Scientists On Race

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Leading scientists, including evolutionary biologists, geneticists, and anthropologists, can’t agree on the existence of human races, and it’s a fascinating discussion. The human desire to categorize everything is often puzzling, sometimes amusing, and sometimes enlightening. Race is one of the results of our categorization compulsion applied to ourselves.

To define race, Jerry Coyne turns to our experience with animals: “races of animals (also called “subspecies” or “ecotypes”) are morphologically distinguishable populations that live in allopatry (i.e. are geographically separated).” While humans from Norway and from sub-Saharan Africa are certainly “morphologically distinguishable,” for example in skin pigment, eye and hair color, and nose shape, there is a continuous distribution on morphology between the geographic extremes.

As can be seen from the graph above, from Human Races: A Genetic and Evolutionary Perspective (pdf) by Alan R. Templeton, genetic distance and geographical distance form a cline and not discrete changes that would indicate races. It is possible to cherry-pick the genetic information from geographically distance populations and produce a graph that clusters those populations and claim it manifests discrete races. However, this ignores the in-between genetic information that smears the discrete clustering into a homogeneous mix.

Templeton concludes:

Hence, human races do not exist under the traditional concept of a subspecies as being a geographically circumscribed population showing sharp genetic differentiation. A more modem definition of race is that of a distinct evolutionary lineage within a species. The genetic evidence strongly rejects the existence of distinct evolutionary lineages within humans.

From Genetics, Evolution, and Man, L.L. Cavalli-Sforza wrote:

The criteria for the definition of races – based on geographic distribution and various features of the body – yield classifications similar to those obtained using genetic markers. Use of genetic markers also shows very clearly that there are no “pure” races. Races are, in fact, generally very far from pure and, as a result, any classification of races is arbitrary, imperfect, and difficult. Yet anyone can see that there are certain relatively clear differences between a typical Caucasoid and a typical Mongoloid or a typical Negroid.

In the landmark paper The apportionment of human diversity, R. C. Lewontin found that 85% of all human genetic variation is found between individuals within a nation or tribe and only 6% between the races. Since obvious phenotypical differences exist between human populations, that 6% variation can have significant effects. Not all genetic variation is created equal.

H/T: Nick Matzke, Jerry Coyne, Larry Moran, Jonathan Marks, Jan Sapp, Razib Khan, Todd R. Disotell, Jason Antrosio, A.W.F. Edwards (pdf), Guido Barbujani and Vincenza Colonna(pdf).

55 thoughts on “Scientists On Race

  1. The bottom line is you are different from me and I you.. Because that is a scientific fact…

  2. Race, in the sense of human skin cells, is a tiny minority of the entire cell lineup within us. Ditto for genetic material.

    We know next to nothing about the microbial cells that outnumber human cells:

    … some 90 percent of the protein-encoding cells in our body are microbes … 99 percent of the functional genes in the body are microbial … exchanging messages with genes inside human cells … microbes cohabitating our body outnumber human cells by a factor of 10, making us actually “superorganisms” that use our own genetic repertoire as well as those of our microbial symbionts … We just happen to look human because our human cells are much larger than bacterial cells … no matter how you look at it, it’s high time we acknowledge that part of being human is being microbial …

    (The Human Microbiome Congress). So genetically human racial considerations are 1% of the genetics. In terms of our cellular makeup, microbes outnumber human cells by an factor of 10. So again, to focus on the minority factors of human race really is a stretch.

    Instead, we should learn then remember we are an individual ecosystem within a larger ecosystem, within a cosmos.

    Racial considerations are incredibly minuscule, thus, to focus on race as a major issue is, really, to be deluded by a lack of significant facts.

  3. The microbial majority within the human superorganism also takes part in the construction and operation of our brain:

    Microbes may indeed be subtly changing our brain early on — and for what purposes we cannot yet say … the mere fact that microorganisms can shape our minds brings up many more questions about how humans develop their identity … Microbes may indeed be subtly changing our brain early on — and for what purposes we cannot yet say … the mere fact that microorganisms can shape our minds brings up many more questions about how humans develop their identity.

    (The Human Microbiome Congress). Again, to relate our essence only to skin cell pigmentation is to consider .001 to be a big number, and to consider 99.999 to be a small number (Upside downsville baby!).

    We are far more alike than we are different, in cosmic terms.

