Genetics of the Oligarchs: Eloi, or Upstarts?

In H. G. Wells’ classic novel “The Time Machine”, the Time Traveler is translated to the year 802,701 AD. In this future world, the human race has evolved into two completely distinct species, the Eloi and the Morlocks.  The effete Eloi elite live in comfort above ground and do no work, while the brutal Morlocks toil endlessly at their underground industry. Wells wrote:

 At first, proceeding from the problems of our own age, it seemed clear as daylight to me that the gradual widening of the present merely temporary and social difference between the Capitalist and the Labourer, was the key to the whole position. No doubt it will seem grotesque enough to you—and wildly incredible!—and yet even now there are existing circumstances to point that way…. the exclusive tendency of richer people—due, no doubt, to the increasing refinement of their education, and the widening gulf between them and the rude violence of the poor—is already leading to the closing, in their interest, of considerable portions of the surface of the land. About London, for instance, perhaps half the prettier country is shut in against intrusion. And this same widening gulf—which is due to the length and expense of the higher educational process and the increased facilities for and temptations towards refined habits on the part of the rich—will make that exchange between class and class, that promotion by intermarriage which at present retards the splitting of our species along lines of social stratification, less and less frequent. So, in the end, above ground you must have the Haves, pursuing pleasure and comfort and beauty, and below ground the Have-nots, the Workers getting continually adapted to the conditions of their labour.

However, neither the Eloi nor the Morlocks have remained fully human. The Eloi have grown lazy and dull, while the Morlocks, crude as they are, have somehow regained the upper hand in the war between the two species. In a sort of comic reversal, they have taken to cannibalizing the Eloi that they feed and clothe.

In an earlier version of this post, “The Eloi and the Morlocks”, I argued that the elite of our planet may similarly represent a distinct race or sub-species of humanity. That is, they are descended largely from a small founder group, such as a tribe or a small set of tribes. If so, they may have an ethnic, xenophobic, or even nepotistic sense of their own power and entitlement. This could be the beginning a trend that could eventually culminate in a situation similar to the nightmare vision of the Wells novel.

This has proven to be a controversial view even at this website. Forum member “Collectivist” suggested instead that the oligarchs from the feudal era have been overthrown by a small vanguard of very powerful Jews and crypto-Jews. These Jews would be the “Upstarts” in the title of this post. We claim that since ancient times, the Jews have been in the role of a buffer (scapegoat) class between the ‘gentile’ elites and the commoners. How, then, could this tiny minority launch a coup d’état against their masters? When and where did this take place? Was it before or after the Jews were emancipated from Catholic-originated legal strictures in Europe, and also in relation to the ‘liberal’ rise of the democratic nation-state system? The proposal raises as many questions as it answers.

Meanwhile, we are also concerned that casual or out-of-context discussion of the ethnic or racial characteristics of the oligarchs can easily take on an unsavory Aryan Nazi – White Supremacist aspect. The suggestion that the true core group might be Jewish could add the appearance of a dark, ugly shadow of anti-semitism, to use this genetically over-freighted term. Unsupported or unsupportable racist allegations could easily result in the marginalization of our entire Postflavian project. (That is, if our rejection of all major organized religions and national political parties is not sufficient in itself to result in that fate.) Therefore, racial or ethnic statements about elite secret societies must be fully supported by the evidence, and placed in proper context.

Elsewhere, we have argued that the trumped-up conflict between Gentiles versus (Romanized Rabbinic) Jews has been the single biggest false dialectic underlying Western Civilization. So now we are being told that these downtrodden and abused “Christ Killers” have emerged as the new (secret) masters of the universe? This would be supremely ironic, to say the least. We must at least consider what sort of evidence would be required to establish the truth or falsehood of the proposition.

Given these concerns, the statistical null case also deserves careful consideration. Wells’ supposition, that “promotion by intermarriage … at present retards the splitting of our species along lines of social stratification” may very well be correct. Or in other words, perhaps upward and downward social mobility swamps any tribal organization of the elite. If so, there may be no demonstrable genetic, racial or ethnic distinction between the oligarchs of our planet, versus the rest of our species. Or, even if there is some difference which can be theoretically defined and proven from genealogy charts or DNA testing, that difference might have no functional effect. According to this view, the elite criminality discussed on this site must be explained entirely on the basis of the persistence of cultural memes; institutional continuity; social selection; scientific and technical knowledge; and many other factors unrelated to genetics. Obviously such factors must be very important, regardless of whether or not genetics, race and ethnicity play a role.

This is obviously the beginning of a long-term research project. The context is that these are not racist allegations, certainly not directed against particular individuals, but rather they are genetic, genealogical & ethnic questions which we hope to resolve in the future. The earlier post is being revised to further develop a conceptual basis for the research, and to describe some of the tools which could possibly be brought to bear.

