was advanced that west african metabolism has evolved towards anaerobic/glycotic efficiency and away from using aerobic processes as a defense against malaria. Improved sprinting ability would be merely a side product under this theory. I’m not saying the theory is correct, but it’s interesting.

  22. Dirk Dagger [AKA "That\'s Not Who We Are"] says: • Website

    … if it was a dead end he was in big trouble.

    Big trouble? Not really, but your faith in Chicago’s criminal justice apparatus is noted (and very touching).

  23. Is Schippers the real outlier?

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
    @goatweed

    goat, Schippers was closing fast at the end, she probably would be a great 400 meter runner. Tall girl and very attractive.

  24. Steve,

    That is a great story! I still go to the Century — they have an art-house movie theater, although the rest of the mall has seen better days.

  25. maybe good sprinting ability is just an evolutionary by-product of having a muscular upper body (which is for attracting females), being able to jump high (again good for attracting females with some sort of traditional jumping competitions) or being good at dancing (again good for attracting females). To determine what sprinting is good for one could also look at different sports and compare the best of those sports regarding the question who is n average better in sprinting. I would for example guess that a 80kg boxer is on average faster than a 80kg olympic wrestler

  26. “We’re not that sort of ambush predator.”
    Yes we are.

  27. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ability to outrun those who are after you and mean to do you harm were an important life skill that is highly adaptive in Darwinian terms.

    No. Genius Razib has spoken. Post your insults in a comment on his thread, and He (PBUH) will delete them!

    In contrast, if the pursued had headed into open grassland, his pursuers could keep him in sight for a long time, so his better sprinting ability might prove nugatory if they had more endurance.

    Perhaps in forested or brush covered terrain, as in West Africa, sprinting is selected for because the pursued individual can get lost faster, while in open grassland, as in East Africa, endurance running is the surest way to get away.

    Now imagine your thieving yoof had a partner in crime running with him. That 1 second difference would become pretty important.

  28. “I don’t need to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun you” is a memorable old saying for good reason.

  29. @reiner Tor
    I think endurance running is more of a predator skill, only useful to the prey if he can outsprint predators, too. The predator has a choice (provided he can keep track of the prey, i.e. rather East African than West African terrain), whether he wants to catch the prey early (in a sprint), or after a drawn out pursuit. The prey has no such choice: he has to outrun the predator in the first 100m in order to stay in the game, then has to stay ahead at 200m, too, at 400, 800, etc. If at any point the prey proves to be slower than the predator, he'll get killed.

    So endurance without sprinting ability is useless to a prey. It's still useful if you are a predator.

    Keep in mind that for much of their history humans tended to be predators, often apex predators.

    Replies: @Gato de la Biblioteca, @Buffalo Joe

    Yes, but often the prey animal doesn’t have to outrun the predator over a long stretch, but only has to out run other prey animals for a short to medium stretch.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    @Gato de la Biblioteca

    That's exactly my point. He sure has to outrun the predator over a short stretch, but maybe doesn't have to run more than a short stretch. On the other hand, he only has to run over a long stretch if and only if he has already beaten the predator over a short stretch. (Well, OK, the predator has some handicap, in that it starts from a distance and needs to close it.)

  30. I don’t really get why Razib takes the view he does here. He seems to suggest that running speed is just a neutral trait with respect to selection. I can see the point that it may not be so much selected for among, say, civilized populations. But I don’t see why it wouldn’t be selected for amongst hunter-gatherers, especially those who engage in regular warfare against neighboring tribes — which virtually all of them do.

    In Pinker’s book Better Angels of Our Nature, he presents convincing evidence as to just how warlike such tribes are: on average, roughly 15% of them are killed by homicide. That creates a great opportunity for rather massive selection for the trait “good-at-surviving-warfare”, and over many thousands of generations. It’s hard to see why, in primitive societies with primitive weapons, speed wouldn’t be well correlated with such survival, whether it be involved in offense or defense.

    Of course the Olympics rewards the outliers. But the mean is surely driven by the sorts of considerations I’ve mentioned.

    • Replies: @granesperanzablanco
    @candid_observer

    I think that is the point though. You really notice only at the tail of the distribution. On the spectrum there is not a big difference between fit white and West African decended runners.

    At least where I grew up there where plenty of very fast white boys, some of whom competed against kids from all black schools in HS track and football and went on to play college sports. The differences only become more apparent at the elite college levels IMO. Even at the elite levels white people are not way behind actually when you think of this in terms of ability and not a competition

    Replies: @ben tillman

    , @David
    @candid_observer

    I agree. Razib's argument is that some human population was likely to be fastest for no reason, so we shouldn't be surprised that's the way it worked out. Science! We know for sure sprinting is "a non-adaptively beneficial trait" because Razib can't think of how it could be adaptive. More science.

    , @Jack Highlands
    @candid_observer

    "The trait 'good at surviving warfare'" - nice.

    And pretty much my thought. Plus, not only is burst speed itself likely very useful in some environments for tribal warfare, but its physiological components, like high fast-twitch proportion, are useful in other aspects of warfare and hunting. Sometimes Razib is surprisingly tunnel-visioned.

    , @Escher
    @candid_observer

    For a scientist, khan is surprisingly thin skinned and intolerant of differing opinions.

  31. @reiner Tor
    @Jack D


    One theory is that humans evolved with a hunting strategy of chasing down game until the game dropped from heat exhaustion.
     
    Yes, that's what I had in mind. But from a theoretical viewpoint, sprinting is a must for prey, whereas it's an option for a predator.

    I don’t know where sprinting fits into this – it’s unlikely that is was to get away from predators as humans are pretty pathetic in this regard – most people cannot outrun their own house pets, let alone lions and hyenas.
     
    I guess humans have been apex predators or close to it for a long time even in Africa. Sprinting might be useful in hunting, when you are hunting in groups. The way I imagine it is that you don't need to run to outright chase down the prey running in the same direction, but the prey might be chased in your direction, and you - with a spear or some other weapon in your hand - need to sprint to get close enough to kill it, or else it'd run past you.

    Even if we are pathetically slow, being at least fast by human standards is probably needed in a hunt, as long as you only have primitive weapons.

    Replies: @candid_observer

    But human beings are both predators and prey, when they engage, as they certainly did in primitive eras, in regular warfare amongst themselves.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    @candid_observer

    Yes, that's a good point, Jack D also mentioned it in passing above.

  32. Another possibility is that the ability to run long distances came first, and then was adopted (& adapted) by certain animals for the purpose of cursorial hunting. Kind of how feathers probably evolved originally for purposes of insulation but later (with more adaptation) proved to be excellent for flight.

    Eh, I’m tired. Maybe that doesn’t make sense…..

  33. Plenty of places were heavily wooded/brush covered in history. If this were the main reason, The Native Americans of the Northeast would be among the world’s top sprinters. As would have been the pre-deforestation of Ireland Irish.

    Sprinters tend to be larger and heavily muscled. That’s why they can sprint—their large muscles allow them to power past everyone else in a short distance. It’s also why they suck at longer distances—-over a longer distance, wind resistance wears people down, and the large frames are harder to carry over the longer distances, the knees get worn down, and the larger muscles lose their advantages as they peter out. The best marathoners tend to be on the smaller side, both height wise and muscle-wise. Large muscles become a dis-advantage over a longer distance.

    The differences probably have more to do with human warfare, which I believe is a big chunk the selection process. When armies/groups fight in short raids or quick battles, a large, heavily muscled dude is going to come in handy–he’l close the gap early, intimidate everyone, maybe cut down a few guys, and the battle is over. Early vikinig raiders probably had a size advantage.

    But in prolonged battles or pitched battles or campaigns, the large sprinter type loses his reserve power and can’t handle the changes and stamina required. Roman armies were not noted for their large overpowering handsome dudes, but merely guys who just kept coming at you till they won. The large sprinting impressively muscled dudes were only prevalent in Gladiatorial battles in the arena.

  34. The idea that cultural forces make black runners better can be easily debunked by watching a middle school track meet.

