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My turn

Today is the last day of the Paradigm Symposium, which is good — I don’t know how much more my poor brain could take. But this afternoon, after lunch, it’s my turn to speak. And I’ve been doing my homework, looking into what kinds of things paranormalists often believe about biology and evolution, and it’s been a long exercise in face-palming. They’re all over the map, but there are some common threads: the idea that evolution is inadequate (even while they rather blandly accept it for everything other than humans) and that aliens had to somehow assist us to reach the state we’re in now. Again, there isn’t one simple, coherent formula to describe their ideas — they’re not like the creationists who neatly fall into a few categories — and their hypotheses wobble all over the place. Some believe humans are the aliens, that we immigrated here to Planet Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago. Others believe that we’re hybrids, the product of mating between alien star-lords that we called gods and the common stock. Others think that no, it was planned modification of the ape genetic line by high-tech aliens, who intentionally inserted special genes into our cells to give us higher powers. And some are willing to say we evolved naturally here, but the aliens showed up to give us a technological boost, planting only ideas in human culture. So I’ve got a great big moving target to deal with, and I suspect that if I shoot down one hypothesis people will just glibly shift to one of the other excuses.

Here’s an example of the kind of nonsense I have to deal with.

Why is it that ancient native, cultures all around the world, from the Americas to Africa and Australia speak of advanced ETs ‘seeding’ humanity on earth? How is it that such apparently primitive peoples had in-depth accurate knowledge of constellations such as Sirius – which cannot be seen with the naked eye – several thousand years ago?

It is in my knowing that originally, a group of spiritually and technologically advanced ETs seeded humanity with the apparently ‘benevolent intent’ of mankind becoming ‘custodians’ of Mother Earth and working to live in balance with her. That’s why so many of the original tribal cultures such as the North American Indians, The Mayans, The African Dogon, The Tibetans and the Australian Aborigines all lived largely in harmony with the earth and at balance with nature.

I love that phrase, “It is in my knowing.” So meaningless, so pompous, so vacuous. You also get a taste of that benign assumption that any alien intervention was friendly in intent, and that “tribal cultures” are one with the Earth Mother. No, these cultures had relatively small population sizes and so did not impose any stresses on their environment that the environment could not handle, but give ‘em a chance, and they could overwhelm a place just about as well as Europeans — look at Easter Island, for instance. We are all of us just people.

But that optimism also hides some profound ignorance and some nasty racism. On the ignorance side, this passage is about as annoyingly stupid as anything I’ve heard from creationists:

When Official Science delved deeper [into the question of why humans have 46 chromosomes while other apes have 48], it realised that the reason we have two less, is because the second and third chromosomes have been fused into one. It tries to explain this by saying such a mutation could happen naturally and points to other evidence in nature such as butterflies. Indeed such spontaneous mutation can happen, but what they’re not saying (and quietly brushing under the carpet), is that although this ‘mutation’ offers no natural evolutionary advantage whatsoever, it appears in EVERY SINGLE HUMAN!

How could that be? This fusing of the chromosomes is not what makes us human, and it does not offer any ‘natural’ evolutionary advantage (I’ll return to this in a moment). Yet we all have the mutation? If we supposedly evolved from Hominoids (like Neanderthal) and this mutation offers no advantage, then you’d expect to see some humans with 48 chromosomes and some with 46, but not ALL with 46!

But when you delve deeper into the chromosome story it gets even more curious. Each chromosome has three parts to it: both ends and a middle. Now in eight of the other human chromosomes, there has been an inversion of the middle part – it’s been ‘spun around’. Again, these inversions offer no natural evolutionary advantage – they don’t change the genetic material – yet ALL eight supposed ‘mutations’ appear in ALL humans.

Now you don’t need to be a mathematician to know, that the odds for all nine mutations to happen spontaneously, where no natural evolutionary advantage was gained, and for that to happen to both the original human male and female, at exactly the same time, and in exactly the same place, and for them to breed and produce the entire human offspring is so unlikely, the odds are literally zillions to one!

“Literally zillions to one!” Heh.

Just look at that raging typological thinking, though. This person apparently can’t grasp the idea of long, slow periods of gradual change in relatively neutral properties: it all had to happen all at once. Zing! All at once, all of the differences between humans and chimpanzees had to occur.

