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

April 30, 2012

Your child’s genome before the 2nd trimester?

Filed under: Personal genomics — Razib Khan @ 6:42 pm

A long piece in Slate, Will Gattaca come True?:

When Lo licensed his technology to Sequenom, he stipulated that it could not be used for sex selection. Rabinowitz says Natera won’t test for sex at this point, either. But how long such provisions will hold is unclear. Meanwhile, NIPD’s reach is expanding as the technology used to analyze cffDNA improves. In December 2010, Lo published a paper in Science Translational Medicine showing that in principle, at least, scientists can piece together the entire fetal genome from cffDNA. Lo says that exceeded even his own expectations: “If you asked me prior to 2008, I would have probably said that was science fiction.”

At the time his paper was published, the process cost $200,000. Now, with the cost of DNA sequencing dropping faster than that of computing power, he estimates the bill may come to one-tenth of that—still expensive, but no doubt tempting for some parents. Lo wagers complete fetal genome testing might be widely available in a clinical setting within a decade. What fetal genes might one day suggest about a baby’s eye color, appearance, and intellectual ability will be useful to parents, not insurers. But with costs coming down and ...

April 29, 2012

Redefining “impact factor”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Razib Khan @ 11:50 pm

In rereading the paper on Pygmy height genetics, I noticed that PLoS had rolled out some nice new metrics. To my shock this paper, which I think is a moderately big deal, had less than 1,000 views, and only ~150 PDF downloands! This is going to change, but it still shocks me. With all due respect to my statistical geneticist friends, but this isn’t an abstruse methods paper debuting a new technique!

I decided to check on an older paper which has been rather influential, A Map of Recent Positive Selection in the Human Genome, from 2006. Here are the metrics:

Good? Bad? What do you think? Did you expect more downloads in the past 6 years?

Pygmies: “old” populations, and a new “look” (?)

Over the years one issue that crops up repeatedly in human evolutionary genetics and paleoanthropology (or more precisely, the popular exposition of the topics in the media) is the idea that is that “population X are the most ancient Y.” X will always refer to a population within a larger set, Y, which is defined by relative marginalization or retention of older cultural folkways. So, for example, I have seen it said that the Andaman Islanders are the “most ancient Asian population.” Why? The standard model for a while now has been that non-Africans derive from a line of Africans which left the ancestral continent 50 to 100 thousand years ago, and began to diversify. Presumably Andaman Islanders have ancestry which goes back to this original dispersion, just as Europeans and Chinese do (revisions which suggest that Aboriginals may have been part of an earlier wave, still put the Andamanese in the second wave). The reason that the Andaman populations are termed ancient is pretty straightforward: they’re Asia’s last hunter-gatherers, literally chucking spears at outsiders. An ancient lifestyle gets conflated with ancient genetics.

This is a much bigger problem with the ...

Rise and fall of celebutantes

Filed under: Culture,Kim Kardashian,Paris Hilton — Razib Khan @ 7:46 pm

Kim Kardashian was at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner. Wow. But it made me wonder whatever happened to Paris Hilton? Did she drop off the face of the earth? Here’s Google Trends:

The bottom panel is news, the top panel public searches. The media seems to exhibit some latency in relation to the public, but at this point they both agree: Paris is near a nobody.

Comparing American conservative Protestants & Muslims

Filed under: data,Data Analysis,Public opinion — Razib Khan @ 7:09 pm

A few years ago a book came out, American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin, and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right. The title clearly was aimed to push copies, but the gist of the title has moderately wide circulation. The rough sketch is that conservative American Protestants are roughly equivalent to conservative Muslims. I have always held that this is a qualitatively misleading analogy. The reason is from all I can gather the socially views of mainstream American conservative Protestants are actually in the moderate range of opinion amongst Muslims. But apples-to-apples comparisons are rather difficult in this domain.

But then I realized that the World Values Survey could allow me to do exactly such comparisons. The method is simple. First, you can subsample the data sets, so I could look at Protestants in the United States who identified as political conservatives. I compared these to the view of Muslims in a selection of nations (the WVS doesn’t cover much of the world, and some questions are not asked in some countries).

The results below range from 1, never justifiable, to 10, always justifiable. There is some strangeness in the results below, but they show the general qualitative result: American ...