    Even in suburbia, when young white/Asian runners come up against young black runners, they are completely outclassed. There is no comparison.

    These are all kids with little training and few differences in terms of cultural influences. It’s just raw talent running for a finish line.

  35. Why did Jon Entine capitalize “Asian” but not capitalize “White”?

    • Replies: @anon
    @Anonymous

    Apparently he writes well-reviewed books on genetics which - as the blank slate is a lie - implies he's a ****.

  36. OT, but here’s more on Trump’s “extreme vetting” proposal:

    http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/trumps_extreme_vetting_plan_for_immigrants_is_likely_constitutional_law_pro/

    Quote:

    Writing for the Washington Post, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley says this is one occasion when Trump may have the law on his side. “As a general proposition, a litmus test for new immigrants isn’t unconstitutional or even unprecedented,” Turley writes.

    And, amusingly:

    If Trump implemented his plan through legislative action, it would be “unassailable,” Turley says. And if he tried to implement it through unilateral executive action, there would be precedent in Obama’s plan to defer deportations, which led to a 4-4 U.S. Supreme Court deadlock, Turley says.

    Imagine President Trump pushing for this via executive action, using Obama’s move as precedent. Warning: Stay clear of the exploding heads to your left!

  37. Most traits that make you better at football, basketball, lacrosse, or soccer will also make you better at fighting wars with spears, bows and arrows, rocks, and hatchets. Perhaps the trait was selected for at one point and then drifted through the ages once its original usefulness wore off.

    But I don’t think that’s right. Those small hips and high centers of gravity come at evolutionary costs in other dimensions (brain size, heat conservation).

    You can’t lose beneficial traits through normal selection unless there is a higher benefit to the new pheno, so I strongly doubt that these are neutral. Luckily, we have the tools to find out definitively whether running was neutral or selected and we will know in the fullness of time.

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
    @Jewish Conservative Race Realist

    "Those small hips and high centers of gravity come at evolutionary costs in other dimensions (brain size, heat conservation)."''

    I'm not sure heat conservation has very strong selection pressure in West Africa.

  38. @Gato de la Biblioteca
    @reiner Tor

    Yes, but often the prey animal doesn't have to outrun the predator over a long stretch, but only has to out run other prey animals for a short to medium stretch.

    Replies: @reiner Tor

    That’s exactly my point. He sure has to outrun the predator over a short stretch, but maybe doesn’t have to run more than a short stretch. On the other hand, he only has to run over a long stretch if and only if he has already beaten the predator over a short stretch. (Well, OK, the predator has some handicap, in that it starts from a distance and needs to close it.)

  39. @candid_observer
    @reiner Tor

    But human beings are both predators and prey, when they engage, as they certainly did in primitive eras, in regular warfare amongst themselves.

    Replies: @reiner Tor

    Yes, that’s a good point, Jack D also mentioned it in passing above.

  40. First of all no two legged animal is going to be able to outrun a 4 legged one if they are close to the same size so forget about chasing down game or fleeing from a predator. 4 legs will get you or get away from you every time. North American Plains Indians had no horses and depended on the buffalo but they never developed the speed or endurance to chase them down over the 10,000 years of neolithic hunting.

    In my army days I would note however, that the two best distance runners in the battalion were both Navajo so there maybe something to the idea that the terrain your ancestors came from had some effect on speed/endurance between human populations

  41. @Hail
    If sports are a proxy for warfare, how about a take on sprinting within the framework of ancient warfare (no firearms) -- In formation fighting, some units would be designed to move quickly at various stages of a battle.

    Speed could be important, but I can't see the huge superiority that one side with mobiles units who would cover 100m (a considerable distance on that kind of battlefield) in 10-12 seconds (=the fastest in the world) would have over the other army's, whose fastest units move the same distance at a full 15 seconds*. Is this really significant?


    * -- (15-20 seconds on the 100m is "the average man's sprinting speed" according to the Internet. A forty-yard dash (=36.576 meters) in 5.0 seconds, a relatively fast speed, would translate to a 100m sprint in 13.7 seconds, though because the 100m is nearly three times as long as the U.S. forty-yard dash and peak speed can't be maintained, the same runner making a "5.0 second forty" might get about 15.0 seconds on the 100m).

    Replies: @reiner Tor

    I think in an ambush it could’ve meant the difference between life and death.

  42. anon • Disclaimer says:

    Random wild speculations…

    The sprinting advantage is a combination of quick twitch musculature, long legs, and narrow hips.

    I’d guess quick twitch musculature is selected primarily for hand to hand fighting prowess as opposed to sprinting, which is more of a nice ancillary benefit. Other peoples had relaxed selection on fast twitch musculature b/c of lethal weaponry (e.g. bow and arrow) and higher male cooperation levels. And negative selection for fast twitch preponderance in the case when there is a need for endurance.

    Longer limbs are relatively advantageous for most athletic pursuits, but don’t fair well in colder environments. Dissipate too much heat.

    Hip width– again, narrower better for movement, but selected against with brain diameter and labor dystocia.

    • Replies: @Sean
    @anon

    There has been some selection for fighting I agree, but the root cause of spiriting success is testosterone's suite of traits. The proof of that is if blacks were not allowed to take testosterone or testosterone mimicking drugs then they would never win sprinting gold again because against testosterone enhances whites, blacks would loose every time. Male male competition (over women) is a inevitable result of polygyny, but blacks are not ALL super sprinters because polygyny simultaneously for testosterone crazed behavior and its opposite


    https://www.unz.com/pfrost/the-contradictions-of-polygyny/ There seems to be a balanced polymorphism that allows a minority of quieter, monogamous men to thrive in a high-polygyny society like Senegal. When polygynous men become too numerous, they may spend too much time looking for mating opportunities and not enough checking up on their current wives to avoid being cuckolded. It might be better for some to live continuously with one wife.
     
  43. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    It’s doubtful that fast running ability evolved as a means of evading predatory animals – or even chasing prey animals.
    As the saying goes, man can run no faster than a ‘startled chicken’.

    – perhaps west African sprinting ability is connected with countless centuries of hit-and-run raids on rivals. Remember, west Africa, historically, had no beasts of burden.

  44. As long as we’re having fun with speculation, some of our ancestors likely prospered because they could sprint to the next clump of trees ahead of the others.

  45. “I don’t have to be faster than the tiger, I just need to be faster than you.”

  46. Perhaps a new form of affirmative action should be imposed against those privileged to be so fast.

    Its time for them to pick up the Black Man’s burden and carry the differently sexualized Forward!

    http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2016/08/17/ellen-degeneres-accused-racism-over-usain-bolt-tweet.html

    http://heatst.com/culture-wars/ellen-degeneres-chastised-forced-to-deny-shes-racist-after-usain-bolt-meme-controversy/?mod=sm_tw_post

  47. The world’s record hammer throw was set in 1986 … 30 years ago & = 86+ meters
    The world’s record discus throw was set in 1986 … 30 years ago & = 74+ meters
    The world’s record shot put was set in 1990 … 26 years ago & = 23+ meters
    The world’s record javelin throw was set in 1984 … 32 years ago & = 104+ meters
    Skill in these abilities puts food on the hearthstone, kills enemies at a distance.
    Just four numbers that I found interesting after watching some Olympics yesterday.

  48. “Better drugs and biological engineering” – what a tool.

  49. @candid_observer
    I don't really get why Razib takes the view he does here. He seems to suggest that running speed is just a neutral trait with respect to selection. I can see the point that it may not be so much selected for among, say, civilized populations. But I don't see why it wouldn't be selected for amongst hunter-gatherers, especially those who engage in regular warfare against neighboring tribes -- which virtually all of them do.

    In Pinker's book Better Angels of Our Nature, he presents convincing evidence as to just how warlike such tribes are: on average, roughly 15% of them are killed by homicide. That creates a great opportunity for rather massive selection for the trait "good-at-surviving-warfare", and over many thousands of generations. It's hard to see why, in primitive societies with primitive weapons, speed wouldn't be well correlated with such survival, whether it be involved in offense or defense.

