Jul 18, 2022
In General Discussions
Clinton was a staunch supporter of the Human Genome Project during his tenure as President of the United States. The project is to determine the exact alphabetical order of the human genome. Beginning in 1990, the program ran for 13 years and was a roller coaster ride of technological progress, including an astonishing competition with a private for-profit company before reaching the finish line. Throughout the project, Clinton did not hesitate to give the project additional financial support, and he was not disappointed in the end. In his post-employment speeches, Clinton banner design often spoke of the miraculous realizations he gained from the $2.6 billion (he said he earned) human genome project. During the Millennium Lecture Series in 1999, Eric Lander, one of the leaders of the Human Genome Project, told a White House audience that, in terms of genomes, any two people on Earth are 99.9% the same . For Clinton, this is the most fundamental realization: All wars, all cultural differences, all our destructive struggles, are only 0.1% of the difference between us? Shouldn't this realization lead us to give up our differences and work together for the 99.9% we share? The argument is really appealing: if we are all 99.9% alike, then why can't we live in peace? But as Rand points out, there is another side to this argument. 0.1% sounds small, but the reader should remember that the human genome is 61 billion letters long, which means that there is a 6 million letter difference between our genome and that of our neighbors. Is the difference of these six million letters enough to explain some confrontation between people? We don't even need to go to our neighbors to find this difference, we have two copies of each chromosome in our own, so we might as well compare the chromosomes we received from our mothers to those we received from our fathers. The two sets of chromosomes you inherited from your parents are 99.9% identical, leaving a 0.1% difference. Could it be that we will have trouble living with ourselves because of this? To understand what makes the difference between people, we need to look more closely at that 0.1%. Readers should remember that mutations are caused by a similar accidental spelling error that often occurs when we retype a document. The most common spelling mistakes are changes to a single letter (base) in the gene body. This single-letter difference is very common; the earliest estimates of a 0.1 difference reported to President Clinton were based on this single-letter error.