This is the official website for the recently released biohistory book by Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending, The 10,000 Year Explosion.  Here is where you can buy the book, read outtakes and related things, peruse reviews and reactions, and learn a little more about the research and thought that went into this release. Below are links to each chapter summary and related content:



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Reader Comments (18)

I have a question with regards to the IQ of Ashkennazi Jews. Your books presents the case that their increased intelligence is a result of a genetic change that also makes them more susceptible to certain degenerative diseases such as Tay Sachs and the like. Is this suggestive of an upper limit to IQ in biology? If so, this suggests that the transhumanist fantasies of arbitrarily increasing human IQ to, say, 250 are nothing but, well, fantasies.

What is your thoughts on this?

January 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKurt Schoedel

The Cultural Diversity page in Deleted Scenes is exceptional, I hope what's in the book is as good.

February 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTod

Although politically incorrect the explanation for historical trends in this book, when combined with the explanation in "Guns, Germs, and Steel" seems most compelling.

An explanation that explains past history and present events should not be ignored, although I am afraid it will be.

February 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Smyth

Instead of 'Cortes led 600 men to beat 60,000 Aztecs'?

Try, 'Cortes' 30 horsemen served as couriers and general staff to coordinate 500 Spanish crossbowmen and 10,000 local foot archers to beat disconnected Aztec forces totallying 60,000. '

Seems like less of a stretch. Doesn't it?

My 2 cents. Based on reading Bartholomew Diaz twenty years ago, so if you guys did your homework and found different, okay.

February 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbruce

Re. Cad-domestic males :-

The analogy with helpers-at-the-nest among birds is obvious.

As you describe them such men will, in most cases not really try to father children, and rarely do so. Helpers at the nest alter strategy in time to pursue their own reproductive success I think. Is there is a meaningful parallel?

March 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTod

did you consider the next information previous to the edition of your book? If not what would be the meaning on your thesis and hypothesys as a whole?

A Complete Neandertal Mitochondrial Genome Sequence Determined by High-Throughput Sequencing

8 August 2008

A complete mitochondrial (mt) genome sequence was reconstructed from a 38,000 year-old Neandertal individual with 8341 mtDNA sequences identified among 4.8 Gb of DNA generated from 0.3 g of bone. Analysis of the assembled sequence unequivocally establishes that the Neandertal mtDNA falls outside the variation of extant human mtDNAs, and allows an estimate of the divergence date between the two mtDNA lineages of 660,000 140,000 years. Of the 13 proteins encoded in the mtDNA, subunit 2of cytochrome c oxidase of the mitochondrial electron transport chain has experienced the largest number of amino acid substitutions in human ancestors since the separation from Neandertals. There is evidence that purifying selection in the Neandertal mtDNA was reduced compared with other primate lineages, suggesting that the effective population size of Neandertals was small

and this is the link

May 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlucas

Jared Diamond's brilliant book, "Guns Germs and Steel" brings us to the conclusion that human culture developed along the lines of agriculture and trade routes, leaving some cultures and peole isolated -- and therefore culturally backword. He adamanatly makes a point of arguing that all humans are the same despite his own evidence to the contrary. Clearly this is not the case, and I finished his book wondering what the effect of concentrating people of higher intelect would have on the population. As human population grew larger and social complexity developed, societies stratified so that higher social castes (higher intellegence) only mated within their caste. I believe that this trend has been radically accelerated by the trend in the last century to concentrate the brightest people in elite universities, where they find mates. I think The 10,000Year Explosion fills in the gaps that Guns, Germs and Steel tried to ignore.

June 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGary

Excellent interview with Greg Cochran here.

November 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChen

Credulous Apes

Humans were not thrown out of Eden; they walked upright out of it. The last 10,000 years have been a story of the descent from freedom to slavery.

What makes you think that humans are intelligent? Could it be creativity? --

Child prostitution
State Capitalism

Humans have paid a very high price for living in so-called advanced cultures for the last 6,000 years. Many were long-lived "hydraulic" despotisms -- see Karl Wittfogel and Marvin Harris. Most inhabitants have been ill-fed, ignorant peasants and slaves ruled by rich elite, priest, and god-king.

