July 20, 2010

"Adventures in Very Recent Evolution"

Sometimes I get discouraged when I realize that I've been debunking dumb ideas for many years now, yet dumb ideas remains wildly popular. 

But think how Nicholas Wade, the genetics correspondent of the New York Times, must feel. He has the top soapbox in the world for educating the public, the New York Times, and he covers for the NYT the trendiest topic in science, genetics. He has spent the last decade (here are VDARE articles I wrote praising Wade's NYT work in 2003 and 2006) diligently debunking the reigning dumb ideas of our age, such as "Race doesn't exist," "Race is just skin deep," and "Racial differences couldn't have evolved because there hasn't been enough time." For nine or ten years, he has used dozens of New York Times articles to aim a firehose of the latest scientific findings at these dogmas ... and, as far as I can tell, nobody ever notices

They don't Watson him. I've never noticed anybody objecting to Wade. They just don't ever get what he's saying. It doesn't register. The conventional wisdom is so comforting and so status-raising that relentless reporting in the New York Times can't dent it, or even make most NYT readers notice that their favorite beliefs are being subverted. Wade has been engaging in Popperian falsification of the age's dominant theories, and nobody notices.

Perhaps the average NYT subscriber reads each Wade article on the latest findings of genetic differences among racial groups, nods complacently, and then says to himself, "Yes, those Red State racist Republicans are just too stupid to realize that Darwin proves that race does not exist, whereas I live in New York and subscribe to the Times which keeps me up to date on ... on ... well, on whatever this article was about, but whatever it was about, I know, because I subscribe to the Times, that it proves that science shows that race is only skin deep, because there wasn't enough time for differences to evolve like those stupid Jesus fish people believe who don't believe in evolution, sometimes they just make me so angry because they come from a long line of hereditary idiots," and then he moves on to closely peruse an article about how to get his kid into a Park Slope school district with really good schools.

From the NYT:
by Nicholas Wade

Ten thousand years ago, people in southern China began to cultivate rice and quickly made an all-too-tempting discovery — the cereal could be fermented into alcoholic liquors. Carousing and drunkenness must have started to pose a serious threat to survival because a variant gene that protects against alcohol became almost universal among southern Chinese and spread throughout the rest of China in the wake of rice cultivation.

The variant gene rapidly degrades alcohol to a chemical that is not intoxicating but makes people flush, leaving many people of Asian descent a legacy of turning red in the face when they drink alcohol. 

I imagine American Indians left too early to didn't get this gene?

Here's a question I've wondered about. There are two scandalous scenes of drunkenness in the Book of Genesis, Noah and Lot, but how many are there in the rest off the Bible? The Wedding at Cana, for example, is non-scandalous.

The spread of the new gene, described in January by Bing Su of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is just one instance of recent human evolution and in particular of a specific population’s changing genetically in response to local conditions.

... Many have assumed that humans ceased to evolve in the distant past, perhaps when people first learned to protect themselves against cold, famine and other harsh agents of natural selection. But in the last few years, biologists peering into the human genome sequences now available from around the world have found increasing evidence of natural selection at work in the last few thousand years, leading many to assume that human evolution is still in progress....

So much natural selection has occurred in the recent past that geneticists have started to look for new ways in which evolution could occur very rapidly. Much of the new evidence for recent evolution has come from methods that allow the force of natural selection to be assessed across the whole human genome. This has been made possible by DNA data derived mostly from the Hap Map, a government project to help uncover the genetic roots of complex disease. The Hap Map contains samples from 11 populations around the world and consists of readings of the DNA at specific sites along the genome where variations are common.

One of the signatures of natural selection is that it disturbs the undergrowth of mutations that are always accumulating along the genome. As a favored version of a gene becomes more common in a population, genomes will look increasingly alike in and around the gene. Because variation is brushed away, the favored gene’s rise in popularity is called a sweep. Geneticists have developed several statistical methods for detecting sweeps, and hence of natural selection in action.

About 21 genome-wide scans for natural selection had been completed by last year, providing evidence that 4,243 genes — 23 percent of the human total — were under natural selection. This is a surprisingly high proportion, since the scans often miss various genes that are known for other reasons to be under selection. Also, the scans can see only recent episodes of selection — probably just those that occurred within the last 5,000 to 25,000 years or so. The reason is that after a favored version of a gene has swept through the population, mutations start building up in its DNA, eroding the uniformity that is evidence of a sweep.

Unfortunately, as Joshua M. Akey of the University of Washington in Seattle, pointed out last year in the journal Genome Research, most of the regions identified as under selection were found in only one scan and ignored by the 20 others. The lack of agreement is “sobering,” as Dr. Akey put it, not least because most of the scans are based on the same Hap Map data.

From this drunken riot of claims, however, Dr. Akey believes that it is reasonable to assume that any region identified in two or more scans is probably under natural selection. By this criterion, 2,465 genes, or 13 percent, have been actively shaped by recent evolution. The genes are involved in many different biological processes, like diet, skin color and the sense of smell.

