Lewontin wins the Crafoord Prize


The Crafoord Prize for 2015 was awarded to Richard Lewontin and Tomoko Ohta,  for their discovery that there was very much more genetic variation that had been expected.  Lewontin discovered this using protein gel electrophoresis to study a number of loci in Drosophila.  It’s an important result.  The problem is, virtually everything he’s said and done since that time has been a pile of steaming ideological crap.  He has argued that the distribution of genetic variation in humans (more within-population variation than between-population variation) means that populations can’t really be very different.  Except for skin color ( just a few alleles), height (Pygmies exist and really are short), brain volume,  etc etc.  The argument is crap: you need to look at allele frequencies weighted by their phenotypic effects.  One funny allele like EDAR370a  contributes an infinitesimal amount to interpopulation genetic variation, but it sure makes a difference.  Mild differences in the frequency of a few hundred alleles can cause big differences in highly polygenic traits.  I’ve talked about this, here and here.

Lewontin has criticized adaptationism, but as far as I  can see, that was all crap too – not least The Spandrels of San Marco ( a big paper by Lewontin and  Stephen J. Gould, yet another graduate of Commie Martyrs High School) .  I am of course not  joking in calling Lewontin a Marxist – he says so himself – and it matters, because Marxism makes you stupid. Not just a fanboy of mass murderers – it fucks you up.  Lysenko was a feature, not a bug.

Which is why he does silly things, like oppose hybrid seed corn as a creation of the bloated lackeys of the imperialist toy-mongers.

Why he does he deny the results of behavioral genetics, particularly the high heritability of IQ?  The same reason that Marc Feldman does – because he doesn’t like those results, what else?  There’s nothing like bringing up an argument that could be true in some other world, but just happens not to be in this one.  Couldn’t populations that do poorly in one environment have superior performance in another?  Sure – but there’s no existing environment where that reversal actually happens. The rank-ordering on IQ is the same everywhere.

For a long time, Richard Lewontin has done his level best to increase the sum total of misinformation in the world, not without success.  That’s what I used to think, anyhow – but there may be another explanation.

This complicates the question of  suitability for the prize. Generally, being some kind of asshole is not considered relevant in considering this kind of prize.  That seems fair:  it’s the work that matters, not your bad breath or devotion to the Lost Cause.  But what is the right course when the same person who did the excellent work spend most of his career trying to corrupt that same field?

Others have faced a similar question:  what’s the right way to acknowledge Benedict Arnold’s  early contributions to the American Revolution, before his treason?


This statute commemorates Arnold’s service and wounding at the battle of Saratoga – without mentioning his name.


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79 Responses to Lewontin wins the Crafoord Prize

  1. MEH 0910 says:

    “Holy Mudhead, Mackerel! More Science High, it’s, it’s disappeared!”

  2. Philip Neal says:

    “One of the elements of the cultural revolution was the terror. Joravsky, after a thorough analysis, concludes that: ‘Any way one searches it, the public record simply will not support the common belief that the apparatus of terror consciously and consistently worked with the Lysenkoists to support their cause.’ He points out that the general class divisions between geneticists and Lysenkoists would, in any event, result in more geneticists suffering under a revolutionary terror. While that is undoubtedly true, it must also be the case that the existence of a revolutionary terror, the preponderance of Lysenkoists among state officials, and occasional veiled suggestions by Lysenkoists that they did have access to the organs of terror, would be quite sufficient to inhibit the overt activities of geneticists. Speculation on the way the revolutionary terror might have operated if there had been no historical and class divisions between Lysenkoists and geneticists really misses the point that the struggle was in large part a class conflict.”

    From Richard Lewontin and Richard Levins, The Problem of Lysenkoism in
    Hilary Rose and Steven Rose eds. The Radicalisation of Science: Ideology of/in the Natural Sciences (London, 1976), p. 51

    There is plenty more where that comes from.

    • Sean II says:

      “…the preponderance of Lysenkoists among state officials, and occasional veiled suggestions by Lysenkoists that they did have access to the organs of terror, would be quite sufficient to inhibit the overt activities of geneticists.”

      This sounds awfully familiar.

      Funny how the “organs of terror” don’t work that much better than the “organs of tenure denial”. You can pretty much get the job done with either.