Her identity by descent made flesh

Filed under: Genetics,Genomics,Personal genomics — Razib Khan @ 1:49 pm

As I have indicated before, my daughter has a family tree where everyone out to 0.25 coefficient of relatedness has been genotyped by 23andMe. This is convenient in many ways. Before, relatedness was a theory. Now relatedness can be ascertained on the genomic level. Sometimes this can lead to peculiar consequences. “On paper” my daughter is 1/8 Scandinavian. Or 12.5%. But truly the expected value is 13.5%! (weighting by contributions from each maternal grandparent). Still, this remains an expected value. I would need a large sample of Scandinavians from that locale to make a truly precise guess as to the genetic contribution. Similarly, though I come in at about ~15 percent East Asian, my daughter looks to be a bit more East Asian than you’d expect based on that value (i.e., closer to 8-8.5 percent; I run her genotype more than a dozen times now). This may be a bias in the methodology, or, more likely it is simply the sampling error from my genome (I contributed more East Asian segments in the chromosomes passed down).

In any case, 23andMe has a “family inheritance” feature which is very convenient. ...

Elizabeth Warren, Native American

Filed under: Elizabeth Warren,Personal genomics — Razib Khan @ 8:42 am

Elizabeth Warren, Native American

It has come to my attention that Elizabeth Warren, who is running for a Senate seat in Massachusetts, claims Native American ancestry. This did not surprise me. Warren is from Oklahoma, where nearly 10% of the population claims some Native American ancestry. The problem, as it is, is that apparently Harvard claimed Warren as a minority faculty member during its periodical head counts. Warren “was told through family lore that her maternal parents were from the Cherokee and Delaware tribes.” This is a moderate problem: family lore often is inaccurate. And it also exhibits biases. Nevertheless, I do think we need to be careful about being too skeptical in this case, because of Warren’s roots in Oklahoma. A friend was told that his maternal grandmother was of part Oklahoma Choctaw background, and he had always dismissed this as romantic distortions made to fit 21st century preconceptions and preferences. But when he got his results back from 23andMe there was a notable “Asian” component, and the Native American relative finder came back positive. He asked me to look at his results more deeply, ...

April 28, 2012

Facing the ocean

Filed under: Agriculture,Anthroplogy,Human Genetics — Razib Khan @ 10:35 pm

Halford Mackinder’s conceptualization of the world

With the recent publication of the paper on the archaeogenetics of Neolithic Sweden I feel like we’re nearing a precipice. That precipice overlooks lands of great richness, filled with hope. It’s nothing to fear. It is in short a total re-ordering of our conception of the recent human past, at minimum. The “pots not people” paradigm arose in archaeology over the past few generations due to both scholarly and ideological factors. The scholarly ones being that intellectuals of the 19th and early 20th century made assumptions of extremely tight correspondence between material and cultural characteristics, and demographic dynamics, which seem to have been false. Therefore, the rise of an Anglo-Saxon England and the marginalization of Celtic Britain to the western fringes was not just a cultural reality, but also a fundamentally racial one, as Germans replaced Celts in totality. The ideological problem is that this particular framework was take as a given by the Nazis during World War II, lending a bad odor to the

hypotheses of migration which were once so ascendant.

No ...

Iraq: the model that wasn’t

Filed under: Arabs,Data Analysis,Sex — Razib Khan @ 10:13 pm

The magazine Foreign Policy recently had a “sex” issue out. This issue is particularly famous for Mona Eltahaway’s jeremiad against Arab male culture, and their attitudes toward women. Over at bloggingheads.tv Charli Carpenter expresses some concern that the issue seemed so singularly focused on Arabs, as if women’s rights is a problem with particular salience for Arab Muslims. As it is, she admits that as a matter of truth it may be so, but still has qualms about essentialization.

Now, I like to think in terms of distributions, and don’t find essentialization particularly useful on a fundamental level. But, my personal observation is that the term ‘essentialization’ tends to be used when there are phenomena brought to light which make people uncomfortable. For example, I rarely hear essentialization being nearly a great a problem when talking about Republicans or Western Christian conservatives.

But it does make to wonder: how bad are Arab countries when it comes to women’s rights? Let’s look at the World Values Survey. There are two questions in the survey which have a lot of normative baggage:

- If jobs are scarce: men should have more right to a job than women

- It is an ...

Handicap breeds excellence?

