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  • Yes, mankind can be divided into at least three distinct races.

    35 60.34%
  • No, there is only one race, the human race.

    23 39.66%
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Thread: Is Race a valid scientific category?

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    Is Race a valid scientific category?



    This is in response to another thread. I was wondering what everyone thought and why.

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    I would say that there are different races, but they're not always distinct.

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    All humans are different, but there are genetical characteristics (e.g. hair/eyes colour, size, facial trait, etc.) that enable us to categorise them into groups. It is not as simple as saying there are 3 main races (Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid). Looking at the people of India, Central Asia and the Middle East, we clearly see that it is more complex. But even within (what's looks like) a clear-cut group, there are many 'subcategories'. For example, among Caucasoids (=Europeans), we can notice very clearly the difference between the North Germanic type (tall, blond, blue eyes, smaller nose, squarer face...) or Celtic type (blue eyes, dark or red hair, rounder face), and Italic type (dark hair and eyes, taller and longer nose, deep features), Hispanic type (less pronounced features than Italic), Greek type (straight nose, sometimes blue eyes), etc.

    Even within one of these groups, we could divide further. E.g. The Frankic Germanic type is not the same as Scandinavian Germanic or Anglo-Saxon Germanic.

    Things get more complicated once we look at mixed race regions, like the South of Germany (Celtic, Germanic and Latin, possibly with a bit of Slavic).

    I this regard I am quite surprised at the ethnic homogenity of North East Asia (China, Korea, Japan). Some Japanese clearly have Ainu features, but otherwise they are almost impossible to tell appart (much more difficult than to tell two Germanic group apart).

    In SE Asia, Indonesian and Malaysian are very easily distinguishable from Thai or Burmese, who are also easily disntinguishable from the Khmer (Cambodians). But there are so many ethnic tribes in Northern Thailand, Laos or Vietnam that it complicated things quite a bit.

    In Africa, there is no way to confuse a Bantu (Central and South Africa; slightest fairer skin, round face, flat nose) from an Ethiopian (face/skull closer to Caucasoid, smaller nose, squarer face and much darker skin than Bantu).

    I would put the Arabs in a separate division from Caucasoid, Negroid or Mongoloid. Dravidian people (originally from Southern India) are also a separate division. But today's Indians are mainly a mix of Caucasoid Aryans and Dravidians, which explains how two Indians can look completely different (some with skin as fair as a Mediterranean, others as dark as an Ethiopian + different features).

    So is there races or subdivisions within humans ? Yes. Can we scientifically classify them, as we would classify different species of plants and animals (e.g. the hundreds of races of dog or horses) ? Yes. Can we crossbreed them and get new races ? Yes. There is no reason humans should be different from other life beings.
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    It is very interesting - and very complicated! Thinking about plant and animal world, and cross-breeding in this respect, it seems like Maciamo says, that they can be scientifically classified. But, it can be so difficult if a person's exact 'origins' aren't known, because is there a way to tell 'race' (as a scientific category) from genetics? If not, then it's maybe not exactly a 'scientific category'. For many people I think their exact race in a scientific sense gets just too complex and subtle, with too many unknowns. Of course, it's still possible to know generally their race.

    Anyway, it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. We are all human.

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    I think race being used as a valid scientific distinction is bordering on the ideas that various people have used in the past to say that white people are superior to black people, and visa versa. This articles about super volcanoes and the Toba euruption really puts a little kink in their argument about the differences between races, especially this quote:
    Stanley Ambrose, an anthropologist at the University of Illinois, suggested in 1998 that Rampino's work might explain a curious bottleneck in human evolution: The blueprints of life for all humans -- DNA -- are remarkably similar given that our species branched off from the rest of the primate family tree a few million years ago.

    Ambrose has said early humans were perhaps pushed to the edge of extinction after the Toba eruption -- around the same time folks got serious about art and tool making. Perhaps only a few thousand survived. Humans today would all be descended from these few, and in terms of the genetic code, not a whole lot would change in 74,000 years.
    It seems that with only a few thousand surviving the eurption that we are more closly related to each other than was previously thought. Our differences are little more than skin deep. If this eruption never had occured, then maybe their would be a real differences between the various races of mankind rather than the ones we like to make up using dodgy science.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycernius
    It seems that with only a few thousand surviving the eurption that we are more closly related to each other than was previously thought. Our differences are little more than skin deep. If this eruption never had occured, then maybe their would be a real differences between the various races of mankind rather than the ones we like to make up using dodgy science.
    Actually, this is no news. IIRC, the separation of caucasoid & mongoloid race is put to around 40,000 years ago, much later than this volcanic eruption.

