The 10,000 Year Explosion

I just finished reading “The 10,000 Year Explosion” by Gregory Chochran and Henry Harpending.
My opinion is that it is a decent book for those who are not already familiar with the fundamentals of race realism.  It is a good gateway book.  There is a lot of repetition – which makes it any easy read.  I finished it in one day.
I found some of the arguments, presented in the book, wanting.  For example (pg. 59) under “skeletal evidence” for Neanderthal contributions to the modern genome, the most powerful arguments are not even brought up.  This was a great disappointment for me.
The authors assume, throughout the book, that the “out of Africa” theory is correct.  This can be forgiven since, to entertain other possibilities would have immensely complicated their task.  It certainly made more sense for them to simply go along with the worst assumptions of the enemy camp, in this case, and build their arguments on that basis.  Whether we accept or reject “out of Africa” is not central to this case and the book’s arguments are robust enough either way.
Toward the end, the authors tackle the challenge of higher average I.Q. for Ashkenazi Jews and its possible link to certain genetic diseases.  I think the authors made a convincing argument for “heterozygote advantage” – that carriers of one copy of certain genes have an advantage while carriers of two copies suffer grave consequences.  The analogy to Whippets in dogs was interesting.  I also appreciate the arguments in favor of Ashkenazi Jews being a genetically distinct group.  One of these days, I hope to do a DNA test on myself just to see if the testers can determine my Jewish ancestry from the swab alone.  According to the authors, Ashkenazi Jews average some 60% Mideastern DNA.  I wonder what mine is…
One major factor in Ashkenazi I.Q., that the authors considered of no consequence, is Talmudic scholarship.  They focus entirely on Jewish financial activities such as money lending and tax collection instead.  Regarding religious study, they write (pg 202):

Although the Ashkenazim put a tremendous amount of intellectual energy into Talmudic analysis during this period, we do not believe that the resulting body of work provides evidence of unusual  mental acuity.  Despite its historical significance and its importance to the Jewish culture and religion, it is fair to say that it hasn’t drawn a great deal of interest outside of the Jewish community.

… but the rabbis did not take their wives from “outside the Jewish community”.  They took them from within the community.  It was specifically religious scholarship that made a man coveted as a husband.  So the authors’ argument here makes no sense.  Also, there is copious evidence for mental acuity within the Jewish literature in question.  The fact that most of it deals with how many angels can dance on the head of a pin is beside the point.  Did the authors really read through the literature in question to reach their conclusion?  Somehow I doubt it.  Anyway, being an Ashkenazi Jew myself, I must be right!
The entire spirit of the book is captured in just one paragraph in its conclusion (pg. 226):

The explosion is ongoing: Human evolution didn’t stop when anatomically modern humans appeared, or when they expanded out of Africa.  It never stopped – and why would it?  Evolutionary stasis requires a static environment, whereas behavioral modernity is all about innovation and change.  Stability is exactly what we have not had.  This should be obvious, but instead the human sciences have labored under the strange idea that evolution stopped 40,000 years ago.

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19 Responses to The 10,000 Year Explosion

  1. gcochran says:

    We assume “out of Africa” because it is almost certainly true, to first order. But not totally. And probably with a couple of interesting modifications.
    I think that genes like Tay-Sachs account for only a fraction of the Jewish edge in IQ: most must be due to selection on standing variation. But those disease genes are a signal of strong selection.
    If you can find evidence that excellence in religious scholarship led to higher fertility – over an extended period – I’d love to see it. I couldn’t find any.
    What I found was that prosperous Jews outbred poor Jews, and by quite a bit. That was easy to find.
    Read more carefully: we were making the case for higher Jewish intelligence today in the quote about Talmudic analysis, not talking about the factors that caused it. We don’t think Talmudic analysis would convince outsiders – but we think that excellence in mathematics and science is harder to argue away.
    That estimate of 60% Middle Eastern ancestry was crude, a very rough cut based on about 250 markers. Today people are using chips that record hundreds of thousands of SNPs: it is now apparent that the Middle Eastern fraction is less than 60%, in fact probably under 50%. The people (of those populations examined so far) genetically closest to the Ashkenazim are Italians. They’re definitely closer than any Middle Eastern population.

