Biologically speaking, please define race .

  • Thread starter GlamGein
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  • #36
hi The_oMega

I typed in on Google "race biology" and got 480,000 hits. Not all were race in this context, but most that I perused were.
Here is an interesting article on this controversial topic:

http://www.racearchives.com/archived/viewnews.asp?newsID=408931910992
 
  • #37
GlamGein
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amos:
I appreciate the links. This last one didn't convince me of anything, though. Again, its just "I think one way" vs "I think the other way", which is the main reason that biological race is an arguement in the first place. Some people just can't accept facts.
 
  • #38
"Some people just can't accept facts"

Hi Glamgein:
I think you are being a little hard on yourself. You did finally accept that species do exist, didn't you? So, I think you are making a little progress.
Amos Behavin
 
  • #39
Another God
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Species exist..races exist... meh, whatever. UNder the evolution paradigm, if you are to be true to reality, then you have to accept that Species is an artificially placed line, just as races are on humans.

If you look at Nature in its full 4 dimensional splendour, then you will see that we are all one organism. How can u divide it up, and claim to be objectively correct in your divisions?
 
  • #40
All one organism? Please explain. It seems that your premise is that no distinctions can be made between one type of organism and another. So, if one is walking in the woods, encountering a mouse and encountering a grizzly bear should elicit the same response?
No lines can be drawn, so the whole exercise of assigning categories is futile. You do that all the time (in the real world). According to your logic, one should not distinguish between red and blue because there is a color called purple. There then is no distinction between the ocean and dry land, because there is no clear line of demarcation on the beach. If you actually, really, truly believed what you wrote, it is, in my opinion, a miracle that you are still alive. You should have walked into the ocean (or what others recognize as the ocean) or stepped in front of a speeding car (there is no "fast" or "slow" because speed varies continuously). But, what the hell, if the grizzly bear eats you that's no problem because you and it are the same organism.
 
  • #41
Monique
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Well, I wouldn't say one organism, but AG refers to that we are all made up of the same four letter code ACGT. All genetic diversity is based on the sequence of only those four letters. If you look at a mycoplasm or an elephant, both have the same foundation.
 
  • #42
Same DNA components, yes

Hi Monique: Perhaps that is what he meant. But, please consider this definition of an organism:
"A living entity that has (or can develop) the ability to act or function independently."

I propose that being made of the same kinds of molecules doesn't mean that two entities are the same organism. Two dogs are two different organisms out in the real, tangible world. Likewise two, say, loblolly pines. Both are composed of identical molecules, yet they are not the same organism.
Perhaps on some abstract plane it is somehow true that all living things are the same organism. But, we must live our lives out here in the real world, where categorizing creatures and other entities is important.
Another example: There is more variation within the species Canis familiaris, than there is between it and the Timber Wolf, Canis lupus.
Now, if one encounters a growling Canid baring it's fangs, should one make no distinction, and therefore take the exact same action, whether it be a Chihuahua or a Timber Wolf?
Thank you,
Amos Behavin
 
  • #43
russ_watters
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Originally posted by amos behavin
Two dogs are two different organisms out in the real, tangible world. Likewise two, say, loblolly pines. Both are composed of identical molecules, yet they are not the same organism.
I'm thinking that was bad grammar. He didn't mean we were all one single individual organism, but one TYPE of organism. That is what the discussion was about - TYPES (groups, classifications, etc) of organisms.
 
  • #44
Maybe on some level we all are the same type of organism. But, please consider the example of the Chihuahua and the Timber Wolf. If one encounters a snarling, hungry Timber Wolf, should one say "Oh well, that organism is fundamentally no different from a Chihuahua"?

Amos Behavin
 
  • #45
O Great One
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Species do in fact exist.

Species do in fact exist. Members of the same species are capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. Where's the confusion?
 
  • #46
russ_watters
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Originally posted by O Great One
Species do in fact exist. Members of the same species are capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. Where's the confusion?
Scroll back a couple of pages. Not all animals in the same species can breed and some not in the same species can breed.
 
  • #47
O Great One
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Any examples?

If two animals can't interbreed, why would you conclude that they're members of the same species? Conversly, If two animals can interbreed why would you conclude that they're members of different species? Can you give a specific example?
 
  • #48
GlamGein
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I will agree that a species concept is useful, and can be justified, bioligically, ecologically, etc.
My previous statement merely said that the article posted proved absolutely nothing. Of course there is debate in the scientific field about "race", but those that vie for biological race are wrong. Thats my opinion, which is based on observable biological facts.
 
  • #49
GlamGein
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amos: please answer...

