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User Journal

Journal Journal: Genes/race comments

A couple quotes from this discussion express my point better than I have:

1) by skywire (469351) on Sunday April 13, @11:02PM (#5724972)

someone said: >Of course race has a genetic basis. It is inherited, after all. Black people have black children.

skywire said: If you were talking about skin colour, then this would make sense. But you are speaking about 'race', which is a word that is used to refer to a fuzzy concept that has no clear scientific definition. You might as well have said "Of course phlogiston flows. Things do change temperature, after all."

2)by hamanu (23005) on Sunday April 13, @10:01PM (#5724631)

hamanu said : "When people say race has no biological basis what they mean is not that blue eyed parents won't have blue eyed children, what they mean is that the choice of what physical characteristics constitutes a race has no biological basis.

As proof: I am considered a member of 6 different races acording to 6 different cultures. The fact that y'all racially pure people can't agree on what race I am proves that the choice of features that delineate races is completely arbitrary, and hence race has no biological basis. QED."

User Journal

Journal Journal: Genes/race continued

More on the same topic... I thought the controversial Human Diversity Genome project ("an effort by anthropologists, geneticists, doctors, linguists, and other scholars from around the world to document the genetic variation of the human species worldwide") had crashed and burned about 5 years ago, but their website is still around here. Their FAQ contains this quote,

Scientists already know at least one interesting thing about these kinds of genetic variation [referring to "those in portions of the genome that do not code for proteins, those changes in the genes that don't change the resulting proteins, and those that do make some differences in the body's structure or performance"] Although there are genetic differences between groups, the extent of such difference is small compared with the amount of difference found within a group. People within "ethnic groups" are genetically more different from each other than their group is from other groups.

Are ethnic groups genetically definable? As far as scientists know, no particular genes make a person Irish or Chinese or Zulu or Navajo. These are cultural labels, not genetic ones. People in those populations are more likely to have some alleles in common, but no allele will be found in all members of one population and in no members of any other. (There may be rare variations, however, that are found only in some populations.) This cannot be very surprising, in light of the vast extent of intermarriage among human populations, now and throughout history and prehistory. There is no such thing as a genetically "pure" human population.

This is the sort of information I was looking for, but they cite no references and their FAQ is nearly a decade old, which is ancient in scientific terms. I'll keep looking for data on this.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Genes/"race"

FYI: I'm a geneticist. I believe that the concept of "race" has no place in a scientific discussion of human variation because it has no real genetic meaning or validity.

Last time this topic came up in a /. discussion I couldn't put my finger on scientific refs for this (although I have read some), so for future reference here's a new publication on the topic: PNAS Dec 2002. Summary: Brazilian researchers examined a population which was very "racially mixed" (European, African, Amerindian ancestors). They found it was impossible to predict "race" from genetic differences within their sample. There were some differences but those were not correlated with skin or hair color. Even people considered to be "white" had mitochondrial DNA with 33 percent of genes that were of Amerindian ancestry and 28 percent African. "There is wide agreement among anthropologists and human geneticists that, from a biological standpoint, human races do not exist," Sergio Pena and colleagues at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil and the University of Porto in Portugal wrote in their report in PNAS.

I'll add more refs later as I find them.

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