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

January 2, 2017

Middle Eastern Populations Have Higher Recessive Disease Load

Filed under: Uncategorized — Razib Khan @ 11:16 pm

The 2,000 Year Selection of the British

Filed under: Uncategorized — Razib Khan @ 11:14 pm

ISIS Will Win Many Battles But Lose the War

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

The Islamic State Is Right About Some Things

Filed under: Uncategorized — Razib Khan @ 10:26 pm
 I’ve talked about the Yezidis​ many times over the years. The main reason is that I find the obscure marginal sects of the Middle East interesting. This is a part of the world where religious pl...

The Ending of the Liberal Interregnum

Filed under: Uncategorized — Razib Khan @ 10:09 pm
  The above talk is from Alice Dreger, author of Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar’s Search for Justice [1]​. I don’t know Dreger personally, but she seems like ...

The Great Human Disruptions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Razib Khan @ 9:59 pm

December 17, 2016

There Is No Exception in Islam

Filed under: Uncategorized — Razib Khan @ 2:31 pm
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December 3, 2016

We are all the secular Right now, but what does that mean?

Filed under: Politics,secular right — David Hume @ 9:32 am

donald_trump_august_19_2015_croppedThis blog began in the fall of 2008 somewhat on a lark. This was during a period when the American Right was beholden in many ways to the Religious Right. By “many ways,” I mean more in symbolics and rhetoric than reality. The reality is that conservatism in the 2000s was a “three legged stool” where the Religious Right was fed rhetorical “red meat,” while the neocons were ascendant and the economic conservatives achieved some gains (and losses).

But the power of religion in conservatism was such that genuflection to Christian values and identity was normative, even among the mostly secular Washington and New York conservative intelligentsia. Of course, there were always libertarians, but the libertarian position within the Right has always been one of tactics rather than strategy. It was not controversial being a libertarian and an atheist. What was more atypical was a non-libertarian conservative admitting their atheism. In 2008 George F. Will declared he was an agnostic. By 2014 he was admitting to be an atheist. Will’s transformation from bashful to agnostic on the Colbert Report in 2008 to sanguine atheist in 2014 illustrates a change in American culture: secularization entered a new phase in the 2000s, and a much larger proportion of Americans are no longer Christian in belief. In the United States over the past generation the number of Americans who have “no religion” has gone from one out of ten to one out of four.

As if to portend these trends in Barack Obama and Donald J Trump you will have two presidents who are cultural Christians at best. Though many assert that Obama is an atheist at heart, I suspect that despite his lack of belief in most of the supernatural elements of the religion he does have some rationalization for why he is a Christian. Trump’s position is different, as he is from a Protestant background by heritage, and it seems likely that that heritage is what he would lean on to assert his Christian bona fides. But Trump is arguably as religiously disinterested in the confessional aspects of Christianity as Obama, as adduced by his public comments, as well as his sanguine attitude toward the conversion of his daughter Ivanka to Orthodox Judaism (Eric Trump was married under a chuppah, as his wife is Jewish, while Donald Trump Jr.’s wife has a Jewish father, though she does not seem religiously Jewish as evidenced by her wearing a cross at her wedding).

Trump’s attitude toward religion is not the aspect that it is notable. Many Republican politicians are not particularly religious in private. What is notable is that he made no attempt to not be transparent in his lack of strong religiosity when appealing to religious voters. Trump’s appeal to religious voters in the Republican party was that he would defend their rights and interests, not that he was truly one of them.  The Religious Right then has become part of the interest group constellation of the Republican Party, but it is not calling the shots on the optics and symbolic rhetoric in the same manner as before.

What is the future then? I don’t think anyone knows. The election was a close one, and trends don’t help. Social-cultural systems are sensitive, and nonlinear. Expect chaos before we settle into a new system and stationary state.

November 30, 2016

Endings &Amp; New Beginnings

Filed under: Last Post,Miscellaneous — Razib Khan @ 9:37 pm
It's been exactly three years since I moved on from Discover. Change is timeless. So I thought it would be a good time to announce the move to another project today. Until further notice this is my last post as a blogger at Unz Review. Just as when I left Discover, this shouldn’t impact regular...

