Open thread 8/8/2012

By Razib Khan | August 8, 2012 12:01 am

The nature of the restrictions of the comments are relatively free-form on this post. You should maintain some decorum as usual. But you can post links, ask me or other readers questions, etc.


Comments (23)

  1. Solis

    Does the higher genetic diversity in sub-Saharan Africans explain why mixed children of blacks + other couples usually look more black than anything?

    As in, the higher number of genetic characteristics overwhelms those of the other parent and allows them to be present in the child.

  2. Has anyone with more than a passing understanding of the subject read through Stanford and Bradley’s ‘Across Atlantic Ice’? And, if so, what’s the consensus on the Solutrean Hypothesis at this point? The book made a bit of a splash at release and then just died down…

  3. qohelet

    What the hell is up with the new ‘Khazar-affirming’ study that Dienekes has up? His take is pretty fair, but I stress the point of one of his commenters—how could Ashkenazim be sizeably Khazar if they’re so close to Sephardi and Moroccan Jews? Moreover, it seems like the paper makes no attempt to investigate what the genetic makeup of Khazars might be, irresponsibly equating Caucasus/Northern Middle Eastern ancestry with Khazar influence.

  4. mrmandias

    What’s your take on the idea that East Asian populations show more neoteny and this might be related to their elevated levels of conscientiousness and shame and etc.

  5. Does the higher genetic diversity in sub-Saharan Africans explain why mixed children of blacks + other couples usually look more black than anything?

    that they look ‘more black’ is subjective. e.g., if you look at skin color on reflectance machines you notice that ‘lightening’ genes have a moderately dominant effect! in a similar vein, europeans often thinking eurasians look ‘more asian’ and asians think eurasians look ‘more european.’ you anchor onto differences. so i think this is a question of psychology, not genetics.

  6. #3, i need to check it out more closely. i’m moderately skeptical.

    #4, i’m more skeptical of neoteny as an explanation for things in general. but do you have a paper which i can check out? here is my question about group differences: can you see the difference in family-based studies? if not, then i’m skeptical of correlation between traits across groups.

  7. jose

    Any thoughts on the widespread use of “Kinesio” tape in the Olympics? It’s impossible not to notice how many athletes have covered themselves with these oddly irregular strips of tape. My assumption is it’s a quack fad and the new magnetic bracelet, but it seems to be incredibly popular among the athletes.

  8. Jay

    Hi Razib,

    I’ve been following Gene Expression for some time and very much admire your work.

    I wonder if you’re familiar with reddit?

    There is a section there called IAmA where notable (and sometimes not so notable) people answer questions from users. It is pretty popular. You can have a look here:

    Would you consider doing anything like that? I’m sure it would garner quite a bit of interest.

  9. Ed

    Is it really an unspoken truth of anthropology that East Asians are more androgynous than other races?

  10. Chip Smith has a sizable roundup of links on reactions to Unz. But readers should be warned that his site has the tagline “Recreational Thoughtcrime for Restive Shut-ins”, with plenty of links to offensive & nsfw material.

  11. Kiwiguy

    With the Olympics currently on, I note that this French journalist has a book out on group differences in sprinting.

  12. #8, not sure that my own style of interaction is optimal for reddit. notice that a lot of redditers are angry that i’m a dick to commenters when they link.

  13. Sandgroper

    I’m just looking through some pics of Alysson “Chicken Legs” Felix winning the women’s 200m at the London Olympics.

    I love her. I tipped her to win this event long before the Olympics – unfortunately, I did it on Facebook, not here, so I can’t prove it. But what finally did it for her was scrapping the 400m and training for the 100m as well as the 200m, to sharpen up her starts. She has always been a fabulous finisher. If I exclude two people who to my mind were almost certainly dopers, Alysson is the fastest woman ever over 200m in the modern Olympic era. Giving benefit of the doubt and assuming they weren’t, she’s third fastest.

    5’5″ and skinny – figure that out.

  14. Darkseid

    yes! I was admiring her for the past week. she’s not built like the other (manly) women. she’s feminine and articulate yet so FAST. wow. and to be that dominate for that long is amazing.

