The new face of Air India (UPDATE)

There’s something awkward about Air India trying to be hip, sort of like the uncle with the hennaed hair who knows all of the hottest club dance moves. The last time I flew Air India, I was on a 30 year old used Korean plane with an Italian flight crew and Indian flight attendants. Homey, yes. Fashionable and cutting-edge? Hardly.

So when I saw the images from Air India’s award-winning new campaign, I was a bit taken aback. I was used to the fusty maharaja, retro in a very unhip way, a character that was probably dated from its very inception. What was I to make of this mixed race family, desi female sitting openly in her white husband’s lap? (There’s another shot with a desi man, a white woman and a hadesi child)

The Maharaja was from an era of arranged marriages, when nobody spoke of dating, let alone across the colour line. I’ll bet he never looked once at a non-desi air hostess, no matter how flirtatious.

The new Air India, on the other hand, simply says “look, we’re just happy that you’re married and that you’ve given us a gorgeous grandkid! Now please visit more often.” (Yes, the campaign was created in India) It’s not really stylish, but it is most definitely contemporary. Maybe AI isn’t so dated after all. Now if only they could do something about their service, I’d really sit up and take notice.

UPDATE A few comments (thanks El Nino and Rishi ) have argued that these ads were designed just to win awards and haven’t (and wont) actually be used. People also pointed out that the idea is a straight lift from an earlier (proposed?) Air France campaign.

130 thoughts on “The new face of Air India (UPDATE)

  1. idea is a straight lift from an earlier (proposed?) Air France campaign.

    Old mooli, the Air France campaign is not as … uh… wholesome and feelgood so wont characterize this as a lift. the Air france touts its service to japan as being so convenient that a traveling man can live separate lives in each country. the air india ad would never air in india. it wouldnt make sense – the target market would be the persons of indian origin with relatives back in the desh-pind.

    oof. i feel so geeque. time for a chai and parle biskit with gulucose.

  2. They SHOULD run these ads. Just so that Uncle and Aunty back in the desh see what happens when they send their precious son or daughter abroad to study … or something.

    And did you just call my (unborn, not even a Snickers bar in her/his dad’s back pocket) kid a hadesi? I’ll have to remember that.

  3. has anyone else flown air ukraine or aeroflot back to the pind. it’s a totally desi experience. the service sucks, but it’s very cosy. everyone’s nosy, booze is shared, cheese is cut – and my accent slips into something much more comfortable. between you and me, i cant stand the yuppies with their ipods and diaper bags. let the tatti rags pile on the floor man.

  4. well LinZi, it has something to do with the facts of advertising and having been involved with the media for decades. They use models. The guy in the picture has been more than one woman’s husband in more than one ad, so he’s either a polygamist who has exposed himself to a possible felony charge as soon as he lands in New York, or he is a Muslim, left the sordidness of western decadence, and lives in India and has a rainbow harm. As far as comparing the models to MJ’s munchkins and his surrogate wombs and probably surrogate sperms, well, desis dark or light have a different genetic profile than African Americans. As markers for race go, color is one of the more superficial. Color is the squeaky wheel that gets the attention. Nature never fails to deliver surprises that defy laws of generality, but she usually parcels them out sparingly.

  5. errata: “… and lives in India and has a rainbow harm.” not really– I mean “harem.”

  6. “I’ve known kids who are the offspring of white and indian and they look completely indian – meaning their hair is black, their eyes are black and they happen to have a darker skin tone.”

    Well, my husband has completely Indian cousins with green eyes and lighter skin. It’s not inconceivable (heh, no pun intended) that a mixed couple could have a pretty light baby. I don’t think it seems like a stretch for those couples in the ads to be real couples with their own kids.

  7. “well LinZi, it has something to do with the facts of advertising and having been involved with the media for decades. They use models. The guy in the picture has been more than one woman’s husband in more than one ad, so he’s either a polygamist who has exposed himself to a possible felony charge as soon as he lands in New York, or he is a Muslim, left the sordidness of western decadence, and lives in India and has a rainbow harm.”

