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Humans Choose Friends With Similar DNA

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the nice-to-meet-you,-pardon-the-cheek-swab dept.

Biotech 204

KentuckyFC writes "The study of social networks has long shown that people tend to pick friends who are similar to them — birds of a feather stick together (PDF). Now a study of the genomes of almost 2000 Americans has found that those who are friends also share remarkable genetic similarities. 'Pairs of friends are, on average, as genetically similar to one another as fourth cousins,' the study concludes. By contrast, strangers share few genetic similarities. The result seems to confirm a 30-year-old theory that a person's genes causes them to seek out circumstances that are compatible with their phenotype. If that's the case, then people with similar genes should end up in similar environments and so be more likely to become friends."

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How dare you!? (4, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44777361)

How dare you insult my friends by comparing them to me!

Re:How dare you!? (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44777461)

How dare you insult my friends by comparing them to me!

I wouldn't have anyone like myself as a friend.

Re:How dare you!? (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44778069)

I wouldn't have anyone like myself as a friend.

So...I take it you're not on speaking terms with yourself? That must suck, seeing as you probably won't get rid of yourself any time soon.

XENOPHILIA! (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#44778205)

I'm stuck with this bastard, for now. Just wait til I die, though!

Seriously. My friends would not be very closely identified with each other - or me. Nor would my wife or children!

I believe that "genetic purity" is a code word for incest.

Predisposed (2)

BreakBad (2955249) | about a year ago | (#44777529)

Re:Predisposed (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#44778275)

"Hey babe, is this guy boring you? I'm from another planet!"

Re:How dare you!? (4, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44777817)

Or, as Groucho Marx once put it, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member."

Bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777365)

I've lived around the world and have a variety of friends. I'm assuming these 2000 individuals for the study were in environments that just happened to have similar genes around them.

Re:Bull (5, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | about a year ago | (#44777405)

No kidding. I'm thinking that the majority of people live, breed and die within a few hundred miles of where they were born and this goes on generation after generation. One would expect a certain homogeneity in the range of genes within that population.

Re:Bull (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44777599)

No kidding. I'm thinking that the majority of people live, breed and die within a few hundred miles of where they were born and this goes on generation after generation. One would expect a certain homogeneity in the range of genes within that population.

I live 2500+ miles from where I was born and some of my best enemies are humans.

Re: Bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44778157)

Their non-friends also live around them.

Re:Bull (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44778409)

No kidding. I'm thinking that the majority of people live, breed and die within a few hundred miles of where they were born and this goes on generation after generation. One would expect a certain homogeneity in the range of genes within that population.

So you're saying that *all* your neighbors are your friends?

Re:Bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44778483)

So you're saying that *all* your neighbors are your friends?

he's saying that your friends are likely selected from you neighbors. Seems reasonable to me... but where I live in California, there are very few families that have been here for more than a generation.

Re:Bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44778441)

> "No kidding. I'm thinking that the majority of people live, breed and die within a few hundred miles of where they were born and this goes on generation after generation. One would expect a certain homogeneity in the range of genes within that population."

This, so no need to have wasted their time & money on that study.
Also, another angle is MBTI (Personality Trait Type); people of a certain type typically prefer friends of a certain group of types.

Re:Bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777433)

I've lived around the world and have a variety of friends. I'm assuming these 2000 individuals for the study were in environments that just happened to have similar genes around them.

The researchers factored that in. It doesn't say how in the article and I wont' go to the study because I won't understand the statistical methods they used to do that, anyway.

Re:Bull (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44778059)

They did study a relatively cosy community [wikipedia.org] , which was predominantly white. They removed as many families and evidence of distantly-related friends as they could using the Manichaikul et al. 2010 kinship metric [nih.gov] , which has been cited 34 times (a fairly good number of hits for a two-year interval.)

The upshot of this study, in my opinion, is that the things that make people compatible friends happen to be reflected (to a degree) in certain markers in the genome. It doesn't necessarily indicate anything about race or relatedness, and you can probably predict that two people of radically different ethnicities may like each other as friends because of similarity simply due to the subset of markers that are important. It's a bit misleading of the authors to imply that this is somehow a pan-genome phenomenon when obviously there are plenty of things in the genome that could change without any detectable impact.

