Kunstkamera: Pseudoanthropology at Anthrogenica.com
I spent the last few days posting at a forum called Anthrogenica.com debating “archaic admixture” in mtDNA and Y-DNA, answering questions regarding viable alternatives to out-of-Africa and observing the online behaviors of “science bloggers.” As always, my counterarguments against the out-of-Africa theory and an out-of-America alternative caused a controversy. As a participant observer, I identified three different kinds of out-of-Africa advocates and out-of-America detractors, which tend to recur across forums but are represented by three concrete individuals at Anthrogenica.com.
1. AJL. This anonymous “co-administrator” of the forum is only capable of rude ad hominem comments (E.g., “If you understood cladistics/phylogenetics, you would not have to ask that question,” “So you think Amerindian creationism…can trump fossil records, geology, and DNA…,” “Do you even know what DNA and fossil data there is and what it suggests? Or will you simply restate what to my eyes seems only to be overweening pride in the extreme minority position you hold for an Out-of-Americas origin”). In the course of 200+ post exchange, he didn’t contribute a single intelligent argument. A Canadian by residence, AJL is likely a poorly educated type who uses genetic genealogy as a way to “look smart” in front of neighbors and online community members. His decision to “ban” me is an instance of cyberbullying.
2. JeanM. This is a screen name of Jean Manco, a building historian. She is an educated type but instead of focusing on her area of expertise, she has turned her idle attention to modern human origins. Poorly familiar with scholarly literature, she relies on Wikipedia, misreads sources and lacks any understanding of the the scientific methodology that’s necessary to unravel the complex nexus of linguistics and genetics. She went as far as to doubt the veracity of my recounting of Ted Schurr’s innocuous and sober puzzlement over the lack of “basal” African L lineages outside of Africa. (This is just a simple fact that requires an explanation.) In Jean Manco’s reactionary mind, scholars cannot be puzzled by an observed pattern or, if they do, they have to express it in writing, sign an affidavit and explain themselves in front of the consumers of their writings. Otherwise, the consumers will accuse them of “astonishing ignorance.” Incapable of hiding her professional insecurities and glaring incompetence, Jean Manco hates the fact that Ted Schurr who she refers to as “blameless professor” seems to share some of the observations that have led me to question out-of-Africa. Jean Manco reminds me of a soccer mom who freaks out at even a remote possibility that her children’s toys will be recalled by the manufacturer.
3. GailT. This blogger knows mtDNA phylogeny and apparently spent “several years analyzing thousands of samples of mtDNA data.” However, this admirable resume is blunted by her utter inability to post anything but parroted statements of conventional wisdom around the “mtDNA evidence for out-of-Africa.” She tends to repeat the words such as “robust phylogeny,” “25 years of scientific research,” “extremely compelling evidence” in hopes to overwhelm her opponents but systematically ignores all the evidence against out-of-Africa. Faced with a concrete critique of out-of-Africa she left all the specific comments unanswered submitting instead loud protests and ab auctoritate arguments. She hasn’t adopted a scientific worldview and refuses to test mtDNA genealogies with ancient DNA, since she hold an almost-biblical belief that “the theory has strong support even without that data.” She also enjoys circular reasoning. For instance, she believes that modern humans are older than 130,000 years hence African L0 and L1 lineages must be the earliest modern human lineages and not introgressed lineages. But the collection of African Middle Stone Age human remains that suggest the dates in the range of 200,000 YA (the so-called “anatomically modern humans”) have never yielded any DNA, so it’s impossible to say if they harbor those exact African lineages. So GailT uses the dates on the potential paleobiological material for ancient DNA as proof that modern African lineages having no attestation in that very same material must be at least that old in modern humans. But, according to G. Philip Rightmire, “neither the Herto hominins, nor others from Late Pleistocene sites such as Klasies River in southern Africa and Skhūl/Qafzeh in Israel, can be matched in living populations. Skulls are quite robust, and it is only after ≈35,000 years ago that people with more gracile, fully modern morphology make their appearance.”
