Review of The 10000 year explosion (Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending)

The 10000 year explosion – Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending, download, free, ebook, pdf


This is a nontechnical overall introduction to how human evolution has happened. it mentions a lot of stuff i didnt know. i wud have liked more references. the book is openly race realist, and i was waiting for it to mention that the reason Africa is so backwards is that africans are so dumb, but it was only hinted at. instead, the authors focused the last chapter on a higher than average group, the jews. this is probably a smart move. once it has been acknowledged that the asians and jews are smarter than whites, one cannot shrug off other racial differences as being due to white racism, white supremacy, biased IQ tests, and so on.


Quotes and comments below.


There’s been no biological change in humans in 40,000 or

50,000 years. Everything we call culture and civilization

we’ve built with the same body and brain.

—Stephen Jay Gould


wat. even supposing that natural selection (lack of reproduction due to death/injury) was set out of motion (as it nearly is in todays welfare states), there wud still be sexual selection.


but it does fit with Goulds punctuated equilibrium ideas.



Their behavior has changed as well: Dogs are good at read­

ing human voice and gestures, while wolves can’t understand us

at all. Male wolves pair-bond with females and put a lot of ef­

fort into helping raise their pups, but male dogs—well, call

them irresponsible. There have been substantial changes in dogs

in just the past couple of centuries: Most of the breeds we know

today are no older than that.


In an extreme example, the Russian scientist Dmitri Belyaev

succeeded in developing a domesticated fox in only forty years.5

In each generation he selected for tameness (and only tame­

ness); this eventually resulted in foxes that were friendly and

enjoyed human contact, in strong contrast to wild foxes. This

strain of tame foxes also changed in other ways: Their coat color

lightened, their skulls became rounder, and some of them were

born with floppy ears. It seems that some of the genes influenc­

ing behavior (tameness in this case) also affect other traits—so

when Belyaev selected for tameness, he automatically got changes

in those other traits as well. Many of these changes have occurred

as side effects of domestication in a number of species—possibly

including humans, as we shall see.


very cool. more here:



Changes in domesticated plants can be just as impressive.

Corn, or maize, which is derived from a wild grass named

teosinte, has changed wildly in only 7,000 years. I t ’s hard to be­

lieve that maize and teosinte are closely related.

Such dramatic responses to selection aren’t isolated cases—

they’ve occurred in many domesticated species and continue to

occur today. Evolutionary genetics predicts that substantial

change in almost any trait is possible in a few tens of genera­

tions, and those predictions are confirmed every day. Selection is

used routinely in many kinds of agriculture, and it works: It

grows more corn, lots more. You can’t argue with corn.




While there has probably not been enough time for dogs to

develop wholly new complex adaptations, there has certainly

been enough time to lose some, sometimes in all breeds, but

other times only in a subset of dog breeds. Wolf bitches dig

birthing dens; a few breeds of dogs still do, but most do not.

Wolves go into season in a predictable way, at a fixed time of the

year; a few dog breeds do, but most do not. Wolves regurgitate

food for weaned cubs, but dogs no longer do so. Male wolves

help care for their offspring, but male dogs do not. Any adapta­

tion, whether physical or behavioral, that loses its utility in a

new environment can be lost rapidly, especially if it has any no­

ticeable cost. Fish in lightless caves lose their sight over a few

thousand years at most—much less time than it took for eyes to

evolve in the first place.


In some sense these are evolutionarily shallow changes,

mostly involving loss of function or exaggerations and redirec­

tions of function. Although such changes will not produce gills

or sonar, they can accomplish amazing things. Dogs are all one

species, but as we have noted, they vary more in morphology

than any other mammal and have developed many odd abilities,

including learning abilities: Dog breeds vary greatly in learning

speed and capacity. The number of repetitions required to learn

a new command can vary by factors of ten or more from one

breed to another. The typical Border collie can learn a new com­

mand after 5 repetitions and respond correctly 95 percent of

the time, whereas a basset hound takes 80-100 repetitions to

achieve a 25 percent accuracy rate.


very interesting! see also:


im definitely going to add the last book to my to read list: Coren, Stanley (1995). The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide To The Thoughts, Emotions, And Inner Lives Of Our Canine Companions. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-37452-4.


as for the rankings listed in the third article above. it seems obvious that they shud be compared for cranium and brain size (measured by brain scans) and see if that correlates with their intelligence rankings. ill bet that it does, just like for both between and within human populations.



But even then, we knew from our experience with animal

and plant breeding, along with observation of many examples of

rapid evolution in nature, that there could be significant evolu­

tionary change in 10,000 years or less. It was also clear that

modest genetic differences between groups could cause big trait

differences. Indeed, entirely divergent life strategies can be

caused by differences in a single gene, as we see in fire ants,

where ants with one version of a pheromone receptor live in in­

dependent colonies, each having a single queen, while those

with the other version live in a sprawling metacolony with many

queens.17 Well before the revolution in genomics, it was clear

enough that there could be significant differences between human

populations in almost any trait, despite recent common ancestry.

It was clear that this was entirely compatible with what we knew

of genetics, and it was also clear that at least some such differ­

ences existed in skin color, size, morphology, and metabolism.


Very cool. the cite given is: Laurent Keller and Kenneth G. Ross, “Selfish Genes: A Green

Beard in the Red Fire Ant,” Nature 394 (1998): 573; Michael J. B.

