November 18, 2012

Lewontin: "Is There a Jewish Gene?"

The New York Review of Books is the intellectual institution least changed since my childhood. Big names I read in the 1970s, such as Garry Wills, Russell Baker, and Joyce Carol Oates, are still writing for the NYRoB. 

Richard Lewontin, a prominent Harvard geneticist, was much incensed by the rise of sociobiology in the 1970s, co-authoring Not In Our Genes with Leon Kamin and the secret policeman's pal Steven Rose, and signing many a petition with Stephen Jay Gould. Lewontin is now 83 and is in no mood to admit that anybody has learned anything over the last 35-40 years. 
Is There a Jewish Gene? 
DECEMBER 6, 2012 
Richard C. Lewontin
Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People
by Harry Ostrer
Oxford University Press, 264 pp., $24.95         
The Genealogical Science: The Search for Jewish Origins and the Politics of Epistemology
by Nadia Abu El-Haj
University of Chicago Press, 311 pp., $35.00   
The question of ancestry has been of human concern in virtually all cultures and over all times of which we have any knowledge. Whether it be a story about the origin of a particular tribe or nation and its subsequent mixture with other groups, or curiosity about a family history, there is always the implication that we understand ourselves better if we know our ancestors and that we, within ourselves, reflect properties that have come to us by an unbroken line from past generations. As treasurer of the Marlboro Historical Society in Vermont

Marlboro, VT: sounds pretty vibrant ...
, I am the recipient of requests for printed copies of the Reverend Ephraim Newton’s mid-eighteenth-century history of our town, 70 percent of whose pages consist of “Genealogical and Biographical Notes” and a “Catalog of Literary Men.” Over and over our correspondents write of the “pride” they have in descending from these early settlers. 
Surely pride or shame are appropriate sentiments for actions for which we ourselves are in some way responsible. Why, then, do we feel pride (or shame) for the actions of others over whom we can have had no influence? Do we, in this way, achieve a false modesty or relieve ourselves of the burdens of our own behavior? As a descendant of late-nineteenth-century Eastern European immigrants I cannot depend on Reverend Newton’s pages to explain my frequent contributions to The New York Review, but neither have the extensive “begats” in Genesis 10 or Matthew 1 been more enlightening. 
My own skepticism notwithstanding, the belief is widespread that knowledge about the personal characteristics of ancestors who have never directly entered into our lives is relevant to our own formation. Moreover, that relevance is seen not simply as arising from our conscious knowledge about those ancestors, but from a deeper source, our genetical inheritance, which also would operate to form us in part, irrespective of our consciousness of the past. That belief is summed up in the title of Harry Ostrer’s book, Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People. It is also implied in the title of a book by Raphael Falk, Zionism and the Biology of the Jews, whose English translation from the Hebrew original has yet to appear. While the term “race” is not used explicitly in these titles, in large part because the term is so loaded, there is considerable discussion of the Jews as a race or, using a less charged word, as a “people.”

“Race” is a term of uncertain etymology and many meanings. It may refer to a whole species (the “human race”), a collection of loosely related individuals with a common appearance (the “white race”), a nation (the “race of Englishmen”), or a single family (“he was the last of his race”). Compounding the ambiguity is the substitution of “people” or “tribe” that seems to shed the historical fardels with which “race” is burdened. Are the Navajo a tribe, a people, or even a race?

For casino purposes, the Navajo are a "nation."
In a former time, when the classification of humans depended on manifest physical features like skin color, facial and hair form, and skull shape, members of a “race” as opposed to a “people” were claimed to be recognizable as such by the external physical features common to all individuals of the same “race.”

As opposed to today, when everybody ... well ... no doubt we're much more enlightened, but let's not go into any specifics, shall we?
In all these usages the implication is one of common ancestry tracing back ultimately to some relevant founding group, but obviously all such ancestries must incorporate members of other groups at various times in their histories. Even Cain managed to find a wife in the Land of Nod or else he married his sister. For the German National Socialists, having more than two Jewish grandparents was sufficient to define a Jew. But if every defined human group necessarily has, at any moment in its history, some ancestry from a variety of other collections of humans, how are we to delineate those groups and reconstruct their family histories?

Degree of inbreeding, obviously.
Ordinary genetics is not sufficient. Each of us has one copy of our chromosomes from our mother and one copy from our father. But of the chromosomes I got from my mother, half of those came from her mother and half from her father so, roughly speaking, I resemble my maternal grandmother only in a quarter of my genes. It doesn’t take many generations before I resemble a particular remote great-grandparent in a very small fraction of my genes. If one of my ancestors four generations ago were black

I would bet a considerable amount of money that none of Lewontin's ancestors four generations ago were black.
, there is a good chance I would have inherited none of her pigment genes or so few that they would not be apparent in my own skin color.

Because, obviously, blackness is solely about skin color.
This random inheritance of genes makes it very difficult to reconstruct the variety of ancestors in remote past generations.

But not impossible. It's a daunting statistical problem, but we're getting better at daunting statistical problems ever year. Lewontin may not be quite up to speed on post 1975 developments, but there are these things called chips, which, I've heard, keep getting faster and cheaper.
Fortunately for those interested in the reconstruction of ancestry there are two useful exceptions to the rule that we inherit only a random one of the two sets of genetic information possessed by each of our parents. One of those exceptions is the single Y chromosome carried by males but not by females. ... 
The other exception to random inheritance is not in the chromosomes, but in cellular particles called ribosomes that contain not DNA but a related molecule, RNA, which has heritable variation and is of basic importance to cell metabolism and the synthesis of proteins. Although the cells of both sexes have ribosomes, they are inherited exclusively through their incorporation in the mother’s egg cell rather than through the father’s sperm. Our ribosomes, then, provide us, both male and female, with a record of our maternal ancestry, uncontaminated by their male partners. 
Harry Ostrer, who is a professor of genetics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Raphael Falk, who is one of Israel’s most prominent geneticists, depend heavily on our ability to trace ancestry by looking at the DNA of Y chromosomes and ribosomes. Their books are responses to the widespread desire to trace that ancestry and to describe the degree to which the world’s present distribution of Jews consists, with a few possible exceptions like the Kaifeng Jews of China, of people with ancient common roots. For Falk, as the child of German Jews threatened with the Final Solution, the longing for Zion was expressed, as in his parents’ case, “primarily as a wish for relief from the persecutions and other hardships of Jewish life in the Diaspora.” For Ostrer, on the other hand, as he writes in his preface: 
Having a 3000-year genetic legacy can be a source of group identity and pride in the same way that having a shared history, culture, and religion can be sources of pride.

As Walter Sobchak noted in The Big Lebowski, "Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax* ..."
Once again we have the question of why having knowledge of remote ancestors and a shared history makes us “proud.” Is it that preening ourselves before the glass of history seems less egotistical than inspecting our images in the glass of fashion? 
The difference between the motivations of the authors is manifest in the properties each assigns to heredity. The element of “pride of ancestry” that permeates Ostrer’s text leads him, especially in his chapter on “Traits,” to extensive discussions of intellectual and professional accomplishment and the degree to which they may reflect innate biological capacity. While he can hardly be described as a naive biological determinist, it seems clear that he leans in the direction of attributing some importance to the biology of the Jews in forming their social accomplishments. He asserts that 
accidents of birth, wealth, privilege, and education are not sufficient to explain who will become outstanding lawyers or physicists. 
Nevertheless, Ostrer does not offer any evidence that the intellectual qualities that make so many Jews into lawyers and physicists are a consequence of their genetic superiority. Indeed, we know nothing about the genetics of nonpathological variation in the cognitive capacities of the brain.