Filed under: Technology — Razib Khan @ 12:13 am

There’s a wide-ranging story in LA Weekly on the decline of 35mm film. It covers a lot of angles, but this one issue jumped out at me:

No wonder, then, that directors like Christopher Nolan worry that if 35mm film dies, so will the gold standard of how movies are made. Film cameras require reloading every 10 minutes. They teach discipline. Digital cameras can shoot far longer, much to the dismay of actors like Robert Downey Jr. — who, rumor has it, protests by leaving bottles of urine on set.

“Because when you hear the camera whirring, you know that money is going through it,” Wright says. “There’s a respectfulness that comes when you’re burning up film.”

This particular variant of critique of new technologies is very old. It is famously well known that writing and printing both ushered in warnings that these were simply crutches, and might diminish mental acuity. But I’m 99% sure that when bow & arrow become common, some hunters warned that the skills and traditions associated with the atlatl would decay. The piece highlights some genuine advantages of analog over digital. I do not think making filming more difficult is an advantage, to state the obvious.

Handicap breeds excellence?

Filed under: Technology — Razib Khan @ 12:13 am

There’s a wide-ranging story in LA Weekly on the decline of 35mm film. It covers a lot of angles, but this one issue jumped out at me:

No wonder, then, that directors like Christopher Nolan worry that if 35mm film dies, so will the gold standard of how movies are made. Film cameras require reloading every 10 minutes. They teach discipline. Digital cameras can shoot far longer, much to the dismay of actors like Robert Downey Jr. — who, rumor has it, protests by leaving bottles of urine on set.

“Because when you hear the camera whirring, you know that money is going through it,” Wright says. “There’s a respectfulness that comes when you’re burning up film.”

This particular variant of critique of new technologies is very old. It is famously well known that writing and printing both ushered in warnings that these were simply crutches, and might diminish mental acuity. But I’m 99% sure that when bow & arrow become common, some hunters warned that the skills and traditions associated with the atlatl would decay. The piece highlights some genuine advantages of analog over digital. I do not think making filming more difficult is an advantage, to state the obvious.

April 26, 2012

America: as if it is 1970

Filed under: Culture,Interracial — Razib Khan @ 10:19 pm

I noticed that The Washington Post had an article up, Number of biracial babies soars over past decade, based on 2010 Census data. I was immediately curious if my expectations were correct in this case, because the term “biracial” has a very specific connotation. That is, there are two races, and in America that is black and white. If you want to break out of this old dichotomy you usually say multiracial. This paradigm has a historical valence, because the “race issue” in America has traditionally been in black and white, with a minor secondary role for native populations. I say traditionally, because by any measure the minority of America’s minorities are now black.

And sure enough the article does focus on the black-white dimension, with honorable mention for a woman of Asian heritage. But it is notionally based on the Census, right? It was easy to find the press release on the Census website. Here is the table accompanying it:


Even excluding white Hispanic/white non-Hispanic pairings, it is clear that the traditional “mixed marriage” between a black and white Anglo American is now the minority of interracial marriages. ...

The last days of Grendel

Filed under: Agriculture,Anthroplogy,Europe — Razib Khan @ 9:27 pm

A new paper in Science has just been published which in its broad outlines has been described in conference presentations. When examining the autosomal genetic variation of three individuals of the hunter-gatherer Pitted Ware Culture (PWC), and one of the agriculturalist Funnel Beaker Culture (TRB), the authors found that the two groups were sharply differentiated. The number of SNPs was on the order of 10,000 or so if I read the methods correctly. This is rather thin for studying contemporary within European population differences (~100,000 or more seems to be safe), in particular using hypothesis based clustering algorithms (it seems more manageable for PCA). But the findings are strong enough that I think we shouldn’t discount them. The most fascinating aspect of the results is that while the PWC seem to exhibit affinities with Northern and Northeastern Europeans, the TRB individual seems more similar to extant Southern Europeans!

Others have already commented extensively on the results. Keeping in mind the small sample sizes, limitation of comparisons, and the relatively thin marker set, I think the primary result we can take away from these findings is that old models ...

April 25, 2012

Types of genetics

Filed under: Genetics,science — Razib Khan @ 10:06 pm
Molecular genetics Developmental genetics Population genetics Quantitative genetics Phylogenetics

Thoughts? Recently had a discussion whether phylogeneticists considered themselves geneticists (qualified “no”). Quantitative genetics really evolved out of biometrics, which actually opposed Mendelian genetics. You can construct quantitative genetics from Mendelian first principles, but it is not necessary. As for population vs. molecular, ask each group what they mean by “gene.” Modern developmental geneticists seem to be closely aligned with molecular geneticists.