  4. This is like a great festering boil dropped into this blogspace. Of course science can’t find a meaningful difference between races because they can’t find truly meaningful differences between man and chimpanzees: there being only about 1.5% difference in the DNA. Perhaps we need to drop this whole idea of “race” and use the proper word: “breed”. Race implies an attempt at speciation of some sort. Breed implies only a difference in size, skin, and hair coloring. The smallest chihuahua can breed without real problem (other than one of size) with the largest mastiff. Dogs is dogs: they have different temperaments which is often related to their breed. They have different sizes, shapes, personalities, colors, and even length of hair. We don’t fight over the different breeds of dogs. So why should we fight over the different breeds of man? No two men are the same; even if they are of the same breed. The only problem with the word “breed” is that it has drifted into the pejorative realm, and so we have lost a word that is more descriptive of the differences in men than the alternatives – like “race”.

  5. I think the more pertinent question is this: “What will you do with the information?”

    Let’s start with the race of red-haired people. There is a specific genetic change for naturally red hair (The MC1R gene on Chr 16); we can tell from a DNA sample if somebody has red hair. Should we treat red-heads differently, like a different race?

    I ask because the gene that codes for white skin is also a single mutation, in a single protein on Chr 15. If that can be the basis for “race,” why can’t red hair? Or genetic blindness?

    Identifying genetic variance is important for tailoring treatment to the particular morphology of a given patient. Grouping genetic differences into a package with a name is only warranted if there is a high correlation between the mutations. If a collection of mutations always occurs together, that might be an important bit of shorthand.

    But the only point of grouping is to predict something else important, meaning something we should treat differently. From a legal and scientific standpoint, race-groups are too vague to predict anything in addition to the criteria used to define them. Dark skin does not predict whether somebody will be a good lawyer or doctor, or if they need financial assistance for school, or whether they should be an engineer. All the criterion predicts is itself: If you select for dark skin, the selectees will have dark skin.

    In that sense the genetics of physical markers might be useful for identifying physical attributes of suspects in crimes; but skin color, hair color, eye color, nose structure, epicanthal eye folds, and gender are specific physical attributes (all of which can be disguised); that is not the same as a group of features lumped together as indicative of a “race.”

    So the larger question remains: What is the point of classifying people into races? We will probably find all the genetic differences that produce these physical attributes, in the next few decades. I suspect they will not be predictive of anything. So what is the point of grouping them together?

    What good does somebody hope to do with a clear scientific determination of race? The point of classification is discrimination based on correlated traits or characteristics. Such discrimination can be useful and helpful; but it is hard for me to think of any useful or helpful discrimination based on race, outside of medical risk factors that should be tested for separately anyway.

  6. I think you might take to heart your own motto for this blog: “the thing itself speaks”.

    What matters is not whether the terms used to distinguish what we have called races correspond to one previously established biological definition or another. Rather, what matters is whether these “races” (however we choose to define that term more exactly) do, in fact, exhibit different distributions of traits, and whether such differences are found on traits of social significance.

    If such socially significant traits exist, then everything else is just, as they say, semantics. The thing itself speaks. The problem of races is not going to go away, however cleverly one might seek to undermine the legitimacy of a pre-existing biological category to cover it.

    Why won’t it go away, under those circumstances?

    For two reasons:

    1. It is generally quite easy to categorize the vast majority of individuals into well known races, even on the simplest visual inspection.
    2. On the socially significant traits in which races differ in distribution, our rational expectations of members of different races will differ.

    It’s likely that the categorization into races would lapse into insignificance in the ordinary conduct of our lives if all of the differences between races were, indeed, superficial. But it’s pretty inconceivable that the categorizations will die if, instead, races differ on socially significant traits. Precisely because our rational expectations of an individual on traits we care about will differ — perhaps rather dramatically — depending on race, the natural “joints” along which we distinguish people in social and political situations will include race. It will require quite deliberate effort to counteract such expectations in the interests of fairness.

    Yes, this presents a moral, social, political, and legal quagmire.

    But that quagmire doesn’t actually recede when we bury our heads in the sand.

  7. Took a course in evol. biology, so that helped here.
    Dredd, interesting that with microbial effects on a wide spectra of organs, etc.
    As said, we are all prototypes. No standard models.
    It all comes down to “I’m me; your you. And if you fuck with me, I’ll kill you; even if your name is Eve. Gimme back my rib, baby.”
    So in extension of that position we fight for ourselves.
    Only thing is we got this far by cooperation also.
    But we vs them persists.