Well, we didn't back in 1975. And that's what counts.
An attempt to determine whether intellectual life is genetically heritable would require a large adoption study in which infants would be reared in a controlled environment in circumstances that prevented their caretakers from knowing their family or social origins. Moreover, given the sensitivity of central nervous system development to nutritional and other external factors, the study would have to begin with newborn infants and we would still miss the effects of prenatal circumstances. We should not be surprised that such a study has not been done.

Or, we could do lots of imperfect but highly informative adoption and twin studies of naturally occurring experiments and see what those tell us. Oh, wait, those have been done ...
Ostrer’s view of the causes of the high frequency of intellectual careers among Jews is purely speculative. After more than a century of claims that high intellectual or artistic accomplishment is somehow rooted in heredity and, more specifically, in the possession of “genes for high intelligence” or “genes for creativity,” there is no credible evidence for their existence.

Well, not in 1975, there wasn't.
Indeed, the search for genetic superiority has largely given way to an extensive effort to find the genetic basis for a host of physiological debilities. There is a certain irony in claiming an undemonstrated biological superiority for a group, six million of whom were slaughtered for their claimed natural degeneracy. 
Despite this interest in the social and intellectual characteristics of Jews, to which he devotes about a fifth of his text, Ostrer’s chief concern is with the history of the Jews, as revealed in their actually known genetic similarities to and differences from other populations. These similarities and differences occur thanks to various proportions of alternative genetic forms rather than being absolute differences between populations. There is no known “Jewish gene,” and the same comments I have made about the evidence concerning genes for “high intelligence” and “creativity” apply to the existence of those properties in alternative genetic forms.

Democrats love to make fun of Republicans as anti-science, but the anti-science stance of a famous leftist scientist-intellectual goes unremarked.
... Once again, as in works on the genetics of race, we encounter the concept of an “authentic” self that lies hidden and unexpressed, but which in some sense is the essence of what I am, even if unperceived and without a basis in any scientific demonstration. The concept of a self that is an authentic essence, but not clearly perceived, suggests that my manifest properties and attitudes are a mere patina and that, in ways that I do not recognize, my inherited inner self is struggling to assert itself.

As the late David Foster Wallace said, "Although of course you end up becoming yourself."

And here's Greg Cochran on a couple of Lewontin's basic science mistakes.

-----------------
* By the way, I found this piece in the Forward charming:
Sandy Koufax Is Belle of White House's Jewish Ball 
By Nathan Guttman 
True, it was an opportunity to shake hands with President Obama, to shmooze with Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan and to count more than 30 Jewish lawmakers who showed up for the first ever White House Jewish American Heritage Month reception. 
But for many, the most thrilling moment was getting to shake hands with and ask for an autograph from baseball legend Sandy Koufax. At 75, Koufax was the biggest attraction in a room filled with accomplished Jewish Americans. Even Obama chose to make Koufax the center of the only joke he weaved into his speech. “Sandy and I actually have something in common — we are both lefties,” Obama said. “He can’t pitch on Yom Kippur; I can’t pitch.” 
The guest list at the event ... included Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader-Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, and athletes like Koufax, Olympic swimmer Dara Torres and former professional basketball player Nancy Lieberman. Among the journalists invited were Diane Sawyer, Thomas Friedman, David Brooks and Roger Cohen. And, of course, almost all Jewish senators, members of Congress and Jewish White House officials were on hand.

Koufax has always been mildly reclusive and reticent, which makes him, in an era when celebrities are out selling themselves 24x7, enigmatic and thus seemingly fascinating on the limited number of occasions when he does show up at a public event. I suspect that he would say that he just doesn't have all that much to say. I think his real secret is that he values his dignity.

99 comments:

Matthew said...

Is there a Jewish gene (or genes) or are they simply an instance of domestication?

How much do the odds of a royal flush increase if you remove all the cards valued 2-5? If Jews are playing with that deck while whites are playing with the regular deck, how many more Jewish poker players will wind up with a royal flush?

American blacks have substantial white admixture, but there are still no African-American Nobel science laureates and only one billionaire - Oprah. To me this suggests that removing "bad" genes is more important than adding some rare allele which leads to "genius."

jody said...

"Democrats love to make fun of Republicans as anti-science"

having been trained as a scientist myself, what i observe is that the democrat politicians at the national level are about as scientifically illiterate as you would expect from mediocre career lawyers.

they really don't know much about science. in particular they are totally ignorant of physics and, at this point, basic mathematics. how they have lost the faculty of algebra is interesting in and of itself, but for practical purposes, it leads the US to long term steady decline. obama himself is innumerate, and makes no sense when he talks about things involving numbers.

Anonymous said...

It's been several years now, but I remember reading once that the IDF was researching a targeted biological weapon. Some kind of virus designed to infect only those outside of the tribe. They though that there was enough of a genetic difference to do it, but I have no idea if they succeeded.

If anyone knows anything about that research, it would certainly be relevant to the question of a "Jewish gene."

TH said...

There was plenty of evidence back in 1975, too. There are few questions in behavioral science that have yielded as consistent results as that of the heritability of intelligence. IIRC, it was Lewontin (or perhaps Gould) who said back in the 1970s that adoption studies are needed to answer these questions, but once such studies were published, Lewontin et co. just ignored them. The claim that "we know nothing about the genetics of nonpathological variation in the cognitive capacities of the brain" is a preposterous lie.

Kiwiguy said...

Did Lewontin ever comment on the Cochran, Harpending & Henry paper?

anony-mouse said...

Well if he gets the umpteenth Jewish Medicine and Physiology Nobel won't he be embarrassed.

Maybe he'll use the prize money creating a math institute showing how its just a coincidence that so many Jews get Science Nobels.

Since he doesn't seem to have a job right now, I nominate Grigori Perelman for its first director.

x said...

there is more genetic variation between jews and goyim than within jews.

Anonymous said...

It's simply Darwinian: those groups that can inspire pride and loyalty in their members will continue to exist, those that don't won't. So inevitable you end up with groups that have pride and loyalty. Until leftists drive them to extinction by forbidding pride and loyalty.

Anonymous said...

Of course ashkenazi have genes that code for much higher iq than the genes white christians have. Why else would the clintons have suggested to their daughter that she marry askenazi. But it is in no one' s interest to call attemtion to this. Who whom.

Anonymous said...

The other exception to random inheritance is not in the chromosomes, but in cellular particles called ribosomes that contain not DNA but a related molecule, RNA, which has heritable variation and is of basic importance to cell metabolism and the synthesis of proteins. Although the cells of both sexes have ribosomes, they are inherited exclusively through their incorporation in the mother’s egg cell rather than through the father’s sperm. Our ribosomes, then, provide us, both male and female, with a record of our maternal ancestry, uncontaminated by their male partners.

