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Are all Ashkenazim partly Sephardi? April 20, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Jews.
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I theorized before that Ashkenazi Jews must be related to the original Sephardim. People who don’t know Jewish history think of the Sephardim as Jews from Islamic countries. That is wrong. Those Jews are Mizrachi Jews who merely adopted Sephardic traditions. The real Sephardic Jews are West Europeans, and the Ashkenazim are Central and East Europeans (from Germany to Russia).

When Sephardic Jews were expelled from Spain and Portugal, they went to Turkey and Holland. There are still a lot of Sephardim in Turkey, but what happened to all the Dutch Jews like the great philosopher Benedict de Spinoza?

Ashkenazi Jews originated on the Rhine River, somewhere near Cologne and Düsseldorf. The region is right next to Holland, so it’s impossible that the two communities wouldn’t intermarry with each other.

The sudden disappearance of Sephardic Jews in Holland and the simultaneous skyrocketing of the nearby Ashkenazi population could be a coincidence, but that’s far-fetched. Why would the Dutch Jews disappear? Do we really think that the Rhine Jews all had historically unheard of number of children per woman to grow their population so quickly?

It is more likely that the two communities just united.

Take a look at this map from wikipedia (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e3/Cohanim_DNA_migration_.jpg)

It shows Jews migrating to Spain and Portugal, then from there into Central and Eastern Europe. In Iberia, there were no Ashkenazim. In Central and Eastern Europe, there were no Sephardim. If family was in Spain first, then went to Poland, then they must’ve started out as Sephardim and then became Ashkenazim. Not as a matter of genetics, but as a matter of religious tradition.

Today we think of Mizrachi Jews as Sephardim because they adopted their religious traditions. But genetically, Ashkenazi Jews must have more Sephardic blood than do Mizrachi Jews. This is because both Sephardim and Ashkenazim were European Jews who lived right next to each other, while the Mizrachi were in the far-away Middle East and Central Asia.

The last names of people who originated from Iberia are some of the more common Ashkenazi names: Kaplan, Garfinkel, Mazer, Katz, Kohn, Kovacs, Cowan, Coyne, Kahan, Kagan, Cohen, Shapiro. Many of these names originated when the families were already in Central and Eastern Europe (or the British Isles), but the family history lays with Portuguese and Spanish Sephardim.


European Genetic Diversity April 13, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Caucasians.
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This is a map of European Genetic Diversity courtesy of the New York Times.

European Genetic Diversity

All the populations are quite similar, but the differences are sufficient that it should be possible to devise a forensic test to tell which country in Europe an individual probably comes from…

Europe has been colonized three times in the distant past, always from the south. Some 45,000 years ago the first modern humans entered Europe from the south. The glaciers returned around 20,000 years ago and the second colonization occurred about 17,000 years ago by people returning from southern refuges. The third invasion was that of farmers bringing the new agricultural technology from the Near East around 10,000 years ago…

The map also identifies the existence of two genetic barriers within Europe. One is between the Finns (light blue, upper right) and other Europeans. It arose because the Finnish population was at one time very small and then expanded, bearing the atypical genetics of its few founders.

The other is between Italians (yellow, bottom center) and the rest. This may reflect the role of the Alps in impeding free flow of people between Italy and the rest of Europe.

The last two things about the Finns and the Italians coincide with my theories in Mapping out the borders of whiteness.

Are Jews White? April 10, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Jews.
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SA Sucks has a blog today saying that Jews aren’t white based on the genetic maps created by GNXP at http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp/2009/01/how_ashkenazi_jewish_are_you.php.

The information is highly deceptive because the whole human gene pool doesn’t appear there.

Where Jews might be away from others by 0.01 or 0.02, non-whites would be away by several full points.

And why stop where at this map?

The brown color are Americans who aren’t one ethnicity, but rather dozens of different white ethnics. But look at the bottom of this map.

Italians and Basques also don’t overlap. Maybe we should exclude Italians? (Almost nobody overlaps, if you include all the ethnic groups.) This is especially because they too, like Jews, are part of the J Y-DNA haplogroup.