  8. candid_observer1, March 4, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Would you kindly list a few races that are easily identifiable through external signs and their associated social traits which can be assigned to them in your or another sources opinion. Also can you exclude in a statistical significant way these traits from occuring in other “races” you have defined?
    What is the statistical significance (?) associated between a specific race and a specific social trait?

    Eagerly looking forward to your answer.

  9. The revolution in the understanding of the human microbiome, even though that revolution is embryonic at this time, has caused scientists to say:

    … these findings call for a complete re-examination of human physiology and immunology. Attributes that were assumed to be human traits have been shown to result from human–microbe interactions.

    (Hypothesis: Microbes …, emphasis added). In other words, the citation to papers that have not taken the new science into consideration may be talking about human-microbe interactions, not as was once thought, human cell or genetic activity.

  10. @candid: It is generally quite easy to categorize the vast majority of individuals into well known races, even on the simplest visual inspection.

    Only because that is how culture evolved. It is also easy to categorize people by height, but you don’t call those “races.” It is also easier to categorize people by eye color than their shade of skin or the shape of their nose, but we do not call blue-eyed people a different race than green-eyed, or brown-eyed.

    Or natural hair color. For all of these examples, they are unchangeable physiological differences. Why aren’t THOSE visual characteristics, height and eye color and hair color, the basis for racial classification? Because of culture. It was culture that prioritized skin color and facial characteristics as the definition of race.

    In the ancient world, they were strongly correlated to locale, culture, language, aggression, and interactive attitudes towards others that made a big difference. They no longer do that, if you meet a Mongol in a courtroom you should not assume they are hostile and will kill you: That would be sooooo first century of you.

    Visual race classification had strong cultural predictive powers a few thousand years ago, but since then has lost it: the world is homogenized, race is no longer predictive of anything. It was meaningless evolutionary drift due to allopatry back then, and racial distinctions will likely be gone in the next ten or twenty thousand years or so.

  11. I wonder how long it will be before the surly and snarky attacks commence. I have been waiting since 2 am est for the round about free for all. Please do not dissatisfied me.

    Cordially,

    No Id Please

  12. idealist707 1, March 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Took a course in evol. biology, so that helped here.
    Dredd, interesting that with microbial effects on a wide spectra of organs, etc.
    As said, we are all prototypes. No standard models.
    It all comes down to “I’m me; your you. And if you fuck with me, I’ll kill you; even if your name is Eve. Gimme back my rib, baby.”
    So in extension of that position we fight for ourselves.
    Only thing is we got this far by cooperation also.
    But we vs them persists.
    ========================================
    Indeed.

    Gene H has hit on a socially relevant topic here, and science is adding vastness to the dimensions of this subject matter.

    Since our microbe-symbionts take part in brain construction and brain activity, especially the amygdala, where some of the behaviors you speak of are generally controlled, these affectations may in fact be a billion year old war of microbial agents:

    Probably 98 percent of your reasoning is unconscious – what your brain is doing behind the scenes. Reason is inherently emotional. You can’t even choose a goal, much less form a plan and carry it out, without a sense that it will satisfy you, not dis­gust you. Fear and anxiety will affect your plans and your ac­tions. You act differently, and plan differently, out of hope and joy than out of fear and anxiety.

    (The Toxic Bridge …, quoting Lakoff). The microbial cells that outnumber other human cells by 10 to 1 or so, do not have a “race”, but they may have wars … within us.

    It is a new field of study I would recommend to young college students.

  13. Yes, thank you, Nal.
    An excellent way to bring up the subject without all the old baggage.
    But as often said: liars figure and so do people who speak from own opinions. Hope it is clear which candid person I am pointing at.

    Hoping for a factual reply and not a rage.

  14. Good Lord, do I really have to argue the point that, in the conduct of our ordinary lives, we quite readily categorize people into distinct races? Aren’t we EXTREMELY good at categorizing people as being, say, of greater than 75% SubSaharan ancestry? How often might we mistake such an individual for someone of, say, 90%+ European ancestry? Yes, of course there exist borderline cases of different degrees of ancestry, but why must we stick our heads in the sand as to these absolutely clear distinctions?