    There may have been a much more severe bottle neck, some 60,000 years ago. According to one study we are all descended from one human male who lived around that time. To establish this needs a lot more work to be done, though. We still have varying theories regarding human evolution, the multiregional hypothesis is still not entirely discarded (got even a new spin recently).

    Here you can find a summary of the Multiregional Evolution hypothesis, though the newest research is not included.
    Quote:
    "The authors point out that if replacement occured we would expect to find archaeological traces, yet we can find none in Asia.. The hand ax was common in Africa, yet the technologies of eastern Asia did not include handaxes before or after the African dispersal period. Artifacts found in the earliest assemblages continue to appear into the very late Pleistocene.

    The hominid fossils from Australasia are argued to show a continuous anatomic sequence, with the earliest Australians displaying features seen in Indonesia 100,000 years ago. Similar evidence is seen in northern Asia. One million years old Chinese fossils differ from Javan fossils in ways that parallel the differences between north Asians and Australians today. Morphological continuity is also evidenced by prominently shoveled maxdlary incisors occurring in high frequency in living east Asians and in all the earlier Asian fossils."

    On the same website is also a representation of the bottleneck hypothesis.
    Quote:
    "Ambrose concludes that bottlenecks occurred among genetically isolated human populations because of a six-year long volcanic winter and subsequent hyper-cold millennium after the cataclysmic super-eruption of Toba. This volcanic winter played a role in recent human differentiation. The resultant combination of founder effects and genetic drift may account for low human genetic diversity as well as population differences associated with so-called races. The bottleneck hypothesis offers an explanation for why human exhibit so little genetic variation, yet superficially appear diverse. It also affords an explanation for the apparent recent coalescence of mtDNA and African origins."

    Nothing is settled yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    Quote:
    "...The bottleneck hypothesis offers an explanation for why human exhibit so little genetic variation, yet superficially appear diverse. It also affords an explanation for the apparent recent coalescence of mtDNA and African origins."

    Nothing is settled yet.
    Now here I agree with you. But I would latch on to the words "little genetic variation" and "yet superficially appear diverse." and run with them. How important can Race be as a "scientific" concept if it is only based on superficial differences? (Granted that as a layman, I may be totally incorrect...it just seems to prove my point.)

    Nothing is settled yet- on this point I agree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycernius
    It seems that with only a few thousand surviving the eurption that we are more closly related to each other than was previously thought. Our differences are little more than skin deep. If this eruption never had occured, then maybe their would be a real differences between the various races of mankind rather than the ones we like to make up using dodgy science.
    Or maybe 10,000 years ago, Noah and his family continued the human race after a world wide castrotophe. Just as possible as the above. ;oD

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pararousia
    Or maybe 10,000 years ago, Noah and his family continued the human race after a world wide castrotophe. Just as possible as the above. ;oD
    You are tempting me, but I'd just say I will go along the lines of scientific research rather than myth. I'd prefer that this didn't become a science verses religion thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    How important can Race be as a "scientific" concept if it is only based on superficial differences?
    Sorry, but I still don't see which importance should be there? Importance is always relative.

    Nothing is settled yet- on this point I agree.
    I was referring to the origin of homo sapiens & its races, not the existence of races. They are a simple fact of life, only the details are open to definition.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pararousia
    Or maybe 10,000 years ago, Noah and his family continued the human race after a world wide castrotophe. Just as possible as the above. ;oD
    Possible, yeah, but highly improbable. What Mycernius described has a much greater probability.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    Sorry, but I still don't see which importance should be there? Importance is always relative.


    I was referring to the origin of homo sapiens & its races, not the existence of races. They are a simple fact of life, only the details are open to definition.
    You keep tripping over significance, meaning and now importance. What kind of scientific concept is race if it is insignificant, meaningless and unimportant? Are there many scientific concepts that lack significance, meaning and importance? (I guess I could concede the entire argument here if Race is a just an irrelevant scientific concept that has no meaning, importance, or significance.)

    As far as race being a simple fact, I think we have demonstrated that it is far from simple. When people with bigger brains then mine and yours are arguing over its very existence and not just details and definition, I think we can say it is far from a fact.