A new approach to identifying selected genes has been developed by Anna Di Rienzo at the University of Chicago. Instead of looking at the genome and seeing what turns up, Dr. Di Rienzo and colleagues have started with genes that would be likely to change as people adopted different environments, modes of subsistence and diets, and then checked to see if different populations have responded accordingly.

She found particularly strong signals of selection in populations that live in polar regions, in people who live by foraging, and in people whose diets are rich in roots and tubers. In Eskimo populations, there are signals of selection in genes that help people adapt to cold.

Among primitive farming tribes, big eaters of tubers, which contain little folic acid, selection has shaped the genes involved in synthesizing folic acid in the body, Dr. Di Rienzo and colleagues reported in May in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The fewest signals of selection were seen among people who live in the humid tropics, the ecoregion where the ancestral human population evolved. “One could argue that we are adapted to that and that most signals are seen when people adapt to new environments,” Dr. Di Rienzo said in an interview.

... Several of the 25 skin genes bear strong signatures of natural selection, but natural selection has taken different paths to lighten people’s skin in Europe and in Asia. A special version of the golden gene, so called because it turns zebrafish a rich yellow color, is found in more than 98 percent of Europeans but is very rare in East Asians. In them, a variant version of a gene called DCT may contribute to light skin. Presumably, different mutations were available in each population for natural selection to work on. The fact that the two populations took independent paths toward developing lighter skin suggests that there was not much gene flow between them. ...

That's interesting because you can walk from, say, Normandy to Korea. The physical anthropologists of Carleton Coon's mid-century generation believed from looking at bones that the biggest division in mankind was caused by the Himalayas and other mountains dividing West Afro-Eurasia from East Asia, although subsequent genetics studies suggested the biggest division was between sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world. But, the old bone guys must have been a little bit right about this Europe-Asia divide.
Most variation in the human genome is neutral, meaning that it arose not by natural selection but by processes like harmless mutations and the random shuffling of the genome between generations. The amount of this genetic diversity is highest in African populations. 

By the way, this is the source of the widely held dogma/ urban legend for the quasi-educated that black Africans are the most genetically diverse people on Earth, or, in increasingly crazier variants, that two white Americans might less related to each other than to a black African, or that you and your brother are less similar to each other genetically than you are to an African. This is true for neutral ("junk") genes that aren't selected not for functional genes. (I debunked this ten years ago in Seven Dumb Ideas about Race.)
Diversity decreases steadily the further a population has migrated from the African homeland, since each group that moved onward carried away only some of the diversity of its parent population. This steady decline in diversity shows no discontinuity between one population and the next, and has offered no clear explanation as to why one population should differ much from another. But selected genes show a different pattern: Evidence from the new genome-wide tests for selection show that most selective pressures are focused on specific populations.

One aspect of this pattern is that there seem to be more genes under recent selection in East Asians and Europeans than in Africans, possibly because the people who left Africa were then forced to adapt to different environments. “It’s a reasonable inference that non-Africans were becoming exposed to a wide variety of novel climates,” says Dr. Stoneking of the Max Planck Institute. ...

But the new evidence that humans have adapted rapidly and extensively suggests that natural selection must have other options for changing a trait besides waiting for the right mutation to show up. In an article in Current Biology in February, Dr. Pritchard suggested that a lot of natural selection may take place through what he called soft sweeps.

Soft sweeps work on traits affected by many genes, like height. Suppose there are a hundred genes that affect height (about 50 are known already, and many more remain to be found). Each gene exists in a version that enhances height and a version that does not. The average person might inherit the height-enhancing version of 50 of these genes, say, and be of average height as a result.

Suppose this population migrates to a region, like the Upper Nile, where it is an advantage to be very tall. Natural selection need only make the height-enhancing versions of these 100 genes just a little more common in the population, and now the average person will be likely to inherit 55 of them, say, instead of 50, and be taller as a result. Since the height-enhancing versions of the genes already exist, natural selection can go to work right away and the population can adapt quickly to its new home. 

A lot of human biodiversity at the phenome level is relative rather than absolute, quantitative rather than qualitative.



51 comments:

Bill said...


That's interesting because you can walk from, say, Normandy to Korea.


There's this theory that packs of gigantic hyenas dominated Central Asia (around the Altai) for a long time, until the fairly recent past, keeping people from moving freely across the area. Sounds crazy, but I didn't make that up.

As for the alcohol dehydrogenase mutation in Asia, I think it was spread fairly recently. According to histories concerning the Shang dynasty (if I remember correctly), drunkenness was a very big public problem at that time. That was some 3,000 years ago.

There was supposedly one Shang king who would fill large pools with liquor and hang barbecued meat above the pools, then float around in a boat with his concubines, drinking and eating to his heart's content.

Sounds like a fantasy to me, but it may have been true. Actually, considering some of the outrageous things I saw in China, I believe it.

Anonymous said...

These findings aren't practically useful yet. An individual powerfull predictive genetic test for alcohol susceptibility, available at 23andme, which also showed much greater susceptibility among Native Americans, less in populations with long alcohol histories would be powerful. Specific genetic variants for IQ prediction with differential distribution across races (in numbers large enough to establish patterns clearly) too.