WHAT??? Has Lewontin gone insane? None of the rRNA genes is encoded by mtDNA. And ribosomes are continuously recycled so there is absolutely no way that the original rRNAs from mother persist, to the exclusion of father's rRNA genes, in any single cell of a newborn. Way to go to confuse ribosomes with mitochondria! I can't think of anything more embarrassing for a biologist than that. This is the kind of stuff a student could get an "F" over on most exams.






kaganovitch said...

Lewontin is actually a really really bright fellow so the chances that he knows he's full of it are high. As a Marxist he thinks nothing of lying for the cause

Superman said...

It's amazing how much aggrievance that Lewontin manages to pack into an essay about science. That is probably more informative than any of the actual content of the essay.

Anonymous said...

What exactly is the dirt on Stephen Rose and some secret police org?

Anonymous said...

Most jews dont want the world to know they are genetically smarter. History of the world is one of lower iq people murdering high iq people. Think about the armenians murdered by turks for example

Anonymous said...

Jewish gene? Nah. If Alan Dershowitz and Dan Quayle had been switched at birth, Dershale would have been a nice dim-witted wasp lad while Qualowicz would have graduated at the top of his class from Harvard Law School and been a very aggressive lawyer. Has nothing to do with genes. It's all about culture and upbringing.

There aint no Negro gene. Raise some Mexican kid in the black ghetto, and he'll soon make it into the NFL.

hbd chick said...

"Is There a Jewish Gene?"

no one is saying there is "A" jewish gene.

(sheesh. he's really stuck on his own fallacy, isn't he?)

Kiwiguy said...

Actually, Lewontin's jewish gene comment reminds me of SJ Gould's "there's no running gene". As Jon Entine noted:

"Anti-race ideologues, on the other hand, posture that the public cannot grasp the nuances of population differences so they deny them altogether. As Steven Sailer has written, Darwin has enemies on the right and the left. Unfortunately, the leftwing demagogues have long gotten a pass in the media and in some corners of the academic world. The consequences of such disingenuity are serious and mounting.

Such hypocrisy was on display earlier this year in New York at a conference on race and sports. Gould, renowned for his political correctness as much as for his scientific acumen, declared that there is no "running gene," as if that somehow resolved the debate over the causes of black domination of running. Such bluster is a classic straw man. No scientist claims there is a "running gene." That’s a dodge of the real question: Do genes proscribe possibility in some sports, running most specifically, and are there some population-based patterns? The answer is an indisputable ‘yes. Scientists have already identified specific genes linked to athletic performance. In one of numerous such studies, Steven Rudich, a transplant surgeon then at the University of California at Davis, demonstrated that a single injection of the EPO gene into the leg muscles of monkeys produced significantly elevated red blood cell levels for 20 to 30 weeks. EPO is a key factor in endurance and is found in some populations more than in others."

http://www.jonentine.com/reviews/straw_man_of_race.htm

Svigor said...

Surely pride or shame are appropriate sentiments for actions for which we ourselves are in some way responsible.

Then no Jewish pride, no Israeli pride, no civic pride, no national pride, no institutional pride, no pride in our parents or siblings, etc.

Zionism and the Biology of the Jews, whose English translation from the Hebrew original has yet to appear.

I wonder if Lewontin's article has been translated into Hebrew and published in Israel? To the most needy goes the care, right?

Wesley's iocaine strategy in The Princess Bride comes to mind.

Love the title, too. Nothing like a straw man to cap the whole thing, amirite?

Anonymous said...

We cannot undertake even this brief history of the modern Jew without taking note of a phenomenon which has confounded gentile societies for twenty centuries. This is the ability of the Jewish people to collectively retain their identity despite centuries of exposure to Christian civilization. To any student of Judaism, or to the Jews themselves, this phenomenon is partly explained by the fact that Judaism is neither mainly a religion nor mainly a racial matter, nor yet is it simply a matter of nationality. Rather it is all three; it is a kind of trinity. Judaism is best described as a nationality built on the twin pillars of race and religion.

Anonymous said...

There was enough evidence for there being genes for high intelligence in 1975. Lewontin is just in the scientific subspecialty of not seein' nuthin.

Anonymous said...

He does have a point in that "pride," be it national, racial, ethnic or whatever makes no logical sense. It is tantamount to being proud for being human - a more precise or accurate statement would be mildly pleased (or giddy, it 's a matter of degree after all) with one 's good luck of being associated with a group of individuals in whose glory said one can bask unabashedly.
There is such a thing as racial pride but the word 'pride' is a misnomer. Especially in western culture pried is associated with merit - one cannot very well be proud for being born white or American any more than for throwing 'snake eyes ' while playing a game of chance.

peterike said...

one cannot very well be proud for being born white or American any more than for throwing 'snake eyes ' while playing a game of chance.

This is idiocy.

TH said...

What exactly is the dirt on Stephen Rose and some secret police org?

Steve explained it here.

Yabari James said...

Scots-Irish have increasingly become obsessed with their heritage, race, genetics. Strange from a people who push the 'race doesn't matter' line. Unfortunately for them, they have been interbreeding with non-Scots Irish since at least the times of Solomon and David, if not earlier. Even these two famous Scots-Irish were down with the swirl, as they took wives from the outside. One of the larger groups of Scots-Irish, certainly the most influential and powerful are well-mixed with European ancestry. In fact, the Palestinians who they quarrel with are of higher Scots-Irish ancestry than they, as most Scots-Irish peasantry in the region became Islamic or Christian when control of the region by the Byzantine Empire and by the Islamic Caliphate went through. In a very real sense, most people who identify with being Scots-Irish basically just took the culture and heritage upon themselves with the false premise that it is their ancestry.

Yabari Jones said...

"

It's been several years now, but I remember reading once that the IDF was researching a targeted biological weapon. Some kind of virus designed to infect only those outside of the tribe. They though that there was enough of a genetic difference to do it, but I have no idea if they succeeded.

If anyone knows anything about that research, it would certainly be relevant to the question of a "Jewish gene.""

Well, at least as a white guy, I can relax about something like that going on. The Askenazim have tremendous admixture with Europeans. I suspect that they would have to be so selective in such a project that they couldn't hurt most Euros without massive impact on their own.

Anonymous said...

"Is There a Jewish Gene?"

Yes, it's the same one as Europeans have.

Ashkenazi Jews are more European in ancestry
"Syrian, Sephardic, and Ashkenazi Jews have
European admixture ranging from 30%~60%"

Cotillion Craig said...

"

Jewish gene? Nah. If Alan Dershowitz and Dan Quayle had been switched at birth, Dershale would have been a nice dim-witted wasp lad while Qualowicz would have graduated at the top of his class from Harvard Law School and been a very aggressive lawyer. Has nothing to do with genes. It's all about culture and upbringing.

There aint no Negro gene. Raise some Mexican kid in the black ghetto, and he'll soon make it into the NFL. "


Unfortunately, your ideas have been debunked. Genes are very relevant, maybe even more than culture.

Anonymous said...

yabari james:"Scots-Irish have increasingly become obsessed with their heritage, race, genetics. Strange from a people who push the 'race doesn't matter' line. Unfortunately for them, they have been interbreeding with non-Scots Irish since at least the times of Solomon and David, if not earlier. Even these two famous Scots-Irish were down with the swirl, as they took wives from the outside. One of the larger groups of Scots-Irish, certainly the most influential and powerful are well-mixed with European ancestry. In fact, the Palestinians who they quarrel with are of higher Scots-Irish ancestry than they, as most Scots-Irish peasantry in the region became Islamic or Christian when control of the region by the Byzantine Empire and by the Islamic Caliphate went through. In a very real sense, most people who identify with being Scots-Irish basically just took the culture and heritage upon themselves with the false premise that it is their ancestry."

