Reply to post: Re: Some illnesses and treatments are race specific

Is your computer doctor secretly a racist? Two US senators want to find out the truth

Len Silver badge

Re: Some illnesses and treatments are race specific

You're making a few strange jumps there.

You can indeed detect certain things from teeth and bones, ancestry, where someone lived, diet etc. Isotopes in teeth are particularly helpful to detect where someone grew up, Haplogroup Q could give an indication that someone has North-African or European ancestors, etc. You can not detect "race" however as that is a cultural construct that is not stored in cells. It depends on who you ask, where and when. The definitions of "race" vary too much to be of any use.

An average European will have an entirely different grouping of "races" than an average American (Some Americans call Barack Obama "black" despite having a "white" mother, consider Kim Kardashian not to be "white", Marco Rubio "white" but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez "Hispanic" and think it's possible to be "Hispanic" while not "white". Those are constructs that no biologist could endorse). If you are able to find a forensic investigator willing to suggest a "race" the chances are that a European investigator will find a different "race" than an American investigator.

All of these constructs vary through time as well. Many Indians have darker skin tones than many Africans, does that mean Indians are "black"? Not many people would argue so now but perhaps in fifty years people do. Are people of Jewish descent "white"? We tend to think so now but not a hundred years ago. Then again, some people would currently argue that the Beta Israel are "black", will they be considered "white" in fifty years from now? Who knows...

As for nationality, no amount of equipment or funding will make it possible to tell nationality from cells. Nationality is not stored in genes or cells and people can relatively easily switch nationality without it changing their genetic make-up. My partner has two nationalities but is considering giving one of them up so she can replace it with another. As she is not planning to move (no change in isotopes) there will be no visible changes in her cells.

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