Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bias vs Prejudice, 4

I learned about “wild-turkey prejudice” while visiting friends in the mountains of North Carolina. Out taking my morning constitutional in this north-west corner of the State, I chanced to see a lone wild turkey. (Some of you know my sensory preference is auditory, but I also have an energy advantage in the right frontal lobe and tend to notice the unusual.) The color of this bird’s head and neck feathers were an unusual shade of vanilla-white. She was all alone, out foraging for her breakfast. I walked around looking for other wild turkeys as I was accustomed to seeing them in a group or flock of some size. Nada, zip. Back at the house I was told that this wild turkey was an outcast. My friends had named her Hagar. Turns out that birds are quite visual and Hagar’s head and neck plumage was different from all the other birds. Because of this (I assume here), she had been ousted from the flock and relegated to a solitary existence. It reminded me of a recent conversation I’d had. After offering to speak at a specific four-year college, I had been told very directly that I would never speak there because I was of a different race from the majority of students. To say I was a bit dumbfounded would be putting it mildly. I was tempted to say, “Our brains are all the same color. What difference does race make?” I held my tongue but shook my head in disbelief. Part 5 tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bias vs Prejudice, 3

Every human being is likely prejudiced about something in some way because every family script will have some prejudice in it. People can even be prejudiced against others they think are prejudiced. Research in the 1970’s began to show that prejudice tends to be based on favoritism towards one’s own groups, rather than negative feelings towards another group. According to Marilyn Brewer, prejudice "may develop not because outgroups are hated, but because positive emotions such as admiration, sympathy, and trust are reserved for the ingroup." [Brewer, Marilynn B. (1999). "The Psychology of Prejudice: Ingroup Love and Outgroup Hate?" Journal of Social Issues 55 (3): 429–44. doi:10.1111/0022-4537.00126.} And apparently, prejudice is not unique among the human species only. Wild turkeys do it, too. At least the band of wild turkeys in North Carolina, do. Part 4 tomorrow.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bias vs Prejudice, 2

Prejudice can be defined in several differing ways.

  • A prejudgment before becoming aware of the relevant facts; feeling, favorable or unfavorable, toward a person or thing, prior to, or not based on, actual experience.

  • A preconceived opinion or judgment or attitude, usually unfavorable (and sometimes hostile), toward a person or group because of gender, social class, financial situation, gender, political opinion, age, disability, religion (or fractions with a religion), sexuality, race, ethnicity, culture, language, nationality, or any other supposed characteristic or belief.

As separate from bias, prejudice appears to be learned. That “learning” can be passed along in the script each human being is handed (at least metaphorically) at birth and probably passed through cellular memory, as well. It is likely strengthened by what the person observes in his or her environment, including how the individual is treated. Part 3 tomorrow.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bias vs Prejudice, 1

Speaking of conflict, the word bias can be defined as a mental tendency or inclination, or a preference that inhibits impartial judgment. Studies suggest that the human brain has a built-in bias for being more comfortable around whatever is familiar, like it. Some say the fastest judgment a brain ever makes when it first sees someone or something is: “This is like me, this is familiar,” or “This is not like me, this is unfamiliar.” When I meet another human being for the first time, my brain instantly catalogs a myriad of comparisons, whether that person is:

·           Like me (female) or different (male)
·           Short like me or tall
·           Of European ancestry like me or not
·           Wearing similar clothing to me or not
·           And so on and so on…

Prejudice is a separate concept from bias. Part 2 next week.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

DNA Ancestry, 7

Based on DNA testing, my patrilineal ancestry reportedly goes back to one African male known as “Y-Chromosomal Adam.” Two initial descendants from this male were the Haplogroup A and the Haplogroup BR. Other mutations occurred that were split into Haplogroup F, Haplogroup P, and eventually Haplogroup R (distinguishable by its M207 mutation). And the Y-chromosome results are aligned with a section of this group known as Haplogroup R1b, reportedly related to a man in Iberia (modern day Spain) now known as ‘the Patriarch, who carried the genetic marker that designates the Haplogroup R1b. My cousin Tim is seeing what he can find about my father’s generational line, because it appears they came to Canada from either Ireland (100% of the male population in Western Ireland belongs to Haplogroup R1b) or from England (70% of the male population in southern Britain belongs to Haplogroup R1b). Anyway, if we could go back far enough, it appears that all of us are related to all of us. Interesting concept, especially in light of all the existing conflicts, locally and globally.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

DNA Ancestry, 6

I told my one-and-only brother about my venture into DNA testing for maternal mitochondria, and he graciously agreed to send in some of his white blood cells so we could find out more about the Y-chromosomes of our ancestors. On my father’s side, the markers show alignment with Haplogroup R1b, a Western European lineage that is now the most prevalent Haplogroup worldwide. Although the Y-chromosome is much smaller than the X-Chromosome, there are more markers from the Y-chromosome ancestry test. Go figure! I’ll list those number below, too. Part 7 tomorrow.

DYS 391
DYS 3891
DYS 439
DYS 38911
DYS 438
DYS 437
DYS 19
DYS 392
DYS 393
DYS 390
DYS 385

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DNA Ancestry, 5

According to DNASolutions Pty. Ltd., my common female ancestor is known as Mitochondrial Eve. Four initial groups of descendants known as Haplogroups Lo-L3 are related to Mitochondrial Eve. Group Lo apparently is now extinct, but Group L-3 divided into two subtypes: M and N. A DNA marker at position 10875T of my mitochondrial DNA, shows that I am a descendent of Haplogroup N. Of course, there were more branchings and a woman classified as “Helena” (meaning light in Greek) marked the beginning of my mitochondrial type: Haplogroup H. One of the most famous of my Haplogroup H ancestors (that can be traced back to Bertha Von Putelendorf who died 1190) is reported to be the French queen Marie Antoinette—who, unfortunately, “lost her head.” Because that family was quite prolific, some others in Haplogroup H include Marie-Louise of Austria (Napoleon’s wife), the Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna (wife of the last Russian tsar Nicolas II), and Britain’s Queen Victoria. Part 6 tomorrow.