I think that the whole "Scots-Irish" business just jumped the shark with this one. People, that joke got old the first 1,000 times. Now, it's just annoying. Just write "Jews." We are all adults here. We can take it.

Anonymous said...

"having been trained as a scientist myself, what i observe is that the democrat politicians at the national level are about as scientifically illiterate as you would expect from mediocre career lawyers."

And yet Democrats are far better at crafting a political strategy that works for them both in the long-term and short-term.

Anonymous said...

SHOCKER.

The Atlantic profiles Obama campaign tech team in adulatory manner.

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/11/when-the-nerds-go-marching-in/265325/

Key players are all white guy nerds. SHOCKER.

Disparate Impact and absence of Afro-American and Wise Latina nerds is not addressed.

Anonymous said...

"An attempt to determine whether intellectual life is genetically heritable would require a large adoption study in which infants would be reared in a controlled environment in circumstances that prevented their caretakers from knowing their family or social origins."

and don't forget that such places would have to be without mirrors and lack of colours, or we could house them in same featured suits, if not blinding them outright.

Anonymous said...

As Walter Sobchak noted in The Big Lebowski, "Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax ..."


About a decade ago, I was in a bookstore in LA and there was a new bio of Sandy Koufax out. There's a group of three young Jews walking by. One looks at the book and says to the others, "Is Sandy Koufax Jewish? He looks Jewish." I can't help but turn my head and look over at them. The Jewish guy saw me and had a sort of guilty look on his face, and then the three of them kept walking.

Anonymous said...

Lewontin is actually a really really bright fellow so the chances that he knows he's full of it are high. As a Marxist he thinks nothing of lying for the cause

True! Except that it should be "Lewontin was actually a really really bright fellow"

Anonymous said...

Pinker's The Blank Slate spends a great deal of time chronicling the viciousness with which Lewontin and his fellow travelers attacked E.O. Wilson and the rest. Worth the read for that chapter alone.

FredR said...

Bob Silvers has been editing the publication since its inception. There was a big NY Times article a little while ago about who will take over when he dies, but it looks like until then he's going to keep the damn thing frozen in amber.

Anonymous said...

having been trained as a scientist myself

Trained where? The Khan Academy?

DaveinHackensack said...

OT Steve, but a couple of tweets from Rupert Murdoch you might find of interest:

1

2

eah said...

Lewontin authors a thesis that is now widely regarded as a fallacy (with some scientific evidence backing this up). It didn't seem to hurt his career, however.

Watson mentions, more or less in passing, that evidence shows one particular group of people has lower average intelligence, and therefore their economic prospects are gloomier (here it should be acknowledged this view is also widely regarded as a fallacy, however little actual evidence is offered to support that), and as a result he's booted out of polite scientific company.

Compare and contrast.

Seattle said...

The whole "Scotch-Irish" thing needs to be toned down a bit. Come on... use it with more reserve. A word-for-word switcheroo just seems so leftist. If you want to say something about Jews, just say it; Steve is hardly the silencing sort.

@jody..."having been trained as a scientist myself, what i observe is that the democrat politicians at the national level are about as scientifically illiterate as you would expect from mediocre career lawyers.

they really don't know much about science. in particular they are totally ignorant of physics and, at this point, basic mathematics"

By my count there's Rush Holt and Jerry McNerney, both Dems. Also, see this... http://tech.mit.edu/V132/N51/donations.html

I know, there are problems with this, it doesn't say who the 'employees' are- could be many admin types. But even taking into account liberal power in academia, Republicans are holding their own in the battle for stupid.

Anonymous said...

As treasurer of the Marlboro Historical Society in Vermont, I am the recipient of requests for printed copies of the Reverend Ephraim Newton’s mid-eighteenth-century history of our town, 70 percent of whose pages consist of “Genealogical and Biographical Notes” and a “Catalog of Literary Men.” Over and over our correspondents write of the “pride” they have in descending from these early settlers.

What did he expect?

jack strocchi said...

Lewontin said:

Over and over our correspondents write of the “pride” they have in descending from these early settlers. Surely pride or shame are appropriate sentiments for actions for which we ourselves are in some way responsible. Why, then, do we feel pride (or shame) for the actions of others over whom we can have had no influence? Do we, in this way, achieve a false modesty or relieve ourselves of the burdens of our own behavior?...

...Once again, as in works on the genetics of race, we encounter the concept of an “authentic” self that lies hidden and unexpressed, but which in some sense is the essence of what I am, even if unperceived and without a basis in any scientific demonstration. The concept of a self that is an authentic essence, but not clearly perceived, suggests that my manifest properties and attitudes are a mere patina and that, in ways that I do not recognize, my inherited inner self is struggling to assert itself.


Lewontin is getting it seriously back to front. In fact geneological conservatives tend to dismiss the concept of the authentic genetic "self". The notions of gene pool and kin-selected altruism are inherently historicist and collectivist.

It is sociological constructivists who tend toward a version of boot-strapping liberal individualism, notwithstanding that "it takes a village". How else are we supposed to manage these continuous make-overs that make-up life in the post-modern era?

In truth we are not wholly or even mainly responsible for our achievements and failures. Most of which are legacies that just fell into our lap.

The concept of the autonomous self-made "I" is a myth, a useful one no doubt. "I" am a temporary address, built mostly by others.

"I" am the confluence of two familial tributaries, which determine the major part of my identity. "I" self-evidently have no causal power over the constitution of these inherited genetic characters. Yet "I" am stuck with them and must do the best "I" can.

These characters in turn are flowing through a vast cultural ecology, for which "I" can claim no credit. The achievements of a civilization are the product of a long history of team work, set against which the work of one individual is puny.

When "I" feel pride in my ancestors achievements what is really happening is that my ancestors within "me" are giving themselves a pat on the back.

If "I" have any sense I will faithfully reproduces my ancestral masters voice and hope that my descendants do the same for "me".

Genes or memes are pretty much exclusive and exhaustive functional determinants. And neither are created by the so-called autonomous "self". As a Jewish cartoonist once observed in the New Yorker:

"Nature or Nurture, whichever way you cut it, its your mother's fault."

jack strocchi said...

Anonymous 11/18/12 7:38 PM saud:

one cannot very well be proud for being born white or American any more than for throwing 'snake eyes ' while playing a game of chance.

This is true so far as it goes, its no achievement for one individual to be born as a White American.

He does have a point in that "pride," be it national, racial, ethnic or whatever makes no logical sense. It is tantamount to being proud for being human.

No, collective pride makes exact logical sense. Its methodological individualism that is nonsense, at least where heritability is the causal conduit.

Some degree of ancestral pride (whether racial or cultural) does seem in order for some achievements. For instance, the entire White American gene pool & meme stream deserves a polite golf gallery round of applause, at least for producing the Monterey golfing peninsula.

Genes are tag-teams, guys. Just get over it.

Steve Sailer said...

It seems pretty odd for a well-read Harvard professor to still be this clueless at age 83 about group pride.

jack strocchi said...