    And, if we can and do make these distinctions on a regular basis (and only simple dishonesty will pretend that we don’t) AND it happens that such distinctions ALSO correspond to differences in distribution on some socially important traits, then how we do we get out of the quagmire I described?

    Whether such differences in distribution on socially important traits is a matter to be established via science. Suffice it to say for now, however, that there isn’t a single good reason in the world to believe that they don’t exist.

  15. Thank you, Dredd.

    This abiogenesis demonstration might interest you, it moved a bit fast for me but you may find it old stuff. Concepts from a Nobel winner, although that was for work done years ago. Now it’s abio since 16 years.

    Thank goodness for our microbial symbionts: chloroplasts for plants and our little energy factories whose name is unreachable for the moment. They have their own DNA and come from the mother. Jävlar!

    An idea, can we improve our contact with our fears? I feel I can at least effect them, although it is difficult reaching a lasting effect.
    The concept that fear and pleasure are primary in all planned work is EXTREMELY interesting to me.

  16. Tony,

    ” It was meaningless evolutionary drift due to allopatry back then, and racial distinctions will likely be gone in the next ten or twenty thousand years or so.”

    True. As Larry Niven noted in the Known Space tales, we’ll all eventually look “vaguely Chinese”. To me, unless they are an extraterrestrial, a person’s race is one of the least interesting things about them. Cultural differences are much more telling and informative to their character.

  17. “race is no longer predictive of anything”

    I don’t think that is true. Blacks have much higher rates of sickle cell anemia, for example, and also have higher rates of certain metabolic profiles such that race must be a randomization necessity in clinical trials.

    Ashkenazi Jews have higher rates of certain birth defects. Australian aborigines have a high occurrence of an ability to restrict blood flow to extremities during sleep, thus preserving core temperatures.

    So, besides cultural differences, there are biological ones as well which are predictive.

  18. candid_observer 1, March 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Good Lord, do I really have to argue the point that, in the conduct of our ordinary lives, we quite readily categorize people into distinct races?

    Whether such differences in distribution on socially important traits is a matter to be established via science. Suffice it to say for now, however, that there isn’t a single good reason in the world to believe that they don’t exist.
    ===============================
    Many things “exist” that do not have a valid basis in scientific reality.

    One example is that the denial of global warming induced climate change “exists” socially, but has no basis in scientific reality.

    Race is another social concept, more so than a valid scientific concept.

    Hell, as my comments up-thread point out, we do not yet have a valid understanding of what “being human” means, much less pretending that we know imagined subcategories labeled as “race”, especially in light of rapidly developing research about human-microbe symbiosis.

  19. ” It was meaningless evolutionary drift due to allopatry back then, and racial distinctions will likely be gone in the next ten or twenty thousand years or so.”

    Why you might believe that all differences are “meaningless evolutionary drift” eludes me entirely. Obviously, pigmentation differences aren’t meaningless evolutionary drift — and we have no reason to believe that other traits which aren’t superficial haven’t also come about via differential selection.

    In any case, I’m worried about what we do in the next ten or twenty thousand years.

  20. candid_observer1, March 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you for a congenial reply.
    I understand ýou to say you have no more facts to offer, however rest your argument on a obvious premise, as you see it.
    We’ll just have to wait and see what science determines.

  21. candid_observer1, March 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    PS As yóu may understand my wish is that we different subspecies can learn to tolerate and otherwise threatening.
    In a way it is no different than the specialization of tasks which has developed from before civilisation began. Tools such as axe heads were traded over long distances before cultivation began.
    We need peace more than competition at this point is my opinion.

  22. Damn program.

    PS As yóu may understand my wish is that we different subspecies can learn to tolerate our differences and not feel threatened by them..
    In a way it is no different than the specialization of tasks which has developed from before civilisation began. Tools such as axe heads were traded over long distances before cultivation began.
    We need peace more than competition at this point is my opinion.

  23. Little Johnny: Mom, How come I’m a different breed than you?

    Mom: Well, Johnny…from what I can remember of that night, it wouldn’t surprise me if you were a different species.

  24. Dredd,
    Not in terms of “winning”, but in terms of enlightenment it only gets better and better. Particularly the “not knowing what the human is”.

    Remind me to tell you about the male and female chimp that “cooperated”.

