Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2010-03 > 1269193703

From: "Tom Gull" <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] OT How many races are there?
Date: Sun, 21 Mar 2010 13:48:23 -0400
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In-Reply-To: <BLU126-DS76551D51F618F85FCFADE92280@phx.gbl>

That's confusing "race" with "visual appearance", but that's part of the
whole dilemma with the term. I have blue-green eyes. There's an hypothesis
that anyone with that color has a mutation and is descended from one person,
which of course means it was concentrated in one geographic area for a
loooong time (in this case, probably northern Europe). So we have the race
checklist in hand - detectable by visual appearance, has a genetic basis,
has a geographic isolation basis, etc. Therefore, having blue eyes makes
you part of a race of blue-eyed people that can be told apart from all other

And if you tell the police a suspect had blue eyes, they'd use that to find
the person, just like any other visual indicator. But they'd do the same if
you said the person had a missing arm.

And what the heck is a "majority race"? The whole point of the social
construct was to divide people into groups based on other peoples'
judgements. You're either in the group or not. The fact that we can now even
talk about "majority race" shows how much this is a social construct instead
of a scientific one. But to the degree scientific observations are used to
support the concept, there are many visual indicators based on one's
personal genes that would qualify as "race" if people would let go of the
relatively small number that were acceptable historically. So what's the
point? If you're hunting down people based on appearance, let's say that,
instead of saying we're searching for them based on "race". For something
supposedly so scientific and clean, the exceptions definitely are numerous
and disprove the rule.

Anyway, let's just disagree on this and move on.

From: "Raymond Whritenour" <>
Sent: Saturday, March 20, 2010 9:18 PM
To: <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] OT How many races are there?

> Tom:
> 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

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