Stupid in the Eye of the Beholder: The Human Genome and Racial Difference

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The decoding of the human genome continues apace and those of us who have latched on to the ‘99% meme’ (e.g. “99% of our DNA is the same so we all live in a yellow submarine of bio-racial sameness la la la,” etc.) have to batten down the hatches for the continuing unprocessed info-glut from the science types even as the political types sharpen their anti-intellectual cultural swords.

Here’s the good news: “When scientists first decoded the human genome in 2000, they were quick to portray it as proof of humankind’s remarkable similarity. The DNA of any two people, they emphasized, is at least 99 percent identical.”

Here’s the bad: “But new research is exploring the remaining fraction to explain differences between people of different continental origins.”

Ruh roh. Bell curve, anyone, and nefarious laymen perverting neutral scientific advances to further their own group’s racial agenda?

Nonscientists are already beginning to stitch together highly speculative conclusions about the historically charged subject of race and intelligence from the new biological data. Last month, a blogger in Manhattan described a recently published study that linked several snippets of DNA to high I.Q. An online genetic database used by medical researchers, he told readers, showed that two of the snippets were found more often in Europeans and Asians than in Africans.

No matter that the link between I.Q. and those particular bits of DNA was unconfirmed, or that other high I.Q. snippets are more common in Africans, or that hundreds or thousands of others may also affect intelligence, or that their combined influence might be dwarfed by environmental factors. Just the existence of such genetic differences between races, proclaimed the author of the Half Sigma blog, a 40-year-old software developer, means “the egalitarian theory,” that all races are equal, “is proven false.”

Three guesses as to this “software developer’s” race. But check out what scientists have to say about this information still in it’s infancy:

“There are clear differences between people of different continental ancestries,” said Marcus W. Feldman, a professor of biological sciences at Stanford University. “It’s not there yet for things like I.Q., but I can see it coming. And it has the potential to spark a new era of racism if we do not start explaining it better.”

The blogosphere, of course, is leading the race to the bottom. I’ll spare you the links to all the knuckle-dragging Neanderthals but here’s this smart-ass Negro’s advice: wait.

Say nothing.

Start carefully annotated files.

Resist the impulse to try to stifle the discourse with so-far bogus cries of racism. Who knows who’ll turn out to be right and who wrong (I do, but the time is not yet right, dearies). Unless, of course, you’re actually afraid that blacks really are dumber.

Wait. Watch. Study. Amass evidence for some very specific, very well timed indictments.

Remember, Timbuktu wasn’t built in a day.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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