Intellectual Dark Web (b)

Eric Weinstein is close to the intersection of science, math and spirituality (or religion). He is skeptical that someone can do multi-dimensional math and science in meditation. I think this is possible (not yet figured out how to do it).

Many ancients in narrative stories are described as combining science, math and spirituality. Including the great 7 sages (of the east, Sumeria and Egypt). Including Vishwamitra. Including Hinanyaksha and Hiranyakashipu.

I hope that our current crop of science and math thought leaders fully self actualize.

Eric describes the many theisms that different groups of people have, including in physics, math, AI, liberal arts, silicon valley, local governance, national governance, international institutions, globalization, politics.

One of the goals of religion is to transcend all theisms seeking the truth alone. The goal of religion is atheism. Theisms being:

  • irrationalities
  • unverified assumptions
  • patterns in the subconcious {Chitta}
  • habits
  • pre-religion
    • all methods and paths and preparation for religion included in religious literature, including all sounds, words, music and the various levels of meditation.

Eric is exceptionally good at breaking all theisms. Sadly those who break all icons and assumptions tend to get demonized. The Intellectual Dark Web–including Eric Weinstein–are being attacked as predicted by beautitudes Matthew 5:10-12:

  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
  • Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


Intellectual Dark Web (a)

Intellectual Dark Web



What The All-Father Means

Readers of this weblog may sometimes notice that I break out in pompous and self-important declarations of being a “scion of the All-Father.” This is basically a joke. But, it’s a joke that draws from a legitimate basis of science and mythology. The “All-Father” is another name for Odin. I’m really talking about Indra, who is probably more like Thor. And obviously, Norse paganism is only distantly related to the mythology of the Indo-Aryans. As someone more familiar with the lineaments of Northern European mythology than Indian, of course, it’s easier for me to draw on the motifs of the former to relate to the latter.

R1a distribution

The scientific component has to do with R1a. Specifically, R1a1a, defined by the M17 mutation (discovered by my boss at my day-job 20 years ago). There are two very closely related “clades,” that is, families of pedigrees, of this Y chromosomal lineage, passed from father to son. One of them defines mostly European R1a1a, Eastern Europeans, and to a lesser extent Western Europeans. Another branch is found mostly in Central and South Asia.

When I first saw this distribution around the year 2000 it left me scratching my head. Of course, I knew about the Indo-European languages. But I had always assumed that the demographic impact of the original Indo-Europeans was relatively marginal. And yet this Y chromosome was found at frequencies in the 10-50% range across vast swaths of Eurasia.

Much of the 2000s was spent on arguments as to whether R1a was indigenous to South Asia or to Central Eurasia. Ultimately these arguments were not resolvable due to limitations of the data. To calibrate dates and diversity researchers relied on microsatellites, which are useful due to their high mutation rates, but also erratic for the same reason (not only were confidence intervals wide, some of the assumptions of the model parameters were guesses).

In the early 2010s, whole-genome sequences of Y chromosomes came online. It became very clear that the most common R1a1a lineages exhibited the “star phylogeny.” Demographically, what this means is that men carrying this lineage underwent very rapid population expansion for a short period of time. So rapid that a “father” lineage would give rise to numerous “son” lineages one mutational step away

You can see in the figure that node “A” has given rise to a “star phylogeny.” A large number of individuals are one mutational step away from that genotype. A more normal phylogeny would produce a complex structured tree which accrues mutations across the various branches gradually.

In the South Asian context, a paper from 2004, Independent origins of Indian caste and tribal paternal lineages, introduced a result which prefigured what we now know:

Analyses of molecular variance also suggest that caste groups are more homogeneous for Y chromosome variation than tribal groups, since the variance among caste groups (sampled from all over India) is 3-fold less than that observed among tribal groups and 2-fold less than that observed among all Indian populations grouped together (Table 3). Moreover, if only north caste groups are considered, the variance among populations is not significantly different from zero (Table 3), indicating that spread over the Indian subcontinent although they are located up to ∼1500 km away from each other, these populations have highly homogeneous Y chromosome compositions.

The implications of the lack of structure of R1a on the Indo-Gangetic plain is always something that struck me. It suggested that the paternal lineages only recently expanded since they didn’ have time to build up distinct regional mutations. In contrast, the adivasi populations had a wider distribution of Y chromosomal haplogroups, and they exhibit a lot deeper diverged lineages.

Which brings me to the personal angle. In the spring of 2010, I did my first personal genomic test. I got my Y and mtDNA results back first. It turned out my Y was R1a1a, and my mtDNA was U2b. I was surprised by both. Eastern Bengali has the highest fraction of mtDNA macrohaplogroup M in the world. R1a1a was less surprising. But, it was very strange to have a concrete, personal, connection to this lineage which had been on my mind for a decade or so.

