Henry Harpending

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Henry Harpending
Born Henry C. Harpending
January 13, 1944 (1944-01-13) (age 71)
Dundee, New York, U.S.
Residence Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Nationality American
Fields Anthropology, Genetics
Institutions University of Utah
Alma mater Harvard University
Known for Theory of Ashkenazi Intelligence
The 10,000 Year Explosion

Henry Cosad Harpending (born January 13, 1944)[1] is an American anthropologist and population geneticist at the University of Utah, where he is a distinguished professor. Harpending earned his A.B. degree from Hamilton College (Clinton, New York). Harpending earned his PhD at Harvard University in 1972. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.


Harpending attempts to interpret genetic and morphometric variation within and between human populations with mathematically based models, examining hypotheses such as population growth, divergence, and gene flow. In The 10,000 Year Explosion, which he co-authored with Gregory Cochran, Harpending suggests a common belief that human genetic adaptation stopped 40,000 years ago is incorrect and that humans evolved increasingly rapidly in response to the new challenges presented by agriculture and civilization. The result was accelerating evolution which has varied according to new niches or environments that particular populations inhabit.

The final chapter of The 10,000 Year Explosion expands on their paper from the Journal of Biosocial Science[2] on the issue of Ashkenazi Jewish intelligence. Harpending and Cochran argue the cause of Ashkenazim having higher mean verbal and mathematical intelligence than other ethnic groups (as well as having a relatively high number of genetic diseases, such as Tay-Sachs Disease, Canavan, Niemann-Pick, Gaucher, Familial Dysautonomia, Bloom Syndrome, Fanconi anemia, Cystic Fibrosis and Mucolipidosis IV) is due to the historically isolated population of Jews in Europe.[3]

Harpending did extensive fieldwork in Botswana and Namibia. He speaks the !Kung language fluently.



  • Renee Pennington; Henry Harpending (1993). The Structure of an African Pastoralist Community: Demography, History, and Ecology of the Ngamiland Herero. Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-19-852286-7. 
  • Jennie Keith; Christine L. Fry; Anthony P. Glascock; Charlotte Ikels, Jeanette Dickerson-Putman, Henry C. Harpending, Patricia Draper (22 September 1994). The Aging Experience: Diversity and Commonality Across Cultures. SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-1-4522-5484-5. 
  • Gregory Cochran; Henry Harpending (2009). The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution. Basic Books. ISBN 0-4650-0221-8. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Henry Cosad Harpending." American Men & Women of Science: A Biographical Directory of Today's Leaders in Physical, Biological, and Related Sciences. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Biography In Context. Web. 1 Sept. 2013.
  2. ^ G. Cochran, J. Hardy, H. Harpending. "Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence", Journal of Biosocial Science 38 (5), pp. 659–693 (2006).
  3. ^ "Henry Harpending." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Biography In Context. Web. 1 Sept. 2013.

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