Some less evolved than others claim non-scientists
February 13, 2008
Lluís Quintana-Murci and his colleagues at the Pasteur Institute, in Paris, published a study in Nature Genetics that looked at which genes have undergone recent natural selection at different rates in different parts of the world, and might thus contribute to any biological differences between races of human beings. The results are uncontroversial. Several of the differences detected are in genes for superficial racial markers of skin color and hair form. Most of the others whose functions are known are connected either with diet or with resistance to disease. It appears that most of us are just regular folks, but not everyone agrees.
“If you think everybody is the same except for skin and hair color, then you haven’t met Amit Kumar,” said Edgy Matron, a brilliant woman often known for shifting uncomfortably, but also as a strong supporter of the Arts. “Kumar has been stealing the kidneys of the poor around Nepal and selling them to the highest bidder. The guys allegedly higher brain functions are not like yours and mine. He’s different.”
But, scientists say that when it comes right down to it, we’re all basically the same. “You can’t single out someone like Kumar or Jeffrey Dahmer, Hitler or Barack Obama and say that there’s something uniquely twisted about them,” said scientist Harvey O’Kelly, a Native American who drinks Guinness at every meal and tends to slur his words for effect. “Genetics and ones DNA make everyone of us similar, but social mores aren’t necessarilly inherited. That means Al Qaeda could stop beheading people if they wanted to, and the Italian Mafia could become like the United Way. Of course that means my grandmother could begin acting like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad too, but she’s not really a Jew hater by nature.”
An Indian doctor named Amit Kumar was arrested at a jungle resort in Nepal this week and accused of running a kidney racket out of a house near Delhi, the BBC reports. He allegedly ran a scheme that “lured or forced” poor laborers to give up a kidney, the Guardian reported. The BBC put the price the donors were paid for a kidney at $2,500 or less. The recipients were mostly wealthy Indians, as well as some foreigners.
The study in Nature Genetics published by Lluís Quintana-Murci and his colleagues at the Pasteur Institute used data drawn from a project called HapMap, which catalogues what are known as single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. These are places where individual human genomes routinely differ from one another by a single genetic “letter”. Differences Dr Quintana-Murci detected were only in genes for skin color and hair. All in all, the school of thought which holds that humans, for all their outward variety, are a pretty homogenous species received a boost. There were, however, 30 locally selected genes whose functions are as yet unknown.
“I think it’s those unknown genes that spell out why Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin behave differently than the rest of us,” said Hugh Hefner, an astrophysicist, brain expert and experimental psychologist known best for a popular magazine based on the study of skin. “I’ve done a lot of tactile skin experimentation on various races over the years and for the most part they react the same. Now most of my research has been limited to women but it’s been conducted beginning in the 1960’s and continues today. I keep looking for unknown genes inside their jeans. I’m committed to it and I think its an important body of work that will probably explain everything eventually.”
In other news, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Vladimir Putin is operating torture colonies. The report said that people were held in metal containers without toilets and have no heat in winter or ventilation in summer. They are frequently beaten. No word on whether it’s one of the 30 unknown genes that makes Putin do it.
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