Reich’s journey

David Reich’s professional path must have shaped his perspective on the social sciences. Look at the record. He starts his professional career examining the role of genetics in the elevated prostate cancer risk seen in African-American men. Various social-science fruitcakes oppose him even looking at the question of ancestry ( African vs European). But they were wrong: certain African-origin alleles explain the increased risk. Anthropologists (and human geneticists) were sure (based on nothing) that modern humans hadn’t interbred with Neanderthals – but of course that happened. Anthropologists and archaeologists knew that Gustaf Kossina couldn’t have been right when he said that widespread material culture corresponded to widespread ethnic groups, and that migration was the primary explanation for changes in the archaeological record – but he was right. They knew that the Indo-European languages just couldn’t have been imposed by fire and sword – but Reich’s work proved them wrong. Lots of people – the usual suspects plus Hindu nationalists – were sure that the AIT ( Aryan Invasion Theory) was wrong, but it looks pretty good today.

Some sociologists believed that caste in India was somehow imposed or significantly intensified by the British – but it turns out that most jatis have been almost perfectly endogamous for two thousand years or more…

It may be that Reich doesn’t take these guys too seriously anymore. Why should he?

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17 Responses to Reich’s journey

  1. Hesse Kassel says:

    He may respect their intellectual power less but their institutional power more.

  2. Irate eye rater says:

    You always treat the guy with the gun with a certain sort of seriousness.

  3. Steve Sailer says:

    My wife is reading David Reich’s mom’s novel “One Hundred Philistine Foreskins.” She says it’s real good.

    I can just imagine poor David saying, “Mom, couldn’t you name it something else?”

  4. We should rate researchers by their career average of predictions proved correct.

  5. dearieme says:

    “migration was the primary explanation for changes in the archaeological record …”: it was striking that such propositions were ruled out on no evidence whatever.

    “Indo-European languages just couldn’t have been imposed by fire and sword ..”: and another one!

    • Anonymous says:

      I think a lot of people settled on the trade/peaceful cultural expansion argument because they were just annoyed at Gimbutas’s stupid notions and wanted a competing theory to make her go away.

      The smart money was always on some kind of invasion model – the change in material culture is just too sharp in some places for it to be anything else. Aculturation does happen, and definitely did happen in the south where dozens of non-Indo Euros persisted well into historical times. But it takes literally hundreds of years and it looks very different from Corded Ware suddenly being this season’s must have and all major settled population centres in the region collapsing.

      • Jim says:

        It’s more than just that. Many have refused to believe that the story of the Doric Invasion could reflect an actual historic occurrence. The widespread destruction wrought by the Sea Peoples was attributed to a sudden outbreak of earthquakes. The collapse of the Hittite Empire and Mycenae was said by to have been cases of internal decline. Nothing to do with invading hordes.

      • gcochran9 says:

        I don’t think that.

    • Jim says:

      The left pays little attention to empirical evidence. When it comes to the left we still have far to go to reach peak lunacy.

  6. JSK says:

    The social “sciences” are filled with lunatics and in my opinion they have been captured by the crazies, really no one should pay any attention to what comes out of those fields, unless of course to defend from bad ideas the loonies are trying to put into policy. My first undergrad degree and first go at grad school was in one (international relations) and grad school opened my eyes to it all.

  7. rawkins says:

    So are you claiming as a scientific fact that every race who now speaks an IE language was conquered by IE speakers’ ‘sword and fire’? Those Hollywood armies have been busy.

    Maybe you need to oversimplify to get through in America, and maybe the problems with that claim won’t be noticed there, just as Germans with no colonial experience readily accepted that all was ‘sword and fire’ a century ago. But with more worldly people you fall flat. The British in conquering India knew what a complex of carrot and stick was involved, plus hordes of locals wanting to imitate them and share their culture in the 19th century, before nationalist ideology came in (brought by a Scotsman named Hume). The Aryan Immigration Theory was based on observation by the thousands of British in India. Hindu Nationalists, and you, conflate the AMT and AIT. They know what they’re doing but you seem out of your depth.

    Someone was claiming recently that genetics showed the ‘Aryans’ might have arrived in India after Buddha, yet ‘Aryan’ was the name he literally called his teaching.

    You need the help of historians and anthropologists, you can’t juggle all these matters on your own,

    • gcochran9 says:

      On average, on these and other issues, historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists are lunatics. Which is too bad, really.

      • gcochran9 says:

        Which populations, and where, does it seem likely to me that the locals were either conquered or nearly exterminated by Indo-Europeans? Everywhere in Northern Europe, including some areas like Finland and Hungary that do not speak an Indo-European language today. Everywhere in Southern Europe: Italy, Greece, and Spain, but more with conquest and less extermination. Turkey, under the Hittites and Luwians and so on.

        Almost all of the Eurasian steppe, although later those populations were conquered by Turks. Conquered with mounted bowmen, not Turkish Delight. Afghanistan. Iran. India. Sri Lanka.

        As far as I can tell, people achieve ‘depth’ by being reliably wrong.

    • Jim says:

      What examples are there of populations who once spoke non-Indo-European languages and abandoned them and took up speaking an Indo-European language completely voluntarily? Are you claiming that Indo-European languages spread over much of the present world because speakers of other languages thought they were cool? A little more than 500 years ago hundreds of languages were spoken in the New World none of whom were Indo-European. Today the most widely spoken languages in the New World – Spanish, Portuguese, English – are all Indo-European. Didn’t “fire and sword” (not to mention muskets and cannons) have something to do with this change?.

      • Jim says:

        Six thousand years ago Indo-European languages were restricted to the steppes north of the Caspian and Black Sea. This was far from the centers of civilization at that time and I assume the speakers of Indo-European languages were then a small percentage of the world population. Today something like 40% of the world’s population are native speakers of Indo-European languages. Did this happen because people all over the world decided that Indo-European languages were better than their own native tongues? Or did “fire and sword” have something to do with this astonishing expansion?

  8. Philip Neal says:

    I have now got the book and am half-way through it. In its way it is absolutely excellent and just what I was looking for, the genomic equivalent of The Horse, the Wheel and Language with all the new discoveries explained in order between two covers. On that score, my only peeve is with expressions like “between six thousand and forty-five hundred years ago”. Too many sentences need to be read twice just because they are ill-worded.

    I also found myself disliking the author as much as Greg does. Not only is the “troubled”, “BCE” tone grating, it reveals what kind of man he is. He is “sensitive” to Hindu fundamentalists. He “respects the wishes” of Navajos who were created by Changing Woman and already know where they come from. He “felt he had not thought enough” about the use of human remains for scientific investigation. He “shudder(s) to think of Watson, or of Wade, or their forbears, behind my shoulder”.

    He is a moral and intellectual coward. Moral, because he knows that what happened to Watson can happen to him, and accordingly gets his grovelling in first. Intellectual, because he is unwilling and unable to say that truth is its own justification, that Christians are right and pagans are wrong.

    Nevertheless, it is a book you have to buy if you think that you are supposed to be right and not wrong about important questions of fact.

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