My funny attachment to my haplogroup is probably a function of my upbringing. Growing up as brown in the United States, I wasn’t exposed to Indian culture, nor was I well versed in the details of South Asian communalism. My family is pretty conventional in being upper-middle-class Bengali Muslims, so there is not a jati identity or anything like that I could identify with (and though my parents are Muslim, they are not extremely so, therefore religious identity was a background and not foreground variable). When I looked at my overall genome in 2010 it was clear I didn’t have the “runs of homozygosity” that characterize many people from South Asian backgrounds who come from endogamous communities. I know some of my ancestors were Kayasthas, and my father has some Brahmin ancestry, but the most distinctive thing about me in hindsight is I’m a typical east Bengali with more than a usual dollop of East Asian ancestry (my family is from Comilla).

My Y chromosomal haplogroup, in contrast, is something clear, distinct, and precise. It is an anchor, something which I use to channel my preoccupations and concerns. I don’t have Omar’s Gujar tribal ancestry, or Zach’s Muhajir/Persian origins. I’m just a brown American whose parents did not instill him a patriotism about the “motherland” (Bangladesh), because they themselves didn’t even live a decade in that nation. Though there is a spectrum, it is clear that many South Asian Americans are less “coconut” than I am, and are attuned to fine differences of status, origin, and background. Growing up around only white people my identity was racialized, not ethnicized.

I have never felt superior or inferior to any community or ethnicity of South Asian because I never belonged to any community, have weak ethnic identity, and don’t believe in any religion. The religious prejudices I do have are probably Anglo-Protestant ones against Catholicism, because of the implicit assumptions and background facts of America’s Whig culture.

What R1a1a symbolizes to me is that I have a concrete connection to a semi-historical phenomenon between the end of prehistory and before the written word, which we have not grasped or understood very well. Though it is true R1a1a is found at higher concentrations in “upper castes,” as well as in the north and west of the subcontinent, and among Indo-Aryan speakers, the reality is it is found in almost every community in South Asia (the main exception being among Tibeto-Burmans and Munda). There are many communities, such as Chenchus, which have very little steppe ancestry but retain a substantial proportion of R1a1a.

For obvious reasons this haplogroup is associated with Indo-Aryans (the earliest find of R1a1a-Z93 is from the Bronze Age Volga Srubna culture), but its reach is far beyond current areas of Indo-Aryan speech. Its ubiquity is a testament to a broader South Asia cultural matrix that emerged in the centuries after 1500 BC, from north to south.

This is of course not a moral judgment. The expansion of this paternal lineage at the expense of others likely occurred through a process of aggression and social exclusion. This is nothing to be proud of…or ashamed of. It’s just a description.


Indian Female Academics of the Left

I’m at this talk, which touched on decolonisation and other such left-liberal ideology.

I’m quite privileged to be attending lectures and seminars at one of the best Universities in the world (even if it’s been coasting on its brand name).

The speaker in question is a Professor Emerita. She’s Trans but white. I find the discourse on the left increasingly driven by white LGTB+ activists. She is interviewed by a Indian lady (Reader level So tenure track Prof) and introduced by another Indian Lady Lecturer.

I’m noticing a few trends:

(1.) Indians in postgraduate humanities are acolytes of Arundhati Roy. They’re sort of blending into the global liberal intellectual circles in a way that Muslims don’t.

(2.) Left-liberal Indians have become entirely de-Hindufied in a way that left-liberal Muslims simply haven’t. So while there is an invisible barrier for Muslims to fully embrace the entire ideology (more likely than not they’ll have some sort of belief barrier) there isn’t one for Indians.

(3.) Postgraduate Indian women in the Humanities are at the vanguard of social action and use their ambiguous racial status to float between black & white space.

(5.) Postgraduate Indians in STEM are rightish, which is no really surprise and in line with trends.

(6.) Being vocally right is social suicide in the “coloured circles.” It’s suspected I have profoundHigh Tory views but I downplay it to my Social Justice Ghazi alter ego (I am a Magian after all) and join the activists IRL. My concession is that I try to be intellectually consistent and avoid Munafiqeenism.

(7.) the South Asia centre has only one coloured faculty member (albeit the director) the other 7 are all white. It begs the questions what should (or should there) be a racial balance for ethnic studies?

(8.) People in Humanities love their jargon; maybe it’s because their subjects aren’t as intense as STEM?


BP Podcast episode 48: Hitchhikers Guide to Hindustan

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsyniTunes, Spotify,  and Stitcher. Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe at one of the links above.

A nomadic family lift their belongings on to a truck

This week Xerxes speaks to Rajat Ubhaykar about his epic trips around the Indian terrain. A few inadvertent comments by Xerxes sparked off this massive comment thread so click on the BroCast to find out what it’s all about.