The findings so far really haven't been that obviously explosive because they require too much honest inference to connect the dots.

ReticentMan said...

Steve, I just want to let you know that it might be tempting to extrapolate from the logic in this article that if Europeans and Asians underwent many adaptations as they moved out of Africa due to the selective pressure of different environments and climate that it's possible some of those adaptations affected cognitive functions like intelligence.

But if you fall into that temptation you're a dirty racist and should probably by shot, or hanged, or at least shamed into apologizing and maybe pledging a large donation to the SPLC.

gcochran said...

"This is true for neutral ("junk") genes that aren't selected not for functional genes."

No, it isn't.

TH said...

that two white Americans might less related to each other than to a black African, or that you and your brother are less similar to each other genetically than you are to an African. This is true for neutral ("junk") genes that aren't selected not for functional genes.

It is not true even for junk DNA. Witherspoon et al. report:

Thus the answer to the question “How often is a pair of individuals from one population genetically more dissimilar than two individuals chosen from two different populations?” depends on the number of polymorphisms used to define that dissimilarity and the populations being compared. The answer, can be read from Figure 2. Given 10 loci, three distinct populations, and the full spectrum of polymorphisms (Figure 2E), the answer is 0.3, or nearly one-third of the time. With 100 loci, the answer is ~20% of the time and even using 1000 loci, 10%. However, if genetic similarity is measured over many thousands of loci, the answer becomes “never” when individuals are sampled from geographically separated populations.

Anonymous said...

One small point of refinement about the "Asian" or "Chinese" race: it probably doesn't exist as one unitary race. As Han China grew through the dynastic ages, it slowly swallowed other nations and those nations' peoples.

This is why people from northern china, for example, do often look different from people from southern China. It's not unlike comparing Italians to Germans. (The revolution and world war two forced more mixing because war displaces people, but it's still more or less true).

Anonymous said...

It's the old 'nature vs. nurture' debate. Are Native Americans, Russians and Irishmen notorious drunks because they lack a genetic defense, or is it because there's something wrong with their cultures?

If you settle on either explanation, what do you do? (SWPL precept #1: If you see a problem, you're obligated to "do something" about it.)

If you buy into the genetic hypothesis, you will support eugenics (just don't call it that).

If you're persuaded by the nurture argument, you will support nanny state manipulations of personal behavior (just don't admit you're doing that).

Big Bill said...

We have been trained to simultaneously believe that (1) race consciousness is evil, and (2) race consciousness is good at the same time.

We have been trained to simultaneously believe that (1) we are all the same and that is good, and (2) we are all different, and that is good.

We have been trained to believe that (1) black people fleeing black people to live with white people is "racial integration" and it is good, and (2) white people fleeing black people to live with white people is "racial discrimination" and it is bad.

We have also been trained to not ask too many questions or think too deeply on these weird contradictions for fear of losing our jobs, our friends, our family, and our status.

Race and genetics are now crimethink. We can hear anything we want, nod with a smile, ignore that stray niggling little thought that says "wait a minute, that means ...", and go on about our business.

We have, in short, surrendered our judgment to our betters.

Our betters will tell us if anyone goes over the line, and if they do, we will join the torch-lit mob as we are instructed.

It's modern-day witchcraft. Sometimes a cow just goes dry, you shrug your shoulders and ask the neighbor for a quart of milk. Sometimes a witch makes it go dry and you burn her at the stake.

Our betters will tell us which is which. We really don't have to know.

Acilius said...

It may not count as "Watsoning," but here's an objection to Wade posted last year on an influential blog:

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1896

Anonymous said...

"The variant gene rapidly degrades alcohol to a chemical that is not intoxicating but makes people flush, leaving many people of Asian descent a legacy of turning red in the face when they drink alcohol."

This seems a bit off to me. Back in my school days, my experience with fellow students of Chinese descent was that drinking would get them so flush so fast that they would quit after one or two drinks. But if they kept drinking, well then they would get just as intoxicated as my Irish-German self.

Anonymous said...

Steve wonders how a progressive reads a piece like that? Well that's easy enough. Race is essentially statistical, yet most people insist on thinking in boolean categories. So, if race is real, there must be some attribute X such that all black people are X, and no white people are X. But as we know, there is no such X.

So they wade into Wade, and lo and behold -- they are right! For example, the popup graphic showing the "golden gene", shows it is only at 98% in Europe, and 2% or so in the blackest of Africa. Thus: "race" is wrong!

Other points in the article also prove that progressives are right:

biologists... have found increasing evidence of natural selection at work in the last few thousand years, leading many to assume that human evolution is still in progress.

Assume? Ah, being humble. No, we've said that all along. So: progressives are right, and Christians are wrong. People are apes, ha ha, take that Sarah Palin.

when humans lost their fur... they developed dark skin to protect against ultraviolet light.

See? Blacks are more natural than whites are.

The amount of this genetic diversity is highest in African populations. Diversity decreases steadily the further a population has migrated from the African homeland

"diversity"! Ah! Well, diversity good. So, Africans good! Knew it. And all those other people, like me... not so good.

Peter A said...