And here’s the underlying nastiness. This same post includes the video below with no qualification. It’s a smug little conversation between two racist assholes of the genus Newageius concluding that human races are soooo different that they must have been independently transplanted to earth from different alien worlds.

If you don’t want to listen to the whole awful thing (and I don’t blame you), here’s a representative comment from youtube that nicely illustrates what we’re dealing with.

My studies have actually yielded the idea that there are four basic structures that the Multi-racial structures evolve from: Africans, Asians, Europeans and Native Americans. These will coencide with the colors of the Medicine Wheel being Black, White, Yellow and Red. As with paint in art, you can derive many colors from four basic colors. Cells Are solar systems. We’re making all of this harder than it has to be. Chakra Systems. LOOK for crying out loud.

I can’t possibly address all of this bullshit in one hour; I also don’t assume that most of the audience agrees with this particular brand of lunacy. So I’m going to be giving a very simplified introduction to the human genome and properties of the human population that show that we are entirely children of Earth. Baby steps. Basics first. We’ll see how it goes.

Comments

  1. says

    Nah, no worries. I had people rushing to assure me that the audience shouldn’t laugh at my crazy ideas — that they’re going to bend over backwards to be tolerant. And I suspect that they will. That’s the formula: don’t criticize anything, it’s all good.

  2. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Was there a panel on how Prometheus would have been a good documentary without the whole alien fetusbabymonster having to be cut out, or are they just too happy that their message is getting out there to be bothered with details?

  3. evodevo says

    ” don’t criticize anything, it’s all good.” Ah, yes, and therein lies their problem.

  4. mudskipper says

    I wonder what misinterpretations will arise from your talk. These people show an amazing ability to incorporate bits and pieces of half-understood information into their half-baked ideas. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone found your talk to be the grist of a new deeply amazing and deeply nonsensical theory. Just think, PZ, you could be the father of a new paradigm.

  5. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    That’s the formula: don’t criticize anything, it’s all good.

    Well, there’s the problem. How do you tell the good from the bad? By being critical of the ideas.

  6. says

    How is it that such apparently primitive peoples had in-depth accurate knowledge of constellations such as Sirius – which cannot be seen with the naked eye – several thousand years ago?

    That’s strange, I saw Sirius last night. Being the brightest star in the night sky (and not a constellation) it wasn’t difficult.

    I think he means Sirius B, it’s partner, which apparently the Dogon tribe of Africa knew about, even though you need a telescope to see it.

    Looks like he can’t even get his paranormal myth correct.

  7. Al Dente says

    Zing! All at once, all of the differences between humans and chimpanzees had to occur.

    The infamous dog giving birth to a cat scenario the creationists are so fond of strawmanning.

  8. Bicarbonate says

    I think what you’re doing is very brave, P.Z. And also very delicate, the two dangers being condescension or belligerence. Here are all these people looking for awe, understanding and meaning, how can you address that? And here are all these other people who exploit their thirst, the professional woo purveyors whose trade, standing, pocketbooks and raison d’être you are threatening. I know I couldn’t do what you’re doing and I’m very curious to see how you pull it off. Your game plan, “showing that we are all children of Earth”, sounds good.

  9. george gonzalez says

    I was going to write that you’re doing God’s Work, but that would be, um, self-contradictory among other things.

    I wouldn’t even attempt such a thing, as I’d expect that maybe 20% of the audience would come away with a better-informed opinion, but a whole lot more might go away thinking that your from the Government or the Masons or the Bilderbergers, sowing very convincing anti-Danikenny disinformation, cleverly disguised as “sciency facts”.

  10. says

    Jesus goddamn fucking christ. I’m sitting through a talk by L.A. Marzulli right now: forget anything nice I might have said about these loons. He denies evolution. He cites Expelled favorably. He misquotes Crick and Dawkins. He says it was OK for the Israelites to slaughter their neighbors, because they were all evil alien hybrids, the Nephilim. He looks at stone buildings in Peru made of andesite, which has piezoelectric properties, therefore…these were teleporters! It’s an hour of appalling lies and conspiracy theories.

    This man is teaching me to hate these kooks. What a liar.

  11. says

    PZ doesn’t bother to point it out, presumably assuming that readers are biologically literate, but I am astonished at the ignorance of that chromosome number thing. If people had differing numbers of chromosomes, they would be mutually infertile. In fact, changes in chromosome number are a mechanism of speciation. The reason all humans have the same number of chromosomes is because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be the same species.