The “Eloi” Model of Elite Genetics

This theory would claim that throughout history, the class of oligarchs (that is, the wealthy & powerful) are far more likely to have chosen their mates from among other wealthy & powerful people, rather than from the lower classes. Because of international politics, opportunities for travel, and cosmopolitan values, the wealthy and powerful are far more likely to choose their mates (or have mates chosen for them by their elders) among individuals from far distant locations, different religions, different cultures, or different languages, compared to low-class people with far more limited options. However, all of these mates chosen from all these different locations, regions and cultures would have one thing in common: that they would have been wealthy and powerful.

If this is correct, the oligarchs may by now have become a distinct ethnicity or breeding pool, which is now increasingly diverging from the rest of humanity. By the same token, the members of this wealthy and powerful ethnic group are becoming increasingly more genetically similar to each other, than they are related to any of the peoples that they rule over.

According to this “Eloi” model, it is also highly likely that the oligarchs are descended primarily from a small founder group. That is, near the beginning of agricultural “civilization” there was  a single tribe, or a small number of tribes, that became extraordinarily successful in either insinuating control or conquering the various nations, so to speak, of the ancient Near East (Eurasia and North Africa). Thus, they became the rulers over the members of the less fortunate ethnic groups.

Michael Hart, in “Understanding Human History”, argues that at the end of the Paleolithic era, the peoples living in arctic climates had evolved a cluster of genetic characteristics including pale skin and greater technological skills required for survival in adverse conditions. Meanwhile, the people living in southern regions (with darker skins) had the misfortune of living in lands that were far more fertile and thus more valuable. Thus, Hart argues, tribes from the North had both the capability and the motivation to become dominant over people of the South, either by conquest or by infiltration. The northern tribes spoke Indo-European and / or Uralic languages. As they became rulers over the various nations of Semites, Africans and Asians, the invaders would have been highly motivated to breed only amongst themselves. Having originated from a distant location, these pale-skinned rulers would have had a very distinct sense of their peculiar racial identity in contrast to their subjects.

It is difficult to say to what extent these ancient tribal genetics have actually been preserved to the present time by the elite. Over deep time, many factors militate against it. One factor would be the rate of intrusion of random breeding partners from outside the elite class into the core bloodlines. Another factor would be the loss of members of the bloodlines because of downward social mobility, death of entire family lineages, or other misfortune. If the elite view themselves as a distinct class, this may be a matter of cultural memes and/or self-deception as much as anything else.

Nevertheless, there are signs that at least some of the elite have an awareness of themselves as a class with a familial, ethnic or xenophobic nature, as well as a nepotistic sense of entitlement to wealth and power. As such, they also have access to a wealth of knowledge and experience regarding the science and art of maintaining control over the masses. This knowledge is certainly preserved in colleges and universities which are accessible primarily to the elite and their middle-class collaborators, but it might also be maintained as family lore, or held in secret libraries within the innermost circles of elite secret societies.

If this oligarchical sub-species still exists, it must have also had a significant amount of genetic material introduced from local elites all over the world from every racial background. There have also been distinct evolutionary pressures arising from the unique environment of the elite. As it is often said: “uneasy is the head that wears the crown.” In other words, there has been some selection pressure for raw survival to reproductive age, based on cunning in social relations and in battle.

The elite also have a very powerful sense of the importance of family connections and genealogy. It is possible, at this point, that the elites do not view themselves as any more akin to ‘Nordic’ or ‘Caucasian’ or ‘Jewish’ commoners, than any other race of hoi polloi. According to the strong version of this “eloi” hypothesis, they are a distinct racial entity unto themselves. Or, if the “null hypothesis” mentioned above is correct, then we can still propose a weak version of the “Eloi” model: that many elite think of themselves this way, even if it isn’t literally genetically true.

For example, under the “British Israel” doctrine, the British consider themselves to be ‘Lost Tribe’ Hebrews and, as such, part of  “God’s chosen people” even though historical or genetic support for this claim is far from obvious. That said, we have our own interpretation of biblical history where there can indeed be some, rather varnished, contextual credence to such claims. And which we will use to complement this effort.

In either case, we have an Earthly model for the Abraxas family in the recent movie, Jupiter Ascending. As we showed in our recent review, the Abraxas are portrayed as a close-knit family which rules over many herds of humanity, each of which lives on a different planet, an allegory here for races and tribes living in different Earthly regions.

The “Upstart” model: Judaism Ascending?

According to this view, the ancient “eloi” as discussed above may well have been in control during the time of the Roman Empire and indeed throughout feudal times and even up until recently. However, the conflict between the Flavians and other Roman emperors, versus the Jewish rebels, may not have ended with the utter defeat of the Jews in the many wars against them, and the Roman dominance over rabbinical Judaism. Instead, is it possible that the Jews maintained a grim determination to reverse their humiliating defeat and to establish world domination over their rivals, a plot which is now nearing consummation?

