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Sikh Temple Shooting: Who Are the Sikhs?

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At this writing, little is known regarding the shooting yesterday at the Oak Creek Sikh Temple in which seven people died, including the shooter. We do know that police were called at about 10:15 AM. Upon arrival some police officers began immediately helping a wounded victim. At that point the officers were ambushed by the perpetrator, and one was shot multiple times. A second officer shot and killed the shooter. Of those killed, four were inside the temple; two, plus the shooter, were outside.

But what are the basic premises of the Sikh religion?

Basic to the system of panentheism, of which the Sikh religion is a part, is the belief that a divine exists, suffuses every element of nature, and extends beyond it in space and time. In panentheism, believers assert that God pervades the cosmos. “All is God.”

The Sikh religion, the fourth largest in the world, centered in India, is more specific. The origins of Sikhism are found in the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev who said that “Realization of Truth is higher than all else; higher still is truthful living.” Sikhs strive to achieve the qualities of a “saint-soldier.” A Sikh must have the courage to defend the rights of the wrongfully oppressed or persecuted, regardless of race, place of origin, creed, or gender.

In Sikhism, the Supreme Being is termed Vahiguru. The figure “1” signifies the universality of God, who is shapeless, timeless, and sightless. Before creation, Sikhs believe, nothing existed except God and “hukam” which is interpreted as God’s will, or order. And when God willed, the cosmos was created. Vahiguru then nurtured “enticement and attachment” to maya, or the human perception of reality.

Guru Nanak Dev said God is not wholly unknowable. He is omnipresent in all creation and visible to the spiritually awakened. Through meditation, Guru Nanak continued, comes communication between God and human beings. Readers may be interested to learn that Nanak taught that there are many worlds on which God has created life.

Sikhi is strict. Followers may neither cut their hair nor shave. Ordinarilly Sikh men wear a lavish turban, and always a beard. Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are forbidden. We note that some Sikh followers allow the use of cannabis for the purpose of meditation.

In Sikhism, couples maintain a faithful relationship. They must refrain from premarital or extramarital sexual relations. Forbidden are pilgrimages, fasting, circumcision, and grave worship (the practice of a wife throwing herself of the funeral pyre of a dead husband). Animal sacrifice is also forbidden. As a saint-soldier, a Sikh is encouraged to live not as a recluse, beggar, yogi, monk, nun, or celibate. However, obsession with material wealth is discouraged. Gossip, lying, and slander are not permitted. In the words of the Guru Granth Sahib, “Your mouth has not stopped slandering and gossiping about others. Your service is useless and fruitless.”

Mughals, who were Muslims, ruled India in the 17th century. Hindus and Sikhs were humiliated and prevented from conducting their religious practices. Mughals took Hindu and Sikh women as their property, and attempted to force all to accept Islam. The non-Muslims were sometimes killed in this process. But Sikhs have always believed in a right to practice the religion of their choice, and the need to fight against tyranny.

In an interesting albeit grotesque anecdote, Jahangir, the fourth Mughal emperor, was obsessed with the notion of forcing Guru Arjan Dev Ji to practice the Islamic faith. In 1606, still defying the emperor, that Guru was put to death by being boiled in a cauldron and being placed on a hot iron plate.

President Obama has expressed his sympathy to the survivors of the Wisconsin shooting. In the coming days, we expect more details will be forthcoming.

About John Lake

John Lake the tireless crusader of the liberal blog stymies us with his political and breaking news views. In addition he makes continuing contributions to the wide world of empirical science. And finally, his strange takes on life in the pursuit of humor are a treat and a delight.
  • STM

    Doc, even today Europeans are known for not, ah, (how do I say this politely), bathing quite as much as they should. It’s not for no reason that a certain people have been known almost universally out there in the colonies until the past couple of decades as “soap dodgers”. The Romans might have left rule of law in a certain island nation shaped like a witch taking a dump, but when it came to bathing, in Bath, no one did. Lol.

    Widespread use of one liners such as “I’m as dry as a pommy’s towel” might be the clue on this.

    The French are even worse.

    And Dan, don’t make the assumption that everyone who doesn’t agree with your warped world view on race is a liberal in the narrow American sense of the term.

    You don’t have to be a namby-pamby “liberal” to find views such as yours dangerous, offensive and appalling.

  • Irene Athena

    Cats instinctively clean themselves. Human babies — black and white — cry when they want their diapers changed. This is evidence that perhaps the desire for cleanliness is innate for our own species, too.

    However, a desire for cleanliness does not equate to the availability of the means for achieving same. European bath houses closed down not because white Europeans weren’t interested in cleanliness, but because the big fires required to heat all that water all too frequently got out of control and burned down whole towns, where most of the buildings were made of wood. The growing population building all those wooden houses resulted in deforestation, and that in time caused a scarcity of firewood to heat even a small amount of bath water.

    The expense of the scarce firewood notwithstanding, poorer Medieval Europeans would manage to bathe somewhat periodically, even if it meant that members of the whole family, one after the other, had to use the same bathwater, and only enough of that to fit in a barrel. The youngest were the last in, and by that time, the water was so filthy that people perhaps needed the reminder “not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

    So yeah, I got all that information (except for the baby with the bathwater part, which I made up) straight off the ‘net, just like y’all did. I have never actually smelled a medieval person, at least not an alive one, and neither have any of you. The eye believes what it sees, the nose believes what it smells, but the ear can only believe what other people say.