    I thought the re-used husband was in the Air France ads… not ALL media people use models.. sometimes they like ‘regular’ looking people and hence audition a lot of normal couples and choose appealing ones from among them.

  8. It’s not inconceivable (heh, no pun intended)

    :) I don’t think it seems like a stretch for those couples in the ads to be real couples with their own kids.

    absolutely! those children could be desis or a mix of white and south asian, as far as I can tell from the kids. I was just saying that I’ve seen mixes where the kids have darker skin and their mom is blond (dark skin and white skin desi mixes do not necessarily end up with light skin, that was my only point), and of course I’ve seen desi/white mixes where the desi is dark-skinned and their children have very light skin.

  9. “absolutely! those children could be desis or a mix of white and south asian, as far as I can tell from the kids. I was just saying that I’ve seen mixes where the kids have darker skin and their mom is blond (dark skin and white skin desi mixes do not necessarily end up with light skin, that was my only point), and of course I’ve seen desi/white mixes where the desi is dark-skinned and their children have very light skin.”

    Indeed. I think they is a wide variety of variation.. because just like any other genetic information, hair, eye, skin tone, facial features are inherited and there can be a wide variation between siblings as well. I’m sure you have seen families where one child is lighter/darkers than the other, or where one has very curly hair and the other has wavy or striaght… same goes for skin tone… If you think that each parents carries potential for a wide variety of skin tones, then mixes with a wide variety of someone else’s skin tones.. the results could be rather different… especially because I think skin tone is not quite as driven by one set of genetic markers like eye color for example, hence much more variable. (Brown eye trait is dominant, so if a brown and blued eyed person had children, If the brown eyed person has one recessive gene for blue eyes, then the child has 75% chance of having brown eyes, 25% chance of having blue eyes. If two brown eyed people each had a recessive gene for blue eyes, then same thing (hence it is possible for two brown eyed people to rarely have a blue eyed child) Of course, if one partner has ONLY two brown-eyed genes, then all the kids will have brown eyes.)

  10. sorry again for all my typos… I never seem to notice them until have I press the post button. grr.

  11. I always wanted to fly AI but their tickets were always so expensive. Never got to. Not in all these years. Maybe next time.

  12. Just clicked on the link. The Desi dude is very cute. He is unfortunately the kind of Indian man that would have low self-esteem due to the dark brown tone of his skin. Depite having attractive facial features (and nice heart shaped lips) he would be considered un-desirable simply because he is dark chocolate. Now, picture the same guy with Hrithik Roshan skin tone and all Desi aunties will say he is handsome.

    But in my world, the blacker the berry…. the sweeter the juice!!!

  13. He is unfortunately the kind of Indian man that would have low self-esteem due to the dark brown tone of his skin.

    well I call bs; coming from the south, most dark-skinned Indian men I’ve known have had a very high self-esteem – to the point of being arrogant. Yeah, dark and light skin, as far as beauty is a touchstone, but it’s not the only touchstone. I’ve said this before, and this is my experience coming from the south, but features are pretty important too. Also being a guy, I’d say he’d have not problem getting any girl he wanted…as long as he’s the ses that the parents crave.

  14. Ennis, the desi uncle has ALWAYS looked at non-desi(white) air hostesses and other women. It is a rite of passage almost to flirt, befriend, sleep and if he can manage marry a white woman. Every single desi man, to this day and across religion, caste, and every socio-economic marker i can think of, wants to sleep with a white woman.

    From my experience the opposite is true. Indian guys will be more likely to either be looking specifically for Indian girls or be open to dating them.

    I have yet to meet an Indian dude, even the Gori-fetishists among us, who would categorically say “I don’t date Indian girls” the way many females will say of men.

