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Thread: Racism, facists, and seperatist movements.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    Sociologically, I think racism is just one way our human brains function- we aren't big enough to know everything empirically, so we detect patterns, we level out, we stereotype, tribalize, and eventually draw conclusions based upon our previous limited and flawed information. Hopefully as we mature, we can be a bit more flexible in our thinking and learn to ignore our stereotypes and prejudices and take the person in front of us for who they are.
    I think that may very well be the best it could possibly be put.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    "Race" is not really a scientific concept.
    Well, it is. It's just not really PC.


    With dogs and cats, there are significant varieties of the species.
    Dog & cat are different species, like human & chimp. Among dogs (& cats) you then have differing races.

    -minor adaptations and mutations-
    Which can be race markers.


    in things like facial features and skin color.
    As most people you seem to go only for visible differences, but you cannot differentiate races simply from the look. If you do so, you simply follow the path of racism (which has a great preference for going after appearance).

    You are likely to see almost as much significant variation between members of one "race"
    Similar to language & dialect, yet you can differentiate languages (although there may be linguists nowadays who prefer to call that dialect continuum).

    I had an anthropology professor say that we're a lot like dalmations splitting ourselves up by the shape of our spots.
    Either he was talking about racism or he's heavily infected with PC.

    Hopefully as we mature, we can be a bit more flexible in our thinking and learn to ignore our stereotypes and prejudices
    We're all human, after all.
    (Which means that we substitute one stereotype or prejudice by another. )

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    Sociologically, I think racism is just one way our human brains function- we aren't big enough to know everything empirically, so we detect patterns, we level out, we stereotype, tribalize, and eventually draw conclusions based upon our previous limited and flawed information. Hopefully as we mature, we can be a bit more flexible in our thinking and learn to ignore our stereotypes and prejudices and take the person in front of us for who they are.

    I don't really agree. I think racism if often used to maintain wealth. I think people understand very well that ultimately we are the same, but racism is used to keep a certain group of people down and promote the other one up top of the ladder. It's basic conflict theory.

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    I certainly agree that there is an economic component to racism, and it is often an indication of class or caste or status for instance in Mexico: to be taller, have lighter skin, more european looks. Among African americans, it is often a sign of status to be lighter (high yellow). There are, however instances where racism works counter to the economics of the situation, or where discrimination gives no economic advantage. I think good examples can be found by looking at how the exploited underclass internalizes the overclasses prejudices and stereotypes.

    They used to teach in schools that there are five races. Cacasoid, negroid, Mongoloid...Blah blah blah. It doesn't work. We aren't biologically all that different from each other. Look at the human genome project- It mapped out the 99.9% of our genes that are identical in 6 billion people. As of yet, you find a drop of blood at a crime scene and it tells us nothing of the donor's race. You can't find race in our genes as of yet. Skin color, eye color, size, hair texture, prominent facial features, it is all there in our DNA, but we haven't ID'd the markers yet.

    Dogs and cats don't have races. They have varieties. Varieties have significant variations, far more striking and structural than a mere race. (Humans have a wide variation of size and color, but we are all the same species and variety) Unlike dogs and cats that have significant variations between varieties (for example a show quality chihuahua and great dane will have a 1000% variation in size) humans tend to all be about in the same size range give or take 20%, skin color which can vary almost as much in one family as in the entire human race, have the same range of blood types with some variation, hair... If you skin us we look the same. (Yeech) You grind us up and we all make the same bloody mess.

    Race is a sociological construct. We tend to center on either visual clues or behavioral/cultural indicators to "tribe-up". I think we get even more tribal when under economic or socialogical stress.

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    I may be beyond myself in this thread- it is kind of outside my area of expertise- I'm a teacher not an anthropologist. I will gladly accept correction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    I think good examples can be found by looking at how the exploited underclass internalizes the overclasses prejudices and stereotypes.
    I don't think that's necessary, they can very well get their own silly ideas about race.

    They used to teach in schools that there are five races. Cacasoid, negroid, Mongoloid...Blah blah blah.
    Not where I went to school. What I learnt are 3 major races & a number of older races (Altschichtrassen in German).

    We aren't biologically all that different from each other.
    That's why we are one species.

    Look at the human genome project- It mapped out the 99.9% of our genes that are identical in 6 billion people.
    Nope,they didn't. They sequenced 99% of the human genome, which is not the same as the genes.


    As of yet, you find a drop of blood at a crime scene and it tells us nothing of the donor's race.
    Ah, the old blood argument. But that only worked (well, it never really worked) as long as no DNA is involved. You actually can find racial differences in the DNA, how this can be applied on an individual instead of a statistical basis, I don't know at the moment, though.