But Steve - what you, or at least a lot of your commenters, don't seem to have fully internalized is that "race" really doesn't exist in the traditional 19th century way. A lot of HBD believers seem to think that the fact that people of white European descent, on average, are smarter than Native Americans or people of African descent, and are more closely related to each other means that all white people are supposed to have some sort of racial loyalty to each other. But that's not the way evolution works. It's all about me getting my own personal genes downstream (or you yours). I don't care about Bob from Omaha's genes. Successful evolutionary strategy often means evolving away from your "extended family" - the way a small group of Jews evolved away from other Middle Easterners, the way a small tribe of Europeans evolved away from their African cousins, and the way a small group of Homo Erectus evolved away from it's ape cousins. It seems to me that our current elite is pursuing just such an evolutionary strategy - evolving away from "white" or "Asian" or "Jew" to form a new high IQ group of human. And if I my genes have a better chance of surviving by wiping out competition from other whites, than that strategy makes sense. I don't think our elite really consciously thinks that way, but the net effect is the same.

David said...

I think for the average NYT reader this would be quite a comforting article. It's a lot of information for the layman to digest. For those of us who don't really understand it, the impression left is that the genetic make up of mankind is just too complicated to categorize people into a few races. As a result, the reader can respond to anyone speaking of racial intelligence differences with a condescending "it's much more complicated than that". The logic being, that with all this stuff going on with rice, folic acids, climates, and blah, blah, blah, only a simpleton or a racist could make broad statements about intelligence differences between large populations.

If the author had at any point made a direct and clear statement about racial intelligence gaps, then of course it would be a different story. That the article implies that these gaps can exist, however, is irrelevent. For that to cause a problem our NYT reading elite would have to either be well read in genetics, or to be in the habit of questioning the assumptions of their world views. The latter, as you point out, is not one of their favorite activities.

Bill - perhaps those gigantic hyenas you mention were the forbears of the Beast of Gevaudan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beast_of_G%C3%A9vaudan

Anonymous said...

You can walk from, say, Normandy to Korea.

These days, yeah. But in the times of melting glaciers this was close to impossible. River Volga alone was a roaring torrent dozens of miles wide. Nothing alive that didn't fly could cross it. Other East European south-flowing rivers--Don, Dniepr, Urals, etc.--were not much better. The Siberian north-flowing rivers--Ob, Yenisei, Lena--were obstacles in another way too, as they emptied not as they do now, into Arctic Ocean, but into giant lakes that covered most of Siberia.

Anonymous said...

I imagine American Indians left too early to didn't get this gene?

Possibly, or that they eveolved a lack of tolerance for alcohol after years in the new world. The alcoholic drinks of the American Indians were way weaker than that of the Europeans. They got drunk very easily when exposed to these new drinks.

So, thousands of years drinking weak beer might lead to either a selection in favor of genes promoting low alcohol tolerance or simply no advantage to the genes favoring high alcohol tolerance and thus they became less common.

kurt9 said...

By the way, this is the source of the widely held dogma/ urban legend for the quasi-educated that black Africans are the most genetically diverse people on Earth,

Some of this dogma may come from reading many of Wilbur Smith's African adventure novels.

Anonymous said...

I find the discussion of the genetics of height to be confused.

The real breakthrough in height genetics was indeed when it was recognized that the genetics of human height was not Mendelian. Mendel demonstrated that genetic traits were discrete not continuous. When he crossbred tall peas and short peas he did not get a smooth blend of the two but rather he got different frequencies of pure tall and pure short varieties.

Prior to Mendel genetics was thought of as a kind of blending of fluids which yield intermediates. This is what would be expected if it was inheritance of "blood". But Mendel showed that traits were passed discretely not continuously.

Unfortunately while height in peas plants was shown to be inherited discretely it still looked to be continuous in human. The answer was the observation that a binomial series approaches a normal distribution as the number of discrete two value elements increases.So while it is true that a single coin will yield a simple yes or no, heads or tails distribution, a dozen coins will yield a distribution very much bell curved shaped.

If people acted like pea plants a tall man and a short woman would only produce either tall or short progeny - no intermediates. This is the argument for human height to be multi genetic. But notice that these are all identical copies of the same gene.

When the Dr. Pritchard speaks of multiple genes that affect human height he seems to be speaking of all sorts of genes on various chromosomes that have multiple functions. Most genes code for proteins of enzymes that lead to proteins.

Height is in a sense a measure of general well being. Unhealthy people are often stunted. So it is not surprising that a gene for something like pancreas functioning or resistance to some parasite has an influence on height.

But having lots of genes that have secondary effects on height doesn't make the human population more nimble in adaptation to a new environment - rather the opposite. If for example a population moves into the open plains where a tall man has a selective advantage at spotting predators, only the multiple duplicate genes that govern bone length will be important. Genes that mediate some vitamin absorption rate will be irrelevant. Its hard to see how nature can select for all the fifty to one hundred genes that touch on height in some minor and indirect way.

Albertosaurus

Melykin said...

from NYT article
...many people of Asian descent a legacy of turning red in the face when they drink alcohol.

