Skin Variation: Explained by Evolution or...the Bible?
The first article that I found while searching for fake science news was "Did Clothing Help Determine our Shade of Skin". I was immediately intrigued by the title. It starts off by describing the known advantages of dark skin compared to light skin. Having dark skin acts as protection from skin cancer as well as aiding in the breakdown of folic acid, while lighter skin is better for producing Vitamin D. So far so good, this is all valid information. The study that the title of this article is in reference to was run by the University of California San Francisco. The study states that clothing played a part in skin variation. Those that ran the study theorized that clothing may have played a role in the selection for lighter skin in cold climates which are found near the poles. The heavier clothes acted as a barrier that darker skin usually would. Dismissing these new findings, the author of the article went on to address skin variation in relation to the Bible. According to the Bible, all of man descends from two people, Adam and Eve. The author states that “Adam and Eve were middle brown, it is possible within just one generation, that they produced skin tones from very light to dark.” Here she is saying that skin variation is completely random and there is no selection power for skin color.
All humans have the same number of melanosomes. Melanosomes produce and store melanin which is responsible for color. Variation in skin color is caused by melanosome cell structure differences as well as the size and distribution of them. There are known mutations in genes that control the expression of melanin that would affect pigmentation. Skin types have been selected for due to their different responses to UV radiation. It has been shown that those in the northern regions, with less sunlight, have lighter skin while the middle regions having darker skin to protect against high UV radiation. This is not coincidental.
Two “middle brown” people would not be able to produce offspring with such a variation in color pigmentation. With knowledge of simple genetics one knows that the theory of blending inheritance is discarded, offspring is not simply a blend of the parents. The author then goes on to say that the researchers behind this new study interpreted it the way they did because of “presuppositions”. What she actually should have said is, everything that she is claiming in this article is based on her own presuppositions with no real evidence to back it up. Lastly, she claims that skin variation is not evolution, but “caused by different combinations of genes and possibly humans adapting to diverse environments, a process that occurred in the recent past.” A large part of evolution is adapting to a new environment, but adaptation and large changes in skin pigmentation would occur over many years not over one generation or in the recent past.
Overall this article was written with the bias of someone who is extremely religious, which was assumed from the beginning based on the title of the website. The claims that she made were not backed up with solid evidence or reasoning and could easily be debunked by science.
Posted by: Leah DeLorenzo (4)
Religion and science should never mix! While I support people having the right to their own beliefs, I would not agree that basing skin color off of teachings of the Bible is valid reasoning for our variation. The author of the "fake news" says she believes skin color is completely random and there is no selection for it, but I disagree completely. Though it may be random at first, a population must adapt to their environments through evolution over time. People in hotter environments will favor dark skin more because it's advantageous for protection from the sun. Thus generation after generation, mutations for darker skin tones will be favored and majority of that population will begin to reproduce offspring of darker skin tones; vice versa for populations in colder environments.ReplyDelete
Posted by Natalie Nou (group c)
I completely agree. Religion and science are often like oil and water. According to a poll run in the United States in 2014, 42 percent of the country did not believe in evolution and were creationists. Hopefully this number will continue to decrease when more people are exposed to real science and do not read articles like this.Delete
Posted by Leah DeLorenzo (4)
I agree with Natalie that religion and science should not mix! In my opinion, science has proven time and time again that most of the theories in the bible are misguided and false. Not taking a stance on religion, I'm just pointing out that things such as evolution have a scientific basis where as "Adam and Eve" do not really make sense to the average science major. This specific example regarding skin color seems like another similar example. Scientifically, genetically, and evolutionarily, skin color is a heritable trait that is specific to the climate in which the ancestors survived and reproduced. This statement is also shown on the graph included in your article. It's truly baffling the amount of fake news you can find on the internet!ReplyDelete
Posted by Caitlin Lohr
Some of this fake news is so comical! It blows my mind that people actually put time into trying to prove these ridiculous arguments. I wonder what the author of that article thought about people in New England. Did he or she think that we just changed skin color during the different seasons because we wear less clothing during the summer than in the winter? It also should be a red flag to people reading that article that the author brought in the bible as evidence for the study. I thought the fact that we all have the same number of melanosomes was interesting as I didn’t know that before! I also really liked the map that you put as it really helps to visualize how a lack of sun exposure can lead to a lighter skin tone, which is all based on science and not religion!ReplyDelete
Posted by: Kate Masterson (Group C)
I agree everyone has a right to their own beliefs, but it really does blow my mind that with all the evience that supports evolution, people still don't accept it. Everyone else brought up great points about why this article is so absurd. Besides the comedy in the fact that clothing could possibly decide the color of skin, I often wonder if creationists think the entire human population arose form inbreeding. She clearly states, people descended from 2 people (Adam and Eve); how could they create our entire species? Siblings would have to mate and it is likely after several generations offspring would no longer be viable. This has been experienced throughout history, one instance being King Charles II of Spain, which we just discussed in intro to evolution. He was victim of generations of inbreeding, he had a myriad of physical and mental problems and was also sterile. How could the entire population start from two people?ReplyDelete
Posted by Jenna Lansbury
It really is mind-blowing that people put so much time and energy into getting their biased opinion out in the public. If she had any scientific background at all, she would know that none of what she said makes sense. It is really worrisome that she is making this public because anyone could read this and be led astray. Evolution never happen over one generation, and it is completely ridiculous that she's trying to make that claim. As everyone else mentioned above, science and religion are two very separate things. People can have their beliefs but spreading fake science is never okay but you'll never know how many people will start to believe the lies.ReplyDelete
Posted by Jordan Milone (3)
It's quite interesting to see how much religion warps ones views on certain topics. There is enough scientific evidence behind evolution yet reputable sources are easily dismissed by opponents. It is alarming to see that so many sites like this exist that spread fake news. As you said, there may be some people that could easily believe this article and perhaps they are people with no scientific background.Delete
Posted by Leah DeLorenzo (4)
It's interesting reading this article because I grew up in a religious household. However being a biology major you have to take classes about evolution. To be fair evolution makes valid points about adaptations.This article too is about adaptations because it discusses how humans skin adapted to their environment. Granted being religious I have my biases towards some of the claims scientist claim to make but mixing religion and science is like comparing apples and oranges. All together a great article to contemplate because it really puts things into perspective and helps me to stay open minded.ReplyDelete
Posted by Givenchy Humes (1)
I always find it interesting when people disregard evidence so they can believe what they want to believe. In my advanced genetics class, we discussed the possible origins skin color variation. Most evidence supports the idea that humans originated in Africa and small subpopulations moved out of Africa into Europe and Asia. It is likely that these subpopulations that moved to Europe and Asia experienced a mutation that caused their skin to be lighter. This mutation was favored in these parts of the world because the sun wasn’t as harsh in these areas and lighter skin made it easier to produce vitamin D. Although it is very hard to prove indefinitely where the human species originated and the history behind the variation in skin color, this is the model that most evidence available appears to support.ReplyDelete
Posted by: Katie Kossack (Group B)
I agree with everyone else this article is absolutely ridiculous and evolution should never be considered when religion is at play. If the woman of this article truly is a creationist, and I believe she is, she should not even be mentioning evolution. It is a contradiction to say that Adam and Eve led to the diverse range of skin pigmentation found throughout the world. Even though she is not claiming that evolution was at work, it is still implied in what she is saying, "a different combination of genes," which essentially can be considered, well, not creationism, that's for sure.ReplyDelete
Posted by Taylor Irwin