Oct 10, 2021Liked by Razib Khan

I recently read _Beyond Weird_ by Philp Ball. Probably the best general-audience book I've read on quantum physics. Clear writing, no woo woo. Includes a couple of corny physics jokes.

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I am working my way through Kyle Harper's Plagues Upon the World: Disease and the Course of Human History and find it a fascinating experience. I think that Harper (who also wrote The Fate of Rome) would be a great guest for your podcast!

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More NA news:

"Genetic study reveals new insights into the pre-Inca Tiwanaku civilisation"

"A genetic study of the Tiwanaku has shown that the pre-Inca civilization was more genetically homogeneous than previously thought.

"The Tiwanaku civilization was a Pre-Columbian polity in western Bolivia, based in the southern Lake Titicaca Basin. They emerged during the 6th century AD, centered on their capital at the monumental city of Tiwanaku, until their empire disintegrated around the 12th century AD."


"Popular theory of Native American origins debunked by genetics and skeletal biology: Latest scientific findings suggest the ancestral Native American population does not originate in Japan, as believed by many archeologists"

"A widely accepted theory of Native American origins coming from Japan has been attacked in a new scientific study, which shows that the genetics and skeletal biology “simply does not match-up”.

"The findings, published today in the peer-reviewed journal PaleoAmerica, are likely to have a major impact on how we understand Indigenous Americans’ arrival to the Western Hemisphere. Based on similarities in stone artifacts, many archaeologists currently believe that Indigenous Americans, or ‘First Peoples’, migrated to the Americas from Japan about 15,000 years ago.

"... The theory is based, in part, on similarities in stone tools made by the ‘Jomon’ people (an early inhabitant of Japan, 15,000 years ago), and those found in some of the earliest known archaeological sites inhabited by ancient First Peoples. But this new study, out today in PaleoAmerica – the flagship journal of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University – suggests otherwise. ...

“We found that the human biology simply doesn’t match up with the archaeological theory,” states lead author Professor Richard Scott, a recognized expert in the study of human teeth, who led a team of multidisciplinary researchers. "We do not dispute the idea that ancient Native Americans arrived via the Northwest Pacific coast—only the theory that they originated with the Jomon people in Japan."

“These people (the Jomon) who lived in Japan 15,000 years ago are an unlikely source for Indigenous Americans. Neither the skeletal biology or the genetics



"Analysis of ancient teeth questions theory that Native Americans originated from Japan" By Harry Baker


I did not know this was a theory. I think that I once read the a linguist thought there was a connection between the Hopi, whose language is an isolate, and Japan, because Hopi shares some morphological features with Japanese. And some one else proposed that Kennewick man was an Ainu.

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Razib, would you consider writing a piece on the of the origins and history of the Arabs? I've found a surprising lack of consensus in this area.

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Razib: You wrote about Native American Genetics a few weeks ago.


in connection with the announcement of the discovery of some 23,000 year old footprints.

Linguist John McWhorter, with whom, I am sure, you are familiar, published an item on his substack podcast platform today that you might find interesting.


Here is the public (non-paywalled) part of that post:

"23,000 Year Old Footprints Help Solve a Vexing Linguistic Riddle: Languages throughout the American subcontinents are finally starting to make sense."


"You may have noticed that footprints of human beings have been found in New Mexico that are 23,000 years old. Now that may seem like just some isolated factoid, but that's actually huge because the traditional idea has been that humans didn't get to roughly there — that they didn't come past the Bering Strait and down into North America and then South America — until about 13,000 years ago.

"Why do I care about this? Because there has always been something about the languages of North and South America that didn't make sense if people had only been there for about 13,000 years."

I can relate no more because I am not a paying subscriber. I am not a paying subscriber because, sadly, John McWhorter, whom I like very much, is only about a third of the content on that stream. The rest is provided by some creature named Bob Garfield, who is personally odious to me.

If any of you do subscribe, perhaps you could clue us in. Is there a published paper McWhorter is citing?

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Harden and deBoer’s advocacy of a “hereditarian left” seems very much in line with what Pinker advocated as a response to the political challenge he saw arising from biology in the late 90’s in “The Blank Slate.”

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hm. well steve is a moderate democrat while fdb is a socialist and paige is a warren democrat. so not totally sure here but need to think on it

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I’ve recommended Pinker’s book since reading it shortly after it was published, in particular the first 100 pages in which he relates the academic warfare of the previous 50 years. In the telling he decries the treatment of E.O. Wilson. But the larger part of the book is spent suggesting ways in which his moderate progressivism could be reframed in light of the wave of biological innovation he saw about to come ashore. He saw it sooner than most, though I doubt that he anticipated all that’s followed. However, he might have anticipated Paige and de Boer a little sooner?

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