We Know They Said “Created Equal.” But They Didn`t Mean…
Genome Project scientists have been conspiring
with journalists recently to lard press reports
on their findings with politically-correct
was bamboozled more than former GOP vice
presidential candidate Jack
Kemp, who informed us, "The
human genome project shows there is no genetic
way to tell races apart. For scientific
purposes, race simply doesn`t exist."
course, if all you know is what you read in the
newspapers, you`re not going to know much about
the scientific reality of race.
Sorensen, Seattle Times science reporter, wrote,
human genome, to be published in nearly complete
form this week in the journals Nature and
Science, stands to cure cancer, prevent mental
illness, and even, as one local researcher
joked, locate the "don`t-ask-for-directions
gene" on the Y chromosome unique to men.
But billions of pieces of genetic code sequenced
thus far are notable for what they don`t appear
to contain: a genetic test to tell one race of
people from another."
asked evolutionary biologist Gregory M. Cochran
about this Race-Is-Not-A-Scientific-Concept
party line emanating from the Human Genome
don`t know what they are talking about. I
suspect it`s all political. These days, you
could certainly screw up your academic career
with a single truthful comment," snorted
Dr. Cochran. "No such thing as race? Then
how can population geneticists like
Cavalli-Sforza calculate your ancestry from
different parts of the world to the percentage
point? How come forensic anthropologists can
determine a suspect`s racial makeup from hair or
semen left at the scene of a crime?"
Society of Forensic Sciences even provides a
handy web page where crime fighters can
enter the data from nine loci of DNA extracted
from crime scene evidence. Then, by comparing
this individual`s DNA to racial databases
provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
and the FBI, the website calculates for them the
odds that the perp belonged to such racial
groups as Caucasians, African-Americans, East
Asians, East Indians, and "Saskatchewan
is a physicist turned evolutionary biologist. He
is best known for developing the "New Germ
Theory," which attempts to drag medicine
into the Darwinian age. He argues that germs,
not genes, must cause most chronic diseases like
cancer and heart disease because, according to
Darwin`s theory of natural selection, killer
genes tend to kill themselves off. (Click
here to read the February, 1999 Atlantic Monthly
cover story about Cochran and his research
partner, Paul Ewald, a prominent public health
biologist at Amherst College. Click here to
buy Ewald`s recent book, Plague
Time: How Stealth Infections Are Causing
Cancers, Heart Disease, and Other Deadly
And for the scientifically-inclined, click
here for Cochran and Ewald`s landmark scientific
paper "Infectious Causation of Diseases: An
Fox of Reuters asserted that the Human Genome
scientists "have also confirmed that there
is no genetic basis for what people describe as
race, and found only a few small differences set
one person apart from another. … [W]e all are
essentially identical twins – even more than I
thought. … [R]ace is not a scientific
concept,` [Craig] Venter [of Celera Corp.]
I asked Cochran, "Can differences
in only a small number of genes account for racial differences in
looks, physical abilities, personality, and other capabilities?"
"Sure they can," Cochran replied. "We don`t know for sure for any particular trait, but it`s often a definite possibility."
"Go ask the guys working on the Dog Genome project about how few genes separate Dachshunds from
Weimaraners." Cochran suggested. "Go ask the cattle breeders. There are only a few genetic differences between Guernseys and Longhorns. Yet they sure act different. It`s not cultural. Longhorns don`t learn how to act like Longhorns by watching Western movies!"
Folks, genetic differences are all relative. The notion that, say, basketball behemoth Shaquille O`Neal and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg are "essentially identical twins" is more likely to make sense to three-headed flying saucer pilots from the planet Zweeb than to their fellow Earthlings. Differences among humans that would seem negligible to Zweebian saucer jockeys can loom very large in influencing, say, who makes the NBA All Star Game (which, you may have noticed, had only one white player again this year).
