Who We Are and How We Got Here; Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Past by David Reich – A Book Review

This review is a companion piece to my earlier review of Gregory Cochran’s “The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution.”  These two books lay out step by step how the new tool of ancient DNA isolation has allowed geneticists to turn museum fossils into an amazingly detailed history of the inter-relations between and movements of, the various branches of the human species as it emerged out of Africa 50,000 to 150,000 years ago and went on to settle the planet.

It is truly remarkable how comparing DNA sequences between modern and ancient humans has allowed these researchers to answer historical mysteries such as who were the first Indo-European speakers (the Yamnaya) and where did they live (the Russian Steppe).  We can determine if the Native Americans are essentially the direct descendants of the ancestors of the East Asians or was there some other component involved.  We can find out where the blond hair and blue eyes of the Northern Europeans came from.  We can even find out how many concubines Genghis Kahn must have had.

So, this book is full of facts to satisfy our curiosity about where we all came from.  But there is another dimension to this book that is also interesting.  David Reich is an academic scientist.  He interacts constantly with the very politically correct denizens of the social sciences.  He describes his run-ins with anthropologists and bio-ethicists who accuse him of racism for identifying various biological traits with specific human races.  Even though these traits such as sickle-cell anemia are widely known to reside almost exclusively in one racial group or another, these academics were so conditioned to reject the concept of physical race differences that even mentioning them in the context of biomedical research was the equivalent of heresy.

To his credit, Reich recognizes the intellectual weakness inherent in this response but it is obvious by the compromises he will commit to assuage the discomfort of his colleagues that he feels more comfortable himself being on the “side of the angels.”  For instance, after his research clearly showed that the present population of India is the result of the Yamnaya invading from the north and mixing in with the earlier inhabitants he allowed the feelings of his Indian colleagues to force him to rename these groups Ancestral North Indians and Ancestral South Indians.

And Reich is much harsher toward those on the right who speculate about natural selection at work in the differences measured between present day groups.  He is obviously unwilling to assume a neutral position along the spectrum of opinion on human biodiversity and feels more comfortable aligning himself at least in spirit with those whose opinions about human racial differences fly in the face of his own research.

So, Reich’s book is both fascinating and aggravating at one and the same time.  I imagine virtue signaling is the price he thinks he has to pay to get this book accepted by the academic community and then New York Times Book Review.

My recommendation is to read this book.  But be sure to read Cochran’s book along with it to see an opinion that isn’t captured in an orbit around the black hole that is Modern Academia.

Trump vs Kim Jung Un and the Bad Example

Trump vs Kim Jong Un and the Shanghai Noon

 

Dramatis Personae: President Trump – (PT); Vice President Pence – (VPP); Melania Trump – (MT); James (Mad Dog) Mattis – (JM); Kim Jong Un (KJU)

 

Scene 1- 8am White House West Wing; Oval Office; President Trump sitting at his desk with the office phone on his ear.  Vice President Pence is just entering through the door.

VPP – Mr President?

PT – (speaking into the phone) Sorry, let me call you back, somebody is interrupting.  (hangs up) Mike, what?

VPP – Sorry to interrupt Mr. President, but you haven’t screamed my name looking for me since before you left on your trip.  I was wondering if anything was wrong.

PT – You know Pence, it’s not always all about you, you know.  Maybe sometimes I call other people up when I need something.  That is possible isn’t it?

VPP – Well, sure, I guess.  But I have grown accustomed to your early morning summons, so you know, I was just kind of surprised by the quiet.

PT – Yeah, well, don’t worry I’ll make sure and let you know when I need you.  Now go ahead and get your first morning nap before you get cranky.

VPP – Alright Mr. President, goodbye. (as he goes to close the door on his way out he sees that President Trump is once again talking on the phone)

PT – Yeah, I got rid of him.  Honestly, I don’t know why I hired him but mistakes can be corrected.

Scene 2:  Outside the First Lady’s Office in the White House later that day.  In front of the door Vice President Pence and Secretary Mattis meet up.

JM – Hello Mike.

VPP – Hi Jim.  Were you called here too?

JM – Yeah, what’s it all about?

VPP – Well, the way things have been going around here only a fortune teller could know. (he knocks on the door)

MT – (calling through the door),  Come in Mike and Mad Dog. (they enter and close the door behind).

VPP – Hello Melania.  Good to see you again.

JM – Good afternoon First Lady.

MT – Hello Vice Mike and Mad Dog, please sit down.  The reason I have summoned you is because Schmoopey is acting very strange.

JM – And by “Schmoopey” ma’am you mean?

MT – Ah, forgive me.  Schmoopey is the pet name that Donald and I use for each other.  It is a Seinfeld reference, is it not?

JM – I wouldn’t know ma’am.  Jerry Seinfeld is some kind of hippie, I believe, so I’ve never seen him on the television.

VPP – Melania, could you be a little more specific about the President’s behavior.  Opinions may differ on very strange.

MT – He is obsessed with Kim.  That is all he thinks about all day.

VPP – Melania you must be wrong.  When Kim Kardashian came to the White House that was just a public relations event.  She means nothing to the President.