Or maybe we should just stop with Russians, who do not overlap with the Basques? Or consider the gap from Sardinians to Jews and to Orcadians. Sardinians are much, much closer to the Jews than to Orcadians. To classify them as separate race is not only unscientific, it’s anti-scientific.

Notice also that Jews are very close to Europeans and there’s some overlap with American whites, who are actually just European-descended whites, not all whites. There’s no overlap with the Arabs.

But the Arabs, from the science point of view, are also white. Their support for terror does not change the fact that their haplogroups on the mt-DNA side are the same as those of Europe.

To be part of a different race, at the very least a ethnic group must be part of a different race. The haplogroup overlap is so extensive that to argue that people of the same haplogroup are part of different races proves the Left to be correct: race is a social construct. Either we go with biology or race is a social construct where we choose who’s white and who isn’t based on how much we like them.

The Arab Y-DNA is also similar to that of Europeans. Not only do they belong to the same J haplogroup as southern Europeans, but J is actually closer to I (northern Europe) than the West European R-haplogroup.

West European R is actually grouped together with Asian haplogroups, Q, N and O: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_I_(Y-DNA)

An argument could legitimately be made that J is “more Caucasian” than R. You can have no doubt that this is how white nationalists would interpret things if J instead of R was grouped with Asians.

I don’t subscribe to that line of reasoning, but R-haplogroup people should really be careful when they judge who’s white and who’s not because scientifically-speaking they are the closest ones to being non-white.

I won’t get into the politics of that blog except to say that if Jews dominated the Soviet Union, then why is it that the list of Jews in power always ends around 1937, during Stalinist purges?

Nor was it the Jews who sponsored the revolution, it was the Germans in hopes of winning World War I. Germany promoted Jewish rights for the same reason the US promotes Women’s Rights around the world, so they helped put Jews in power in 1917. If this was a conspiracy, it was a German Conspiracy.

Jews dominated Russian politics in the 1920s because the former elites were driven out by German-sponsored Communists, and what was left were illiterates with drinking problems. Even prior to the Communist take-over, over 95% of Russians were illiterate and much of the intellectual elite fled when Lenin took over. Russia is also famous for its drinking problem: more vodka is consumed there than in the rest of the world combined.

The Jews were the only ones who were at least somewhat educated and who didn’t spend their days drinking. So it is hardly surprising that they took positions of influence. Who else was supposed to run factories and government agencies?

As soon as a new generation of Russians got educated, Stalin killed all the Jews in power, and hundreds of thousands of others, and the Jews became the nation’s whipping boys.

Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Soviet politics should know that after 1937 Jews were the lowest caste in the country. It was Jews who organized anti-Soviet demonstrations and it was Jews who promoted capitalist reforms in the Soviet Union.

That was more than I intended to say about the politics of his blog, but needless to say that he should do his research not just on stormfront.

Why we lose mental and physical qualities March 30, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Sex Differences.
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There’s a popular belief that evolution only moves forward. We are better than our ancestors a thousand or a million years ago. Such reasoning is wrong.

Life began under water. So how come we can’t survive there anymore? A tail could potentially be valuable, like in a fight, for instance.

Why didn’t we develop a jaw like alligators or a neck like giraffes?

The answer is that any quality that doesn’t help one survive, harms it. All body parts need to be fed. The value of a tail is less than the amount of food needed to feed it.

Consider height and muscle base. Tall, muscular people need to eat more than a 5-foot 100 pound person.

Men who went to hunt on regular basis needed to be very strong or else they couldn’t catch they prey. As farming replaced hunting, men became less strong, but still strong enough to fight war battles.

Women were never hunters or soldiers. For them, being big meant consuming more food and hence, endangering themselves and everyone in their family. As a result, women never developed the physical strength of men. At the same time, they didn’t become completely tiny because they needed to produce viable offspring and at least some physical strength was always needed on farms and around the house. A 3-foot, 35 pound midget would not be of much help.