Re:Bull (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#44778239)

It sounds to me like they shot an arrow into the side of a barn, then drew a bulls-eye around it, afterwards.

Re:Bull (3, Interesting)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44778429)

The suspicion that part of social compatibility can be explained through superficial genetic traits has been explored before. The bibliography on page 21 of the totally free and unpaywalled arxiv PDF [arxiv.org] has a few citations that seem pretty similar.

That being said, I'm not so sure about some of their conclusions; they make it sound like there are purely mechanistic reasons why we seek out the friends we do. Consider the following:

The implications of the finding regarding homophily on genes related to linoleic acid metabolism are unclear. Linoleic acid is a precursor for substances involved in a broad range of important bodily processes (ranging from adipocyte function to bone formation to the regulation of gene expression) (42), and the component genes in the pathway are related to the metabolism of cholesterol, steroids, and various ingested substances, though it is intriguing that linoleic acid compounds might be used by moths as pheromones (43). Possibly, this pathway is related to the restrained consumption or the specific metabolism of various foodstuffs, traits for which homophily may be advantageous and heterophily self-injurious.

Personally, I think this is patently absurd and that there is no way this could influence personality or human behaviour. It seems to me to be more likely that the linoleic acid genes either have some wildly obscure indirect effect on personality that we can detect, or that they're simply inherited by chance with something that does.

It would have been wonderful if people here actually bothered to RTFA so we could argue about whether or not biochemically-inclined sociologists are out to destroy civilization by being too narrow-minded. On the plus side, this is a biology paper that was submitted to Arxiv, which means that it probably is having trouble getting into a major journal (i.e. it's very possibly being regarded as crap by journal editors due to its weird conclusions.)

AC, party of one (4, Informative)

Valdrax (32670) | about a year ago | (#44778191)

I've lived around the world and have a variety of friends.

Well neat. You alone must be a representative sample set of humanity that dwarfs this mere 1932 person sample group for statistical relevance. Thank goodness you know more about statistics than people doing a population study!

I'm assuming these 2000 individuals for the study were in environments that just happened to have similar genes around them.

Actually, if you read the study (OMG! I must be new here!), then you'll see that they address this point:

"There are (at least) four possible reasons that friends may exhibit homophily in their genotypes. First, correlation in genotypes may be a trivial by-product of the tendency of people to make friends with geographically proximate or ethnoracially similar individuals who also tend to share the same ancestry. Thus, it is important to use strict controls for population stratification in tests of genetic correlation (below, we rely on the widely used principal components method to control for ancestry). [...] Third, people may actively choose particular environments, and, in those environments, they may be more likely to encounter people with similar phenotypes influenced by specific genotypes. If people then choose friends from within these environments (even at random), it would tend to generate correlated genotypes."
[...]
"To eliminate the possibility that the results are influenced by people tending to make friends with distant relatives, we use only the 907 friend pairs where kinship â 0 (recall that kinship can be less than zero when unrelated individuals tend to have negatively correlated genotypes)." (ed: They do the same with 907 stranger pairs.)

In the end, they find that people prefer friends that share genes for the same sense of smell and the same linoleic acid metabolism. We also strongly prefer people with different genotypes for immune system function. While there are hundreds more homophilic and heterophilic gene correlations, those were the three that were most over-represented between people. There are many other genes that friends share, but most of those vary from pair to pair of people and are either idiosyncratic preferences or possibly just coincidences. Those three genes are not.

It's pretty well known that human select their lovers in part by smell. It's interesting that we pick our friends too that way. The paper gives a few good theories for why that's true (based on older research) and also does so for the immune system. The linoleic acid thing seems to have baffled them a bit, though they make a stab at explaining it as possibly being related to food safety and keeping the community on the same page about what's good to eat.

Say it with me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777381)

Raaaaciiiiiists!

(yes, yes, the supported hypothesis does not cleanly overlap with the concept of racism, but you know this'll be used as "proof" that white people are racist)

Re:Say it with me... (1)

tsprig (167046) | about a year ago | (#44777399)

... white people are racist

how dare you say white people are racist!