You can also support the podcast as a patron (the primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else…). Would appreciate more positive reviews.


The price of Unity for India’s Dravidians

My title is somewhat controversial but it’s based on a passing thought.

I was seeing Drew Binsky’s video on the Afghani diaspora in Hamburg and I found it interesting that Afghanistan’s population is only 35mm (I could have sworn it was 20mm around the turn of the century).

Even though Afghanistan has a relatively tiny population, compared to many Indian states, its influence on world affairs dwarfs them and approaches Indo-Pak.

For the 4 Dravidian states; their sub-nationalism disappears in the global stage in the face of Indian nationalism.

This isn’t to stir discord; it’s a thing of wonder that 90%+ of the world’s Hindu population is in a single state. In fact if 90% of the world’s Muslim population were in a similarly federalised state; it would be so much better (even just the contiguous bits).

However I wonder if the more exotic Indian minorities do not feel that their presence in the global stage is somewhat marred. Sovereignty, while disruptive, has a charm all of its own.

After a people who aren’t used to their nation will see that nation dwindle away due to apathy.

Many will impute that I support independence movements or further political sovereignty; far from it. But I was thinking of the British Lions model and the world of sport.

There are times when Britain competes as one (in the Olympics) and at other times devolves into the Constituent nations. In fact in most sports Ireland competes as an island (Ulster joins Ireland rather than any of the other nations) even though the political atmosphere is so messy.

Aside from IPL (and the huge shadow cricket casts on the subcontinent); it would be nice to have some sort of South Asian game or cultural event where linguistic (sub)nationalism is given priority. It would be perhaps alleviate the intense communalism of South Asia’s political setup and also provide context to the “young states” that there are some very old “nations” in South Asia, which precede them.

Maybe it’ll be a bit tricky with Punjabis, Pathans, Baloch teaming up across their various borders or even Tamils for that matter but it might also help *mature* identities as well.

I’m a trustee of a Theatre company in Cambridge and I really enjoyed the definition of a “minority”; one who self-identifies as such. In many ways that’s how I would categorise a language family/nation. Languages are also a form of subjective identity rather than just objective reality.

A language is a dialect with an army..


The Harilals of Hong Kong

Such an amazing video; the joint family done well by the famous Harilals of Hong Kong (they own the Pearl Continental building). Even though I would swap it round and send the sons as further afield as possible (like the Rothschilds) and keep the daughters (if I had a daughter I’d want her to go into STEM subjects; the tougher the better).

I’ve met one of the Harilals daughter-in-law at a wedding; she was fun-loving and rather incandescent, she certainly stood out.

I do find the whole nuclear family setup to be so much unnecessary grunt work.

These sort of Diaspora Baniya families (I think Bhaibands, Vidhi’s caste, are originally Punjabi Khatri who moved southward towards Sindh) are going to keep the candle of Hinduism alive against assimilation.


Samosas vs. Pakoras

I know the comments about Islamicate Samosas vs. Indigenous Pakoras was made in jest however what is interesting that the “core Desi” food is carbo-hydrate heavy.

At least Samosa has some protein in comparison to the Pakora, which is basically fried batter (delicious as it is).

I tend to prefer Desi Khans above all else however I have actually taken to eating a steak or another grilled meat just to complement my meal.

This isn’t to revisit older tropes about vegetarian Hindus and meat-eating Muslims but the only protein source I can think of is daal and milk products.

A Pakistani on Instagram once remarked that his favourite cuisine is Arabic food. I immediately took offence since Mughlai cuisine is so much more complex. But his reasoning did make sense that in the balance of health and taste Arabic food was a clear winner.

Interestingly one of our young relatives (at the age of 6) has decided to go completely vegetarian. The family are completely Westernised and meat-eating but the young chap refuses to eat any meat (he wants to give up jelly beans because it has animal products).

It’s gotten to the point that he scolded his mum for buying a leather bag because it’s made from animal hide and while on a car journey he started to meditate. He’s naturally very rambunctious and mischievous but it’s just an interesting exercise in “spontaneous vegetarianism” (we were all eating lamb chops and chicken but he was just sticking to daal).

His mother had to pack all these “mithai”, full of ghee, just to make sure that he met his calorific intake. In a way Indian food is catered to meet calorific loads rather than nutritional values. Nomadic food on the other is just an exercise in how to cook different types of meat. Of course these cuisines are pared with occupational types and we aren’t nomads & farmers anymore.


Sajid Javid finally *owns* his Pakistaniness

This is a very powerful video – regardless of one’s politics. It’s such a powerful evocation of the Immigration and Asian experience in this country. The *hidden* history so to speak.

Ordinarily I stayed away from supporting Sajid since he seems so white-washed (at Conference he made an awful Punjabi-Welsh joke) but finally I felt that he owned up to his Pakistaniat, which moved me.