What is the Caucasian DNA Haplogroup

New dispute over DNA differences between "races"

New York / Vienna - It's been 20 years since Harvard professors Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein caused heated controversy: In their 1994 book "The Bell Curve" - the title alludes to the distribution of the scores of intelligence tests - they claimed that in the USA there were links between ethnic origin and the IQ.

Murray and Herrnstein explained these differences, which by the way have narrowed in recent years, but not with socio-economic factors, but with an allegedly poorer genetic predisposition among black Americans.

Now the debate about "human races" and their differences seems to be repeating itself under somewhat different scientific auspices. Once again, it was triggered by a book published by the British-American science journalist Nicholas Wade in June.

Problematic speculation

72-year-old Wade, who works for respected specialist media such as "Nature" and "Science", but also for "New York Times "has worked, gives an overview of the latest findings in population genetics in "A Troublesome Inheritance". It becomes problematic at the latest in the third and last part of the book, in which the author speculates, among other things, that genetic differences between different "races" could explain why Western governments are more stable than those in Africa.

One of the central arguments of Wade: The first modern people who went from Africa to other regions of the world almost 100,000 years ago were confronted with greater selection pressure there. This has led to a greater number of genetic adaptations in people outside Africa and possibly also to a higher level of intelligence. In addition, there are five "basic races" which, due to the long geographical isolation, can also be genetically differentiated.

Open letter in the "New York Times"

Many of the population geneticists, whose studies Wade uses as evidence in his book, feel that they have been misinterpreted in the face of such interpretations. Their displeasure went so far that more than 130 experts took one open letter which appeared in the New York Times on Sunday.

In it, the researchers criticize Wade's speculations about the connections between selection pressure, genetic differences and various political and economic developments. There is no evidence that the selection pressure has led to differences in intelligence or behavior, criticizes US population geneticist Sarah Tishkoff, one of the signatories of the letter, in a report by "Nature News".

In addition, the claim of the five genetically distinguishable "races" is not tenable: In her studies of the genetic diversity of the world population, she found 14 genetically distinguishable groups - most of them in Africa, by the way. "Wade claims to be a spokesman for science," says Tishkoff. "But that's not exactly what it is." (Klaus Taschwer, DER STANDARD, August 13, 2014)