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Gagnrad's Journal

Discussion in 'My Optimal Journal' started by Gagnrad, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. Gagnrad

    Gagnrad New Member

    @caroline Any comments on this, Audrey? I guess having lived over there for many years you're probably interested in Aboriginal culture.

    I think that sometimes people romanticise Australian Aborigines. I think that maybe Bruce Chatwin did a little. … But then again maybe that redresses the balance. Look at the the filthy prejudice directed at these people just decades ago! Rabbit Proof Fence is damning in its way, don't you think?


    But, well … you can go too far, and there have been dissenting voices:


    Still and all, we may be able to see what is wrong with other societies, but - equally - do they see what is wrong with us?
  2. Gagnrad

    Gagnrad New Member

    We now have posters for 23andme in British trains.

    Hmmmm …

    I wonder. I guess it's cool if you've got the cash, but just how useful is it?

    There are worries around (a) privacy and (b) supposed "genetic susceptibility" to certain conditions (but, note, does this even matter if the relevant genes aren't "switched on"? (Yes, I know it's more complicated than that).)

    So, anyway, my impression is that they're now selling on "human interest" takeaways - like "how Irish or French or German are you?" … or - the ultimate tease - how Neanderthaler are you?

    IMO, this is OK as far as it goes, but nothing is as clear cut as 23andme would like you to think.

    Current political boundaries aren't where they've always been. See, for example:


    (And, in this context, remember that communication by sea was once far easier than travel over rutted and boggy roads.)

    If you look at the broad picture behind this - try, for example, Stephen Oppemheimer's work - what you find is this. There were two "Ice Age Refuges". These were places where people retreated when things just got too cold. One was in what is now Spain; the other, in what is now the Ukraine. As the Ice Sheet retreated people moved out from these places again. Everyone with European ancestry is descended from these people in one way or another - there's no other way to cut it - and really re-imagining people as having descent from particular places that map onto current nations (which are, at the end of the day, political constructs) is a sleight of hand. It's interesting to people - and a come-on to fork over the money - but … well, take it with a pinch of salt. And, anyway, gene pools, as I hope most people are aware, are "open".

    So you can look at some particular gene - say the Y-chromosome - and, sure, there will be some variants on that that will be late arrivals and that have a geographically limited distribution that allows you to map that variation back to its likely origin. But, well, not everyone in a given modern national population will have that variant - perhaps a minority will - so what's the interest? AFAICT, the real interest is that if it turns up elsewhere you know that there was a movement from A to B. Maybe only one in ten Norse had this allele. But if it turns up in one of 30 inhabitants of, say, Cumberland and Westmoreland, then that tells you that there was a historic movement of population from Norway to the NW coast of England - which should surprise no-one given what we already know from the historical records, linguistic analysis of dialects, and so on.

    I think what the average person does not realise is that they never see the raw data from genetic analysis. And they simply believe whatever they're told about it. What they're told isn't totally fantasy, of course, but there's a whole raft of assumptions and statistical jiggery-pokery that the average person is not even aware of.

    I think the same goes, to some extent, for uBiome or American/British Gut data. It doesn't tell you what's there in some uncomplicated and error-free manner. It gives you an interesting snapshot subject to sampling and processing errors.
  3. Gagnrad

    Gagnrad New Member

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