Talk:Human genetic variation

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Former good article nominee Human genetic variation was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
February 2, 2011 Good article nominee Not listed
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Article length and style[edit]

N.B. This section was originally an RfC started by a banned disruptive user. Considering there had been no proper discussion of this subject prior to starting the RfC I have removed the comments of the banned user and changed it to a normal section for the talk page. The RfC appears to have been a way to circumvent proper talk page discussion, RfCs are a proper part of dispute resolution, but are certainly not a first resort. Let's have proper debate folks, cheers. Alun (talk) 08:39, 28 January 2009 (UTC)


I've given it a quick look, but have not actually read it. I definitely think that the introduction is too long (and also, the references need formatting). The article as a whole does seem long, although I don't think that's automatically a bad thing. Please let me suggest that it would be helpful if you could list specific things that might be cut, and seek comment on those. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:16, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

  • Comment The article doesn't seem too long, but does have issues with its level of detail.
Human genetic variation is a topic of considerable interest and scope (consider the International HapMap Project and other large-scale scientific efforts), so the current ~66 KB length is not too long in itself per WP:LENGTH#A_rule_of_thumb. I agree that the lead is too long. It should be reduced to three or four paragraphs per WP:LEAD#Length; the bulleted list (if it is kept) should also be converted to paragraph form. If Harvard style is being used in a WP article, it should be reserved for articles in the social sciences. While human genetic variation may well be of interest to the social sciences, this article approaches the topic much more from the perspective of biological sciences. Thus the current Harvard style referencing should be converted to inline numbered citations (i.e. the cite template).
With regard to meticulousness, less focus should be given to whichever researcher and paper made which claim. Instead, attention should be focused more narrowly on what the claims actually are. The coverage of those claims seems to be at a suitable level of detail. Refocusing shouldn't require much in the way of structural changes, but should be something like changing the article to read from an appropriate perspective. As a related point, far fewer 3+ line block quotes should be used throughout the article. If quotations are being used in science-related articles they are typically quite short, and even these are used sparingly. Emw2012 (talk) 02:07, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Comment. Mostly I agree with Emw2012, the article length is not really an issue, I think we should concentrate on explaining the consensus opinions of the academic community. So we should present the conclusions of the academics. In that regard we should concentrate on the distribution of variation and what that tells us about human evolution and dispersal. For example most biologists think that the high diversity within Africa supports the RAO model etc. Does need a rewrite, but mostly to change the perspective, as Emw2012 points out. Alun (talk) 07:21, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Comment, the article is similar to race and genetics. Changes made here may be applicable to the race and genetics article as well. Wapondaponda (talk) 16:02, 20 January 2009 (UTC)


