Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Why Chromosome

At the end of one of my classes our professor left us off with a question to ask ourselves. “Why do you want to be an Anthropologist?” and after judging this question at face value as maybe something that one should have asked themselves before they were sitting in a PhD class. I grew to like this question over time and as I thought about it more and I realized that it was the perfect thing for me to think about.

So today when I was supposed to be doing work, I was instead writing this little bit to myself to work out my ideas of why, exactly it is that I want to be an anthropologist, and more specifically study genetics. So here it is, maybe I am too much like a 4 year old that incessantly asks why, but I just cannot help it and when the answer is not satisfactory, unrest ensues:

It is tempting to begin parsing the vastness of the human genome into disease causing segments. Disease is a neatly packaged and obvious problem that, as biological anthropologists, and humans, it is compelling to attempt to want to explain. We do this so we can help, or at least create the illusion for ourselves, and others of contributing to a greater good, and not just a greater understanding. It makes us feel good because down the road and many years of research and development later, it might just make someone else feel good too.

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