Brainy Ashkenazim Get Diseases
A new study through the University of Utah has found a link between the incidence of genetic disease among Ashkenazi Jews and the fact that we are just so darn clever. The theory seems to suggest that the medieval European restrictions on Jews that forced them into “intellectually demanding” commerical sectors, thus creating a natural selection situation in which their descendents were both smarter than average and also carriers of specific genetic diseases. According to Haaretz, the report suggests that
The restrictions imposed on Jews in medieval Europe led to the spread of genetic mutations that enhanced intellectual ability. These mutations are also responsible for four genetic diseases characteristic of Ashkenazi Jews, including Tay-Sachs and the Niemann-Pick and Gaucher syndromes, the study says.
It fascinates me that nobody thought to mention a connection between genetic disease and, say, 1000-ish years of strict endogamy among a very small population. Do we get to thank the medieval bigots for making us so smart? Clearly this is a response to oppression, not, say, a long and glorious textual tradition and a high value on learning or anything like that. Whatever. This Ashkenazit is not compelled, but she does look forward to reading the University of Utah’s next study, on why African-Americans are such great dancers.
Full story here.