    Of course the Olympics rewards the outliers. But the mean is surely driven by the sorts of considerations I've mentioned.

    Replies: @granesperanzablanco, @David, @Jack Highlands, @Escher

    I think that is the point though. You really notice only at the tail of the distribution. On the spectrum there is not a big difference between fit white and West African decended runners.

    At least where I grew up there where plenty of very fast white boys, some of whom competed against kids from all black schools in HS track and football and went on to play college sports. The differences only become more apparent at the elite college levels IMO. Even at the elite levels white people are not way behind actually when you think of this in terms of ability and not a competition

    • Replies: @ben tillman
    @granesperanzablanco


    I think that is the point though. You really notice only at the tail of the distribution.
     
    No, there's a huge difference in the middle. It's about like intelligence. Maybe 15% of Whites are at the Black median.
  50. Leftist conservative [AKA "mourning in america"] says: • Website

    marcus vick shows off his 40 yard speed….and cops show off their 440 yd speed:

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Leftist conservative

    Thanks!

    , @Trelane
    @Leftist conservative

    Poor bastard ran out of glycogen.

  51. It seems likely that because much of East Africa is high altitude, genetic adaptations to altitude occurred there and simultaneously conferred a major advantage in distance running. Most marathoners in the US train at altitude to get some temporary benefits of this nature….

  52. @reiner Tor
    I think endurance running is more of a predator skill, only useful to the prey if he can outsprint predators, too. The predator has a choice (provided he can keep track of the prey, i.e. rather East African than West African terrain), whether he wants to catch the prey early (in a sprint), or after a drawn out pursuit. The prey has no such choice: he has to outrun the predator in the first 100m in order to stay in the game, then has to stay ahead at 200m, too, at 400, 800, etc. If at any point the prey proves to be slower than the predator, he'll get killed.

    So endurance without sprinting ability is useless to a prey. It's still useful if you are a predator.

    Keep in mind that for much of their history humans tended to be predators, often apex predators.

    Replies: @Gato de la Biblioteca, @Buffalo Joe

    Reiner, Before the Plains Indian mastered equestrian skills, they hunted buffalo on foot. They didn’t actually chase down the buffalo but camouflaged themselves with animal skins to get close to the bisons and then shoot them with arrows or spear them. They also set fire to the plains grass to drive the buffalo into canyons or over cliffs. After they mastered horsemanship they chased down buffaloes and shot them with arrows or speared them. Some American Indians actually chased small game and killed them with throwing sticks. African natives, on the other hand, had to flee, and still do, many predatory animals. So maybe that explains their foot speed. Eskimos used dogs to help them hunt and to pull them through the snow, but I don’t think Eskimos were fleet of foot, even though they lived in the land of the Polar bear, the only land mammal known to actively hunt humans as prey. Eskimos survived by using stealth and cunning, not speed

    • Replies: @Ivy
    @Buffalo Joe

    Indian hunters typically didn't want to let their prey smell them, so they would take steps to blend in. Some tribes built sweat lodges to sweat out the human smells, and then rubbed themselves with sage or other native flora. For a similar reason, GIs in Vietnam would eat the fish and rice diet of the locals so they wouldn't smell like Americans which could give away their location.

  53. There were Native American tribes that raided other tribes as a lifestyle. And as I recall cattle raiding was an essential element of old Irish culture.

    It would be interesting to seek out relatively genetically distinct subgroups whose cultures centered around raid-and-run strategies in the ‘recent’ past, and see whether they’re any better at certain kinds of physical tasks than groups that have been more sedentary and agricultural.

    • Replies: @iSteveFan
    @melendwyr

    Since Boston 2013, Steve has blogged about the Chechens being adept at certain things.

    Replies: @Glossy

  54. @melendwyr
    There were Native American tribes that raided other tribes as a lifestyle. And as I recall cattle raiding was an essential element of old Irish culture.

    It would be interesting to seek out relatively genetically distinct subgroups whose cultures centered around raid-and-run strategies in the 'recent' past, and see whether they're any better at certain kinds of physical tasks than groups that have been more sedentary and agricultural.

    Replies: @iSteveFan

    Since Boston 2013, Steve has blogged about the Chechens being adept at certain things.

    • Replies: @Glossy
    @iSteveFan

    Chechens, and Caucasus highlanders in general, excel at martial sports. Wrestling and the rest of it. I'm not following these Olympics, but I wouldn't be surprised if some have already medaled in that area. I would guess that the reason is testosterone and not any difference in muscle type or body shape.

    Replies: @Glossy

  55. @candid_observer
    I don't really get why Razib takes the view he does here. He seems to suggest that running speed is just a neutral trait with respect to selection. I can see the point that it may not be so much selected for among, say, civilized populations. But I don't see why it wouldn't be selected for amongst hunter-gatherers, especially those who engage in regular warfare against neighboring tribes -- which virtually all of them do.

    In Pinker's book Better Angels of Our Nature, he presents convincing evidence as to just how warlike such tribes are: on average, roughly 15% of them are killed by homicide. That creates a great opportunity for rather massive selection for the trait "good-at-surviving-warfare", and over many thousands of generations. It's hard to see why, in primitive societies with primitive weapons, speed wouldn't be well correlated with such survival, whether it be involved in offense or defense.

    Of course the Olympics rewards the outliers. But the mean is surely driven by the sorts of considerations I've mentioned.

    Replies: @granesperanzablanco, @David, @Jack Highlands, @Escher

    I agree. Razib’s argument is that some human population was likely to be fastest for no reason, so we shouldn’t be surprised that’s the way it worked out. Science! We know for sure sprinting is “a non-adaptively beneficial trait” because Razib can’t think of how it could be adaptive. More science.

  56. No, it is not direct selection for sprinting, Razib has explained this in his post; do not risk the Wrath Of Khan

    What Are the Evolutionary Roots of West African Sprinting and East African Distance Running Dominance?

    No hunter gather dominance though they are the ones running down game. There is higher testosterone in polygamous mating systems.

    https://www.unz.com/pfrost/the-contradictions-of-polygyny/Thus, when Africans gave up hunting and gathering for farming, there was selection for a new package of male traits. Some of these traits are physiological (higher testosterone levels), some anatomical (denser bones, greater arm and leg girth; changes to muscle fiber properties, etc.), and some behavioral (polygyny, aggressiveness, extraversion, etc.). But this selection didn’t eliminate older genotypes, at least not wholly. There seems to be a balanced polymorphism that allows a minority of quieter, monogamous men to thrive in a high-polygyny society like Senegal. When polygynous men become too numerous, they may spend too much time looking for mating opportunities and not enough checking up on their current wives to avoid being cuckolded. It might be better for some to live continuously with one wife.

    That explains the variability in testosterone mediated traits in blacks (Khan’s argument against running speed ect being an adaptive trait).
    .
    ‘The more women produce, the lower the cost of polygyny.”West Africa is the most polygynous place on earth, the most fertile land and climate(suitable for female farming systems ).

    https://www.unz.com/pfrost/polygyny-makes-men-bigger-tougher-and-meaner/In sub-Saharan Africa, the cost was often negative. Goody quotes a 17th century traveler on the Gold Coast: the women till the ground “whilst the man only idly spends his time in impertinent tattling (the woman’s business in our country) and drinking of palm-wine, which the poor wives are frequently obliged to raise money to pay for, and by their hard labour maintain and satisfie these lazy wretches their greedy thirst after wines.”

    T is what performance enhancing drugs in power sports are mimicking.

    Some athletes take straight testosterone to boost their performance. Frequently, the anabolic steroids that athletes use are synthetic modifications of testosterone. […] Why are these drugs so appealing to athletes? Besides making muscles bigger, anabolic steroids may help athletes recover from a hard workout more quickly by reducing the muscle damage that occurs during the session. This enables athletes to work out harder and more frequently without overtraining. In addition, some athletes may like the aggressive feelings they get when they take the drugs.

