Update: A commenter noted that North England and Southwest Wales have different shape points. This is clear in the original PDF when I increased resolution. So ignore my comment about Brythonic Celtcs.
A few weeks ago I heard about the project to create a genetic map of Britain. Actually, I knew a bit about this because they’ve been publishing a few papers here and there over the years. But there is now an an exhibit up at The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2012. My attention was drawn to this because British tabloids kept pushing headlines like “Cornish genetically different from other English!” I emailed one of the scientists associated with the project, Peter Donnelly, but he never got back to me. So I figured I would post anyway. Looks like they’re using thousands of samples at 600,000 SNPs. When they get a paper out it should be neat. On the other hand the map leaves a little to be desired. The clusters are clear, but what’s the genetic distance between the clusters in a relative sense? How were the cut-offs devised? I’m sure there are reasonable answers, but ...
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Over the past week there have been three posts which I’ve put up which are related. Two of them have a straightforward relation, Britons, English, Germans, and collective action and Britons, English, and Dutch. But the third might not seem related to the other two, We stand on the shoulders of cultural giants, but it is. When we talk about things such as the spread of language through “elite emulation” or “population replacement” they’re rather vague catchall terms. We don’t decompose them mechanistically into their components to explore whether they can explain what they purport to explain. Rather, we take these phenomena for granted in a very simplistic black box fashion. We know what they’re describing on the face of it. “We” here means people without a background in sociolinguistics, obviously.
To give an example of the pitfall of this method, in much of Rodney Stark’s work on sociology of religion (the production before his recent quasi-apologetic material) his thinking was crisp and logical, but the psychological models were intuitive and naive and tended to get little input from the latest findings in cognitive science. In One True God he actually offers an explanation for why ...
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