    People divide themselves into Races for all kinds of reasons that are entirely unscientific. Different people draw different lines, and almost no one I know uses seventeenth century European terms "caucasoid, negroid, and mongoloid" (Except possibly 17th century europeans.) If we are going to use race as some deliminator, why not use a non-European such as the Chinese, Japanese, Dinka, Somoan or Navajo system? Is there some reason why the antiquated European system is superior to any of the other 17th century systems? Maybe you europeans just have sharper eyes?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    You keep tripping over significance, meaning and now importance.
    Yep, because you seem to expect some social/philosophical meaning, but you never clearly state what you expect, although I repeatedly asked.

    What kind of scientific concept is race if it is insignificant, meaningless and unimportant? Are there many scientific concepts that lack significance, meaning and importance?
    A lot. For significance, meaning & importance are always relative. Race has a certain significance to understand & to categorise homo sapiens, it has absolutely no significance for my dinner.

    When people with bigger brains then mine and yours are arguing over its very existence and not just details and definition, I think we can say it is far from a fact.
    Nope. I'm not an elitist. That someone belonging to some intellectual elite (what a crappy concept, pretty much like racism) doesn't accept a certain terminology does not mean that I have to subscribe to that very same opinion. Furthermore, those working in the field (eg. biologists) generally do not have a problem with the concept of race, but with the related terminology (due to political pressure from the PC faction).

    People divide themselves into Races for all kinds of reasons that are entirely unscientific.
    So what?

    Different people draw different lines, and almost no one I know uses seventeenth century European terms "caucasoid, negroid, and mongoloid"
    That doesn't mean much. You obviously have no contact to biologists. & AFAIK in the US the crappy PC faction is busy to eradicate even these -oid terms.

    (Except possibly 17th century europeans.)
    You know 17th century Europeans personally?
    Anyway, at least try to educate yourself of the subject you're talking about. Negroid is 1st attested 1859, mongoloid & caucasoid are from around the same time (1st they used mongolian [1868] & caucasian [1795])

    If we are going to use race as some deliminator, why not use a non-European such as the Chinese, Japanese, Dinka, Somoan or Navajo system?
    Because I am European. Chinese et al. may very well use their own terminology. I can't really see your point here.

    Is there some reason why the antiquated European system is superior to any of the other 17th century systems?
    Why antiquated? Genetics is a rather recent development & can very well be applied to the systematics.
    Which other 17th century systems?

    Maybe you europeans just have sharper eyes?
    Don't know. At least our PC faction is not (yet) quite as fascistic in its attempts to dictate science what it should do.

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    LOL. So if we are arguing a relatively insignificant, unimportant, and meaningless concept who's only value is to randomly catagorize homo sapiens, than I am going to bed. The science community as I understand it always argues against the "la la" relativism that goes against the systematic reason, dialectics and materialism that is at the core of all science. There is a consistent method to science, a validity, reliability and ability to reproduce results. Gravity is a significant, important concept with a definite meaning. Relativity- very important. The atomic theory, laws of thermodynamics, evolution, the carbon cycle and global warming are all significant, important and have a distict meaning. Scientists are not spending a whole lot of time debating the existence of these concepts or trying to redifine terminology in order to satisfy imaginary factions of politeness police. And I have not asked for any social/philosophical meaning- just for a basic pedestrian run of the mill daily use type meaning. When have I ever cared about philosophy?

    Who is this PC faction and how do they exert pressure? Things must be awefully different in Germany if people feel bullied especially in their own fields by some clandestine thought police. Who cares if anything or anyone is politically correct? People make carreers out of being politically incorrect in my country. Look at Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern and all the other talk jockies. If they went PC they'd be off the air. Books like the Bell Curve sell millions of copies on the basis that they offend many.

    Asside from Biology teachers, and my sister in law and niece, I don't know any biologists. I showed my sister in law (who has a much bigger brain than mine and is far more qualified to give answers in this field) the other thread and she laughed. Never the less however, she agree with me (but indicated that I really didn't understand what I was talking about when it came to details.) It was her suggestion that race is simply inaccurate and not specific enough to be useful. (Don't ask me why, I just left it like that.) I feel that since she has spent a great deal more time in the study of such things, that her opinion on this narrow topic is significantly more valid. I hope that's not being elitist, but I tend to go to doctors for medical opinions, mechanics for assistance with my car, and electricians for the wiring in my house. In matters relating to biology, I will consider deferring to the scientists. (with the exceptions previously stated.)

