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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.


Prejudice may be the best way to determine genetic history March 9, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Genetics (General).
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I have a strong feeling that people knowing your ethnicity’s haplogroups will tell you more than your own. Y-DNA and mtDNA are a very small part of one’s genetic history. Your mother’s father and all his ancestors, and of your father’s mother and all her ancestors can’t be seen. Same with your maternal grandmother’s father and with your paternal grandfather’s mother. And so on, so forth.

But for a nation, we have too big a sample. If 20% of a given ethnic group are in haplogroup K, my guess would be that roughly roughly 20% of the genes of all the people in that ethnic group are K. So although your DNA test may show that you may be haplogroup K and your neighbor is haplogroup H, the reality is that you both likely have a similar background.

This is just a guess of course, but I am fairly certain about it considering how much mixing there has been among people of the same nation over thousands of years.

The other reason I think so is that people of the same nation look mostly somewhat similar. Not identical of course, but usually similar enough that they can say things like, “this guy looks Swedish and this guy looks Italian.”

Again people may not necessarily look like their their own ethnicity (an Italian may have a Swedish great grandfather whom he never met, but whom he resembles), but there’s a particular “look” to most ethnicities. The closer they are, the harder it is to tell. Thus the Poles and the Russians may be difficult to tell apart sometimes (except usually by the Russians and the Poles themselves), but it is much easier to tell the Poles from the Greeks (again not always, but usually).

The fact that there’s an “Irish look” or a “Dutch look” leads me to believe that most people within a particular ethnicity same a similar amount of each haplogroup. Otherwise, they would look much more different.

There are of course countries where people seem to have different amounts of their haplogroups. Italy, Israel, Turkey, Russia, Finland would be a few examples. But now you can see a difference between people in these cases (north Italy and Finland vs. South; Eastern Russia vs. Western; Sephardic vs. Ashkenazi Jews).

Even though both Sephardic and Askhenazi Jews descended from the same haplogroups (mtDNA and Y-DNA), they have a different mix and therefore look different.

I would therefore guess that it is not that 19% of the Ashkenazim are J1 (usually Arabs), 23% are J2 (usually Mediterranean Europeans), 13% R1a (Slavs, Aryans), 11.5% are R1b (Western Europe), etc. Instead, the Ashkenazim all have Y-DNA somewhere around these percentages.

Likewise, I believe that the people native to northern parts of Finland and eastern parts of Russia (beyond Ural) are probably mostly of Asian descent, genetically linked to some Amerindian tribes. It’s not that 60% of the people there are part of haplogroup N (Y-DNA), but rather almost all the people there are 40-80% N.

Some may have more of a given haplogroup and some may have less, but I would bet that estimating by using “prejudice” based on a person’s ethnicity is more accurate, if not completely exact, than testing one’s mtDNA and Y-DNA, and leaving out all other ancestry.

The Race of Sephardic Jews March 4, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Genetics (General), Jews.
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There are a lot of people interested in race issues who suggest that Sephardic Jews are not-white. They do so without any understanding of Sephardic DNA. In fact, it is this kind of talk that leads Noel Ignatiev to write books about the Irish becoming white and that being white has nothing to do with biology, but is instead a political category of people we like and people we dislike. Either a race is to be defined based on genetic information or race is a social construct that doesn’t exist. Inadvertently, these “race realists” are actually promoting the idea that race is nothing more than a political classification.

There is simply no genetic basis for their claim. There is just an emotional desire to classify those we like at the moment as an “in-group” and others as an “out-group”.

Race is determined by genetic clusters.

Looking at haplogroups, we find the same mtDNA (materinal) haplogroups in both Europe and the Middle East with similar distribution patterns. H is most common haplogroup in Europe. It’s a less common in the Near East, but is still the most common one there as well. When it appears in lesser numbers, it is “replaced” by a higher distribution of other haplogroups which are also very common in Europe and not found anywhere else outside Europe and the Middle East.

