Fossian identities

Mike Lieber (U28550@UICVM.BITNET)
Fri, 18 Nov 1994 09:15:06 CST

Dan Foss seems to have siezed upon my characterization of genetic variability
in Ashkenazi Jewish populations as being *probably* not much different from
the larger population(s) of which they are part as meaning that A. Jews are
"the same" as everyone else. Since Dan is obviously *smart*, I take it that
Dan has decided to use my characterization for his own rhetorical purposes,
which, I suppose, is part of the game, if not strictly *okay*. Given that
A. Jews seem never to have been a breeding isolate--why else would rabbis be
constantly kvetching about intermarriage and apostacy?--and given that the
hundreds of thousands of genes in any person's body can come in up to 150
varieties per locus, most of which get reshuffled every time one produces a
gamete, what can he possibly mean by his characticature of my charcterization?
The "same"? When you're talking genes in a population, you're talking
gene frequencies, and that's a range of variability for each and every allele.
I cannot prove that the range of variability of allelic frequences in A. Jewish
populations are identical to those in the larger populations among whom A. J.s
reside. I'm not sure whether anyone has done that sort of research and if so,
which alleles have been used as markers for the research. With the progress
of gene mapping, I suspect that the older methods of using blood type, PTC
tasting, and a few others is hardly adequate to map a population profile--kind
of like the tip of the elephant's toenail. But should such research be done,
I would be surprised if the range of variability of A. J. is much different
from the range of variability of the rest of the population. One could make
the exception, of course, of the high frequency of the mutant alleles that
cause lipoidoses--Tay Sachs, Gaucher's disease, Schiller disease, called the
Jewish diseases. Even this is dangerous, however, since Gaucher's disease has
been shown to be common among Canadian coastal people of Scottish descent.
So what's left that won't be the same? Talmud, Responsa, and, most important
of all, _gamatrya_ (numerology, talmudic style), the sine qua non for the
adaptation of this diaspora population. And these ain't genetic.

Mike Lieber