    Lastly science isn't relative to geographical location. A meter is a meter. An atom an atom. If it can be measured, quantified, described and classified in Europe, it shouldn't change in Asia. The atomic theory is the same in Samoa as it is in Brazil. My point that you missed is rather simple: the use of a pre-scientific taxonomy to classify homo sapiens that is not universally agreed upon by the majority of people in the field lacks meaning. It is arbitrary. Persians are not Arabs and don't consider themselves either mongoloid or caucasoid. The three race european system is no more valid than the jewish system of dividing all of humanity into Jews and Gentiles or the Japanese system of dividing humanity into Gaijin and Nihonjin.

    For a term to have meaning it must have a shared denotation (and connotation) for both the sender and reciever. Race seems to be lacking in this parameter. 17th century and antiquated refer to the basic development of race as a theory that I got from Wikipedia. That I may have been inaccurate as to the exact dating of the exact terminology does not negate the point that these were developed before the science of genetics, DNA, or genomics existed, and were developed based solely upon insignificant superficial differences such as facial structure and skin color. I'm fairly certain that every isolated population with sufficient language found a good way of classifying outsiders like this, but is that science? You pick the eurpean terminology because you are european? Is that science? It doesn't seem scientific to sub divide a species in a random way based upon a social custom dating back two or three hundred years. Neither does it seem like a scientific way of doing this if it lacks any kind of significance- if it is merely a sorting by superficial appearance. (see the quote above-- from post #6) Science and race seem to diverge here- if few can agree on the terminology or the parameters of a taxonomy than how can it be reliable, reproducable and valid? Sounds like a social construct, not like science.

    Sorry for the long rambling post. It is past my bed time. (And I am way out of my circle of expertise- can't someone with a better handle on this stuff bail me out?)

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    ***DISCLAIMER!!! I am not knowledgeable about race or science!!!***

    Personally I feel that race as classification is actually unimportant. I also think it is not 'scientific'; it is already pointed out that science concentrates on issues that have relevance to the whole 'human race' regardless of 'race'.

    I also think (as if anyone is interested in my opinion, but I carry on rambling away anyhow, ho hum... lol) that there are scientific areas in which it can *seem* that race is important. (I am thinking Biology here.) For instance, where there are genetic factors involved. And, there are often important links between physical/geographical location, cultural practice, and human biology/physiology. However, these make interesting areas of study in their own right under the umbrella of 'biology' and 'bio-chemistry', but I don't think they are at all the same thing as 'race'. They are really scientific issues which involve development of the human body, geography, environment, and 'nature/nurture' debate also. 'Race' is to my way of thinking most definitely not a scientific classification properly. But, it can be a useful reference for people who need/want to discuss/work on related issues but don't have the (incredibly complex) scientific know-how to delve more deeply. Really, they are using it as kind of 'easy reference'.

    Finally, about PC-ness... In comedy, of course, there is a lot of un-PC-ness and that's really usually tolerated in England (I am just speaking now from where I live) except for sometimes when it treads too near the line. But I can definitely say (and it sounds as if it might be similar in Germay?) there is almost 'thought police'! Of course, I'm not talking about general conversation of 'man/woman on the street', where people speak as they wish. But for example, I work for an organisation, and we have to be so careful about using correct terminology. People get offended by the term 'handicapped' (should use 'disabled' instead!!) and - well, loads of other terms, too. And in certain circles (especially high up places in important organisations, hehe), some terms like 'mongoloid', 'negroid' would make people throw up their hands in horror! Myself, I feel this is not real 'political correctness' and only just a thin veneer... somehow it seems they are missing completely the real issues...

    It seems a shame that people even get at all hung up about 'race'. In an ideal world it shouldn't be an issue at all.

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    Nope.

    Distinctions are arbitrary (as far as I'm concerned) in this regard. We're all the same species and that's enough for me.
    Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it's cowardice.

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    From Jacobs' Multiregional Evolution Essay: (http://www.jqjacobs.net/anthro/paleo/multiregional.html)
    Finally, it is affirmatively argued that the close genetic similarities of the entire human race reflect linkages between people, an ancient history of population connections and mate exchanges, or, in other words, gene exchange.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    The science community as I understand it always argues against the "la la" relativism that goes against the systematic reason, dialectics and materialism that is at the core of all science.
    Could you rephrase that in a way I can understand? I never heard of "la la" relativism.

