Chasing references – help!

I believe I recently saw a mention of an article about regional brain differences in Europe, but I’m having trouble locating it. Maybe I dreamed it?

Also, I definitely saw an article by some utter dipshit, a professor of philosophy, about how you were genetically closer to other races than to your own. I have to find this again. Interested also in any other references on that particular crazy idea.

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39 Responses to Chasing references – help!

  1. JayMan says:

    Right here:

    Bakken et al 2011, mentioned in JayMan ArchiveBlog View
    200 Blog Posts – Everything You Need to Know (To Start)


    As for the second thing, don’t know about a paper but there is this Twitter thread with this “brilliant” guy

  2. IC says:

    Found one. Not sure whether this is what you need.

    We found that both skull and brain morphological variation exhibit a population-genetic fingerprint among individuals of European ancestry. This fingerprint shows a Northwest to Southeast gradient, is independent of body size, and involves frontotemporal cortical regions.

  3. cloudswrest says:

    Well there was this from awhile back from jamesd127

    ‘“The Root of the Phylogenetic Tree of Human Populations” by Masatoshi Nei and Naoko Takezaki, Institute of Molecular Evolutionary Genetics, which tells us that the genetic distance between human populations is of the same order of magnitude as the genetic distance between humans and chimps, and that not all human populations have evolved at the same rate, with humans in environments very different from that of the common ancestor of man and chimp evolving substantially faster than humans in environments resembling that of the common ancestor of man and chimp.”

    • gcochran9 says:

      “is of the same order of magnitude as the genetic distance between humans and chimps”


    • Ursiform says:

      “H. sapiens seem to be the only species which has a worldwide distribution and whose genetic distances among different geographical populations are very small.”

      The paper hardly supports the conclusion that there are large genetic distances between human populations.

  4. garr says:

    Did Jimi Hendrix get his SciFi-nerd gene through the Northern European part of his ancestry from Neanderthals, or was the SciFi-nerd gene already present in the ancestral African population?

  5. Jim says:

    Maybe the professor is genetically close to a sea slug. He doesn’t seem much brighter.

  6. Patrick Boyle says:

    I too seem to remember reading about someone claiming that you were closer to other races than you were to your own. So, good news, you are not crazy. But alas I tend not to remember the details of every loony notion I run across.

  7. Anon. says:

    I recommend setting up a private wiki (AKA a “Personal Knowledge Base”). Anything that catches your eye, you stick it in there.

  8. TWS says:

    Isn’t that kind of like Lewontin’s Fallacy?

  9. ckp says:

    Humans of the same sex are 99.9% genetically identical. There is extremely little variation between human geographical populations, and most of the variation that does occur is at the personal level within local areas, and not between populations.[140][171][172] Of the 0.1% of human genetic differentiation, 85% exists within any randomly chosen local population, be they Italians, Koreans, or Kurds. Two randomly chosen Koreans may be genetically as different as a Korean and an Italian. Any ethnic group contains 85% of the human genetic diversity of the world. Genetic data shows that no matter how population groups are defined, two people from the same population group are about as different from each other as two people from any two different population groups.[140][173][174][175]

    • ckp says:

      The rest of the section is similarly full of slant and half-truths, but is this what you’re looking for?

    • gcochran9 says:

      “Two randomly chosen Koreans may be genetically as different as a Korean and an Italian.” – never true, of course.

      Humans have the second-largest morphological variation of any mammalian species, after dogs. It’s fun seeing people try to argue it away.

      There is quite a bit of variation in average intelligence – from highest to lowest population, three or four standard deviations.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        That Wikipedia entry seems to simply be a very wordy restatement of Lewontin’s Fallacy.

      • epoch2013 says:

        “after dogs”

        It has never ceased to amaze me how my dog knows that a yorkshire terrier is actually its own species, yet the cat isn’t. Can hardly be behaviour because it looks the decision is instantaneous.

        • kai says:

          Smell is surely the main factor in real life encounter….But indeed they seems able to do it by sight alone….although I wonder how well it would work on dogs with no former experience of other breed with extensive morphological difference. Small dogs seeing a large breed for the first time. The other way around they have seen their puppies so it is less extreme…
          And do they react differently seeing wolves, or foxes? Doubt it, although once smelling them I could believe it easily.