Re:Say it with me... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777693)

yeah, we prefer the term American Crackers!

Re:Say it with me... (4, Funny)

Holladon (1620389) | about a year ago | (#44777783)

... white people are racist

how dare you say white people are racist!

Indeed! This is quite possibly, without exaggeration, the single most cruel and inhumane thing you can do to another person. Accusing another person of racism is so low that, I daresay, it ought to be considered a hate crime! I know I certainly won't stand for being accused of racism. I am a white human being with dignity, and I deserve better than that!

Re:Say it with me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777455)

Or that they used a skewed sample of data.
Or bad conclusions. Similar people live in same areas and of course they have friends among their neighbours.

Straw man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777673)

you know this'll be used as "proof" that white people are racist)

Tell me something. Do you know what the term "Straw man" means?

Something tells me I won't get an answer. Or if I do, it will be some sort of lame joke that isn't really an answer.

Which Americans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777393)

Because if you're pooling data from the south, of course they are going to have similar DNA...nobody in the south has dissimilar genetic structure.

A tad obvious (0)

SlithyMagister (822218) | about a year ago | (#44777401)

All humans have "similar" DNA

Re:A tad obvious (2)

AtariEric (571910) | about a year ago | (#44777437)

This is why I don't have friends - I'm not human.

Re:A tad obvious (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44777567)

This is why I don't have friends - I'm not human.

What are you doing out?!? Get back in your cage!

Re:A tad obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777773)

Then the two of us should get along swimmingly.

Re:A tad obvious (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44777477)

Except they specifically say you have more in common than with a randomly selected stranger, so you're "obvious" point is completely contravened by the article.

Wow, that is obvious, if you don't think about it. (2)

Valdrax (32670) | about a year ago | (#44778443)

All humans have "similar" DNA

Wow, what an amazingly useless statement. Hey, scientists! SlithyMagister has declared that there is no point in describing genomics at a more fine-grained level than the species level. Field's closed -- everyone out!

Of course, the issue is the matter of degree of similarity. They found that friends were more similar than strangers, to the point that they were as similar as fourth cousins. That would be fascinating on its own, but they also found that friends were specifically more similar in two ways -- sense of smell and linoleic acid metabolism -- and specifically different in immune system function.

Similar areas? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777411)

Was there a control for geographically similar area? If you live in certain areas like Appalachia, everyone you know is probably a fourth cousin. So of course your friends would be related to you.

I think they've thought of that (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777613)

FTFA:

Perhaps the genetic links are simply a reflection of this common background.

Not so, say Christakis and Fowler. The correlation they have found exists only between friends but not between strangers. If this was a reflection of their common ancestry, then the genomes of strangers should be correlated just as strongly. “Pairs of (strictly unrelated) friends generally tend to be more genetically homophilic than pairs of strangers from the same population,” they point out.

But the FA goes on about the many many many questions raised.

This is one of those studies where our grandkids will have a better idea of what's going on.

I once heard on a TED talk that one should ignore all research on the brain in one's lifetime because it'll be most likely wrong.

I think genetics should fall into that category.

I work in a zoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777417)

Enough said.

hmm (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about a year ago | (#44777441)

Whatever the cause, the discovery that our friends are genetically similar to us has significant implications. “The subtle process of genetic sorting in human social relationships might have an important effect on a number of other biological and social processes,” say Christakis and Fowler.

For example, germs, viruses and even information may spread more (or less) easily amongst groups that share a particular genetic background.

So we evolved a tendency to monoculture, making us more vulnerable to disease? That would seem ... counterintuitive.

Re:hmm (2)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year ago | (#44777601)

There are often trade offs in adaptations. Sickle cell animia isn't great, but having part of those genes wards off malaria. More vulnerable to disease, but having people who are like us around might lead to more social benefit. Like if a father dies, another man might take over if the children are similar to him.

Re:hmm (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#44777827)

> So we evolved a tendency to monoculture, making us more vulnerable to disease?
> That would seem ... counterintuitive.

Not really, only if taken out of context and to the extreme. The relation between friends is states as about the same as a "fourth cousin". A fair amount of mixing happens even amongst the children of a single pair of parents with 2 copies of up to 4 possibilites being selected for each gene in each individual... fourth cousins is still enough room for quite a bit of diversity.

