Join 3,514 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Four Mothers, 3.5 Million People
January 13, 2006 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Study finds that 40% of Ashkenazi Jews come from four Jewish mothers. Previously discussed on Metafilter: the peculiar genetics of Ashkenazi Jews and their impressive intellect.
posted by billysumday (153 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
It is a difficult task having a Jewish mother. Now you tell me I have 4?
posted by Postroad at 1:46 PM on January 13, 2006


I always imagined learning of a long-lost relative who left me an inheritance. A genetic signature was not what I had in mind.
posted by amro at 1:49 PM on January 13, 2006


Only 2,000 years ago amazing. Makes the whole Nazi genetic purity thing morbidly ironic.
posted by stbalbach at 1:54 PM on January 13, 2006


"Mike Hammer, ... at the University of Arizona, said he found the work tracing back to just four ancestors "quite plausible...."

He then asked for a "rye and soda every fifteen minutes."
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 1:58 PM on January 13, 2006


All that intellect, and still those Anasazi Jews couldn't find a way to sustain their swollen population when the climate of the American Southwest dried out. It's a cautionary tale for our time.
posted by gurple at 2:00 PM on January 13, 2006


Well, if you believe the Bible we all descended from just two people.
posted by fenriq at 2:01 PM on January 13, 2006


Well, if you believe the Bible we all descended from just two people.

There's also this Adam.
posted by gurple at 2:04 PM on January 13, 2006


"Well, if you believe the Bible we all descended from just two people."

And then again after the great flood, right? So maybe these four are Noah's wife and his son's wives.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:10 PM on January 13, 2006


It's true that I will find it difficult to square this information with my personally held belief that the Bible is literal truth.
posted by billysumday at 2:10 PM on January 13, 2006


The article lies about the origins of Ashkenazi Jews, because the state of Israel hates this historical fact more than it hates Palestinians.

Ashkenazi Jews are NOT from the middle east. Arthur Kustler -a Jewish writer- proved in his seminal survey called the 13th tribe, that Ashkenazi Jews are the people of Khazaar empire that existed in between Russia and Poland. In other words they never belonged to the middle east in the first place (ethnically speaking)

this explains better why they resemble eastern Europeans. now if you read the book, you realize that once the emperor converted to Judaism from paganism, he encouraged the immigration of original Sephardic Jews (the 12 original tribes) from the holy land to mix with and to learn the old testament from. that explains the variety of Jews and why some European Jews have darker features and why they look so much like Palestinians still. I'll look for the book link. I know the whole text is somewhere online.
posted by sundaymag at 2:13 PM on January 13, 2006


the peculiar genetics of Ashkenazi Jews and their impressive intellect.

If that's not racist I don't know what is. The Nazis had a bunch of "science" on their side too.
posted by delmoi at 2:14 PM on January 13, 2006


It is a difficult task having a Jewish mother. Now you tell me I have 4?

what he said...

*shivers*

sundaymag, how come so many of us have at least one or some mediterranean/middle eastern features tho? (almond eyes, or a darker skin, or something)
posted by amberglow at 2:20 PM on January 13, 2006


Get off it. The paper in the linked Metafilter post discussed a number of improbably clustered neurologically related genetic diseases among Ashkenazi Jews [that] could help explain their incredible intelligence test scores and extraordinary intellectual achievements
posted by billysumday at 2:20 PM on January 13, 2006


"Proved", sundaymag?

While it's quite obvious my girlfriend and I both have a large amount of Eastern European heritage, if you could kindly explain, for example, her extremely levantine nose and my extremely levantine hair, neither of which look remotely European, and both of which are fairly common among Ashkenazi Jews, I eagerly await your explanation.
posted by kyrademon at 2:20 PM on January 13, 2006


Well, if you believe the Bible we all descended from just two people.

Yep, originally there was just Adam & Eve (then Cain, Abel, Seth, etc.).

Then, after the deluge, it was Noah, his wife, and their three sons with their wives. Presumably, Noah and his wife didn't have any more kids, so that leaves it up to the three sons.

And all the Israelites supposedly have one father, Abraham.

I guess my point is that, if the bible is to be believed, back in those days, there were a lot of folks sleeping with their sisters and cousins, or we wouldn't be around today.
posted by Gamblor at 2:21 PM on January 13, 2006


the peculiar genetics of Ashkenazi Jews and their impressive intellect.

If that's not racist I don't know what is. The Nazis had a bunch of "science" on their side too.


How so? (intentionally ignoring the rapid proof of Godwin's Law)
posted by incongruity at 2:22 PM on January 13, 2006


This Arthur Kustler...he a friend of Erich von Daniken?
posted by Captaintripps at 2:24 PM on January 13, 2006


Get off it. The paper .... bla bla bla ... extraordinary intellectual achievements

From a statistical standpoint, it means nothing. Anyone can charm the laity with statistical gobbledygook.

While it's quite obvious my girlfriend and I both have a large amount of Eastern European heritage, if you could kindly explain, for example, her extremely levantine nose and my extremely levantine hair, neither of which look remotely European, and both of which are fairly common among Ashkenazi Jews, I eagerly await your explanation.

You're kidding right? If Aryans are from Iran, then can you please explain my beautiful blond hair and blue eyes!?
posted by delmoi at 2:25 PM on January 13, 2006


Study finds that 40% of Ashkenazi Jews come from four Jewish mothers.

And they never call, never come to visit...

(slinks away)
posted by pjern at 2:27 PM on January 13, 2006


These four mothers... are they all saying "don't worry, I can just sit here in the dark..."?

Sundaymag: Koestler wrote in the great tradition of Hungarian Jewish essayists: often in error, never in doubt, and never let a few questionable sources (no need to include footnotes or bibliographies!) get in the way of a great master theory. While the Khazar history is interesting, it is only one piece of the puzzle of Ashkenazi ethnic origins. Ashkenazim are the product of several converging branches of European Jews, very likely including Khazar remnants but also including Romaniote Jews who were here from Roman times, Zaphartic speaking Jews from the Rhinepfalz, and, of course, those four mother we were speaking about.
posted by zaelic at 2:28 PM on January 13, 2006


No snark:

Why is it so impossible for some people to accept that genetics (race, ethnicity, gender) may (or may not, if the null is true) play a role in adult intelligence? And besides the obvious reason, -- that it is politically incorrect and will inevitably give rise to a host of racist demagogues, as it has in the past. I simply find it amazing that so many people who hail as objective scientists, or at least scientific dilettantes, are unable to discuss rationally, or entertain personally, this notion. Is it simply because they cannot handle it, if it happened to be true, and thus unconsciously reject the hypothesis? Or is there some evidence I haven't seen, that conclusively rejects this idea in an empirical fashion?
posted by gagglezoomer at 2:29 PM on January 13, 2006


delmoi: I guess my point is that some people, like myself, find science and statistics and genetics interesting. I'm not Jewish and I could care less who in this thread or in the general population is Jewish. I thought that this was interesting enough to post on Metafilter, much the same as the last post regarding the peculiar neurological mutations that are claimed to have helped Ashkenazi Jews score well on intelligence tests was interesting. By invoking racism and Nazis, what viewpoint are you bringing to this thread? Do you Godwin everything so quickly?
posted by billysumday at 2:30 PM on January 13, 2006


You're kidding right? If Aryans are from Iran, then can you please explain my beautiful blond hair and blue eyes!?

And my pallid, creamy non-hirsute skin? Iranians are hairy mofos. I'm just saying.

And the serious answer, kyrademon, is that ethnicity simply cannot be determined by phenotype. You can tell the difference between an average Chinese person and average African, but between an individual Persian and a Kurd and an Arab. Your features certainly do not provide any information about where your ancestors physically lived.
posted by delmoi at 2:30 PM on January 13, 2006


“the peculiar genetics of American blacks and their impressive phalluses”

Or sports ability.

But I’m not being facetious. Testing black athletes for genetically derived “sports” ability makes as much sense as testing for “intelligence” where that intelligence is a socially defined trait. It’s not like epicanthal folds or melanin.


“Prodigy: The hallmark of the Ashkenazic Jew is intelligence. We know that intelligence correlates with many kinds of achievement, so it is not terribly surprising to find Jews disproportionately winning Nobel Prizes and also making movies.”

- I mean who can take that seriously?

And what’s with the obession with endogamy?
posted by Smedleyman at 2:32 PM on January 13, 2006


Yes, perhaps delmoi could define racism for us, unless he believes it is not a 100% perjorative.

I have no moral problem with the assertion that eg. Asperger's might be more prevalent in one racial subbranch of humanity, or that even a purely positive mental capability for mental genius might be inheritable and more present in one race.

"Race", in its most morally neutral, is that which is passed through birth and not adoption.

Not that I find the arguments of _The Bell Curve_ anything other that crappy wish-fulfillment science, mind.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:35 PM on January 13, 2006


From a statistical standpoint, it means nothing. Anyone can charm the laity with statistical gobbledygook.

Well, it may mean nothing to you. To social scientists who take statistical analysis seriously, it means quite a bit. It's not controversial at all that Ashkenazi jews' IQs are on average signicantly higher than those of other ethnic populations. There's nothing racist about this assertion; at this point in the debate it'd be bad science to argue otherwise. Now, as far as the link to specific genetic disorders goes, that's much more tenuous, and aside from the one paper there's very little hard evidence for such a theory. But presumably that's also a matter for science and 'statistical gobbledygook' to decide, not brazen assertions on metafilter.
posted by heavy water at 2:35 PM on January 13, 2006


Why is it so impossible for some people to accept that genetics (race, ethnicity, gender) may (or may not, if the null is true) play a role in adult intelligence? And besides the obvious reason, -- that it is politically incorrect and will inevitably give rise to a host of racist demagogues, as it has in the past. I simply find it amazing that so many people who hail as objective scientists, or at least scientific dilettantes, are unable to discuss rationally, or entertain personally, this notion. Is it simply because they cannot handle it, if it happened to be true, and thus unconsciously reject the hypothesis? Or is there some evidence I haven't seen, that conclusively rejects this idea in an empirical fashion?

Can you tell me what practical benefit the study of ethnogienic intelligence might have?

I can think of many downsides.

Furthermore, research that starts with "Race X is inherently smarter then race Y, I wonder why that is" is racist on its face. Practically by definition.
posted by delmoi at 2:37 PM on January 13, 2006


"Race" is a cultural construct, not a scientific one. There are hardly any real genetic differences between the percived races of mankind, although there are cultural differences, such as endogamy, say, or living in cities and working in markets instead of working agricultural land. But race... even the concept is a cultural marker. Are Jews a "Race?" Are Gypsies a "Race?" Are the Chinese a "Race?"
posted by zaelic at 2:39 PM on January 13, 2006


Well, it may mean nothing to you.