  • Comment. I had a go at improving the intro. I removed the bullet points, removed some of what I thought were redundant statements and combined two of the paragraphs. Now we have a three paragraph introduction. The other thing I did was change the link to genetic variability to genetic diversity because that is the correct article to link to. Comments? Alun (talk) 06:59, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I've only skimmed through the new lead, but it looks much improved. The second paragraph should probably be split or tightened. A paragraph measuring in at eight relatively dense sentences is too long. And while some background information is certainly called for, I think the lead goes too far in providing context in genetics, and ultimately comes at the expense of summarizing important points in the article. For example, central elements of the first section ('Extent of human variation') seem to be missing from the lead; a summary style for this section seems like it would at least give passing (but specific) mention to SNPs and copy number variation. Despite these issues, the newly revised lead seems like a promising start. Emw2012 (talk) 07:46, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Maybe there is too much basic info in the introduction. There's always a balance between wanting to engage someone who comes for basic information, and not wanting to bore someone who already has a basic grasp of the subject. Your probably right that it's too basic though. I'll have a think about it. Other suggestions:
  1. "Causes" as the first section. Here we can have a basic discussion of how polymorphisms arise, and why there are different polymorphisms in different populations, it should include a deeper discussion of neutral vs. selective traits.
  2. "Extent" section should discuss how much variation there is in humans and whether this is considered to be a great deal or not very much. It should address the theory that our relative homogeneity is due to a recent African origin, but also that gene flow may have always been high between human groups, further reducing differences between populations.
  3. The "Distribution" section should discuss how this variation is geographically spread and the evolutionary forces that determine this. For example when there is selection, the distribution of a trait is determined by environmental factors, because of this they can be shared by human populations that are, relatively speaking, not necessarily genetically close. Then it should discuss how neutral variation is distributed, that it is greatest in Africa, probably indicating our species origin there, and that it gets diluted as we move further from Africa, probably due to a series of bottlenecks and founder effects as smallish populations continually founded new populations. Mention that the normal processes of gene flow have been at work, and may have reduced differences between populations.
    1. "Quantification." Then there are numerous ways to measure variation, probably far too many to cover here. We should probably discuss within to between group variation, as per Lewontin, and include Long and Kittles (2003) refinement of Lewontin's FST calculations. It is probably a good idea to discuss clustering analyses, and say what they mean, and then include Witherspoon's analysis regarding interindividual differences between people. Discuss what these tell us about group vs individual differences. That's reasonable because it addresses the issue of classification, and whether the information that we have about human genetic variation has any utility regarding classification. This also incorporates the issue of biomedical research mentioned in the introduction. I'm not sure about the epigenetics section, that's not about genetic variation, it's about how genes are expressed.
Alun (talk) 10:14, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Comment. I agree with others that it the article as a whole is too long. Actually, as I read through it there seemed to be areas that could have been written as an essay in which the author is doing a little too much synthesis (WP:NOR) for an encyclopedia entry. This could partly be stylistic, or just due to some very detailed summarization of primary research. IMHO, issues related to the existence of genetic variation between humans, definition of the types of variations, and their extent between individuals or distribution in populations are perfectly valid and should be the main focus of the article. Although the hypotheses raised by the patterns of diversity observed in present-day humans are fascinating, they are not necessarily "fact" and should be not be treated as such. There could be a section at the end that discusses "implications" including: 1) the impact of genetic variation on research into the causes of human disease (i.e. SNP-based association studies), 2) hypotheses regarding the origin of humans in Africa and subsequent colonization of the Earth, 3) comparison to inter-individual variation among primates. With some reorganization and shortening, this could be a very good article. --- Medical geneticist (talk) 21:21, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
Medical Geneticist, firstly only one editor here has claimed that the article is too long. That editor is User:Wet dog fur, a now blocked sockpuppet of puppetmaster User:Jagz, an inveterate racialist pov pusher. So actually now you are the only one claiming the article is too long. Secondly, please be specific. It's not good enough to claim there are areas that appear to be a synthesis. State specifically what you believe to be a synthesis, state what is said in the article, and how it differs from the original sources. A synthesis remember must be something that no source states explicitly, but which may be the conclusion of an editor here from linking different sources together. It's quite possible there is some synthesis, the article uses text from many different people, using very different research papers. Some editors may have used primary sources and made mistakes while writing. But we need specifics. It's impossible to rectify any concerns you may have when you are so vague. On the other hand you could simply make the changes to the article yourself. I agree with you about the main focus of the article, I don't quite understand your point though, what you say should be the main focus of the article " actually is the main focus of the article as it currently stands. If you think the article diverges from this, then say how you think it does. As for what you call "hypothesese". One of the main stated aims of research into human variation is to gain an understanding of human evolution and dispersal, as such any hypothesis that is not fringe deserves to be an integral part of the article. I'm not sure I understand when you claim that hypothesese are "not necessarily "fact" and should be not be treated as such", you seem to be implying that some hypotheses are currently treated as "fact" in the article. Do you believe this? Can you be specific? Which ones are treated like this? Where does it specifically claim that these are "facts"? You should remove such claims, or at least flag them in the article as dubious.[dubious ] It is correct that the article repeats what experts say, if a reliable source claims that an observation supports, say, the RAO theory, then it is correct that we say that the source makes that claim. Saying an observation supports a theory is not the same as claiming the theory is a "fact". Alun (talk) 06:35, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
Alun, I responded in good faith to a request posted at WP:Genetics and I have no interest in getting involved in an edit war or a conflict over sock-puppetry. I didn't come here to hurt anyone's feelings by criticizing their writing or to intrude on someone's territory. That being said, here are some specific points:
  1. In reading the above responses, I see comments such as "the article as a whole does seem long" (Tryptofish), and "issues with its level of detail" (Emw2012). But if you say I'm the only one other than some sockpuppet who thinks the article needs to be shortened, that's fine with me. I still say it needs major revisions, which includes shortening some sections in the interest of balance.
  2. With regard to synthesis: it looks like the section on "Distribution of variation" and specifically the passage dealing with "Clustering analyses and what they tell us" is a synthesis of work from several different primary sources. This is the passage that I meant when I said that it sounded like someone's essay. The use of quotations and counterposition between the findings of different research groups, suggests that someone has put a great deal of thought into trying to put together a coherent argument. In my mind, that's synthesis. Even if I'm wrong, and there hasn't been any synthesis, the passage is still too long and needs far fewer block quotations.