Think of it like plant or animal breeding. Breeders generally don't take two dissimilar phenotypes breed them once, and then take their progeny and look to whole new lines. They call those the F1 and then breed them back with another of their own type.

Is it really so surprizing that nature would have found the same trick for keeping some stability in the local gene pool? I mean, its hardly a case of "monoculture".

Re:hmm (1)

Valdrax (32670) | about a year ago | (#44778229)

So we evolved a tendency to monoculture, making us more vulnerable to disease? That would seem ... counterintuitive.

Actually, the study says the opposite. When it comes to immune system function, we strongly prefer people with different genes.

2000 Wyoming (or Montana, or Nebraska) citizens (3, Insightful)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about a year ago | (#44777465)

I find this study to be extremely flawed, not to say elitist / racist.

Yes, rednecks who listen to country music and drink cheap beer and whisky like to have friends who are also rednecks who listen to country music and drink cheap beer and whisky.

If the study had been conducted with 2000 subjects from culturally diverse places, like NY or Tokyo, I'm sure the results would've been a lot diferent.

I was going to post AC, but fuck it, I got karma to burn...

Re:2000 Wyoming (or Montana, or Nebraska) citizens (4, Interesting)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year ago | (#44777645)

I find your comment to be the same. Assuming that people in the city are more sophisticated than "rednecks who listen to country music and drink cheap beer and whisky"? How is that not an elitist comment? Cultural bubbles can also exist within large urban areas. This is how you end up with a Little Italy, China Town, etc sections in each large city. There are others not so visually apparent, I'm just picking on commonly known ones who's existence I wouldn't have to argue about.

Re:2000 Wyoming (or Montana, or Nebraska) citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44778303)

No, the people who live in "flyover" states are subhuman (if they have white skin) and are, by definition, racists republicans christians who should not be permitted to vote, speak, or, really, do much of anything.

Re:2000 Wyoming (or Montana, or Nebraska) citizens (5, Insightful)

cjc25 (1961486) | about a year ago | (#44777741)

I find this study to be extremely flawed, not to say elitist / racist.

Yes, people who fit a stereotype of those I dislike like to have friends who are similar.

If the study had been conducted with 2000 subjects from places with people like me, I'm sure the results would've been more comforting to me.

FTFY

Re:2000 Wyoming (or Montana, or Nebraska) citizens (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44777859)

The data is from Framingham, Massachusetts. Where did you see any mention of the Midwest?

Re:2000 Wyoming (or Montana, or Nebraska) citizens (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777927)

The data is from Framingham, Massachusetts. Where did you see any mention of the Midwest?

In his mind's eye, where only "rednecks who listen to country music and drink cheap beer and whisky" self-segregate, and of course the only place such people live are here in "flyover country."

Makes a person wonder if the people rodrigoandrade chooses to hang out with are also bigotted against white midwesterners... according to this study, the probability is closer to 1 than 0.

-- CanHasDIY, preservin' mods, yo.

Re:2000 Wyoming (or Montana, or Nebraska) citizens (1)

Holladon (1620389) | about a year ago | (#44778083)

If anything, your strong and borderline exclusive association of the (presumably, from your phrasing) morally-laudable characteristic of "diversity" with having the ability/means to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world is pretty damned elitist, I'd say.

Re:2000 Wyoming (or Montana, or Nebraska) citizens (1)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#44778151)

But race is such a small part of DNA. At my last job, I had a friend who was from India. We just clicked immediately, no idea why. I'd be interested to see if his DNA is more similar to mine than other people I know in California. This is how I took the study.

Most mammals are about ~95% EXACTLY THE SAME (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777489)

Real men fuck gila monsters.

Could it be something more basic? (5, Interesting)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about a year ago | (#44777493)

In a number of different memoirs from actors in the original Planet of the Apes, it was noted that people playing different types of apes always sat with each other at lunch. It was a bizarre granfalloon - baboons with baboons and orangs with orangs for no other reason than that they looked the same. And these were people that knew each other before the film.

