"Pedigree collapse" due to inbreeding

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Niccolo and Donkey
" Pedigree collapse" due to inbreeding

iSteve Blog

Steve Sailer

March 17, 2006

"Pedigree collapse" due to inbreeding -- Genealogists use the term "pedigree collapse" (coined by Robert C. Gunderson) to signify the phenomenon that if you go back enough generations in your family tree, the number of unique individuals is less than the number of slots due to inbreeding so ancestors end up doing double duty as redundant forebears. The number of unique individuals per generation in your family tree forms roughly a diamond shape, expanding for a number of generations into the past, then collapsing the farther back you go.

The term "pedigree collapse" almost never ever comes up in discussions of race because American intellectuals don't grasp that race should be thought about in genealogical terms, but it's useful for understanding how racial groups are formed and fade away.

If you go back to ancestors alive 4,000 years ago, say, George W. Bush might indeed by descended by 1 path from n!Xao, a Bushman in the Kalahari, but he'd also be descended from Owen, a farmer in Essex, by 800,000,000 different paths. Add them all up and it's reasonable to say that George W. Bush is a lot more British than Bushman. Nobody actually doubts that, but when people like Steve Olson start talking about genealogy, they quickly get bogged down in essentially symbolic thinking, in which having one ancestor from ethnic group X is somehow just as important as having many millions from ethnic group Y.

Here's an interesting description of pedigree collapse from John Becker :

Alex Shoumatoff''s 1985 book A Mountain of Names introduced Gunderson's concept of pedigree collapse to a broader public. Shoumatoff quotes prominent anthropologist Robin Fox (co-author with the similarly animalistically-named anthropologist Lionel Tiger):