T Nation

Genomics, for the dorks

Mac-

I don’t understand why you posted that. I know those by heart and have for years. Yes, we can test these things still. Scientists are learning more and more cool stuff daily, and we can apply those to other ideas.

If you will, please explain why you posted that.

JWright:
“I went to a 60% black high school and yes, there are appreciable differences. Compare an african person and a caucasian. There are differences, such as skin color, hair color, hair type, eye color and genotypic differences that can only be read using sequencing. Besides, I was comparing average people. If you don’t understand that, then that’s your fault. Yes, there are less muscular africans and more muscular caucasians. I was also comparing most of africa, which is not the greatest of farmland, to Europe, which has excellent farmland. It’s AVERAGES.”

No, on the average, blacks are average and whites are average. You seem to want to put blacks forth as a superior physical specimen and whites as inferior, and it’s just wrong and inconsistent, and downright racist. Why did you ignore the athleticism among Europeans I pointed out? (BTW, Europeans would be the more correct / collective term. There are plent of “white people” who didn’t come from the Caucus mountains.)

Regarding my sample size as ScrubMD2B challenged, the point is that I have MANY black acquaintances. I’m not in a remote area of Wisconsin where people have never seen a black person except on TV. (Not picking on Wisconsin in particular, choose Montana, the Dakotas, etc. where blacks are less then 5% of the population. Down here it’s more like 20 - 25%.) I know tall black people; I know short black people. I know fat black people; I know skinny black people. (And believe it or not, fat is predominant, even moreso than among white – especially the women.) I know athletic black people; I know black people who are couch potatoes. And although predominantly “African American” I do know several people directly from Africa who have immigrated to America and Alabama in particular. On the average, the average black person is average.

Regarding dick sizes, I just wanted to see if you’d bite on that one (hopefully, not literally). That you would put forth the larger African vagina thing shows just how easily you are letting yourself fall to racist propaganda. Do a little research. These are myths and stereotypes coming out slavery days about who black people are and what their tendencies are. Beyond being blatantly false, they’re racist to the core, and you need to check yourself.

And back to ScrubMD2B and matters of “truth.” Remember: statistics lie. Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes accepted as truth. But is it true? No, it’s still a lie no matter how often you try to tell yourself it’s true and how much scientific language you try to dress it up in.

JWright:
“Char, you were exactly correct in comparing a African-American with an African. I have friends from Ghana, Cameroon and Kenya, and they are totally different than my African-American friends. Just their overall looks, skin tone, etc. Completely different.”

I’ve got multiple friends from each of these areas myself, plus the Ivory Coast and South Africa. No, they’re not “completely different” – absolutely not. There are some noticeable differences for someone with enough exposure to tell, but in general the similarities are greater than the differences. Why do you use such grandiose language as “completely different” when that’s obviously not the case? Seems like you’ve got an agenda here, and it’s a little troublesome.

Listen up! Genomics is racist propaganda. This is the same psuedo-science that Hitler used to justify killing millions of Jews. His blue-eyed, blonde-haired superior race lost mightily to Jesse Owens, for example, (born just a few miles from my hometown in Alabama). Now you guys, while maybe not espousing the exact same rhetoric as Hitler are essentially doing the same thing, albeit from a supposedly positive standpoint. You’re actually trying to put forth black people as superior athletes. I guess somehow that’s a noble thing in your eyes. (Give the underdog a chance.) And even if your assertions of their physical superiority were true (they’re not!), still the point is that you’re setting up what you think is a plausible way to treat them differently based on your speculative ideas instead of looking at them as mere humans like yourself. In your eyes, they’re different, which in turn justifies treating them different, which in turn leads to all kinds of racist thoughts and actions.

I don’t know if you guys just don’t realize what you’re doing or what is going on with you. Maybe you’re closet racists and haven’t experienced enough of real life to understand the folly of your thinking. Maybe you’re blatant racists trying to sneak in under a rouse of science and recruit others to your way of thinking. In any case, I’m calling this out for exactly what it is – racism! Stop it.