  25. idealist707,

    There most certainly are other facts to offer on this debate, though it is of course an entirely different discussion to get into them in relevant detail.

    A survey of some of the evidence, for and against, on one very critical socially important trait might be found here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_intelligence

    I will simply say that, for many, many years, I myself believed that, on this issue, the most reasonable view was an agnostic one: that there was no compelling evidence that races differ on their distributions of IQ due to differences in genetic distributions.

    That agnosticism, didn’t, however, survive a careful look at the full mass of evidence relevant to the issue.

  26. Candid Observer,
    Not to be insistent, but you give me; as I give you points on which we differ.
    Evolution, due to whatever process, is unguided; ie a random process.
    There is no point to any genetic change, that is accepted now.
    Only survival value is the selection between individuals, and to some degree between larger groups.
    Maybe you have taken a course in evolutional biology. I found it fascinating.

  27. idealist707 1, March 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Thank you, Dredd.

    This abiogenesis demonstration might interest you, it moved a bit fast for me but you may find it old stuff. Concepts from a Nobel winner, although that was for work done years ago. Now it’s abio since 16 years …
    ======================================
    Nice music in the background. One shortfall in that presentation is that there is no definition of “life”. If one does not know what something is, it is axiomatic that its origin can’t be isolated.

    There is a series that begins at a better place for contemplating the beginning of “life”:

    “Our cells, and the cells of all organisms, are composed of molecular machines. These machines are built of component parts, each of which contributes a partial function or structural element to the machine. How such sophisticated, multi-component machines could evolve has been somewhat mysterious, and highly controversial.” Professor Lithgow said … Dr Clarke said: “There are a lot of fundamental questions about the origins of life and many people think they are questions about biology. But for life to have evolved, you have to have a moment when non-living things become living – everything up to that point is chemistry.”

    (Putting A Face On Machine Mutation). The elements, at the atomic level, are machines of various degrees of complication.

    They “come together” to form molecules, which are nothing more than more complicated machines.

    According to current cosmology, these machines came into existence before organic material, which is machines + more “complex organization” = organics … which at some point we call “life.”

    Do machines have “race”, do “organics” have race, and if so where does it originate?

    I think the notion of “race” is a subconscious construct, emanating from ancient fears, ancient baggage, and inflamed by the amygdala at some point.

  28. Candid Observer

    As to IQ tests, we accept I hope that they are culturally biased and thus contested as to relevance in international use.

    Would you please clarify what you mean by social traits. I’m not sure I understand what seems clear to you. Can you give me some examples, please.

  29. Dredd,
    Please let me have the hubris to suggest you look at it another time, watching to pick up the mentions of functions which are found in “life” and are necessary acquisitions in the process of creating the first living microbes.

    One is growth, often by disadvantaging another competing form.
    Another is reproduction. A third is energy processing, a fourth is a cell like structure without protein or fat based membranes. It all began without proteins, they were too complicated. Etc.

    I’m sure if you look for the functions as they are revealed, one by one, you’ll understand what the video means by way of life.

  30. Dredd,
    So much you say is rich in concepts.
    Fear, I shall state, is based on a proven by experience and genetically selected fear of the unknown.
    An example seen in a film on zebras showed how the herd reacted to a foal who had the misfortune in their migration to fall in a mud pool.
    I think you can supply the rest yourself.

    Only when the mud began to wear off so the “sameness” began to reappear was the foal accepted again. Not even its bleatings had summoned the mother.

  31. idealist707 1, March 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Dredd,
    Please let me have the hubris to suggest you look at it another time, watching to pick up the mentions of functions which are found in “life” and are necessary acquisitions in the process of creating the first living microbes.

    One is growth, often by disadvantaging another competing form.
    Another is reproduction. A third is energy processing, a fourth is a cell like structure without protein or fat based membranes. It all began without proteins, they were too complicated. Etc.

    I’m sure if you look for the functions as they are revealed, one by one, you’ll understand what the video means by way of life.
    ===========================
    I will reiterate part of a quote in my comment up-thread:

    Dr Clarke said: “There are a lot of fundamental questions about the origins of life and many people think they are questions about biology. But for life to have evolved, you have to have a moment when non-living things become living – everything up to that point is chemistry.”

    The first order of business is not biology, rather it is chemistry and cosmology.