    Now on to Australia, and an article called, “Do we really need a daily shower or bath to stay healthy? Or are the techies the smartest of us all?” STM sounds like a bit of a cleanliness supremacist to me, but perhaps he has reason to. A 2006 study of Australians reveals that “the land down under” may be the cleanest country on earth, where 62 per cent of people shower once a day, 29 per cent twice a day, and nine per cent shower three times a day. That adds up to at least one shower a day for every Australian. I am not sure whether aborigines were included in the survey. Aborigines aren’t as wealthy as most other Australians are, but if an aborigine has access to water and soap, I’d imagine he’d be as likely to use them as any other poor person, specifically, a Medieval peasant, would be.

    So, to come full circle, there are many feline breeds, but they all like to keep clean. As to the relative intelligence of breeds and races, I will close with the wise words of cat breeder Norman Auspitz:

    “As a rule, people seem to think the more active breeds have higher intelligence than the less active breeds. I will tell you that in feline agility, all breeds have done very well or very poorly as the case may be.. Having said that, there is no certified measure of cat intelligence and this general rule may be very anthropomorphic… until there is a credible definition of what might be meant by cat intelligence and a way to measure it, any comment anyone will make about the subject is, at best, speculation.”

    Carry on, argumentators. God bless you, everyone.

  • troll

    Cindy #94 – I agree

    hi Irene – I trust all’s well with you and yours

  • troll

    personally I study TPB for its game theory related content – see esp the ‘where’s the poison’ experiment

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Irene, I saw that explanation for the origin of the expression “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” myself elsewhere,but was sceptical of it. The source I saw claimed that because it was expensive to heat water (was it? depended on where you lived and how easy your access was to something that would burn – wood, peat, coal etc), the entire family would have to share the same tub and went in in order of precedence: Dad first, then Mum, then the kids and finally the babies. Then the filthy water would be thrown out, first checking to make sure you hadn’t inadvertently left Junior inside.

    Anyone with any experience whatsoever of babies should realize that doing things in this order would make little sense. Washing the baby would be your priority (ensuring that it had finished crapping and weeing before placing it in the water), since once it was clean and content it would go to sleep, leaving everyone else to do their ablutions in peace.

    The actual origin of the phrase is a 16th century German satire that includes a woodcut of a woman performing the proverbial foolishness. It wasn’t introduced into English until 1849 when Thomas Carlyle quoted it in one of his essays. It was supposed to be a metaphorical admonition against overreaction, and would apply quite neatly to certain BC commenters…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    The most recent common ancestor of all living humans probably lived only about 3000 years ago.

    I’ve really gotta take exception to this one, since there were humans in the New World as early as 50,000 years ago, and 40,000 years ago in Australia, and in the Old World, of course, well over 100,000 years earlier than that.

    So if the most recent common ancestor of all humans was only 3000 years ago, either that man (or even more incredibly, that woman) was Marco Polo, Magellan, and Gene Simmons (or Catherine the Great) all wrapped up in one superhuman package…

    …or the author of that study really didn’t think things all the way through. Mesuspects (okay, that attempt at a new word doesn’t work) that said author might have been a ‘Christian’ fundamentalist trying to prove that it was possible that all humanity could indeed have been descended from the eight survivors of Noah’s flood in spite of the mountain (Everest? Mons Olympus? I can’t think of a metaphor great enough) of evidence against it.

    It is interesting to note that the DNA of all humans living today point to one single woman – “mitochondrial Eve” – a woman who lived something like 200,000 years ago.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doggone it. Olympus Mons, NOT Mons Olympus. My apologies to Heinlein, who’s surely cursing me from beyond the grave….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dan –

    Dude.

    You really should check your references a little more closely. For instance, the SAME reference that said the Europeans’ aversion to bathing was a myth also said the following were myths, too:

    - The death penalty was common in the Middle Ages Gee, ever heard of the Inquisition? How about looking up a history of religious persecution in Europe, because the death penalty was applied not only to individuals, but to entire peoples – look up what happend to the Huguenots, for one example.

    - The poor were kept in a state of near starvation – YOUR REFERENCE goes on to state: This is completely false. Peasants (those who worked in manual work) would have had fresh porridge and bread daily – with beer to drink. In addition, each day would have an assortment of dried or cured meats, cheeses, and fruits and vegetables from their area. Poultry, chicken, ducks, pigeons, and geese were not uncommon on the peasants dinner table. RIIIIIIIGHT!

    - The Middle Ages were a time of great violence. Really? Dan, you’ve GOT to learn to take those crap-tinted glasses off, because they’re making you believe all the B.S. that you’re reading in your own personal echo chamber.

    - Women were oppressed in the Middle Ages Um, Dan…there’s this little something your references are missing – it’s called SCHOLARSHIP. Here’s some prime examples of scholarship, including the transcript of the trial of Joan of Arc (which YOUR reference holds up as a prime example of women’s equality in the Middle Ages).

