In response to a statement I made about the concept of "races" of humans
being scientifically dubious, Norm Woodward wrote:
> Could you elaborate on that statement... I understand that genetics have
> proved that we have all come from common ancestors, and, possibly, that we
> are of the same species (the point of contention in my original post), but
> does it in any way cast the idea of "strains" or "subspecies" or "races" in
> doubt. After all, for example, genetically, I believe, various groups are
> susceptible to different illnesses. I have been told that such resistances
> are enough to classify micro-organisms, if not higher creatures. Could this
> be a basis of further breakdown of our species?
I hope there are people on this list who know more about it than I do, but
within the past couple of years, as a by-product of the Human Genome
Project, there have been a number of scientists saying things like "Race is
a social concept, not a scientific one." or "The concept of race is
meaningless." The idea as I understand it being that only a tiny fraction of
our genes relate to the characteristics we call "race" and that this is
small in comparison to the variety of human genetic diversity. So, I as a
"white" person could be closer (in terms of overall genetic similarity) to a
given black person than to a given white person.
As is usual when race is involved, there is controversy about these
statements. That is why I used the word "dubious" in my post instead of
something like "disproven."
I can't point you to primary sources, but you can get the gist in a couple
of NY Times articles I found on the Web:
and this from the Atlantic Monthly:
One of these articles mentions the example you gave of resistance to
diseases, and says (this was news to me) that the gene that simultaneously
produces sickle-cell anemia and gives resistance to malaria is found not only
in Africans, but in many other people groups, of all "races", in parts of the
world where malaria is a threat. That's the most interesting thing I've
learned so far today ...
Dr. Allan H. Harvey, Boulder, Colorado | SteamDoc@aol.com
"Any opinions expressed here are mine, and should not be
attributed to my employer, my wife, or my cats"
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Feb 21 2002 - 19:29:45 EST