Confucius, Genghis Khan, Y Chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve Walk into a Bar…

Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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13 Responses

  1. ThatPirateGuy says:

    This is very similar to something that I often think.

    I am some level of cousin to not only every human on the planet, but also every living thing. Including plants and microbes. It is really awe inspiring and neat until I realize A) I eat my own cousins and B) everyone I have … was a cousin.Report

  2. North says:

    Well humans are all related to each other by logic, to the rest of the solar system chemically and to the rest of the galaxy atomically.

    Shorter more poetic version: we are stardust.Report

  3. Austin Bramwell says:

    This inference here doesn’t seem correct at all. You may have a small number of blood lines back to confucious, but you doubtless have a much larger number of blood lines that go back to your polish ancestors. In the total space of possible bloodlines, you ancestry is probably dominated by poles. So, you much more related to your fellow poles than to Confucious. Blood lines matter. They also explain why different human populations differ genetically, most famously in the case of lactose tolerance, different genes for which I understand arose in many different populations (though to this day not all).Report

    • Austin Bramwell in reply to Austin Bramwell says:

      @Austin Bramwell, From the paper that inspired all this: “The model also can be used to calculate the percentage ancestry that current individuals receive from different parts of the world. In generations sufficiently far removed from the present, some ancestors appear much more often than do others on any current individual’s family tree, and therefore be expected to contribute proportionately more to his or her genetic inheritance. For example, a present-day Norwegian generally owes the majoriy of his or her ancestry to peopel living in europe at the IA [identical ancestors] point, and a very small portion to people living throughout the rest of the world. Furthermore, because DNA is inherited in relatively large segments from ancestors, an individual will receive little or not actual genetic inheritance from the vast majority of the ancestors living at the IA point.”

      So, it looks as if the scientific literature in question says the very opposite of the lesson that Jason wishes to draw. Bloodlines matter – a lot. Jason has received “little or no actual genetic inheritance” from Confucious, but has received lots and lots of genetic inheritance from his Europaean ancestors. Not only has the final nail in the coffin not been driven, but it looks like the corpse is alive and kicking.Report

      • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Austin Bramwell says:

        @Austin Bramwell,

        But those Poles, they too were mutts. (And so was Confucius, for that matter.) We’ve just lost the genetic imprints of their ancestors, from the same processes that you mention.

        And in any event, the possibility that you will successfully isolate your own genes to pass them on similarly is unlikely to come to fruition.Report

        • Austin Bramwell in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

          @Jason Kuznicki, Fine, but that we’re all interrelated doesn’t mean that “bloodlines are an illusion.” On the contrary, as the author of the paper proving how we all may be descended from Confucius says, we have dramatically different degrees of relatedness.
          I’m not sure what point you are making about the possibilities of passing on genes. If the point is that we’ll all be equally successful in the long run in passing on our genes, that’s not true. It’s basic neo-darwinism that some genes will be wildly more successful at reproducing than others. For example, the first Europaean who had the gene for lactose tolerance had stunning success in passing it on to his many, many descendants. That man or woman utterly dominates his contemporaries both in number of descendants alive today (keep in mind that most of his/her contemporaries have no descendants alive today at all, even if it is true that the set of all common human ancestors existed fairly recently) and the frequency with which his genes are found today.Report

  4. Kris says:

    A few months ago, I was very impressed with myself after discovering an unbroken line from myself back to Charlemagne, and beyond… until I discovered that virtually everyone with European ancestry (and quite a few without obvious European ancestry) can trace their ancestry to Charlemagne. Darn.Report

  5. Steve Sailer says:

    If you think about who is related to whom in relativistic rather than absolutist terms, you’ll come to more intellectually sophisticated conclusions.Report