    There is a consistent method to science, a validity, reliability and ability to reproduce results.
    Then now you agree with the concept of race? There is valid, reliable DNA research which can be used to distinguish members of differing races with reproducable results.

    Gravity is a significant, important concept with a definite meaning.
    Since we don't really know why gravity exists or what it exactly is, what is the definite meaning? The scientifical concept of gravity also has no importance for my dinner. I'd recognise that my slice of bread falls to the ground without any scientific background.

    Relativity- very important.
    Yes, I see that. The faster I eat, the older I get. Or did I get that wrong?

    The atomic theory, laws of thermodynamics, evolution, the carbon cycle and global warming are all significant, important and have a distict meaning.
    Atomic theory: -yes, obviously without this theory I wouldn't be able to put butter on my bread (BTW, since you talked about antiquated concepts, this one is quite old)
    Thermodynamics: -very important to know that no energy is lost while I'm chewing
    Evolution: -yo, absolutely necessary to know that the pork I eat comes from a pig that evolved from another form of pig that evolved from some other animal, which again evolved... Couldn't live without that.
    Carbon cycle: -also good to know that the salad I have cannot reduce the atmosphere's carbon dioxide anymore
    Global warming: -the most important of them all, yeah, how could I eat anything if I didn't know that whenever I eat beans I will enhance global warming through the methane I produce while digesting them.

    BTW, thermodynamics is nice example how you misunderstand science. Science often works with models, IE idealised versions of reality. For thermodynamics this means that scientists often deal with concepts that don't exist as such in reality, eg. isolated systems. Doesn't that mean according to your definition that it isn't scientific? Or at least less scientific than race, since there are actually people who show 100% markers of certain races, while there isn't a 100% isolated system?

    Sorry, but you couldn't convince me.


    And I have not asked for any social/philosophical meaning- just for a basic pedestrian run of the mill daily use type meaning. When have I ever cared about philosophy?
    You weren't very clear before. You kept on talking about some alleged meaning that should be there, even after (IIRC) I already stated that the meaning is relative. It's relevant for certain areas of biological/medical/etc. research, but else?

    Who is this PC faction and how do they exert pressure?
    I'm not in the US, but what I read about this is that your funding may be cancelled if you don't publish according to certain political standards.

    Who cares if anything or anyone is politically correct?
    Publishers obviously do. Certain faculties probably do, too.

    Look at Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern and all the other talk jockies. If they went PC they'd be off the air.
    Which science are they involved in?

    Books like the Bell Curve sell millions of copies on the basis that they offend many.
    Nice example, esp. since the authors had great trouble because of this. Pictured as racists by the PC faction, IIRC, they even got bomb threats. How politically correct!
    Maybe this particular book sold millions, but less populistic (IIRC, this one was supported by some right-wing institution) scientific publications are often refused by major publishers because of PC. It's a hard life if you have to publish in peer-reviewed magazines in order to get grants/funding, but your articles are refused for reasons of PC.

    An atom an atom.
    Is it? There are some 112 different atoms. Didn't you say something about when the number of differentiation is 60 it becomes meaningless? What's more, there is even differentiation in one element, the atom may have varying numbers of neutrons.

    the use of a pre-scientific taxonomy to classify homo sapiens that is not universally agreed upon by the majority of people in the field lacks meaning.
    "universally agreed upon by the majority" sounds interesting. Which probably makes UG a non-scientific concept as well.
    Talking of pre-scientific taxonomy: When did science start?
    Why should certain terms be deleted from language only because some idiots misused them? Wouldn't we have to delete some 90% (or more) if we did this consequently?

    Persians [...] don't consider themselves either mongoloid or caucasoid.
    Even if that were true, so what? How many Persians are biologists?
    But, anyway, could you please enlighten me as to what Persians do consider themselves (with source, if possible)?

    For a term to have meaning it must have a shared denotation (and connotation) for both the sender and reciever. Race seems to be lacking in this parameter.
    For an English major, this is a quite poor argumentation. How many scientific terms are widely understood in the general population? Are all those not understood by an arbitrarily asked housewife invalid?