Dude, that’s some funny stuff. I am far from being a racist. You’re right, I shouldn’t have said “completely different”, and I didn’t meant it. Other than that, you’re wrong on just about all of it. And it’s not just statistics, bro, it’s actualy measurements. “Let’s see which one of these genes is different than the other”. If you can’t accept the fact that we are genetically different, then you really need to start reading up on science. We are all different. You are different from your siblings (if you have them) and from your neighbor and from your pharmacist, etc. We are all different. There are generalizations that can be made in populations that are true. If you don’t think they are, I can point you to numerous references, in fact 100’s, showing otherwise.

No, I’m not saying blacks are superior athletes OVERALL. You completely missed it. I said average in big bold capital letters.

And no, I didn’t disregard your statement of white athletes. I addressed it straightforward with my averages statement. Just like I said there are short blacks, tall blacks, short white, tall whites, etc, there are averages. You seemed to have missed that.

Having MANY black acquaintenances doesn’t make you an african statistical expert. Even if you know a person from every african country, you aren’t a statistical expert. Why do you think everything in science is done in AT LEAST triplicate? AT LEAST!! Basically, you just called every population geneticist a closet racist. You need to get your head out of your ass and start using it.

G-Dawg is correct.

G-DAWG: Now you are giving it a political spin. Bad move.

And I suspect that you project your life experience (sample) as a reality (populations/worldwide sample).

Almost everything you say seems to come from personal experience. While that is great, specially if you know tons of peoples, I have yet to know if your sample is representative.

Fuck, even for polls here, they call at least 1 000 persons just to insure some realism to the polls. I doubt that you have 1000 African-American friends and also 1000 African friends that you know in some detail to allow some comparison, valid statistically.

In short, while your sample may indeed be big, and you are passionnate on what you feel, I see it as no basis to invalidate nation-wide statistics. Call it what you want, refuse it all you want, a nationwide census will factor a sharper picture of ANY nation than any person`s own opinion. The fact/data-base is just too big to not be the rule.

As for politics and the twist, lets keep it scientific. If it is based on preferences and unverifiable/unresearched abstracts, if you don`t have facts to back it up, please do not write it in THIS thread, which was nicely started, in a scientific view. You are always free to start another thread for all non-scientific/humane/social-studies thread.

I have nothing against you. I just want the tone of THIS thread in its rightful path. Putting stereotype (interpretation) in a science forum is like putting an elephant in a chinashop. It does not belong there, and can only do useless damage.

Again, nothing personal. Thanks.

G Dawg: If you’re serious and not just trying to get a rise out of people, you have some serious issues with reading comprehension and oversensitivity. I don’t have a clue where you’re coming from with this, but you obviously have no scientific background with which to back up your statements. The field of genomics is not racist propaganda created by some old boys club of white people. This is an international thing, and people of all races contribute to the research that solidifies these theories. This isn’t controversial stuff, it’s widely accepted and anyone who has taken a 9th grade Biology course can understand the basic gist of this thread.

I don’t want to let you hijack this scientific discussion into some bullshit argument about race, for one because it’s a tired subject to me and nobody really cares anymore, two because nobody here is racist, and three because of something you said that bothers me. You talk about trying to push hidden agendas, but what do you call trying to say that everyone is the same? Everybody is not the same and that’s a fact. Only people like you can’t handle it and go crazy trying to deny it. I don’t know how life is in the deep south, but here we are taught to embrace each other’s differences, not deny they exist.

I wonder how long it’s going to take for us to push our peak reproduction age back. There’s a guy studying flies who puts birth control on the females. After just a few generations, they are living over twice as long as they normally do (70 days I think). Since we humans are doing the same thing, I wonder if we are going to start living longer than we used (as if we aren’t already doing so).

G to imply one is racist based on half-assed logic is absurd. You are sadly mistaken if you are going to turn a purely scientific discussion into a political debate. If you have a problem then take it up with the moderators. Otherwise, please leave this thread since you have nothing intelligent to offer.