    You can't find race in our genes as of yet.
    What makes you think so?


    Skin color, eye color, size, hair texture, prominent facial features, it is all there in our DNA, but we haven't ID'd the markers yet.
    Hmm? Change of argument? Because we don't know where it is located in the DNA, it doesn't exist.

    Dogs and cats don't have races. They have varieties.
    Err... Dogs & cats are no plants! Varieties are only used as subdivision of species in botany, not zoology. In regards to humans many scientists nowadays try to avoid the term race (PC raging on), but they don't use variety. Instead, population, cline or sub-type are preferred. Mostly PC-crap if you ask me.

    Race is a sociological construct.
    Nope, it isn't. Racism could be said to be, but even there I think it goes much deeper.

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    Thanks Bossel. I'm not a scientist and I am a bit out of my depth.

    I thought the genome was the genetic material that we all share. This isn't related to genes?

    There can't be three "races" to fit every group of human into. If you go into the Amazon basin, neighboring tribes can identify each other on sight. They would consider every other tribe a different race. And where would native Americans and other Aboriginal tribes fit? Are Pygmies and Dinkas the same race? So I guess if you wanted a human subclassification- zoology allows us to do so by physical characteristics- anyone can draw whatever lines and create as many artificial categories as they like. If there are races, in what way could we reasonably use this information? Race has been used to divide us up in silly and destrutive ways, to restrict, exploit, segregate, discriminate, and classify- without a logical and really scientific basis. Politically correct or not how is race useful as a classification?

    The idea that "race" is something biological goes to the argument that you can judge a great deal of a book by its cover. Race is not used a subdivision of zoology, but "breed" is. (I used the word variety) There are no breeds of humans though. Knowing a person's color, ethnic or geographic origin, or type of hair tells you absolutely nothing about his character, personality, or behavior. Race is hadly useful as a predictive measurement (of anything other than what children will look like, and possible racially linked health issues) and you can't apply it scientifically to any one individual.

    Back to dogs...Just to beat this analogy to death (and again i'm trying to think back to Prof. Suzuki's anthro class at UCLA 20 years ago- my information could be flawed either because of my memory, or because it is outdated) Siberian Huskies are a breed. They come in a great variety of colors. There are working huskies with coarser coats and show huskies with soft coats. But blue eyed huskies and brown eyed huskies are the same breed. You don't define them as huskies by their color, size, eye color or the quality of their hair.

    Humans are the same way. Aparently, if I remember correctly- even isolated populations have not had sufficient time to diverge within the species. It has something to do with constant migration, contact, and a common ancestor we share not too long ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    I thought the genome was the genetic material that we all share. This isn't related to genes?
    It's related, but not the same. The genome is the complete information encoded in the DNA (the actual definition is more complicated, please look it up), including genes as well as other sequences. Genes are defined differently depending on the involved scientific discipline, but generally you could say that a gene is a sequence of DNA that encodes information to create & regulate molecules (mainly proteins).

    There can't be three "races" to fit every group of human into.
    Well, there are more races, anyway. But you also have a lot of intermediate forms, eg. many Ethiopians are a mix of caucasoid & negroid race.
    Again I have to draw on linguistics: although the borderlines between dialects (& often languages) are a bit blurry (hence the notion that a language is a dialect continuum), you still can differentiate.

    If you go into the Amazon basin, neighboring tribes can identify each other on sight. They would consider every other tribe a different race.
    Well, I don't know. But how many in those tribes are biologists?

    Are Pygmies and Dinkas the same race?
    That depends where you draw the lines. Depending on the taxonomical approach, Pygmies are just like Dinkas members of the negroid race. If you go for a more detailed approach with subspecies, you may put the Dinka into the Nilotid subrace of the Central African race, while you may have the Pygmies as the Bambutid race (such a distinction can be found here ).

    anyone can draw whatever lines and create as many artificial categories as they like.
    Theoretically yes. Practically we still deal with science, therefore you need to be able to prove your point.

    If there are races, in what way could we reasonably use this information?
    It's information, that's good enough for me. In what way could we reasonably use the information that human beings are essentially pongids, while the "humans are special" faction would put us into the category hominid? In what way could we reasonably use the information that humans & chimps share the same ancestry?