    • Replies: @jeremiahjohnbalaya
    @Sean

    In addition, some athletes may like the aggressive feelings they get when they take the drugs

    Friend of mine played defensive line at a major school in the late eighties. He told me that they would get a shot of steroids the night before (day of?) the game in order to get that benefit during the game.

    Replies: @Sean

  57. OT- The white death is getting worse

    26 Overdose on Heroin in 4 hours in (89% white) Huntington West Virginia

    HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Officials in a West Virginia city are warning people about an especially dangerous batch of heroin after authorities responded to 26 overdoses in within a four-hour span.

    The rash of overdoses came Monday in the city of Huntington, which sits in Cabell County along the Ohio River in the western part of the state. Gordon Merry, the county’s EMS director, said at a news conference Tuesday that the heroin the users had taken was laced with a strong substance, but authorities aren’t sure what it is.

    Many of the overdoses were in an area surrounding one apartment complex in the city, he said, leading officials to believe the cases were connected. He said the amount of calls that were received overwhelmed responders.

    For a half-hour span, there were no ambulances available in the county to send, Cabell County EMS assistant supervisor David McClure added.

    Merry said eight of the victims were revived Monday using the opioid-overdose-reversing drug naloxone and others by a manual resuscitator called a bag valve mask to stimulate breathing. One victim was given three doses of naloxone.

    Cabell County responded to 39 overdose calls in all of August 2015.

    There have been more than 440 overdoses in Huntington from all types of drugs this year through mid-July.

    Cody Southern, a recovering addict and graduate of Recovery Point in Huntington, told WOWK he fears this current rash of overdoses is not the end of the problem.

    “I’ve bought, I’ve sold, I know what goes in as a consumer and I know what goes into it as a seller. This is not isolated,” Southern said. “There will be more overdoses by the weekend. I would guarantee it.”

    The addict guy’s name is Southern…

  58. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Hunters in Africa, both Bushmen and East Africans, track game over long distances and run them down until they’re too tired to escape. It’s an endurance activity.

    West Africans do not engage in this sort of sophisticated hunting. They’re horticultural, with women doing all the farming, and the men loitering, dancing, engaging in politics, etc.

  59. Then there’s an even better way to escape than dodging through trees or loping across the savanna: on horseback.

    Aryan cowboy R1a rape!

  60. @candid_observer
    I don't really get why Razib takes the view he does here. He seems to suggest that running speed is just a neutral trait with respect to selection. I can see the point that it may not be so much selected for among, say, civilized populations. But I don't see why it wouldn't be selected for amongst hunter-gatherers, especially those who engage in regular warfare against neighboring tribes -- which virtually all of them do.

    In Pinker's book Better Angels of Our Nature, he presents convincing evidence as to just how warlike such tribes are: on average, roughly 15% of them are killed by homicide. That creates a great opportunity for rather massive selection for the trait "good-at-surviving-warfare", and over many thousands of generations. It's hard to see why, in primitive societies with primitive weapons, speed wouldn't be well correlated with such survival, whether it be involved in offense or defense.

    Of course the Olympics rewards the outliers. But the mean is surely driven by the sorts of considerations I've mentioned.

    Replies: @granesperanzablanco, @David, @Jack Highlands, @Escher

    “The trait ‘good at surviving warfare’” – nice.

    And pretty much my thought. Plus, not only is burst speed itself likely very useful in some environments for tribal warfare, but its physiological components, like high fast-twitch proportion, are useful in other aspects of warfare and hunting. Sometimes Razib is surprisingly tunnel-visioned.

  61. Do women lust after marathon runners?

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Sean

    Women like men with stamina, no?

    Replies: @Sean

  62. Don’t neglect North African excellence in middle distance running. It’s not quite as clear cut as sprinting and long distance running, but a Moroccan holds the current WR in the mile and Morceli / Makhloufi from Algeria have won Olympic golds.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Haile

    I had assumed that the middle distance runners from Northwest Africa were highlanders from the Rif Mountains, but I don't have much evidence for that. Hicham El-Gerouj, for example, grew up in a port city. They may just like running the way Belgians like cycling.

    Replies: @anon

    , @Ron Mexico
    @Haile

    Said Aouita, Khalid Skah, Mohammed Gammoudi come to mind. Whatever happened to Great Britain as a power in 800-3000? The decade of dominance with Ovett, Coe, and Cram seems like ancient history.

  63. 10,000 years of Hispanic mall guards chasing black teens could do wonders for 100 meters dash times. But the teens will have to be eaten if caught, or it won’t work.

    On a more serious note, it’s interesting to contemplate what kind of traits are selected for in the modern living environment. Intelligence is an obvious one. Your expected IQ is probably directly proportionate to the number of generations your ancestors lived in cities.

    What else? Many will say agreeableness but I am not so sure about that. It seems likely to me that selection for this trait had actually weakened lately. Reduced propensity for violence? Maybe.

  64. OT: “Black” divers in Rio:

    -Robert Paez, Venezuela. He is 5 ft 3 in, 132 lbs (160 cm, 60 kg).

    -Jennifer Abel, Canada. She won a bronze in synchronized diving in London. Placed fourth in both synchro and solo in Rio. Started diving at age 5. Her father is from Haiti and her mother is white.

    -Yona Knight-Wisdom, Jamaica. He was born, raised, and trains in Leeds, England. The child of immigrants, his father is Jamaican and his mother is from Barbados. Age 21, Yona started diving after watching the event at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He is the first black male to ever represent any Caribbean country in diving. A black woman dove for Jamaica in 1972. Yona is 6 ft 3 in, 198lbs (190 cm, 90 kg).

  65. But there’s really no benefit in running in bursts of 10.5 in the 100 meter dash vs. 9.5. We’re not that sort of ambush predator.

    What about running away from other humans? When I played tag as a kid, every tenth of a second counted. If it wasn’t a game and my adverseries ran after me with a flint knife, some natural selection would have occurred.

    • Agree: ben tillman
    • Replies: @Glossy
    @Glossy

    OK, I see that Steve has already made this point. I should have read to the end of the post before commenting.

  66. @iSteveFan
    @melendwyr

    Since Boston 2013, Steve has blogged about the Chechens being adept at certain things.

    Replies: @Glossy

    Chechens, and Caucasus highlanders in general, excel at martial sports. Wrestling and the rest of it. I’m not following these Olympics, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some have already medaled in that area. I would guess that the reason is testosterone and not any difference in muscle type or body shape.

    • Replies: @Glossy
    @Glossy

    It would be fun to calculate by how many times the Chechens (population: 1 million) have out-medaled East Indians (1 billion) in the Olympics over the past few decades. It must be quite a few times.

  67. @Buffalo Joe
    @reiner Tor

    Reiner, Before the Plains Indian mastered equestrian skills, they hunted buffalo on foot. They didn't actually chase down the buffalo but camouflaged themselves with animal skins to get close to the bisons and then shoot them with arrows or spear them. They also set fire to the plains grass to drive the buffalo into canyons or over cliffs. After they mastered horsemanship they chased down buffaloes and shot them with arrows or speared them. Some American Indians actually chased small game and killed them with throwing sticks. African natives, on the other hand, had to flee, and still do, many predatory animals. So maybe that explains their foot speed. Eskimos used dogs to help them hunt and to pull them through the snow, but I don't think Eskimos were fleet of foot, even though they lived in the land of the Polar bear, the only land mammal known to actively hunt humans as prey. Eskimos survived by using stealth and cunning, not speed

    Replies: @Ivy

    Indian hunters typically didn’t want to let their prey smell them, so they would take steps to blend in. Some tribes built sweat lodges to sweat out the human smells, and then rubbed themselves with sage or other native flora. For a similar reason, GIs in Vietnam would eat the fish and rice diet of the locals so they wouldn’t smell like Americans which could give away their location.

  68. I think the view of Africans as apex predators is a little overstated. Up until very recently, there were a large number of very unpredictable, aggressive and lethal animals in Africa which couldn’t be easily dealt with before the advent of firearms. Elephants, water buffalo, hippopotamus, crocodile, lions etc. Solo bipeds or small groups would have had little choice but to scram for cover when one of these animals makes a charge. The curious thing is why high-end short distance speed is most concentrated in the armpit of Africa, when the same hazards would have been present over much of Africa, not just West Africa.