PS If you are not proud to be a human then what can you be proud of? Somehow, by a series of happy accidents, fortuitous co-incidents and the grace of who-knows-what we, as a species, have managed to climb out of the trees and take over the earth. So much so that these days we can even find time to care for our less fortunate organic brethren, both within and without our own species.

Name one other species that has managed to chock up a record like that. Shakespeare was right.

jack strocchi said...

PPS And of course the more exclusive the gene pool, the more intense the feeling of ancestral pride (or shame, in some cases) for any given natural or cultural achievement.

So the Jews, being a somewhat exclusive genetic club, must feel very proud indeed, given the manifestly superior achievements of their relatively small race. Their race is a form of family trust and too much inclusivity would dilute the "share register".

But they try hard not to put the genetic pride about. That diminishes the memetic side of things and also might excite the envy or fear of gentiles. It also appears to accept the brute Darwinism of their most notorious tormentor.

Its an odd ideological position to be in, which goes some way to explain the contortions that otherwise very smart Jewish intellectuals put themselves into when they come to grips with the problem.

Simon in London said...

anon:
"Way to go to confuse ribosomes with mitochondria!"

Truly incredible. A quick look at wikipedia would have set him right.

Conatus said...

"All is race, there is no other truth" said Sidonia the Semitic superman in Disraeli's novel, Tancred. Benjamin Disraeli, the Jewish Prime Minister of England in the 1860s played the drums on the album Disraeli Gears(or was that Ginger Baker?).
Just Kidding....Disraeli was a huge philoSemite and in an age of full throated racism he touted the superiority of the Jewish race in his novels.
According to Paul Johnson on P.323 of a History of the Jews, Disraeli said he was descended 'in a direct line from one of the oldest races in the world, from that rigidly separate and unmixed Bedouin race who had developed a high civilization at a time when the inhabitants of England were going half naked and eating acorns in the woods.'
So perhaps in the Sixties while the hippies were playing Euell Gibbons and munching on acorns in the woods, like wide eyed prey animals, the Semitic Supermen were concocting disparate impact laws and regs to facilitate the hippies racial replacement.

Anonymous said...

'Of course ashkenazi have genes that code for much higher iq than the genes white christians have. Why else would the clintons have suggested to their daughter that she marry askenazi. But it is in no one' s interest to call attemtion to this. Who whom."

Funny troll you are ... I mean who would marry his daughter? Only the the son of a career white collar criminal ashkenazi whose own options probably weren't all that great either.

Didn't the guy's father serve hard time for fraud ... some triumph of genetic breeding... the child of one criminal marries the child of another...ugh

Planetary Archon said...

"Well, at least as a white guy, I can relax about something like that going on. The Askenazim have tremendous admixture with Europeans. I suspect that they would have to be so selective in such a project that they couldn't hurt most Euros without massive impact on their own."

That's true, though I'd imagine the Israelis are less concerned with getting payback at the Germans than the Arabs who are after them right now. I doubt it would work--Jews are related to Arabs, too.

Still, much as I hate to underestimate the Chinese, I hate to underestimate the Jews even more...

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Re: Tech Team Obama

If the white guy nerds pictured in The Atlantic article are representative, it's no wonder the tech industry is trying to get more Punjabis, Han and Koreans. Those men are all obese, sedentary and pre-diabetic.

Unless Sailer's friend's ballerina-matchmaking service really notches it up, white nerd culture won't reproduce itself.

Cameron C. said...

"Its an odd ideological position to be in, which goes some way to explain the contortions that otherwise very smart Jewish intellectuals put themselves into when they come to grips with the problem."

-It seems odd to us, but you have to remember they have much higher group cohesion and have cast themselves as a minority group when it is convenient. So they can discuss these things in private more readily with members of their in-group than we could with a group of our white acquaintances, since we have to censor the hell out of our discussions in private that one of our white acquaintances may well start pointing and sputtering 'racist!' and go off crying to your employer.

Being able to do this allows them to agree to a public face for such things, while maintaining thoughtful rational discussions in private.

Its actually a major advantage accorded pretty much all minority groups in the US, which the white majority are deprived of.

Anonymous said...

http://takimag.com/article/the_men_who_taste_jews_in_their_sandwiches_jim_goad/print#axzz2Ce8NULzK

Anonymous said...

"Way to go to confuse ribosomes with mitochondria!"

Truly incredible. A quick look at wikipedia would have set him right.


Simply, that is a very sad face of senility. Can happen to anyone. Of course Lewontin used to know everything a geneticist needs to know about mtDNA. It is completely impossible that he did not.

Anonymous said...

Steve, thanks for the post.

FredR said...

Although it doesn't come up in the piece itself, I assumed that the title "Is there a Jewish Gene?" was in response to Sarrazin's inelegant remark from a couple years ago "All Jews share a certain gene."

FredR said...

Great comment by Strocchi. A rigid focus on individualism makes a lot of normal human behavior difficult to explain.

Paul Mendez said...

It's been several years now, but I remember reading once that the IDF was researching a targeted biological weapon.

That was the plot of a BBC mini-series a few years ago. Except it was the British government that had created a virus that targeted Moslems, not the IDF. Can't remember the name, but it was quite entertaining, actually.

Rohan Swee said...

Cotillion Craig: Unfortunately, your ideas have been debunked. Genes are very relevant, maybe even more than culture.

I hope there's a gene for literal-minedness, or some relatively simple causal mechanism, 'cause I want to start a March of Dimes to identify it and come up with a cure for this terrible scourge.

Anonymous said...

Disraeli liked literary flourish, but his conception of his ancestry doesn't stand up to modern scholarship. The archaeological evidence summarized in Finkelstein and Silberman suggests that the Hebrews derived from highland-dwelling Canaanites. Their "wandering Aramean" or "bedouin", to use Disraeli's terminology, were long behind them. And the ancient Hebrew kingdoms were rather small and poor.

Severn said...

I'm with Lewontin here. The notion that there is some special "Jewish gene" which confers great intellectual gifts on those who possess it founders on the reality that the only "Jews" who actually seem to possess any intellectual gifts are European Jews - and Europeans seem to be the most intellectually gifted of the worlds peoples.

If the magic was contained in the fragments of the genes which all Jews have in common then we should expect to see some groundbreaking advances in science coming from Iraqi Jews or Iranian Jews or Ethiopian Jews.

The empirical evidence indicates that what makes "Jews" smart is that the "Jews" in question are European, not that they are "Jews".

Severn said...

Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax ..


I think it's safe bet that whatever Moses and Koufax had in common, genes were not high on the list.

Severn said...

So the Jews, being a somewhat exclusive genetic club, must feel very proud indeed, given the manifestly superior achievements of their relatively small race. Their race is a form of family trust and too much inclusivity would dilute the "share register".


Jews are about as exclusive a racial club as Catholics or Protestants.

Severn said...

Disraeli said he was descended 'in a direct line from one of the oldest races in the world, from that rigidly separate and unmixed Bedouin race who had developed a high civilization at a time when the inhabitants of England were going half naked and eating acorns in the woods.'

It's a strange thing that the Jewish supremacists and the critics of Jewish supremacists are in full agreement on that score. They differ only in what they think follows from their identical underlying belief.

jody said...

right on cue, the innumerate obama administration:

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/treasury-secretary-geithner-lift-debt-limit-infinity

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the old guys of the Lewontin-Gould school say about the heritability of homosexuality. What's politically correct seems to have changed on that since 1975. I bet they're stuck in the past, which should be amusing if they ever enter into that minefield unawares.