I'm a mathematician (well, computer scientist, but I've done a lot of work with statistical inference), and I've also had man social science classes. In my experience, the vast majority of "social scientists" have only a weak grasp on statistical reasoning.
posted by delmoi at 2:39 PM on January 13, 2006


I'm a mathematician

You know, a lot of Nazis were mathematicians, too. Interesting. Very interesting.
posted by billysumday at 2:41 PM on January 13, 2006


Yes, perhaps delmoi could define racism for us, unless he believes it is not a 100% perjorative.

Racism in the strictest sense is the idea that you can predict traits of the mind of an individual based entirely on their phenotypic classification into a particularly broad racial category, irrespective of culture.
posted by delmoi at 2:42 PM on January 13, 2006


Can you tell me what practical benefit the study of ethnogienic intelligence might have?

I can think of many downsides.


I agree that there are many downsides, and don't have a strong personal opinion about whether such science should be done. But you're conflating moral issues with descriptive ones. Presumably there's a fact of the matter about whether or not a particular ethnic group is more intelligent on average than another. Either Ashkenazi jews are smarter than non-jewish caucasians or they're not. Based on all the evidence to date, the answer seems to be affirmative. Now you may well be right that this isn't research we as a society want to pursue, for moral and political reasons. But that has nothing to do with the truth of the statement or not. An appropriate response might be "well, maybe, but we shouldn't conduct further research" and not "that's racist!"

Furthermore, research that starts with "Race X is inherently smarter then race Y, I wonder why that is" is racist on its face. Practically by definition.

Who said anything about 'inherently'? Behaviorally, the evidence suggests that Ashkenazi Jews are smarter. There's no conclusive evidence indicating why that is. There are all sorts of viable explanations; genetics being just one possible source of variance.
posted by heavy water at 2:43 PM on January 13, 2006


delmoi, you either missed my point, or I disagree with yours. I'm not sure which.

You most certainly can make very educated guesses about regional ethnic heritage based on phenotypes observed over a broad spectrum of population. Are you serioulsy arguing that one can't?

For example: If Ashkenazi Jews are descended solely from Khazars and Eastern Europeans, as sundaymag seems to be implying, then why do they, across a broad populations, exhibit common phenotypes which are *not* shared by either Khazars or Eastern Europeans? The obvious answer to me would seem to be that there are other origins in the genetic mix.

Your blond hair and creamy skin would seem to indicate that you are not descended from pure Iranian stock in an unbroken, unmixed line. So?
posted by kyrademon at 2:44 PM on January 13, 2006


I have no moral problem with the assertion that eg. Asperger's might be more prevalent in one racial subbranch of humanity, or that even a purely positive mental capability for mental genius might be inheritable and more present in one race.

What is a "racial sub branch"? What do you think race is? How do you specifically measure race?
posted by delmoi at 2:44 PM on January 13, 2006


(By other origins in the genetic mix, I of course mean there were Eastern Europeans and probably Khazars and ALTHOUGH OTHER genetic ancestors ... some of whom had noses and hair types frequently found in the Levant.)
posted by kyrademon at 2:46 PM on January 13, 2006


I'm a mathematician (well, computer scientist, but I've done a lot of work with statistical inference), and I've also had man social science classes. In my experience, the vast majority of "social scientists" have only a weak grasp on statistical reasoning.

As a social scientist I agree we're not a very mathematical bunch. But we're not talking about sophisticated models here; we're talking about very large differences in simple distributions. Most studies find the average Ashkenazi IQ to be around 110 - 116 (whereas the standardized mean is 100), with comparable IQ to non-Jewish groups. It doesn't get much simpler than that, and there's very little need for statistical gobbledygook here (a simple t-test is quite enough).
posted by heavy water at 2:46 PM on January 13, 2006


also others, not although others ... I just can't type today ...
posted by kyrademon at 2:46 PM on January 13, 2006


with comparable IQ to non-Jewish groups.

Er, comparable standard deviation.
posted by heavy water at 2:47 PM on January 13, 2006


You most certainly can make very educated guesses about regional ethnic heritage based on phenotypes observed over a broad spectrum of population. Are you serioulsy arguing that one can't?

I never said anything about broad spectrums of population. You asked a question about an individual, yourself.

For example: If Ashkenazi Jews are descended solely from Khazars and Eastern Europeans, as sundaymag seems to be implying, then why do they, across a broad populations, exhibit common phenotypes which are *not* shared by either Khazars or Eastern Europeans? The obvious answer to me would seem to be that there are other origins in the genetic mix

Well, first you tell me why Kazakhs look Chinese, and then I will answer your question.
posted by delmoi at 2:48 PM on January 13, 2006


You know, a lot of Nazis were mathematicians, too. Interesting. Very interesting.

The only nazi mathematician I know of was the douchebag named Bieberbach.
posted by dwordle at 2:48 PM on January 13, 2006


Ashkenazi Jews are NOT from the middle east. Arthur Kustler -a Jewish writer- proved in his seminal survey called the 13th tribe, that Ashkenazi Jews are the people of Khazaar empire that existed in between Russia and Poland. In other words they never belonged to the middle east in the first place (ethnically speaking)

Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. How about actually looking at what history and science says, rather than relying on one pseudo-historical tome written some years ago? How about looking at the evidence that Ashkenazic Jews, on average, genetically match up far more closely with Middle Eastern populations groups (Palestinians, Kurds) than with European groups? That this Middle East correlation holds true more strongly in Eastern European Ashkenazic Jews, closer to the former home of the Khazars, than it does for German/Austrian Jews, who were, on average, more admixed with the local fraulein's? That certain y-chromosome haplogroups like G1 and some of the J sub-clades (esp. J2) are synonymous almost exclusively with Jews--and with Middle East / Eastern Mediterranean populations, not Europeans? How about that the supposed Khazar genetic influx 1200-1500 years ago, which should probably be represented by Central Asian haplogroups like R1a and Q, shows up in rather small numbers compared to, say, the North African haplogroups like E3b in Ashkenazic population studies? And that of the R1a's that do show up, roughly half seem to be Levite, and thus probably not latter-day Khazar converts? (Coverts can't become Levites; it's an inherited designation.)

Or is it easier just to pretend that there was never a real, actual, historical country called Israel, whose people got dispersed?

Look, the Khazar admixture thing is cool, and might explain why half my family are blue-eyed redheads (they come from Ukraine). But one Turkic group intermarrying doesn't negate 5000 years of history--and the genetic traces it left behind. If you're actually interested in learning about the weird (and sometimes disturbingly inbred) genetic history of Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews, I suggest reading any of the papers by Dr. Doron Behar, who not coincidentally is the author of the paper linked above. Some are available here, the rest on Google Scholar. And FYI, I would assume from his surname that Behar is Sephardic or Mizrahi, not Ashkenazic.

Disclaimers: my direct-maternal mtDNA haplogroup is H2* [probably a Scottish woman who converted to Judaism during the 16th-18th Century Scots diaspora in Warsaw], my brother's direct-male y-chromosome haplogroup is G1 [apparently, that means we're descendants of a 13th Century getting-blamed-for-the-black-death-pogrom survivor who fled from Erfurt, Germany to pagan Lithuania, and then south to Ukraine, and distant relatives of the Luria family; the G1 haplogroup only show up in 1% of non-Jews but 7.7% of Ashkenazic Jews], my husband's direct-male y-chromosome is E3b [North African/Middle East originated, though his family was from Hungary/Romania circa 1850]. And I'm getting the Sephardic/Romaniote side of my husband's family to do the genetic test too, and cross-checked with distant relatives. Initial results look like they were Italian Inquisition-era refugees to Greece/Turkey, not Spanish/Pourtuguese, which is a little surprising, though I guess with a last name like "Russo", maybe it shouldn't have been.
posted by Asparagirl at 2:50 PM on January 13, 2006


As a social scientist I agree we're not a very mathematical bunch. But we're not talking about sophisticated models here;

If it's simple then you should have no trouble telling me what the confidence bound is on this "research", no? What is it?
posted by delmoi at 2:50 PM on January 13, 2006


delmoi -

"I never said anything about broad spectrums of population. You asked a question about an individual, yourself."

You will note that I very specifically said:

"and both of which [traits] are fairly common among Ashkenazi Jews".

I was not solely discussing myself.

I don't know anything about the Kazakh issue. I'll try to look it up and see if I can figure out what bearing it has on this.
posted by kyrademon at 2:52 PM on January 13, 2006


In the beginning, there was a population of proto-apes. That population splintered, and one of the groups was placed in a situation where natural selection selected in favor of increased intelligence.

If it happened once, why couldn't it happen again? (In a smaller, shorter-term fashion, with correspondingly smaller results.)
posted by event at 2:52 PM on January 13, 2006


By the way, I'm certainly not trying to say where Ashkenazi Jews are from, but simply point out that "But I'm Ashkenazi and I look middle eastern" is not a valid proof of anything. Asparagirl's stuff may have some merit, I don't know.
posted by delmoi at 2:53 PM on January 13, 2006


That's interesting, Asaparagirl, thanks!

And I'd also always wondered why I'm a blue-eyed redhead. Turkic interbreeding, you say? Neat!
posted by kyrademon at 2:54 PM on January 13, 2006


(That wasn't what I was saying, Delmoi ... I was saying *many* Ashkenazi exhibit apparently Middle-Eastern traits, and no that does not prove they are Middle-Eastern, it could have come from somewhere else, I suppose, but it makes *no* sense if they are descended entirely from Khazars and Eastern Europeans.)
posted by kyrademon at 2:55 PM on January 13, 2006


If it happened once, why couldn't it happen again? (In a smaller, shorter-term fashion, with correspondingly smaller results.)

Because no human group was genetically isolated. Any beneficial mutations could spread around the world in as little as 500 years, and it's unlikely that any trait in Europe would remain isolated in any group for more then a generation or two. Asparagirl's mtDNA comes from Ireland or Scoland or somewhere, for example.

This should be born out as more and more individual haplogroups can be sequenced and traced back besides simply mtDNA and y chromosomes. In fact, "race" is defined by a very very small number of unknown genes that affect skin color and facial features. When the full breadth of known and isolated genes is analyzed, it is impossible to cluster groups by race at all.
posted by delmoi at 2:59 PM on January 13, 2006


“Why is it so impossible for some people to accept that genetics (race, ethnicity, gender) may (or may not, if the null is true) play a role in adult intelligence?”- posted by gagglezoomer

I’d say it has to do more with anthropology than genetics. The premise is (as far as I can tell) endogamic practice has lead to a group of “smarter” folks.
Not only does what is considered a group for marriage inside or out of that group vary - but the Westermarck effect (seen even in Israeli kibbutz) prevents those with tight social ties, for example kids who are not related raised in the same house, from marrying.

I think the argument here is closer to genotype vs. phenotype.

I don’t believe anyone is arguing that the total trait manifestation (phenotype) of a Jew or anyone really can be a result of genetic selection.
Only that the exact genetic makeup (genotype) is probably not the result of those outward appearances or traits (intellect or otherwise).

‘Cause it’s more complex than that. There is phenotypic plasticity even among identical twins.

Some genes express certain phenotypes under certain conditions, some don’t. So some phenotypes can be the result of many genotypes.