Of course, the Zweebsters would probably consider humans to be "essentially identical twins" to all other mammals on Earth. As Venter himself pointed out, "There are only a few hundred genes that we have in the human genome that are not in the mouse genome." Another story reported, "Given the minor difference between man and mouse, Dr. Venter said he expected the chimpanzee, which parted company from the human line only five million years ago, to have an almost identical set of genes as people but to possess variant forms of these genes." So, Venter`s statements about how large the variances among humans are in some ill-defined absolute sense are meaningless.
The announcement that the number of human genes is probably in the range of 30,000 rather than 100,000 – as was widely guesstimated until recently – has inspired all sorts of propaganda about how this shows that nurture is more powerful than nature. Harvard paleontologist Steven Jay Gould unburdened himself of some of his trademark sonorous imponderables in
The New York Times.
"The social meaning may finally liberate us from the simplistic and harmful idea, false for many other reasons as well, that each aspect of our being, either physical or behavioral, may be ascribed to the action of a particular gene "for" the trait in question. But the deepest ramifications will be scientific or philosophical in the largest sense."
Robin McKie of The Guardian (U.K.) made the same point more blatantly:
"This is a far lower total than expected, and dramatically undermines claims that human beings are prisoners of their genes.… `We simply do not have enough genes for this idea of biological determinism to be right,` said Dr Craig
Venter, the U.S. scientist whose company Celera was a major player in the sequencing project. `The wonderful diversity of the human species is not hard-wired in our genetic code. Our environments are critical.`"
Do fewer genes mean nurture is more important than we had thought?
"It means no such thing," said Cochran.
We already have a very good idea of how important genes are from twin
and adoption studies. Identical twins are genetically identical. For a
surprising number of traits, identical twins raised apart are more similar
than fraternal twins raised together. And the correlations between adopted
siblings tend to be very low. Whatever the final number of genes turns out to
be can`t make those facts disappear.
spin is the logical equivalent of Exxon
announcing that they`ve discovered that cars
have 30,000 parts in them instead of 100,000,
and therefore you should buy expensive premium
gas. "Hey," Exxon would say,
"Even if experience has shown you that high
octane gas doesn`t help your car`s performance
much, the Car Genome Project has demonstrated
scientifically that your car has fewer parts
than you thought it did, so the difference
between Ferraris and Plymouth Voyagers must be
environmental. Who are you going to believe: Science!
… Or your lying eyes? So, spend, spend,
Why do Human Genome laboratory scientists so often issue unsupportable pronouncements about race? A leading genetic anthropologist reflected, "I can understand the genome people spouting it: they are afraid of bad press about genetics. The posturing is defensive." (See my VDARE essay on race scientist Cavalli-Sforza`s addiction to politically correct boilerplate.)
However, he went on to note another cause: the "bench" scientists who have become media celebrities during Human Genome Mania don`t actually know much about what they are asked to comment upon. "Human evolutionary genetics has lots of people who are geniuses in the lab (`good hands`) and who contribute great data sets but who have no clue about what they mean," said this veteran anthropologist, who has spent years working with both the most sophisticated mathematical population genetics models and with the Bushmen of the Kalahari. "What people like these guys you see quoted know about is whether to put vinegar or lemon juice in the test tube."
backed this anthropologist up. He feels the lab
guys seldom understand evolutionary theory.
"They say a lot of things that aren`t true,
like these genes are going to explain the roots
of most diseases," Cochran argued.
"From twin studies, we can see that no more
than 5% or 10% of major chronic diseases are
likely to stem from heredity. A full 3% percent
of breast cancer appears to derive from bad
to Cochran, "The Human Genome Project will
uncover a lot of interesting stuff, but how much
will be good for human health? Developing new
antibiotics will be a lot more effective over
the next few decades."
According to Cochran, the fundamental flaw of the Human Genome Project is that "Genes exist for function, not for disease."
In an upcoming essay, I`ll describe in more detail why genetic research is going to uncover less about health and more about racial differences than the media want to know.
[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and