  15. hmmm. Thinking about adopted kids and family likenesses for some reason. Sorry about the tangent, but I’ve grown up with inter-racial adoptees. Adoptive parents are well intentioned, but kids from India, China, Guatemala, who have grown up in white American homes end up wondering about their origins and go looking. Even if there is no difference in race or nationality, adopted kids will want to know the other dimension.

    Adopted kids hunt down biological parents for medical information, for example. Modern medicine gives increasing weight to heredity in health matters. Also, as adopted kids get ready to produce their own kids, they want to know more about the probabilities. So if the MJ kids don’t already know their biological parents, (and I suspect the older ones do) they will find out not too long from now. I’ve been joking a little bit. Of course the models in the picture COULD be representing an actual couple and that the child is theirs not that much of a stretch. I read somewhere that desi’s have one less gene for melanin than black Africans. Nice dark hair & eyes, pale olive skin, a bambi look–yeah, could be. But if they showed this couple with 3 kids that looked like this — and one of them being blond…well–that’d be a stretch. Three dark and lovely kids? Less of stretch. 3 kids of an “in-between” color? Bingo. Most likely scenario. Law of averages. I think in America, even fob sometimes, nobody thinks anybody is “average.” We all think we transcend all that and anything is possible. It is. It’s just not likely. I guess it was the assumption that these two people in this ad are real people. They aren’t. They are an ad-man’s imagination writ large and imposed on us all. It was, “ok people, I don’t need your names. Stand over there and relax. You get 20,000 euros for several hours of grueling photo shoots and pretending to be in a state of connubial bliss. By the way, we’ll have to change the kid several times or the child labor laws will come down on us so we have several in reserve. Look traditional and cosmopolitan. Hold that smile for the next 3 hours.” There is something about advertising that absolutely drives me nuts.

  16. I think in America, even fob sometimes, nobody thinks anybody is “average.” We all think we transcend all that and anything is possible. It is. It’s just not likely.

    Actually, most people aren’t average. The ugly truth is a lot of people are above but just as many people are below and that’s the harsh reality people are uncomfortable about acknowledging.

    But trying to make policies or dispense advise that target only the “average” person thinking it’s the most broadly applicable is, in fact, only going to be relevant to people within a very small range of the population distribution.

  17. But if they showed this couple with 3 kids that looked like this — and one of them being blond…well–that’d be a stretch. Three dark and lovely kids? Less of stretch. 3 kids of an “in-between” color? Bingo. Most likely scenario. Law of averages.

    Meet the Rainbow Family.

  18. I think the ads are great. What’s refreshing about them is that the Indians shown are not the usual light-skinned, Indo-Aryan Hrithik-Aishwarya phenotypes favored by the Indian media.

    On a more narrow and technical point, AI never operated 30-year old Korean Air hand-me downs. They briefly operated leased Korean Air Boeing 747-400s, between 2001 and 2005, an aircraft type that first went into service in 1989. Those aircraft were in no worse condition than your average U.S. registered aircraft (Korean Air does a good job maintaining its aircraft interiors). On the other hand, I’ve flown Air India’s own Boeing 747-400s that were purchased brand new in the 1990s, which were filthy and tatty on the inside (even in Business Class). So, maybe the writer’s talking about those. Those aircraft are all being retired or being put on their “labor” routes to Saudi Arabia, routes where even the competition, Saudi Arabian Airlines, puts its tattiest planes (sadly).

    In any case, I’ve recently flown Air India’s brand new Boeing 777s (a JFK-Mumbai nonstop), and the experience was fantastic. Brand new planes, excellent leg room, on-time, state of the art personal inflight entertainment. Air India’s aunties and uncles waddling down the aisles seemed happier with the new planes, and provided great service overall. The new planes are the airline’s Boeing 777LRs (ultra long range aircraft used on US-India nonstops), and their Boeing 777-300s used on one-stop flights to the US and to the UK. Unfortunately, they also operate 777s leased from United (another tatty story), and so its possible that one can find oneself seated in one of those.

