Side-Effect

Razib at gnxp uses the word “pleiotropy,” but you can focus on its result: “side-effect.” It appears that skin and hair color evolved later than the founding of the major continental racial populations. More on that is availabl in The Blank Slate (see also my notes). However, this ironically implies that skin-color-differences may not be skin deep. Because only a few big mutations seem to cause the change in color that we see, which iplies there was strong selection in favor of light skin color, there may be side effects of this.

Gene Expression: Beware the dark-eyed
The fact that blondes have more fear and redheads feel more pain might make some more sense. Skin color seems to have gotten lighter over the past 5-20 thousand years across northern Eurasia by substitutions and changes in frequency on a few loci of large effect. Evolutionarily this predicts that pleiotropy will product side effect phenotypes before modifier genes can arise to mask the deleterious byproducts of said evolution.

More research still needs to be done, but the great strides that genetic research is making keeps impressing me.

If knowledge is the heart of quality control, we are well on our way to a population with quality.

2 thoughts on “Side-Effect”

  1. Let’s assume that these trends in research discovery continue and point toward more and more heritable behavior, correlated with skin color, and that sort of thing.

    This stuff is so utterly at odds with everything Americans have been taught to do, think and say for fifty years now that it is too disruptive to even think about, let alone discuss. It is the cultural and political equivalent of an earthquake pushing California into the sea.

    People who deal with these facts professionally, such as for medical treatments, will discuss them quietly. Everyone else will ignore them, or not understand them, or scream loudly with their ears covered at anyone who mentions them.

  2. Lexington,

    This stuff is so utterly at odds with everything Americans have been taught to do, think and say for fifty years now that it is too disruptive to even think about, let alone discuss. It is the cultural and political equivalent of an earthquake pushing California into the sea.

    This is certainly true if we would expect consumers to drive this technology, in an American perspective.

    Make the consumer an Indian or a Chinese, by contrast, and an in utero stem cell therapy (say) with the main effect of giving the child a better chance to succeed, and a side effect of having more attractive skin is something you can pick up customers for.

    This research is ultimately driven by markets, not by ivory intellectual intellectuals, and so the ability of the Marxists to stop it is somewhat reduced.

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