“Intelligence” being such a broad rather subjective topic has a high level of plasticity as opposed to other less plastic factors - like the aforementioned epicanthal folds.

From the stanford link:
“The consequence for the understanding of the structure and function of organisms, including their individual and social behavior, is that there is not some small set of universals like Newton's Laws. Even Mendel's Laws have many exceptions and the Biogenetic Law of all life from life cannot always have been true or there would be no organisms. As is true for living systems in general, relations between genotype and phenotype are contingent, varying from case to case.”
posted by Smedleyman at 2:59 PM on January 13, 2006


If it's simple then you should have no trouble telling me what the confidence bound is on this "research", no? What is it?

I don't want to question your mathematical background, but I think this question betrays a pretty serious lack of understanding of basic statistical principles. There is no 'confidence bound' on a body of literature. Confidence intervals depend on several factors, including mean difference, variance, referent statistical distribution, and sample size. And they're only meaningful given a particular hypothesis operationally defined in a particular study. So it's not really obvious what you mean.

However, suppose I interpret your question liberally to mean (and as an aside, note that you haven't really addressed any of my substantive comments) "for a particular study finding an effect, with what degree of certainty can we reject the null?", then the answer is that even for a relatively small study (say 50 americans of non-jewish descent and 50 Ashkenazi jews) a mean difference of 16 points given a standard deviation of about the same is a hugely significant effect (i.e., p < .00001). Consider that this is a tiny sample given existing database derived from standardized testing, SAT scores, etc., and there is literally almost NO question that the average Ashkenazi IQ is higher.
posted by heavy water at 2:59 PM on January 13, 2006


And, glancing around the net, I notice the Kazakh language is Ural-Altaic ... obviously, I'm no expert on Kazakhs, but I thought it was relatively well established that the Ural-Altaic language group had origins at least in part around Korea?

Eh, I don't know enough about this to know what I'm talking about. Why would a phenotypic similarity between the Kazakhs and the Chinese be surprising from a genetic standpoint, delmoi? Please let me know - I can't answer your question without knowing more about the subject.
posted by kyrademon at 3:00 PM on January 13, 2006


For those interested, Arthur Koestler was a Hungarian born US essayist and novelist whose book "The Thirteenth Tribe" popularized the Khazar theory of Ashkenazic origins. He was responding, in part, to the pre-WWII nationalist atmosphere in Hungary that had produced a lot of tracts saying that the Hungarians (who were vassals of the Khazar empire in the 9th century) were again under the "Khazar Yoke" (referring to the Jews of Hungary...)
posted by zaelic at 3:02 PM on January 13, 2006


Most of us Ashkenazi look more middle eastern or mediterranean than eastern european--it's not just us.
posted by amberglow at 3:02 PM on January 13, 2006


I don't want to question your mathematical background, but I think this question betrays a pretty serious lack of understanding of basic statistical principles. There is no 'confidence bound' on a body of literature.

I meant the specific confidence bound on Gregory Cochran's and Henry Harpending's supposed genetic clustering research. But thanks for being dense for effect.
posted by delmoi at 3:03 PM on January 13, 2006


This should be born out as more and more individual haplogroups can be sequenced and traced back besides simply mtDNA and y chromosomes. In fact, "race" is defined by a very very small number of unknown genes that affect skin color and facial features. When the full breadth of known and isolated genes is analyzed, it is impossible to cluster groups by race at all.

I'm curious as to where you got this notion. One does not need to know 'the full breadth' of isolated genes to perform clustering analyses that can very reliably pick out ethnic groups that correspond quite well to commonly used phenotypically-based group. There was a recent article in Science to this effect (reported here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/810321/posts). There have been others. Note that these do not need 'a small number of unknown genes'. Different ethnic groups' genes cluster so broadly that it's fairly easy to pick out groups at an aggregate statistical level. And doing so atheoretically converges on a solution surprisingly similar to one based on major phenotypical features.
posted by heavy water at 3:04 PM on January 13, 2006


I meant the specific confidence bound on Gregory Cochran's and Henry Harpending's supposed genetic clustering research. But thanks for being dense for effect.

Uh. Considering I never attempted to draw a link between that study and the general IQ difference, I'm kind of perplexed as to why you think it'd be oh so easy for me to state the confidence bound (or why it'd be relevant to anything I've said). Presumably that would have required that I read the article. I haven't. Nor did any of my comments above depend on having done so. So either you're being disingenious or you're being dense for effect.
posted by heavy water at 3:07 PM on January 13, 2006


Consider that this is a tiny sample given existing database derived from standardized testing, SAT scores, etc., and there is literally almost NO question that the average Ashkenazi IQ is higher.

I know next to nothing about this whole topic, but perhaps this says more about the standardized testing than anything else?
posted by me & my monkey at 3:09 PM on January 13, 2006


I should quickly clarify that just because there isn't that much evidence of Khazar influence on modern-day Ashkenazic genetics, there is still quite a bit of evidence of other-non-Jewish groups intermarrying with Ashkenazic Jews. More specifically, non-Jewish women married in in droves, which is why the #2 most common mtDNA (passed only from mothers to their children; men can't pass it on) for Ashkenazic Jews is Haplogroup H...which is the same as 50% of Europe! That's why finding evidence of these four women, three from mtDNA haplogroup K and one from mtDNA haplogroup N1a, probably stuck out like a sore thumb.

I wrote more about all this in that other thread, but I'll reiterate: Ashkenazics are the mutts of the Jewish world (compared to Sephardics, Yemenites etc.). And yet suprisingly, they still match up pretty closely with their Middle Eastern roots. Inbreeding and founder effects will do that, as this latest study shows.

And I'm not a scientist or anything, just a geeky genealogist who got tired of hitting brick walls with regards to lack of paper records in "the Old Country" and so I turned to genetics to try to figure out the rest of the story. It's starting to become pretty common among most of the genealogical societies to supplement data or fill in gaps, but especially in the Jewish community. That's because a lot of the "standard" vital records from, say, western Ukraine simply didn't survive WWI, WWII, communism, and most recently, the former Ukraininan PM having sold off the priceless community vital records books as bribes to political supporters (!). So genetics are probably the only way left to figure out who the heck my ancestors were pre-1850 or so.
posted by Asparagirl at 3:12 PM on January 13, 2006


I know next to nothing about this whole topic, but perhaps this says more about the standardized testing than anything else?

Perhaps, but that's a different question, and not one I have a strong opinion on (i.e., sure, maybe Ashkenazi jews are higher on a measure that means nothing).

It's worth noting though that IQ is a very strong predictor of all sorts of real-world outcomes--socioeconomic status, job success, occupation, proclivity to crime, etc. That's certainly not saying it's a causal factor, but I don't think it's fair to dismiss out of hand either.
posted by heavy water at 3:12 PM on January 13, 2006


And they never call, never come to visit..

Made me laugh out loud.

Endogamy seems such a misnomer for Jews, a group dispersed from the Middle East and intermarried with the natives everywhere they went, which is the reason for Ashkenazy, Sephardic, Mizrahim, etc. If there is a good reason for high IQ it may be because of the lack of homogeneity usual with endogamous nation states?
posted by semmi at 3:12 PM on January 13, 2006


Dang! I found Koestler's The Thirteenth Tribe available here on the web... Remember, he's not a trustworthy source, but he was a darn good writer for his time.
posted by zaelic at 3:20 PM on January 13, 2006


If there is a good reason for high IQ it may be because of the lack of homogeneity usual with endogamous nation states?

Good point semmi--we were traveling well before most, too. I wonder if anyone's ever studied that?
posted by amberglow at 3:26 PM on January 13, 2006


Uh. Considering I never attempted to draw a link between that study and the general IQ difference, I'm kind of perplexed as to why you think it'd be oh so easy for me to state the confidence bound

If you're not talking about specific research what are you talking about? You're defending the validity of research and literature you haven't even read? That seems strange to me. You originally said:

Now, as far as the link to specific genetic disorders goes, that's much more tenuous, and aside from the one paper there's very little hard evidence for such a theory. But presumably that's also a matter for science and 'statistical gobbledygook' to decide, not brazen assertions on metafilter.

Now, admittedly you did say this was 'tenuous' but you seem to be simply saying 'well, it could be true and not a bunch of racist, time-cubesque nonsense', but I asked you a simple question that ought to be answerable if the statistical models are simple or whatnot. Now, rereading your comment it seems like you are saying "well, neither one of us has the statistical background to debate this", which is an appeal to authority, as well as wrong. I do have the background to analyze the research, and I find it lacking. Now respect mah athoratah!

There was a recent article in Science to this effect (reported here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/810321/posts)

Free republic? Oy, Vey.

Anyway, from the nyt article

The researchers did not analyze genes but rather short segments of DNA known as markers, similar to those used in DNA fingerprinting tests, that have no apparent function in the body.

It would be interesting to see how old these markers actually are, as they would have a much higher mutation rate then genetically conserved genes, which is what I was talking about.
posted by delmoi at 3:54 PM on January 13, 2006


Uh. Considering I never attempted to draw a link between that study and the general IQ difference, I'm kind of perplexed as to why you think it'd be oh so easy for me to state the confidence bound

If you're not talking about specific research what are you talking about? You're defending the validity of research and literature you haven't even read? That seems strange to me. Anyway, you originally said:

Now, as far as the link to specific genetic disorders goes, that's much more tenuous, and aside from the one paper there's very little hard evidence for such a theory. But presumably that's also a matter for science and 'statistical gobbledygook' to decide, not brazen assertions on metafilter.

Now, admittedly you did say this was 'tenuous' but you seem to be simply saying 'well, it could be true and not a bunch of racist, time-cubesque nonsense', but I asked you a simple question that ought to be answerable if the statistical models are as simple as you say they are. Now, rereading your comment it seems like you are saying "well, neither one of us has the statistical background to debate this", which is an appeal to authority, as well as wrong. I do have the background to analyze the research, and I find it lacking. Now respect mah athoratah!

And just to clarify, I see no reason to believe that particular, arbitrary subsets of humanity may have higher IQ then other arbitrary subsets. For example, the IQ of rich people vs. the IQ of poor people. The IQ of CUNY grads vs. the IQ of MIT grads. People born in the North vs. people born in the South. This does not make Northerners genetically superior to Southerners, it means that there are cultural differences between those groups that affect IQ in adults.

There was a recent article in Science to this effect (reported here: free republic url)

Free republic? Oy, Vey.

Anyway, from the nyt article

The researchers did not analyze genes but rather short segments of DNA known as markers, similar to those used in DNA fingerprinting tests, that have no apparent function in the body.

It would be interesting to see how old these markers actually are, as they would have a much higher mutation rate then genetically conserved genes, which is what I was talking about (I even bolded the word).

(That wasn't what I was saying, Delmoi ... I was saying *many* Ashkenazi exhibit apparently Middle-Eastern traits, and no that does not prove they are Middle-Eastern, it could have come from somewhere else, I suppose, but it makes *no* sense if they are descended entirely from Khazars and Eastern Europeans.)