  2. jewamongyou says:

    I’ll admit that I don’t have specific evidence of higher fertility among rabbis; only the generality that a superior intellect invariably led to more prestige and, from about the 14th century on, monetary compensation for holding the position of “rabbi”. This monetary compensation would have given them the means to support more children – one would think. More specific research is necessary in this field though.
    As for your “less than 50%” Middle Eastern DNA, this has always been my intuition as well, based simply on the appearance of most Ashkenazi Jews. Some families, including my own, appear more Mideastern than most. So it would be interesting to test this.
    Thanks for clarifying the above points. I hope there will be a sequel to “The 10,000 year explosion”. There is so much more that can be written about it.

  3. Annoyed says:

    I don’t know much about the technical aspects of Race(beyond it obviously existing). Would you recommend this as a decent intro book or do you feel there are better ones in existence?

    • jewamongyou says:

      I definitely recommend the book, especially for beginners. You mentioned you live in the Northwest, as I do. I’d be happy to lend it to you if you want to meet up.
      Rushton’s “Race, Evolution and Behavior” is also a great book to start with.

      • Annoyed says:

        I apologize for not responding sooner, sometimes I need to take a break as the current state of affairs is so headache inducing.
        I will add them to my wishlist and as my book purchasing money is replenished I will look at ordering them.
        I figure if I am going to be advocating for any racial cause I need to be more familiar with the biological aspects of race so as to be able to respond to the typical “race doesn’t exist” crowed and their arguments.

  4. FrankBD says:

    Understanding Human History by Michael Hart is available for free pdf download here:

    • jewamongyou says:

      Thanks! I’ll add it to my reading list.

      • fred says:

        Milton Friedman doesn’t really write about race, per se. But his economic analysis cuts through many of the false arguments used by racial marxists to prop up their positions. And, of course, Prof. Michael Levin addresses some of these fallacies directly in “Why Race Matters”.

  5. Kiwiguy says:

    ***I don’t know much about the technical aspects of Race(beyond it obviously existing). ***
    I would recommend ‘Conversations with Arthur Jensen’. It’s written in Q/A format with Skeptic senior editor Frank Miele.
    It’s interesting for a number of reasons, as Jensen discusses the controversies he’s been involved in and explains his views in very accessible language. He discusses and explains race very well I think.

    • Annoyed says:

      Thank’s for the suggestion.
      Also do you have any suggested reading that is online and free to download? I should have also asked JewAmongYou this question.

  6. Kiwiguy says:

    This book ‘Race’ also by Miele & anthropologist/biochemist Vincent Sarich would be worth looking at.
    “The best summary of its conclusions is like the one quoted above: Human subpopulations are “races”; they exist. They are familial subdivisions of the one species, Homo sapiens, to which we all belong. General readers who wish to be informed on the biology of race, in preparation for the next official hyperventilation on the subject, will do well to start with this book.”

  7. Tomek R. says:

    But it’s not quite so that jewish IQ is higher than white or asian people of the similar predecessors’ occupation lineages. I mean avg. jew is descendant of financiers/priests/traders/scholars. If you take white or asian people who are descentant from long lines of people with similar occupations you’d find people with IQ similar to Jews.

  8. Benjamin says:

    One possible point against the rabbinic descent theory: isn’t it correct that Sephardi Jews are on average of lower IQ than Ashkenazim? I would assume Sephardic rabbis were also held in high esteem and had many children. So why the difference? Occupation set would seem to be the answer.
    I’m fascinated by the preponderance of references to the notion of the Jewish race, by Jews, in pre-Shoah literature. Obviously events have made the notion taboo, but I predict an upturn in consciousness of Jewish genetics as a factor in identity as science continues to unveil its findings.
    I found this nineteenth century quote by Moses Hess astonishingly prescient:
    “The Germans hate the Jewish religion less than their race, less their peculiar faith than their peculiar noses.”

    • jewamongyou says:

      Perhaps. Not all Jewish communities treated their clergy the same way.
      Yes, it is taboo these days to speak of a “Jewish race” – not to mention the fact that it’s not really accurate either.

  9. Benjamin says:

    Addendum: I also predict an upturn in consciousness of our partial descent from European converts to Judaism. Why should we be ashamed of being what I have called Euro-Semites (http://state-of-exile.blogs )? Cochran’s results don’t surprise me. I feel culturally and ethnically closer to an Italian than an Arab.

  10. Pingback: Book Review: The Ten Thousand Year Explosion (2009) by Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending | Staffan's Personality Blog

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