DNA tests lead to new worries about racial prejudice

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by bnhall, Nov 12, 2007.

  1. bnhall

    bnhall Former Member

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    From the NYT:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/u...gin&adxnnlx=1194894014-o94CBsp+jxA0yMJwslTFLw

    Scientists, for instance, have recently identified small changes in DNA that account for the pale skin of Europeans, the tendency of Asians to sweat less and West AfricansÂ’ resistance to certain diseases.

    At the same time, genetic information is slipping out of the laboratory and into everyday life, carrying with it the inescapable message that people of different races have different DNA. Ancestry tests tell customers what percentage of their genes are from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. The heart-disease drug BiDil is marketed exclusively to African-Americans, who seem genetically predisposed to respond to it. Jews are offered prenatal tests for genetic disorders rarely found in other ethnic groups.

    Such developments are providing some of the first tangible benefits of the genetic revolution. Yet some social critics fear they may also be giving long-discredited racial prejudices a new potency. The notion that race is more than skin deep, they fear, could undermine principles of equal treatment and opportunity that have relied on the presumption that we are all fundamentally equal.
     
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  3. Nova

    Nova New Member

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    Not that racists have ever needed scientific evidence.

    But even if it were shown that one particular race has a genetic predisposition toward musical talent, for example, how would that justify discriminating against one, brilliant white trumpet player?

    (This is rhetorical question and, for me, the bottom line. I know bhhall's answer is that it wouldn't justify discrimination.)
     
  4. Amraann

    Amraann Former Member

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    This is just silly. Of course DNA from different regions would vary since the peoples of those regions over years of evolution had to adapt to the climates they lived in.
     
  5. gman20001969

    gman20001969 New Member

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    Sheesh...

    When will people realize that we were brought to this planet over 10,000 years ago from several different planets and genetically altered to survive here???

    Hey, that's my theory. :)
     
  6. GlitchWizard

    GlitchWizard Reprobate

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    And then there is my theory. When DNA can be identified and manipulated, we can manipulate things like Down's Syndrome right out of baby births. Perhaps we can go to McBaby and order babies that look just like Great Aunt Melba or something.
     
  7. sherri79

    sherri79 Former Member

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    people can do good or evil and will use the tools given for the purpose they see fit. i would manipulate my child's dna in a heart beat to remove the birth defect that killed my son, a niece, and a nephew. some people would use the same tools to remove all traces of a ethnic ancestor. just like splitting the atom. the people decide if it is used for a bomb or for electricity. in the end i think people are basically good. for every Hitler type who wants only Blondie blue eyed kids you can find 100 who think Jessica Alba is the hottest thing since Internet.
     
  8. GlitchWizard

    GlitchWizard Reprobate

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    A long time ago, the Earth was not inhabited by humans. Someday, this will be the case again. What we do in the meantime is we learn and we change. I don't have a problem with genetic manipulation and for people to have whatever genetic health, color eyes, hair and skin babies they want to have - personally. I draw the line at someone telling you what choices you have to make though (Hitler example.)
     
  9. mjak

    mjak Active Member

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    Agreed, this is very silly. Surely people have allready realized much of what accounts for peoples differences and similariteis has to do with DNA.
    There is nothing earth shattering here.

    mjak
     
  10. Nova

    Nova New Member

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    I don't think anyone is saying we should ban discussions of DNA, they're just acknowledging the difficulties of how the public sometimes uses science.

    The concept of "social Darwinism" -- something Darwin himself never endorsed -- was used to justify everything from slavery to genocide.

    But scientists are already realizing that DNA is NOT destiny. Our genes merely provide a starting point. Our lives, our characters and even our bodies are just as much affected by the social context in which we live and the choices we make.
     
  11. GlitchWizard

    GlitchWizard Reprobate

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    Will someone please adjust my DNA so that I have a faster metabolism please?
     
  12. Nova

    Nova New Member

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    You don't have to adjust your DNA, there are pills and powders (legal and illegal) to increase metabolism. Personally, I prefer Starbucks. :D
     
  13. GlitchWizard

    GlitchWizard Reprobate

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    When they find one to counteract overeating, I'm there. :)

    Mmmm Starbucks Venti Skinny Black and White Mocha Quad... it's like a dollar a word, though.