  15. dave chamberlin

    Here’s a question that hopefully is good enough to warrant an answer and maybe even a thread topic in it’s own right. What percent of the out of school public reads books. And here is a follow up snide question, why are non fiction books a small sub category of fiction books rather than nonsense books being a small sub category of reality based books. The real follow question would be what percent of the out of scho0l public reads non fiction books. I can only speak for myself but thanks for being of enormous assistance in leading me to a wide range of well written non fiction books which I otherwise would not have known about. I’ve witnessed your blog evolve over the years to more of a keep on the cutting edge of genetics kind of blog rather than a blog for dilettantes like me who just love reading the best non fiction. That’s cool, you and guys like Dienekes want to be the science news, not just report on it and I expect the two of you will have increasing success in doing just that. Whenever time allows I hope you can continue to write up your thoughts on quality non fiction books, it is a niche that is sadly quite empty.

  16. Karl Zimmerman

    16 –

    Men read a lot less than women. However, most of the difference seems to be due to fiction, which (outside of some genres like science fiction) men don’t really read at all. Men are thought to dominate non-fiction reading however.

  17. Joe Q.

    Razib, I would be interested to know generally what your “day-job” is. This is purely out of a sense of curiosity (i.e., which part of an obviously bright and prolific polymath’s daily activities end up paying the bills?) The biographical sketch in the sidebar provides a couple of past details, but I’m still curious.

  18. Hallie Scott Kline

    To anyone who understands: I am reading the paper to which the “Human on human Sex” post refers. I am somewhat familiar with the issue and the controversies. Did early moderns mate with Neandertals… where and when… how does this affect the test results of various populations today… etc. But am I missing something (I’m sure I’m missing quite a bit, but I mean am I missing something very basic)… what is the meaning of “structured” when the paper says ” sub-Saharan Africans harbor deep lineages that are consistent with a highly structured
    ancestral population”

  19. Sandgroper

    My understanding of ‘structured’ is that there was geographical separation of sub-populations within Sub-Saharan Africa, such that there was genetic differentiation between the sub-populations. I take ‘highly structured’ to mean that there was geographical isolation of the sub-populations for long periods of time, such that this resulted in ‘deep’ lineages (‘deep’ meaning going a long way back into the past) which were genetically distinctive from one another.

    If anatomically modern humans had evolved by 200,000 years ago, ‘deep’ would suggest something of the order of 10s of 1,000s of years.

    That’s my layman’s grasp of it.

  20. #20, yep. so if you variation across structured african populations, and you sample from ONE of those populations to create eurasians, and, that ancestral population had already had gene flow with neanderthals, then the sampled population would already have signatures of ‘neanderthal admixture’ because of their ancestral african genetic background. the way reich et al. discern that this is not the case is that they find signatures of LD decay, which tends to be the case when there was a punctuated admixture event between two very distinct populations. e.g., african + european => african american.

  21. Hallie Scott Kline

    Thx Razib and Sandgroper. Reading various papers and posts, I’ve seen similar phrasing (even wondered at first if a “highly structured ancestral population” might be one that was highly stratified—lol, as if paleo-royalty and paleo-peons could forever keep hands off each other). So if I understand correctly, this structured ancestral population refers to two or more isolated, distinct groups—AMH and archaics, for example—who do not mingle. (Except, of course, for when they did, if they did. It’s tantalizing to consider it, and to anticipate your speculation about possible positive results.) I’ll be all ears. Thx for clarification.

  22. Douglas Knight

    I redid some of your graphs.

    Your post Verbal Intelligence by Demographic consisted of graphs of interpolations of wordsum distributions. The data wasn’t very smooth and the interpolation produced ugly curves. I redid religion and bible as points + loess curves.
    Mainly I did it to be a cheerleader for R and its Hadley Wickham dialect. They aren’t any better for the color-blind, a topic discussed on that thread.

    Here’s my code:

    wordsum <- read.csv("generalsocialsurvey.csv")

    wordsum.temp <- wordsum[c("Score", "Catholic", "Protestant", "Jewish", "No.Religion")]
    wordsum.temp <- melt(wordsum.temp, id.vars="Score", variable_name="Religion")
    wordsum.religion <- rename(wordsum.temp, c(value="Percent"))
    #qplot(Score, Percent, data=wordsum.religion, color=Religion, geom=c("point","smooth"))
    qplot(Score, Percent, data=wordsum.religion, color=Religion, geom=c("point","smooth"), se=F)+opts(legend.position="top")

    wordsum.temp <- wordsum[c("Score", "", "", "")]
    wordsum.temp <- melt(wordsum.temp, id.vars="Score", variable_name="Bible") <- rename(wordsum.temp, c(value="Percent"))
    qplot(Score, Percent,, color=Bible, geom=c("point","smooth"), se=F)+opts(legend.position="top")


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This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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