Of course not. If you trace your family tree back in it's entirety, go back 500, 1000 years or so, and the set of people in it will be the same for all people on earth. Any attempt to trace your 'ancestry' back farther then that is pointless.

And, glancing around the net, I notice the Kazakh language is Ural-Altaic ... obviously, I'm no expert on Kazakhs, but I thought it was relatively well established that the Ural-Altaic language group had origins at least in part around Korea?

According to wikipedia

The Ural-Altaic language family was a grouping of languages which was once widely accepted by linguists, but has since been generally rejected[citation needed]. It comprises of the Altaic languages (Turkish, Mongolian, Kazakh, Uzbek, Tatar, Manchu, and its derivatives, plus perhaps Korean and Japanese), and the Uralic languages (Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, and its derivatives.

Hardly compelling. According to this page google cache The family includes Finnish. Not to mention Estonian and Turkish. It hardly seems like much of a predictor of any type of racial charactaristic.
posted by delmoi at 4:11 PM on January 13, 2006


Uh. Considering I never attempted to draw a link between that study and the general IQ difference, I'm kind of perplexed as to why you think it'd be oh so easy for me to state the confidence bound

If you're not talking about specific research what are you talking about? You're defending the validity of research and literature you haven't even read? That seems strange to me. Anyway, you originally said:

Now, as far as the link to specific genetic disorders goes, that's much more tenuous, and aside from the one paper there's very little hard evidence for such a theory. But presumably that's also a matter for science and 'statistical gobbledygook' to decide, not brazen assertions on metafilter.

Now, admittedly you did say this was 'tenuous' but you seem to be simply saying 'well, it could be true and not a bunch of racist, time-cubesque nonsense', but I asked you a simple question that ought to be answerable if the statistical models are as simple as you say they are. Now, rereading your comment it seems like you are saying "well, neither one of us has the statistical background to debate this", which is an appeal to authority, as well as wrong. I do have the background to analyze the research, and I find it lacking. Now respect mah athoratah!

And just to clarify, I see no reason to believe that particular, arbitrary subsets of humanity may have higher IQ then other arbitrary subsets. For example, the IQ of rich people vs. the IQ of poor people. The IQ of CUNY grads vs. the IQ of MIT grads. People born in the North vs. people born in the South. This does not make Northerners genetically superior to Southerners, it means that there are cultural differences between those groups that affect IQ in adults.

There was a recent article in Science to this effect (reported here: free republic url)

Free republic? Oy, Vey.

Anyway, from the nyt article

The researchers did not analyze genes but rather short segments of DNA known as markers, similar to those used in DNA fingerprinting tests, that have no apparent function in the body.

It would be interesting to see how old these markers actually are, as they would have a much higher mutation rate then genetically conserved genes, which is what I was talking about (I even bolded the word).

(That wasn't what I was saying, Delmoi ... I was saying *many* Ashkenazi exhibit apparently Middle-Eastern traits, and no that does not prove they are Middle-Eastern, it could have come from somewhere else, I suppose, but it makes *no* sense if they are descended entirely from Khazars and Eastern Europeans.)

Of course not. If you trace your family tree back in it's entirety, go back 500, 1000 years or so, and the set of people in it will be the same for all people on earth. Any attempt to trace your 'ancestry' back farther then that is pointless.

And, glancing around the net, I notice the Kazakh language is Ural-Altaic ... obviously, I'm no expert on Kazakhs, but I thought it was relatively well established that the Ural-Altaic language group had origins at least in part around Korea?

According to wikipedia

The Ural-Altaic language family was a grouping of languages which was once widely accepted by linguists, but has since been generally rejected[citation needed]. It comprises of the Altaic languages (Turkish, Mongolian, Kazakh, Uzbek, Tatar, Manchu, and its derivatives, plus perhaps Korean and Japanese), and the Uralic languages (Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, and its derivatives.

Hardly compelling. According to this page google cache The family includes Finnish. Not to mention Estonian and Turkish. It hardly seems like much of a predictor of any type of racial charactaristic.
posted by delmoi at 4:13 PM on January 13, 2006


Jesus. You think the site is down... The last version of my comment should be considered normative.
posted by delmoi at 4:13 PM on January 13, 2006


Sigh. I never said it was, delmoi.
posted by kyrademon at 4:16 PM on January 13, 2006


# It would seem possible that, even with a lot of geographical separation, the M[ost] R[ecent] C[ommon] A[ncestor] of the entire world is still within historical times, 3000 BC - 1000 AD.

# Quite likely the entire world is descended from the Ancient Egyptian royal house, c. 1600 BC.

# The MRCA of almost all of the world is in historical times, quite possibly in classical times, even AD.

[Some 90% of the world population is in this highly interbred class.]

# Quite likely almost everyone in the world descends from Confucius, c. 500 BC.

We pick him as an example because he is the proven ancestor of some people alive today. Hence probably the ancestor of all people alive today. [N.B. This is computationally provable. See site.]

# The MRCA of the West is in historical times, quite possibly as recent as 1000 AD.

# Quite likely everyone in the West descends from Charlemagne, c. 800 AD.

-- from Common ancestors of all humans, by genealogy buff and computational scientist Mark Humphrys.

Humphrys also posits that almost all Britons, and a huge number of Americans, are descended from Edward II; and that nearly everyone in the West is descended from Muhammad, traceable due to a Spanish royal bloodline with Muslim intermarriage.

It actually isn't at all surprising that they can trace common strains in phenotypes to four mothers. It's perhaps more surprising that they couldn't get it down to fewer -- this is just where they ran out of road, so to speak. And it manages to tell us exactly nothing about where Jews are from.

In any case, I'm more fascinated by the cosmic joke that is the last four letters, in English, of Ashkenazi.
posted by dhartung at 4:19 PM on January 13, 2006


This is cool. Ascribing genetically-determined mental superiority to a specific race or group goes down so much better when it's a traditionally oppressed race or group. Crafty!
posted by Decani at 4:22 PM on January 13, 2006


I'm resigned to the fact I will probably not marry a Jewish woman--unless one appears suddenly, finally, who turns me on.
Is that adaptive I must be a mutant!
posted by ParisParamus at 4:24 PM on January 13, 2006


(Is that adaptive? I must be a mutant!)
posted by ParisParamus at 4:24 PM on January 13, 2006


Ghengis Kahn too, dhartung.


Them Jews got lots of money. Drive BMWs.

That's a good thing, right?
posted by Smedleyman at 4:26 PM on January 13, 2006


You are a mutant.
posted by zaelic at 4:28 PM on January 13, 2006


It actually isn't at all surprising that they can trace common strains in phenotypes Not phenotypes mtDNA. Phenotype = what you look like (what's observable about you other then your genes)
posted by delmoi at 4:30 PM on January 13, 2006


Time for elusive, ethnographically incorrect yet amusing Ashkenazic humor in the form of an old Yiddish saying!

A Jew who doesn't know Hebrew is an ignoramus.
A Jew who doesn't know Yiddish is a gentile.


(Academic Ladino, Zaphartic, and Judeo-Tat linguistic links not required....)
posted by zaelic at 4:31 PM on January 13, 2006


delmoi writes "Because no human group was genetically isolated. Any beneficial mutations could spread around the world in as little as 500 years,"

(Fuck. I really swore I was staying out of the blue.)

delmoi, Ashkenazi Jews are genetically isolated (discounting the inevitable rapes after the pogroms): they tend, to a great degree, to endogamy.

Of course there is some outbreeding, but quite possibly, just as the diseases of the Ashkenazi only strike homozygous individuals, it's possible the hypothetical intelligence gene (my wild-ass guess: an insulin growth factor allele) only has phenotypic effects in homozygotes. Or maybe it's like genes for height: one copy of the allele is good, but two copies are needed for "super-intelligence".

Or maybe it's several unlinked genes that cumulatively make Ashkenazis super smart, and statistically, only "full-blooded" Ashkenazis get all the genes required to add up to super intelligence.

But god knows, if you need a good lawyer....
posted by orthogonality at 4:33 PM on January 13, 2006


dhartung,

That occured to me too. Whats happening here is that:

a) probably most of the population of the world, including you and me and everyone in this thread, is descended from these four women (and most others alive at that time)

b) the 40% of ashkenazi jews are the matrilineal descendants of these women which is a subset of the above.

c) Since you are a jew if your mother is jewish the matrilineal line matches up nicely (mostly) with the mitochondrial line.

Summary: This study tells us almost nothing when you look at both the genetics at hand in conjunction with the mathematics of lineage.

Hopefully, your comment (and mine) will get seen above the snark and stereotyping...but I dont know... :)
posted by vacapinta at 4:48 PM on January 13, 2006


delmoi, Ashkenazi Jews are genetically isolated (discounting the inevitable rapes after the pogroms): they tend, to a great degree, to endogamy.

It takes only logn(1/x) generations for an outside gene to diffuse to the entire population, where x is the probability that a person in the group will interbreed, and n is the average number of children. If the average historical Ashkenazi jew had four children, and only one in one hundred interbred with the outside world, it would take only three generations at the minimum for the genes to spread to the entire population.

But thanks for playing.
posted by delmoi at 4:48 PM on January 13, 2006


"(discounting the inevitable rapes after the pogroms)"

Yes, Jews like discounts...
posted by ParisParamus at 4:51 PM on January 13, 2006


but not on horrible events like those.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:52 PM on January 13, 2006


truly a mutant.
posted by zaelic at 4:53 PM on January 13, 2006


"Proved", sundaymag?

While it's quite obvious my girlfriend and I both have a large amount of Eastern European heritage, if you could kindly explain, for example, her extremely levantine nose and my extremely levantine hair, neither of which look remotely European, and both of which are fairly common among Ashkenazi Jews, I eagerly await your explanation.


Did you not hear me explain why you and your GF may have features of Semitic people? Thousands of Middle Eastern Jews from the middle east and elsewhere moved to the Jewish Kingdom of Khazaar. and they were revered (unlike in Israel, where Sepahrdic Jews are second class citizens) and people were proud to marry them and have babies with them. As I said after the conversion of the emperor there was a lot of immigration to Khazzaria. read the book its a fascinating account of history that has been buried under myths because of the middle east politics. does that explain you and your GF's features? if you are not a contrarian, why don't you say thank you for talking about the lead on the book and move on?

and about the intelligence issue. this billysumday guy is so aggressive about defending the Jewish intellectual superiority. DUDE, intellect is mostly acquired through the social elements, if you -like me- does not believe in eugenics. IF there is any intelligent surplus in Jews (I doubt that; I've spent my life among them, I can tell you this is not correct) it has to do with fighting oppression and thinking hard, and through family values that forced kids to study hard.