There are some basic facts which form the core of this speculation, and which are not in dispute (or at least, not here.)

The story seems to date back to the first Crusade, which was organized as a European response to Islamic conquest of the holy lands of the Middle East. French noblemen related to participants of the First Crusade organized the Knights Templar and set up shop at the newly conquered Temple Mount, and were given the blessing of the Roman Catholic Church in 1129. The Templars became very successful as bankers, introducing innovative practices which they may have learned from the Islamics. It is suspected that the Templars were not orthodox Christians, but that some of the organizers were Cathars. The Cathars emerged at about the same time as the Templars: first reports of Cathar theology in France emerged around 1143. The beliefs of both the Cathars and Templars are obscure (their writings having been destroyed) but are believed to have been basically gnostic, or perhaps Kabbalist. The Templars were accused of worshiping Baphomet, although there is little if any evidence that this is true, or who they thought Baphomet was. Images of Baphomet as a man with a goat head apparently originate from the 19th century.

The Cathars came under severe pressure from the Albigensian Crusade beginning about 1208, and were utterly crushed by 1330. The Knights Templar were terminated and suppressed in 1307, although remnants were merged with the Knights Hospitaller (of whom later became today’s Roman Catholic Knights of Malta), the Portuguese Knights of Christ, the German Teutonic Knights, and so forth. The vacuum left in the banking industry was taken up mostly by Italian and Venetian bankers.

The intolerance of the medieval Catholic church extended also to the Jews. The Inquisition, which initially targeted the Cathars, impacted Judaism as well beginning about 1242, and intensified in the Spanish Inquisition beginning in 1481. Many of the Jews were forced to convert to Christianity. However, some of these conversos (converts) continued to practice Judaism and/or Kabbalism in secret, and so the loyalties of the conversos were always open to suspicion. The name Marrano (pig or swine) was also attached as a pejorative to these people.

The invention of the printing press in 1440 enabled many commoners, craftsmen and merchants to read the Bible (and to a lesser extent, Josephus Flavius) for the first time. This led to a realization that the beliefs and practices, such as indulgences, of the Catholic Church were not entirely compatible with the ancient scripture. This, as well as the excesses of the Inquisition, may have led to the advent of the Reformation. As a popular attack on the Catholic Church, the Reformation was actually in full swing by the time of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses of 1517.

The overt counter-reformation of the Church was led by the Jesuits, an order formed by Ignatius of Loyola with the authority of Pope Paul III in 1540. Curiously here, the archbishop of Venice, who supported the founding of the Jesuits and the Council of Trent (whose purpose was to hear and rule upon the Protestant complaints) also wrote letters of encouragement to the Calvinist Protestants. The center of the Calvinist theological dispute was over the means (works versus grace) of Salvation and the related doctrine of Predestination, of which we proclaim was a manufactured controversy.

However, although nominally Christian, the theology of the Jesuits was in some ways more similar to the that of the Alumbrados (that is, the illuminated or enlightened ones), a group of Spanish gnostic conversos denounced in 1525 by the Inquisition. Ignatius of Loyola himself was a converso, as was the prior Spanish Inquisition’s Torquemada, and had been accused of sympathies with the Alumbrados, although he was acquitted. The Jesuits became the main educational and missionary (that is, propaganda) arm of the Catholic Church and became increasingly powerful from the 16th through the 18th century, until 1773 when they were suppressed and largely disbanded by the order of Pope Clement XIV.

Strangely coincidental with the alleged ‘termination’, or rather the Disestablishment, of the Jesuits, came the rise of the Rothschild banking empire, and the creation of the “Bavarian Illuminati” by Adam Weishaupt, a Jesuit professor of Catholic canon law at the Jesuit’s University of Ingolstadt. Mayer Rothschild obtained the position of “court factor” for Crown Prince William of Hesse in 1769, beginning his meteoric rise to become the primary banker to European royalty. Weishaupt’s group was founded in 1776, and took up the function of Illuminist propaganda and missionary work more or less where the Jesuits left off, and also worked to influence the Freemason lodges of the time. There are allegations that Weishaupt was also from a converso family and was a crypto-Jew.

Whether contrived, as Tupper Saussy claimed in his Rulers of Evil, or not: his claim is that the timely, and supposedly bloody, Disestablishment of the Jesuits is what enabled the Catholics to garner the good graces of the highly Protestant American colonists, who otherwise hated them. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”, and thus Jesuit based Catholicism is ironically the vastly predominant form found in the United States of America, and the most powerful block in American national politics, with some considerable help from the JFK assassination.

The Jesuits were restored to the good graces of the Catholic Church beginning in 1801 in Russia. Meanwhile, the Bavarian Illuminati were officially condemned in Prussia in 1785, but continued to infiltrate the Freemasons whose work continues to this day.