You overestimate the value of intelligence. In humans it is diseased.

the anti_supernaturalist

December 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteranti_supernaturalist

The authors have been as thorough in 'The 10,000 Year Explosion' as a common and garden audience might allow, making it eminently readable for most of us. I live in East Africa and am fascinated, after reading these hypotheses, about the evolution of the African people in general and the Bantu in particular after the exodus from Africa by the 'Modern' homo sapiens 40,000 years or so ago.
As proposed by the authors, evolution carries on and is accelerating to this day. Have the African regions benefited from their own form of evolutionary acceleration, especially after the tumultuous admixtures of the various tribes over the past 3 or 400 years? This may be grist for another mill - an African sequel perhaps?

February 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn de Ronde

Extraordinary weaknesses in that book. Are they this weak, or do they hope that the reader will be ignorant/stupid (my favourite hypothesis) ?
Four points.
1. They exclude specifically from Ashkenazi Jews the Sephardic Jews (right). Bur Sephardic Jews are over-achievers : how do they explain that ? They even do not consider the problem... That says much to the nullity to which their argument can go down.
2. ''The oldest agriculture is in a people, the most tame and clever the genes are in that people''. So the Kurds (living in the territory which is at the origin of the agriculture in the Fertile Crescent, without ever a big invasion (they adopted an Indo-European language but very probably without significative genetic flow)) and those of the the Egyptians who are without black blood should be the cleverest and tamest people in the World...
3. How is it that IQ of Gulf of Guinea black Agriculturalists is so inferior to the one of hunter-gatherer Amerindians ? Agriculture doesn't seem to improve so much the IQ of a population...
4. "No-significant genetic flow from Europe among Berbers, but blue eyes among them come from Europeans (Vandals, probably)". So, blue eyes must give an adaptative advantage, thinks the reader. They do not dare to propose the advantage given... So, thinks the reader, it must be associated with a gene that gives an advantage. They do not evoke the question...

There are some very interesting things in that book, but the most interesting thesis - agriculture has spread the genes of cleverness an tameness in the agriculturalist populations -, is not at all proven, to say the least : a vague assertion that rich men had more surviving offspring than non rich ones (''proven'' by only one reference to an article in a Journal, and not the sligntest cross-examination (so, in the muslim world and Black Africa, people should be specially clever... In Europe, which is more or less the only significant place in the world where monogamy is immemorial, people should be specially stupid...).

A pity, in that book, the mixture of interesting hypothesises (I especially appreciated the Indo-European expansion theory) and of pseudo-arguments good fot the simplest of men...

September 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfrançois pagès

I quoted this book in response to article on passivity of the Irish reaction to economic crisis. I'm not sure if it is relevant or not.
Reading the "10,000 year explosion" book about accelerated human evolution since agriculture started. There is whole chapter on the braininess of the Ashkenazi Jews after 1000 years of no marriage outside their group and nearly all working in moneylending / lawyer work for that whole period. This has resulted in a selection over 60 generations towards the more successful people at these jobs - resulting in an average higher IQ and exposure to particular illnesses among other traits. The Irish "experiment" is actually largely similar. Approximately 900 years of fairly isolated existence and nearly everybody working in similar job [farming] and almost no marriage outside the group. Farming does not particularly advantage innovative people [your ideas get quickly copied so there is not much advantage] but there is advantage in taking things on the chin, abstaining from eating seeds when most hungry, and random ideas will tend to fail and those people die out. Being a leader probably was problematic too... there is little upside to a rebellion [they all failed so people with those genes died out too]. I don't mean to be negative - it was just a strinkingly similar story to the Jewish one. At the same time, story telling was thriving for hundreds of years - and so that side of the mind is extremely well developed - hence the 4 Irish nobel literature prizes + joyce and the 23% of nobel prizes to the 7 million Ashkenazi Jews. In the extreme cases (as you have to be extreme for Nobel prize), the real differences show up. In non extreme cases there are all kinds of overlaps. It doesn't explain the whole thing, as people say in comments it is extremely complex... but might have played a part.

February 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSimon O'Callaghan

The 10,000 Explosion is a valuable supplement, and partial rebuttal of Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond.