      • j says:

        It is a mistake to attribute Soviet Lysenkoism to terror. State officials sensed that if Western genetics was right and the environment had no effect on inheritance, then the hundred and fifty books of Hegel, Kropotkin, Marx, Engels, etc. were sheer nonsense and the Revolution had been a bad mistake and they were imposing suffering on the people in name of an impossible utopia. They truly believed that genetics cannot be true. Many Western politicians and educator still act on that belief. Sans terror.

    • Toddy Cat says:

      This is like saying, “Hitler didn’t kill certain physicists because they believed in relativity; he did it because they were Jews!” Talk about a distinction without a difference…

      • ursiform says:

        Many non-Jewish physicists lived, while very many non-physicist Jews were killed. There is no difference only if you view the situation very narrowly.

        • Toddy Cat says:

          Well, many non-class enemy geneticists lived, while very many non-geneticist class enemies were killed. The point is, a lot of innocent people ended up dead, the Lysenkoists were on the side of the killers, and the Lysenkoists and the killers used each other for their own nefarious purposes, and Lewontin seems to be interested in defending the honor of people who sided in with, and made use of, ideological mass murderers to advance their own theories and careers.

    • Unladen Swallow says:

      One of his books he co-authored with some other like minded fools was dedicated to Friedrich Engels. Nothing like dedicating a book to your religious icon.

  3. mindswarm says:

    It is a consolation to realize that our historian descendants will likely have been PGD’ed for IQ and non-crazy character traits, will be more literate (by inclination, and by access to newer data) than our contemporaries, and thus in a position to narrate current events and actors in a comparatively fair-minded light.

    Lewontin will have passed on by then, however. I wonder how he will pass judgement upon himself, on his deathbed.

  4. John Hostetler says:

    A high proportion of even their best minds have an extraordinary propensity to construct legalistic, quasi-theological castles of air, and an attraction for such intellectual edifices erected by their predecessors.

    In the end, with a few exceptions, a great mind is not truly open to reality as it is, rather than as it is desired to be, without a little ANE and a lot of WHG.

  5. James Graham says:

    As to that “The Marx Brothers Go to Church” paper, here’s my own modest contribution.


  6. RCB says:

    I remember early in my anthro undergrad years hearing about a “genetic principle” of “non-concordance.” I have since taken up the study of genetics, and, surprisingly, I haven’t yet heard this term (except in twin studies, but with a very different meaning). This post piqued my curiosity: what was all that non-concordance stuff about, and where did it come from? A quick google search yielded this interview (on a special website devoted to race) with Jonathan Marks: http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-01-08.htm

    Here’s the relevant part:

    Q: “What is non-concordance and what does it tell us about race?

    “By non-concordance, what we mean is that different individual traits in the human species don’t share the same patterns of variation across geographic space. Skin color for example, varies with latitude. Certain people have brown hair and blue eyes. Other people have blond hair and blue eyes. And even though there’s a statistical association of those particular features, they’re not invariably expressed with one another….

    “Traits are non-concordant because genes are inherited independently of one another to a large extent… We don’t find large clusters of relatively homogeneous people.”

    The term is used elsewhere in the PBS series. Alan Goodman mentions the “facts of non-concordance” in the same sentence as the “facts of biology.”

    Looking around a bit, I had trouble finding “non-concordance” in any serious genetic paper. One is tempted to conclude that it is a fancy word made up by someone with a particular political message, who happened to know little about genetics.

    In any case, it’s an interesting piece of logic and observation. Apparently the concept of race requires concordance (how much? no mention) between a lot of traits (how many? no mention), but this isn’t seen, therefore no race. If “concordance” is taken to mean “moderate correlation,” then this is pretty obviously false, so Marks requires it to mean “invariable [co]expression.” Science!

    The genetic justification seems to go as follows: because of Mendel’s second law (which is false for linked genes), genes assort independently during inheritance. It follows that there should be no group-level or geographical correlation between different loci or quantitative characters. This is so fallacious that I found it hard to believe that Mr. Marks could actually be a geneticist. Imagine my delight when I looked up his blog and found that he described himself as a “faux geneticist.” Indeed!

    • gcochran9 says:

      At a meeting of physical anthropologists, I once heard Marks give a talk, on how how physical anthropologists could learn by listening to people like him. I wanted to incite a revolt – images of physical anthropologists bearing torches and storming the castle filling my head – but an older and wiser colleague prevailed.