These events were watersheds. Ever since then, these influences can be seen in the banking system, in Freemasonic dominance  over “democratic” governments in America and Europe. In the mass media, the use of “illuminati symbolism” as well as reversed Gospel typology can be seen as a trademark of this influence.

According to the “Judaism Ascending” model, characters such as Ignatius of Loyola, Adam Weishaupt and Mayer Rothschild should be seen as vanguards of their own race, upstarts from the humble ghettos where the Jews lived as an oppressed minority. “Shakespeare” (that is, perhaps, Emilia Bassano) may also be seen as part of this cabal. Any question whether the Shakespearean literature is more Jewish or Jesuit in character is basically irrelevant, as both Jesuitism and Kabbalist Judaism are manifestations of one evil. This entire movement is essentially Jewish (Kabbalistic), ethnic, and targeted to reverse the humiliations suffered by the Jews at the hands of the Romans. According to this model, the “New World Order” conspiracy must be seen as fundamentally racist, and it is now targeted towards genocide of all other races aside from the Jewish “chosen people”.

“Eloi” model, revisited

The “Eloi” model of elite genetics (discussed above) does not deny any of these events, but gives them a different interpretation. Just as the Roman Emperors were pagans hiding behind a Christian front, the Roman Catholic church throughout its entire history may have been, at its core, an “illuminati” institution and not a Christian one. Christianity itself has never been anything more than an exoteric, populist con game to be  foisted on feudal subjects. Similarly, Rabbinical Judaism has been a con game foisted by those same elite insiders onto the Jewish commoners.

“Eloists” would say that the emergence of the Jesuits, “Bavarian Illuminati”, modern Freemasons, and the Rothschild banking empire, were all manifestations of the old elite coming out from behind their Catholic cover story, re-asserting Imperial control under cover of stealth. If this is correct, we would expect to find the institutions of old feudal Europe such as the Catholic Church, the various Royal courts, and the nobility, all covertly collaborating with the Jesuits, Illuminati, Freemasons, and Jewish Bankers.

By the same token, Kabbalism should not be viewed as uniquely Jewish, but rather part of a greater Hellenistic trend, and going back even further in time and geographically widespread with roots in shamanism. Philo was incorporating Platonism from the Greeks into Judaism, and the same seems to be the case for wider gnosticism. All of this can be traced back ultimately to the Mesopotamians and Egyptians. In general, these esoteric religions may have been reserved for elites, as the inner church. The Cathars may have been an unapproved stream, via such as the Bogomils, that escaped the clutches of the church until it became predominant and thus dangerous to the Roman church’s monopoly in the Languadoc and eventually even wider.

It’s possible that at least some, if not all, of the founders and elite leaders of the “crypto-Jewish Illuminati” will turn out to be as closely related genetically to the noble class of Europeans, as they are to the common class of Ashkenazi and / or Sephardic Jews. These “Hofjuden” or “Court Jews” tended to intermarry with the royals and nobles, or favored close cousin marriages.

I will not try to hide my own views here. I believe that the Roman Catholics and European royalty and American “democracy” have collaborated far too closely with the Jesuits, Freemasons and Jewish ‘International Bankers’, for the latter to be seen as an upstart rebellion. I believe it has been a cooperative venture from the beginning, and continuing to the present day. This includes the strange alliance of Jewish Zionists, “Christian Zionist” Neocons and American and European military intelligence, which seems to be at the heart of the “New World Order Conspiracy” today.

Nevertheless, it has been proposed that genetics and/or genealogy might be a key to resolving this particular dispute, and revealing the true nature of “the secret society”. Accordingly, I would like to review some concepts that might prove helpful.

 The concept of ‘species’ and ‘sub-species’ in modern biology

Biologically, a “species” is defined as a group that can successfully interbreed and produce fertile offspring. Thus, all human beings are considered part of the same species. We can choose a mate from anywhere on the planet, without hurting our chances of reproductive success.

If a species is separated into two or more groups which are not allowed to interbreed, they will start to drift apart genetically. If they are subject to different selection pressures, then the process of genetic divergence is accentuated and directed. Thus, the separated populations may start to become anatomically and functionally distinctive as well. Yet this can go on for quite some time, before mating between the groups becomes impossible. As long as most or all pairings are fertile, the populations are considered to belong to the same species. But, because they have distinct local characteristics, they are called “sub-species”.

A good example of “sub-species” are the various breeds of purebred dogs. These populations are separated by their human breeders, so that there is little if any genetic exchange between the breeds. If dogs from different breeds do mate together, the result is called a “mongrel” and is excluded from the entire category of purebred dogs. Although of course mongrels are still members of the species of dogs, they are not considered a part of either of the “sub-species” of their parents.

