La Distorsion culturelle de la génétique

Toutes les cultures imposent à leurs membres une certaine idée de leur identité, de leur cheminement et de leur appartenance sociale. Par exemple, l’Europe prémoderne croyait qu’une femme qui avait eu des relations sexuelles avant le mariage pouvait conserver l’empreinte de son amant en son sein et que de ce fait, tout enfant né dans les liens du mariage ressemblerait à l’amant précédent plutôt qu’au mari. Cela a servi à justifier l’importance accordée à la chasteté des femmes.

Les idées populaires sur l’hérédité sont un outil culturel particulièrement fort, mais elles ne relèvent pas uniquement des sociétés prémodernes. La science contemporaine possède elle-même sa propre idéologie culturelle sur l’hérédité, dont il est souvent difficile de séparer des données complexes et de la haute technologie qui produisent, pensons-nous, des instantanés de la nature objectifs et détachés de tout système de valeur.

Dans le domaine des origines de l’homme, il est bien connu qu’une séquence d’ADN de l’être humain est quasi identique, à 99�%, de la partie correspondante de l’ADN d’un chimpanzé. De ce point de vue, il est courant d’entendre dire en conclusion que nous ne sommes «�rien d’autre�» que des chimpanzés (et condamnés à être agressif ou à posséder les attributs, quels qu’ils soient, attribués aux singes à notre époque) ou que les singes méritent de se voir reconnus des droits humains. Une fois de plus, les significations sociales sont enchevêtrées dans nos croyances sur l’hérédité.

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