    Race has been used to divide us up in silly and destrutive ways, to restrict, exploit, segregate, discriminate, and classify- without a logical and really scientific basis.
    You seem to confuse something here. There may be no scientific basis for the division in society, but there is a scientific basis for a biological division. You can't blame science for what people make of it. You can't blame Einstein for dropping the A-bomb on Japan (well, you can, but it's silly).

    Politically correct or not how is race useful as a classification?
    Depends on what you want to use it for.

    The idea that "race" is something biological goes to the argument that you can judge a great deal of a book by its cover.
    Nope.

    Race is not used a subdivision of zoology, but "breed" is. (I used the word variety) There are no breeds of humans though.
    Breed is mainly used for domesticated animals. I think, you're still confusing stuff.

    Knowing a person's color, ethnic or geographic origin, or type of hair tells you absolutely nothing about his character, personality, or behavior.
    That's not what race as a scientific concept is about, anyway. You seem to confuse it with racism (except for behaviour, maybe. since behaviour is connected to hormones & hormones are partly controlled by genes, there is probably a small factor involved).

    Race is hadly useful as a predictive measurement
    Hmm? Why should it be?

    You don't define them as huskies by their color, size, eye color or the quality of their hair.
    Not to confuse race with breed, but eg. caucasoids also come in a great variety of "colours." You don't define them as caucasoids by their color, size, eye color or the quality of their hair.

    even isolated populations have not had sufficient time to diverge within the species. It has something to do with constant migration, contact, and a common ancestor we share not too long ago.
    But there was no constant migration & contact. Genetic differentiation can actually come about in a surprising speed. Read Cavalli-Sforza for that!

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    Bossel, thanks. I find this fascinating.

    See, I told you I was out of my depth. Be patient. As a science, racial theory seems to me a lot like divination, astrology, palmistry or most like phrenology. I think it has more to do with our limited tribal instinct than with empirical science, but you seem to have a better handle on it. How is race a scientific concept? What is it about? Maybe some history? It wasn't ever developed by biologists, was it? In what branch of science does it belong? (I keep leaning toward sociology- where they study the development and application of race usually as it applies to racism in society.) I understand observation and categorization, but science never stops there. Is there some kind of hypothesis, test, theory, or application that went on in the development of this scientific concept?

    Can't we use the similarity between humans and chimps because we share the same ancestry to test behavioral theories, study brain activity, bio-psychology, pharmacology, medical technology- all of which would be less valid if we weren't so closely related. Much of what we understand about attachment theory, like failure to thrive syndrome, was gleened from observing our hairy cousins. (The US Airforce also used them 50 years ago to design helmets, ejection seats, and other safety systems- which if you think about it was probably not so valid.)

    Perhaps I misunderstand: Are humans actually different breeds? Some dog breeds have significantly different behavioral characteristics including intelligence and temperment. Some are more agressive, some inherit behaviors useful to hunting or herding. The implication for humanity if we are indeed different breeds is that there may be racial differences in intelligence, character, and temperment and that some races are more suitable to certain types of work than others. So are races equivalent to breeds? (In which case I am a half breed.) I did understand however that dogs and cats are different species, and that breed was the term used for domesticated animals. (That is why I used variety initially, thinking it was the equivalent term for sub species, but now I'm not certain what it would be... just that I don't believe biologist divide any species into "races." Are there any biologists out there that can refute or confirm this?)

    So is race theory useful for just its descriptive application? Or does it have some predictive value? Didn't race theory predate biology, anthropology and sociology? Hasn't it formed the basis of racism- that races are different, some inferior, some desireable, and eugenics and ultimately the "final solution?" I thought the point of science was at some level application- that even pure theorists hope one day to see some application of their work.

    Tomorrow I start my job as a vice principal at a semi-rural California high school. It is very diverse ethnically. Should I treat African American students different from my Native American and Latino populations? Should each group have specifically designed curriculum? Can't I take the "science" of race and apply it to these children? Or do they all have differences that are not race based that are far more important?

    If you don't define Caucasoids by their color (lt brown to white), size (small to large), eye color (varies from browns to blues and all hues in between), hair color and quality (varies from dark brown to blonde, from mildly coarse to very fine, curly to straight)... Then you have made my point. There is no real scientific basis for race. How would you then define Cacasoids (what a wonderful word.) I think it is probably more important to look at language and culture than "race."

    Haven't most human populations been in nearly constant states of contact and migration? With rare exceptions- aren't most human populations in historically frequent contact with others through trade, travel, warfare, and migration? Isn't the most isolated population of humans separated by less than (I guess) about 10,000 or 20,000 years? (I'm trying to think of some study of mitochondrial DNA- that "Eve" our common great grandmother migrated from the Great Rift valley like 150,000 years ago? now I am waaaay out of my depth.)

