Misleading Genetic Distance Claim

July 22, 2020

Raveane et al. (2019) show that genes mirror geography, but then they make a misleading claim implying that genetic distances (Fst) within Italy are as great as those "across the whole of Europe". To Nordicists who wrongly believe that only their corner of Europe is "fully European" and the others are "mixed", that kind of distance perpetuates the myth of racial differences between Northern and Southern Italians.

But we already know that all Italians cluster between Spaniards and Greeks, which would make "across Southern Europe" a more accurate statement. So what exactly are the authors talking about?

They base their claim on the finding that the median Fst between all of their Italian clusters is 0.0044, which is about the same as the median Fst between all of the European clusters (excluding outlier Finns), and higher than within any of the other countries examined (0.0001 to 0.002). They say that they got similar results after also excluding outlier Sardinians and Basques, but don't show the data.

However, they're still including the Northern Italian clusters from the small regions bordering France, Austria and Slovenia that have many outliers as well, which increases the genetic distances. If you just compare typical Northern Italians (from Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto) to deep Southern Italians (from Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily), Fst between them ranges from 0.001 to 0.0054, with a median of just 0.0024, and an average of 0.0029.

That's not too much higher than the maximum distances within the other examined countries, and it's a lot lower than truly cross-Europe Fst, which ranges from 0.005 to 0.011 between Iberia and Eastern Europe (med. 0.008, avg. 0.0077), and from 0.004 to 0.008 between Greece and Northern Europe (med. 0.005, avg. 0.0055).

It also happens to be the same as the Fst between Southwest (Spain) and Southeast (Greece) Europe (0.002 to 0.003, med. 0.003, avg. 0.0029), which is itself lower than the Fst between Northwest (Britain) and Northeast (Baltic) Europe (0.003 to 0.007, med. 0.005, avg. 0.0049).

[NOTE: The highest in their data is 0.02 between Finns and Basques, both of which I excluded from all the above calculations, along with other outliers like Orcadians and Mordovians.]

So even though genetic distances in Italy are somewhat high for a single country, they're not as extreme as implied, and they don't represent any kind of "racial" or other significant difference, but merely a normal cline that's entirely within Southern Europe and likely related to the ancient spread of Indo-European languages.

19 comments

Sarah Nikas said...

While I agree that the genetic distances in italy are greatly overexaggerated, I don't find it logical to exclude populations like friuliani or ladini from being a part of the italian genetic base. From what I've read in the few studies on such people, they are in fact genetically diverged from many of their surrounding populations due to extreme isolation, however they are also ultimately derived from italian populations and as a result are genetically closest to larger regional italian populations such as venetians.

FlyingDiscus said...

I've discored your blog a while ago and find it interesting, but you have an attitude that I think is kind of counterproductive and even pointless. By that that I mean: I see your articles talking about genetic differences with geograohy, IQ, pigmentation, height etc. And it can be perceived and felt while reading thesse articles that there is this constant underlying comparisson to some kind of external standard of what is considered to be good genetic, IQ, pigmentation, height etc. There is a certain striving for the standard that is, to put it bluntly, a little sad.

I know the point of the blog: "An underlying aim will be to refute falsehoods about Italians spread by Afrocentrists, Nordicists and Northern Italian supremacists, as well as the misinformation that these falsehoods have given rise to elsewhere in society, including among a subset of Italians obsessed with current notions of "whiteness"". But many articles, such as ""Dark" and "Swarthy" Italians Are Still Light" seem to be defensive and the very title takes it as a given that being light is good, and dark, bad, and goes on to defend italians from such "slanderous" accusations like it means anything. The underlying sentiment is something like "No, no, italians are not dark they are light and good just like you (supposed nordicist or whoever), please accept us and stop thinking we are bad."

And this is sad because, in intellectual terms, none of these physical differences matter when it comes to actually being a good people and doing something worthwhile. And in terms of morale, it kind of puts italians down and puts other people up by trying to be like them and accepting whaterver they have as good by default. And, really puts us below the dumbest of those people that would actually care about superficial things. To put playfully, if you came to Julius Caesar concernedabout some barbarian saying that italians are ugly and bad, he would respond: "If they are that stupid, they are just going to learn the hard way what really matters."

And if you read De Bello Gallico, they did.

Sarah Nikas said...

Reducing what italianthro is saying to "light good/dark bad" void of conext is rather slanderous in of itself. I appreciate his content greatly because it dispells slander such as those who claim italian to resemble arabs or north africans. Objectively italians are relatively light skinned and while perhaps not the fairest people in europe are still quite fair and entirely european looking. We have no desire to look like the lump sum average of nords or arabs and its insulting to us for people to say we should be "happy with being dark skinned" because sans some sort of deep tanning, we simply aren't.