People have a natural inclination to like people that look more like them whether it makes sense in modern society or not.

Re:Could it be something more basic? (2)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a year ago | (#44777543)

But everyone wants those fine slim asians.

Re:Could it be something more basic? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777963)

But everyone wants those fine slim asians.

Only because they never throw gingers. [southparkstudios.com]

Re:Could it be something more basic? (3, Interesting)

moteyalpha (1228680) | about a year ago | (#44777777)

That reflects something that I pondered. In terms of neural networks and the ability to recognize familiar things. The action of recognizing could be a composite of those people you have become familar with. In other words, a person could see someone and assign them for recognition by the similarity of their traits to others that are already impressed on their brain such that they would be 10 percent like my cousin, have a nose like my brother, walk ike my sister, etc. So in the same way that people communicate in the language they learn as a child, they can only recognize based on the visual clues that act as a type of hidden language of form, action, and appearance. People of similar genotypes would naturally have similar recognizable features and people who share culture would have the similar and understandle behavior and speech. I aree with some other poster that everybody shares similar DNA, it just depends on how similar you want to get since some genetic sequences are conserved across a vast range of genotypes / phenotypes and even extend to single cell organisms, I am certain that all organisms share most of the tRNA molecules and rRNA structure. So people like to be in familiar surroundings because it reduces the stress of dealing with unfamiliar environments.

Re:Could it be something more basic? (3, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#44778039)

Once saw a BBC program (I think) where they gave a group of people red and blue shirts. No explanation was given and no specific tasks where given that mentioned anything about red team or blue team. Still there groups formed.

It reminded me of many years ago when punk started. I asked a punker why he dressed the way he did. He started talki g about distancing himself from groupthink and how people in suits looked down on how he dressed instead of him as a person.
I (almost obviously) asked why all punkers dressed the same and why they looked down on people on the way they dressed he looked at me with a very puzzeld face and told me that was not the case.

People (even nerds) are social animals and will group together with those that pose the least threat. Or to those who will give them the best benefits to survive.

For people the way you dress shows you what you group is. People will know what that group thinks and even if as individuals you might disagree, on a group level, the differences are not that big.

Oh and ladies: if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it most likely will be treated as a duck.

Re:Could it be something more basic? (1)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#44778189)

And if you have ever seen "Hotel Rwanda", it appears that the Dutch can come in and start randomly classifying people and 50 years later they will go to war and start trying to genocide each other, even if they are from the same family.

Re:Could it be something more basic? (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | about a year ago | (#44778193)

Maybe it goes deeper than looks! That would really be cool.

So basically everybody is a little bit racist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777501)

This makes me sad

Re:So basically everybody is a little bit racist (1)

Rob Riggs (6418) | about a year ago | (#44778159)

I think I've heard that song [youtube.com] before.

except for the good friends that arent (1)

johnrpenner (40054) | about a year ago | (#44777553)

yeah, people like to live in a comfort zone — but i've found that some of the best friends come from right out of that comfort zone..

2cents
jp

A man needs a little madness, or else he never dares to cut the rope and be free.
(Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek)

Re:except for the good friends that arent (1)

Aguazul2 (2591049) | about a year ago | (#44777737)

yeah, people like to live in a comfort zone — but i've found that some of the best friends come from right out of that comfort zone..

What about people who have a mix of genes from all over? Does that explain the wide genetic diversity amongst my friends, and how I like to hang out in diverse places with not much racism?

What is described here seems rather incestuous, like "all my friends are clones of me", like a bunch of Greys. I guess there are some people like that.

Re:except for the good friends that arent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44778007)

I'm the same way... I have a lot of diverse friends.. Japanese, Palestinian, Chinese, Russian, Canadian, Brazilian, South Korean, hell even Texan.. and those are just the closest of the group. Not sure how the study works out for me....

Re:except for the good friends that arent (2)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#44778199)

But since race is only about 1% of DNA, you could be like them in many other ways.

Re:except for the good friends that arent (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44778301)

I dont get how everyone on here keeps making the equation: genetics = race. Thats not what this is about.