Diamond argues that there are no significant intelligence differences between the races, and that Caucasians owe their superior civilizations to a number of lucky breaks: it just so happened that plants and animals that are easy to cultivate lived in areas where Caucasians lived ten thousand years ago. Moreover by pure chance, areas inhabited by Caucasians were richer in natural resources. Diamond presents a plausible explanation of why civilization began where it did. He overlooks the fact that once civilization began, it had different population pressures than a paleolithic existence.

Hunting does favor intelligence, or humans everywhere would not be as more intelligent than chimpanzees than we are. Nevertheless, civilization places an even higher premium on superior intelligence. Throughout history those who were able to master literacy, mathematics, and more than one language were likely to become successful merchants, government officials, artists, and so on. They lived better lives than manual workers, and had more children who survived and reproduced.

I do not believe that cold climates contributed significantly to the superior IQs of Caucasians and East Asians. Neanderthals lived in Europe during several ice ages. We know from remains of their camp sites that they were significantly less intelligent than the Cro Magnons who displaced them, and became our ancestors.

I also do not believe that the tendency of well educated women to have fewer children will reverse the evolution toward higher intelligence. Our economy is evolving in ways that require a superior intellect to earn a reasonably good income. Those with double digit IQs are much less likely to have descendants 10,000 years from now than those with professional degrees from elite universities.

March 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterted

The 10,000 Year Explosion explains the evolution of racial differences that are documented in The Bell Curve. Blacks owe their low test scores and felony convictions to the fact that they more recently emerged from the stone age. Qualities that enhanced one's survival value in the African jungle earn one a prison sentence in a civilized country, or perhaps a date with the executioner.

April 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack

I have a question with regards to the IQ of Ashkennazi Jews. Your books presents the case that their increased intelligence is a result of a genetic change that also makes them more susceptible to certain degenerative diseases such as Tay Sachs and the like. Is this suggestive of an upper limit to IQ in biology? If so, this suggests that the transhumanist fantasies of arbitrarily increasing human IQ to, say, 250 are nothing but, well, fantasies.

What is your thoughts on this?

- Kurt Schoedel


Ashkenazic Jews gained as many as 15 IQ points in less than a thousand years. The need to evolve so quickly caused them to pick up some dangerous genes. A more gradual evolution would have given them the time to acquire benign genes, while excluding the dangerous ones.

The only upper limit on IQ that is can see is that brain size, and hence head size, increases with IQ. This makes child birth more difficult. Two hundred years ago a high percentage of Caucasian and East Asian women died in childbirth. If the average IQ continues the growth that has always been the signature characteristic of human evolution natural childbirth may become impossible.

May 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack

I'm having a few problems with this book. It is not very academically rigorous in regards to some massive yet throw away comments. For example, the authors hypothesise Europeans had a ‘cultural explosion', unlike Australian Aboriginals, because of the infusion Neanderthal genes. The evidence for this ‘explosion’ is not sited (Caves art in the South of France?). I assume the proof, or lack thereof for the Aboriginals, is archaeological. But most historians and pre historians understand that the absence of archaeological evidence is not proof of anything.
Anyway, there’s plenty of evidence of Aboriginal culture, at 40,000BC. Plus, the ‘Abos’ were either early gardeners in Papua New Guinea, or they are closely related – which is an important point if you are arguing genetics and links to agriculture.

The high rate of deaths caused by warfare among hunter-gatherers. Some recent historical evidence in Central America (and not sited by the authors, evidence among Swedish hunter-gatherer remains - all being young and healthy) is surely not enough proof to label every hunter-gatherer tribe as chronically dangerous for the young and fit. Anyway, only some men are killed. The women are still in the gene pool.
But there is also evidence of high rates of warfare in pre-industrial Iron Age societies, be they in Celtic Britain or Agricultural Africa. This is because any over crowding encourages fatal competition. It’s just that hunter gatherers are less likely to have pandemics. They are not more likely to have a fight than for example their violent painted Pictish descendants.