          • TWS says:

            Small dogs don’t seem to realize they are ‘small’. The most vicious bastards I ever saw were a pack of chihuahuas. Now they couldn’t do much damage because they were chihuahuas but they gave it the old ‘college try’.

            A pack of pitts or rotties on the other hand would have killed me in the same situation rather than just scuff my boots and tear my pants legs. Small dogs do seem to realize they are short after a while and will develop strategies like standing on a table, couch back etc to put their heads higher than other dogs but I’ve never seen a big dog do the same thing.

      • anon says:

        my understanding at the genetic level is that alleles across loci correlate in a given “race”. What this means is that italian people tend to have a set of alleles across a set of loci. If you only look at one locus at a time, then the misclassification probability is higher than were you to look at multiple loci simultaneously:

        for example, if the frequency of allele A at locus a among “Italians” (and this can be determined empirically) is 70%, then there is a 30% misclassification chance. But if you look simultaneously at Allele B, which has prevalence among Italians of 70%, at locus b, then probability of misclassification is 0.3^2.

        So the more loci you look at, the misclassification chance goes to 0.

      • Yudi says:

        Can you tell us of some writings showing that humans have the second-largest morphological variation? I’m interested in following up on this.

      • TWS says:

        Forty or so years ago I asked my Harvard educated biology teacher about this very same thing. He about jumped out of his skin to avoid the subject altogether. It was like a vampire with a cross.

        I was mentioning that any other critter would have been divided into different species. Dogs, wolves, coyotes, jackals all inter fertile. I have never elicited a reaction like that from a teacher before or since.

        Now I know why but to a naive kid who that there was no taboo subjects in science it was very startling.

  10. epoch2013 says:

    I think I may have found it, although Michael Yudell is not a Philosophy professor:

    “In an article published today (Feb. 4) in the journal Science, four scholars say racial categories are weak proxies for genetic diversity and need to be phased out. [Unraveling the Human Genome: 6 Molecular Milestones]”

    The article in Science, as the link in the livescience article fails:

    • epoch2013 says:

      The article has Svante Pääbo agreeing:

      “What the study of complete genomes from different parts of the world has shown is that even between Africa and Europe, for example, there is not a single absolute genetic difference, meaning no single variant where all Africans have one variant and all Europeans another one, even when recent migration is disregarded,” Pääbo told Live Science. “It is all a question of differences in how frequent different variants are on different continents and in different regions.”

      • gcochran9 says:

        Well, if 99% is close enough for government work, there certainly are alleles that have a 99% frequency in central Africa and zero in Denmark, and vice versa – although not many.

        The whole idea that you can make obvious population differences go away by genetic mumbo-jumbo is ridiculous.

        • epoch2013 says:

          I am pondering the remark that there is no single absolute genetic difference. I think that it isn’t the case for dogs and cows either, yet we are quite confident to use the word “races” there. Is it the case for subspecies?

    • epoch2013 says:

      The share-more-with-other races comment would be:

      “In one example that demonstrated genetic differences were not fixed along racial lines, the full genomes of James Watson and Craig Venter, two famous American scientists of European ancestry, were compared to that of a Korean scientist, Seong-Jin Kim. It turned out that Watson (who, ironically, became ostracized in the scientific community after making racist remarks) and Venter shared fewer variations in their genetic sequences than they each shared with Kim.”

      • Matt says:

        Dienekes talks about “best overall matches” for SNPs in Europeans on his blog post here –

        “For the post I was preparing, I was able to conclude, for example, that any pair of Oroqen is always closer to each other than an Oroqen is to any Bantu sample.

        This new study answers this question in the case of closely related European groups, showing that it is not the case that an individual will always have a member of his own group as his “best overall match” (BOM). Finns, for example, who appear as most distinct, have a Finnish BOM some 39 (out of 47) times, while some Finns have a Norwegian, German, or Polish BOM.

        Moving into Central Europe, we see some counterintuitive results: no Austrian has an Austrian BOM, for example, but British, Danish, Dutch, German, Italian, and Polish ones.