    Maybe the living was comparatively easy there and a life-is-cheap communal family structure meant that populations could continue to grow and tight-knit nuclear family units weren’t present to be overly bothered, despite suffering animal attack losses, leaving them were less inclined to develop different strategies (risk aversion / closer control over youngsters / sending warriors out with the food and water-gathering womenfolk / how and when to gather food / how to fortify settlements / how to kill hazard animals), leaving a more rudimentary “fastest survives” dynamic to play out over time?

  69. @Glossy
    @iSteveFan

    Chechens, and Caucasus highlanders in general, excel at martial sports. Wrestling and the rest of it. I'm not following these Olympics, but I wouldn't be surprised if some have already medaled in that area. I would guess that the reason is testosterone and not any difference in muscle type or body shape.

    Replies: @Glossy

    It would be fun to calculate by how many times the Chechens (population: 1 million) have out-medaled East Indians (1 billion) in the Olympics over the past few decades. It must be quite a few times.

  70. @Glossy
    But there’s really no benefit in running in bursts of 10.5 in the 100 meter dash vs. 9.5. We’re not that sort of ambush predator.

    What about running away from other humans? When I played tag as a kid, every tenth of a second counted. If it wasn't a game and my adverseries ran after me with a flint knife, some natural selection would have occurred.

    Replies: @Glossy

    OK, I see that Steve has already made this point. I should have read to the end of the post before commenting.

  71. Look at the sprinters who have run less than 10 seconds. I bet all of them have x% or less body fat, are between x and y inches tall, have leg length of z + or – Y inches, hips no bigger than XX inches, etc.

    And if you don’t fit those measurements, you ain’t going to run a 9.9 second/100 m dash. And it so happens that probably more people who fit those measurements are West African than anywhere else. And just as Newton was an outlier of a much larger pool of above-average intelligence, these 9.9 sprinters come from a pool of people who ALMOST fit these perfect measurements.

    Its like the NBA, if you’re not at 6-6 your chances of playing power forward or Center are almost zero. Or if you’re a NBA running back, you have to run the 4-40 in a certain time and weigh a certain amount or you’re out.

    • Replies: @anon
    @Honesthughgrant


    Look at the sprinters who have run less than 10 seconds. I bet all of them have x% or less body fat, are between x and y inches tall, have leg length of z + or – Y inches, hips no bigger than XX inches, etc.
     
    Yes. I think this is part of Khan's point. Given the biomechanics there is an optimal body type for each sport and people from different regions with average proportions that developed for other reasons may turn out to have an advantage in a particular sport - random chance.

    (although each component of that body type may have been selected for a specific reason or not selected for, for a specific reason)

    off-topic - height is great because you can talk about IQ without talking about IQ
  72. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    A white American and a North African just outran pretty much every single West or East African on the planet over one of the most run and gun races of them all, the 800M. 100 seconds or so of fight or flight. Only a single Masai Kenyan outran those two and by less than 1%.

    https://www.bing.com/search?q=olympics+800m&form=EDGNTC&qs=PF&cvid=0e6936f1fafb47478ff4c12268ec2f9f&pq=olympics%20800m

    West and East Africa aren’t the only locales on this planet with Heat, and their natives aren’t the only ones with foot speed.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Anonymous

    800M is twice around the track, so definitely not a run and gun but an endurance race. But middle endurance, rather than extreme endurance.

  73. @Anonymous
    A white American and a North African just outran pretty much every single West or East African on the planet over one of the most run and gun races of them all, the 800M. 100 seconds or so of fight or flight. Only a single Masai Kenyan outran those two and by less than 1%.

    https://www.bing.com/search?q=olympics+800m&form=EDGNTC&qs=PF&cvid=0e6936f1fafb47478ff4c12268ec2f9f&pq=olympics%20800m

    West and East Africa aren't the only locales on this planet with Heat, and their natives aren't the only ones with foot speed.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    800M is twice around the track, so definitely not a run and gun but an endurance race. But middle endurance, rather than extreme endurance.

  74. @Haile
    Don't neglect North African excellence in middle distance running. It's not quite as clear cut as sprinting and long distance running, but a Moroccan holds the current WR in the mile and Morceli / Makhloufi from Algeria have won Olympic golds.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Ron Mexico

    I had assumed that the middle distance runners from Northwest Africa were highlanders from the Rif Mountains, but I don’t have much evidence for that. Hicham El-Gerouj, for example, grew up in a port city. They may just like running the way Belgians like cycling.

    • Replies: @anon
    @Steve Sailer


    I had assumed that the middle distance runners from Northwest Africa were highlanders from the Rif Mountains, but I don’t have much evidence for that. Hicham El-Gerouj, for example, grew up in a port city.
     
    Ancestors may have come from there so still has some kind of high altitude oxygen efficiency.
  75. @Leftist conservative
    marcus vick shows off his 40 yard speed....and cops show off their 440 yd speed:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfJvDQALhtU

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Trelane

    Thanks!

  76. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    But there’s really no benefit in running in bursts of 10.5 in the 100 meter dash vs. 9.5.

    These small differences make a huge difference in sports competition, not just “pure” competitions like sprints, but more general team sports like basketball, where apparently negligible differences like a second in speed or an inch in height make all the difference in the world.

  77. @Sean
    Do women lust after marathon runners?

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Women like men with stamina, no?

    • Replies: @Sean
    @Anonymous

    Depends what kind of stamina you mean. Bolt spent the night with multiple Swedish women handball players bef9re winning 2012:. Risking a sub par next day and the loss of zillions in endorsements was foolhardy, but he would climb Everest if he thought there was a sure thing at the top of it: testosterone crazed.

    Replies: @Anonymous

  78. Evolution would never have selected for speed. The brutal truth is that most people in history have been killed by other people. Joe Blow didn’t reproduce because a tiger ate him, he and his kind died off because of a lost war.

    And in war, running fast is only good for one thing: Running away. What was needed -before the invention of gun powder – was brains, strength, and endurance. The ability to throw a spear or chuck a big rock at someone, or beat them in a sword fight, or march around them and attack them in the flank meant a lot more than running fast.

    An Army of 10,000 Decathlon winners would beat an army of 10 thousand 100 m sprinters every time.

    BTW, this is a deliberate generalization and is full of hyperbole.

  79. @Phil
    What do you think it means that Bolt is the only 6'5 guy running in all these races?

    http://investing.calsci.com/statistics.html

    back of the envelope from that, if sprinters were randomly distributed, there should be something on the order of 1 6'4-6'5 guy for every 7-12 5'11-6'0

    http://www.alltime-athletics.com/m_100ok.htm

    looking at that list, there doesn't appear to be anywhere near 1 6'4 for every 7-12 6'0 guy (without looking up every name on the list, the next tallest guy appears to be Linford Christie who always seemed imposingly tall for a sprinter, and Wikipedia tells me was 6'2)

    the easy conclusion is that being tall isn't actually an advantage for sprinting, so that gives you more confidence something unnatural is going on, and that Bolt is probably on something

    ------------------

    fair enough, but if they're all on stuff, shouldn't that advantage disappear and the fastest guy still be 6'0?

    or do the drug take away the advantage of being 6'0, and everyone's missing out on a bunch of potential (great? winning?) doped up 6'5 sprinters

    ie, if everyone's doped up, its a big advantage to be 6'5?

    except track coaches are still working on the clean paradigm that 6'0 guys are the best sprinters and funneling 6'5 guys to something else, and missing the moneyball opportunity

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    Tall, fast wide receivers in the football — Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson, Plaxico Burress (sp) — are rare and valuable.

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
    @Steve Sailer

    Plaxico would have been even more valuable if he didn't shoot himself in the leg in 2008.

    The Giants could have won 2 in a row.

  80. @Anonymous
    This may also explain why humans had an inclination to ride horses!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je7UOkxx7pY

    More running and hunting by Africans

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59k61er6hv4

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    The hunting boars with monkeys thing is wild. Is that for real?