    We do keep stats in the US based upon race. (Most of which is self selected.) In this way we can look for patterns, or trends- especially those that betray some kind of racially based discrimination.

    Lastly do you have a reference for Cavalli-Sforza?

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    I found this on Wikipedia: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race)

    "Many evolutionary and social scientists, drawing on such biological research, think common race definitions, or any race definitions pertaining to humans, are without taxonomic validity. They argue that race definitions are imprecise, arbitrary, derived from custom, and that the races observed vary according to the culture examined. They further maintain that race is best understood as a social construct. Some scientists have argued that this shift is motivated more by political than scientific reasons."

    It is not the whole article, but it seems to summarize my POV in far more eloquent terms.

    I thought this was interesting:
    "A 1985 survey (Lieberman et al. 1992) asked 1,200 scientists how many disagree with the following proposition: "There are biological races in the species Homo sapiens." The responses were:

    * biologists 16%
    * developmental psychologists 36%
    * physical anthropologists 41%
    * cultural anthropologists 53%

    At PhD granting departments, the figure for physical anthropologists was slightly higher

    * agree 50%
    * disagree 42%

    (This survey did not specify any particular definition of race; it is impossible to say whether those who supported the statement thought of race in taxonomic or population terms.)

    Since 1932, college textbooks introducing physical anthropology have increasingly come to reject race as a valid concept: from 1932 to 1976, only seven out of thirty-two rejected race; from 1975 to 1984, thirteen out of thirty-three rejected race; from 1985 to 1993, thirteen out of nineteen rejected race."
    Last edited by No-name; 01-07-05 at 07:47. Reason: Added stats

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    As a science, racial theory seems to me a lot like divination, astrology, palmistry or most like phrenology.
    Other than these, race can be scientifically determined, though.

    I think it has more to do with our limited tribal instinct than with empirical science
    That would be racism. You have to differentiate race as a biological concept & race as a sociological concept. Sociological differentiation in races doesn't make much sense, IMO.

    How is race a scientific concept? What is it about? Maybe some history? It wasn't ever developed by biologists, was it? In what branch of science does it belong? (I keep leaning toward sociology- where they study the development and application of race usually as it applies to racism in society.)
    Sociology? Sorry, I only argue from a biological basis. Sociology is too much interwoven with psychology, too wide open to interpretation, not enough facts & too much philosophy.

    Since you already looked at Wikipedia, I suppose, I don't need to answer this one thoroughly. Just one thing: When I looked at the English version I had to notice that they seem to focus the entire article on the human subdivision into races. While the German version actually (although being rather PC as well) explains it as it is:

    "Taxonomic Mayr (1969) : "An aggregate of phenotypically similar populations of a species, inhabiting a geographic subdivision of the range of a species, and differing taxonomically from other populations of the species."
    Population Dobzhansky (1970) : "Races are genetically distinct Mendelian populations. They are neither individuals nor particular genotypes, they consist of individuals who differ genetically among themselves.""
    (This is copied from the English version, but although they quote it, they don't apply it beyond humans).

    Can't we use the similarity between humans and chimps
    Sorry, maybe I'm too tired, I don't really get your point in this paragraph.

    Perhaps I misunderstand: Are humans actually different breeds?
    Yes, I think, you misunderstand. Breed (for my limited understanding of English) is usually restricted to usage related to domesticated animals. Unless you find some occasions where slaves were actually bred by their slaveholders or consider the rather idiotic (& short-lived) attempt of the Nazis to produce a blonde super race you won't find human breeds.

    The implication for humanity if we are indeed different breeds is that there may be racial differences in intelligence, character, and temperment
    Actually, in intelligence & temperament there are statistical differences, but they are marginal & therefore negligible, AFAIK.

    and that some races are more suitable to certain types of work than others.
    That's where you're mistaken. Differences as described above are only statistical, they don't constitute a reason for any collectivist social differentiation. As you already said somewhere else, variation inside a race is great.

    So are races equivalent to breeds?
    Yes, breeds are races of domesticated (bred) animals.

    That is why I used variety initially, thinking it was the equivalent term for sub species,
    Variety is used for plants only, the taxonomy is ...- species - subspecies - variety - ..., for animals (incl. humans) it is ...- species - subspecies - race -... . There are other approaches which equate subspecies & race (although that makes the inclusion of eg. Neanderthals a bit harder, IMO).

    just that I don't believe biologist divide any species into "races."
    They do, only nowadays it has become un-PC to use the term race. Even Cavalli-Sforza tends to avoid it, instead he uses population & cline. Simply a difference in terminology, not really in concept.