Svigor said...

He does have a point in that "pride," be it national, racial, ethnic or whatever makes no logical sense. It is tantamount to being proud for being human - a more precise or accurate statement would be mildly pleased (or giddy, it 's a matter of degree after all) with one 's good luck of being associated with a group of individuals in whose glory said one can bask unabashedly.
There is such a thing as racial pride but the word 'pride' is a misnomer.


On a personal level, I agree with the sentiment that it's more about gratitude than pride. Which is still RACISM!!!, of course.

But no, he doesn't have a point. Pride in one's national, racial, or ethnic membership makes perfect "sense." And your parallel isn't a parallel; pride in a group depends on there being competing groups; "human" is a nonsensical parallel until we find an intelligent alien life or something.

Especially in western culture pried is associated with merit - one cannot very well be proud for being born white or American any more than for throwing 'snake eyes ' while playing a game of chance.

Wrong. Did you even look up the word you're blathering about before you waded into the discussion? "Association" crops up in the positive sense in many, if not most, definitions of the word.

Svigor said...

Unfortunately, your ideas have been debunked. Genes are very relevant, maybe even more than culture.

He was kidding. In fact, it was so obvious that I feel like I'm now the one being obtuse.

It seems pretty odd for a well-read Harvard professor to still be this clueless at age 83 about group pride.

In my experience, his sentiments are so commonplace among leftists (of the racial kind, many "conservatives" and "libertarians" included) as to be boilerplate. This is the default view of anti-racists. By definition, its holders are unwilling to even crack a dictionary before reciting it.

Anonymous said...

"Jews are about as exclusive a racial club as Catholics or Protestants."

That's clearly wrong, at least as it relates to the Ashkenazi. I've read that any two random Ashkenzi are as related as third or fourth cousins. There was apparently quite a bottleneck when they developed in Europe during the Middle Ages.

Anonymous said...

"That was the plot of a BBC mini-series a few years ago. Except it was the British government that had created a virus that targeted Moslems, not the IDF. Can't remember the name, but it was quite entertaining, actually."

Almost certainly "Spooks", a BBC series where the villains were the usual suspects - fundamentalist Christians, neo-Nazis, evil "Establishment", white supremacists - the sort of people who'd let bombs off in London.

elvisd said...

"Jews are about as exclusive a racial club as Catholics or Protestants."

Christ,I've got nothing against jews, but that's just bullshit. Christianity is by definition a proselytizing faith with over a billion adherents all over the world. Quit talking this crap.

dingdong said...

Of course ashkenazi have genes that code for much higher iq than the genes white christians have. Why else would the clintons have suggested to their daughter that she marry askenazi. But it is in no one' s interest to call attemtion to this. Who whom.



That's not a given. Heisenberg did much of the reseach on which that poster boy Einstein based his fame. The Apollo project was the work of von Braun and colleagues, all Germans. Etc. Goy are just not as nepotistically organised and market themselves far less. Christianity generally increases the intelligence of people, it's both obvious from theology and practice. That's one of the reasons the church is so hated.

Sideways said...

Marlboro, VT: sounds pretty vibrant ..

Local public elementary school is 100% white, apparently.

Joe Six-Pack said...

"Jews are about as exclusive a racial club as Catholics or Protestants."

Judaism is basically an ideology of race, the religious festivals like Chanukkah, Purim and Passover is to remember the "persecutions" they suffered in the hands of the Greeks, Persians and Egyptians.

Marlowe said...

Moreover, given the sensitivity of central nervous system development to nutritional and other external factors, the study would have to begin with newborn infants and we would still miss the effects of prenatal circumstances.
-- Lewontin

Which affords an excellent opportunity to supply the following anecdote concerning the great American science fiction editor John W. Campbell, recalled by the equally famed sf writer Alfred Bester (author of The Demolished Man & Tiger! Tiger! among other works). During the early 1950s although fully aware of Campbell and having submitted stories to Astounding magazine, Bester had never met the man in person. Full of admiration & respect for his ability Bester felt excited when the great man made the offer for him to come over to the offices of the magazine, even though it meant a trip to the less than salubrious surrounding of New Jersey:

The editorial offices were in a grim factory that looked like and probably was a printing plant. The 'offices' turned out to be one small office, cramped, dingy, occupied not only by Campbell but by his assistant Miss Tarrant. My only yardstick for comparison was the glamourous network and advertising agency offices [for whom Bester worked on NYC TV shows]. I was dismayed.

Campbell arose from his desk and shook hands. I'm a fairly big guy but he looked enormous to me, about the size of a defensive tackle. He was dour and seemed preoccupied by matters of great moment. He sat down behind his desk. I sat down on the visitor's chair.

'You don't know it,' Campbell said, 'you can't have any way of knowing it, but Freud is finished.'

I stared. 'If you mean rival schools of psychiatry, Mr. Campbell, I think-'

'No, I don't. Psychiatry, as we know it, is dead.'

'Oh come now, Mr. Campbell. Surely you're joking.'

'I have never been more serious in my life. Freud has been destroyed by one of the great discoveries of our time.'

'What's that?'

'Dianetics.'

'I never heard of it.'

'It was discovered by L. Ron Hubbard, and he will win the Nobel peace prize for it,' Campbell said solemnly.

'The peace prize? What for?'

'Wouldn't the man who wiped out war win the Nobel peace prize?'

'I suppose so, but how?'

'Through Dianetics.'

'I honestly don't know what you're talking about, Mr. Campbell.'

'Read this,' he said, and handed me a sheaf of long galley proofs. They were, I discovered later, the galleys of the very fist dianetics piece to appear in Astounding.

'Read them here and now? this is an awful lot of copy.'

He nodded, shuffled some papers, spoke to Miss Tarrant and went about his business, ignoring me. I read the first galley carefully, the second not so carefully as I became bored by the dianetics mishmash. Finally I was just letting my eyes wander along, but was very careful to allow enough time for each galley so Campbell wouldn't know I was faking. He looked very shrewd and observant to me. After a sufficient time I stacked the galleys neatly and returned them to Campbell's desk.

'Well?' he demanded. 'Will Hubbard win the peace prize?'
[continued]

Marlowe said...

'It's difficult to say.Dianetics is a most original and imaginative idea, but I've only been able to read through the piece once. If I could take a set of galleys home and-'

'No,' Campbell said. 'There's only this one set. I'm rescheduling and pushing the article into the very next issue. It's that important.'

He handed the galleys to Miss Tarrant.

'You're blocking it,' he told me. 'That's all right. Most people do that when a new idea threatens to overturn their thinking.'

'That may well be,' I said, 'but I don't think it's true of myself. I'm a hyperthyroid, an intellectual monkey, curious about everything.'

'No,' Campbell said with the assurance of a diagnostician, 'You're a hyp-O-thyroid. But it's not a question of intellect, it's one of emotion. We conceal our emotional history from ourselves although dianetics can trace our history all the way back to the womb.'

'To the womb!'

'Yes. The foetus remembers. Come and have lunch.'