  12. mnb0 says

    “These will coencide with the colors of the Medicine Wheel being Black, White, Yellow and Red”
    Well, PZ, this is a lie – oops, counterfactual – as well. You see, the darkest people on Earth live in the South of India, but genetically speaking are closer related to white guys like you and me than to any African. And of course the average Asian (I suppose he means from China, Vietnam, Indonesia and such countries) is not anymore yellow than the average Frenchman.

  13. blf says

    According to what is almost certainly his blog, this L.A. Marzulli loon torturing poopyhead at the moment seems to be a flaming xian fundie, and quite possibly a theethug.

  14. David Marjanović says

    If people had differing numbers of chromosomes, they would be mutually infertile.

    That is not true. Chromosomes that remain similar enough can still align during meiosis. Wild boar populations contain individuals with different chromosome numbers, and that’s just one example out of several.

    In fact, changes in chromosome number are a mechanism of speciation.

    What you’re thinking of are whole-genome duplications and similar doublings that happen by hybridization. This is common among flowering plants (and does indeed result in individuals that are fertile with each other but not with their parents), but extremely rare elsewhere.

    the darkest people on Earth live in the South of India

    There are indeed very dark people there, but the darkest I’ve seen were from equatorial Africa, and they were almost literally black.

  15. Muz says

    It’s so weird the effort people go to to say the ‘races’ couldn’t have anything in common, based mostly on shapes of heads, facial features and skin tones.
    The acknowledged oldest peoples in the world are the San/Bushmen of Africa. They look like Africans but if you look a bit more carefully, even at the superficial level they look like a little bit of everyone.

    I hope you do a really long Q & A. A basic run down of the evidence is never enough with these folks. They just manage to incorporate it into whatever they already think. It seems really necessary to strike down their favourite “true facts” with some verbal back and forth (although that’s not guarantee either I suppose)
    Plus it’d be interesting.

  16. blf says

    Yeah, end time kookiness is all over his blog.
    In looking over his blog some more, it is now clear to me he is a theethug, with the usual hints of racism and other bigotries.

  17. says

    These guys pretty much replace God with aliens, and magic with supertech. I wonder what makes aliens more appealing than God? After all some of them no doubt believe the aliens are watching us, just as the religious believe God is.

  18. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    timgueguen,

    You’re jumping to conclusion there. No one said aliens can’t be Gods. It’s not like the term has an agreed upon definition.

  19. Sastra says

    Despite their constant emphasis on harmony and tolerance, it isn’t really surprising that racism is often attached to the theories and idea of the New Age.* They’re working from a top-down view of reality, a hierarchical system of Higher and Lower, advanced and stagnant, and a belief in essences which make things what they are. This makes it not only easy to divide human beings according to how their characteristics rank on the spiritual scale, it practically mandates it. What we call the New Age had its genesis in the 19th century, part of a romantic rebellion from rational humanism which emphasized the primal and irreducible significance of Nature, Emotion, the Sacred, and “the Blood” — your role in Nature’s story. The Theosophical ideas of Madame Blavatsky, for instance, fell in easily with fascism.

    You can see the obvious racism in their regular references to “Western science” and “Eastern science.” They really do think that different people have different essences and therefore different realities (or ‘paradigms.’) And from what I’ve seen they also seem to think they can avoid the charge of racism by putting indigenous and non-western people up on some sort of pedestal. Their essence is higher than our essence: this will counteract and eliminate the vice of our past imperialism.

    Or you can rank their essence as lower. Without an objective science which is supposed to cut across all divisions, there’s no check and balance against reality.

    *(Remember, the first rule of New Agers is to deny that they are “New Age.” They’re just waiting expectantly for the paradigm shift which will signal the start of everyone realizing that they’re right.)

  20. Sastra says

    Beatrice #25 wrote:

    No one said aliens can’t be Gods. It’s not like the term has an agreed upon definition.

    True. What usually turns aliens into something more like a ‘god’ (and less like just another species) though is the introduction of the supernatural — some sort of purely mental existence or abilities. ESP, pk, precognition, the capacity of changing reality through the power of their thoughts, some sort of deep connection to a non-material Cosmic Consciousness or Creative/Loving Principle/Essence, etc. etc. . In other words, woo.