  3. With regard to the focus of the article: in my opinion, the article should be primarily about Genetics and not Anthropology. Sure, my expertise is in Genetics, so perhaps I'm biased. The way to do this would be to present a more detailed discussion of human genetics and the types of variation we're talking about. SNPs are described in a very short passage, and CNVs are almost an afterthought (and by the way, CNVs were first reported several years before the Watson and Venter genomes). Alleles are mentioned in the first paragraph but not touched on in the main body. The first paragraph also seems to imply that genetic variation is limited to the genes themselves, whereas a huge amount of genetic variation (most?) occurs in non-genic regions. There is very little comment on other major types of genetic variation such as repeats (see VNTR as an example) which have been used in research for many years. Discussion of the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA would fit better under this heading. Any implications of this information in terms of Anthropological inferences could be handled in a later section. The section on "Distribution of variation" could be shortened as indicated in #2.
  4. With regard to "hypotheses": don't get me wrong here -- my point isn't to belittle the importance of information about human genetic variation when attempting to understand human evolution and dispersal. I happen to agree with the theory that modern humans emerged from common ancestors in Africa. There's just a difference between the observation of the genetic differences between people and the inferences we draw from that observation. What I am suggesting is to state the observations as facts, disentangled from any evolutionary or anthropological inferences that people want to argue about. The point you make -- that data on genetic variation supports the RAO theory -- is perfectly valid and should be stated in its own section under the heading "Implications of research into human genetic diversity". I agree with your previous comment to Oost that "the article is not about disease and drug research, it is about human genetic variation". By the same token, "the article is not about theories of human dispersal, it is about human genetic variation." As an aside, you mention that "one of the main stated aims of research into human variation is to gain an understanding of human evolution and dispersal" but I would argue that the taxpayers who fund basic science research such as the HapMap project are on the whole much more interested in understanding disease and disease treatments -- which justifies the inclusion of the medical implications of human genetic variation as a major section under the sub-heading "Implications of research into human genetic diversity".
Does that help? --- Medical geneticist (talk) 20:37, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
I agree that the amount of detail is bit too much for the casual reader. If the same information could be simplified, it would be a lot easier to read. Wapondaponda (talk) 22:10, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
Yes, thanks Medical Geneticist. I think what you have said makes a great deal of sense. I don't agree that the article should be primarily about genetics and not anthropology. Indeed I don't see any clear distinction here. After all we are talking about where population genetics, molecular anthropology, traditional anthropology, taxonomy and medical genetics meet. I don't see how population genetics is not a field of genetics. I agree that we could discuss different types of variation, but how this variation arises, is distributed and what that tells us about human evolution and dispersal is equally important to any essay about human variation as the various types of variation we observe, as is a discussion of how variation is distributed amongst human populations/groups. If I understand what you are saying, it is that we should only discuss interindividual differences in variation and ignore population differences. I don't see any dichotomy here. BTW I am also a geneticist, but we cannot pretend, in an article like this, that human variation exists in a vacuum and has no implications for medicine or human demographic history. Otherwise we might as well have an article List of genetic mutations or some such thing. On the other hand I'm pleased that you have pointed out specifically where you think the synthesis lies. I'll go back over it and check what the sources say. I'll also have a go at removing the quotations and cutting the section down somewhat. If we can precis the sections about population genetics, that would leave more space for the discussion aboout individual level variation that you'd like to include. How does that sound? Alun (talk) 06:17, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that population genetics shouldn't be part of this article or that the data(facts) should be presented in a vacuum... discussion of the implications absolutely needs to be there to make sense of the information. Just not intertwined with the data. The problem is that the implications of the data are what raises controversy (maybe not amongst scientific circles but among certain segments of the public). There should be no argument about the existence of genetic variation, which has been clearly demonstrated via HapMap and a variety of other studies. Here is how I would outline things:
I. Types of genetic variability/variation
A. SNPs (detailed)
B. CNVs (detailed)
C. Y chromosome (detailed)
D. mtDNA (detailed)
E. Other variable elements (brief)
II. Distribution of genetic variation (focus on the data, not the interpretation)
A. HapMap project
B. Other studies (sorry, not my area of expertise)
III. Implications of observed genetic variation
A. Population genetics (expert consensus re: observed data)
B. Theories of human origins and dispersal (again, expert consensus)
C. Medical genetics (GWAS studies, differences in risk between populations)
D. Race (? maybe not)
Thanks for your comments. I think we probably agree on more than we disagree, it's just a matter of how to present the material for the uninitiated reader. --- Medical geneticist (talk) 14:43, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
OK, sounds like a good plan. Alun (talk) 06:29, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
An additional point I made on MG's talk page that I think bears repeating here. We need to distinguish between genetic variation and genetic variability.[1] "Variation means a change within population", Variability means "the state or characteristic of being variable". The tendency of some genetic elements to vary (i.e. their variability) is what generates variation. This article is primarily about that variation, i.e. the total amount of variation that is observable and measurable. Whereas I agree that we do need some discussion regarding the types of elements that vary, and the variability of those elements (i.e. that some have a greater propensity to vary than others), the article is not about variability within the human genome, it's about the variation produced by those elements in the human species, i.e. amongst and within populations. I think that should be clear. Otherwise we end up with a simple list of variable elements, and that's not what this article is about. Alun (talk) 07:28, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
This is a good point. Perhaps it would be useful to distinguish the types of genetic elements that are "variable" and those that show "variation" as a way to clarify this issue for the general reader. Not in the sense of a comprehensive list, but as part of the discussion of types of genetic variability/variation. --- Medical geneticist (talk) 14:43, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
It's certainly worth discussing that studies of variation usually analyse only a single type of variable genetic element. For example Rosenberg et al. (2002) are interested in what microsatellites tell us about variation, but a bit later they use microsatelites and insertion/deletions (indels) for their 2006 study of genetic variation in the Indian subcontinent. Then again Witherspoon et al. (2006) are interested in L1 and Alu mobile genetic elements. Other studies look at the variation in SNPs between and within certain populations. That links in with the observation that studying variation, i.e. measuring the total observable genetic traits within a population is highly dependent on our knowledge of how variation arises. We are discovering new variable elements all the time, and these add to the total variation that can be measured. Obviously many of these new variable elements will tell us nothing new about human demographic history. No studies of variation ever attempt to incorporate all types of variable elements, that would be extremely difficult. So usually they stick to a certain type of element to measure. I'll see what review papers I can find, there are quite a few from 2003/2004, but none I think from more recently. Alun (talk) 06:29, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