The exception here are the Arabs because 38% of their mtDNA comes from haplogroups outside those common among whites, so they should be classified as mixed race people. But let me repeat it once more: this is done not because of the slight variations within Caucasian haplogroups, but because of such a significant outside gene flow into Arab communities.

In Y-DNA, the haplogroups do tend to bunch up in certain parts of Europe, but again, southern Europe (J2) is more like the Near East (J1) than to I and R haplogroups in other parts of Europe. (additionally, the mostly East European I is closer to the mostly Mediterranean J than to the mostly West European R.)

Were the Near East something other than white, then so too should be the Roman Empire and Ancient Greece (both known to be J2), as well as parts of Portugal, Spain, France, Serbia, Bulgaria, and so on. Needless to say that would be revolutionary conclusion.

Those Middle Easterners, therefore, who do not have significant amounts of DNA outside the Caucasian haplogroups should be classified together with other whites.

It is only a completely uneducated person who is governed by his emotions and not by facts who would classify two people with, for instance, H1 haplogroup mtDNA and R1b haplogroup Y-DNA, as members of separate races. Even if H haplogroup in Europe and in the Near East have slight variations, and they do, these variations pale in comparison to the differences with haplogroups common among blacks, Orientals, Amerindians, native Australians.

An ethnicity is classified within a particular race based on which haplogroups they belong to.

When it comes to the Y-DNA, the profile of most Sephardic Jews is very similar to that of Ashkenazi Jews and other Mediterranean Europeans.

Depending on a study, 30%-40% of Sephardim are in haplogroup J (according to Wikipedia, 12% J1 and 29% J2) and another 30% in haplogroup R1b (most common in Portugal and Spain). About 11.5% are haplogroup I, a northern European group. And a small amount is the mostly East European and Scandinavian R1a.

Another 19% is haplogroup E1b1b which is observed in significant frequencies in Europe and western Asia. It is particularly common in southern Europe and the Balkans. We find it in both northern and southern Italy, all of Spain and Greece, and southern France, as well as in smaller amounts all throughout Europe as far north as the Scandinavia.

Haplogroup E probably originated in the Near East, but most of it migrated back into Africa, both north and south of Sahara. E1b1b, however, stayed in the Near East or migrated into Europe. Rather than being an African influence onto the Middle East, it is the opposite: E is the Middle Eastern influence on Africa.

According to Wikipedia, “Most Sub-Saharan Africans belong to subclades of E other than E1b1b, while most non-Africans who belong to haplogroup E belong to its E1b1b subclade.” (Citing Fulvio Cruciani et al, Phylogeographic Analysis of Haplogroup E1b1b (E-M215) Y Chromosomes Reveals Multiple Migratory Events Within and Out Of Africa, Am. J. Hum. Genet, p. 74)

We therefore see the Sephardic Y-DNA profile to be very similar to Europeans along the Mediterranean, as well as to the Ashkenazim. The only major difference with the Ashkenazim is that rather than having about a third of their Y-DNA in haplogroup R1b (Western Europe), the Ashkenazim are about evenly split between R1b and R1a (Eastern Europe and Scandinavia).

This difference hardly seems significant enough to classify Sephardim and Ashkenazim as different races. Most West Europeans would presumably be very surprised if they were told that having more of their (R1b) than East European (R1a) Y-DNA makes someone non-white.

But what about the mtDNA.

Here the differences between Sephardim and Europeans are even less stark.

The primary Caucasoid mtDNA haplogroups are H, J, K, T, V and U (all of which derived from haplogroup R), as well as I, W and X. These are relatively evenly split throughout Europe and the Near East. Though some haplogroups are more (or less) common among certain ethnicities, the differences are merely in proportion of the same mtDNA haplogroups.

Studies of Sephardic mtDNA conducted among several communities revealed that most to have Caucasian mtDNA. We may discuss the proportions of various haplogroups, but that they are the same haplogroups is an established fact.

The obvious exceptions are Ethiopian and Indian Jews, who are almost definitely just converts to Judaism. Ethiopian Jews have the same profile as other Ethiopians. Indian Jews have a small amount of H and U haplogroups, which may be from the original Jews who converted these Indians to Judaism.