    So “growth”, “competition”, and other notions must be first addressed in that context, assuming machines can grow, compete, and/or reproduce.

    An understanding of how simple machines first formed (electrons, neutrons, protons became atoms), then became more complex machines (molecules), then highly specialized machines (e.g. prions, phages, and viruses).

    Machine evolution is the first play, the second play is organics, and in the context of race, if we can’t find its origin there, or anywhere other than an origin in the “human race”, why can’t we can hypothesize that “race” is a human notion, not a scientifically provable notion?

    Whether or not we can move such a hypothesis on into a theory is what we are discussing here, it would seem.

  32. idealist707 1, March 4, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Dredd,
    So much you say is rich in concepts.
    Fear, I shall state, is based on a proven by experience and genetically selected fear of the unknown.
    An example seen in a film on zebras showed how the herd reacted to a foal who had the misfortune in their migration to fall in a mud pool.
    I think you can supply the rest yourself.

    Only when the mud began to wear off so the “sameness” began to reappear was the foal accepted again. Not even its bleatings had summoned the mother.
    ==================================
    Interesting.

    That goes back to your up-thread statements:

    It all comes down to “I’m me; your you. And if you fuck with me, I’ll kill you; even if your name is Eve. Gimme back my rib, baby.”
    So in extension of that position we fight for ourselves.
    Only thing is we got this far by cooperation also.
    But we vs them persists.

    The muddy zebra was no longer one of the zebra “race”.

    Perhaps this notion of “race” originated in pure fear rather than in human fear alone, then was passed along.

    I would not call that natural selection, I would call it random mutation in the form of a mistake.

    If enough young zebras fell into mud, thereby becoming another “race”, and thereafter were not cleansed by rain, etc., the zebra herd could be in trouble as a result of their mistaken fear.

  33. @Roger Lambert: I don’t think that is true. Blacks have much higher rates of sickle cell anemia, for example…

    The key words are higher rate, the race is not determinative.

    However, you missed the point entirely: In 1000 BC the difference between races was highly correlated with their mode of interaction (cooperative or hostile) and their cultural expectations.

    That is far less true today, especially if you are meeting people at random in, say, a store, or a business conference. For example, for about two years (as part of a contract) I managed a person of Chinese ancestry raised in Mexico by Mexican parents. He speaks fluent Spanish and English and zero Chinese; he is a Mexican citizen, technically, culturally and emotionally. If you judge this individual on sight, whatever you think you gain by classifying him as “Chinese” will be false.

    Conversely, I am friends with a guy of Native American ancestry, whose family was military: From the age of 3 to 17, his father was stationed in Germany, and he speaks and reads unaccented German like a native. You are not going to guess that from looking at him.

    Race is not determinative of medical condition, and is irrelevant in meritocratic terms, it does not determine ability, attitude, or propensity. More importantly, race has lost much of its value for determining cultural or social information about somebody in order to guide one’s interactions with them.

  34. Dredd,
    But if they were not afraid and were as a consequence eaten up, then their genes would be removed from the gene pool. Thus fear of the unknown was a survival plus, as it promoted running from the fearful thing. Shall we also draw the conclusion that foals who fall into mud pool are also deselected.

    Or course if it could fly or hop 10 miles a hop, it woud also be good from a survival from attack, but might have other negative consequences. Not to be facetious mind you. They say most genetic changes don’t promote survival. Shall we conclude on the basis of no data, that fleeing fearful objects was strongly pro-survival?

  35. Tony C.

    Hear, hear.
    “More importantly, race has lost much of its value for determining cultural or social information about somebody in order to guide one’s interactions with them.”

    Would this wera always true.

    I get this delivered every day by my social helpers who assist me at home.
    My being American helps get over their reticence when questioned by Swedes. Sorry forgot to mention this is about the 50 percent who are immigrants.

    Never had a dumb immigrant, nor for that matter a dumb swede either. Guess the job requires more, or the scarcity of jobs for all leads to overqualified help for me.

    At any rate, all my discussions, when they are truly willing and not just polite, are very giving.

    I think I posted something up the thread about my kurdish helper with a CEO capacity. Look if you like.

  36. Tony,

    Race is nice not determinetive of stupidity….. That comes natural in all races…..

  37. idealist707 1, March 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Dredd,
    But if they were not afraid and were as a consequence eaten up, then their genes would be removed from the gene pool …
    ===================================
    I don’t think the little zebra with mud on it would eat the herd.