MG, my version of your layout:

I. Types of genetic variability/variation
A. SNPs (summary style)
B. VNTRs (summary style)
(1) microsatellites (summary style)
C. CNVs (short summary style)
D. Other variable elements (brief)
II. Distribution of genetic variation (focus on the distribution, not the interpretation)
A. mtDNA studies (overview)
B. Y chromosome studies (overview)
C. Autosomal studies (overview)
D. HapMap project (summary style)
III. Implications of observed genetic variation
A. Population genetics (expert consensus re: observed data)
B. Theories of human origins and dispersal (again, expert consensus)
C. Medical genetics (GWAS studies, differences in risk between populations)

Maybe my emphasis is a little different, but the general layout and themes are the same. Alun (talk) 06:40, 30 January 2009 (UTC)


BTW, should we have a brief mention of the variability observed between different somatic cell types? For example the recombination that goes on in order to generate diversity in immunoglobulins? Or the fact that red blood cells don't contain any DNA at all? As I remember it there may be large diversity of genomes within the cells of each of us, as cells chop up the DNA of the genome to tailor it to the specialist needs of the differentiated cell. That applies to copy number as well, isn't copy number increased for some cistrons in some cell types in order to boost dosage of the gene product? Do we discuss the difference between variability of the genomes of different cell types that is deliberate (e.g. diversity of immunoglobulins) vs. variability that is due to mutation, e.g. mutations in transcriptional regulation of somatic cells leading to cancer? I'm worried that if we concentrate on the generation of diversity during normal/abnormal development/survival, then the article becomes about the "variability of the genome" (or as one of my lecturers used to call it "genomic plasticity") rather than "variation between and within populations". How much of the CNV diversity observed is generated during development and how much is inherited? I know that CNV is observed between identical twins (though presumably SNP differences occur between identical twins, they are just much more difficult to find). Well the above layout probably provides a framework for a good balance. We can work out the details as we go along. Alun (talk) 07:06, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

"should we have a brief mention of the variability observed between different somatic cell types?" IMHO we might mention it briefly, just to say that this is not what the article is about. It should be about genetic variation among or between groups of humans; not within one human. If my white blood cells are genetically different from yours (either congenitally, or because of their different development), that is relevant to the article. If my white blood cells differ from my red blood cells, or from one another, that is not relevant to this article. Maproom (talk) 10:22, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
The current article is a collection of run-on sentences. Commas should not be used in the place of periods. Pooua (talk) 03:53, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Comments re sockpuppetry[edit]

Hi, popping in as an administrator here. I have no opinion on the article content, but I'm sorry that this article seems to be being targeted by a user with a string of sockpuppets. If it helps though, since the sockmaster is site banned, that means that any posts or edits from the new sockpuppets can be reverted on sight. This would refer to posts by Oost, Wet dog fur, etc. I'll leave it up to the other editors here to decide which posts to delete or not: It's your call on whether they're helpful or whether you want to keep them around simply to avoid having a "hole" in the discussion. If other socks show up, please alert an administrator, and then as soon as the latest sockpuppet is confirmed/blocked, the new sockpuppet posts can be deleted as well. Hopefully this will help reduce any confusion. Good luck, --Elonka 07:08, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

Thanks Elonka, that's good to know. I wasn't sure about deleting his posts here. That might help the conversation as long as no one has replied to him. Alun (talk) 07:17, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

Quotations in article[edit]

This article has an excessive number of quotations for an encyclopedia article. Please begin the process of removing most of the quotations.

I propose that sections named "Variation within native groups" and "Variation between native groups" be added to the article. --Saul Greenberg (talk) 04:21, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

Here is a discussion of gene variation within and among populations.[2] --Saul Greenberg (talk) 18:46, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

"Gene Cluster"[edit]

This article used to have a long and interesting section "How much are genes shared? Clustering analyses and what they tell us". It was about use of cluster analysis on data about alleles in different people, to examine the concept of human "populations".

But the section has been confusingly renamed "Gene cluster analysis", and moved to the article gene cluster. The gene cluster article however is (or was, before the move) on a completely different topic: the way genes with related functions cluster on the chromosomes. As the gene cluster article begins, "A gene cluster is a set of two or more genes that serve to encode for the same or similar products."

Creating a new article about the application of cluster analysis to allelic differences is fair enough. But subverting the gene cluster article to be about a different topic from its creator's intention is a mistake, particularly as the phrase "gene cluster" is generally used in the old sense of that article. Maproom (talk) 18:11, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

What do suggest the new article be named? --Saul Greenberg (talk) 02:32, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
It's hard. The best I can suggest is "Application of cluster analysis to human genotypes". This isn't good, I hope someone else can do better. But I think the phrase "gene cluster" is best avoided, as it suggests "cluster of genes", which is not what is meant. Maproom (talk) 13:01, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
How about "Human genetic clustering"? --Saul Greenberg (talk) 15:20, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
I think that's good. Somehow it doesn't have (for me) the quite different connotations that "gene clustering" has. Maproom (talk) 17:30, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
Done: Human genetic clustering. --Saul Greenberg (talk) 19:50, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

Text in this article was copied[edit]

The text in some sections of this article was copied verbatim from the article "The Use of Racial, Ethnic, and Ancestral Categories in Human Genetics Research", which is not cited. It states, "This article is in the public domain, and no copyright is claimed." --Saul Greenberg (talk) 11:34, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

Genetics and human evolution section[edit]

I removed this section because it was off topic and already included in the Human Evolution article. --Saul Greenberg (talk) 14:03, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

Suggestions[edit]

Measures of genetic variation[edit]

I think measures of genetic variation would in genetic distance, fixation index, cladograms. Genetic markers would include SNP, microsatellites, HLA, NRY and mtDNA. SNPs and CNVs in the current version are considered measures, when in fact there are markers not the actual measurement.