All three types are most properly called pseudonanthropologists: they are attracted to one of anthropology’s key subject matters, human origins, but they don’t have the education, the methodology, the logic or the ethics to actually lead new research, ask the right questions, build theories and conduct debates in a scholarly manner. Just like anthropology, in Eric Wolf’s famous formulation, is the most scientific of all humanities and most humanistic of all scientists, pseudoanthropologists are individuals who ignore scientific methodologies, while using scientific language to justify their speculations about human prehistory. Symptomatically enough, in the very title of the forum the actual Greek word anthropos ‘man, human being” is shortened to anthro, probably attesting to the anthropological and linguistic ignorance of the administrators and senior members at the said forum.
Update. 11.26.2013. I was pleased to find out that the owners of Anthrogenica.com have lifted my ban and apologized for AJL’s misguided attack.
I apologise if I’m wrong, but is this the same GailT who used to troll forums and HBD blogs a while ago with daft left-liberal arguments and kept getting raped by people like Dienekes? Or is she someone else? For some reason I’m unable to register at Anthrogenica, but anyone who wishes can visit our forum, as you know.
Your observation about people using scientific language to justify their speculations about human prehistory is accurate not only of forums, but unfortunately of real life, academic anthropology as well – too much theory-driven thinking in which facts become squeezed or even selected so as to fit preconceptions.
Be prepared to defend yourself if you venture to post anything on Anthrogenica.
If your opinion differs from the administrators, moderators and/or circle of friends, you risk being issued a “warning” and outright banning from the board.
I have no experience with Anthrogenica because I receive an error every time I try to register there. But if you aren’t a troll, why not visit the community Bones and Behaviours? At present we’re discussing ‘Negritos’, among other subjects.
I was at Anthrogenica for a while, but I left as I was expecting a higher standard and was disappointed. Nothing against anyone there, just not my bag, and I need high quality discourse or I switch off.
Pseudoanthropology seems a wee bit strong a criticism. Anthropology is a lot of crap anyway with little substance. Jean Manco or whatever her name is, is genuine in her interest, but my opinion of her is that she is of basic intelligence, remembers little of fact unless it is repeated over and over. However, that is the case for most people. In my old age I have become inured of it. Anthropology is replete with ratbags peddling whatever they think is right or advantageous, and sometimes like Meade they are made a fool of by the people she thought she was studying, but she never woke up to the fact. Such a self righteous and self important intellectual fraud.
Agree about JeanM. She acts like the ultimate ‘scientist’ for these matters but does nothing more than dabble in the dark arts of mixing the research of others concerning genetics, archaeology, and map making in order to guess the outcomes for the origins of proto-Indo-European languages. She’s really just a data synthesizer and jumped out of her true academic background (landscape architecture?) into these matters which she really knows nothing about. As a result, her work comes off as nothing more then a gamble.
Also, she is basically rewriting Gimbutas’ work only with genetics this time; I seriously laugh to myself of the thought of someone actually buying her books therefor. It was even pointed out to her on anthrogenica that Gimbutas wrote about ‘Stelae people’ long before her and described it as ‘Kurgan Wave II’. She claimed she didn’t know that Gimbutas was the actual originator of the idea. Its a stab for her regardless because it goes to show that she really hasn’t done the proper literature review to discuss these matters. Or she may be fibbing about being ignorant to this matter. To make matters worse, I’m sure she has no archaeological field school let alone even volunteered to work at a site. The advancement of knowledge does not benefit from these types of people.
I’ve been on anthrogenica for a while. It is a hobbyist forum. And by extension most of the people are just amateurs who really have too much free time on their hands. It is obvious in how they are unable to think outside the box with most just reciting quotes from scientific studies – if they understand the entirety of those quotes is something of debate.
The sad thing is, is a number of them are beyond blatantly ignorant about human history.
I don’t know how many posts I have read where they are questioning how a person from Population H has genes similar to Population C. Well if they knew anything about human history they’d soon realize that Population C was in the vicinity of Population H either through warfare, trade, or other “back in the day”. Their ignorance in this regard is beyond mind boggling at times. I mean a number of them actually believe it was the British who introduced tea to the world in one post and not reality in which the world introduced tea to the British – how stupid can you be to believe that?