Krieger and Kenneth G. Ross, “Identification of a Major Gene Regulat­

ing Complex Social Behavior,” Science 295, no. 5553 (2002): 328-332.




There is often a visceral reaction to the idea that we carry some

Neanderthal genes. Probably this is due to the general impres­

sion that Neanderthals were backward and apelike. Neanderthals

weren’t really apelike, although they were behind the times—but

since it looks, in any case, as if we’ve absorbed only their best

(most useful) traits, we can be happy about our Neanderthal

ancestry, proud even. At any rate, it could be worse: We could

have picked up genes from a virus. In fact, it is worse: We have.

Most viruses (which are basically just bags full of DNA or

RNA) slip into cells and then take over, making copies of them­

selves and usually killing the host cells in the process. But some

RNA viruses (retroviruses, like HIV) copy their RNA into

DNA and then, sometimes, integrate that DNA into the host

cell’s genome. I f the retrovirus happens to occupy a reproduc­

tive cell, one that makes sperm or eggs, the retroviral genes can

actually become part of the next generation’s genome. This has

happened in the past: Humans have many genetic remnants of

retroviruses that at one time inserted copies of themselves into

the human genome. Most do not seem to have any real func­

tion, but a few do. For example, both humans and apes have

syncytin, derived from a retroviral envelope protein that our an­

cestors picked up roughly 30 million years ago. It plays a role in

the development of the placenta—in particular, the process that

leads to the development of a fused cell layer. Anyone who’s

overly worried about possible Neanderthal ancestry should re­

member that we’re certainly descended from viruses. As usual,

the facts don’t care about our feelings.


thats cool



When you think about it, the whole process is rather

strange: Northern Europeans and some sub-Saharan Africans

have become “mampires,” mutants that live off the milk of an­

other species. We think lactose-tolerance mutations played an

important role in history, a subject we will treat at some length

in Chapter 6.


i hav often thought the same.



Science as we know it got its official start in Europe in the

sixteenth century with the publication of Copernicus’s work De

revolutionibus in 1543. The closest thing to modern science seen

before that would have been the protoscience practiced by the

Greek and, later, Arab civilizations—but they’re not that close.

The productivity and intensity of modern science far outshines

earlier efforts. Some of the most important European scien­

tists, such as Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, and Charles

Darwin, made larger intellectual contributions as individuals

than other entire civilizations did over a period of centuries.


true, but kinda mean. think about it!



Technical and social factors must have been important in

increasing social connectivity: Better transportation, regular

mail services, and the printing press, for example, played essen­

tial roles. Although inventions such as the printing press were

undoubtedly important, they seem to have been necessary rather

than sufficient, since science either does not exist or is appallingly

feeble in the majority of the world’s populations, even among

those that have access to those favorable technological factors. If

a region or population produces major advances in knowledge,

science there is real and alive, otherwise not. By that standard,

science does not exist in sub-Saharan Africa or in the Islamic

world today. As Pervez Hoodbhoy (head of the physics depart­

ment in Islamabad) has written, “No major invention or discov­

ery has emerged from the Muslim world for well over seven

centuries now.”30


the reference is presumably this:

its worth a read. try f.i.:


Let us look at the state of science in the current Islamic world. A study by academics at the International Islamic University, Malaysia, showed that OIC countries have 8.5 scientists, engineers, and technicians per 1,000 population, compared with a world average of 40.7, and 139.3 for countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Forty-six Muslim countries contributed 1.17 per cent of the world’s science literature, whereas 1.66 per cent came from India alone and 1.48 per cent from Spain. Twenty Arab countries contributed 0.55 per cent, compared with 0.89 per cent by Israel alone. Of the 28 lowest producers of scientific articles in 2003, half belong to the OIC.



Every selective sweep starts out as a change in the DNA of a

sperm or egg. Such changes can be caused by chemicals, radia­

tion, or just random jostling of molecules—but what matters to

us is that such changes do occur. Mutations favorable enough

to initiate a sweep are extremely rare. One set of human DNA

has about 3 billion nucleotides, and an average person has about

100 new mutations. Most of those changes are in DNA that ap­

parently does nothing at all—only 2 percent of our DNA does

anything (as far as we know)—but on average, two or three of

those mutations affect functional DNA. Still, they do not usu­

ally make a significant difference, either in a positive or a nega­

tive way.


hasnt this simplistic notion of junk DNA been disproven?


see especially


This week, 30 research papers, including six in Nature and additional papers published online by Science, sound the death knell for the idea that our DNA is mostly littered with useless bases. A decade-long project, the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE), has found that 80% of the human genome serves some purpose, biochemically speaking. Beyond defining proteins, the DNA bases highlighted by ENCODE specify landing spots for proteins that influence gene activity, strands of RNA with myriad roles, or simply places where chemical modifications serve to silence stretches of our chromosomes.


that the authors apparently do not know this raises some doubts about their other knowledge of genetics. they also dont provide a source for their claim, indicating that they think it is common knowledge. well, it was common belief but it turned out to be wrong (so it wasnt knowledge at all).


a very favorable reading of their claim wud take it that they were simply refering to non-coding DNA, for which the 98% number holds true. but being non-coding (for proteins) does not exactly imply that it “does nothing at all”.



the authors mention the interesting case of




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