- Publisher: Penguin
- ASIN: B00OX8U3BQ
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Genes, Peoples, and Languages (Penguin Press Science) by Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi Luca (2001) Paperback Paperback
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Although the author never stresses mathematics as a key discipline to analyze mankind heritage, his work relied on Principal Component Analysis, Multidimensional Scaling, Cluster Analysis, Logistic Regression, and Hypothesis Testing. Thus, the readers familiar with these statistical methods will enjoy reading this book as a fascinating social science application of such methods.
You certainly don't have to be a mathematician or a scientist to enjoy this book. The author has clearly written it as an introduction to this field aimed at the layperson.
You will learn many fascinating concepts. One of those, is that the history of genes, cultures, and languages converge. In essence, they all influence each other back and forth. It is somehow hard to tell what is the main driver of overall changes in population. You run into many Nature or Nurture arguments. Continuing along the same line, he refers to other scientific works explaining the difference in IQ between individuals. Well, it is 1/3 due to heredity (nature); 1/3 due to cultural transmission (nurture); and 1/3 due to differences in personal experience (random). That is a pretty far cry from the 80% to 90% due to heredity that many people believe in. Also, natural evolution will or has already stopped according to the author. This is because medicine in industrialized societies has reduced the natural mortality rate down to almost zero among the pre-reproductive age set. In other words, medicine has eliminated the natural selection process as the survival rate mechanism of our specie. Some of us may have had concepts that humans eventually will evolve and look like aliens with extremely big heads (for superior intelligence and processing powers) and very skimpy bodies (since physical force is useless in an information age). Well, that's not going to happen.
Throughout the book there are many very interesting graphs and maps that beautifully illustrate and clarify the concepts he introduces. The migration map on page 94, clearly outlines all the major original migrations out of Africa starting 100,000 years ago. On page 71, a world map showing the actual genetic distance between locations is fascinating too. On page 164, you can observe the best diagram of the Indo-European languages you will ever see. English is a Germanic language, as we all know. However, English predates German by several centuries!
You can see how throughout his life, he must have been a fantastic university professor. About 6 months ago, I started reselling my books at Amazon Marketplace to cut my cost of reading. However, I am not reselling this one. I am keeping it as a reference. I anticipate there will be so many occasions when I will be glad I have kept it. The book has opened for me a new window of knowledge quest where so many of the social and quantitative sciences have converged into one to crack the mystery of the history of mankind. I hope this book will do for you, what it did for me.
The book delves into genetics and linguistics issues, which are explained well despite the multidisciplinary approach. A must read for students in genetics, history, linguistiscs, and even genetic counseling.
For readers who would like to utilize the knowledge of genetics in studying their distant family relationships as a supplement to this work, I would refer them to the "Ancestry DNA Toolbox" or the book "How to DNA test our family relationships?" available from amazon.com.
This is a highly technical book. It is college level reading.
- the description of the concept of race, in his view the concept of race is obsolete and it just does not have any valuable meaning, and he explains you why in the first few chapters.
- the ability by DNA study to generate a migration map (like the one detailed about Europe), just amazing how it matches maps drawn by archeologists or linguistic studies.
Overall a very good look at what has been done on genetics study on people.