    Or does it have some predictive value?
    It has predictive value, but only on a statistical basis. Eg. can be said that there is a greater probability for mongoloids than for caucasoids to be unable to digest milk products.

    I thought the point of science was at some level application
    That is the popular (more popular in the US than in Europe, I think) concept of science. But as the name says, science strives for gaining knowledge. Applying that knowledge is not necessarily business of scientists.

    do they all have differences that are not race based that are far more important?
    Yep!

    Then you have made my point. There is no real scientific basis for race.
    Wrong, what you described was the racist approach, just going for outer appearance. Race is a differentiation of human populations according to combination of physical characteristics. Outer appearance being only a minor part (I think, I said that before. Please don't try to push me into the corner of those who only see the outside). EG. bone build, protein production have greater significance.

    I think it is probably more important to look at language and culture than "race."
    Important? What for?

    Haven't most human populations been in nearly constant states of contact and migration? With rare exceptions- aren't most human populations in historically frequent contact with others through trade, travel, warfare, and migration?
    There may have been only 2000 human beings some 60,000 years ago. It's rather easy to get separated from the rest of the world - say - if you are a tribe of maybe 40 people & follow a new path into the North.

    Isn't the most isolated population of humans separated by less than (I guess) about 10,000 or 20,000 years?
    Most isolated? Anyway, if you are a rather small inbreeding population, 5000 years may be enough.

    We do keep stats in the US based upon race. (Most of which is self selected.) In this way we can look for patterns, or trends- especially those that betray some kind of racially based discrimination.
    IMO, the US administrative system has not much in common with a scientific definition of race. It's simply a sociological classification for bureaucratic convenience.

    Lastly do you have a reference for Cavalli-Sforza?
    Will come back later with that & the rest of my post.

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    Thank you Bossel, I didn't think we were actually in disagreement on most points- I just needed clarification. I looked at the wikipedia article, and at the debate on a PBS website about a NOVA program about this very discussion. (I lost the link.) I seem to agree with the anthopological/sociological basis rather than the biological basis for race (although I don't really know what the heck the physical anthropologist was trying to say.) Most of the biologists don't see a value in subdividing the human species. I still feel very confident saying that there is no biological foundation for race, it is a sociological construct.

    The chimp thing was in response to saying that there was no value in knowing our close relationship. I was trying to point out some application of this knowlege. (Chimps are actually a different genus, but are still very similar.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    I seem to agree with the anthopological/sociological basis rather than the biological basis for race
    Then we are in disagreement, for I have a distinct problem with the anthropological view, which IMO is too philosophical. It seems, many if not most anthropologists see the human species still as something special, as non-animals. The sociological basis for race is (if I'm not mistaken; sociology is a quite weak point in my interests) the least valid.

    Most of the biologists don't see a value in subdividing the human species. I still feel very confident saying that there is no biological foundation for race, it is a sociological construct.
    Perhaps you misunderstood the Wikipedia article?
    The question was "how many disagree with the following proposition: "There are biological races in the species Homo sapiens."
    * biologists 16%"
    Hence 84% of the asked biologists either agree with the fact of human races or have no opinion. I couldn't find this survey anywhere, though, therefore it's hard to say how valid the result is. Who was asked, in which country, position etc.?

    But the result is not surprising, actually. Biologists have a broader perspective than the rather narrow view of anthropologists.
    I suppose, the result in favour of no race would be even higher today, because PC has only really got hold of the whole discussion in the last 2 decades.
    As I said before, though, even those biologists who succumbed to PC still use the concept of race, only with a different terminology.

    The chimp thing was in response to saying that there was no value in knowing our close relationship. I was trying to point out some application of this knowlege.
    I see. I think, in that regard, race actually is used as some sort of probability indicator. Like, 90% of mongoloids have that protein which makes that active component useless, therefore in China we use a different component for our medicine. IIRC, just recently there was a drug introduced in the US solely for negroids. I wonder how that works, though, since most US blacks are caucasoid/negroid hybrids. Perhaps there is dominant negroid gene which is the reason for this, but I haven't heard very much about it, just a short report on TV.

    (Chimps are actually a different genus, but are still very similar.)
    That can be disputed, as I said above. I consider them too close to humans to be a different genus. Only a minority of biologists agree with me on this, though.

