Dogs and humans as symbionts -- and the inestimable Razib Khan
I will say something about dogs in a moment but I want to start out saying something about the excellent Razib. I have been reading his writings off and on for around a decade. He seems to know all that there is to know about genetics in general and evolutionary genetics in particular. And if you are as interested in onomastics as I am, you may have been able to infer from his name that Razib is a brown man, a non-Muslim Bangladeshi -- though he comes from a Muslim family.
And that is important. There are lots of minefields and "no-go" areas in genetics which most researchers sedulously avoid for the sake of a quiet life. And those roadblocks are entirely the work of Leftists. Leftists are much more concerned with the political implications of a statement than they are with its truth They have to be. Their theories are so shallow and silly that they can all be blown away in short order by the truth.
But Leftists are racists. They think any non-white race is better than "dead white men" and their living successors. So non-whites are indulged and allowed to say things which would be forbidden to a white. The most glaring example of that is the way blacks can use the word "nigger" with impunity but it is a firing offence if a white uses it. Could there be anything more racist than that?
So Razib is a very valuable person both because of his knowledge and because of his skin color. Being a "minority" means that he can, with some safety, venture into "sensitive" areas of discussion. And all that lies behind why I find his writings so interesting. I think I am getting an account of Razib's field from a largely uncensored source, though I do note that Razib is a bit cautious when writing about IQ. So you see that I have to be a racist in order to counter racism. I have to look at race in order to get behind racist censorship. So that is why I trust Razib's judgement in areas where he knows a lot more than I do.
Mind you, "minorities" can sometimes get into trouble if they challenge Leftism too frontally. The work of Bruce Lahn is a prize example. Lahn is not actually a minority at all. He is Chinese. He is really therefore a member of the world's biggest majority. But he does come from a different culture so would normally be granted some leeway.
But what he discovered was ideologically thermonuclear. He discovered that there was a brain mutation in central Eurasia about 5,000 years ago which seems to have increased brain efficiency. It most probably led to an upwards spurt in average IQ. Evidence in support of that interpretation is that civilization also first arose at around that time and that the genetic feature concerned is very rare in a notoriously low intelligence population: Sub-Saharan Africans, possibly being found in most of Africa at all only as a result of incidental contacts between Eurasia and Africa.
So the bomb went off. The evidence for the strikingly low average IQ of Africans has been abundant for decades so Lahn's confirmation of that was really no news at all. But it was UNSPEAKABLE to Leftists. You can mention it in academic circles among colleagues -- and indeed the American Psychological Association has done just that -- confirming the big gap between black/white averages.
But such facts must not LEAK OUT to the general public! Leftist myths must be maintained. And, sadly for Lahn, his work DID attract a lot of interest from a wider public. So Lahn got such a hard time over it all that he has now abandoned that area of research. Appalling -- but that is what happens in a Left-dominated culture
But on to the topic of dogs: I will first re-run something I wrote in 2009:
I am rather bemused about how accounts of human evolution leave out dogs. We hear lots about cranial size etc. but such discussions normally leave out our symbionts: dogs.
The relationship between dogs and humans is both ancient and amazingly powerful. How many human households to this day do not include a dog? Not many.
And yet there is a perfectly clear evolutionary reason why that is so. Dogs and humans complement one another. Dogs have the big and sensitive nose, big and sensitive ears and weaponized jaws that we lack. And we have the big brain that can give dogs good direction in the hunting life that comprises most of our evolutionary past. Without dogs we would probably still be tree-dwelling vegetarians. I wonder if modern-day vegetarians are averse to dogs? I wouldn't be surprised. There's a research paper in that.
These days we are long past the stage where we need dogs -- but we still love them. They are our "other half". They made us possible. I believe stories I have heard about a man being upset when his wife left him but being REALLY upset when his dog died. I have shed tears over a dog myself.
So what is wrong with that theory? Razib told me that it had to be wrong because the fossil record showed the domestication of dogs to be relatively recent. But when people tell me I am wrong, I don't burst into an infantile rage the way Leftists do. I regard the disagreement as interesting and a warrant for further study. But in this case, my unspoken answer to Razib was that the fossil record is notoriously incomplete so was probably not to be much relied on in this instance. So I simply decided to wait and see what further developments there might be.
And it seems that I was at least partly right. Six years later we find Razib giving an account of the most recent find of a fossilized canid. And he includes the sentence: "the true story is one of co-evolution between dogs and humans".
So am I crowing? Not at all. I suspect that my theory is still more sweeping than Razib would allow. What I think IS confirmed is that the fossil record is a weak reed to lean on. We have to look at other evidence as well. And that is what I think my theory does