    (Oh, and the Black and White refers to CHOCOLATE, not race... for those who get confused.) :)
     
  14. Nova

    Nova New Member

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    Glitch, I know you were joking, but metabolism is probably a good example of the limits of DNA. Yes, some people can eat anything and never gain weight (the bastards!).

    But our bodies are products of our genetic inclination to burn fuel PLUS social context (the eating habits we grew up with, our education with regard to caloric intake, etc.) PLUS the choices we make concerning what we eat and whether and how we exercise. (I'll admit the latter are usually poor in my case. :D)
     
  15. GlitchWizard

    GlitchWizard Reprobate

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    Except for one tiny little flaw in your logic, I agree. I have all the education about caloric intake. I know EXACTLY how to lose weight and keep it off the most healthy ways possible. However, having the education does not stop me from having quaint dinners for four where I forget to invite three other people. :)
     
  16. Nova

    Nova New Member

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    Been there, done that. But the flaw isn't in my logic. I believe I said something about "choices." :)

    This isn't to say that it's equally easy for everyone to maintain their ideal weight. Obviously it isn't. But the point is that DNA is only the beginning of the whole story and not a good cause for discrimination.
     
  17. GlitchWizard

    GlitchWizard Reprobate

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    No, and honestly I don't think it is even a cause at all. I was thinking of this today on my lunch break, actually. Everyone from the time I was little said that the only difference between black people and white people was the color of the skin. I knew as a small child that this wasn't true. There was a different scent to a black person. As I grew older I noticed the hair was different, the head shape was often different... then I got older and noticed the butts are different, too. Through the years I saw a little bit of attitude difference, but not much, really, through college years. Never really thought much about differences at the time because there weren't many.

    In the past ten years or so, I've noticed a HUGE difference in attitude, speech patterns, SPELLING and GRAMMAR (my peeves), respect (or lack of) and music influences. I've noticed the differences expand way beyond "color" and into things that personally afront me and my senses from black people and I'm sure black people have noticed differences expand way beyond color into things that personally affront them as well.

    I doubt anyone ever thought we were really exactly the same when some diseases are associated with black people, some are associated with white people.

    No one hates you for your DNA, or your hair, or your skin color. If so, people would hate Indians for being dark, or Japanese for being light.

    They hate because of a clash between cultures and behaviors. It's not always ignorance, it's experience.

    If you are always around really cool black/white people who pretty much act right, you aren't racist. If you are around hateful black/white people who pretty much do not act right - you're more likely to be racist.

    In my opinion.
     
  18. Nova

    Nova New Member

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    Well, people DO hate Indians for whatever reason, and Japanese, too. But that's a lot more prevalent out here in the West. As a Floridian transplanted to California, I am well aware of how racial prejudices vary by region. I think it has to do largely with numbers; when a minority reaches sufficient size to seem threatening, irrational prejudices rise.

    But I certainly agree that prejudice has as much or more to do with cultural factors than with physical ones.

    Sorry, but I don't buy that. Hatred of a group is always based on extrapolating from individual traits to a mass of people. Experience may give one more examples to complain about, but the basic act of extrapolation is still one of ignorance. (Which is not to say that individual is ignorant in all ways.)

    And it's something we all have a tendency to do, but enlightened people resist the urge, instead reminding themselves that even counting every person they meet, that's still a small percentage of the group.
     
  19. Ang50

    Ang50 New Member

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    Somewhere - around 1998 or so - I remember reading an article that discussed DNA and race. It was Time or Newsweek. The article stated quite clearly that I was just as likely if not more likely to share more genes with a person of a different color or race than I was within my own race. I can't find it now.

    That was astounding to me then - but now makes sense. Your skin color, hair color, etc. are so much more limited than the other genes that make up your penchant for heart disease or ability to tolerate pain or predisposition for chocolate. Hopefully the lesson with DNA will be that we are all so much more the same than different.
     
  20. GlitchWizard

    GlitchWizard Reprobate

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    If someone looks, talks, smells and has the same DNA as I do - exactly like me except they are obnoxious - I will not like them because they are obnoxious.

    Unless I am obnoxious, too.

    There's always going to be something.
     
  21. Nova

    Nova New Member

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    I read it. Time had a cover story on the worldwide DNA project. The authors of the study showed that the DNA differences between any two individuals are far greater than the differences between the average examples of two races. They (and many scientists since) have taken the position that "race" as we know really falls within the domain of social science rather than natural science, and should be eliminated as a concept of the physical sciences.
     

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