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No Such Thing As Race - Genetic Studies Say
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Posted 2003-02-23 10:05 PM (#3236)
Subject: No Such Thing As Race - Genetic Studies Say


Posts: 7328
Location: The Kingdom Of Beautiful Phoenix, Arizona

No Such Thing As Race, Genetic Studies Say

Other than skin color, what separates black people from white? Not much, a growing number of scientists say. In fact, genetically speaking, there is no such thing as race.

Such a startling conclusion is emerging from studies by a Stanford University researcher and others studying genetic diversity in human populations.

"I find the term ‘race’ pretty useless," Luca Cavalli-Sforza, a Stanford population geneticist, said Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Evidence from his own studies and those of others is mounting that what we think of as "race" is only skin-deep. And, below the surface lies a range of genetic variability that shows no link to skin color or other superficial physical traits.

For example, the trait of sickle cell anemia, long viewed as something found in blacks, has been found in southern Europeans as well as Africans, but not in some tribes in southern Africa.

Cavalli-Sforza’s studies raise a challenge to claims in a recent book, The Bell Curve, that genetics explains why black people score lower on IQ tests than whites.

The book, published last year, has started arguments about whether some federal government programs that serve a high proportion of low-income blacks, such as Head Start, are doomed to failure and should be abandoned.

"We have no basis to claim there is any genetic basis for differences in intelligence in any racial group," said Joseph Graves, a geneticist Arizona State University West.

Cavalli-Sforza, in a recent book on human genetic diversity that synthesizes 50 years of research in population genetics, said that he found such a wide range of genetic variation in both African and non-African groups that it makes the conventional notion of race meaningless.

In short, looks can be deceiving.

"There are some superficial traits like skin color and body build," Cavalli-Sforza said Sunday. "They are striking, and we notice them.

"That is what misleads us. It makes us think races are very different. They are not, when we look under the skin."

Cavalli-Sforza found that the genetic diversity of populations is better explained by geographic origin than by skin color. His book includes more than 500 maps color-coded to show areas of genetic similarity.

He found the biggest genetic differences between African and Australians. Yet many Australian aborigines have skin as black as Africans.

Commenting on the notion that genetics has made one race more intelligent than another, Cavalli-Sforza has said previously, "The truth is that there is no documented biological superiority of any race, however defined."

Skin color or facial characteristics of Asian people, for example, have developed over time as a response to climate. Black skin protects against strong sunlight. A flat nose and eyelid-skin folds of Asians are adaptations to freezing weather.

But none of these superficial adaptations show a link to other genetic traits, Cavalli-Sforza said.

"Biologically.... the use of race is no longer a valid scientific concept," said Solomon Katz, a physical anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania.
San Jose Mercury News - A news article in my files of a few years ago. You may have seen it. Carson

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