Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You, Second Edition: Busting Myths about Human Nature

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Monographs on 2022-01-21 02:18Z by Steven

Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You, Second Edition: Busting Myths about Human Nature

University of California Press
May 2022
352 pages
Illustrations: 10 b/w illustrations
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Paperback ISBN: 9780520379602
eBook ISBN: 9780520976818

Agustín Fuentes, Professor of Anthropology
Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

A compelling takedown of prevailing myths about human behavior, updated and expanded to meet the current moment.

There are three major myths of human nature: humans are divided into biological races; humans are naturally aggressive; and men and women are wholly different in behavior, desires, and wiring. Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You counters these pervasive and pernicious myths about human behavior. Agustín Fuentes tackles misconceptions about what race, aggression, and sex really mean for humans, and incorporates an accessible understanding of culture, genetics, and evolution that requires us to dispose of notions of “nature or nurture.”

Presenting scientific evidence from diverse fields, including anthropology, biology, and psychology, Fuentes devises a myth-busting toolkit to dismantle persistent fallacies about the validity of biological races, the innateness of aggression and violence, and the nature of monogamy, sex, and gender. This revised and expanded edition provides up-to-date references, data, and analyses, and addresses new topics, including the popularity of home DNA testing kits and the rise of ‘”incel” culture; the resurgence of racist, nativist thinking and the internet’s influence in promoting bad science; and a broader understanding of the diversity of sex and gender.

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Hidden in the Genes

Posted in Biography, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Videos on 2022-01-07 02:14Z by Steven

Hidden in the Genes

Finding Your Roots
Season 8, Episode 1
Aired: 2022-01-04

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Host and Alfonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor; Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps Rebecca Hall and Lee Daniels solve family mysteries through DNA detective work, illuminating both history and their own identities.

Watch the episode (00:52:11) here.

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How the mixed-race mestizo myth warped science in Latin America

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2021-12-21 03:40Z by Steven

How the mixed-race mestizo myth warped science in Latin America

Number 600 (2021-12-13)
pages 374-378
DOI: 10.1038/d41586-021-03622-z

Emiliano Rodríguez Mega, Science Journalist
Mexico City, Mexico

Genetic studies have found a striking amount of diversity among people in Mexico. Credit: Stephania Corpi Arnaud for Nature

Researchers are trying to dismantle the flawed concept of homogeneous racial mixing that has fostered discrimination in Mexico, Brazil and other countries.

Nicéa Quintino Amauro always knew who she was.

She was born in Campinas, the last city in Brazil to prohibit slavery in 1888. She grew up in a Black neighbourhood, with a Black family. And a lot of her childhood was spent in endless meetings organized by the Unified Black Movement, the most notable Black civil-rights organization in Brazil, which her parents helped to found to fight against centuries-old racism in the country. She knew she was Black.

But in the late 1980s, when Amauro was around 13 years old, she was told at school that Brazilians were not Black. They were not white, either. Nor any other race. They were considered to be mestiços, or pardos, terms rooted in colonial caste distinctions that signify a tapestry of European, African and Indigenous backgrounds. And as one single mixed people, they were all equal to each other.

The idea felt odd. Wrong, even. “To me, it seemed quite strange,” says Amauro, now a chemist at the Federal University of Ubêrlandia in Minas Gerais and a member of the Brazilian Association of Black Researchers. “How can everyone be equal if racism exists? It doesn’t make sense.”

Amauro’s concerns echo across Latin America, where generations of people have been taught that they are the result of a long history of mixture between different ancestors who all came, or were forced, to live in the region…

Read the entire article here.

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Human geneticists curb use of the term ‘race’ in their papers

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2021-12-13 02:31Z by Steven

Human geneticists curb use of the term ‘race’ in their papers


Rodrigo Pérez Ortega

Geneticists are working to remove harmful racial categories from their descriptions of human populations. DAVIDE BONAZZI/@SALZMANART

Field still struggles with how to accurately describe populations, study finds

Human geneticists have mostly abandoned the word “race” when describing populations in their papers, according to a new study of research published in a leading genetics journal. That’s in line with the current scientific understanding that race is a social construct, and a welcome departure from research that in the past has often conflated genetic variation and racial categories, says Vence Bonham, a social scientist at the National Human Genome Research Institute who led the study.

