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Author Topic: Are there human races?  (Read 1721 times)

Offline Mikemikev

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Are there human races?
« on: 29/05/2016 22:56:20 »
Does biology show there are human races/subspecies?

I found the following source from a biologist, Ernst Mayr:

Quote
Let me begin with race. There is a widespread feeling that the word "race" indicates something undesirable and that it should be left out of all discussions. This leads to such statements as "there are no human races."
Those who subscribe to this opinion are obviously ignorant of modern biology. Races are not something specifically human; races occur in a large percentage of species of animals. You can read in every textbook on evolution that geographic races of animals, when isolated from other races of their species, may in due time become new species. The terms 11 subspecies" and "geographic race" are used interchangeably in this taxonomic literature.


 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Are there human races?
« Reply #1 on: 30/05/2016 09:15:43 »
The distinctions of classification between living things are arbitrary, and made for convenience.

Only clones have identical DNA, so at the lowest level of classification you could say that every living thing belongs to a unique class. However that isn't terribly helpful if you want to run a farm, where the distinction between peas and carrots is important, and some potatoes are better than others for making chips. Yet when it comes to winter feeding of pigs, all vegetables are pretty much interchangeable.   

"Race" may have value in some applications. If you are exporting clothes to Japan, you would use a different mix of sizes than if you were exporting to the USA. But it isn't all that useful! Many years ago I was involved in equipping the national breast screening service with x-ray machines. The underlying research was done in Sweden so we used the same equipment. It just did not work in the first UK trial district, which had a large Polish community. Are Swedes and Poles a different race? I doubt that many taxonomists would say so, but in terms of breast size statistics, i.e. what mattered, they were completely different.   

The magic word is "statistics". Properly used, stats allow you to make useful inferences about a population from a sample. Improperly used, they trick you into making invalid assumptions about an individual. Or spending a lot of money on the wrong sort of x-ray machine.
 

Offline Colin2B

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Re: Are there human races?
« Reply #2 on: 30/05/2016 09:56:48 »
Does biology show there are human races/subspecies?
Race and species/subspecies are very different.

All current humans belong to one species - Homo sapiens. There were other species but they died out (or were killed off?)

Race is not well defined as a grouping and doesn't relate to a species or subspecies.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(human_categorization)
 

Online Bored chemist

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Re: Are there human races?
« Reply #3 on: 30/05/2016 11:33:22 »
Since race is a social, rather than scientific concept, to decide on whether animals have "races" or not, we would need to ask the animals their opinion.
That's just plain silly.

Race has little if any meaning in science.

BTW, is this about you?
https://mikemikevwatch.wordpress.com/

 

Offline puppypower

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Re: Are there human races?
« Reply #4 on: 30/05/2016 12:29:21 »
If you go to the web site, Ancestry.com, for $100, they will do an ancestry based DNA test using your DNA. This test that will tell you all the countries of origin of your ancestral DNA. There are subtle genetic differences between having ancestors born in France, Germany or Scotland, to give an example. These results are added to their DNA search data base to make it easier for future clients to draw family trees.

How are these genetic differences any different from a two species of birds, who have evolved subtle differences, due to geographical differences?

Political correctness can impact science. Science is not self funding and depends on Government and Industry for the lion's share of its resources. This lack and need means, Science is sometimes under the boot of PC. If you fail to follow, one will see organized protests and/or no funding. It is taboo to point this out, but young scientists need a heads up.

If we applied the PC standard used for humans; difference in ancestral DNA don't count, onto animals, evolution would be harder to see. For example, there would be far fewer species of birds since most would be lumped as, bird. In this case, the dual standard; different for birds, this makes evolution much easier to see, so it can better compete with creation. If we used the human standard for bird to get the one bird species, this makes it harder to differentiate evolution from creation. It would interesting to use one standard to see how the cards fall.

If you look at humans, their outward appearances are very diverse from height, to weight, to skin color, to head size, hair style, to muscularity of the body, etc. If this was birds, the dual standard would say there are hundreds of species walking the streets of New York City. Maybe this can be helpful to PC, since the more differences we define, the harder it will be to keep track, therefore differences get boring and be ignored.
 

Online Bored chemist

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Re: Are there human races?
« Reply #5 on: 30/05/2016 18:29:39 »
If you need to ask questions like  "How are these genetic differences any different from a two species of birds, who have evolved subtle differences, due to geographical differences? "

Then you need to start by doing some research on what words mean.

"Political correctness can impact science. Science is not self funding and depends on Government and Industry for the lion's share of its resources. This lack and need means, Science is sometimes under the boot of PC. "
If that were ture, and it's debatable- at best- then it still wouldn't matter.
Industry is not generally concerned about  being PC so it can(and does) fund what it likes.

"If we applied the PC standard used for humans; difference in ancestral DNA don't count, onto animals, evolution would be harder to see. For example, there would be far fewer species of birds since most would be lumped as, bird. "

Just plain untrue.


"If you look at humans, their outward appearances are very diverse from height, to weight, to skin color, to head size, hair style, to muscularity of the body, etc"
There is, indeed, huge diversity- but the diversity within each supposed "race" is pretty much the same as that between members of so-called "different" races. That's why the "races"  have little scientific value.

"If this was birds, the dual standard would say there are hundreds of species walking the streets of New York City. "
No it would not.


Most of what you say seems to rely on you failing to understand what a species is. To be fair, there's some room for debate, but essentially it's simple.
members of different species can not have viable,., fertile children together.

Now, since there are no groups of people who can't successfully have children, there is only one species of humans.
If you think that a robin can successfully f*** an ostrich then you clearly have no idea what you are on about- and that's what it would take for all birds to be classed as one species.

Why not stick to fields where you know what you are talking about?

