Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Human Evolution Accelerating: Still Hope For Racist James Watson (who has Black Genes)

By Joe Sims

Today’s news features a fascinating article on human evolution. It suggests that humanity is still evolving – thank God! This is heartening news: the continuing spate of suicides bombings, random killings of innocents by gun-toting lunatics in the US west, and the racist ravings of Charles Murray, James Watson and others had one almost losing hope.

BBC carried a story yesterday on “political correctness” and gave a platform to Charles Murray, co-author of the infamous Bell Curve, who functioned as an ideological defense attorney to the recently fired Watson. When asked if Watson was right in his assertions that Africans were intellectual inferior, Murray replied, “I don’t know” and then suggested that test scores indicate that “something” is going on.

In this regard it was interesting to see a recent scientific study of James Watson’s genetic profile. The study determined that Watson must have had very recent Black ancestors as 16 percent of his DNA was African. The likelihood is that he had an African American great-grandparent. Can you imagine?

The new evolutionary evidence reported in today’s LA Times, posits that with the introduction of widespread agriculture, the pace of evolution accelerated “100 times historical levels.” Staff writer Karen Kaplan continues, “the research team was able to conclude that infectious diseases and the introduction of new foods were the primary reasons that some genes swept through populations at such speed.” These genes allowed circumstances in which natural selection was able to occur.

The research determined that “race” as it is presently manifest today didn’t exist “until 20,000 years ago, when genes involved in skin pigmentation emerged … Paler skin allowed people in northern latitudes to absorb more sunlight to absord vitamin D.

The study suggested that that the “fastest-evolving genes were those related to brain development, but the researchers aren’t sure what made them desirable.”

Interesting stuff, especially when one considers that the Watson claimed that within ten years researchers would discover the “intelligence” gene, a project it seemed that was underway at the Cold Harbor Lab, he headed.

I’ve often wondered what humankind was evolving toward. What factors, known and unknown are effecting our genetic destiny and how will that effect appearance, shape etc. 20,000 years is just a second in a species evolution: how will we fare – if we fare at all – in another 20,000?


normandmarkowitz said...

Good Stuff, Joe. An colleague of African-American background sent me the article on Watson and we both chuckled at it. In reality, as we who are not racists know, the only "race" that exists on earth is the human race, and that race is not "pure" except in the most backward and isolated regions where humans have had next to no contact with other humans, and even there "purity" or real "racial distinctions" is a myth.
We have known for a long time that among the people considered "white" who are most likely to have African genetic stock, U.S. White Southerners whose families have been in the country since the antebellum period are the leading group, and so on and so on. I told me colleague that, given where my family came from in the Czarist Russian empire, I am less likely to have African genetic stock than White Anglo Saxon Protestant Americans who can trace their ancestry in North American much longer than I can, but much more likely to have East Asian genetic stock than they would. It also means nothing in terms of cognitive abilities and skills.

These are points that we should be teaching all students in our schools, that the linguistic-cultural differences among people are different ways to do the same things, feeding and clothing yourself, expressing the same feelings in different languages, and that the physiological differences(of color, hair texture, etc) that we call "race differences" are cosmetic only.

NorthernLass said...

"Watson may hope that the news that he is many times blacker than the average White human will prove that he should not be labelled a racist, and that he should be immediately reinstated as chancellor of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, in preference to anyone else who may be better qualified but less Black."

"Race is certainly far from skin-deep", an anti-racist activist insisted. "If you are found to have African genes then that makes you Black whatever you look like on the outside."