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I came across the following:

Lactose tolerance is now well recognized as a case in which a cultural practice — drinking raw milk — has caused an evolutionary change in the human genome.

Did drinking milk cause an evolutionary change in the human genome?

Can someone explain why the above statement is not a claim?

Status-completed

Question reopened

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The claim challenged seems to be:

a cultural practice — drinking raw milk — has caused an evolutionary change in the human genome.

I do not understand what is the trouble with the claim? It is not notable enough? Or is it not a claim? Why?

The other part of the sentence provides the common explanation:

Lactose tolerance is now well recognized as a case

Why it is not just possible to provide an answer documenting this to be true or false?

Quoting the full context in the article:

The best evidence available to Dr. Boyd and Dr. Richerson for culture being a selective force was the lactose tolerance found in many northern Europeans. Most people switch off the gene that digests the lactose in milk shortly after they are weaned, but in northern Europeans — the descendants of an ancient cattle-rearing culture that emerged in the region some 6,000 years ago — the gene is kept switched on in adulthood.

Lactose tolerance is now well recognized as a case in which a cultural practice — drinking raw milk — has caused an evolutionary change in the human genome. Presumably the extra nutrition was of such great advantage that adults able to digest milk left more surviving offspring, and the genetic change swept through the population.

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  • The article does not claim what the sentence says. The sentence is taken out of context. – Sklivvz Dec 13 '12 at 9:29
  • @Sklivvz If you think it is taken our of context, how would you word the claim as originally published? – Suma Dec 13 '12 at 9:52
  • How about this as a more decent claim, without weasel words? – Sklivvz Dec 13 '12 at 9:56
  • My point is about fixing a low quality question before it's reopened. You keep on arguing about the claim... we are simply speaking about two different things. I know the claim exists - I never said otherwise. – Sklivvz Dec 13 '12 at 9:59
  • @Sklivvz I still fail to see where the low quality is. Is the claim not notable? Or it is not a claim? Or what is the problem? – Suma Dec 13 '12 at 10:16
  • @Sklivvz Even if I am not sure, I tried to improve the quality of the question and I hope I have done enough so that you can proceed with the reopening. – Carlo Alterego Dec 13 '12 at 10:50
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The full statement, which was then edited, reads (emphasis mine):

Lactose tolerance is now well recognized as a case in which a cultural practice — drinking raw milk — has caused an evolutionary change in the human genome. Presumably the extra nutrition was of such great advantage that adults able to digest milk left more surviving offspring, and the genetic change swept through the population.

So even the New York time isn't making a strong claim that there's solid evidence of that, but it's a "presumption" (i.e. a hypothesis) The whole article is talking about something which is being considered and proposed but not claimed to be "true".

Surely if there is a notable claim here, then a bunch of other people will believe that this is a proven fact. Find another article, or more than one, or notable people, claiming that lactose intolerance has a cultural origin and the question will be fit for reopening.

My personal opinion, though, is that you may discover a bit more about lactose intolerance and that the current understanding is not so black and white.


More in general, there is little value in reading something on the internet, doing no research, and posting a question here with "is it true?" attached. We do require questioners do a little research before they post:

Describe what you've already tried and the results of any research. (You have searched for a solution to your problem before asking it, haven't you? Stack Overflow isn't meant to replace basic search skills.)

http://msmvps.com/blogs/jon_skeet/archive/2010/08/29/writing-the-perfect-question.aspx

See for example: Did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle call J.B. Rhine a "monumental ass" in print? for a well-researched question.

What have you tried?

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    I disagree. The claim is that “it is now well recognized that [drinking raw milk] has caused … change in the human genome.” That is a strong claim, it’s corroborated by the article (and elsewhere, I’m sure – it’s a pretty well-known and widely repeated claim) and there’s good reason to be sceptical of it (but FWIW it seems to be true). – Konrad Rudolph Dec 11 '12 at 20:07
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    I disagree, but my reputation is not high enough to cast close / reopen votes, therefore I am just signalling my opinion here by voting (and now by commenting). I do not think the issue is urgent and obvious enough to warrant flagging the question for a moderation attention (it already received it anyway) and I will gladly wait a while for a community solution. – Suma Dec 12 '12 at 16:02
  • @Suma the question has been seen by 2 other Skeptic mods (one is Konrad above) and discussed with other mods including SEI. – Sklivvz Dec 13 '12 at 1:08

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