  81. I’m thinking that sexual selection played a role too. I have seen studies that sprint speed correlates with number of offspring in the animal kingdom, but I doubt such a study has been done on humans. Sprint speed also correlates with testosterone, which helps with the perception of leadership and charm/wit.

  82. “For example, in 1982, when I had just moved to Chicago, I was headed into the Century Mall on N. Clark St., when a black teen rushed out, followed by two twenty-something Hispanic security guards in close pursuit.”

    Is Century Mall a lower working class ghetto mall?

  83. anon • Disclaimer says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the ability to outrun those who are after you and mean to do you harm were an important life skill that is highly adaptive in Darwinian terms.

    That was true everywhere though – although you could say maybe it was selected for everywhere until the adoption of agriculture but if that was true I think all recently forager populations would have a chance – maybe nobody checks for native American sprinters?

    (although i think it would have been noticed accidentally anyway)

    So I don’t think it’s direct selection for running – I think it’s a side effect of something else – something that was very prevalent in West Africa until relatively recently that was less of an issue elsewhere (or areas where it was prevalent are not areas with lots of money spent on athletics).

    • Replies: @ben tillman
    @anon


    That was true everywhere though – although you could say maybe it was selected for everywhere until the adoption of agriculture but if that was true I think all recently forager populations would have a chance – maybe nobody checks for native American sprinters?
     
    But benefits come at a cost, and no creature can afford everything.

    Replies: @anon

  84. British/american/australian gymnasts generally ”can’t dance”, no grace, no artistic aspect… but great inclination to the technical skills/read: difficulty

    why*

    Culture*
    Genes*
    National gymnastic programme*

    East asians, namely chineses, tend to be very good at uneven bars. Chineses also tend to have greater difficulty in beam. What ”amaze” me about chinese gymnasts is that they tend to memorize pretty complex routines. Chineses seems never was spectacular in floor.

    Romanians, namely romanians, tend to be very good at beam (fast, perfect and confident/without hesitations), floor and very bad at uneven bars, since a long time.

    Russians tend to be very good at uneven bars and have a historical of artistry… the russian ”emotionality”**

    Brazilians, namely females athlets, tend to be pretty emotionally nervous (usually fatal in decisive disputes)

    whatever…

  85. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @The Z Blog
    I tend to be a "no extra parts" sort of guy so Khan's argument seems unlikely to me. West African "burst" does not just show up in sprinting. It also shows up in other areas. Jumping and tackling are two other areas where we see blacks excel. West Africa is a place where quick twitch muscles are more important than other places. Sprinting is just one example of it.

    As far as the genetically engineers super dude from China, I'm getting the same feeling I used to get as a kid when futurist would talk about flying cars and jetpacks. Yeah, the theory is probably right, but the application is always going to be just over the next hill.

    Replies: @anon

    As far as the genetically engineers super dude from China, I’m getting the same feeling I used to get as a kid when futurist would talk about flying cars and jetpacks. Yeah, the theory is probably right, but the application is always going to be just over the next hill.

    We could have had all of that if we hadn’t taken a wrong turn.

  86. @Anonymous
    Steve,
    I was wondering whether you've noticed the following sports/HBD development. In some sports with very few black athletes at the highest level, one of them has reached all time great status. So far, three examples: Tiger Woods (golf), Serena Williams (tennis) and Simone Biles (artistic gymnastics). Any thoughts?

    Replies: @anon, @Triumph104, @Triumph104, @Buffalo Joe

    People have been specifically looking for Black outliers for PC reasons.

    If people specifically looked for Chinese outliers they’d probably find them.

  87. . . . a non-adaptively beneficial trait as running a few seconds faster in the 100 meter dash . . . .

    Sprinting ability is obviously advantageous in a number of ways that others have noted. I guess it takes someone from the most notoriously unathletic part of the world to overlook the obvious benefits of sprinting ability.

  88. @Jewish Conservative Race Realist
    Most traits that make you better at football, basketball, lacrosse, or soccer will also make you better at fighting wars with spears, bows and arrows, rocks, and hatchets. Perhaps the trait was selected for at one point and then drifted through the ages once its original usefulness wore off.

    But I don't think that's right. Those small hips and high centers of gravity come at evolutionary costs in other dimensions (brain size, heat conservation).

    You can't lose beneficial traits through normal selection unless there is a higher benefit to the new pheno, so I strongly doubt that these are neutral. Luckily, we have the tools to find out definitively whether running was neutral or selected and we will know in the fullness of time.

    Replies: @kaganovitch

    “Those small hips and high centers of gravity come at evolutionary costs in other dimensions (brain size, heat conservation).””

    I’m not sure heat conservation has very strong selection pressure in West Africa.

  89. @anon

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the ability to outrun those who are after you and mean to do you harm were an important life skill that is highly adaptive in Darwinian terms.
     
    That was true everywhere though - although you could say maybe it was selected for everywhere until the adoption of agriculture but if that was true I think all recently forager populations would have a chance - maybe nobody checks for native American sprinters?

    (although i think it would have been noticed accidentally anyway)

    So I don't think it's direct selection for running - I think it's a side effect of something else - something that was very prevalent in West Africa until relatively recently that was less of an issue elsewhere (or areas where it was prevalent are not areas with lots of money spent on athletics).

    Replies: @ben tillman

    That was true everywhere though – although you could say maybe it was selected for everywhere until the adoption of agriculture but if that was true I think all recently forager populations would have a chance – maybe nobody checks for native American sprinters?

    But benefits come at a cost, and no creature can afford everything.

    • Replies: @anon
    @ben tillman

    Yes but if sprint ability had been selected for cos tribal warfare then that selection pressure would have applied to lots of populations who were until recently (generationally speaking) in the same boat e.g. native Americans and possibly even people like Scottish highlanders etc.

    So unless it had an extreme cost and was lost very fast it seems to me - if it was warfare selected - there would be lots of fast sprinting recently forager populations.

    #

    After this discussion I now think it's the result of a number of components: height / musculator, narrow hips, fast twitch muscle that were *individually* selected for, for different reasons which when combined just happen to be ideal for sprinting.

    So maybe no eight Chinese 100m finals after all.

    (before, i thought it might have been mostly a *single* magic ingredient e.g. malaria protection)

  90. @Anonymous
    Why did Jon Entine capitalize "Asian" but not capitalize "White"?

    Replies: @anon

    Apparently he writes well-reviewed books on genetics which – as the blank slate is a lie – implies he’s a ****.

  91. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer
    @Haile

    I had assumed that the middle distance runners from Northwest Africa were highlanders from the Rif Mountains, but I don't have much evidence for that. Hicham El-Gerouj, for example, grew up in a port city. They may just like running the way Belgians like cycling.

    Replies: @anon

    I had assumed that the middle distance runners from Northwest Africa were highlanders from the Rif Mountains, but I don’t have much evidence for that. Hicham El-Gerouj, for example, grew up in a port city.

    Ancestors may have come from there so still has some kind of high altitude oxygen efficiency.

  92. @Steve Sailer
    @Phil

    Tall, fast wide receivers in the football -- Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson, Plaxico Burress (sp) -- are rare and valuable.

    Replies: @ScarletNumber

    Plaxico would have been even more valuable if he didn’t shoot himself in the leg in 2008.

    The Giants could have won 2 in a row.

  93. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Honesthughgrant
    Look at the sprinters who have run less than 10 seconds. I bet all of them have x% or less body fat, are between x and y inches tall, have leg length of z + or - Y inches, hips no bigger than XX inches, etc.

    And if you don't fit those measurements, you ain't going to run a 9.9 second/100 m dash. And it so happens that probably more people who fit those measurements are West African than anywhere else. And just as Newton was an outlier of a much larger pool of above-average intelligence, these 9.9 sprinters come from a pool of people who ALMOST fit these perfect measurements.

    Its like the NBA, if you're not at 6-6 your chances of playing power forward or Center are almost zero. Or if you're a NBA running back, you have to run the 4-40 in a certain time and weigh a certain amount or you're out.