It was comically amusing though when they tore into a guy from an ethnic cultural group asking how gedmatch & other DNA sites got a hold of DNA from this ethnicity. As he said, and as anyone who knows how real mid-eastern culture works, the chances of someone legitimately from his cultural group giving up their DNA for a study was pretty slim. Likely the “reference population” was taken from people who assumed they were from that ethnicity group. But as he deviated from the DNA samples instead of actually considering what he was saying the fools on this forum were saying his parents were the liars, that he wasn’t really what he claimed to be.
Sad seeing if they researched the “reference populations” a number of them, if you understand what is being said, specifically say that the reference populations are skewed. I mean how authentic is a “Japanese” sample taken from Tokyo when the genetic research samplers admit that it is beyond rude to ask someone their ethnic background in Japan.
A further word of warning, don’t get suckered into the Jewish argument. Most of the “Jewish” reference populations used by FTDNA, 23&me, etc. are skewed. There was a site admitting that less than half the Ashkenazi population had actual Jewish grandparents.
But the comical thing on anthrogenica is there is a guy [guy is obvious, always sticks himself in the Jewish topics] on the forums who lauds himself as half-Ashkenazi. A little bit of searching through the forums revealed that his father is no legitimate Ashkenazi jew but little more than a Mizrahi with Ashkenazi Jewish influence. But as this half “Ashkenazi” jew happens to have a great number of posts – obviously his mother never taught him it is quality & not quantity that counts – it makes most believe that this guy, who is nothing more than a Jewish mutt, is a perfect example of a half Ashkenazi.
I’m fleeing this forum for good and not looking back.
The most frustrating thing for me is that the administrators and moderators make a pretense of following a formal, just, subjective process for enforcement of forum rules. But the reality is that they use the forum rules as a weapon to systematically eliminate those they don’t like or don’t agree with. AJL is among the worst of the offenders, but there are others as well. It’s like a racist police force who insist they are simply enforcing the laws, but happen to only issue violations against one targeted class of society.
There is a glaring blind spot against some members, who deliberately bait their opponents into heated arguments, knowing that they themselves are immune against moderation because of their close personal alliances to the moderators. The targeted victims meanwhile receive infractions at the drop of a pin, while the aggressing party receives an unlimited supply of get-out-of-jail-free cards: “members are reminded to be civil”, but continue as you were, wink-wink. The victims are punished for occasionally being half as confrontational as the aggressors are on a consistent basis. A small number of favored members are responsible for 90% of the “uncivilized” arguments, but the other 10% are the only ones who ever get punished.
Thus, the most intelligent members with the most to contribute are deliberately purged so that the lesser members can pat each other on the back and reassure each other of how intelligent and correct they are, safe and secure from the criticism by their superiors who would illuminate the defects of their arguments. I suspect that I myself was black listed for correcting a moderator on a casual comment he made in the lobby regarding a science topic of my former profession – an inexcusable offense on my part! The forum is now littered with the corpses of banned members who refused to back down against the bullying gestapo police force. Anthrogenica appears to be true to the adage that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
You can use many words to summarize anthrogenica. The best ones, however, would be simply crap or garbage.
Now I’ve been on anthrogenica for a while. I have trolled it at times. It is, after all, the sort of forum where one joins to entertain yourself with the utter stupidity of the people who think they know what they’re going on about. The unfortunate thing is, is about 80% if not 90% of the people on that forum don’t know jack about what they are going on about. But as they are all of the same degree of limited education, anthropological background, and one may even say intelligence they widely don’t realize this severe limitation.
One prime example is the fool called A Norfolk something another. This “genius” claims that his background is more or less from the region of Norfolk in England spanning 300 odd years.
The hilarity is, is he/she doesn’t seem to comprehend that the East Anglia region of England was well populated by Palatines [Germans], Huguenots [French] and Jews in both old and recent history. That these individuals were farmers, and this “genius” claims his ancestors were rural too. In fact, the twit thinks because his ancestors had English names that means they were actually British …. isn’t it a shame how like “British” American families who find out their “British” ancestors were really Germans with anglicized names an English name doesn’t make you British. ….