Italiantho is writing simply to evidence and prove that italians are an accomplished european population and that is all - not some sort of low IQ arabs/moors like detractors claim.

"And this is sad because, in intellectual terms, none of these physical differences matter when it comes to actually being a good people and doing something worthwhile."

Well phenotypes are obviously strongly associated with regional genetics and genetics heavily influence aspects such as character traits and intellect so I wouldn't say that's true. Your average black african is not going to have the same IQ as your average light skinned englishman and this is just a statistical reality. Detractors can claim environment causes this, but the same is true when you analyze populations living in the same conditions, such as white vs black americans or white vs black south africans.

Now in terms of moral decency and free agency, that's a totally seperate question than one based in intelligence and accomplishment and not really relevent to the scope of the blog.

"And in terms of morale, it kind of puts italians down and puts other people up by trying to be like them and accepting whaterver they have as good by default."

Not sure where you're getting this from. Italianthro/racial reality has only described accurately what italians look like and what they've accomplished. If you fashion Italians as dark or black skinned then I think your beliefs as to what we look like are badly warped by a combination of jewish hollywood media, nordicists and afrocentricists. A light olive complexion is really about as dark as it gets without any tan and in reality most italians are fair. Only exception I've seen are people who've been badly sunburnt.

FlyingDiscus said...

I wasn't trying to reduce the content of this blog to that, but I do think there's this underlying sentiment that we're striving for a standard and defending ourselves against the very people who set it for us, which just gives them more credit. Of course I don't think it's overt in the writing of the articles, it's just a small but perceptible sentiment. I agree that the content in and of itself is quite interesting too.

I think what I'm trying to say is: Who cares about some guy who thinks we're moors? What if we were? Would that be even that bad? The only thing that matters is how we accomplished we are, not how we look or some minor personality difference. As far as I can tell, those arbitrary sterotypes exist mostly in the US, which isn't gonna be relevant forever. In other countries, such as that other big country with lots of italian imigration, those very concepts are totally alien.

On top of all that, in other places in the internet, I've seen people putting down southern europeans in general for actually defending themselves. One expressed a sentiment like: "Southern europeans are always scrambling to defend themselves whenever you criticize their countries, they are very collectivist and care about what others say of them instead of actually fixing their problems." So, you see, it's damned if do and dmned if you don't. And what's really happening is that all these detractors are just wanting to feel smug about themselves, which isn't very impressive or superior, and we shouldn't fall for that. It's a stupid fight.

Other than that, I agree with what said about IQ, phenotypes, accomplishments and the rest. I just think we should put our mental energy on things that really make a difference, not worry about nordicists and afrocentricists, they are just idiots in the internet. And "nosy" hollywood, well that's a rabbit hole I think should be avoided, just don't let it affect you and you shoulb be fine, plus, who cares about what happens in the US? It's one country, and every empire falls, just like Rome. If you actually live there, why not return to the homeland and help build it up again?

Also not saying this blog should stop or anything! I like it,just sharing my view on what is we should be caring about.

Palermo Trapani said...

As an American whose family immigrated from Sicily (1890-1903), I understand the context of this post. In the USA, pretty much from start, but definitely in the Post Civil War period to the Immigration act of 1922 which specifically was put in place to stop the large number of immigrants from Italy, Balkans, and Eastern Europe (Polish Catholics and Eastern European Jews), Racial/Ethnic categories are a product of 2 central themes, 1) Nordic-ism broadly defined and 2) English/Scottish/Anglo-Saxon culture as it relates to politics, norms and religion, which in this case is tied to the Protestant Church of England and Scottish Reformed Presbyterianism.

The "WASP" notion of American designations about race and ethnicity is related to Nordicism relative to what is the "Standard by which all European phenotypes are to be defined" but also WASP culture. So in that context, the WASP would see Scandinavians and say Central Europeans from say Northern France and Germany, etc as being part of the "standard of European phenotypes, they would not be tied to the Culture and religion of the British Isles (those savage Vikings from the North, those Germanic tribes always fighting, etc) everything is defined relative to "WASP" in the USA.

Hence Italians being on average having phenotypes that are more Mediterranean European, to me the most lovely women on the planet, and this is also part of the package, being tied to Papist Rome (those Catholics), and believe me this historically was part of it as well, there was this within European ethnic groups, the 1) WASP, 2) Scandinavian and other Central European Protestants (Lutherans, Reformed Congregationalist), and 3) ethnic groups that were part of the lets say Catholic groups, these would include yes Italians, but also Irish, Polish, peoples from the Balkans who were Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox and then 4) Eastern European Jewish groups.