Sometimes men like women like the Chinese like pork

Filed under: Feminism,Sexism,Women — Razib Khan @ 9:40 pm

Why Do They Hate Us?, is a powerful and moving jeremiad by Mona Eltahawy. It accurately describes without dispute the sorry state of female flourishing in the Middle East, broadly understood. And yet I wonder at the quasi-Freudian rationale on offer, that these men “hate” women. A  rationale of this sort seems more derived from the worries of Neo-Platonic influenced Church Fathers in the Western tradition, like St. Augustine, whose angst was driven by the fact that women induced males toward lust by their very existence. This can not be the root of Muslim male hostility, because Islam does not valorize total celibacy, as the Christian church did.

What then? It was recently brought to my attention that as in Sweden rape in Finland is disproportionately a crime committed by Middle Eastern males. So, 5 percent of all rape suspects are Iraqi, while 0.1 percent of the population of Finland is Iraqi. Do Iraqi men hate Finnish women in particular?

No. I think not. Hate is not the proper word. Men think about sex, and men crave sex. In the Middle East because of economic deprivation and the segregation of men and women before marriage many men have sex with men. I hope it’s not too frank to admit that I have met homosexual men who don’t think much of women. But when it comes to heterosexual men we think all too much of women. If we are young, single, and sexually deprived, the very sight of women can drive us to extreme distraction and bizarre behavior. It it is sometimes said that women civilized men, but I have long held that men created civilization only to impress women.

Marie Curie

But the world does move on, and heterosexual males can focus on other things besides sex. Why? Relationships for one. When one is not deprived of a need, one does not want quite in the same tortured manner. But humans are not one dimensional beings, and though women may be the objects of male lust and love, and all the feelings in between, when you are socialized with females as more than mother and sister, as teacher, as colleague, as boss, even as friend, you begin to develop social skills which can dampen your bestial inclinations, and set aside the lust within your heart. In any case, there is a time and place for all things, and one learns through trial and error, and social wisdom, how and where to draw boundaries and lines.

This bracketing of women into different categories is not so difficult or onerous. All things equal I do think it is difficult for men and women to “just be friends,” but all things are rarely equal!  These are the truths you learn, explicitly and implicitly, as you mature into normal and conventional bourgeois manhood. And I do not think that these truths were “invented” by the West. Rather, I think they derive from conventions and norms which have a very deep evolutionary root and basis. Just as sex differences have a deep evolutionary basis, so I believe that complemention and complexity in male and female relationships date back to the days of the hunter-gatherer. Human social intelligence is such that we can develop context specific understandings of other individuals which break out of our initial category or preconception. A potential lover can become a friend, and a potential enemy can eventually become an ally. This is not rocket science.

But starting 10,000 years ago, with the rise 1of agriculture, and larger polities, this de facto social egalitarianism found itself simply unable to cope with the conditions of the agrarian world. This was the age of the super-male lineage, as the agonistic impulse was rewarded by incredible winner-take-all consequences. The age when warlords declared that they were lords of the “Four Corners of the Earth” came upon us. They piled high their material possessions, and transformed lands which had heretofore been held informally on a collective basis into their personal property. Old impulses were channeled, amplified, and sometimes restrained. Male-male competition for females is relatively common among mammals, but the stakes were raised. As each male lineage began to sequester and segregate “their women,” in some societies a positive feedback loop drove the social equilibrium toward a set point which is fundamentally at odds with individual flourishing. What was “rational” for the group over the short term, (or more accurately the male lineage group) may also have resulted in perverse outcomes over the long term for the individual. The reality is that very few men are going to be the lords of all men, able to acquire massive harems by dint of their victory in winner-take-all conflicts. But that is the vision which justifies the reality that men in Arab countries are having anal sex with other men in their 20s because there is no availability of female sexual partners.

What you have in many societies are situations which have developed where women have become de facto property. To a great extent this was the norm in the “civilized” world until recently. Women had no legal autonomy, and were put in the same class as children. Their lives were ends to the glorification of the lineage group. Or, perhaps more crassly, women were turned into domesticated animals. Without pig there would be no pork. The Chinese love pork, and glorify the pig on some level. But the pig has no rights as a human, the glory of the pig is only its utility to the person. The key is that in many “traditional” societies women have become reduced in totality to becoming ends to the people. And by people I mean men of power and status. The dehumanization extends beyond people, to the lower classes, to children, but when it comes to women there is a particular potency because their biological nature is such that dehumanization must confront the reality is that people, men of status, must emerge from women.