    By the way, the Maharajah was never intended to be some icon of a prior era. He symoblized Bobby Kooka, JRD Tata’s right-hand man back in the 1960s who made the airline a glamorous carrier back then. Kooka was a flirtatious, charming bon vivant, the Richard Branson of his time. The airline’s ads and especially the billboards that featured the Maharajah back in the 1960s and well into the 1980s were full of double entendres poking fun at assorted sacred cows with the Maharajah at the center of it all grinning slyly. Its too bad that with the transformation of the airline into a dottering, tacky, Govt of India entity, the Maharajah too lost his verve and turned into a stodgy desi uncle with bad polyester pants and a clip-on tie.

  19. “Meet the Rainbow Family.”

    Seen ‘em. Interesting case. one is like dad, one like mom, and one in between.

  20. well I call bs

    Is it that PG is just brilliant, or are the people who engage its trollish statements again and again and again and again just so preternaturally dumb that they can’t help themselves?

  21. I think in America, even fob sometimes, nobody thinks anybody is “average.” We all think we transcend all that and anything is possible

    I disagree.

  22. I’m willing to bet that Aish and Abhi’s spawn will not be as attractive as they are.

  23. Um, we have a whole slew of hadesis in our family. And they run the gamut from looking VERY Indian – with black hair and eyes and brown skin, to blonde hair and white enough that they barely tan, just burn. It’s all a genetic crapshoot, people.

  24. Meet the Rainbow Family.

    That’s kind of what Shashi and Jennifer Kapoor’s kids look like, except none of them look completely brown, probably because Shashi himself was so fair-skinned. Kunal, Karan, and Sanjana.

  25. “Wobegonian on July 9, 2009 04:26 PM · Direct link ” “I think in America, even fob sometimes, nobody thinks anybody is “average.” We all think we transcend all that and anything is possible”

    “I disagree.”

    how so Wobegonian, aren’t you all above average up there?

  26. It’s the service that needs to be improved..the bad attitude of middle class ugly air hostesses who treat desis in a vulgar manner and whites as if they are their masters…

  27. middle class ugly air hostesses

    Air hostesses are high prole, at best. See, e.g., Paul Fussell, Class.

  28. “middle class ugly air hostesses”

    Are you talking about an American airlines or Air India?

    Interesting to note… is a flight attendant’s (air hostess is an outdated term) job performance based on attractiveness level?

    Most airlines in India think so… flight attendant advertisements usually call for certain height and weight requirements, and express preference for fair skin and clear complexions(http://www.businessinsider.com/2009/1/air-india-fires-fat-flight-attendants). In fact I remember reading some claim that non-thin flight attendants are a safety risk.

  29. i think the most salient thing about MJ’s children is that they have straight hair. look at thandie newton’s 1/4 black children, or halle berry’s 1/4 black children. the tightness of curl is proportional to the shape of the follicle. people who have an african parent don’t have the same follicle shape, but even an intermediate follicle shape produces curly hair, so if you code hair form as “curly” vs. “non-curly,” curly is “dominant” (though if you measure how tight the curl is, then there is some discernible effect by the non-african parent).

    re: skin color, the genetics of this are well known. about 4-6 genes are responsible for 90% of the skin color variation in world populations. the genes are SLC24A5, SLC45A2, TYR,OCA2,KITLG,DCT, and a few others. the genes which cause light skin in east asians and europeans are somewhat different. the genes that cause dark skin are all the same. it seems that humans evolved their dark skin as a new feature 2 million years ago after fur loss, and there’s only one way to really make sapiens dark. in contrast turning light is easy, because it is just turning the genes off, and you can turn them off in multiple ways (for genetics nerds i’m not using terms like “loss of function” or “knockout” cuz i want to be intelligible).

    extremely light populations, like swedes, tend to have the genes all turned off. very dark ones, like sub-saharan africans and melanesians have all the genes operative. the fact that people who are the offspring of swedes and africans have a brown tone is because the combination has an effect like addition, you just tote up all he functional variants which produce darker skin (more melanin) and the complexion is proportional to the dosage.