JT

JTQUICK: Yep! I second that.

If you think it’s possible to have a purely scientific debate on this topic, you’re being naive. Every decision that frames a scientific study design relating to this topic, and every conclusion drawn from its results, have political and social implications. Researchers know this.

The human genome project researchers did indeed discount the whole concept of race. This isn’t a scholarly reference, but it does offer some insights into why scientists can’t even agree on this: http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,41619,00.html

Take a close look at the website of a racist like David Duke and you’ll understand why he wants and needs to underscore genetic racial differences. I’m sure that no one arguing the pro-genomics point in this thread has ill intent, but you have to understand the potential impact of such discussions. Genomics is a theory. As with any theory, it’s dangerous to treat it as a fact. Science isn’t so much based on facts as it is the best understanding of evidence. Experts will always disagree about what the best understanding might be. I think that’s what Mac was getting at earlier

It would be great to have high-level discussion of this topic in this space, but expecting a purely scientific one, or even one that’s based on only one scientic point of view, isn’t realistic.

Jim

I believe it is realistic to have a purely scientific debate. I think the point G-dawg was trying to make is that race matters, and we know that. That is why people study the different races. Honestly, if you want to get scientific, we’re all sub-species of homo sapiens. A white person is a sub-species, a black person is another sub-species, a chinese person is another sub-species, etc. This is because of millions of years of separation over land and water.

Here’s a little experiment to explain that:

You have 10 squirrels sitting happily in their 10 respective trees. Kaboom!!! flash flood. lightning. At the end of this humongous storm, there is a river separating 5 of the squirrels from the other 5. They have no way of contacting each other. Over time and a few generations later, each set of 5 squirrels will generate their own traits. They become a sub-species. Although they are sub-species, if you put them together, they can procreate and have viable offspring that have a mix of their respective traits.

This is what happened to humans, over millions of years. Although we can all procreate with each other, we are all genetically different. Studying these differences will allow us to help ALL humans, in terms of possible disease resistance, genetically caused sicknesses, etc. This is why genomics is studied.

Genomics in itself is not a theory. It is a means to understand the differences between everyone. It can never become law, because we are always changing (mutations, adaptations, etc.) Proteomics is a theory, as novel proteins are discovered, we have no idea how theoretically these proteins fold. We can only guess until we know for sure.

J-dub…without getting too Zen on you, EVERYTHING is a theory.

Semantically, genomics is an area of study, true. But any attempt to explain the result of any investigation into genomics is theoretical.

I should have qualified that IN THIS FORMAT, I believe it is impossible to have a purely scientific discussion about genomics – but I don’t believe I’m too far off in saying that even among scientists, a purely scientific genomics discussion is challenging at best.

A quick google search turns up a great deal of controversy in the scientific community.

Whenever anyone brings up the topic of racial differences, someone screams “Hitler!” and then someone else screams “Eugenics!” and then all rational thought stops.

It’s kinda sad. But that’s all I’m going to say on that.

(…except to mention that I live in Japan (which, in case anyone didn’t realize, is just chock-full of Asians) and on my refrigerator is a photo of my best friend’s kids, who happen to be black. I think that calling someone a racist - without knowing that person at all - because you either don’t like or can’t understand their arguments is pretty pathetic.)

Anyway. Back to the subject at hand. Yes, we do definitely have to take into account the length of time per generation. No question there. But the central point of The Beak of the Finch is that it doesn’t take many generations to see a widespread change - under the right conditions.

In that book, the author used the Galapagos finches to show that with El Nino weather patterns, which drastically increase competition for survival, and increase it in some very measureable ways, finches changed from generation to generation. So that, for example, the average beak length might be half an inch to begin with, but after the weather pattern shifts it might go up to 3/4 of an inch or even longer. (I’m not going to get into why here.)

Given that this is a 50% change over one or two generations, it seems very likely to me that there would be similar changes observed over the minimum of six or eight generations since slavery was ended in America. (And remember, some families were taken to North America far earlier, like back in the late 1500s.) So the Darwinian idea that evolutionary change takes millenia to accomplish has been more or less proven obsolete.