What would make me white. biologically. You have neglected to give hard answers about what makes a person "white" and what makes them "black", if those are two of the main races there are...
also, if I am a white american, shouldn't that make me genetically closer to a german, than to an african american?
thanks!!
Glam
 
  • #50
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Originally posted by amos behavin
But, what the hell, if the grizzly bear eats you that's no problem because you and it are the same organism.
Or even better, it hardly matters because its all made from protons neutrons and electrons. Nothings changed right?

You don't get it though. Have you thought about the biological tree of evolution in its four dimensional aspect? Just take that moment to think about it. And you will notice that IT is a creature growing (in some aspect).
It is true, that there is no distinct line between blue and red, but that doesn't mean I can't generally tell the difference between them. It is also true that there is no distinct line between the ocean and the beach. But that doesn't mean I can't generally tell the difference between the ocean and the beach. There is no distinct line anywhere in biology, but that doesn't mean we can't recognise things as being different.

This is all important to remember because people get so damn caught up all the time in trying to distinguish where we should draw line x. As if its a vitally important line to be drawn. Maybe it is important...but asking where it lies, as if it actually exists, is simply a mistake of understanding. Lines to not exist in nature. Lines are created by humans to make our lives easier.

There is no distinct line between being a human and being an ape ancestor....Sure, you can tell them apart, but at no point can you say 'Ah huh. Thats where they seperate.' Because such a point can only ever be created by humans, for our own wishes...not because it actually exists.
 
  • #51
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Originally posted by Monique
Well, I wouldn't say one organism, but AG refers to that we are all made up of the same four letter code ACGT. All genetic diversity is based on the sequence of only those four letters. If you look at a mycoplasm or an elephant, both have the same foundation.

I'll try to explain it this way.

Humans start out as an egg. One egg cell, with two copies of your Genetic Code in it. That egg divides into two identical cells. Are those two cells two organisms, or one organism?

Over time this dividing continues and continues. When they are born, it is normal to consider them a 'person' who belongs to the human race. But are they really one organism? Or a collection of billions of organisms?

Over the course of the groing of their body, the billions of cellular organisms which make up their body die and are replaaced over and over again. But they remain. So, again I ask, are they billions of organisms, or are they one organism? If they are one organism, are they now a new organism?

Sometime further down the track, they have sex, get pregnant. Do you know what happens when they get pregnant? One of their cells divided in a slightly different way, so that it only had one copy of their DNA instead of two, and then an external source of DNA was added in a complimentary fashion to their own. That single cell then starts dividing. Just like everyother cell in their body. Is that cell an organism? Or is it just another part of the organism which is the human?

This is the modern version of the process which has made every single life form on earth. There is no distinct line from one organism to the next. Every single generation comes from a copy of the previous generation. Even within the generation, maintanence is achieved by copying and backing up. So don't try to say that copying is the thing which seperates them. As brought up in the human example, to maintain this organism that is known as a human, it is only achieveable by copying its parts millions of times over just to keep it in top condition....

THE POINT: There is no break in the continuous survival of the first strand of DNA, to all of the strands of DNA now Present. Every single one of them comes from the one origin, in a continuous process of copying.

Just because the DNA which programs a mouse has gone down a different path to the DNA which programs a bear, does not mean that either of them are any less related to the original ancestor as each of them are to their own parents.
 
  • #52
Another God
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Originally posted by GlamGein
What would make me white. biologically. You have neglected to give hard answers about what makes a person "white" and what makes them "black", if those are two of the main races there are...
also, if I am a white american, shouldn't that make me genetically closer to a german, than to an african american?
thanks!!
Glam
The only thing which makes you white instead of back, biologically, would be the history of your most recent ancestors.

The thing that actually makes you 'white' though, is that you look white. People don't really care whether its biologically determined or not.

but in both of these cases, there is still no direct line which is drawable to demarcate black from white. Either biologically, or socially.
 
  • #53
That tree...

"You don't get it though. Have you thought about the biological tree of evolution in its four dimensional aspect? Just take that moment to think about it. And you will notice that IT is a creature growing (in some aspect).
It is true, that there is no distinct line between blue and red, but that doesn't mean I can't generally tell the difference between them. It is also true that there is no distinct line between the ocean and the beach. But that doesn't mean I can't generally tell the difference between the ocean and the beach. There is no distinct line anywhere in biology, but that doesn't mean we can't recognise things as being different.

This is all important to remember because people get so damn caught up all the time in trying to distinguish where we should draw line x. As if its a vitally important line to be drawn. Maybe it is important...but asking where it lies, as if it actually exists, is simply a mistake of understanding. Lines to not exist in nature. Lines are created by humans to make our lives easier."