Causes of variation[edit]

The current version states:

There are at least two reasons why genetic variation exists between populations. Natural selection may confer an adaptive advantage to individuals in a specific environment if an allele provides a competitive advantage. Alleles under selection are likely to occur only in those geographic regions where they confer an advantage. The second main cause of genetic variation is due to the high degree of neutrality of most mutations

I would suggest that causes of genetic variation include, new mutations, natural selection, founder effects, genetic drift, sexual selection and gene flow. Neutral variation is a "type" of variation not a cause of variation.

Wapondaponda (talk) 19:30, 6 October 2009 (UTC)

Alu sequences[edit]

Alu sequence is something to consider discussing in the article. Alu insertions have been implicated in several inherited human diseases and in various forms of cancer. The study of Alu sequences has also been important in elucidating human population genetics and the evolution of primates, including the evolution of humans. --Millstoner (talk) 12:48, 8 May 2010 (UTC)

Humans are now 99.5% identical not 99.9% - links need to be changed[edit]

Biologists had estimated that two individuals would be identical in 99.9 percent of their DNA, but the true figure now emerges as much less, around 99.5 percent, Dr. Scherer said. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 174.28.248.34 (talk) 09:36, 10 July 2010 (UTC)

The problem here is standardizing how to count that. A search for well edited secondary sources that lay out the methodology for estimating similarity between individuals would be important for improving the article. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk) 11:56, 10 July 2010 (UTC)

Average heterozygosity[edit]

It appeared difficult to find modern data concerning average heterozygosity of protein-coding genes or so-called exoms either for individual humans or for human populations. May be it will be rather good to add such data if possible. --Glagolev (talk) 13:51, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Deletions[edit]

Maunus, I have reported you to AE for these deletions as well. There is an argument regarding race in the article so removing the most important and sourced views arguing for biological race is a gross violation of NPOV.Miradre (talk) 16:16, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

Furthermore, is your statements are simply false.[3] Race is discussed in the overall section. It starts with "New data on human genetic variation has reignited the debate surrounding race". Your other edit comment and removal is equally bad: [4]. Lewontin argument is one of the most important criticisms against biological race.Miradre (talk) 16:22, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
I have reverted. You can report as much as you like - I think you will find the clean hands principle to apply. Lewontin's argument is not the most important argument against biological race, and nobody doubts that Edwards is right in assuring that genetic traits cluster geographically well enough to make it possible to predict an individuals geographic ancestry. Also nobody argues that it is impossible to predict with a large chance of being right which race Americans will consider a person to belong to based on information about his geographic ancestry and genotype. You are wrong when you state that e.g. Templeton commit this mistake. Also nobody denies that within group variance accounts for the vast majority of genetic variance worldwide - not even Edwards. A section called "Lewontin's fallacy" that gives the impression that Lewontins argument about in group variance being greater than between group variance has been refuted is a huge breach of NPOV. Lewontin was wrong in not recognizing that variation does give clues about geographic ancestry. This does however not necessarily imply that it is a good idea to use race as a proxy for geographic ancestry or that continental races are a valid taxonomic construct. Also you reverted the edits to the section of forensic anthropology which misstated the way in which Forensic Anthropologists actually identify skeletal remains and classify them according to race. They may think they find race, but as Brace and many others have shown they find only geographic ancestry and then make an educated guess about race.·Maunus·ƛ· 18:24, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
There is a section called "Distribution of variation" where Lewontin's argument is stated. Now you want to remove the opposing view... If the title is wrong change just that... Are you a forensic professor with more prestige than Gill? Otherwise please do not say he is wrong... Miradre (talk) 18:34, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't need to be a forensic professor to say that Gill is wrong, I can simply rely on the other Forensic professors who say he is wrong. In fact Gill himself has since stated that it is probably better to talk about ancestry than race. (and then he admittedly went back to do it again anyway as habit won out against his own better judgment).·Maunus·ƛ· 19:05, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
That there is a critical view is not cause for removing a view from the article. Sources for all your claims regarding Gill. Thanks.Miradre (talk) 19:20, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
Also, you did not reply to me regarding Lewontin.Miradre (talk) 19:21, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
He simply ran out of rational arguments to back up his particular ideology. ThVa (talk) 17:54, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Since the Lewontin's Fallacy section was removed, a paragraph should be added to explain the argument that because most genetic variation is within-group versus between group, classification of humans into races is not possible, and the rebuttals to that argument. --Maklinovich (talk) 17:17, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