But alternative terms that have gained popularity, such as “ancestry” and “ethnicity,” can have ambiguous meanings or aren’t defined by genetics, suggesting researchers are still struggling to find the words to accurately describe groups delineated by their DNA, according to the study.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, many geneticists embraced the idea that there were races, such as “Negroid” or “Caucasian,” that were distinct biological groups; such “race science” helped perpetuate discrimination and inequality. (Scientists have now thoroughly demonstrated the lack of a biological basis to racial categories.)…

Read the entire article here.

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University of Maryland Medical System drops race-based algorithm officials say harms Black patients

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2021-11-27 23:29Z by Steven

University of Maryland Medical System drops race-based algorithm officials say harms Black patients

The Washington Post

Ovetta Wiggins, Local reporter covering Maryland state politics

Uchenna Ndubisi, who is undergoing dialysis treatment, was pleased to learn that her hospital is getting rid of a race-based algorithm for a kidney diagnostic test. (Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post)

Uchenna Ndubisi was blown away when she first noticed the “African American” notation on a diagnostic test designed to show doctors how well her kidneys are working.

What did her race have to do with the toll lupus was taking on her body? The answer left her more resigned than surprised: an equation used to estimate how well a person’s organs filter waste included a decades-old racist assumption about Black bodies.

In this case, clinicians assumed Ndubisi had more muscle mass than a White patient would. For many Black kidney patients, like Ndubisi, the equation overestimates how well their kidneys are functioning, leading to the loss of critical time for necessary treatment.

“It’s being Black in America,” said Ndubisi, 35, who lives in Prince George’s County. “Another reminder . . . that there’s hurdles into health care for African Americans in this country.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Uncloaking a Lost Cause: Decolonizing ancestry estimation in the United States

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2021-11-21 02:27Z by Steven

Uncloaking a Lost Cause: Decolonizing ancestry estimation in the United States

American Journal of Biological Anthropology
Volume 175, Issue 2, June 2021 (Special Issue: Race reconciled II: Interpreting and communicating biological variation and race in 2021)
pages 422-436
DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.24212

Elizabeth A. DiGangi, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Binghamton University, State University of New York, Binghamton, New York

Jonathan D. Bethard, Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida

Since the professionalization of US-based forensic anthropology in the 1970s, ancestry estimation has been included as a standard part of the biological profile, because practitioners have assumed it necessary to achieve identifications in medicolegal contexts. Simultaneously, forensic anthropologists have not fully considered the racist context of the criminal justice system in the United States related to the treatment of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; nor have we considered that ancestry estimation might actually hinder identification efforts because of entrenched racial biases. Despite ongoing criticisms from mainstream biological anthropology that ancestry estimation perpetuates race science, forensic anthropologists have continued the practice. Recent years have seen the prolific development of retooled typological approaches with 21st century statistical prowess to include methods for estimating ancestry from cranial morphoscopic traits, despite no evidence that these traits reflect microevolutionary processes or are suitable genetic proxies for population structure; and such approaches have failed to critically evaluate the societal consequences for perpetuating the biological race concept. Around the country, these methods are enculturated in every aspect of the discipline ranging from university classrooms, to the board-certification examination marking the culmination of training, to standard operating procedures adopted by forensic anthropology laboratories. Here, we use critical race theory to interrogate the approaches utilized to estimate ancestry to include a critique of the continued use of morphoscopic traits, and we assert that the practice of ancestry estimation contributes to white supremacy. Based on the lack of scientific support that these traits reflect evolutionary history, and the inability to disentangle skeletal-based ancestry estimates from supporting the biological validity of race, we urge all forensic anthropologists to abolish the practice of ancestry estimation.

Read the entire article in PDF or HTML format.

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Race Is Real, But It’s Not Genetic

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2021-11-19 20:56Z by Steven

Race Is Real, But It’s Not Genetic


Alan Goodman, Professor of Biological Anthropology
Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts

For over 300 years, socially defined notions of “race” have shaped human lives around the globe—but the category has no biological foundation.

A friend of mine with Central American, Southern European, and West African ancestry is lactose intolerant. Drinking milk products upsets her stomach, and so she avoids them. About a decade ago, because of her low dairy intake, she feared that she might not be getting enough calcium, so she asked her doctor for a bone density test. He responded that she didn’t need one because “blacks do not get osteoporosis.”