    Cavalli-Sforza :
    The History and Geography of Human Genes
    is his major work. It's huge, though, & not for the general public. Luckily it's at the genetical institute of my university, unluckily I'm only allowed to read it there.

    Genes, Peoples, and Languages
    is his most popular work, I think, & his most PC. Easy readable, yet informative.

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    Thanks, I don't believe I skipped that whole "disagree" thing in the stat. It does seem to indicate that more biologists than anthropologists believe the whole race thing.

    Again, as I stated before, I am out of my depth here. Smarter people than me have debated this issue, and right now I feel confident in my opinion. (I'm an English Major by education. Ask me about dead British writers.) I'm still not certain why you think race is scientific, or what the "scientific concept" is all about. I'm still without a history of how the "scientific" concept of race developed, or why if the theory of race is valid is racism wrong. After all doesn't the concept validate the differential treatment of subspecies? To me, race and racism is still connected.

    Race as a scientific theory isn't as solid as lets say the atomic theory or gravity or even evolution. There doesn't seem to be a good consensus among real scientists who actually know something about this. I quickly scanned over the following articles to get me familiar with both sides of the argument. I also looked over the Cavalli-Sforza stuff, but much of this is pretty esoteric and I am going to have to re-read most of this when I am less tired. To me race still seems a lot more like phrenology than science, and in spite of your statements to the contrary, seems to be based on superficial physical characteristics.

    These give both sides of the debate. And I keep coming back to my original opinion. (After all if race is a valid subdivision of a species, than why is it not used in any other species?) I have more articles, but haven't even glanced at them yet...

    http://raceandgenomics.ssrc.org/

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...331319,00.html : "THE popular notion that skin colour can indicate physical or mental differences between groups of people has been demolished by a new analysis of the human genome, which declares race to be a biologically meaningless concept."

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?cha...AA83414B7F0000

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    The scary thing about reading the articles is that I can go right past terms like polymorphisms, alus, allele, short tandem repeats, taxonomic validity, monotypic and cline and feel like I might understand what I am reading.

    The arguments seems to center around whether there are substantial differences that merit the creation of sub-species categories, or merely minor superficial differences. Right away I can latch onto the guys that agree with my more "politically correct" POV. (That's not real science, but it feels good to know that a large number of PhD's share my perspective.) However, an almost equally large number disagree. Can you imagine scientists being so divided about the basic laws of genetics, thermodynamics, or physics? If race is a valid scientific concept, it certainly needs some work. I'm back where I started. Race does not seem to me to be scientific or valid as a concept.

    Individuals from different populations are, on average, just slightly more different from one another than are individuals from the same population. If you walk from the Great Rift valley, north all the way to Sweden, and then turned East and went to Japan you would see that all the people you run into are pretty similar to the people of the neighboring population. The shift in physical characteristics (and probably the more hidden genomic aspecs) is so gradual that identifying a hard line as to where on group ends and the other begins would be arbitrary. There would seem a lack of the kind of hard lines necessary to form a valid system of classification. Throw into the mix modern transportation methods and the mass migrations of the past 300 years that brought people from different continents into contact with each other and suddenly the whole race thing has lost all meaning.

    My Japanese-English-Mexican-Creole sons defy all definition of race. Any allele, cline, or gene you find in their blood could have originated on any one of four continents. What valid purpose would you have in identifying and categorizing them? (Unless they robbed a liquor store, then you could use race as a quick way of identifying suspects.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro

    My Japanese-English-Mexican-Creole sons defy all definition of race. Any allele, cline, or gene you find in their blood could have originated on any one of four continents. What valid purpose would you have in identifying and categorizing them? (Unless they robbed a liquor store, then you could use race as a quick way of identifying suspects.)
    If I'm not mistaken we can't tell if a person is a certain race by analyzing his DNA, at least I think that's what I read.

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    Someone (Bashmad) in one of those Scientific America articles (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?cha...mber=2&catID=2 ) compared 556 from europe, asia, and africa and was able to identify using 60 alus four distinct population groups (Two in Africa, One in Europe, one in Asia) with over 80% accuracy. Which I guess means not yet, and the DNA may one day indicate something that geography and skin color does not. Other scientist have used polymorphisms to successfully identify the geographic points of origin of genetic samples, but this may not actually prove anything more than people of a geographic llocation are genetically related and look like one another. It becomes problematic when you look at East Indians and try to break them up into their self identified ethnic catagories, or at white and African Americans. (Some 20 or 30% of these polymorphism seem to have crossed the color line.)