The same pressures applied to brains. Either something helps you or you will lose/never develop that quality. Your brain eats about 20% of the calories that your whole body consumes. A more powerful brain is a more hungry brain. If your new intellectual ability doesn’t help you survive, it mere forces you to consume more calories.

In a wealthy society, it may sound like a blessing – not only are you smarter, but you will probably be thinner. But being slender is a very modern concern. For most time and even today in most of the world, starvation is a much bigger issue than obesity. Except modern humans in rich countries, nobody else is concerned with dieting, but rather with a constant struggle to feed yourself. Did you ever see a wolf suffering from obesity? An eagle? A shark?

But even for us, consuming more calories for mostly useless physical and mental abilities will eventually become detrimental. You won’t starve just because you developed a tail. Nor will you starve if you, as a man, develop one of the mental abilities that women usually excel at.

But keep on adding abilities, mental and physical, and eventually your body will need to consume so much food, it will never be able to survive.

Another reason you can’t keep adding various qualities is that they conflict with each other. Wide hips allow women to give birth. Narrow hips allow men to run and pivot better when hunting and fighting wars. Naturally you can’t have both wide and narrow hips. Evolution decides which one is more important to you. Hence, women look like women and men look like men, both physically and mentally.

So why do some men have feminine qualities, some women are masculine, some people have abnormalities? Because evolution didn’t happen, it is still ongoing.

First, being “too perfect” resulted in several species dying off as soon as their environment changed. Several species were so perfect for their environment that as their climates became colder, warmer or in any way different, they could not handle the change and failed to survive. Species need to have some genetic diversity and some seemingly negative qualities that would come useful if their environment changes.

Second, for species to adjust, someone needs to be born with new or different qualities. Then we select for or against these qualities. If these qualities are useful in our environment, we find them attractive. If not, we find them unattractive or even abnormal.

Consider metabolism. In a wealthy environment where food is plentiful, we select for fast metabolism. In other times and places, slow metabolism may be desires.

Sociologists claim that since concepts of beauty changes with place and time, this concept is purely subject and has no scientific basis. They are wrong.

The reason beauty concepts change is that evolutionary pressures change. If living beings didn’t have different concepts of beauty, they would never adjust to their environment. But if beauty was anything that the media tells us, then evolution would be highly dysfunctional and would never produce great predators, runners and (among humans) thinkers.

And if beauty is anything that the media dictates without any scientific basis, then sociologists need to explain who told giraffes to find long necks sexually appealing; who told elephants to get turned on by long noses; who told alligators to be aroused by large jaws. Probably not the media.

Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, Arab IQ in Israel March 26, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Jews.
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From Sleep in response to my post on Israeli achievements and IQ:

“Im curious. What do you think the average intelligence might be of the following groups:

Jews in Israel of European origin (Ash/Seph or other)
Mizrahi Jews
Palestinian Arabs”


Let’s compare them to other Arab states. Egypt is 83. Lebanon is 86. Morocco is 85. Iraq is 87. Qatar is 78. That seems to be the Arab range: 78-87. I haven’t seen any Arab countries score in the 90s and only Qatar is in the 70s. The average of the 5 Arab countries listed by IQ and the Wealth of Nations is 83.8, so the Palestinians are probably around 85. Whether it’s a couple points more or less is irrelevant, just a margin of error, and at the same time, I doubt that they are above 90 because no other Arab country is.


The pure-blooded Ashkenazim score probably the same as they do elsewhere 112-115.

However, many Israelis identifying as Ashkenazi are half or at least a quarter Mizrahi. I would estimate that if you count anyone who self-identified as Ashkenazi, regardless of their ancestral mix, the Israeli “Ashkenazism” would be 108-110.

MIZRAHIM (Jews from Muslim nations who adopted the Sephardic religious traditions)

It is established that they score about a standard deviation lower than that of the Ashkenazi Jews. They also outscored their Arab neighbors, had more intellectually challenging jobs, and earned more money.