    for the offspring of someone with a medium brown complexion and a very light complexion the outcome is very unpredictable. i can illustrate with a simple schematic.

    humans are diploid, we have 2 copies of all genes. we get 1 copy out of 2 from each parent. as i said above how dark a person is can be determined by just toting up how many functional variants of a gene they have. so, imagine that skin color variation is due to 4 genes.

    the darkest person would have a genetic “architecture” like so:

    Gene 1 Dark Dark Gene 2 Dark Dark Gene 3 Dark Dark Gene 4 Dark Dark

    the lightest person like so

    Gene 1 Light Light Gene 2 Light Light Gene 3 Light Light Gene 4 Light Light

    what happens if these people have a child? there can be only one combination, as there is no variation above:

    Gene 1 Light Dark Gene 2 Light Dark Gene 3 Light Dark Gene 4 Light Dark

    one parent will always give a light copy, one parent will always give a dark copy.

    what would the genetic architecture be of someone who is midway between light and dark, a brown person? it could be like this:

    brown A Gene 1 Light Light Gene 2 Light Light Gene 3 Dark Dark Gene 4 Dar Dark

    or, it could be like this

    brown B Gene 1 Light Dark Gene 2 Light Dark Gene 3 Light Dark Gene 4 Light Dark

    these two people would look the same. remember that color is determined by adding up how many dark copies you have. doesn’t matter too much how they’re allocated across the genes. but what happens if this person ends up marrying a swede? the range of offspring they would have is determined by their genetic architecture.

    so, in the case of brown A, the offspring would have this architecture:

    Gene 1 Light Light Gene 2 Light Light Gene 3 Dark Light Gene 4 Dark Light

    what about brown B? the expectation is the same, but there’s a huge variation. you see, the person has a Light and a Dark copy on each gene, so there’s a 50% chance of contributing a Dark or Light copy on each gene. so there is a 6.25% chance that the child will be like this:

    Gene 1 Light Light Gene 2 Light Light Gene 3 Light Light Gene 4 Light Light

    very pale. and a 6.25% chance that the child will be like this:

    Gene 1 Light Dark Gene 2 Light Dark Gene 3 Light Dark Gene 4 Light Dark

    very close to the brown parent’s color. the expectation though is that the child will be in between. i rigged the genetic architecture in brown B so that the offspring complexion can be thought of as a binominal distribution. the reality is that brown people have diverse genetic architectures, and the offspring will be a range of colors (as we know).

    i go into the topic in detail because there isn’t a need for folk biology. the genetics of skin color has been well characterized in the past 5 years. i have a detailed post on south asian skin color genetics here if you are more curious. also, since this shocks people, i will point you to another post where i show that it seems if there is a dominance effect genetically it is toward light not dark skin.

    the examples above ignore gene-gene interaction, developmental stochasticity, etc. etc. but it gets to most of the variance.

  30. Thanks Razib… that’s really interesting! I always find genetics rather intriguing… any other interesting tidbits?

  31. Meet the Rainbow Family.

    The Daily Mail must have really reached the end of the newsiverse if they have do a story about a faithful wife and a happy family.

  32. But will indians fall for ads that show them as they really are instead of like whitewashed bollywood actors?

  33. ” What was I to make of this mixed race family, desi female sitting openly in her white husband’s lap?

    Truth in advertising”

    HA! Oh man, I can’t believe they did that. My dad is an airline pilot (Not for AI) and when I was little I used to be able to go and look at the cockpit before pushing back, my mom even flew in the cockpit once or twice, but after 9/11 strict rules were put in place in which no passenger is allowed to ever enter the cockpit. (And flight attendants give you dirty looks if you even look in the direction of the cockpit while boarding the plane..”Just seeing if I know the pilot….sorrrryyyyyyy…”) After they push back from the gate, the cockpit door is supposed to be closed and locked. They have a peephole so that if flight attendants come (to bring them food or something) they can check and make sure all is clear before opening the door.