And also, I totally agree with the “sub-set” of homo sapiens thing. Hell, if we’re going to call a Grant’s zebra a different species from a Thompson’s zebra on the basis of fucking stripe patterns, then I don’t think it’s a too much of a stretch to say that Blacks, Whites and Asians are different species as well.

But then, one must respect the political considerations at stake, mustn’t one? :wink:

JWright: “I am far from being a racist.”

Do you know how many racists I’ve heard disclaim their racism? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you don’t intend to be such, but the ideas you’re espousing are consistent with racist views. It’s one thing to note genetic differences between individuals, but it’s an entirely different thing to try and establish genetic similarities across a large group and begin making generalizations based on that. And the latter might possibly be acceptable if you kept it simple, but you made the grave error of putting qualitative judgments (and erroneous ones at that) based on your speculations. It’s one thing to say xyz is different; it’s an entirely different thing to say xyz is better.

And a huge question remains. You attack me for various reasons – a typical defensive ploy when what you’re espousing won’t stand up to careful scrutiny. Will please address the blatant exceptions to your theory that I’ve pointed out? Athleticism among Europeans, African Pygmies, similarities in farming no matter what continent you live on. Your refusal to do so reinforces the error of your position.

DAN C:
I’m not putting a political spin on it. I don’t care what your political persuasion is. What I’m doing is examing a speculative theory and pointing out its logical conclusion and the obvious connection with (or at least use by) it naturally has with racist agendas.

ScrubMD2B:
Why must you insult my educational background? Again, a typical defensive ploy when ones own position will not withstand a genuine challenge. I’m not going to get into a pissing contest regarding who has the most letters behind their name, but I will say this much. You’re right in that I don’t have a scientific background; I have an engineering background instead. And while scientists may want to sit in their ivory towers of intellectualism spending their days discussing all the latest speculations, as an engineer I look for the practical application of any theory espoused, and the practical application of the things you and JWright are saying is quite disturbing and sadly consistent with racist agendas, whether you choose to recognize that connection or not.

JimMcD:
Thank you for your contribution. Anytime people are involved in any discussion – scientific, philosophical, artistic, etc. – there will be political / personal considerations. I remember when I took quantum mechanics as an undergrad, my professor had personal acquaintance and firsthand knowledge of many of the personalities involved. Nothing is “purely scientific” – politics, personal favoritism, pride and a dozen other human emotions always come into play.

JWright:
Why do you want to divide people out by “sub-species”? What criteria do you use? It’s just another word for race, and that’s why this whole discussion is race-ism. And what do you do about cross-breeding then? How do you classify those people?

char-dawg:
Rational thought never began in this thread.

I’ll put on my asbestos gear. It’s gonna get hot here.

Over-generalization can lead to racism, but the complete and utter fear of admitting the obvious differences between races, sexes, and cultures leads to ignorance.

Throwing around the word “racist” without any proper definition or backing is downright shitty. I ran into this problem a lot in my studies of mob violence in the South - attempting to describe differences between communities and peoples, I would get the “racist” card pulled on me.

Guess what? We’re all different. Saying that studies show that on average African Amercans have x% less bodyfat is not racist. Saying “all Africans are skinny” is, or at least is stereotypical. JW has done the former, and not the latter.

JW already said, and I agree, Africa as a geographic region (specifically sub-Sahara) is a primary hunting and nomadic area. Europe is a fertile continent for farming. So yes, both Africans and Europeans stooped the same when they farmed. Africans tended to farm much less. Read up on it.

The guy in Dragnet said it best:

The facts, Ma`am, just the facts!

If you acknowledge any physiological differences across populations, you MUST be a racist. Because as we all know, it is more imortant to be Politically Correct and not hurt anyone’s feelings than to actually seek out truth.

On a related subject, why are so many black people, on average, afraid of dogs? Or does posing this question make me a racist?

(stirring the shit-pot EVER so gently)