That's all. get over it. you have supremacists tendencies man, and this kind of attitude breeds anti Semitism. look at DELMOI he is already resentful.

now imagine if you could actually prove that Jews are less intelligent than Goy. Imagine of the statistics were right, what would you and your girlfriend think about this kind of science. and please be honest.

oh and yes, I read the book and it proved -to me at least- that Ashkenazi Jews never belonged to the middle east to begin with. and I don't care about the political implication of this historical fact. because I -like the Irish foreign minister- only recognize Israel because of the UN vote in 1947, and not the god-given right to the land.
posted by sundaymag at 4:55 PM on January 13, 2006


delmoi, maybe I've been misunderstanding you from the start, but as far as I can tell, our conversation has gone like this:

Someone else: Jews are actually not descended from Middle Easterners at all, but Khazars.

Me: That seems unlikely, since many Jews, like me, have Middle Eastern features which Khazars and Eastern Europeans do not.

You: That proves nothing.

Me: ... Why? What do you mean? Are you trying to imply that phenotype implies nothing about genotype whatsoever?

You: Anecdotal evidence from one person proves nothing.

Me: But, I was discussing features shared by many Jews, which I happen to also share.

You: This means nothing unless you can tell me why Kazakhs look like Chinese.

Me: Why? What does that have to do with anything? I know nothing about that.

You: (no answer)

Me: OK, I'll try to look up Kazakhs to see if I can figure out what you're talking about ... Hm, well, the very first thing I see is that Kazakhs are part of a language group many people think has origins nearish to China.

You: That's disputed! And it proves nothing! And FINNS are in that language group! FINNS!


Of course, this is on a subject you brought up, and never explained, and which I still have no idea what the relevance is to the conversation. And you do know, incidentally, that pure-blood Finns look very different from their Scandinavian neighbors, right? Not blond-haired and blue-eyed and pale-skinned and such?

Anyway, I still think the fact that many Ashkenazi Jews have phenotypically Levantine features, coupled with the fact that Kazars and Eastern Europeans do not have these features, plus a reasonably well-documented history that puts the origins of Ashkenazi Jews in the Levant, strongly implies that Ashkenazi Jews do, in fact, have some genetic ancestry coming from the Levant, as well as ancestry from other areas of the world. And I still have no idea what your argument is against that.
posted by kyrademon at 4:58 PM on January 13, 2006


That's all. get over it. you have supremacists tendencies man, and this kind of attitude breeds anti Semitism. look at DELMOI he is already resentful.

I'm resentful of racism in all it's glories. Ashkenazi exceptionalism is just one more.
posted by delmoi at 4:59 PM on January 13, 2006


And sundaymag, I did miss your saying that, and apologize. But ... now, as far as I can tell, you are saying:

Me and my girlfriend have Semitic features because of Semitic ancestry (immigration to/interbreeding with the Kazars.)

Therefore, I have no Semitic ancestry. ("Ashkenazi Jews never belonged to the middle east to begin with.")

Huh?

"If you are not a contrarian, why don't you say thank you for talking about the lead on the book and move on?"

Perhaps because I am interested in discussing the issue, and perhaps if you politely raised substantive points, you might convince me. But right now, you're being as obnoxious as the people you're complaining about.
posted by kyrademon at 5:03 PM on January 13, 2006


Both zaelic and asparagirl were too kind. Listen up: Koestler was a good writer, but The Thirteenth Tribe is complete lunacy. To give you a taste of the mentality at work, he was trying to prove that Jews were not Semites so that anti-Semites would stop hating Jews. Very little is known about the actual Khazars, but that hasn't stopped them attracting kooks throughout the centuries; the whole idea of that contest among the religions, and their choosing to be Jewish (gottenyu!), is catnip to the credulous. Koestler was laughed at by historians and others who actually knew something about the subject, but hey, he was Arthur Koestler and the idea was neato keeno, and a lot of people bought the book and here we are treating it seriously today.
posted by languagehat at 5:09 PM on January 13, 2006


kyrademon: You posed your first point as a quest, and responded in kind. I don't know the answer and furthermore I don't think the question is answerable. But you should be able to see that it is a close analog of your initial question.

I'm not disputing that groups of people in different places can look similar groups of people nearby, simply that it is not a perfect measure, or proof of anything in particular.
posted by delmoi at 5:11 PM on January 13, 2006


"From a statistical standpoint, it means nothing. Anyone can charm the laity with statistical gobbledygook."

Exactly, we all know 90% of the statistics on MeFi are crap.
posted by takeyourmedicine at 5:23 PM on January 13, 2006


.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 5:24 PM on January 13, 2006


oh and yes, I read the book and it proved -to me at least- that Ashkenazi Jews never belonged to the middle east to begin with.Th

sundaymag, would you care to respond to one single, solitary, teensy item of actual genetic data refuting your point that I presented in my reply to you? Or will you just keep repeating "read the book! read the book!" and wholly ignore what those fickle mistresses science and history have to say?

Do you even know what a haplogroup is? Ever actually read any history of Ashkenazic Jewry--I mean, normal run-of-the-mill curricula history, not one largely-discredited book whose premise is not borne out by either the scientific evidence or the historical record and whose author had overtly political motives?

(Feh, why do I even bother.)
posted by Asparagirl at 5:25 PM on January 13, 2006


Well, enough of this thread. TTYL.
posted by delmoi at 5:25 PM on January 13, 2006


If you're not talking about specific research what are you talking about? You're defending the validity of research and literature you haven't even read? That seems strange to me.

I wasn't defending, I was giving it the benefit of the doubt. It makes no difference to my case one way or the other whether the results are plausible or not.

Now, admittedly you did say this was 'tenuous' but you seem to be simply saying 'well, it could be true and not a bunch of racist, time-cubesque nonsense', but I asked you a simple question that ought to be answerable if the statistical models are as simple as you say they are.

I misunderstood what models you were refering to. The difference between Ashkenazi IQ and non-jewish IQ is highly statistical significant and very simple to determine. As for the recent paper proposing a link between genetic disorders and IQ, I have no particular opinion. You're right in that I think there could be a genetic basis to the IQ difference. It would not be surprising given that about 60% of the variance in IQ within populations is genetic. So from a scientific standpoint, it's a perfectly reasonable hypothesis (from a political one, it may not be). But it's not one I'm supporting.

Now, rereading your comment it seems like you are saying "well, neither one of us has the statistical background to debate this", which is an appeal to authority, as well as wrong. I do have the background to analyze the research, and I find it lacking. Now respect mah athoratah!

No, again, I thought you were refering to the general finding that Ashkenazi jews have a higher IQ. With respect to the genetics paper, I don't care much one way or the other. The only reason I brought it up was to point out that that I was not suggesting a genetic basis.

And just to clarify, I see no reason to believe that particular, arbitrary subsets of humanity may have higher IQ then other arbitrary subsets. For example, the IQ of rich people vs. the IQ of poor people. The IQ of CUNY grads vs. the IQ of MIT grads. People born in the North vs. people born in the South. This does not make Northerners genetically superior to Southerners, it means that there are cultural differences between those groups that affect IQ in adults.

There's nothing arbitrary about Ashkenazi jews or rich people or Harvard grads. It's entirely possible for a particular group to have a higher IQ than another group without the difference being due to genetics. It's also possible that the differences are at least partially genetics. That's is a matter for science to determine.

Free republic? Oy, Vey.

I'm no fan of the Freep; I had skimmed the Science article earlier and googled for it. That's what came up.

It would be interesting to see how old these markers actually are, as they would have a much higher mutation rate then genetically conserved genes, which is what I was talking about (I even bolded the word).

I find your quote selection interesting considering the rest of the article pretty much said "yes, you can recapture phenotypic variation from genotypic information". I was under the impression your earlier posts were arguing that phenotypic race was arbitrary and had nothing to do with genotype. Your current claim seems narrower and I don't fully understand it; please unpack it for me.

Given that you haven't really responded to my earlier substantive points, let me restate what I'm saying, and see if you agree with the following:

(1) We can state with a high degree of certainty that Ashkenazi jews have a higher average IQ than certain other ethnic groups
(2) This difference may be due to any number of causes, environmental or genetic (or interactions between the two)
(3) Phenotypic race maps fairly well onto genotypic clustering. Hence race is not just some sociological construct; there is a clear operational sense in which it is perfectly real.

Agreed?
posted by heavy water at 5:30 PM on January 13, 2006


It takes only logn(1/x) generations for an outside gene to diffuse to the entire population, where x is the probability that a person in the group will interbreed, and n is the average number of children.

This math only works if there are no outside factors at play. But there is an outside factor in the form of natural selection. The "outside gene" may be beneficial to some populations and not to others.
posted by event at 5:35 PM on January 13, 2006


or in some living/geographic conditions and not others--like the malaria thing.
posted by amberglow at 5:37 PM on January 13, 2006


Languagehat says it best. I was only was trying to prove that Jews were not Semites so that anti-Semites would stop hating Jews.

But really. Why is this post going into ballistic stats in so short a time? Why does anybody give a big doody about us Ashkenazim? Why can't people ignore us Ashkenazic Yidn like they do the Slovenians or the Uruguayans?
posted by zaelic at 6:02 PM on January 13, 2006


Why can't people ignore us Ashkenazic Yidn like they do the Slovenians or the Uruguayans?

The flying fur is not so much about your group as it is about the idea that a subset of the human species could, as a group, fall outside an average of a trait.

Some things are difficult. Equality doesn't mean that we are all built the same. Some are indeed superior (as a group) in some aspect like jumping, running, doing calculus. or posting crap to MeFi.
posted by stirfry at 6:12 PM on January 13, 2006


Stirfry: Again, the concept of race is a cultural construct.
posted by zaelic at 6:33 PM on January 13, 2006


Did I say anything about race? Do you deny that a Zulu person is taller than the average human?

But also, just to be up front, I don't get this aversion to the idea of "race". Seems like no one has the aversion when it comes to plants or animals of a species where the idea of race is usefull.

Some get the delmoi fever that ideas that can cause harm need to be ostracised. I don't subscribe to that.
posted by stirfry at 6:44 PM on January 13, 2006


I meant Maasai, not Zulu.
posted by stirfry at 6:55 PM on January 13, 2006


Time and time again, this topic proves too sensitive for a lot of people to think straight about. I'm not singling anyone out here, and for all I know, I might be suffering from my own delusions. Anyway, people shouldn't be so threatened by the idea that certain ethnic groups may, on average, be genetically different in ways that affect cognition and behavior. It IS a dangerous idea in the wrong hands, and should be tempered by a very healthy dose of uncertainty.

On the other hand, it's funny how some people here refer to the statistics for IQ differences as though that settles it, when you know they'd be hesitant to talk the same way about black and white score differences. Or so one hopes. It's hard to know how to measure something like intelligence. I can describe the performance of this computer in a dozen distinct ways off the top of my head. Humans certainly warrant a much more detailed description. And once we have a working definition of intelligence, how do we determine what are the causes of differences?