Yemenites also seem to be a mix of various groups, including Negroids. Over 8% are part of the predominantly African L haplogroup, which explains their darker skin and often times curly hair.

While the Yemenites are recognized as Sephardic Jews, neither Indians nor Ethiopians would normally be classified as such, except by the people who use the term Sephardic to mean any non-Ashkenazi Jew.

The other traditionally Sephardic-Mizrahi groups belong to the same haplogroups as do the Europeans (with no more than usual non-Caucasian gene flow).

Azerbaijani Jews are predominantly (59%) haplogroup J, which is evenly spread in same numbers in both Europe (12%) and the Near East (11%).

Georgian Jews are predominantly (58%) part of haplogroup HV, which originated in southern Italy and now common in Western Europe. It is the ancestor haplogroup of H (and also V), which is the most common one among Europeans.

Iranian Jews are more diverse in their genetic makeup, but it is still Caucasian, with H, J, U and T being the most common groups.

Iraqi Jews are similar, but have 7.4% of their population in the W haplogroup. This is not uncommon for Europeans either, however, despite the fact that this haplogroup is more common in South Asia.

Libyan and Turkish Jews are mostly H and X haplogroups. X is present in Europe so much that Bryan Sykes included it as one of the 7 Daughters of Eve for the white race. It is not a strictly white haplogroup, however, and is found in Asia as well as in the Americas. The founders of the group were likely Israeli Druze.

Moroccan Jews show high frequency of H, just as Europeans, though in slightly lower numbers.

Of course all of these haplogroups could be further subdivided and people belonging to the same haplogroup could look somewhat different.

But if race is to be defined as by genetic clusters, then it would only make sense that people in the same haplogroups are part of the same race. After all, if I and R Y-DNA haplogroups are part of the same race, it’s hard to argue that J1 and J2 are different races.

Sephardim are not the same kind of “white” as Hungarians or Irishmen. But Hungarians and Irishmen themselves aren’t identical either.

The lack of significant non-Caucasian haplogroups makes people white. By that standard, Sephardim are white.

Haplogroup X: The International mtDNA March 1, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Genetics (General).
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Probably the most interesting mtDNA (maternal line) haplogroup X which has widespread global distribution without major regions of distinct localization. It is present in Europe, Asia, North Africa and the Americas. (This is not due to recent immigration, but among native populations. Thus when discuss the Americas, I am not talking about the English, the Spanish and others who settled it in recent centuries, but rather the indigenous American Indian tribes.)

For example, more than 90% of Caucausians are part of 6 haplogroups that derived from haplogroup R, but 2% are part of haplogroup X. Similarly, more than 95% of American Indians derived from 6 haplogroups of East Asian origin, but 3% of them are part of haplogroup X.

The founders of X haplogroup were most likely Druze because they have a particularly large percentage of their population (26%) belonging to this haplogroup, indicating the founder effect. (No ethnicity belongs exclusively to haplogroup and 26% is actually rather high, especially for this particular haplogroup.)

The X haplogroup is the only Amerindian haplogroup that does not show a strong connection to East Asia and is particularly common among the Sioux (15%), the Nuu-Chah-Nulth (11%–13%), the Navajo (7%), and the Yakima (5%).

Among whites, In the nation of Georgia, about 8% belong to this group. There’s also a higher than average presence of this haplogroup in Greece, Siberia and parts of Scotland. All native European populations have at least 0.5% belonging to this group among their native populations.

The only population that presently resides in Europe (that I found) which had no members of the X haplogroup were Russian Ashkenazi Jews, according to Nature.

It is rather curious considering that non-Jewish Russians have a higher than average percentage (3.5%) of X haplogroup as do the the people around Israel, including the Druze and the Turks, while the Palestinians and the Egyptians have about average percentage of X haplogroup.

Genetic Clusters February 28, 2009

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This is so important that I decided to make a special page and place it at the top. Were I writing a book, the following information would’ve been chapter one.