Then of course non European ethnic groups would be well treated according to what the broader WASP power structure wanted relative which is not directly related to this thread.

So my response has always been I don't need to be defined relative to Northern Scandinavian Europeans, I am not Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish or Danish, nor I am I a WASP from England, Scotland or Wales, etc.

So I define me as an American of Italian ancestry. All the DNA analysis I have done supports this. My Ancestry test an autosomal test measuring I guess who you are closest to tday, 97% Italian 3% Middle East, the chart on my Italian report is Dark Yellow from Sicily up to what pretty much Umbria. On NAT GENO, a test trying to measure ancient DNA from 500 to 10,000 years ago, 71% Italic, 14% West-Med (Sardinian/Corsican), then 7% NW Europe and 8% Asia Minor, which ranges from Northern Levant to Caucus region (so broad measure there).

I uploaded my DNA to DNA.land and it is consistent with NATGENO (100% West Eurasian). Using MyTrueAncestry site, of the 127 ancient Romans in the Antonio et al 2019 paper, DEEP dive chroma analysis indicates I have DNA matches with 33 of those samples, Otzi the Iceman is a DEEP dive match (I am 59% higher than all matches to Otzi) and I share DNA matches with 6 of the Ancient Greeks in the Lazaridis et al 2017 study. My distances under 5 from MyTrueancestry are as follows

Ancient Greek + Roman (3.268)
Hellenic Roman + Roman (3.806)
Ancient Greek + Hellenic Roman (4.592)
Hellenic Roman + Thracian (4.796)

So at this point in my life, I am now in my 50's, I don't get into the gutter with the Trolls. I just post Genetic analysis results, as I did here, and tell them go to vahadou genetics and run there own DNA vs the Ancient Romans and Greeks. Then I wait, never to see them again. So I am European, yes, don't need the Northern Nordics or the British Isle WASP to tell me that, but I am a Southern European and yes genetically in continuity with the ancient Romans and Greeks, which deep, waayyyyyy way down (to borrow from Led Zepplin) ticks them off.

FlyingDiscus said...

Right...

Sarah Nikas said...

"but I do think there's this underlying sentiment that we're striving for a standard and defending ourselves against the very people who set it for us, which just gives them more credit."

Not sure how that gives them more credit. Passive silence which is interpreted as complacency and compliance is what gives them credit and implicit acceptance. It's those who don't publish data like this or speak out that become the problem.

"Who cares about some guy who thinks we're moors? What if we were? Would that be even that bad? The only thing that matters is how we accomplished we are, not how we look or some minor personality difference."

So, perhaps you're in the wrong place because some of us actually care about our ethnic identity and are proud to be of Italian heritage. I care when someone calls me a moor because I'm not one - not racially, not culturally, not religiously or linguistically. Italianthro is free to correct me if I'm wrong but my guess is that this blog is written by and for those of us who are proud of our heritage and background, not those of us who couldn't care less about identity, wish to live in a post racial world, and think nothing else matters but accomplishment. Sure, it's good to be accomplished but discovering a new element is not my identity - not by itself at least.

Btw, if you want to look at human accomplishment in terms of macro population groups a pretty thorough analysis was done on that by Charles Murray in "Human Accomplishment". North africans, and most populations of nonwestern stock, excluding ashkenazi jews, did not do so hot - meanwhile Italians placed as the 4th most accomplished population in Europe and did significantly better than those behind them (including all nordic proper populations).

"On top of all that, in other places in the internet, I've seen people putting down southern europeans in general for actually defending themselves."

Yes what a horrible crime we've committed. Seriously, if people are so unfathomably pathetic and weak that they claim defense of one's own identity as some sort of evil or vice then let them flounder in their own ineptitude. Maybe that's why Italians score among the highest in nationalistic attitudes while other countries praise their own replacement. The goal is not to appeal to people like this, the goal is to factually disprove slander to their detriment. If you want to play by their rules then you will of course, always lose, always be mocked and never be allowed to speak against it.

Sarah Nikas said...

"I just think we should put our mental energy on things that really make a difference, not worry about nordicists and afrocentricists, they are just idiots in the internet. And "nosy" hollywood, well that's a rabbit hole I think should be avoided, just don't let it affect you and you shoulb be fine, plus, who cares about what happens in the US? It's one country, and every empire falls, just like Rome. If you actually live there, why not return to the homeland and help build it up again?"

