Race classification, one of the biggest mistakes of science

Same DNA, different human races. How do we decide where we belong, relying on a biological or a demographic basis? That is an issue in which a lot of elements come into play, hence resulting in an ambiguous definition. The ancient definition that categorizes humans according to their geographic zone is each time more meaningless since biologically the term race cannot be defined.

Biology dictionnaire defines race as a group or population of humans categorized on the basis of various sets of heritable characteristics. However, the problem is heritable characteristics lead to genetic variation. A study in 2002 by Stanford scientists examined the issue of human diversity by observing the distribution across seven geographic regions of 4,000 alleles. Results showed that 92% of alleles were found in two or more regions, and half of them were found in all seven regions. This proves that we are all cut from the same cloth, a single and joint race every human being is part of.

African, European, Asian, Oceania, and Native American, these five demographic races seem to not exist. But then, we could formulate the following question: If we all share the same DNA, how is it that an African person has colored skin and a European person does not? To answer this question, two terms come into action: genotype and phenotype. We may carry the same genes (genotype), but we may express them differently (phenotype). An African person may have the same genetics that determines the trait of skin as a European person, but he or she expresses them differently, resulting in a different skin color.

On the other hand, race can also be categorised by the observable traits in a group of people, as visible characteristics differ depending on the geographic area people are from. Therefore, is it more accurate to consider visual characteristics or to consider the DNA? Theoretically, the line between races based on genomic composition is unclear, but the gene expression may offer a more practical approach when it comes to classifying that person’s race.

Same DNA, different human races. The dichotomy is every time more unified. As we humans evolve, we will progressively be analogous genetically. Without a doubt, the word race does not mean any difference. Instead, with proven results, we can affirm that we possess more similar characteristics than we might think.

Reference list:

Race — Definition and Examples — Biology Online Dictionary. Biology Articles, Tutorials & Dictionary Online. (2021, February 26). https://www.biologyonline.com/dictionary/race.

says:, B. S., says:, S. V., says:, C., says:, W. T., Says:, A., says:, F., says:, P. W. U. K., says:, S., says:, C., Says:, R., says:, B. W. S., says:, D. W., says:, A., says:, A., Says:, E., says:, D., Says:, R. V., says:, A. B., says:, P., … *, N. (2019, February 27). How Science and Genetics are Reshaping the Race Debate of the 21st Century. Science in the News. https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2017/science-genetics-reshaping-race-debate-21st-century/.

Featured image retrieved from:

News Center. (n.d.). 5 Questions: Alice Popejoy on race, ethnicity and ancestry in science. News Center. https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2020/08/alice-popejoy-on-race-ethnicity-and-ancestry-in-science.html.

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Cristian Oller

Student who enjoys writing about challenges concerning the world :)