Thus, I'm completely open to the possibility that the Ashkenazi could be inherently smarter, but I am far from convinced. I'm not in favor of turning away from these questions, because they lie at the heart of what it means to be human. On the other hand (again), I'm not in a rush to see scientists dive into a subject like this where people may be too excited to think clearly, and demagogues could misuse any findings.
posted by Edgewise at 7:35 PM on January 13, 2006


Four mothers...foremothers...heh.
posted by ericbop at 8:05 PM on January 13, 2006


Asparagirl, I'm very impressed by the comments you make in these sorts of threads. After the last Ashkenazi Jew thread, your comments made me spend hours browsing wikipedia and the rest of the web for information on population genetics. I bet this thread's going to make me do the same.
posted by painquale at 8:06 PM on January 13, 2006


Why does anybody give a big doody about us Ashkenazim?

"Then, there is a silence and a voice comes from the back of the hall that says, what about the bicyclists?"

Asparagirl, I'm very impressed by the comments you make in these sorts of threads.


I heartily second that emotion.
posted by languagehat at 8:14 PM on January 13, 2006


I heartily second that emotion.

Thirded. But I'd also like to put in a good word for the lucid rationalism and clear grasp of the arguments posted by heavy water as well.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:49 PM on January 13, 2006


clear grasp

Ugh. I meant to write 'clear exposition' here.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:50 PM on January 13, 2006


We are all one and the same. There is no difference at all between us except on an individual level.

My mountain lungs are identical to your NYC lungs and my political leadwer loves you tp pieces.
posted by stirfry at 9:04 PM on January 13, 2006


of course, that is "leader"...and not that right wing spelling.
posted by stirfry at 9:05 PM on January 13, 2006


Asparagirl, where/how did you find out about all the stuff hidden in your genes? That's absolutely fascinating; I'd like to learn about my own.

(Can I borrow one of these Jewish mothers? She can guilt me as much as she wants, if she makes challah and knishes.)
posted by cmyk at 9:26 PM on January 13, 2006


asparagirl, how does one go about obtaining this genetic data about oneself? i'm from the same area as your family (one-quarter ukranian jew, three-quarters polish jew) and also haven't been able to find out any more about my family's history, beyond three generations or so.
posted by ori at 10:05 PM on January 13, 2006


MetaFilter: 90% of the statistics on MeFi are crap.

/waves at all the cute Jewish girls, smiles, wife smacks on head
posted by mwhybark at 10:12 PM on January 13, 2006


*fondless mwhybark's wife*
posted by stirfry at 10:28 PM on January 13, 2006


To listen to delmoi, (who usually seems like a pretty reasonable poster) you'd think it's controversial that genetics causes intelligence, or anything else for that matter.

I mean, what the hell else causes it? Brain function is determined by brain structure and composition, which is in turn defined by brain tissue chemistry, which is turn caused by genetics.

I'm not trying to emphasize nature over nurture, btw, but it obviously can't all be nurture right? Well nurtured rocks and stones don't ever graduate kindergarten.

Hell, you'd have to be blind not to notice the prominence of "black" athletes in professional sports. If I had to guess, I'd say it's because of a fairly recent (and traumatically immoral) bottleneck on slave ships and plantations that killed off all but the most athletic.

(Note: this analysis doesn't depend on race being a genetic category. Race could easily be a strictly social selection category that had genetic effects on that socially selected group.)

Is this information potentially dangerous? definitely. All powerful ideas are dangerous. Ignoring it won't make it go away, though.
posted by Richard Daly at 10:54 PM on January 13, 2006


Opening a 111 comment thread on Jewish genetics filled me with great trepidation, but I am pleasantly surprised by all the cool stuff in it, a few funny bits, and only one guy pushing the Khazar story. And I love the bicyclist anecdote.

That is all.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:59 PM on January 13, 2006


It's dangerous and there's precedent that setting some people apart from others is a horrendously bad idea. There's already been an increase in anti-semitism (most of it related to that "war on Christmas" shit, but some bec of Abramoff), and delmoi is right--it is controversial.

that said, no information should ever be suppressed either.
posted by amberglow at 11:16 PM on January 13, 2006


jewlicious has a solution: ... So, with the need to diversify our genetic portfolio, I propose a revolutionary program: “Don’t Inbreed, Interbreed!”* The goal of my program? Simple. The encouragement of Israel’s various ethnic Jewish tribes to make babies with each other for a stronger, healthier Jewish nation.

Strong and robust? Marry a sunken-chested, pale Ashkenazi Charedi! Don’t have enough body hair to keep warm in the fierce Jerusalem winter? Think of your future children and marry a lustrous-coated Persian! ...

; >
posted by amberglow at 11:38 PM on January 13, 2006


That certain y-chromosome haplogroups like G1 and some of the J sub-clades (esp. J2) are synonymous (...)

... which should probably be represented by Central Asian haplogroups like R1a and Q, shows up in rather small numbers compared to, say, the North African haplogroups like E3b in Ashkenazic population studies? And that of the R1a's that do show up, ...
(...)
Or is it easier just to pretend that there was never a real, actual, historical country called Israel, whose people got dispersed?


excellent comment, really, I flagged it as such.
the problem more than a few people (myself included) have with this stuff is that if on the one hand is very very interesting, on the other hand it's pretty zany to argue 21-st century geopolitical issues on the basis of, you know, haplogroups and redheads having really almond eyes or something -- it's as relevant as, say, the Book of Genesis (that anti-Darwinian, reliable science book and, of course, binding legal document)

and Koestler is clearly interesting reading but very very shaky science, yes. the fact remains that -- pardon the racial profiling, maybe I'm ready to join the LAPD -- milky-skinned redheads who insist they're actually middle eastern -- even more than those husky Palestinian Arabs -- sound, well, somehow strange. not necessarily wrong; strange.

but maybe Yeshua ben Yosef was really a blue-eyed strawberry English-looking guy, who knows

;)
posted by matteo at 1:45 AM on January 14, 2006


No amount of scientific evidence and data can transform ethnic supremacy into a reality. Ashkenazi Jews may come across as more competent in some measurable conventional way the Western society values it's human resources. I MAY go as far as accepting that. But NO WAY as a general comment I agree with a simple town statement that says Ashkenazi Jews are smarter than other people. What constitutes being smart? An IQ test? Doing good in math and algebra? Those are just some of the gifts of humanity. There are so many other skills other humans have that Jews may lack then. Just because our post capitalist society still values math and algebra more than dance, cooking and having sex, Jews may seem to a bunch of stupid people as the smart ones.
posted by sundaymag at 2:41 AM on January 14, 2006


AND TO SETTLE THE POLITICAL SCORE:
...largely-discredited...

oh here it comes. well back in the 1970's NYT called Koestler's 13th tribe a breakthrough, and predicted that it would hopefully change the political landscape of the Middle East. I think NYT had naively discounted the power of blind Zionism when it came to the question of the Jews and their relation to the holy land. Europeans belonged to Europe, even if they had one or more Semitic features. (Especially if they were intend to create a segregated Jewish-only state in a largely 100 per cent Semitic Environment of Palestine (who –regardless of their religion- are people who have ALL Semitic features and rarely any European trace.)

now if the world was nice after the holocaust and through UN gave Zionists a country to call Israel. I don’t object to it, but it's not cool (within 10 years) to subvert that secular granted right to citizenship in the democracy of Israel and start calling all of it yours, against UN wishes based on some religious right, Even if you had 100 per cent Semitic features. That's why Arabs should never also be able to create a Muslim only Palestine that does the opposite of what Israel does.

This debate as you can see is not about Ashkenazi Jews. It's about Israel and Palestine. Ashkenazi Jews should have been given full rights and allowed to be equal to all the other white people in Europe back in the late 1800 and early 1900. It is a tragedy that holocaust had to happen. Israel was an inevitable solution not a celebrated cause for the rest of the world who collectively decided to create Israel back in 1947. Go read the content of the partition act. It’s ALMOST a Canadian history document. Our later Prime Minister Lester Pearson had to go back and forth between world leaders to secure the passage of the partition act. In fact Canada played a major role in the creation of Israel due to its heavy duty negotiations with Arabs and Europeans. Partition Act is not a happy declaration of a New nation. It is considered the best solution for a sad tragedy, and as that I am bound by it (more than the supreme court nominees are about the abortion) That’s why Canada stayed committed to UN position on Israel until this year (where under the influence of "Liberal Parliamentarians for Israel", we regrettably switched our historic vote and went along with USA and the 6 other insignificant little countries who are bribed every year by USA for their vote.)

You and your GF are particularly a mix of some white European Ashkenazi Khazaars and some Sephardic blood. the existence of Sephardic blood in you is largely attributed to the immigration of Jews OUTISDE OF THE ARAB WORLD and INTO THE KHAZAAR EMPIRE. that does not give you a birthright to Palestine. period. this is my opinion and it won't change because of your insistence.

now if you are really sincere, please read my piece in SUNDAY to understand where I really come from. I think Jews should be welcomed to all parts of the Middle East. I think Jews, Persians and Arabs are like cousins. Arabs are ready to take their family members back. If they weren't into it, they would have not even entertained the idea of selling land to Jews in the first place. I believe that it still is not too late and Jews and Arabs can be a united family. the Question is, are enough Jews on the other side happy to return to their Semitic roots or not.

You can separate the people from the land, but cannot separate the land from the people.
posted by sundaymag at 2:51 AM on January 14, 2006


cmyk, ori -- I can't exactly speak for Asparagirl, but I did the same MTdna tests, and mine were through Family Tree DNA. (I think I heard about it through on of Asparagirl's posts right here on Metafilter, but I'm not sure.)

It's pretty neat, but in my case I didn't find out anything that is particularly relevant in recent genealogy. (My haplogroup for MTdna is J*.) It's still neat, though.
posted by litlnemo at 3:46 AM on January 14, 2006


Hell, you'd have to be blind not to notice the prominence of "black" athletes in professional sports.

And you'd have to be dumb as a post not to realize that athletics is one of the few fields realistically open to poor black kids. Or are you going to argue that European classical music has had so many Jewish performers because Jews are genetically equipped to play the violin?

Opening a 111 comment thread on Jewish genetics filled me with great trepidation

Good god, before I focused on the word "comment" I thought 111 had started the thread, which filled me with great trepidation.

even if they had one or more Semitic features. (Especially if they were intend to create a segregated Jewish-only state in a largely 100 per cent Semitic Environment of Palestine (who –regardless of their religion- are people who have ALL Semitic features and rarely any European trace.... You and your GF are particularly a mix of some white European Ashkenazi Khazaars and some Sephardic blood. the existence of Sephardic blood in you is largely attributed to the immigration of Jews OUTISDE OF THE ARAB WORLD and INTO THE KHAZAAR EMPIRE. now if you are really sincere, please read my piece in SUNDAY to understand where I really come from.

Sir, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you are a grade-A kook. I'm not going to call you a racist, because I don't throw words like that around lightly, but using terms like "Semitic features" and "European trace" and "Sephardic blood" doesn't exactly dispel the idea.