    Replies: @anon

    Look at the sprinters who have run less than 10 seconds. I bet all of them have x% or less body fat, are between x and y inches tall, have leg length of z + or – Y inches, hips no bigger than XX inches, etc.

    Yes. I think this is part of Khan’s point. Given the biomechanics there is an optimal body type for each sport and people from different regions with average proportions that developed for other reasons may turn out to have an advantage in a particular sport – random chance.

    (although each component of that body type may have been selected for a specific reason or not selected for, for a specific reason)

    off-topic – height is great because you can talk about IQ without talking about IQ

  94. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @ben tillman
    @anon


    That was true everywhere though – although you could say maybe it was selected for everywhere until the adoption of agriculture but if that was true I think all recently forager populations would have a chance – maybe nobody checks for native American sprinters?
     
    But benefits come at a cost, and no creature can afford everything.

    Replies: @anon

    Yes but if sprint ability had been selected for cos tribal warfare then that selection pressure would have applied to lots of populations who were until recently (generationally speaking) in the same boat e.g. native Americans and possibly even people like Scottish highlanders etc.

    So unless it had an extreme cost and was lost very fast it seems to me – if it was warfare selected – there would be lots of fast sprinting recently forager populations.

    #

    After this discussion I now think it’s the result of a number of components: height / musculator, narrow hips, fast twitch muscle that were *individually* selected for, for different reasons which when combined just happen to be ideal for sprinting.

    So maybe no eight Chinese 100m finals after all.

    (before, i thought it might have been mostly a *single* magic ingredient e.g. malaria protection)

  95. @Haile
    Don't neglect North African excellence in middle distance running. It's not quite as clear cut as sprinting and long distance running, but a Moroccan holds the current WR in the mile and Morceli / Makhloufi from Algeria have won Olympic golds.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Ron Mexico

    Said Aouita, Khalid Skah, Mohammed Gammoudi come to mind. Whatever happened to Great Britain as a power in 800-3000? The decade of dominance with Ovett, Coe, and Cram seems like ancient history.

  96. @Sean
    No, it is not direct selection for sprinting, Razib has explained this in his post; do not risk the Wrath Of Khan

    What Are the Evolutionary Roots of West African Sprinting and East African Distance Running Dominance?
     
    No hunter gather dominance though they are the ones running down game. There is higher testosterone in polygamous mating systems.

    https://www.unz.com/pfrost/the-contradictions-of-polygyny/Thus, when Africans gave up hunting and gathering for farming, there was selection for a new package of male traits. Some of these traits are physiological (higher testosterone levels), some anatomical (denser bones, greater arm and leg girth; changes to muscle fiber properties, etc.), and some behavioral (polygyny, aggressiveness, extraversion, etc.). But this selection didn't eliminate older genotypes, at least not wholly. There seems to be a balanced polymorphism that allows a minority of quieter, monogamous men to thrive in a high-polygyny society like Senegal. When polygynous men become too numerous, they may spend too much time looking for mating opportunities and not enough checking up on their current wives to avoid being cuckolded. It might be better for some to live continuously with one wife.
     
    That explains the variability in testosterone mediated traits in blacks (Khan's argument against running speed ect being an adaptive trait).
    .
    'The more women produce, the lower the cost of polygyny."West Africa is the most polygynous place on earth, the most fertile land and climate(suitable for female farming systems ).

    https://www.unz.com/pfrost/polygyny-makes-men-bigger-tougher-and-meaner/In sub-Saharan Africa, the cost was often negative. Goody quotes a 17th century traveler on the Gold Coast: the women till the ground “whilst the man only idly spends his time in impertinent tattling (the woman’s business in our country) and drinking of palm-wine, which the poor wives are frequently obliged to raise money to pay for, and by their hard labour maintain and satisfie these lazy wretches their greedy thirst after wines.”
     
    T is what performance enhancing drugs in power sports are mimicking.

    Some athletes take straight testosterone to boost their performance. Frequently, the anabolic steroids that athletes use are synthetic modifications of testosterone. [...] Why are these drugs so appealing to athletes? Besides making muscles bigger, anabolic steroids may help athletes recover from a hard workout more quickly by reducing the muscle damage that occurs during the session. This enables athletes to work out harder and more frequently without overtraining. In addition, some athletes may like the aggressive feelings they get when they take the drugs.
     

    Replies: @jeremiahjohnbalaya

    In addition, some athletes may like the aggressive feelings they get when they take the drugs

    Friend of mine played defensive line at a major school in the late eighties. He told me that they would get a shot of steroids the night before (day of?) the game in order to get that benefit during the game.

    • Replies: @Sean
    @jeremiahjohnbalaya

    https://www.unz.com/pfrost/polygyny-makes-men-bigger-tougher-and-meaner

  97. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    “Endurance running as a technique for hunting is called ‘persistence hunting’.”

    and

    “Another possibility is that the ability to run long distances came first, and then was adopted (& adapted) by certain animals for the purpose of cursorial hunting.”

    Decades ago I knew this as “cursorial hunting”. Humans are slow, but they can keep pursuing all day long. Most animals don’t have human’s all-body perspiration/cooling system (or something like that?), so eventually the prey overheats. I don’t think many animals can do a real full-body sweat. Horses can, but hay, they are horses. Humans seem to have a lot of adaptations for long-distance running.

    Haven’t I seen stories on African shepherds running down leopards? Well, it was cheetahs (fastest sprinting animal in the world)…

    “Kenyans chase down and catch goat-killing cheetahs”, BBC, 15 November 2013:

    “Four villagers in north-east Kenya have chased down and captured two cheetahs which were killing their goats. …

    …the cheetahs had been picking off his animals one by one, day by day.

    The men waited until the hottest part of the day before launching the chase over a distance of four miles (6.4km).

    The cheetahs got so tired they could not run any more. The villagers captured them alive and handed them over to the Kenya Wildlife Service. …

    …”I need compensation from them because the cheetahs killed most of my goats,”

    …Cheetahs are the fastest-running animals on the planet and can reach speeds of at least 104km/h (64mph). …

    …”I called some youths and we ran after them,” he said.”

    Dogs are also social cursorial hunters, maybe one reason why we first clicked.

  98. @Anonymous
    Steve,
    I was wondering whether you've noticed the following sports/HBD development. In some sports with very few black athletes at the highest level, one of them has reached all time great status. So far, three examples: Tiger Woods (golf), Serena Williams (tennis) and Simone Biles (artistic gymnastics). Any thoughts?

    Replies: @anon, @Triumph104, @Triumph104, @Buffalo Joe

    They all have highly involved parents. When Earl Wood’s first three children were young he was an Army officer, served two tours of duty in Vietnam, and divorced their mother after 14 years of marriage, so he obviously wasn’t highly involved in their lives. When Tiger came along Earl was retired and could devote all of his energy to his son. With Earl’s pension and his wife working, finances were not much of a problem.

    Before Venus and Serena were even born Richard Williams had decided his daughters were going to play tennis. Both parents taught them the game on public courts and Serena benefitted by having a older and stronger sister as a training partner. When Serena was 9 the family moved to Florida for professional coaching and both Venus and Richard were being paid by Reebok.

    Simone Biles was adopted into a professional family and luckily at age 6 visited a gymnastics gym on a field trip where her current coach spotted her. Simone’s parents are affluent so training expenses were never an issue. When Simone’s coach was unhappy at her gym the Biles built a new gym that Simone’s brother now manages.

  99. @Leftist conservative
    marcus vick shows off his 40 yard speed....and cops show off their 440 yd speed:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfJvDQALhtU

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Trelane

    Poor bastard ran out of glycogen.

  100. I saw a West African burst out of a Best Buy, haul ass for 50 yards across the parking lot and into the Macy’s. The 3 BB guys chasing him never got close; none were West Africans. I suspect he was running down those aisles like he was running thru the jungle.

    If the Leaky’s move to West Africa and dig up a million year old Best Buy, we’ll have more proof of where the foot speed comes from.