    And the NUMBER ONE REASON why your reference is so erroneous? Because ANYONE CAN SUBMIT SUCH A LIST regardless of qualifications or scholarship or the lack thereof.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And one more for Doc Dreadful –

    Okay, I’ll agree that Europeans bathed more than twice a lifetime…but really, where do you think the phrase “the great unwashed” came from? I mean, this article places its origin at 1830, but there’s probably a good reason why the phrase struck a nerve.

    That, and the public baths – were they really open to everyone, particularly in times of disease (which were fairly often)? And more tellingly, were they free to all and sundry? Or would what passed for the upper- and middle classes have pushed for there to be even a small fee in order to keep the lower classes out? Even in America in the 1800′s, baths in bath houses cost money…and the fact that there were bath houses at all in Europe and America means that baths were not something commonly available to the Great Unwashed whose primary concern was finding food.

  • STM

    Irene, we have to shower more than once a day in this country. I’ve recently moved interstate and arrived in my new home in summer. Although it’s on the coast, it’s also not far from the desert – and I lost count of the days that I walked out of the house into a 40C wall of dry, throat-parching heat.

    At the other end of the spectrum, where I lived before was on the same latitude but on the Pacific, so you can imagine the combination heat + humidity. When it’s still 90 per cent humidity in the middle of the night and you’re struggling to sleep, you tend to work up a sweat. I gave up on our airconditioner in the middle of the night last year and ended up driving round the block with the car airconditioner at full icy blast to cool down, followed by a cool shower, then flaking out in front of the airconditioner in the lounge.

    Only to wake an hour later.

    Doc, I’m only joking about pommies not having a tub. It’s a very old joke.

    BTW, I’m watching the new southern hemisphere four nations Rugby Championship. The Wallabies got smashed 22-zip by the All Blacks earlier in the night in Auckland, but here’s a turn-up: the Springboks were behind 13-3 to the Pumas in Argentina when I switched off the Teev heading for the bedroom via blogcritics.

    Do you you reckon a program that takes in Buenos Aires-Auckland-Sydney-Johannesburg – literally a trip around the globe – in one hit might be the longest regular season home and away trip in the history of sport??

    The Boks and the Pumas played in South Africa last weekend; this weekend they’re facing off in South America.

    Not bad air miles.

    Argentina look pretty good, too, considering it’s their first season in the competition. They were frustrating the hell out of the Boks at the breakdown and winning a lot of the contests – bit of fisticuffs too -and not giving the South Africans any space to run the ball.

    So much for that. Time for some sleep. Must try to get my head down before the wife gets up for work or I’ll get a bollocking for staying up all night watching football … she can’t work out what the attraction is in 80 minutes of grown men smashing into each other.

    Her view: “Boys and their balls …”

  • troll

    …ah medieval Europe – I remember it well

    we burned heretics to heat our bath water

  • STM

    “we burned heretics to heat our bath water”

    But forgot the soap …

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Only heretics used soap, sir.

  • Irene Athena

    Conservationists are still busy working out the ethical kinks.

  • Irene Athena

    STM: Australians, as well, could conserve by changing their national attitude to one of appreciation of their surroundings as a giant Bikram Yoga room, open 24-7, for free. I don’t think I could do it, although Australia sounds like a nice enough place to make acclimation worth a try. (And thanks for saying hi, troll.)

  • Irene Athena

    Finally Dr. Dreadful, no, “anyone with any experience whatsoever of babies should realize (#105)” that babies are never “finished crapping and weeing (#105,#2,#1)” particularly in circumstances under which an unanticipated excretion event would be least convenient; hence the wisdom of letting continent family members bathe first! Anyway, we agree on this point: medieval people from all classes appreciated a bath when they could get it, even if it required, as my source on medieval history maintains, members of the whole family having to share the same bath-water.

    It’s interesting that the discussion on medieval hygiene led to your mentioning Thomas Carlyle. In an essay about slavery that is quite germane to the conversation BC has been having with Dan throughout the years, Carlyle was the first to use the English translation “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” The source you quoted mentions that Carlyle’s intent was to warn people that in their zeal to fling out the dirty bathwater of slavery, they should avoid methods that would, in the long-run, hurt slaves who were flung out of the system with it.

    I looked into more of Carlyle’s writings on slavery. He was criticized for expressing concern that British abolitionists, once they had freed blacks from the shackles of slavery, would consider their work done, while the freed slave would have to fend for himself, with no experience of how to make it on his own in a white society that was, in the main, still hostile to him. It touched a raw nerve in some of the people who, while being ardent in their abolitionist views (once these views finally became fashionable) didn’t do much to alleviate the horrific living conditions of the free working class whites who lived right around the corner from them.

    I don’t know enough about Thomas Carlyle to know where his views would fall along the continuum of modern white views on race relations today. Currently, at one extreme is the hateful “lynch them all” viewpoint, one is Dan’s more moderate belief that all races would be happier if they lived separately and that efforts to do so should not be thwarted, another is the view that blacks and whites have can learn to live side by side, and even form fully functional interracial families. Within that part of the spectrum are people who contend that such blending should proceed naturally as hearts are changed, and others who insist government sanctioned integration and affirmative action are needed. At the far left extreme you have those who hold to a hypocritical neoliberal agenda that promises prosperity to blacks in the US and around the world, an agenda that ends up enslaving blacks, chaining them within a system of dependence domestically and to insurmountable debt abroad. As a slave-holder, Carlyle, with his views on putting the brakes on slavery slo-o-owly, could be perceived as being as self-serving as the neoliberals who pretend to care about the plight of blacks. On the other hand, his criticisms of a certain kind of abolitionist could be applied to neoliberals today.