For anyone who's curious, here's the start of that SUNDAY article he's so proud of:
Conspiracy theorists love to claim that ‘International Jewry’ controls our banking institutions, the media, and most western governments. They may have a point. Look around you in any of these areas and you see Jews over-represented. It’s easy to nod your head to these allegations, feel terribly bad and then quickly change the subject without taking your time to examine them. But do Jews really control the world?
You'll be happy to know he says it's not quite that simple!
posted by languagehat at 6:33 AM on January 14, 2006


I find your quote selection interesting considering the rest of the article pretty much said "yes, you can recapture phenotypic variation from genotypic information". I was under the impression your earlier posts were arguing that phenotypic race was arbitrary and had nothing to do with genotype. Your current claim seems narrower and I don't fully understand it; please unpack it for me.

Non coding portions of DNA are just 'noise' they don't do anything. Most of the human genome contains noise, only a few parts contain protein coding segments, which affect how our cells work and what we look like. The article seemed to be implying that they found a few good non-coding portions that could be used to determine who was in what major 'race'. This isn't the same thing as finding a universal genetic basis to the idea of racially typing the genome as a whole.

Finding that a few non-coding regions happen to correlate with place of birth for a lot of people (but not everyone) is simply not the same thing as saying that there is a broad base of human differentiation genetically.

So basically I only agree with point 1, and I think the cause is cultural, not genetic.

This math only works if there are no outside factors at play. But there is an outside factor in the form of natural selection. The "outside gene" may be beneficial to some populations and not to others.

Which is implying you think Ashkenazi Jews are a totally different species, and not Homo sapiens at all. I think you're just out of your depth.

Did I say anything about race? Do you deny that a Zulu person is taller than the average human?

I'm not denying that small isolated groups may have differences. Pygmies for example. In that case though, even though the phenotypic difference is huge, the genetic difference is still quite small. The majority of ethnic height difference is due to diet, though. For example, while Japanese baby-boomers tend to be very short, Japanese Gen-Xers and later are as tall as Americans (not that baby-boom and Gen-X are valid social constructs in Japan, I'm just using that a shorthand for writing about people born in different eras).

I simply do not believe that Ashkenazi jews had the level of genetic isolation required to differentiate so much. Unlike pygmies, isolated on an Island or in the jungle somewhere away from other cultures, Jews lived right in the mix of all of the rest of Europe. The interacted with Europeans in their day to day lives and I'm sure once in a while fucked 'em. White women routinely had sex with black men in the American South long before it was considered socially acceptable.

You're basically arguing that a cultural anti-miscegenation taboo is strong enough to prevent 99.99% of all members of a group from ever sleeping with someone who's not in their group. I certainly have a hard time swallowing that.

To listen to delmoi, (who usually seems like a pretty reasonable poster) you'd think it's controversial that genetics causes intelligence, or anything else for that matter.

I mean, what the hell else causes it? Brain function is determined by brain structure and composition, which is in turn defined by brain tissue chemistry, which is turn caused by genetics.


I'm not suggesting that there is no genetic reason that Humans are smarter then Apes, or that genes play no part in brain structure. Clearly something like Downs Syndrome is caused by genetics. My personal feeling is that most genetics-born Intelegence difference would be about as noticeable as downs syndrome. Things like Asperger's syndrome are widely believed (IIRC) to be related to pre-natal hormone exposure, not genetics.

I also think genetics may play a part in the Intelegence of an individual, but that most cultural groups, including Ashkenazi Jews do not have enough genetic isolation for those traits to be linked to their cultural group.

The majority of a person's height is determined by their childhood diet. Genetics only plays a small part. We can only start making guesses about race and height from observed height when all the worlds people are well fed from birth. Similarly, the genetic variation of Intelegence can only be properly measured when all the worlds people receive an optimal education from early childhood. I don't think that will ever happen.

If I had a few tens of millions of dollars I'd try a study wherein several thousand children from all over the world were given access to a first-rate education from age one. I think the results would show the null hypothesis as far as race and Intelegence. However, no one has ever done a study like this. All the studies linking race to Intelegence do not correct for cultural emphasis on education or access to education.
posted by delmoi at 7:32 AM on January 14, 2006


Which is implying you think Ashkenazi Jews are a totally different species, and not Homo sapiens at all. I think you're just out of your depth.

Wow.
posted by event at 8:24 AM on January 14, 2006


Finding that a few non-coding regions happen to correlate with place of birth for a lot of people (but not everyone) is simply not the same thing as saying that there is a broad base of human differentiation genetically.

Actually the article doesn't say they only used SNPs at introns, so I don't know why you concluded these are all in non-coding regions. They selected 377 microsatellite markers; the reasonable inference is therefore that any sufficiently large sample of markers would produce similar results. That's what I would call a 'broad base' of human differentiation.

Also, you seem to be under the impression that there no population differences in SNPs with established functions have been found. There are plenty. For instance, there were two articles from Bruce Lahn's group in Science recently showing that there has been very strong selection pressure for two separate alleles of genes that contribute to larger brain volume in the last 40,000 and 10,000 years (i.e., they ruled out neutral drift as ridiculously improbable). Moreover, Lahn's group showed that there are huge population differences in the prevalence of the selected-for allele. Does this mean that variations in these two genes contribute to intelligence differences between populations? Probably not; and if they did, the effect would probably be tiny (the correlation between brain volume and IQ is only about 0.3). But it's an explanation that's on the table, and the fact that you don't like these sorts of findings doesn't make them vanish.

The majority of a person's height is determined by their childhood diet. Genetics only plays a small part. We can only start making guesses about race and height from observed height when all the worlds people are well fed from birth. Similarly, the genetic variation of Intelegence can only be properly measured when all the worlds people receive an optimal education from early childhood. I don't think that will ever happen.

The behavioral genetics literature has amply demonstrated that IQ is highly heritable and that shared environmental influences play almost no role. Now it's true that you can't take all environments into account in any given sample--but you also can't take all genetic predispositions into account. In point of fact, the IQ (as well as personalities) of two identical twins reared separately is much more similar than that of two biologically-unrelated siblings raised together. This is a bedrock finding of behavioral genetics and has been replicated over and over and over. You don't need to wait until all children receive an optimal education; in fact, if you did, you would be effectively eliminating all variance in shared environment and would thus increase the effect due to genetics.
posted by heavy water at 8:25 AM on January 14, 2006


Which is implying you think Ashkenazi Jews are a totally different species, and not Homo sapiens at all. I think you're just out of your depth.

Total Non-sequitur. The claim that there are different selection pressures on different populations isn't controversial at all. You'd be crazy to think there wasn't greater pressure among African populations to select for alleles that confer malarial resistance than among Scandinavian populations. Lo and behold, there's plenty of evidence for that: heterozygotic carriers of the sickle cell gene (HBB) have a much greater resistance to malaria than non-carriers; but two copies of the allele and you've got sickle-cell. Note that sickle-cell is almost exclusively found in people of African descent. There are plenty of other similar examples.

Mind you, even if it wasn't controversial, it's completely unclear how you go from "different selection pressures on different populations" to "they're different species!" Do you have any idea what the definition of a species is? I suggest you look it up. Ashkenazi jews can interbreed with South Americans or Africans last time I checked. So can just about any two dogs, yet humans have clearly introduced different selection pressures to different dog populations.
posted by heavy water at 8:35 AM on January 14, 2006


event, I don't actually believe that you really believe that Ashkenazi Jews are actually a different species, but what you said, about outsider DNA being maladaptive and selected out is basically the biological definition of species.
posted by delmoi at 9:16 AM on January 14, 2006


heavy water: My point wasn't that they were different species, my point was that event didn't know what he was talking about. Thus the phrase "You believe". Try reading more carefully next time. TIA.

Actually the article doesn't say they only used SNPs at introns, so I don't know why you concluded these are all in non-coding regions.

Well, maybe the part of the article I initialy quoted will shed some light on why I think they were non-coding regions.
The researchers did not analyze genes but rather short segments of DNA known as markers, similar to those used in DNA fingerprinting tests, that have no apparent function in the body
Here's soem more from the NYT article
Because the sites have no particular function, they are free to change or mutate without harming the individual, and can become quite different over the generations.
In other words, because I can read and because it was explicitly stated.
posted by delmoi at 9:27 AM on January 14, 2006


delmoi, you said:

Any beneficial mutations could spread around the world in as little as 500 years, and it's unlikely that any trait in Europe would remain isolated in any group for more then a generation or two. Asparagirl's mtDNA comes from Ireland or Scoland or somewhere, for example.

which you supported with the following:

It takes only logn(1/x) generations for an outside gene to diffuse to the entire population, where x is the probability that a person in the group will interbreed, and n is the average number of children.

But the simple fact, and this is a simple fact, is that a mutation may not be beneficial across the whole population, so it won't necessarily spread universally. (See sickle-cell anemia, which has been mentioned repeatedly, but to which you have not yet responded.) This was my point earlier. It doesn't imply speciation; it implies that it is possible for there to be genetic differences among sub-populations of a single species.
posted by event at 9:47 AM on January 14, 2006


Sir, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you are a grade-A kook. I'm not going to call you a racist, because I don't throw words like that around lightly, but using terms like "Semitic features" and "European trace" and "Sephardic blood" doesn't exactly dispel the idea.

For anyone who's curious, here's the start of that SUNDAY article he's so proud of:


Im a kook because I respond to some misguided notion of Jewish superiority through genetic studies?

I am a kook because I think Anti Semitism is not a easy question? Or am I a kook because I brought up Arthur Koestler? Or am I a kook, just because you want to claim that? And you know given the political climate in USA, you can probably get away with such a wild claim?

how can you call me a racist for saying words like Semitic features, when some people here suggest that Jews are smarter than non Jews? I was not the one who insisted on talking about "Semitic features" you are applying classic biased judgment. it was another person who insisted on discussing his and her girlfriend Semitic features.

now you called me grade a KOOK I call you grade a layman with mainstream notions of political correctness.

and sorry if my anti-anti-Semitic logic differs from fanatics in ADL, JDL and Simon Wiesenthal Centre! You don't fight anti Semitism by censorship, guilt and shame, but by starting where Anti Semites stand and breaking down their arguments logically.
posted by sundaymag at 10:32 AM on January 14, 2006


mefi: I don't actually believe that you really believe...
posted by scheptech at 10:35 AM on January 14, 2006


None of this explains how, as an Irish American who was adopted by Jewish parents, I nonetheless turned out to be a geeeeenius.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:58 AM on January 14, 2006


"insisted on discussing"?

Man, this thread has gotten weird.

Also, who said I was a he?
posted by kyrademon at 11:46 AM on January 14, 2006


"Conspiracy theorists love to claim that ‘International Jewry’ controls our banking institutions, the media, and most western governments."

It's fairly obvious that Jews have presence and influence 10-100x what would expect from their number. But that just suggests they're smarter, not that there's a conspiracy/ies.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:49 AM on January 14, 2006


Gee, I wonder how American high school Jews would compare with their Belgian counterparts...? ;- )
posted by ParisParamus at 11:51 AM on January 14, 2006


OK, lemme give this one more shot ...

sundaymag - I have not said word one about intelligence, or Palestine, or anything of that nature. All I've basically said is that I find your assertions dubious. Given that they are ideas generally regarded as fringe and you have given no evidence or links to back them up other than referring to (but not quoting any evidence contained in) a single book, I don't think this is beyond the pale.

