Modern measures of genetic diversity:
Many years ago in civics class, our teacher said, “If you take a Frenchman and a German and an Englishman and put them in a bag and shake them and dump them out, you will still be able to tell which man is from which country.  But the difference is all cultural.  There is no genetic difference.”

She was teaching what she had been told.  But my stalwart friend has sent me the following link:

According to this, and he cites a paper from science, it is indeed possible to tell them apart genetically.  I read the article and probably did not think it quite relevant and did not keep it, so I have no reference I can find, but having looked at it again something comes to mind.

What we were taught was simply not true.  It may have been true enough for the techniques then available.  But there is a serious problem with the concept that what we know now is what we will always know. 

Galileo decided that the earth went around the sun.  In fact, they both go around their mutual center of gravity.  That point is inside the sun, but that has to do with the size and shape of the sun, not of the orbits.  Suppose you were to look at the course of the moon.  It is always concave toward the sun, even when the moon is between the earth and the sun.  To me, that means that the earth and the moon are leapfrogging each other, with each going around their mutual center of gravity and the whole system going around the sun.  But the point of mutual gravity is within the earth.  So most say that the moon goes around the earth even though it is occasionally going on a path that is convex toward the earth.  Were the earth smaller and the same mass, the orbits would not change.  So it is not exactly true that the earth goes around the sun.

Yet Galileo spent much of his life under house arrest because he kept insisting that the earth went around the sun.  Had he been just a bit more strident and consistent he might have got himself executed. 

Galileo did not establish that the earth goes around the sun.  He established that everybody has the right to be wrong in his own way.  That is far more important.

I keep hammering on the point that one must keep one’s gene pool under control or die out.  That is true.  It is not absolutely and permanently true.  There are things we don’t know.  But for practical purposes right now it is true beyond a shadow of a doubt. 

Some day the truth, this tiny and unloved but hideously important little bit of the truth will get out.  Nothing can stop it.  Nothing can be utterly contained any more than anything can be utterly true.  Something to do with the nature of the expanding universe, but don’t get me started. 

When it comes out, if any of us are still alive, you may take some satisfaction in knowing that you knew before the others.  Then you will have the opportunity to do me a favor.

Don’t get so obsessed with the new knowledge that you forget that knowledge is always partial. 

I think most scientists believe that science has the basics under control.  The great outlines are visible.  It is only finer and finer details that need to be resolved.  Yes, perhaps the foundation may need to be leveled, replaced or shifted, but the great edifice still stands.

I do not believe that at all.  There are profound problems from subbasement to gable.  I work on this particular problem because it is the one that is killing us right now.

There have 5,443 blank visitors so far.

Home page