So, I think people have different aptitudes and talents. Someone like italianthro undoubtably does a great service in his ability to gather statistical data and do some of his own unbiased analysis on phenotypical averages. I don't think anyone is saying Italians need to stop innovating or accomplishing to focus solely on combatting slander. But I am 100% glad people like italianthro exist because not enough people stand up to it or are researched enough to reject the falsehoods attributed to us. Many are even gullible enough to believe them without any further investigation - which is really the saddest case. I've a hard time empathizing with someone who thinks they're an arab solely because a noridicist or hollywood movie told them so.

As for caring about what happens in the US, it wouldn't be such an issue if the US media didn't affect other countries to such a drastic extent. This is another sad reality to be quite frank. Whatever garbage airs on american television and movies invetibally finds its way across the world. And much of it, like "true romance" spreads these myths about italians being moors - others will just say there's no such thing as an italian race or ethnicity and therefore Italians have no right to maintain their border. It's aimed total corruption of our ancient 2700+ year old identity and nothing more. These are attacks and sadly few are willing to stand up and refute them.

The reality is our ethnicity/race has existed genetically since the iron age and our identity as italians has been acknowledged since the ancient greeks discovered the peninsula.

Sarah Nikas said...

Also, in regards to "returning to the homeland", I plan to and am actually working on it. Unlike a lot of the italian diaspora I don't have a mixed ethnic background. Truthfully the biggest barrier so far has been finances and language and I am working on both of those at a steady pace.

FlyingDiscus said...

"Passive silence which is interpreted as complacency and compliance is what gives them credit and implicit acceptance."

In my opinion, responding and not responding has the same effect, with the difference that the latter is less stressful. So we just disagree on this point.

"So, perhaps you're in the wrong place..."

Well, I do care about all that. I just think that we have to avoid the tendency to simply use ancestry as an excuse to stroke our own egos, while there are real problems to be solved, which would actually make us feel and be better. That ego stroking is basically what internet nordicists and others do, using other peoples as stepladders. People brag about accomplishments of others when, in fact, having a great ancestry doesn't make anyone better, being better, by living up to it, does. Feeling proud is good and all, but can be a crutch tha distracts from what matters in the moment. Of course, we can be accomplished in many ways.

"Btw, if you want to look at human accomplishment..."

Thanks for the reccomendation. I knew that that book existed and the gist of it, but never read it. When I read about this, I can't shake the feeling that it has been a historical coincidence of some kind. Maybe something like in the book Guns, Germs and Steel, maybe something else, but there are so many 'just so' stories that I don't think we can conclude anything relevant from that information about which peoples produce more accomplishment.

"So, I think people have different aptitudes and talents..."

Yeah, I can agree with this paragraph and the next. But I think that, in the face of people and the media saying and believing falsehoods, we should always focus mainly inshielding our minds, know the truth and spread it as we can in our families and communities, though actions and behaviors.

"Also, in regards to "returning to the homeland"..."

That's good to hear, birds of a feather flock together, and each country needs its best birds in these trying times (and which times aren't trying?). Maybe I'll do that some day as well.

Italianthro said...

@Sarah Nikas

There are well known recent non-Italian influences in the fringe regions near the border. Fiorito et al. (2016) give ethnic French admixture as the reason why their Aosta samples are outliers that don't cluster with core Northern Italians. And the same goes for ethnic German and ethnic Slavic influences in Trentino and Friuli.

Palermo Trapani said...

Sarah: I agree with what you wrote. As I noted, the American media and entertainment does have an impact on the world news cycle and even more so, the notions of what is the standard of Europeaness was largely a product of American WASP culture as I noted. I also agree Italiananthro's blog is a great service and is important to refute the pseudo science nonsense regardless of where it comes from, Northern European Nordicist, Black American Afro-centrist, Arab-Muslim apologist, etc that somehow modern Europe, Spain in particular, owes its civilization to the time they ruled it, or ruled part of Iberia for almost 800 years.

My point was rather than argue with those types of Trolls I noted above, I just post the DNA research and when they say anything back, which most of the time they run in silence, I just tell them well why don't you tell me your academic credentials and then go write your own paper and get it published and refute the papers that I linked. So at that point, the remaining trolls retreat and I hear no more from them

Marko Lavic said...

I am of Croatian descent, and I find resources like this blog (and Racial Reality) invaluable. I will not have my ancestry detracted by Nordicist fools. Falsehoods that are frankly embarrassing at this point continue to be peddled with impunity online and offline, both by the ignorant and by individuals with vested interests.

