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Out of Africa

Ethan Tecumseh Vishniac ethan at ut-emx.uucp
Mon Nov 25 14:55:39 EST 1991

In article <1991Nov25.172917.5516 at cco.caltech.edu>, morphy at cco.caltech.edu (Jones Maxime Murphy) writes:
> ethan at ut-emx.uucp (Ethan Tecumseh Vishniac) writes:
> >Any comments?  I have no emotional ties to any side in this debate since
> >I can't see any rational implications for racial politics in modern
> >America (but then, using `rational' and `racial politics' in the same
> >sentence is probably wishful thinking).
> I have difficulty with that statement. Only an alien can have "no emotional
> ties" to a debate about humans, which is what this is, after all. You're quite
> right about the rational thang, but a lot of people in "science" have strong
> negative gut reactions to the thought of an African population conquering a
> less intelligent European one.


assuming it's true then I'm descended from the winners anyhow.  Why
should I identify with the losers just because they once lived where
a lot of my ancestors came from?  (The rest apparently came from the Mideast
and central Asia, which are also on the list of conquests.)

Oh, well......

In answer to someone else's question of why I think the mitochondrial
evidence favors this idea as it now stands.  I understand that this
evidence only reveals matrilineal ancestry, but in order for a single
matrilineal line to dominate the population has to be small, or the
time scale very large (in fact, I suspect that the time scale back to
the most recent matrilineal ancestor increases exponentially with
population size).  It follows that the existence of a matrilineal
ancestor the age of `Eve' is good evidence that the bulk of human
ancestry comes from a population that was relatively small for a
long time (order of a hundred thousand years, since a longer time
scale would be inconsistent with the results).  I don't have the
article here, but a naive calculation by a friend came up with
some number between 100,000 and 10,000 people. This seems
hard to reconcile with any major genetic role assigned to other groups. 
You can't rule out occasional contribution from some other group,
but it becomes less likely the more mitochondrial samples you get.

You *could* decide to believe in a purely male contribution
from some other group without upsetting the odds, but I'll believe 
it when some evidence turns up.
"Why are they all dressed like* Ethan Vishniac, Dept of Astronomy, 
 Geeks?" - Dan Quayle after   * The University of Texas at Austin
 addressing a meeting of the  * ethan at astro.AS.UTEXAS.EDU
 American Astronmical Society *

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