Re: evolution and race

From: bivalve (
Date: Fri Feb 22 2002 - 16:45:30 EST

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    >> 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?<<
    >..."Human genome findings practically erase race as a
    biological factor"<.

    Terms such as race and group need defined, as well as
    the type of suceptibility in question. Race is used
    biologically as an informal taxonomic term, less than a
    subspecies; however, differences between such races are
    still generally greater than between modern human
    populations. In popular usage, race for humans refers to
    very broad ethnic categories, roughly corresponding to
    African versus Asian versus European origin. The
    broadness of the groups, intragroup variation, and
    interbreeding are such as to make genetic or
    immunological differences rare at this level.

    Smaller subgroups, especially isolated populations that
    are relatively inbred, often have distinctive genetic markers,
    including diseases. For example, sickle-cell anemia is
    characteristic of certain African populations. As this reflects
    a single DNA base change, calling them a separate
    species would be ridiculous.
    Suceptibility to infectious diseases generally reflects
    exposure rather than genetic heritage, due to the workings
    of our immune system. Thus, the ravaging of New World
    populations by diseases from European and African
    immigrants reflects the total lack of prior exposure and
    acquired immunity rather than a real genetic difference.

    Differences in environment and diet also affect disease
    occurrence, but these may be culturally or geographically
    linked to ethnicity. Again, this is not valid to distinguish

    All species contain some genetic variation, and the
    difference between generally recognized species varies.
    Genetically, we are extremely similar to chimps, yet
    morphologically we are very different, and the pattern of
    gene activity in the development of the brain is also very
    different. The commonalities, including the apparently free
    interchange of genes, among human populations argues
    that we are a single species. H.G. Wells, in The Time
    Machine, envisioned social separation as eventually
    producing separate species, and theoretically this is
    possible. We seem to be tending towards greater mixing
    rather than differentiation at present, however.

        Dr. David Campbell
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        Lexington Park MD 20653 USA

    That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand
    Exalted Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G.
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