They had black mammies

The film The Help illustrated a similar dynamic. Black women who served as domestics in the households of upper class whites were notionally treasured and respected, and even the objects of affection, but at the end of the day they were not truly people in the eyes of the children whom they raised when those children matured and entered the fullness of their own powers. In fact, some would argue that these children were socialized to contempt and disdain for the women who were their foster mothers. Otherwise, the system in which they were embedded would have collapsed.

Going back to animals, the system of factory farming, and meat consumption more generally, has a fundamental basis in dehumanization. The dog is our pet. The pig is our meal. And yet in many ways the two organisms exhibit equivalency in cognitive capacities. But our own enjoyment of the system which we are willing participants in must abolish this equivalence for our own mental health.

Mona Eltahawy alludes to the fact that women’s bodies are transformed into objects of contagion among many orthodox Muslims (e.g., her example of a girl baby’s urine being polluting, and a male baby’s urine being non-polluting). This is not particular or peculiar to Muslims. Many sophisticated philosophical systems have attempted to make the case that the female body is peculiarly repulsive in its corporeal coarseness. This strand of thinking is extremely evident in a particular segment of classical philosophers, culminating in the Neo-Platonists. Why?


I hold that arguments for the repulsiveness of women are a testament to the fact that men of power must always justify the sexual segregation of the women whom men without power so crave. For the reality is that the body of a woman is magnetically attractive to heterosexual man. There needs to be no great commentary on the repulsiveness of feces, that is plain as day. On the other hand adolescent boys who crave sex but can not sate their hunger, and clerics and court philosophers who are the political catamites of the men of power, must spin tales about how disgusting the vagina truly is. Take a step back, and consider the internet bandwidth devoted to close up images of the vagina, versus the internet bandwidth devoted to feces. Rationalizations of how repulsive women truly are is the homage that many a Weltanschauungpay to the truth of what men think of the female form.

The savage behavior of packs of feral young men across the Arab world in the presence of unguarded women is a consequence of the oppressive and constraining lies which are the root of the old systems of thought. Raised without proper manners, socialization, and lacking a sense of decorum, they yearn to feast like gluttons upon the sexuality of women whom they crave so deeply in their souls, but who have been transformed into aliens by the ascendant ideologies and the cultural environment from which they emerge. Unleashed upon the Western world these creatures normally straight-jacketed into constraint through terrorism behave in a  manner unbecoming of their notional humanity. But the problem is that they were never raised in the first place to view women as humans just like them. The term “objectification” is tossed about liberally in feminist discourse, but this conceptualization clearly applies forcefully in the case of rape of Scandinavian women by men from traditional societies. It is fashionable to say that rape is about power, but these are men who have no conflict in their mind as to the nature of male-female relations. Rather, they are sating their desires upon creatures who are simply means to their ends. To push the analogy further, the men of Scandinavia have released their flocks into the open, and now the wolves descend. They believe it is their nature, and without terrorism prodding them into better behavior they give their bestial inner self absolute license.

This problem is not insoluble. Many of the retrograde attitudes toward women which are normative in the Arab world were, and to some lesser extent still are, normative in the West. But to solve a problem we must properly characterize it. Reducing the subjugation of women by men as a function of hatred is simplistic, but I also believe it is false on the face of it. The Nazi hated the Jew. The Nazi never wished to devour the Jew. The great lie sold to the lesser men by those of power is that male lust is uncontrollable and wild. True, it is a real thing indeed which can test your sanity, but it is amenable to training, taming, and even unleashing at appropriate times within the bounds of a consensual relationship. This is a truth that I suspect was understood implicitly by the first humans. A truth hidden and obscured during the Neolithic so as to secure the power of the few who ruled over the many.

April 24, 2012

Leaning the wrong way?

Filed under: Data Analysis,Nature vs. Nurture — Razib Khan @ 10:06 pm

Many of the people I socialize with in “real life” have a biological sciences background. That being said, a relatively deep understanding of ncRNA does not give you any better sense of behavior genetics than the person off the street. And of course when you have a small child conversation often goes in the direction of how you want to raise the child so as to maximize their outcomes. Setting aside the particular normative valence of those outcomes, I am always struck by the power people think parents have over their child’s life path. This is not to say parents don’t have power. There are many young people who have college degrees because of parental expectations. Or, perhaps more precisely the social expectations which the parents set in motion by selecting the milieu of one’s children. Yet so many times I’ve been in a conversation where the phrase “I lean toward nurture” has come up. These are not dogmatic “blank slate” individuals. Rather, they are simply falling back upon the null or default of our age.

