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

January 15, 2019

Open Thread, 01/14/2019

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 12:40 am
Robert Alter has a new translation of The Hebrew Bible out. I really like Alter’s work. In particular, Genesis: Translation and Commentary. But read all his stuff! NPR has an interview with him up right now. He admits that he did the translation in longhand! Genome-wide association analyses of risk tolerance and risky behaviors in […]

January 8, 2019

Open Thread – Brown Pundits

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 11:57 am

Please keep the other posts on topic. Use this for talking about whatever you want to talk about.

January 7, 2019

Open Thread, 01/07/2019

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 7:55 pm
Because of BookBub I get notified of a lot of book deals. For example, The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes: The Ancient World Economy and the Empires of Parthia, Central Asia and Han China is now $1.30 on Kindle. This is like when The Shape of Ancient Thought was steeply discounted a few years […]

December 31, 2018

Open Thread – Brown Pundits

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 5:49 pm

Please keep the other posts on topic. Use this for talking about whatever you want to talk about.

The end of the year as we know it

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 3:25 pm
Another one is almost in the bag. Lots of interesting stuff this year, though probably the most important story in “world-historical” terms, the genome-editing of babies in China, hasn’t really ended. Ushering in 2019 with a $20.19 Tardigrade t-shirt New Years Eve sale at DNA Geeks. And 30% off everything with code WELCOME2019. I am […]

December 28, 2018

Open Thread, 12/28/2018

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 5:49 pm

Last open thread of the year. Been busy with life obviously. Won’t be posting this on Sunday as usual, but just making up for missing the pre-Christmas weekend.

Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World is an interesting book because it’s more about the nature of religion in the ancient world than unbelief. Much of the text is preoccupied with the transition that occurred with Christianity’s dominance in the West. Probably good to pair with The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, A.D. 200-1000.

No Invasion Or Migration, But Interaction: What This New Genetic Study Suggests About Prehistoric India. I heard the usage of the word “interaction” was being pushed by some Indian researchers as early as a year ago. It’s less provocative than the term “invasion” and perhaps even “migration.” But a word is a word. Science is not mathematics or religion, where terminology is substance.

The piece linked here puts an incorrect gloss on the research it’s reporting on in my opinion. It is highly likely that about 50% of the ancestral contribution to the population of the Indian subcontinent today was not resident within the Indian subcontinent before 10,000 years ago. We’ll see as more ancient DNA comes out.

The first Indians. An extract from a new book to be published in India. I have a review written for India Today (not online yet). To my surprise, it’s already selling on Amazon, Early Indians : The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From. As per the subhead, it is clearly geared toward a subcontinental audience.

Polygenic risk scores: a biased prediction?

Polygenic adaptation to an environmental shift: temporal dynamics of variation under Gaussian stabilizing selection and additive effects on a single trait.

Genomic Prediction of Complex Disease Risk.

Analysis of 100 high coverage genomes from a pedigreed captive baboon colony.

Most retweeted social science in 2018.

Five Amazing Things We Learned About History From Ancient DNA In 2018.

Inside Facebook’s Secret Rulebook for Global Political Speech. This has been reported before. But it’s finally entering the mainstream because I think the mainstream realizes that there is no longer any mainstream that’s controllable by the Western establishment. In the 1990s some non-Western governments, such as Saudi Arabia, made the argument for enforcing much stricter censorship on the internet. Instead, American standards generally won out, though there were attempts to create regional gardens. Ironically (or not), it is a private American corporation which is enforcing the “lowest common denominator” non-offensive speech, albeit haphazardly and capriciously.

1) Some anti-war conservatives were observing issues with how we recruit our military back in the 2000s when neocon adventures were at high tide. These are the type of people who might know the implications of the Marian reforms in recruitment in the late Republic, and how it empowered generals. Not sure Matt Yglesias is part of that set, though perhaps I’m wrong.

2) Most “centrist” types are usually anti-“identity politics” liberals or moderates who “come from the Left.” That’s why the issues in academia loom large and those in the military don’t. They don’t know many people in the military, just like much of the intelligentsia.