Steve wrote:
"I imagine American Indians left too early to get this gene? "
=================================

Exactly. The NYT article is implying that the ancestral condition of humans is to be alcoholic, but it didn't become a problem until people started farming and figured out how to make lots of alcohol, at which time protections against alcoholism evolved. Apparently these protections evolved separately in East Asia. Other mechanisms for protection must have evolved in the middle east, Europe and south Asia. Peoples who are not descended from farmers have not evolved any mechanisms to protect them and are extremely vulnerable to alcoholism. This includes First Nations people in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, people indigenous to arctic regions in Canada, Russia, Greenland and Norway, people of Mongolia, and San bushmen of Africa.

But if the headline of the article had been "Indigenous peoples genetically prone to alcoholism" the NYT never would have published it. If they had, they would have been vilified as Nazi racists and there would have been much anger and frothing at the mouth all over the world.

In Canada is is not considered polite to mention that First Nations people drink a lot, even when they are passed out all over the streets (as they are in some communities.) The only time it is ever mentioned is to blame their problems with alcohol on colonialism and residential schools. The government spends millions on "truth and reconciliation committees" for residential school "victims". The idea is that if these "victims" talk about how they suffered in residential schools, this will somehow cure their alcoholism, and the alcoholism of their children and grandchildren. (The residential school taint is apparently so powerful that makes even the grandchildren of the residents alcoholics.)

It would be considered extremely impolite to point out that the natives' problems with alcohol predated the residential schools. How rude! Besides, there was colonialism and racism before that, which was causing the addictions.
(Never mind that fact that colonialism in Hong Kong and India didn't turn the natives into alcoholics, and in retrospect seems to have benefited those places.)

I'm sure there are similar thoughts in Australia. The rampant alcoholism among the Mongolians and among the Yupik people is blamed on the Soviets. Gotta blame someone. We can't except the fact that maybe that is the way people are naturally!

Compounding the problem is the fact that we have a deeply ingrained idea (shown to be false by science) that alcoholism is either caused by bad parents/stressful childhood, or is simply a choice that some people make, and if only people would pull themselves up by their boot straps they could just stop drinking if they wanted. There is a LOT of resistance to the idea that alcoholism (or a tendency to it) is something people are born with. Yet, increasingly, this is what science tells us. Alcohol is metabolized differently, and effects the brain differently, among alcoholics than among other people. The east Asian protection mechanism is well understood, but not the European/south Asian.

If only we could get over our squeamishness about discussing these things in a straight forward way, we might be able to come up with effective treatments for alcoholism. But how will this happen if we are mired in the nonsensical belief that it is caused by residential schools? Why is this idea widely accepted by the elites, even though there isn't a shred of evidence for it?

Why are we so stupid?

*sigh* Sorry for the rant. I just have to get this out of my system, and HBD blogs are the only place I can write about this without being chased by an angry pitchfork-bearing mob.

J. Flowers said...

Wade is really one of us. He gets a kick out of staying behind enemy lines while simultaneously getting the HBD message across in such a manner that it stays under the liberal radar.

Anonymous said...

"The variant gene rapidly degrades alcohol to a chemical that is not intoxicating but makes people flush, leaving many people of Asian descent a legacy of turning red in the face when they drink alcohol.

I imagine American Indians left too early to didn't get this gene?"

This surprised me somewhat. If I remember correctly, when I was in Germany a few years ago I thumbed through a book in a bookstore called "Macht der Genen" (I believe that the author's name was Hengstschlager) which asserted that that East Asians produced less alcohol dehydrogenase than Caucasians and became drunk more easily. I thought the chemical reaction that caused the facial flushing also made them feel nauseous, thereby discouraging alcohol use and addiction.

greenrivervalleyman said...

The fact that there HAS been enough time for races to evolve is self-evident and can be proven without resort to complex statistical analyses of gene data. To wit- the phenotypic characteristics that have long defined "folk" understandings of race (skin color, hair texture, facial structures) have very smooth continuums of expression. That is, a person with a strongly black African phenotypic father and a strongly Northern European phenotypic mother will come out looking like one would except a child of such parents to look- about halfway between mommy and daddy in terms of skin color, facial features, and hair texture. If that "mixed" individual has children with a mate that is strongly phenotypic Northern European or black African the children will again come out about halfway between each parent in terms of "folk" racial characteristics. Thus the 1/2, 1/4, and 1/8 (black, Indian, Oriental, etc.) categories that have been used in the past to sort individuals of mixed ancestry. The corollary of this is that it is not possible for Africans and Northern Europeans (or East Asians and Northern Europeans) to have mated and exchanged genes in a long, long time, and so the idea that "dumb" folk traditions of race do not account for the sophisticated realities of genetics is just plain wrong. Yes, not all genes have readably noticeable phenotypic expressions, and, yes, it is possible for ancestry to be hidden by the dominant genes of one part of the family tree, but that does not happen to apply to the genes involved in our common understanding of race, which happen to be pretty good proxies for genetic/ancestral reality.

Kylie said...

Melykin said..."If only we could get over our squeamishness about discussing these things in a straight forward way, we might be able to come up with effective treatments for alcoholism."

