Category: beanbag genetics

Epistatic EGIs

Amplifying the importance of EGI.

How do the papers on social epistasis and social genetic effects affect our understanding of EGI?

This would greatly increase the importance of EGI.  Not only do we need to be concerned with differences in gene frequencies and with genetic structure/integration (this latter concern a significant increase in genetic interest compared to the original formulation) between individuals and groups, but now we need to understand and, if possible, quantify the interests inherent in how these genetic difference interact epistatically in a social genetic fashion.  Thus, not only do we have to compare and contrast distinctive genetic information between, say, groups A,B, and C but we need to understand how the genepools of A,B, and C actually dynamically interact with each other – as described in the social epistasis and social genetic effects papers – to affect the fitness (and hence genetic interests) of these groups. This represents an enormous increase in the importance and impact of genetic interests, and one can speculate that these interactive networks of genes would represent genetic interests that would increase exponentially, and not merely linearly, with increasing genetic distance, given that each unit of distance affects a wide array of overlapping epistatic interactions.  Not only is the original formulation a tip of the iceberg compared to considerations of genetic structure/integration, but even this latter concern is a tip of the iceberg compared to the possible full ramifications of how genetically distinct populations can interact, influencing fitness and hence ultimate interests.


Thus, three levels of genetic interests:


1. The original version involving gene frequencies in isolation (“beanbag genetics”).


2. Genetic integration/structure.


3. Social genetic effects including social epistasis.

More analysis to come in future posts.

More on the Ethnotype

More thoughts.

A correspondent has shown interest in my ethnotype idea and has made two major suggestions, one I mostly agree with and the other I have some reservations about but partially agree with.
First, the suggestion was made that the ethnotype is best conceived as a normal distribution. Thus, while all the possible (and, of course, existing) genotypes of an ethny contribute to the ethnotype, some are more possible, or more frequent, than others.  Therefore, one will observe a cluster of more common genotypes defining the central or median part of the normal distribution curve, with outliers (the y axis is of course frequency, the x axis may be defined in various ways; perhaps a 3-D rather than 2-D distribution is best; in any case the genotypes making up the ethnotype can be distributed both relative to each other and relative to those of other ethnies).
This has certain advantages.  One can observe how the central tendency varies with time.  If one wanted, one could break up the genotypes to look at various traits (see second point below, but this in my opinion deviates from what I’m considering here, which is the entire genotype as an integrated genetic unit.  Another important advantage is how it handles the question of miscegenation and assimilation, including the assimilation of hybrids (this assumes that hybrids would be assimilated and not ejected from the population, which could be favored).  Consider mixing across wide racial lines.  Assume small-scale mixing that affects only a small fraction of the population.  This would increase the range of possible, and actual, genotypes, but would not really alter the mass of more central genotypes that make up the median ethnotype.
On the other hand, more massive miscegenation, assimilation, etc., particularly with widely divergent populations, would indeed shift the entire normal distribution and alter the central/median types, indicative of more serious effects on genetic interests.
In general, this may not be a bad idea.
The second idea, of which I am less enthusiastic, is to tie the ethnotypes to phenotypes, stressing functional genes (and, as above, possibly dividing the ethnotypes, if desired, into more specific traits).  Now, this confuses my use of the ethnotype concept – that is genetic – with the more anthropological phenotypic view.  I’m not defining ethnotype to describe a racial phenotype or set of phenotypes.  I’m using it to express the reality that while individual phenotypes are ephemeral, the range of possible genotypes of an ethny can be reasonably stable over long periods of evolutionary time.  And by genotype, I consider the entire genetic integration of individuals of a population, not individual alleles in isolation.  Further, while I am willing to grant (true) functional genes a higher per-allele value than (true) non-functional genes (since the functional ones influence their own replication, I do not – for reasons I have discussed many times – relegate non-functional genes to irrelevance.  It is the entire distinctive genome that contributes to genetic interests.  One must be careful that a sole focus on form, function, and phenotype does not lead to a John Ray-like memetic attitude that large scale miscegenation and genetic replacement is acceptable as long as certain phenotypic traits are maintained (e.g., “White-looking” heavily admixed mestizos of Latin America).
Again, a focus on form, function, and phenotype (while it has its relevance in particular contexts) deviates from the objective of my ethnotype definition: to capture the reality of a relatively stable set of (genetically integrated) genotypes (genetic structures) that define an ethny and its genetic interests, and to distinguish the ethnotype from an individual and unique “one-shot” genotype.