3) The Left dominates the academy, while the Right is the conventional orientation of the American officer corps. Social liberals are probably somewhat more intelligent and intellectual than social conservatives. Social conservatives are probably somewhat more courageous and patriotic than social liberals. But the difference is not enough to account for the disproportionate representation across the professional groups. This is probably a matter of self-selection and sorting.

Historical Genomes Reveal the Genomic Consequences of Recent Population Decline in Eastern Gorillas.

One of the reasons that Scholars Stage is one of the few blogs I still read, Making Sense of Chinese History: A Reading List. Will second Imperial China.

In case you missed it, Tanner was a guest on this week’s BrownCast, the Brown Pundits podcast.

As for my other podcast, The Insight, very proud that we closed 2018 with 44 episodes total now! That’s not quite one a week, but it’s not that far off.

Amy Harmon of the NYT on Race & Genetics, Women in Science. If you enjoy listening to white liberals talk about racism and science. Since all white people are “racist” I guess it makes sense to have experts weigh in. They certainly are never shy about explaining racism to me.

David Frum mentioned offhand that in 2019 he is thinking about doing YouTube commentary on books, etc. My response is simple: in terms of data density, it’s written >>> audio > video (with obvious audio). But in terms of the nominal number of people you read, it’s probably flipped. I have experience with all formats for what it’s worth.

Also, reflecting on my life and how I allocate time…and if whatever I’m doing here is “worth it to me,” I do want to give readers a heads up that I’m wondering about ways I can increase remuneration from this weblog beyond the trivial (e.g., some sort of gating for readers who follow me regularly).

Finally, this current domain has been active again for about a year now. Here are the top 10 posts of 2018:

Why The Chinese Don’t Buy Deodorant
Intercourse and Intelligence
Making What Harvard Is About Transparent
The Maturation Of The South Asian Genetic Landscape
Traits of men who prefer breasts, booty, or legs
Elizabeth Warren Carries Native American DNA
The Great Genetic Map And History Of China
The Origin Of The Ashkenazi Jews In Early Medieval Europe
The Genome Of “Cheddar Man” Is About To Be Published
White People Are Not Gods, They Bleed

December 24, 2018

Open Thread – Brown Pundits

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 5:47 pm

Please keep the other posts on topic. Use this for talking about whatever you want to talk about.

December 17, 2018

Open Thread, 12/16/2018

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 1:10 am

DNAGeeks is doing the last holiday push.

The new WordPress post editor kind of sucks. Installed a plugin to get rid of it. I guess it’s easier if you aren’t comfortable in HTML and want to do complex layouts, but I think the site is OK as is (though perhaps I need a better degradation to mobile?).

A lot of people have been telling me that The Three-Body Problem is good. Thoughts?

The latest Brown Pundits podcast, episode 5 on China. Soon Tanner Greer of Scholar’s Stage will be on!

Population structure of modern-day Italians reveals patterns of ancient and archaic ancestries in Southern Europe. The paper points to the fact that it seems that a Caucasus-related ancestry that has been seen in early Bronze Age Greece also seems to have impacted southern Italy and Sicily. There’s a paper that will come out soon with ancient samples from Sicily and Sardinia that confirms this. The same Caucasus-related ancestry is found in the steppe expansion, but that too came into Italy through the north.

Lund professor freed student from Islamic State war zone. One of the craziest stories I’ve read this year.

The untold story of how India’s sex workers prevented an Aids epidemic. About twenty years ago or so there were a lot of stories about how India was going to be the next major locus of HIV infection. That hasn’t occurred.

This week on The Insight Spencer & I talked about African genetics. Already a very popular episode.

