Monday, July 14, 2003


Is this the ultimate in scientific incorrectness? A flamethrower post from Chris Brand:

“Black people are markedly more similar genetically to chimpanzees than are Whites or Amerindians. This striking result was re-published by “Legion Europa” , giving details of a 1995 paper in American Journal of Human Genetics which apparently had not seemed of interest to the rest of the media. A later paper from Pennsylvania State University confirmed the result and added detail showing Asians somewhat further removed from chimpanzees phylogenetically than Europeans (Molecular Biology & Evolution, 1996)”.

I am not an expert on the science involved but it seems sound as far as I can see. Reality can be mightily inconvenient.

I sought a comment from Razib, one of the geneticists at Gene Expression, and he emailed me as follows:

Uh, this is kind of a red herring. the most recent research pushes the divergence between non-african & african populations about 80,000 years back. chimps diverged from hominids a few million years back. africans are more like chimps in their population substructure, not going through multiple bottlenecks and radiations, as both groups reside near their species' point of origin. eurasians are a subset of northeast africans that have gone through multiple bottlenecks and radiations (ergo, southern amerindians, at the end of this process are the least like genetically diverse chimps), so their neutral markers show less diversity, so they would probably match less with very diversified species genetically like than africans, who are the most genetically diversified human beings. this of course is all in the neutral non-adaptive parts of the genome....

Razib does not seem to deny the basic point that African differences are most like Chimp differences but disputes that the similarity has much significance.

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