    I'm fairly certain that every isolated population with sufficient language found a good way of classifying outsiders like this, but is that science?
    Outsiders? Then the Europeans who did the classification were neither caucasoid, negroid, mongoloid or altschicht? Were they ETs?

    You pick the eurpean terminology because you are european? Is that science?
    Nope, it's language. I'm German talking English to you, hence I use the English & where the English is unknown German terminology. I could use the Chinese one, but I doubt you would understand that.

    if it is merely a sorting by superficial appearance.
    It is quite obvious that you don't want to understand. Appearance is only a minor marker of race.

    if few can agree on the terminology
    Why should eg. Chinese adopt English terminology? They sometimes do, but to force them is quite imperialist.

    More of my notorious comparisons drawn from linguistics: The terms language & dialect are fallen in disregard in parts of the linguistic community & replaced by Ausbausprache/Abstandsprache/Dachsprache. Now does that mean that language & dialect don't exist? That they aren't scientific concepts? Since dialect (1577) & language (1290) date from pre-scientific times, aren't they acc. to you invalid, anyway?

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    Richard Lewontin is the scientist most famous (IMHO) for his claim that race is invalid as a scientific taxonomy. He observed that 85 percent of human variation occurs within populations, and not between populations, so that 'race' is not an appropriate or useful way to describe variation between human beings. (Richard Lewontin, The Apportionment of Human Diversity, 1972) I first read about this in an article by Stephen Jay Gould, it may have been The Mismeasure of Man, 1981, but I am not sure.

    Lewontin's views were questioned in the article Lewontin's Fallacy by A.W.F. Edwards, 2003, which was latched onto by Richard Dawkins. In The Ancestor's Tale, 2004, Dawkins argues that races do exist, but that the boundaries between them are blurred.

    I found Lewontin's argument convincing when I read it, but as I have not looked at the counter-arguments in any detail I can't really comment.

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    Genetic distinctions between people are of course scientific, not to mention important (and interesting too!). However, I don't think these are the same thing as 'race' as the term is generally used (even though they are linked - but that's another point and too technical for me!). Of course, I can't comment on what goes through people's minds when they use the term 'race'. But it does seem that it is often used with reference to physical characteristics which are apparent to 'naked-eye' observation. This is not scientific. It does, however, provide an abundant source for much discussion........... !

    I agree with Mad Pierrot.

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    Tsuioko,
    Thanks for the input, especially the Lewontin reference. I knew I had seen some stat like that somewhere.

    Bossel,
    I feel compelled to reply to you, even though I think we both have little left to bring to this discussion. Statement like "Its quite obvious that you don't want to understand." are insulting, condescending and uncalled for. (Especially because it was in response to terms I quoted from YOUR previous post!) I have never put myself forth as an expert in this area, I am constantly asking for clarification and reading the articles that are parsed in this thread. If nothing else I have tried to understand with increasing difficulty your point of view. I am offended by your tone.

    You also claim not to be an elitist, but the two times I brought up the fact that aboriginal Amazons and Persians would have a different taxonomy, you asked "How many of them are biologists." I am not a biologist either, and by your snide statement I am entirely unqualified to discuss the taxonomy of a subspecies. (and you would be right, actually.) I feel I have always state myself plainly and have never taken such a tone with you. The tone of these statements to me seem not only elitist, but ethnocentric and arrogant. I am hoping that the implication was unintentional or perhaps that my inference is in error.

    As for words having the same meaning for the sender and reciever, I'm quite surprised as a linguistics major you didn't recognize one of the basics of communications. In the US, the concept is quite elementary. :/ And Yes, if a scientist intends to communicate with a houswife, he must use terms she understands. For communication to occur, the sender and reciever must share a common language. The sender should be aware of what terms connote (and possibly denote) in the INTENDED reciever. (So if a scientists were writing to other scientists, he would choose differert terms.)

    I pulled the terms "superficial appearence" from an article YOU cited: Multiregional Evolution hypothesis, in the last sentence of the last paragraph, so if you want to ridicule anyone it should be the expert you cited and not me. You also seem to have missed the entire point that we are talking about the validity, reliability and existentence of a concept, and so when I listed scientific concepts it was to illustrate the point that all of the concepts are significant, specific and important. Although we may re-translate these concepts into different languages, the core of the concept does not change.