    Usually though the aliens seem to fall into the role not of God, but of angels — higher beings who are trying to make us aware of God/Spirit. And they want to give us an important message, one we need to hear.

    The messages though are usually banal: love the earth, love each other, be nice. And oh, yes — we are Spiritual Beings and materialism is false. Which is why I roll my eyes when Christians classify secular humanism with in the New Age, as if they’re different words for the same thing.

    The New Agers tend to lump secular humanism in with traditional religions: spiritually unevolved extremes. We, of course, see the common threads tying New Age directly to traditional religion. Which is, of course, correct ;)

  21. left0ver1under says

    When someone says “race”, what they usually mean is species, and they’re trying to make a specious argument about “them” being less human than “we” are, whichever particular group is talking versus those being dehumanized. The entire concept of “race” is would be laughable if it weren’t so insulting or hate-driven.

    National Geographic’s Genographic Project ends any discussion as far as I’m concerned. The most distant any two groups of human beings in history who have met (in terms of both time and distance apart) were the indigenous South Americans and the Spanish who invaded their land around 500 years ago. Those two groups were separated by 30,000 kilometres and anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 years (depending on when humans migrated across the Bering Strait), and they still could produce offspring. Humans bred domesticated dogs out of one wolf species, and the various human ethnic groups are still more closely related than most pairs of dog breeds.

  22. Artor says

    PZ, you can lighten up and tell us all the Real Truth™ that you’ve been hiding. Our alien gods are actually cephalopods, and after they imparted all their otherworldly wisdom to our ancestors, they gave up their starfaring ways and went native in the oceans. That explains why octopodes are so smart and strange.

  23. Sastra says

    What do you want to bet that at least one of the audience questions after PZ’s talk starts out with some variation of “But isn’t it possible that…?”

    Let it be a choice. And respected as such. They’re open to “possibilities.”

    Which is why they’re not debating each other.

  24. David Marjanović says

    The acknowledged oldest peoples in the world are the San/Bushmen of Africa.

    That’s word salad.

    the various human ethnic groups are still more closely related than most pairs of dog breeds

    By what measure?

  25. blf says

    …at least one of the audience questions after PZ’s talk starts out with some variation of “But isn’t it possible that…?”

    I suspect this isn’t poopyhead’s style, but — probably depending on the inanity of the question — I‘d be tempted to reply with something along the lines of “It is also possible the floor here is littered with underused brains that have fallen out of excessively ‘open minded’ people. If that strikes you as silly, perhaps you should also consider whether or not the points I have been criticizing are just as silly? There is, after all, more evidence and facts pointing to brains-on-the-floor then there is for all of the points I have been criticizing combined.”

  26. Sastra says

    blf #32 wrote:

    I‘d be tempted to reply with something along the lines of “It is also possible the floor here is littered with underused brains that have fallen out of excessively ‘open minded’ people.

    I think it would be more effective to answer with something like “No, it’s not really possible. It’s ‘possible’ only in the same way that “there has never been an oil spill in the ocean” is also ‘possible.’ The possibility is so vanishingly small — so many things we know would have to be wrong — that it’s rather perverse or biased to bring it up.”

    Whenever you can, make your points using examples which will get them on your side. Doesn’t mean you can’t be snarky. It helps them understand why you snark.

  27. Bicarbonate says

    Sastra,

    I’m really enjoying your comments here. I grew up with a lot of woo and still have family members who are involved in it but I wouldn’t be as capable of objectifying it or typifying it as you are. The things you say are really clear and helpful. I’d like to know more about you.

  28. kingeofdremes says

    tsk. HTML fail. The link is good, but the article is called The Mystery of the Missing Chromosome.

  29. Sastra says

    @Bicarbonate;

    Thanks. I grew up without any formal religion but read and was initially impressed by a lot of paranormal and New Age-y literature when I began spiritually “searching.” (My dad was an Ancient Astronaut and an enthusiastic advocate for ESP.) For a while I self-identified as a Transcendentalist. I didn’t realize how much this conflicted with a rational, scientific, or humanist approach until I began to turn the approach onto Spirituality.

    Today many of my personal friends are seriously into woo. Since we appear to have similar backgrounds (and friends), you might find this interesting.