    Hi to everyone else. I should go now I suppose.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Yeah, go! And take your soap with you!

    :)

  • Irene Athena
  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    I’ve really gotta take exception to this one, since there were humans in the New World as early as 50,000 years ago, and 40,000 years ago in Australia, and in the Old World, of course, well over 100,000 years earlier than that.

    Glenn, you’re not thinking this through.

    Like all the rest of us, you’ve got two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great grandparents and so on… until by the time you go back 38 generations – about 1000 years – you end up with over a trillion ancestors.

    Obviously, the world population in the year 1012 was slightly less than 1 trillion. If you were able to trace every single thread of your lineage, and assuming you didn’t get hopelessly confused in the process, you’d find the same ancestors cropping up time and again, through multiple lines (or perhaps that should be balls of yarn) of descent.

    While it might seem implausible that you, a European, could share a patriarch in common with a Kalahari Bushman, all it would take is (for example) one of your European antecedents to have been a sailor whose ship anchored on the West African coast to take on water, and his captain to have given him shore leave, and for him to do what sailors generally do when they’re in port, and suddenly his genes are all over Africa.

    Furthermore, you were born and grew up in North America, as were – I’m assuming – at least a generation or two of your forebears, so the odds of you having ancestors in common with native Americans are even shorter.

    Certainly humans were much less mobile going back more than a couple of centuries, but all it takes is a teaspoon or so of sperm… and you and I and zingzing and Dan and Irene and Oprah Winfrey and Julius Caesar are distant cousins – many hundreds or thousands of times over.

    Mazel tov.

  • STM

    Irene, I’d bet London to a brick that term might have been around a bit before Carlyle.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Irene –

    LOL – actually, the only thing stopping me from seeing Wicked this fall is funding….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    No, I understand what you mean – I really do. You are describing a sort of “six degrees of separation” that applies to genetic distribution – remember the conquests by the Huns and the Mongols. A certain horny toad named Genghis Khan is estimated to have 16M descendants today. My son doesn’t look half-Asian, but let him get his hands on a battle axe and a hardened hide-and-fur helmet with horns on it and I bet you’d see a predatory grin on his face and the endless steppe in his eyes.

    But then there were peoples that were never “discovered” until the 1900′s – like in the Amazon – and other peoples who refused contact with outsiders, like the Japanese – whose royal family can trace all its ancestors back 2500 years IIRC.

    IMO, the scientist is – has to be – referring not to any real likelihood, but more likely the most recent time that such a progenitor could possibly have existed, and the more distant the time in the past, the greater that likelihood becomes.

  • Dan

    “An exceptionally bad one.”(the analogy of using the visible electromagnetic spectrum to help understand race)—Dreadful

    It was your analogy not mine. lol. Even though I would agree that you typically are quite weak (often needlessly inchoherent) at analogising, I thought that you stumbled on to a good one this time. Particularly since it lended me the opportunity to so elegantly refute the point you were making.


    With the exception of a few geographically isolated populations such as the Australians, this is entirely untrue. The most recent common ancestor of all living humans probably lived only about 3000 years ago.”—Dreadful

    Having a common ancestor does not mean that population groups didn’t live tens of thousands of years in evolutional divergent isolation. Nor, does it mean that the occasional European adventurer who mated with the natives erased the genetic distance between population groups.

    “This is an odd claim considering your insistence that the forced segregation of the 19th and early 20th centuries was replaced by forced integration. Where are your exemplars if, as you say, people have been forced to live, work and study together ever since they stopped being forced not to?”—Dreadful

    You’ve never heard of school bussing, disparate impact law, fair housing act etc.? On the other hand, in some sense forced segregation was never forced. If white integrationists didn’t like it that they couldn’t drink from the colored water fountains, they could move North. Today, no such option for segregationists exists.

    “what makes you think you’re “power”?”—zing

    You misunderstood. I was saying that unlike your moronic fantasy, I, and race realists in general, speak truth to power. Of course truth is power, so in that sense I am power. That is why you can only call me a “racist”, poop your pants, have the comments editor wipe it up, then come back and try to hint at what you are so proud of.

    “Dan, you’ve GOT to learn to take those crap-tinted glasses off, because they’re making you believe all the B.S. that you’re reading in your own personal echo chamber.”—Glenn

    Glenn, you’ve already admitted (to Dreadful) that you were wrong about European middle age bathing habits. That means I was correct to say you were wrong. Let’s reflect on this for a moment before jumping to other arguments. You know, it could be Glenn, that you fell for such a ridiculous notion because you are indoctrinated in ethnomasochism. You want to beleive that whites are historically evil, dirty, stupid, and oppressive. That would make you, for pointing out that evil and not contributing to the continual relative suffering of non-white people, a really good guy!