One test showed a gap of 14 points between the Ashkenazim and the Mizrahim in Israel. Note that the description is one of self-definition, so many of the Sephardim are partly Ashkenazi and the reverse.

My estimate for people of exclusively Mizrahi background would be about 90. If you include everyone who self-defines as Mizrahi, it would probably be about 95.

So if all Ashnkezim are 109 and the gap is 14 points, then the average self-defined Mizrahi is 95, which also coincides with other estimates (Israeli Ashkenazim being as smart as Ashkenazim elsewhere and Mizrahi being a little above the Arab average).

The Jewish average therefore becomes 102.

The average for all Israelis, including the Arabs would therefore become 99.

Note that this is a confusing and non-scientific way of doing it.

The mixed Ashkenazi-Mizrahi people shouldn’t be classified genetically as they choose, but instead should be part of the same group.

If you take them out, the gap between them grows from about 15 points to about 20-25, whereas the mixed Ashkenazi-Mizrahi people would average about 100.

The Israeli job market and education rates reflect it.

More on Israeli IQ and Intellectual Accomplishments March 23, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Jews.
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I wrote before that the estimation that Israel’s IQ is 94 is wrong.

Here’s a video on Israeli achievements. If IQ tests show Israel having a low IQ, it must be a bad test. This may sound really bad, but what I mean is that if a nation can have so many intellectual achievements, it cannot have a low average IQ. But as I argued before, Israel does not have a low IQ, Prof. Lynn just decided to discard the three tests with the highest results and then used two other tests from which he subtracted 2 points.

According to this video, Israel has:

  • The most patents per capita;
  • The most engineers and scientists per capita;
  • The most scientific papers per capita;
  • The second highest book publishing per capita;
  • The most museums per capita;
  • The highest concentration of high-tech companies per capita and second highest in total numbers;
  • One of only 8 nations with a space program;
  • Israel has the world’s largest research center;
  • The most per capita and third overall after US and Canada among companies traded on Wall Street.

Israelis developed the first cell phone, voicemail, text messaging, ICQ instant messangers, network firewalls, Intel Centrino and Pentium 4, the first anti-virus software, the first solar power plant. (A whole bunch of other stuff like phenomenal tanks and nuclear weapons. They are #3 in college degrees and #1 in graduate degrees.)

If you can do all that, how can you possibly have a low IQ? Such claims, while popular in certain corners (the anti-IQ left and the antisemites), are just not credible.

Prof. Lynn should’ve discarded the lone test that showed Israelis with an IQ under 100 (it had an average score of 92) as an outlier. Instead, he discarded three tests showing Israel averaging triple digits, even when including the Arabs and the Sephardim, and then subtracted 2 more points. Such creative math may convince the uninformed, but those who are aware of the above list of Israeli intellectual accomplishments will have trouble believing that it is a low IQ nation.

Male-Female Differences March 20, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Sex Differences.
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Women aren’t the same as men. It does not make them worse, but equality does not mean being identical. Women are different from men. Women will never win as many Nobel Prizes as men, become leaders in the same numbers, be able to navigate as well or be as strong as men.

The whole idea of men and women being identical is based on ignorance. It fails to ask why there are two sexes in the first place.

Evolution put different pressures on men and on women. Men had to hunt and fight wars. As late as the 1940s, most European men fought in the bloodiest war of all time. Even today, many countries have mandatory military service for men.

For men – hunters and fighters – being big and strong meant greater odds of survival. For women, on the other hand, being big meant needing to consume more calories for absolutely no benefit. Men too consumed more calories due to their size, but that size had a specific use that helped them survive and acquire food.

A big, strong woman with fast metabolism (estrogen slows down metabolism, while testosterone speeds it up) placed not only herself in danger, but everyone around her: the husband, the children, even the village/tribe. She would consume resources that would no longer be available for others.

A woman therefore needed to be just big enough to help with physical work (such as on a family farm or doing housework), but without being big enough to wrestle wild predators and Special Forces soldiers.