    I’ve noticed that atheists in general tend to be more interested in and direct more criticism towards whatever-it-is they came out of. Thus you get Catholic-atheists, Protestant-atheists, Hindu-atheists, Muslim-atheists, New Age-atheists, etc.. I guess I’m a Spiritual-but-not-religious atheist. ;)

  30. ChasCPeterson says

    The acknowledged oldest peoples in the world are the San/Bushmen of Africa.

    David’s right. Think about it. What could that phrase possibly mean?

    When someone says “race”, what they usually mean is species, and they’re trying to make a specious argument about “them” being less human than “we” are, whichever particular group is talking versus those being dehumanized.

    I am oh-so-loathe to open up this particular can of worms, but this kind of argument by ‘translation’ and unsupported assertion of ‘usually’ is never useful. There are in fact lots of different ways to talk about “race” besides the St*rmfr*nt-ugly way you’ve identified. It takes more information than use of the single word to know what someone’s talking about.
    Given an explicit technical definition, acknowledging the existence of human races (as cultural constructions or even as biological/genetic entities) is not by itself racist.
    Personally, I don’t even think the two dipshits in the OP’s video were being ‘racist’. Ignorant and idiotic, yes.

    The entire concept of “race” is would be laughable if it weren’t so insulting or hate-driven.

    There are several different concepts of “race” and many of them are neither hate-driven, insulting, nor laughable.
    The word itself is so fraughtly loaded that it’s become difficult to think rationally about the important concepts. But it might be worth a try before jerking your knee.

  31. says

    Official Science? What manner of creature might that be?

    Oh, aliens and gods and monsters, I wish to fuck everyone would stop co-opting us Indians for their stories. Just leave us alone, and out of your myths.

  32. Bicarbonate says

    Sastra,

    Thanks, started reading your post, haven’t finished it yet. If you haven’t already read “The Order of Things” by Michel Foucault you might find at least the first chapter very interesting. It’s where I discovered that woo thought is basically pre-Rennaissance.

  33. blf says

    I’ve noticed that atheists in general tend to be more interested in and direct more criticism towards whatever-it-is they came out of. Thus you get Catholic-atheists, Protestant-atheists, Hindu-atheists, Muslim-atheists, New Age-atheists, etc.

    And what of those who never really “came out of” anything, either not being raised with any such bullshite or never believing the bullshite in the first place?
    I’m not disagreeing with you (I have neither an opinion nor any evidence), but speculate any such tendency, even if only in a general or broad sense, might be overstating the case just a wee bit.

    On the other hand, using myself as an example, some of my family is rather xianity-soaked, as are the cultures I have and do live in, so I am unsurprisingly almost certainly more annoyed with xianity than other religious woo. But I am even more annoyed with woo-woo, albeit I have never been any sort of a woo-believer myself. (Possible reason for being so annoyed with woo-woo: An interest in illusion, albeit I am not a practitioner at all.)

    My speculation is that since I am also extremely annoyed with lying and liars, and don’t see much distinction between woo and woo-meisters and lies and liars, that’s where my intense dislike of woo-woo comes from. Which, perhaps, only begs question, Why the intense dislike of liars and lying? (Possible answer: An interest in, and aptitude for, mathematics (in which I have a degree); mathematical proof is about as far as you can get from lying.)

    (And I am probably rambling, and possibly derailing as well, sorry! (I am definitely procrastinating.))

  34. Muz says

    I can go over my salad slowly if you like. If the geneticists and so forth want to put it into better, more accurate words that’s fine.

    “The acknowledged oldest” – The peoples the agreed science points to as being..
    “oldest” – this is the trickiest, I grant. Those with the most direct lineage to the original humans perhaps? Probably can’t say that for sure. How about those with the most related-ness of all modern humans to all other modern humans?
    “Peoples” – well it’s not fair to call them a people exactly as it’s quite complex, naturally. But hopefully the meaning is taken.
    “The San/Bushmen of Africa”. This is the broad group I describe and we all apparently share a genetic history with them- moreso than others others I mean.

    So toss away. The information I wish to impart is this, give or take: “The earliest groups of humans are believed to find their present-day descendants among the San people, a group that is now found in western southern Africa.”
    That’s from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Journey_of_Man:_A_Genetic_Odyssey

  35. Sastra says

    blf #42 wrote:

    And what of those who never really “came out of” anything, either not being raised with any such bullshite or never believing the bullshite in the first place?