    You see that is how I think it works Glenn. You are predisposed to believe any anti-white crap you hear. No matter how logic tortured. You probably believe, for instance, that black men were routinely lynched for ‘just looking at a white woman the wrong way’ or that white bankers refuse making loans to non-whites (and the profits that come with them) because of racist hatred.

    How are you able to rationalize continually comming up factually wrong yet arrogantly moving on to the next attack?

    “Currently, at one extreme is the hateful “lynch them all” viewpoint, one is Dan’s more moderate belief that all races would be happier if they lived separately and that efforts to do so should not be thwarted”—Irene

    Thanks for putting some distance between my viewpoint and “lynch them all”, but just for clarification, I would be in favor of all people being free to choose any type of population mix they prefer to live in. It’s a big world, I would never wish to restrict integrationists dream society. It still astonishes me that complete freedom of association is a considered a bad thing for many people.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    But then there were peoples that were never “discovered” until the 1900′s – like in the Amazon – and other peoples who refused contact with outsiders, like the Japanese – whose royal family can trace all its ancestors back 2500 years IIRC.

    Glenn, you’re looking at things through white-tinted glasses. That “uncontacted” Amazon tribe trades with other neighbouring Amazon tribes, who trade with yet other tribes, and so on until you come to a tribe that does have regular contact with the outside world.

    See how it works?

    One proof of that particular pudding is that a recently “discovered” people living in a remote part of Peru, despite supposedly never having encountered civilization before, nevertheless could be clearly seen in the aerial photos taken of them to be using steel machetes.

    As far as Japan is concerned, the peoples of those islands have waged war and invaded other nations, and been invaded themselves, numerous times over the past two and a half millennia. And if the Japanese imperial family really can keep track of every single one of its ancestors back over that period of time, then I’m sure various entities like IBM, the CIA and NASA must be very interested indeed in whatever supercomputer they’re using…

    The one case in which one might be able to make a case for no contact with outsiders until recent times is, as I said before, the indigenous Australians. They inhabited an isolated continent and were not, as far as we know, seafarers. But even then, there are certain tales of sailors being marooned on uncharted coasts as a punishment for some deadly serious crime, and then, decades or centuries later, of the first European explorers in Australia encountering aboriginal tribes some of whose members had blue eyes and unusually pale skin…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dan –

    Glenn, you’ve already admitted (to Dreadful) that you were wrong about European middle age bathing habits. That means I was correct to say you were wrong.

    I said I was wrong about “twice a lifetime”…but then I pointed out indications showing that no, I was NOT wrong. But you didn’t see that part, did you? You saw only the part you wanted to see and ignored the rest. Therein lay the roots of your racism.

    You probably believe, for instance, that black men were routinely lynched for ‘just looking at a white woman the wrong way’ or that white bankers refuse making loans to non-whites (and the profits that come with them) because of racist hatred.

    “Routinely lynched”? No, not “routinely”, but there’s quite a few documented cases of black men being lynched because of rumor or obviously false accusation. See here, here, and here. When it comes to banks not making loans to blacks, see here.

    Dan, I went to an all-white school in a county that was (and is) 71% black – it was part of the ‘academy’ system that Senator John O. Eastland (who was twice President Pro Tem) put into place after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in order to preserve segregation of schools. Even in 1984 – twenty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act – I saw in the town where I graduated high school (Shaw, Mississippi) “White” and “Colored” entrance signs above the two doors to the town’s only doctor’s office. Last year, a poll showed that 46% of Republicans in Mississippi said that interracial marriages should be banned. Earlier THIS MONTH a church in Mississippi refused to marry a couple – because they were black!

    Dude, it’s YOU who needs to wake up. I’ve SEEN these things – I’ve LIVED them, and while I was growing up there, I never realized the racism for what it was. Why? Because when a child grows up in a place, no matter how bad that place is, he sees it as ‘normal’ and ‘not so bad’. It was only after I traveled other nations and learned other cultures and experienced real life away from the racist echo chamber that you inhabit that I learned how wrong it all was.

    Again, Dan, I was once like you…but my eyes were opened. Yours are still shut.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    One proof of that particular pudding is that a recently “discovered” people living in a remote part of Peru, despite supposedly never having encountered civilization before, nevertheless could be clearly seen in the aerial photos taken of them to be using steel machetes.

    Hm. I was not aware that our aerial photography was so good that we could tell whether something shaped like a machete was made out of steel or wood or whatever. But that’s just a snarky retort that I couldn’t resist, and I’d have to give you this one.

    As far as Japan is concerned, the peoples of those islands have waged war and invaded other nations, and been invaded themselves, numerous times over the past two and a half millennia.

    And what likelihood do you think there was that Japanese soldiers were allowed to bring non-Japanese women back to the Japanese mainland? You know as well as I do how xenophobic they were, and how said xenophobia was enforced by law.

    No, Doc, you and I will have to agree to disagree on this one. I could buy 10,000 years, or perhaps even 6,000 – after all, as Diamond pointed out in his book, the language of Madagascar was not African, but was instead based on an Indonesian language. That in and of itself would lend itself to your view. But 3K years? No.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    And what likelihood do you think there was that Japanese soldiers were allowed to bring non-Japanese women back to the Japanese mainland? You know as well as I do how xenophobic they were, and how said xenophobia was enforced by law.

