Nicholas Wade’s “A Troublesome Inheritance”
L 382: I am glad to hear Darwin’s analysis of Spencer’s ‘Social Darwinism’.
It is better than mine.
I recommend the Belyaev (Беляев) article and its story of the science despite politics in the Soviet union.
L 1455: Whether there are really ‘clusters’ or merely ‘clines’ seems to me as a distinction with little difference.
I will be on watch to find differences in predictions.
L 1472: Wade says clearly here that the ‘number of races’ is rather arbitrary.
Some of the criticisms of the book seem not to have noticed this.
Other forces, like natural selection, reduce diversity by eliminating harmful mutations and sweeping away others when a beneficial mutation is favored.
I would add “harmful combinations of mutations”.
Both repeated DNA units [base pairs] and SNP’s, the two kinds of DNA marker used by the surveys described above, lie for the most part outside the genes and have little or no effect on a person’s physical makeup.
That they lie outside the genes is due mostly to the fact that base pairs of exons (in genes) are more highly conserved—less variation is tolerated.
It is due also to the fact that most base pairs are outside exons.
This largely counters both comments above about harmful variations and combinations thereof.
The ‘neutral variations’ are useful for tracking ancestry.
L 1531: “under selection” is a bit vague.
All DNA is under selection.
Perhaps ‘recent selection’ is meant.
Perhaps it is meant that there is currently variety at the DNA site within the population.
Subsequent text suggests the latter.
The swapped sections, or blocks, may be 500,000 DNA units in length, long enough to carry several genes.
I think that is the first estimate of the typical block length that I have heard.
I presume that the ‘block boundaries’ are not natural (at markers in the DNA) but instead more or less random at each generation.
L 1820: Wade suggests that there is an instinct to trade.
There may be but that is not necessary.
Not every common place action needs an instinct.
[...] Clark argues, the falling interest rates indicate that people were becoming less impulsive, more patient and more willing to save.
Yes, but more, I think, is that culture told of stability over longer time spans that allowed people better to imagine the future.
This is a distinction without a real difference.
L 2879: I will repeat here what I have said in other book notes.
Trust within a society must be concomitant with trustworthiness.
One without the other will not last.
I suppose that both come with the notion that long term agreements are conceivable.
Also if a company has been in business for 60 years and they agree by contract to perform for several years, it might be a good deal.
Traits like intelligence are distributed in the shape of a bell, with large numbers of people having the average value and progressively fewer as one moves toward either the higher or lower extreme.
There is an unwarranted implicit assumption here that the distribution is still normal and that the variance does not change.
I suspect that the conclusion is correct anyway.
But during the early Middle Ages, a favorable combination of factors set the stage for Europeans to develop a particularly successful form of social organization.
These included a geography that favored the existence of a number of independent states and made it hard for one to dominate all the rest; a population dense enough to encourage social stratification and trade; and an independent center of influence in the form of the church, which set limits on the power of local rulers.
I wonder about a concept of ‘social stratification’ without an accompanying concept of the nature of the stratification—clever politics, wise leaders, etc.
L 3450: Perhaps ‘curiosity’ is a determinant that might have a genetic component.
L 3464: Wade quotes Landes:
Witness the enterprise of expatriate minorities— the Chinese in East and Southeast Asia, Indians in East Africa, Lebanese in West Africa, Jews and Calvinists throughout much of Europe, and on and on.
Yet culture, in the sense of the inner values and attitudes that guide a population, frightens scholars.
But neither Wade or Landes (here) describe why only the expatriates excel only abroad and not at home.
L 3506: At the end of chapter 9 I record an idea to be considered.
The ‘adjacent possible’ is used by Stuart Kauffman to remind us that inventions are contingent on earlier inventions.
Bernstein described the prior technologies that had to be available for Gutenberg’s technology to succeed.
This leads to the idea of a fire that must be kindled and thus is likely to break out in just one place.
We thus should not be surprised that the explosion happened just once and that we need not look for particular properties of the place it happened.
L 3512: Wade begins this chapter with a warm image of your matrilineal lineage going back for many millennia.
There is the implication that that describes your entire lineage.
Matt Ridley wrote a long article in the 2015 May 1 issue of the Wall Street Journal describing several recent pieces of evidence of distant cross breeding in the human genome going back at least several millennia.
This weakens Wade’s argument to a degree and must be addressed in any quantitative version.
Such does not prevent generation of races, but it does cause certain dilutions thereof.
I worry that the book never mentions correlations of genes.
It sounds that there is much unexamined data there.