Saturday, October 23, 2010

The delusions of the Council of Conservative Citizens and genetics.

With the sequencing of the nuclear chromosomes and the genetic material of the mitochondria science has gained a lot of information on the relatedness of peoples and species and a window back in time. In the pages of Science magazine, the publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and of which I have been a subscriber to for 20 years at least, the new revelations of genetic sequencing have come to light. Also, in Scientific American, another prestigious publication, the discoveries of genetic sequencing have been reported.

Some of the genetic material in us isn't very critical and seems to be along for the ride, and some of the other material is of course critical and if mutated is the cause for so many diseases. Though exactly what isn't really critical continues to be a subject of discovery and further investigations. Then there is epigenetics which is a whole other level of complexity.

The mitochondria are inherited from the mother, though there was some discussion whether in rare occasions a mitochondria might come from the father, but I never did read what the end of that discussion was. This DNA can be sequenced, it exists in a circle in the mitochondria, and since it isn't involved in reshuffling in sexual reproduction from two sources it is a great source of information to trace evolutionary relatedness.

Changes in this mitochondrial DNA is solely through mutations and the variations in the non-critical parts changes over time. You can thus with sequences map the relatedness of the human species. Of course scientists understanding that they could do so did so and what they found was that in the scheme of things everyone outside of Africa were part of a sub-sub group, I am not sure how many subdivisions down, of one of the African groups. Africans are divided into three groups with a lot of mitochondiral differences. Out of Africa is a scientific reality.

A scientific question over the years has been whether Neanderthals and modern humans ever interbred and the debate has gone back and forth. DNA sequencing a piece of tissue left from a Neanderthal would help resolve this. However, there are real problems in doing so. As the DNA is older it is degraded and results less clear. Also, you have to make sure that the sample isn't contaminated by human DNA such as the dead skin cells people are shedding all the time.

However, recently one researcher has done an analysis, reportedly successfully in the scientific press, and has come up with 4%. This is a very interesting result, but needs some replication since it is just one sample and one analysis. Once we have three or four analyses and similar numbers we can start to perceive this as result which more confidence can be placed.

However, the goofologists at the Conservative Citizens Council at the following link see this one scientific result as the basis of delusional claims.

"The “Out of Africa” theory was not created by actual scientists. It was cooked up by left-wing college administrators and forced onto the science departments. It was a myth designed to promote the left-wing agenda on multiculturalism. Every new discovery in the fields of anthropology and genetics continue to completely disprove this left-wing fantasy. Europeans and Asians have substantial amounts of Neanderthal ancestry, while Sub-Saharan Africans do not. Further, the Neanderthal genome project has revived the groups placement as “proto-Caucasian.” Neanderthal can be divided into at least three regional sub-groups. Some Neanderthal, at least those living in Europe had members with fair skin and red hair."

First there is the denial of years of scientific research and publication, with the claim that the conclusion of this research was "cooked up by left-wing college administrators." Then there is the claim of "substantial amounts of Neanderthal ancestry," instead of mentioning it is just 4%.

The mitochondrial evidence is real and not subject to hysterical delusion and exists as scientific evidence independent from nuclear genetic material.

However, these posts just show that what passes for scientific thinking among the members of that organization's membership is actually some type of crazed racism grasping for straws and has no understanding of the underlying science involved.

Update: It occurs to me that it is somewhat ironic that the Council of Conservative Citizens which is hysterically aghast over interracial relations, regards very positively interspecies or perhaps it might be called intersubspecies relations.

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