Races and ethnic groups

The terms “race” and “ethnic group” are similar but not identical in their connotations. “Ethnic group” tends to be more associated with groupings based on culture, religion or nationality, while “race” has a more genetic and physical connotation. In practice the terms overlap for reasons which I will explain.

A modern concept of race and ethnicity is shown in this graph from “Out of Africa Again and Again” by Alan Templeton (Nature 416, 45–51, 2002).


The figure illustrates that humanity consists of a number of lineages which have descended in parallel through many generations. Humans naturally fall into groups which are separated by factors such as distance, geographical barriers, language, and culture. Such barriers serve to delineate the populations and limit the amount of genetic cross-flow at each generation.  Thus, each lineage is inbred to some degree. However, all couplings between human beings are potentially fertile. “Miscegenation” can and does occur in spite of all obstacles to the contrary. Major events denoting vast migrations of peoples from place to place (shown in red in the diagram) have contributed additional intermingling.

The biological concepts of sub-species or breeds are potentially applicable to such human groups. However, because of the amount of interbreeding among human groups, the physical and genetic differences between groups of people are far less significant than the differences between the various breeds of dogs. This is in spite of the fact that these subspecies of dogs have been created in a relatively short period of time compared to man’s evolution. (Most modern breeds of dogs have been created by breeders in the last 150 years or less, and are still diverging rapidly.) 

Rather than crisply defined “breeds”, humankind consists of an undefined number of lineages that blend imperceptibly together, with no clear edges. Accordingly, efforts to use such concepts to create clear boundaries in legal or nationalistic contexts have often ended as intellectual and/or political fiascos. However, this does not mean that the concept of “race” is meaningless.

Genetics and family trees

To further help explain what we mean by these concepts of “subpecies” and “inbreeding”, I would like to bring in some figures and information from the excellent blog article “Your Family: Past, Present and Future” by Tim Urban.

Your Ancestor Cone

So let’s start with the past, and see what happens if we keep going up the family tree, or what I’ll call your Ancestor Cone:

You can see that things get hectic pretty quickly when you start moving back generations. The top row is the 128-person group of your great5 grandparents, or your grandparents’ grandparents’ great-grandparents. The thing that I find surprising is how recently in time you had such a large number of ancestors. Estimating an average generation at 25-30 years, most of those people were your current age around 1800-1825. So the early 19th-century world contained 128 random strangers going about their lives, each of whose genes makes up 1/128th of who you are today.

With respect to this drawing, it is possible to define three lines of descent: paternal ancestry along the purely male line, maternal ancestry along the purely female line, or what I might call general ancestry, that is, the entire cone. In genetic research, data may be extracted from either Y-chromosome DNA (a probe for paternal ancestry), mitochondrial DNA (a probe for maternal ancestry), or autosomal DNA (which derives from the entire ancestral cone.) The vast majority of DNA in the human genome is autosomal DNA.

Notice that as we go higher in the ancestral cone, the maternal and paternal lines represent a smaller and smaller sample of the total ancestry of each person. That is, at the 7th generation back (as shown in the diagram above) the paternal and maternal lineages each represent less than 1% of the total genetic heritage of the individual. In genetics, these lineages can be explored using Y-DNA and mt-DNA respectively, establishing relationships going deep back into time. Y-DNA and Mt-DNA can be used to trace ancestries all the way back to “Mitochondrial Eve” and “Y-Chromosome Adam”, the most recent maternal and paternal ancestors of all living humans.

Autosomal DNA draws information randomly from the entire general ancestral cone, but gives less and less information about each individual ancestor as time recedes. At each generation, segments of DNA from each parent are snipped and recombined at random. Thus, in comparisons of DNA genomes among close family relations, segments of varying length may be found to be “identical by descent”, that is, IBD. As relations become more distant, the IBD segments get chopped into smaller and smaller pieces, until they either become too short to detect, or are randomly omitted altogether by the recombination process. Analysis of IBD segments can reveal family relationships very reliably to the 5th degree, and sometimes up to the 11th degree. That is, we can trace three to five generations up to an ancestor, and back down his or her family tree another two to six generations through another child of that ancestor to find distant cousins.

Inbreeding and pedigree collapse

Getting back to Tim Urban’s blog, he notices that as we continue going back in time, the number of ancestors in everyone’s family tree continues to explode, reaching ~68 billion ancestors at 1100 AD. As Urban explains:

The reason that’s problematic is that the world population goes like this:




So how do we explain this?

With a concept called pedigree collapse, which is what happens when people end up with a mate who is somewhat or very closely related to them. So for example, if two cousins had a child, that child would only have six great-grandparents, not eight. Or, to put it another way, there are eight filled great-grandparent spots on that child’s family tree, but two of the spots are duplicates of two other spots—


Before you wince, absorb this fact: according to Rutgers anthropology professor Robin Fox, 80% of all marriages in history have been between second cousins or closer.