I'm an engineer. Since I was a kid, I've loved to take things apart and put them back together. The closest friends I have in life are all from different parts of the world but they tend to be like me in that they also grew up taking things apart and putting them back together. So whatever gene-grouping is responsible for that behavior is probably shared by my friends from India, Russia and Sweden.

Genetics != race

It's normal. (4, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year ago | (#44777591)

After all, many friends fuck their friends' wives, so after a couple of generations, they are all a happy family.

Re:It's normal. (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44777895)

They controlled for that:

To eliminate the possibility that the results are influenced by people tending to make friends with distant relatives, we use only the 907 friend pairs where kinship <= 0 (recall that kinship can be less than zero whe n unrelated individuals tend to have negatively correlated genotypes). This procedure ensures that pairs of friends in the GWAS are not actually biologically related at all.

Re:It's normal. (1)

TrollheartBlue (2944865) | about a year ago | (#44778065)

After all, many friends fuck their friends' wives, so after a couple of generations, they are all a happy family.

Is there something you would like to talk about?

Fourth cousins? (3, Interesting)

Tony Isaac (1301187) | about a year ago | (#44777603)

If there are only six degrees of separation between you and just about everybody on earth, the classification "fourth cousin" probably covers a large part of the earth's population!

Re:Fourth cousins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777805)

No, it doesn't. Join 23andMe (a whole genome scanning* service) and you'll see. Fourth cousins are actually only a tiny fraction of the people in the database. Most of the people genetically near you are on the order of fifth or sixth cousins.

* Scanning != sequencing. They scan your whole genome for SNPs. It's cool the way you can download a million SNPs in a compressed text file and grep through it.

Re:Fourth cousins? (3, Informative)

alternativity (1617769) | about a year ago | (#44777931)

Not really. The idea of six degrees of separation is based on acquaintance and not on genetic relations. E.g. think of China under the one child policy, if it continues, then each passing generation will lose a subsequent degree of cousins. The first cousins would disappear first, then second, third, fourth and so on, but six degrees of separation will still apply to them.

Re:Fourth cousins? (2)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#44778163)

You have a many more social connections than genetic connections. You only have two parents, being a fourth cousin means you share a great-great-great-grandfather and you have at most 2^5 = 32 of them or less if they've interbred. The world fertility rate is now on average 2.36 children, it'll be a rough approximation but each great-great-great-grandfather will have approximately 2.36^5 = ~73 descendants. That's ~32*~73 = ~2336 fourth cousins ignoring any overlap. Of course you'll have other close relatives that'll also fall within that sphere, but we're still talking about a tiny fraction of the total population.

Re:Fourth cousins? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | about a year ago | (#44778249)

Back in my college Medieval History class, our instructor explained to us that the "Speak now, or forever hold your peace" line in wedding ceremonies has its roots in a Catholic church prohibition at the time which disallowed marriages between sixth cousins or closer. If you knew that the couple were more closely related than that, then you piped up right there and put the kibosh on the arrangement.

But nearly everyone in England at that point was at least that closely related to each other, so the prohibition was generally ignored.

Re:Fourth cousins? (1)

Tony Isaac (1301187) | about a year ago | (#44778253)

I should have figured that everybody (in this crows) would jump on the technical distinction between "degrees of separation" and biological cousins. Well, DUH! I guess i need to spell it out. The point was, we all have an awful lot of fourth cousins!

Has this been corrected for other factors... (1)

Lendrick (314723) | about a year ago | (#44777619)

... such as birthplace and race?

Race alone would account for a huge genetic difference, and people tend to be friends with people of their own race for all sorts of reasons that can be easily explained through psychology and sociology. You're also more likely to be at least distantly related to people who live in the same area as you do.

Re:Has this been corrected for other factors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777863)

From a quick read of the paper, it doesn't look like it got corrected for anything. The effect is probably a combination of these factors more than anything we didn't already know. It's just on arxiv and doesn't yet seem to have been peer reviewed, so maybe they will adjust for those factors and still find something interesting, but I'd be skeptical until they do.

Yes it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777865)

...has. Try reading the second paragraph of the paper.

Re:Has this been corrected for other factors... (3, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44777935)

Almost all of the participants in the dataset were Americans of European descent. They controlled for the possibility of distant relatedness as aggressively as they could, which is a well-understood requirement of many GWAS experiments.