Remember, I was fresh from Madison Avenue and expense account luncheons. We didn't go to the Jersey equivalent of Sardi's, '21', or even P. J. Clark's. He led me downstairs and we entered a tacky little lunchroom crowded with printers and file clerks; an interior room with blank walls that made every sound reverberate. I got myself a liverwurst on white, no mustard, and a coke. I can't remember what Campbell ordered.

We sat down at a small table while he continued to discourse on dianetics, the great salvation of the future when the world would at last be cleared of its emotional wounds. Suddenly he stood up and towered over me.

'You can drive your memory back to the womb,' he said. 'You can do it if you release every block, clear yourself and remember. Try it.'

'Now?' [a touch of Teri Garr in Young Frankenstein]

'Now. Think. Think back. Clear yourself. Remember! You can remember when your mother tried to abort you with a button hook. You've never stopped hating her for it.'

Around me there were cries of 'BLT down, hold the mayo, Eighty-six on the English, combo-rye, relish, coffee shake, pick up.' And here was this grim defensive tackle standing over me, practicing dianetics without a licence. The scene was so lunatic that I began to tremble with suppressed laughter. I prayed: 'Help me out of this, please. Don't let me laugh in his face. Show me a way out.' God showed me. I looked up at Campbell and said, 'You're absolutely right, Mr Campbell, but the emotional wounds are too much to bear. I can't go on with this.'

He was completely satisfied.

'Yes, I could see you were shaking.' He sat down again and we finished our lunch and returned to his office. It developed that the only changes he wanted in my story was the removal of all Freudian terms which dianetics had now made obsolete. I agreed, of course; they were minor and it was a great honour to appear in Astounding no matter what the price. I escaped at last and returned to civilization where I had three double gibsons and don't be stingy with the onions.
-- Hell's Cartographers, 1973

Matthew said...

"Almost certainly "Spooks", a BBC series where the villains were the usual suspects - fundamentalist Christians, neo-Nazis, evil "Establishment", white supremacists - the sort of people who'd let bombs off in London."

Was this the same show as "MI-5" - the one where the Americans were always considered as likely an enemy as Al Quaeda? Because it was bloody goddamned awful...


Kiwiguy said...

@ eah,

James Watson seems to have been rehabilitated. He's been interviewed in several major media outlets over the last few years. He still speaks at conferences.
He's also still active Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as Chancellor Emeritus.

unix said...

"There was plenty of evidence back in 1975, too. There are few questions in behavioral science that have yielded as consistent results as that of the heritability of intelligence"

I was a member of Mensa when I was v. young, in the 70s; mostly just because I was curious to see if I could get in. The local welcoming committee was a young guy my age, with an IQ about 160, higher than mine by a couple standard deviations, though mine was in the upper one percent. Anyway, he talked about social issues in a bemused sort of way, without great passion or rancor. He was smart enough what findings were worthy of study, and he was the one who told me--in 1976--that intellgence was most heredity, and that the evidence that races tended to group around a different mean IQs was overwhelming. He would never have argued it. He just knew. Nothing has changed. They absolutely knew in 1975, and any other observations have only confirmed it. He would have profiled as a classic liberal, except that he had religious leanings, but the religion of choice was a world-embracing one based on equality. He was wise enough to know that "equality" does not mean everybody's the same intelligence. It means equality before the law, and evaluated on merit, not race.

Anonymous said...

dingdong:"That's not a given. Heisenberg did much of the reseach on which that poster boy Einstein based his fame. The Apollo project was the work of von Braun and colleagues, all Germans. Etc. Goy are just not as nepotistically organised and market themselves far less. Christianity generally increases the intelligence of people, it's both obvious from theology and practice. That's one of the reasons the church is so hated."


MMMM, seeing as how Heisenberg was born in 1901, and Einstein's annus mirabilus was in 1905, I'm not sure exactly how Heisenberg's research managed to be of any significant use to Einstein. Of course, I'm no expert.

Anonymous said...

There aint no Negro gene. Raise some Mexican kid in the black ghetto, and he'll soon make it into the NFL.

Or be a 50% chance of being overweight just like the other racial construct.

Anonymous said...

"It is tantamount to being proud for being human"

or say neanderthal.
Neanderthal pride, africa excepted, worldwide.

"Of course, I'm no expert."

Poincare etc?

David Davenport said...

The Apollo project was the work of von Braun and colleagues, all Germans. ...

No, Baron Von Braun and his cohort were strictly propulsion -- rocket engines for the launch missile.

Other men proposed and designed the Apollo capsule and the Lunar Excursions Module, and overall Apollo systems architecture.

From Wikipedia:

The Lunar Module (originally designated the Lunar Excursion Module, known by the acronym LEM) was designed after NASA chose to reach the Moon via Lunar Orbit Rendezvous (LOR) instead of the direct ascent or Earth Orbit Rendezvous (EOR) methods. Both direct ascent and EOR would have involved landing a much heavier, complete Apollo spacecraft on the Moon.

Von Braun wanted the "Direct Ascent" method. Direct ascent meant that the Earth-to-Moon-and-back spacecraft would also land on the Moon, as in classic science fiction. Direct ascent would have required a missile bigger than the Saturn V. Getting funded to build a launch missile close to 400 feet tall would have suited Von Braun and his Huntsville group just fine.

Once the decision had been made to proceed using LOR, it became necessary to produce a separate craft capable of reaching the lunar surface and ascending back to lunar orbit. The Lunar Module was built by Grumman Aircraft Engineering and was chiefly designed by the American aerospace engineer, Tom Kelly.[4] Grumman had begun lunar orbit rendezvous studies in late 1950s and again in 1961. In July 1962, eleven firms were invited to submit proposals for the LEM. Nine companies responded in September, answering 20 specific questions posed by the NASA RFP in a 60-page limited technical proposal. Grumman was awarded the contract two months later.

And the overall architecture for the Apollo missions was set in 1962-63. Men landed on the Moon in 1969. Compare that time frame to the amount of time needed to complete more recent civil engineering projects.

Jim Bowery said...

Did Lewontin _seriously_ ask "Is there a Jewish gene?"???

You'd thin that after they named a fallacy after him, he'd get the idea that pushing that fallacy so nakedly -- and about _Jews_ no less -- is less likely to stimulate a serious reading of what he has to say than an instant chortle. Indeed, I didn't have to get beyond reading Steve's title for this post to uncontrollable chortling. It really did interfere with my ability, let alone desire, to read further.

Severn said...

"Jews are about as exclusive a racial club as Catholics or Protestants."

That's clearly wrong, at least as it relates to the Ashkenazi.


Ha ha. Ashkenazi are to Jews as Irish are to Catholics.


I've read that any two random Ashkenzi are as related as third or fourth cousins.

Don't believe everything Jews try to tell you. I'm sure you don't, about other subjects, so why so gullible here?

Anonymous said...

Severn,

That estimate of genetic relatedness among Ashkenazim is supported by the experiences of 23andMe customers. Ashkenazi Jews and people with partial Ashkenazi ancestors who use their Relative Finder service end up with thousands of people who demonstrate identical by descent DNA fragments of length equivalent to what would be expected in 4th or 5th cousins. Most of these people have no traceable genealogical relationship within the past several generations.

From 23andMe's website:

"In fact, we estimate that any two randomly chosen individuals who identify as Ashkenazi are on average the genomic equivalent of 4th-5th cousins, because they share many recent common ancestors."

