Is race coded by DNA?

As per my comments/discussion here: Thabiti on the Myth of Race:

  • DNA of and by itself is an objective reality, it exists whether we believe it or not.
  • The use of DNA codes to affirm an argument for the existence of races is interpretive.
  • DNA is not code, DNA contains code.
  • DNA refers to a particular molecular structural configuration of certain combinatory atomic sequences which afford various functionality to an organism.
  • Said functionality can lead to the interpretation of information contained or coded by the DNA sequence.

Thus,

  • DNA => objective
  • Codes contained in DNA’s structure => interpretive.

For a hopefully clearer example, let us imagine that human X was fully sequenced.

  • This sequence is objective.
  • However, no one can deduce X’s mental character because this is not fully coded in the sequence (to some extent the sequence may indicate IQ potential for instance)
  • The sequence does not code for race.
  • The sequence codes for functionality which produces an appropriate physical structure [conditioned by multiple variables such as environment, natural mutation and chance], some parts of which can then be interpreted as indicative of ‘race.’

Someone who thus says:

Information “codes” are not interpretive. If you believe don’t that (sic), then there is no objective reality possible to you, ….

is conflating form (DNA structure) with function (the effect of DNA information). And when they state that:

Race, like it or not, exists. It goes all the way to the genes. An Anthropologist can examine the bones and tell the race of the dead person. There are many documented differences among the races and it is stupid to ignore them or claim they don’t exist.

they are incorrect about the scope of anthropological application and also about race in genetics. Races may exist as an explanatory concept which is validated (to some extent) by genetic data and the interpretation of said data (the data being derived from function).

However, this does not mean that race is an objective reality, only that one interpretation (the concept of race) of an objective reality (DNA structure) has useful application.

So is race coded by DNA? Conceptually, it is a possibility but objectively it is not.

Given the fickle nature of definitions of ‘race’ and the changing nature of genetics with respect to available knowledge, it may be best to think of race only as a possibly useful descriptive concept but with multiple limitations in applicability.

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4 thoughts on “Is race coded by DNA?

    • Hi Violet, I agree for the most part. It seems to me that race was the way Europeans categorized human bio-diversity based on physical characteristics. This was then promptly hijacked by both creationist and evolutionist ethnocentrists to form a caste system we know as today’s racism. So I agree that it was created, but to me it was through hijacking of the process of classification. I don’t see anything wrong with classification of types, though it is difficult to do scientifically. But when non-physical characteristics (that are not genetically coded or fully coded) are arbitrarily ascribed to groups, that’s just plain wrong.

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