Genome Based Social Network/Dating Services (2)

wrackspurt (3028771) | about a year ago | (#44777629)

Slashdot just ran a story on universal genome sequencing at birth [slashdot.org] . How long before your prom date is set up before you're home from the maternity ward.

Choice of circumstance? (4, Interesting)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#44777705)

I'm reminded of the Better Off Ted episode Get Happy [tvrage.com]

Linda suggests that Veridian let its employees have decorations in their company. Veronica agrees, but the company selects the decorations and assigns them to the employees. Linda discovers that she's suddenly a cat person, while other employees have cars, Green Bay Packers, or space decorations.

... Linda bonds with her fellow cat employees who start obsessing about cats... At lunch, Linda decides to talk with the outer space employees. They think they're too smart for her, and the cat employees see her as a traitor... Later, Linda discovers that the cat people have destroyed her cat decorations.

"Veridian Dynamics. Teamwork. It keeps our employees gruntled."

it's worse than being friendzoned (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777819)

I keep getting familyzoned!

So which is it? (1)

Daetrin (576516) | about a year ago | (#44777825)

Do my asian friends not exist? Or am i not human? Or are asians and white people far more closely related on a genetic level than i've previously been led to believe?

Re:So which is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44777991)

Do my asian friends not exist? Or am i not human? Or are asians and white people far more closely related on a genetic level than i've previously been led to believe?

Or are you only think about the surface differences; the obvious ones?

There's a hell of a lot more to a person than their race, you know.

-- CanHasDIY

Re:So which is it? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44778095)

Or maybe you're not the only human in the world, and other people - both individually and on average - are different to you. Did you ever consider that?

Re:So which is it? (1)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#44778235)

Why does everyone think this is about race? That's only like 1% of the way you could be similar to someone else.

Re:So which is it? (1)

Daetrin (576516) | about a year ago | (#44778491)

Actually it's probably somewhere between 5% and 15%, depending on which study you go with. [wikipedia.org]

However along with other outward physical traits those are the genetic differences we can judge just by seeing, and if we assume that the rest of the genetics are fairly evenly distributed it's going to be a pretty significant bias. Without doing a genetic test i can make a reasonable argument that statistically my asian friends are more likely to be more genetically different from me than my white friends.

I suppose it's possible that this study is true and my genetic sixth sense has cleverly sorted my friends so the ones that look different on the outside are more similar on the inside, while the ones who look the same on the outside are much more different on the inside, but i'd definitely want to see some more studies and theories about the phenomenon before i'd believe that.

Culture matters as well (1)

dhaen (892570) | about a year ago | (#44778329)

Amusingly I found that in Tokyo bars (in friendship terms) I had more in common with the locals than with caucasian Americans with whom I share the same European ancestry.

Nevertheless I am broadly drawn towards females who are similar to me. Those who look most dissimilar do not rate on my "wish to procreate with" list.

For the article's hypothesis to work, it's the second point that matters most. It means that the people who are born around you will be more like you and so are there for available friendship.

Not everyone is like me, and I'm glad of that. The more diverse the gene pool, the stronger the specie.

Re:So which is it? (1)

Valdrax (32670) | about a year ago | (#44778339)

Or are asians and white people far more closely related on a genetic level than i've previously been led to believe?

Actually, yes. There is far more human genetic diversity within the continent of African than in all the areas where human who migrated out of Africa settled. [wikipedia.org] The further away from Africa you get (in terms of prehistoric migration), the less genetic diversity there is.

Most of what people focus on in defining the "races" is superficial traits mostly distinguished by appearance. Beneath the surface, there's a lot more commonality, and there's a lot less variation in areas further removed from Africa.

All that said, the genetic sample base they used was the Framingham Heart Study, which overwhelmingly dealt with white, European-descended people from the same city. This has potential biases to the sample set, which they acknowledge and address where possible.

Let's see (1)

kilodelta (843627) | about a year ago | (#44777847)

I have only a few close friends. They're mixed races and ethnicity, so I'm obviously not going by phenotype. I think a lot of it is the demographics of the group more so than DNA.

