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Television series tackles ‘science’s last taboo’

Did it matter that Einstein was of northern European descent?

By James Dacey

This thought-provoking image forms part of the advertising campaign for a new UK television series that will look at the controversial history of science and scientists addressing the issue of race.

Race: science’s last taboo has been created by Channel 4 and will be focused around five documentaries, each one engaging in a different aspect of the debate.

The season kicks-off tonight with a programme about race and intelligence, which includes the controversy surrounding James Watson’s cancelled UK lecture tour of 2007.

In case you missed it at the time, the Nobel Laureate — who co-discovered the double-helical structure of DNA — was quoted as saying that there is scientific evidence to suggest that black people are less intelligent than people of other races. People were so incensed that Watson was forced to abandon his tour and leave the UK early.

For more details about the new series, check out the related website. Amongst other features, you can offer your own definition of race — though bear in mind you’ve only got 140 characters!

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One comment to Television series tackles ‘science’s last taboo’

  1. M Stein

    Aside from the Lewontin Fallacy, the site omits information about recent acceleration of genetic change. Some of these changes relate to neurological function so it is too early to be saying that this debate has been resolved.
    A March 2007 article from Plos Biology, A Map of Recent Positive Selection in the Human Genome, finds plenty of signs up local cognitive evolution.
    Recent articles have proposed that genes involved in brain development and function may have been important targets of selection in recent human evolution [8,9]. While we do not find evidence for selection in the two genes reported in those studies (MCPH1 and ASPM), we do find signals in two other microcephaly genes, namely, CDK5RAP2 in Yoruba, and CENPJ in Europeans and East Asians [46]. Though there is not an overall enrichment for neurological genes in our gene ontology analysis, several other important brain genes also have signals of selection, including the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter GABRA4, an Alzheimer’s susceptibility gene PSEN1, and SYT1 in Yoruba; the serotonin transporter SLC6A4 in Europeans and East Asians; and the dystrophin binding gene SNTG1 in all populations.
    A June 2007 article from Plos Genetics, Localizing Recent Adaptive Evolution in the Human Genome, provides examples of localized evolution of cognitive function.
    Several genes with functional roles in the development and function of the nervous system show very strong evidence (CLR p


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