Don’t blame Trump for the demise of The Weekly Standard. I’m still shocked that The American Conservative is still around, while The Weekly Standard is not. In general, I think reliance on a patron means you need to be careful about your heterodoxies. Life is about trade-offs. Scott McConnell has a reflection on the passing of The Weekly Standard, What The Weekly Standard Has Wrought:

If the Iraq war was sold to the American establishment by a small elite, the price was borne by many. Estimates of the fiscal costs run from $1 trillion to as much as $3 trillion, (if you credit Nobel prize recipient Joseph Stiglitz’s calculations, which include the long-term care costs for American soldiers with lifelong and life shattering injuries). The human costs to the soldiers and their families was substantial. Throughout the Mideast, the number of people killed, wounded, or turned into refugees by the invasion was staggering. The American “regional dominance” touted by the Standard proved entirely fanciful.

It is hard for younger people to remember what the years after 9/11 were like. The center-Left was broadly in support of the initial invasion of Iraq, though with some qualms, and ultimately turned against it. The Right was different. Aside from a few people at The American Conservative and stubborn individuals like Greg Cochran, by and large there wasn’t any strong dissent from one of the most disastrous foreign policy decisions in American history. It is striking to me that so many of the people associated with The Weekly Standard are now given “strange new respect” by “resistance liberals” when they backed a war with such consequences (though to be fair, the center-Left which now pays homage to The Weekly Standard were usually in favor of the war before they were against it).

Another Clever Proxy for Quantitative History. If you don’t know who Peter Turchin is, familiarize yourself!

As 2018 turns to 2019 some of you may be wondering about books you should read. If you haven’t, Who We Are and How We Got Here is still very relevant.

Two books on history which will blow your mind, The Fall of Rome and The Fate of Rome. These are works that take material and environmental conditions seriously.

F. W. Mote’s Imperial China is highly recommended as well.

David Warsh’s Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations is well written. If you want to get a sense of ‘endogenous growth theory.’

Justin Fox’s Myth of the Rational Market is good too. There was a period in the second half of the 2000s when a lot of good popular books on economics and finance were coming out (for obvious reasons).

The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World. This book is less crazy reading today than it was years ago when I read it. Some of the predictions have been born out.

If you are looking for scientific biography with heft, I recommend Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology.

Wittgenstein’s Poker. An enjoyable read. If you don’t know much about Wittgenstein or Popper aside from sketches, it might be a good place to start (a bit too soft on Wittgenstein and hard on Popper from what I recall by the way, at least for my taste).

The Coming Anarchy. This book was wrong. But it can still illuminate in the wrongness.

If you haven’t gotten a copy of Principles of Population Genetics, not too late. Not a book you need to read front to back. Just read a chapter here and there.

With Christmas coming up, I don’t know how much time or inclination I’ll have to blog. So a happy holidays to everyone if you don’t see me around much!

December 10, 2018

Open Thread – Brown Pundits

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 5:46 pm

Please keep the other posts on topic. Use this for talking about whatever you want to talk about.

Open Thread, 12/10/2018

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 4:28 am

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Just a heads up that DNA Geeks is running a holiday sale on the microscopes with free shipping (until stocks are sold out).

Also, updating a plugin broke the site, so I had to deactivate and reactive all the plugins. For whatever reason, the ‘related posts’ plugin also no longer works. Does anyone click those links? Might have to find a replacement.

Models of archaic admixture and recent history from two-locus statistics.

Incidence of Dementia over Three Decades in the Framingham Heart Study. Decreased incidence.

China Launches First-Ever Mission to the Moon’s Farside.

Fourth Brown Pundits podcast, “the Golden Age of Islam”. Here are the iTunes and Stitcher links. Would appreciate subscriptions+reviews.

America’s New Religions. I dislike overuse of the term “religion.” And I’m generally skeptical of the idea of “political religion” as a useful term, as opposed just mass movement. But I think I”m coming around.

When it comes to religion, I take for granted that you’ve read a book like In Gods We Trust. That being said, I do wonder about the psychological research used to support some of the conclusions in the field of the cognitive anthropology of religion in the wake of the “replication crisis.” Some of the stuff, like depictions of eyes making you more ethical don’t seem to be robust findings.

On The Insight this week we talked Game of Thrones. Yes, I do think meiotic drive is the best rational explanation for the persistence of Valyrian characteristics.