My friend is not alone. The view that black people don’t need a bone density test is a longstanding and common myth. A 2006 study in North Carolina found that out of 531 African American and Euro-American women screened for bone mineral density, only 15 percent were African American women—despite the fact that African American women made up almost half of that clinical population. A health fair in Albany, New York, in 2000, turned into a ruckus when black women were refused free osteoporosis screening. The situation hasn’t changed much in more recent years.

Meanwhile, FRAX, a widely used calculator that estimates one’s risk of osteoporotic fractures, is based on bone density combined with age, sex, and, yes, “race.” Race, even though it is never defined or demarcated, is baked into the fracture risk algorithms.

Let’s break down the problem…

Read the entire article here.

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Genetic Race? DNA Ancestry Tests, Racial Identity, and the Law

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2021-11-13 00:05Z by Steven

Genetic Race? DNA Ancestry Tests, Racial Identity, and the Law

Columbia Law Review
Volume 120, Number 7 (December 2020)
pages 1929-2014

Trina Jones, Jerome M. Culp Professor of Law
Duke University School of Law

Jessica L. Roberts, Leonard H. Childs Professor of Law and Director of the Health Law & Policy Institute, University of Houston Law Center; Professor of Medicine, University of Houston College of Medicine

Can genetic tests determine race? Americans are fascinated with DNA ancestry testing services like 23andMe and AncestryDNA. Indeed, in recent years, some people have changed their racial identity based upon DNA ancestry tests and have sought to use test results in lawsuits and for other strategic purposes. Courts may be similarly tempted to use genetic ancestry in determining race. In this Essay, we examine the ways in which DNA ancestry tests may affect contemporary understandings of racial identity. We argue that these tests are poor proxies for race because they fail to reflect the social, cultural, relational, and experiential norms that shape identity. We consider three separate legal contexts in which these issues arise: (1) employment discrimination, (2) race-conscious initiatives, and (3) immigration. Based on this analysis, we strongly caution against defining race in predominantly genetic terms.

Read the entire essay here.

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What can DNA tests really tell us about our ancestry? – Prosanta Chakrabarty

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Videos on 2021-11-11 20:23Z by Steven

What can DNA tests really tell us about our ancestry? – Prosanta Chakrabarty


Prosanta Chakrabarty, Professor of Ichthyology, Evolution and Systematics
Louisiana State University

Directed by Artrake Studio

Dig into the science of how ancestry DNA tests work, their accuracy, and why tracing ancestry is so complicated.

Two sisters take the same DNA test. The results show that one sister is 10% French, the other 0%. Both sisters share the same two parents, and therefore the same set of ancestors. So how can one be 10% more French than the other? Tests like these rely on our DNA to answer questions about our ancestry, but DNA actually can’t tell us everything. Prosanta Chakrabarty explores the accuracy of DNA tests.

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The limits of ancestry DNA tests, explained

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Videos on 2021-11-08 21:04Z by Steven

The limits of ancestry DNA tests, explained


Brian Resnick, Science Reporter

Danush Parvaneh/Vox

23andMe wants to sell you vacations based on your DNA. But what are they really basing that on?

Identical twins have virtually identical DNA. So you’d think if a set of twins both sent in a DNA sample for genetic ancestry testing, they’d get the exact same results, right?

Not necessarily, according to a recent investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In fact, the journalists demonstrated that twins don’t often get the same results from a single company. And across the industry, estimates of where an individual’s ancestors lived can differ significantly from company to company.

In one instance, the consumer genetics company 23andMe told one twin she was 13 percent “Broadly European.” The other twin’s test, meanwhile, showed she had just 3 percent “Broadly European” ancestry, and had more DNA matched to other, more specific regions in Europe. What’s more, when the twins had their DNA tested by five companies, each one gave them different results.

One computational biologist told the CBC that the differences in the results were “mystifying.”

So what accounts for these differences? Overall, discrepancies in ancestry testing don’t mean that genetic science is a fraud, and that the companies are just making up these numbers. They have more to do with the limitations of the science and some key assumptions companies make when analyzing DNA for ancestry…

Read the entire article here.

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