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HOME > ON THE BOOKSHELF > COMMENTS > Comment Detail

Race Finished


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**But race is little more than skin deep in biological terms, and individuals are frequently more genetically similar to members of other so-called races than they are to their own said race.***

2004 Curt Stern award winner Neil Risch and colleagues have addressed this point as follows:

"Genetic data ... show that any two individuals within a particular population are as different genetically as any two people selected from any two populations in the world." [18]. This assertion is both counter-intuitive and factually incorrect [12,13]. If it were true, it would be impossible to create discrete clusters of humans (that end up corresponding to the major races), for example as was done by Wilson et al. [2], with even as few as 20 randomly chosen genetic markers. Two Caucasians are more similar to each other genetically than a Caucasian and an Asian."

'Categorization of humans in biomedical research: genes, race and disease' Genome Biology 2002

***First, although individual ancestries are useful on medical questionnaires, ancestry should not be conflated with race.***

Risch et al comment:

"For our purposes here, on the basis of numerous population genetic surveys, we categorize Africans as those with primary ancestry in sub-Saharan Africa; this group includes African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans. Caucasians include those with ancestry in Europe and West Asia, including the Indian subcontinent and Middle East; North Africans typically also are included in this group as their ancestry derives largely from the Middle East rather than sub-Saharan Africa. 'Asians' are those from eastern Asia including China, Indochina, Japan, the Philippines and Siberia. By contrast, Pacific Islanders are those with indigenous ancestry from Australia, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia and Micronesia, as well as other Pacific Island groups further east. Native Americans are those that have indigenous ancestry in North and South America. Populations that exist at the boundaries of these continental divisions are sometimes the most difficult to categorize simply. For example, east African groups, such as Ethiopians and Somalis, have great genetic resemblance to Caucasians and are clearly intermediate between sub-Saharan Africans and Caucasians [5]. The existence of such intermediate groups should not, however, overshadow the fact that the greatest genetic structure that exists in the human population occurs at the racial level."

***the variety of human populations seems to have both accumulated and begun to reintegrate within the past 50,000 to 60,000 years. The diversity among us has arisen in a blink of evolution’s eye. ***

I would refer the author of this to "The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution". This discusses how there has been considerable recent local change in response to population expansion, agriculture and changes in social structure.

posted by Mike Pearlstein
February 27, 2012

 

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