How Many Relatives Do You Have?

See also:

The Moment Magazine Great DNA Experiment

children's crusade said...

Steven Rose has an immature mind. A while back one of those "Understanding [X]" series of illustrated pop-philosophy books came out, this one loosely about Evo Psych, and Rose's demented followers went into UK bookstores and pasted bitchy little stickers inside the copies disputing some trivial quotation of Rose. Apologies if I've told this story before.

stari_momak said...

"Engineering and was chiefly designed by the American aerospace engineer, Tom Kelly.[4] "

[Non]-Scots Irish??

Anonymous said...

In population genetics, when we are trying to identify characteristic genes, we look for the genetic markers that account for the majority of the variation. For example, if every winning poker hand has a 2 of spades, and 50% of them have a queen of diamonds, we would consider those cards more characteristic of winning hands.

So Lewontin's "Jewish Gene" would actually be a set of markers that are present in the majority of Jews. Has anyone actually identified such a set of markers?

Anonymous said...

11/20/12 3:38

Lewontin knows this even if he doesn't want to admit it because of his ideological biases. The title refers to Thilo Sarrazin's remark a few years ago that "Jews all share a certain gene." He may not even have chosen the title himself. Derbyshire has written that in certain venues, the titles for his articles have been supplied by the publication rather than by him.

As for a set of markers present in a majority of Jews, yes, at least for Ashkenazim. 23andMe estimates Ashkenazi ancestry using such a set of markers. But having a set of relatively characteristic markers is not unique to Ashkenazim or any other relatively inbred population. What further makes the Ashkenazim unique is their hybrid-ness relative to both Europeans and northern Middle Easterners.

David Davenport said...

Tom Kelly appears at about 5:05 minutes into this NASA Presents: Science Reporter: Landing On the Moon film from 1966.

The first five minutes describe the multi-piece vehicle architecture which was not Von Braun's preferred style of travelling to the Moon.

White men in suits and ties ... drawings of heroically strong-jawed astronauts. Larry Auster would approve.

Severn said...

That estimate of genetic relatedness among Ashkenazim is supported by the experiences of 23andMe customers. Ashkenazi Jews and people with partial Ashkenazi ancestors who use their Relative Finder service end up with thousands of people who demonstrate identical by descent DNA fragments of length equivalent to what would be expected in 4th or 5th cousins.


Goodness me! A fourth or fifth cousin!

Just fyi, fifth-cousins are people who share a great-great-great-great-grandparent. A very large proportion of the people in any ethnic group (which as we know is an extended family) are going to be fourth or fifth cousins, often without even being aware of it.

We all have sixty-four great-great-great-great-grandparents. All it takes is for one of those sixty-four to carry the markers associated with Ashkenazi Jews for their descendants to be "partial Ashkenazi", even if the other sixty-three are not even slightly Jewish.

The problem here is the assumption that "markers" equals substantial genetic content. We all carry a fair amount of "genetic markers" reflecting our direct paternal and direct maternal line. But these can and frequently do tell us little about the person in question.

Henry Louis Gates had his genes analyzed and discovered that he carries the "marker" for the O'Neil family. It doesn't make him Irish. It does make him a little bit Irish - but the one-drop rule is only used for Blacks and Jews.

There are no generic studies on other groups similar to those carried out by Jews on Jews. (Because that would be racist!) But if a study was carried out on, let's say, the Irish, we should expect to find similar results to those found in Jews - that a very high proportion of them would bear the genetic markers at least one of their sixty-four great-great-great-great-grand-parents.

Severn said...

From your web-site:

Our ability to detect a person’s distant cousins is also influenced by the ancestry of the individual. If you are Ashkenazi Jewish, you may have noticed that 23andMe’s Relative Finder feature shows you over a thousand cousins. This is because Ashkenazi Jews are more closely related to each other than a random sample of European-Americans


Notice the slight-of-hand there? Why are Ashkenazi Jews contrasted to a "random sample of European-Americans"? It's a statistical certainty that Swedish-Americans are far more closely related to each other than to "a random sample of European-Americans". The same is true for every single subgroup of European-American ancestry - of which Jews are only one.

The remark cited above reflects a Jewish perspective of the world, in which the total population is divided into Jews on the one hand and undifferentiated non-Jews on the other. But there's nothing logical or rational about that perspective.


Over the past several hundred years, a cultural tendency to choose marriage partners of the same ethnicity (also known as endogamy) means that Ashkenazi individuals are more likely to share the same ancestors.

Up until very recently, everybody in the world tended to marry people of the same ethnicity, for lack of other choices as much as anything else. Sixteenth century England did not feature a lot of Wessex women marrying guys from West Africa. Nineteenth century Irish peasants married other Irish peasants and not shopkeepers from Latvia. Endogamy was the human norm. It still is, just a little less so.

Severn said...

From your Moment Magazine article:

"Most of the (Jewish) individuals we tested were directly related to one another. This finding far exceeds the three degrees of separation found between most Americans".

This is like the logical error of comparing Ashkenazi Jews to "Europeans", only worse. They now profess their wonder at the fact that Ashkenazi Jews are a lot more closely related to one another than a Polish-American is related to an African-American or a Chinese-American!

It's understandable in a sense that Jews would try to push such nonsense. It helps build Jewish solidarity. What's not understandable is why so many non-Jews are eager to swallow it.

David Davenport said...

Sorry, here's the link for NASA Presents: Landing On the Moon:

landing-on-the-moon-1966

Very nostalgic

Matthew said...

"Just fyi, fifth-cousins are people who share a great-great-great-great-grandparent."

A set of great-great-great-great grandparents, unless they are half fifth-cousins.

"the first ever White House Jewish American Heritage Month reception. "

Are British-Americans going to get our own ball at the White House in honor of a Congress-designated "heritage month"? If so, how well will it go over with the media, or will it be dismissed as "racist?"

Just so happy these poor, powerless, dipossessed Jews could get their own ball, and their own month.

Anonymous said...

children's crusade said...
Steven Rose has an immature mind. A while back one of those "Understanding [X]" series of illustrated pop-philosophy books came out, this one loosely about Evo Psych, and Rose's demented followers went into UK bookstores and pasted bitchy little stickers inside the copies disputing some trivial quotation of Rose.

Sounds like Scientologists that steal or vandalize from public libraries books critical of Scientology.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the Jewish gene, but there is certainly a Jewish genius for disinformation.

Anonymous said...

If Jewishness is a just a social construct, would Lewontin be for Israel admitting any number of converted Jews?

Mr. Anon said...

"dingdong said...

Heisenberg did much of the reseach on which that poster boy Einstein based his fame."

That is ahistorical nonsense. Einstein's last great work was published in 1918, in which year Heisenberg was still a gymnasium student. Heisenberg wouldn't invent his quantum mechanics until 1925.

"The Apollo project was the work of von Braun and colleagues, all Germans."

Von Braun and his team oversaw the launch vehicles for Apollo - the Saturn I and Saturn V. They were involved in design, testing, and fabrication of many of the elements of those rockets - propulsion, guidance, avionics, structures, etc.

They didn't design or build the CSM or lunar lander (they did have a hand in the lunar rover, however).

This is not to minimize their accomplishments, which were considerable. Von Braun's team were undoubtedly the leading rocket engineers in the world, but they by no means did everything.