  7. Toddy Cat says:

    “but an older and wiser colleague prevailed.”

    Regrettable – always follow your first instincts.

    • I’ve been wanting to write a book about what my life would have been like if I’d given in to my first impulses/instinct. But if I’m realistic, the book’s too short, and if I’m not, it’s a fairy tale.

  8. RCB says:

    As bad as Lewontin’s stuff is, at least he’s not Gould. If hell exists, it probably has a tape of Gould reading The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, playing on indefinite repeat.

    • L says:

      I still have a book from Gould (unfortunately) sitting on my drawer waiting to be burned on a special occasion.


      It serves as a constant reminder of ideology’s sway over science in modern times.

      • magusjanus says:

        I’m still shocked Pravd-, sorry, I mean the NYT let someone like Wade do his thing for so long in the science column. It was like a regular dose of reality in amidst the madness. He has since left of course knowing full well it’d be untenable to continue after saying the unsayable in his book.

        That said, I must confess to having been a bit underwhelmed at meeting him at a dinner. I’m not sure if he was playing things close to the vest but he was quite adamant about denying IQ differences in different population groups. He insisted the differences in outcome were due to behavioral selection (time preference, aggressiveness, outgrouping, social trust, etc.)

        I couldn’t tell if this was usual “i cant say what it really is due to social status” or if he actually meant it with regards to no IQ differences. Maybe he’s trying the long game of just getting a little bit by the intellectual censors with behavioral differences and is focusing on that. I don’t know.

  9. Cloudswrest says:

    I remember the “bloated lackeys …” cartoon from National Lampoon. If I recall the Chicoms were shooting down Santa Clause.

  10. MawBTS says:

    He has argued that the distribution of genetic variation in humans (more within-population variation than between-population variation) means that populations can’t really be very different.

    Has anybody except for evolutionary biologists used this approach for…anything?

    No electricians think you can measure the difference between two loudspeakers by the variation in their resistor mass. No programmers think you can measure the difference between two computer programs by loading their code into an array and calculating the precise variation of the terms used.

    Heck, you can take either of the two sentences in the above paragraph and turn them into their exact opposites by changing one word (“No” to “All”). How is DNA any different?

    • RCB says:

      The statistic in question is F_ST. This tells you what proportion of the variation is between groups, rather than within. One can apply this to quantitative characters as well as genes. For example, suppose we have population A and B. Suppose that A is a bit taller than B on average, but both show enormous variation within the group. Then F_ST would be very low. In practice, this means that, if I told you someone’s group affiliation, you would not be able to estimate his height very accurately. In contrast, if everyone in a group is the same height, then all variation is between groups, and group membership is very informative about height.

      What Lewontin found was that racial membership is not informative for most protein polymorphisms, I believe. I believe this is true for DNA variation, as well. In other words, if you tell me you are black, I will usually not be able to accurately predict your genotype for a randomly selected SNP.

      If, however, we take the full genome as a package (or just a large number of SNPs), one can usually identify ancestry with very high accuracy. That’s why 23andme works. It’s also why small allele frequency differences across a bunch of small effect alleles can lead to large group-level differences in polygenic phenotypic traits.

    • JayMan says:


      “Heck, you can take either of the two sentences in the above paragraph and turn them into their exact opposites by changing one word (“No” to “All”). How is DNA any different?”

      Great example! Perhaps one of the best I’ve seen.

  11. I don’t know about Lewontin, but a thought regarding Benedict Arnold’s legacy might be helpful.. There are groups which have an obvious interest in playing up the positives and downplaying the negatives: family, hometown, school. Nearly everyone would apply some discount to a statue identified as erected by Arnold’s descendants. We don’t expect them to be quite objective. Institutions which we do expect objectivity from, such as national museums or textbook editors, we should hold to a standard of overall merit. If those are generally accurate, but a park statue in Norwich plays up his virtues, I don’t see how we are harmed.

    I don’t have an equivalence for this in science awards.

    • AnonymousForGoodReason says:

      Well said.

    • John Hostetler says:

      Merit at the highest levels – the idea is nice. Could be a problem though in a nation in which the president received a Nobel based on his melanin content and the bare fact of being elected, with any accomplishments lying ahead. A nation featuring the annual communist hagiographic festival celebrated yesterday. A nation with a merit-class reduced almost to slavery now.

