“In Africa, everyone’s had experiences with guns—either having them, or having them pointed at you.” - South African artist Ralph Ziman commissioned a team of Johannesburg street vendors to create eye-popping machine guns from seed beads, in protest of the gun violence that plagues Africa.
"What we are facing is a time when genomic knowledge widens and gene engineering will be possible and widespread," said Nina Jablonski, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology. “We must constantly monitor how this information on human gene diversity is used and interpreted. Any belief system that seeks to separate people on the basis of genetic endowment or different physical or intellectual features is simply inadmissible in human society.”
What worries Jablonski and the sociologists, psychologists and evolutionary biologists in her session at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, today (Feb. 14) in Chicago, are people who believe that they can use genetic traits to describe races and to develop race-specific interventions for each group. One particularly disturbing approach, although currently suggested as beneficial, is application of genetics to create special approaches to education. The idea that certain individuals and groups learn differently due to their genetic makeup, and so need specialized educational programs could be the first step in a slippery slope to recreating a new brand of “separate but equal.”
Similar approaches in medicine that are based not on personal genetics but on racial generalizations can be just as incorrect and troubling, especially because human genetic admixture is so prevalent. ”Our species is defined by regular admixture of peoples and ideas over millennia,” said Jablonski. “To come up with new reasons for segregating people is hideous.”
Classification of humans began innocently enough with Carl Linnaeus and Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, who simply classified humans into races in the same way they classified dogs or cats — by their physical characteristics. These were scientists classifying the world around them and realizing that the classifications were not immutable but had a great deal of diversity and overlap. However, in the last quarter of the 18th century, philosophers, especially Immanuel Kant, looked to classify people by behavior and culture as well as genetics. Kant suggested that there were four groups of people, three of which because they existed under conditions not conducive to great intellect or achievement were inferior. Only the European race was capable of self-improvement and highest level of civilization” (read more).
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"If you’re a human being walking the earth, you’re weird, you’re strange, you’re psychologically challenged." - Philip Seymour Hoffman
Rest in Peace (July 23 1967 - February 2 2014)