September 04, 2007

From Tom Murphy:

Re: Finding said to show “race isn’t real” scrapped (Sept. 3): According to the original estimates based on the human genome, the variability was .1%. Now it is estimated from the work done by Craig Venter and his lab, that the variability is 7 times greater. Unless I am misunderstanding that statement, this means that the actual variability within the human genome is .7%. In other words, we are 99.3% identical to one another (rather than 99.9%).

Now one can assume that some portion of that .7% is tied into a racial differences, but I am not sure that using the old and politically charged term of “race” enhances our understanding of the important genetic variability that does exist. I have not yet seen a single proponent of race who has carefully constructed the criteria by which we can definitively define race. Mostly, scientists and others fall back on skin colour and other superficial criteria which leaves us with the awkward conclusions of exactly whom fits into what race, given the extensive “racial mixing” that has occurred over the years. Better, in my view, to abandon the term, and stick with a more scientific analysis of the variability without prejudice to the differences that exist.

Tom Murphy
Department of Sociology
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada

From Dr. Gorman (richa rd.gor man@ver

Re: Finding said to show “race isn’t real” scrapped (Sept. 3): In the text of your story was the following:

Ge­net­i­cist Ar­mand Ma­rie Leroi of Im­pe­ri­al Col­lege Lon­don wrote re­cently that a rec­og­ni­tion of race could in the fu­ture help so­ci­e­ty pro­tect en­dan­gered rac­es.

Does Ge­net­i­cist Ar­mand Ma­rie Leroi of Im­pe­ri­al Col­lege Lon­don advocate quarantining members of isolated racial groups to avoid intermarriage? Does he advocate miscegenation laws such as were struck down in the Southern states by the Supreme Court?

You cannot morally deny freedom to pick one’s own mate to humans. People are not lab rats.

From Elizabeth Hensley:

Re: Finding said to show “race isn’t real” scrapped (Sept. 3): I am GLAD there are different races. As one who believes in Rodddenberry’s IDIC, we can’t have “infinite diversity in an infinite combinations” if there is no real diversity.

It is known certain races need more of certain nutrients than other races. Whites need more folic acid. Blacks need to ingest in more Vitamin D because they can’t absorb as much through their skin. Lack of vitamin D during fetal development has been linked to higher levels of schizophrenia but many blacks are lactose intolerant and cannot ingest the milk that is our societies common source of it, other than sun light. Lack of folic acid during fetal development can cause neuron tube defects. It is not doing either race any good to pretend these different nutritional needs don’t exist. Any Human’s suffering effects all of us. I’m white but I’m not comforted by knowing blacks are suffering mentally because no one dares acknowledge their extra need for a supplement that would cost pennies a day.

What was said about protecting races that are going extinct also is important. There are hardly any pure bred Polynesians left on certain Hawaiian Islands. They are such a pretty people both in flesh and spirit! It would be sad if we lost them all. If folks are even afraid to admit there is a problem because they are seen as unscientific or racist as they bring it up, that’s not helping the situation. We cannot and absolutely should NOT stop humans from falling in love across races. But still, we don’t want subspecies of panthers and sparrows to go extinct, and we should value our own differences just as much and find some solution without stopping the hybrids who also have much value. I do not know what the solution is but if no one is able to talk about it, there will be none.

From Prakasam Vennelakanti:

Re: Finding said to show “race isn’t real” scrapped (Sept. 3): No guarantee that race isn’t real. Humans must have evolved in three places giving us three races--African, Caucasian, and Mongolian. Later they gave birth to new ethnic groups. Caste is a social phenomenon but race is a biological phenomenon. Species may be one but could have evolved in different places.

From Don A. (ini tech@ms

Re: Finding said to show “race isn’t real” scrapped (Sept. 3): You could use the same flawed logic to suggest dog breeds do not exist. All humans are Homo sapiens, all dogs are Canis familiaris...

From J. Moorcroft:

Re: Finding said to show “race isn’t real” scrapped (Sept. 3): Risch is right. Politics and science do not mix and it amazes me to hear that research in certain areas is frowned upon. Have we learned nothing from the unholy alliance between pseudo - science and politics in Europe in the 1930’s and 1940’s?

Is the problem not one of nomemclature rather than science? Some scientists classify dogs as wolves (lupi) and say that there is no separate species of dogs (canes if my rusty Latin serves me). Others classify the dog as a species.

Surely all people agree that there is just one “human race” with common ancestors, but in common use the word “race” with reference to humans denotes the different “races”, eg “caucasian”. I have never heard anyone say that these “races” are all different species!