The Ethnotype

Introducing a new genetic concept.

The following I see as extremely important.
This paper discusses the “beanbag” approach to population genetics.

In a sexual population, each genotype is unique, never to recur. The life expectancy of a genotype is a single generation. In contrast, the population of genes endures. The quantities that are followed, in mathematical theories or in observations, are allele frequencies. The geneticist knows that at any desired time, the genotype frequencies can be obtained by the simple binomial rule.


Now, herein lies a problem I see with mainstream population geneticists (and other, related scientists) blinded perhaps by anti-racist political correctness.  It’s true than an exact, specific genotype is unique (except for identical twins) and does not recur.  The error – the fundamentalerror – these people make is not admitting that some genotypes are more similar than to others.  It’s not just a comparison between a genepool and a genotype, at opposite ends of the genetic integration scales.  There are levels in between the general population of genes at one end and the unique, never-to-be-reproduced genotype at the other end.
I therefore name one such level, which is of importance to the preservationist viewpoint: the ethnotype. 
An ethnotype is a range of possible genotypes that characterizes populations that have specific genepools.  An ethnotype is not as specific as a genotype, and ethnotype can be found in the many millions, and is stable across evolutionary time.  Otzi the Iceman and contemporary Europeans can be said to belong to the same broad ethnotype.  Ethnotypes can be considered to total set of possible genotypes produced by a genepool, the total set of possible allele combinations, and that will be different from that produced by another genepool.
Ethnotypes can be broader or narrower.  Europeans vs. East Asians are examples of two ethnotypes, each consisting of specific combinations of alleles from their respective genepools (ethnotypes, like genotypes, are emergent properties of genepools, and the frequencies of ethnotypes should be calculable from genepool allele frequencies as are genotypes).  One can go narrower: different types of Europeans (North, South, East, West, Central, etc.) can be thought of as being represented by a specific ethnotype or set of ethnotypes, the same for East Asians or any other population group.
Thus, while the forces of independent assortment and recombination at meiosis, combined with genetic drift and various forms of selection, insure that exact genotypes will never again be reproduced, ethnotypes will continue to be reproduced.  The European genepool may produce Isaac Newton or Michelangelo or Tesla only once, but can produce allele combinations reasonably similar to those individuals and similar to Europeans worldwide over and over again, as long as the genepool says intact.  Of course, over time, with drift and selection, the genepool changes, so that the possible ranges of ethnotypes and genotypes produced from the genepool will be altered, but these ranges will be more similar than to alien peoples. 
Therefore, the European genepool of 1016 AD had the potential to produce a different set of ethnotypes and genotypes than the European genepool of 2016; nevertheless, both are much more similar to each other than to, say, East Asian genepools of any date picked.  Again, genotypes are one-shot affairs, while ethnotypes are more stable over time, since they are a less specific, and more generalized, arrangement of genepool alleles.
The advantages of considering comparisons at the ethnotype level are that (a) this is the level that has the most practical significance (including selection) at the population level, as populations are collections of genotypes, not a soup of randomized alleles floating around; (b) given that genetic distance increases with increasing genetic integration and that the ethnotype is at a higher level than at the genepool, then considering the genetic structure inherent in the ethnotype will increase the level of genetic interests; and (c) while not as unique as the genotype, the ethnotype is unique in cross-population comparisons AND has the advantage of being preservable.  Thus, while genotype can be preserved only by cloning, ethnotypes can be preserved, to a reasonable degree over time, by following the precepts of Salterian Universal Nationalism.  Preserving the ethnotype can be done today, via acts of political will and social convention, no new technology needs be implemented.  Further, while “beanbag” genetics will tell you that miscegenation in some cases (at least at the parental level) can be compensated by increased reproduction and replication of the individual alleles, ethnotypes are specific to particular ethny genepool – no number of hybrids could reproduce the genetic structure of ethnotypes; hence, the ethnotype concept better represents the preservationist imperative.  I may add that ethnotypes better represent an ethny’s phenotypes as well, since phenotype is produced not by individual alleles working alone, but by the interaction of the whole genome with the environment.

Further, the ethnotype concept is compatible with eugenics, since, unlike the genotype, we are not talking about a fixed, perfectly unique set of genetics, but a more flexible range of genetic types that can still exhibit similarity over time even with some degree of substitution if alleles (again, consider the similarity of Otzi to today’s Europeans).