  12. ursiform says:

    In fairness, Greg, blind allegiance to any ideology, in conflict with facts, makes people stupid. Marxism isn’t that special.

    • IC says:

      Most loyal base or fundamentalist for any ideology or religion are often displaying low SES (social economica status). This applies to both left and right. As we know, low SES is often associated with low IQ. Stupidity (or low IQ) is a factor for such loyalty.

      Ideology or religion also is useful for stupid people to use as guidance to judge the world around them. A mutual need between ideology, religion and idiocracy works together so well. The real world is too complicated and difficult for them to handle.

      These idiots will turn any thing into politics or moral judgement based on religion. So they can feel good about themselves.

      Intellectual ideologues like these scientists are weak followers of any ideology. So authority from any ideology or religion really do not trust intellectual well. The first step of any dictator for consolidation of power is killing intellectuals.

    • Sean II says:

      What makes Marxism special is its track record. It’s like a blue chip among bad ideas. It has collapsed and been rebuilt so many times, one can always count on another bailout.

      This makes it a very safe place to invest one’s blind allegiance. Especially if you happen to be a assistant professor playing the odds, looking for something that will please – or at least not offend – your reviewers.

      You’re right to think some other empty pseudoscience, like Freudianism say, could in principle have caught on the same way, but it just didn’t. Too much sex talk for the yokels, one suspects. Also harder to stir up politically useful conflict, since the trench line there runs between boys and girls. Like the man said: too much fraternizing.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        Marxism was also special in that it actually succeeded in seizing power in some very important countries, and in using the security apparatus of these states to try and enforce their lunatic theories. Of course, I have no doubt that, had the Scientologists or some other bunch of loons actually gotten control of a large country, they might have done just as badly, but the point is, they didn’t. Only the Commies and Nazis managed to do this, and the Commies lasted a lot longer.

      • stalin says:

        This makes it a very safe place to invest one’s blind allegiance.

      • dearieme says:

        “It’s like a blue chip among bad ideas.” Well said. I can think of another but its proponents might want to chop my hands off. Or my head.

    • Sandgroper says:

      Do you mind if I pirate that and use it elsewhere? It’s a perfect statement of what I think.

      • IC says:

        It is honor to violate my intellectual property. The patent or intellectual property is really bizarre for human being. Without learning from each other, how can we get breakthrough in science or techs?

        Standing on the shoulders of giant (who looks like giant due to standing on others).

  13. Harold says:

    “more within-population variation than between-population variation”
    I think I must be the only person who doesn’t even know what this means.
    How do you measure the amount of genetic variation within a population?
    How do you measure the amount of genetic variation between two populations?
    I don’t mean how can it be done practically, but how it is defined ideally.
    I would like someone to explain this to me.
    Preferably in terms understandable to someone who has a high school education, but has forgotten it.
    Wikipedia says, “Genetic variation within a population is commonly measured as the percentage of gene loci that are polymorphic or the percentage of gene loci in individuals that are heterozygous.”
    Which both, isn’t anything like what I was expecting, and doesn’t make sense.

    • Sean II says:

      You don’t actually need to understand it because as commonly used, it’s just a cheap rhetorical trick. Here’s what almost everyone means when they say that:

      The difference between Harold’s height (probably) and Larry Bird’s height = 1 foot, disfavoring you. The difference between the average height of males in Harold’s group and the average height of males in China = 3 inches, disfavoring the latter. Plus, Yao Ming is really tall.

      When people invoke Lewontin’s fallacy they’re trying to use the fact that 1 foot > 3 inches to make you think 3 inches = 0, or more precisely that 3 inches = an insignificant difference. Usually they’re also trying to use a Yao Ming type outlier to make you forget the average exists, or that it matters.

      If not for that politically helpful application, no one would still be talking about Lewontin’s fallacy. It’s not a natural or intuitive error. It’s tailor-made to suit one specific purpose.

    • RCB says:

      Here’s the math: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixation_index

      For intuition:

      (1) Suppose you have two groups of people, group A and group B. Everyone in group A is 6 ft tall. Everyone is group B is 5 ft tall. Now, if we look at the total population as a whole, we see variation: not everyone is the same height. But all of that variation is “between groups,” because, within groups, everyone is the same. F_ST=1.

