Elizabeth Warren / Trump / DNA

edited October 16 in General

So Elizabeth Warren had her DNA tested and found reasonable proof that she had a Native American ancestor around 8 generations ago. This is only relevant to current news since Trump had said he would donate $1 million to charity in his own name if she would prove it, and even mentioned using a kit like '23 and me'.

So not only did Ms. Warren do the test, but she had it certified and analyzed by a university professor that is known to do consulting work for several of the major DNA testing outfits.

This morning Trump said he didn't care, and denied ever saying he said anything about donating money. Even belittled the journalist implying they had poor reading comprehension. Follow up a few hours later, and now Trump is saying he'd only honor his challenge if he administered a test personally. What the fuck does that mean? Then he follows it up by saying "and I wouldn't enjoy it either". What?

  • How does Donald Trump feel a DNA test is administered?
  • Does he think his penis is involved in some way?
  • Does Donald Trump's penis have any other abilities besides genetic testing and disappointing women?
  • Is that why his penis is shaped the way it is?
  • Does he know about mouth swabs or does he think that a genetic test must involve the vagina?

Then this afternoon tribal representatives released statements disputing the validity of using DNA because they feel its a route to cultural appropriation. I don't know how I feel about that, since... well... science. But part of me really does wonder if some of their reaction is anger at her choice of charity [The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center].

Comments

  • @Sartre said:
    Never believe that [trolls] are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The [trolls] have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert.

    This is what I think even Trump's critics often fail to realize. Politicians have always lied, but until now they generally lied to deceive. Trump's a different animal; he lies more to defy - to establish that caring what's true is a position of weakness, and to force his opponents into that position.

    He's essentially Post-Truth.

  • Go back about nine generations and, according to 23andMe, I have a North African ancestor. Go back about ten and I have a Japanese ancestor. Next census I might claim to be an African-Asian-Caucasian mix. Or maybe I'll check other and claim Keltic tribesman.

    Elizabeth Warren Wins Nobel Prize for Medicine for Proving "Race Is Real"

    The citation lauds Senator Warren for her breakthrough discovery of the racial elementary particle now known as the “micro-smidgen.”

  • edited October 17

    @Bill said:
    Go back about nine generations and, according to 23andMe, I have a North African ancestor. Go back about ten and I have a Japanese ancestor. Next census I might claim to be an African-Asian-Caucasian mix. Or maybe I'll check other and claim Keltic tribesman.

    Gee whillikers it's almost like the whole thing was a social construct that's only useful for faction warriors to have faction wars about.

  • edited October 17

    Calling something a social construct usually isn't helpful. Most persons who make such claims are obfuscating rather than clarifying. Everything is a social construct in the sense that a complex reality is getting mapped onto symbols.

    Race is as real as any other exercise in categorization. It turns out that geneticists can find out which populations a person's genes hail from, these days pretty cheaply and easily, even if the number of genes in question is relatively small. Nevertheless, the vast majority of genes from the vast majority of people can be traced to one or two population groups that are equivalent to traditional races. For example, whereas 23andMe tells me that .3 percent of my genes are non-European in origin, the other 99.7 percent are European, which anyone can tell just by looking at me.

  • edited October 18

    @Bill said:
    Calling something a social construct usually isn't helpful. Most persons who make such claims are obfuscating rather than clarifying. Everything is a social construct in the sense that a complex reality is getting mapped onto symbols.

    Replying to someone with objections you might have if other people had said other things usually isn't helpful. I think you know what I mean in saying race is a social construct, and that I'm not obfuscating or being reductionist, so it sounds like you basically agree but don't feel comfortable saying so for factional reasons. If that's not the case, I have no idea what you're trying to say.

    Race is as real as any other exercise in categorization. It turns out that geneticists can find out which populations a person's genes hail from, these days pretty cheaply and easily, even if the number of genes in question is relatively small. Nevertheless, the vast majority of genes from the vast majority of people can be traced to one or two population groups that are equivalent to traditional races. For example, whereas 23andMe tells me that .3 percent of my genes are non-European in origin, the other 99.7 percent are European, which anyone can tell just by looking at me.

    The falsifiable bit of this paragraph is "vast majority of people". What are you basing that claim on? As stated, all you've said here is "race is a useful classifier to the extent that the vast majority of people are similar to me".

  • edited October 18

    The genetic populations people belong to match their self-declared racial groups extremely well. I don't remember the exact number, but the match is over ninety percent.