More data from the Estonian Biocentre. Also, the title of a paper, “Multiple deeply divergent Denisovan ancestries in Papuans” which is clearly in review.

The presence and impact of reference bias on population genomic studies of prehistoric human populations.

Genetically Modified People Are Walking Among Us.

Contingency in the convergent evolution of a regulatory network: Dosage compensation in Drosophila.

Criticizing Islam is turned into “hate speech” on Facebook. The problem is that the “big platforms” like Twitter and Facebook are so big and diverse that it’s not that hard to “game them” and engage in speech policing. Facebook is really about family photos now. And Twitter is best done non-ironically if you have more than a trivial following.

George R.R. Martin takes time off from not writing his book to laud New York pizza.

Why We Miss the WASPs. The reactions seem to be driven by people who were not clear what the narrow connotations of “WASP” originally was.

Anti-Zionism Isn’t the Same as Anti-Semitism. I pretty much agree, though operationally the lines between ‘anti-Zionism’ and ‘anti-Semitism’ bleed over pretty easily.

December 3, 2018

Open Thread – Brown Pundits

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 5:45 pm

Please keep the other posts on topic. Use this for talking about whatever you want to talk about.

December 2, 2018

Open Thread, 10/2/2018

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 2:44 pm

I’m reading Ramesh Menon’s The Mahabharata: A Modern Reading before I go to sleep. If you are ignorant, the Mahabharata is about an epic poem that’s an order of magnitude longer than the Iliad or The Odyssey combined. Menon’s prose rendering seems to get some good marks, so I that’s not why I chose it. It’s not the most artful writing, but that’s not what I was looking for, nor would I appreciate it in any case.

My rationale for reading this two-fold. First, as someone who was raised on Bulfinch’s Mythology and has read Genesis in dozens of translations, I thought it was behoove me to become a bit more culturally fluent about brown stuff. Especially in light of the fact that I’m “tagged” on a “Hindu Twitter” thread every few weeks now (12+ hard science disciplines apparently prove the Mahabharata happened 25,000 years ago!).

Second, the age of Indian historical population genetics is coming to an end. Perhaps ten years from now people will be doing temporal transects of eastern Maharashtra, but the bigger framework will be nailed down soon enough. And real intellectual understanding is going to have to synthesize archaeology and mythology with the demographic inferences.

The Urbane Cowboys podcast now has had three Bengali American conservatives on. #representation You should subscribe (I might be on again to talk about CRISPR soon).

Browncast #3. I talk about Indian genetics.

Does DNA Make Us Who We Are? Review of Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are. A reader of this weblog shouldn’t find anything new in this book. There are some technical issues in this book you might pick up, as well as airbrushing out of Eric Turkheimer citation. But I left that stuff out of the review since regular people won’t care or understand.

Plomin is definitely an enthusiast on some counts. But most of the book covers his career and views on behavior genetics.

Why There Will Not Be a Beige Future: Skin Color, Genetics, Race and Racism. Written for an audience less familiar with genetics. You shouldn’t need to read this. But some of you still don’t know what the breeder’s equation is.

The New Evolution Deniers. I haven’t read this piece, but people keep asking me about it. Plenty of biologists have these sorts of views from what I can tell, but they’re never going to say a word.

So that’s why this battle is lost in my opinion. I don’t really care. American culture is now a battle between different groups of propagandists who manipulate the levers of power. The rest is commentary, and positivism and critical-rationalism are dead in the broader culture. They only persist in the “inner party” of the elect. Truth is the real conspiracy….

The Harlot by the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible. Good book.

I’ve been defending Marc Lamont Hill’s right to speak and express his views, and retain his professional positions. Mostly because “free speech” really doesn’t matter unless you kind of detest the views you are defending…. So I guess I’ m still delusional and not a realist. I contain multitudes.

Inside the chaos and corruption of Tripoli, where militias rule the streets. We violated the “Pottery Barn rule.”

Mountain lion genomes provide insights into genetic rescue of inbred populations.