    What difference would that make to the model? Did Japanese law mandate that soldiers were only fertile when they were on home soil? Or that invading armies became impotent to a man as soon as they set foot in Japan?

    Come on, Glenn…

    I could buy 10,000 years, or perhaps even 6,000 – after all, as Diamond pointed out in his book, the language of Madagascar was not African, but was instead based on an Indonesian language. That in and of itself would lend itself to your view. But 3K years? No.

    Chang’s model – here’s a link to a Science Daily article about his research – takes into account geographical isolation, cultural taboos against interbreeding and many other factors. He built on an earlier, deliberately simple model which determined that, all things being equal, the most recent common ancestor of all living humans would have lived only 1000 years ago. Things in the real world not, of course, being equal, when Chang added in a number of wildcards he came up with the 3000 year figure.

    From what I can gather, it’s actually a mathematical impossibility for us all not to be interrelated as recently as that. If you stretch out the timeframe, you end up requiring more unique ancestors than there were humans alive at the time.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    It was your analogy not mine. lol.

    Yes, and it was a very apt one until you appropriated it for your own misguided ends, glossing over entirely the bit where primary colours are an illusion generated by the human visual processing mechanism, as is the perception of visually distinct races among the human species.

    (LOL.)

    Even though I would agree that you typically are quite weak (often needlessly inchoherent) at analogising

    Any analogy can be made to seem weak if one’s opponent has already made up his mind to find holes in it, because he will find them. No one situation is ever going to be an exact match for another. If you’re waiting for me or anyone else to come up with a flawless analogy for, oh, anything at all, you’ll be waiting a long time. It’s technically possible, but in such a world we’d all be sitting at our keyboards typing things like “An argument on Blogcritics is like an argument on Blogcritics”… Brilliant stuff, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

    Having a common ancestor does not mean that population groups didn’t live tens of thousands of years in evolutional divergent isolation. Nor, does it mean that the occasional European adventurer who mated with the natives erased the genetic distance between population groups.

    I never claimed either of those things. But it does throw another spanner in the works of your model of humankind as divisible into neat, tidy racial categories.

    You’ve never heard of school bussing, disparate impact law, fair housing act etc.?

    You misunderstand my question. Let me put it another way: if forced segregation (e.g. designated separate schools for whites and blacks) was immediately replaced by forced integration (e.g. bussing), what evidence is there that, absent these external influences, people naturally congregate with others of their own race – if, as you claim, there has never been an absence of those influences?

  • STM

    If Dan wants to see the other side of his picture – how so called “interbreeding” between different races, in this case maori/polynesians and British anglo-celts, can lead to a race of superhuman ubermensch – he needs to watch the All Blacks, the New Zealand rugby team, going full tilt sometime to get an idea.

  • STM

    It is truly frightening stuff …

  • STM

    OK Doc, with your 3000 years or so, where does that leave indigenous Australians?

    We know they have been on this continent for a lot longer than that. Tools, artwork, middens and human and animal remains discovered by archaeologists prove that.

    I know you gave yourself an out on that, but if they have been around for much longer than 3000 years, and there has been plenty of interbreeding of races on this continent, then a lot of Australians can chase their ancestry back a lot longer than that.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    It certainly is, Stan. As an analogy, if you can imagine 15 All Blacks bearing down on you at top speed, you will get some idea! :-p

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    (That last one was in response to 130…)

    Like I said, the Australians are the one genuinely isolated outlier. I don’t think even the Polynesians made it to the great southern continent, and you know what phenomenal travellers and explorers they were.

    Even so, all it takes is the occasional lost wanderer landing up on the beach, and the local tribe taking him in, and him catching a twinkle in the eye of one of the young Sheilas; and for this to happen even just once or twice a century; and to remember that he has brothers and sisters and cousins back where he came from, as does the young Sheila; and suddenly you’ve got a few robust bloodlines between the land Down Under and the rest of the world.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    What difference would that make to the model? Did Japanese law mandate that soldiers were only fertile when they were on home soil? Or that invading armies became impotent to a man as soon as they set foot in Japan?

    What you’re missing is that the model would essentially require a one-way transfer of heritage from Japan, but not into Japan.

    Like I said, you and I will have to agree to disagree on this one. You know the respect I have for your gray matter and common sense, but I will not agree on one 3K-year-old person being a direct ancestor of all humanity. Uh-uh. Ain’t gonna happen. The real age of exploration isn’t even a thousand years old yet.

  • STM

    Doc: “15 All Blacks bearing down on you at top speed”.

    They’d scare the shit of me long before that; about the time they run out of the tunnel would do it. If you had to stare down a Haka just before kick-off, that would completely do your head in.

    You’d know you were in for whole world of pain. I don’t know how non-Kiwi rugby players even have the balls to get on the paddock against the All Blacks, truly I don’t.

    Will Carling when he was captain of England said they tossed up a few ideas in the pub one night about how to respond to the Haka.

    Carling’s idea was that the Poms could possibly reply with a bit of Morris dancing. Lol.

    I know why they they made a joke of it – because if they weren’t laughing, they’d be crying.

    Cheers Doc.

  • Irene Athena

    In retrospect, I’m really sorry I linked (#118) to that “I’m melting” video jokingly. There is nothing funny about being a heretic who has decided to hate God.