 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Are there human races?
« Reply #6 on: 30/05/2016 20:00:35 »
Since race is a social, rather than scientific concept, to decide on whether animals have "races" or not, we would need to ask the animals their opinion.
That's just plain silly.
Not sure about that. I used to own two retreivers, a golden and a flatcoat. They are actually genetically close, the golden strain having been bred from the erstwhile popular flatties in the 19th century. Anyway, these two dogs would only associate with other gundogs, regardless of size and color: they would happily play with spaniels, pointers, poodles and setters, but ignored terriers or guard dogs. Race or class distinction?
 

Online Bored chemist

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Re: Are there human races?
« Reply #7 on: 30/05/2016 21:52:35 »
Since race is a social, rather than scientific concept, to decide on whether animals have "races" or not, we would need to ask the animals their opinion.
That's just plain silly.
Not sure about that. I used to own two retreivers, a golden and a flatcoat. They are actually genetically close, the golden strain having been bred from the erstwhile popular flatties in the 19th century. Anyway, these two dogs would only associate with other gundogs, regardless of size and color: they would happily play with spaniels, pointers, poodles and setters, but ignored terriers or guard dogs. Race or class distinction?
Do you know the story of clever Hans?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clever_Hans
Are you able to rule out a similar effect?
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Are there human races?
« Reply #8 on: 30/05/2016 23:37:19 »
Come on, BC, I'm a scientist! We used to exercise the dogs off-lead in a park with umpteen other animals, and just watch them from a distance.

Quite irrelevant to the OP, but kind of more interesting:

1. We lived in a road with unfenced front gardens. People had various stone animals in the gardens. This pair, when on-lead, would try to attack a stone cat but not a stone badger - every night!

2. The golden retriever, whilst friendly towards clipped poodles, hated curly-haired dogs. I thought this was merely amusing until we met two little girls, probably aged 3 - 5, when out walking, and the dog attacked the girl with curly hair, who had done nothing to antagonise or even acknowledge the dogs. This dog lived 24/7 with children, but my kids, and all their friends, had very straight hair. Fortunately no harm was done, and she never attacked another human, but continued to snarl at curly-haired dogs until she died.   

Any explanation will be gratefully received!
 

Offline Collapsing Jack

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Re: Are there human races?
« Reply #9 on: 10/10/2016 17:42:18 »
Yes, of course there are.

Race is a subspecific or infrasubspecific taxonomic level defined by shared ancestry (Darwin) or genetic similarity (Mayr). This is pretty much how we define all levels of taxa.

It's really a no-brainer that you can sort humans into groups based on these criteria. Whether variation is mainly clustered (it is) or clinal one can still divide clines, as we do with ring species.

There is no true "number" of races. One can subdivide as many times as one wants.

But if you want to get maximum "right on" PC credentials as well as showing how au fait you are with the "latest" science, you can say "race is just a social construct". But you need to trot out some kind of non-sequitur "science" fact to justify that. Try Lewontin's fallacy, impossibility of counting races, clines, the existence of hybrids, Fst, and much more. None of these invalidate subspecies in other animals, but your audience won't know.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Are there human races?
« Reply #10 on: 10/10/2016 18:00:07 »
There is no true "number" of races. One can subdivide as many times as one wants.

which pretty much confirms the statement that race is a social rather than a scientific construct. Trouble is that there is no unique definition of species either, which makes the whole of taxonomy a social pastime. Eddington said "all science is either physics or stamp collecting". But then stamps are intentionally designed to be distinguishable, not the product of quasicontinuous evolution, so it's more a question of attaching convenient labels to things.
 

Offline Collapsing Jack

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Re: Are there human races?
« Reply #11 on: 10/10/2016 18:05:56 »
There is no true "number" of races. One can subdivide as many times as one wants.

which pretty much confirms the statement that race is a social rather than a scientific construct.

Of course it doesn't. A scientific or natural construct classifies according to some deeply informative quality which does not cross-cut categories. Ancestry is a natural classification criterion. We can divide ancestry classifications indefinitely. Is phylogenetics unscientific? What do you even mean by scientific? Is everything a "social construct"? Is color or length? If so, why even use the term if it distinguishes nothing? "Social construct" means "not a concept in line with biological practice". And it's not. "Social construct" is a PC way to imply "unscientific" and ultimately "wrong". Unfortunately it's nonsense.
« Last Edit: 10/10/2016 18:09:53 by Collapsing Jack »
 

Offline Semaphore

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Re: Are there human races?
« Reply #12 on: 10/10/2016 18:14:59 »
There seem to be some biological differences between groups with different ancestral histories. Doctors have long recognised that and adjusted their work accordingly. Then you can look at sport and count the number of 100M sprint champions who do not have West-African ancestry, or the number of distance runners who do not have East-African ancestry, or the number of black swimming champions, etc, etc. Then you can Google the ethnicity of science/maths Nobel Prize winners and discover that Jews are massively over-represented, and check the scholarly achievements of Asian-Americans.
« Last Edit: 10/10/2016 18:48:04 by Semaphore »
 

Offline Collapsing Jack

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Re: Are there human races?
« Reply #13 on: 10/10/2016 21:13:52 »
There seem to be some biological differences between groups with different ancestral histories. Doctors have long recognised that and adjusted their work accordingly. Then you can look at sport and count the number of 100M sprint champions who do not have West-African ancestry, or the number of distance runners who do not have East-African ancestry, or the number of black swimming champions, etc, etc. Then you can Google the ethnicity of science/maths Nobel Prize winners and discover that Jews are massively over-represented, and check the scholarly achievements of Asian-Americans.

Not to mention the seemingly endless creativity and achievement of the White race.
 

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Re: Are there human races?
« Reply #13 on: 10/10/2016 21:13:52 »

 

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