    And AI was like… sure come sit in the jump seat… no problem!

  34. razib “i think the most salient thing about MJ’s children is that they have straight hair.”

    Thanks. Someone should have called out, “Is there a geneticist in the house!” sooner. I have looked at your blog, but wasn’t sure how easy it was to get the pertinent info for this particular query. Come to think of it I have seen more black/other race mixes with pale skin than with straight hair. What is more interesting to me is how we get the features, bone structure, body type and other less obvious traits. Paler races may just have the melanin genes “turned off” but Michael Jackson (before surgery) would not look like a Swede even if he was born looking as if he’d been chalk-dipped. However pale northern races look to southies, they do have a different genetic profile than albinos. At least that’s what I read– I have relatives who adopted. At a family function, some people who didn’t know the kids were adopted, noted physical resemblances to the parents. And they weren’t wrong. You can superimpose almost any feature “modified” as looking similar to someone else’s. another curiosity: There are northern races such as the Eskimos, the Siberian natives, Canadian natives, who have never gone blonde. How long does it take for the genes to “turn off?” A million years” half a million?”

  35. The Daily Mail must have really reached the end of the newsiverse if they have do a story about a faithful wife and a happy family.

    Really? Is it happy? Because aren’t you wondering though, why the wife is so insistent that he’s the baby daddy…?? Agatha ne me mens pas, ce n’est pas mon fils. Inquiring minds want to know!

    As for that AI ad. Does anyone think it’s a hoax along with the Air France ad? – just look at the AF ad linked in the post and you’ll notice that the French dude gets around. Why, I think he has two families – one in France and the other in jolly England. Gotta be a put-on. This inquiring mind wants to know!

  36. There are northern races such as the Eskimos, the Siberian natives, Canadian natives, who have never gone blonde. How long does it take for the genes to “turn off?” A million years” half a million?

    blonde hair and blue eyes emerged only within the last 10,000 years. so very quickly. the swarthiness of some of these people might have to do with high marine content in their food (lots of vitamin d).

  37. It’s the service that needs to be improved..the bad attitude of middle class ugly air hostesses who treat desis in a vulgar manner and whites as if they are their masters…

    Come on. How do the Desi passengers treat the flight attendents (what you call “air hostesses”)???

    Do they tream them like their nokars? Maybe that’s the reason why the flight attendents cop attitude.

  38. “blonde hair and blue eyes emerged only within the last 10,000 years. so very quickly. the swarthiness of some of these people might have to do with high marine content in their food (lots of vitamin d).”

    who’s been the most north the longest? I thought the Eskimos and Aleuts and Siberians have been in their spots for at least 20,000 years…the nordic types have been there longer or shorter? Did this happen gradually or did the blond mutants just pop out with no warning like in Village of the Damned (1960 version)? Blonde hair is not confined to Scandinavia. Why not Native Americans in Canada? I understand that climate has influenced where certain kinds of people lived, and has had an effect on the types of people who survive best. But is it conclusive? If so, what explanation? Will Nigerians now living in Sweden, if there is no mixing, turn into nordics in the next 10,000 years? As far as I know whites living in Australia and South America still have to worry about sunburn. I don’t know razib. the jury’s still out on the whole and total history of the human race. We don’t know it all yet.

    .

  39. lamy, you’re wrong on many of the details. for example, the inuit replaced the dorset people in greeland within the last 1,000 years. if you are genuinely interested in the topic please see the review i linked to above. but

    1) no one knows exactly why populations have gotten so light within the last 10,000 years. both west and east eurasians have depigmented a fair amount since the last ice age according to genetic analyses (some of the other features of east asians are new too, such as the thick straight hair due to a change on the EDAR gene).

    2) no one knows why the variation in lightness is as it is. there are plenty of speculations, which will you see at the link above.