      (2) Now suppose that group A and group B have the same mean height, but with lots of variation within groups. i.e. there are tall people, short people, etc. Now there is lots of variation, and none of it is explained by group membership. F_ST=0.

      Contrary to Sean’s claim, F_ST isn’t just a tool for political obfuscation. It’s commonly used as a way to measure genetic differentiation between populations, either for one particular locus or many. It also arises in pop gen models: for multiple populations without migration, F_ST slowly increases toward 1 for neutral loci under drift.

      • Sean II says:

        Right, but that’s why I said “as commonly used”, right there at the beginning. It seems like the thing Harold wishes to understand is the popular fallacy, not the correct use of Fst.

    • Matt says:

      My hazy understanding of FST is that it is meaningful, but as it is just one number it is a lossy qualitative description of differentiation.

      Say you have population A, then two other populations, B which differs from A by having a subset of A’s phenotypes / genotype (but every phenotype in B can be found in A), and C, where every individual has a subtly different phenotype from every individual in A and no individual in A matches C. Both of these states would increase FST by some amount, yet are very different.

      There is a distinction in the nature of differentiation which can be lost simply through looking at FST alone.

  14. Sean says:

    Most of those who chose him for that prize are neither Marxists nor share his ethnic identity. So the only possible explanation is he actually he got the prize because the people he won it fair and square not because “Irrefutable Right “has been overcome by “Irresistible Might”.


    “The difference between Left and Right actually has less to do with hope and memory than with the conception of human nature as basically good or basically troubled. In the former case, as for example in the writings of Rousseau or Marx, the innate goodness of humans is alienated or crushed by some external corrupting force— whether agriculture, metallurgy, society, ideology, or capital. In the latter case, as in the works of Hobbes or Carl Schmitt, the human being is viewed as a basically dangerous entity, and hence an iron fist is preferred to the innate corruption and disorder of our natures. […]

    Power Politics also comes in both Left and Right flavors, though it is perhaps more common on the Right. For Hobbes, nothing can be permitted to transcend the Leviathan. To appeal to a religious truth beyond the edicts of the State, or even to a scientific truth beyond such edicts, is to risk a bloody civil war of all against all. Transcendence is therefore forbidden. In the case of Schmitt, politics begins only in the sovereign’s decision that it is no longer possible to reason with one’s enemy, so that an existential struggle commences. We see Left versions of this Power Politics in various postmodern theories that dispense with the category of truth altogether.[…]

    When Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer claim that the power of Hobbes outstrips the truth of scientist Robert Boyle, Latour suddenly intones: “No, Hobbes was wrong!” This is not because Boyle was right instead, but because both Hobbes and Boyle are wrong— by reducing the world either to Irrefutable Right or Irresistible Might. Both truth or power are employed by turns to efface the always uncertain play of political networks, in which rhetoric and proof, strength and weakness, all stand on the same footing.”

  15. It’s certainly symptomatic of the behavioral sciences that Lewontin, one of the kingpin enforcers of the Blank Slate orthodoxy in its heyday, is still receiving prizes, while the one man who was by far the most effective and influential in demolishing that orthodoxy, Robert Ardrey, has become something of an unperson. According to the current version of “history,” the Blank Slate was taken down by E. O. Wilson, but everything significant he had to say on the subject had already been said by Ardrey, Lorenz, and others more than a decade before he published “Sociobiology.” Ironically, his own place in “history” is now subject to revision because of his whole-hearted embrace of group selection.

    As for the continuing revision of Lewontin’s place in “history,” I recently came across an article at 3QD whose guileless author actually claimed he “wasn’t a Blank Slater.” You’d think the title of his book, “Not in Our Genes,” would be something of a tipoff, not to mention the fact that he has always been a bitter and consistent foe of anything smacking of evolutionary psychology or the claim that “human nature” exists beyond the acts of urinating, defecating, and breathing. Read “Not in Our Genes,” and you’ll get a taste of the methods Lewontin and the other high priests of the Blank Slate used to enforce their “science.” In short, it amounted to intimidation, vilification, and denunciation for such familiar sins as “racism” and “fascism.” By all means, shower him with prizes. Allow me to take this opportunity to nominate him for “Hero of Soviet Labor.”