Ancient Yersinia pestis genomes from across Western Europe reveal early diversification during the First Pandemic (541-750). Last author “Krause.” You’ll be seeing that a lot related to historical genomics from this group in the near future. Ancient DNA is cheap enough that it can be used to resolve historical questions as opposed to shedding light on prehistory.

Simulation of Karyotype Evolution and Biodiversity in Asexual and Sexual Reproduction.

Sex differences in gene expression in the human fetal brain.

November 26, 2018

Open Thread, 11/26/2018

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 9:35 pm

So Spencer and I talked to Antonio Regalado today for the podcast (Apple and Stitcher, should be live soon as I just pushed it). We talked way more about Brave New World than I was expecting. The engineering is moved further than I had realized.

Here are the show notes for the episode.

NASA Probe Lands Safely On Martian Surface.

The Siberian unicorn lived at the same time as modern humans.

Robust estimation of recent effective population size from number of independent origins in soft sweeps.

Fire and Fire & Blood: 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones is a quick read.

Historical contingency shapes adaptive radiation in Antarctic fishes.

The Trouble With White Women: An Interview With Kyla Schuller.

Meet Denny, the ancient mixed-heritage mystery girl.

A vast 4,000-year-old spatial pattern of termite mounds.

On the Nature of Patriarchy.

Alice Dreger’s Middle Finger: Sex, Gender and Unhelpful Hair-Splitting.

What the Cult of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Got Wrong. The Right loves Ginsburg.

Woman who inherited fatal illness to sue doctors in groundbreaking case.

I was raised as a Native American. Then a DNA test rocked my identity. Dad “passed” as Native American. He was black American and Chinese American.

Regular Exercise May Keep Your Body 30 Years ‘Younger’.

Worldwide phylogeography and history of wheat genetic diversity.

Open Thread – Brown Pundits

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 5:43 pm

Please keep the other posts on topic. Use this for talking about whatever you want to talk about.

November 19, 2018

Open Thread – Brown Pundits

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 6:42 pm

Please keep the other posts on topic. Use this for talking about whatever you want to talk about.

Open Thread, 11/19/2018

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 2:25 pm

I figure I should post the “Open Thread” sooner than later since people are using last week’s “Open Thread” to post stuff.

So I’m getting a copy of Fire & Blood: 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones tomorrow according to Amazon. But I have a legitimate reason to get this book: we’ll be talking about the “genetics of Game of Thrones” on soon on The Insight, my podcast with Spencer Wells.

Finally recorded a second episode of the Brown Pundits podcast, where we talk about the woman imprisoned for blasphemy in Pakistan and colorism. Mostly it’s Zach talking to be honest since he has a lot more passion about these topics, especially the former one.

This guy is a legitimate University of Chicago biologist. What have you done with your life?

Demographic histories and genetic diversity acrosspinnipeds are shaped by human exploitation,ecology and life-history. Pinnipeds.

Genomic analysis of dingoes identifies genomic regions under reversible selection during domestication and feralization. An interesting thing is that dogs almost certainly descend from a wolf/wolf-like population, but when they go feral they don’t quite become wolves. Perhaps it would be different if they went feral in northern Eurasia. But the ones in tropical/mid-latitude zones that “de-domesticate” don’t become Eurasian wolves. Perhaps something to do with genetic variation lost, but I think some of it is different selection pressures.

Sigrid Johnson Was Black. A DNA Test Said She Wasn’t. The title comes from an early forensic test that probably used hundreds of ancestrally informative markers. If you read the whole thing you see that the results kept getting closer and closer to reality.

Psychology’s Replication Crisis Is Running Out of Excuses.

Middle Palaeolithic occupations in central Saudi Arabia during MIS 5 and MIS 7: new insights on the origins of the peopling of Arabia and Late Middle Pleistocene Levallois stone-tool technology in southwest China. The spread of non-Africans around ~60,000 was responsible for most of the non-African ancestry. But there were probably some “false dawns.”

In relation to Robert Plomin’s Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are probably worth it if you haven’t ever read behavior genetics. But really a lot of it is reemphasizing/reintroducing results from the field over the past generation. Hopefully will write review soon.