The reason for this is that for most of human history, people spent most of their lives in the same five mile radius, and the other people in that same area tended to be immediate and extended family. To get away from their extended family when courting, men would have to walk over five miles away, which after a long day of hunting you just don’t feel like doing.

In the Western World, this is largely a phenomenon of the past, but in many parts of the world, this is still a common practice—for example, in most of the Middle East and North Africa, over 50% of today’s marriages are between second cousins or closer.

I would add that according to Fox’s research, another important reason for the prevalence of these 2nd cousin marriages is because they are specifically favored according to the laws and customs of many traditional societies. This may be because they preserve some family cohesiveness, without the well-known genetic downsides of marriages among even closer cousins or siblings.

This is what we mean by “inbreeding”: the shrinkage of the ancestor cone due to pedigree collapse. This occurs when distant cousins are intermarrying at a rate higher than would happen by chance in a large population. Returning again to Urban’s blog, he offers this further explanation of distant cousin relationships:

…every stranger in the world is a cousin of yours, and the only question is how distant a cousin they are. The degree of cousin (first, second, etc.) is just a way of referring to how far you have to go back before you get to a common ancestor. For first cousins, you only have to go back two generations to hit your common grandparents. For second cousins, you have to go back three generations to your common great-grandparents. For fifth cousins, you’d have to go back six generations until you arrive at your common pair of great-great-great-great-grandparents.

Since a lot of people get confused about cousin definitions, I made a little chart illustrating what a second cousin is.


So notice that for you and your second cousin, A) your parent is a first cousin of their parent, B) you have grandparents that are siblings, and C) their parents are your common great-grandparents. For third cousins, everything just goes up a level—your parents are second cousins, your grandparents are first cousins, your great-grandparents are siblings, and you have a common pair of great-great-grandparents….

The number of cousins you have grows exponentially as the degree of distance goes up. You may have a small number of first cousins, but you likely have hundreds of third cousins, thousands of fifth cousins, and over a million eighth cousins.

Measures of inbreeding

Urban explains his computations for the number of distant cousins as follows:

The formula is (n-1) 2d nd 

—where is the average number of children being had by a family and is the degree of cousin you want to find the total number of.

It boils down to a simple multiplication of the number of top-level siblings [(n-1) 2d] times the number of “eventual offspring on your generation level” each of those top-level siblings ultimately produces (nd).

This is correct for modern national populations that have been choosing mates more or less at random for many generations. However, as mentioned above: in paleolithic times, and to a large extent up until the industrial revolution, most people lived in small villages or towns, and chose their mate from within that town. Some were directed by tradition to chose a 2nd cousin, while a few of the more adventurous might have gone a few towns away at most, but marriage was generally a very local affair.

Even now, there are populations in which the size of the breeding pool is severely limited, and has been for many generations into the past. In such populations, the number of relatively close cousins in the local area is increased, and the number of distant cousins depleted, compared to the formula. In a town of ~500 people, it might be that the breadth of the ancestor cone continues to increase into the distant past, but an increasingly high percentage of the slots in that cone would be filled by only 500 individuals at each generation, no matter how far back. At a sufficiently isolated island, the ancestor cone might theoretically never have included more individuals than the population of the island. So, the chances of a new marriage occurring between close cousins is increased, perpetuating the inbreeding.

The degree of inbreeding leaves an unmistakable signature in the genome of an isolated population. Henn et al (2012) studied IBD between random pairs of individual DNA samples collected by the 23andMe customer database and the Human Genome Diversity Project, and found:

With data from 121 populations, we show that the average amount of DNA shared IBD in most ethnolinguistically-defined populations, for example Native American groups, Finns and Ashkenazi Jews, differs from continentally-defined populations by several orders of magnitude.

The data table from the Henn study shows their measure of population mean pairwise IBD ranging from 1870 for the Surui, an indigenous Brazilian tribe of ~1100 individuals, to 54.3 for Orcadians (population ~22,000); 23.0 for Ashkenazi Jews; and 12.3 for Icelanders — compared to figures of 0.1 for continentally mixed populations such as the United States, France or the UK. These estimates can be calculated for sample populations as small as five, although 10 to 20 samples or more provide better accuracy.

Inbreeding can sometimes be demonstrated in a DNA sample from a single individual, by looking for IBD segments from maternal and paternal sources within the same gene. This measure is called ROH, or “Runs-of-Homozygosity”. McQuillan et al (2008) measured ROH in DNA samples from the North Orkney Islands and an island in Dalmatia, comparing them to continental populations from Scotland and Northern Europe (sampled in Utah). In the case of the Orkney samples, they were able to compile accurate genealogical data to directly calculate the degree of inbreeding, for comparison with ROH. They found that 28% to 30% of Orcadian and Dalmatian samples contained ROH’s greater than 10 megabits, while only 1% or 2% of continental samples contained ROH’s as long as that. However, it is not clear whether this method would detect intermediate degrees of inbreeding, such as Ashkenazi or Icelanders.