There's no more effective--and cheaper--treatment for alcoholism than teetotalism.

Anonymous said...

Steve - how do you explain this in today's news: white baby, black parents? I think it's a hoax/fraud. What say you?

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3060907/Black-parents-give-birth-to-white-baby.html

Steve Sailer said...

Let's see ... wife gives birth to a baby who doesn't look anything like wife's husband.

Hmmhmmmhmmm ... I'm stumped.

Peter A said...

asserted that that East Asians produced less alcohol dehydrogenase than Caucasians and became drunk more easily. I thought the chemical reaction that caused the facial flushing also made them feel nauseous, thereby discouraging alcohol use and addiction.

Based on my experience living in Japan and Korea, and going to college with Asian-Americans, I think you're correct and Wade got confused. East Asians definitely get drunk, usually very quickly. It's probably the lack of tolerance that protects them from alcoholism - they aren't prone to go on 3 day benders like Russians, Irish or Mexicans, their systems just can't take it. In my experience in East Asia there is a very sharp line between drinking and other activities. You drink to get drunk, then you go to sleep. The idea of sitting in a bar or having a few beers just to get a buzz, then going off to do some other activity is not an Asian approach.

Interestingly Chinese poetry from earlier periods describes drinking in more poetic terms, more akin to the way Persian or European poets write about drinking. I wonder if at one point there was an elite class of Chinese with a more Mediterranean tolerance for alcohol that was subsumed over time by the South Chinese population.

ATBOTL said...

"That's interesting because you can walk from, say, Normandy to Korea. The physical anthropologists of Carleton Coon's mid-century generation believed from looking at bones that the biggest division in mankind was caused by the Himalayas and other mountains dividing West Afro-Eurasia from East Asia, although subsequent genetics studies suggested the biggest division was between sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world. But, the old bone guys must have been a little bit right about this Europe-Asia divide."

As ones moves from West to East across northern Eurasia(ie Russia, one encounters people who look increasingly Mongoloid. But there is no clear division line with Caucasoid people on one side and Mongoloid people on the other. The transition groups tend to be primitive, nomadic people with small populations so they are easy to miss compared to ethnic Russians and Chinese.

Anonymous said...

'I'm stumped"

Race is but a social construct...why shouldn't the child be different from its parents?

Or is this a case of the Nigerians' accelerated adaptation to a more northern latitude?

MSG said...

Two more Bible incidents:

In Exodus 32, the Israelites scandalously get drunk and party in celebration of Aaron's crafting of the Golden Calf. In 1 Samuel chapter 1, the priest is worried that Hannah has scandalously entered the temple drunk. Hannah explains that she is not drunk, merely in an emotional state.

The neighboring Egyptians and Mesopotamians drank beer and wine. In the Gilgamesh story, wine drinking is characterized as a sign of civilized status -- Gilgamesh's wild man friend had to be taught to enjoy it.

ben tillman said...

But that's not the way evolution works. It's all about me getting my own personal genes downstream (or you yours). I don't care about Bob from Omaha's genes.

Of course, you do -- or at least healthy people do -- to the extent they're the same as yours.

liberal biorealist said...

Now I admit that my ignorance of genetics is rather considerable, but the Wade article raises a question in my mind that I've wondered about and can't say I've ever seen addressed. (For all I know it has an obvious, well known answer, but I just don't know it.)

The article makes a point regarding genes for skin color that seems at first blush quite relevant to genes correlated to IQ (and by extension many other traits).

Apparently there's been small enough gene flow between the races that similar changes in skin color are reflected in different genes.

Why not believe the same for genes that support higher IQs? I'd expect that such genes might be among those quite aggressively selected for across races (which doesn't imply, I should add, that the rate of change in IQ is the same). Why not imagine that a quite different set of genes and alleles might support high IQ in one race from that of another? Shouldn't the forces of selection have moved them on quite separate genetic paths?

And wouldn't that potentially make finding useful correlations of genes with IQ that work across all races problematic? That is, it might be possible to discover useful correlations within races (or perhaps even narrower subpopulations), but not between them.

Putting the point another way, we may never reach a day when we can say: here is the set of genes involved in high IQ, and this race over here has more of them than that race over there, so, for that sole reason, the average IQ of this race is going to be higher than that of that race.

And, if that's a problem for IQ, I wonder if isn't a similar problem with all sorts of traits and dispositions.

With regard to genes for IQ, I wonder if it may be that the only method to see how genes across all races contribute to high IQ is to uncover the actual physiological mechanisms that support high IQ, and then determine which genes in which races affect those mechanisms in suitable ways (and presumably to differing degrees, given the differing averages).

ben tillman said...

Race is essentially statistical, yet most people insist on thinking in boolean categories.

Race has nothing to do with statistics or characteristics; it's all about ancestry.

So, if race is real, there must be some attribute X such that all black people are X, and no white people are X. But as we know, there is no such X.

And they're starting from the flawed premise that characteristics define race. That may be how we define species of butterflies or beetles, but we use characteristics as a proxy to enable us to infer common ancestry or relatedness.

ben tillman said...