    So if you find a drop of blood on the street in Houston, right now, no good scientist in the world could tell what the "race" of the donor was.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    I'm still not certain why you think race is scientific, or what the "scientific concept" is all about.
    If you still can't see it, after all what you have read any attempt by me to explain it further is probably futile. Here is a widely accepted model from 1990:
    "members of a subspecies [IE race] would share a unique, geographic locale, a set of phylogenetically concordant phenotypic characters, and a unique natural history relative to other subdivisions of the species. Although subspecies are not reproductively isolated, they will normally be allopatric and exhibit recognizable phylogenetic partitioning"

    I'm still without a history of how the "scientific" concept of race developed
    You wanna tease me? It's in the Wikipedia article.

    why if the theory of race is valid is racism wrong. After all doesn't the concept validate the differential treatment of subspecies? To me, race and racism is still connected.
    Of course are race & racism connected. But the one is no necessary reason for the other.
    Would you deny the differences between men & women (although there is no clear borderline, science still makes this distinction)?

    Differential treatment is not necessarily racist, it can even be required, eg. in certain medical conditions or when serving alcoholic or lactic products.

    Race as a scientific theory isn't as solid as lets say the atomic theory or gravity or even evolution.
    Atomic theory is not rock solid, either. We still don't know everything. Don't get me started on gravity, essentially we only know that it exists. Evolution theory is pretty similar to race theory, IMO.

    There doesn't seem to be a good consensus among real scientists who actually know something about this.
    Ever met a bunch of linguists? Oh, I forgot, an English major. Then you probably did. Linguistics is a science, yet if you talk to 10 linguists you may get 20 opinions (depending on the linguistic theory you talk about, obviously).

    I also looked over the Cavalli-Sforza stuff, but much of this is pretty esoteric and I am going to have to re-read most of this when I am less tired.
    Esoteric? C-S? He's a bit too PC in his statements, but his research is OK.

    To me race still seems a lot more like phrenology than science, and in spite of your statements to the contrary, seems to be based on superficial physical characteristics.
    Superficial? Could you define that further?

    After all if race is a valid subdivision of a species, than why is it not used in any other species?
    What makes you think so? I already told you that this is not the case, race is used as a subdivision in other species, only the terminology might differ a bit (eg. variety for plants, breed for domesticated animals, subspecies). It seems a distinct phenomenon of English that the term race is more or less limited to humans.
    Chimpanzees are subdivided into at least 4 subspecies, Eastern Gorillas into 2-3, the Long-tailed Macaque into at least 10, you can go on...

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...331319,00.html : "THE popular notion that skin colour can indicate physical or mental differences between groups of people has been demolished by a new analysis of the human genome, which declares race to be a biologically meaningless concept."
    IMO, this leading statement already disqualifies the article. There is no "popular notion that skin colour can indicate physical or mental differences between groups of people" in biology. This sounds like pure propaganda to discredit the scientists who work in the field.


    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    If you walk from the Great Rift valley, north all the way to Sweden, and then turned East and went to Japan you would see that all the people you run into are pretty similar to the people of the neighboring population.
    Just like in the case of dialects. But would you say that dialects don't exist?

    The shift in physical characteristics (and probably the more hidden genomic aspecs) is so gradual that identifying a hard line as to where on group ends and the other begins would be arbitrary.
    Because there is no hard line. Why does there need to be one?

    suddenly the whole race thing has lost all meaning.
    You shouldn't search for meaning in science, it's just about knowledge (Latin scientia = knowledge). If you need meaning, there is a number of religions who could provide that.


    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    compared 556 from europe, asia, and africa and was able to identify using 60 alus four distinct population groups (Two in Africa, One in Europe, one in Asia) with over 80% accuracy. Which I guess means not yet,
    You should have read further (BTW, I've read a very similar article in German, but from a different author, interesting. Plagiarism?):
    "We found that we needed 60 Alu polymorphisms to assign individuals to their continent of origin with 90 percent accuracy. To achieve nearly 100 percent accuracy, however, we needed to use about 100 Alus.
    [...]
    assayed approximately 375 polymorphisms called short tandem repeats in more than 1,000 people from 52 ethnic groups in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. By looking at the varying frequencies of these polymorphisms, they were able to distinguish five different groups of people whose ancestors were typically isolated by oceans, deserts or mountains: sub-Saharan Africans; Europeans and Asians west of the Himalayas; East Asians; inhabitants of New Guinea and Melanesia; and Native Americans. They were also able to identify subgroups within each region that usually corresponded with each member's self-reported ethnicity."

    Thanks for SSRC link, BTW. I didn't have that one!

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    Bossel,

    If a large number of scientist reject race as a valid concept, I have no problem as a layman finding it unscientific. (Not that it should matter to the scientific community what I think.) You may find debate about other scientific theories, but scientists are not divided as to whether gravity is a valid concept or not.

    (My only disagreement with your last post is that I think there is a clear distinction between genders that can be defined scientifically.)

    We do as humans constantly divide the subspecies for all kinds of purposes. We tabulate data, collect stats, self segregate, discriminate, pick, choose, classify, certify and who knows what else for what reason. If you mention a race or an ethnicity, I will have a fairly clear list of physical features that I would expect to see. If you ask me to describe a person, I may use race as a shorthand for the physical appearences. I do not doubt that negroids come from the african continent, cacasoids from europe and mongoloids from asia. So it is perfectly human to divide us up by race. I would still after all this argue that the division is not scientific and serves little useful scientific purpose. It adds nothing to our base of knowlege, and is nothing in the way of applicable or useful knowlege in and of itself. I don't think you have explained at all what race is really "about," except to inform me that it is not about racism. Through the whole wikipedia article, much of which refutes the concept, there is little mention of scientist initially developing race as a concept, only that it was already widely accepted by the 18th century, and that it was used to justify colonialism and the exploitation of "darker races."

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    Don't have time today, just in short.

    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    If a large number of scientist reject race as a valid concept, I have no problem as a layman finding it unscientific. (Not that it should matter to the scientific community what I think.) You may find debate about other scientific theories, but scientists are not divided as to whether gravity is a valid concept or not.
    You will find a number of linguists rejecting UG as a valid concept, but it's still a scientific theory/hypothesis.


    (My only disagreement with your last post is that I think there is a clear distinction between genders that can be defined scientifically.
    AFAIK, there is no clear borderline, hermaphrodites actually do exist.

    It adds nothing to our base of knowlege
    It does, eg. that human beings largely derived from isolated population clusters.

    I don't think you have explained at all what race is really "about,"
    What should it be about, if not about race? As I said, if you're looking for meaning, don't look at science.

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    I would invite comments from someone other than me. I am neither a biologist nor am I an anthropologist. Bossel and I have exhausted every angle of this argument and I am quickly loosing interest. I have read several articles by scientists that say that race is not a scientific concept and that say it has no value. It seems that some people feel the necessity to subdivde the species into categories, and feel that this is scientific and increases our knowlege. You can sort your clothes anyway you want, but that doesn't make it scientific nor does it denote knowledge.

    That hermaphrodites exists does not blurr the borderline between genders. Sociologically and psychologically some people may be confused about gender, but scientists need only to perform a simple examination (with on rare occasion- a look at a person's chromosomes) to determine gender.

    I would also argue (without much purpose or any sources) that humans don't derive from isolated population clusters. We derive from some isolated, some in constant contact, some migratory stock. We all share common ancestors, many of them recent. From what I read... You can't fit 6 billion people into three categories, or four, or six or sixty. By the time you get to 60 the categories have become meaningless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    I have read several articles by scientists that say that race is not a scientific concept and that say it has no value.
    & other articles say that it has value. (maybe they use other terms than race, but that doesn't change the underlying concept very much)

    That hermaphrodites exists does not blurr the borderline between genders. Sociologically and psychologically some people may be confused about gender, but scientists need only to perform a simple examination (with on rare occasion- a look at a person's chromosomes) to determine gender.
    & that simple examination would be? A person's chromosomes are not decisive either (you can have "males" with XX & "females" with XY). IIRC, an athlete banned from participating as a female in the Olympics for having XY-chromosomes later carried out a child.
    If hermaphrodites don't represent a blurried borderline, what are they?

    By the time you get to 60 the categories have become meaningless.
    & again you come back to meaning. Why does there have to be meaning?

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    I hate racists.....they're mean...

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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    & again you come back to meaning. Why does there have to be meaning?
    Why would we need a catorgorization that is meaningless?
    Last edited by No-name; 05-07-05 at 19:06. Reason: lost the square bracket on the quote.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    Why would we need a catorgorization that is meaningless?
    Ah, that brings me to a question: which meaning does the categorisation into male & female have?
    Or: Which meaning would you see in categorising language?
    "By the time you get to 60 the categories have become meaningless." Would that mean that for a language with 60 dialects, the categorisation has no meaning, while below 60 it has? Where would you draw the line?

    I thought, by "meaning" you were hinting at something else than actual knowledge. Sorry if I misunderstood that.

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