Another example is the issue regarding higher blood pressure in African Amercians versus Europeans - presumeably ones also in the US and not from the West of Scotland.
Africans are more genetically diverse than the rest of us. African Americans can only be an even more diverse group. In fact they are a strange group to try and attempt genetic arguments. But the logic that non-Africans lost high blood pressure on the Ethiopian Highlands is even more flawed because people tend to die of high blood pressure after they have had children. Therefore it will not affect evolution. For a book about evolution, this is a strange omission. But the point is, the high blood pressure gene can lapse. It doesn’t need to be a disadvantage per se to disappear.

I haven’t finished the book yet, and I’m not writing it off yet. Lactose intolerance/tolerance is interesting. But I’m beginning to feel quite annoyed that I spent £10 on it. The last ‘throw away’ words I read related to wasted development efforts for South America because of the later introduction of agriculture to that region. The massive infusion of Iberian genetic material, as historically and genetically proven, is ignored even though the original devastating Amerindian susceptibility to European disease that left such a large space for European migration and interbreeding is a good argument about genetics fitness.

I bought the book because I am interest in the effects of civilization on our genome. If the frying pan has made so much difference to our intestines, what has our recent culture done for our brains? But what I get instead is a book that lacks the rigorous research to lend credibility to any argument it makes. In fact the some of the statements it does make seem to have more to do with bitter narrow mindedness than any truths based on research. I am no bleeding heart liberal, but this book is not enlightened pop science either.

Matthew Williams, Edinburgh, Scotland Oct 11.

October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Williams

Hello there, I am an anthropology major at U.C. Davis. I have yet to read your book as i just now read its summary. I must comment that i have brought this argument up and been shot down by every single Anthropology professor that I have every had. Thousands of years of natural selection and breeding on a large scale alone would allow for exponential rates of evolution. Not to mention the widespread mixing of races that has taken place due to the efficiency of transportation systems within the last 100 years. I am very pleased to hear that there is a population within the anthropological community that agrees with this theory.

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Bohen

"The 10,000 Year Explosion" explains the evolution of racial differences documented by Professor J. Philippe Rushton in his "RACE, EVOLUTION,
AND BEHAVIOR." Others, such as Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray, and Arthur Jensen have documented the same differences.

Professor Rushton points out that Orientals (mainly the people of China, Korea, and Japan) tend to have higher IQ's and lower rates of crime and illegitimacy than whites, who tend to have higher IQ's and lower rates of crime and illegitimacy than Negroes. He asserts that these differences are genetic.

However, Professor Rushton's explanation of how these differences evolved is not convincing. He attributes the different evolution of whites and Orientals to living in a cold climate. Nevertheless, Neanderthals lived in Europe for several hundred thousand years during several ice ages. They were still less intelligent than the Cro Magnons who displaced them about 30,000 years ago. The ancestors of the Cro Magnons had much more recently lived in the hot climate of Africa.

Professors Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending argue that agriculture required the ability to plan for the future, and to defer gratification. We know that when blacks and whites earn the same incomes, whites tend to save more money.

Urban civilization places a higher premium on superior intelligence, because more intelligent parents tend to be more prosperous. Thus they tend to have more descendants. During most of history prosperous people were more prolific than poor people. Poor people had higher death rates from starvation, malnutrition and disease.

Also, governments of urban civilizations have historically reduced aggressiveness by killing rebels and executing criminals.

Peter Frost explains this in his essay, "The Roman State and Genetic Pacification."

Caucasians began agriculture in the Fertile Crescent ten thousand years ago. Orientals began agriculture in what is now China about a thousand years later. Caucasians began civilization in Egypt and what is now Iraq five thousand years ago. Civilization began in what is now China about a thousand years later.

Although the Nubians and the Ethiopians had urban civilizations over two thousand years ago, the ancestors of most Negroes, and American Negroes never developed indigenous civilizations, and only began agriculture about three thousand years ago.

"The 10,000 Year Explosion" does not explain why Orientals tend to be more civilized than white Gentiles. That can be explained in ways that are consistent with the central thrust of the argument.

Once civilization began in the Far East, the area never experienced a Dark Age comparable to what happened in Europe following the fall of the Western Roman Empire.Intelligent peasant boys in China passed the imperial exams and entered the scholar gentry where they were expected to have several wives, and many children. Intelligent peasant boys in Europe were attracted to the Roman Catholic clergy, where they were forbidden to have any children at all.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Engelman

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