    • Jay says:

      In the early 1980’s Lewontin presented a lecture at LSU the sole message of which was that human behavior was not influenced by genetics, not at all. The anthropologists in attendance were enthralled. I couldn’t understand how Lewontin could fail to realize that over time he would be proven to be more like Lysenko than like Dobzhansky. That will be the judgment of history, the Crafoord Prize notwithstanding (Who takes seriously the elite of a country that is committing demographic suicide?). Lewontin’s role will be that necessary, but minor, one of presenting wrong ideas that the scientific process can assess and discard.

      But why are the Goulds and Lewontins so ready to make public spectacles of themselves by espousing refutable PC nonsense? That Marxism made them stupid seems not general enough an explanation. I prefer the hypothesis that Ashkenazi have a high frequency of a genetically-determined psychological module that facilitates the presentation of demonstrable falsehoods in a dogmatic fashion without a trace of embarrassment. What evolutionary psychological adaptation could be better for moneylenders, peddlers and tax farmers?

  16. Hipster says:

    I’m hoping that someone here can recommend me a good introduction to a no-nonsense history of Indo European people/culture/language.

    I have read The Horse, The Wheel, and Language (http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8488.html) and am working my way through The Aryans (https://archive.org/details/TheAryansAStudyOfIndo-europeanOrigins), but I feel like I have gone into the deep end before learning to swim here.

    Can anyone help me get my bearings a bit better before diving in head-first?

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      It’s changing so much right now just following blogs like this might be best for the time being.

      • Hipster says:

        I have been reading blogs like Dienekes, Gene Expression, Eurogenes, etc. for years actually, but as a layman, most of the time I am left extremely confused as several things I am unsure of are compared to each other.

        “X Person’s idea that Y Region was home to Z culture was firmly disproven by A Person (X person is such an idiot) because clearly B pottery has nothing at all in common with the typical pottery of Y region.”

    • We are all in the same boat as you are Hipster. We want to read more history books on this subject that are up to date and we can’t find any. Perhaps, just perhaps, our fearless leader is working away on giving the clamoring masses just one more book on this subject.

  17. Sandgroper says:

    I just don’t understand how someone can stand to button up his collar that tightly.

  18. Brian says:

    Generally, being some kind of asshole is not considered relevant in considering this kind of prize. That seems fair: it’s the work that matters, not your bad breath or devotion to the Lost Cause. But what is the right course when the same person who did the excellent work spend most of his career trying to corrupt that same field?

    Indeed, if one were to trace back the origins of the attack on anyone who hypothesizes that heritability matters, (hence promoting dysgenics by default), one would find the giants on whose shoulders Lewontin stood tended to be of a similar background. Why? Why would people who have one of the highest degrees of heritable IQ advantage, go to such trouble to render thought about heritability of IQ a mortal sin for everyone else?

    To ask is to answer.

  19. jabowery says:

    You know what would be even more frightening than a Marxist suppression of scientific recognition of genetic influences on cognitive differences among human groups?

    Some group that, being in possession of high IQ genes, used its advantage to get all other groups to live in moral terror of thinking that any group might have high IQ genes.

    I sure am glad nothing even remotely like this is going on or we’d be headed down a dysgenic drain while the high IQ group conquered the world.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I guess that explains the super-high Ashkenazi intermarriage rate. Make more sense.

      • jabowery says:

        So, as John McCarthy might tell us “He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense.” Let’s talk about the arithmetic of the super-high Ashkenazi intermarriage rate — resulting in an exponential decay of Ashkenazi microevolution, vs the super-high fertility rate of certain Ashkenazi communities like the one in Kiryas Joel, NY resulting in an exponential growth of Ashkenazi microevolution. It certainly is plausible that the attractions of secular wealth would tend toward a brain-drain of communities like the Hasidim. On the other hand, a situation in which birth rates do not exploit the provisions of the environment is evolutionarily unstable and the Hasidim of Kiryas Joel have demonstrated a conscious awareness that intelligence can be turned toward exploiting those provisions.

        My apologies for not having the numbers available with which to take a ratio and thereby provide a rational argument that makes sense of a topic so prone to mass cognitive dissonance.

    • AnonymousForGoodReason says:

      And the smarter they are, the fewer the kids, and the higher the intermarriage rate.

      Just look at how the average Democrat or Republican experiences cognitive dissonance in any disagreement. It’s genuine, it’s powerful. The more partisan, the more psychotic.