Still it is pathetically amusing how he/she keeps trying to puzzle out why they aren’t so English in the gedmatch / ethnicity results but rather more European/Continental. …… But if you check out Norfolk’s blog entry about his family history his “British” ancestors happen to look rather Germanic. In fact, there’s one photo of an ancestor who looks so much like an Amish man it isn’t funny. And who are Amish people? Germans mostly.
Another genius is Agamemnon. He’s the Jewish mutt with the Mizrahi [lightly Ashkenazi influenced] father that claims he is “half Ashkenazi” that James above mentioned. And yes if you know anything about Jewish subcultures it is very obvious that this poster is nothing more than a Mizrahi / Ashkenazi mutt. He is far less Ashkenazi as he is more Mizrahi. What’s the difference? Mizrahi / Ashkenazi have quite a bit of mid-eastern/Israel genetics while authentic “old breed” Ashkenazi happen to be rather similar to southern/central Italians and the Mediterranean region long before they swing to those mid-eastern areas.
This is likely why he rarely posts his own ethnicity breakdown via DNA sites and you have to really search high & low to find any mention of his father. He knows he isn’t what he claims to be.
After all, Ashkenazi literally means Jews of Germany not Jews of Israel.
The problem is, is this Agamemnon is an old poster with numerous posts. And since he has lauded himself as “half Ashkenazi” from the start few of his fellow goofballs question this particularity. I happened to use a friend who is from an old authentic Ashkenazi family and this friend’s half Ashkenazi son once on that forum to bust Agamemnon’s commentary that Ashkenazi are mid-eastern shifted into pieces. The “half Ashkenazi” mutt on the forums, after all, scored remarkably little Ashkenazi in comparison to a legitimate half-Ashkenazi child.
As others have indicated, however, blubbering fools like Agamemnon have long since befriended the moderators. That’s why these twits are still on the forum and people who actually know what they are talking about are either banned or get so fed up with the forum’s blatant ignorance they merely leave.
Again this forum is good for a laugh. They really are a pretty sad pathetic lot. Most are a bunch of incompetent dare I say losers [the one rm2 is a drunkard to boot and seems to be proud of the fact he drinks more than a fish, of crap cheap liquor most wouldn’t give to their dogs] trying to make themselves out to be more than they really are.
They don’t understand that no you won’t necessarily be related to nobility or someone famous because you have similar DNA. They don’t comprehend that Y DNA and mtDNA is carried generations upon generations with very little alteration.
So you share the same DNA as that nobility, doesn’t mean you are their descendant. Your ancestor could be related further up the genetic tree, in the more distant past, and thus where one line became nobility the other side was eternally working in the fields. Does one call their 50th cousin, 10 times removed “brother”?
One prime example of this need to be “more” is the laughable joke MitchellSince. This one must be a stand up comedian in real life. They don’t really understand genetics and their understanding of old fashion paper-trail genealogy isn’t just sad it’s pathetic. But again another old poster with numerous posts. Big mouth & small brain as my grans used to say.
Other than that Anthrogenica Diaspora pegged this forum properly. It’s a dumping ground of rejects who likely couldn’t hold their own on some of the other similar forums where intelligence is a bit greater & where the posters generally have a better understanding of what they’re going on about.
Pseudoscience is more like it. Most of the people on this forum are so ill-educated I’d hate to do a survey and find out how many actually graduated high school.
Their general lack of knowledge concerning science, history, or one could even dare say the world is actually in a way alarming. Which is probably why they like this forum as they’re all bumbling idiots.
What’s to say about anthrogenica. Well, as everyone on similar [but older & better] forums knows had the so called admin DMXX not been goaded into making a forum it wouldn’t exist.
As such the average forum goer on anthrogenica is very much like DMXX and a reject of those other forums.
Thus anthrogenica is full of people with limited knowledge patting one another on the back when they “figure” something out. Most of what they “figure out” is child’s play to anyone who has read a history book.