Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Where did Neanderthals come from?

The NY Times Science section explains:
Q. Where did Neanderthals come from?

A. Most scientists think that Neanderthals probably evolved in Europe from African ancestors.

The consensus now is that modern humans and Neanderthals shared a common ancestor in Africa about 700,000 years ago. The ancestors of Neanderthals left Africa first, expanding to the Near East and then to Europe and Central Asia. DNA extracted from a 430,000-year-old Neanderthal skeleton found in Spain, reported in the journal Nature in 2016, is believed to be the oldest human DNA ever studied.

Modern humans emerged in Africa about 200,000 years ago and remained there until roughly 70,000 years ago, when they too began venturing into other parts of the world. Recent genetic studies have concluded that modern humans and Neanderthals met up again in Europe — and interbred. As a result, the genes of all living non-Africans are roughly 1 percent Neanderthal. Our cousins went extinct about 40,000 years ago.
The facts are consistent with current thinking, but the terminology is wrong.

Neanderthals are called "human", while Africans are called "modern humans". There is no good reason for calling Africans any more modern than Neanderthals. On the contrary, Neanderthal appears to have been more advanced.

If your genes are 1% Neanderthal, then Neanderthals are your ancestors, not your cousins, and they did not go extinct. Billions of their descendants live today.

I think that the NY Times uses this terminology because it is owned and operated by white-haters who wish to put down those of European ancestry at every opportunity. They look forward to the day when they can say that white Europeans are just cousins that went extinct.

I know that sounds goofy, but you tell me why a well-edited newspaper would say that someone was an ancestor in one sentence, and then an extinct cousin in the next. It doesn't make any sense, except to try to give the impression that Europeans were irrelevant and inferior to Africans.

Here is another NY Times article with a political angle on race and science:
Sickle cell anemia was first described in 1910 and was quickly labeled a “black” disease. At a time when many people were preoccupied with an imagined racial hierarchy, with whites on top, the disease was cited as evidence that people of African descent were inferior. But what of white people who presented with sickle cell anemia? ...

Professor Yudell belongs to a growing chorus of scholars and researchers who argue that in science at least, we need to push past the race concept and, where possible, scrap it entirely. Professor Yudell and others contend that instead of talking about race, we should talk about ancestry (which, unlike “race,” refers to one’s genetic heritage, not innate qualities); or the specific gene variants that, like the sickle cell trait, affect disease risk; or environmental factors like poverty or diet that affect some groups more than others.
This reminds me of the campaign to replace the name GRIDS with AIDS, because science had proven that it was not a gay disease. Now, 30 years later, it is as much a gay disease as it ever was. The campaign was political.

The article makes distinctions that don't make any sense. It distinguishes between ancestry and race by saying that ancestry refers to genetic heritage while race refers to innate qualities. No, this is just nutty. Ancestry and race are both innate, and both being just different ways of expressing the same genetic heritage.

I understand that physicians could have been misled by racial generalizations in the past, but the article examples do not back that up.

Consider the case of kidney disease. Scientists have found that African-Americans fare worse than whites when it comes to this illness. The assumption had long been that some environmental factor explained the difference. But in recent years, scientists have linked certain variants of a gene called APOL1 to worse kidney-related outcomes. Those variants are enriched in people of African ancestry. Girish N. Nadkarni, a kidney specialist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, explained to me that scientists think this may be because those variants protect against the sleeping sickness endemic to some parts of Africa.
In other words, the scientists using race were completely correct. Anti-race propagandists tried to convince them race was not the issue, but when new DNA evidence became available, it turned out that race was the issue exactly as the earlier scientists had suspected.
Not everyone agrees that it is possible or even desirable to completely scrap the race concept. ... Science seeks to categorize nature, to sort it into discrete groupings to better understand it. ... The problem is, the concept is imprecise. ... Now, at a time when we desperately need ways to come together, there are scientists — intellectual descendants of the very people who helped give us the race concept — who want to retire it.
Notice the reluctance to use races in the above article on Neanderthals, even when the science requires it. It says "all living non-Africans" when it really means all those not belonging to the negro race. The South Africa whites have the Neanderthal genes.

For more criticism, see Prof. Jerry Coyne.

No comments: