|Style over substance|
Melanin theory is the pseudo-scientific idea that high levels of the pigment melanin give a person a multitude of special abilities. According to this "theory" melanin is present in nearly every organ of the human body, and the amount of it in the skin is correlated to the amount of it in other areas, especially the brain. Therefore, because melanin is present in higher levels in black skin than in white, black people are superior to white people. In fact, white people are considered degenerate, albino mutants by the proponents of this theory.
Alleged properties of melanin
The following is a list of the alleged special properties of melanin. It is certainly not complete - since the theory has no actual scientific backing, melanin pretty much has any properties that the proponent wants it to have, thus it seems to make you a superhero.
- Natural superconductive properties. The reality is that it is a semiconductor.
- Chemical basis for the soul.
- Bestows physical prowess.
- Bestows higher intelligence.
- Bestows higher "spiritual awareness."
- Converts light and electromagnetic waves to sound.
Actual purpose of melanin
|This section requires more sources.|
There are many chemicals that are melanins, including eumelanin, pheomelanin, trichochromes and neuromelanin. Both eumelanin and pheomelanin are found in human hair and skin. Melanins are found in many organisms, including animals, plants and fungi. Pheomelanin is the primary melanin in human skin. The primary function of pheomelanin and most melanins is to protect against solar radiation. In humans, cells called melanocytes produce melanin that is inserted into other cells via melanosomes. The melanosomes accumulate adjacent to each cell's nucleus, where they protect the DNA within the nucleus. This is the reason that people with ancestry near the equator have darker skin than those with ancestry closer to the poles. People living near the equator need more sun protection (because there is more solar radiation), and people living closer to the poles need more sun exposure to produce more vitamin D (which is endogenously produced in humans from sun exposure). The need for vitamin D vs. the need for protection against solar radiation also explains why lighter-skinned people's skin darkens (tans) after prolonged sun exposure.
- See the Wikipedia article on Melanin theory.
- Magic Melanin: Spreading Scientific Illiteracy Among Minorities, Bernard Ortiz De Montellano, Skeptical Inquirer, Volume 16.2 (1992)