Of course, very high levels of inbreeding can also be detected directly by genealogical pedigree. Cecil Adams noted, for example, that Alfonso XIII of Spain (1886-1941) had only ten of the expected sixteen great-great-grandparents. The pedigrees of European nobility have to some extent been available in books such as Burke’s Peerage, and additional data of this type may be coming on line. The London School of Economics explained:

Newly available genealogical records are helping to provide insights into the lives the European nobility…

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ (LDS) practice of the baptising the dead by proxy has resulted in the church developing the largest genealogical library in the world.

These extensive historical records have been put together by the LDS Church to enable it to baptise all who have died without undergoing the rite. It believes, in doing so, that it gives the deceased the opportunity to enter the Kingdom of God.

Now this huge database is being digitised and made publicly available online, giving economic historians like Dr Neil Cummins of LSE’s Economic History Department access to genealogical ‘big data’ for the first time.

Describing the significance of the newly digitised information, he says: “Individual demographic data before 1538 in England is extremely rare – that’s the time of Henry VIII, Cromwell and the English reformation. Before that we only had scraps.”

Now the digitisation has allowed Dr Cummins to construct the family trees of European nobility – a group that has left behind abundant evidence about itself –  and analyse trends in how long they lived between 800 and 1800.

When he looked at the age of death of 121,524 nobles during this time period he found that their lifespans began increasing long before the Industrial Revolution, with a marked increase around 1400, when life expectancy went from around 50 to 55. After 1500, life spans seem to decline again until around 1650 when an uninterrupted rise begins.

This data, presumably, can also be reviewed to determine the degree of inbreeding that occurred during all that time, and the extent of social mobility in and out of the noble class. In many cases, it would be a straightforward matter to assess suspected or known modern-day oligarchs and “secret society” members to determine their connections into the European class of nobility as it existed in the year 1800.

Significant amounts of genealogical data for Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews may also be available for analysis from LDS records and other on-line sources, to complete the analysis.

Who were our ancestors?

Tim Urban said:

You can see why it’s not really that impressive when someone tells you they are descended from famous royalty who lived a few hundred years ago. Look how many people you’re descended from only about 300 years back! Within [those ~4000 people], there’s probably some royalty, in addition to some peasants, scholars, warriors, painters, prostitutes, murderers, lunatics, and any other kind of person who existed back then.

Cecil Adams similarly remarked:

Pedigree collapse explains why it’s so easy for professional genealogists to trace your lineage back to royalty — go far enough back and you’re related to everybody.

But, nevertheless: all of us are not alike in this regard. The indigenous Brazilian Surui are obviously not going to have any European royalty in their pedigree, no matter how far back you go. Most Americans and Europeans might have one or two noble ancestors among their thousands of peasant ancestors of 300 years ago. Of those thousands of ancestors, most of us can only trace a few if any, and know nothing about them, unless we are indeed able to find a royal.

But if the Eloi hypothesis is correct, members of that elite class would be able to look back 300 years or 1000 years, and might very possibly be able to fill in much of their ancestor cone with the names of illustrious individuals straight from the history books, each repeated many times in a web of ancestral paths.

Or if the situation is similar to the “Judaism Ascending” hypothesis, the ancestor cones of the elite would be full of repeated names of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews from the ghettos of Europe.

Race and Locality

Intuitively, Americans tend to define “race” in terms of a few visually salient properties of human beings, such as their skin color (black, yellow, red or white), facial features (broad, long or hooked nose, for example), hair color and texture, and so forth. Such concepts tend to correlate broadly with continental origin. Black-skinned folks are from Africa or Australia, yellow-skinned from Asia, red-skins from the Americas, and whites from Europe. Although Africans and native Australians both have dark skins, they are very different in other aspects. This results in a short list of five races based on the five continents.

An early 20th century view of the "Five Races of Man".
An early 20th century view of the “Five Races of Man”.

We might try to make this into a practical definition by applying fuzzy-set math. Supposing we design an instrument to measure skin color, another to measure nose shape by width and breadth, another to measure hair color, and so forth. Using these instruments, we would be able to characterize every individual on the planet in terms of these measurements. Next, we could assign a fuzzy score (from zero to one) for the similarity of each individual person, with some prototypical ideal of a typical individual from each of the five “races”.

Some individuals would receive a high score (near 1.0) in a single race category, and very low scores (near 0.0) in all other race categories. However, many other individuals would receive middling scores in several race categories. This might be because those individuals came from areas near cosmopolitan seaports, or because some of their ancestors had migrated from one global region to another.