It would make a lot of sense to describe the subject of in/between group variation and how it relates to the problem of classifying populations into genetic groups. As I've said Lewontin's argument isn't basically used to reject the concept of biological classifications of human populations - it is used to show that racial groups are neither homogeneous or have any specific biological essence. And Edwards agrees that this is the case, he just also states that geographic ancestry can be quite accurately determined, with which also noone disagrees.·Maunus·ƛ· 17:51, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
The "biological essence" is the very correlation of multiple variations! As you very well know, many aspects of biology don't reduce to a singular measure. Consider the whole field of taxonomy, for crying out loud. ThVa (talk) 17:54, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
That is not what "biological essence" usually means, no. The concept of "Race" has never been used to classify people into fuzzy categories based only on a statistical correlation between a couple of hundred genetic variables. That is what populations are. In any case the place where you reinserted Edwards was not a place where Edwards argument has any relevance. Edwards is arguing against Lewontin's claim that racial groupings cannot possibly be taxonomically significant because their internal variation is greater than the between group variance. Edwards shows that that conclusion is incorrect, but he does not question the fact that in group variation is greater than that between groups. Edwards' argument is specifically about whether the structure human genetic diversity permits the possibility of discerning taxonomical groups and should only be discussed in regards to that question. User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 18:22, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Intelligence section[edit]

I added a section on the effect of human genetic variation on intelligence. An editor later came and removed it because they claimed in was race related. I put the section back in because among other things, it is not race related. --Crystal labyrinth (talk) 03:55, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

As you are a new editor, you may not be aware that there have been many attempts to unduly promote the view that race and intelligence are linked, and many tiresome arguments on that subject are ongoing. Your first edit was a minor change in a heading at Race and health#Controversy regarding race in biomedicine (diff). Your second edit was here, to add a section on intelligence (diff). Of course many genes influence intelligence, and I suppose that a mention of that fact may be appropriate here. However I do not think the section should be developed with material seeking to introduce the race and intelligence issue into this article. I may have become a bit sensitive to the disruption caused by the R&I battles; if so, please accept my apology. Johnuniq (talk) 08:18, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
Political correctness does not stand, because the notion that race and intelligence are linked is numerically proven fact. Full 2/3rd of all Nobels so far went to pure-blood jews (even more, 3/4rd if one also counts the "halakhially valid" jews, who are only maternally jewish descended, but "goy" on the paternal thread). Yet, there never has been more than 27m jews living in the world at the same time. Regrettably, there are very few things of progress in human history that didn't came from the jews (and scottish, german mech engineers to a smaller extent). We, goyim are just dirt of the soil compared to the chosen nation of jews and we must accept that decision of the Lord with humility.
It is dishonest to present these hard-stated facts as disrespect for other races and colors! People respect the industrious japanese and koreans, even though asians are proven unable to innovate - which does not limit their exceptional usefulness for the entire human cause as perfect imitators and refiners of inventions. The negro received excellent phyisique and manly prowess to compensate for their lesser IQ, because the Lord is just. Do not be jealous of the chosen nation of jewish brains, because the Lord decides souvereignly what graces to various races he gives. Jews and aglo-saxons are apparently the dearest human races to Him. 82.131.133.7 (talk) 11:11, 5 February 2012 (UTC)
Time to read some books on the topic .Moxy (talk) 20:04, 5 February 2012 (UTC)
Jefferson M. Fish (2002). Race and intelligence: separating science from myth. Psychology Press. p. 274. ISBN 978-0-8058-3757-5. 
Robert J. Sternberg; Scott Barry Kaufman (30 May 2011). The Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence. Cambridge University Press. p. 294. ISBN 978-0-521-73911-5. 
John Cartwright (24 July 2000). Evolution and human behavior: Darwinian perspectives on human nature. MIT Press. p. 325. ISBN 978-0-262-53170-2. 
I can't help but laugh at this foolish kid above me. First of all, Nobel prizes have only been around for a hundred or so years, secondly, you won't see all those jewish innovations in ancient history, so if we were to assume at all that the jews were inherently more "intelligent" than any other race, then why do we not see their impact on civilization and technology within ancient culture? Why do we primarily see non-jewish, hellenistic and roman innovation in Western culture rather than jewish? Aristotle, Archimedes, Socrates, Plato, and dozens of others, all non-jewish geniuses of their time and considered to be some of the most profound human beings in history. What about in more modern contexts? If we are to assume that the jews are more intelligent, than why do we see all the major discoveries and innovations in science, mathematics, and biology happen at the hands of Caucasians and Asians? Because of four reasons, the first being that the jews are not inherently smarter than anyone else, the second being that intelligence is not associated with race, thirdly because jews are not a race, and lastly, because Nobel prizes aren't always awarded for new/original scientific/technological creation. Also, Let me just shoot down your little "2/3rds" claim real quick; there have been only 850 individuals awarded the Nobel prize, only 20% of them have been jewish, meaning that only 1/5th of them make up the actual Nobel Laureate's.