    I don’t know. Then you may not fit into the very general tendency — though if you used to not care one way or the other about religion and are now identifying as an atheist and equating religion with ‘bullshit’ you might be especially sensitive to the nonreligious people who think you need to stop doing that. You know from experience how badly they think of you — and why they’re wrong. I remember how gently and compassionately scornful I used to be of those who weren’t “open.” It might be nothing more complicated than that.

    A background in Mathematics ought to make someone a lot less enamored with the sloppy lack of precision in religious thought processes. But I think I read somewhere that some survey showed that mathematicians were more likely to believe in God than people in the sciences.

    I also recall reading that some other survey showed the opposite.

    And each time I remember thinking “well, yes, that makes sense because…”

    That’s the problem with speculation — including my speculation about atheists tending to hold more animosity and focus more arguments on whatever religion it was they formerly believed. It’s too easy to fit in the evidence to find out that it fits.

  36. unclefrogy says

    from my own observation I think the concept of deep time is really at the root of understanding evolution. The alien addition solves nothing at all for there is still the question of how the aliens came to be.
    the changes would be slight but persistent. As I became more aware of deep time the more awe inspiring it became. Until it completely eclipsed any of the last bits of magical thinking I was unconsciously clinging to. Magic and gods are tiny ideas in comparison to the reality of reality.

    good luck (break a leg)
    uncle frogy

  37. blf says

    Sasha, Well, an excellent mathematician I knew did start spouting mystical nonsense and eventually joined a religious order. That doesn’t prove anything one way or the other. That was yonks ago and I have long since lost contact, so I have no idea what has happened since.

    A minor correction, if I may, please. As far as I can now recall, I have always considered religion bullshite. That’s nothing new.

    I should probably also clarify here: I tend towards the tolerant side, excepting when “they” try to impose stuff on people not in “their” clique / cult, or which unreasonably affects anyone. I am not the sort of religion-is-bullshite person who thinks faerie-bothering should be abolished. Although I am fond of Christopher Hitchens’s saying “religion poisons everything”, and self-evidently do use derisive (and occasionally insulting) nicknames for beliefs and believers.

    Anyways, I was just pushing back a little bit on (admittedly reasonable sounding) idea that people who have moved away from a set of beliefs will be more passionate against those beliefs and the believers. More expert, perhaps, which perhaps can be construed as passion / animosity / focus…

  38. Stacy says

    It is in my knowing that originally, a group of spiritually and technologically advanced ETs seeded humanity with the apparently ‘benevolent intent’ of mankind becoming ‘custodians’ of Mother Earth and working to live in balance with her.

    How is it that these ETs, spiritually advanced as they were, did not foresee that humans would turn out to be really, really bad “custodians”?

    Surely any truly superior benevolent advanced beings would be smart enough to choose a more pacific species for custodial duties. Gorillas, for example.

    Stupid ETs. Let’s not listen.

  39. Chelydra says

    @F #10

    I wonder what planet the aliens brought Sequoia sempervirens from

    Interestingly, documentarian Steven Spielberg filmed alien botanists collecting this species back in the 1980s.

  40. ChasCPeterson says

    The earliest groups of humans are believed to find their present-day descendants among the San people

    nope. That makes no sense either. The earliest groups of humans, by definition, find their present-day descendants everywhere there is a human (shown, with semi-literate label, here).

    Those with the most direct lineage to the original humans perhaps? Probably can’t say that for sure.

    It’s not whether one can say it for sure or not, it’s that it makes no sense. Everybody on the planet has an equally direct lineage to ‘the original humans’.

    How about those with the most related-ness of all modern humans to all other modern humans?

    There might be a glimmer of sense in that one…but not much.
    here, I’ll help you out:

    Various Y-chromosome studies showed that the San carry some of the most divergent (oldest) Y-chromosome haplogroups. These haplogroups are specific sub-groups of haplogroups A and B, the two earliest branches on the human Y-chromosome tree.
    Mitochondrial DNA studies also showed evidence that the San carry high frequencies of the earliest haplogroup branches in the human mitochondrial DNA tree. The most divergent (oldest) mitochondrial haplogroup, L0d, has been identified at its highest frequencies in the southern African San group.
    In a study published in March 2011, Brenna Henn and colleagues found that the ǂKhomani Bushmen, as well as the Sandawe and Hadza peoples of Tanzania, were the most genetically diverse of any living humans studied.

