Everyone Is African by Daniel J. Fairbanks (book review).
The title of Daniel J. Fairbanks’ book ‘Everyone Is African’ refers to the source of our DNA and how it spread across the world. The sub-title ‘How Science Explodes The Myth Of Race’ re-enforces this by showing how skin isn’t an issue and how much of our genes are the same. In fact, when it comes to colour, being white is clearly unhealthy with strong sunlight and you would be better being a person of colour in such conditions.
Although Fairbanks points out how minor divergents came from mutation, he doesn’t explain how it had to happen more than once to spread across the species and why something with negative effects, like sickle-cell anaemia, persists when detrimental to health.
Likewise, with only four main blood types, I did speculate at why did it stop at four? Looking objectively, divergence is healthy because, as we have seen with other species, a particular infection could wipe us all out if we weren’t. Even so, I couldn’t help but wonder why we aren’t even more divergent than we are or is it evolution can only give a limited number of blood type choices even by mutation. Mind you, considering that there are only four combinations of amino acids and as Fairbanks shows, it is the flipping of two of these that cause the mutation, maybe that limits the choices to four blood types and the Rhesus factor. That did make me wonder how many other mutations are limited by such choices.
For a book of such a small page count, as the above paragraph shows, Fairbanks encapsulates a lot of knowledge and the thoughts I had above were clearly driven by it. He also proves that eugenics is counter-productive and doesn’t work and both Germany and the United States had their own programmes in the last century. Oh, if you’re lactose intolerant you’re among the 65% of the world who shares this trait where the particular gene that controls it switches off after weaning because there wasn’t any milk yielding animals in the area. It explains why lactose intolerance is predominate amongst ancient Native Americans. This is where investigations into gene therapy is now making great strides and although Fairbanks doesn’t go in this direction, I wonder how long before such problems can simply be change by flipping a gene switch.
There are a lot of truths in this book, all backed by scientific evidence. In his epilogue, Fairbanks says that the human race is a lot more closely related than the common chimpanzee which is far more diverse living in a smaller area. This brings a whole new dimensional to differences being only skin deep, doesn’t it?
I suspect this book will make you think heavily about the genetic range in our own species. Fairbanks does not bog you down in scientific talk making this an easy book to understand. As can be seen above, it made me think and even find some links. About the only thing he doesn’t explain is why some people are racist and others aren’t but, genetically, you will have a firmer evidence to point at such people that they are wrong which is no bad thing.
(pub: Prometheus Books. 191 page indexed enlarged paperback. Price: $18.00 (US), $19.00 (CAN), £13.48 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-63388-018-4)
check out website: www.prometheusbooks.com
2 thoughts on “Everyone Is African by Daniel J. Fairbanks (book review).”
‘considering that there are only four combinations of amino acids’
Amino acids? The context suggests that the DNA nucleotide bases is what is meant – but I may be wrong. There are rather more than four amino acids (in fact more than the 20ish involved in human nutrition) and there are also rather more than the A, B, AB, O and Rhesus blood types (some 30+, I believe)…
There really are only 4 amino acids in various combinations in the DNA strands. The book points to how it only needs a change in two of them to get a different blood group. Neither they and I said anything about the other factors but only blood type and the Rhesus factor are the only important ones when it comes to transfusion.