This is not about accepting the standards of others. This is about truth and maintaining our own standards. I am a European. My ancestors have been Europeans for thousands of years. I am not a Turk, and the Balkans are not populated with swarthy, low-IQ swindlers. I do not care to be Northern European, nor to be accepted as such. The mere suggestion is laughable. I do, however, care about disparaging statements about my people and culture based on tenuous arguments.

Nordicists (and, to a lesser extent, Afrocentrists) promote myths to glorify themselves at the expense of others. I despise Southern Europeans who simply accept such assertions at face value and denigrate their own genetic legacies. How pathetic!

The only way to stop the nonsense is to combat it with facts and reason, and to the detriment of Northern European supremacists. Let their laughter get stuck in their throats. The scientific evidence has piled up over the past two decades, and none of it supports Nordicist fantasies.

Onur Dincer said...

@Marko Lavic

Indeed, this whole concept of lumping together all the Southern Europeans on a genetic basis is silly to begin with as they do not even all genetically cluster together. Peoples like the Croatians, Slovenians, Bosniaks and Serbs, for instance, cluster with the French rather than with the other the Southern Europeans. As for the Turks, even the Turks of the Balkans cluster in the Balkans rather than Anatolia. So much for the Nordicist backbiting on the Balkans (the Balkans is a misleading term created by August Zeune, a German geographer, based on his mistaken belief that the Balkan Mountains stretch from the Black Sea to the Adriatic).

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9n4j3PQ81RcU0FkYXhLSl9UeVU/view?usp=sharing

Palermo Trapani said...

Onur:

But France itself as a North to South Cline as well, the French in the Southern half of France cluster closer with Northern Italians and Iberians

Kilinc et al 2016 is a paper that has a really nice plot with Ancient Anatolian Neolithic EEF farmers and modern populations. You can see the Southern European Cluster here and Southern French clearly plotting in the Southern European Cluster with Spaniards the most Northern in the Southern Cluster, then Italians from North, Central, South-Sicily in that same cluster. Albanians and Greeks in the Southern European Cluster as ell. Croatians as you note or in the Cluster close to French as you say but not that far from Italian North (proxied for in this study with sample from Bergamo, Lombardy). Those other populations were not plotted in this paper's PCA.


https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(16)30850-8

Marko Lavic said...

@Onur Dincer

Yes, Turks are often portrayed as completely alien "Arabs," when in reality many western Turks are clearly part of the Mediterranean genetic continuum. Whatever genetic overlap exists between people of the Balkans and Anatolian Turks is most likely due to gene flow from ancient migrations.

I do find it a little hard to believe that Croatians cluster with the French instead of other Southern Europeans, given geographic proximity and historical records of migration. Granted, Southeastern Europeans constitute their own distinct genetic cluster. Palermo Trapani is correct. Croatians are not very distant from Northern Italians.

Onur Dincer said...

@Marko and Palermo

The French of course have a genetic cline, but so do the Western Balkan Slavs. Just as there is a north-south genetic cline from Northern France to Southern France, there is a north-south genetic cline from Slovenia and Croatia to Serbia and Montenegro. Overall, the French and the Western Balkan Slavs have similar levels of Northern European affinity.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qxwfOqG-e-ZW883Em72T9wp_HzvYKKs6/view?usp=sharing

Of note, the Greeks in this analysis are Balkan Greeks while the Turks are Anatolian Turks.

The situation in the Balkans is easily explained by the fact that the Balkans in general has more Proto-Slavic ancestry than Iberia and Italy have Proto-Germanic ancestry, which is clear not just from the autosomes but also from the haplogroups.

Italianthro said...

Kushniarevich et al. (2015) has the most samples for Balkan/South Slavic groups. They don't really cluster with the French but between West/East Slavs and Greeks just like you'd expect (look at Figure 2A).

Onur Dincer said...

@Italianthro

You are right. But bear in mind that I used the verb "cluster" in a relative sense. My point was that the Western Balkan Slavs and the French have similar levels of Northern European and Southern European affinities albeit varying in a north to south cline within themselves. They cluster on PCAs that do not reflect the Western and Eastern European differences (as in my first link) and align on PC1 on PCAs that reflect the Western and Eastern European differences (as in my second link and your link). The Western Balkans Slavs and the French have similar levels of Anatolia Neolithic ancestry with a correlation between their north to south clines, but they differ in their EMBA steppe/WHG ratio reflecting the Eastern and Western European differences there:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gLbvAKiJS9QdVpd-X3_DWxm17WG6rYDM/view?usp=sharing