2014 November 06 Thursday
The Amount Of Evidence Needed For Proof Keeps Rising

The last paragraph of a blog post by Greg Cochran about human migrations/invasions into Europe:

With a very limited set of clues, smart guys managed to get key facts about European prehistory roughly correct almost 90 years ago . With tremendously better tools, better methods, vastly more money, more data, etc, archaeologists (most of them) drifted farther and farther from the truth.

You can read Greg's own guesses as to the migration and invasion patterns into Europe parts of Asia based on the linguistic, genetic and other evidence available to date.

It seems like there is a sort of intellectual arms race between accumulating evidence on one side and deepening commitment to an ideology on the other side. The amount of evidence needed to prove the truth keeps rising. How much evidence is needed? Take how much is possible to collect at the moment and then raise it. That's how much.

Greg is writing about geographic distribution of genetic variants and what that says about when groups expanded into Europe and which other groups they wiped out it the process. Processes akin to ethnic cleansing (except some of it was "kill the men and take the women") happened repeatedly over tens of thousands of years. Some people don't want to believe that for a variety of reasons.

I'm still cautiously optimistic (but only cautiously optimistic) that plunging costs of DNA sequencing will so increase the amount of DNA available and result in the identification of so many genetic variants that control intellectual potential and behavioral tendencies that the current Left Narrative will break under the pressure of relentless intellectual assault. But I could be wrong. It would seem that the need for a faith to believe in is so strong that a large fraction of the non-religious will just adopt a secular faith. No doubt genetic variants to explain variations in the need for faith will be discovered as well.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2014 November 06 02:09 PM 

James Bowery said at November 7, 2014 9:40 AM:

The only really interesting frontier of social science is meta-social science: understanding the sociology of sociology. However, given the pit into which the social sciences have fallen it is probable that the only way out of the pit to genuinely understanding the sociology of sociology is mass slaughter of social scientists so there is a genuine tabula rasa from which to start anew.

aandrews said at November 10, 2014 2:42 PM:

"...and behavioral tendencies...."

I'd like to draw your attention to this article at the Unz Review: A Look at an Early European

Analysis of the DNA from the remains a man who lived 38,700 to 36,200 years ago at a well-known Upper Paleolithic site in central European Russia was written up in a recent paper. He was "dark-skinned, dark-eyed, and rather short" and decidedly non-modern European in appearance. The lower bound for the emergence of the modern European phenotype has been set by the remains of a Swedish hunter-gatherer studied earlier this year, dated to 8,000 years ago.

"By retrieving ancient DNA from an early modern human, we have made a key advance in human paleogenetics, perhaps more so than by sequencing the Neanderthal genome. We again see that evolution did not slow down with the emergence of anatomically and behaviorally modern humans some 60,000 years ago. It actually began to speed up, as humans began to enter not only new natural environments but also new cultural environments of their own making."

So, a drastic change evidently took place within a span of 30,000 years. As was described in Cochran-Harpending's 10,000 Year Explosion.

Toddy Cat said at November 11, 2014 10:21 AM:

Cochran is a lot like Nassim Taleb - he can come off as a real arrogant assh***, and he's sometimes wrong, but he's right a lot more than he's wrong. He's certainly right about Anthropology forgetting a lot of what it knew in the post-WWII era, especially in the 1960's and 1970's. A very intelligent and interesting guy, along with his calmer and more presentable running buddy, Harry Harpending. Their blog, "West Hunter" is always interesting, and the comment section is often hilarious...

Randall Parker said at November 15, 2014 5:45 PM:


Thanks for the link to Peter Frost's piece. I wonder how many more data points of old skulls we'll get in the future. We will definitely get an orders of magnitude bigger flood of DNA sequencing data of humans alive now. But how much DNA sequencing data will we get from 2000+ years ago?

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