Friday, September 2, 2022

The End of Biological Science

 From Science must respect the dignity and rights of all humans. Nat Hum Behav 6, 1029–1031 (2022).

Studies that use the constructs of race and/or ethnicity should explicitly motivate their use. Race/ethnicity should not be used as proxies for other variables — for example, socioeconomic status or income. For studies involving data collected from human participants, researchers should explain:

  • who provided the classification terms (the participants, the researchers or third parties)

  • what the classification terms are

  • how racial/ethnic identity was determined (by the participants, the researchers or third parties)

Biomedical studies should not conflate genetic ancestry (a biological construct) and race/ethnicity (sociopolitical constructs): although race/ethnicity are important constructs for the study of disparities in health outcomes and health care, empirically established genetic ancestry is the appropriate construct for the study of the biological aetiology of diseases or differences in treatment response. If race/ethnicity are used in the context of disease aetiology due to the unavailability of genetic ancestry data, this should be done with caution and clarification.

I am guessing this is the end of studies complaining that group X is getting inferior medical care or is at higher risk of problem Y because of racism!  At best, you can claim that people with a particular genetic component are getting inferior medical care because our system sees their DNA, not their race, and abuses them for it.  

Of course, there are associations, extraordinarily quite strong, between genetic markers and external appearances:

From the American Journal of Human Genetics:


We have analyzed genetic data for 326 microsatellite markers that were typed uniformly in a large multiethnic population-based sample of individuals as part of a study of the genetics of hypertension (Family Blood Pressure Program). Subjects identified themselves as belonging to one of four major racial/ethnic groups (white, African American, East Asian, and Hispanic) and were recruited from 15 different geographic locales within the United States and Taiwan. Genetic cluster analysis of the microsatellite markers produced four major clusters, which showed near-perfect correspondence with the four self-reported race/ethnicity categories. Of 3,636 subjects of varying race/ethnicity, only 5 (0.14%) showed genetic cluster membership different from their self-identified race/ethnicity. On the other hand, we detected only modest genetic differentiation between different current geographic locales within each race/ethnicity group. Thus, ancient geographic ancestry, which is highly correlated with self-identified race/ethnicity—as opposed to current residence—is the major determinant of genetic structure in the U.S. population. Implications of this genetic structure for case-control association studies are discussed.

This might explain disparities in outcomes, but to admit that is racism!

No comments:

Post a Comment