    Sometimes, though, it is hard to know what the truth is. One looks back at beliefs one held at one time, which have since been abandoned, and wonders how many other opinions will, in time, also be changed, as one’s understanding and compassion are broadened.

    We all are wrong about some things, I suppose, and we all need mercy every day, no matter how close we think we are to “having the mind of Christ” in all things. Maybe there is no such thing as a humble heretic. Maybe humility is the thing that distinguishes a heretic from someone who is confused, but knows he is confused.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    What you’re missing is that the model would essentially require a one-way transfer of heritage from Japan, but not into Japan.

    No, it wouldn’t. All the model says is that we’re all 100th cousins or so. It doesn’t matter which direction the genetic transfer happens in, and even if it did, you’re forgetting that Japan has been invaded itself as well has having invaded other places.

    I will not agree on one 3K-year-old person being a direct ancestor of all humanity.

    Oh no, Glenn. It’s not one person. It’s everyone in the world who was alive at the time – at least, everyone who succeeded in leaving at least one bloodline down to the present.

    The real age of exploration isn’t even a thousand years old yet.

    This is where your imagination is letting you down. The model doesn’t require explorers or adventurers, just a group of people who occasionally intermarry with the group of people at the other end of the valley, who intermarry with the tribe from over the hill, who trade with the boatmen from downriver, who have a political alliance with the band of fishermen who live a few miles down the coast, who… and so on.

    In just those five generations (a century or so), you’ve already spread your genes a few hundred miles from their starting point. And that’s not even taking into account the relationships all those groups of people down the line have with yet other groups.

    Even the distance between landmasses isn’t much of an obstacle: think of, for example, the trade routes between the Middle East, East Africa and India, and between India and the Far East, that have existed for centuries, perhaps millennia.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    (I’m reluctant to acquiesce to the agreeing to disagree thing in this instance, Glenn, because I feel you’re missing out on the fascinating elegance of the thing.

    You may be having a hard time getting your head around the concept because of the habit most genealogists have of tracing ancestry back primarily through the male line. One can hardly blame them: they’d go mad otherwise.

    Still don’t believe me? Try tracing every single ancestral line in your family. Start with your father’s and mother’s families. Then their parents’ – all four of them. Then their brothers’ and sisters’. Then the families of the people they married.

    And so on. You’d have hundreds of people before you’d barely got started; and if you were truly determined to surf the wave of insanity to the break, you’d find the same bloodlines starting to pop up again and again before you’d gone back more than a dozen generations or so.

    We tend to think of familial descent in terms of a tree, when really it’s more like a vast and hopelessly entangled spider web.)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Um, Doc –

    How did we get from

    The most recent common ancestor of all living humans probably lived only about 3000 years ago.

    to

    It’s not one person. It’s everyone in the world who was alive at the time – at least, everyone who succeeded in leaving at least one bloodline down to the present.

    ?

    Maybe it’s just me, but those two look like a square peg and a round hole to me.

  • Irene Athena

    Dr. D and Glenn. Am I understanding this correctly?– I think I hear Dr. D saying that for any TWO people alive today, there is a common ancestor who lived about 3000 years ago. Two different pairs of people living today might have two different common ancestors, but both of those common ancestors would have lived around 3000 years ago.

    And what I think I hear Glenn saying is that there is a Mitochondrial Eve, who is the most recent common ancestor of ANY human being alive today. She lived a very long time ago, but not so long ago as the woman we’ll call Adam’s Ribbian Eve, who was the ancestor of Mitochondrial Eve. Every one of Adam’s Ribbian Eve’s descendants, except for Mitochondrial Eve, had genetic lines that died out after a certain number of generations.

    Mitochondrial Eve is the only one among her sisters whose direct descendants are alive today. (And similarly, there is a Y-chromosal Adam, who is not the first human male, but rather, the most recent male from whom EVERY human being alive today descends.)

    Glenn’s claim and Dr. D’s claim are not incompatible, as far as I can tell.

  • Irene Athena

    “most recent common ancestor of ALL human beings alive today” is what paragraph two should say.

  • Irene Athena

    See? I made the same typing mistake that I think Dr. D made, except he at first said “ALL” in that first sentence Glenn quoted, when I think Dr. D meant to say, “ANY.”

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Irene, what I am (or rather Dr Chang is) saying is that there was a point about 3000 years ago at which a person lived who is the direct ancestor of everyone alive today. In fact, mathematically, it seems to me that many or most of that person’s generation would hold that status.

    But I think you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head as regards what I think Glenn is thinking of. The difference between the most recent common ancestor (the most recent person from whom all living humans can theoretically trace their lineage, and had contemporaries from whom some living people are descended) and the identical ancestors point (the generation comprising only (1) people who are related to everyone alive today, and (2) people who have left no living descendants) is subtle, but important.

  • Irene Athena

    Well, no, the article that Dr. D linked to does say, in 2004, a professor in the Department of Statistics at Yale presented mathematical models showing that “the most recent person who was a direct ancestor of all humans currently alive may have lived just a few thousand years ago.” (Italics mine.)