MT – No Vice Mike.  I mean that fat little psychopath Kim Jong Un.  They talk all day and night, laughing and joking.  And the more he talks to Kim the scarier he gets.

JM – Ma’am, what do they talk about?

MT – They talk about making their enemies disappear.  Someone must stop this.

VPP – Melania, I’m sure the President is just pretending to be Kim’s friend to get his cooperation.

MT – I do not think this is so.  Schmoopey has been very angry with the Fake News.  I think he is looking to get the revenge.

JM – Ma’am, what can we do?

MT – You must break the evil spell that holds him captive.

VPP – Melania, we’ll help the President.  Don’t fret.

MT – Thank you gentlemen.  Now I must get back to my memoirs.  Goodbye.

Scene 3:  That night; White House Teleconferencing Center, President Trump sitting in front of a teleprompter with Kim Jong Un’s image projected in front of him, Mattis and Pence entering from behind him.

PT – So did you really boil the entire Nork Press Corp in honey and feed them to bears?

KJU – You bet you I do!  And then I feed bears to sharks.  Very, very funny.

PT – Well, my short fat friend, you certainly have your own style.  But I’ll settle for results.  Did I tell you how I eliminated sixteen rinos without firing a shot?

KJU – Ouuuh, rhino horn good for the rub rub.

PT – Maybe, but these rinos had already had their horns and their genitals removed before the event.

VPP – Mr. President, may we have a word with you?

KJU – Donald, these dogs are interrupting us.  Have them fed to sharks!

PT – No Jung Un the sharks are already full, besides I still need these servants for a little longer.

KJU – I bored.  I go. (screen goes blank)

PT – Jim, Mike what do you want?

VPP – Mr. President, we’ve heard some disturbing reports about your behavior.

PT – Schmoopey ratted me out!

JM – Mr. President, that little psychopath Kim can’t be trusted.  You said so yourself last month.

VPP – That’s true Mr. President.  I remember you were afraid he’d try to poison you.

PT – Yes, but that was before we became friends.  Now he’s shown me how to deal with the Fake News, Crooked Hillary and the Deep State all at the same time.

JM – But we’re Americans, we’re the good guys we don’t murder other Americans just because of political differences.

PT – Are you telling me Hillary Clinton, Peter Strzok and Jim Acosta are loyal Americans.

JM – Hmmm, I get your point.

VPP – But Mr. President, that’s besides the point.  If you stoop to their level, they win.

PT – If you do blah, blah, blah they win?  Who do you think I am, W?  Mike, you and Mad Dog convene the Cabinet for a special meeting.  I want to get the whole team’s ideas on some of Jong Un’s “special techniques.”

VPP – Mr. President, why don’t we start with just the three of us?  I’m not sure Jeff Sessions would survive it.

PT – Yeah that may not be a problem for much longer.  Okay, let’s get down to brass tacks.  Sessions isn’t going to do anything about the mess in the DOJ or Mueller.  My friend Jong Un sent me plans for his built-in shark tank.  I have it installed under the floor in the White House basement and whenever I want a problem to go away I invite the “problem” for a heart to heart chat and a stroll around the basement and before you know it the problem is a just a greasy residue to be filtered out of the tank water.

VPP – Mr. President, that’s monstrous!

PT – Would that count for Joe Biden?

JM – Hold on Mike, maybe we should hear him out.

VPP – No!  Not even for Creepy Uncle Joe.  Look you are just allowing yourself to get swept up in the whole Caligula thing that Kim Jong Un has going on.  Remember how that worked out for Caligula himself.  Or Nero, or Hitler or any of those other psychos.

PT – Well Stalin did alright.

VPP – But this is America, it’s not the Soviet Union yet.  Look at it realistically.  If all your enemies start mysteriously disappearing, like they do around the Clintons then you’ll be treated the same way they are.  Everyone will fear and hate you.  You’ll never get re-elected and after you die your corpse will be desecrated.

JM – They might call you Crooked Donald.

PT – Never thought of that.  That would be bad for the Trump brand.  Alright, you’ve convinced me, no shark tank.  But I have to say, you guys are nowhere near as much fun as Jong Un.

VPP – And I have some more bad news for you.  You’re gonna have to break off your bromance with the short fat maniac.

PT – No way, he’s fun and he’s got a great head of hair.

VPP – Yes, way.  Melania is very upset with you and if you don’t straighten up she’ll bolt.

PT – Schmoopey?  I can’t have that.  Okay, you win, I’ll break up with Jong Un.  But you guys are gonna have to raise your game.  If I get too bored I’ll have to reconsider the shark tank.

JM – How about a pinochle game on Thursday nights?

VPP – Charades?

PT – (under his breath) Shark tank.

CTH is Going To Be Busy With the IG’s Report for a Very Long Time

Sundance over at CTH will be mining gold out of that report until long after Peter Strzok is wearing stripes in Sing Sing.  Honestly, the list of broken laws and examples of political bias are endless.  Our servant masters have grown arrogant indeed.

IG Report: FBI Agent Peter Strzok Sent Weiner Sealed Indictment To His Personal Email…