I agree, it is time to read some books on the subject, books that aren't outdated and completely fallacious. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:B:9B80:297:4CD2:9148:9D5:3052 (talk) 00:11, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

Some quality concerns[edit]

Here are a few problems with the article: 1, the map of Africa is IMPOSSIBLE to place, where is that? Why is half the map blanked out? Some sort of reference on a world map would be in order. 2, picture of human faces as representing variation - is this for Martians that might be reading? Is there someone out there who hasn't noticed that humans look different from one another? It struck me as incredibly childish. And finally, this sentence: "Studies on identical twins and adopted children suggest that there is a substantial genetic contribution to intelligence." NO?!? You mean we are more intelligent than mice because of our GENES? 212.93.105.10 (talk) 20:59, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

  1. I see no map of Africa in the article. Maybe what you are looking at is a map of the world, on an unusual projection (somewhat resembling a chicken)?
  2. The pictures of faces are really bad. Many of the differences between them are anyway due to different lighting, backgrounds, etc., not to genetic variation. I shall delete them myself unless someone convinces me that they serve a purpose.
  3. If you replace "intelligence" by "variation in intelligence among humans", the sentence becomes more sensible. Maproom (talk) 23:10, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, the chicken map was the one I meant. The one that has the explanation of what it is one mouse scroll down :) But the intelligence sentence even with your caveat still sounds like a big duh to me - who would assume that our most complex organ, unlike our ears or genitals, would be exempt from genetic influence? But I guess some scientists did when they made a study of that (I guess another one of those "identical twins separated at birth" - is there really such a large number of them to make up a statistically significant sample?)212.93.105.10 (talk) 23:40, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
I have deleted the mugshots.
"Who would assume that our most complex organ ... would be exempt from genetic influence?" Yes, indeed. But if a professional geneticist asserts that intelligence is influenced by genes, or worse, describes aspects of this influence, it is likely to be a career-damaging move. Safer to say nothing, or just make vague statements like the one in the article. Also, see Intelligence section above. Maproom (talk) 07:59, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
If you are going to delete the photos of human faces, you should also delete images of wheat. There is no justification for removing the faces and leaving the wheat image. This article is about humans and not wheat. Apparently we cannot have photos of human faces in an article about humans. --Crystal labyrinth (talk) 17:45, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
Good point - wheat now gone. Of course, you can have photos of human faces - but preferably, in a way contributes more to the article. Maproom (talk) 21:19, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
Maproom: Please post some photos of humans in the article that illustrate phenotypic variation. --Crystal labyrinth (talk) 13:59, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

Human phenotypic variation[edit]

I suggest that images be added to the Phenotypic Variation section of this article to illustrate the concept. The images of moths are used in the Phenotype article but we should use human images here. How about this image? --Crystal labyrinth (talk) 11:59, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Biston betularia morpha typica, the standard light-colored Peppered Moth.
Biston betularia morpha carbonaria, the melanic Peppered Moth, illustrating discontinuous variation.


And James Bond was right: some only live twice?[edit]

The BBC News now claims there were a total of 107bn 600mio people (H. S. S.) who ever lived since 50k BC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16870579

However, the genetical variance of Homo Sapiens Sap. race is only enough for 70bn different gene sequences according to Wikipedia, therefore some humans must have lived twice already! (and thus James Bond was right?) That's because at least a total 100 bn people have lived since 8k BC - 1 AD (very different estimates), by which time human genetical evolution was already over, with various colour races already developed and bearded sumers topping clay brick towers already back in 4-6k BC. 82.131.133.7 (talk) 10:55, 5 February 2012 (UTC)


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Request for comment: Dawkins' position on Lewontin in Race and genetics[edit]

Inviting editors to participate in RfC at Talk:Race_and_genetics regarding Dawkins' position on Lewontin. BlackHades (talk) 20:32, 16 June 2013 (UTC)

Lewontin's Fallacy reverts[edit]

The paragraph opens with: The distribution of genetic variants within and among human populations are impossible to describe succinctly because of the difficulty of defining a "population,".

And in Edwards is saying: "most of the information that distinguishes populations is hidden in the correlation structure of the data." These relationships can be extracted using commonly used ordination and cluster analysis techniques. Edwards argued that, even if the probability of misclassifying an individual based on the frequency of alleles at a single locus is as high as 30 percent (as Lewontin reported in 1972), the misclassification probability becomes close to zero if enough loci are studied..

These appear to be in direct conflict as one source is saying it's hard to define a population and the other is saying you study enough loci and you reach near 100% ability to define a population. So I'm supported some sentence clarifying the difference in viewpoints.Alatari (talk) 22:49, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