    You are quite right to note that I was sloppy about the origins of science. I'm thinking Age of Reason, Enlightenment...but actually refering to something more modern. Let me rephrase to clarify: the ethnocentric European concept of Race was well developed to the point of dogmatic and inhumane application well before the advent and development of modern sciences such as microbiology, biochemistry, and genomics. The "concept" of race, along with the old world terminology is saddled with so much negative connotation that intereferes with discussion that many or most scientists and scientific journals avoid its usage in favor of more accurate terminology that is devoid of such baggage. Race in these terms has as much validity as spontaneous generation. (I doubt that the terms or concepts of language and dialect carry such baggage.) Although its connotation in the discussion of human variation may find some valid basis, the denotation attached to its historical and popular usage render its continued application in the current field of biology not just politically incorrect, but an anachronism.

    The "la la" relativism statement- again I applologize for being vague. When you said everything is relative, it seemed like a cop out- that anything can mean anything to anyone at any given time...(la, la, la...) While this is true in some kind of philosophical sence, it seems to me to exhibit the kind of lack of reasoning that the basic scientific method argues against. Materialism, that a thing can be known, measured, that a concept can be predictive, reliable and valid...the solid concrete knowable universe- this to me is inherent in the methods of science. As a non scientist, I am perhaps the least qualified, most "la-la" person you can find to make this argument. Someone with better Cartesian logic and a stronger scientific background would be better.

    You may feel the need to reply to this post by breaking it down into little blue boxes and following each with a one line zinger. I think many of your previous posts have already address much of what I have said here. It may seem to add strength to your argument, but I think both of us (especially me- I'm working on it) could be more brief.
    Last edited by No-name; 21-07-05 at 23:02. Reason: deleted the word "every" in paragraph3

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    if it is merely a sorting by superficial appearance.
    Statement like "Its quite obvious that you don't want to understand." are insulting, condescending and uncalled for. (Especially because it was in response to terms I quoted from YOUR previous post!)
    Haven't seen any quotation marks. Anyway, not my words. I never said that race can be sorted by superficial appearance.
    What's more, that wasn't the 1st time that you brought up folk-taxonomy in order to discredit the scientific approach.

    I have never put myself forth as an expert in this area, I am constantly asking for clarification and reading the articles that are parsed in this thread. If nothing else I have tried to understand with increasing difficulty your point of view. I am offended by your tone.
    Well, sorry, but I'm a little annoyed by the fact that I have to constantly restate/reject the same stuff in different wording.

    You also claim not to be an elitist, but the two times I brought up the fact that aboriginal Amazons and Persians would have a different taxonomy, you asked "How many of them are biologists."
    Touché! Although your quote is not correct. I stated, "How many Persians are biologists?" I should have said, "How many Persians have enough knowledge in biology?"

    You didn't say that A & P have a different taxonomy, you said that Persians wouldn't consider themselves caucasoid. But you didn't answer my question as to what they do consider themselves to be.

    I am not a biologist either, and by your snide statement I am entirely unqualified to discuss the taxonomy of a subspecies. (and you would be right, actually.)
    Wrong. There is no qualification necessary to discuss anything, but I doubt that 90+ % of Persians would have the necessary knowledge base to have an informed opinion. & you don't need to have a degree to be knowledgable, you don't even need one to be a scientist, IMO.

    The tone of these statements to me seem not only elitist, but ethnocentric and arrogant.
    Hmm, arrogant maybe, but ethnocentric? I'm pretty sure I'm egocentric.

    As for words having the same meaning for the sender and reciever, I'm quite surprised as a linguistics major you didn't recognize one of the basics of communications.
    Where did I say so?

    And Yes, if a scientist intends to communicate with a houswife, he must use terms she understands. For communication to occur, the sender and reciever must share a common language. The sender should be aware of what terms connote (and possibly denote) in the INTENDED reciever. (So if a scientists were writing to other scientists, he would choose differert terms.)
    How well argued, only, this not really what your original argument was about:
    "For a term to have meaning it must have a shared denotation (and connotation) for both the sender and reciever. Race seems to be lacking in this parameter."
    So, your above definition applied, race has meaning when 2 scientists (or perhaps even more restricted: biologists) talk to each other, but loses meaning when a scientist talks to a housewife? (Or do you mean it doesn't have any meaning at all because scientific & folk denotation/connotation don't match?)

