Do races really exist and can clear boundaries be drawn between different populations of people? Disputes about this have long ceased to be only scientific and moved into the political and social sphere. However, only a scientific approach allows you to stay cool.
We will try to find out whether race is a science and whether geneticists can determine a person's race by DNA.
Scientists have long been faced with the question of which genes are responsible for human facial features. An ordinary person can easily distinguish a European from an Australian aborigine by external differences, but a geneticist will face significant problems: there is no gene that belongs only to Asians or only to representatives of the Negroid race. That is why many Western anthropologists tend to consider the very concept of "race" outdated and inapplicable in modern science. The socio-political issue also interferes. People who are far from science, consider the division of humanity into distinct subgroups from each other bordering on racism. Although many studies suggest that there are no and cannot be clear boundaries between individual human populations, it must be admitted that there are large groups of people on Earth that differ in a complex of characteristics.
According to Russian anthropologists, in particular Stanislav Drobyshevsky, modern race (not to be confused with racology - a pseudoscientific concept of the superiority of some races over others) is experiencing a crisis caused by the fashion for political correctness. In prestigious journals, articles are published by scientists who have a vague idea of the current level of development of this direction in science. They criticize nineteenth-century racialism and propose revising its provisions, not knowing that, in essence, they are reinventing the wheel. So, in February 2016, Science published an article in which the authors refute the existence of races on the basis that there are no clear differences between them. Instead of the concept of "race" they
propose to operate with the term "population".
What is called race in modern science? Race is a group of populations that have only its own inherent set of inherited biological characteristics and formed in a certain geographic region. No serious racialist would say that there are Asians or Negroid genes, that some races are more "advanced" than others. Since the very definition of "race" already includes the concept of "population", the proposal of the authors of the article in Science to replace one with another looks strange. Most likely, such a desire is dictated by the same motives that were guided by the anti-racist Elizabeth Martinez, who proposed to rename Negroids to Congoids.
The fears of ardent supporters of tolerance and political correctness can be dispelled: one of the main provisions of modern race is that humanity is a single biological species, and a particular race, according to some scientists, cannot even be considered a species of Homo sapiens. There are no biologically determined obstacles to the creation of fertile offspring in a Caucasian and Mongoloid couple. Mestizos - the offspring of people from populations belonging to different ethnic groups and races - do not suffer from mental disorders, increased morbidity or mortality. Some of those who, due to their ignorance of biology, are afraid of cross-breeding, point to the pygmies (negrilli) - a short African people. The logic is this: if a European and a pygmy have a common child, he will also be dwarf. However, the short stature of the pygmies is precisely the result of the lack of cross breeding and the isolation of the area of their residence. Large proportion of the population
Central Africa is a mix of Negrilli and Negroids of normal height.
However, interracial marriages do not improve the health of the offspring (heterosis) either. The fact is that the appearance of hereditary diseases is facilitated by a homozygous state. It occurs when two identical copies of the same gene are present in cells. If these copies are defective - in other words, they contain a harmful mutation - the person will suffer from a genetic disease. If the organism is heterozygous, then the damaged gene will be compensated by the work of a working copy. In such a large group of populations as a race, the frequency of homozygotes is already quite low, and their proportion is several percent.
There is one nuance in the question of the influence of cross-breeding on children. The fact is that some racial traits are adaptive to the environment in which a given population of people developed. For example, the dark skin color, rich in melanin, in Negroids is an adaptation against intense solar radiation in the equatorial latitudes of the Earth. Mestizos of Caucasians and Negroids are distinguished by lighter skin tones, which increases the exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Therefore, offspring of white and black people living in Africa may be more at risk of developing skin cancer.
Thus, if it is possible to speak about the harmful consequences of interracial marriages, it is only in the aspect that the offspring may not be adapted to the environmental conditions in which they will live.
Modern science, however, denies the adaptability of many racial traits. It is believed that a random set of characteristic external features has become entrenched and widespread in the population. According to one version, this happened as a result of the emergence of agricultural crops, due to which individual populations of people sharply increased their size. Social and technological factors have come to the fore, not biological ones. At the same time, small groups of people remained that were not part of the larger races, such as the American Indians or Australian Aborigines. They turned out to be more susceptible to natural selection and other mechanisms of biological evolution.
Blond hair is one of the clear maladaptive racial traits. This trait arose several times independently in different populations of people: among Europeans, aborigines of Australia, Caucasian peoples and other groups of the population. The characteristic fold at the inner corner of the eye in Mongoloids - epicanthus - most likely also does not give its owners any advantages.
The opinion that it protects the eyes from dust or wind in severe cold conditions has not been scientifically confirmed. Many peoples without epicanthus have lived for centuries in a similar environment, and some groups of Mongoloids lived in temperate and subtropical zones.
Research into racial traits and the genes that determine them continues. For example, Chinese scientists recently published a preprint of an article in the bioRxiv repository, which describes the results of a search for genetic factors that determine facial characteristics in Europeans and Chinese. A genome-wide association search was performed to link specific phenotypic traits to genomic variants. The object of the study was the Uyghurs - a small people who for the most part live in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China. It originated from mixed marriages between Europeans and East Asians. The faces of the Uyghurs represent a continuous spectrum of changes from pronounced European features to Asian ones. A total of 694 representatives of the people were examined.
The results revealed six genes, variants of which are responsible for various external features, including the distance between the corners of the eyes, the shape of the mouth, cheeks and nose, the roundness of the face, and a snub nose. Scientists have developed a computer model that allows the variation in genes to predict what a face will look like. According to the researchers, the model will help determine, for example, the appearance of a potential criminal using blood tests.
Such studies provide additional strength to the claims that no genes can be found that would accurately determine what race a person belongs to. It is permissible to find a set of genetic traits characteristic of a population. That is why scientists can be considered the main anti-racists, since they demonstrate to the public the whole senselessness of racial theories.