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Concept of Genetic Ethnicity Takes Another Hit

Academically, the concept of genetically coherent and distinct races or ethnic groups has been on shaky ground for a while. Biologists have known for quite some time, for example, that Africans have more genetic diversity among themselves than there are genetic differences between them and other groups.

We see certain differences in people from different places in the world, but those visible differences are based on only a small percentage of the whole human genetic code. So, though there clearly are meaningful differences in some particular genetic areas, it’s an open question whether there is a coherent general difference.

A newly released study supports the idea that genetic differences between ethnic groups are less abundant than commonly assumed. The analysis of the DNA of members of Central Asian ethnic groups found that there was more diversity within the groups than there was between the groups. The researchers concluded that the ethnic groups are primarily formed according to social factors, not ancestry, even though the groups claim to have distinct ancestry.

In other words, the genetic distinctions that do exist between the groups are due to ongoing social customs that control genetic flow in the present, rather than some historic ancestral purity, the remains of which can be seen in the present.

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