Lay Question: Microstructural Meaning of Human is Genetically

Raymond A. Chamberlin raych at
Tue Feb 2 07:04:51 EST 1999

> Newspapers now often give percentages of commonality between the
> genomes of different species.  Someone I met also presented me with a
> percentage that was purported to be that of the variance of the human
> genome within its species.  The latter percentage was greater than the
> complement of any of the values commonly reported for commonality
> between humans and other higher primates.  How, exactly, are such
> agreed-upon (?) percentages arrived at?  Given the complexity of the
> correlation of genetics to the material and behavioral makeup of
> individuals, it would seem that there would be many different measures
> of "commonality" between the genetic templates of different
> individuals or whatever sorts or levels of traditional or other
> groupings of them one might wish to consider.  I mean, given a bunch
> of different and same sequences of different bases, all of different
> lengths, what sort of algorithm is used to produce the number printed
> in the newspaper.
> Raymond A. Chamberlin
> raych at


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