Super-smart designer babies could be on offer soon. But is that ethical? I suspect that the vast majority of the customers for many years will be focused on diseases. The best way to have tall and smart children is to select a tall and smart spouse. We might be talking about something different in the 2030s. I’m struck by how little discussion there is from bioethicists and geneticists about NIPT tests for stuff like Down Syndrome. They’re ubiquitous, but talk is limited generally to pro-life circles.

A friend told me that Conquerors: How Portugal Forged The First Global Empire is pretty good. I might quibble with the subtitle, but he confirms that the Portuguese were indeed huge dicks. The Iberians as a whole were brutal and nasty. Though not as nasty as the Anglo-Protestant “Black Legend” would imply. Mostly they didn’t follow the norms and rules which were present in parts of Asia and the New World between states and peoples.

Is anyone still getting 500 errors very often?

Happy Thanksgiving to Americans.

November 12, 2018

Open Thread, 11/12/2018

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 7:03 pm

Fatal Discord: Erasmus, Luther, and the Fight for the Western Mind is an interesting book. Very much on the side of Erasmus. Like the author, I do think Erasmus turned out to be a beautiful loser. But ideas and biographies can have second acts.

How the GOP Gave Up on Porn. Basically, the war was lost. The curious thing about the pervasiveness of porn today is that arguably in many ways our modern society is more prudish than that of the 1970s and 1980s when the political activity around obscenity was very active.

Population genomics of grey wolves and wolf-like canids in North America.

The Summer’s Most Unread Book Is… From 2014. People don’t seem to finish non-fiction. Though for a lot of nonfiction books you don’t have to read every chapter, and they are very loose in a narrative sense.

Outlaw King Is a Lot Better Than You’ve Heard.

Estimates of the Heritability of Human Longevity Are Substantially Inflated due to Assortative Mating.

If you need a paper, Sci-Hub.

Linking Branch Lengths Across Loci Provides the Best Fit for Phylogenetic Inference.

Shades of complexity: New perspectives on the evolution andgenetic architecture of human skin.

A Two-Player Iterated Survival Game.

Cultural Selection Shapes Network Structure.

A new blog, Academic Parents. Two of my kids were born during graduate school. I was not the primary caregiver at all, and obviously did not give birth to them. But it was somewhat difficult still. Can’t imagine if I was the one taking care of the newborn.

It’s also nice to see people starting blogs. Both Twitter and YouTube streaming have replaced the “voice” that blogging gave random people, but both media are relatively vapid and shallow compared to having to write down your thoughts.

Bob Trivers’ Natural Selection and Social Theory is now a free PDF. Highly recommend this book. Trivers is an engaging writer.

Last week I made a bet with a friend that Republicans would gain one seat in the Senate, and Democrats would gain the House. Looks like I won that bet.


November 4, 2018

Open Thread, 11/4/2018

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 12:46 am

So in a few days everyone can stop pretending to be cut-rate Nate Silvers.

My prediction: Dems will take the House. But Republicans will make a gain of +1 in the Senate.

Pakistan’s Hybrid Government and the Aasia Bibi Fiasco.. Basically, reasonable people in Pakistan are terrified about being openly reasonable, lest the crazy minority kill them. Another thing is that the details of what this woman did is irrelevant now, she’s a symbol. We’ve seen this in the United States: feelings don’t care about your facts.

DNA Sequencing Giant Illumina Will Buy Pacific Biosciences For $1.2 Billion – Exclusive CEO Interview. I think this is precautionary.

Half of Americans believe in ghosts…

Least-cost pathway models indicate northern human dispersal from Sunda to Sahul.

Inferring the ancestry of everyone. “We introduce an algorithm to infer whole-genome history which has comparable accuracy to the state-of-the-art but can process around four orders of magnitude more sequences.”

Largest genome-wide association study for PTSD identifies genetic risk loci in European and African ancestries and implicates novel biological pathways.

Many options, few solutions: over 60 million years snakes converged on a few optimal venom formulations.