Scientists from the Romantic era attempted such measurements and classification, using not only skin color and other readily distinguishable characteristics, but also craniometry and phrenology. Then they attempted to draw correlations with other measures such as “intelligence”, whatever that means. Unfortunately, any subtlety of scientific nuance was lost in jingoism with imperialist and/or colonialist agendas. And the entire efforts were generally used to help justify those Romantic agendas, revealing perhaps a hidden motivation for a particular outcome.

But from the fuzzy point of view, it is all right that many people don’t fit neatly into one or another of these continental racial categories. Also, while “intelligence” and other aspects of personal character  may be determined to some extent by genetic factors, “race” plays only a small and fuzzy role. Epigenetic and environmental factors are just as important if not more so.

The blogger Steve Sailer suggests that while race is a fuzzy concept, nevertheless it can be useful at a much finer-grained level than the five continental races. In support of his view, Sailer poses the following quiz:

Which of these four conflicts are between different races and which are merely clashes between some other kinds of groups?

1. President Mugabe`s black supporters vs. white farm-owners in Zimbabwe

2. Sudan`s civil war between the brown people in the North and the black people in the South

3. Rwanda`s civil war between the tall black Tutsis and the short black Hutus

4. The Troubles in Northern Ireland between Catholics (often red-headed) and Protestants (often red-headed).

And if you think you know the answer to which of these fights are between races and which are not, please try to explain to yourself why you drew the line where you did.

Contrary to Sailer, I would suggest that while the concept of “race” might make most sense for case 1 (black vs. white in Zimbabwe), the other conflicts are between what I would prefer to define as “ethnic groups”. An ethnic group would be any distinguishable subset of one of the larger continental races. Whether an ethnic group is defined by geographic, political or religious boundaries, all of these boundaries lead to a degree of inbreeding. This is the key genetic definition of an ethnic group.

There are a great many distinguishable ethnic groups on Earth, and the processes of history tend to alternately raise and lower the barriers between these groups.  Thus, those ethnic groups which are “neighbors” (either geographically or in some other shared history) tend to be relatively similar to each other; while those drawn from far-distant regions are more distinctive. When we compare, say, an ethnic group from Africa, against another from Northern Europe, the differences are undeniable. So, we feel comfortable with the conclusion that the groups are from different races as well as different ethnic groups. When it comes to Scotsmen and Irishmen (even including the effects of Viking and other invaders), the genetic boundary is far less clear, and so we consider that the difference is ethnic rather than racial. But again, the difference between “race” and “ethnic group” is a fuzzy concept.

America is essentially a “melting pot” of mixed ancestry going back many generations, so most or all local structure is probably lost, aside from the continental racial makeup: even today only about 5% of couplings in the USA are inter-racial. However, in Europe, it is still not that hard to find individuals who can say that all four of their grandparents were born within a few miles of their present place of residence.  People such as these living in the UK were the target of a recent study by Leslie et al. They found that the autosomal DNA samples from these individuals could be clustered into a fine structure of seventeen groups which corresponded to geographic locality with very few outliers, as shown in the figure below. The samples from southern / central England were more homogeneous over a broader area than any other region.



Similar techniques, of course, can readily be used to distinguish groups such as Ashkenazi or Sephardic Jews, not only as to their Jewish aspect, but also as to their particular European region of origin. Eran Elhaik (2012) was able to show that European Ashkenazi Jews, whose autosomal genetic signature has long been known, are more similar to Georgians and Armenians from the Caucasus and contain more recent DNA contributions from that region, compared to Palestinian populations. The European Jews are also related to Palestinians, but at a more ancient distance. Elhaik concludes that this supports the theory of a Khazarian sojourn for these European Jews.

While this result is historically interesting, for the purposes of this article it is mainly relevant to note that the technology is readily available to ascertain whether the DNA of any individual is strongly related to the European Ashkenazi Jewish population, or for that matter any other ethnic group located nationwide.


The Oligarchs are also a fuzzy set!

Based on most available objective criteria (political power, wealth, influence) the set of oligarchs blends smoothly into the set of merely important people, which in turn blends smoothly into the upper class, and from there into the middle class. Many secret societies exist, and in many cases we know something about the membership of these societies, but not necessarily who their core policymakers or beneficiaries are. Thus, there is no particular boundary unless there is some secret list of “names in the book of life” that is maintained in some secret library, but we are not going to get access to that library any time soon. Genetic and/or genealogical analysis may reveal a surprise, that there is some small set of people who are nearly as conscientiously inbred as the Surui tribe.

But what’s more likely is that some sort of fuzzy relationship will be revealed between the nobles of Europe, the Jews, and modern oligarchs; and that the historical hypotheses discussed above will be verified or falsified to some extent.

Discuss in forum!

Revision history: rev 1.0, 10/22/2014