Height is in a sense a measure of general well being.

No, it's not.

ben tillman said...

To expand on that, height correlates with health ceteris paribus -- i.e., in this case, if the genes are the same. And the whole point was that there were a number of genes that varied from person to person, in which case your assertion that height is a measure of general well being begs the question.

sj071 said...

'Let's see ... wife gives birth to a baby who doesn't look anything like wife's husband.
Hmmhmmmhmmm ... I'm stumped'

A bummer... what was the headline?

'Adventures in Very Recent Evolution'

sj071 said...

'Let's see ... wife gives birth to a baby who doesn't look anything like wife's husband.
Hmmhmmmhmmm ... I'm stumped'

A bummer... what was the headline?

'Adventures in Very Recent Evolution'

B Lode said...

Wait a second, Mr. Cochran, don't leave yet! I don't know what you meant. Are you in agreement with the information TH provided below you?

If I may speculate: I don't think Mr. Sailer was saying Lewontin's Fallacy isn't a fallacy if restricted to junk DNA.
I think what Mr. Sailer meant by "this" in This is true for neutral ("junk") genes that aren't selected not for functional genes was the assertion that there is more genetic diversity among Africans than everyone else. That is the implication I got from "Seven Dumb Ideas".

(I think this is an editing flub. Steve was in a hurry, and debunked more-diversity-among-Africans, clarified about junk DNA, and then slipped a reference to Mr. Lewontin in between them, by accident.)

I think pretty much everyone agrees that Lewontin's is a fallacy at any level of analysis, except perhaps in a completely different form; i.e. the assertion that when you move from a human population to the whole human species, numeric diversity increases by less than a factor of two. Do I have that right?

Anonymous said...

Morning Edition (NPR) did a story just this morning about the serious need for black organ (and marrow) doners. The unspoken bit was that the reason blacks don't donate is because they're afraid whites will benefit. They wanted to say it, but only brushed up against the line.

Melykin said...

Liberalbiorealism wrote:
Why not imagine that a quite different set of genes and alleles might support high IQ in one race from that of another? Shouldn't the forces of selection have moved them on quite separate genetic paths?
==========================

Interesting. And could it be that slightly different types of intelligence evolved in different races?

Apparently lactose tolerance evolved independently in Europe and in North Africa. Maybe different genes are involved.

And maybe protection from alcoholism evolved independently in East Asia and in Europe, and the two use completely different mechanisms.

TGGP said...

I'd like to hear Cochran elaborate, since Steve has banged that drum so many times.

Melykin said...

Anonymous said:
"Morning Edition (NPR) did a story just this morning about the serious need for black organ (and marrow) donors. "
=====================

"in British Columbia...for the years 1992 to 1997 inclusive...There were 236 organ donors and 766 transplant recipients. Comparing racial groups between donors and recipients, Caucasians contributed the most donors (93.2%) but received proportionately fewer organs (73.4%, P<0.000001). Orientals donated 3.4% of all organs but constituted 14.4% of all recipients (P<0.00001). Non-Oriental, non-Caucasians (predominantly Asian Indians and Native Aboriginals) constituted 3.4% of all donors and 12.2% of all recipients (P=0.0001).

http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=1852605

Maybe immigrants think their organs will be sold for profit by corrupt doctors, since likely that happens in China and India. In China they use executed prisoners as a source of organs. It is believed that about 7000 or 8000 people are executed every year in China.

This is another example of a low-trust mentality being imported into Canada with immigrants.

Chuck said...

Wrong! Han Chinese are rather genetically related.

Anon said: "One small point of refinement about the "Asian" or "Chinese" race: it probably doesn't exist as one unitary race. As Han China grew through the dynastic ages, it slowly swallowed other nations and those nations' peoples.


Han are pretty close. Different Han populations have an average Fst value of .002. In European, it's around .009. The Chinese-European population difference is .1100. It's a bit bigger.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2009/11/population-substructure-within-china/comment-page-1/

Chuck said...

Bentillman said:"And they're starting from the flawed premise that characteristics define race. That may be how we define species of butterflies or beetles, but we use characteristics as a proxy to enable us to infer common ancestry or relatedness."

Portraying race as "commonalities" and not "common ancestry" is part of the strategy used to deny it. I came across this in Stanfords encyclopedia of philosophy -- the author engaged in will-fill ignorance about the meaning of the term. And refuse to update his piece.

By redefining race as "commonality"
they you point out that arbitrary groups are being made "fat Asians, belong, with fat whites" to the fat race" or "Are you saying that these people act different just because the color of their skin"

This is a game --

Chuck said...

"But Steve - what you, or at least a lot of your commenters, don't seem to have fully internalized is that "race" really doesn't exist in the traditional 19th century way."
...
It's not clear that race existent in the way you think it did in the 19th century either--

The starting point with race is ancestry that can be traced back to
different historical branches of the human species--

"Professor Fried has correctly pointed out that there is no careful and objective definition of race that would permit delimitation of races as exact, nonoverlapping, discrete entities. Indeed, such criteria do not exist because if they did, we would not have races, we would have distinct species. (Dobzhansky in Mead
1968, 165)"

Matt said...

