The Problems of Genetics and the Aryan issue

Illustration by Deepak Harichandan

CHENNAI, INDIA, June 29, 2017 (The Hindu, by Michel Danino): Tony Joseph’s article (“How genetics is settling the Aryan migration debate, June 16) on how recent genetic studies of Indian populations might be “settling the Aryan migration debate” attempts to summarise polemical as well as technical aspects of the contribution of genetics to the debate in question. I will focus here mostly on methodological issues to argue that the conclusions of two recent studies Mr. Joseph’s article heavily leans on are much shakier than conveyed. (Those are “A genetic chronology for the Indian Subcontinent”, published earlier this year in BMC Evolutionary Biology, which I will refer to as “Silva et al.” after its first author, and “Reconstructing Indian population history” by David Reich and four co-authors, published in Nature in 2009, henceforth “Reich et al.”)

To begin with, most studies of population genetics suffer from shortcomings and flaws, some of which are currently unavoidable, while others are the result of subjective, personal choices. The larger public interested in the field of population genetics should be all the more aware of this problematics as genetic studies come to us in a scientific garb; in actual fact, they are scientific only in part; there is still much room for human prejudice and error.

Rest of this long article at “source” above follwed by a response from Tony Joseph.

Source: The Hindu