Meeting June 14, 2018

Genes and Society in the News:

Discussion with Pankaj Mehta of 1)The David Reich book and 2)suggestions by Pankaj of how best to point out the misrepresentation of genetic studies related to race, etc.

  • Pankaj felt that the general approaches,including statistics, and core approaches used in this work of Reich’s were not as significant as were stated in the book.
  • He states that the graphical representation exaggerates the results.
  • Jon thought that with careful reading of the book, a lot of his proposals were used to subtly hint why(sic) Africans did not achieve as much.
    • For example, the early movement of some African groups went to Asia (Eurasia) and some returned to Africa and went back to Eurasia again. There seemed to be in a flavor of it that explained less achievement than other groups (white).
    • Pankaj also thought that the connection to what was in the NYTimes Op-Ed piece on “race” by Reich pops up in certain places throughout the book.
  • There was a difference of opinion about whether Reich was slippery or sloppy as he shifted between “ancestry”. “race” and “population”.
  • Some of us thought that we should further discuss whether there could be “recent selection” or even any documented selection on polygenic traits (e.g. such as cognition) in the period during which changes were taking place.
  • What is meant by “average differences” throughout the book?
  • Pankaj also talked more generally about his fear that the pace of this research is expanding rapidly with the new technologies that are approaching and assumes that there will be much more from researchers in this field that may be misrepresented, etc. re: so-called “races”. TO confront this trend he proposes that we use social media, a book, etc. to get our ideas out about the misrepresentation of  this science.



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