    3) the sami people of northern scandinavian are darker than the peoples to the south (finns and swedes), so the relative darkness of circumpolar people suggests that complexion isn’t a monotonic function of latitude

    4) the gene responsible for 30-40% of the african vs. european color variation, and 30-40% of the variation in color among south asians, slc24a5, has changed in west eurasia only within the last 10,000 years. in east asians and africans it remains in its ancestral variant, which results in darker skin. specifically, it looks like the new lightening variant started rapidly rising in frequency 6,000 years ago, and went from 0 to 100% in europeans within a few thousand years, and 0 to 80-90% in northwest india, and is as high as 50% in much of south india. but there is a 95% confidence interval, so that there is a small chance that the gene started rising in frequency 20,000 years ago (2.5% chance).

    5) the gene for 3/4 of the eye color variation in europeans is the OCA2-HERC2 complex. it seems that the gene effects skin color too, but its effect in the iris is much larger. tissue specific expression isn’t too surprising. it too seems to have been subject to a recent selective sweep.

    anyway, as i said, please read Molecular genetics of human pigmentation diversity if you want to know what we do know. there is a difference between 10,000 years and 200 years btw (how long australian whites have been in australia).

  40. also, it does seem that the circumpolar peoples have been resident in the north for a long time. the easiest way to peg this is body form, as well as some peculiar metabolic adaptations. body form is something that seems to take some time to change, a physical anthropologist told me that amazonian tribesmen look “more siberian” in their ratios than they do other tropical peoples. the implication here is that the 10,000 years (minimum) that these populations have inhabited the new world hasn’t been enough time for them to revolve the long lean forms which are common among tropical populations. they are longer and leaner than siberians or american indians who are resident in canada, but still much closer to these groups than they are to tropical peoples.

    so my own position is that the highest likelihood for why some populations have become so pale within the last 10,000 years is the switch to agriculture and concomitant vitamin deficiencies. ergo, hunter populations which have a lot of meat and marine don’t need to evolve light skin to compensate. i have a very low confidence in this hypothesis though. we just don’t know enough. characterizing the proximate genetic architecture of a trait is much easier than adducing its ultimate evolutionary history and the selective forces that shaped it.

  41. “so my own position is that the highest likelihood for why some populations have become so pale within the last 10,000 years is the switch to agriculture and concomitant vitamin deficiencies.”

    Huh? sorry. You’ve lost me here. My objections are so obvious that I know there’s a trick answer. Did the people change because they started farming, or did they have to start farming and then they changed? Do you mean grains make you pale? Meat makes you dark? In that case upper class English from the middle-ages on, should be brown as Robin Hood’s barn because the animals who gave their lives for that lot, number in the billions. Should they continue in this manner, will they become brown? You say that a few hundred years is not enough to tell. Well, you should be able to tell something — either diet has an effect on phenotype, barring other influences, or it doesn’t. A few hundred years, some 10 generations. You should be able to draw some conclusions. The same conditions don’t persist for milennia–they shift and change constantly. Vegetarianism never made Indians any lighter.

    Deficient in vitamins? grains and vegetables are loaded with vitamins. We do know that protein causes people to grow to the extent possible for their genetics. Rice has been pegged for zinc deficiency causing problems in Iran, and the Japanese averaged under 5 ft. before their national diet changed, but no color change has been noticed. American Indians have had a corn based diet for centuries…. Speaking of the Japanese, years ago I read about a popular operation there that removed the lower part of the colon. This was supposed to make their skin clear and pale. I wonder if anyone has ever investigated whether there is something going on their there because I’ve never noticed people anywhere else become paler when part of their lower intestine was removed. The genetics link is good but the idea that “vitamin deficiencies” are responsible for creating the world’s major races sounds like satire. I dunno razib. I’m not snarking. Just thinking. The answer’s out there. …all due respect.

  42. grains and vegetables are loaded with vitamins.

    vitamin D is found in marine organisms and animals with a lot of sun exposure. or skin exposure. in any case, i’m not going to argue with you. a lot of your assertions are not even wrong.