Was that addressed to me? I don't think so because that is a very accurate restatement of my position in this discussion.
Thank you. Just because there is no clear-cut line that can be drawn doesn't mean different basic variants can't be recognized.
To refer to that phylogenetic tree, one sees branches. One can examine an organism and recognize on one what branch it sits. To me it appears that Glamgein says there are no branches. Should a phylogenetic tree resemble a different type of plant growth form, say, a reed? Or, please everyone consider that the variation within a given taxon can be described as a continuum. In the context of this discussion, there are recognizable clusters on that continuum. We refer to an individual whose phenotypic characters place him within one of these clusters as belonging to a certain race.
Glamgein has staked out a position with those who will ignore and try to suppress any evidence that does not support their position. Check out what happened to E. O. Wilson after he published "Sociobiology". Also check out what went on in the former USSR with T. D. Lysenko. Also check out the organizatiion "Science for the People". A recent book of interest is by Stephen Pinker, "The Blank Slate".
I am not going to try to satisfy Glamgein's requests for further evidence to support my position. I have referred her to enough information to keep her busy for months. But she chooses to ignore the evidence because she apparently doesn't like what the evidence may lead an unbiased person to conclude. Based on my observations here, I don't think she was even remotely aware of the literature on this topic. This is an example of exactly how NOT to reach any sort of conclusion on a scientific topic. You examine all of the evidence BEFORE you reach a conclusion, not the other way around. Also, one cannot cherry-pick for facts that support a pre-selected conclusion, and ignore all contradictory evidence.
Throughout this discussion, I have tried to adhere strictly to the ground rules that were laid out in the opening post; "Biologically speaking,...". Thank you to all of you who also constructed your arguments within those bounds.
The history of science is an intersting subject to me. It will be very interesting to watch how this debate goes over the next few decades.


"Never the less, it moves"
Galileo
 
  • #54
russ_watters
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Originally posted by O Great One
If two animals can't interbreed, why would you conclude that they're members of the same species? Conversly, If two animals can interbreed why would you conclude that they're members of different species? Can you give a specific example?
Dogs. There are many varieties of dogs not capable of breeding with each other.

Birds. There are many separate species of birds that ARE capable of breeding.

This was discussed by others at greater length earlier in the thread.
What would make me white. biologically. You have neglected to give hard answers about what makes a person "white" and what makes them "black", if those are two of the main races there are...
Well therein lies the problem. Its tough to even get people to agree on what the races are. Thats the whole point of this thread. Depending on who you ask there may be 3 (black, white, asian), 10, or 50 races. I can think of several "white" races - anglo-saxon, germanic, russian, italian, greek, jewish, etc. With asians its even worse - I've heard that Koreans and Japanese are indistinguishable but somehow still manage to have a racial hatred of each other.

Whether or not these are all one race or differnet races depends on who you ask. Biologically they are all the same - but again, biologically so are black and white.
 
  • #55
O Great One
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All varieties of dogs are capable of interbreeding because they are members of the same species. If two birds are capable of interbreeding why then do we declare that they are members of different species?
 
  • #56
russ_watters
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Originally posted by O Great One
All varieties of dogs are capable of interbreeding because they are members of the same species. If two birds are capable of interbreeding why then do we declare that they are members of different species?
Sorry about telling you to scroll back, it must have been in another thread where someone mentioned the dogs and birds. What I heard is that some of the birds in the Galopagos though considered different species are capable of breeding. And that some dogs can't. A great dane and a poodle for example would seem to be mechanically incompatible.

Also there are many species such as lions and tigers or horses and donkeys that are capable of producing offspring, though they are sterile.

Generally biologists try to classify species based on breeding and other criteria, but how do you KNOW if animals can or can't breed unless you observe it? And thats something you can't do for any except existing species.
 
  • #57
What would make me white. biologically. You have neglected to give hard answers about what makes a person "white" and what makes them "black", if those are two of the main races there are...
also, if I am a white american, shouldn't that make me genetically closer to a german, than to an african american?
Black and white should make poor definitions of races in anyone's book. There are a whole bunch of distinct races or ethnicities now lumped under 'white' for social purposes; often these distinctions were important historically -- Slavs, Magyars, Hellenes, Nords, etc... I assume there were similarly important ethnic distinctions among "blacks" but my knowledge of African history is woefully small.
 
  • #58
GlamGein
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All of these arguments are exactly my point. Everyone has an opinion on race, but no one can give any hard biological facts about the issue. Amos' articles, which I did read, gave no biological facts. The latest one, Amos, mentioned that some scientists note genetic markers that determine african, native american and some other ancestry which I cannot recall. But is this a hard fact that can determine which race a person belongs to? If so, please explain it to me, because I would love to understand your point of view.
 

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