Liberal Lysenkoists who deny evolution (or at least claim that all evolution magically ended in human beings 100,000 years ago and humans stopped genetically adjusting to their environment) tell us to believe them and not “our lying eyes” when it comes to the existence of races. According to them, races don’t exist because there is no one gene for a particular race (the same rationale is given to argue that sexes also don’t exist).

Of course there would be no gene for race. What purpose would that serve? To mark someone as deserving to get affirmative action?

One must understand how races (and species) develop.

At first, there was just one little thing that was able to reproduce itself. It was the original gene, the original form of life. Slowly it multiplied and spread. Under different evolutionary pressures, the new organisms developed differently.

Eventually there were enough differences that different populations could be classified as different species. Species don’t have a genetic mark that says, “dog”, “cat” or “monkey”. There are just differences and if differences are large enough, we classify populations as being members of different species.

Sometimes species would separate from one another. If the separation lasted long enough, such as between chimps, gorillas, humans and other apes, new species emerge. But if the genetic separation isn’t as long, other classifications emerge. Among dogs, we would call those groups breeds. In humans, we call them races.

There are other classifications of life, of course: Genus, (Biological) Family, Order, (Biological) Class, Phylum, (Biological) Kingdom, Domain. That will not be a major concern of my writing as I will focus strictly on human beings.

When some humans left Africa, they faced different pressures than before. Dark skin was no longer an advantage but rather a disadvantage. In Northern Asia during the Ice Age, it was advantageous to have a layer of fat spread evenly throughout the body, so the Mongoloid people acquired this quality, giving them a yellowish color, though their skin is itself not significantly different from that of Caucasians.

Slowly but surely populations adjusted to their evolutionary pressures. Nobody acquired a genetic stamp for their race. But what they did get is a set of qualities, what scientists call a genetic cluster.

It is true that you cannot look at one gene and know the person’s race and ethnicity. But you can look at a cluster of genes and tell with certainty what race the person is, and within the race, what is the person’s ethnic group and at times even what part of the country his ancestors lived in.

Without getting too technical with scientific explanations (those will come later, but I am just trying to establish the basics for now), you can think of genetic clusters in the following manner: curly hair does not in and of itself prove that the person is black. A person of any race, and in particular a Caucasoid, could have curly hair. A Caucasoid may have thick lips and even somewhat dark skin. Any one of these does not prove the person to be black. But when you see that a person’s hair is curly, his lips are thick, his skin is dark, his bone, cranial and dental structure is like most other blacks, and so on, so forth for hundreds and even thousands of different qualities, you realize that the person can only be someone of African descent. You know this just by looking at a person. Geneticists know this by looking at a person’s DNA.

Any single quality doesn’t prove the person to be of a particular race, but hundreds of qualities create an unmistakable cluster where even if the person is different from his race in one or two ways (such as an albino African who has light skin), we can still know the exact race of the person.

Similarly with genes: any gene could potentially be found in any population. But a cluster of genes will give you a certain answer.

Within each race, there are further divisions. White Scandinavians are different from white Mediterraneans. A further division is again possible: Scandinavians who are ethnic Norwegians are somewhat different from ethnic Swedes.

The closer one gets, the less differences one sees. Thus, Swedes may be different from Norwegians, but not as much as they are different from Italians. And the differences with Italians are less than the differences with Koreans. The differences with Koreans are less than with Zulus.

The reason is the time of separation into different groups (the later the separation, the fewer differences) and the amount of gene flow back and forth.

Whites separated from Asians later than from Blacks, so the differences aren’t as stark when it comes to everything from skin color to IQ.

So why are races determined at a particular level?

For one, races have common ancestors much later with each other than with other races. All humans descended from one woman who lived 140,000 years ago. This is what makes us part of the same specie.

All Caucasoids – Europeans, North Africans and Middle Easterners – descended from 7 women who lived 20,000 to 30,000 years ago. This is what makes all Caucasoids part of the same race.

Almost half of Ashkenazi Jews came from 4 women who lived in the last 1,000 years. This is what makes them part of not only the same ethnic group (the Jews), but the same group (Ashkenazim) within their ethnicity.