    The claim that the most recent common ancestor (Mitochondrial Eve) lived 200,000 years ago was made in 1987, but was disputed by the 2004 model.

    The accuracy of the estimate depends, in part, on the validity of the assumptions made when the mathematical simulations were run. One assumption made with the earlier 1987 estimate was that genetic mutations occur at a steady rate.

    There are problems with that assumption:
    “There are many variables that can affect the mutation rate of mtDNA, including even the possibility that mtDNA is not always inherited strictly through maternal lines. Recent studies show that paternal mtDNA can… alter the maternal mtDNA through recombination. Such recombination would drastically affect the mutation rate and throw off date estimates.”

  • Irene Athena

    I hadn’t read your comment before I posted mine, Dr. D. I think everyone’s head hurts now!

  • STM

    Doc: “the direct ancestor of everyone alive today:.

    Well that’s where it really falls down Doc, for instance if you get someone out in the bush here who is a full-blood indigenous Australian.

    So you then go from 3000 years back to 50,000 years.

  • STM

    And with no one else involved, of course, outside this continent.

  • Igor

    Talking about Racism, and it’s evil twin Fascism, here’s what Toni Morrison has to say (courtesy of Jennifer Stone):

    Toni Morrison – racism and fascism

    Citation: The Nation May 29 1995, v260, n21, p760(1)
    Author: Morrison, Toni
    Title: Racism and fascism.(excerpt from a March 2, 1995, speech
    at Howard University) by Toni Morrison

    Let us be reminded that before there is a final solution, there must be a first solution, a second one, even a third. The move toward a final solution is not a jump. It takes one step, then another, then another.

    Something, perhaps, like this:

    1. Construct an internal enemy, as both focus and diversion.

    2. Isolate and demonize that enemy by unleashing and protecting the utterance of overt and coded name-calling and verbal abuse. Employ ad hominem attacks as legitimate charges against that enemy.

    3. Enlist and create sources and distributors of information who are willing to reinforce the demonizing process because it is profitable, because it grants power and because it works.

    4. Palisade all art forms; monitor, discredit or expel those that challenge or destabilize processes of demonization and deification.

    5. Subvert and malign all representatives of and sympathizers with this constructed enemy.

    6. Solicit, from among the enemy, collaborators who agree with and can sanitize the dispossession process.

    7. Pathologize the enemy in scholarly and popular mediums; recycle, for example, scientific racism and the myths of racial superiority in order to naturalize the pathology.

    8. Criminalize the enemy. Then prepare, budget for and rationalize the building of holding arenas for the enemy – especially its males and absolutely its children.

    9. Reward mindlessness and apathy with monumentalized entertaimnents and with little pleasures, tiny seductions: a few minutes on television, a few lines in the press; a little pseudosuccess; the illusion of power and influence; a little fun, a little style, a little consequence.

    10. Maintain, at all costs, silence.

    In 1995 racism may wear a new dress, buy a new pair of boots, but neither it nor its succubus twin fascism is new or can make anything new. It can only reproduce the environment that supports its own health: fear, denial and an atmosphere in which its victims have lost the will to fight.

    The forces interested in fascist solutions to national problems are not to be found in one political party or another, or in one or another wing of any single political party. Democrats have no unsullied history of egalitarianism.
    Nor are liberals free of domination agendas. Republicans have housed abolitionists and white supremacists. Conservative, moderate, liberal; right, left, hard left, far right; religious, secular, socialist – we must not be
    blindsided by these Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola labels because the genius of fascism is that any political structure can host the virus and virtually any developed country can become A suitable home. Fascism talks ideology, but it is really just marketing – marketing for power.

    It is recognizable by its need to purge, by the strategies it uses to purge and by its terror of truly democratic agendas. It is recognizable by its determination to convert all public services to private entrepreneurship; all nonprofit organizations to profit-making ones – so that the narrow but protective chasm between governance and business disappears. It changes citizens into taxpayers – so individuals become angry at even the notion of the public good. It changes neighbors into consumers – so the measure of our value as humans is not our humanity or our compassion or our generosity but what we own. It changes parenting into panicking – so that we vote against the interests of our own children; against their health care, their education, their safety from weapons. And in effecting these changes it produces the perfect capitalist, one who is willing to kill a human being for a product – a pair of sneakers, a jacket, a car – or kill generations for control of products – oil, drugs, fruit, gold.

    When our fears have all been serialized, our creativity censured, our ideas “marketplaced,” our rights sold, our intelligence sloganized, our strength downsized, our privacy auctioned; when the theatricality, the entertainment value, the marketing of life is complete, we will find ourselves living not in a nation but in a consortium of industries, and wholly unintelligible to ourselves except for what we see as through a screen darkly.

    Toni Morrison, a member of the Nation’s editorial board, won the Nobel Prize
    in Literature in 1993. She is the Robert F. Goheen Professor at Princeton University.

    Archives Available at:
    archives

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    Irene, what I am (or rather Dr Chang is) saying is that there was a point about 3000 years ago at which a person lived who is the direct ancestor of everyone alive today. In fact, mathematically, it seems to me that many or most of that person’s generation would hold that status.

    Let me get this straight – it seems to you that many or most of the generation of the ‘most recent common ancestor’ would also hold the status of the ‘most recent common ancestor’????