    The herd’s fear was not an advancement, any more than paranoia today, generated by The Ways of Bernays, is an advancement.

    Again, as I pointed out up-thread, in humans the gene pool is 1%, at most, “human” genes, and 99% microbe genes.

    You must deal with the most in any reputable hypothesis.

    That whole gene thingy must be revised, as was stated up-thread, because “Things Have Changed” (Bob Dylan).

    Survival of the most-paranoid is not “life”, and in most cases it does not even equate to bare survival IMO.

  38. Roger Lambert 1, March 4, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    “race is no longer predictive of anything”

    I don’t think that is true.
    =================================
    Forked man speak with white tongue.

  39. Tony C said:

    “The key words are higher rate, the race is not determinative….

    So what? You will not find any race or subgroup where the population is completely homozygous for any trait. However, the higher rate is indeed important. Please remember that this was the phrase that I objected to:

    ““race is no longer predictive of anything””

    Obviously, race IS predictive of certain things, and a few of them are important in an evolutionary sense because they lead to a reduction in reproductive success.

  40. Nal,

    I know I mentioned this earlier, up thread, but thank you so much for following up on that link you posted last week with this column.

    The entire thread has been a joy to read from beginning, well … to whenever it ends.

  41. Blouise,

    Thanks. The evolutionary blogosphere has been very active this past week with posts about race, all starting with Jerry Coyne’s post. The differences of opinion are somewhat artificial, like any race classification.

  42. Nal,

    Well kiddo, when you can get the 5 grandkids in the 18-24 year old age group off the topic of skiing and on to the topic of “Scientists On Race” for more than a half an hour during the family’s Sunday dinner, you have moved a couple of mountains!

  43. What differences do occur seem to be related to localized environmental factors (maintaining core temp./adding immunity for malaria etc.) and aren’t relevant to cultural expectations. Even if my neighbor to the immediate north was a sub-Saharan African with sickle-cell and my neighbor to the immediate south was a First Australian and could maintain a higher core temp. in the cold while sleeping, those traits have nothing to do with anything relevant to the society or localized culture we live in.

    Aside from some medical uses the meaning of race is, for practical purposes, without any existential meaning. That to me is what is meant by the use of the word “predictive” and to that idea I subscribe completely.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428123931.htm

  44. Great post, Nal.

    Some people are really bothered by the idea, that race is an artificial concept often used to stereotype people. Those people are known as racists.

  45. Really worthwhile post; Nal.

    Where do you shop,ideas, you mentioned there were several places?

    Any idea how much is career-jockeying and/or fund seeking behind the ideas compared to to real scientific conviction or essential value in the ideas?

    Lastly, permit an opinion on categorization in general.
    How much of categorization is driven by the need for finding shared characteristics so as to establish a nameable group. This reduction of quantities to be handled by our limited brain capacity, is achieved by grouping. This then serves as an aid in theorizing, synthesizing higher level concepts, and perhaps greater insight.

    The point being, as you have shown, that categorization can be problematic, in many ways. Even, as you show, the category can be elusiive in its definition. And pursuing them can lead to lots of work, but little fruit, other than ones accruing to those who pursue.

    That it leads to concepts which are misused socially is unfortunate.
    Women as a category leading to unfortunated societal results is another such category. Do rights relate to gender? Some think so.
    Or are they related to personhood.
    I support the latter.

  46. Lotta,
    Looked at the link on malaria. Question remaining for me is if the carbon monoxide protects against lesion formation, BUT the life cycle of the plasmodium is not effected. So the plasmodium may increase in number in the host? What stops that process? Is the host always a carrier then if infected once??.
    Can you help me there.
    Thanks for the link, BTW. Most interesting to find protection in the form of counteracting effects, not the organism or its infection modes. That was new to me.

  47. idealist, I can’t help at all, I have no training. I started reading about the ‘virtue’ of sickle-cell anemia a bit ago but aside from understanding the bottom line I can’t explain the mechanics. Sorry.

  48. lotta,

    hey, i thought this was a medblog. Sorry for my stupidity.

    Always looking for folks on my hobby kicks. Back to the civics class and Legal Rudimentals for Dummies 101.

    Any other non-law nerds here besides Dredd and Tony?

Comments are closed.