El sesgo cultural de la genética

Todas las culturas imponen a sus miembros ideas sobre quiénes son, cómo surgieron y cuál es su lugar en la sociedad. Por ejemplo, en la Europa premoderna se creía que una mujer que tuviera relaciones sexuales antes del matrimonio podría quedar marcada por su amante, de manera que un hijo que naciera dentro del matrimonio se parecería a éste y no al esposo. Eso sirvió para justificar la importancia que se le daba a la castidad femenina.

Las ideas populares sobre la herencia son una herramienta cultural particularmente poderosa, pero no son exclusivas de las sociedades premodernas. Incluso la ciencia contemporánea tiene sus ideologías culturales propias sobre la herencia, que a menudo resulta difícil separar de los datos complejos y la alta tecnología que nosotros creemos que producen visiones objetivas y sin cargas de valor sobre la naturaleza.

En el campo de los orígenes del hombre es bien sabido que el 99% de la secuencia del DNA humano es idéntico a la parte correspondiente del DNA de un chimpancé. De ahí, no es raro escuchar la conclusión de que no somos "más que" chimpancés (y condenados a ser violentos o a poseer cualquiera de los atributos que se le imputan actualmente a los simios) o que los simios merecen derechos humanos. Una vez más los significados sociales están integrados en las creencias sobre la herencia.

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