GENEAOLOGY SILLINESS

Top Aussie tennis player Ashleigh Barty is of indigenous heritage, so we are told by the media. Why? It’s not true. In fact she’s of English ancestry but through a great grandmother, is one 64th aboriginal.

So too with Trump who was right to taunt Democrat Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren as ‘Pocahontas’ after she idiotically claimed to be the first native American member of Congress. Once when filling out a form for her bar admission in Texas she identified herself as “American Indian”. On another occasion, contributing to a celebrity cookbook, she described herself as Cherokee. In fact according to her DNA records one must go back between 9 to 10 generations to find a trace of native American. That far opens up tens of thousands of different ancestors.

Warren is an intelligent woman with an impressive back-story. Why would she mar her record with this scatterbrain nonsense?

The pop psychologist in me says she wanted to add a degree of exotica which suggests an underlying lack of confidence. I’m picking this absurdity will make her an easy Trump target and deny her the prize she seeks, namely next year’s Democrat Presidential nomination for which she otherwise looked like a shoo-in. Mind you, Trump has form on this front, having made diverse false claims about his ancestry, but he is a liar without precedent in public life, probably in all of human history and no-one expects honesty from him, indeed to the contrary. If he made factual claims on any subject there’d be a massive spike in the heart attack rate.

We’re certainly very familiar with this weird behaviour in New Zealand with claims of being maori. It’s predominantly, at least on my observation, a female oddity.

There’s a very clever and attractive (“what relevance is that”, I hear women cry. “Heaps”, answers every male). British science writer, Angela Saini, who has written brilliantly on race and put this matter perfectly in describing her parents as the only ancestors she needs to know. Dead bloody right.

I’m always bemused by people who profess an interest in genealogy and claim to have traced their ancestry back through the generations. They’re deluding themselves and make a common mistake, namely tracing back solely in a straight line through their father. But genealogy doesn’t work in a linear line backwards once you include, as logically you must, both parents. Rather, it spreads out horizontally.

A British mathematician pointed this out last year, and (from memory) proved that going back enough generations ended up with over 700 billion people having existed. Given that the best estimate is a total of 107 billion humans have walked this earth, how is that possible? The answer is obvious, namely go back for enough and we all have numerous common ancestors. Add to that having more than one child further spreads the ancestral diversity when they have children.

Last year an American journalist consulted two of the multitude of companies now offering ancestor tracing systems. Each came up with wildly different results but here’s the point, both would be correct.

In recent decades, thanks to the advances in knowledge through DNA analysis, we’ve learnt more about human history than half a century back would possibly have been imaginable.

Hitherto, research on this topic was confined to genes; DNA however, has shown we all have an incredible kaleidoscope of DNA in our make-up, including a dusting of Neanderthal.

The one thing science has now proved is there’s no such thing as race. Rather the differences are entirely cultural and driven by different environments and that includes skin colour.

For example, DNA research has revealed that all Polynesians trace back 10,500 years ago to Taiwan. So too North American natives in all of their rich variety, from Eskimos in Alaska down to the Guarani in today’s Paraguay.

Plainly something happened in Taiwan to cause that massive exodus. But over that 10,500 years a hundred different cultures, physical shapes, languages and other variations evolved from the exodus, driven entirely by environmental factors from the scattered groups.

For example, the Tongans, all giants thanks to their easy environment, have identical ancestors to Bolivia’s short, barrel-chested Alto Plano Indians, short because of the tough environment food-wise and barrel-chested through living 15,000 ft above sea level in thin air.

Ancestor worshipping is characteristic of all static societies and is generally unhealthy. Angela Saini was spot on when she said the only ancestors who count are your parents.

 

4 Comments

Angela Saini appears to have a political agenda a mile wide when she makes sweeping statements without evidence such as “Male software engineers forget that discrimination and sexual harassment have driven women out of Silicon Valley, and kept countless more out in the first place.” For many decades highly intelligent women have contributed to science and technology around the world without the burden of manufactured victimhood that is currently fashionable. She also lauds Ada Lovelace as the first computer programmer when she only wrote some hypothetical algorithms for a machine that didn’t exist then and has never existed since. Angela’s political agenda skews and diminishes her supposedly scientific writing in my opinion. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/07/silicon-valley-weapon-choice-women-google-manifesto-gender-difference-eugenics

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Ashleigh Barty I presume you mean Bob. I have been researching ancestors equally on both sides and will not be going further back than the ‘greats’, for that is entirely enough individuals to get bothered about, considering the often large families they had only 2 gens ago. No thrilling surprises yet…my forebears had few secrets.

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Yes… in order to get a better understanding of yourself… you look to your parents. In order to get a better understanding of them, you look to their parents… this called genealogy… the study of a family. My black sheep brother’s understanding came from a picture of a 2nd great-grandparent. My understanding is an appreciation that I even exist… as my research continues to excite me with a new understanding of my ancestors.

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Only about 60%; 40% male, 80% female, of approximately 100 billion humans born have managed to produce descendants, though at times in last 10000 years of radical technological innovation it has dropped to as little as 5-10% for men. Selection pressures on men are much much tougher than female – so evolution tends to gamble more on them making both more male geniuses as well as dullards and producing far more focused competitive behaviour in men. A partial explanation for differential success rates of males and females in elite intellectual activities.

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