    So compared to nearly all other human rac populations, the San retain more ancient genetic variants and may have moved least from the geographical origin-site of Homo sapiens. That’s not the same thing as any of your formulations.

  41. gakxz1 says

    Fight the good fight!

    Anyway, what I’ve always hated most about these things is that half of them like claiming that things like the ancient mesoamerican and south american cities couldn’t possibly have been built by the people around at the time, no way they could’ve been capable of it. I find it stupendous that a reasonable, intelligent person could actually think along these lines, never mind the ghastly motivations people originally had for thinking it a century and a half ago.

  42. says

    Probably going to get flamed because I haven’t done the back-reading to tell whether this got thoroughly discredited or not…

    but wasn’t there some sort of concept a little while ago that different ethnicities have genetic signs of interbreeding with other hominid species? (ie, we know there was interbreeding with homo neanderthalenis, but I read SOMETHING a while back I don’t know how reputable suggesting that human groups who ended up further east interbred with some different hominid species discovered in russia or something like that.)

    For the love of the spaghetti monster someone correct me or fill me in on the details before this half-buried memory of reading random science blogs drives me mad.

  43. Muz says

    So compared to nearly all other human populations, the San retain more ancient genetic variants and may have moved least from the geographical origin-site of Homo sapiens.

    Sounds good to me. The general thrust of what I’m saying is the same, granting that colloquial language rests too heavily on.outmoded and inaccurate concepts apt to confuse things.

  44. Bicarbonate says

    CX316 @52 says:

    … but wasn’t there some sort of concept a little while ago that different ethnicities have genetic signs of interbreeding with other hominid species?

    I think you may be referring to the “bush” rather than the “tree” model of human descent, or multi-regional evolution that you can read about at wikipedia.

  45. gussnarp says

    Just popping in to address this tribal cultures living in harmony with nature bullshit.

    I don’t know a whole lot about most tribal cultures, but it’s my understanding that various native American tribes were responsible for a lot of deforestation. I do know a bit more than most about the Maya, having spent my grad school years in a department full of Maya archaeologists. So for starters, when you hear someone talking about the Mayans, you can pretty much discount everything they say after that. There are Mayan languages, but the people are the Maya. There’s no such word as “Mayans”.

    Moving on, it is fairly well accepted today that environmental degradation was a major cause for the collapse of the great Mayan civilization. My colleagues have done considerable research into this aspect of the Maya and found considerable evidence for cities abandoned because the available resources had been depleted.

    No, what we see in the Maya is more evidence that human beings are animals. We breed and consume as much as we possibly can until we deplete environmental resources and then we move on or starve. Unless of course we are capped by disease or predation before that. Just like any other animal. Perhaps what we see in tribal cultures who do seem more in balance with nature is just those who have not yet developed settled agriculture and therefore experience hunger long before the point of depleting resources, or those who have not developed a strong enough society to keep the sick alive until they recover or keep back predators.

  46. ChasCPeterson says

    I read SOMETHING a while back I don’t know how reputable suggesting that human groups who ended up further east interbred with some different hominid species discovered in russia or something like that.

    you’re referring to the Denisovans.

  47. David Marjanović says

    My speculation is that since I am also extremely annoyed with lying and liars, and don’t see much distinction between woo and woo-meisters and lies and liars, that’s where my intense dislike of woo-woo comes from. Which, perhaps, only begs question, Why the intense dislike of liars and lying? (Possible answer: An interest in, and aptitude for, mathematics (in which I have a degree); mathematical proof is about as far as you can get from lying.)

    I’m not a mathematician, in my case it’s just the autism spectrum: I don’t like when something is wrong, going all the way to SIWOTI syndrome and sometimes SIWIMS syndrome.

    :-|

  48. wanstronian says

    Elementary math:

    If Billy has 48 chromosomes, and the second and third fuse into one, how many chromosomes does Billy now have?

    a) 46
    b) 47

    Hmm, tricky…

  49. says

    From the desk of Official Science

    To #40 Caine, Fleur du mal

    Dear Caine,

    We are all manners of imaginary creatures. Thank you for asking!

    Sincerely,
    Official Science

    ——-
    Chelydra #49

    Interestingly, documentarian Steven Spielberg filmed alien botanists collecting this species back in the 1980s.

    Hot damn! I knew it. They bring stuff here, let it do stuff to and take stuff from the Earth, then They take some back. Just like the human-alien hybrid program, they have one for trees!