    Then Quantum Theory (or higher mathematics, or...) is meaningless because the common housewife (or houseman, if that word exists in English) most probably wouldn't understand a scientist talking about it?

    I pulled the terms "superficial appearence" from an article YOU cited. Multiregional Evolution hypothesis, in the last sentence of the last paragraph, so if you want to ridicule anyone it should be the expert you cited and not me.
    Very funny. Just because I quoted it, doesn't mean that I agree with it. The whole Multiregional Evolution hypothesis is rather improbable.

    You also seem to have missed the entire point that we are talking about the validity, reliability and existentence of a concept, and so when I listed scientific concepts it was to illustrate the point that all of the concepts are significant, specific and important.
    Nope, maybe you missed the point that you reacted to "For significance, meaning & importance are always relative." & in my response I showed that significance, meaning & importance of all those concepts is relative.

    Although we may re-translate these concepts into different languages, the core of the concept does not change.
    Neither does the concept of race. The terminology changes, the concept pretty much stays the same.

    The "concept" of race, along with the old world terminology is saddled with so much negative connotation that intereferes with discussion that many or most scientists and scientific journals avoid its usage in favor of more accurate terminology that is devoid of such baggage.
    Negative connotation? & you change anything by simply denying the underlying differences? Very PC!
    More accurate? Since the denotation stays the same, how can it be more accurate?

    (I doubt that the terms or concepts of language and dialect carry such baggage.)
    Obviously they have, or else there wouldn't be some people in the PC faction trying to replace it with Ausbausprache/Abstandsprache/Dachsprache.

    Although its connotation in the discussion of human variation may find some valid basis, the denotation attached to its historical and popular usage render its continued application in the current field of biology not just politically incorrect, but an anachronism.
    It seems, many or most biologists disagree.

    The "la la" relativism statement- again I applologize for being vague. When you said everything is relative, it seemed like a cop out- that anything can mean anything to anyone at any given time...(la, la, la...)
    "Everything is relative" is a mere rhetorical expression where I live, which doesn't mean that actually everything is relative (although it probably is, in a different universe things may be completely different). But that's not what I said, anyway. I said (repeatedly, I think): "significance, meaning & importance are always relative." Significance, meaning & importance are not everything.

    Materialism, that a thing can be known, measured, that a concept can be predictive, reliable and valid...
    Acc. to this, race is a valid concept. It can be measured (by physical taxonomy & DNA structure), the concept predicts certain taxonomic features & gene markers which can reliably found & validated.

    You may feel the need to reply to this post by breaking it down into little blue boxes and following each with a one line zinger.
    Zinger? Was new to me, interesting. Anyway, that is my preferred method, since people sometimes (try to) re-interpret my posts, this is the best way to show what I'm referring to when I write.

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    Hi Bossel! You seem to care a lot about this subject! What do you think about what the scientists (especially Lewontin and Dawkins) have to say about it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    Hi Bossel! You seem to care a lot about this subject! What do you think about what the scientists (especially Lewontin and Dawkins) have to say about it?
    Care? Not really, though I'm interested in evolution & parts of biology, but I have problems with the PC faction trying to reign into science.

    As for Lewontin & Dawkins, having read nothing by themselves but only about them (except for some occasional article or essay by Dawkins, I think), I can't say much. Only that Lewontin seems to represent the ideologically charged (or maybe challenged) scientist I have come to despise. Dawkins on the other hand seems to convey a number of views I can agree with.

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    Bossel - I would recommend that you read Lewontin before accepting what his opponents have to say about him. I think I am right in saying that he is the foremost exponent of the 'race is not a scientifically valid taxonomy' faction. I find the arguments of non-experts much more convincing if they can demonstrate their knowledge of both sides of an argument.

    As for 'ideologically charged' scientists - do you mean scientists who seem to twist the available data to fit their personal beliefs? I don't think this is true of Lewontin. People who challenge the status quo are often criticised, and I think that much of the criticism of his claims is politically motivated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    As for 'ideologically charged' scientists - do you mean scientists who seem to twist the available data to fit their personal beliefs? I don't think this is true of Lewontin. People who challenge the status quo are often criticised, and I think that much of the criticism of his claims is politically motivated.
    That may be true, but someone who tries to fit biology into a political ideology (I have read only some quotes by Lewontin & those may have been taken out of context, but they surely imply that he is ideologically charged.) should expect to be attacked on political grounds.

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