Genetic Consequences of Social Stratification in Great Britain. This is obviously triggering discussion. But please note this preprint is the beginning of a conversation, not the closure on anything.

Species limits in butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae): Reconciling classical taxonomy with the multispecies coalescent.

Again, Tim Blanning’s Frederick The Great is interesting as both biography and history of 18th century Prussia. The book has the subtitle “King of Prussia,” but if Blanning was in it for the clicks, it would be “The Gay Atheist Autocrat.”

October 28, 2018

Open Thread, 10/28/2018

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 1:35 pm

An old friend from college has a new book out, Augmented Mind: AI, Superhumans, and the Next Economic Revolution. This looks to be in Jim Miller territory.

Sex in humans may not be binary, but it’s surely bimodal. Jerry Coyne is a well known evolutionary biologist who is also a vocal atheist. He’s now emeritus from the University of Chicago, and so I feel he’s kind of “out of step” with the culture. For example, within this post, which I generally agree with, he uses the term “transsexual” when most academics would use “transgender” to mean what he means. A lot of biologists don’t comment on this issue for two reasons. First, it’s politically fraught and you can’t really win. Second, the terms, norms, and frameworks are changing fast and constantly, so that people don’t even know what they’re addressing.

Speaking of fraught, the first robust SNP hits for male nonheterosexual behavior were reported at ASHG. The preprint should be out in less than four months. Antonio Regalado has already reported on it, Genes linked to being gay may help straight people get more sex. We plan to interview one of the authors on our podcast.

Recently talked to some people from Andy Kern’s lab about implications of Wright-Fisher vs. non-Wright-Fisher models in terms of spatial heterogeneity. It really makes me excited for the “forward simulation revolution.” Talking to people in evolutionary genomics that isn’t focused on getting NIH grants for human research, and it is clear why Matt Hahn has stated that there’s already enough data produced for many years to come.

A Tentative OUT OF INDIA Model To Explain The Origin & Spread Of INDO-EUROPEAN LANGUAGES. I’m skeptical of the conclusion, but this post has a lot of interesting information. Additionally, I think that AASI ancestry is going to be found in the Indus Valley between 3000 and 2000 BC…but I’m not totally sure. Johanna Nichols’ work is recommended though.

The Fifth Column podcast talks to Sarah Haider. In general, I’m a fan of the podcast.

Recently I’ve been thinking about China and Saudi Arabia. Recently we’re looking skeptically at our elite’s ties with Saudi Arabia. But what about China? Many researchers and businesspeople “have” to work with China, and unlike Saudi Arabia, it seems implausible that we can “avoid” interactions. But there are plenty of human rights issues with the Chinese state. The only conclusion I draw is that people need to be careful about getting on their high horses. Researchers who criticize working with the Saudis or in Israel should also consider them working with Chinese colleagues who are under the purview of a problematic state…but that penalize their Chinese colleagues, and would be harder and harder to maintain over the years.

Fast Hierarchical Bayesian Analysis of Population Structure.

The truth behind America’s most famous gay-hate murder. The media and the mainstream institutions basically colluded to create a narrative more politically convenient. Are we surprised?

15,000 Year Old Spearpoints Reveal Details About The Peopling Of The Americas.

When It Comes to Sleep, One Size Fits All.

Rare genetic sequences illuminate early humans’ history in Africa

October 21, 2018

Open Thread, 10/21/2018

Filed under: Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 11:20 pm

You may have noticed I haven’t been posting much. Busy with other things, like ASHG, work, family, etc. I don’t normally post “won’t be posting often” notices, as no one really cares much about blogs…but when I go into lower production mode people sometimes worry. No reason to worry.

Tim Blanning’s Frederick the Great: King of Prussia is an excellent book. So is The Pursuit of Glory: The Five Revolutions that Made Modern Europe: 1648-1815. Finally, Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600–1947. One of the most interesting things about Frederick the Great: King of Prussia is how Blanning recounts the importance of personally playing and repeatedly listening to music in the life of the German monarch. He was apparently a very competent flutist.