Women also faced additional reproductive pressures. For a woman to have wide hips meant an ability to give birth. For a man, it meant not being able to run as well.

The same is true for brain functions. Men are better at some things and women at other. Men have bigger brains, even after controlling for size. Women have better wired brains.

Women developed better multi-tasking skills because they needed it to take care of their 5-12 children.

For men, such a skill would be detrimental and it was instead necessary to learn to concentrate on one thing at a time. Multitasking in battle got you killed. Concentrating not only gave you better odds of surviving, but also helped your whole army, tribe and even country.

This ability to focus on one thing and to stick with the same goal for a long time leads men to be more successful. A Nobel Prize winner or a great inventor must usually obsessively focus on one thing until he develops and perfects it. There are to be no other goals, needs or desires that would interfere with the one and only important thing in a person’s life.

There are many other differences. Almost nothing about men and women is the same. Whether its the size of a person’s hands, density of bones, intelligence, susceptibility to disease. None of these are absolutely, but you can definitely see the average.

Feminists reading this will claim that I am male chauvinist. But feminists are exactly the ignorant people I was talking about.

28,000 Year Old Cro-Magnon mtDNA More Modern Than Anything Else March 10, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Caucasians.
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This is very interesting.

The open access journal PLoS One has published a new ancient DNA paper, “A 28,000 Years Old Cro-Magnon mtDNA Sequence Differs from All Potentially Contaminating Modern Sequences.” One which establishes, yet again, that the Neandertal mitochondrial hypervariable region I is much different from modern humans. This was done by extracting mtDNA from the Paglicci 23 specimen, understood to be a Cro-Magnon individual.

Paglicci 23 was discovered by Francesco Mallegni, one of the authors of the current paper, in 2003 from the Paglicci Cave site. I think the Paglicci Cave site is currently the earliest Aurignacian-Gravettian site in Italy — dating to be 34,000 years old. Anyone know for sure?

Either way, the Paglicci 23 and is represented by a tibia, skulls, jaw and maxilla. Radiocarbon dating indicates the remains are 28,100 years old. It was not excavated nor handled in sterile conditions. It was washed and analyzed by seven people since then, raising the possibility of contamination from modern human DNA.

In 2005, a piece of the tibia and two pieces of the skull were moved to a DNA lab at the University of Florence, where DNA was extracted, the hypervariable region I of the mtDNA amplified and sequenced. It should be noted that the bone was washed with bleach and irradiated with UV light and mtDNA was isolated from tissue inside the bone — not directly handled by people. The mtDNA of the people who handled the remains was also isolated and sequenced. This was done to see if their DNA contaminated the sample, since the remains weren’t handled under sterile conditions.

This procedure was repeated in another laboratory, by Carles Lalueza Fox in Barcelona, using a tibia fragment. Carles Lalueza Fox is a big name in ancient DNA studies, one of the guys who sequenced FOXP2 from Neandertal remains. Oh also, using Neandertal specific primers for the PCR, yielded no results — indicating that the remains were modern human… but more on that later.

Anne Holden blogger at 23andMe, who says she specializes in science writing, hails this paper in providing a “novel way,” of identifying contamination –

“by analyzing the DNA of everyone who touched a fossil for comparison in order to rule out contamination.”

She’s mistaken. What Caramelli et al. have done in this paper is hardly novel. I covered news of a May, 2008 paper in Science which isolated and extract mtDNA from 4,000 year old hair from Greenland. The hair was also not excavated under sterile conditions. In that paper, the DNA of everyone who handled the sample was also screen and compared to the sample in order to rule out contamination. And that’s just one example of preventative measures in sequencing ancient DNA that immediately comes to mind.

Anyways, the relationship between the Paglicci 23 sequence and all the sequences from the seven individuals who touched the specimen was investigated. In addition, the sequences were compared against other Cro-Magnon and Neandertal sequences. They had some problems which were resolved by treating the DNA extract was treated with Uracyl-N-Glycosidase (UNG). The authors conclude that,

“the Paglicci 23 individual carried a mtDNA sequence that is still common in Europe, and which radically differs from those of the almost contemporary Neandertals, demonstrating a genealogical continuity across 28,000 years, from Cro-Magnoid to modern Europeans.”