    Calling something a social construct isn't that meaningful. In other words, except in certain abstruse philosophical discussions, it's bullshit. Language is a social construct. Mathematics is a social construct. That doesn't mean they aren't real. The concept of race is as real as the concept of chair.

  • edited October 18

    @Bill said:
    Calling something a social construct isn't that meaningful.

    It's meaningful if we both understand what I mean, full stop. Do you not? This hand-wavey insinuation serves no purpose.

    (Unless, as I said, you're just trying to avoid agreeing that race is a social construct but also avoid claiming that it isn't - in which case, stop that please.)

    The genetic populations people belong to match their self-declared racial groups extremely well. I don't remember the exact number, but the match is over ninety percent.

    The fact that you (presumably) don't think this claim begs the question strongly suggests you've never really thought about the position you're arguing against. Exercise: a guy I know used to consider himself white, but currently considers himself hispanic. Which version has the 90% chance of matching his genetic population?

  • edited October 18

    Most persons on the interwebs believe that something being a social construct implies that it does not exist. This is a false conclusion.

    As for your friend, I neither know nor care. Fact is, the vast majority of persons when asked will match the results of their genetic tests. There just aren't many people who claim to be Japanese because 23andMe says that .1% of their genes came from Japan.

  • @Bill said:
    There just aren't many people who claim to be Japanese because 23andMe says that .1% of their genes came from Japan.

    Of course there aren't, that's not at issue. The position you're arguing against has no relation to the position I'm trying to explain - which it sounds like you've never heard, or thought about before. But I can't explain if you're going to ignore what I say and just attack any old position you disagree with.

  • Incidentally to clarify, the question being implicitly asked was whether or not "hispanic" is one of the genetic populations that you claim directly correspond to self-identified races for the vast majority of people.

    If it is, then all members of that population who checked "white" on their last census are counterexamples to your claim; if it's not, then everyone who considers themselves hispanic is a counterexample. There are nontrivial numbers in both groups; ergo the claim can't stand.

  • edited October 19

    Hispanic isn't generally considered a race. It is an ethnicity.

    Spaniards from Spain are going to genetically map with all other Europeans. Mexicans are of mostly mixed race. Genetically, most will test partially American Indian and partially European. Some Mexicans, however, will genetically test out to be 100% European, or very nearly. Other will test out to be 100% Indian, or very nearly.

    This stuff isn't difficult unless someone intentionally tries to make it difficult. Obfuscation abounds.

    That said, most of those checking "Hispanic" will genetically test as European, Indian, or mixed, also known as mestizo. Depending on where they are from, such as Cuba, there is some chance that they will test as mulatto. The thing is, when researchers checked, the vast majority of persons filled out such forms honestly and accurately. You don't see too many people trying to pull a Rachel Doležal.

  • While we are here, let's go through this one more time. Genetically distinct populations are caused by barriers to genetic mixing. When a single population is broken into sub-populations that get reproductively isolated, those pieces will begin to diverge genetically.

    This genetic divergence can be caused by genetic drift, which is random and takes a long time to act. It can also be caused by natural selection, which can act much faster than genetic drift. Natural selection isn't random. It chooses--selects for--traits that help organisms survive in their environment. Natural selection can cause detectable, and useful, genetic divergence in a thousand years.

    Some of the things that cause reproductive isolation are bodies of water, mountains, deserts, glaciers, and just huge physical distances, such as from one end of the Eurasian continent to the other. In human beings, religious beliefs, political boundaries, and social class have also been causes of reproductive isolation.

    The phenomenon that have caused the most obvious population divergences are the big physical barriers. The Americas and Australia were isolated by water. Sub-Saharan Africa was isolated by water and a huge desert. Europe and East Asia were isolated by tremendous distance, but during the last glacial maximum, the eastern and western halves of the Eurasian continent were also separated by ice and a big lake that no longer exists.

    If you look at those five great populations that were isolated by the Earth's big physical barriers, it's no mistake that those same populations correspond to the easily visually distinct large races of mankind. Each of these populations was naturally selected to thrive in its geographically separated differing environments. Race is just the abstraction that corresponds to the complex reality of reproductively isolated populations. Race exists. Anyone who says different is ignorant, a scoundrel, or throwing protective camouflage.

    Reproductive isolation has further effects beyond the largest of the physical barriers. For example, at least three different groups have evolved separate genetic adaptations to living at high altitude, in the Himalayas, the highlands of East Africa, and the Andes. Islands have preserved small groups of genetically distinct people. Other examples are the Pygmies in the Congo and the Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert.