But for me here is the irony: I think it is arguably the case ...

One baby, alone on a PCA island

Filed under: Anthroplogy,Personal genomics — Razib Khan @ 7:40 pm

A week ago I reported that according to 23andMe I’m 40% Asian, and she is 8% Asian (in the future if I say “she” without explanation, you know of whom I speak). Obviously something is off here. The situation resolved itself when I tuned my parameters and increased my sampled populations in Interpretome. By now I’ve already done the estimates of recombination on the chromosomes which came together to produce her, and the realized value of 8 percent instead of 20 percent “Asian” simply can not be due to a particular set of unlikely crossing over events. From what I can gather it seems like ancestry painting should be viewed as a qualitative rather than a quantitative assessment. This sounds really strange when you are given percentages, but the results are strange, and obviously wrong too often in terms of the specific values.

Here’s an admixture plot which shows more realistically informative values:

I’ve run several admixture plots already with my daughter, and ...

April 23, 2012

The world is as it should be in personal genomics

Filed under: Personal genomics — Razib Khan @ 10:04 pm

I’ve been having some fun with my daughter’s personal genomics. You see, she has her whole pedigree out to r = 1/4. So, for example, contributions from her grandparents seem to be about on this order:

Paternal grandfather = 0.28
Paternal grandmother = 0.22
Maternal grandfather = 0.23
Maternal grandmother = 0.27

I’ve also calculated the number of recombinations which occurred leading up to the gametes which fused to create her. That will be for a future post. But here let’s confirm that she is not inbred. I used plink for this. Here is the description of the command:

Given a large number of SNPs, in a homogeneous sample, it is possible to calculate inbreeding coefficients (i.e. based on the observed versus expected number of homozygous genotypes).

The estimate of F can sometimes be negative. Often this will just reflect random sampling error, but a result that is strongly negative (i.e. an individual has fewer homozygotes than one would expect by chance at the genome-wide level) can reflect other factors, e.g. sample contamination events perhaps.

My main confusion here was which population I should select? Should I select GIH (HapMap Gujaratis?) or CEU (Utah whites)? I ended up on the TSI sample (Tuscans) as ...

An algorithm is just an algorithm

Filed under: Anthroplogy,race — Razib Khan @ 8:48 pm

In the comments below:

You should include a Moroccan or otherwise native North African sample. Without a North African sample West Africans act as proxy for some of that North African ancestry that does exist in Iberia, specially the Western third (Portugal, Galicia, Extremadura, León, etc.) Doing that your analysis would become more precise and you could make better informed claims.

I was reading through all the entry and there was no mention to the rather surprising notable West African component in Iberians other than Basques. For my somewhat trained eye it is clear that this is a proxy for North African ancestry and not directly West African ancestry. This is demonstratedly also the case in Canary Islands, at least to a large extent, and, by extension in Cuba (which is nearly identical to your average Canarian), at least Cuba-1. Cuba-2 seems actually admixed at low levels and both seem to have some Amerindian ancestry not existent in Spain.

This is a fair point. I switched computers recently, and the Behar et al. data set I had seems to have become corrupted. So I snatched the Mozabites from the HGDP, and removed the Gujaratis from the previous run. I also added Russians, ...

April 22, 2012

Paternity most assured

Filed under: Anthroplogy,Non-paternity — Razib Khan @ 11:32 pm

The myth that 10 percent of children the product of ‘non-paternity events’ is rather persistent. I have no idea why, but I do know that even biologists accept it. But how we can we continue to accept this when surnames can provide population genetic information 400 years after the fact? The population of Belgium is famously divided between Latinate Walloons and Germanic Flemings. But is notable that a substantial number of Flemings carry surnames of clear Romance origin. This is in large part due to acculturation. Nevertheless, even 400 years after the largest of the migration and assimilation events males with Romance-origin surnames reflect their genetic background:


If non-paternity events occurred at a rate of 1 out of 10 the correlation between surnames and genetic lineage would have been decoupled long ago. These results have been confirmed in other societies. I predict that low non-paternity rates will also be confirmed in China; as that nation has a long history of surnames. Of course, one might posit a scenario where males who are the products of non-paternity events tend to be less fit than those who are not, so over ...

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