In fact, they write,

“we concluded that the sequence obtained from the Paglicci 23 specimen is the CRS.”

The press is saying that the results are first ever demonstration ‘that the anatomical differences between Neandertals and Cro-Magnoids were associated with clear genetic differences.’ That’s overshooting the analysis. There are clear differences in the mitochondrial genome of Neandertals and Homo sapiens, and this is not the first paper to document it. And all this shows is that the Neandertals are not the ancestors of modern Europeans.

Caramelli, D., Milani, L., Vai, S., Modi, A., Pecchioli, E., Girardi, M., Pilli, E., Lari, M., Lippi, B., Ronchitelli, A., Mallegni, F., Casoli, A., Bertorelle, G., Barbujani, G., Harpending, H. (2008). A 28,000 Years Old Cro-Magnon mtDNA Sequence Differs from All Potentially Contaminating Modern Sequences. PLoS ONE, 3(7), e2700. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002700

Race vs. Ethnicity in DNA March 9, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Genetics (General).
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What is the difference between a race and an ethnicity?

The differences between races are the haplogroups themselves.

Races belong to different haplogroups 85-95% of the time, with remaining being the inevitable outside gene flow. (See this article on why being in a different haplogroup does not mean that you are genetically different from most people in your ethnicity.)

But ethnicities differ from one another based on further, much more recent splits of the same haplogroup.

Haplogroup J is common in Europe and the Near East. This is true for both mtDNA and Y-DNA, though the letter J assigned here is just a coincidence and not based on any similarity of J in mtDNA to J in Y-DNA.

In mtDNA, J1 is spread around Europe, while J2 is mostly concentrated around the Mediterranean. In Y-DNA, J1 is largely an Arab haplogroup and J2 is also concentrated around the Mediterranean, just like J2 mtDNA.

Looking at it deeper, the vast majority of the British people who belong to J haplogroup (mtDNA) are J1 and not J2.

Digging deeper, J16172 and J18192 are relatively common among the Scots, but almost never among the Anglo-Saxons and other continental Europeans (though it is present in smaller numbers in Scandinavia).

Any ethnicity that is overwhelmingly part of J and/or other Caucasian haplogroups, would have to be classified as part of the white race.

The next level would split the race into subgroups (Nordic, Mediterranean, and so on).

As we look deeper, sometimes several levels deeper, we begin to reach ethnicities. More and more similarities will get you closer to being related: distant relatives (third cousins), close relatives (first cousins) and nuclear family (siblings).

The idea that there are no races would have to therefore logically lead one to conclude that there are no families.

If race is a social construct, then so too must be the family.

mtDNA in Great Britain March 9, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in United Kingdom.
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British mtDNA haplogroups are:

H – 55
J – 15
T – 7
U – 7
K – 3

The predominance of H haplogroup (mtDNA) is common around Europe and the Near East. But J is more common on the British Isles than elsewhere. It is generally about 2% of the European population. Among the British (the English, the Scots, the Welch and the Irish), there is a much higher amount of J.

J is also common in the Near East in similar numbers as in Britain.

As with all haplogroups, it is further split. I will go down one level only to avoid confusing everyone. J1 is spread around Europe, while J2 is mostly concentrated around the Mediterranean. (This is not to be confused with Y-DNA haplogroups by the same name where J2 is also concentrated around the Mediterranean, but J1 is largely an Arab haplogroup.)

All the British ethnicities are overwhelmingly J1 and not J2.

There are some differences however between the native Britons and the Anglo-Saxons who invaded from German regions near Netherlands. British Celts do show some distinction from continental Europeans, while the English show a similarity to West Europeans.

The distinctions here are within the haplogroups.

These are obviously not racial differences, but rather ethnic ones.