Razib Khan at the Center of Eurasia

Filed under: Genomics,science — Razib Khan @ 6:41 am
The Eurogenes blog is running a fundraiser. I chipped in mostly to support his continued blogging. I don't agree with everything he posts, but the site is a good and valuable resource. "Genome blogging" hasn't gotten as far as I'd have thought it would have in 2010, mostly because the initial burst of enthusiasm wasn't...

November 29, 2016

Tad Williams’ Revisits Osten Ard

Filed under: Fantasy,Miscellaneous — Razib Khan @ 11:30 am
Tad Williams has a new book set in Osten Ard, The Heart of What Was Lost. At only 224 pages it seems more like a novella compared to what he produced for his original series. The last of that of that trilogy, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, To Green Angel Tower, weighed in at more than...

November 28, 2016

Genomics Is Not Magic, There Is No Magic

Filed under: Genetics,science — Razib Khan @ 3:26 am
MIT Technology Review has an article up, Do Your Family Members Have a Right to Your Genetic Code?, which is now part of the genomics-human-interest-piece genre you see regularly. Here you have the exemplar of this sort of narrative: what do you do when one twin gets a test and the other does not, and...

Hipster Video Gaming

Filed under: Miscellaneous,video games — Razib Khan @ 12:50 am
I began playing video games as a child after the crash of 1983. At the time I wasn't aware of the tumult in the culture and the technology scene that that had caused. Video games were just fun, not the it thing I suppose. Perhaps as an analogy it would be like getting online in...

November 27, 2016

Top Books Purchased Through This Site

Filed under: Books,Miscellaneous — Razib Khan @ 6:13 pm
So I have an Amazon referrer account. I've had one since 2003. Pretty much I use it to get money when people buy books (or other items) through links here. It's a non-trivial, though not princely, sum of money. Especially since it's passive. These are books I've read and want to talk about anyhow (usually...

Open Thread, 11/27/2016

Filed under: Miscellaneous,Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 1:18 am
I spruced up my personal website recently. It was getting sort of cluttered. Also, the new theme should look better on mobile. Not sure how long Twitter will be around, but as long as it's around, make sure to follow me. Got my copy of The Atheist Muslim: A Journey from Religion to Reason. I'm...

Open Thread, 11/27/2016

Filed under: Miscellaneous,Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 12:26 am

510bcY7t15LI spruced up my personal website recently. It was getting sort of cluttered. Also, the new theme should look better on mobile.

Not sure how long Twitter will be around, but as long as it’s around, make sure to follow me.

Screenshot 2016-11-27 00.59.01Got my copy of The Atheist Muslim: A Journey from Religion to Reason. I’m personally opposed to a term like “atheist Muslim,” because a Muslim by definition to me is not atheist. But the author, Ali Rizvi, is an interesting fellow.

Going to try and get to Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States before Christmas. Don’t know if I’ll get to it, but it’s been on my “to-read” list for a while.

Has anyone ever thought that the novel Musashi was somewhat reminiscent of Cúchulainn? No idea why I think this, but it’s always been on my mind…

I think someone keeps asking about South Asian genetic signatures in Southeast Asia, and I keep forgetting to respond to them. I think there was old (say Iron Age) gene flow from South Asia to various parts of Southeast Asia (basically the cores of Hindu-Buddhist archaic semi-historical polities such as Angkor era Cambodia), and, also more recent gene flow due to colonialism era migration mediated by Europeans. Also, I suspect there was more gene flow from early Holocene Southeast Asia into South Asia than we currently comprehend.

2978777Ten years after first reading it I appreciate Adam K Webb’s Beyond the Global Culture War more. Why? Probably because universal liberal democracy seems less assured as the final stationary state of society in all places now than it did then. It’s an interesting book in part because it attacks the global cultural element with which it is probably easiest to identify me with.

November 26, 2016

The Species Barriers Between Neanderthals and Anatomically Modern Humans

Filed under: Genetics,Neanderthals,science — Razib Khan @ 11:55 pm
A new paper in The American Journal of Humans Genetics, The Divergence of Neandertal and Modern Human Y Chromosomes, reports on possible reasons why we don't see Y chromosomes in modern humans from this archaic lineage, despite exhibiting detectable levels of autosomal admixture. As you might recall the clear lack of deep branching Y and...