The Wikipedia article about Edwards's claims needs some more work and updating to current sources, but there doesn't seem to be a big problem here, based on what current sources on human genetics in general show. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 23:16, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. There's just an edit war going on now and no discussion of it on the talk page. I wanted to get a discussion started her to resolve the differing edits. Alatari (talk) 00:19, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
I dont see any contradiction between the two statements. Edwards is not talking about defining a population, but about whether genetic loci cluster in a way that may make it possible to discern a taxonomic stucture if enough loci are studied. The problems of defining a population are well descried in the literature and do not dissappear because of Edwards argument. In fact they are only complicated furthe because the outcome of Edwards argument is that very low level populations can be discerned as genetically distinct populations such as regions of countries or even towns or neighborhoods. If enough loci are studied. User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 15:18, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
The restored (diff) sentence, "However, the statistical argument of Lewontin ignores the significant correlation between allele variations and other types of variations, which, as A.F. Edwards pointed out in the paper Lewontin's Fallacy, results in a high level of clustering of genotypes of different groups.", has several issues;
  1. If Edwards finds "nothing wrong with Lewontin's statistical analysis of variation, only with the belief that it is relevant to classification", what is the "the statistical argument of Lewontin" our article appears to rebut?
  2. What are the "significant correlation between allele variations and other types of variations" that it is claimed "Lewontin ignores"? And what source makes said claim?
  3. Where does Edwards report finding "a high level of clustering of genotypes of different groups"?
The well known fact that "~90% of total genetic variation [i.e., of the 0.1% of DNA that varies among individuals], would be found in a collection of individuals from a single continent, and only ~10% more variation would be found if the collection consisted of Europeans, Asians and Africans."[5] is not the fallacy of Edwards' essay. The unsourced claims are of primary concern. — ArtifexMayhem (talk) 09:29, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
It's important to distinguish what has scientific consensus and what doesn't here. Lewontin's point that within group differences is larger than between group differences and his FST estimates does have scientific consensus. Edwards' point that if enough loci is sampled, a person's geographical ancestry can be pinpointed with near 100% accuracy also has scientific consensus. The scientific conflict here is what all this means in regards to the subject of biological human races. Meaning, there is full agreement in the scientific fields as far as the objective data goes, it is the interpretation of the data that is in dispute.
Lewontin's content that currently exists under "Distribution of variation" is the non-controversial aspect and does have scientific consensus. I agree with the point Maunus made in his edit summary that it's not necessary to include Edwards when the controversial aspect of Lewontin's argument is not mentioned. So I don't believe a direct response by Edwards to Lewontin is necessary in the section "Distribution of variation".
However, Edwards' point that if enough loci is sampled, a person's geographical ancestry can be pinpointed with near 100% accuracy, would be relevant to the article and this point does have scientific consensus and so should be mentioned somewhere in the article. Most likely somewhere under the section "Categorization of the world population". It looks like text similar to Edwards' point roughly already exists in this section so giving Edwards' a little weight in this specific section shouldn't be a big deal. But it should be included independently and not directly in response to Lewontin because this specific scientific argument by Edwards is not meant to be a refutation of Lewontin's FST estimates of within and between groups mentioned earlier. BlackHades (talk) 01:07, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
Thankyou both for your input. I understand there is a controversy over races but pinpointing ancestry also includes ethnic groups down to tribal and family lines. I like BlackHades last suggestion. Alatari (talk) 18:27, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

Citations list useful for updating this article and related articles[edit]

You may find it helpful while reading or editing articles to look at a bibliography of Human Biology and Anthropology Sources, posted for the use of all Wikipedians who have occasion to edit articles on human genetics and related issues. I have been revising this source list from time to time since I became a Wikipedian in 2010, and hope to continue to update and expand it for years to come. To answer a frequently asked question, I maintain the citations list in my Wikipedia user space to make clear that I am responsible for what sources are listed and for ensuring that the bibliographic information is correct. I have learned about these sources from my own reading on this topic since 1969, from the citations in dozens of different Wikipedia articles I've read since 2010, and from browsing in academic research library systems and huge public library systems (all blessed with computerized catalogs during the last twenty years), and from using the Wikipedia Library to update Wikipedia articles. But this source list is always incomplete, as new research reviews and textbooks and handbooks about this broad topic are published every month, and I have hundreds of sources still to review and check to add to the source list. You are welcome to use these sources for your own research (on-wiki or off-wiki, of course). You can help other Wikipedians by suggesting new sources through comments I welcome through the source list talk page. It will be extremely helpful for articles on human genetics to edit them according to the Wikipedia standards for reliable sources for medicine-related articles, as statements about preliminary genetic studies in the popular press often run far ahead of the verified scientific evidence. Enjoy your reading; see you on the wiki. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 21:58, 6 August 2015 (UTC)

Possible separate section for Human Biodiversity (HBD) the taboo fringe science field?[edit]

HBD is much more than Genetic variation, we all know there is also a fringe science field that deals with both the soft & hard science of Human differences, much of which is taboo. It consists of discussion, analysis & theories and due to the taboo nature of this topic in society, it tends to allow much more diverse and controversial viewpoints. Example... www.humanbiologicaldiversity.com Quisp65 (talk) 03:50, 15 June 2016 (UTC)

HBD is not something that exists in the literature on human genetic diversity. It is more of a political blogosphere movement. It doesnt belong in this article at all.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 04:20, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
Upon studying Wiki policy, I tend to believe a new page in this would fall under "Non-notable topics." It is the nature of the beast that taboo topics have a tendency to stay taboo on Wikipedia. If someone thinks it might survive, I might consider creating it. Quisp65 (talk) 05:23, 15 June 2016 (UTC)
I would nominate it for deletion if you did. Then the AfD outcome would decide.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 11:22, 15 June 2016 (UTC)

Need citation for 10-30 million SNPs in human population[edit]

I flagged the text that claims there are 10 to 30 million SNPs in the human genome as needing a citation. The sources I can find claim 10 or 15 million, but these sources are somewhat old (from 2010 or so). It is possible the 30 million number is based on newer research. Is anyone aware of a source for the 30 million figure? Paulish (talk) 15:22, 16 May 2017 (UTC)

I updated the numbers, with citations.--Carwil (talk) 18:08, 16 May 2017 (UTC)