        Sample sizes play a role, however. For example, 25 out of 51 Greeks have Germans as their BOM, and only 7 out of 51 have Greek BOM’s. But, since there is a sample of 983 Germans overall, Greeks are in fact 5.4 times more likely to match a Greek than a German.”

        I don’t know if anyone has ever systematically studied if, with a very small of say 2 Europeans and 1 Asian (like the Venter, Watson, Kim example), the Europeans would always best overall match one another rather than the Asian. You’d obviously find the “best overall match” between 2 Europeans to the exclusion of any matches with Asians, with a decent sample size (I’d imagine at the very least, 10), but I don’t know about a sample of 2.

        I’d love to see a reference if so (GCochran if you could link), as it would be nice to have, and I of course don’t find it doubtful, I’ve just never seen one.

        (Although I fully imagine this will, if responded to at all, be responded to with withering scorn that no such reference is necessary since of course it’s plainly obvious to all without any actual data).

        • gcochran9 says:

          “Thus the answer to the question “How often is a pair of individuals from one population genetically more dissimilar than two individuals chosen from two different populations?” depends on the number of polymorphisms used to define that dissimilarity and the populations being compared. The answer, equation M44 can be read from Figure 2. Given 10 loci, three distinct populations, and the full spectrum of polymorphisms (Figure 2E), the answer is equation M45 ≅ 0.3, or nearly one-third of the time. With 100 loci, the answer is ∼20% of the time and even using 1000 loci, equation M46 ≅ 10%. However, if genetic similarity is measured over many thousands of loci, the answer becomes “never” when individuals are sampled from geographically separated populations.”

          Venter and Watson are both northern European, pretty close. Fst between CEU and China is about 0.11, between Ireland and Germany is about 0.001.

          Knowing the Fst, you can fake up typical frequency differences. From that you can simulate a population of size N with M alleles and see how often you get overlap. I wrote a sim to do this, long time ago – maybe thirty lines. I was ignoring linkage. For tens of thousands of alleles or more, you never see what Venter claimed. It was obvious to me before I wrote and ran the code.

          Now if you consider the genetic variation weighted by the phenotypic impact – in other words, look at the people, measure their phenotypes, you will never mistake an Irishman for someone Japanese, even if they both are named Ohara. Which you already knew. At least I hope so.

          The idea that you can use genetics to show that two populations are really almost exactly the same, when their average phenotypes are clearly different(including mental phenotypes) is just bullshit.

          Everyone who says this should be fired. With extreme prejudice. Probably the typical anthropologist saying it does not actually know any better, which is all the more reason to fire him.

        • epoch2013 says:

          So basically Europeans could be more closer to other Europeans but Africans never are to Asians? That seems like evidence that a concept as white race actually is quite useful.

  11. expeedee says:

    I am certainly a student on this subject and have always been curious about how one determines genetic relatedness using percent. First, I understand that ninety eight percent of the dna does not code for protein, but within that dna there are major regions that control expression. I understand that within these regions such factors as as short tandem repeats vary significantly by race. Also if one person’s coding gene is 100,000 nucleotides long and differs only by a single nucleotide is that zero percent the same or 99.999 percent the same? And then there are two sets of chromasones, are we really accurately comparing them? I just have so many doubts. Isn’t it more about expression rather than simply comparing dna?

  12. anon says:

    “about how you were genetically closer to other races than to your own. ”

    That is an odd statement. My mind cannot process what it implies

    So a random white person is more likely to be similar to a black person than to a white person, so doesn’t that imply that white people and black people are a race, but that white people amongst themselves are not a race???

  13. Guardian raider says:

    A Guardian journalist drew on the wisdom of a black soccer-player to claim this:

    The myth of ‘race’ was invented by racism, and racism keeps it growing … The former England player John Barnes put it very well in the Times this week: “Race is not a scientific reality. You could find a tribe in Africa who are genetically closer to Europeans than to an African tribe a hundred miles away. Some Saudis have whiter skin than Italians.”

    The Times has a pay-wall, but Barnes’ article seems to be reproduced here:

  14. Steven C. says:

    So if I’m actually not white, according to this, where are my reparations and affirmative action preferences?

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