Posts Tagged ‘genetics’

I’ve often read or heard people say that humans and chimps share 99 percent of their genetic makeup. However, I’ve suspected that this was an oversimplification. One reason is that I’ve also read the figure 99.5 percent, as well as 70 percent and 25 percent. I also know that science doesn’t yet know everything there is to know about genetics.

Oh yes, the other thing is that in practical terms and everyday life, humans are a whole lot different from chimps.

So I was interested in reading an article on the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News and Views by Richard Sternberg — see “Guy Walks Into a Bar and Thinks He’s a Chimpanzee: The Unbearable Lightness of Chimp-Human Genome Similarity.”

Sternberg is a science editor who was hounded out of the Smithsonian for publishing an article sympathetic to intelligent design research. (See “Article That Sparked Flap at Smithsonian.”)

Sternberg’s article is interesting and fairly intelligible for the average person interested in science. But even without my understanding all the details, his article confirms my previous suspicion that the often-cited 99 percent figure is based on oversimplification and imperfect knowledge of genetics.

ARK — 18 May 2009

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