More eugenics propaganda! (2)

s.petry (762400) | about a year ago | (#44777925)

Nothing to see here, move along.

I'm sure that a few will claim "no, you are just anti-science" or some such but lets check a simple fact. 2000 genes were used in this study. What percentage of the human genome is this? Not only would this mean that "correlation == causation", but that correlation of 8.024e-6 (yes, that is a very small number) is the "normal".

Re:More eugenics propaganda! (1)

starless (60879) | about a year ago | (#44778383)

2000 genes were used in this study. What percentage of the human genome is this?

"A 2012 analysis of the human genome based on in vitro gene expression in multiple cell lines identified 20,687 protein-coding genes."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_genome [wikipedia.org]

Say it ain't so!!! (1)

cookYourDog (3030961) | about a year ago | (#44777967)

Something that counters the unproven merits of diversity?! No! Actually, this study would probably be valuable in determining why levels of trust are higher in homogenous societies - Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam published a book that detailed this. That is, if this study isn't de-funded for politically incorrect results.

We're All Racist as Shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44778011)

By the definition of racism shoved at us, this means we're all racist. I embrace it.

This explains why I have no friends... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44778093)

NT

No way she is my fourth cousin. (1)

mynameiskhan (2689067) | about a year ago | (#44778181)

Can I marry her or not? PS: Does the article talk about friends of opposite sex?

That explains a lot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44778271)

This would explain why I'm only friends with caucasians and hate niggers and Indians...

Interesting...

U.S. people, not (necessarily all other) humans. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44778309)

The study was made in the U.S. which is a highly segregated society, I bet that introduces some bias.

Re:U.S. people, not (necessarily all other) humans (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44778427)

Damn right we're segregated!

In the US in the past couple weeks:
Black kids kill Australian man
Black kids kill white U.S. War Veteran
Black woman tries to kill an EIGHT year old white boy but he fended her off
etc

So, WHY the hell would I (a caucasian) want to be friends with or even be NEAR a nigger?

Re:U.S. people, not (necessarily all other) humans (1)

cookYourDog (3030961) | about a year ago | (#44778473)

What country isn't "segregated"? From Sweden to Singapore, ethnic groups have created their own communities. Gated neighborhoods aren't an American-only thing, either. You'll have to explain your reasoning further.

Double fail! (2)

taikedz (2782065) | about a year ago | (#44778335)

This study fails on two counts: Americans are statistical outliers; the conclusion is fallacious due to poor understanding of causality.

For those for whom this is TL;DR -- Americans are the worst possible population to base any form of human study on (let alone a flawed study) - ref Solomon Asch's conclusion. The short summary @ neuroecology [wordpress.com] ; the longer discussion @ pacific standard [psmag.com] .

Among Westerners, the data showed that Americans were often the most unusual, leading the researchers to conclude that “American participants are exceptional even within the unusual population of Westerners—outliers among outliers.”

But try this little thought experiment: take some random Anyville, USA. How much have they travelled, how diverse is their population? How do populations move? How many are going to marry from the same town, as did their parents and grandparents, and how many are going to have children and grandchildren doing the same? And even if the population started out with diversity, you can lather, rinse, repeat the marriage/procreation suds and end up with a genetically similar pool of people - the town itself holds massively similar people on average.

Those of us who are more footloose and have moved around further are still statistical anomalies, insomuch as we often hail from outside of these wells of similarity. That is not to say that since we're so different, we cannot make friends with those whose families are long time residents, nor does it exclude the idea of having a multicultural community of extremely different people, DNA-wise.

But at its core, the fault of this study is basic: a textbook example of correlation-causation fallacy.

Potentially explains my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44778389)

One of my parents is adopted and the other known to the adopted parent but not revealed to me.
As such, my "family history" is an unknown.
I've always liked italian food.
I've always had a fondness for redheads and was lucky enough to marry one.
After my first child was born, and a redhead, thus revealing that I was a carrier of the MC1R gene, it was revealed to me by my adopted parent that my other parent was in fact a redheaded full blooded italian.
I've always said that it must be my genetics that made me this way.

Forever alone (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44778493)

So what they're saying is that my DNA is particularly unique?

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