Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

August 8, 2011

The King Tut DNA story

Last year some readers forwarded me a strange story about Hitler’s “Jewish genes”. I didn’t think much of it, but enough people asked that I thought I should at least address the story (or lack of one). Today something similar is happening with the Y chromosomal lineage of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamun. A Swiss company is claiming that by examining the set of markers divulged on a BBC special on Tut’s genetics they’ve established a high likelihood that he was of the R1b1a2 haplogroup. The firm making these claims has a history of sensationalism. That should tune our prior expectations a great deal. One of the researchers who did the original genetic analysis rejects the claims out of hand. On the basis of science then that’s where it ends.

But this actually is an interesting story of meta-science, of the media reaction to genetic results (or genetic inferences, tenuous though they may be), and their intersection with politics. One of the more ridiculous headlines I saw was this from CTV: King Tut may have been more European than Egyptian. I can see where they’re ...

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