In turn, you have reacted as if I am some kind of dogmatic Zionist (which I am not) or believe I am genetically superior (which I do not.) This ain't winning me over to your side.

Moving on.

Your reasoning and explanation as to what you think are the implications of your belief - namely that Ashkenazi Jews have no claim to Palestine - are, well ... who the hell cares? What a pointless argument. They're there. It makes as much sense as saying that non Native Americans have no claim to Iowa. So what? They're not going away, and the argument is entirely moot. People there are going to have to find a way to live together now, frankly.

And if you're aiming your argument at the crazies who believe that Jews have a God-given right to rule that part of the world, you're not going to convince them anyway.
posted by kyrademon at 12:06 PM on January 14, 2006


It makes as much sense as saying that non Native Americans have no claim to Iowa.

As an Iowan, now you've really offended me! :P
posted by delmoi at 12:09 PM on January 14, 2006


You are a mutant. - posted by zaelic



You say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:57 PM on January 14, 2006


Im a kook because I respond to some misguided notion of Jewish superiority through genetic studies? I am a kook because I think Anti Semitism is not a easy question? Or am I a kook because I brought up Arthur Koestler? Or am I a kook, just because you want to claim that? And you know given the political climate in USA, you can probably get away with such a wild claim?

After reading your article, I personally am wavering between "kook" and "idiot," if that helps.
posted by Krrrlson at 2:22 PM on January 14, 2006


Just because our post capitalist society still values math and algebra more than dance, cooking and having sex, Jews may seem to a bunch of stupid people as the smart ones.

sundaymag: If I'm not mistaken, Jewish cooking and sex are famously good.

If I had a few tens of millions of dollars I'd try a study wherein several thousand children from all over the world were given access to a first-rate education from age one. I think the results would show the null hypothesis as far as race and Intelegence. However, no one has ever done a study like this. All the studies linking race to Intelegence do not correct for cultural emphasis on education or access to education.

Delmoi: Questionably effective social engineering aside, shouldn't you give points for the emphatic "cultural emphasis on education" Jewish parents have for their children?
posted by semmi at 2:56 PM on January 14, 2006


*blushes* Thanks, guys. What can I say, I'm a big dork. The science behind this sort of thing is pretty cool, and evolving at an incredible rate. Five years ago, a person could get 12 of his y-chromosome markers tested, two years ago he could get 37 markers tested and find out what haplogroup that roughly put him in, this year they're offering haplogroup sub-tests that can tell you that you're not just in haplogroup J, but haplogroup J2f, plus nail down the time to MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor) between two people to a much more specific time frame. The next five years are going to have many more of this kind of group-targeted research papers coming out, and a lot better clarification of how every person on Earth is related to one another. Very cool stuff.

But keep in mind that I got into this stuff from a genealogy angle, not the population genetics angle. I see it as an adjunct to regular genealogy, not meant to supplant doing all the nitty-gritty digging through microfilms and newspapers! It's an add-on, not the whole deal!

On the other hand, if you're lucky, one of the people you match genetically might have a better paper-trail genealogy than you do, and if you can figure out from the MRCA when the split happened, then you can know when and where to look for paper records. That happened in my family; I mentioned that my brother tested as G1. He (we) had lots of very close matches, almost all Jewish, but everyone had a different last name, because Ashkenazic Jews only picked up last names a few hundred years back. Very, very luckily, though, one of the people in the group was a descendant of Chaim Luria, from the rabbinical family. And rabbis kept great records of who was the son of whom, etc. So suddenly, every other surname in our closely-related group could glom onto the Luria family tree, which goes back to the 1300's in Germany, because we knew we matched the guy. Presto, instant genealogical paper trail!

(The Luria family has also long been rumored to be one of the descendant families from King David, along with the Halperins, the Katzenellenbogens, the Horowitz's, the Epstein's, the Margolit's, etc. Normally, I would totally dismiss that as a a dumb story propagated to give prestige to a family name. But considering that the group did test as G1, which does have its roots in the Middle East a few thousand years ago [and India/Pakistan thousands of years before that], suddenly the story seems a little tiny bit more plausible.)

As for testing company recommendations, and how I learned all this stuff, I've got only one address for ya: FamilyTreeDNA.com. I'm not making money off the company or anything, I just think they're the top testing company in the field out of maybe five or six large companies. (Unless you have African heritage, in which case I would recommend AfricanAncestry.com, because their reference sample database for African tribal groups is reportedly very strong.) They send you a cheek swab thingie and a stamped envelope to return the sample to them; six weeks later, you get to find out who your closest matches are.

Anyone can do the mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) test. But if you're female, you're really best served by sweet-talking a brother or your father or your father's brother to take the y-chromosome test for you, preferably the 37 martker level. That's because those y-chromosome tests are way more useful for recent-timeframe studies than mtDNA, which both men and women have, but which changes only a tiny bit over time, and thus isn't as useful (yet) as a fast-mutating y-chromosome. Sure, a y-chromosome is a stunted, stubby little thing, actually a long-broken-down X chrosomome, which has the dubious role of turning humans into gruff testosterone-fueled men, but it does seem to be awfully useful for genealogical purposes. :-)

BTW, I didn't mention it in my post, but if you have British Isles ancestry, I can tell you right now that there's a very very good chance that you're garden-variety haplogroup R1b, which unfortunately doesn't have many sub-clades below it identified yet, so you would probably end up with lots and lots of matches and it might be hard to sort out who's actually closer to your branch. But you may be able to find out which ancient Irish or Scottish clan you belong to. People in the field are doing neat things like trying to triangulate the genetic signatures for different clan leaders and ancient kings. And there's a new Viking DNA project, which sounds very cool! They, uh, spread their seed around quite a bit, I hear, so they should have plenty of matches as time goes on and people figure out what marker values mean what.

Feel free to e-mail me if you have more questions...
posted by Asparagirl at 3:49 PM on January 14, 2006


"sundaymag: If I'm not mistaken, Jewish cooking and sex are famously good."

Really? Please tell me more about this; I thought it was just that I was a good cook and...

Seriously, I'm curious.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:53 PM on January 14, 2006


Oh, and as long as I have the podium...

If anyone reading this knows anybody with the last names (or a variant spelling of the last names) SCHREIER, GANZ, or RUSSO, please tell them to sign up for one of the tests, because I administer those surname projects over at FamilyTreeDNA.com and would love to find matches! Financial aid is available for qualified testees.
posted by Asparagirl at 3:56 PM on January 14, 2006


What about Paramowitz? Just kidding.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:02 PM on January 14, 2006


I think Jews, Persians and Arabs are like cousins. Arabs are ready to take their family members back. If they weren't into it, they would have not even entertained the idea of selling land to Jews in the first place. I believe that it still is not too late and Jews and Arabs can be a united family. the Question is, are enough Jews on the other side happy to return to their Semitic roots or not.

I would pack my bags and move to Yemen tomorrow, but I'm too busy solving for X. There's a little bit of my genetically-enhanced humor for ya, sundaymag (I have plenty of time to work on my shtick, since I suck at dancing and cooking so much).

Sigh. It's just sad how these same tropes get bandied about without any qualms that the real history don't agree. Look - I'm a big 'ol Jew, k? A professional one at that. Politically, like many Jews I'm a bit left of center. I hate to drag out the same old defenses for why it's OK for Jews to have this teeny country surounded by Muslim nations (which, if you believe Sundaymag, he would never have endorsed) but regardless of how it is abused by the right, and although I have a better chance of convincing a Dover, Pa school board member that he's a monkey's nephew, here, for the freakin' hojillionth time, is the short (but true) answer: The Brits, in their infinite kindness, decided to get the hell out of dodge and reward their former royal subjects in Palestine with two states - one Arab, and one Jewish. But all the surrounding countries didn't like this plan, attacked the fledgling Jewish state from all sides, and turned countless Palestinian refugees into political pawns for the next half century.

This is not denying that since that time, the Israelis have themselves made numerous errors in judgement, and can no longer claim moral superiority when it comes to the way they defend their citizens and their borders. But neither are they morally inferior
in this regard. Us Jews overreact to unjust violence and persecution just as badly as anybody else. So look, stop trying to tell me that my great(to the nth power) grandma wasn't from Canaan via the Fertile Crescent, just to make yourself feel better about endorsing any attempt to push all the Israelis into the sea.
posted by ericbop at 5:15 PM on January 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


ericbop, that's one of the better rants I've seen on the subject. (I just didn't want you to think you'd wasted your breath, in case this thread is breathing its last.)
posted by languagehat at 5:30 PM on January 14, 2006


thanks, languagehat! let me also echo the big ups for asparagirl, and a sigh/eyeroll for delmoi.
posted by ericbop at 5:36 PM on January 14, 2006


the actual research paper The Matrilineal Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jewry: Portrait of a Recent Founder
Event
(PDF) is available at familytreedna.com.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 8:07 PM on January 14, 2006


delmoi: "Racism in the strictest sense is the idea that you can predict traits of the mind of an individual based entirely on their phenotypic classification into a particularly broad racial category, irrespective of culture."

Oh, c'mon now. This is a lovely example of making up a definition that proves the conclusion you are trying to arrive at, but seriously now: is this the widely understood definition of racism?

Ideological racism: The belief that civil rights and liberties can and should be restricted according to a person's heritage.

There's been a lot of blather pumped out by white supremacists trying to muddle the definition of racism to provide cover for mainstream acceptance of white supremacy as a normative value. It shows up a lot as "You said 'race' -- you must be a racist" being thrown by the dittoheads at anybody who stands up for democratic egalitarianism.
posted by warbaby at 8:36 AM on January 15, 2006


Ideological racism: The belief that civil rights and liberties can and should be restricted according to a person's heritage.

No, I think you really need to include at least some sort of superiority or inferiority based on some concept of "race". "Black people are violent animals" is a racist statement regardless of wether you support programs restricting the rights of black people or not.
posted by delmoi at 2:09 PM on January 15, 2006


I'm just waiting for some nutbar to see this study as confirmation of the Genesis, i.e. that all Jews are descended from Jacob and his four wives.
posted by greatgefilte at 4:38 PM on January 15, 2006


I think "Paris Paramowitz" would be an awesome username for a sockpuppet
posted by matteo at 8:51 AM on January 16, 2006


;- )
posted by ParisParamus at 9:32 AM on January 16, 2006


matteo, we have to meet!
posted by ParisParamus at 9:33 AM on January 16, 2006


Delmoi, disagree all you want. That is the definition of ideological racism.

I think you are really confusing prejudiced with racist. Racism implies acting on it. That's the deal with isms. If it's just somebody's interior landscape, who gives a rat's ass?
posted by warbaby at 7:03 PM on January 16, 2006


« Older Grasses and other green growth may produce 10 to 3...  |  The vision: a federally funded... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments