Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2010-03 > 1269134302

From: "Raymond Whritenour" <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] OT How many races are there?
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 21:18:22 -0400
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In the first place, that's NOT *my* hypothesis. I said the race of any "non-mixed-race" person can be ascertained by appearance. However, I wouldn't hesitate to say that Emmitt Smith's "majority" racial component is "African" (to adopt your nomenclature for this race)--and, I'd be right. So, I guess I'd live, huh?

In reality, knowing the race of a criminal or the majority race of a mixed-race criminal has great value for law enforcement personnel looking for a suspect. In one case, it helped police find a serial killer! DNAPrint genomics, Inc. NEVER failed to identify the majority race of every one of the thousands of people who tested with them--except those with two roughly equal racial lineages. So, the predictive ability of the 4-race scenario is near perfect.

Ray Whritenour

----- Original Message -----
From: Tom Gull<mailto:>
To: <mailto:>
Sent: Saturday, March 20, 2010 7:55 PM
Subject: Re: [DNA] OT How many races are there?

Another way to look at this: the hypothesis is that we have four races and
we can easily tell which race a person "belongs to" by appearance alone. Is
this a solid hypothesis with top-notch predictive qualities? Would you bet
your life that Emmett Smith's race was "African" only based on his physical

If so, you'd die. His recent appearance on TV as a guest having his
ancestry analyzed revealed his DNA is not all African in origin. It's an
admixture, part of the continuum we all participate in. Without knowing the
geographic origins of a person and virtually all of his ancestry in advance,
the predictive hypothesis of "race" would be a very shaky edifice to bet
anything of consequence on. And even if you knew those things, all it takes
is one person with a different DNA background in the ancestry to ruin the
prediction. How valuable is an hypothesis with limited predictive value for
scientifically known reasons?

As time goes on, the predictive quality of this hypothesis is eroding
quickly. The conditions that made it once more effective have changed. And
that change actually started thousands of years ago as people started to
wander around the globe more and interbreed. You just couldn't prove it
because DNA testing wasn't on the horizon. So yes, science has changed our
viewpoint in this area and is continuing to do so. The beliefs held 300
years ago have been proven to be inaccurate at the molecular level, an
artifact of isolation and not even a complete one then. With isolation
disappearing, so is the usefulness and reality of that hypothesis.

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