It is obvious that people who have a joint descendant 1,000 years ago will exist fewer differences among themselves than they would with a person with whom they share an ancestor all of 140,000 years ago. I will explain this in great detail in the future for those who are unconvinced.

The second explanation is that ethnic groups of the same race tended to live in relative proximity to each other, which allowed for some gene flow. While the European gene flow into the Ashkenazi Jewish community was only 0.5% per generation until the 20th century, European Jews still wound up with an average of 40% Gentile genes. Whether through marriage or rape by invading soldiers, ethnic groups mixed. Germany, for instance, invaded Russia in 1941 and proceeded to rape and have sex the local women. Four years later, the Soviet troops were in Germany, raping and having sex with the local women. This exchange of genetic material is as long as mankind, probably even longer.

There was some inter-racial mixing too, but nowhere near as much, with exception of places such as the United States where almost all descendants of slaves have at least some Caucasian blood.

Therefore, the greatest differences are from race to race. One for example may mistake a Swede for a Norwegian, or in some cases a Swede for Jew, but neither a Swede, nor a Norwegian, nor a Jew, nor any other Caucasoid may ever be mistaken for a Zulu, even if the Zulu is an albino and the Swede/Norwegian/Jew has curly hair.

Likewise, a Zulu may be mistaken for a Shona or a Kikuyu, but never for a Korean.

The existence of biracial or biethnic people does not disprove the existence of races and ethnic groups. If you mix a German Sheppard and a large Poodle, the result will be a mixed breed dog. It will not, however, prove that dog breeds don’t exist. The same is true for human races.

Just as genetic clusters can prove that you are a member of one race, they can prove that you are a member of multiple races or multiple ethnicities.

This is an oversimplified explanation, but one that should serve as an introduction. In my future entries, I will explain what the specific differences are, which haplogroups are associated with which ethnic and racial groups, and other information that will fill in any blanks left out in this introduction.

But for now just remember: just because there’s no one gene for race, does not mean that races don’t exist. There is no one gene for any given specie, and that doesn’t mean that we as humans are no different from gorillas and tigers. It’s not one gene, it’s many genes.

Races developed not because one magic gene popped up inside your body, but because of tens of thousands of years of evolution made you different from a person whose ancestors lived on another continent. And it is those differences, taken together, that make you part of your race, your ethnicity and your sex.

The Study of Race and Ethnicity February 27, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Genetics (General).
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Races exist. and so do ethnicities within races. It’s that simple. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Emperor has just been pronounced naked.

You don’t have to believe me, you can see it yourself. Many may fall for the Politically Correct dogma that tells you not to believe “your lying eyes”, but have no fear of your own common sense.

Race isn’t about skin color. A black albino isn’t part of the Caucasian race. Race is the result of tens of thousands of years of evolution, and it effected everything about you: your nose, your hair, your hormones, your brain, your disease predisposition. Those telling you not to believe “your lying eyes” tell you that evolution only effected the things you can see such as hair and skin. That is only because they cannot lie and tell you that skin color, nose shape and hair texture is the same since you can see every day that it really is different. But the politically correct tell you that everything you can’t see is the same. Does that seem believable? Why would evolution change your hair, but not your hormones? Your skin, but not your brain? What sense does that make?

Studies of course show that there are differences between races and ethnicities, even for those qualities one cannot see. These differences aren’t universal, but a cluster of qualities (and genes) will show a person to be within a particular race and ethnicity. A white person may have curly hair. That doesn’t make him black because all his other features will be more consistent with the Caucasian race.

Nor is ethnicity only about one’s citizenship. A Russian living in France is still an ethnic Russian and not an ethnic Frenchman. He may be loyal to France, but he will still have Russian DNA, and therefore he will look Russian, he will have predisposition to diseases common among Russians, and so on.

Environment surely matters, but it’s not everything. Your genes matter more than environment, as studies on separated identical twins as well as unrelated children adopted by the same parents have shown.

This will be the blog that will document just such studies.