Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2005-03 > 1110037824

From: "Ken Nordtvedt" <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] Open and Closed Genealogy and DNA population LIMITATIONS
Date: Sat, 5 Mar 2005 08:50:24 -0700
References: <000001c5217a$a00a3f40$7dcd9a52@pc>

Malcolm, Your message touches on a deep issue which may have already
produced constraints on the scientific information available to us.

I recall a number of years ago some folks blocking the creation of a
comprehensive gene bank to preserve and eventually measure the full genetic
diversities of the many peoples on earth. The argument followed along the
lines of Bolnick as you report below.

Talking with some SNP-hunters, I've been told that public monies to do this
kind of lab work is quite difficult to get if agencies think it is for
ancestral population studies. Such work must often piggy-back on grants for
research defined for medical purposes. Here motives are not so clear:
public agencies can argue that medical research purposes trump wanting to
know our genetic histories. But you can often read a paper about such
things as the "genetic profile of the Danelaw", for just a made-up example,
and the last paragraph of the paper throws in a "by the way" statement that
this research will revolutionize the delivery of health care to the folks of
Yorkshire. I think this reveals the pressure many of these researchers are

Probably worse would be today's university community culture stigmas if a
Professor admitted he was studying the genetic evidence concerning the
migrations of the ancient tribes, ethnic groups, or whatever one calls them.
That's not fashionable right now. I never in my lifetime thought I would
see the day that universities had become some of the most illiberal (in 19th
century meaning of that word) sub-cultures in our society.

But the private customer demand for this kind of research and eventual
knowledge is quite significant; and this means lots of cash flow. If we
could only channel that money in a more organized manner we might have some
impact on stimulating the kind of research which will enlarge the knowledge
base useful to us.

> "Showing Who They Really Are" Bolnick. Paper Presented at the American
> Anthropological Association, November 2003.
> "Deconstructing the Relationship between Genetics and Race"
> Bamshad, Michael, et al. Nature Reviews Genetics, August 2004, Volume
> 5: 598-609.
> Bolnick, in her previous paper, said this in her summing up of genetic
> genealogy -
> The persistence of such beliefs in
> association with these tests is particularly problematic, because these
> tests have a direct and profound influence on how people perceive
> themselves on how they are perceived by others."

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