    I read the endurance in East Africa is because wealth is denominated in how many cattle you got. And you need a certain number of cattle to buy/rent your bride. So the guy that can run 10 or 15 miles to the closest village, cut out a couple from the other guys herd, and get them back to his village before the sun comes up. Well he gets to pass along his marathon talents to the kids.

    Seems some kind of criminal behavior is hard wired into them.

  101. @Anonymous
    Steve,
    I was wondering whether you've noticed the following sports/HBD development. In some sports with very few black athletes at the highest level, one of them has reached all time great status. So far, three examples: Tiger Woods (golf), Serena Williams (tennis) and Simone Biles (artistic gymnastics). Any thoughts?

    Replies: @anon, @Triumph104, @Triumph104, @Buffalo Joe

    some sports with very few black athletes at the highest level

    Blacks (or mixed blacks) are well represented at the highest level of gymnastics. The US has sent a black female to every Olympics since 1992 with the exception of 2008, all have a medal and most have two or more. Even in 2008 one of alternates was black, Elizabeth Price who now competes for Stanford. Incidentally, former baseball player Joe Morgan’s daughter was on Stanford’s gymnastic team.

    I can’t think of the name, but I saw a recent competition for US senior men on YouTube where about 25 percent of the gymnasts were black. They are just not making world and Olympic teams. It may be because Title IX has pretty much destroyed men’s gymnastics on the college level, but I haven’t really looked into it. Even so, the US had two black men on its 1996 Olympic team with Jair Lynch winning a silver and John Orozco made the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams but had to drop out of Rio due to an injury.

    In Rio there were blacks representing Brazil, Cuba, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and France plus countries like Trinidad and Jamaica that didn’t make it out of qualifying. Louis Smith of Great Britain won two medals.

    Most countries with a world-level gymnastics program have next to no black people. Yet, last year Spain granted citizenship to a 15-year old boy from Guinea that they hope will compete on their senior national gymnastics team.

    (The retired Cuban high jumper, Javier Sotomayor, is now a citizen of Spain.)

  102. @Anonymous
    @Sean

    Women like men with stamina, no?

    Replies: @Sean

    Depends what kind of stamina you mean. Bolt spent the night with multiple Swedish women handball players bef9re winning 2012:. Risking a sub par next day and the loss of zillions in endorsements was foolhardy, but he would climb Everest if he thought there was a sure thing at the top of it: testosterone crazed.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Sean

    Sean, you have a weird obsession with black men and blonde women that by now is well known and infamous at The Unz Review. This weird obsession seems to distort your perception of reality. None of the news stories indicated that "Bolt spent the night with multiple Swedish women handball players bef9re winning 2012". All the news reported that the race, Bolt took a picture with three Swedish handball players.

  103. @jeremiahjohnbalaya
    @Sean

    In addition, some athletes may like the aggressive feelings they get when they take the drugs

    Friend of mine played defensive line at a major school in the late eighties. He told me that they would get a shot of steroids the night before (day of?) the game in order to get that benefit during the game.

    Replies: @Sean

  104. @anon
    Random wild speculations...

    The sprinting advantage is a combination of quick twitch musculature, long legs, and narrow hips.

    I'd guess quick twitch musculature is selected primarily for hand to hand fighting prowess as opposed to sprinting, which is more of a nice ancillary benefit. Other peoples had relaxed selection on fast twitch musculature b/c of lethal weaponry (e.g. bow and arrow) and higher male cooperation levels. And negative selection for fast twitch preponderance in the case when there is a need for endurance.

    Longer limbs are relatively advantageous for most athletic pursuits, but don't fair well in colder environments. Dissipate too much heat.

    Hip width-- again, narrower better for movement, but selected against with brain diameter and labor dystocia.

    Replies: @Sean

    There has been some selection for fighting I agree, but the root cause of spiriting success is testosterone’s suite of traits. The proof of that is if blacks were not allowed to take testosterone or testosterone mimicking drugs then they would never win sprinting gold again because against testosterone enhances whites, blacks would loose every time. Male male competition (over women) is a inevitable result of polygyny, but blacks are not ALL super sprinters because polygyny simultaneously for testosterone crazed behavior and its opposite

    https://www.unz.com/pfrost/the-contradictions-of-polygyny/ There seems to be a balanced polymorphism that allows a minority of quieter, monogamous men to thrive in a high-polygyny society like Senegal. When polygynous men become too numerous, they may spend too much time looking for mating opportunities and not enough checking up on their current wives to avoid being cuckolded. It might be better for some to live continuously with one wife.

  105. @granesperanzablanco
    @candid_observer

    I think that is the point though. You really notice only at the tail of the distribution. On the spectrum there is not a big difference between fit white and West African decended runners.

    At least where I grew up there where plenty of very fast white boys, some of whom competed against kids from all black schools in HS track and football and went on to play college sports. The differences only become more apparent at the elite college levels IMO. Even at the elite levels white people are not way behind actually when you think of this in terms of ability and not a competition

    Replies: @ben tillman

    I think that is the point though. You really notice only at the tail of the distribution.

    No, there’s a huge difference in the middle. It’s about like intelligence. Maybe 15% of Whites are at the Black median.

  106. @Anonymous
    Steve,
    I was wondering whether you've noticed the following sports/HBD development. In some sports with very few black athletes at the highest level, one of them has reached all time great status. So far, three examples: Tiger Woods (golf), Serena Williams (tennis) and Simone Biles (artistic gymnastics). Any thoughts?

    Replies: @anon, @Triumph104, @Triumph104, @Buffalo Joe

    Borut, Simple answer, athletically gifted child with highly involved parents. Same reason almost every other star in the sports you mention is successful.

  107. @goatweed
    Is Schippers the real outlier?

    Replies: @Buffalo Joe

    goat, Schippers was closing fast at the end, she probably would be a great 400 meter runner. Tall girl and very attractive.

  108. @candid_observer
    I don't really get why Razib takes the view he does here. He seems to suggest that running speed is just a neutral trait with respect to selection. I can see the point that it may not be so much selected for among, say, civilized populations. But I don't see why it wouldn't be selected for amongst hunter-gatherers, especially those who engage in regular warfare against neighboring tribes -- which virtually all of them do.

    In Pinker's book Better Angels of Our Nature, he presents convincing evidence as to just how warlike such tribes are: on average, roughly 15% of them are killed by homicide. That creates a great opportunity for rather massive selection for the trait "good-at-surviving-warfare", and over many thousands of generations. It's hard to see why, in primitive societies with primitive weapons, speed wouldn't be well correlated with such survival, whether it be involved in offense or defense.

    Of course the Olympics rewards the outliers. But the mean is surely driven by the sorts of considerations I've mentioned.

    Replies: @granesperanzablanco, @David, @Jack Highlands, @Escher

    For a scientist, khan is surprisingly thin skinned and intolerant of differing opinions.

  109. There is a movie from the 70s, I think, “The Naked Prey” starring Cornel Wilde as a great white hunter leading a party of white hunters though Africa. The leader of the group refuses to give gifts or trade items to a tribe of Africans that they encounter. The tribe tortures and kills all but Wilde. They strip him naked, shoot an arrow far into the distance and give him that distance as his “head start.” The chase and Wilde’s survival skills and cunning, combined with his ability to stay, sometimes just a step ahead, makes for a fantastic movie. Survival is an awesome PED. Find the movie and watch it. I would give it 4 Stars. Maybe Steve remembers it.

  110. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Sean
    @Anonymous

    Depends what kind of stamina you mean. Bolt spent the night with multiple Swedish women handball players bef9re winning 2012:. Risking a sub par next day and the loss of zillions in endorsements was foolhardy, but he would climb Everest if he thought there was a sure thing at the top of it: testosterone crazed.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Sean, you have a weird obsession with black men and blonde women that by now is well known and infamous at The Unz Review. This weird obsession seems to distort your perception of reality. None of the news stories indicated that “Bolt spent the night with multiple Swedish women handball players bef9re winning 2012”. All the news reported that the race, Bolt took a picture with three Swedish handball players.

  111. What about Southern Africans?

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