Afro-Asiatic and Eurasian Backflow

Filed under: Africa,Genetics,science — Razib Khan @ 11:55 pm
If you follow Y genealogy you know that the distribution of R1ba2 exhibits a peculiar pattern. R1b is the most common haplgroup in Western Eurasia, and shares a deep common ancestry with R1a. It seems to have risen to high frequencies in Europe only during the Bronze Age, though has been found in earlier periods....

The species barriers between Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans

Filed under: Genetics,Neanderthals,science — Razib Khan @ 3:30 pm

gr2A new paper in The American Journal of Humans Genetics, The Divergence of Neandertal and Modern Human Y Chromosomes, reports on possible reasons why we don’t see Y chromosomes in modern humans from this archaic lineage, despite exhibiting detectable levels of autosomal admixture. As you might recall the clear lack of deep branching Y and mtDNA lineages was long one of the major genetic rationales for why gene flow between Neanderthals and modern humans was presumably not very significant. This, despite suggestive evidence from morphological analysis as well as inferences from autosomal data. The problem is that it is harder to do the sort of clean phylogenetic reconstruction via a coalescent model utilizing autosomal data (which recombines, as opposed to the Y and mtDNA, which do not for the regions of interest), so ancient genome sequences were really what was needed to convince most people with these sorts of markers.

This makes us ask: why are Neanderthal Y and mtDNA lineages not found in modern humans which exhibit indications of gene flow from other hominin lineages? After all, the lack of these really led many people off on the wrong track for years. I recall in 2008 going to a talk by Svante Paabo who reported that the Neanderthal mtDNA he had sequenced was definitely very different from anything in the current databases for our species, which confirmed his assumption that there was no admixture into modern populations (Paabo changed his tune very soon after due to the whole genome sequencing obviously). One simple explanation is that because effective population sizes of Y and mtDNA are smaller than autosomal regions of the genome they’ll be more strongly subject to drift, and exhibit higher extinction rates. In other words, it wouldn’t be that surprising of all Neanderthal Y and mtDNA went extinct after admixture because they were a small minority, and most lineages went extinct in any case. Researchers who work in non-human phylogeography who relied on mtDNA in particular can tell of many stories of being led astray by looking at one informative locus.

But chance may not be what is at work here. Buried in the discussion of the paper:

…polypeptides from several Y-chromosome genes act as male-specific minor histocompatibility (H-Y) antigens that can elicit a maternal immune response during gestation. Such effects could be important drivers of secondary recurrent miscarriages30 and might play a role in the fraternal birth order effect of male sexual orientation.31 Interestingly, all three genes with potentially functional missense differences between the Neandertal and modern humans sequences are H-Y genes, including KDM5D, the first H-Y gene characterized…It is tempting to speculate that some of these mutations might have led to genetic incompatibilities between modern humans and Neandertals and to the consequent loss of Neandertal Y chromosomes in modern human populations. Indeed, reduced fertility or viability of hybrid offspring with Neandertal Y chromosomes is fully consistent with Haldane’s rule, which states that “when in the [first generation] offspring of two different animal races one sex is absent, rare, or sterile, that sex is the [heterogametic] sex.”

The origin of species is obviously one of the founding questions which arose with the emergence of evolutionary biology. Haldane’s rule dates to the 1920s. In mammals the heterogametic sex are males, so these the hybrids which will be selected against (or, they may be sterile). There’s been a lot of research of late on why Neanderthals went extinct, and whether there were speciation barriers in keeping with the biological species concept between our two lineages. This result suggests that there is going to be interesting stuffed coming out of the population genomics of ancient hominins in the near future….

November 20, 2016

Open Thread, 11/20/2016

Filed under: Miscellaneous,Open Thread — Razib Khan @ 4:33 pm
Went to Z & Y in San Francisco recently. Second time. Still have to give Mala in Houston better marks. A friend who has been to both agrees. Been busy working recently. But obviously a lot is going on in science and non-science....
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