There was talk about ASHG about the Amy Harmon article, Why White Supremacists Are Chugging Milk (and Why Geneticists Are Alarmed). It seems most of the geneticists I know personally were contacted by Harmon at some point over the last two years. A lot of work went into this. Many of our quotes were obviously not used. That’s called journalism.

There was a period when many frog-Nazis were on Twitter brandishing a particular STRUCTURE bar plot (since frog-Nazism has been severely purged by Twitter I see this far less often). I understand that many journalists and people of the “chattering-thinking” classes are strongly influenced by what they see on Twitter in terms of their perception of what’s going on in the world.

Additionally, to be honest for many white people racism is somewhat an abstraction. They need to make recourse to instrumental variables. The SNL election night sketch which shows white liberals talking about how it’s never been so bad, and black comedians nodding along, illustrates a real trend, and that is that many white liberals feel like there has been a massive upsurge of racism over the past few years.* But as a nonwhite person who has lived in this country since the early 1980s, it is clear that America is far less racist than it was back then, and our society has been defined by a gradual decrease in racial prejudice. White support for laws banning interracial marriage went from about 25% in the 1980s to 10% in 2002, when the question stopped being asked because it was such a marginal viewpoint.

A story about the social and political of implications evolutionary population genetics is a reasonable one. And, it might make a somewhat interesting academic paper as well. But the prominence of this piece to me cuts to a deep disagreement about the nature of racial conflict and difference within human societies. Immanuel Kant’s abstract and intellectual reflections on race may be alarmingly white supremacist to many moderns, but the profitable character of exploitation of sugar and the utility of slavery in the West Indies, and the rise of the West in a much more robust manner as signified by the McCartney Mission in the 1790s, was far more important in shaping the emergence of a very vigorous white supremacist ideology in the late 19th century which culminated in Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard.

I enjoy discourses on the intersection of race and genetics as much as the next person. I write them myself. But the most concrete thing I can do for the “racial question” is what I’m doing already: participating in the amalgamation of very distinct pedigrees and producing Americans related to a much larger fraction of the world’s population. White Americans who believe in the cause of racial social justice and anti-racism can do something very easily if they so choose: select a non-white partner and produce mixed children. If you are already partnered up, encourage your children to do so. This will make a bigger difference than retweeting how great diversity is, while not living it in your own life. For white progressives, do understand that your nonwhite allies notice the overwhelming pallor of the types of people who become and remain your intimates. You spend an afternoon on a racially diverse panel. Why not spend life in a racially diverse manner? Because I am a political outsider to these issues nonwhites probably feel more comfortable telling me how they perceive you don’t have much skin in the game. An ounce of action is worth a pound of talk (also, you can proactively give money to nonwhite people from your own disposable income).

The above is not a troll at all. I’m not the sort of person who thinks that the type of person another human being becomes friends with, or partners with, is my business. Do as you wish. But if you accept the premises of most forms of anti-racist talk, then Norman Podhoretz’s 1963 essay which enjoins action still applies.

The Uralic podcast is up. Brown Pundits now have a podcast.

This Elizabeth Warren fact-check by the Daily Caller Foundation’s Emily Larsen is pretty good. Having to listen to political pundits talk about ancestry testing all week has been painful. More need for education….

ASHG photo that I find most amusing.

As most of you probably know, the human genome still has gaps. I felt this year more people talked about those gaps, and how to fill them in. Also, lots of African genetics (this was by plan).

May write some more tutorials soon. Depends on the time.

The Slow Burn podcast ended with talking about Juanita Broderick. The Broderick allegations really have shot into prominence over the last few years. But if the Republicans knew about them in detail, that does make their determination to impeach Bill Clinton far more comprehensible.

I don’t have much to say about the Khashoggi thing you haven’t heard elsewhere.

A new analysis of CEU mutation rates is there is an age effect, most mutations are paternal, and, there might be variation in increases in mutations with older individuals by family.

* Most of my white friends tend to point to particular media anecdotes. As a nonwhite person I have not perceived any difference, and I travel in various parts of the country. Your experience may vary.

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