Kunstkamera: A Sample of Mental DNA Found among the Consumers of Online Science Content

The reports of ancient DNA from Mal’ta have taken the Web by the storm. Surprisingly, the usually hot-headed commentators, Razib Khan and Dienekes, have remained largely silent on the findings and haven’t delighted anybody with their insights. The most sensible conversations are being heard from this site and from the Eurogenes Blog. But today Gcochran9 from West Hunter contributed his typical mix of caustic nonsense and science fiction. For example, he attributes to the late Joseph Greenberg and to Merritt Ruhlen the idea that “Amerindian languages have a very ancient connection with Indo-European.” Neither of them thought such a thing. In reality, they connected Amerind, which is just one Amerindian family they postulated, with Eurasiatic or Nostratic, which is a hypothetical parent stock of Indo-European (and Uralic, Altaic, Dravidian, Kartvelian, among other languages). After having shown his chops in linguistics, Gcochran9 decided to share with his audience his knowledge of population genetics: “Judging from a quick and incredibly superficial look, Amerindian Y-chromosomes look closer to some European lineages than to  East Asian ones..  while Amerindian mtDNA lineages  (except for X) don’t look close to European mtdna lineages.” It’s sad that after more than two decades of mtDNA phylogeny research, bloggers such as Gcochran9 still don’t know that mtDNA hg B, which is frequent in the Americas, is just as much a sister clade to the principal West Eurasian hg U as the main Amerindian Y-DNA marker known as hg Q is a sister clade of hg R. Hg X is a West Asian and North African lineage that apparently made it to Europe only in Neolithic times.


West Hunter usually attracts a posse of anonymous readers who tend to generate a few dozens (most recently 130!) of meaningless, spam-like statements containing a promise to win a Spelling Bee competition. I corrected one of them called Dave Chamberlin. Gcochran9 “banned” me. I love collecting samples of the Web’s mental DNA but this one is a true gem in my kunstkamera. How can one ban someone who is not even interested in commenting but is simply correcting the spelling of his own name and some associated misinformation?

I can pardon ignorance in linguistics or genetics but not logical blunders!

Update I. I continued to monitor the West Hunter comments section. Gcochran9 “banned” me but allowed a number of psychopathic off-topic comments such as one by an Australian bird-watcher going by moniker Sandgroper who holds a superstition that Razib Khan is “intellectually superior” to me. A faithful member of the Razib-Jugend, Sandgroper is always ready to raise his arm in a gesture of support for our freshly-baked Fuhrer in his blitzkrieg against “cultural anthropology.”Let’s do a quick comparison: I have two doctorates from two top schools in the world, Razib has none. I’m a student of humanity (even when it comes in such an ugly shape as Sandgroper or Dave Chamberlin), Razib is a student of felinity. I have two books out in two languages, Razib has none. I have my own ideas, Razib can only regurgitate ideas of others. I pronounce myself a winner by a knockout! Two weeks after I broke the news about ancient DNA from the Mal’ta individual and Michael Balter published a one-pager in Science on the same matter, the intellectually superior Razib Khan is still “digesting” the information.


I also looked up Gregory Cochran (the man behind the Gcochran9 username) and he’s described by Wikipedia as “physicist and adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Utah” but when I opened the University of Utah webpage I saw this (image on the left). An owner of a truly impressive university profile and apparently an intellectual athlete of Hellenic proportions, Gcochran9 can clearly back up his linguistic and genetic musings (see above) with impeccable credentials. Of course when he is not busy defaming fellow anthropologists and sponsoring a free online dungeon for anonymous anthropophobes who would like to engage in more libel and defamation under the aegis of Science. Maybe University of Utah did to Gcochran9 what University of Colorado – Boulder did to Ward Churchill? One would hope so.

Update II. One Dave Chamberlin continues his attack on me and defense of Razib “Cat Lady” Khan. This time around he proclaims:

“We [Dave Chamberlin and Sandgroper] are both really grateful for all the hard work Razib put into his excellent blog and we don’t appreciate you insulting him after he bent over backward to tolerate you.”

Razib Khan attracts a particular breed of consumers of online science content (should we call them “sciencumers”?). They are incapable of following facts, tend to twist the truth in every sentence and keep getting things wrong. How can we expect them to evaluate complex scientific theories if they are not capable of evaluating a simple everyday situation? They likely have a psychological need to belong to a community of “science” trumpeters because they are incapable of doing “everyday science” themselves. The fact is that it was Dr. German Dziebel who tolerated Razib (and Gcochran, for that matter) for quite a while until his/their ignorance, rudeness and narcissism under the Discover brand made his/their presence intolerable for any man of science and learning. And I was one of the few readers who was actually sharing real knowledge, information and logic on his blog. Dave Chamberlin, Sandgroper, Gcochran and Razib himself should be grateful for the free education I’ve been providing them with first on various online forums and currently on this site. And this is not even counting the bonus of hearing me talk about the out-of-America hypothesis.

On a funny note, whereas Sandgroper thinks of me as “tiresome and tedious,” Dave Chamberlin considers me “amusing.” Upon confronting something new and different from their habitual thinking, people who are steeped in in-group biases and are incapable of a rational communication tend to exhibit polar emotional responses.