      Well, a lot of these guys have strong feelings of partisanship. The dissonance writes itself.

  20. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    This paper is causing some people in some areas to get excited:

    New Developmental Evidence Clarifies the Evolution of Wrist Bones in the Dinosaur–Bird Transition

    It seems that they have never heard of Phlogiston nor Caloric nor the Luminiferous Ether.

    (It seems that if some evolutionary biologist ever said something that turned out to be wrong, the whole edifice crumbles.)

  21. Flinders Petrie says:

    Is it just me, or do Lewontin and Gould share a striking physical resemblance? They could have easily been fraternal twins. It’s almost as if they share certain genes that control physical traits.

    But that can’t be correct, because Rich and Steve’s in-group genetic variation is greater than the variation between them and everyone else. So it follows that there are people out there from any conceivable population – Australian Aborigines, Bantus, Pygmies, Yanomami – who are virtual doppelgängers of these two famed scientists.

    Isn’t it funny how nobody has noticed that one Mbuti guy who looks just like Gould? It must be all of our efforts in fighting the epidemic proportions of Tay-Sachs disease in Pygmies that has diverted our attention.

  22. melendwyr says:

    There are valid reasons to oppose modern hybrid corns. Merely noting that a supporter of a strange idea is a flake isn’t a valid indictment of the idea.

    • gcochran9 says:

      No, there aren’t.

      • melendwyr says:

        The leaf blight epidemic in the 1970s, which caused millions of dollars in losses and bankrupted many smaller farmers, is attributed to uniformity of the cytoplasmic DNA in almost all of the existent modern hybrids available at the time. They hybrids had been made with three closely-related inbred lines serving as the maternal source, and so a particular fungus managed to decimate the crop.

        • gcochran9 says:

          I happen to know a lot about this – Southern Corn Leaf Blight. it wasn’t “the 1970s” it was 1970, when ~15% of the corn crop lost – all hybrids that had Texas male sterile cytoplasm. The problem was gone after 1970 – the seed companies switched to lines with normal cytoplasm.

          “sterile cytoplasm’ mean that the line didn’t produce pollen (because of a mitochondrial mutation), eliminating the need to have kids detassel the corn (which you need to do to ensure hybrids by preventing self-fertilization.

          Where I lived, it rained so much that summer (11 inches in July – I had to mow the lawn six times) that it washed off all the spores. The local farmers had record crops while the country as a whole had a shortage. They made a ton of money – and still complained about the weather.

          But since you have brought up the interesting topic of mitochondrial male sterility, you have served me in your despite.

          • melendwyr says:

            Yeah, now corn is based on six inbred lines, instead. The issue isn’t male sterility, although some people argue it’s dooming the crops we’re manipulating with the trait in the long-term. Like garlic. The problem is the massive genetic uniformity of modern hybrid corns.

            There were similar issues with modern Asian rice strains and a disease against which they had poor resistance (details elude me at the moment). The solution came from tracking down a single family who had maintained their own line, and which happened to have the traits necessary to fight off the illness.

            The loss of genetic diversity in our food crops has been and continues to be a real problem. Your argument that there are no reasons to oppose corn hybrids isn’t just wrong, it’s absurd.

          • Stan D Mute says:

            So the problem isn’t with hybrids, it is with everyone using the same hybrid. Losing one crop in agriculture (or one segment of one generation in fauna) isn’t the end of the world.

            Wasn’t there an old parable about this? Something about eggs and baskets?

  23. Hipster says:

    For other laymen intrerested in learning more about Indo Europeans, I found a wonderful video of the author of The Horse, The Wheel, and Language giving a presentation that I’ve loved.

  24. jef says:

    Good to see the Firesign Theatre is not forgotten. They can still be heard on utube.

  25. George says:

    Lord the envy drips off the page! This is a classic example of a mediocre hack sniping at someone with more talent and success. I love how the blogger grudgingly admits that Lewontin deserves the award while insinuating that this research was a freak anomaly in a sea of ‘misinformation’. The fact of the matter is you don’t win the Crafoord, get elected to the National Academy of Sciences, or publish influential papers in top journals unless you are a damn good scientist and you are respected by your peers consistently.

  26. Pingback: “Cooked!” – spottedtoad

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