It’s not the headline that’s remarkable, it’s the picture. The website of the great science journal that I occasionally do news pieces for, Nature, has a headline today that is already somewhat ho-hum. Jews Worldwide Share Genetic Ties!
We’ve seen this before, in reports of studies of mitochondrial DNA (which is inherited only through the female line) and the Y chromosome (the male line). We’ve seen DNA studies showing that today’s Jewish priestly class share a common ancestor. What’s different in this study is that the statistical analysis was done by comparing markers on the entire nuclear genome, using a sample of Jews from a large variety of Jewish ethnic sub-communities.
So my editor there (bless him, may he not vent his wrath on me for this post) needed an illustration. Since the publication is gorged with pictures of DNA, chromosomes, double helixes, and the like, he decided against the scientific approach and went for the sociological. He looked for a picture of a Jew.
So look at the one he chose. Now, hey, I’ve got nothing against Jews with black hats and beards lighting Hanukah menorahs, but is this the archetypical Jew in the eyes of the most important science journal in the world (excuse me, Science, but if you want kudos from me you’ll have to pay up like Nature does). Why didn’t the editor choose a photo of a modern Jew with a scientific bent? I’ve got some good ones of me on my computer. And since my kids, with their Ashkenazi father and Iraqi mother, are messing up the gene pool for future scientists, I could easily be portrayed as an endangered species. What could be more scientific?