I'd like to hear Cochran elaborate, since Steve has banged that drum so many times.

TGGP: I believe the comment is in response to the idea that (for example) a non-African may be in practice more similar to an African on the bulk of their non-functional genes. The argument as I remember it from 10,000 Year Explosion is that while this is possible for any given gene, once you start looking at the whole genome (or even a small subset of the genome) this is impossible except in impossibly huge and only theoretical populations.

I don't think it's in response to what you think it is, which is the drum that Steve bangs fairly often that Africans are only more diverse on non-functional genes. Which I think may be true, but I'm not entirely sure of (I've got fairly high confidence this is closer to true than it isn't for the West African pops that are Black in the USA though).

Anonymous said...

Wade in Before the Dawn notes that there is more genetic variation in species closer to their ancestral origin. People developed in Africa. It is a stretch to imply that Sub-Saharan black genetic variation discredits the concept of race. It only makes it more complicated. Which is bound to happen as more human genomes get decoded and classified. So what?

Peter A said...

"Of course, you do -- or at least healthy people do -- to the extent they're the same as yours."

No, Ben, that's not the biological imperative. The imperative is to get MY genes downstream, the best way possible. Bob from Omaha may have similar genes, but they're not MINE. If I were childless then yes - I would rather support Bob from Omaha's genes then Aaron Rosenthal from White Plains. But if my daughter marries Aaron Rosenthal, or Lee Sam-jung - then I'll thrown my support behind the new genetic stream. At least that seems to be what the WASP elite in America believes.

Anonymous said...

The CCR5 gene, delta 32, which confers immunity to Bubonic Plague, developed among Northern European populations during the 300 or so years that the plague invested that area of Europe.

That's a remarkably short time - 15 generations.

Anonymous said...

There was supposedly one Shang king who would fill large pools with liquor and hang barbecued meat above the pools, then float around in a boat with his concubines, drinking and eating to his heart's content. Sounds like a fantasy to me, but it may have been true. Actually, considering some of the outrageous things I saw in China, I believe it.

Kings lived that way. They could afford it; afford to live fantastic and outrageous lifestyles impossible for anyone else.

There were a few 11th century English kings who literally ate and/or drank themselves to death. Who would have stopped them, or wanted to?

ben tillman said...

No, Ben, that's not the biological imperative. The imperative is to get MY genes downstream, the best way possible. Bob from Omaha may have similar genes, but they're not MINE.

And most of Bob's genes ARE your genes. You're unduly focused on the person. The person is neither the beginning nor the end of biological organization. Why do you think that you own your genes rather than the other way around?

Moreover, you're forgetting that what will go into the future is not the genes in your body but copies of them that will reside in the bodies of future humans (your descendants) just as copies of those same genes currently reside in Bob. Your genes can achieve their goal -- the survival of copies of themselves -- through Bob as well as through you.

ben tillman said...

And most of Bob's genes ARE your genes. You're unduly focused on the person.

To clarify, why would one of "your" genes favor the rest of "your" genes over the copies of itself found in its ethnic kinsmen? You're thinking of your genome as an indivisible unit, so you're really not even talking about genes at all!

adsasdfasdfasdfdsfas said...

Because of Nazism, race-based slavery in America, and Jewish power in America, we are not supposed to talk about certain racial facts and realities.
But not all liberals and PC conservatives are alike.
Of course, there are dumb liberals and dumb conservatives--especially Christian ones--who really believe or at least try to believe that race is all a myth and that we are all the same either due to evolution or God.

But there are many other liberals and PC conservatives who will say one thing in public but think another in private. I know this cuz I've lifelong friends who are liberal. In public, they'll say all the PC bs but if I get into a no-holds-barred discussion of race and racial problems with them behind closed doors, they sound rather like Steve Sailer. Some of these are Jews. In face, I've known many Jews who've told me, "yeah, Jews control the media, Jews are smarter,", but they'll never say it in public. They can speak honestly with me because we all grew up together and we all know eachother's secrets.

So, it's not so much that Wade hasn't made a difference among liberals and PC conservatives; it's just that liberals and PC conservatives have mastered the art of pretending it hasn't affected them.

It's all part of the love/leave paradox among whites regarding blacks.
You'll notice most whites of all stripes prefer to leave areas that are heavily black. They wanna live in mostly white areas. But in order to safely take leave from black areas, one must be successful. To be successful, one has to be PC. Being PC means one has to profess LOVE for blacks.
If you say you don't like blacks, then you're fired, demoted, or not promoted. To succeed, you have to say you dearly LOVE those noble saintly blacks, the kin of MLK. But with the success & money you gain by professing sympathy toward blacks, you get to take leave from black areas.

Similar was true in communist nations. You had to say you hated greed, wealth, and privilege and loved the working class... in order to leave the factory floor and rise up the bureaucratic hierarchy where you enjoyed greed, wealth,and privilege. And notice that in the Middle Ages, one had to embrace the humble faith of Jesus to rise up as kings, princes, and popes(and lead rather unChristian lifestyles).

It's the asme old song with a different meaning and a different beat.