Friday, June 16, 2006

The Debate on Race and DNA

Today's Wall Street Journal has a front page article entitled "Scientist's Study Of Brain Genes Sparks a Backlash". It's about Bruce Lahn's brain development study which suggests that the human brain is still developing in some world cultures, but not in others. Until this study was published, it was widely believed that the humans stopped evolving about 50,000 years ago.

His research into a disorder called microcephaly, a condition which causes babies to be born with dramatically smaller brains than usual, lead to the discovery. It was already known that two genes, microcephalin and ASPM, are not present in people with this disorder. Lahn's research showed that in microcephalin, a new allele has arisen in about 70 percent of people- mostly European and Eastern Asia, but it is much rarer in most sub-Saharan Africans. An allele is a DNA code which helps determine physical attributes, for instance, the color of a flower. You can have many different shades of pansies in your garden, but they are all considered pansies. has a nice article about Dr. Lahn's research and the possible implications, including discovering why some primates developed into humans while other's didn't. Could the proverbial Missing Link be mutated microcephalin and ASPM genes? To quote the article, "Evolution, Lahn said, doesn't occur at the species level. Rather, some individuals first acquire a specific genetic mutation; and because that variant confers on those who bear it a greater likelihood of survival, it then spreads in the population. "We're seeing two examples of such a spread in progress," he said. "In each case, it's a spread of a new genetic variant in a gene that controls brain size. This variant is clearly favored by natural selection." "

In an interview with the NY Times, Dr. Lahn said "I do think this kind of study is a harbinger for what might become a rather controversial issue in human population research," Dr. Lahn said. But he said his data and other such findings "do not necessarily lead to prejudice for or against any particular population."


From the time he published his findings, Dr. Lahn was clearly afraid that the results would be used to "prove" prejudice against certain races. Unfortunately, this fear is becoming a reality. The PC crowd is using it as an excuse to say that Dr. Lahn is prejudice against South Africans, or blacks, and that he's trying to prove the genetic superiority of Asians and Europeans, or whites. As a result of the backlash, the University of Chicago is pulling Dr. Lahn's patent applications and Dr. Lahn is halting his study. Instead of being seen as groundbreaking research into human evolution and natural selection, Dr. Lahn's research is simply being seen as racist.

What a damn shame.

I am so sick and tired of "political correctness" I could just spit. It's SCIENCE! It's not conjecture. It's a theory into human evolution, not an attempt to degrade certain races. Think of the implications here: Do certain societal influences affect DNA? Dr. Lahn's team noted that the microcephalin allele mutations first appeared back when humans emigrated from Africa. They also noted that the ASPM allele emerged about the same time as the spread of agriculture in the Middle East. Although the team said that a connection is not clear... surely there is something to this.

If microcephalin genes produced larger brains in people who moved out of Africa and into Asia and Europe, perhaps it is a natural selection function of our development. If modified ASPM genes appear in brains of agricultural-based societies, perhaps that is also showing a natural selection evolution. Everything happens for a reason, ESPECIALLY modified genes and DNA. This would certainly explain why Asia and Europe are considered "modern" societies, and produce some of the world's most innovative and intellectual people. It would also explain why the Middle East has remained more agricultural than technical- their brains are simply wired that way.

Again, I say, what a damn shame this research is being stifled.


  • My only comment is before you start speculating about the development of cultures read Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.

    Also, you indicated that 30 percent of the European and East Asian population does not have these genes. How do you know this percentage of the population is not the ruling elite?

    By Blogger Fkitten, at 10:37 PM  

  • I believe that the understanding of race and intelligence should be researched in an unbiased fashion.

    The problem is the moment a study finds a slightly indicative pattern of intelligence and race, racists will literally go "AHA!!!I TOLD YOU NIGGERS WERE DUMB!!!"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:14 AM  

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