    Geneticists have even become good enough to detect which parts of a given continent one's ancestors hailed from. 23andMe can detect ancestors from the various regions of Europe, and those barriers to genetic mixing were mostly just political boundaries.

    None of this stuff is pernicious. It's just reality.

  • edited October 20

    Geneticists have even become good enough to detect which parts of a given continent one's ancestors hailed from. 23andMe can detect ancestors from the various regions of Europe, and those barriers to genetic mixing were mostly just political boundaries.
    None of this stuff is pernicious. It's just reality.

    I know this; everyone who's interested knows this. I understand there may be people in the world who don't agree with it, but they aren't here and you're not talking to them - please stop just arguing against whatever's easiest to argue against.

    You don't see too many people trying to pull a Rachel Doležal.

    Presumably, sure. I'm not suggesting people who misreport their own race (by whatever standard) are counterexamples to your claim, and nothing I'm saying would change if such people didn't exist. We can dismiss them entirely.

    Hispanic isn't generally considered a race. It is an ethnicity.

    I didn't ask if it's a race, I asked if it's one of the genetic populations you claim race corresponds to. In a mapping between two classifiers it matters which way the mapping goes.

    The point being, if you could pick a guy off the street, do a genetic test, and predict with high accuracy what he (or, equivalently, society) would say his race is, then that would be a practical analogue for an objective definition of race. But it's not possible; social definitions of race aren't consistent enough. They vary from person to person and generation to generation (hence: "social construct").

    If your mapping goes the other way - if all you're claiming is that any people who claim to be of the same race are very likely to have similar genetic markers - then sure, probably, but that's no longer a classification of race. In that case the definition of race is already determined (socially), and all the genetic test is doing is post-hoc validation.

  • @fenomas said:

    Geneticists have even become good enough to detect which parts of a given continent one's ancestors hailed from. 23andMe can detect ancestors from the various regions of Europe, and those barriers to genetic mixing were mostly just political boundaries.
    None of this stuff is pernicious. It's just reality.

    I know this; everyone who's interested knows this. I understand there may be people in the world who don't agree with it, but they aren't here and you're not talking to them - please stop just arguing against whatever's easiest to argue against.

    In that case, I wasn't arguing so much as informing. The ignorance on this subject is astonishing.

    I didn't ask if it's a race, I asked if it's one of the genetic populations you claim race corresponds to. In a mapping between two classifiers it matters which way the mapping goes.

    The point being, if you could pick a guy off the street, do a genetic test, and predict with high accuracy what he (or, equivalently, society) would say his race is, then that would be a practical analogue for an objective definition of race. But it's not possible; social definitions of race aren't consistent enough. They vary from person to person and generation to generation (hence: "social construct").

    If your mapping goes the other way - if all you're claiming is that any people who claim to be of the same race are very likely to have similar genetic markers - then sure, probably, but that's no longer a classification of race. In that case the definition of race is already determined (socially), and all the genetic test is doing is post-hoc validation.

    In the sense of formal logic, your point might be valid. In the sense of the subject under discussion, I don't think it makes much practical difference. If you test someone first, find out which populations his genes originated from, and then asked him about his race before you give him the test results, he might not be able to tell you about the fine details, but he surely is going to have a good guess about which of the broad populations his family mostly comes from.

  • edited October 23

    @Bill said:
    In the sense of formal logic, your point might be valid. In the sense of the subject under discussion, I don't think it makes much practical difference.

    I know you don't, but the "race is a social construct" position hinges on that difference, and I'm claiming you can't understand the one without understanding the other. The point of saying race is a social construct is that the rules for how we classify race arose via social mechanisms and for social reasons. You can take those rules and approximately map them to observable things (like skin color or genetic markers), but only by starting with the social definitions and creating a mapping to match them. As such, using race as a basis for anything that should ideally be objective (e.g. public policy) is untenable.

    Obviously this doesn't mean race "isn't real" or "doesn't exist" or whatever - it's as real as racism, for a start. But it's not objectively determinable, and it's not almost objectively determinable, or anything similar. Or to be precise, race is real in the "thing that affects us all every day" sense, but it's not real in the "thing that would exist unchanged even if we all stopped believing in it" sense. Skin color and ancestry and whatnot are obviously real in that latter sense, but social categories based on them aren't. That's the point of saying it's a social construct.

Sign In or Register to comment.