The genetic difference between a man and a woman is greater than that between a man and a male chimpanzee or that between a woman and a female chimpanzee...

Latest Research Into X Chromosome
Brings Startling Discoveries

By Robert Lee Hotz
The Scotsman - UK

[Extract].....The analysis also found that the obsessively debated differences between men and women were, at least on the genetic level, even greater than previously thought. As many as 300 of the genes on the X chromosomes may be activated differently in women than in men, says the other author of the paper, Laura Carrel, molecular biologist at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine.
The newly discovered genetic variation between women might help account for differing gender reactions to prescription drugs and the heightened vulnerability of women to some diseases, experts say.
"The important question becomes how men and women actually vary and how much variability there is in females," Carrel says. "We now might have new candidate genes that could explain differences between men and women."
All told, men and women may differ by as much as 2 per cent of their entire genetic inheritance, greater than the hereditary gap between humankind and its closest relative, the chimpanzee. "In essence," Willard says, "there is not one human genome, but two: male and female."


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  • What we want, ideally, I think, is the kind of engagement that will result in laughter, recognition, relief, understanding and the increased openness that allows real exploration. If glitches are run into, can the one struggling be supported by the others without condemnation. We do all make judgments, but can they be made in a spirit of optimism and interest? A wise man once said to me that he finds himself more tolerant of communication with women whose first language is different from his own. He finds it easier to give them the benefit of the doubt. I would argue, from experience, that this would be an excellent way to think of the communication that takes place between men and women generally. Recognizing that in some sense we do speak different languages, might we set aside our assumptions and learn to listen to one another more tolerantly?
  • I hope it is possible to explore all these things further and I am hoping more people will join in! I reacted to the article because it is the kind of either bad science or very poor reporting that polarizes discussions and leaves people caught up in defensive mode. I think the article was written provocatively on purpose; if you just skimmed the article rather than reading it, it was easy to think that the author was saying that there is now scientific evidence that women are closer to chimps genetically then they are to men.

    There was another reply that I wanted to respond to. Has it been taken down?? The writer responded by saying that she had heard that there was scientific evidence that men and women really were almost the same. She asked that we consider ourselves as all basically the same underneath. The sad subtext of this, as I hear it, is that she felt that if women were not the same it automatically implied that they were somehow inferior. One can only assume that in this woman's life experience, she has been hurt or overlooked or not listened to because she is a woman; her direct experiences have diminished her trust. If we are to really engage in a dialogue, we need to begin from a position of mutual care and respect.

    The life circumstances that lead to this kind of defensiveness are real for most if not all women and present a stumbling block for a free, open and fully engaged discussion. This is why I had suggested that we consider the Buddhist three conceits before beginning (see my first response). If anyone doesn't understand what this means or why it is important I am happy to explain. Or perhaps Dharmavidya might be willing to do so.
  • Awful science, perhaps, but maybe still an interesting and provocative question. How much of the difference between men and women is down to "animal nature", to our inherent and inherited differences. Women, designed by Nature to bear and suckle children, inevitably have a life in which this aspect of the reproductive function looms large and have their adult life divided into a child bearing period and a post-fertile period in which different prospective satisfactions may dominate. Men have a different role and interest in this process and, perhaps for that reason, may come at life issues differently, seeing a different time span and different possibilities. In modern life, we are conscious of over-population and child production has diminished as a human imperative and this has permitted the emergence of some degree of unisex attitudes, but the basic instincts have not gone away, have they? Is it still possible for us to explore what effect they do actually have in our lives?

  • OMG this article is a cacophony of misinterpretive confusion but I am afraid to laugh too loudly for fear it will be heard as sour grapes or misogyny. Seriously though, this is terrible science reporting of a genetic study. I am not altogether sure just what the study actually concluded, as the report itself is so confused. A first misreading suggested to me that perhaps woman were closer to chimps than to men, but of course it does not actually say this. What it does do is confuse, I think, genotype with phenotype. Genotypes vary between humans by approximately .01%. That is 1/100 of one percent... But this .01% can and does make a difference and its effects can be amplified by phenotypical outcome... Any geneticists out there who can do a better job than I explaining this? I am not arguing against sex linked genetic differences incidentally... Clearly there are some :-)

    Here is a quick summary copied from the internet of a few comparative genetic percentage overlaps...

    Mice/rats share 85% of genes with humans.
    Macaques share 93% of the genome with humans (i.e. 93% of DNA nucleotides are identical to ours).
    Chimps share 98% of the genome with humans (i.e. 98% of DNA nucleotides are identical to ours).
    One human shares 99.9% of its genome with another humanʼs. That 0.1% difference (along with the environmental factors that shape gene expression) makes you the unique person you are.

    *Note: Percentages are approximations. In journal articles, a range is typically given. For example, if we include gene duplications, we share 98% of our DNA nucleotides with chimps, but if we exclude duplications, we share about 96%. Also, a percentage does not necessarily imply that that much of the DNA sequence is identical. For example, mice share 85% of genes with humans; more specifically, of the mouse genes that have a functional counterpart in humans, the mouse gene may be 60-99% identical to the corresponding human gene (nucleotide per nucleotide). “Similarity” has more to do with if the gene codes for a functionally equivalent protein product.
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