I started reading Sapiens last week. I’m only one chapter in, and I need to interject.
The first chapter gives an in-depth look at how different pre-human ancestors lived, and homo sapiens eventually ruled them all.
Here’s my take on it. It’s much simpler. If you assume that we all came from the same DNA, could different species exist? Yes, sort of. You have these different people on different parts of the globe, with different DNA. Not all that different, but up to four percent, according to Harari. We know that DNA is not stationary, and that the diet, lifestyle, and particular stresses associated with these populations would have mutated their genes differently. So, of course, you have different populations with different physical characteristics, because they evolved based on their particular environment.
I’d compare it to remote jungle tribes with little or no communication with the outside world, and a very distinct culture, mindset, and diet. They may look, act, and appear different than us, but we still call them humans.
So how did all the other species ‘die off’?
They didn’t. Well there’s the flood, which was a sort of convergence. I see it more that as resources became more plentiful, and diversity of food, lifestyle, and religion seeped from culture to culture, the DNA began to converge as well. Not that we are all so similar, but we’re all so different that it’s hard to call them different species any more.
So every year you hear about people that are freed from prison because of DNA evidence. So here’s the question, if we know that DNA changes over time, is it possible that we are letting guilty people off the hook?
So, I’m not saying that we need to stop using DNA evidence. A match is still a match. But the person that’s been on death row for 20 years, who already admitted to the crime, I would say let’s hold on a second before letting him go. Unless you’re letting him go based on the fact that he’s changed so much in prison that the new individual is actually innocent. If your intent is to keep the guilty man locked up, you need to think critically about this test. We know about epigenetics, and your DNA definitely changes over time. So who is to say that your DNA now would match that of you 20 years ago?
This astronaut’s DNA changed 7% while he was in space. The company that did the testing was quick to explain by saying that his DNA didn’t change, just his gene expression. Which obviously begs the question, what is gene expression? I don’t have a business model based on this being true, so I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit. Like it or not, your genes are changing.
We’ve already talked a bunch about epigenetics. Science knows that the environment effects people, it just really can’t explain why yet.
Here’s your smoking gun. Identical twins with different DNA. Why is that a big deal? Because we know that they start with the same DNA. Otherwise, why would they call them identical? On a cellular level, they start from the same cell.
So, if identical twins don’t have the same DNA, how could you expect me to have the same DNA as I did when I was 12. I don’t.
Logically following, the man that has been locked up for 20 years for a murder that he committed, likely changed a great deal in prison. So think twice before you set him free based solely on his new DNA test.